Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

Die Marching!


Die Marching actually began its development process over a year ago, in a form that has morphed and changed steadily over the last year. Initially, I intended to publish Die Marching last year, but, instead, and fortunately, chose to do both Die Fighting and Zouave II first. Quite apart from both rule sets selling well, especially Die Fighting, the process of developing those games led me to several new ideas and mechanisms that have improved Die Marching, and make it a terrific game.

What is Die marching? Well, it is a campaign game, but VERY unique in its design. It allows gamers to generate several different kinds of maps for fictitious campaigns, historical campaigns, campaigns in unknown territories that combines exploration with combat, simple campaigns to be played over a few hours, or mega-campaigns that last for months. The odds of any two generated maps being the same are astronomically small-you’ll win the lottery before a map repeats!

Die Marching may be played in any horse and musket period, and will be readily adaptable to periods from ancients to WWII once the mechanisms are understood. I’m even contemplating a fantasy/sci-fi version! Various turns of the game may be played out in DIFFERENT periods! Yes, you can, if you so choose, fight the battles in several different periods, while the results could be integrated into the same larger campaign! This allows you to fight one battle in the SYW, and the next battle could be done using your ACW troops! The system makes sure the results are consistent and credible-regardless. Doing a single period will be the preferred option for most gamers, but some may find this “twist” great fun!

Die Marching includes provisions for optional naval action, as well as the creation and use of railroads in the later 19th century. It includes political, as well as military, leadership considerations, and focuses on resources, strategic decisions, and not just two armies blundering into each other for a disappointingly quick, one battle, campaign resolution. Optional, weather patterns and effects are provided, and are just as patterned but unpredictable, as the real thing!

The game occurs in campaign years, with four seasons, wherein possibilities for various actions vary. Each season has a variable number of turns within it. The two opposing forces may not have equal opportunity in any given campaign season, but the possibilities are always fluctuating for the armies as their resources and plans unfold.

The campaign may be played just on the map, as every battle may be resolved either on the map or on the table top, completely at the choice of the gamers. The table-top games will have forces, terrain, and tactical advantages stated for the gamers-simply and logically. Results from either resolution method are interchangeable to the campaign system. More importantly, ANY tactical rule set may be used for the table top game, though, of course, specific recommendations for Die Fighting, Zouave II, and, yes, (with Brent Oman’s permission) Piquet, and FOB2, will be provided within the rules. But, to repeat, any rule set may be adapted.

The system allows great flexibility in miniature army size as it is agnostic when it comes to the tabletop battle rules used. It is unaffected by army unit’s size or organization. Historical, semi-historical, or fictional OOB’s my be used.

Die marching includes systems, including notation, for long distance play via email and Skype. Campaigns may be played between gamers living on different continents! Whether played face to face, or at great distance, the fog of war is amply, and simply, provided. Exactly where is the enemy? How large are his forces? How good are his units, his military leaders, his political will?

Most of all it is very easy and simple to play, but complex in decision making and planning-you can’t do everything, nor can you answer every enemy action. Your possibilities are limited by your resources and decisions. The tools used are commonly, and cheaply available, or are provided with the rules. These tools are:

  • A set of Double 12 Dominos
  • D6 dice in several contrasting colors (red,yellow,green, and black)
  • A Campaign Rondel*
  • A set of paired colored pawns or paper markers(2 Red, 2 Yellow, 2 White, 2 Green, 2 Blue, 2 Black)
  • A Set of Army OB Sheets (these are primarily for reference)*
  • Each gamer has a set of 6 Army Posture cards*
  • Player aid sheet*
  • Optional small blue and black stickers*
  • The rule booklet*

(Asterisked items are provided with the rules.)

The game is not difficult or involved to play-on the level of a very simple board game-such as House Divided, maybe simpler. It requires little or no record keeping or intricate “supply” tracking. Of all the things mentioned by gamers on the Yahoo! forum these last two were the strongest no-no’s! The supply system used is simple and Excel sheet free!

The Yahoo forum will be used to post some full color add-ons to the strategic map, that I think people will find fun. The forum will be used, as it is now, for strong support for gamers to ask questions and propose new ideas.

The physical package will be a rule booklet of comparable size and production values to Die Fighting and Zouave II. It will include the army posture cards, a full color Campaign Season rondel, and color stickers, The roster and player aid sheets will be included in text for photocopying. Tentative price remains at $29.95. Discounts will be offered to past purchasers of either Die Fighting! or Zouave II as part of a pre-publication pricing, I anticipate sending it to the printers, and offering the pre-pub sale in late October or very early November, and posting it to customers in early December. Merry Christmas!

On Paper Soldiers

In the last month or so I have become fascinated with an old and traditional form of the model soldier-the paper soldier. I have been aware of their history dating back into the 18th century, but had long ignored them, along with metal flats, in favor of the more common, full round, metal toy soldier. I owned over the years a number of different armies, mostly in 28mm, and in a variety of periods. However, about five years ago I sold them all-over 5,000 figures.

This had a hugely liberating effect on me. Suddenly many shelves were empty, and I was free of a lot of painted lead. It was about four years ago that I got the urge to build armies again, but being free to do whatever i liked, I essentially changed my entire collecting habits. I decided to concentrate on specific periods of interest, and not try the fruitless “all things to all men” approach. I also decided to go to different scales. This was promoted by an urge to try larger battles with the development of Zouave, and also to keep the storage demands within firmer limits. My first direction was to go to 10mm figures, and I started my Pendraken FPW and ACW armies in that scale. BY shipping off the bulk of 1200 figures to Sri Lanka, I was soon equipped to fight battles in this new scale. When coupled with a 13 foot long table-I reveled in the diorama effect of these table-top actions. I fell in love with this wonderful scale, and began adding more figures for 1866 and the Maximillian Intervention.

