Sunday, June 27, 2010

I shot myself in the foot...

...and then cracked my skull open when I bent over to examine the damage! At least that is how it seemed to me.

This is a tale of scenario design gone awfully, horribly, catastrophically, disastrously, and hopelessly wrong. Brace yourself, it isn't pretty!

First, to set the mood, a bit of background. We play 25mm Napoleonics with the General de Brigade rule system that has been modified to fit our 1:30 ratio mounting system. I love playing Napoleonics, it is easily my favorite period to wargame. I love the ridiculously ornate uniforms, the over exaggerated tales of heroics, and grand sweep of events triggered by the movements of Napoleon's troops. I enjoy the General de Brigade rules well enough. They are a bit clunky in a few areas but are generally simple and fair to all nations. However, they lack ... something. Perhaps it is the old "national modifiers" that I became so used to in wargaming over the years (if troops are French they get a +10 to morale, Russians become unformed if they move, British troops get a +10 when firing while in line ... that sort of thing) or some other "flavor" that is missing. Don't get me wrong, I am glad some of those things aren't in the rules as they were just plain wrong. This all led me to a brilliant idea (not really)...

Since I did not want to tinker with the rules, I decided to "spice up" my most recent scenario with a couple of random event charts to provide a bit of excitement. To be fair, it worked. However, things worked out in a manner that I could not have imagined...

On the map you can see the general dispositions. Just off the game table behind Lindenau there is a stream of French troops retreating away from Leipzig. The Allied objective is to take Lindenau to threaten the French escape route. Each turn, the French would roll for the result of recruiting efforts by a fictional French officer, Crappet, who appears in our game when "unusual" events occur.

Allies Prussians/Russians/Minor Germans:
1 Division General - Russian
6 Brigade General (They may all be used or some may be kept as AdC)
14 Infantry Battalions (1 of them can be light infantry 2nd Rate Skirmish, 1 other will be Elite class)
2 Cavalry Regiments (heavy, light, lancer, whatever...)
1 Artillery Battery of 3 sections of 8lb foot guns

French Empire
1 General de Division Wolski
4 General de Brigade (and the ever present Crappet will be lurking, of course!)
10 Infantry Battalions
2 Cavalry Regiments
1 Artillery Battery of 3 sections

Special troop rules:
The Imperial force will be composed of 6 Polish Battalions and 4 French Line Battalions. The Poles and French Infantry are Veteran quality but must roll 1d6 EVERY time that their quality is relevant (morale, charging, shooting, etc...). Roll 1d6 with a 1 or 2 rating as 2ND LINE, 3-5 rates as VETERAN, and a 6 reveals that unit to be ELITE at that moment. These ratings are not permanent but change with every instance where quality affects events. This is to portray the unsteady performance of otherwise good troops.

The Crappet factor/Le factour de Crappet:
For a further bit of fun, there are lots of troops streaming away from Leipzig to escape the Allied advance just off board. Chef de Escadron Crappet can be sent to attempt to persuade those troops to assist Wolski's troops in holding Lindenau. Of course, since it is our old friend Crappet things may not work out just as planned. During the order phase, at the beginning of the turn, Crappet can roll on 1d6 in an attempt to persuade troops to join the fight. He may roll once every turn but he can only add a maximum of 2 battalions to the French force.

1 = Crappet has learned nothing during his travels, especially German. He leads a battalion of Prussian Landwehr(LINE) onto the board after mistaking them for Poles... Iron Cross flags or Silver Eagle flags, who can tell the difference? They appear on the French back line wherever the French commander chooses.

2 = Crappet locates a priest who will bless the troops in Lindenau in exchange for Crappet lowering his pistols. His blessing adds +1 to any/all Polish/French troop quality roll for this entire turn.

3 = Crappet gets jeered as the troops keep on retreating past him. However he meets a Saxon AdC. He sends him towards the fight. What Crappet does not know is that the Saxons have changed sides! Roll 1d6 with 1 – 4 = AdC goes over to the Allies. 5 or 6 = the Imperial troops have a new AdC.

4 = Crappet gets threatened by a rather grumpy Grenadier and quietly moves to a new location.

5 = Crappet manages to persuade a French Line Battalion to enter the board directly behind Lindenau. They are low on ammo so ANY roll of doubles leaves them unable to shoot any more today. If the 2 battalion limit has been reached then see 2.

6 = Crappet displays his Legion d'Honour (that he picked up from a dead officer and “awarded” to himself just yesterday) and inspires a French Line Battalion to enter the fray from directly behind Lindenau. If the 2 battalion limit has been reached then see 3.

Now, all of this is the setup to describe the most improbable of events. The French commander rolled a 1, resulting in a Prussian unit appearing behind the French lines 6(!!!!) times over the course of 10 or 11 turns. Conveniently for the Allies, he also rolled a 3, which generated a Brigade commander to lead all of those unexpected Allied troops. All of these troops proved to be way too much for the French and Poles. In the end, my "tweaks" turned into a disaster. My efforts to add a bit of "flavor" to the battle pretty well ruined the game's balance.

Back to the drawing board...


Scott Pasha said...

You're supposed to limit the extreme effects to "once per game"!
I laughed out loud (as did Mike & Jeff I am sure)...
Scott Pasha

James said...

They are still laughing!!!!