We’ve been playing Tilly’s Very Bad Day for a while and it clear some unit types don’t make the grade compared to Pike+Shot and horse. Shot, dragoons, light horse and even cannons are all unpopular. So I’m going to run a short series of posts this week with the theme of making these unit types more effective. Not surprisingly I’m starting to form ideas for a major new version of the rules.
I start with Shot because I was just musing on types of (commanded) shot in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.
These are the posts in the mini-series on making certain unit types more effective:
Comparing Shot and Pike+Shot in Tilly’s Very Bad Day
There are several key differences between Pike+Shot and Shot in the current version of Tilly’s Very Bad Day (Version 1.3) and those before:
- Shot have a resolve of 3 compared to the 4 of Pike+Shot
- Shot hit on a 6 in melee but Pike+Shot hit on a 5-6
- Shot and Pike+Shot have the same capabilities in difficult terrain
The net effect is that Pike+Shot are much stronger than Shot. I don’t think that does Shot justice. They are not the same, but they should be equally effective – this is the fair-ness aspect of my The 3Fs of Scenario (and Game) Design: Flavour, Fair, Fun. While we’re in the process we should add a bit more “Shot” flavour as well.
Possible rule changes to make Shot more valuable
A unit is a unit when constructing an army in Tilly’s Very Bad Day so there must be good reasons to, for example, take a Shot unit instead of a Pike+Shot unit. In the current version of Tilly’s Very Bad Day (Version 1.3) there aren’t any.
I can think of a few possibilities to even up the odds.
I could bump Shot up to 4 resolve to match Pike+Shot. They would shoot the same but Pike+Shot would still get the melee advantage.
My opinion: I like this change. Detaching Shot from the Pike+Shot would not reduce their resolve. It would change their combat capabilities, more shooting, less melee. This change will also make commanded shot, i.e. mixing shot with horse, more attractive.
Both Shot and Pike+Shot move 3 TUM. This was quite attractive, because same = simple, but perhaps I should break that pattern. I could nudge the movement allowance of Shot up to, say, 4 TUM. Not a lot faster but over a couple of turns they’ll pull away.
This would make commanded shot more able to keep up with horse.
My opinion: I’m not convinced detached shot moved faster than Pike+Shot.
At the moment Pike+Shot actually are better at shooting than the same number of men 100% armed with firearms. Pike+Shot firing to their front roll 4d6; Shot roll 3d6.
Increasing Shot’s resolve would balance this up, but perhaps I need to go further. Perhaps give Shot a +1d6 in shooting (a modest tweak) or hit on 5-6 when shooting (a massive uplift).
My opinion: If I go with increased resolve for Shot, I’m not inclined to also add to their shooting. Shot would, of course, have a shooting advantage over a mixed Pike+Shot unit, but I’m not sure I have to simulate this. I’ve seen other rules do this and it turns dedicated firearms units into super troops. I don’t want to do that. They were good at what they did but in a straight up fight they lost to Pike+Shot. If I did get into pike to Shot ratios I’d have to do look at shooting/melee capabilities comprehensively. I’ll leave it for another day.
Currently Pike+Shot have a clear combat advantages over Shot in both open and difficult terrain. They have a higher resolve (4 compared to 3) and hit on 5-6 in melee. This if fair enough in a straight up fight in the open but is counter to the use of Shot in actual battles where the Spanish, for example, detached Shot to contest difficult terrain.
I think I can rebalance this and make Shot more effective in difficult terrain compared to Pike+Shot. As a reminder difficult terrain includes villages, rough ground, woods, rivers/streams and difficult hills (have rough ground or woods on top, or steep sides).
The first option is to prohibit Pike+Shot from entering difficult terrain, but allow Shot to enter. This has a huge advantage that it is simple. Simple is good. I’m tempted to do this for horse as well.
If I don’t do that then …
For movement in difficult terrain, I’ve got a couple of big options:
- Reduce Pike+Shot movement: I’m tempted to keep the Shot at 3 TUM in difficult terrain but reduce the movement allowance of Pike+Shot to 1 TUM
- Allow fast moves through difficult: Assuming Shot increase to 4 TUM (see above) then let them still go 4 TUM in difficult
For shooting I’m tempted to to remove the cover advantage for Pike+Shot in difficult terrain, but let Shot keep this
For melee, I’m tempted to remove the to hit advantage of Pike+Shot in difficult. So instead of hit on 5-6 they would only hit on a 6, like Shot. That will make fighting in difficult much slower.
My opinion: Tricky. I think I’ll go with taking away Pike+Shot’s cover bonus and melee to hit advantage in difficult terrain. So, in difficult terrain, Shot will have a shooting advantage (cover) but in a melee they’d be equal. In the open, Pike+Shot will try to close to melee and then beat the Shot.
Evade is currently an optional rule. Optional as in the players have to agree whether they are using it at the start of the game, not optional as a player can choose to evade. I think I have to make evade rules non-optional, i.e. evades are allowed in every game. Evades, I admit, need a bit of work.
My opinion: Play testing so far suggests Shot do not need an evade. They can move away from approaching Pike+Shot using normal movement.
You’ve seen where my head is in the “my opinion” bits above. The summary is:
- Shot start with resolve 4
- Shot lose ability to evade
- Pike+Shot lose their to hit bonus in difficult terrain, so hit on 6 rather than 5-6
- Pike+Shot lose the cover bonus of difficult terrain
I think this means, in a confrontation between Pike+Shot and Shot, the Pike+Shot will win in the open and the Shot will win in difficult terrain.
What do you think?