I did return to 28s for my WSS armies using a mix of Front rank, Old Glory, and Wargames Foundry figures. This period was also new to me. It is very rich, with a wide range of battle actions, and the uniforms are very colorful, but less fussy than either SYW or Napoleonics. I doubt if I’ll do any more 28s, whose cost and shipping expense are bordering on silly. Plastics help with both of these factors, but other than a few unpainted French Foreign Legion figures, I think I’m done with 28s.

However, I do want to do other periods, but don’t want the clutter of tons of figures, and I have never been fond of painting an unending number of line troops. What to do?

Then I was introduced to paper soldiers. When assembled they can be very attractive, and some of the artists creating these figures are producing artwork of the highest order. When placed on the wargame table they make a terrific impression. But the best part of it all is they are very inexpensive, store easily, and are often delivered by PDF! Some come painted, or you can do it yourself (digitally!)

My latest Papersoldiers are from two sources-Billy Bones Workshop (http://billybonesworkshop.co.uk )/ War-games Vault and from Paper Terrain (http://www.paperterrain.com/index.html).

For less than $20 I got a complete ECW force for both sides from Billy Bones. They were delivered by PDF and included horse, guns, infantry, plus terrain and buildings, smoke and casualties all in 25mm! Since they can be printed at will your armies are unlimited in size. These figures are done in an antique brown ink on white paper in a very antique and impressionistic style-I think they make a stunning diorama, and one move in you completely forget they are only paper and in two dimensions.

The neatest thing is that you can colorize them, if you wish to add colors of the period uniforms or make the terrain green and brown tones! I am using Pixelator on my Mac Pro which is available from the Ap store for $29.95. Using this software I can colorize the Billy Bones art in about 5 minutes a sheet. I even added an identifier number! (see Photo)

Pasted Graphic 2

Thereafter, I can print color versions to my heart’s content. I am now ready to test Die Fighting for the Crown (1400-1700)! Go to the Billy Bones site and look at the effect of these figures in mass! Wonderful! Added advantages are they store flat on a shelf until assembled, and a shoebox holds an army of hundreds, and weighs mere ounces.

My other new acquisition is the Paper Terrain ACW troops from Scott Washburn. These are not delivered by PDF since Scott is, by his own admission, not too tech minded. I picked mine up at Historicon and got complete Confederate and Union armies plus his new sheet of the Iron Brigade in 15mm. They are also available in 25 and 6 mm. The style of these figures is much more precise and draftsman-like, but beautifully done. He delivers on quality paper by mail. One of the joys of paper soldiers is the contrast in the artist’s styles.

My goal with these figures was to mix them in with my 10mm Pendrakens (they are a good fit) using the paper soldiers for those reams of line troops and the metal figures for command, horse, and artillery pieces. Over time I can replace the paper line infantry with metal, but in the meantime, I can game big ACW battles. This would work with other periods that demand large numbers of troops as well: say, Napoleonics for instance.

Speaking of Napoleonics, be sure to check out Walkerloo Napoleonics (http://www.walkerloo.com/) for their napoleonic paper soldiers. These are very different and also physicaly delivered in a pack-not by PDF. Their style is very much in the Bob Marion style of drawing, they are full color, and really very attractive. They are also a heavier card figure, rather than paper. Pricing on the Walkerloo figures is the most expensive of any and represents the high end of paper figures at about $1+ per figure.

The paper soldier has a long and illustrious history in our hobby, be sure to add a few to your collection. They are a quick, and often inexpensive, way to enjoy new periods, and they are perfect for gamers that have space limitations.

Repique: Zouave Blog-7/17/11

Here is a round table discussion that spans the world on Historicon Die Fighting, Zouave II, the use of rondels, the initial work on Die Marching campaign rules, a discussion about the wargame press in the US and Europe, and some hot tips for wargamers. Just click on the arrow to run. Audio Only.


Jim Getz (Columbus, Ohio) Mike Siggins (The Fens, U.K.) Iain Black (Singapore!) Peter Anderson (Connecticut) and Bob Jones (Denver, Colorado)

Running time: 50:18 minutes



Historicon Coverage

Well, I'm off for Historicon.

I am not only giving a seminar “Dice, Cards, and Rondels” In Scanticon GS-3 at Historicon Saturday at Noon, but I intend to do more.

1. I will post the Seminar presentation, I am hoping with audio, upon my return from Valley Forge, on Tuesday, July 12.

2. I will be taking pictures throughout the show, which I hope will be more useful than close-ups of clumps of figures on a field of green baize. Pictures of people! of Places! and wide shots of halls and games! They will be posted on the Repique website, and in the files section of the Repiquerules Yahoo! forum.

3. I hope to record an interview or two to post on the Zouave Blog.

4. I will be posting here with some notes and initial impressions of the
convention as it is going on, using my trusty iPad. There also will be a
final review of my activities posted on the Blog upon my return.

5. The next Zouave Skype Blog on the 17th of July, will also devote a bit of time to discussing the convention with some fellow attendees.

I am at the convention from Noon on Friday until Noon on Sunday. In addition to the War College presentation, I will be at the On Military Matters Booth at 3 PM on Saturday the 9th for a half-hour or so to answer any questions about Die Fighting or Zouave II.

It's the Wargames That Got Small!

After 45 years or more in the Historical Wargame hobby, and having written 15 sets of rules over those years, and founded three wargame publication companies, I was musing this week about Historical wargame rules. What are they the most like? What is their perfect metaphor as a creative work, and as a business?

I concluded it was the movies. The parallels are astounding. Both film and wargame rules are creative works where the rule writer, or director, is an auteur. Just as movie directors attract fans and followers, so do rule writers. Some of my customers have been buying rules from me for nearly 40 years- and have a complete collection! This is true of other rule writers as well. Some rule creators acquire almost cult-like followers.

