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Artillery Barrages

The impact of Artillery in 20th century and later wargames is often limited. Depending on the scale of a game, both sides might get a mortar or two, or perhaps so many rounds of off-table artillery support. Yet the first phase of many battles was, and still is, the artillery. ‘Softening up’ the defenders, or ‘preparing the battlefield’.

“Like most things unwanted, the end of the artillery barrage came without consideration or introduction; the seconds after its cessation were like hours. The silence was debilitating for the men, as it signalled the beginning of the real battle—the fight with enemy soldiers.”

― Michael J Murphy

Stephen Westmann was a German army officer who lived through the barrage the started the battle of the Somme

“We were under incessant bombardment. Day and night, the shells, heavy and light ones, came upon us. Our dugouts crumbled. They fell upon us and we had to dig ourselves and our comrades out. Sometimes we found them suffocated, sometimes smashed to pulp. Soldiers in the bunkers became hysterical. They wanted to run out and fights developed to keep them in the comparative safety of our deep bunkers. Even the rats became hysterical. They came into our flimsy shelters to seek refuge from this terrific artillery fire. We had nothing to eat, nothing to drink, but constantly, shell after shell burst upon us.”

The problem for the wargamer is that playing out such a bombardment is tedious for both players. In reality the bombardment could take as long as the rest of the game.

What I want to suggest is a short cut. Whilst most rule sets covering 20th century games don’t provide points values for figures, it’s easy enough, when you know the rules, to come up with something.

For example

Green infantry 1pt

Regular infantry 2pts

Veteran infantry 3pts

Heavy weapons, tot up the number of crew and triple it (so a MMG manned by three veterans would be worth 27).

Artillery (Anti-tank or normal) tot up the value of the crew and multiply by four.

Tanks are more complicated, something simple like ‘tot up the number of crew and multiply by four’ gives you a good starting point. The problem is that a T34/76 with four crew is cheaper than a Panzer IV with five crew. Depending on whether your rules allow for the poor crew conditions within the T34, and the greater mechanical reliability of the Panzer IV, that might be a reasonable assessment, but it depends on your rules.
Similarly it means that a Panzer IV with five crew costs the same as a Panzer VI with five crew, which is not easy to justify. So I would take the figure as a base line, pick the standard tank on the table, work out the cost, and adjust others relative to that. After all, you know the rules you are using and the way they work.

For some rules and scales, where you have bases of figures, not individual figures, you just do points per base rather than per figure.

Still at some point you’ll have a points system which doesn’t offend you too much. The time has come to deploy it.

When you build your forces, give the attacker (purely as an example for the purpose of illustration) 200 points plus a 100 point barrage. Give the defenders 200 points as well.
This means that the attacker has, at best, a 3:2 advantage which is not sparkling.

Then let the defender mark his positions on a map of the table. The attacker then divides the defenders position into three areas, say left, right, and centre; and allocates so many barrage points to each of these areas. The attacker might, for example, allocate 40 points to the left, 40 points to the right, and 20 points to the centre.

In a solo game you could roll a ‘d5’ to allocate the barrage. The d5 is what I would call an average dice, it’s a six sided dice but the sides are numbered 2.3.3.4.4.5.

The defender then looks at his units defending the right, he has to lose 40 points.

This can be done in several ways. For example a squad of 10 veteran infantry plus a three man MMG could drop to 10 regular infantry plus a three man MMG. So whereas the infantry cost 30 and the MMG costs 27; now the infantry are worth 20 and the MMG costs 18. So he’s saved 19 of the 40 points.

He could drop them down to Green, so 10 infantry now are worth 10 points and the gun is worth 9, which means he’s saved 38 points. If he was to remove 2 green infantry as dead, this would make the 40 points he needs. Obviously the veterans dug in on that flank have been severely shaken by the barrage so that they emerge shaken and shocked.

At this point when the attack starts, the attacker now deploys 200 points and the defender is down to 100, meaning the odds are 2:1 which is far better for the defender.

Defender’s Barrage.

The attacker’s barrage, meaning that an attack was coming, could be the signal for the defenders to launch their own barrage. This tended to be less daunting, if only because the attacker’s attempted to hit defending artillery gun positions as part of the barrage.

For the purposes of the game the defender could set aside points for this barrage, I wouldn’t recommend much more than twenty to be honest. This barrage would be marked on the defender’s map, with a note that this hits on move 1. Then, when the attacker deploys, the defender drops the barrage and the attacker has to adjust units caught in it, just as the defender did.

There is an art to this for the defender. If you target a small area, you could do serious damage to the attacker, disrupting their plans and perhaps crippling a key unit. But it’s entirely possible that there is nobody in that area. Or you could just say that the entire attacker’s deployment area is your target. In which case you’ll do twenty points of damage but the attacker could minimise the effect by taking off a figure here and a figure there.

Anyway, have fun

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And of course, a set of rules that don’t have a point system

Available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/380527/Hell-by-Daylight

Or from Amazon on kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

In the beginning was the plan part two, the attackers.

I thought long and hard about how to do the attackers. After all, with the defenders I’ve been through suggestions as to how you could organise units in part one.
So I decided that I’d let you build your own army. For the campaigns I came up with costs, so you knew how much army you could afford. Here are the costs, converted into points. The points are per company and because I’ve divided it down to produce small numbers, all the fine detail has gone.

Unit type
‘Leg’ Infantry company6
Mechanised combat engineers8
Mechanised infantry company7
Tank Company,  Heavy7
Tank Company, Medium7
Tank Company, Light7
Aircraft squadron counting as three planes42
Tube artillery company7
anti-aircraft company7
Support and recovery company7
Heavy recovery company7
Drone Light air support/recce company7
Infantry in powered armour7
Mobile suits7
Mecha7
Giant walkers8
Drone Shower7

This is for Green troops. Normal troops cost 1.5 times as much, Veteran cost 3 times as much.

Now you’ll notice that a lot of companies cost about 7. Basically when I was working things out I discovered that equipment costs may look high, but they aren’t as crucial as you might think. Vehicles are often considerably older than their crews, whereas men come and go, need training, medical care, pensions or whatever, and a lot of vehicle costs boil down to the costs associated with the mechanics and spares clerks who’re looking after them. Apparent anomalies like tank companies cost the same whatever the size of the tank because under my system, heavier companies have fewer tanks. (This is a side effect of designing forces that can be shipped, they have the same ‘weight’ of tank.) Feel free to tweak to taste. This point system is not rigorous, it hasn’t been massively tested. It’s a campaign cost system which takes all sorts of things into account and I’m grossly misusing for the purpose of this scenario.

  • Note that aircraft are seriously expensive. In their case vehicle costs are phenomenal, even compared to crew, mechanics and similar.
  • I tend to use a four company battalion, but that’s not written in stone.

The defenders from the previous article amounted to somewhere between 550 and 600 points. So I suggest that you have an attacking force of at least 1000 points and not more than 2000 points. So it’s up to you whether you put together a carefully crafted and balanced force, or instead mount human wave attacks with hordes of green infantry supported by giant walkers.

Actually doing the attack.

What can you see?
The defender will place his ‘front line’ on the wargames table, provided you have units within 1.5km of it. At this point the ‘front line’ will just be the battalion perimeters. You have to work out what’s inside the perimeter.

To do this, you can use a specialist recce unit. You just buy an appropriate light armour, drone, mechanised or leg Infantry Company and attach it to a battalion. It costs the same, it’s just the training varies. These will allow you to discover more.

Alternatively if you’re busy just attack and see what you find.

Things behind the front line

This is where units with drones, or your aircraft, come into their own. They will get a route to travel and will see battalion sized units within 1.5km of that route. If troops are in defence, they’ll ‘see’ battalion perimeters. If enemy troops are moving up to attack, your aircraft will have a better idea of what is there, and can probably tell you if the force is more or less than battalion strength. They can tell you whether there is armour, mechanised troops, or artillery units on the move.

Individual companies, such as hospital, supply or vehicle recovery companies would be assumed to be stationary and hidden from casual observation. To spot one of them, catch it moving.

If enemy artillery ‘shoot and scoot’ then by definition, they shoot in their move and then move. So in your move, they’re still ‘moving’ even if they’ve technically arrived at their destination. So an aircraft capable of acting as an artillery spotter would be able to bring your artillery down on them as they move.

Spotting hidden companies.

Some troops may be hidden but still can be detected. If a hospital or vehicle recovery unit is working, even if it’s hidden, it will produce signal traffic. Your ECM unit can pick that up and give you a general location. When that happens you can either fire artillery at it, counting it as map fire, or you can send a plane or similar to look for it. In this case if they overfly the general position they’ll see enough to give you a location.

If the hidden company is artillery, you can spot it with ECM as above, or, if you’ve got it, Counter Battery Radar. The first time you fire at a location, it counts as map fire (unobserved) but if they stay there and keep firing, the second time you fire counts as observed.

And the plan?

Hell in Microcosm work on orders. They’re simple, so you might tell a battalion to advance to a village and mount a prepared attack on it. This they will do, assuming nobody attacks them first. But obviously you might suddenly realise that they need to attack another village because there is fierce fighting there and your forces are getting a kicking. You can change the orders, but it’ll take the troops whose orders you’ve changed time to respond. After all, the battalion commander has briefed his company commanders, they’re geared up to attack west and suddenly you want them to attack east, now. It takes time to re-brief, turn units round and get things moving. The poorer the troops, the longer the time.
For the solo player you can just issue orders for both sides and watch the situation steadily deteriorate. If you want to command one side, I suggest that when the other side needs new orders, you look at the situation and chose at least three options, assign a number to each, and roll the dice. The dice tells you the one that happens.  

•        1,2  They are instructed to do what you think is sensible.

•        3,4  They are instructed to do something defensive which, personally you think is a bit timid.

•        5,6  They are instructed to do something bold and aggressive which, personally, you wouldn’t recommend.

You then issue the orders and watch as your plan goes to pieces.

♥♥♥♥

 

If you don’t know Hell in Microcosm, they’ve available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

And from Amazon on Kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

In the beginning was the plan.

One advantage of working at large scale is that you can casually rob the terrain from the real world. So for this scenario the west edge of the board is the sea, (just visible west of Warton). Similarly the eastern edge of your map is pretty hilly. Not Alpine, but you’d want to push through them with care. The joy of google maps is you can go and look for yourself and decide.

Now this map is approximately an 8ft by 4ft wargames table. The ground scale for the rules is 10cm is 1km. You could skim a couple of feet of the eastern edge if you wanted. I decided to make this a science fiction scenario, but it would be easy enough to dial it back slightly to make it modern or dial it back a bit more to take it into the WW1 or WW2.

So for the defence.

You have been told that you have to hold a front which runs from Milnthorpe to Kirkby Lonsdale, but obviously secure the hills on your left flank. You are also told to hold Sedburgh (Which as an aside has an excellent second hand bookshop and several others which are perfectly acceptable) to block outflanking moves.

Your assets.

As defender you have been given an ‘augmented combat group.’ This is a polite way of saying, ‘this is what was left so you got it.’

Troops can be formed into ‘battalions’ or ‘battalion groups’ or ‘stiffened battalions.’ These names all describe the same thing. Normally a battalion is composed of four companies, (whether infantry or cavalry or whatever) but it can be ‘stiffened’ by adding other specialist companies. These are placed under the battalion commander. You as the player don’t have to worry where they are deployed within his battalion perimeter, that’s his job.

With regard strength, a company is normally 3 strength points. Therefore a four company battalion will be 12 strength points. But it is possible that if you have a battalion that is really on top of its game, that the ‘synergistic’ effect of the battalion operating together is greater than the sum of its parts so the four company battalion can be 15 points. But take a company away, and the company taken is only worth 3 points, and the remains of the battalion is only worth 9. Strength can never be more than 15.

You can add a company to a battalion as reinforcement, this adds 3 strength points. The company is now part of the battalion and has to stay with them, at least for the game.

If you stiffen a battalion with a company, you’re lending them the company. You can take it away and give it to somebody else at any time. It only adds 2 strength points.
Both stiffening companies bring with them other advantages. Companies used to reinforce can also bring these advantages. All will (ideally) be made clear as I continue.

The Hawkmoor Infantry Brigade.
Named after their commander, Colonel Hawkmoor, who fell in battle some years ago but they’ve kept his name. The brigade has recently been built back up so each battalion has four companies. The MICVs that your infantry move in are lightly armoured so if the infantry dismount they can count as having light armour support. (Note this is integral stiffening so doesn’t count to the limit.) Note that if your battalion is already stiffened by armour, the MICVs can count as stiffening heavy weapons instead.

The Spennymoor Fencible Battalion.  Veteran mechanised infantry. 12 points

The Stanhope Volunteer Battalion.  Normal mechanised infantry. 12 points.

