Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gaming Vacation and Introduction to 'Food for Powder'

Last December my lovely wife and some of her girlfriends bought tickets to the U2 concert scheduled for Winnipeg this past weekend and so we made the pilgrimage for her to see The Great God Bono late last week. Don't get me wrong, I really like U2, but I have about as much interest in watching a rock concert with 50,000+ sweating, intoxicated, screaming fans as I have with sticking pencils in my eyes, so I quietly bowed out of the 'experience'. (Its funny as 20 years ago I would have probably given a kidney to see them...) Nonetheless, I tagged along so I could visit family and, like a complete geek, game my face off with some of my old pals from The Fawcett Avenue Conscripts

I played two games of 28mm Napoleonics: a largish Anglo-French scenario that I put on for the Conscripts and a smaller Austro-French scrum between Greg and I. (I apologize in advance for the crap photos - I was preoccupied with running the games and so just snapped these shots off when I both had a spare moment and thought of it.)

Here we have two battalion columns from a French infantry brigade negotiating around a muddy field in an attempt to deploy out into line.
After some initial success the French brigade meets a withering fire from British battalions supported by artillery.
For both of these games I used our new rules, Food for Powder which were originally inspired by our modification of Black Powder, but have since evolved beyond that premise to include an assorted mashup of interpreted game mechanics from Shako, Republic to Empire, Lasalle, In the Grand Manner and several other rule sets. Sort of a cafeteria pick-list of Napoleonic rules which together has created an entirely new beast. In point form, Food for Powder features:
  • interleaved player activations to replace the common IGOUGO mechanic;
  • streamlining of play by doing away with both shooting and close combat phases and instead incorporating them within the shared command phase;
  • a reaction mechanism to allow both defensive interdiction fire and countercharges during the opposing player's activation;
  • removal of any annoying (well, to us) saving throw mechanic;
  • rules which allow cavalry the power to harass enemy formations as much by their threat as by their use in pitched melee;
  • replacement of the D6 with a D12 to better smooth the results curve
  • a Quick Reference Sheet with ALL pertinent rules that fits on ONE double sided page.
The rules have been playtested quite a bit over the winter and they seem to hold together quite well, though I'm still coming across areas where some adjustments are required. Nonetheless, from the guys' feedback I noted that they particularly liked:
  • the interleaved activations as it adds tension and requires both sides to be watchful to exploit or react to developing situations;
  • the reaction mechanism as it prevents units from moving into or through a 'beaten zone' with impunity;
  • the casualty system, along with how rallies are handled.
An Austrian advance column catching the French on the move. The cavalry has forced a French battalion into square while the infantry advanced up the center in successive lines.
Grenzers moving into position to screen the advance of the rest of the brigade.
The French are seen here trying desperately to better deploy and break out. Notice the two sections of 12pdrs moving past the village to support the infantry.
The final push for the Austrian infantry who are on the verge of forcing the French brigade to withdraw.
French medium artillery who have just 'convinced' a regiment of Austrian Hussars to withdraw.

This week I'm going to update the rules with some the recent additions and changes with the idea of giving them another 'crucible' of playtests over the coming month. I am hoping to have a digestible copy of the rules ready sometime this early summer for those who may be interested in checking them out for themselves.