Wargame Thoughts and Commentary
Game Mechanics

Malplaquet Redux-Still Hardfought!

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On Saturday, the 30th of May, our gaming group gathered to refight the bloodiest of the Marlburian battles, Malplaquet. This battle, though technically a win for Britain and its allies, was a very near thing, with the Allied losses nearly three times that of the French. In fact, The commander of the French, Marshall Villars, wrote to Louis that one more such victory would be the end of Marlborough. The losses and minimal gains from the battle, coupled with a political change in the English government and court, soon found Marlborough back in England relieved of his command and treated with distain by his countrymen.

Marshall Villars went on to further successes, primarily in Flanders, and was viewed by the French as the finest commander of the WSS. He and his co-commander, Boufflers, were certainly of a higher caliber than the Allies had faced in the preceding battles of the Marlborough Quartet; Blenheim, Ramillies, and Oudenarde. Villars was a true fighting general, being badly wounded leading his troops from the front in this battle. Boufflers, the wise old veteran, was superb in his assumption of command late in the battle, and extricated the French Army from a tight situation, and effectively forestalled any pursuit.

As in many of the engagements Flanders against Marlborough, the French were outnumbered in men and guns on the battlefield, but VIllars had skillfully maneuvered his army into a strong position, reinforced by earthworks and redans, for a defensive stand. He anchored his flanks on the forests of Sart/Blangies on the left, and Lainieres on his right. The center was held by his best units of the Maison Rouge. The only possible mistake was in sending a considerable amount of his cavalry to guard other points along the forested front lines. He was at a disadvantage in all arms. He also deployed the cavalry in such a way as they could only be used once the infantry line was breached.

Marlborough, as was his fashion, attacked! He concentrated allied forces under Eugene, led by Schulemberg and Lottum, to take the foremost works to the right center, while he had Orkney prepared to assault the center. The Dutch under the Prince of Orange were prepared to assault the heavy works on the French right. They were to take grievous loss , but gain great honor in this attack. Meanwhile a smaller force on the extreme right of the Allied line, under General Withers, worked their way through the woods to flank the French Left. Historically, this force drew off a lot of the French reserve from the center to counter the threat. Marlborough then attacked the center strongly and followed with a determined Dutch attack on the French Right.

Throughout battle the threat to the French left drew the attention of Villars ( and was where he was wounded) and sucked in the reserve, so the center and right flank attacks were hard to stop. The French made an orderly retreat. The reports vary, but the Allies lost in excess of 20,000 troops, which was the highest of the War, while the French lost 7-10,000 troops.

The Game Setup

Terrain- I used maps from Fortescue's "History of The British Army Vol. 1," Chandlers's "Marlborough's as Military Commander", and James Falkner's "Marlborough's Wars" to set the battlefield terrain. They all varied a bit , so I "averaged" their terrain and the extent of that terrain. I judged the woods of Blangiers and Sart to be Class II woods (1s and 2s don't count for movement or combat) and the Lanieres wood to be a more dense class III. The French earthworks were mostly Class II in the advanced post in the Sart wood, and across the center, but sturdier Class III on each flank. The structures at La Folie were Class II. The streams on the left flank were Class II, against movement only. The rest of the ground was deemed open ground with little effect on movement or combat.

Troops- I positioned the troops roughly as per historical accounts with the Dutch (including the Guard te Voet) on the allied Left, Orkney and Lottum more toward the center, and the bulk of Eugene's forces to the right center with Wither's flanking force on the far right. I tried to find appropriate troops such as Prussians in Lottum's Force, The Dutch Guard on the Right and the Maison Rouge Guard Infantry in the French Center to match the historical deployment.

Command- The Allied forces were placed under Orange on the left in command of the Dutch forces, Orkney in the center command; the bulk of the British Forces, Marlborough was located with Orkney. On the Allied Right was Eugene's forces, mostly Austrian, with a few Danes and English in Wither's Force. There were two special commanders, Withers and Lottum, that could add 1 die to any unit under their command-but Withers could only add to cavalry forces in his command, and Lottum only to infantry. They were not used to generate dice on 4R cards, but were restored on every 4R card for use in movement, combat or to rally of their stipulated forces.