The Tow Law rifle Battalion.  Normal mechanised infantry. 12 points.

The Hexham Yeomanry Battalion. Medium armoured battalion. 12 points.

The Butsfield armoured Recovery Company.  3 points

The Allendale Company, Combat Engineers. 3 points

Also, scraped together to help are

The 3rd Battalion, the Loyal Westmoreland Militia. These are green and are leg infantry, they walk everywhere. 15 points.

The Hunter Battalion. This is composed of Missile Walkers. A four company battalion, Normal, 12 strong. They have enough machines and similar to count as heavy weapon support, but also their missiles can be anti-tank or anti-aircraft depending upon how they’re programmed. You cannot use them for both in the same move.

The Furness Cuirassier Battalion. A weak, two company strong, heavy tank battalion. 6 points

C Company, Morecambe Bay Field Hospital. (no combat strength)

Copeland Medium Artillery Battalion. Four companies with self-propelled 155mm howitzers. 12points

F Company, Counter Battery Radar Company,   3 points

Eden Battery, one company 105mm horse drawn artillery. 3 points

Crake Battery, one company 105mm horse drawn artillery. 3 points

Carlisle Garrison. Three companies of light AA guns. 9 points.
These can count as AA or Heavy Weapons support, but not both in the same turn.

Kendal Electronic Warfare Company. This has a standard, portable Electronic Countermeasures potential.

So how do you organise things.

If you look at the map there are four areas where you could do with some defence.

The main enemy thrust is probably from the south, so the Milnthorpe and Kirkby Lonsdale positions need to be strong. The Sedburgh position possibly less so as anybody attacking could be slowed by the hills. Similarly the hill position, which acts as a hinge, needs to be strong as well but you cannot be strong everywhere.

Also there has to be a reserve and possibly a force for a counter attack.

How can you organise troops under Hell in Microcosm?

The ‘manoeuvre unit’ is the battalion which can be stiffened by other troops.
At the basic level a battalion in prepared attack or defence can benefit from being stiffened by two specialist companies. In hasty attack or defence then it benefits only from one.

So if we take The Spennymoor Fencibles, they are 12 points of Veteran mechanised infantry. If we want them as a counter attack force we could stiffen them with one company of The Furness Cuirassiers, and a company of the Hunters, probably to provide AA support.

The two stiffening companies add strength points as well, two points each, but as this takes us over the maximum battalion strength of 15, one point is ‘wasted’
So when they attack, the Spennymore Fencibles could count 15 points of veteran mechanised infantry rolling 2d10

The company of Furness Cuirassiers adds +4 when attacking and the battalion cannot roll less than 4 on any dice.
The company of Hunters adds +3 to the dice.
So the Battalion attacks with 2d10+7

This is pretty formidable. But there are other options, especially if you want to make a little go a long way.

Other options.

So let us look at our assets.

You have a four company veteran battalion, the Spennymoor Fencibles. If we split them to form the core of two battalion strength formations. We’ll call these the First and second combat teams

First combat team

  • First has two veteran mechanised infantry companies. Strength 6
  • Because they’re defending we’ll give them one company of the 3rd Battalion, the Loyal Westmoreland Militia. This is a reinforcement, 3 points, bringing the total up to 9 points. The unit stays veteran because the veteran officers from the Fencibles can run things.
  • We’ll stiffen them with a Hunter company. This gives them 2 strength points bringing the unit up to 11. (As an aside companies reinforcing add 3 points to the strength, companies stiffening only add 2.)
  • Finally because they’re dug in we’ll stiffen them with Eden Battery. This brings their point total up to 13.

How does it fight?

  • So the first combat team, attacking. It has a strength 13 veteran mechanised infantry so rolls 2d8
  • The Hunters, as AT, give you +3 to the total.
  • The artillery company also gives you +3 to the total.
    So the unit rolls 2d8+6
  • Alternatively you might have it defending. Dismounting the infantry, so a strength 13 veteran infantry unit rolls a d12.
  • Your MICVs counting as light armour in defence gives you +4 and you can reroll once dice but must accept the result.
  • The Hunters, as AT, give you +3 to the total.
  • The artillery company also gives you +3 to the total.
  • So the unit rolls d12+10

There is a mixed benefit in that the artillery can not only provide support to the unit when it is in action but can also fire support missions for other units. It can also reach out and hit enemy units before they can hit the battalion they’re with. This is obviously a benefit.

The problem is that the other side’s CBR (if they have it) will obviously locate the firer and might retaliate against them. Because companies who are stiffening a battalion don’t take casualties (which all come off the battalion) the artillery is fine, but the infantry they’re hiding among takes the pain. Justify this as the artillery shooting and scooting and the PBI catching it as always.

Second combat team.

  • The Second combat team has the two remaining companies of the Fencibles. It also the two companies of the Furness Cuirassiers. These are reinforcement so this brings the total to 12 points.
  • We’ll stiffen them with a company of Hunters, so that brings their strength to 14 points.
  • When deploying as a counter attack force, you decide whether your ‘battalion’ is armour or mechanised infantry.
  • If you decide it’s mechanised infantry, then the battalion counts as 6 points (two companies) of mechanised infantry. But it’s reinforced by armour. Only one company counts as the stiffening because they’ll integral to the battalion.
  • If it attacks as mechanised infantry, it counts as a 14 point veteran mechanised infantry battalion which rolls 2d8.
  • The stiffening armour gives it +4 and it cannot roll less than 4 on any combat dice when attacking.
  • The Hunters give +3

How do they fight?

  • So they attack at a basic 2d8 +7 with bonuses for terrain etc.
  • If it’s counted as armour, it rolls 2d8 for a 14 point normal armoured battalion, but the mechanised infantry only give +1 to a heavy armoured battalion they are stiffening, and the hunters add +2
  • So it attacks with 2d8 +3 which isn’t as good as the above, but if fighting other armour it might be useful because it counts as heavy armour.
  • Personally I’d go down the mechanised infantry reinforced with armour route for most things.

A trip wire.

One common tactic was to hold front lines lightly, and then counter attack the attacking enemy. That way you didn’t lose many in the initial bombardment.

You have three companies of the 3rd Battalion, the Loyal Westmoreland Militia left. They could be stationed in Milnthorpe, Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedburgh. Stiffen them with an AA company from the Carlisle Garrison. Now they’ll only be 5 points, so they’re not tough, but because there are so few of them, they’ll actually ride out the enemy bombardment better than a larger unit. Because there are so few of them, an enemy 155mm battery firing at them will roll d6 rather than d10. Greens will ‘defend’ against it by rolling a d10, so have a fair chance of surviving the pounding.

Behind them you could place units like the 1st and 2nd Combat teams. They will support the weak forces in front and when the enemy attacks, assuming the weak forces are driven out, they can counter attack. Indeed they can even make a prepared attack on the prospective attackers even as they prepare their own attack.

And the rest

You’re left with two mechanised infantry battalions and a tank battalion.

You need one battalion dug in on the hills acting as a hinge. Dug in mechanised infantry, mechanised infantry stiffened with a company of hunters should be tough. You could even give them the last horse drawn artillery battery.

Then make two more combat commands with two companies of mechanised infantry and two companies of medium tanks. One of these commands can be stiffened with combat engineers.

Your artillery probably cannot really support everywhere from one position. But they’ll have to shoot and scoot anyway assuming the enemy has counter battery radar. So find somewhere where you can support your southern front and expect to move when the eastern front starts to panic.

The CBR can stay with the artillery, it’s good for 50km so hasn’t got range problems.
The ECM can stay quietly in a town to the back, hidden from enemy air assets.

The Butsfield armoured Recovery Company and C Company, Morecambe Bay Field Hospital

These ideally don’t fight, they’re ‘campaign assets’. If an armoured recovery company is within 2km of a combat involving mechanised/armoured troops, you can recover 50% of strength points lost in that action (half are available next day, the other half in d6 days’ time.)
If you have the field hospital within 2km of any combat, you can recover 50% of strength points lost in that action (you get them back at 1 strength point per day.)

Which brings us on to our air assets

Air support.
You have six interceptors based to the north. When they have spent a move over the table, they have to refuel and rearm but can be back on the 3rd move. So you could have two over the table every move. You could ask for them to be armed for ground attack.
With interceptors plot their path across the battle field, it will be made up of two straight lines, with a brief acrobatic bit in the middle. They (and their instruments) can see anything within 15cm of that path.

You also have one recce plane. It can loiter and you can move it on the board like any other unit, it moves up to 40cm, nominally in a straight line, but with one turn of up to 180 degrees in the move. It too can see anything within 15mm of its path.

It’s your air support that can tell you what’s going on out of sight of your front line units.

Complicated?
Once I got a proper quick reference sheet sorted (thank you Derek,) people will soon rattling through combat, handling several stiffened battalions with ease. I’ve tried to show you the simple way of doing it which works well. But sometimes there’s too little butter and too much bread and you’ve got to spread it around a bit.
So these are all things you can play around with as you get used to the rules

Figures

Really this a big scale for small figures. I wouldn’t use anything larger than 6mm. I’ve mentioned that 10cm is 1km. A company deploys on a base that is 50mm by 40mm, because that was the sort of frontage a company would attack on. (Defending battalions have a lot larger perimeter). I must confess I use my elderly 6mm figures of sabot bases during the game. But if you’re looking at even smaller scales that fit well in the games, Ali Doğan Sayıner at

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/mikrokosmos

has produced a dedicated range with bases. The range includes naval support so beach landing and coastal conflicts are possible.

In 3mm we have Vanguard, https://vanguardminiatures.co.uk/product-category/defeat-in-detail-3mm/

In 2mm we have Irregular Miniatures

http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/2mmRanges/2mmSciFi.htm

Brigade are moving into the field

Next blog with cover the attacking forces.

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In case you don’t know Hell in Microcosm rules. They are available from Wargame Vault as a pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

Or from Amazon on kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

It’s quiet, it’s too quiet.

Marginally quieter than blowing the doors off.

This scenario will play out in any scale, 6mm, 28mm, whatever, with any figures, it’s just I’ve set it on Caldoom with the figures and scenery that are to hand. I wanted to produce something simple, but capable of being played by several players or solo.

The background

Today across Caldoom (or at least in Liberty, its major city) is a public holiday celebrating the Final Excoriation of Dimmit Thrall, an event that happened perhaps three centuries away. So all manufactories and offices will be closed for the holiday. Only essential services are working, although some companies might use the opportunity to bring in contractors to do maintenance which isn’t possible when the factory is busy.

Initially the streets are empty, as the Final Excoriation of Dimmit Thrall is celebrated within the home with a traditional breakfast of blood pudding and spicy toast. Once the meal is eaten, people come out onto the streets to sing and dance. This they do at exactly 8:50am local time, (traditionally the time the excoriation started).

So initially the streets are empty, and then suddenly fill with people.

The mission.

Snarl Barstool has decided that he has had enough of being a bully working for others, he is going to make a break for the big time. Just one big job, that’s all it takes.

The Plan

So with three stalwarts he decides to go for broke. His plan is subtle. The Caldoom Trade Union Confederation has its offices on the northern edge of the Manufactories nearest to the Shanties. This has the advantage that the office is conveniently placed for union members who can pass the offices and pay their dues as they leave their somewhat unattractive homes in the Shanties and make their way to work. But it is also handy for staff and officers of the union confederation who can easily commute to their nice houses in the Western Suburbs.

With it being just before the end of the month, Snarl knows that there will be more cash on the union’s premises.

Snarl wants to break open the heavy steel doors of the Caldoom Trade Union Confederation offices, break in and steal the money. For this he has a Baastruk with a cutting arm. His hope is that the use of an industrial cutter will cause less initial concern than just ‘blowing the bluidy doors off.’ He’s hoping that people will assume it’s just a company trying to get some maintenance done when the workforce is out of the way. He will then burst in and steal the money.

Inserting Wannabit Creaso

But his plan is more subtle. When he opens the doors and takes the money he will insert Wannabit Creaso, the seasoned banking technician. Working on the Confederation’s own machines, Wannabit will empty the Confederation’s bank accounts into a number of other accounts and these will, in turn be emptied. The money will disappear off planet to the Orbital Spaceport and from there it will ricochet through accounts becoming less and less traceable with each move. But Wannabit needs time. So Snarl’s objective is to act as a distraction, drawing pursuit after him.

The work of Wannabit Creaso

His task takes time and you want to win him time. Each move he is in place roll 2d6 and keep a tally of the running total. When your total is higher than 84, you’ve got a message from him saying that he has succeeded and has also left the Confederation offices and is heading for the Orbital Spaceport. At this point you can stop being a distraction and just disappear.

The Mechanisms

The Wargames table

In simple terms, Snarl and his Baastruk start on the edge of the wargames table. This should be as large as you can manage, and with as much urban clutter as you can manage. Next to the Baastruk, forming the edge of the board, are the great iron gates of the Caldoom Trade Union Confederation offices.