Some rules are “Popular” films in the manner of the fare at the local cineplex, each week. Very formulaic, predictable, and aimed at an adolescent audience (either in age or maturity). These rules sell well, are often produced in flashy color, and have a distressing tendency to be fantasy or sci-fi with a lot of impressive figures, and a Gee-whiz factor, but no discernible plot, and don’t really make sense if you think about it. Other rules are produced by small indy producers that, though limited in special effects, are often more sophisticated in content, use innovative techniques, and actually have a narrative thread! Just like the movies!

Just as with film, the “audience” is easily attracted to the newest set of rules, the latest release, and the largest grossers seldom “rock the boat” or try to do much more than give the customer a predictable, familiar, unchallenging, and “safe” entertainment experience. More often than not, if you want something more than the usual, you end up buying rules from a small independent producer-just as the small movie houses tend to get the films that don’t appeal just to sub-21, male, suburbanites. Both rules and films have companies that cynically exploit this audience demographic.

All rule writers share other similarities with films-to survive a studio must crank out a new feature as frequently as possible-especially prior to the big shindig in Cannes or Hollywood, so, too, is the case of miniature rules writers at Columbus and Valley Forge.. New product keeps the revenue flow and the “buzz” going strong. This voracious demand for new product leads to sequels abounding. Just as there was a Rocky IV, Star Trek V, and a Batman XXXIV, so there are supplements and editions of established rules with high numbers of sequels as well. It’s always cheaper and more successful to sell a familiar brand and product to the same audience, than to break new ground.

Both Films and Historical Wargames suffer from the very poor quality of critical review. The quality of criticism is abysmal-especially the local reviewers and bloggers whose writing skills are often worse than their insight and critique. Just as with film, there are , maybe, 2 or 3 critics worth their salt-that provide insight, understanding, and perspective in their reviews. Rules and films suffer from this inadequate critique as crap is too often saluted and quality overlooked. The influence of the “Big” guys on the trade press and critics often distorts critical reviews in both areas as well.

One significant difference is the press itself. The film press is strong and ever growing, but the historical wargame press has greatly diminished in number, especially in the US, and also in ideas. 30 years ago there was MWAN, The Courier, Wargamer’s Newsletter, The Wargame Digest, etc in the US-now there is nothing. The only national outlet is TMP-which, for various reasons, is typical of many on-line forums which have more contention than sharing, and more locker-room towel snapping silliness than ideas or extended and thoughtful concepts. Internationally, there is Vae Victus, which has limited effect in the US because of being in French (it is challenge enough for many US citizens to read and write English), Wargame Illustrated, Miniature Wargames, and Battle Games. Of those three, Battle Games may be the only magazine that seems to have consistently provided excellent content and an openness to new ideas-especially in digital publication.

Both films and historical wargame rules provide an archive of past classics that keep being seen or used-just as Casablanca and the Wizard of OZ play on, so does Column, Line and Square, Empire, and Tactica-all made long ago-but still popular with some. It would pay some gamers to do a little research and find some of the older rule sets. In many cases, the new gamers may never have seen these rules-some were invented before the gamers were born, but they might find something very good in the past. (Warning! Earlier Rule Sets were often in B&W-not color, and special effects and pictures were less used-just as in film)They will also be given a lesson in how many “new” ideas are not very new-but the few that are can change everyone’s enjoyment and expectations as to what a wargame may be. Though there are many film histories-there are few meaningful works on recreational wargaming, and especially Historical wagaming’s, history and development.

So, the next time you buy a set of rules-think of it as a ticket to a good entertaining film, but don’t make the mistake of inviting a date-that’s not the same-at all!

Dice, Figures, Action! (“Ready when you are, Mr. Wells!&rdquoWinking

Zouave II Pre-publication Discount!

Zouave II is now available for pre-publication sale! The rule set is an 82 page rule book with a four color cover and B&W interior pages. It has a heavy card, full color, Command Rondel insert. This new tool is the first application in miniature wargames of an exciting new way to sequence turns. It will be used in several new Repique designs including the upcoming Die Marching rules. Zouave II includes templates for the ACW, FPW, and Maximilian wars, and now includes a template for the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, including the Italian Front.

Over 60% of the rule text is new, with a complete re-do of the command rules using the Command Rondel. It will be shipping concurrent with Historicon in the first week of July. I think you will find this is a terrific upgrading of the Zouave rules, but I realize many people have purchased the original version. In order to treat our customers fairly, if you are on my database as an original purchaser of Zouave and purchase Zouave II prior to July 1, 2011, check the appropriate box and you’ll get $10 off the full retail of $29.95! If you are a new customer, and new to Zouave, you’ll get $5.00 off! On MIlitary Matters will also honor the $10 off for any past purchasers of Zouave- if ordered prior to Historicon. Contact them for details! OMM will have the rules for sale at Historicon, and I will be at their booth frequently during the show. When the pre-sale discount ends, Zouave II will be available at full retail of $29.95 plus postage.

This will be a numbered limited edition. Zouave sold out all copies within 6 months of publication and has been out of print for 8 months-so order soon and assure yourself a copy and at a great savings.

This is a substantial upgrade of the rules with a completely new command system, the full color Command Rondel, the added 1866 template, and is 10 pages longer! The game is set at the Grand Tactical level with divisions being the key command units, though combat is resolved at the regimental or brigade level. The ground scale is 1”= 50 yards (25mm=50 meters) and is adjustable for smaller actions or small army wars such as Maximilian in Mexico. Suitable for all scales from 6mm through 28mm, but the smaller scales of 6,10, and 15mm are the best visually. This is a game designed for big battles, and is necessarily a more complex design than Die Fighting. With the new Command Rondel it plays quickly and directly. Three to four hours playing time is typical.

If ordering on line, please make sure you select the proper option of whether you are a new Zouave II customer, or a previous purchaser of Zouave, to get the correct discount. Postage is $10 international, and $3.00 for the US and Canada.