The French Command was of a much higher quality than in preceding battles with both Villars and Boufflers being 5s! The other two commanders were a more usual 3.

Both OOB's covering this game may be found in the File section of the Yahoo! site in the Malplaquet AAR folder.

Cards and Dice rolls and Usage-The Phase Decks were standard, as was the process of doing initiative and play. We used the new rules ( see Update "Command and Proximity Guidance,Version 1 dated March 20th 2015) for 4R Dice roll, where the CinC got three and Sub-commanders two initial rolls, prior to play, and one green free die added to rolls thereafter. We used Proximity Movement rules from the same update. We also used the Australian Variant on Command dice, where any number may be sent, but only the high die counts in the totals.

Special Rules- The two special commanders and 4R roll adjustments noted above.

We also had two very special rules tailored to actual occurrences from the actual battle:

The Withers command of horse and foot was placed on the road on the extreme right of the Allied position about a move or so from the La Folie, but it really wasn't there, and would only appear when the allies secretly rolled a 1 or 2 on a D6, when an Officer Action Card was turned. This would add a lot of tension to both sides as the French saw the figures on the table, but hesitated for two turns to advance and take La Folie because it took awhile to note that they weren't doing anything, even when they probably should've. This simulated the hesitancy of command, and the growing fear of the weakness of the exposed flank. The Allies, conversely, could not count on exactly when that threat could be maximized.


Also, on the French Right the French had a light battery that was actually on the field next to the far right redoubt, but in the real battle was not seen by the Dutch until they were almost upon it, as it was hidden by a fold of ground. It had devastating effects when it opened up on the very surprised Dutch. I replicated this by telling the French that there was a battery there which would only be seen by the enemy when they were 12" from it, or they opened fire, when it would be placed on the field. (One of the advantages of people being less versed about the WSS battles than other engagements such as waterloo or Gettysburg, is this sort of historical surprise can truly be replicated.)

Initial Deplyment from the French RightView from Allied Right

The initial Deployments from the viewpoint of the French Right Flank (Top) The initial deployments from the British Right Flank View. (Bottom)

The Player's
- It should be noted that two of the players: The French Left Flank Commander (Goesbriand) and the Player playing both Villlars, the CinC, and Boufflers, were new to the rules and inexperienced. The Allied central Commander-playing Marlborough and Orkney is our best single player.

The Game Play

No sooner did the game begin than the French Left Wing Commander (Goesbriand) began shifting his reserve made up of a mix of Infantry and cavalry to bolster the extreme left as he feared an attack through La Folie. Five battalions of Infantry and four regiments of horse and dragoons began moving from the left center behind the Salient in column to redeploy along the stream below La Folie and to secure the bridge over the stream. He poised the Royal Dragoons at the bridge where they might cross and secure La Folie. This also supported the infantry line that ran along the stream below the Sart Forest.

Rush to the Left

The Allies lost no time in attacking the salient that stuck out from the Sart Forest. Lottum's Prussians Advanced on the earthworks supported by the fire of the Prussian light battery. That forward position was held by the La Reine Regiment and the Regiment Clare (Irish). The latter was elite and crack!


The Salient
The Salient: La Reine (front) and Clare


However, The perfectly coordinated attack by the platoon firing Prussians and the accuracy of their artillery, soon resolved the issue in the Allies favor, throwing La Reine back in disorder and routing Regiment Clare with a well placed flank fire. The salient fell and left a considerable hole in the French Line-filled , for the moment by a Bavarian light battery and the Rosen-Allemande Chevau-leger, supported by the Mousquetaires du Roi, resplendent on their Gray horses. The Tallard Regiment also hastened forward to fill the gap.

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Clare running from the salient while Prussian Volleys ring out behind them.

The French noted that Withers flanking force was not advancing. This seemed strange. But in a leap of courage the Royal Dragoons galloped forward and seized La Folie. The town was very run down and the well was dry, and no other beverages were to be found, somewhat deflating their enthusiasm over the capture. ( The village was a 4 dice objective, but the total roll was an incredibly low 9 resource dice gained!) Still no response from Wither's command! This was very odd and worrying to Goesbriand. He moved even more troops to the left.

Royal Dragoons take La Folie
The Dragoons du Roi take La Folie!



