Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

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!