Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenarios for All Ages

I’m looking for more small scenarios for Tilly’s Very Bad Day so I wondered how the “Scenarios for all Ages” of Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith would transfer. Although “for all Ages” the design of the scenarios is obviously for Horse and Musket so I think that transferring to Pike & Shot should be easy. To test this theory out I look at one scenario: Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position. As it happens the scenario only needs very small levels of tweaking to get it to work for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. What follows is a bit of a blow by blow account of how I converted the scenario.


The Book

The book is available from Amazon USA, UK, and Canada:

Grant, C. S., and Asquith, S. A. (1996). “Scenarios for all Ages”. CSG Publications.

Scenarios for All Ages Cover

The Grant and Asquith (1996) book has 52 scenarios. Each scenario is in the same layout.

  1. Title
  2. Description
  3. Map
  4. Playing options
  5. Purpose of the scenario
  6. Outline
  7. The map and ground
  8. Blue aim
  9. Blue forces
  10. Red aim
  11. Red forces
  12. The game setting
  13. Success Criteria
  14. Special Rules

Most of these sections are self explanatory and require no change when moving to Tilly’s Very Bad Day. A couple need a bit of elaboration.


Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position

In this post I use one scenario, Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position, to illustrate how things might work in Tilly’s Very Bad Day. I chose it for no other reason than it appears first within the book.


Playing options

Playing options are the playing time and the period suitability. Period suitability is not a problem. By the authors admission all of the scenarios are suitable for the Horse and Musket period. Tilly’s Very Bad Day is for the Thirty Years War so has horses and muskets. And pikes of course but I still I reckon it is safe to assume all scenarios are candidates.

Playing time is given as Short (2 or 3 hours), Medium (a full evening), or Long (a full day or more). I’m really only interested in short games. The preference for short games will not limit my scenario selection. But play testing has shown that small games of Tilly’s Very Bad Day take 2 hours and big games take 3 hours. I just need to tweak the table, orders of battle, and game clock to suit the game size. Remember that in Tilly’s Very Bad Day:

  • A Small Game will have about 10-18 units a side on a Small Table (30 TUM x 30 TUM).
  • A Big Game will have about 19-40 units a side on a Big Table (45 TUM by 30 TUM).

Map

Each scenario has a map and the majority comprise a 7×5 grid. Presumably this grid corresponds to a 7′ x 5′ table. Most games are fought on the north-south axis so across the narrow part of the table. The maps in the book show the significant terrain including hills, villages/buildings, woods, and an optional river. Perfect for Tilly’s Very Bad Day.

Scenarios for All Ages 1 Attack on Prepared Position

Scenarios for All Ages 1 Attack on Prepared Position

A 7′ x 5′ table is, well, pretty big. And I have to to tie the scenarios to either a small shallow table (30 TUM x 20 TUM), small table (30 TUM x 30 TUM) or large table (45 TUM x 30 TUM). All of which means I have to shrink the table to squash it onto one of the standard table size. Even there, I have choices. Lots of choices. The table size also impacts the game duration.

I have four possible maps for Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position.

Map Version 1: In the first version I squashed the 7′ x 5′ table onto the small square table (30 TUM x 30 TUM). The deployment zones are as per the original scenario so the Blue Army can deploy over most of the table and the Red Army marches onto the table. The time limit of the original scenario is based on the turns to march across the table, plus 50%. 10 game turns for a Red Pike+Shot to march from base edge to base edge, plus another 5 game turns or the fighting. 15 game turns into total. So longer than my normal limit of 10 game turns, 8 game turns if the Attacker outnumbers the Defender, which they very certainly do in this case.

Table - S01 Attack on a Prepared Position - Tillys Very Bad Day - v1

Table – S01 Attack on a Prepared Position – Tillys Very Bad Day – v1

Map Version 2: If the Blue Army sits back and waits on the hills the Blue player will spend a lot of time waiting for the Red Army to march across the table. I wanted to avoid this experience in Tilly’s Very Bad Day, which is why the deployment zones are so close together. Version 2 has the normal deployment zones. And probably needs the normal time limit, so 8 game turns since Red outnumbers Blue.

Table - S01 Attack on a Prepared Position - Tillys Very Bad Day - v2

Table – S01 Attack on a Prepared Position – Tillys Very Bad Day – v2

Map Version 3: Some people play on Small Shallow tables (30 TUM X 20 TUM). I don’t but I like to write my scenarios to allow this. So version 3 has the original table squash into the space of a Small Show table, with open terrain beyond. The Blue deployment zone is the normal one for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. The Red deployment zone is the edge of the original table, so the edge of the Small Shallow table. Following the pattern of the original scenario, the game length would have to be 7 game turns (time to march across the shallow table) + 3 game turns (for the battle) = 10 game turns.

Table - S01 Attack on a Prepared Position - Tillys Very Bad Day - v3

Table – S01 Attack on a Prepared Position – Tillys Very Bad Day – v3

Map Version 4: This has the Small Shallow table with normal deployment zones. This probably needs an 8 game turn limit.