Meanwhile, elsewhere on the field, Orkney's British stepped off to the attack, supporting the initial advances of Lottum to their right. They looked impressive in their serried lines of red and colorful banners!

The British and Prussian force begins its AttackThe British Center Attack advances on the Frenc  lines



The pressure of this attack, was immense upon the French, and so a die burning to-and-fro began on the French left flank. Troops that had been headed to bolster the flank were turned about and rerouted to the developing crisis below the salient. The command stand for this flank began moving back toward the center as well. Goesbriand was burning a lot of dice and should have started requesting additional resources from Villars. He did not. Likewise, Villars should've been more involved with BOTH the Left flank and Boufflers in the center, but, he, too seemed overwhelmed with the extent of the attack and made a brief attempt to head to the left to get closer to the action, But then the Dutch assailed the French right under D'Artagnan.

The Dutch Advance!

The Dutch attack was very deliberate and slow, but with the Dutch Guards leading, very threatening. This was added to by a flanking maneuver by a force of Bothmer's Dragoons through the Lanieres woods. This was checkmated by D'Artagnan with his Listerois Dragoons who met the enemy at the stream in the woods and the rest of the battle was spent by both forces taking pot-shots from the brush, but no one venturing to cross the stream under fire. D'Artagnan seemed unflustered by this attack and felt sure he could hold them off, especially when the unseen gun arrived!

The Standoff in the Langieres Wood


The French left was also coming under increased pressure. British Dragoons has filtered through the wood, supported by some Austrian Line units, and were taking pot-shots at the French earthworks as well.


Pepper's Dragoons Advance on the Royal Italians!
Pepper's and Hay's Dragoons moving forward to fire on the Royal Italiens


To add insult to injury, it was at this moment that Wither's force finally arrived. He immediately invested La Folie with the Dragoons du Roi trapped inside, and spread his force out along the river to fire upon and engage the Bavarians on the left.

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The center was heating again with the Dutch overrunning two batteries, and confronting the Garde Francaises in their works! The British closed in a beautiful sweep of infantry. Again, Villars seemed mesmerized by the attack, and, even the veteran commander of the Center, Boufllers, did little more than respond unit by unit to the enemy's attacks. No one was looking at the big picture or trying to form a concerted plan of defense! (No dice had been sent by Villars from his Command bucket for two 4R cards! Goesbriand was desperately low on dice, but said nothing to Villars. Both were very far apart even for Villars, a 5 rated commander, so sending dice was problematical)

The Center Attack Comes Home
The British-Dutch center attack strikes home!


At that moment the word rang out from the left flank that that command was out of Dice!!! The French inserted a Concede card in their deck and retired, but , as in the real battle, the British were in no mood to pursue as their attacks had cost more than a few dice as well!


Tactical Analysis

The French had earthworks, two 5 rated commanders, and due to the layout of objective markers being predominately on the French side, the allies were forced to attack. True they were outnumbered, but most of that was in horse and guns which the terrain and deployments greatly reduced in usefulness. The horse couldn't be brought to bear until the infantry battle was won, and guns are far more useful on defense than offense in this period because of their limited mobility.

The French lost because of two factors:

1. The key players on their side were inexperienced and didn't keep tabs on their resource dice. Goesbriand needed to more forcefully apprise his commander of his lack of dice, which he lost rapidly once Withers got untracked, and he began dancing back and forth between fighting on the left and plugging the breach created by the Prussians. His vacillations spent dice to no good purpose.

2. The inexperienced player manning both Villars and Boufflers was totally distracted and swamped by the task of prioritizing his commitments. He never decided firmly where Villars was to be, and never assigned his command dice over the last two 4R cards! Boufflers did an admirable job with the simple task of defending works, but the Villars player never seemed to understand that it was his job to get command resources to his subordinates and form and stick to a plan.

By way of information: At the games end, Goesbriand had no dice (precipitating the Concede loss), Boufflers had 23, and D'Artagnan had 31. Villars had 70 Dice! In the Allied Forces, Eugene/Withers had 35, Orkney/Lottum, in the center, had 65, and Orange and his Dutch, had a mere 17 (accounting for their hesitant advance). Marlborough, as CinC, had 25 in his bucket at game's end.

