Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Second Guessing

The other day, for $3, I picked up a PDF of Vol. 1, Issue 1 of The Courier from WargameVault. I haven't read all of it (I downloaded it to my phone to read on the train) but I did read"How to Raise Colonial Armies" by Doug Johnson, in which Mr. Johnson explains both the way war gamers typically assemble Colonial armies and the reality of their compositions. Johnson notes that
"Thus a number of " colonial " wargames are fought between opposing imperial armies with only a few " native levies" thrown in . This is unsatisfactory for it is not historical" (p. 42)

And more importantly for my purposes, with respect to the makeup of an imperial army:
"A commander should thus decide on a formula for his army, of something like two or three askaris (or more) to one European ." (p. 43)

It goes without saying that this set me to considering the composition of forces in my Helvetica game and how I could best meet the above criterion. Then of course, how could I do so and justify it from a narrative perspective?

The latter, it turns out, has a surprisingly easy answer, as the campaign rules I'm using for reinforcements (which I modified only slightly) allows an army return to full strength when knocked back to its area B (Sauvignon-Blanc) or when an army wins twice in a row(Riesling). Thus, I can explain that what it means is that the battered units retired from the front and the new arrivals that took their place are primarily native.

Of course, Helvetica is an imaginary place in an imaginary world, the imperial nations are fictional, the natives are lizard folk tribes - all of which pushes the bounds of historical simulation, to say the least. Never mind that the opposing sides are represented by miniatures in the uniforms of forces that existed about 20-30 years apart.

At this point, I have no idea which I'll pursue - the current "Eurocentric" force (it's in quotes because I'm not convinced there's a Europe in my imaginary world) with friendly native levies or one composed primarily of native troops of varying quality and a limited number of "Europeans" in a 2 -3 ratio. As the lizard folk are armed with hand-to-hand weapons, I have no doubt of the truth of Johnson's statement that "It will produce a different game, rather more like an ancient than an horse-and-musket game, but then , that is what it should be like." (p. 43). The next game isn't for a little bit yet - I need to construct some sort of frontier fort - so I have some time to mull this over further.

A brief aside, back issues of The Courier and MWAN are now available at WargameVault.com. For $3.00 each these are definitely worth the price!

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