New materials and photos of a Zouave II game have been posted in the Files and Photos section of the RepiqueRules Yahoo forum. More will be posted in the next week. This website has already upgraded the Zouave pages and the store pages to accommodate the new products. Review copies are being sent to Scott Mingus, Mike Siggins at Battle Games, Vae Victus, and Miniature Wargames. I am doing a War College presentation at Historicon this year at Noon on Saturday called “Dice, Cards, and Rondels: A Seminar on Game Design.” I Hope to see you there and answer any questions then, or later at the bar!

Repique Central
A photo of the World Headquarter’s expansive offices at Repique Rules.

Frere Jacques...Frere Jacques

OK-so what’s a rondel you ask? The word, as you may have guessed means a circle, and is at the root of words such as ronde ( a song with a circular refrain such as Frere Jacques), certain poems of circular pattern called rondeaus, or even in rondele cheeses (a segmented round cheese such as the Laughing Cow cheeses).

In gaming, the Rondel has been used by a number of games-and a game designer, Mac Gerdts, is often given credit for introducing it into a wide range of boardgames such as Antike, Hambergum, Navegador, and Imperial. Other, more limited, forms of the rondel have appeared in games such as El Grande.

In its core design, it is a simple segmented wheel, with each segment allowing only one task to be done. Each player has a marker that moves around the wheel segments, stopping at some points and spending the currency of the game-money, pips, stored supplies, etc. to take actions.

There is also a cost to cross each segment. This may be a fixed price, a variable price, or a progressive price costing more the further one wishes to move. The first segment may be free and the following segments an increasing price. There may be rules concerning the interaction of various players on the rondel. It is a very flexible tool.

The rondel has an amazing capacity to structure the process of a turn, while still allowing a wide degree of variability, and REQUIRING decisions to be made. It is a new way to vary a turn sequence, which may, or may not, include dice or cards.

Interesting and pertinent decisions and the ability to make them is at the core of a truly rewarding, interesting, and challenging games. The rondel adds that.

The rondel, however, is uniquely capable of illustrating “drag” in an army’s responsiveness to command. I suspect it has an even wider range of potential uses in wargame design, all largely unexplored.

The rondel is simple, does not slow gameplay (it may even speed things up!), and is, in my mind, an excellent way to introduce the interplay between command and tactical action in Zouave II. My fascination with the possibilities of this device was so great that Zouave II simply had to be written.

In the meantime, get a copy of Imperial or any of the games above and begin to appreciate a new game tool. When I first introduced the unique way of using cards and dice in Piquet-it was the beginning of a tremendous shift in miniature wargame design that has been copied and imitated in many sets that followed. The rondel will be, ultimately, the same sort of sea-change. The beneficiaries are all the miniature gamers that want a better way to game, that combines fun, decision making, and historicity in play.

Uses of the rondel in Die Fighting! as an additional sequencing structure, will soon be posted by Pat McGuire, and Die Marching will also include this tool. All three uses will be quite different, but will, collectively, illustrate the power, and variety of uses, of this device in game design.

It’s a winner!

Command Rondel Forum

Is Historical Wargaming History?

I don’t go to many wargame conventions as I tend to find them to be not very enjoyable. Something about the press of the crowd, the sometimes oafish behavior of a few, and the ambiance of an all male, Big Lebowski, Bowling Night crossed with a cheap Vegas casino, has never really appealed to me. I do like to shop the dealers, which is one positive motivator, but the best reason is to meet a few good friends and fellow game designers over dinner. If the dealer area is small and few people I know are going to be there-then I happily pass.

However, I recently did go to a local Denver Convention and strolling through was reminded of the significant changes the hobby of wargaming has undergone since I first starting gaming. I roamed the halls and found a mere five or six historical games being played and two of them were a board game knock-off (Battle Cry) and something with mammoths, which, while historical, was only marginally military.

At the same time, an entire hotel ballroom was occupied by GW 40K games-table after table lined edge to edge with tanks, flying-what-nots. and troops so thick they looked like a SYW battalion-standing shoulder to shoulder. There were absurd “walkers” which would be juicy targets even for current day weaponry. While colorful, they were being used with rigidly enforced codices and rules that seem to have more in common with the battle of Hastings, than anything reasonably futuristic. For people that define fantasy as creative, the rigid adherence to these codices and “official” rules seems to argue for more lockstep, authoritarian, and legalistic attitudes than freethinking creativity.

Throughout the other halls fantasy, Sci-fi, and strange blends of history with fantasy-such as VSF, totally dominated the gaming. To be sure there were a few RPG vampires, werewolves, and winged creatures strolling about drinking cokes, but not even one hint of any historical being.

It then struck me, Historical gaming may be dying out in the US! Could it be?

When I began in the hobby, it was close to 95% historical in nature, and rules and figures were committed to attempting to illustrate historical facts. This may have been done poorly or very well by various rule sets, but the goal was the same. With the introduction of fantasy and Sci-fi the hobby has changed radically. Now worlds are invented (though often depressingly similar in a Tolkien/King Arthur/Starship Trooper sort of way) and rules are freed from being anchored on anything-except a bad novella, comic book, or TV series. Subtlety, humanness, and the “gravity” of reality are gone and shallow and cartoonish considerations are foremost. Sometimes the premises are so light-weight-that it is a good thing the figures are heavy or they would float away (maybe the plastic ones do)! Then again, maybe it IS the figures that drive the fantasy/sci-fi juggernaught, and the invented worlds, rules, and reading are decidedly secondary.

Often the companies behind these efforts show a cynical greediness in changing rules, bringing out new figures and cashiering old ones, as well as an unending list of add-on units that make for some high profits, but much lower goals in design, and cleverness, on their part. It makes no difference to many of the followers, perhaps forgivable to the collection mania of an adolescent- but less attractive in a grown adult who should know when he’s being taken for a ride. Maybe those Zombies HAVE eaten their brains!

But at the core of it, maybe history has ended. My English friends tell me that it is alive and well in their country and still is in the majority-some of them claim that this is a reflection of their better education in history, and their proximity to so much of it. All of the major historical wargaming publications are located in Europe and the UK. Even on-line the fantasy dominance of figures, rules, and websites is very much evident, and the majority of historical figure companies is, again, to be found in the UK and Europe.