It is worth noting that the French with one bucket empty, had only 18 fewer dice, BUT 70 of their dice were of no use to the fighting forces or sub-commands! They were undistributed in the CinC's bucket!

To paraphrase Olivier's filmed Hamlet, " This was a tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind!"

The ultimate rule of command. DO something! Make a decision! Worse than a bad decision is none at all!

Conclusions

The game played smoothly and well, with six players playing a total of over 52 units with over 550 28mm foot figures, 152 mounted figures, 10 guns with over 50 crew-not to mention powder wagons, General's Carriages, and Louis XIVs Wine wagon! From beginning to end just about 4 hrs. Everyone agreed this was a great scenario.

Rules and Play critique.

The added rules were:

'Australian Rules' for using Yellow Dice-Worked very well.
Proximity Rules for red Dice expenditure- was a great success and will be standard.
The new 4R card rules from the March 20th email- These worked just as expected in all ways.
The "Hidden" gun-worked well. It is an example of added creative rules that DFII accepts so readily. This can allow conformance to historical accounts in a very original fashion.
The rules for "special" commanders was another seamless and easy way to reflect history. In this case, Lottum's expert handling of his attack on the salient, and Withers well executed flanking maneuver.
Wither's threat without "Truly Being There" and the delayed arrival, added suspense for both sides, and it took the French a bit figure out that the figures really weren't there yet, thus delaying their capture of La Folie.

Next

I am really growing fond of recreating historical battles and plan to do Oudenarde next, and I'm intending a whole series smaller Spanish battles using my less used Spanish figures, and my new Portuguese. I'll be adding some Catalan Hapsburg Spanish as well. Can't wait to get Berwick in command! For those new to this Blog, Ramillies was done earlier this year in March, and the AAR may be found here in the 2015 archive. There is also a battle report on Waterloo as if fought 100 years earlier by Marlborough in the 2013 archive.

Setting Up a DFII Game: Step by Step


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After reading a few initial attempts at setting up a DFII game, it occurred to me that a little experienced advice on that process might be of use to new players-especially GMs. DFII is not difficult in any way, but it is unique and different enough from many other designs that perhaps a few pointers might be helpful.

The first step in setting up a DFII game is the choice and arrangement of the battlefield. DFII is designed to reward the smart use of terrain and what was historically called the Coup d'oeil, an eye for the ground. A good battlefield for DFII is not a flat plain without any variance-a literal billiard table without hills, forests, rivers, hedges, farms, or streams, but a field that has a wide variety of terrain to consider. Look to real battles for guidance. Since terrain is also the place where the very important objective markers are placed it also provides reasons for tactical choices and allows dice replenishment other than just the 4R card.

Here's a typical battlefield set up by me for a DFII game:

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Note the use of woods, a number hills, farmer's fields, Roads and road exits,
and the central village. This not a barren field!

Unlike many wargames, DFII is quite comfortable with additional terrain, for several reasons; it provides for variance of sight lines, movement, and combat situations, and, of course, provides a rationale for the placement of objectives. The most obvious means of replenishment of red dice in DFII is, of course, the 4R card, where the potential is delimited by the command quality of the force, but another method of replenishment is the taking of objectives which may provide a greatly variable amount of dice dependent on the perception of its tactical value by the Game Master, and a variable roll by the capturing commander. A 6 dice objective would yield an average of 21 dice, but could range from 6 to 36!

These objectives give a reason for tactical choices in the line of attack, and which commands may be given the responsibility for taking them. They allow the game master to shape the battle, and reward the gamer that when observing the field of battle can see where the key objectives are and the best route for attack. They add immense interest and decision making opportunities to the initial set-up and the priority of moves. If its nothing but a flat ground, then the most likely outcome is two lines advancing without much more reasons for doing so than that's the only thing to be done. It produces a low interest game-more dependent on die rolls than any other factor. This is true of any rule set, by the way.

When I plan a DFII battle, I usually start by setting out the terrain well in advance of the day-either by placing the terrain pieces if it's a "home" game, to having a small sketch map for an "Away" game that allows quick terraining of the battlefield.

Here are the steps for setting up a good battle field:

1. Think of the battle field in terms of sectors either right, center or left, or a sector for each probable player/command. Think of the three depth Zones ,or thirds, of the field as described in the objective slides 24 and 25 as being friendly, neutral, and enemy.

