What enemy..? Oh, THOSE enemy.....
Between projects - so a quick re-hash of something posted on the FB "Solo Wargaming with Miniatures" group some time back. "How I fight an invisible enemy...".
The scenario (as might already be clear, I love a backstory for my little clashes. I just find it more satisfying.. As usual, click on the pics to make 'em big).
"Commandant Codé of the Legion has been tasked with capturing and bringing to justice that arch-criminal, slaver, gun-runner and ex-Zanzibar Grammar School all-round bad egg "El Crim"; believed to be holed up in a compound just this side of the border; allegedly for a meeting with a well-known white renegade Johnny "Ginny" Guthrie, notorious dealer in "Square-face" and dodgy rifles.
Cmdt. Codé has two Sections of Legionnaires (under Cpt. Entennille and Lt. Pigéon) and one section of Marine infantry (Cpt. Coer-de-Boef) to accomplish this task.
The exact number of hostiles likely to be encountered is unknown. El Crim is known to have at his beck and call up to four score badmashes and ne'er do wells; many with a range of firearms. Guthrie generally works with a small band of similar roughs or alone, but is usually very well tooled-up.
The capture of El Crim (as opposed to his mere elimination) is the main objective. Guthrie, if encountered (and if the situation makes it practicable) is likewise to be taken alive - officially (though a trial is almost certainly likely to lead to an aquittal). Codé's colonel has intimated that things would be far simpler were he (ahem..) to be killed resisting arrest*....."
(* In some scenarios I like to add a "moral dimension" or set of "decisions" that junior officers, away from my steely glare, might take in ways I would not approve. For example; in this scenario the Marine officer and Lt. Pigéon would certainly have no truck with "summary justice").
In this style of game Activation of my bods' "Big Men" is by card - as SP - but using a scatter of black cards from a standard playing card pack rather than SP style tokens (e.g. an Ace for the Commandant, a card specific to each for each of the Junior officers, and a card per section for their respective sergeants).
Instead, as they move across the table, on every move each of my units throws a dice (1x6d). This throw is accumulatively modified as follows for each of my units:
Did not move/carry out action this turn -1 from the dice throw
Concealed/sneaking and so far unobserved (i.e shot at or in clear view of an already revealed enemy) by the enemy yet -1
Each 12" from the baseline +1
Within 12" of the compound +1
Sounding bugle to pass orders +1
If the resulting total is 6 or above a card is drawn from the "enemy pack" (all the Hearts from a standard playing card pack). The effects of any such card is applied immediately (see below) and enters the draw pack with the "Big Man" cards. This is now an "enemy action card" and will henceforward be used as that unit's Activation Card.
How the Enemy Cards (hearts) work:
A card is drawn when activated by the dice as above.
Number Cards: Number cards indicate number of shooters in cover and opening fire on the "friendly unit that is dicing. Shooters can be a lone marksman, small groups/pairs/trios or actual units (8 or more).
1/Ace = Lone marksman/sniper
2-7 = Potential accumulator. If desired, place “smoke” not figures. Next activation of this group throw a dice to see if more folk are also hidden there. A resulting 6 (added/subtracted from as above) = Yes, there are. Draw another card from the Hearts deck and add that number of shooters to the group to a maximum of 10 (e.g. a group of 2 shooters is activated. The next time the card is activated - assuming it hasn't been "dealt with" in the meantime" - a 6 is thrown. Another card is drawn, a 7; that number of of shooters are added to the shooter group. Had the first card been a 6 and the second a 7 the maximum group size of 10 only would be placed).
8-10 = Number of Shooters. Place figures and unit flag/leader. Leaders may form "formations". The troops associated with these cards can be added to smaller group but do not accumulate other than by the leader forming "formations" - as SP rules.
Once we know how many shooters we have we throw 4 dice for this card/group. The result is the maximum distance the shooters are the from target (i.e. the “range”). This “range” is measured out on a rigid measure/tape & “swung” in an arc from the target. The figures/smoke involved will be placed behind/in the cover furthest from and with a clear LOS to the target within that range (e.g. 4 dice are thrown producing a “range” of 12”. “Sweeping ” within the 12” arc the furthest cover turns out to be only 8” away. The figures/smoke is placed there).
IF there is no cover within the arc range throw an extra dice to add to the "range" until cover is found (e.g. a score of 6 is thrown on the dice. There is no cover within a 6” radius. Another dice is thrown & result is a 1. There is no cover within 7”. Another die is thrown – result 5. New total 11". There IS cover within 11”. The shooters are placed there).
Where the number of shooters are such that they cannot reasonably fit in/behind the nearest cover they are placed adjacent to it (ideally use prone/kneeling figures). These figures are presumed to have made hasty scrapes/sangars or to have dragged light under-brush to use as cover to match those of their companions (small stones/shreds or lichen etc. can be placed to simulate these but these do NOT constitute cover once vacated by the original shooters).
Jack/Queen; A body of enemy charge from cover at the target unit. Throw three dice or more to discover their point of origin as per shooting arc rules above. They will charge in a body from the leading edge of the furthest cover within the resulting arc.
Jack = Charge 11 figures + 1x6d (+ unit flag/leader)
Queen = Charge 12 + 2x6d (+ unit flag/leader)
King; Either (depending on scenario or a dice throw if all three are possible options) Charge 20 + 2x6d (+ unit flag/leader as above) OR a cannon fires from cover (as for shooters but throw 6 dice for range) OR enemy reinforcements arrive
Oh, and did I mention? Once the firing started I diced for El Crim (holed up in the compound) to check (simple dice throw) if he had the bottle to stay - or if he would scuttle off-table to safety...
As it happened, the gun-runner never showed and no cannon appeared. My own casualties were light, but I lost two officers (inc. the C.O.). Thank heaven for my stalwart sergeants.... There was a sharp firefight for the enemy compound, but before my chaps charged home the villain in chief surrendered.
This was a seriously fun little exercise. When I get my Colonial Campaign up n' running this system, for fights in close country and "exploring", will get a further outing (and no doubt tweaking).
Like a lot of my on-table mechanisms, this "hidden enemy" card system needs no special equipment, isn't terribly original (or desperately clever) but it DOES add to the Fog of War which I personally find adds to the fun of solo play....
As always, any queries, comments, snipes or ideas are welcome.....