Thursday, 8 December 2016

One Hour Wargames - an unbalanced scenario

So, on with the testing of the One Hour Wargames Ancient rules for playing with a seven year old.The two games we have played so far have had fairly matching deployment and victory conditions. This I feel has made things simpler and has the added bonus of it being clear that it is 'fair', we are both trying to achieve the same conditions from the same starting point. Throwing in some asymmetric conditions I thought might be a challenge for the boy - lets see how he dealt with it.

The scenario chosen was number 6 'Flank Attack (1)'. I gave the boy a choice of what side he wanted to play after explaining the scenario - to my surprise he chose to be the force being ambushed stating that he would like a challenge - good lad. It also meant that as this was a Carthaginian force ambushing a Roman one it could count as a refight of Lake Trasimene, well sort of, and it's always good to get some history into the games.

Will describe the game briefly, mainly through pictures (being worth 1000 words and all that) to give context and illustrations for my comments before giving those comments on  how we enjoyed it and any problems with the rules. To win the Romans had to get three units of the table edge they are advancing towards - any other result being a victory for Carthage.

The scenario was that the Roman force was lined up one behind the other down the middle of the road, Carthage could have two units blocking the advance with the rest coming on from the side. As can be seen in the first picture, Carthage had two units of foot playing the role of blocking the Roman advance with another foot closest to the table edge then the more mobile troops further back. The basic plan was to pin the Romans in fights frontally before sweeping in from behind.

The Romans first turn was to advance with their first unit of foot, the velites halt to fire. The cav and the blue legion break right to try and get past the Carthaginians, with the other two units of foot turn to face the ambush and invite the Carthaginian horse to charge in.

The Cav decline the invite and look to sweep around the rear. An attempt to crunch the Triarii is made - a frontal attack with a flank charge being tee'd up. The Gauls in Carthage's service move left to block an easy charge off table.

Rome looks to defend the flank of the Triarii, as a rapid collapse would for them would probably mean game over. It does however mean two of the six Roman units are already committed to fighting in place.  They also look to gang up on the Gauls blocking the advance off table. The last unit is brought back but still facing rearward.

Gauls move to make sure they can not be hit in the flank by anything nasty and the rest of their army closes in.

The Roman velites move of table as it is a unit towards the victory conditions and they can not achieve to much anyhow. The Romans have decided the Gauls have to go if they have any chance of winning so charge the cav in to start that process and move a unit of foot for a flank charge next turn. The rear guard continues to fall back.

The trap is now closing in however. A rear charge sees off the Triarrii, the flank guard legion is in dire straights and the rearguard is engaged by the Numidians. A fight the Numidians can not win on their own but they are looking to pin the rear guard legion in place.

To win the Romans need to get two more units off table - if the Gauls can be dealt with this is possible - in goes the flank charge.

It takes two turns to destroy them however and in that time the Libyan spearman redeploy and get in a rear charge.

The Roman cav ride off for the second unit safe. The rear guard have also destroyed the Numidians but it has taken to long and they are hit in the flank by the Gallic cav.

The writing is on the wall now - two units safe but another needed for the win and the forces of Carthage are all over the remaining Romans.

No way back from this - leading to a Carthaginian victory - with the first victory for the forces of Dadduniam in the campaign!

Did the scenario work?

Yes it did, very simple but gave some interesting decisions to be made. It was complex enough to get the boy thinking but as it was still only six units it was simple enough for him to be able to mentally track. I did give some 'you my want to think about' type comments, which is all ok - as this is what I should be doing anyhow. But all the decisions were taken by him, so all good in the 'quest for a game to play with children' front. The main problem I had with playing this scenario is actually more an issue with the rules - so see below.

Are the rules still holding up?

Over all yes, still giving an enjoyable time for the both of us. The boy was not to unhappy with losing (a potential minefield when playing with children) and was engrossed in the game, with it seemingly close down to the wire. I say seemingly though, due to the IGOUGO (ah, for any non toy soldiery geek initiates this refers to a game style where one side moves all their forces (I go) and then the other does (UGO)). This combined with the simple combat meant that I felt that I could see the way the game would go from quite early on - barring any wild swings of luck. This was not a problem for the boy though and each twist and turn of the game was thrilling. In the future games I am going to have to try and make myself not think things through to much in advance I feel.

The other niggle I had was an echo of my earlier one of defining what a flank charge is. This broadens it out a bit more to look at unit placement and what their movement represents in general. This is illustrated by my early move to bring the Gallic foot out wide. I could have placed them in such a way as to block any possible exit from the table - with not enough room between the unit and the table edge on one side to get past  and on the other to small a gap between the Gauls and my spearmen. As they can only be attacked by one unit frontally this could have caused a severe (and somewhat unfair) roadblock. I decided not to do this. It could be argued a wider table would have negated this problem - true, but I was playing with the table width and deployment zones called for. As, due to there brevity the rules are silent on unusually troop placement I think it is possible that I could (if  I looked) find more ways to take advantage of this in the rules. The rules do seem to depend on the unwritten rule of 'play nicely children', which I am of course using as I am playing with my child. I dread to think of a scenario were the boy sees an advantage in an odd placement - that the rules allow and me trying to persuade him not to do it as it is 'not nice or fair'. Yung children can be very competitive....

Still, again another enjoyable fight and a good time was had by all. The campaign is now one game each and one draw with two games to go and all to play for.


  1. I still have to replay my daughter with these rules, she is badgering but we cannot seem to find the time :-(

    I know what you mean about competitive. My daughter is a little, but my son (8) definitely is. If I hear one more time "it wasn't a race...but if it was, I won!". I play co-op games with him where possible!

    I also share your concern over when they realise what is possible - and not possible - within the construct of the rules and "game it" for an advantage.

    Thanks for posting and I am glad the games are going well.

  2. Ah, if you can not find the time to play with your children you are probably not looking hard enough .....

    It is funny how quickly the weeks go by and I have to keep reminding myself that playing with my children should be a far higher priority that I seem to give it - look how quickly I am getting through these games. Am not playing anywhere near frequently enough. I need to make it happen more. Getting out the bare board and a few bits of terrain is not hard and we both really enjoy the game when we play.

    You and me both need to remind ourselves that playing with our children should be either at the top or very near the top of our to do list every single day.....

  3. Your post was more a reminder to play another One Hour Wargame with my daughter. I agree playing games with my children is a top priority. I have two children (daughter 10 and son 8). Until about 2 years ago, we would play a game of something (cards, snakes and ladders, Jengo etc - we have about 10 favourites we choose from) every evening - well about 5 nights a week. Yep, just about evening - I still remember playing Uno every night for about 6 months straight! But not wargames. It has slowed down in the last two years to about 2 games a week (we are now out a bit more, sometimes homework and also have the occasional TV series we watch together 1-2 times a week). It is always the 3 of us (my wife doesn't really play games).

    So trying to find time to play a game with just one of them is not easy :-( Possibly it could be on the rare occasion when one of them is out somewhere else and I am at home alone with the other one - but in that case we tend to go out somewhere together!

  4. I know what you mean - especially now the children are getting older which includes taking them to football, cricket, ballet, swimming lessons et al. finding time for 'daddy time' is getting harder. Especially if I am playing with one of them - the other gets jealous. We try and plan in 'daddy days' and 'mummy days' for them on their own.