Saturday, May 30, 2009

And more Heroclix

Interesting. Checking out the HCRealms site there's word that there may be a new release from Topps! this summer?!

http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=257498

My guess is that Topps wants to keep the property alive enough to have vaule for a sale.

More HeroClix

It's not all gloom and doom for HeroClix, though. This fab site is still active: http://www.hcrealms.com/

Myheroclix.com is no more

It appears that the Heroclix database site MyHeroClix.com has shut down. Given the uncertain status of Heroclix this isn't a surprise.

It's too bad, because it was rather useful for tracking your collection and warbands.

Another useful Heroclix related site, WhoClix, is also gone, apparently a casualty of the sudden shutdown of AOL on Oct. 31 of last year.

The WizKids site is still up, although apparently inactive. There are no new posts.

It might be wise for HeroClix fans to get what they need from the site before it disappears.

Board games in India

I thought this was interesting, it appears that interest in board games is growing all over. This artile in an Indian online business periodical even mentions Cranium!

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/play-for-games-sake/359522/

An excerpt:

The next time you visit a friend, don’t be surprised if your host asks you what you’d like with your glass of wine — not cheese and olives, but from a collection of board games! Despite stiff competition from the numerous online games and Playstation and Xbox 360, newer, more exciting variants of the good old Ludo and Snakes and Ladders are here. Businesswise, says Satish Sundra, owner, Ram Chander & Sons, India’s oldest toy shop, board games are doing so well that customers are walking into the store with a list of games that they have surfed for on the net. “Families walk into the store and want at least three different versions of Scrabble,” he says. R Jeswant, Funskool’s vice president (sales and marketing), asks, “How can board games make a comeback? They never left us,” he says, adding that the company has recorded a 40 per cent growth in 2008-09 in the board games category alone. It tied up recently with IIT Mumbai to develop a host of homegrown games for Indian consumers. “As part of the industrial design course, students prepared board games and we decided to distribute them,” says Jeswant, explaining that all that these family games require are skill and aptitude.

He’s yet to learn about Funskool’s latest offering but Ajesh Shah, an investment banker in the US, who came back to India two years ago to start “game clubs” for likeminded enthusiasts, is busy firming up plans for the next “board game night” in Mumbai. “I don’t earn the way I used to in the US, but I was burning out and had to do something about it,” he says. Still in his early twenties, Shah started Peacock Projects, a forum for organising cultural festivals while also promoting newer names in the field of music, dance and visual arts. Since he is a board game “freak”, he also started Board Game Bash, a club where members register and meet to play — what else? — board games. The response, says Shah, who owns around 20 board games, has been overwhelming, and there are already 150-160 registered members. The club has already held Poker nights, UNO-card bashes, Scrabble club nights and what have you in members’ residences, but now hopes to host board game parties at pubs too.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Looney-ness

Looney Labs sounds like the lair of a mad scientist you might find in a pulp sci fi or spy novel. The kind where all sorts of bizarre events with unexpected consequences might occur.

Well, you will find bizarre events with unexpected consequences in all the games from the fertile mind of Andrew Looney, whose name would surely make a good case study for the proposition that your name may influence your life choices.

My first introduction to Looney-ness was with the card game Fluxx, which set the pattern of a game with a very simple premise and rather sparse rules that ends up having a surprising amount of fun play with surprising twists and turns. The one thing Looney games do NOT reward is the kind of meticulous planning and optimised play that euro gamers seem to love. In spirit Looney's games are closer to wargames or traditional family games where luck can upset, or at least complicate, the best-laid plans.

In Fluxx the basic rules to start with are just two. On your turn you draw a card and you play a card. There isn't even a "victory condition" to start with, which is perhaps unique. Among the cards that you can play are "Goals" which specify what the winning conditions are. In most cases these comprise holding a specified pair of "Keepers," which are another card you can play. For example, in the Goal "Winning the Lottery" a player wins by having the Keepers Dreams and Money in play on the table in front of you.

Along the way the rules of the game can change through the play of "New Rule" cards, which might change the number of cards you draw, how many you play, how many you can hold in your hand or other aspects of play. And just to boost the level of chaos, there are also Acton cards, which are one-off special events such as "Jackpot!", which allows you to draw three more cards or "Steal a Keeper" which lets you take a Keeper that's in play in front of another player and put it in play in front of yourself.

