Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Crossing the Streams - Why WRG rules and TooFatLardies' Campaigns are a Perfect Match

This blog has kindly had a mention in a couple of podcasts recently from Sean Clark, in the introductory Episode 0 of his new 6mm-focused podcast God's Own Scale (and related blog here) and in Episode 272 of long-running gaming podcast Meeples & Miniatures.  As a big fan of both shows, it was a pleasant surprise to hear this blog get a nod.  Right at the end of the Meeples & Miniatures episode, there was a certain amount of astonished hilarity at the concept of using the old WRG 1925-1950 rules to play the TooFatLardies' pint-sized WW2 campaigns* : summarized by Neil as "Don't Cross the Streams!":

This is Heretical Gaming, and doing things that seem wrong is part of the mission statement.  But I do see his point!  WRG 1925-50 (my review here) is a set from the early 1970s, written by Phil Barker, and are so traditional they set the standard for traditional whereas TooFatLardies are at the cutting edge of more modern game design concepts. So why do I use them?

1 - The basic mechanics of how location, combat and morale work are still pretty solid.  Okay, locating the enemy is pretty deterministic, the combat rules probably short-change machineguns, are a bit generous with smoke (although it is good to see units deliberately firing smoke in this game, which can be quite rare in other games), they need a little bit more granularity in the anti-vehicle rules to be perfect and although the morale rules make units realistically sticky in combat, the wording is a bit unclear at a couple of points.  On the other hand, they are simple without being too simplistic, and I think they still hold up against modern competitors.  The research in WRG rules has always been a strong point with them.  However, none of this is a reason to actually use the rules, they are merely reasons not to not use them, there are other solid rules out there.

2 - Because  I play most of my games solo, there are several elements of these rules which I would consider weaknesses in face-to-face (F2F) games that are great for solitaire play:

  a. -  The movement rules have take-backs (i.e. the firing player can move a unit back to a moment in its move and then fire at it) rather than a specific overwatch mechanism.  Quite annoying in F2F play, fine for solitaire.

  b. -  The rules are IGOUGO.  Whilst often rejected for F2F games, with good reason, if you are playing both sides in a game, I find it much easier to mentally cope and enjoy the game if I can flip decisively between the two sides.  I find it hard to continually interrupt, and even worse, think about interrupting, myself in the middle of one side's go.  It makes the game theory problem of "if he knows that I know that he knows that I know..." much more difficult to resolve.

  c.  - The game (ostensibly) uses written orders.  This is great for solitaire games, because this can be interpreted to mean insert solitaire command rules here.  As regular blog readers will know, for WW2 games I use a system called the Threat Generation System which was published in issue 373 of Miniature Wargames magazine which I find excellent for solo play.  I have made quite a few modifications but the basic idea is still very much there.  Occasionally I do also use written orders, which I think work better solitaire than F2F.  For contrast, a game like Black Powder is obviously meant for group play, since the command and control mechanics are given verbally and happen instantaneously.

n.b. These comments are about the original WRG 1925-50 rules.  There was an updated version published in the 1980s which...had good points and bad points.  A review is likely at some point...

Although almost any ruleset can be used successfully for solitaire rules, I have found some rules much easier than others.  That does not make them good or bad per se but certain mechanics make things easier than others.  Because TooFatLardies' rules are so interactive, I love them for F2F play but find them harder work solitaire.  The starkness of the DBx PIP system is perhaps less annoying in solo play than it is F2F.  The Polemos Tempo system can work well either way, but I play it very differently if I am playing it solitaire rather than F2F.  I think the TwoHourWargames' reaction system plays a lot more smoothly solitaire or co-operatively than it does F2F, especially if there are plenty of models on the table.  And so on.

TooFatLardies do great scenarios, too good not to be played with whatever rules you like.  Give them a go...

*I have done Operation Martlet (a couple of times), The Scottish Corridor, and 29! Let's Go!

Tuesday 16 July 2019

RPG Reviews and Other Ephemera

Whilst in my enfored hiatus, I have been getting a few more computer games and RPGs played.  Any reviews I do of wargaming-related PC games will probably be posted here, but to keep them separate, I am going to post up any RPG reviews or write-ups on a new blog here.  The first one is a review of the First Edition of Shadowrun, so it is going to be pretty niche...

If I ever get more than a few blogposts up, I will start to mess around with the design to pretty it up and add a few extra widgets and so on.