Monday, March 10, 2008

Or as we say in France, "Le Weekend".

General Du Gourmand, at the Battle of Noswego March 14th 1757, signalling to his milliner that the forces of the King have achieved decisive hat superiority over the English, but may require additional lace before the day is out.

On the whole it was a rather productive weekend, all told.

Friday night was spent running up the documentation for the French & Indian campaign I've been working. I had hoped to use "Expeditionary Force" from Programmer Scenarios for Solo Wargamers by Charles Grant, but found that given the fact that I had turned into an amphibious assault mainly through my own incompetence, more work would be needed to do it right. So sadly, I had to shelve my plans for the "Expeditionary Force" and went ahead with "Reconaissance in Force" as it seemed to fit the setting better.

"Reconaissance in Force" is an attack-defence scenario, the French have been beaten back and are holding a line along a chain of mountains, through which there are several passes. The British commander has to advance down one of the passes and hold it in order to facilitate the advance of the main army. He has forces that used correctly might be able to fight their way through, but will certainly be able to gather plenty of information regarding the French capabilities and intentions.

The French should hold the pass, ideally, or at least hold the British player up for as long as possible, while gathering as much information about them as possible.

I spend Friday writing up briefing documents and putting together orders of battle for Lord Ponsonby and General Du Gourmand. The campaign system is going to be a mixture of Free Kriegspiel and a common sense, though I will be trying a new resolution mechanic. Typically in Free KS, the Umpire takes the situation into account, determines likely outcomes in order of probably, alloting to each a percentage chance and then rolls a nugget (a d10, but why play Old School, if you're not going to talk Old School?) to see what happens.

I write a lot of Pub Quiz's, all of which feature a number of rounds of ten questions each. At the end of the Quiz, a team has a set of marks out of ten. Which (though skewed towards to the higher end of the 1-10 spectrum) is not unlike the roll of a nugget. One of the things that irks me about wargamers is that we often blame the dice when we fail and there's a certain truth to that, real Generals don't roll dice, they work hard at command and take trouble with infinite trifles.

Therefore, I'm going to give my players the chance to earn success. There won't be many nugget rolls in this game, no more than four or five, so rather than rolling the dice I'm going to offer the players the chance to answer ten questions. I'll set the margins of success (which will higher naturally), but they'll have a chance to succeed by their own exertions.

General Du Gourmand is already hatching a plan to bribe local tribes to attack the advancing British column and has sent a negotiator and gifts to Chief Winnitou to gain his support. Guess I'll have to write ten questions on Woodlands Indians then.

Saturday was a good wargaming day. I'd done Young Master Siskington a favour in October which he said would be repaid with painting services (the Halberdiers demand seemly infinite supply of Frenchmen), so we set to it with a will on Saturday afternoon. We got the coats, hats, shoes and faces and hands done and some other bits and pieces on 80 odd Frenchmen, Siskington said he'd do another evening next week and we'd finish them off. He was good company as always and we managed to rectify that yawning gap in his education, not having seen "The Man who would be King".

Fantastic movie.

A jaunt over to Kingstown brought me to Beezer's (my darling future wife) door and we had dinner. She'd made a cracking chicken and ham pie (Empires have fallen for less) and we spent a very happy evening watching Shakespeare in Love and planning a honeymoon. It's still looking like Bath and London, though we're exploring our options. We had hoped to do Stratford, London and Hay-on-Wye, but it was not to be.

Sunday was spent on paperwork, the inevitable upshot of having passed the first round for the Gardai. Roll on round two! Church was fine, though the sermon wasn't up to much and the rest of the evening was spent very pleasantly lazing in front of the fire reading "Wild Sports of the West", a book that deserves to be sipped rather than gulped.

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