Each move is 10 minutes. Having assessed the situation, Snarl will attack the doors of the Caldoom Trade Union Confederation offices at exactly 8am. This is when work would start on a normal day. He estimates that firing up the cutting disk will open the doors in ten, perhaps twenty minutes, the latter if he’s unlucky.

  • Roll a d6. Each dice roll takes ten minutes. On a 1,2,3,4,5 the doors go down. On a 6 the blade has broken, so it will need replacing. 
  • If you have to replace a blade this is a simple task on this rugged machine, designed to be used by labour barely capable of claiming the honour of being semi-skilled. Jothrom Industrial Manipulators assure us that changing the blade will take no time at all, so once it’s changed, roll a d6, On a 1,2,3,4,5 the doors go down. On a 6 you have broken a second blade. In this case, it doesn’t matter, the doors are actually run by a repurposed elevator AI, which hasn’t been calibrated in a few decades. Its empathy circuits are far too sensitive nowadays, so when a second blade breaks, the poor neural network feels so guilty that it promptly opens the doors, whilst apologizing profusely. (With grateful thanks to Tony S whose knowledge of these matters is beyond encyclopaedic.)
  • Once the doors are down it takes ten minutes to pick up the cash and to insert Wannabit Creaso. There are 5,000 Stravanese Lira in cash. Think of it as being about £50,000. It’s not going to set you up for life but spread it about and you can create a lot of happiness, (or trouble which might be more use to you at the moment.)

Between the gates and the Shanties proper to which Snarl wishes to escape, there is a canal. Depending on what terrain you have it can stretch across the entire table, or alternatively it can just be a short section which means there is no way of getting from offices to the Shanties without crossing it. Snarl has arranged for an impromptu bridge to be ready for him. This can be a barge which drops ramps on either side so he can cross, or something improvised from planks and wild enthusiasm. It depends entirely what you have or can improvise. When the Baastruk crosses the bridge roll 2d6

On a roll of 2, 3, or 4 the Baastruk starts to lose control and the bridge starts to collapse. Otherwise the Baastruk crosses the bridge safely.

If bridge starts to collapse roll the 2d6 again. On a 2,3,4 the bridge does collapse and the Baastruk ends up in the canal, where it sinks. Snarl and his stalwarts swim ashore having salvaged d6-1 thousand Stravanese Lira.

Once Snarl and his companions are across the bridge ceases to exist.

The arrival of the forces of Law and Order (Or a reasonable facsimile).

Each move roll a d20. Assume that the offices of the Caldoom Trade Union Confederation are on the eastern edge of the board. You can work out the other cardinal points from this. Then split each edge into 6 sections and roll a d6 to determine at random where along that edge the upholders of public decency arrive.

Move 1 is when Snarl starts attacking the office door.

  1. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the western edge
  2. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the northern edge
  3. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the southern edge
  4. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the eastern edge
  5. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the eastern edge
  6. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the northern edge
  7. D6 armed union bullies turn up on the southern edge
  8. Nothing
  9. Nothing
  10. Nothing
  11. Nothing
  12. Nothing
  13. Nothing
  14. Nothing
  15. Nothing
  16. Nothing
  17. Nothing
  18. Nothing
  19. Nothing
  20. Nothing

On move 1 add 8 to the dice roll, then add one less to the dice each turn, until the 5th when you add nothing at all from then on.   

These forces can either be moved by players (perhaps four of them, one for each table edge). If you’re playing solo, then they move towards Snarl, they know where he is by the sound of the Baastruk even if they cannot see him. If they cannot hear the Baastruk they can move to the sound of gunfire.

Their task is to arrest, or at the very least, shoot, Snarl.

The citizenry

On move five, after both sides have moved you then add the citizens who burst out onto the streets to sing and dance.

At this point you want to divide your wargames table into ‘zones’. There should be a lot of them. Each building is one. For each zone deal a playing card, face down. The cards have three values.

  • Black, Spades. Friends of Snarl who are willing to help him even if it

       means getting shot at. One of them has a firearm which they are willing   

       to use.

  • Black, Clubs. Friends of Snarl who are willing to help him even if it risks

        being shot at but they are unarmed.

  • Red. Innocent bystanders who are just trying to celebrate the Final

       Excoriation of Dimmit Thrall and are a bit put out if armed thugs start    

       spoiling it.

Each card produces d10 figures (or in 6mm, d10 bases).

At the start of the game, Snarl gets the black kings, queens, and jacks. These Snarl can place in which zone he wants, he’s taken the time to seed the area in the planning phase. (But he still has to roll a d10 to see how many have had the nerve to follow through.)

When the game proceeds, as Snarl or a bunch of thugs get within an inch of a bunch of civilians they will know which side they’re on.

If they’re friends of Snarl they will move with him, or he can tell them to move one move. But once no longer within an inch of him, they’ll largely stay there.

If they’re not friends of Snarl he can throw 1000 Stravanese Lira where he wants them to go, (no more than one move, he’s not using a mortar) and they will chase the money. Note all civilians within one move of where the money lands will go to it, whether he wants them to or not. Also any thugs within a move must roll a d6. On a 1, they also lose discipline and go for the money. They are no longer under control and are just faceless members of the mob.

If the thugs try and pass through a bunch of civilians who are blocking their path, it takes one move to pass through a red bunch, and two moves to pass through a black bunch. If the bunch is black spades, toss a coin, on a tails one of the bunch shoots at a thug with a concealed pistol.

If the thugs shoot at, or shoot through, a bunch of civilians, if they’re black spades they will shoot back or if the thugs are within a move, they have a 50% chance of attacking them with improvised weapons they’ve got. For bunches that are not black spades, immediately draw a new card for the bunch (you might need a second pack of cards). The bunch will change to whatever the new card is. So it’s possible for some to become less keen on supporting Snarl, but some might indeed become enthusiastic and armed supporters.

If the thugs shoot at the bunch and inflict casualties then there will be a ripple effect. Draw new cards for each bunch who can see this (ignoring those who are already black spades) and next move draw new cards for each bunch who can see a bunch that has drawn a new card.

If the thugs are controlled by players, they will make the decisions, otherwise the thugs, who are moving towards the Baastruk or the sound of gunfire will roll a dice. If they can see the Baastruk, roll a d6, and on a 1,2 they will fire at the Baastruk even if there is somebody in the way. If the Baastruk fires at them they get+1 to fire. If they are under fire from civilians they will return fire on a 1,2,3,4 otherwise they will back off and try and go round.  

Wargames Rules

I’ve tried to keep things generic so they can drop into your favourite rule set. To help you fit things in, Snarl and his lads are a bit better than the thugs, who’re a bit better than the civilians. But remember everybody is armed with light infantry weapons, carbines and pistols. Snarl’s force and the thugs will be wearing light body armour, but it doesn’t give them a major edge over the unarmoured.

Personally with 28mm I’d use either Hell by Starlight or Hell and Uncivil Disorder. In 6mm I’d use either Hellfire or Hell and Uncivil Disorder.
Note in 28mm there Snarl has four fighters on one Baastruk. In 6mm it’ll probably be a small convoy of four Baastruks. Each with three or fighters, but no heavy weapons built into them.

Winning and Losing.
Snarl and his men can disappear at any time, if they join a bunch of civilians who are friendly to him. This fading into the crowd depends on a d6

Roll a d6, on anything but 1 or less it has been successful.

+1 if it wasn’t observed by thugs

-1 for each one of Snarl’s myrmidons who are trying to join the group.

So if one man joins a group and the thugs cannot see, it’s automatically successful.

So escaping is actually comparatively easy. But once they’ve lost Snarl the thugs will return to base and will find Wannabit Creaso if he hasn’t already left. So to win Snarl has to accumulate a running total of more than 84 and then lose himself and his followers in the crowd. One advantage of the Baastruk is that whilst it does give his position away, by giving his position away it gives the other side hope that they might catch him.

The other side win if Snarl doesn’t.

Figures used?

The terrain is from Iliada Game Studio

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/caldoom-by-starlight

The figures are from Cp Models

Have fun 🙂

It’s quiet, it’s too quiet

♥♥♥♥

If you want to delve deeper, the rules, Hell by Starlight, are available from Wargame Vault for £4 as a pdf, 

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/384915/Hell-by-Starlight

And from Amazon on Kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

And of course from Iliada Game Studio at

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/caldoom-by-starlight-rules-campaigns-and-the-source-books

Actually it’s a wormhole you could disappear down for some time because there is Hell by Starlight Campaigns, which provides campaign background and scenarios for Hell by Starlight.
Then there’s Caldoom by Starlight which adds to Hell by Starlight Campaigns. Other people sell rules, we just open a door and let you dream again. Science Fiction wargaming in a scruffy and downmarket world.

Imagi-nations from Ancient to Science Fiction

The joy of Imagi-nations is that you hold both supreme political and military authority. Subject to morale roles and random events, you can control everything. Not only can you decide the political issues, you can dictate grand strategy, manoeuvre the armies and even decide on the colour of turnbacks and the quantity and quality of lace adorning the uniforms.

This explains why the 18th century wars between Lorraine and the Vereingte Freie Städte are such a joy. It is almost the perfect period for the wargamer who wants to invent Imagi-nations, as that states could be small enough for an absolute hereditary head of state to control them, but large enough to field reasonably sized armies for a wargamer. I first came across them in ‘The War Game’ by Charles Grant, and like many others who read the book, I was hooked on the idea.

Unfortunately what I wasn’t hooked on was the 18th century. I didn’t have anybody locally who was into that particular period and I’ve always rather shunned the 18th century and the Napoleonic wars. It’s not that I won’t play the games if somebody else turns up with the figures, it’s more I recognised my limits as a painter many years ago. The one lot of 28mm Napoleonic figures I have is a couple of dozen Royal Marines and twice that number of seamen with an assortment of cutlasses and firearms.

But other periods are available, and I discovered them when I picked up a copy of Tony Bath, Setting up a Wargames Campaign. This is now available from

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/tbcampaigns.htm

It’s now part of Tony Bath’s Ancient Wargaming, and as I had worn out my original version I ended up having to buy another copy. The modern edition contains not only the wargames campaigning stuff, (which is the reason to buy it) but a set of Ancient rules and more importantly an account of the celebrated Hyborian campaign. If that isn’t inspirational I don’t know what is. Tony Bath’s rules give the details needed for running an ancient/medieval campaign, covering everything from the economic background; recruiting, arming, and equipping your soldiers, and even showing how to detail the personalities of the officers who lead them. Much can be used for latter periods and other periods do get a mention.

Also I’ve just acquired Early Wargaming Rules Volume 5, edited by John Curry.

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/ewvol5.htm

This work includes three books: John Tunstill’s Discovering Wargames- published by Shire Books, Arthur Taylor’s Rules for Wargaming – also published by Shire Books; and last but by no means least, Bill Lamming’s tremendously popular Medieval Campaign and Battle Rules.

I confess I’ve had all three of these in the past. John Tunstill’s book is a good guide for anybody looking at doing their own rules. It explains time, space, and wargames figures. I wore out my copy of Arthur Taylor’s rules with solo play back in the 1970s, they’re interesting in that he didn’t use dice, feeling that random chance had no real place in the game. But the gem of the collection (for me) is Bill Lammings rules, especially the campaign rules. With these the players build a force which they transport of an island which they attempt to settle, ideally conquering it from the others. So you have production and reproduction rules that doesn’t need a computer programme to work. At one point there was an article, perhaps two or three, about one of the campaigns fought on this island, detailing the trials and tribulations of the combatants. It was these articles which inspired me to first buy the rules, I just wish I could now find the articles.

But so far I’ve covered ancient through to medieval and then on to the 18th century. Not quite all human life is here, but a fair chunk of it is. So what happens when we move forward in history? Here we run into the problem that political entities grow larger, and armies grow larger. The last time a British head of state commanded an army was George II at the Battle of Dettingen on the 27 June 1743. So the 18th century starts looking like the final perfect century for the lover of the Imagi-nation. So what about later?

Well I’ve tried to push things further forward in time, and it is possible. There are two simple ways of achieving this. You have to limit the size of both the ‘nation’ and also of its armed forces.’ One method is to create an area detached from the centre of power. For example during the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, if the Government in London wanted to suggest a policy to a senior figure in India, it could take six months for their suggestion to arrive. It would take a further six months for his explanation as to why the suggestion was impossible to implement to arrive back in London. Similarly if the Government declared war on France, it was vitally important to send the news by a fast ship. After all, if the French got the news first, they could take advantage of our vulnerability, as opposed to us being able to take advantage of theirs. Similarly wars could continue for months in the colonies before local commanders finally allowed themselves to be convinced that the war was over.