Admittedly, many gamers do both, and there is a very WWII aspect to most Sci-Fi wargames, and not much except magic and freakishness to distinguish the fantasy games from Dark Ages warfare, but even at the premier historical wargame convention, Historicon, there has been a huge influx of fantasy based gaming in the form of VSF, GW, and quasi-history ala AVBCW and DBM. The board game industry has been the one area where historical gaming has held its own, but, then, board game publication has seen a decline over the years.

Is this a bad thing? Who knows? One thing is certain, Wellington, Napoleon, Jean d’Arc, Marlborough, and Grant may all be endangered species with their ecological gaming niche being taken over by ghoulies, and geesties, and three-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night.

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.

It Ain't Over, 'Til It's Over!

Die Fighting! is designed to deliver a definitive winner in a quantifiable way. It does this by declaring a game over when one party runs out of dice. Simple, direct, definitive.

However, as one of the longtime crusaders against rules writ in stone, and by way on encouraging creative alternatives-I must comment that players may easily change even that!

There is absolutely no reason why a form of “Double-down” mechanism couldn't be instituted, where the gamer that has hit zero is allowed to request another 50 to 100 dice and fight on! He is essentially going into a deficit mode and his dice totals will then head into the negative category, but the game could go on.

In scoring terms, when he goes through that extra 100 the game is over-but any dice he has used, unless by some miracle he gains dice, are ADDED to the victors dice score! That is, if at the end of the extra 100 dice the victor has a raw dice score, before terrain, officers killed, etc. of 125 he is actually credited with 125 PLUS the dice used from that 100 extra that the loser requested.

Why would a losing army ask for extra dice? For several reasons:

1. The advantage in dice by the winner at the end of regulation is very narrow and the possible loser thinks he can reverse the outcome in a few additional moves.


2. The losing party thinks they can narrow the winner's scoring advantage because of terrain advantages, or the ability to retreat units off the table voluntarily (which do not count on the winner's totals). He believes he can lessen the degree of loss with a few additional turns.


3. The game is lost, but the situation is interesting and both parties want to continue, or in a solo game where these conditions leave the solo gamer wishing to "game it out."

An easy add on is that the 50-100 dice are added to both parties equally. The add on dice for the two parties could alternatively be calculated on a multiple of the remaining units' worth in dice, say 50% of the remaining unit's worth. Or it could be a gamble where each side rolls all of its Leadership dice and multiplies that dice total by 10! The "Winning" player may have to agree or not agree to the "New" dice depending on how the rule is written.

This "extended" game possibility is worth looking into, and would have some nice uses in a campaign application. I particularly like the idea of the extended game die roll based on the Leadership dice!

Repique Skype call: Die Fighting!

This is the Repique Skype Call of 3/19/11 recorded at 8:00 AM on that date. It discusses the development process for Die Fighting!, some rule interpretations, the design philosophy, and the use of the Concede and Factor X cards. It is 45:17 in length. Just hit the podcast button below:

die Fightimng package


An Idea to Play With!

I’m doing some preliminary work on the Die Marching! Campaign rules ( when not doing the Colonial Template for DF, and the Zouave II work) and in the midst of it came up with an idea that I thought might be of interest to all you new “Die Fighting!” aficianados. Since my plate is very full, I’m not really in a position, at the moment, to fully develop the idea, but I thought some of you might just want to take the idea and run with it.

All I ask is that any ideas, or developments you try that you are happy with get reported back to the assembled Die Fighters on the forum!

The idea is this: In setting up a DF game for maximum fun, use one of the unique characteristics of the game, the limited dice resource, to “even up” the scenario, or add hidden spice to the initial set-up.

The Wellington Option: If one side has a dice advantage, give a terrain, or group of terrains-Hills, forest, etc.- to the lesser side that is on their side of the board, and perhaps occupied by them at game start, that either partially or fully evens the “theoretical” die count- A 15 dice point hill, a 10 dice point wood, a 5 point wall, etc. Since the lesser side will find the defensive posture attractive, their “evening out” terrain additions will be welcome. Either an umpire, the scenario writer, Game Master, or the defensive player may determine their location.

It’s even better when you don’t let the attacker(side with the most dice) know the exact point values assigned.

Grouchy is coming!: Let either side roll up to 20 resource dice ,which are then lost for the game resource bucket, in one clump, any 6s are “reinforcements” Cull out and Reroll the 6s--evens are infantry, Odds for Cavalry or Artillery. Re-roll the evens: 1=Militia, 2,3.4=regulars 5= Elites, 6=Guard Infantry-then rate. Re-roll the Odds 1,2= Light cavalry, 3 Heavy cavalry, 4= Light artillery battery, 5= Heavy artillery battery- then rate.

Any roll of 6 on an odd die indicates the previously rolled cavalry have gone on a Jeb Stuart gallop, or the guns have gotten mired on a bad back road and will only arrive when their army commander rolls 4 identical dice on any single initiative, movement, or combat roll during the game.

This is the reinforcing force. Place the Creative X factor card in the phase deck in place on any other phase. When it is played, or comes up randomly, and IF the army gets the initiative, each side rolls 1 D6-if the army attempting reinforcement is the high roller, the reinforcements enter and their worth in dice is added to the army resource bin. Once they arrive the card is removed from play. If they don’t arrive- that is, The army loses the initiative, or the D6 roll-then the card is retained. If the roll-off between D6s is a tie, the reinforcements never enter, and the card is removed!

For entry point, 1= Far left, 2,3= Center, 4= Far Right 5= Mid Left, 6=Mid Right

Something for you guys to muse upon.

Building Skills and the Issue of "Stickiness!"

As I read the incoming emails over on the Repique Rules Yahoo! Forum, I am truly enjoying the obvious interest the game is generating. Most of all I’m delighting in seeing the intellectual engagement of many gamers as they grapple with these admittedly “different” rule constructs. It is great to be able to respond almost immediately to their questions, and to also see that they are quickly delving into the ramifications of these rules, and wrestling with how to play them well.

