Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

The Wonderous D12!

We were well into game testing when Greg Cornell, one of the Zouave playtesters raised the issue of move lengths. He remembered a game designed by a prominent designer that had 4” moves for a pike block advancing on a gun. The gun had a range of 48 inches. He soon calculated that, at best, it wold take him 12 moves to get to the guns-who hit with a 5 or 6 on a six-sided dice. At that rate, there was no way he was going to make it to the guns! The low movement rates guaranteed it! The game also played with all the excitement of watching paint dry!

Wargame rules are far too often too limited by the rules in establishing move distances-figuring that if you make the moves too long and too predictable, as in a fixed distance, move counter move or in many phased systems, the typical commander will just rocket up and paste you! What was needed was a way to make movement unpredictable, both as to when and exactly how far, but still capable of being anticipated. You never know how long it will take old Uncle John to get to the drug store and back-it varies, but generally speaking you can guess-you know when to start worrying, and occasionally he’ll surprise you!

At the time of Greg’s comment, Zouave was playing OK, but movement was slow and the game took too long to develop. Then, thanks to his comment, it came to me...D12 variable roll, variable number of dice, variable ways to treat the rolls. The mathematics of the dice instills a level of predictability, but the potential extremes argue for caution. Especially if all units are not traveling at EXACTLY the same rate. By going to one die type it made any confusion between die types in use a non-issue.

So now we have a move progression for regimental moves only (Divisional moves are more dependent on the commander’s quality) of 3xD12; 2XD12;2xD12-take the best; D12; 2xD12 take the worst; 2XD12 subtract lower from higher; 2XD12 (Light die subtracted from darker die); and 2xD12(Light from dark/halved). Any negative number is no move at all. Units on roads, can, at their discretion very occasionally move great distances, but with great risk of being too far ahead of their supports. Units in very tough rocky, hilly terrain, or extremely dense woods and undergrowth, can often find themselves not moving at all. The D12 distribution is a bell-curve, but of vastly greater amplitude than a D6s and yet not chaotic. Because of its introduction, Zouave moves quickly to decision, and yet the inherent risk of taking the full distance, and the concurrent risk of supports falling short-leads to relatively conservative and modest choices most of the time-BUT the threat of a fast striking move leads to real tough decision making for both the active and passive player.

I am now in love with the mighty D12! Can’t get enough of them! 12 has always been a mystical, and flexible number- as the Assyrians and Arabs pointed out to us westerners. D12s are the perfect die. I guess that makes me a Dude-cohedron. I will abide!