While most goals involve having a certain pair of Keepers, there are also goals that revolve around different things such as having 10 cards in your hand or "Peace (no War" where a player with the Keeper "Peace" wins so long as the Creeper "War" is not on the table. Oh yeah, Creepers. These are a fairly recent addition to Fluxx, having first appeared in Zombie Fluxx but now migrated into the main game. A Creeper is sort of an anti-Keeper, which generally prevents a person from winning. So, for example, even if you had the Keepers Dream and Money on the table you wouldn't win with the goal Winning the Lottery if you also had a Creeper (say, the "Radioactive Potato" in front of you.)

And there's more, but you get the idea. Obviously long-term planning is not feasible in this game. There's little sense in plotting a clever plan to meet some goal that's on the table when it's likely to change several times before it's even you turn to play again. Instead the game rewards opportunism and a general tolerance for chaos. Often enough one of your plays will cause someone else to win. But it is great fun and a game that's very accessible to younger players and people who don't play a lot of games.


The basic Fluxx game has spawned a whole line of expansions and themed decks. There's Zombie Fluxx, with its undead theme, Eco-Fluxx, Family Fluxx and even, in a truly inspired match between game play and theme, Monty Python Fluxx.


Looney Lab's other games show the same kind of chaotic sensibility. For example, there is Treehouse, which uses simple pyramid playing pieces in three sizes to create an intriguing game of pattern matching. Player's try to arrange their three pyramids to match a black "House" set of pyramids. They aren't completely free to do so, though, because they have to act according to the roll of a special die, which tells the player whether he can Tip, Dig, Hop, Aim or Swap pieces. The sixth face of the die is Wild, which allows the player to choose any of those actions. If a player can execute an action with his own pieces he must, even if it's a disadvantage. If he can't perform the action with his own pieces he can choose to do it to the House configuration, which could mess up someone else's plans. A player can also choose to leave the House pyramids be and pass. If, however, it's not possible to use the rolled action with either your pieces or the House pieces then you have to roll again until you can act on your own or the House pieces.



Again, there's a lot more going on this this game than it first appears. Even though there are just three pyramids in a player's formation and just five possible actions the possible combinations add up and there are a lot of choices to be made. Again, however, long-range planning is difficult and the most important thing is to try to keep your options open so you can pounce when the opportunity for a win presents itself.


Those same pyramids feature in a number of other games that Looney has designed. For example, World War 5 is a Risk/Diplomacy-style game of world conquest that uses three Treehouse sets-worth of pieces and a world map. Players control armies of small, medium and large pyramids. During his turn the player can increase the size of an existing army, create a new small army, move an army to an adjacent territory or across a sea lane or launch an attack against an enemy occupied territory. Battles are resolved by a simple comparative roll of the dice. A large army rolls three dice, a medium one two dice and a small army just a single die.

The game is won by occupying all three territories in a single continent outside of your home continent. A player can be eliminated if he has no pieces left in his home area. The game has just one page of rules, and not in small type either. Yet again there's a lot of interaction and a game full of twists and turns. It all happens fast, so there will be plenty of time to start a new game and seek your revenge!

Looney's approach isn't for all tastes. Players with a low tolerance for luck or who derive their satisfaction from seeing carefully crafted plans bear fruit will find the games very frustrating to play. But those who enjoy a more free-wheeling style of game will like any of Looney's designs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Real tactics vs. game tactics


One of the peculiar traits of tactical wargames is that they often feature excruiating detail and reward careful play and the intricate integration of units and procedures. An obvious example is Advanced Squad Leader, but even a much simpler game like Tide of Iron or Axis & Allies Miniatures will lead players to ponder fairly involved tactical combinations. It may be important exactly what order certain attacks are conducted or the precise path some unit takes.

All well and good, from a game play standpoint, although it strikes me as rather odd in other ways, especially the contrast with real-world tactics.

Actual battle tactics are usually kept extremely simple, for the very good reason that, paraphrasing v. Clausewitz, in war even simple things are very difficult. In the fear, confusion and fog of battle there's no room for intricate procedures or multi-step tactical evolutions. It's said that the US Army in World War II had just one tactic, the flanking attack. And it was good enough to work from squad level to army level and from Normany to across the Rhine.

I think many tactical wargames overemphasize these intricate maneuvers. It's one of the reasons that I think the classic card game Up Front! may be a more realistic tactical wargame than any hex-and-counter treatment. In Up Front! the maneuvering is very basic and even the intricate parts are heavily masked by the random elements introduced by card play.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Axis and Allies miniatures: KV-1

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musings about particular pieces in the Axis & Allies series of miniatures.