From the wargamers point of view, a distant colony where British and French factions fight and bicker with each other holds out a lot of possibilities. Just roll a d10 every three months for news from home.

  1. War is declared between France and Britain. (Or if there is a war, peace breaks out.
  2. The British naval forces are augmented by two ships of the line and two frigates.
  3. The French naval forces are augmented by two frigates
  4. The French receive a frigate plus an ambassador who is empowered to negotiate treaties with local states. He brings gifts and drill instructors
  5. The British forces are augmented by an infantry battalion.
  6. The British force are augmented by an expeditionary force of four ships of the line and four frigates, plus three marine battalions, an infantry battalion, plus two six pounder batteries. You are expected to supply a further two battalions and they will sail off to do gallant things elsewhere. Roll a d6 every month for this expedition. 1,2, it has been a success, you get your two battalions back plus a frigate. 3,4 It has all been complicated. The battered force returns to your ports, you have to repair the ships and your battalions need rebuilding. 5.6 The expedition was a failure. Two ships of the line in poor repair are abandoned with you, and you get your now understrength battalions back but also get the battered remnants of two marine battalions who need carefully nurturing back to health.
  7. News from France. The government has fallen and your officers and administrators are all considered enemies of the people, as you were promoted by the ‘last lot’. There will be no more help from France until this is rolled again, when that government falls and the new government smiles beneficently upon you.
  8. The British forces are augmented by an infantry battalion.
  9. French forces are augmented by two infantry battalions.
  10. Both British and French players get a positive answer to a request they made to London (or Paris). Roll at random to see which request made at least a year ago this is in response to.

Then roll a d6 for which month in the quarter it happens.

As you can see, news from home is not necessarily good, not necessarily bad, and their plans bear no relation to yours.

Another way of creating space for you Imagi-nation campaign is to create chaos. One example might be in ‘A Very British Civil War’ https://solwaycraftsandminiatures.webs.com/vbcwpage.htm

As you can see there is plenty of scope for your own ideas within this sort of background. A simple campaign could be centred on your own county (It’s amazing how often old O/S maps turn up in second hand bookshops) and you can create your own factions which might be loosely allied to those operating on a more national scale. Players then try and build up their own fiefdoms within the area, with the outside world reduced to a randomly determined events (much like I did with the British and French in India above).

Later in the twentieth century, if you want a counter-insurgency campaign, we once set up our own banana republic. Our club was, at one time, very fond of the board game Junta.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junta_(game)

We then used the board game for the campaign politics. But there are the following ‘martial’ roles. There are the generals of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd armies, the Chief of the Air Force who controls airstrikes and paratroopers and the Admiral of the Navy who controls naval bombardment and marines. The President also controls a palace guard force. 

We gave the generals provinces to control, and players controlled insurgents in other player’s provinces. We soon had a brisk counter-insurgency war going on, but at the same time those in charge were squirrelling money away in Swiss bank accounts for the time when they had to make a run for it.

Also the ‘armies’ consisted of a battalion (because the rules we used at the time meant that you weren’t going to get much more than a supported company on the wargames table), but these battalions were kept understrength and ill-equipped because of the general’s habit of syphoning the military budget off into their Swiss bank accounts. So this background both gave us a small, coherent, political theatre, as well as limited military forces we could hope to deploy on the battlefield.

Finally, science fiction.

When you stop to think about it, once you move away from ‘near future’, Sci Fi is a whole universe of Imagi-nations. Admittedly some of them are a bit big, so for example, if you want to use the entire 40k universe then it’s a serious project. But if you love the background (which has a lot going for it) then even within the 40k universe you could restrict yourself to one world, with the rest of the universe reduced to an appropriately infuriating table and a d10. (Other dice are available).

Even then, a world is a pretty big place and many of them have populations numbered in billions. But design your world properly and you can have anything you want, savage scavengers living in an ash waste, hunting preserves gone feral, small frontier worlds with a minimal population struggling to survive, all these things are possible and incidentally save you having to deploy armies of millions.

Stepping out of the 40k universe, there are a myriad other futures, some mapped out, some drawn from your own imagination.

Figures, Scale, and what have you.

The classic Imagi-nation tended to use 28mm or 30mm figures. But some are having great fun with a 54mm or 40mm toy soldier style figure. If you are on a budget, what this chap achieves with 20mm plastic has to be seen to be believed.

But what about 6mm or smaller scales?

Obviously with figure scale, it really boils down to what you like, what you’ve got, and what your opponents prefer. But assuming a ‘clean sheet’, if, like me, you’re not a wonderful figure painter, I’d give 6mm or smaller some serious thought. After all, if nothing else you can field more and bigger battalions. Also it’s easier to find suitable figures. Suddenly you don’t need to find figures with exactly the right number of parallel froggings and loops across the front of their jackets.

But to go with small scale you really need a different scale of rules to cope with them. I produced Hellfire because I wanted to fight Sci-Fi battles where players could lead forces equivalent to battalions with their supporting forces. I then produced Hell in Microcosm because wargamer’s megalomania insisted that if three or four battalions was good, fifteen had to be better. So now I’ve got a set of rules where I can finally have Imagi-nations whose forces are measured in divisions!
Madness is catching and Ali at Iliada Game Studio has caught it. He has come up with the world of Mikrocosmos and is producing the figures to go with it.

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/mikrokosmos

Now you can have land, naval, air and space forces working together.

♥♥♥♥

In case you’ve never come across Hell in Microcosm, it’s available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

It’s also available from Amazon at £4 on Kindle or £9.50 in paperback

Hard Pounding

This was an introductory Hell in Microcosm game using 6mm figures which I ran at the club. Nobody there had played the game before, but it’s the sort of level that would appeal to them. It was ‘modern’ rather than WW2 or Sci Fi, but things fade into each other with the rules. I could have used counter battery radar and drones. But I decided to keep things comparatively simple.
Also whilst people will organise individual games, we tend to put on a game that ‘anybody’ can join in. It means nobody is standing about with nothing to do. Previous weeks we’ve had a brilliant 28mm North West frontier game which was actually the Battle of Little Big Horn, a 20mm Second World War bash, and various other stuff. But the advantage of Hell in Microcosm is that I could fit everything into one bag and one box (which included some of the scenery as well). Matt’s 28mm game took six of us carrying boxes down to the car when it was packed away. There again, his looked stunning.

There were two sides. The attackers who were arbitrarily labelled ‘orange’ because they have an orange corner to their base which allows me to number them.

OrangeGradeStrength
TankBattalionnormal12
MechanisedBattalionveteran12
MechanisedBattalionnormal12
Motorised in APCsBattalionnormal12
    
MortarBattalionnormal12
    
1stBattalionnormal12
2ndBattalionnormal12
3rdBattalionnormal12
    
4thBattaliongreen12
5thBattaliongreen12
6thBattalionnormal12
    
Heavy weaponsBattalionnormal12
AABattalionnormal12
Enough spare lorries to transport two battalions

Mortars are 120mm and have a range of 10km which is 100cm

Off table you have (mark point on table edge from which we measure range.)

3 105mm Artillery batteries 11km range (110 cm)

3 155mm Artillery batteries 30km range (300cm)

Airpower. You have 15 points. When a point has appeared on table, it returns to base and comes back after 8 moves.

The defenders were Yellow. (This being the colour on the corner of their base rather than hinting at their valour or lack of it.)

YellowGradeStrength
1stBattalionnormal12
2ndBattalionnormal12
3rdBattalionnormal12
    
4thBattalionnormal12
5thBattalionnormal12
6thBattalionnormal12
    
7thBattalionnormal12
8thBattalionveteran12
    
    
1st Heavy weaponsBattalionnormal12
2nd Heavy weaponsBattalionnormal12
TankBattalionnormal12
ATcompanynormal3
ATcompanynormal3
ATcompanynormal3
AAcompanynormal3
Engineercompanynormal3

Off table (mark point on table edge from which we measure range.)

3 105mm Artillery batteries 11km range (110 cm)

3 155mm Artillery batteries 30km range (300cm)

Airpower. You have ten points. When a point has appeared on table, it returns to base and comes back after 5 moves.

Players would choose their planes from

  • Fighter with subtypes Air superiority, Ground Attack/Escort*
  • Light Bomber
  • Medium Bomber
  • Heavy Bomber
  • Liaison which covers Recce and Artillery Ranging

The defending force set up on the table. Defending battalions have a perimeter, (up to 120cm) so I gave them a selection of boot or shoe laces, so that they had a choice. As player you don’t need to know where troops are within that perimeter, only that they’re in there.

The defence

When you look at the photo, the defenders drew up to defend the two fords across the river (the only places vehicles could advance, infantry could cross anywhere) and then they had battalions dug in to form a second line as well.

The sole mobile reserve was the tank battalion, stiffened with a flak company and an AT company.

On one wing one battalion had a lot of frontage to cover and was stiffened with engineers as well as heavy weapons. The engineers laid a minefield, within the battalion perimeter. (Which means the attackers aren’t entirely sure where it is and cannot lift the mines prior to an attack.)

There was the problem that the front line could not be supported by the 105mm artillery batteries. But to fall back under the artillery umbrella would have abandoned the river line.

The attackers

Most of the leg infantry were sent to attack on the far flank. That way they could take one of the fords. In the centre where the other crossing was defended by two villages the attackers produced two small brigades.

The first, the two mechanised infantry battalions, both stiffened by a tank company and an AA company. The second was two motorised infantry battalions, again both stiffened by a tank company and an AA company.

How the Game went.

There were several moves as the attackers advanced, then paused to ready a prepared attack. They had the advantage of more artillery, as their 105mm could reach the river line (but once they advanced past that they would outrun it.) Their air support was slightly more useful.

As an aside air support has to be booked five or more moves in advance. Once they’re over the table liaison will stay until they’re driven off (but will be back in d6 moves without you having to do anything), attacking aircraft appear on your turn and attack, then leave. Fighters and air superiority aircraft arrive on your turn, deal with any enemy present, then provide you with air support in the enemy’s turn, before leaving at the end of the enemy’s turn.

The defender’s artillery did some damage, first to the enemy mortar battalion, but came into its own when it hit the enemy infantry forming up to launch a prepared attack. A defenders ground attack plane came in at the same time and also did quite a lot of damage.  

The biggest success for airpower was when the attackers brought on five heavy bombers which hit one of the battalions defending the centre. Because of their numbers, the bombers swamped the single air superiority plane in the area, and the remaining four bombers overwhelmed the defending flak to do serious damage to the battalion.

On the far flank the massed infantry attack, battered as it was, went in. One battalion did refuse to advance due to casualties. The defenders, battered by artillery, were driven out by weight of numbers.

With these rules, a battalion has strength of up to 15. The defending battalion started at 12, had taken quite a lot of damage but was stiffened by engineers and heavy weapons. Companies that are doing the stiffening don’t take casualties. There are two reasons for this. One is that they’re better dug in and positioned, but the other is a game mechanic. It’s easier if you don’t have to record casualties separately, but also it means that it’s hard to eliminate a battalion just by pounding it with artillery. In this case the battalion was down to 3 or 4 strength points, but got a further two points from each stiffening company as well as bonuses for the abilities the stiffening companies gave.

As the battalion’s moral had held, it defended with eight points plus bonuses. If the battalion’s moral hadn’t held, it would have fallen back and the stiffening companies would have gone with it.

In the centre the veteran mechanised battalion plus the other mechanised battalion attacked and broke through the battered battalion trying to stop them. (The veteran mechanised battalion, stiffened with armour and AA, was the strongest unit on the battlefield.)
The two motorised battalions also attacked and the remnants of the battalion facing them (which had been hit by the big air strike) fled.

With the front broken, the defenders mounted a counter attack with their armoured battalion (a hasty attack because they didn’t have time to make a prepared attack) which hit one of the enemy mechanised battalions (who dropped into hasty defence). The armour was thrown back.

At this point the defender started pulling the remnants of his front line (plus his armour) back to reinforce the second line.
We left the game there, it was a natural pause and time was drawing on. The attackers would have to reorganise, and the problem they would have run into was that they were outrunning their artillery whereas more of the enemy artillery was now in range. Some of their leg artillery was battered, but was probably fit to garrison the places taken. Everything would depend on the ability of the mechanised and motorised to keep up the pressure.

Thoughts

By the end of the game one of the players had vague memories that he may have played it twenty years previously. But none of the others had, but they just had to do sensible military things and leave me to tell them what dice to throw.

It did provoke me into producing a Quick Reference sheet (now a free pdf download at https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/hell-in-microcosm/  )
Next time I will give both sides  counter-battery radar to give them something else to worry about.

