In our recent game of Twilight of the Britons, we used markers for the hits taken. But after the game Chris suggested moving to hits remaining. This post explains that element of Game Design and when I’m tempted to use these two contrasting mechanisms.
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.
I like the way John Fletcher (2005, 2006) assigns explicit abilities to the generals of the South American Wars of Liberation. In Liberators QPR generals are classified on a five rating scale from abysmal, through poor, average, good to excellent. And then he gives come generals extra abilities e.g. improved initiative. So how would that work in Tilly’s Very Bad Day for the generals of the Thirty Years War?
Following our first play test I thought I’d make some tweaks to my Small Kircholm scenario and try it again. In this play test the Hussars are just Superior Horse and there are five Hussar units, not six. Chris bravely took the Swedes for a second time, hoping to benefit from his experience in the first game. Adam took the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In Tilly’s Very Bad Day terms this is a small game on a small table with small armies.
Summary: A really good game. A better game balance than the first version. Both players played well with particular credit to Chris for quickly compensating for the crippling Swedish deployment. But the Poles took the day, again.
I’m still keen on playing with my brand new Polish-Lithuanian Army so when Chris came over I suggested we play Small Kircholm. The scenario was very draft and I expected to find that it favoured the Poles too much. In particular the experimental Hussar rules were probably a touch too punchy. In Tilly’s Very Bad Day terms this is a small game on a small table with small armies.
Summary: Poles rolled over the Swedes in three game turns. Scenario needs tweaking. The experimental Lancers were a super troop type – and we don’t need that kind of thing.
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions allowed me to get my brand new Polish-Lithuanian Army on table. Chris, Jamie, and Adam came over and we played Swedish versus Polish using Tilly’s Very Bad Day. This was a pick up game with pre-generated army lists and terrain chosen via Terrain Cards. It was also the first time we played an Eastern Army.
Summary: A really enjoyable game. It see sawed but eventually the Swedes won the infantry battle and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth won the cavalry battle. Pretty standard outcome for these historical opponents. In this case the Swedes caused enough damage to take the overall victory. But it was a very near run thing.
Peter of Grid based wargaming has sparked some interest in using the children’s board game Snakes and Ladders as the basis for a wargaming Campaign. The snakes become tribulations and the ladders are campaign successes. So I have made up a board for a Tilly’s Very Bad Day Snakes and Ladders campaign based on Peter’s board for the 18th Century.
There is no skill in playing this campaign system as, like the children’s board game, random dice rolls lead to success. If you are lucky, you will win. For me this makes a Snakes and Ladders Campaign most suited to solo play where the goal is to provide narrative for the game. I’m not really a solo player myself, but I know some Tilly’s Very Bad Day players do play solo and I hope this will appeal to them.
Jamie and I thought we’d have another go at S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario. Our first play test was a blast and we both had ideas for how to play it differently. Once again Jamie was Saxons as the Red Army and I was Imperialists as the Blue Army. Tilly’s Very Bad Day of course.
Summary: Another great game. Five game turns. 1.5 hours game time. Tense and gritty, with a decisive result. We will play it again.
Roger Calderbank play tested my S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario and gave it a thumbs up, so I thought I’d have a go. Jamie came over and took Saxons as the Red Army and I took Imperialists as the Blue Army. Tilly’s Very Bad Day of course.
Summary: A great game. Six game turns. 1.5 hours game time. Seemed balanced but ended in a decisive result. We will play it again.
I was just reading Michael Fredholm von Essen’s latest book on the Swedish army of the Thirty Years War (Von Essen, 2000), and it seems the Swedes sometimes had unmounted cavalrymen. Not dismounted, unmounted, i.e. they were horsemen without horses. Naturally I started pondering how to simulate these men in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.