The KV-series tanks show up fairly often in Axis & Allies Miniatures, It's collector No. 4/48 from the Base Set, shown left, and again as No. 20/60 of the 1939-45 set, shown below. This card has been officially revised, with new special ability notes on the Hasbro Axis & Allies Miniatures site. An up-gunned version of the tank appears as the KV-85 in the Eastern Front set, No. 19/60.










Stats:
Rarity: Rare
Speed: 3
Defense: 6/6
Cost: 32 (35 for the KV-85)
Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges: 9 -9 -7
Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges: 13 -11 -10 (14-12-10 for the KV-85)





KV-85


Special abilities:

KV-1 (revised): Exposed Transport — This unit can carry one Soldier. That Soldier can be attacked while it’s boarded on this transport. (A friendly Soldier can board or dismount this unit instead of moving during your movement phase.) The original version of the ability was simply Transport, which unrealistically made the soldiers immune to enemy fire.

Heavy Armor — Ignore the first Damaged counter this unit receives each game. Originally this special ability was called Hulking Mass

KV-85 special ability: Heavy Armor — Ignore the first Damaged counter this unit receives each game.

KV-1 historical text

On 19 August 1941, Lt. Zinoviy Kolobanov destroyed 22 German tanks at Krasnogvardeysk in his KV-1. His tank was hit 135 times during the firefight, but not one German shell penetrated the tank’s heavy armor.

KV-85 historical text


Delays in the development of a new heavy tank led the Soviets to produce this improved version of the KV-1.


The unit in history: Experience from the Spanish Civil War prompted the Soviets to consider the merits of more heavily armed and armored tanks, leading to the fielding of the KV-1 heavy tank and the medium T-34 tanks which unpleasantly surprised German panzer troops in 1941. Unlike the revolutionary T-34, the KV-1 was a conventional design that achieved its superiority through the simple principle of "more." A larger engine, thicker armor and a bigger gun than contemporary foreign designs was the formula. The design had limited potential for growth, however, and aside from the stop-gap KV-85 version, the tank was superseded by the IS series of tanks in the latter part of the war. The KV chassis served as the basis for the powerful SU-152 heavy assault gun, however. KV stands for Kliment Voroshilov, a Soviet official.

The unit in the game: The KV-1 is a very good 1941 tank. It's heavy armor is enough to make it a tough opponent for early war Axis tanks; let alone the heavy armor special ability which means it will take several tries to bring it down under normal battlefield conditions. The transport ability is nice to have, allowing the tank to carry some protective infantry along. It's a cost-effective purchase at 32 points, providing good all-around capability against both vehicle and soldier targets. By 1943, when the KV-85 becomes available, the tank series isn't significantly better than most medium tanks in fighting power and is still slow, so it's most likely to appear in historical scenarios.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quebec 1759 2.0 session report

Mark K. and I capped off our full day of gaming with a match of Quebec 1759 using the new 2.0 version of the rules, which adds leaders Montcalm and Wolfe and changes the value-less decoys of previous editions into 1CV "detachments" that proved to be of considerable value indeed.



Unlike the other session reports from that game day, this one won't include any pregame strategy notes for the very good reason that I had very little clue what I would do under the new rules!

Mark drew the French first, which suited me fine, because that meant I could put off deciding what to do even longer as the British setup is fixed and I could see how Mark might cope with the new conditions. He opted to stick with a typical French defend-the-beaches set up, with his blocks divided more or less evenly between the four zones of Levis, Montmorency, Beauport and St. Charles. I decided to use four of the detachments on suicide scouting missions which revealed that each beach was defended by a substantial force, with St. Charles a little stronger.

As each assault was going to be about as tough I decided to go for Levis, on the theory that it was the hardest to reinforce and success there would open up a larger part of the board. My first attempt at an assault by four 4CV regiments was bloodily repulsed, although I did do significant damage to the defending French militia. A second landing stayed ashore, as the outgunned French took their double-shot volley at the disembarking British and then retreated to Etchemin.

As the British built up their strength the French consolidated their troops at Abraham. There ensued a conventional British campaign of burning farms (occupying zones) and cutting supply (capturing Cap Rouge) followed by a turn 16 move into Abraham for a climatic battle that ended up going the British way.

