How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Pudel and Peper attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Developing Musket & Saber QP rules by Decision Games

Three great games that go great together!!

All they need is one set of rules that plays cleanly...

Well, I do like playing these games, and I like the idea of using them with my Command and Colors blocks or even converting them to miniatures. Lots of potential fun here. But, they do need some work. The other evening, I just couldn't take it anymore, so I sat down and in three hours completely rewrote the Quick-Play rules for these mini games. Now I just need to try them out with all three periods to see if they feel right.

This phase of rules-writing is what I would term development - that's where the load of brilliant ideas the head-shed thought up are actually playtested to see if they work in the game based upon the time, complexity level, and other parameters that have been set by the publisher. What goes in and what does not is ultimately the key decision for a designer, and the ultimate ART of game design. It usually requires a lot of playtesting, even if you are an experienced designer. The bottom line is that MOST designers think of too many fun things to put in, and someone has to step back and say what is too much.

Made lots of language and other corrections to make the rules more understandable [to me at least - to others, we'll have to see!].

  1. Units that are subject o ineffectiveness are not also subject to disruption. The two are almost the same in their effect, and identical in thier restrictions upon units, and it is too much to have an ineffective battlaion running around, also disrupted!
  2. I added a Recovery Phase after the Movement Phase. I found myself often forgetting or confused about who was supposed to recover from what and when.
  3. I dropped March Movement completely. This effectively quadrupled the movement of units on roads away from the enemy. While 3.2 miles or so in 90 minutes is pretty plausible for a march, it allows players with total control to perform amazing flank marches on a whim, which really isn't very realistic from the command capability poin of view. The doubling of movement on roads is more than sufficient.
  4. Units that use the road rate are disrupted by other units that use the road rate passing thru their hex. Horse and musket era traffic jams were notorious. This isn't a super-highway network, these are crummy one-lane roads with ruts.
  5. An entire stack of units doesn't always have to retreat if the units that DID fight retreat. They take a morale check and if they pass they can hold their ground. This promotes the use of reserves within the - quite large - hexes. 350y deep is quite a lot of ground, more than enough for a steady unit to remain in order while the front line retreats behind. Plus, this promotes an historical tactic and the eternal question of "should I deploy deeper, or wider??" for the players.
  6. The free attack rule for defenders [7.2] was a bit out of hand - they were DOUBLED on their freebie, which is too much. I dropped any benefit at all; instead, it is truly a "free" attack in that they do not suffer any adverse results on the CRT. So even a weak attack at -4/-3 [2-1 odds] is worth it. Historically, opposed formations did regularly stare at each other and do very little - if it suited the purposes of their generals.
  7. I also made it that both bombardments and skirmish attacks satisfy the purposes of 7.2. Heck, the purpose of most bombardments and skirmishing was to test and discomfit the enemy. Whether they succeeded or not, they kept people busy.
  8. I re-organized Artillery Support Fire and Bombardment. I also grabbed a few rules from the standard rules to solve some unexplained questions.
  9. Tweaked Cavalry and Square rules a little. Need to playtest, and there's no big cavalry events with squares in the AmRev, so it'll wait until Saalfeld!
  10. reorganized and reworked Disruption, Ineffectiveness and Step Recovery. As they are redundant, I made Units that become ineffective not subject to Disruption [they become ineffective instead]. Both effects are the same the only real difference is just a bit in the factors of the units, which are so low that they aren't worth considering. In any event, in the new Recovery Phase, Step Recover happens first, followed by Disruption Recovery, and ending with Ineffectiveness Recovery. 
So you can't recover a step if you are disrupted, and leaders recover last with ineffective units for the specific reason that they cannot therefore help units with their morale. The net effect of this is to slow down step, disruption and ineffectiveness recovery, making those effects a bit more important. If you take both a step loss and disruption, you now need two turns to recover - one for disruption, one for the step - assuming all goes well.

This all sort of goes with the flow of battle I've been experiencing with "Germantown: Washington Strikes, 4 October 1777". There is a fair bit of terrain exchanging hands with the CRT, and disruption and ineffectiveness happens. However, it seems a bit to easy to recover to me - you can rout three hexes and take a Disruption and a step loss. If you are now out of enemy ZoC - and you should be - you lose Disruption automatically then regain a step while marching 3 miles around the flank of your enemy who thought you would need to get some R&R time.

Disruption was, and still is, difficult to recover from near the enemy.

One test I tried and it doesn't work is to allow a stack of Units to attack different hexes. Sounds like it should be OK, but it has lots of secondary and tertiary effects that make the game too complicated. Just have to settle with the proper use of a reserve for now.

I will be playtesting this draft [did one already] to see how it goes, and welcome anyone else who would like to join me. My goal is to get a standard set of rules for all three periods - AWI, Napoleonics, ACW - and the games I have for them, which will make my playing life a lot easier!  Interested parties can contact me thru BGG or my gmail, which is aama19147 and the usual ending.

Ultimately, I will compare this "quick-play" set with the so-called Standard set, clarifying a few things, and perhaps adding in a few mechanics that seem worth the trouble. If that works, I'd be tempted to buy some of the larger folio games in the future [well, I have one, Pea Ridge]. I very much like the tactics rules and giving the brigadier a chance to attempt a plan and show off his stuff! Keeps players busy with interesting tactical choices, which is a good thing.


  1. Are you the developer of the M&S QP rules? Because some of that changes are now in the new version of the rules.

  2. Dear Sir, I am only a humble playtester... but I make forceful arguments.
    I actually re-wrote them completely start to finish, and sent the draft to the boss. I wrote them for myself, really, but I do believe he liked some of the ideas. There was a lot of clutter and some mechanical repetition, i.e. "double jeapardy" if I recall. Enjoy!


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