Friday, July 13, 2012

On G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.: the Much Maligned Morale Mechanism

Morale in G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T seems to be a love it or hate it kind of thing.

I fall into the "love it" camp, so you can expect this portion of my G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T extravaganza to be biased in that direction.

Let's look at how it works first:

As in many other games, you test for morale when a unit loses a figure, when the army commander (if there is one) is killed, when a unit receives or wants to charge, and when a vehicle is hit (I always forget this one).

With respect to lost figures, the unit checks their morale at the start of their next activation, whereas the charge related tests occur at the time of the charge.

So far, nothing unusual right?

Except, where in Soldier's Companion, for example, and I imagine TSATF as well, the whole unit receives the same effect when morale is failed (they become frenzied, disordered, etc.), in G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T each figure in the unit can react differently. 

Yes, you read that right.

The reaction is determined by a roll of a d20 on the Morale Failure Results Chart. There are eight possible results, and, I can't stress this enough, each figure tests individually. 

You can guess why people don't like this.

If your unit of 9 remaining figures is forced to test morale and fail their roll (unlikely might I add), you have to make 9 more rolls to figure out what happens! That eats up a lot of time. As a result, a lot of people just apply one result to the whole unit (which, I believe Battles by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T does as written) to move things along.

But I play solo, so I'm less than sympathetic to that complaint. Plus, to my mind, it's not nearly as entertaining.

The chaos that results from rolling individually, in my opinion, more than makes up for the time.

First it means that the unit leader, unattached army leader, or unattached main character is going to have to move around the table and round up the members of the unit that remain if you want to involve them in the battle at all (the result of the failed check does not carry over to the next activation). So, your army commander can be of some use other than just giving bonuses and your leader characters have something to do that makes them seem, well, leader-ly.

Second, when you lose control of your unit and some start firing away, and even better, some charge the enemy no matter how insane that is, it can bring about some unexpected results to say the least.

Remember when I mentioned the T. Rex vs. a unit of French Foreign Legion?

In one encounter, the beast tore up the unit as you'd expect. The officers wisely had ordered the troops to fall back and regroup. The mighty T. Rex set to charge again. This time, the legion failed their morale check and while the officers went scurrying over the ridge and off the table, one of the extras charged into hand to hand combat! Unlikely? Sure. Hilarious? I thought so. That game was almost 5 years ago and I still remember it clearly and I still laugh about it.

To me that's worth a 30 seconds of rolling dice.

Next up: G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T and the Solo Wargamer


  1. The Compendium is a bit pricey, but it does gather together all of the rules of the variants (standard game, Battles, the RPG stuff, etc.), with suggestions about picking which bits you want to use. You can even do stuff like use the standard firing rules for main characters and the Battles version for units, or whatever you like. Or use the standard morale rules when you're playing smaller games with fewer figures and the Battles morale rules when playing larger games/more figures.

  2. Hi Fitz-Badger,

    Yes, I think, as I hear more about The Compendium, I'm softening my stance a bit. If I can eventually find a used copy at a price I can fathom, or it goes on sale on WargameVault, I may be inclined to pick it up.