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The Battle of Blenheim, 1704» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Tried a few turns to learn the game rss

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Cisco Serret
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Got to play several turns of The Battle of Blenheim today. We spent the first hour or so going over the rules - which took a while cause the game mechanics are unlike anything we had played before. We didn't finish due to time - but that wasn't the goal. We wanted to work through the rules while also pushing units around in order to learn the game.

An early attack in the game - "Charge me? I charge You!"


After we figured out the structure of the turn, when units do this/that etc, we started pushing pieces around.

The Strategic movement rules had us stumble - do you need orders? Do you need to be near your commander? Can you trigger an attack during strategic movement. (answers - No, Yes, No). The beginning of the Strategic Movement rules state that "each unit may make one(1) strategic move per turn. But it also states there are restrictions - and the big restriction is: you need to be in the same area with your commander (an area is a '7-hex' area), or in an adjacent area. So - no, "each unit" doesn't get to do strategic movement in a phase, unless you happen to have your units all clustered around your command units.

The order system was a bit confusing at first, but we figured it out. The chart on the map marked "Order Modifier" is where you track the current order modifier. I don't think the rules specifically tell you there is a chart on the map for that. But, the way it works is the Allied army starts at 3, the Franco-Bavarian starts at 2. So you put the "Orders Modifiers" counters on the 3 spot (Allied) and the 2 spot (Franco-Bavarian). So the first order, for example, the Allies, they get a +3 modifier. If successful (we played the variant where the first order is always successful), then the marker gets moved down one, then the next order gets a +2 modifier. Eventually (or very quickly), you're not going to make your roll, and your orders phase is over. What we found curious is that you can order the same unit to tactical move repeatedly (though can only attack twice). My friend said "Thats crazy, one unit could run all over the place while everyone else stands still." But after looking at how the orders sequence works, we agreed that trying such a stunt would be very bad game play. You got alot of units that need orders, and using even two orders on one unit/stack... well - you gotta have a really good reason to be doing that.

We didn't find in the rules when the orders modifiers get 'reset'. Since in some cases the non-phasing player needs to roll for a successful order (as in counter-charging). So we figured it gets reset at the start of a player's orders phase.

The combat sequence also is unique and unlike anything we were used to. The relationship between "combat factors" and "attack values" and "defense values" took some careful re-re-reading of the rules. My friend asked "Why even have combat factors on the units?". I'm not sure. I guess its to make it obvious to players what their attack/defense values will probably start at.

Now that we ran through the game turn several times, read the rules repeatedly, and agreed (mostly) on the meaning of the rules - I think we're in better shape for the next game.

The game system is fairly simple - but is unique, and I think for most people it will be hard to get the game down without playing through several turns, and running into various situations that require a close re(-re)-reading of the rules. It is a very clever design, and I'm eager to try it again.
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Steve Pole

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Cisco,

I'm really glad you like the design.

The design team have tried to capture some of the sophistication and subtleties of more complex wargame designs, many of which we love, within a really simple set of fast-play rules that quickly become second nature to players. To do this we ended up creating an unusual (unique?) system which can take a while to learn, especially for wargamers accustomed to more conventional rules.

During play-testing it generally took a grognard four or five turns before he/she could play a turn without consulting the rule-book other than on obtuse/unusual points.

Turning to the specific issues you raise:

Strategic Movement: yes, the positioning of command units is vital for strategic movement; but, when moving them per Rule 15 you also need to consider whether they will be needed to support combat and/or to rally units during the following turn.

Order Modifier Chart: yes, I suppose it would have been a good idea to refer to this within the rules!

(In the early stages of play-testing we had a limit on the number of orders which could be issued to an individual unit; but, as you say, we quickly found this to be superfluous as it was rare for any unit to be ordered to move more than twice. We tried variations, introducing factors such as the distance from a command unit and such like; but, these quickly became complicated/unwieldy in the context of the SHS. So, in the end, we removed the limit altogether.)

As regards the numbers printed on the counters, this is the second time that this has been raised. The first was by Stephen, on another thread on this site, who suggested that ranges should be printed on artillery counters.

I agree that for "Blenheim" we could probably have done without printing combat factors on counters. They were included for three reasons. Firstly, with the game having so many innovations already, removing these numbers may have been a bridge too far! Secondly, as you say, they are helpful in that they provide a reminder of the starting point for calculating attack/defense values. Thirdly, such a reminder is particularly useful in other SHS games which have a greater variety of troop-types than those which feature in "Blenheim".

Thanks again for taking the trouble to post your kind comments about "Blenheim". I look forward to reading any further comments/questions you might have.

Regards,



Steve
24.4.18
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Jim F
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The board looks quite empty. How many units a-side are there?
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Steve Pole

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Jim,

High stacks packed tightly together is one of my pet hates. Part of the ethos of the SHS is low stacks and low counter density.

Leaving aside game markers, the breakdown of units in "Blenheim" is as follows:

Franco-Bavarians: 3 Command, 27 Infantry, 10 Cavalry and 6 Artillery.

Allies: 2 Command, 22 Infantry, 14 Cavalry and 4 Artillery.

Each Infantry unit represents 3 battalions and each cavalry unit represents 13 squadrons. Each artillery unit represents a main battery (8 - 16) canons.

Regards,



Steve
4.5.18

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Jim F
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Thanks for the clarification. It would be great to get a pic of the whole game set up to get a better idea how that design philosophy bears out in practice.
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Steve Pole

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Jim,

I'm really useless with computers so posting a picture of the initial deployment is probably beyond me. I'll put out a request for someone to do so on the relevant BGG/CSW sites.

Regards,


Steve
5.5.18

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Cisco Serret
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I got the game setup. I was going to post some pictures as the battle develops. I'll take a pic of the initial start of the game.

The reason the map looks "quite empty" in my pic is because its near the beginning of the game, and units are stacked up in the middle cause - we didn't know what we were doing.

Units can only move to another "7-hex" area by moving center hex to center hex. They spread out to the "edge" hexes of the areas when going into a defensive posture. Units move to the center in preparation for an attack on a neighboring area. And artillery moves to the center for supporting an attack. Artillery moves to the edges for bombardment.
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Steve Pole

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Cisco,

Brilliant!

Many thanks,



Steve
6.5.18
 
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Steve Pole

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Cisco,

Just in case you haven't seen it, a few moments ago Edward kindly posted a picture of the initial set up so please don't trouble yourself to do so unless, of course, it helps with your battle report.

Regards, and thanks again,


Steve
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