Pondering the lessons of the first game, I decided that the forward French beach defense was obsolete now that the British had a plentiful supply of expendable scouts. Under the old rules impatient British players might be ambushed by an unexpectedly strong French force and more prudent British players would be forced to spend a couple of turns and risk some decent units to scout the French setup. Now the British could simply send out four detachments to use skirmish combat to reveal the whole French force.

Instead I decided to stuff St. Charles and Levis with units, almost half the French host, while holding Montmorency and Beauport with a detachment and a militia, respectively. My idea was that I would make St. Charles and Levis unassailable and force the British to commit to a north shore advance.

The British did, indeed, land at Montmorency and Beauport and started a buildup. When they got about halfway through I pulled the St. Charles forces back to Abraham and started the Levis troops to Etchemin. This was done to try to induce the British to split their forces and also use the whatever Levis troops survived (they were mostly Quebec militia with a few Montreal militiamen) to reinforce the main army.

About half the British force ended up going the Levis route, followed by the fleet. It soon became apparent that the British were stuck between the horns of a dilemma. Neither half of the British force was strong enough to take on the whole French militia-enhanced army by itself, but there was no way to combine them in the time left. Likewise there wasn't enough time left to capture Cap Rouge and hold it long enough to cut down on the number of Montreal militia. The British conceded on turn 15.

Mark K. and I have decided on a rematch. I want to see if I can come up with a counter for this new French approach.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Out of the box impression of FFG's Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter is a modern classic. Hugely popular, it's appeared in many editions in English as well as many other languages since the original 1978 Eon game.



I picked up that very first edition back in the day and it rapidly became of one my favorite games in the 1970s. It was wild, it was woolly and it was fun.

It was a groundbreaking design in so many ways, but perhaps its most lasting legacy was the concept of a game where card play allowed you to "break the rules." The inventor of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, has said that Cosmic Encounter was one of his inspirations.


Another way that Cosmic Encounter was ahead of its time was with its multiple expansions that added new rules, new pieces and new cards. This started with the Eon editions, but the later Mayfair editions followed the same idea as well. Some of the new rules were well received, others less so. I didn't choose to follow Cosmic Encounter down the expansion route, finding the base game good enough for the amount of play it got from me, but I know that many hardcore fans enjoyed them a lot.




Enough liked those new rules that there was widespread disappointment with the Hasbro/Avalon Hill re-issue, which stripped the game down to something similar to the original Eon version. I got this one, but I have to admit that it did seem to lack some of the charm of the old Eon game in my opinion. The plastic spaceships was a good concept, but the execution was clumsy and overall it seemed like this version was not the final word. Most people who had the Mayfair edition kept using it, but being long out of print made it hard for new players to discover the game.



The new Fantasy Flight edition seems to be an attempt to capture a new audience with handsome components and clean game play while incorporating some of the better ideas from the earlier expansions. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, so I can't definitively say whether or not they succeeded, but it looks promising at first glance. While I don't think there's anything in the game that veteran CE players haven't seen before somewhere, for someone like me who didn't keep up with all the expansions the unfamiliar rules seem well explained and what they add to game play seems clear.



Three mistakes of the Avalon Hill edition were avoided: There are plenty of Aliens, The Game holds five players and the plastic spaceships are easy to use (and look like spaceships).


Fantasy Flight Games is well-known for top-notch game production, so I think there's a good chance this will become the definitive edition of the game. There are expansions planned, so veterans who didn't see their favorite expansion rule still have hope of seeing it, although I suspect that FFG's strategy will be to issue a few, fairly ambitious expansions, in keeping with it practice with games such as Tide of Iron or War of the Ring rather than multiple small expansions like some competitors do.


But I don't think players should feel compelled to follow the expansions. There's an enormous amount of playing potential in the base game and unless your group lays CE an awful lot then I think the base game should be enough.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Following up on naval eras

Wargame designers have thumbed deeply though the history books looking for new topics.

Undoubtedly popular interest explains why there are so many games on topics such as Gettysburg or D-Day, but it's also true that designers have dug up enough information to do games on obscure wars in South America, Africa and India.
But part of the reason why topics such as World War II, the Civil War or Napoleon's campaigns are popular for both book authors and game designers is that there is a lot to say.

The classical ear of oared warfare lasted about five centuries, from approximately the Battle of Salamis in 490 BC to Actium in 31 BC. That era was rich enough in battles to supply games such as War Galley or the earlier Trireme with scores of battles.