One of the aspects of Die Fighting! that I think will give it “legs” over time as a design, is that while the play is really quite simple, the use of the mechanisms to play well is, well...worthy of some real considered thought. Things are NOT as simple as they seem when it comes to playing the game well. You really have to play the game and get experience with the ramifications of these “simple” rules to truly see your best course of action in a clear manner. Often new players fall into a state of stasis in the tactical game since they have not yet discovered the best deployments, the proper use of Leadership Dice, and the curious way the phasing sequence affects play-especially when using the asynchronous phasing either fixed or variable. It is a design that I think truly rewards experience, thought, and focused planning.

It is also a design the BEGS to be experimented with. Heaven knows the play testers and I did in the play testing and writing of the rules, but I believe we have just scratched the surface, both in the periods provided and the opportunities in new periods. The rule set is, to a greater degree than any I have done, a toolbox that asks the gamer and scenario writer to be inventive and clever in the application of phasing, but also in the scenario design, the weighting of terrain values, and in “variants” of the rules both within the periods covered in the current templates, and in new ones yet to be developed.

Die Fighting! at this stage is a foundation upon which much can be built using the wit and insight of many additional builders-the wargamers who play the game.

One area I’m looking at with some interest is the zone in which units may pay dice in lieu of retreating and being in disorder. After many games we settle at 6” or less as the optimal number over many periods. In essence it meant that you had to at least meet an average roll (3.5 is the average on 1 die) on a two dice advantage difference to have effect. This means that if your effect is less than 7 the target can, if it chooses to spend dice, “Stick around” in good order and paste you back. This works rather well over all periods. However, if one wants to increase the “stickiness” you can up that number to 9” or 12”, which will increase extended firefights and limit retreats from the line. It will also extend the period before a decision point for that combat and the total game. This may be advantageous in later periods-such as WWI and WWII-and might even have good application in specific scenarios in earlier periods. It deserves to be experimented with, and some gamers may actually prefer added “stickiness.”

Add this to experimentations with phase sequencing, command divisors, and even campaign specific “scoring” permutations, and you have some really intriguing “Variations on a Theme by Jones.” One of my favorite music forms is Jazz where musicians improvise, do their own riffs, but all, at the same time, play in concert with each other. I would like Die Fighting! to be like that, involving a wide range of gamers in playing around a common theme, but each with a distinctive riff that can be shared by all of us through the Repique Rules forum.

And like really great Jazz, remember to listen to the melody, not just the lyrics, and feel the time!

Less than 14 hours left!

For the followers of the Repique Forum and website, I offer the reminder that the pre-publication and Zouave discounts, will both end at midnight US Mountain Standard Time today. Starting tomorrow the cost for Die Fighting though all venues will be $29.95.

So, if you are considering buying DF, do it today and save yourself $5-$7.50. If you are not considering buying DF, or want to wait until you're absolutely sure that it is a great ruleset (which it is!) I'll be very happy to take your $29.95 plus postage at a later date. Winking


Die Fighting! Status 2/24/11

We have in-house the optional phase decks, player aid sheets with rule summary and OOB sheets, envelopes, and our database is fully updated and we are printing the address labels for all mailings.

The rules were shipped in two shipments by the printer on last Friday and onthis Tuesday. We will spend this weekend packaging with some going out onSaturday, and others next Monday, and Tuesday. I will post to this forum whenthe rulebook shipment arrives so you know the wheels are turning.

Friday night is a wine and cheese party for the Denver play testers, and a gamewill be played at Chez Jones on Saturday Afternoon. We will be playing FPW in10mm using Die Fighting! Inches will be converted to centimeters for ground scale. Battle report to follow.

On Saturday, I will also post photos of the completed rule package so you can see what you'll be getting in the mail, and rule definitions for the two new optional Phase cards "Concede!" and "X factor".

I am presently working on the Colonial Addendum for Die Fighting! and I hope to have that posted soon.

Review of Zouave for the Zouave II edition has begun, and I think that a reasonable date for this second edition to be made available is May 5th, the one year anniversary of the initial 2010 release. More to follow.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Repique Rules, the main website and this forum. Tomorrow morning, I will be posting a summary of the year that you might find interesting.

The Repique Rules website at www.repiquerules.com has been revised with a new home page, and various corrections throughout. Further changes will be made including a new Zouave Blog entry over the next few days.

The rule books are being sent to Scott Mingus at Charge!, Mike Siggins at Battlegames, J.P. Imbach at Vae Victus, and to Wargames Illustrated for possible reviews and comment. I will alert you al when those reviews are available, and will post excerpts on the Repique Rules Forum as I did with Zouave.

The Skype discussion has been moved to Sunday the 20th of March and will be posted on the Zouave Blog on that date. If you have any questions after receiving the rules, please email me and they will be addressed by me, Tony Hawkins, and Jim Getz on that podcast. All of the panel have been closely
involved with the rules from the beginning and should be able to impart great wisdom in their replies.

On Military Matters should have Die Marching available for purchase at Cold Wars starting March 11th. They will also be handling Zouave II and Die Marching!

Work proceeds with Die Marching! aiming at a Historicon release.

I shall be at Historicon this year hanging out a bit at OMM's booth. Dennis Shorthouse at OMM is a key supplier in the US for all things related to historical wargaming, and I encourage all of you to check out his extensive and varied catalog of books, games, and figures. With the demise of US wargame magazines and "thought" pieces being replaced by the ephemeral platitudes of most forums, businesses like OMM take on added importance as a supplier of information, thoughtful writings, and new rule concepts to the US hobby. Thank heaven for BG, WI, and Vae Victus on the international scene! Support them all!

