OK, as mentioned in the last post I launched my first game played with the Solo System "Adjutant Introuvable". I found it interesting, and can certainly see its uses for folk less experienced in "going alone" or who do not work with game narratives.
For those not familiar with the system it provides a way of calculating the "best" - or, at least, justifiable - "Strategy" options (I'd have used the term "Battle Plan", but partly because for me "strategy" means mapwork, rather than on-the-table stuff and partly because I am a bear of little brain and easily confused) for the "AI" player is solo games, based on terrain factors, plus a "programmed" tactical decisions process for the AI, which responds to changing circumstances on the battlefield. Basically it gives a sensible range of actions for an AI "player" when playing solo. One could also use it to hamper oneself as the Active Player or to affect the actions of sub-commanders in the Active Player army.
Basically the board is divided up into nine Zones (spoiler: I don't like this concept since my battle mats don't reflect this and because of sheer, unjustifiable prejudice. However, I see why this is done, so for the trial I dug out my old game tiles) and the AI army into three (as a part-time medievalist I like to think of these as "Battles", rather than Zones; see unjustifiable prejudice above).
Three randomly drawn Strategy/Battle Plan cards are then drawn (or in my case, since my printer hates me, diced for) and the final "best" Battle Plan/Strategy chosen for the AI calculated from three cards (this is calculated based on factors affected by type of Strategy/Battle Plan, cross-referenced with the terrain in each Zones). Thus the "best" plan is adopted by the AI....
Once the Battle Plan/Strategy for the AI has been calculated/chosen (and the Active Player has laid HIS/HER plans - done before the AI decision, by the way, to stop cheating) the game can begin.
"Tactical Options" for each AI Battle Plan then affect how individual "Battles"/divisions of the AI army progress and react, based on happenings on the table.
The system does not provide "how you move and shoot" rules", which is fine; that's not the intention. It is basically an "all period" system for giving a semi-programmed AI decision process.
Personally, I found the initial "Strategy" calculating time consuming, not least because I got a bit lost to start with (My bad - and why I had to use the term "Battle Plan", rather than "Strategy" in my head) when I wanted to get on and play - and given that I already have a (somewhat ad hoc at times, but practical) House System (based on game narrative, type and tactical doctrine of forces and IMP) for this process, a tad redundant. But that's just me and based on first time of use. No doubt speed will come with familiarity, and younger/less experienced (or slapdash) hands may find this system extremely useful..
The Tactical aspects make sense, but seem limited and there was little variation for troop types, but then, it's intended as a generic system so that says more about me than the rules. One could build details like that in oneself.
I wasn't sure about units crossing Zones and "Targets of Opportunity" (but again; it was my first time out with the system and I no doubt missed some details). That was no biggie. I simply applied IMP, C&C restrictions and dice decisions as I would were the zones not there.
The system's notes suggest armies of 10 units or more and I would say the concept is more suited to large, brigade level/divisional scale, 18th-21st century actions (esp. given the terrain aspects - most of my Ancient battles are fought on nice open areas, for C&C reasons if nothing else, or are small skirmishes) rather than the game fought. The Test Game set-up was, perhaps then not really the best way to use the system. It may prove more suitable for use with my 5mm ACW/AWI bods, and I am willing to give the system a better try with them IF I manage to get them out this....
It's an interesting system and is to be applauded. It has sparked some thoughts re. tweaks to my House rules, plus it has the advantage of being cheap (a downloadable PDF). Worth looking into.
And so to the Battle itself. I set out the armies (see previous post). I would play Madame's side - and so sketched out orders for my bods (blue & yellow on the plan); my horse bow and javelin horse to probe and provoke the enemy centre (and Rustam), drawing them in and into range of my foot bows, smash the enemy centre with my heavy cavalry and cutting out Rustam himself by means of a flank charge by my mercenaries (on my right). Job done..
Move One. The enemy reserve vanish (the two rear infantry units; you set out the bods before testing for the AI "Strategy/Battle Plan" - which came out as Oblique Left, with a possible ambush from the reserve . I now know there is a possible off-table threat; so bang goes my plan - but I'm tied into that for at least two moves...
On my Left neither side's mounted archers will advance to contact, and with a narrow field all they can do is whoop around and pepper each other. On my right the Mercenaries stall - only to get peppered by the enemy horse archers (my mounted skirmishers - sent to harry the enemy horse on my Right do NOT impress them at all, and pull back with losses).
