Sunday, February 22, 2015

Game design in its most naked and vulnerable yet alluring form...

Patton's Best is a tribute to just how deep a solitaire game can get.  It was released just under three decades ago and certain mechanics that drive the game are perhaps a bit dated but in all honesty, it has aged rather well.

So as i've played this thing enough to learn it and learned it enough to play it, i found myself for some reason more compelled by the idea of infantry in place of a tank.  And here i am still, finding myself preoccupied with infantry in lieu of a tank but how to approach it?

First off, i didn't want to go the Ambush/Battle Hymn route with individual soldiers and individual stats.  Though it works well for that particular system, i thought it was a bit too tedious for this.  So then the dilemma of squad vs platoon vs company level arose and after settling on a platoon of three squads and a leader, i set out from there.

One of the first things i learned is that i would never play the campaign game in its original form.  Not that i didn't want to, it was just entirely too time consuming.  So i abstracted the time frame to represent roughly a week or so of time each month beginning with July '44 and ending with April of '45.  Time has been mostly expunged at this stage and what little element of it that remains is completely abstract i.e. there is no checking off of boxes for this or that any more.  In this respect, i've taken a page from The Hunters which is not overly time-segment driven.

The use of the movement board is still the same and for that matter, a big chunk of the game is still the same i.e. operations etc.  but i have had to make a ton of adjustments throughout the thing in order to make infantry the star of the show.  Perhaps the fire mechanic has suffered the biggest adjustment as i've installed a modified version of the Platoon Leader system with its d10 driven combat results.

One thing that one has to become accustomed to with this thing is charts charts and more charts.  I've kept nearly all of them though many of them have also undergone heavy modification.  This is a stark contrast from what i've grown accustomed to with the Platoon Leader games but admittedly this is an entirely different kind of beast.

ASL has helped quite a bit.  I've borrowed American and German squad, leader, and support weapon counters and put them to use quite effectively.  The German and US generation tables have also greatly assisted me here.  In addition, i've thrown in a couple cents worth of Up Front to glue a few odds and ends together.

So when the moment of truth came and i turned the key,  what happened?  Well amidst a few stutters, sputters and fits it was up and running.

I began with July and after establishing an entry and exit point, made my way across the map.  My first encounter yielded three German squads, one light machine gun and a leader (and i might add, that i've purposely prevented any vehicles from making an appearance until the infantry can get worked out.)  I've kept the placement of enemy units roughly the same and would add that this is one of the most exciting aspects of the game as it is extremely unpredictable, you don't know ahead of time where they will pop up and in what kind of cover if any (i've truncated cover into three possibilities here: the absence thereof, basic: woods etc. and advanced: buildings, walls, etc. which is btw another Platoon Leader nod.)  once placed, i spot (in Patton's Best you must spot a unit to fire at it but i've found simply allowing an area type fire at unspotted units which is essentially halved fire to work out rather nicely) and begin firing at the 2 squads and lmg just ahead of me in the open and over time take em out after getting hit a few times myself.  As far as the squad and leader to my left goes, they proved much trickier for some reason.  They rolled basic cover which kept absorbing the single measley hits from all three squads but were slowly accumulating suppression over time (another Platoon Leader nod).  So i decide that having wiped out two squads and taken perhaps more hits then i should have i'll just make a run for it.  Not so fast however as the German squad and leader follow.  These guys are also much more mobile moving to my rear and then back to my flank.  After my mg breaks, it isn't until they succumb to a suppression total that superceeds their strength that, being on the farthest ring, vacates them out of the battle in a route move!

The power die.  As all fire occurs via x amount of d10's i am prevented from integrating the elegant system of doubles and snake eyes and box cars that go with using 2d6.  So to fix this, i add a power die to every fire attack.  This d10 is of a different color from the rest and based on its out come (either a one or a ten) something good or bad happens.  As such, i'm able to work in rof, cowering, mg malfunction etc.

So its a been an adventure thus far but i'm not sure about the ultimate outcome of this endeavor.  Is it worth developing further?  Or is it time to finish those Napoleonic miniatures rules?  I suppose as long as i have fun doing what i'm doing, then its the right thing to be working on.

thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hakkaa paalle!

Just recieved a message from MMP that my copy of Hakkaa Paalle has shipped!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Third Reich via Bolano

So i remember mentioning this a long time ago but never formally posted anything about it.  If you are a self professed wargamer and a self professed lover of literature, then wait no more!  Roberto Bolano's book "The Third Reich" is just what you need.

I enjoyed the read not only because of the author's inclusion of what is in all likelyhood the old Avalon Hill game Rise and Decline of The Third Reich but because the guy is actually a decent writer with a slew of books including his tome like "2666" a preoccupation of the last five years of his life as his liver slowly gave out.  It's 1,100 pages are every bit as demanding as a textbook but don't let that scare you.

The Third Reich is on a level all its own.  Its a much more approachable story unlike the aloof 2666.  The Third Reich  is actually willing to entertain you while you must entertain  a book like 2666.

Avalon Hill's Rise and Decline of The Third Reich is a classic to say the least, probably the Medal Of Honor of its day.  The 1974 release was the brainchild of Greenwood and Prados, the former would go on to become a powerhouse designer within the industry.  The game was expanded in 1992 and became known as Advanced Third Reich, much to the groaning of many an old school RDTR purist.

So give it a read and play a moldy but goody while your at it!

The book:

Interesting Essay:

The Games: