Friday, 1 April 2016

Loads of rules.....

Very sore head!

I spent last weekend with the in-laws in Scotland. I enjoyed a little piece and quiet for a change and was able to do some thinking. The subject of this difficult enterprise was the idea that Bolt Action could be turned into hex based game. This is an idea I have had before but have never thoroughly tested out.

First off I actually had to read the rules. Easy enough I thought, many better people before me have done this and survived. My first issue is that the rule book is 216 pages long, that's a big read even if it does have lots of pictures. 

The second issue is that the infantry game is quite straightforward. Using hexes significantly simplifies a lot of the mechanisms including unit cohesion, line of sight, who can shoot etc. However, when you get to the vehicle bit it looks like a bolt on (sorry). Superficially similar rules actually follow a different path, for example, "down" and "pinned" for infantry are interpreted differently for tanks. Not a surprise in itself but, for me at least, a sign that the underlying mechanics are not holistic. They have been bolted together (sorry again) to make a game. 

The third issue is the army lists. Loads of really boring points led stuff. Tedious in the extreme, great for selling miniatures though.     

The fact that people buy Bolt Action, get the miniatures and have a nice time is great and I don't begrudge that at all. The rules just don't fit the inside of my head.

I then had another look at the Neil Thomas WWII rules from his Wargaming: An Introduction. Firstly, very short. 30 pages including introduction, rules, army lists and scenarios. The army lists are very simple which is also great and give lots of nice options when combined with some nice simple scenarios. 

So far so good. When I started to look at a hex conversion I was struck by the similarities with Bolt Action. Things like unit cohesion and firing ranges etc are simplified by using hexes. I didn't enjoy working out firing dice by range band. I had to do a similar thing for Bolt Action. The numbers just didn't look right in either game and I concluded that range attenuation isn't really handled very well.

I then looked at the tank thing. Again, the NT rules have a separate approach to the tank rules. Tanks don't take morale tests for example. OK fine, in real life tanks are different. But I also know that tanks and infantry in real life are inseparable. They can't do without each other and must have a way of interacting effectively. 

My only other comment about the NT rules is that the 30 pages probably leave out some important stuff, although I think NT trusts us to work this out for ourselves. 

This all sounds a bit depressing. However, both sets of rules show their connections with the origins of the hobby. Neither are revolutionary and both can be linked back to stuff written in the 1960s. Again, nothing wrong with that either. However, I ended up turning to boardgaming back then because I was not satisfied with these sort of miniatures rules.

I still have two further sets of rules to explore: FiveCore and Blitzkrieg Commander (BKC). I'll be pursuing these further. BKC is very interesting because it bridges the infantry/tank game divide by having a conscious combined arms approach. FiveCore is a bit more traditional but has some other very unique features. Wherever this goes, I do keep coming back to the simple army list ideas in the NT rules and will want to keep these in future.


Interesting Weasel developments:
  • From Shako to Coal-Scuttle: The beta version has been updated following feedback and can be obtained from Wargames Vault.
  • Company Command: An updated version of this has been announced for a few weeks time incorporating some of the Five Men at Kursk features. I'll wait for these before doing more work on the hex thing.
And finally....

I have mentioned a potential hex version of Lion Rampant before. An article on a conversion of Lion Rampant to the Napoleonic wars has appeared in the latest edition of WI. This is great and quite exciting, especially if I can fit it to hexes. However, it is called Eagle Rampant whereas I would automatically have called it Dragoon Rampant. Never mind.


Ivan Sorensen said...

I've been thinking of adapting the Neil Thomas 1HW rules to squares. I suppose hexes wouldn't be too hard either.

I know at least one guy out there who plays Company Command on hexes and according to him, it wasn't too hard.
I think he changed Rush/Dash moves to 1D2 (1 or 2 hexes) and used 3" hexes, which is about where I'd want to do it, I think.

Maybe I should include an official hex option in the revision?

Old Trousers said...

Hi Ivan,

I have had a go at converting the 1HW rules to hexes, the WW2 version is on my Plan B: Russia 1941 blog page. I'd be interested in your views.

I think Company Command would be excellent as a hex version and I would very much welcome an option in the revision. I don't think the actual hex sizes are material as they can represent any measurement you wish in inches. My thoughts on dash were similar. Make the two hex move but roll a d2 for success. A fail would result in moving back one hex.

Happy to help.


Norm said...

Interesting post - in my enforced break from actual gaming (tedious house move and renovation) I am spending my leisure time with rules. likewise I am looking at the Bolt action to hexes idea, but am predominantly looking at Black Powder (and by implication Hail Caesar) to hexes and it is surprisingly resistant to my attempts, mainly because 6" is the common denominator (In BP) for movement and weapon ranges which is fine, but that does leave me with a relatively small table equivalent of moving a 4 X 3 to a 6 X 5....... Not a big enough boost to create those the big game area the BP wants (it makes more sense to not use hexes and just use cm instead of inches ....... But I want my hexes!) - also there then becomes a mismatch to my scaling back a unit to a frontage of 80 - 90mm to fit the hex compared to how the system uses movement and fire ranges, making my ranges too far compared to the visual of unit frontage.

Duc de Gobin said...

Oooh very interesting. I'm very eager to see something WWII in nature on hexes. Solves so many issues for me. Will watch development with interest.

I also see how Ivan's stuff would work beautifully with hexes. I use 100mm hexes and 20mm figures, so had thought of adopting for 'megablitz' size games, but your discussion is very thought provoking for smaller battles.

Old Trousers said...

Chaps, Nice to hear from you. Sorry that BP isn't working out for you Norm. From your webpage article it looked quite promising. I have got quite excited about Company Command and have started doing some more thinking!