2. First, lay out a few hills. Try to distribute them in a meaningful way. They may be clumped into any sector (right, left, or center) or zone (Friendly, Neutral, Enemy) on the able top or laid out across the sectors. Some may be in one army's zone, but at least a few in the neutral ground.

3. Then lay out forests in the same manner. Few battlefields in Europe or America lack a few forested areas. Most of my games have forests as they provide interesting restrictions on movement and line of sight that provoke thought and planning for movement.

4. If a stream or river is to be placed, they are now put on the field avoiding, obviously, hills and high ground, and most forested areas. I don't over do this as streams and especially rivers can really divide a battlefield and make some of it useless for play. For these reasons, I usually use low level, crossable streams, rather than raging rivers, and they generally run from one short end to a long side of the table, seldom straight across or along the length of a table.

5. Then place the roads. They will naturally conform to the terrain, though they may run through a forest, cross a hill, or a stream. I usually provide a crossroads or two for interest, but that is not required. At least one or two roads-especially on a long table, should run from one side to the other-though seldom directly. Bridges are placed on water crossings, unless the stream is very shallow and a ford is simply declared.

6. Finally, structures are placed. Cross roads and road exits are excellent for villages of two or three houses or a church. Villages are also common at bridges and fords. One or two generally suffice. Additional placement of independent farm houses and adjoining fields are then considered. This may include a wind or watermill. Any earthworks, or walls are the final touch.

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That crossroad objective is probably at least an 8, as is the church.
The houses may be 6's. Village combat is hard fought and costly, but
the reward in red dice may be high!


Your objective as a game master is to provide, a fairly balanced field, with a variety of advantages and disadvantages to either side. This is then enhanced by you by assigning objectives and their values. There is no fixed number of objectives or their value, but I generally like to provide at least one in each sector and zone. Certainly hills, road exits, cross roads and any structures, whether bridges, farmhouses, or village houses demand an objective value. Some may even get two, as the rules allow a value for the original taker, and a value, usually higher, if they are retaken.

The key thought is that the expense of moving and fighting for these objectives are paid for by acquiring dice for successfully taking the objective. Remember, you only get dice for objectives taken in the neutral zone, or in the enemy's zone. Road exits are usually rated quite high (10 or more!) , Hills vary from 6 to 8, Structures may vary from a 4 point shack to an 8 point stone church, to a double digit fortification. A bridge may be a rickety 4 point wooden bridge to a 6 point stone bridge. Values may be taken up or down by where they are on the battlefield-a road exit in neutral ground on a flank may be lower than the exit which is the enemy's primary line of retreat. Judgement is required here. Some surprises for reasons of the scenario, that are concealed from the players, are certainly possible and encouraged.

Please note that woods or river lines are rarely an objective, but usually a hindrance to getting to objectives. The same is true of walls and hedges, etc. They are obstructive to fire and movement, but not truly objectives.

Of course, Historical battlefields may be used. My greatest fun was setting out a Marlborough at Waterloo scenario for the guys, without telling them what the battlefield was. The AAR is here on the blog and other materials in the files section of this site. The key is scaling it , or a part of it, to your tabletop, and assigning objective markers and values. Hougoumont, The English high ground, La Haye Sainte, Plancenoit, the various road exits, and, of course, La Belle Alliance, must all be given a value.

Creating and Using The Armies

This is actually pretty straightforward, much more so than the challenge and fun of setting out the battlefield.

The process should be:

1. Either assign commands and their make-up by scenario, or use the tables to roll for command sizes, and then rate the commanders, including the CinC. There is absolutely no reason, with a little experience that you cannot assign the commander's rating to suit the scenario needs or history. The rating systems are there solely as a convenience. I have come to prefer using the historical commanders/card draw method. It allows greater input from historical descriptions of commanders and game master control. Either method is fine, but I would put a proviso on first games by inexperienced gamers and game masters. In your first games use average commanders and avoid inept commanders, and for that matter Superior commanders until you see the mechanisms at work. Having the other personalities are just fine, as it adds a lot of color to the game, but a CinC or Sub-commander rolling just 2 dice on a 4R card, or another with the advantages of a Superior commander is better done when one has a firm understanding of the effects of these rare, but disruptive, leaders. I would also allow an extra roll on the pre-game rolls. This allows for "stupid" mistakes and rule misunderstandings causing a very quick end to play.