♥♥♥♥

If you don’t know Hell in Microcosm rules. They’re available from Wargame Vault as a pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

Also from Amazon, on Kindle for £4 or in paperback from £9.50

A night on the town

This is a scenario that can be played by several people or solo. You want to cover your wargames table with as much urban terrain as possible. I’m using 6mm figures for this so with Hell and Uncivil Disorder rules, I’d just use the rules as normal but where the rules talk about inches, use centimetres. The advantage of 6mm is that you have enough space on your wargames table to have nice parts of town, as well as the somewhat more sleazy and disreputable areas. There is also room for ‘fast car chases.’

What you need is six ‘destinations’. These are Honky Tonks, fight clubs, cheap gin joints, girlie bars, public reading rooms and similar. They are all places designed to separate the unwary from their money. Also they hold out the prospect of Excitement, Adventure, and Really Wild Things. There are also streets, (which if you insist can be mean).

Everything centres on drawing cards, each card provides you with a force and a task. I did think of doing it methodically, so clubs were all police, or diamonds were all drug dealers. But that would give other players far too many clues, so they’re all jumbled up. And besides, I’m just not that organised.

With regards to the bunches/units you deploy, frankly it’s fine to have half a dozen 6mm figures based on a 2p piece (25mm base). Assume the bunch to be ten strong and if it suffers casualties, just note them down as they happen. But these bunches are going to be pretty expendable, there’s plenty more in the pack.

Multiplayer game

  • Each player draws a card a turn. They can have two cards in play and may have a third held, face down next to them, which they may play at any time. They can control a maximum of three cards at any time.
    If one of the parties they control ‘completes’ its objectives, it may leave the board and another card can then be drawn. That way any points it earned are ‘banked.’
  • Tot up all the points a party you have controlled has scored. Note that these points don’t count until the party has successfully left the table and banks the points.
  • The player with the most points banked is the winner.

Solo Game

  • There are several ways to tackle this.
    One is to arbitrarily decide one suit of cards produces your people. (Or every fourth card drawn, or any other arbitrary way of picking, but your cards are chosen when the cards are still face down) You draw d6 cards per move. You move all of them, but only score with ‘yours’, and only if you get them off the table and bank the points. Most cards have a job to do, an obvious patrol route or whatever. NPC cards just follow that.
  • Another way is to take the Civil Police as your faction. Then just play the game out as about.
  • Other methods will occur to you as you play the game.


Keep a tally of the points you bank and the points everybody else banks. You win if you bank more points than they do. This is a little easier as it seems as NPC parties are likely to stay on the board longer to achieve their full objectives. When you have a multiplayer game, players could well pull parties off early to bank the points you’ve already scored.

Parties arriving on table.

When you draw a card, in a multiplayer game you have a choice, just bring the party associated with that card onto the table edge convenient to that player, or roll at random for the table edge. For a solo game roll at random for the table edge they arrive on.

The Cards

Hearts

Ace. Civilians. A bunch of cheer leaders celebrating a big game, spend two moves in each destination, then go home. One point for each destination, one point for victorious combat.

2. Military. Party of off duty marines having a night on the town. Count as riflemen with no weaponry. One point for spending two moves in each destination, two points for each victory over army units. -2 points if fighting civil police.

3. White Powder Percival and his bunch of minders. Deals in narcotics. One point for each destination. One point for each bunch in the destination but only if there is no fighting. Three points if defeat other narcotic dealer. Counts as gunmen.

4. Cannibal Picnic. A bunch of death metal fans who are out on the town. One point for each destination, one point for meeting a narcotics dealer. One point for each fight with police. Three points if they beat up The Orchestra. Count as thugs.

5. Civil Police. A bunch on foot patrol, count as gunmen. They have a spike strip to they could stop a fast car. They get one point for each destination, three points for each narcotics dealer, and three points for each speeding motorist.

6. Military police. Riflemen. They get one point per destination, plus two points for each military bunch they find fighting and defeat and send back to the camp in a riot wagon.

7. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

8. Traffic cop. Exists to hunt down joy riders. They can travel up to 6d6 centimetres a turn. If they get level with a joy rider, toss a coin. On tails they manage to steer the joy rider off the road and arrest him. 10 points for an arrest. However you share the points with any other traffic cops within 20cm.

9. Civil Police. A bunch on foot patrol, count as gunmen. They have a spike strip to they could stop a fast car. They get one point for each destination, three points for each narcotics dealer, and three points for each speeding motorist.

10. Civilians. The Military Wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Utopia. A bunch of thugs, they’re off duty and just want a quiet drink. +1 point for each destination they have a drink in when there isn’t a fight, +3 points for each fight with the police.

Jack. Police VTOL. Flies over the table and coordinates all civil police units. (They have to obey orders) Get three points for each joy rider caught.

Queen. Rugby club outing. Must spend three moves in each destination. Gets 1 point per destination and two points for every other bunch they beat in a fist fight. Count as thugs.

King. An articulated heavy goods vehicle delivering to two destinations, dice at random. 3 points per successful delivery, doesn’t take part in combat. 3 points for each joy rider that collides with it.

Diamonds

Ace. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

2. The Orchestra. A bunch of Light Opera fans who are out on the town. One point for each destination, one point for meeting a narcotics dealer. One point for each fight with police, three points if they beat up Cannibal Picnic. Count as thugs.

3. Police VTOL. Flies over the table and coordinates all civil police units. (They have to obey orders) Get three points for each joy rider caught.

4. An articulated heavy goods vehicle delivering to two destinations, dice at random. 3 points if successful, doesn’t take part in combat. 3 points for each joy rider that collides with it.

5. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

6. Traffic cop. Exists to hunt down joy riders. They can travel up to 6d6 centimetres a turn. If they get level with a joy rider, toss a coin. On tails they manage to steer the joy rider off the road and arrest him. 10 points for an arrest. However you share the points with any other traffic cops within 20cm.

7. Police VTOL must return to base, leaves table.

8. Military. Party of off duty light infantrymen having a night on the town. Count as riflemen with no weaponry. One point for spending two moves in each destination, two points for each victory over army units. Three points for each victory over marines. -2 points if fighting civil police.

9. The Military Wing of the Utopian People’s Liberation Army. A bunch of gunmen, they’re off duty and just want a quiet drink. +1 point for each destination they have a drink in when there isn’t a fight, +2 points for each fight with the police. +3 points for each fight with the military.

10. Military Back up. A bunch of Marine Riflemen, armed to the teeth, arrive by VTOL to help deal with the problem. Get 6 points if they destroy or capture the bunch causing the trouble.

Jack. Civil Police. A bunch on foot patrol, count as gunmen. They have a spike strip to they could stop a fast car. They get one point for each destination, three points for each narcotics dealer, and three points for each speeding motorist.

Queen. Smoking Sammy and his bunch of minders. Deals in narcotics. One point for each destination. One point for each bunch in the destination but only if there is no fighting. Three points if defeat other narcotic dealer. Counts as gunmen.

King. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

Spades

Ace. Traffic cop. Exists to hunt down joy riders. They can travel up to 6d6 centimetres a turn. If they get level with a joy rider, toss a coin. On tails they manage to steer the joy rider off the road and arrest him. 10 points for an arrest. However you share the points with any other traffic cops within 20cm.

2. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

3. Military Back up. A bunch of Marine Riflemen, armed to the teeth, arrive by VTOL to help deal with the problem. Get 6 points if they destroy or capture the bunch causing the trouble.

4. Military. Party of off duty drone pilots having a night on the town. Count as riflemen with no weaponry. One point for spending two moves in each destination, two points for each victory over military units or civil police.

5. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

6. Civil Police. A bunch on foot patrol, count as gunmen. They have a spike strip to they could stop a fast car. They get one point for each destination, three points for each narcotics dealer, and three points for each speeding motorist.

7. Military. Party of off duty artillerymen having a night on the town. Count as riflemen with no weaponry. One point for spending two moves in each destination, two points for each victory over army units. Three points for each victory over marines. -2 points if fighting civil police.

8. Bad Bartold and his bunch of minders. Deals in narcotics. One point for each destination. One point for each bunch in the destination but only if there is no fighting. Three points if defeat other narcotic dealer. Counts as gunmen.

9. An articulated heavy goods vehicle delivering to two destinations, dice at random. 3 points if successful, doesn’t take part in combat. 3 points for each joy rider it collides with.

10. Police VTOL must return to base, leaves table.

Jack. Military police. Riflemen. They get one point per destination, plus two points for each military bunch they find fighting and defeat and send back to the camp in a riot wagon.

Queen. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

King. Police VTOL. Flies over the table and coordinates all civil police units. (They have to obey orders) Get three points for each joy rider caught.

Clubs

Ace. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

2. Military Back up. A bunch of Marine Riflemen, armed to the teeth, arrive by VTOL to help deal with the problem. Get 6 points if they destroy or capture the bunch causing the trouble.

3. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

4.  A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

5. Salvation Army selling War Cry. 1 point per destination. 1 point for every fight stopped. When they enter a destination, all fighting stops in embarrassment, and everybody desperately roots through their pockets for small denomination loose change.

6. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

7. Police VTOL must return to base, leaves table.

8. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

9. Traffic cop. Exists to hunt down joy riders. They can travel up to 6d6 centimetres a turn. If they get level with a joy rider, toss a coin. On tails they manage to steer the joy rider off the road and arrest him. 10 points for an arrest. However you share the points with any other traffic cops within 20cm.

10. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

Jack. A bunch of young men and women out on the town. Count as mob, They get one point for each destination, and one point if there is a fight in the destination whilst they are there, where they do not take part.

Queen. An articulated heavy goods vehicle delivering to two destinations, dice at random. 3 points if successful, doesn’t take part in combat. 3 points for each joy rider it collides with.

King. Joy rider. Idiot in fast car. Comes onto table, gets one point for each destination their vehicle passes at speed, then must get off for the points to count. They must travel at least 4d6 centimetres per move and can travel up to 6d6 centimetres.

Car troubles.

  • If you get two joy riders on the table at once, they will race. This means they go to an agreed start and try and be the first to pass the six destinations and off. If they succeed the winner scores double points.
  • General rule for fast moving vehicles. If they attempt to corner when moving more than 20cm toss a coin. On a tails, they fail to corner and continue their move straight forward, spinning and on their roof.
  • Any vehicle that passes over a spike strip travels d6cm before coming gracefully to a halt. If it passes over it on its roof, it demolishes the strip taking it with the vehicle. ]

Holding cards.

Some cards, (some examples are Military Back up, Joy Rider, and Traffic Cop) can be held, face down, beside the player. They do not have to be played immediately. Instead they can be played when the player wants to play them, instead of drawing a card.

Note that if you have a Military Back up card face down and somebody calls for back up, you have to deploy to assist them. If there are two players with these cards available, then they deploy in order Diamonds, Spades, Clubs. So if you hold the Diamonds card you have to deploy. If you have the Spades card you don’t have to deploy if somebody has the Diamond. Military back up can be called whenever there is shooting. Note only police or military can call for it. 

Spells

With Hell and Uncivil Disorder there is a ‘magic system’ which allows you to have an impact on the morale of those around you. In this scenario the system probably needs tweaking. Give every bunch a shaman and allow them one or two appropriate spells off the list. Most probably won’t need them.

The only summoning of demons is phoning for taxis (or riot wagons) as appropriate. If you use a taxi to get from one destination to another, the taxi has to be resummoned next time you need it.

Media

In Hell and Uncivil Disorder there are rules for Media. They can be summoned the usual way, by accident when trying to summon something else. They can also be summoned by gunshots. Every time somebody opens fire roll a d10, and media appear on a 10. Media are worth one point to pretty well everybody if you attack a team, and are worth two points if you rescue a team.

Jokers

If you want, you can leave the jokers in the pack. The player who draws a joker becomes a demagogue and can take over all civilians (not police) on the table, but has to do this by physically moving to join them. The joker can then lead their growing mob in a giant pub crawl through all six destinations. If you get a second demagogue, that demagogue is automatically opposed to the first.
Demagogues don’t really score points but they stop other players banking points, and the demagogue use the other parties they control score points in the usual way.

Figures and Terrain

The choice is almost infinite!
CP Models have generic 6mm SF Civilians. https://cpmodels.co.uk/shop/gen04-generic-sci-fi-civilians/

They also have Junkers civilians at https://cpmodels.co.uk/shop/jk02-junkers-civilians/  and civilian characters
https://cpmodels.co.uk/product-category/6mm-ranges-2/sci-fi-characters/

Brigade Models have armed civilians, desert raiders who are almost civilian,

https://www.brigademodels.co.uk/6mmSF/Infantry.html

and how about their Fasolini Infantry if you want a particularly unpleasant paramilitary police. (The officer in the peaked cap sold it to me.)

Irregular Miniatures are as usual in the running.

https://irregularminiatures.co.uk/6mmRanges/6mmCivilians.htm

But also check out the Riot range for police and rioters. Also don’t restrict yourselves to modern or SF civilians. Who knows which way the whims of fashion will take us?

