Archives for May 2016

The Devil to Pay at Nashcon

DevilToPayI am running two games of The Devil to Pay at Nashcon. If you have not heard about them yet, these are regimental level rules for warfare during the American Civil War. They have been out since 2015. We started work on them in 2006, with primary development getting underway in 2011. This first edition plays really well. The mechanics are easy to understand and you won’t need an expert player to turn to in order to figure out something like a charge. The authors have been playing Johnny Reb since the mid-1990s, and other civil war games as well. From 1989 to 1998 I developed Bonnie Blue Flag, a brigade level set of rules. When Nathaniel St. John set out to write these rules he knew what he liked and didn’t like in rules. He didn’t like complications and felt that the rules had to be memorable. He did like there to be friction of command. As a veteran he has some experience with that.

The scenario I’m running is Lookout Mountain. Normally one would not choose this as the historical outcome was so one sided. In the real battle the mountain was beset by heavy November fog and by 3PM was in whiteout conditions. The Union was able to advance unimpeded by Confederate artillery. This is an interesting situation. Fog like that is extremely random. I’ve seen fog like that. It’s tenuous. So, for my Lookout Mountain scenario I make the fog random. It can build and wane. If it get to an extreme of either clear or foggy it will stay at that level for the rest of the ¬†game. This means the Union can’t rely up Mother Nature being a solid ally. The most notable feature of the battlefield is it’s rough and steep nature. I’ve been working on custom terrain for it. While the convention is right around the corner, it’s not quite ready yet. Otherwise I’d have photos up! I treated the miniatures and the scenario first. Terrain can always be cobbled together, so not having special terrain wasn’t going to stop the game from happening. Not having enough miniatures, however, was! I’m confident the terrain will be ready in time, however.

The rules will cover this battle very well with little intervention. One rule I will be making up will be how artillery works against troops. There is a flat area that leads up to the mountain, which artillery can fire upon with no penalty. However, trying to fire at troops on the mountain at a different elevation is at half strength. Its not easy getting cannons to fire above or below their normal angles and that would be required upon this hill.

Another thing I like about The Devil to Pay is that if you just follow the turn sequence and don’t try to seize the day, you are going to lose. The turn sequence isn’t set. It’s kinda random, actually. You need to take advantage of the Carpe Diem cards to force the sequence to do what you want. If you just let the other side decide it will become their battle, their way, and ultimately their victory.

I’m Your Huckleberry, Update

I am continuing to work on I’m Your Huckleberry. I started this project about 3 years ago. The current revision is looking ready for release. The biggest change lately was how the damage system works and it’s a major change. One of the dissatisfying aspects of the old damage system was the large number of tokens that could end up on the table…

20160518_094753As you can see, one can end up with a rather gigantic amount of tokens and it isn’t just unattractive but you have to move them and it becomes a real problem when you have multiple stacks of effect tokens surrounding a figure. Of the many possible streamlining changes, this one was at the top of the list. Any change that makes the game play more efficient and aesthetically pleasing is a big win.

The change I propose is to reduce the wound states to Duck Back, Startled, Bruised, Incapacitated, and Dead. 3 of the states require tokens: Startled, Bruised, and Incapacitated. I chose to use round acrylic disks to be placed under the figure but which are visible enough to clearly indicate the state. The Recovery token is removed from the game. The new damage effects are as follows:

  • Duck Back – simply move toward cover and getting out of line of sight. The recovery token has been removed.
  • Scared – this is with a yellow marker. Can be removed with a Recover action. -1 die to combat and movement.
  • Bruised – shown with a blue marker, a more substantial injury, -2 dice to combat and movement.
  • Wounded – incapacitated. Shown with a red marker.
  • Defeated

20160518_094646There is a progression of wounds I am working on. I want it easy enough to remember. Basically, a yellow marker won’t increase the wounds of any other marker. A blue will promote a blue to a red. A red will promote a blue to a red, or a red to defeated. We will see how it plays out in convention games!