Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Chatter Behind the Bike Sheds - Winning a Game

Wargaming tends to have one goal that of winning. Now I don't mean at the cost of enjoying the game, the cost of historic accuracy or many of the other important personal goals we may set in a game. I am talking here simply of the objective of the game. Recent years scenarios have become more common where the objective has at least become something more than break your opponents army though this remains the core of nearly every battle you will play.

However since it's very conception Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader have often had objectives (Victory Conditions) that in many games can leave your opponent with a fully functioning force but have still lost the scenario.


Above is the objective in a recently released ASL pack and is reasonably representative of other ASL battles. It includes the need for at least one truck surviving the battle (it needs to get from one side of the battlefield to the other). On top of this the Germans also need to cause more casualties than the British the rules themselves supply the points value of each unit used in the game with the British having a lot more points worth of troops than the Germans.

The scenario is set in 1940 and depicts an encounter battle between the 3rd RTR and elements of the 6th Panzer Division. The Brits are represented by 9 tanks whilst the Germans have 5 superior tanks a pair of antitank guns a few squads of infantry with a LMG and Antitank Rifle. Only three of the British tanks have a main gun bigger than a MG!  

In the actual battle the British took a real beating losing almost all the tanks that were involved in the battle. However they did enough damage to the German spearhead that the command decided to try and find another route to Calais less defended and it gave another 24 hours for the British to use this port. Unknown to the German's nothing else was in position to halt them behind the burning wrecks of the 3rd RTR.

My point here is that given the usual game we tend to play the Germans would have won the game when the British force was either destroyed or forced to retreat due to hitting it's breakpoint. It still would be a good game but it would be a different game played in a different way. All you would be doing nine times out of ten would be just destroying each other. It's more often than not is a straight fight with more thought to attacking your opponent than force preservation. If the above objective was in play the German's would have to keep at least one of the three trucks in play and protect it whilst trying to get it off table whilst the British could either go after the automatic win of taking out all three trucks or let the trucks survive and destroy other German forces to offset the extra VP's the Germans would get from the exit of the trucks. Suddenly both sides have more options.

I know more rules now have supplements with scenarios that cater for more interesting battles than either take position x or break the opposing army but I know from my experience that most of my games remain the old vanilla, how about you guys?


8 comments:

  1. An interesting topic Ian. I think it's a nice change to have some different victory conditions other than just kill more than the other guy, although that should always be a "Plan B"! An exception to this may be scenarios where the battle played is part of a bigger picture, eg: a defending force may have no chance of holding off an attacker, but could win a scenario by holding on for a certain amount of time in the face of overwhelming force. I've experimented with a few different scenarios recently, and they can reinvigorate a game. Having said all that, I do like killing stuff! Cheers, Paul :-)

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    1. The biggest issue is balance no one wants to play a game where they get a total thumping though sometimes you get one of those and still win if the victory conditions require it.

      Ian

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  2. I don't know if this is the same in your gaming but in Tim's when they kill something or someone, they loot the body for goods. Does that kind of stuff happen in your arena?

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    1. Sometimes the victory conditions are to loot the opponents camp, in roleplaying it's a rare day when a corpse hits the floor without having already been stripped of it's valuables, most often by Cath!!

      Ian

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  3. I have played a bit of modern wargaming and these almost always have a more challenging interpretation of victory conditions due to the asymmetrical nature of the that genre. I do believe that more games should do so. Many games try to make the sides even for head to head knock downs but that isn't really how war tends to be fought. You want to attack the other guy when he is weak not when your odds are even. Game balance therefore should be in victory conditions rather than through equaol sides or point battles!

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    1. Good reply, I think we will see more of this sort of VC but as the rules have to cater for clubs and tournaments we will always have rules that tend to offer a straight fight

      Ian

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  4. Worth looking at some of the scenarios for Force on Force. These are all very scenario-driven with frequently once side having the bulk of the firepower. Still gives the other side plenty of opportunity to win.

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    1. That's the type of idea I like

      Ian

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