Tag Archives: TooFatLardies

My Chain of Command Tactical Markers

Recently we’ve tried out TooFatLardie‘s Chain of Command/Through the Mud & the Blood hybrid rules with my Russian Civil War figures, and found them good, although with a bit of a learning curve.

Chain has a few persistent conditions or stances that can apply to troops for multiple Phases, either voluntarily (Overwatch, the Tactical stance and some others) or involuntarily (Pinned and Broken, mostly). There are Chain markers available for download over on the TFL Yahoo Files site but they’re WW2-specific (Allied vs German) and I also wanted markers with a bit of a period feel that matched a set of status markers I did a while back for M&B games and some of the other graphical stuff I’ve produced over the years.

So I did what I usually do, which is break out Inkscape, pour myself a drink, and spend an hour or two noodling away.

The resulting PDF has a full set of standard markers for Chain games, with or without a WW1-flavoured M&B infusion, and might also be of interest to anyone using Chain for Very British Civil War alternate-1930s games. They’re colourful, large enough to handle, but not large enough (I think, anyway) to really disrupt the game visually.

Both PDFs are single pages and tiny, 9.4Kb each. Permission is granted to copy or print these files for personal use only.

Letter size for those of us used to that size of paper:
CoC_markers_letter

A4 for the rest of the world who use rational systems for their paper sizes:
CoC_markers_A4

Feedback welcome, as always!

I’m working up a batch of Patrol & Jump-off Point markers for Chain/M&B World War One and Russian Civil War action, planning on a multi-page PDF with markers for all of the major combatants. That should be out soon, hopefully next week.

Russian Civil War with Chain of Command

We had a quick and messy intro to the TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command/Through the Mud and the Blood WW1 hybrid today with my Russian Civil War figures. Chain is originally a WW2 platoon-level set of rules with some of the core rules based on the WW1 Mud & Blood rules we have been playing for several years, and in the December 2014 Christmas Special the Lardies closed the circle and provided an adaptation of Chain for the Great War, pulling rules out of M&B as needed to replace or supplement the basic Chain rules.

Our forces were as follows:
One short platoon of Bolshie Reds – four rifle sections of 7-10 men each, two Senior Leaders – who rolled hot for their Force Morale which was at 11 to start!

One short platoon of Whites, two Senior Leaders, three rifle sections of 7-10 men, 1 Maxim MMG with four crew, not as into this whole Civil War thing as the Reds with a Force Morale of only 8.

I hadn’t actually sat down to figure out the exact force balance on this particular force mix (TFL provide tools to do that, though) and we ignored the Support Points rules today and just ran with these basic forces, but it got us a good tight game with lots of back-and-forth until the White’s Force Morale collapsed to 0, so I think I was more or less right. Almost certainly too many Senior Leaders for either side at most stages of the RCW, but for an intro game I’m not fussed.

The first third of the game was all in the White’s favour; their Maxim deployed to fire down the village street and blotted out one Red rifle section single-handed, while two of the White rifle sections shot up, Pinned, and then close assaulted a Red rifle section that had pushed across main street and hunkered down in one of the hamlet’s houses but was isolated from any Red support.

The Whites had a string of dead Junior Leaders which pummelled their force morale, though, and pinned their Senior Leaders down acting as section commanders. The breaking point came when one White rifle section and the platoon Lt. launched a singledhanded close assault through the rear door of a house with a basically unsuppressed Red rifle section in it and got bashed all to hell, killing not a single Red and being thrown out into the open ground where irritated Reds quickly Pinned and then Routed them with close range rifle fire, killing the Lt in the process and routing the Whites with a FM of zero…

I’m absolutely certain we did a couple of things wrong, I know we missed rules and in some cases deliberately ignored them, but it was a good quick game and a great intro to CoC.

The Patrol Phase & Jump-Off Points are great, the Patrol Phase is much tenser and more tactical than the opening few moves of most games are, and JoPs mean less random wandering around the tabletop and more direct action!

The Command Dice mechanic isn’t as flavourful as M&B’s cards, but it’s quick and interesting, and often forces you to make difficult choices as to who to activate when. The actual Chain of Command Dice mechanic is also interesting but we didn’t use it much except to end the Turn and once to avoid a Force Morale check – there are more options for using Command Dice that we didn’t explore in this game.

I really like the fact that Chain has a Force Morale setup; sometimes in M&B it felt like you could feed men endlessly into the storm with just a bit of luck on clearing Suppression until everyone was dead. Not happening in Chain!

The actions/activations setup has been both clarified and expanded in Chain over M&B. Movement and fire, suppressive fire, and overwatch are all improved from M&B. The vehicle rules have had some expansion and clarification as well, especially with regards to Shock and vehicle morale.

For larger games, especially at conventions where I want to have two-four players per side I’ll probably stick with straight M&B, but for smaller games Chain/M&B (should we call it “Chain of Mud”?) is probably going to become my go-to system. I’m looking forward to more games and to getting to know the rules better!

All Quiet On The Warbard Front?

Quiet around here; I was away for a week earlier in December visiting family out of town, caught a rather unpleasant cold right at the end of that trip, then all the Christmas holiday disruptions landed… which means this is my only post for the entire month of December.

