The Devil to Pay
These are the ACW rules I’ve been working on with Nathaniel St. John and his group in Atlanta. I knew Nathaniel as a kid back in Massachusetts. He and another kid all met at the same small convention. I went there for the role playing games. Every one of us fell in love with historical war gaming. To this day we still play these games, often with each other.
Nathaniel came up with this colonial game years ago. I got to play it and really loved it. After sitting on his rules for about 3 years I called him up and said I was going to dig up my ACW figures and try them out. I had already written Bonnie Blue Flag. I just simply took some ideas from there and put them into the colonial game. It sort of worked. I made a few adjustments and started to add things that were on my very advanced rules ideas list. It worked better. I made a couple more adjustments and without testing them brought the game to Historicon. It was a disaster. Nat was there and we looked over the whole system and he came up with 20 things that needed to be addressed. Then I got a real job and didn’t have much time. We talked about some ideas here and there but neither of us had a lot of time. He spoke with and old friend, Peter Rice and together they stitched together a new game system that again mixed the old and the new.
We had another gaming weekend where we ran the game several times and added in our latest ideas. I worked on what I knew, artillery. Another friend, Ed P. came down and he helped with the general flow of the game. He has been writing games since the 1970s and he’s good at it. This time the game seemed right. Nat polished the rules after the weekend of playtests and brought it to Siege of Augusta. We did the battle of Brawner’s Farm at 2nd Manassas. It went extremely smoothly with players who had never seen the system in action.
Nat changed the basing to 40mm x 40mm square which changed a lot of things for the better. One is that at that base size any figures will work. 10mm, 15mm (see mine on the right), 28mm (what Nat uses) and even 54mm (we saw another game with figures of that size on 40x40mm bases!)
With his 28mm figures he had flags he was able to attach rings to to show how many commands the regiment had and red rings to figures on the bases to indicate hits (one ring: no effect, two rings: no longer combat effective with a third hit eliminating the stand.) I had used 40x15mm bases for my figures. I ended up just gluing them to the bigger bases as is. I needed two stands of figures to get the right mass effect and I have to say it looks a lot better than what I had previously! The large, square bases, allow for the regiment to go from line into column more easily. It looks better because you have the right numbers of troops massed together. It further regulates the game better than rectangular bases. The rings are held on using flat-head rivits. You can get 500 for $5. They work great!
The Devil to Pay is still not published but that is only because we have a lot more play testing to do of various scenarios and various types of battles (such as artillery duels and lots of cavalry.) I’m highly confident this will become a great product that people will enjoy playing.
Fast Play Old West Rules
In the meantime I am also play testing my fast play Old West rules where everyone takes their turn at the same time. How does that work? Well, with just a nod to a few situations where players might interupt each other, it works really well. I’ve run half a dozen games with more to come. The basic game is based upon The Rules with No Name by Foundry. That got simplified and then I added in simultaneous play. In order to get that to work everyone operates on the same card. Each card indicates either Movement or Combat. There are two sets of actions, further subdivided so that whatever action you take, it has to happen in the right sequence and you have to announce if you are using an action that would interrupt someone. In which case the interrupted player is then given options for their reaction.I am really happy with how it is working out. There are still some kinks in the system but it’s pretty easy to update at this point as there are good, reusable mechanics to fix the problems. It follows my latest concept of keeping core rules to cover things that happen in every game, and additional rules only in the scenarios that use them. The attempt to have one set of rules that covers every situation leads to large sets of rules that are hard to remember or comprehend and which are harder to keep consistent.