Sunday, 10 April 2016

Game 40 - One Hour Wargames - AWI Clash - 'Late Arrivals' Scenario

So finally, we've tried The 'One Hour Wargames' rules/scenarios by Neil Thomas. A lot of attention and discussion with Steve over at Sound Officers' Call on this one.

So the main thrust of the rules is small playing space, six or so units, and minimal rules are the order of the day - and you are dicing for damage when in range, each unit has 15 'hit points' etc.

That said, there are some real subtleties and of course the nature of the rules lend themselves to being hacked:

  • With the C18th version, only cavalry can charge. We amended that to state that British infantry could charge, and that militia would flee, but continentals would not etc. The tendency then is to wear down those 15 HPs with musketry and go in with the bayonet. That said, go too early, you bounce off and face a hail of musketballs. There's a delicate balance between knowing when to charge, and gambling what you will get with d6+2 damage. (We changed the rules a bit for AWI cavalry - and will probably change more).

  • There were elements where we found ourselves saying - 'this is really simple', though then discussing whether that meant a lesser game. The answer is a definite 'no' here.We agreed on various questions and moved on. It was like 1974 or something!! Would we have obtained a more enjoyable result with Black Powder or similar, and a better narrative? I don't think so.

  • A key feature is that moving units don't fire in the turn. This developed into a realistic alternate 'grind and exploit' game as units traded volleys while other units moved up. I haven't seen this 'period' flavour in many other rules 'designed in' so succinctly. There are some subtleties here.

  • We allowed some cover bonuses for fences etc. stating that militia would only endure more than one round if 'parked' behind a fence.

  • The benefit here is speed. Battles take an hour or so (duhh!) but the benefit of that is campaign play. If you had a campaign on hexes with multiple units, the battles could be fought out as units/task forces engage, then onto the next encounter and mop up the mess  - with the strategic situation developing very quickly.
  • The d6 damage mechanic gives a lot of variability (we killed a guards unit with musket and cannon), though whether accidentally or not, that adds a little chaos to the battlefield. Still thinking about this one, but the d6 has never been so powerful! 
  •  Just by chance, we used a yellow / red / black dice combo to outline the hits taken by unit (red at 7 points +, black at 13 points+ etc.) - which gave us the idea of generating certain issues for units when they hit the black dice (after 12 points of damage) - perhaps preventing further charges, or stopping units moving forward etc.

The other BIG benefit I could see was the hit point system:
(1) They aren't just hits. In a campaign or operational game, they could represent supply and logistics.
(2) As Steve does on Sound Officers' Call, there is probably a need for officers/leaders being able to rally once per game to restore hit points. We also allowed the guards unit to self rally once per game - denoting it from the regulars in this manner.

Actually - perhaps leaders can move units in their radius - but if attached to a particular unit, then the others in their 'brigade' can't move unless elite...

Other changes could be +/-1 for really poor or elite units, but these are minor amendments.

We didn't exactly use the 3'x3' suggested either, though did allow American reinforcements to enter on turns 5 and 10 as per scenario, which actually helped their victory considerably...oops

'Hold the line boys!" Militia in their most useful position; placing muskets on the fence line.

British light infantry moves through the woods. The only units that can here.

As British infantry moves to secure the right flank.

 'Wait 'til you see the whites of their eyes boys!' (oops, wrong battle)

 First American reinforcements. Get that damned cannon in position quickly!

 Pressure mounts on the militia... British cavalry threatens the flank. There just aren't enough American units to hold...yet.


 A fresh British unit positions itself to charge the fence line.

The centre sees British pressure too, but this unit takes very heavy damage from the artillery and musketry (lost count of how many sixes were rolled here :)) )

 Bye guys...time to go.

About time. American reinforcements enter at the road...

 ...with a second unit appearing on the flank, just in time.

Withering fire from American muskets and cannon on the guards.

By game end, units were hitting their hit point totals and disappearing rapidly.

A great game in about 60 minutes. Really good stuff, and lots to think about here.


  1. Outstanding write-up and some really good points, Darren. I love the self-rallying elites and I think you nailed it with the ability to be hacked. I have a friend who plays this with "average dice" and he claims the results are "less emotional" than with the D6. I prefer the D6 for the reasons you stated (never has the D6 been more powerful) given that musket volleys were never predictable things.

    The more I play of the rules, the more I end up enjoying them. Going to take a Panzerblitz scenario for a spin with my units on 3" sabots and see how they go. (with more than 6 units on a side).

  2. Ah - average dice would certainly provide a different game - though the impact of the d6 was such that elite units began to to think twice about things - though that 'self rally' might redress the balance. Some thought provoking stuff with these rules. Never has a d6 provided such chaos ion the battlefield - though that's a good thing of course.

    Can't wait to see your WW2 game with more units :)

    I was also debating whether if a leader rallies a unit for more HPs, that his units in command radius can only fire. The tendency here then would be to almost wait until units are in position before rallying the unit that is about to break. Could lead to some tense stuff.

    Also wondering now if elites or 'platoon firing' units should have d8s...perhaps I am straying into madness...

    1. That's the best part of these rules. You can try out a concept without taking an entire day!

  3. We were also debating a campaign structure for AWI or FIW, where a map would be used to dictate the battles for the following week, and we do 2 or 3 battles.

    Also perfect for what I wanted to do with '3 Kings in Albion'
    Average troops with pikes - d4 in pike defence, dAV otherwise
    Elite troops - same but with self rally
    Platoon firing Dutch, or French Hugenots without pikes - d6 all the time.

    Very good book. Thanks for this - I'm going off on a development tangent again LOL

    1. Oooh that sounds like a great way to manage a campaign. Start with the map and do 2 battles per week through to the end of the campaign!

  4. That means that armies need to have scout units that determine what is in certain hexes. For the first time you could see raids on logistics centres and supply lines. Cavalry is sued as scouts rather than always fighting other cavalry...hmm

    1. Yes and with their mobility you'd get to use them in a true operational capacity opening up the flanks of the field or exploiting breakthroughs. I love it!