I’m still messing around with converting Reaper Bones figures into a Blood Bowl Goblin team. I have ten line-goblins and two trolls in progress, and need to do up the various secret weapon goblins to finish up the basic team soon! We’re doing a mid-winter mini-league starting early in January and I’ve said I’ll play goblins, which puts me on deadline to get them at least basically playable if not finished in about a week!

I’ve picked up TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command platoon-level rules recently. CoC is a WW2 platoon-level ruleset, which isn’t an era I’m interested in, but TFL’s 2014 Christmas Special includes a set of rules for melding their WW1 Mud & Blood rules with Chain of Command, and as a huge fan of M&B I’m looking forward to trying out the M&B/CoC blended rules soon.

Richard of TFL also has a spectacular set of Afghan buildings in progress on his Lard Island blog. He’s building them for the modern conflict in Afghanistan, but the architecture hasn’t changed much in decades if not centuries and the 1919 2nd Anglo-Afghan War and associated interwar Northwest Frontier conflicts are right in the same part of the world and right in my main WW1/Interwar era of interest. Tempting, that, especially as I already have most of a platoon of British in tropical gear appropriate for the NWF.

Hope everyone had a good holiday season, a satisfactory 2014, and a great New Years! Onward to 2015!

The Invisibility of Good Rules

No, not rules for Frodo sneaking up on Smaug with that useful ring of his (although possibly related), but the trick of having good rules that you know moderately well become invisible in play, so that you concentrate on gameplay and tactics rather than the minutiae of the rules.

This was prompted by something Sean, our newbie Through the Mud & the Blood player, said right at the end of last Sunday’s M&B-powered Russian Civil War game. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but he said something to the effect of, “I liked that the rules got out of the way and let you just play the game, rather than having to stop every two minutes to look up some special rule or try to interpret something out of a Codex that seems to contradict what’s in the main rulebook.”

This struck me as a useful expansion on something I’ve mentioned here before and long held as a personal tenant, that you should value flow of the game and fun value over nitpicking details of the rules you’re using. The additional thought is that good rules will assist with this process rather than hinder it. This might seem obvious, but it bears pointing out.

I posted this to the TooFatLardies mailing list, and Richard Clarke, the author of the Mud & Blood rules, replied, “Music to my ears. I keep banging on about how rules should be as “invisible” as possible, so it’s good to hear stories like that one.”

Any set of rules, even the most complex RPG rules, can become relatively invisible if enough people in the group know them well enough, but elegantly written rules let you pull the trick off faster. Off the top of my head, two other rules systems that become nearly invisible in play and are also personal favourites are the old fantasy battle game Hordes of the Things (a variant of the famous DBA) and the fantasy skirmish system Songs of Blades & Heroes from Ganesha Games. It’s also one of the attractions of playing an unfamiliar set of rules at a convention, where the details of the rules are the referee’s problem and you can concentrate on getting your troops to do things and rolling the dice when the ref tells you to.

Anyone got any other “invisible” rules to recommend, ones that get out of your way and let you concentrate on tactics and flow instead of the rules?

Sales of Possible Interest

A quick late night post to alert faithful readers to two short-duration sales of possible interest.

First, in honour of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, TooFatLardies has 25% off everything except figures until next Thursday the 31st May. A grand chance to stock up on that TFL rulebook you’ve been considering, or grab a couple of their excellent Specials, which are stuffed full of all sorts of goodness. I’ve just topped up my collection of Specials, so I now own everything TFL has ever published for Through the Mud & the Blood…

Secondly, in honour of the American Memorial Day weekend, Brigade Games, maker of (among a huge list of other things!) excellent Russian Civil War 28mm figures, have a deal until the 28th May: orders over $30 US can get a 10% discount by plugging the code “HONOR” (note American spelling…) in while you’re completing your transaction. I won’t be personally taking advantage of this one, but if you’ve been thinking of a new RCW force, or something else from that huge list of good stuff Brigade sells, now might be a good time!

Speaking of Brigade, I badly need to finish the long review article I’ve got on their Storm in the East RCW/WW1 Eastern Front figures. You’ve seen them here as my White Russian forces, but they’re nowhere near as well known as Copplestone’s famous Back of Beyond range. There are some very nice figures in the Brigade range, though, as nice as anything Copplestone put out, and they fit together beautifully on the tabletop. I’ll make time early next week to put the finishing touches on that writeup and get it published here.

Have an excellent weekend, no matter what your excuse for a party is!

Russian Civil War Blinds

A number of the TooFatLardies games, including Through The Mud And The Blood, feature “Blinds” — markers used on the table at the start of the game to disguise the exact location and composition of your force and introduce some fog-of-war elements with a minimum of bookkeeping.

RCW Blinds
A quick screenshot of the two styles of RCW Blinds
Richard of TFL recently put out a PDF with a couple of generic blind markers to support his recently released I Ain’t Been Shot Mum, 3rd Edition WW2 rules — they’re on the TFL Yahoo Group, assuming you’re a member. They’re rather elegant oval markers, designed to print about 6″ wide and 4″ deep.

These inspired me to fire up Inkscape last night and create blinds for the Russian Civil War forces I am building for Mud & Blood. Continue reading Russian Civil War Blinds