Serendipity in Game Design

I suppose if someone has never designed a rule set, or has done so on a very limited basis, they could easily get the idea that game design is somehow like a math problem, or writing a term paper. You do the research, form your hypothesis, and then assemble it all into a proper form with thesis, evidence, conclusion. It’s an exercise in logic, systems, and precision more like a report than anything else.

Well, no it isn’t-not by half!

At least not in my experience, it’s not. Rule smithing is far closer in nature to writing a novel or poem, or a creating a painting. It is a creative task, where, indeed, you read and study, but translating it into the final product is a work of imagination. The goal, in reality, is not to replicate warfare in a given period. Nor is it to generate data that can be tested, and then used to improve the tactical practices of an army-especially one that ceased to exist hundreds of year’s ago. It is an entertainment, and its goal, just as a novel or good movie, is to create the illusion of “real history” in the mind of the audience, in this case, wargamers. Entertainments, must, in the case of historical wargames, have a goal of giving a strong impression of historicity and the ability to teach a few of the primary considerations of warfare in any given period. If they lack this quality they are rejected for being insufficiently historical, and rightfully so. But all wargames, including historical wargames, must also entertain, be fun, and engender surprise, and even a good laugh now and then.

In the past, historical wargames got too full of themselves, and became too pedantic, too didactic, and ignored the entertainment demands in an effort to become “serious” simulations. They became so labored and such a task for gamers that it was little surprise that fantasy games (that have no such responsibility to history, and simulation becomes in every sense irrelevant) blossomed as an alternative. Even the historical wargames of the late 80s and early 90s began a rebellion against the heavy footed games of the 70s, and became simpler, faster, and with more than a little fun being an object of the designs.

By the mid-to late 90s a whole range of historical games that were historical and entertaining became the norm that we see today. Certainly designs such as Hasenauer’s, Mustafa’s, and my own Piquet opened up whole new directions in design for the historical gamer.

Now the designer has a much wider range of options for his designs, and gamers are, on the whole, much more accepting of “different” approaches than they may have once been-as long as history remains a strong element, and fun is not a casualty. It is the golden age for historical wargame design, just as many believe it is the golden age of figure design.

One example of the fun element in my latest design, Die Fighting!, is the discarding of dice that have been “used”, and another is the novel use of phasing and initiative in the game. I think they provide not just some novel approaches to modeling armies, but also some real fun and surprises.

Serendipity plays a big role in wargame design, and as I was putting the finishing touches on the Die Fighting! phase cards that are included in the set, two new ideas came to my mind, that I simply had to include in the game. They are additions to what is already an extensive toolbox that you guys will have fun tinkering with, and designing your own DF scenarios and “house rules.” The idea occurred to me after I had sent the rules to the printer and approved the print run, but I was still designing the player aids and phase cards-SO... I redesigned the phase card sheet to include two new cards-“Concede” and “X Factor.” They aren’t covered in the rules, but they will both be fully explained in the file section of the RepiqueRules Yahoo! site on the day the rules are mailed from the World-Wide Repique Rules Headquarters (AKA Chez Jones). They are additional fun game tools, and an example of how easily Die Fighting! can be tweaked and nudged.

So when the rules arrive, and you see those two “extra” cards, just look to the forum to see what serendipity can provide-and think about what you could add to Die Fighting! as well!

Go forth and be serendipitous!Happy

The "Missing" Terrain

As I was sitting here and thinking about terrain on our wargame table tops, it occurred to me that most table tops, and wargame rules, ignore one prominent terrain type: The depression, that slight fold of land that gives cover to a battalion to brigade of troops. Whenever one goes out and strolls the battlefields of the US or Europe, one is constantly struck by how little it takes to completely cover a large number of troops from either vision or fire effects, or both! waterloo was a revelation to me in that regard.

All wargames have rules to cover hills, ridges, even mountains, and their effects on vision and combat are well understood, as are forests, rivers, hedgerows, and structures, but the “lowly” depression is rather overlooked. Most areas of the battlefield lacking a vertical terrain element are treated as the perfectly flat and open area of fuzzy green where combat is not effected-and units of toy soldiers are victims of thundering die rolls. Yet, when we walk the fields where battles did occur, the area of absolutely flat, baize green, open ground is, as I said above, a rarity.

It is hard to go any distance on a battlefield without some obvious ridge line, or forest, blocking vision, but equally limiting is the modest 3-6 foot “swell” or the similar “dip” in the ground. Many a battle report mentions troops that suddenly found themselves in a “dead zone” where enemy shot and shell could not easily reach them. In some cases, they so completely fell from sight the enemy didn’t even know they were there! It was not unusual that this safe zone could be very close to the enemy lines, especially in the terrain of North America during the ACW.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of material on the War of Spanish Succession, and the number of quotes about troops finding refuge in a slight fold of ground, or cavalry closing on a line because its fire was somewhat diminished by a dip in the ground to their front that reduced their fire effect, are plentiful. Even as late as the FPW, the cover in the Mance Ravine was a godsend to the Prussians-and it was impossible to get them to leave it!

So, what I am instituting in my wargames from now on are irregular pieces of darker green felt usually with their long axis parallel to the contesting lines, but not always, placed in certain areas of the ever so flat tabletop, that denote a depression, a dip of ground below the general ground level denoted by the table surface. It can be rated just as other terrain as a Class I or II terrain effect, and may, or may not, have effect on movement. Certainly the more cover it gives the greater the chances that it would mildly impede movement. Its combat inhibiting effects, might be rolled for the first time a unit fires at another unit in the depression-so that neither side would know for certain its total effect prior to that first combat. It could also be a place that a scenario could “hide” a unit that the other side would not know about until it left the cover of that fold of earth. It would be another terrain element for an attacker and defender to consider, and would breakup the monotony of the billiard table battlefield.

Even better, it would easily illustrate an element of wargame terrain that has disappeared from view! How Depressing! Winking

Die Fighting Important Information

Die Fighting Banner #1 jpeg

Die Fighting! is completed and will be sent to the printer after one final review today and tomorrow. The process of proofs and printer's corrections. plus the actual printing process, will take one month.

