Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thoughts About One Hour Wargames Medieval

With respect to Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargame Medieval rules, as I have mentioned before, I have no experience with any other medieval rules to compare but they work well enough for me and feel different than the WW2 set, which is good enough (what can I say, I set a low bar). While I enjoy playing them, they are not without issues, owing, in large part, to the very simplicity I find so appealing.

If you can focus on anything but that curling cat hair, you are a better person than I am.

In my last outing, I was perplexed by how to handle units in the town.

What qualifies as "in town"? How many units can be in the same town? This is important as units get a significant defensive bonus (halving hits against it) from being in town.

And does the idea of knights fighting in a town have precedent? See,not only do I not have any experience with medieval wargames, I know virtually nothing about the time period outside of Hollywood depictions. I just happen to think armor is really cool.

Ignoring my ignorance of history for the moment (I know it looms large, but please, for the sake of this discussion), the questions about towns from a rules perspective still stand.

In the event, I ruled that two units could count the defensive bonus from the town, as long as half, or near half of the base was inside the borders defined for it. My rationale was that, for this scenario, the map showed a 4" x 6" town approximately.  My bases are roughly 4" square. Depth is not given in the rules (a width of 4" to 6" is suggested) but I have to imagine that most people aren't using 54mm+ figures on deep bases. I figured that at least two bases would fit for most people, so I would allow the same if the units were in base to base contact. I'm not sure this is the best rationale and I welcome suggestions.

Now with regards to that defensive bonus.

At the end of the game, a unit of men-at-arms entered the town. They have a natural bonus of taking only half damage. When they are in town, do they take half again, so that men-at-arms take 1/4 damage? I couldn't find anywhere in the rules that says these bonuses aren't cumulative and so 1/4 damage it was. I'm not convinced this is the best for game play, but lacking any reason not to do so, it worked well enough. It also means you should probably hold your town with men-at-arms, which doesn't sound wrong to me in light of my ignorance of the period and despite my failure to do so for the Redsylvanian forces.

Neither of these rules questions are show stoppers, but players will have to address them when they arise. If you play solo, as I do, you can, like I often do, make a different decision each time and no harm done (or by coincidence make the same decision each time because you forgot what you did last time), but if you're playing the game with others, it's probably for the best to decide this ahead of time, and use the Morschauser suggestion to dice between differing opinions and move on.

For a much more in depth look at the rules, here are some links I came across that address the issues with much detail and thought:


  1. I find the OHW scenarios handy for quick games but use them with other rules but the questions are certainly worth considering and I had to do so when I tested the rules.

    My take is that a medieval town would be a close line of houses lining a road, maybe with back lanes for a big town. Around this might be scattered outlying cottages, barns etc and fields. Mounted knights could probably only operate in the streets but they could dismount, it might make them less effective when attacking but there skill, experience and morale might be said to make up for it. In sum, I would allow it..

    Since the town area is not empty but is full of buildings etc, , I would rule that only one unit could occupy it as it would be spread out around the edges, guarding all entrances, with perhaps a central reserve in the town square. `

    In 'real life' I could see a mix of archers and "men-at-arms" (dismounted knights, retainers etc or professionals) defending a town so either is a fair choice. Tactically game wise, the archers could really use the protection and could inflict damage on troops trying to pass it while a garrison of men-at-arms could be safely bypassed. However, if the town is a main objective the men-at-arms would be the safest bet imo.

    1. Thanks for your input, Ross! I think I'll take your suggestion of 1 unit to a town in the next game. I could take away the +2 bonus for knights attacking when in a town, but for simplicity i'll probably keep it. Moving the archers to the town for protection was the approach I took but had I thought more clearly about the win conditions, the men-at-arms should have been the choice.

  2. For an example of knights (men at arms) fighting in a town you could take a look at the Second Battle of St Albans, it's well described in one of the Wars of the Roses books "Bloodline" by Conn Iggulden - highly recommended.

  3. Also, most medieval towns would have a wall around them, not big fortified walls like a city, but a stone barrier nonetheless. if your troops are inside the wall they're inside the town. Villages or hamlets might have a wooden palisade.

    1. That's an interesting idea - and certainly is simple enough - although I'd have to make some walls first! I suppose I could put down a grey rectangle to indicate the area of the town/village a little less fuzzily than just two little houses.

  4. If you are not going for "historically accurate", I find knowing little about a period can be a good thing. For me, having a good knowledge of a period can ruin a fun game, because the game didn't "feel" historically accurate.

    1. Thanks for commenting jhnptrqn! I'm not against learning something of the period, but I just haven't invested the time yet. My wargaming grew out of a love of the toys and I've learned history only as an add-on to my enjoyment. I do think there's something to the idea that knowing a lot about a period can undermine the fun, but as I"m not in that position for any period, it's only a guess that it's true :D

  5. Hey John,
    Love your blog!

    I think the issue of what is the town is determined by the rules and scale of the rules. Given effective archery [and archer in the OHW rules is VERY effective, able to destroy a unit in two turns with rolls of 5 and 6] range of 120 yards for longbows / crossbows as NT puts forward, that makes a 6" square town 60 yards by 60 yards. So not much of a town, more of a building complex, extended farm area of several buildings, more like a manor with some fencing, perhaps some walls. As shooting is Halved, it seems assumed that units within "take cover" or build barricades. But as there's no movement restrictions about entering a town, even for horse, it's largely open space as opposed to woods which are impassible to all.

    So my rules allow Units to move into "towns" freely, but to get the halving of Hits from shooting or melee the entire unit must be "within" the edges of the terrain piece, thus easily showing the players that there is no part of the unit left outside and "dangling" in a vulnerable way.

    Hope that helps!

    I'm adding you to my main 54mm gaming blog, Up the Blue! where I work with my moderns and colonial stuff.

    Best, Alex