2. Roll for unit ratings. Remember units stay within their commands, and under their assigned commanders. You may end up with great troops under a less than sterling lead, and vice versa. This just adds to play, and forces new players to begin to understand the phrase about using the right tool for a job!

3. Historical deployments are pretty much set, but in non-historical engagements use the step by step deployment. In DFII deployment is VERY important. It is difficult to compensate for a very bad initial deployment. Look at the ground before you, as you become aware of the enemy deployment, make sure to consider your next placement carefully.

The initial placement of officers is crucial, especially where on the field the CinC is located. You must USE command! Command in DFII is not some passive, well painted, diorama stand, it is an integral part of your army's capability. In many wargames they might have some role in rally, or troops that get too far from them may have some restrictions on movement, but in DFII they are crucial to every aspect of an army's actions, from movement to attacking-especially for melee, as well as rally. They also directly dictate the command "energy" and willingness (capability) to advance on the enemy and fight, as expressed in the red dice.

The troops do the fighting and their ratings, type, and deployment, strongly influence combat outcomes as in any game, but it is important to realize that DFII is much more of a command game than many wargamers are used to.

As a special aside, try to use discretion in launching cavalry attacks willy-nilly about the table. As in most of the Horse and Musket period, cavalry is literally a double-edged sword. Yes, it moves rapidly. Certainly, it can mix up very soon in a battle-especially against other cavalry. But it is amazingly brittle! It can burn up a ton of command and red dice in a twinkling of an eye. Holding ground with it against infantry is very hard as the infantry firepower can be telling. It is far too tempting to be wasteful of resource dice, and lose a critical amount of them to no good purpose. In pursuit later in a battle, they can be crushing, but as the point of the attack-be very, very careful. I've seen too many games lost by players who got their horse and guns too far in advance of the infantry, and too early in the battle.

4. DO NOT DO GENERAL ATTACKS! This is especially true in early turns as they simply burn up too many dice, the potential for dice loss from combat overwhelms certain commands that are not suited by command or quality of troops for the aggressive attack, and it just won't work. Seek to attack with one command, or a part of one command,at a perceived weak spot in the enemy deployment or their selected ground. When ,and if,that has succeeded in achieving the effect of damaging the enemy, and providing you with dice from their retreat and captured objectives, THEN other commands may exploit the enemy's sad situation and add their weight to the victory.

Think of Gettysburg or Waterloo, Each day of Gettysburg had a separate specific attack, ending with Pickett's Charge on the last day. General attacks along the whole Union line did not occur. Surely there were feints and threats, but the energy invested in battle on each day was focused. At Waterloo there are separate, distinct attacks. First the wasteful attacks at Hougoumont, the French attack on the British Line, The British foolishly overextended counter attack with cavalry, The struggle for La Haye Sainte, and the crucial Prussian attack from mid-battle on at Plancenoit, until the final assault on the British ridge by the Guard, and the final collapse. Neither side attacked everywhere, all at once, no general advance by the British occurred until the French collapse occurred in the dusky twilight.

DFII is designed to reflect this pattern. Many wargames do not punish everybody (on both sides!) for simply advancing to the attack like the two gangs in the movie of Gangs of New York; Die Fighting II does…harshly!

5. You want to win your early tactical battles as they will deprive the enemy of dice, and possibly gain you a number. Not always, but often, these wins can start a snowball effect against the enemy with objectives and routed units strengthening your army in a growing and ever more dominant manner. Pick your initial fights carefully. These are not casual decisions. Certainly, added reserves, an unexpected bad card, especially a missing 4R card, can reverse a situation rapidly, and a counter-attack against an overconfident attacker can shift things in a striking manner, but each firefight and melee, each movement, is to be done with a purpose. Unlike most wargames, each move does have a cost! What is its reward?

I hope these bits of guidance will ease the way for newbies into what I believe to be a unique and very rewarding game design. It is different, in a very good way!


Die Fighting 2
A recent WSS game: Note the objective markers and the proximity of the command.