For the buildings I’ve used those from Iliada Game Studio

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/

♥♥♥♥

In case you don’t know ‘Hell and Uncivil Disorder’ Rules, they’re available from Wargame Vault for £4 as a pdf

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/368891/Hell-and-Uncivil-Disorder

They’re available from Amazon for £4 on Kindle or £9.50 in paperback.

A quiet day in the office.

In the Shanties on Caldoom, Madam Veronica controls two middling sized rafts that are but a very minor part of the city of Liberty. She is regarded by most people as a decent enough boss, she employs twelve bullies and a lieutenant. She also funds a soup kitchen, a teacher and a paramedic.

Now there are those unkind souls who assume that being a boss merely consists of drinking exotic cocktails whilst watching your minions feed your still living enemies to your hunting dogs. (Other pets are available.)

This is an attempt to set the record straight. (I’ve rather geared the scenario/campaign for Hell by Starlight rules, so I’ll use their terms. They’re generic enough and should fit easily into other rule systems.)

Meet Madam Veronica. Madam Veronica is carried in a palanquin, which is somewhat modified. Firstly it contains a grav plate so she can hover without bearers if she needs to. Secondly the chair contains a Personal Force Field Generator. The field created is a sphere that protects Madam Veronica, her two bearers, and anybody who can place the sphere between them and somebody shooting at them.

Her two bearers are bullies, they count as warriors and they have submachineguns hidden in the palanquin. Madam Veronica is a veteran warrior with a hard wired energy pistol she will use on anybody who attempts to attack her.

Mal, Normal, submachinegun.

Tac. Normal, submachinegun

Madam Veronica’s Bullies.

Composite aliens. Reaction point total 17

Because the figures came from the CP Miniatures Scum and Smugglers range, all are different and figures tend to have a wide variety of weapons.

https://cpmodels.co.uk/product-category/28mm-ranges/28mm-sci-fi/alien-scum-smugglers/

Looking at an individual figure I would give it either flak or ablative armour. If it has a hand to hand weapon this will give them two dice shifts in close combat. I would allow them the weapon they are equipped with, as well as an energy carbine for ‘general’ use.

As to how competent they are roll a d6 for each figure.

1.       They are Green

2.       They are Green but hardwired for the weapon they are holding

3.       They are normal

4.       They are normal but hardwired for the weapon they are holding

5.       They are normal and hardwired both for the weapon they’re holding and their energy carbine.

6.       They are veteran and hardwired both for the weapon they’re holding and their energy carbine.

(Assume the Lieutenant rolls a 6 at this point.)

Now the first thing we need is some idea of Madam Veronica’s territory. She has two cluttered rafts, and I suggest you split each raft into four. So there are eight areas and each area represents a wargames table onto which you pour as much clutter as you feasibly can. In addition you have various important places which need to be placed in an appropriate area.

  • A water filtration plant.
  • The paramedic’s ‘hospital’
  • The soup kitchen
  • The school
  • Madam Veronica’s HQ

Number your squares, from one to eight. Then roll a d10, and this is the square the various places appear. Thus in theory all could be on the same square. If you roll 9 or 10, then you get to choose which square they’re on. It makes sense to create a ‘map’ but you can do this by simply laying out eight playing cards in two rows of four. Then you can put on each playing card the places and bullies who are there.

Then your various bullies have a roster. Madam Veronica and her Lieutenant are always on duty. Of the twelve remaining, two did night duty, one on each raft. (It was a quiet night so they didn’t have to call for backup.)
During the day, the other eight will each have a square to patrol. Note that patrolling includes collecting protection, slouching at a fast food joint having their lunch, snoozing in the sun with one ear half open for signs of trouble, and even walking round being seen to be keeping order.

The remaining two are the reserve. They’re in or around the HQ.

You have 12 daylight hours. Each hour roll a d6. On 1,2,3 there’s an ‘issue.’ If an issue lasts after the end of daylight, those not needed will go off duty and the night shift will come on and help.

Some of these issues are dealt with by the bully in the square, some need an assistant, so you will have to move a bully from another square to help. Some demand more help or even the presence of the Boss or the Lieutenant.

Just roll a d20. Some are only likely to occur once per day (Josson the Mad Judge is brisk and efficient but even he’s not that brisk and efficient.) Some, like 1) A builder, could happen several times, different square, different tradesman.

1) A builder working on a ‘Square chosen at random’ is having problems. He’s trying to repair a shanty and the kids keep stealing his stuff. He wants a bully to stand nearby and stop them. Roll a d8 for how many hours it’ll take.

2) Josson, the Mad Judge, has been spotted in ‘Square chosen at random’. Josson is a pro bono bounty hunter with a strong sense of justice, who takes on what he regards as good causes and hunts down people he has decided have been gratuitously unpleasant. Josson has quite a following amongst the ordinary people of the Shanties, as all of them know that if they end up with serious issues, he might help them and if he does, they can afford him. In reality some bosses will also put work his way because he can reach out into areas they cannot touch. Gunning down Josson, even if you manage it, is not going to play well.

Courtesy demands if he’s on your raft, then the Boss should greet Josson to discuss his work. When the boss does, roll a d6.

1-5 Josson is hunting a third party. Lend him one of your bullies as a guide and leave him to get on with it. Roll a d6 for how many hours it will take.

6. Josson is after one of your people. Roll a d6, 1-5 he’s happy to go for an arrest and to hand the person over for trail. On a 6 he’s judge, jury and executioner. Roll for the bully at random, the guy can even go on the run and Josson will hunt him down. Alternatively you could organise a formal shootout. Clear the street and let them face each other. Josson is a veteran with Enhanced Sensory Array, a military rifle firing an intermediate cartridge, and wears flak armour.

You may just be a man down. Note that if there is a major problem on the square where Josson is currently hunting, he is happy enough to join in to support the bullies working for the boss who is assisting him.

3) At ‘Square chosen at random’, there is a major altercation. Several rafts away, the bullies of Cheadle Wallup got caught in an ambush by a larger group of bullies owning allegiance to Fanshaw Wellnigh. The Wallup bullies managed to cut their way through to a barge which they stole, but the Wellnigh bullies pursued them. Finally, recognising your raft, and knowing that Madam Veronica and Cheadle Wallup are generally considered to be allies, the fleeing bullies hit the side of the raft at speed and have managed to get the barge stuck so they can climb out and escape. The Wellnigh bullies are still following.
The Wallup bullies are six strong, but two are severely wounded and two of the others have to carry them. There are a dozen Wellnigh bullies pursuing them.

Roll up both parties at random in the same way that you created Madam Veronica’s bullies.

Any of Madam Veronica’s bullies in that square should be able to drop everything to help support the Wallup bullies. Other bullies in other squares who aren’t busy can also join in. Other bullies in other squares can also join in. Those in adjacent squares can arrive in four moves, it takes the others four moves to cross a square to get there. It probably doesn’t last much more than an hour but you’ll be kept busy.

4) Somebody has stopped to unload a barge, but not at the wharf. This means a narrow channel is blocked as boats and barges struggle to get through in both directions. There has already been fisticuffs, three people thrown into the water and somebody else threatened with a knife. It will take one bully on ‘Square chosen at random’ plus one assistant bully, d3 hours to sort it out.

5) A group of juveniles, of several species and all sexes, have been building a racing wagon to try and make serious money in the wagon races in the Western Suburbs. They’re now trying it out in, ‘Square chosen at random’ and causing chaos. Toss a coin.

  • Heads. It takes one bully one hour to given them the lecture and sort things out.
  • Tails. “Boss, this wagon is a serious contender.” Takes three bullies, d6 hours, to put together a track across the whole raft, and to keep order as the potential winners practice.

6) Two adult females, not necessarily from the same species, are engaged in a shouting match in the middle of, ‘Square chosen at random.’ It will take one bully one hour to deal with.

7) One bully, collecting protection in, ‘Square chosen at random’ comes across somebody who won’t pay, because they say the rate is wrong. This takes the Lieutenant or Madam Veronica to sort it out. Takes one hour.

8) There is an argument in the queue at the soup kitchen and it looks like trouble. It will take one bully an hour to keep order.

9) A clerk from Manufactories comes to see Madam Veronica. The clerk has a list of six companies who seek to recruit more labour and are wondering if you have any new arrivals who are looking for work. It will take Madam Veronica or the Lieutenant two hours to deal with this.

10) A security officer from the Western Suburbs arrives in ’Square chosen at random’ in hot pursuit of two sneak thieves who were disturbed as they were working on his patch. He produces pictures taken by security cameras.

1,2. The two are known trouble makers that you want rid of. It takes your bully and the security officer d6 hours to find them, arrest them, and send them back to the suburbs for a magistrate.

3,4. They’re local lads who want slapping down before they get to be a nuisance. It takes the bully an hour to find them and give them a damned good talking to.

5,6. They’ve kept going, the security officer follows them across contiguous squares across your territory until they’re found and dealt with, or they leave your territory. Each time he crosses into a new square, a new bully should join him to act as a guide. It all takes time

11) The paramedic is treating a young female who has staggered into his little hospital with gunshot wounds. He thinks a bully ought to have a word with her and investigate. Roll a d6

1,2. She seems to think she shot herself cleaning the weapon. Given she was alone in her shanty at the time, there’s nothing else anybody can do even though she seems to have thoughtlessly mislaid the weapon and cannot now find it. Takes 1d3 hours.

3,4 She claims she disturbed an intruder who opened fire on her, but she fired back. Takes the bully 1d3 hours, finds the body of a known thief floating face down under the raft with probably fatal gunshot wounds.

5,6 Your bully reports that he can find no evidence of a weapon, nobody heard anything, nobody saw anything, there’s nobody else hurt. He had a word with his wife, and his wife says that she heard the female was carrying on with somebody else’s mate. Takes d6 hours and he suggests doing nothing.

12) The Water Filtration Plant is broken down. A team from the municipality came to fix it, but half way through they went on strike. Apparently they want today off because they claim they’re entitled to it as it’s their holy day, it’s a day sacred to the Initiates of the Golden Spur. They have also demanded an increase in pay for all those married with offspring. Given that Initiates of the Golden Spur are all eunuchs, the municipality has refused to negotiate until they come up with demands that make sense. It will take Madam Veronica or her lieutenant d6 hours to get a team in to do the work. When they arrive it’ll take d6 hours to fix things, and a bully will have to be stationed with them because people are getting fractious because they’re running out of water.

13) The school is having a concert, the pupil recorder ensemble is playing. This leads to a riot among the parents because of what one parent said about the playing of another parent’s offspring being taken the wrong way. It takes three bullies two hours to calm things down and restore order.

14) Five armed thugs are hitting a gambling den on ‘Square chosen at random.’ Because the gambling den pays protection, the proprietors expect the boss to deal with the thugs and get the money back.

The thugs are obviously professional and have done a lot of planning. The two competent ones seem to have fetched the other three as muscle and ablative shielding. They are Warriors, Reaction point total 15

Leader, Veteran, flak jacket under coat. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Number 2. Normal, no armour, Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Number 3. Green, no armour. Energy carbine. 

Number 4. Green, no armour. Energy carbine. 

Number 5. Green, no armour. Energy carbine. 

Any bullies in the square may be able to drop everything to deal with them. Other bullies in other squares can also join in. Other bullies in other squares can also join in. Those in adjacent squares can arrive in four moves, it takes the others four moves to cross a square to get there.

15) A clerk from the Administration visits the HQ. She is there to organise water cards for new arrivals to Madam Veronica’s rafts. It’ll take Madam or her lieutenant 1d3 hours to deal with this matter.

16) A squad of Grelfarl military police, in plain clothes, have arrived on, ‘Square chosen at random.’ They are looking for deserters who have started up a smuggling racket getting contraband and seditious literature into Grelfarl territory and getting more deserters out. They’ve arrived on a barge passing themselves off as delivering goods. Their plan is to hit the deserters’ shanty, capture or kill the occupants, and get back to the barge before resistance can happen. (There is a bonus for prisoners who can answer questions.) They are First class regulars with a reaction point total of 18.

All are in civilian clothes with hardwired submachineguns concealed under coats, in packages they are carrying etc. Each man also has a hand grenade

Squad leader, Normal.

MP. Normal.

MP. Normal.

MP. Green.

MP. Green.

The barge.

On the barge are three crew, one to steer, one to watch the engines, and a third to man the Vehicle mounted energy weapon. This is currently concealed, but it can be made ready in two moves to provide fire support.

The deserters are caught somewhat unawares. They count as warriors. There are three of them armed with hardwired pistols. There is one of them on the door keeping watch. The other two are inside. Roll a d6.

1,2, The Military police get to the door of the shanty before being recognised.

