Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leprecon II: Lessons learned

An aerial view of the battle of Corunna,
British forces holding the hills overlooking Elvina

I have been giving the games that were played over the weekend some thought and there is a great deal to be pleased about. The ever fickle convention going public were willing to give a strange game a try, though the Memoir '44 factor helped immensely. While there are significant differances between the two games, people who had played Memoir '44 knew the rough outlines of the game immediately and that it was short.

The great unwashed were far more likely to play a short game sight unseen than a long one.

Foy over at Prometheus in Aspic has spoken of the crispness of the turn sequence, which I think it one of the games major strengths. I wrote to Richard Borg, the creator of the game, some years ago to thank him for his work on Battle Cry and Memoir '44. I told him that there were games that one talks about and games that one plays. I own over a dozen rules systems, several which I believe are fine games. I have in the last six weeks played more Command & Colours: Napoleonics than any of those combined - the speed at which the game is played is probably the key factor in this.

But where was I?

Behold the offending bases

There were problems however, setting the battlefield up took far too long. This was nothing to do with terrain, which was relatively simple and rather a lot more to do with how I base my figures. A rebasing experiment some years ago left deep scars in my pysche and I vowed that I would never do such a thing again. As a result, I base my Napoleonics singly and place them on sabot bases as necessary. This has worked out rather well - I've used figures singly for Savage Worlds and then placed them on bases for En Avant! and Command&Colours: Napoleonics.

However, I store them in boxes without their sabot bases and the business of laboriously transfering single figures their sabot bases ate up valuable gaming time. Also because I was using En Avant! bases, infantry battalions were exactly inch too wide. This wasn't really an issue until players began to form lines whereupon it began to be a little unsightly.

The solution? Bespoke bases five inches wide by two deep.

There are two possibilities here, steel bases with magnetic material attached to the bottom or unadorned steel bases. One of the players, a phyicist who works with magnets has assured by that the magnetic material attached to the figures will hold the bases in place. He is however, an oaf, notorious for his drunken buffonery, so I haven't committed myself just yet.

Either way, I shall cut down setup time and get more time around the table.

Leprecon - Lessons learned

1. Casual players will play C&C: Napoleonics if you convince them that it is "...like Memoir '44". This is key to ensuring that there is a pool of players available, dearth of players is the death of many a game.

2. Set-up for my large scale C&C: Napoleonics set is too long, changes to basing will solve this.

3. Five inch hexes simply will not fit guns and gun teams, I will need to square this particular circle in order to field Horse Artillery.

4. Marking the sections of the battlefield with string is effective, but it isn't attractive. I am reluctant to permanently mark my mats, but it may have to come to that.


  1. 1. Marketing 101: "Lie about the product". But in your defence, once they've realised that it wasn't quite true, they'll be enjoying themselves!

    2. I fear that relying on the magnetic paper in the box mightn't work. The steel sabot base and miniatures might be too heavy? So a belt and braces approach may be prudent

    3. Perhaps a base with two guns and then a base with crew to be individually removed might overcome their current anaemic appearance (but obviously the answer is you need 8 inch hexes to fit the entire horse team and caisson in!)

    4. Would you consider stitching a moderately sober/camouflaged colour in? It needn't be a particularly complex (a loose backstitch perhaps?) so it could be removed easily enough

    P.S. I'll post my Maida AAR over the next few days (and also send you a link to those Corunna shots I took)

  2. 2. I think you may be right - so in an unheard of step, I have ordered a sample before splashing any cash.

    We shall see.

    3. The problem with 8 inch hexes is that it will require a bigger table and I will need a bigger house...

    I prefer one gun, two guns would be a bit overwhelming with twenty man units - but I definately need to beef up the gun crews.

    4. That sounds like an excellent idea, I may have to do some serious work around the house before I have sufficient brownie points with Mrs Kinch though.

  3. A recent blog entry elsewhere suggested that you simply mark the center dot for each hex, rather than draw the outline of the whole hex. This might allow you to spill over the hex sides in some cases and it not being unsightly.

    By coloring the center dots differently you could indicate the section lines.

    Of course, you already have a lot invested in your mat. The terrain looks great, by the way.

  4. The game does look good with the extra figures and 3d terrain.

    My friend Rob has stored his steel washer based 40mm minis on magnetically lined boxes for years. The advantage of steel on the figures and magnet on the box/movement tray is that if the magnet wears out in 10 years, then its easy to replace without fussing with the minis.

    For the sector lines, what about a series of small markers each with a tuft of grass or a big rock or a couple of small ones. These could be strung out to create a temporary dotted line which is easy to see but not unsightly. If one were to get knocked out of place it would be easy to see and fix it.

    Any game you enjoy and want to play again, is a good one.

  5. Dale & Ross

    An experiment with dots was tried, but it proved too confusing for players who weren't familiar with the system. Sadly an idea that seemed beautiful in principle didn't hold true in practice.

    Using tufts might work, the board has an abstract look, I'm not sure if Donoghs suggestion might not be a better fit for the general aesthetic. Thank you very much for your kind words regarding the terrain - my main objective at present is to male sure that it functions well as a game board.

    Donoghs Afghan boards manage to be both functional and handsome - we shall see how I do.

  6. How about different coloured felt patches for woods, fields, etc. Cut in irregular shapes, better than string outlines.