Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

Circumspection as a Tactic

One of the things I try to do with all of my designs is to provide indirect benefits to certain gameplay decisions. Most rules state quite directly that you get some form of plus or minus and the gamer is, in effect, given direct instructions on what the best tactic in any situation will be. “Do X and you will be rewarded!” is the command. Life is seldom like that in either the clarity of what will be rewarded, or the certainty of outcome. Battles and warfare is even less certain than most of life’s affairs.

Admittedly, some factors should be upfront and reasonably certain-such as rough terrain slowing a unit, or point blanc fire being better than shots from extreme range, but some things that matter may not even be expressed as a rule, but more subtly placed in the realm of rule interactions.

My design philosophy has always had a problem-solving, unraveling a puzzle, and finding “keys” to best play, aspect to it. In Piquet, it involved knowing how to best use impetus and the wisdom of racing through a deck to get to the “right” card versus maximizing your movement and combat on every individual card. It also involved discovering the “key” use of the Impetus Buy-down rule, which allowed you to ameliorate heavy impetus runs in the game. The gamers that came to understand these factors and employ them did well at Piquet and often came to love the game. Many of those that awaited “orders” in the form of proscriptive rules to tell them what to do and never thought about these indirect approaches to play-often complained that they were not in control and hated Piquet. In short, some people “get-it” and some don’t-just as in the real world. There were many articles written by Piquet afficianados extolling these, and other, aspects of play-but some people don’t want to think about such things-they just want to roll a six!

Die Fighting, for all of its apparent simplicity, has several of these indirect aspects of decision making as well. I would prefer that gamers discover them for themselves-but here are some to think about:

The rules state that one may use one or two resource dice on any roll for combat, movement, morale, etc. They also state that you must use at least one resource die in order to use any free dice awarded for the current situation. Leadership dice have no such restriction.

All of these conditions of use are plainly stated-but have gamers thought about their implications? Since resource dice are the Coin of the Realm, it is advisable to make prudent use of them, and yet, I have seldom seen a gamer use less than two of them on
every roll-regardless of the situation-unless they are nearing the end of their bucket, when it is often too late to have any great effect.

If you are in column of route, unless it is a race to some threatened terrain point or position-what reason to you have to use both resource dice? You already have 2 Free dice for column to which you may add one resource die-giving you an average move of 10.5” By using the other resource die you get an average of 3.5” added to that move. If your goal is only 8” away-why roll two resource dice? Likewise, in combat, if you have a close range “first” shot at a flank by an elite unit and the target is disordered-you get four free dice plus one resource die-or 5 dice! Will 1 more resource die make much difference? Sometimes, yes, but on many occasions-no.

The truth is that over a game, the player that chooses to be more circumspect in his use of resource dice will garner many advantages-not the least of which is that he will have resource dice when he needs them.

Another thought-as Leadership dice may be used even without any Resource dice expenditure-there may be some rally rolls that, depending on when the Rally, Restore, Reload phase will occur and the quality of the commanding officer, where the rally may be made solely with Leadership dice!

Look for the indirect advantages as well as the obvious ones in all areas of Die Fighting.