Die Fighting! will be offered for pre-sale this coming Wednesday, January 26th,and its expected delivery to customers will begin on February 25th, 2011, which is the one year anniversary of Repique Rules. The Repique store page at the website will reflect its availability and will be open for business on Wednesday. The Repique Website will be further revised to carry information and additional details about the rules at that time.

It will retail at $29.95 with $2.50 postage for USA and Canada, and $7.50 postage for the rest of the world. Pre-orders will deduct $5.00 from the cost, and anyone who purchased Zouave directly from me, and is on our database, will get an additional $2.50 off as an established customer for a total of $7.50 off its normal retail price! All discounts will end at midnight, February 24th, 2011 and the retail price of $29.95 a copy will be in effect thereafter.

What is the physical package? Die fighting! is a 60 page saddle-bound booklet with color cover, and B&W interior on quality 60# opaque paper. Production quality will be very similar to Zouave. It has interior photos, art, tables, and clarifying examples. It features an introduction by Pat McGuire and my designer notes and hints. Four separate templates for specific warfare periods within the 1700-1900 era are included. Additionally, three card insert sheets consisting of a rule summary, order of battle sheet, and two sheets of optional phase cards, are included.

The rules cover the period 1700-1900, or what is commonly known as the Horse and Musket period. It features a general set of rules that has been play-tested and developed over the last year by groups in two locations in the US and in England. In addition, there are four rule templates sections, each offering specific rule additions or changes, rating suggestions, and a small bibliography for the Linear Warfare of 1700-1763, the Revolutionary Wars in America and France, the early and later Napoleonic Wars, and finally the Wars of Transition from 1861-1871 which includes the ACW, APW, and the FPW. Additional templates for the Colonial Wars of the later 19th century will be posted on the forum.

The game is set to a battalion/regiment/squadron/battery scale with a ground scale of roughly 25mm to the yard or meter. Twelve to Twenty units a side is the sweet spot, though fewer and greater numbers of units are quite alright. Any figure scale is usable, and test games have been played with 10mm, 15mm, and 28mm figures. Literally, any figure mounting and stands per unit is possible, so no remounting will be required, regardless of the present organization of your armies. Die Fighting! does not use cards, though that is an option, and everybody can move on every turn if he wants to. Only D6 dice are used and only one table is needed during play! Multiple player games are easily done, and two of the optional phasing systems are for solo play.

The game uses several new techniques including the gamers "use up" their die rolls as the game proceeds, an extensive tool-box of turn phasing options is provided which can be crafted to a period's needs or a gamer's tastes, and wagering and the keeping of game statistics over time is easily done. Some of these ideas have been summarized on the Zouave Blog entries on Die Fighting!

Die Fighting! will be closely coordinated with the new "Die Marching!" campaign rules design, slated for publication in time for Historicon in the Summer of 2011.

Die Fighting! will be published in a limited, numbered, first edition, and will be signed upon request. Our previous On Military Matters will represent Die
Fighting! at all shows, and with overseas distributors as they did with Zouave.

Review copies will be sent to the major wargame publications and review websites.

Die Fighting is the best single design I have ever done with a lot of future development possibilities both for campaigns, new eras, and convention play. I look forward to your suggestions and ideas for its future development. The rules are fun, simple, play rapidly, and provide a sure outcome. I hope you all give them a try! If there are any additional questions I'll be happy to answer them here at the forum or by emails sent to me. Thanks to all for your patience over the last few months as Die Fighting's consumed so much of my time. I intend to post here and on the blog more frequently now that the pig is through the snake.

Until then, keep an eye on the website, and order your copy on Wednesday!

Good wargaming!

Bob Jones

Die Fighting! Status

Happy binary day!

As a general status report for all:

1. Cover photos and rights have been secured-they are great!

2. Printing arrangements have been set and arranged.

3. Layout proceeds, but it is going very well. The book will contain, text, graphics, photos, and line art.

4. It should wrap up soon. I will announce on the forum when pre-sales
begin, and the website will include Die Fighting! at discount on the store page. I will check against my mailing list for the Repique "return customer" discount.

Price point looks like $29.95 for the book with playing aid inserts. I will
maintain a $2.50 postage charge for US and Canada and drop the overseas postage to $5.00 on Die Fighting! Discounts for pre-orders ($2.50) and previous buyers of Zouave ($2.50) will apply during the pre-sale period only. On Military Matters will be handling all convention and overseas distribution.

The rules include period-specific tables and rules for NINE different periods-WSS,SYW, AWI, French Revolution, early and later Napoleonic, ACW, Austro-Prussian, and FPW.Bibliographies for texts used and recommended are included along with designer notes, and two six-card "Phase Sequence" sheets in addition to the player aid cards. It’s quite a package!

These rules are the best I've ever done-no question. They are a complete departure from Piquet-no sequence deck, no multi-sided dice, everybody in the game may move on every turn, and there are only two tables used in play-a Weapons table and a Free Dice table which are unique to each period. The games have a definitive end, and are simple enough for convention play. They may be handicapped for play against younger children, wagers may be made and scores may be kept. I'm sure some gamers will keep stats just like sabermetricians.

The rules are very scalable, and offer a lot for future development and
expansion into other periods, as well as new rule ideas. They take the idea of a toolbox, that I first introduced in Piquet, to a new level with many permutations of play sequence begging to be tried and experimented with. Every day brings a number of new ideas to my mind-some that will even surprise the play testers!

This not a pre-sale announcement which will be clearly made, and also indicated at the Repique Rules store, only when I have sent the camera-ready rule set to the printer.

A Die Fighting Battle Report

For those of you that missed its initial release, here’s Tony Fryer’s spirited account of a Die Fighting playtest held in November, 2010:


Enjoy! Any questions concerning the report may be asked at the Zouave Yahoo! Forum. This forum may be reached by clicking on the link in the left hand sidebar of this website.