And Now For a REALLY BIG Battle!

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Since the release of Die Fighting II and some very thought provoking exchanges with Gary Barr, I have begun to think through the process of scaling up DF2 for truly large, mega-games.

I mentioned in the designer notes to DFII, found on the DVD, the fact that DFII is very scalable-simply extend the table, each player/commander brings his "Division" of 12 or so units to the game and away you go. However, I've got a few additional thoughts on the matter for those that would like to attempt such a project.

First, gamers should be encouraged to build their twelve unit commands for both sides in a period, so, just as in reenactments, they can fill in on whatever side is needed. It wouldn't be much of a game without both sides being represented, and in competitive numbers.

Second, I see a natural way to build corps, and armies in this system. If a player/command is roughly a "divisional sized" force, then a game with 3-4 commands on a side at one table is really a corps sized action on the table, and, if there were three such tables, you would have, roughly speaking, an army sized action.

This would require a few adjustments. What we now designate as a CIC for 2-3 commands, should, in these larger actions, be a corps commander, and there could be another figure/role/person above these three corps commanders , who would then be an army commander.

In game terms the rules for a given table would remain unchanged. Each command stand would generate and send dice to his command, and the Corps command (ex-CIC) would be able to send command dice to any unit on his table, or his 4R card generated red resource dice to any of his sub commanders at that table. However, there would be an added Army Commander (CIC) figure, which could be placed at any table who could send his command dice to any unit he can reach with his command radius, and his Red Resource dice to any corps commander within his command reach , who could then add it to his generated dice and pass them on to his divisions commanders (the players) and their command troops.

Allied Command


Using the core rules for a table, where each command rolls twice at the beginning of the game for red dice and the Corps commander (Ex-CIC) once, and then all roll once on each 4R card there after, we would add a roll for the Army Commander where he would roll three times before the game, and freely pass those dice to any corps commander he chooses, and twice thereafter on a 4R card that occurs at the table where he is located. He is free, of course, to move to another table using standard movement rules as he sees fit. The three tables would be thought of as contiguous, and could be designated the Left, Center,and Right Flanks.

Victory conditions would be the same as the standard game at any table, but the degree of victory would be judged by the mix of wins over the three tables. If a table has a command out of dice at the end of the turn, that is , as before, a decisive victory. If two go empty at any time during a turn, it's a rout. A concede is a narrow loss. All of this is standard.

But the battle would be judged by the outcome at the three tables.

If, at any time two tables rout on one side-that it an Austerlitz style victory for the winners.

If two tables on one side lose decisively that is, of course, a decisive victory ala Gettysburg!

if two tables concede, Its a narrow victory-with the "Bragging rights" winner being judged by total units eliminated-so the victory could be a Pyrrhic one.

On any mix of results which are "equal", i.e. one side loses a table decisively, and so does the other, and the third table is a concede, it is a draw, with the same check for Phyrric victory measurement. The same would be true of one table routing, on each side, with the third being a concede.

Any battle where all turn out to be a concede, with both sides having at least one concede, is an absolute draw. In campaigns, the side that wins the Pyrrhic count or has the fewest concedes holds the field.

Any battle where there is a mix of Concedes, Decisive losses, and Routs on both sides, a simple point system with 1 point for a conceded victory, 2 points for a decisive victory, and 3 points for a rout is applied with the point winner being the victor of the battle. Tie points is a draw. a 1 point edge is a narrow victory, 2 points a decisive victory, and 3 points a Glorious and Wonderful Victory!

Example: Side A-Wins on Table 1 by a decisive victory, Side B- wins on table two by routing the opposition. Side B Concedes on table three. This would leave Side A with 3 points, but side B would have 3 points, hence a draw!

This could provide for a really fascinating convention gaming experience. Three such tables would easily handle six players (three on a side), plus two Corps commanders at each table, for a total of 24 players, plus two Army Commanders, one for each side, for a grand total of 26 players involved in one battle!

The command would be tiered, with the command dice and resource dice flowing through the command structure in a pretty good metaphor for command and control, as well as command focus and will!

