Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Shako 2

You might not believe it since all of this blog so far has been 25mm ancients, but I do have other interests as well. Mainly Napoleonics: I have a very large 15mm 1812 Russian army, the infantry of which needs rebasing. I played Shako a lot when it first came out, and yesterday evening was my first go at the second edition. I was the Swedes, defending a good position with a very small force against hordes of Russians. I like all of the improvements over the first edition, but it was one of the worst games I have ever played. Slaughtered is a polite term for it. I had the deployment, formations and tactics right and got wiped out. The reason was the size of my force. Shako II is like Armati in that each unit rolls one die plus modifiers, but unlike Armati in combat the number of hits taken is the difference between the totals. And since the average unit can only take four hits, the casualties and destroyed units soon mount up. And if one has a small force with very little reserves, one is in deep trouble if even a single fluky bad result appears. And I rolled lots of 1s againts lots of 6s right across the board. To be fair to the rules, the game was too small to be representative; luck like that can even out with reasonable sized forces, but it did make for a very quick battle.

Which leads me to ponder. I want a reasonably quick game for a Tuesday evening, but not so quick that a few moments of bad luck turn the game into something of a crap shoot, as the Americans would say. I also want to avoid too much complexity, because work and normal life don't leave me with a great deal of mental energy, which places me towards the "game" as opposed to "simulation" end of the continuum. This kind of rules out other games such as General de Brigade or Principles of War. Since Tactica II demonstrates that luck often evens out across large numbers of dice, I now have a good idea why I am definitely moving away from games like Shako in which a single die roll per unit is crucial. This is only a matter of personal taste. I did have an idea once of adapting Tactica to Napoleonics, but that was before Shako came out. Maybe it's worth revisiting. Not because I'm desperate to win, but because I want to try to ensure that when I do play, I have as good a time as possible. I like close games which could go either way, whether or not I win. Last night I was consistently destroyed, not just defeated, by inferior units attacking superior troops in better terrain and formations. And yes, I know that can and did happen, but it kind of takes the fun out of it - I don't even like winning games where this happens. So maybe when Tactica II is published, I should resurrect the idea of Tactica Napoleonica - for lack of a better term...

No comments:

Post a Comment