Table - S01 Attack on a Prepared Position - Tillys Very Bad Day - v4

Table – S01 Attack on a Prepared Position – Tillys Very Bad Day – v4

On balance I prefer the fourth map. It is more inclusive, allowing more players to play on their table of choice, and will play quicker. I think it also looks better, perhaps because the terrain retained better proportions when I squashed it to fit my table.


Forces

The scenarios give forces as a certain number of units of infantry, light infantry, cavalry and artillery. I think there is a clear mapping to unit types of Tilly’s Very Bad Day:

  • Infantry = Pike+Shot
  • Light Infantry = Shot
  • Cavalry / Heavy Cavalry / Medium Cavalry = Horse
  • Light Cavalry = Light Horse
  • Artillery = Cannon

I have to add Commanders to that. Perhaps one commander for every five other units or part thereof.

Full strength Force conversion

The Blue Army has five units so I just add a commander. The Red Army has 10 units so I add two commanders.

Blue Forces – Full Strength

  • Blue Army
    • 1 x Commander
    • 3 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Shot
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
    • 6 Units; 22 Coins; 2 break point
  • Red Army
    • 2 x Commander
    • 1 x Horse
    • 2 x Shot
    • 6 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Limbered Cannon
    • 12 Units; 46 Coins; 4 break point

Scaling the forces up

The 12 Units of the Red Army is at the low end of the spectrum for a small game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day. A Small Game will have about 10-18 units a side. Blue’s 6 units is off the scale as it is a tiny force. I’d be inclined to add 50% to each army. Something like the following:

Blue Forces – Full Strength

  • Blue Army
    • 2 x Commander
    • 5 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Shot
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
    • 9 Units; 34 Coins; 3 break point
  • Red Army
    • 3 x Commander
    • 2 x Horse
    • 3 x Shot
    • 9 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Limbered Cannon
    • 18 Units; 70 Coins; 6 break point

Balancing Attacking and Defending forces

The scenarios usually give the attackers double the numbers of the defenders (100% additional forces), so the defenders need something to counterbalance the odds. There are a few options in Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Choose enough to get a balanced game.

  • Give defender superior units
  • Give attacker inferior units
  • Give defender fortifications
  • Give defender additional troops

For example, in Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position, the attacker has double the number of units as the defender (10 units versus 5 units). This is partially compensated because the defender has a terrain advantage from line of hills on the map. But I would still be inclined to add an additional benefit for the defender to balance the game. This might be 2-3 fortifications or upgrading 2-3 units to Superior.


Force Aims and Success Criteria

Normally success in Tilly’s Very Bad Day is to break the enemy army but the “Scenarios for All Ages” has specific scenario victory conditions. Each force has an aim and the scenario also has success criteria. These align and basically say how the players can win.

For example, the force aims in Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position are:

Blue must hold the ridge of low hills to prevent Red from proceeding northwards.
Red’s aim is to force a way over or through the hill line and proceed northwards.

The Success Criteria for the scenario adds some detail:

If Blue holds the line of hills and denies Red the ability to move north for the given number of moves then Blue will have won. If Red are able to push part of Blue aside such that he can continue northwards with two or more units within the designated period then Red will have won. The game cannot be drawn.

I think that is pretty good. I am slightly tempted to restricting the victory conditions to the central zone. I feel the fight should be for the road rather than the flanks. That might look like:

If Blue holds the line of hills and denies Red the ability to move north for the given number of moves then Blue will have won. If Red are able to push part of Blue aside such that he can continue northwards(exit the northern table edge anywhere in the central zone) with two or more units within the designated period then Red will have won. The game cannot be drawn.


Special Rules

Different scenarios in the book have different types of special rules. For Scenario 1: Attack on a Prepared Position there are three special rules:

  • The hills slow movement
  • The hills also provide shelter from gun fire
  • The Blue defender to “conceal troops in the sparse woods”

The scenario says movement is reduced by 25% per contour line and also when moving along the ridge. I’m not convinced this is essential.

The hills also provide shelter from gun fire. This is, however, a standard rule within Tilly’s Very Bad Day, so nothing to do.

More interestingly the Blue defender can “conceal troops in the sparse woods”, which means the woods in the central neutral zone. Scenarios for All Ages explains this as hidden movement that requires an umpire. I don’t like rules that require an umpire for the simple reason that I never have one available. An alternative might to have the defender deploy second on the grounds that they could form up behind the ridge line. In addition the defender can optionally deploy a shot unit in the neutral zone as a forlorn hope.

Table - S01 Attack on a Prepared Position - Tillys Very Bad Day - v5

Table – S01 Attack on a Prepared Position – Tillys Very Bad Day – v5


Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for Download (PDF).


References

Grant, C. S., and Asquith, S. A. (1996). “Scenarios for all Ages”. CSG Publications.

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