Monday, March 9, 2009

Napoleonic Skirmish - revisted.

Over the past week and a half I have had a number of continuing conversations concerning Napoleonic Skirmish, specifically 25mm Skirmish; and I feel that I should take a few more minutes and attempt to clarify my positions.

If you are interested in Napoleonic Skirmish, great I look forward to seeing all your figures painted and see how your game is played. Please don’t ask me to rebase my figures so *I* can run a game that you are interested in. This is your project not mine. I’ll probably play a game or two but I do not currently plan on painting anything up or running any games.

If you ask me for my opinion on your project don’t be shocked when I give you *MY* opinion. I don’t think I have ever sugar coated anything in my life (except maybe some cereal) and I am not about to start now.

Many suggestions that I have heard *AREN’T* skirmish in my mind. Just because you singly mount a few figures doesn’t make it a skirmish game. In a skirmish game you control each figure individually and each figure can do a unique action during the course of a turn. Many games require your units to operate in unison, all move, all fire, all reload, and so on and so forth; how is that skirmish? Other games your fire factor is figured by the number of figures so it is pointless to shoot single figures.

Other games are designed for you to put so many figures on the table that there is no way you could operate it as a skirmish game and actually get anything done.

Other suggestions that I have heard involve the concept of a “heroic skirmish” game. You know the games where your unit of 10 figures of Sharpe’s Rifles take on 250 Spaniards and win easily.
The best response I have heard to this is the fable of the sandwich.

Two brothers watch their mother make a delicious sandwich. The first
brother asks their mother if she is making a second sandwich and she tells them
no you have to share. So she hands the first brother a knife and tells him
to cut the sandwich in half. He is greedy so he makes on half larger than
the other half. Than the mother turns to the second brother and tells him
he can choose which half of the sandwich he wants.

This is the issue I see in this suggestion. One player only wants to paint up a dozen figures while expecting the other partner in the game to paint up several dozen figures just so they can lose on a regular basis. How is this fun for the other player?
Now I understand that in some cases an individual is such an avid painter that painting up 100 figures is nothing so they paint up the entire project and chose to always play Sharpe’s Rifles. But what happens when another player show’s up with his “Sharpe’s Rifles” how will that work?

Several people have suggested using a skirmish game to use figures they are painting for a battalion level game. IE As they paint up figures for BAR-Napoleonic use those figures for a skirmish game. Sounds good, but I have several questions:
BAR Napoleonics, at 1:10, is going to require 72 figure French Battalions and 144 figure Austrian Battalions which is well just a little large for most people. Why not play at 1:30 where many people are already playing in the twin cities. The games are more manageable and still have the massive formation look. Plus you don’t need a gym floor to refight a small engagement.
Second at 1:30 you need 120 to 150 figures for a brigade (small command at Battalion Level) compared to 120 (plus) figures to play a skirmish game (the ones that many people suggest anyways) so ummm you have already painted up virtually everything you need to play a battalion level game we are already playing. How is this using your figures sooner?

Another issue that anyone who wants to take on this type of project is how do you get people excited about it? Most of the people I have heard from are looking for a partner in crime so to speak. The issue is their vision is such that they don’t match up with other people vision. (Mass Skirmish vs Heroic Skirmish vs Early vs late vs pass through project vs…..)
As I have stated this is not a project that is going to excite the masses no matter how you paint it. This is a project that one maybe two people are going to have to do and hopefully get four or five others to play. I am willing to play a game or two, but I am not at the moment willing to paint up units for historical Napoleonic Skirmish.

Now as I have repeated stated one of the interesting options that many of the historical players often over look and shake off, flintloque.

Flintloque has several nice advantages to it:
It isn’t historical, no arguments over what is or isn’t historical in the game, it is all Fantasy.
To me it is the it is the most playable “skirmish” set of rules out there. Players command smaller units (up to 50) figures but more likely 25 figures, a much more playable level.
The figures all have actions, unique actions and each figure acts independently of other functions. This figure is taking an aimed shot, these two figures are firing down range, this figure is moving over here and firing and these figures are running towards cover.
You don’t even have to play with fantasy figures, you could substitute historical figures and play without elves, orks, and other fantasy creatures and still have a more playable game than most of the historical written rules.
Heck I might be convinced to paint up a unit of Ferach Elves for the game, maybe two.
That is not to say I wouldn't make a couple of small changes to the rules, like changing the ranges from Metric to English measurements, and stuff like that to make it easier for the masses to play here int eh Twin Cities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's 'skirmish' games and then there are 'small-unit' games. A true skirmish game for horse & musket isn't that interesting to me, and this is where Flintloque goes as I recall.

A small-unit game could be more interesting. I have 'Sharpe Practice' and that system looks interesting for doing small recon actions, and things of that sort. I don't know that I would want to do that sort of game all the time but it would be a nice change of pace while still staying in the period and in a campaign of some sort you could use it to game out smaller actions like advance guards seizing an important bridge, etc.

For those folks who want to go super-herioc and play the movie version of Sharpe where they are more or less playing a 19th-century version of Space Hulk, I would go for a modification of a set like 'Science vs Pluck' where you all play on the same side against the umpire who controls the faceless minions of the French, etc.

If anyone in the Twin Cities is looking at playing BAR or other large-unit games, leave a comment on my blog. I'm interested in hearing what you're up to.