Thursday, February 6, 2014

Iron Duke Computer Moderated Rules – Demo Game report

Last Sunday at Hall of Heroes, Clinton, the author/programmer of Computer Strategies, showed Richard and I how to play the rules. We did a highly historical 1814 Prussian vs 1809 Bavarian and Wurttemberg game. 30 year old paintjobs vs 30 day old paintjobs. It went a bit like this…

I forgot to take photos until turn 3. It’s simultaneous movement so we got some reasonable distances in during the move phase. The Bav/Wurt army decided to attack and are pressing against the strong Prussian position on the hill thingy. Each turn/bound is 10mins real time. That can be changed if desired.
Humble Landwehr units screened by some annoying shutzen.

Richard the Bavarian moves his battalions forward and puts out some skirmishers.

Wurttemberg Chevauleger and Mtd Jaegers  sitting on some high ground.

Black Uhlans and some Hussars move ahead.
Overall situation – no markers, dice or cards. Clean looking table. It’s one of those GW tables that has skulls and crap in the cracks.

Hussars charge and the Black Uhlans are taking a lot of fire. The system calculates casualties to the man. I think this round inflicted over 100 casualties to the Uhlans.

Artillery enjoying their work. Crews will soon tire from constant firing and their effectiveness gradually goes down.
I get stuck into the Prussians on the hill and my light battalion moves on a flank. The Prussian skirmishers are taking chunks out of my troops. Causing 30-60 casualties a round.

The light battalion moving on the hill as the Bavarians hold their ground.

Overall picture. Clinton is using a tablet to run the whole game.
The Prussian cavalry routing – leaving a general behind. Despite routing, they have good training and nearly got ralllied.

Solid lines stare at each other. I didn’t take any other photos from this point but you get the idea.

I eventually rolled up the Prussians on the hill and the game was called at that point. I think we played 11 turns in 2 and a bit hours. It was a learning experience and not an exercise in being the best at playing soldiers so it succeeded. As you can see from the images, the game looks nice and takes away the fiddly-ness of having to place and remove markers and roll dice for each event. Not having markers also adds to the fog of war (called “pea soup of war” in Iron Duke) so you can only really guess at how the other side is reacting – unless it is forced to withdraw or retreat.

Because we were there to learn, it was a bit slow. But then again, we managed 11 turns in relatively quick time. One person entering the info and giving the results does seem to bottleneck the process. But on the other hand, no dice rolls, no charts to look up, no calculations required, no looking up indexes, no cocked dice, no forgetting rules (or getting them wrong). A dedicated GM/Umpire is the go. Each unit gets allocated a number so remembering what’s what speeds things up. Standing around while the GM does his thing and not having much else to do is probably the strangest part. Richard went for a few walks during the lulls.

As far as the system itself, it seemed excellent and does what it says on the box. It allows for the things that seem important (troop numbers, training, experience, morale, weapons, fatigue, casualties) and does all the calculations and spits out the results. The effects are then automatically applied to the unit/army roster which then influences what you can (or can’t) do next turn. It means you concentrate on the battle and you have limited control of how your troops react once you commit them. That makes you feel more like a commander than a micromanager. Each turn only has 4 phases which are simultaneous. Surprising how well that works and how well the system tallies up all the events in a turn.

If someone develops a way of allowing at least 1 tablet/pc/phone per side and each tablet/pc/phone putting out info specific to each side, that could be a winner.


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