Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun With Shako Rules

During last week's game, we rekindled our 3/4 love - 1/4 hate relationship with the Shako 2 rules (or, more like Shako 1.5). Leaving aside the rather unfortunate production values - the book quality is disappointing for the price, but then, maybe I should publish my own book or shut up - Shako 2 still has a lot going for it, namely the ability to play out a reasonably sized battle at the battalion level without needing a whole weekend just to play one turn.

Well, of course I'm exaggerating. Not a whole weekend for a turn. But some of those other battalion rules can take a long while, meaning a whole weekend for a battle. And, unlike General de Brigade, you can actually hope to assemble enough painted figures to play a game in one lifetime.

Alright - I'm ranting again! Obviously, if you wanted to play one of those General de Brigade scenarios, you could do it in 15mm, and maybe paint enough figures in your own lifetime to play a game....but I'm digressing. Back to Shako.

Shako is nice and reliable, and relatively simple. And yet, and topic that came up for debate was the penalty for a failed volley inflicted on a unit that is being charged. Is a unit compelled to always fire? You would think that would work out - generally, I would want to try and shoot anyone, or any group of people, running at me with a bayonet and shouting. But in Shako 2, it's a real roullette if your unit is "staggered" (disorganized slightly from the effect of previous musket fire or artillery). Basically, you will be a disadvantage already in the melee because you are staggered. If you miss the volley (which you will be likely to miss, because you are staggered) your disadvantage becomes even greater, so much so that it was often worth it NOT to shoot the people charging at you with bayonets fixed.

Following some research and email discussion, over the weekend, Brian provided the clarity that alluded us last Thursday. Basically, in a firefight situation (i.e. nobody is charging), units must shoot. In a melee situation (i.e. you are getting charged) you have the option to shoot.

I think for house rule purposes though, we will find some way to pants the failed volley modifier. You should, generally, always want to shoot people who want to stab you. Any rules mechanism that perverts that for some sense of "reality" (when so much else is abstracted - after all, that one cannon is representing something like 10 guns) I think is a bad one. As if getting stabbed in the face isn't enough of a penalty already!

Thanks to Brian for sorting it all out for us. Too bad he was not able to make it out last week!

Meanwhile, I am waiting to peruse a copy of some new rules - "LaSalle", by Sam Mustafa (creator of the incredibly awesome Grande Armee rules) and "Black Powder" (I forget who wrote those).

On the down side, if I want to use these rules for 25mm, I might have to rebase the stuff I have already painted (OR do Austrian units with 36 figures!). On the upside, I really like Grande Armee, so I hope "LaSalle" will live up to the high expectations.

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