Move five-six. The enemy heavy cavalry have pulled right back to regroup (an IMP decision) amalgumate both their (smaller than mine) cavalry units into one formation (IMP decision) and sit there (token draw decision). Suddenly the enemy Reserve hoves into view on my Left flank ("Adjutant Introuvable" test, prompted by token draw) - causing my Left to recoil in shock; but not before the enemy Right horse archers have themselves to pull back due to mounting casualties (IMP/morale test).
Move seven: my left is in disarray my Right has stalled.. In the centre the "private fight" between the heavy cavalry has moved towards the enemy's side of the field while their Central infantry push ("Adjutant Introuvable" and token draw) towards my mercenaries. I move my foot archers up.
Three more short moves (ended by the "Tiffin token") result in both sides spending more time trying to kick their guys back into some kind of order (removing Shock and disruption) and (move end) shooting than actual action. The heavy cavalry of both sides take a breather. My foot mercenaries attempt a charge, with one unit being thrown back, the other chasing the enemy Left horse archers. NOT the wisest move, as all they get for their pains are "more arrers" as the horse evade...
Move eleven: as above - all units on both sides are getting tired/disrupted but (possibly the decider?) I get a chance to throw one of my fitter units (horse archers) behind the enemy centre... If I had one good, spare infantry unit I could probably break their centre now- but the mercenary foot are still recovering from their recoiling and their commander and horse still shocked from losses to arrows....
Move Twelve: disaster... The enemy do some reorganising, then one of my mercenary units make a second charge at the enemy central foot, are repulsed, recoil into my horse-skirmishers and are then peppered with arrows, taking losses. They break. My horse-skirmishers, behind them and already unsettled by being shot at and advanced through/run though, panicked by this, break. The mercenary commander (who is already seriously wavering) breaks.... Only my foot archers stop the rot from spreading all the way down my line. My Right Wing has practically disintegrated. The move ends with desultory shooting... Should I call it a day....?
I decide not... The long-short range missile fighting continues. "Adjutant Introuvable" is telling the enemy to Probe or React depending on Zone and dice throw. My mounted archers continue to pepper anything in range, as do my foot bows. My heavy cavalry pound into the enemy's infantry reserve from the flank/rear.. But the foot hold (my men are too tired from the day's exertions to smash home properly). My HC are forced to Step Back from the inconclusive melee - only to then come under arrow fire from the enemy Right - and my cataphracts break !!!!
There is some general too-ing and fro-ing on the field, but the decisive blow comes when the Rustam gets a positive moral and IMP check for a "Target of Opportunity", when activated, and hurls himself and the enemy heavy cavalry into my broken cataphracts, cutting them to pieces then riding down one of my horse archer units that fails to evade.
Suddenly my Centre is on the run as the enemy central horse archers join the pursuit ("Adjutant Introuvable"). Casualties mount. An enemy foot unit panics on the enemy Left, whittled away by my foot lads' arrows, but the rest of the enemy army is either stabilising, advancing to take advantage of my discomfort or charging/following-up my broken boys.... Things are looking VERY bad indeed...
Move seventeen: My foot bows begin an orderly withdrawal - the day is clearly lost - as do my light horse and horse archers on my right, but this is a short move; suddenly Rustam and the enemy heavies get a chance (SP token & IMP test), and rush up to capture our feisty heroin before she gets a chance to skedaddle. End game.... Our queen is captured.. Shāhbānū māt....
Summary:A fun little game - even if I was screaming at my men to behave at times..
More a big skirmish, perhaps, than the large scale divisional plus battle "Adjutant Introuvable" was designed for - so not, perhaps, a fair test.
Some of the concepts in "Adjutant Introuvable" certainly held up, but I need to read it through again to get my head round some things I think I possibly missed.
It was also subject to some typical Denyer tweaking: to cut out an automatic "Adjutant Introuvable" test every move I created three AI tokens (Left, Centre, Right) to add to the SP token mix to prompt same.
As I've suggested above, for the person without a lot of "solo experience" the"Adjutant Introuvable" gives a simple logical enemy opponent as an alternative to simply playing both sides. Some of the ideas will likely be absorbed into my ever-changing House Rules and I would be prepared to give it another go at the Army Level and a period it seems to be designed for..
Well, my Parthians have been Blooded and with my Play Room all but sorted I am back in a situation where some playing can take place... Lots of plots and plans in the pipeline. Watch this space.
As always, comments & critiques welcome.