This is all just my immediate thoughts, but it would be a lot of fun organizing this event. Terrain at each table could either be identical, ala duplicate bridge tourneys, or each could be set up to reflect a real historical battle by sections, or just randomly generated. It should be available to both sides prior to the battle. Ratings and rolls for command size ( you bring your full complement of 12 units, BUT you may only use 7-11 of them). would be done at the game. Since the game resolution will be unaffected at any table-the entire battle will be resolved in 4 hours or so-so one could simply switch sides, or armies and refight it!

This is just my immediate thoughts and needs some fleshing out and testing of premises, but I see no immediate reason it could not work. It places no greater demand on any player than the creation of his 12 unit command. Again, the players on one side could consult and create large vavalry commands or Grande Batteries, in any one command, as long as the total army percentages were reasonable. It could make large battle playable, and allow for team victories that would be great pub conversations, and undoubtedly lead to commemorative T-shirts, cups, and trophies.

Die Fighting II and its inherent scalability should handle this easily. I would appreciate any comments from the readers on this idea over at the Yahoo! Repique Rules forum. (Hit the button in this left hand column of this page).



A Little Amuse-Bouche

DFII PHOTO


Whew! This project has been very challenging from beginning to end, and the last week was no exception. Packing up all those orders and getting them to the postoffice and mailed was a major task! (Note to self: NEVER let a mailing of Pre-publication orders coincide with the first week of holiday mailing!)

Just as every other step along the way, it got solved, and it feels good to have the rules, as different as they are, and as different as the publication method most certainly is, on the way to your perusal and reaction. I feel like the writer of a broadway musical must feel when the curtain goes up on opening night!

I, again, thank you all for taking a chance on this unique ruleset and its unusual packaging.

Speaking of the package, it is,as described in all my previous postings, a pretty extensive amount of materials for a mailing weight of 1.7 oz.! Truly an amazing amount of easily accessible info in a small package.

However, you know my penchant for adding something not mentioned. In the original edition of Die Fighting I included two cards that were never previously mentioned-Creative X factor, and the Concede! card. The former has been lightly used, but Concede became more important over the development of DFII. Well I’ve added four new cards to the Printable Phase Card PDF for DFII. What are they and why were they added?

Die Fighting II has an unusually large capacity for expansion of game players-essentially unlimited-except for figure, players and dice, but not the rules or game play. There is much more to be developed over time, I am sure, but I think people will be very pleased with its ability to do a large game. But as I was nearing the end of packaging the design, and well after all videotaping and editing was done, I did begin to reflect on an aspect of wargaming I had not given as much consideration to-Solo Gaming! It’s the antipodes of the large convention game experience, but an amazingly large number of wargamers game by themselves either from circumstance or choice.

Die Fighting II has all the attributes of many games that use cards for either activation or sequencing (two different things) in that the solo gamer can shuffle the opponent’s deck and not be too sure of what’s in that deck in DFII, or the exact sequence, giving him some challenges even when the other side is being played by the deck. But, it’s still through him, and some gamers will just not play the other side with as must gusto as their side, and may actually “Cheat” a little in trying to anticipate the deck’s content and probable next actions. (Not you, of course). So I thought these four cards up as a way to salt the pool of potential cards that will be used to choose the actual phase deck as explained in DFII. If they make the final phase deck for turn they add another level of challenges for the gamer, that should increase their enjoyment of the game. Three of the cards would be added to the “Dummy” player’s potential deck pool, but one (Lose Turn) would be placed in the solo players card pool.

However, It occurred to me after they were added to the sheets that these same cards could be added by very specific scenario demands, or historical justification, to standard multi-player game, but I would be very careful in their use in a regular game, and very specific on their justification and how many times they are used.

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They are: Match Phase, where whatever phase card the “enemy” (you) have showing from their last phase, the “dummy” side gets for its card. Exchange Phases, where both armies act on the other army’s card! Add Phase, where upon turning this card the Dummy player would have a card drawn at random and unseen from the pile of cards that were not selected for the phase deck and act on it in ADDITION to the next card in their deck!!, and, finally, Lose Phase, on turning this card the card play immediately moves on to the next enemy (Dummy) phase bypassing the solo gamer’s phase (this would be placed in the solo player’s potential card deck!).

I think this will make the solo version of DFII a pretty fun and appealing wargame!

We’ll talk more when the packet arrives!