Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Solo Salamanca (A game at Christmas): The rules

Over the Christmas season I will play my traditional solo game. This year it will be Salamanca, using the scenario detailed in the previous post.

For this game I'm going to use my home grown ruleset called Sacre Bleu! This is a Piquet-like game but with so many changes they are not actually Piquet. Several things are quite novel but I'm not claiming anything as original thought: Virtually nothing is new under the sun when it comes to wargame rules. These rules are a basically a mish mash of things I like. When it comes to what is written down, except for a sequence deck list, this is all there is: The rules fit onto four sides of A4. They are still work in progress.

Top tip: I'm using a 4 view American diner style plastic menu holders as a binders - these are excellent for this kind of thing.

Anyway, here is Sacre Bleu! for your perusal. 

So these are the rules that you might need to look up during play. What they don't do is explain how the game is played. So, here goes.

The game is played with a bag of dominos and a sequence deck for each side. The dominos randomly assign each player with a number of initiative points to use during his initiative phase to turn sequence cards in his sequence deck and carry out actions. The sequence decks randomly determine the 'turn sequence' for each side, and the chances are both sides will have a radically different turn sequences.

The sequence decks, placed face down, randomly determine the action sequence each side can follow and as the cards could come out in any order you never quite know how quickly things will happen - if the enemy turn three infantry move cards in quick succession they can be on you before you know it, and likewise you might want your own infantry to get somewhere but you don't know when, or if, it will happen. The sequence deck for each side is quite similar. They comprise: 

Infantry March x 3
Cavalry March x 3
Intrinsic Mobility x 1 (Extra move for Light cavalry and extended line; skirmish card for light infantry)
Command x 3 (Rally card; also allows formation changes)
Musketry Firepower x 2 (French) x 3 (British)
Artillery Firepower x 3
Elite Firepower x 1 (Extra 'reload' card for elites and light infantry, the only reload card for cavalry)
Charge x 2
Shock Action x 1 (Extra charge card for heavy or 'shock / elite' cavalry, highlanders, etc.)
Army Action x 2 (Routers, C-in-C action, recover downed command, etc.)
Heroic Moment x 1 (British) x 2 (French)
Dress the Lines x 3

For the Salamanca game the British get a Brilliant Leader (wild) card effecting a division, and the French get an off table reserve (Sarrut's 4th Division) activation card. Both replace one Dress the Lines card. 

Top Tip: When making your own cards (I use MS word, using the table format with a first narrow column to size everything) it is worth investing in plastic collector card sleeves / covers. Home cut cards are not die cut so their edges are always slightly burred and they are, inevitably, slightly different sizes. Precision made plastic card sleeves allow cards to be shuffled much more easily because they make every home cut card exactly the same size with sealed side edges. They also make home made cards look much better.

Then we come to, what I call, domino theory, and this might be original thought because although I knew some people used dominos I didn't know how. In classic piquet you roll d20s off against each other and the winner gets the difference in the rolls as initiative points that he can use to turn cards and carry out actions, then the d20s are rolled again to determine the winner of the next initiative. This sounds fine but it does mean that one side can keep winning and doing whilst the other stands idly by, sometimes for extended periods. Domino theory doesn't allow that to happen and it works like this: Each side draws a domino from his bag. The winner is the player with the higher domino and where the total is the same (5:2 = 7 Vs 4:3 = 7) the winner is the player with the higher sided domino (in this case 5:2). The winner gets the total (in this case 7) as initiative points and the loser gets the high side of his domino (in this case 4); the winner can choose to play first or second (but, usually he will play first). Where one side draws a double domino (4:4, 6:6, etc.) the winner is decided in the standard way but he gets the total of both dominoes (4:4 = 8 Vs 4:3 = 7 gives the winner 8+7 = 15) whilst the loser still gets the high side of his domino (in this case 4) unless he has the double when he gets both sides (so, 4:4 Vs 5:4 gives the winner 17 and the loser gets 8). Where both sides draw the same domino (say, 3:2 Vs 3:2) the turn ends immediately, sequence decks are re-shuffled and dominoes are drawn again to start the next turn. 

As in all games some things gain jocular momentum and the double two domino is a case in point: It is called 'the domino of death' because it almost invariably gives four points of extra initiative to the opposition. Thought I'd pass that on.

Each time a player turns a card he expends one initiative point. What you can do on each card, and how much acting on the card will cost is detailed in the rules above. When one side finishes its sequence deck by turning the last card, and it spends an initiative point to close the turn, the turn ends and both decks are re-shuffled (so one side doesn't get to act on all of its cards!). 

BTW. Initiative points must be tracked on a 'clock' of some description: I use a double clock face, each face with 20 graduations, though a simple pair of linear tracks is easier to make (Cribbage board style).

And that is basically it. Except to confuse you all further by saying, that when playing, time should be thought of as elastic time. Only at the end of a turn is time equalised for all units everywhere on the field and only at that point can a solid narrative be arrived at - whilst the turn is going on, everything is in flux.
Lastly, my games are completely paperless: There are no roster sheets, etc. All information is out there 'on the table'. Unit and command quality, strengths, casualties and so forth are noted with coloured beads (note the colour bars in the combat tables), dice, or counters. You don't need to look things up or remember anything (you would be surprised how quickly players learn the colour and symbol coding - see Commands and Colours) in my games and this speeds everything up and considerably cuts down on the number of clerical / memory loss errors made - as I'm a bear of little brain this is often a very good thing. 

Next up, Salamanca: Turn 1.


Sgt Steiner said...

Use of dominoes is great idea.

Walt said...

Is there a PDF link somewhere? Looks intriguing