Twilight of the Britons – A Battle Report 1

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Vincent Tsao and I have been playing around with a version of Twilight of the Sun King for the early medieval period in Britain. I started with a rewrite of my original 2001 version of Twilight of the Sun King and incorporated ideas from Vincent’s Battle of Hastings variant. The result is called “Twilight of the Britons: Fast play rules for the English invasion of Britain”. I got Adam and Chris to give an early draft a go. So early I’d only written the rules that day, so isn’t wasn’t so good.

Summary: Too much dark age shield wall stodge. Not enough heroics. But a glimmer of hope for the rules.

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Cassinograd – A Crossfire Battle Report 2

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Jamie and I played a draft version of Cassinograd – A Crossfire Scenario based on Crossfiregrad. We played two games in a couple of hours. Jamie was the attacking Kiwis and I was the Fallshirmjaeger. This is the first of our games, making the second Cassinograd game with Bruce Stewart’s being the first.

Summary: Okay game, but could have been better. I had a small veteran force. The smaller forced lacked resilience, despite the higher morale, and Jamie took the objective (Municipal Buildings) relatively easily.

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Blitzkrieg Commander – Example Soviet Order of Battle

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Our recent experiments with ‘O’ Group have got me thinking about a similar set of rules that has been lurking on my shelves: Blitzkrieg Commander (BKC). I’ve got every edition of the rules (1 through 4), yet I have never played it because it was a bit too crunchy (concrete) for my tastes. But it is a credible alternative to ‘O’ Group, so I got it of the shelf and read through it.

I prefer scenarios over pick up battles so I’m trying to wrap my head around how to map official historical orders of battle to BKC OOBs. In this post I play around with a official Soviet historical order of battle for a infantry battalion and see what that looks like in both game scales of BKC. Not that I’m going to use an official OOB for an actual scenario, but this exercise will help me understand which bits of the historical OOB turn into BKC stands and which bits get ignored. And because BKC has two game scales – regimental where a base is a platoon and battalion scale where a base is a squad – I’m going to have to do this twice.

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Cassinograd – A Crossfire Scenario based on Crossfiregrad

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Gunnery Sargent Rock (Bruce Stewart) got me thinking about Cassinograd. This is an adaptation of Doctor Phalanx’s Crossfiregrad scenario, transferred from Stalingrad to the Italian Campaign with 2 New Zealand Division (Kiwis) attacking Fallchirmjaeger in Cassino town. Crossfire of course. Bruce’s version was pretty much standard Crossfiregrad, but I’ve made some more changes to add flavour.

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Cassinograd – A Crossfire Battle Report 1

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Gunnery Sargent Rock (Bruce Stewart) played a couple of games of Crossfiregrad by Doctor Phalanx. However, he moved it from Stalingrad to the Italian Campaign with the Germans attacking 2 New Zealand Division (Kiwis) in Cassino town, I guess representing a local counter attack. Except where noted, all words and photos are by Bruce.

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Assault on Kristov – An ‘O’ Group Battle Report 3

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Adam and Chris had another go at the ‘O’ Group sample scenario transferred to the Eastern Front. As in our first play test and second play test, “Cristot” became “Kristov” and the Germans were attacking a Soviet defensive position. Adam was keen to have a go himself so took the role of the attacking Germans. Adam also provided rules knowledge, figures, most of the terrain, and narrative for the battle report. Chris was the defending Soviets. I took photos and add some extra thoughts at the end.

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‘O’ group has three steps to hit something – spot, hit, save – can it be simpler?

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As my recent post on Three dimensions of game design: Simulation, Playability, Abstraction shows, I’m allergic to multiple steps to resolve a single action during game. I’m allergic because multiple steps slows the game down. ‘O’ Group has three steps to resolve each shooting action by a rifle platoon – spot, hit, save. Of course, the is the traditional link from hit to save as well, but there is also a link between the first step (spot) and the last (save) that you have to remember – and those links add cognitive load and take time. So I wanted to explore simpler rules that achieved a similar effect but with less steps. I can’t match the results exactly but I can get pretty close with a single to hit step, dropping spot and save.

Warning: Do not read this post unless probabilities in game design are your thing.

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Three dimensions of game design: Simulation, Playability, Abstraction

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My mate Chris and I often debate game design, and specifically simulation versus playability. Wargamers typically think of these as opposites, with a set of rules being either realistic or playable. Chris is, for example, an advocate of simulation and is willing to sacrifice playability to get something he considers more realistic. But I don’t think these things – simulation and playability – are opposite ends of a single dimension. I’m an advocate for playability and simulation is also important to me. I want both. Abstraction is the key to unlocking this combination and is an important third dimension.

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3 Round Mac’s Missions – A Three Game Crossfire Campaign

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I’ve been looking at Mac’s Crossfire Missions and it occurred to me that the system would be good for a Three Round Campaign. I like campaigns that are short and lead to a clear result and a Three Round Campaign offers those benefits. I’ve used the missions and main force orders of battle from Mac’s Missions v3 to drive the campaign.

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Player Handicap in Mac’s Crossfire Missions

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I’ve been thinking about player balance in Mac’s Crossfire Missions. If the two players are mis-matched in terms of experience or ability you might find the stronger player consistently wins every game. This is probably not very much fun for either player. I think a handicap system gives a way to cope with these situations. Handicapping gives the weaker player an advantage, to make it possible for them to win whilst maintaining fairness. This is Crossfire, of course.

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Cliffs for Crossfire in Italy and Burma

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Hit the Dirt (HTD) introduces Cliffs to Crossfire. And with my re-found interest in the Italian Campaign, I figured I needed some. Particularly as the HTD scenario “Cassino Massif” (p. 17-18) has a bunch. I think they’ll also be useful for Burma. So this is my new / updated cliff collection.

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KB4R The Swamp – A Crossfire Battle Report

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Jamie Wish and Chris Harrod played “The Swamp” (KB4R), the fourth game of Krasny Bor, featuring the Blue Division in an epic Crossfire campaign. The Spaniards were defending the second line – near the Leningrad-Moscow Railway line – against overwhelming odds.

Summary: I thought it would be over in 1 hour, but in an awesome David and Goliath contest Chris’s reinforced company of Spaniards held Jamie’s three battalions of Soviets for 2.5 hours of game time and 7.5 hours of real time. The Spanish defeated the first Soviet battalion but eventually the Soviets ground their way through the Blue Division lines. The time ratio, 2.5 hours of game time in 7.5 hours of real time, demonstrates how grindy it was – not for the faint hearted.

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Kiwis vs FJ in Italy – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report 1

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Jamie popped over for a game, and when it is just Jamie and me we try out something more experimental. Jamie wanted to play Crossfire and I wanted to try out my Crossfire Terrain Cards and some draft armour rules. I also wanted to get my 2 Division New Zealanders on table – “Kiwis” in New Zealand slang – and get the German paratroopers (Fallschirmjäger) out again. This was also the first outing for my Kiwi Armour.

Summary: Great little game. Crossfire Terrain Cards worked well, and happy with the test drive of my armour mods.

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S01 Attack on Prepared Position – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 1

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I invited Chris and Adam over to play test my version of S01 Attack on a Prepared Position Scenario for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. This is an adaptation of a scenario from “Scenarios for all Ages” by Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith. My scenario is Thirty Years War with Spanish attacking entrenched Swedes in high ground.

Summary: Short and intense. A much better game than any of us anticipated. It was a close run thing with Swedish (Adam) breaking the Spanish army (Chris) just as the Spanish horse broke past the Swedish line and were going for the baseline. We all agreed it would be good to play again with some minor tweaks.

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