Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Colonial Christmas Book

My wife thinks that I'm rather difficult to buy gifts for . . . well, I am.  So I sometimes place orders for her and then she gives them to me. 

One of the books so given is Stuart Asquith's "War in the Sudan 1884 - 1898 A Campaign Guide" (pictured at left).

Now my main interest in the Colonial period has always been the Northwest Frontier . . . a result of reading a lot of Kipling while young I suspect.

Anyway I've never really been drawn to the Sudan.  But a combination of Steve-the-Wargamer's Sudan posts, a number of fine campaign accounts on the Jackson Gamer's Colonial pages and Littlejohn's Colonial posts (particularly his recent "gunboat" posts have all conspired to cause me to learn a bit more about this Colonial Theatre.

I can't say much in way of a review since I'm not very far into it yet, but it looks quite good.  I'll let you know more later.

-- Jeff

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Khyber Knife" -- the rough shape of it

(Note -- I no longer plan to use these rules; but will use "The Sword and the Flame" instead -- 1/11)

Firstly I should point out that most of the gamers in my area are devoted role-players . . . so I am being careful to include some role-playing aspects in my Colonial house rules, "Khyber Knife".

As I mentioned in a previous post, these are a sort of amalgamation of "The Sword and the Flame", "G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T." and my own ideas and quirks.

However, I find that the "Heroes" of "GASLIGHT" are too strong. I will certainly be using weaker "main characters".

"European" units will be of various sizes. Squads will be 10 figures, 1 of whom is an NCO. Platoons will be 20 strong and include two leaders (1 or 2 NCOs and 0 to 1 junior officers). Weapon or Vehicle teams will be from 2 to 5 figures strong including 1 NCO.

Native units will include 10 and 20 figure units (one of whom is a leader) and 30 figure units (including two leaders).

Then, since I'm quite fond of "fog of war" mechanisms, before it reaches the tabletop, each unit will dice for its actual size. Each 10-man unit will roll 4d12, the highest die being the number of figures in the unit (if only 10 figures available, any overage may carry over to other units); for 20-man units, 4d20, the high number again being what's available that day; and for the 30-man bands, again 4d20 with 10 added to the highest d20.

Speaking of units, while each nation will have "standard" (for it) SHOOT and MELEE ratings, they will be subject to variation for each unit. Two d3, one green (for up) and one red (for down) are rolled for each factor. Thus a green 3 and red 2 would give a +1 to that unit's rating for SHOOT; while then rolling a green 1 and red 3 would result in a -2 for their MELEE score.

There are two decks of playing cards used. An "Action Deck" and a "Casualty Deck". Unlike TSATF, both decks should include two jokers.

If a red card is drawn, the "Red" player can "act" with any one unit of his choice. His action could be to move or to shoot or to "move and shoot" or "shoot and move" (both of which limit shots to half the regular number) or perform some other action (stand up, dismount, go on "overwatch", not do anything, etc.).

If a face card is drawn, besides acting with one unit, the player MAY choose to also act with a character not with a unit. If a black card is drawn, it is the same for the "Black" player (usually playing the Natives, but sometimes a rival European).

Cards continue to be drawn until the Joker comes up. Each player now has the option of either acting with any one unit that has not yet acted OR taking an extra action with each of his main characters -- note that if the character is with a unit, the unit doesn't get an extra action, only the main character.

All of the "extras" (i.e., rank and file) in a unit will have the unit's SHOOT number, which they must roll (or less) on a d20 to score a hit. This number is modified by the range (point blank, normal, long, extreme).

To determine the effect of "hits", I more or less use the TSATF system as a base. Pip cards (2 through 10) affect figures in the target unit chosen by the unit's player. Face cards (J,Q,K) are chosen by the shooter (except he can't pick a leader). Aces affect leaders.

Clubs are "walking wounded"; Spades are wounded; Diamonds are "wounded" (but instead kill an already wounded figure; and Hearts are kills. Depending upon formation and cover, figures might or might not get a "saving throw".

For Melee, opposing figures roll d20s versus their MELEE number. If both miss, they remain in place; if one hits and the other misses, a casualty card is drawn for the figure hit. If both hit, there are factors which determine who tests first.

Units each have a "SAVE" factor (depending upon a dAV roll -- see below). If a pip card at or below their save card is drawn, the "hit" was blocked and the figure remains in place. If over their SAVE, they recoil that far and suffer as per being Shot.

Going into the day, units will not know what their MELEE Number is for that day. Units are rated as "Elite", "Veteran" or "Green". An Elite unit will have a SAVE number equal to the higher of 2dAv; a "Veteran" unit's SAVE will be the result of 1dAv; and the "Green" unit will roll 2dAv and use the lower number as its SAVE for that day. Units do not roll for their SAVE until just before it is necessary to do so.

Oops, I almost forgot to mention that I use variable movement. For example, European infantry AND Native infantry both move two dice if in Line/Mass and three dice in Open or Column . . . but while Europeans use d6s, the Natives use d8s . . . with a somewhat similar situation with cavalry (although 4d6 and 3d8 are comparable at one point)

As for terrain effects, there is open terrain, rough terrain and bad terrain (as well as linear obstacles). These are handled by variously adjusting the number of dice thrown or subtracting a low or high die depending upon what troop type is in what terrain.

As for the rest of the mechanics, they pretty much echo those of "The Sword and the Flame".

So there you have a rough overview of my "Khyber Knife" rules.

-- Jeff

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Afristan Setting

In my last post, I referred to a "a mini-continent in the Indian Ocean".  To the left is an image of AFRISTAN (click on graphic for larger image), an imaginary setting for Colonial adventures set somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

It has, over the centuries, been populated by various peoples from the surrounding land masses.

Yes, Pathans and Zulus and Beja and, well you know the list . . . and maybe a few surprises as well.

The version pictured here lacks any indication of who lives where . . . so that if you wish to borrow it for your own use, you certainly may . . . and populate it as you wish.

My long-term goal is to have not only the British, but also Germans, French Foreign Legion and Ottoman Turks exploring Afristan.  To start with, I am limited to British and Turks . . . well Egyptians masquerading as Turks . . . along with a mess of Natives, of course.

-- Jeff