Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Luck of the Guinaleans

"It is the 'Luck' of the Guinaleans that we must fight and die for the betterment of foreign princes far from Guinalea's green fields and fens, from family and friends,  from hearth and home"
-Wolfe Toon-

"If I had the Luck of the Guinaleans,
I'd have been born Albioniic instead"
- John Lennorc-

The Frontier of the Karoona Junta
Fall


With the turning of the leaves so too did the thoughts of the Karoona Junta turn to winter quarters for their troops.

To that end a series of small forts were constructed to cover the various passes that led into the province.

One such fort was garrisoned by the guerrilla troops of Don Julio Sinpantalones. As it happened this was a poor choice.

The Western Approaches to Fort Sinpantalones
Dawn


Wolfe Toon snarled. He had formed the Guinalean Legion with the hope that the Ferach Elves would use it to liberate his beloved Guinalea. 

Now here he was in the cold, barren, wastes of Catalucia, doing the "emperor" Mordred's dirty work.

The famous guerrilla leader Julio Sinpantalones was secretly in the pay of the Empire, and at General Sashay's command had abandoned his post. It was now Toon's task to take a patrol and secure the fort. This done the rest of the Legion would come up, and supported by additional Ferach troops, prepare for a winter campaign that the Junta would be ill prepared for.

The fort did indeed appear to have been abandoned.  Toon told his Sergeant "Wee Willy" McClusky to detail two bog orcs to reconnoiter ahead and make certain of it.

The Eastern Approaches to Fort Sinpantalones
Dawn


"Damn!" 
Major O'Toole, one of Wheeling-Turn's so called "exploring officers" said in a low voice. "It would appear our information was correct. Sinpantalones has deserted his post."

The Major had been sent by Wheeling-Turn to advise the Junta of certain information regarding Don Sinpantalones. Sensing the reluctance of the Junta to accept information disparaging one of their own, received from Orcs at that, O'Toole had offered to personally lead a patrol to determine Sinpantalone's intentions.

Now at the head of nine bog orcs of the Guardia Real. the Major could see that whatever Sinpanatlones' intentions were, they certainly didn't include garrison of this fort. 

Shortly after he had dispatched a pair of burly bog orc guardsmen to reconnoiter the fort, shots rang out.

Bog Orc versus Bog Orc
Solo System versus Solo System

This game has been long in the offing. I have always been a great fan of solo play AI's (so called "Artificial Intelligence") in wargames.  Indeed a design goal of mine is to one day write a game that is so written that the player (or indeed players; there is no reason a solo game need be played alone!) can run just a single character while the game rules take care of the actions of every other figure in play, both enemy and friendly, superior and subordinate. As such I am always on the look out for others' attempts at modelling the autonomous behavior of wargame forces.

My good friend Gavin Syme of Alternative Armies has authored two solo engines for Flintloque, one for the second or Reloaded edition of the game and one for the current, third edition. I thought I'd see what happened if I pit one against the other.

For this reason I wanted a fairly simple scenario, but one more involved than a simple "line them up and have at it" sort of game. I also sought to have two fairly even forces in play.

Finally I wanted to use one of my all time favorite miniatures: Wolfe Toon.

The Ferach side would be composed mainly of bog orcs and so too would their opposition. Now Albion's bog orc troops could have been used but I love the uniform of the Guardia Real and rarely use them so that was that. Only I had no Catalucian bog orc officers so Major O'Toole was brought in to lead them.

The forces were thus:

Ferach: Wolfe Toon (werewolf), Sergeant "Wee Willy" McClusky (weefolk aka halfling), and eight private bog orcs of the Guinalean Legion.

Catalucia: Major Seamus O'Toole, Sergeant Patrick Cakes, and eight private bog orcs of the Guardia Real.

All were rated average and all those toting firearms carried standard muskets.

Rules used were Flintloque, mostly Reloaded. That is to say the alternate activation of third edition has been modified for use with second edition rules.

The scenario was as outlined above. An abandoned fort guarding a key mountain pass. Winner  must hold the fort at the end of play.

The terrain was pretty plain. Given that the fort would have had its environs cleared to give good fields of fire, and that each figure was a single combatant. the table was four foot square with the fort centre. Each side set up 15cm from the fort entrance, or about 30cm apart.

The Solo Engines: The Ferach, being the more advanced Nation were controlled by the third edition solo rules. They were rated Aggressive. The Catalucians were controlled by the second edition rules and rated Aware.

What are the Differences Between the Solo Systems?
A fair question! The second edition rules cross reference a figure's circumstances with a die roll. For example if a figure has no enemy in sight he might use one column of the table, however if an enemy were in melee charge distance he would use a different table.

The third edition rules  cross reference a figure's distance from the enemy with a chit pull. The chits are weighted to make certain results more likely than others. There are three different results in all with 10 chits for the most common, 5 for the second, and 3 for the third. Once a chit has been drawn it is not replaced until the next turn so the actions of each figure have an impact on the likelihood of following figures taking a given action.

At once one can see that in the first case the actions of each figure are fairly random in regards to what other figures on its side have already done. While the table gives a range of actions with the dice weighted to favor some over others, there is nothing preventing every figure from taking the same action in one turn.

Conversely the latter system, while providing fewer possible actions, ensures that most figures will take the most common action while a few will likely act differently.

The Game.


It was mad! The Ferach boys rushed to the attack. The scouts fired and missed and then went in with the bayonet.



The Catalucians on the other hand, advanced in dribs and drabs, firing as they came. Some went off in random directions but the constant fire began to tell and soon one Legion soldier was down, and a couple more wounded.




While O'Toole wisely, if randomly took up station behind his impromptu firing line,


 Toon and McClusky rashly charged into the fray.




McClusky was shot down before he could say "They're after me lucky charms!"!  


Toon engaged a Guardsbogorc, forcing him back.



Which turned out to be rather unfortunate for the poor werewolf who was promptly looking rather sieve like as at least three balls found their marks.


With the loss of their section leader, the Ferach force unraveled. Only three proved willing to fight on after the loss and as the Catalucians still numbered a full ten strong (with two of those wounded mind), I ruled that that three Ferach bog orcs that were still game simply covered the withdrawal of the rest. Also one bog orc that had suffered two wounds and was closer to his foes than his friends was ruled to have surrendered rather than attempt flight.

Conclusions
Not really sure yet. I thought the Ferach would easily carry the day, acting in concert as they were. Yet the far more random antics of the Catalucians prevailed.

One theme I will definitely explore is the role of commanders. When it comes to the solo engine, officers and some sergeants are just considered melee troops rather than leaders, and perhaps that's not far wrong given the close in nature of the game. Still had Toon and McClusky been more interested in directing their troops than engaging in derring do perhaps the outcome would have been different.

Another aspect to look at is how troops can act in concert. For example in Flintloque 3rd figures are activated two at a time which mirrors Light Infantry practice by the end of the Napoleonic Wars. With that in mind perhaps solo figures should be activated in teams of two. In this way both figures would carry out the same action with the exception that only one would fire if the team were so instructed. The other would load if it needed two or just move with the first ready to cover him while he reloaded.

Fun game although as expected given the nature of the thing I was merely a spectator.

Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

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