Friday, 20 July 2012

To Paraphrase Napoleon...

..Morale rules are to wargames rules as ten is to one.

Certainly when it comes to the time we spend debating, tinkering and discarding them there is little in rules that occupies us half as much.

The comments on the Dust Settles post raised a number of interesting and valid points. Ross is right, I think, in saying that as they stand Parum Pugna's wider morale rules are ineffective. In fact for the Apocryphal Well refight Stephen and I ignored them entirely and just used the charge tests. I shall return to this in a moment.

DC calls attention to Peter Young's maxim about decent wargamers knowing when it is time to concede. I believe this is true and since all the chaps I game with are the very souls of decency we have no problem. He is also correct about a certain arbitrariness that attends army morale rules. Simply saying that when a force has lost half its units it must leave the field is clearly not enough. An army may have lost more men than its adversary, but still believe itself to be winning.

One thing I forgot to mention about the Apocryphal Well skirmish was that in Grant's version there is a time element - the game lasts for 12 moves. Whichever side controls the Well at the end of move 12 is the winner. Because I wasn't sure how WRG and PP would tally move wise I dispensed with this. If I'd stuck with Grant's timing, then the game would have ended earlier - more or less at the point when the Assyrian close order infantry launched it's attack. That might have been a solid and logical outcome, the Egyptians in control of the well, the Assyrians gathered on the ridge overlooking it, thirsty and perhaps rallying for one last push at dawn. Though, of course, Stephen's tactics might have been different if he'd been forced to work to a tighter schedule.

With regards wider morale and Ross' point about PP and the effect of routing units on their cohorts, I agree that they are unsatisfactory. One way of producing something more effective might be to introduce the sort of victory points chart commonly used in boardgames. We might award 1 point for eliminating a unit of skirmishers; 2 points for a unit of close order infantry or light cavalry; 3 for a unit of close order cavalry; 4 for any elite unit or general.

If we used one chart with the left representing army one, the right army two and moved the marker backwards and forwards according to results (i.e. if army one destroyed a light cavalry unit the counter would move two places to the left, if on the next turn army two succeeded in killing army one's commander it would slide four places to the right and so on). We could then set points at which the morale of the entire army would be effected. For example, if the counter slid, say,  5 points in favour of army two then all of army one's units would immediately suffer one "morale hit", at 10 points "two morale" hits etc. Any that were already on six would be removed. If on subsequent turns army one did sufficient damage to army two to return the counter to zero then any "morale hits" previously suffered would be taken away from army one's remaining units, and so on and so forth.

This device would deal with army morale in clearly visible way and keep track of the fluctuating situation on the table, as well as racking up the tension in the manner of C&C's flag system.

Hmm it seems workable. But then I have just drunk some very strong Belgian beer and eaten a vast slice of cheesecake....


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