3,4  The Military police get to within one move of the door before being recognised.

5,6 A bystander recognises them as Military police and gives a warning. All three deserters are ready by the time the Military police are within two moves of the shanty.

The deserter/smugglers are enterprising businessmen, ‘the sort of people we ought to encourage’ and have paid you protection, so protect them. Any bullies in the square may be able to drop everything to deal with them. Other bullies in other squares can also join in. Those in adjacent squares can arrive in four moves, it takes the others four moves to cross a square to get there.

17) Lost child. In a ‘Square chosen at random’ your bully is stuck holding the small child who is tearful and lost. This dire emergency lasts an hour until he finds the mother.

18) Your neighbour and ally, Pags, really needs the loan of d3 bullies now. They’ll be away for d6 hours.

19) A strong smell of cooking. In a ‘Square chosen at random’ there is a fracas. One of the fast food joints is using so much strong spice that locals are complaining that their eyes are watering and some are having asthma attacks. It takes your bully d3 hours to sort out, because others of the locals actually like food that strongly spiced, which is why the fast food joint is cooking it in the first place.

20) A small child falls into the canal at ‘Square chosen at random’. Fortunately your bully in that square is on the scene and dives in to rescue the unfortunate. By the time he’s been thanked by grateful parents, been to the paramedic to get his shots and found some dry clothes, d3 hours have gone by.

Reinforcements

Note that you can borrow bullies from Pags if you’re desperate, just as he might borrow bullies from you. Pags can lend you up to d6, it’ll take them an hour to get there.

You can also awaken the night shift. You’ll have already rolled to see what they’re like when you rolled up the rest of the bullies. During the first four hours, they count as two levels of competence lower than you rolled. If you awake them between four and six hours into the day they are only one level of competence lower. After that, they take no handicap.

Playing the Game

As you can see this is set up for solo play. Indeed, although some of the situations which develop could work with an opponent, Hell by Starlight rules tend to ensure that you can lose control of your own forces so people assure me they use them perfectly happily for solo play.

Playing the game is easy enough. Place your bullies ‘on the map’ and each move roll a d6 or toss a coin to see if anything happens. A lot of things don’t need playing out, but instead you just mark the bully in the ‘Square chosen at random’ as busy. Obviously it is possible that he’s already busy and at this point you might have to move another bully into his square to help out.
It’s when you have bullies tied up in all sorts of jobs, and then the midden hits the windmill. Perhaps in two different places.

I’m not sure what your day with bring, it’s perfectly possible that Madam Veronica spends her day in the office dealing with officialdom, whilst her lieutenant spends it on the phone trying to get somebody to come and fix the water filtration plant. All the while your gallant bullies are rescuing small children and for all I know, getting pet cats down from the roofs of shanties they could climb up onto but cannot get down from.

Alternatively by dinner time the whole thing could look like a warzone.

Oh and if you like the scenery, it’s all produced by Iliada Game Studio.

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/caldoom-by-starlight

♥♥♥♥

In case you don’t know them, the rules are Hell by Starlight, available from Iliada Game Studio for £4 in pdf

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/product-page/hell-by-starlight

Also from Wargame Vault for £4 in pdf

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/384915/Hell-by-Starlight

And from Amazon as a paperback for £9.50 or £4 on Kindle.

There’s more stuff for Hell by Starlight and Caldoom at

Defending Prosperity

I’m trying to put together a full campaign world, for 6mm. It’s a world in the Caldoom Sector, called Prosperity. The idea is that it is going to produce seriously large military operations. Indeed my hope is that it’ll be the perfect world for Hell in Microcosm, where you deploy divisions on the wargames table.

But obviously something of this scale needs economic underpinnings. So we know the population of the world (Three billion, determined by complex algorithms or perhaps just a d10) and we also have the background. It’s a complex oligarchy where the reason it hasn’t exploded into war is that people are too worried that it might be bad for business. For these oligarchs, thing Carthage rather than Rome.

The various oligarchic states that make up the world are more interested in business and trade. So I am going to assume they collect 100 credits per capita tax on average. This is nowhere near a first world level of taxation, it’s more second or even third world levels of taxation, but they’re not providing what we in the first world would assume to be a normal level of services. They restrict funding to ‘infrastructure’ and ‘administrative expenses’ so you pay for your own education and health care. Then they spend 2% of money raised on defence (the NATO recommended spend.)

This means the average Oligarchic state raises about 32 million credits to spend on defence.

The average state could have a frontier about 2000 miles long, although some of that might be sea coast.

So we then have defence costs.

Unit typeMonthly Unit costRaising cost, equipment onlydepreciation 10% per annumAnnual unit cost 10 monthsAnnual cost With depreciation
‘Leg’ Infantry company4501501545004515
Mechanised combat engineers550250025055005750
Mechanised infantry company500150015050005150
Tank Company,  Heavy500450045050005450
Tank Company, Medium500400040050005400
Tank Company, Light500350035050005350
Aircraft squadron counting as three planes30001800018003000031800
Tube artillery company500160016050005160
Support and recovery company500110011050005110
Heavy recovery company500450045050005450
Drone Light air support/recce company500190019050005190
Infantry in powered armour500450045050005450
Android infantry501500150500650
Robot heavy weapons150450045015001950
Mobile suits500500050050005500
Mecha500550055050005550
Giant walkers500760076050005760
Drone Shower500160016050005160
  • The monthly costs and the raising costs I’ve worked out over the years, using a combination of comparable modern costs, cunning extrapolation, and guesswork.
  • Because it’s a long term campaign, I felt we needed a figure for depreciation. This helps cover the cost of major refits, vehicle upgrades and similar.
  • You will note that I have, for accountancy purposes, a ten month year. Given that companies and others have to present accounts for businesses which trade on worlds with different year lengths, the accountants came up with a standard Financial Year.’ This has ten, thirty day months. A year lasts 7,200 hours. Given that the hour was standard across the galaxy, this sort of works.
  • Finally you’ll see there is an annual cost for a company strength unit.

It’s then easy to build up battalions. I decided to base everything on a four company battalion.

Four company Battalion Leg infantry Annual cost18060
Four company Battalion mechanised infantry Annual cost20600
Four company Battalion powered armour infantry Annual cost21800
Four company Heavy Tank Battalion Annual cost21800
Four company medium Tank Battalion Annual cost21600
Four company light Tank Battalion Annual cost21400
Four company tube artillery battalion Annual cost20640
4 Company battalion android infantry Annual2600
4 Company battalion robotic heavy weapons7800
4 Company battalion Mobile suits22000
4 Company Battalion Mecha22200
4 Company Battalion Giant Walkers23040
4 company supply battalion20440
4 company engineer and recovery battalions20440
4 company combat engineer battalion23000
4 company Drone Light air support/recce Battalion20760
4 company Drone shower Battalion20640

At this point you can get really adventurous and go for a full division.

I’ll start with the Divisional HQ. (In reality I forgot about it and tagged it on at the end. This is actually quite useful because you can dump all the stuff you forgot on the Divisional HQ.)


Divisional HQ
HQ company (mechanised infantry company)5150
Drone light air support/recce Battalion20760
1 Battalion Giant Walkers23040
Signals Battalion (mechanised infantry)20600
engineer battalion23000
Security Battalion. Mechanised infantry)20600
113150
 15% admin, officers etc.16972.5
Final cost130122.5

The HQ Company is transported in the same Mechanised infantry fighting vehicles that the infantry use. (They probably have more comfortable seats and more leg room) It is not recommended you use it as a mechanised infantry company.

The rest of the divisional troops are so the Divisional Commander has specialists on hand. So he has his own dedicated drone battalion, which means he can order his own recce rather than just relying on what everybody else tells him. He has his own battalion of Giant Walkers, so that he has a reserve he can throw into the fight.
The signals battalion, in the standard MIFV, is a unit that will be spread all over the battlefield, with a handful of men in every headquarters, as well as perhaps a company hanging on the divisional commander’s every word.

The combat engineer battalion is a combination of useful troops who can be sent to help other engineers make things go bang more quickly, and also infantry who can be thrown into the maelstrom as a last resort.
The Security battalion is there to ensure the great man is not bothered by rude interruptions from hostile forces, but again, they’re another battalion he can throw in to plug a gap or exploit a success.

Finally there is the ‘15% admin, officers etc.’ This allows for generic waste, officers who don’t get a mention, (Chaplains, Welfare, military police and traffic control etc).

But then what about the other parts of the formation? I decided to have four infantry regiments, two mecha regiments, two artillery regiments and a logistics regiment.

Infantry Regiment
Regimental HQ (Mechanised infantry company)5150
3 battalions61800
Drone light air support/recce Battalion20760
1 medium tank battalion21600
supply company5110
Engineer company5750
recovery company5110
Antiaircraft battalion20640
Artillery battalion20640
166560
 15% admin, officers etc.24984
Final cost191544

The core of the regiment is the three infantry battalions with a medium tank battalion in support. Then they have their own Antiaircraft Battalion, their own Artillery Battalion (probably lighter infantry) as well as a supply company, an engineer company and of course a recovery company for all those vehicles. They also have their own drone light air support and recce.

Mecha regiment
Regimental HQ (One company mecha)5550
Drone light air support/recce Battalion20760
3 battalions mecha66600
1 battalion mechanised infantry20600
1 battalion giant walkers23040
3 artillery battalions61920
2 antiaircraft battalions41280
4 supply companies20440
2 engineer companies11500
 2 recovery companies10220
281910
 15% admin, officers etc.42286.5
Final cost324196.5

Instead of just going for tanks, I decided to have three battalions of mecha. In simple terms I tend to assume Mecha are probably about 18m or larger tall. (Franchises vary, pick your favourite) whilst Giant Walkers can be 60m or even taller. But the mecha and giant walkers are the cutting edge of the regiment. Because they’re an obvious target they get a battalion of mechanised infantry to support them, plus two anti-aircraft battalions to keep off enemy aircraft. They also get three artillery battalions to help prepare the way for their assaults and four engineer companies to help clear those obstacles that could be a problem. Also they have two recovery companies for those who cannot make it off the battlefield under their own steam and four supply companies because these will get through a lot of ammunition etc.

Also they have their own drone battalion to provide close support and recce.

Artillery regiment
Regimental HQ (One mechanised infantry company)5150
Drone light air support/recce Battalion20760
3 battalions of artillery61920
2 battalions of anti-aircraft artillery41280
2 Drone shower battalions41280
4 supply companies20440
 2 recovery companies10220
201050
 15% admin, officers etc.30157.5
Final Cost231207.5

The artillery regiment is to provide the support at the point of crisis. The Regiment has its own drones, it’s not reliant on others to find targets. The artillery battalions are probably heavier than issued to other regiments. They also have plenty of anti-aircraft, because artillery is another priority target. Again, plenty of supply and recovery.

Then they have drone shower battalions. A drone shower can be a cloud of small drones, each loaded with what amounts to a small mortar round. Short range, the regiment would send companies or even full battalions forward to provide close support to units in the front line.

Logistics Regiment
Regimental HQ (One mechanised infantry company)5150
3 security battalions61800
3 supply battalions61320
1 four company recovery and workshop battalion20440
1 Heavy recovery company5450
154160
 15% admin, officers etc.23124
Final cost177284

Last but not least, the logistics regiment. This has a lot of specialist stuff. It also has three security battalions. They appear on the battlefield as mechanised infantry because they’ll be providing close escort to supply convoys and similar. But even in peacetime they’ll provide the guards for supply dumps and stores.

The regiment has plenty of supply battalions, shuttling stuff from rear echelon to the regiments in the front line. They also do the more major repairs. They even have a recovery company that can shift a giant walker.

Obviously this all costs money and if my spread sheet is right, the division costs 2,184,390.50 credits per annum. Given the defence budget is 30 million credits, and you’ve got to allow something for naval and air support, you’re not going to get many divisions.

A few technical points about the rules. With Hell in Microcosm a company base is 5 cm frontage x 4 cm depth. A battalion attacks with all its bases in base contact, but in defence the battalion deploys within its perimeter. This is 120 cm long. Some people use a piece of string but some people have done really impressive things with pieces of fine chain.

When it comes to the company bases, remember you’re ‘decorating’ the card with the appropriate figures or vehicles. I like at least two vehicles to a company base, but some vehicles are just too big. Similarly with mecha and Giant walkers, in theory there would be at least a couple of mecha to a base but only one giant walker. Depending on the model you have, you might even have to make the base bigger for the giant. In the scheme of things, this isn’t an issue.

Indeed so long as you can tell what companies are what at a glance, then that’s fine.

Some companies will probably need extra bases. So, for example, take the Drone light air support/recce company.

It will have

A command APC with portable ECM

  • Two light armoured vehicles for mechanics and workshops.
  • Two vehicles with trailers, each carrying a drone
  • A light air car.

I suspect a decent sized drone, even with folded wings, will fit one ‘tractor’ and trailer per base.

  • So the company would have one base with three small vehicles, command and two workshops.
  • Two bases each with a towed drone.
  • Then two flying bases
  • A flying air car

Then what on earth would a ‘Drone shower company’ have? Personally I’d be happy with a light ECM vehicle, and the other vehicle would just be a truck, perhaps the science fiction equivalent of those trucks they used for pigeon racing where there were cages all along the sides, you opened all the cages simultaneously and all the pigeons flew out.

So how do you defend your territory?

But in reality, I am describing just one division. But even now that might be considered an outdated formation. What I’d really like to see is what other people came up with. The core of the rules is the Battalion. It is the manoeuvre unit. You can rob companies from other units to stiffen and support, but the Battalion is what matters. So the rules work well for something like the Russian Battalion Tactical Group. Given the rules were written perhaps ten years before the Russians started down the BTG route, I feel quietly chuffed about that.

But would you abandon the idea of the division altogether, have multi-battalion teams? Would you have concentrations of artillery which could provide serious support, or would you regard them as bomb magnets needing too much spent on anti-aircraft protection to be worth the effort. Instead would you hand out more artillery to the smaller formations, or would you even do away with much artillery, relying on drone showers and similar?
Currently small and flexible appears to be all the rage, but in a century, big formations with serious staying power might be ‘in’. After all the advantage of a division level formation is that it can take a lot of damage in a war of attrition.

At the same time the BTG seems to rely on paramilitaries and ‘local volunteer forces’ to protect the flanks and provide security. Which is fine if

  • You have these paramilitaries and local volunteer forces
  • They are competent enough and reliable enough to do the job.

One issue that on Prosperity, you could be looking at defending a frontier of a thousand miles. You might have ten divisions or a hundred battalion groups, or whatever you decide to use. In reality, even with science fiction warfare, I suspect there are still going to be pinch points and routes that an invading army will tend to follow. You’ll be able to get a fair idea of the direction of attack from the logistic preparations made to support a strike. Thousands of men need tons of food, thousands of gallons of water, tons of ammunition. Satellite imagery is going to make disguising preparations even more difficult. 

As I said, I’m interesting in what people think.

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If you don’t know Hell in Microcosm, it’s available from Wargame Vault for £4 as a pdf

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

And from Amazon on Kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

Martians against the Mahdi

“You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;”

To give you a scale from the map, from Dongola to Khartoum/ Omdurman is 531km.  

The aim of this scenario is to give you a scenario and another opponent for your Mahdists. Bored of the British? Then give the Martians a twirl. The rules, ‘The Incredible Events of the Century and the Attack of the Inner Planets,’ rather assume 6mm or smaller figures, but I do suggest a few tweaks for larger scale figures.

The situation is thus.

It is 1886 and a Martian cylinder has crashed north of Dongola.

Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, ruler of the Sudan.

You have received a missive from the British. The bearer claimed that everywhere seems to be in uproar, monstrosities in huge three legged machines are causing chaos and the world seems to be degenerating into terror. Still he had some solid information for you, bullets do little to them but can have an effect, artillery can damage them, and attacking the legs, especially with explosives, does work. But these machines fire beams of intense heat which can incinerate a man in a moment, and can produce a black smoke which kills everything it touches. The monsters kill and eat men for food.

The Martians.

You have one cylinder and seem to have landed further south than intended. Still you remember your briefings. If you head south, across a terrain that looks comfortingly like Mars, you will arrive at an area where there are vast numbers of undeveloped humans for you to herd. Your inadvertent diversion might well have been to your long term advantage.

Aims and objectives.

The Martians have to take Omdurman, their gateway to the rest of Africa. Abdallahi ibn Muhammad has to stop them.

Timing

The campaign starts on Day 1 when the Martians crash.

Day 3 they can open the cylinder and start work.

Day 5 the first fighting machine is ready and word has arrived in Omdurman to let the humans know the trouble they’re in.

Terrain and movement

Looking at the maps, or at the illustrations, you can see the terrain is ‘interesting.’

I would suggest you create a map as the Martians advance using playing cards.

  • Spades are impassable to Tripods. Humans know the ways through
  • Clubs are difficult to Tripods, maximum speed 10cm (which is approximately 100m per minute under the rules). There is probably no limit to the humans who could be hidden in this terrain.
  • Diamonds are risky. A lot of broken ground, wadis, loose rock. You can pick a way through easily enough but the maximum safe speed is 20cm. Again, humans can doubtless hide all over the place without being easily seen.
  • Hearts. Good going, move at full speed if you want. Humans could hide here but they would have to arrive a couple of days before and prepare the ground. There would be a 50% chance of spotting them.

Deal five cards, face up. This is the front the Martians see as they advance south. Each card is about two kilometres across and four kilometres deep. If the Martians decide that they don’t like what they see (for example, you’ve dealt five spades) then they can move east or west and you deal another five cards. Each time you do this, another day goes by.

Once the Martians are ‘happy’ with the five cards, the Mahdist player deals another four rows of five cards behind them. They are dealt face down, but the Mahdist player can look at them at any time. The Martian player can only look at one when he moves (or attempts to move) a tripod onto it. The Martians can move ‘forward or back’ or ‘sideways’ but cannot move diagonally between cards. They can also move sideways onto a 6th card to get round an obstacle. There’s plenty of room, they’re unlikely to hit the ‘edge of the world’.

It takes a Martian tripod a full day to cross an unknown card, and it takes a full day for them to check out the next card to see how difficult it is. (But if they can cross it, at the end of the day they will.) If you have three tripods on a card, there is nothing to stop you sending one each into the three adjacent cards to check them out simultaneously. Should the Martians decide to retreat, going back across cards they have already crossed, they can move more quickly, doing six cards a day.

Now the map is 12 rows of cards deep, once through these it’s ‘the green fields beyond’ or at least open ground to Omdurman and a final climactic battle.
Note that you’ll need two packs of cards, as the map could end up ‘wider’ than the original five.

The Mahdist response

Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, the Mahdist player sits with all 12 rows of cards in front of them. I suggest you just give them a grid on a piece of A4. At the start of the game only the five rows nearest to the Martian player are known, but this isn’t a disadvantage. Your men move 12km per day (or three cards lengthways or six if you’re going across) whilst artillery moves at 2 cards or 4.

Each day more troops arrive in Omdurman. You start off with one thousand cavalry, five thousand infantry and four light guns. We’ll divide the infantry up into five ‘regiments’ each of ten ‘companies’. The cavalry you can keep together or split them up in 100 man companies to support the infantry. You can send men north, just by noting what card they end up in. You can have them dig in. In this case the idea is not a firing position but somewhere where they’re hidden. If troops have a full day to prepare, the Martians have a 10% chance of spotting them.

You can do the same with guns.

Each day 2d10 companies of infantry arrive in Omdurman. You can organise them and send them north. On a roll of 6 on a d6, another light gun arrives. Toss a coin, on a heads, another company of cavalry arrive.

You have a maximum of 60,000 infantry. Once they’ve all arrived, that’s it.

How are your men armed?
It really depends on the figures you have to be honest, as the effect of rifle fire on a Martian tripod is limited, the best you can hope for is that it irritates it enough to pull back out of range.
On the other hand, you might be able to give some of your men explosive charges or similar which will give them an edge in close combat. I would assume you start off with enough explosives to provide charges for ten companies, and each day your armoury makes d6 more.

Irregulars

Remember, in the nicest possible way, your men are irregulars. Given their effectiveness with firearms, under the rules I would count them as Green with only 1d6 if firing. But for morale their determination to press on warrants them rolling a d6 as veterans. In close combat, I would allow those units of Hadendoa without rifles an extra +1d6 to account for their verve and enthusiasm.

Troops with explosive charges get +2d6 but this isn’t added to the +1d6 for being Hadendoa. Hadendoa only get an extra +1 for explosive charges.

The Martian quandary.

You are powerful but not that powerful. Your first fighting machine is ready on day 5. You then get another fighting machine on days 7,9,11, and 13.

At this point the Martian working the handling machine which is assembling them pre-packed tripods has to make a decision. It can assemble a 6th fighting machine and just abandon the cylinder and everything in it.
Or it can sling the handling machine from its tripod and carry it with it. After all with a handling machine you can repair tripods and hopefully, at some point, when you start reproducing, produce new ones. But a tripod with a handling machine dangling from it is handicapped in combat and the handling machine would be very easily damaged. The tripod would have to stay out of combat, or stash the handling machine somewhere safe.

With regard to distances, from Dongola to where you meet the first playing card of the map is 186km. A tripod could do it in a day. You could send one ahead, have it start exploring and send the others along afterwards. Or you could wait and go in mob handed. Or you could try any combination of the alternatives.

With regard to supplies, the rules contain supply rules, and if you’re in close combat with humans you will get plenty to eat, but once you leave Dongola, there’s poor hunting. On a day you decide to hunt, you’d end up doing d10x10km. Once you enter the playing card map, the only food will be your enemies you meet in battle. But you can always leave the map to hunt.

Black smoke

You have one cylinder of black smoke per fighting machine. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Unless of course you have a handling machine. After working for three days, (So it cannot move) it can refill any cylinders you have managed to recover. Once it’s got the ‘manufacturing plant’ set up, it can produce another 4 cylinders a day full of black smoke. But these cylinders are local materials, cannot be reused, and malfunction on a roll of 1 on a d6 when you fire them. Toss a coin if they malfunction. Tails you get black smoke all over you, heads, the cylinder just lies there inert and nothing happens.

Fighting the battles

Slowly but inexorably more and more human infantry will be dug into the hills ready to attack the Martians.

From the Martian point of view the faster they get through the hill country on the map the better, as things are only going to get worse.
From the Human point of view, whilst it needs men in the hills to stop the Martians, at some point you’ll need men preparing to defend Omdurman. In the open plain, hidden positions and similar for men to hide in could be essential if you’re not just going to be burned down before you can get close enough to fight.

Another thing the Mahdist player ought to consider is holding the artillery back. It outranges the Martians. Whilst it is unlikely to destroy them (as you don’t have much) it could force them to move forward to within heat ray range. Ideally that means your infantry are hidden well forward of your artillery so that they can fall on the tripods as they advance.

Playing solo

Here I think it’s technically easiest to play the Mahdists. Martians are unemotional and can be relied upon to do the sensible thing.

Make your policy decisions for Martians are the start of the game. So decide whether you’re going to feed your Tripod fighting machines in in penny packets or en-masse. Also what is your policy about stopping to make more black smoke?

Then as the Mahdist player, I suggest you keep all the cards face down until the Martians turn them over. This puts you are a slight disadvantage in that you don’t know what the terrain is where you’re putting your men, but if you leave them there for a couple of days before the Martians hit, you should be dug in and hidden.

Martians will always fall back to repair damaged machines, (provided you’ve fetched the handling machine) and see no reason to bang their heads against impenetrable defences. They will happily fall back or sidestep your positions if they don’t get through them.

If you want to play the Martians, then the easy way is to let the card you turn over tell you how many Mahdists there are. The value of the card tells you how many d10 you roll for the number of companies present. (So a 9 means you roll 9d10). A jack means there is one artillery piece, a queen means there are two, and a king, three. On black cards and diamonds, everybody will be hidden. On hearts they will be hidden on odd numbered cards, not on even numbered cards.

For finding hidden troops, metaphorically divide your table into 10cm squares. When a tripod steps into a square, roll a d6.

On a roll of 1 or 2, d10 bases of Mahdists are in ambush and attack you when you arrive.

On the Mahdist move, roll a d6 for squares next to tripods (that a tripod hasn’t previously passed through). On a 1 or 2, d10 bases of Mahdists charge out of that square to attack the tripod.

Add +2 to the d6 roll if the tripod is already in close combat.

When a force of Mahdists attack, roll a d6, on a roll of 1, they have explosive charges.

Figures

Well for tripods, I confess to a fondness for the one produced by Iliada Game Studio

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/product-page/martian-tripod

For Mahdists, I’ve always liked Baccus and Irregular, both of whom produce figures in 6mm

Baccus

https://www.baccus6mm.com/catalogue/Colonials/Mahdists/

Irregular

https://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/6mmRanges/6mmColonial.htm

The choice is entirely yours.

♥♥♥♥

If you don’t know the rules, ‘The Incredible Events of the Century and the Attack of the Inner Planets,’ are available from Iliada Game Studio for £4 in pdf format

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/product-page/the-incredible-events-of-the-century-and-the-attack-of-the-inner-planets

Or from Wargame Vault, also £4 in pdf format

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/404445/The-Incredible-Events-of-the-Century-and-the-Attack-of-the-Inner-Planets

Or from Amazon, £4 on Kindle, or £9.50 in paperback.

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