And the period from 1580 to 1945 has an even richer history of fleet battles, naval campaigns and warship development.

But for almost 1500 years in between there's very little. That's not to say that there were none, but not the rich variety seen earlier or later. Indeed, while the Battle of Lepanto is, by any measure, one of the biggest and most important naval battles of History, only recently has someone proposed doing a serious wargame on it.


I'm looking forward to seeing it appear, but it seem likely that more would have been done about this era if there was more to be done. And Lepanto is so close to the begnning of the most recent era of contending navies that it might well be considered part of it. The main reason why it my stand apart is that it featured oar-driven warships ratehr than the sailing ships that characterized the next era.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Special conditions required for fleet warfare




Russian Cruiser Aurora

Looking at the broad sweep of history one constant is that there are few extensive eras of general peace. Armies are fighting somewhere just about all the time. It's hard to find a decade without major wars and battles, virtually impossible to find a peaceful century.

At least on land.

But major naval actions involving fleets are far less common than battles involving armies. And those eras when naval fleet actions occur are concentrated far more in time. It appears that there are special conditions required for there to be contending navies.


Naval fleet actions in history seem to be largely confined to two half-millennial periods of time, with those two eras separated by nearly a thousand years.
Now, I am not arguing that there were no navies at other times, and I'm not arguing that there were no naval battles at all. But outside the eras of contending navies naval fleet actions were very rare and isolated events, while during the eras of contending navies they formed an interrelated strategic narrative. And the two eras showed some remarkable parallels.

The natural state of affairs for most of history is what could be called open seas. Navigation is largely free, with what state control there is being confined to local waters. Military expeditions across the sea are episodic and generally unopposed due to a lack of capability to oppose them.

The first era of contending navies lasted from roughly 500 B.C. to 31 B.C. During this era the dominant form of warship was the oared ramming vessel. The era started with the maritime-Greek states led by Athens facing the powerful continental power Persia. Naval powers rose and fell over the ensuing five centuries but at the end of day Rome, the intellectual and cultural heir to Greece emerged with total naval supremacy. A supremacy that lasted for centuries before slowly evaporating into another era of free navigation and uncontrolled seas. But during the era of Roman naval hegemony military expeditions across the sea were not possible for non-Roman powers and the Roman state controlled navigation throughout the known world.

During the first era of contending navies, however, many states attempted to float fleets. Naval campaigns and battles were relatively common and there were even wars that were primarily naval affairs.

USS Olympia
The second era of contending navies started around 1450 and also lasted about 500 years, until the mid-20th Century. Naval battles again became relatively common and many powers attempted to create navies and exercise control over large parts of the ocean. Again an early leading naval power in that era, England, eventually saw its intellectual and cultural heir, the United States, emerge with naval supremacy.

Naval supremacy, once won, seems impossible to have wrested away, although it can be lost through decadence and neglect. While effective armies can be raised in short order, creating a strong navy requires enormous resources and time, and cannot be done against the opposition of a hegemonic naval power. At the height of its naval power the Royal Navy sought to be as strong as the next two potential rivals combined, a margin of superiority it calculated could not be overcome. The contemporary U.S. Navy is stronger than all the other navies of the world combined, and most of those other navies are its formal allies.

Ships from five nations


There's a bit of talk circulating about China's rising naval power, but the stark reality is that China is generations away from being able to challenge U.S. Naval power, and will only succeed if the U.S. leadership is negligent. The best the Chinese can hope for in the case of a war with the U.S. is to seize temporary control of its local waters. This is much less ambitious than what England faced in its challenges from the Dutch, Spanish, French and Germans or the U.S. faced from the Japanese or Soviets.



From a wargamer's perspective, what all this means is that we may be generations away from seeing fleet-on-fleet naval actions again. Indeed, there may never be that sort of warfare on Earth again, although whether something similar might happen in space is an open question.
Nearly all naval wargames are set in one of those two eras of contending navies. There are a few wargames placed in the era or classical oared warfare from roughly Salamis in 480 B.C. to Actium in 31 B.C.


Most other wargames are set in the era that began roughly with Lepanto or the Armada in the late 1400s and came to a close, as far as active combat went, in 1945, although the Cold War standoff between the West and the Soviets included a strong naval component.
It seems to me that in order to have fleet actions there need to be particular conditions present. There have to be technological means to exercise naval control. There must be an international system with several great powers with access to the sea, but no one superpower. And there has to be sufficient economic wealth, as navies are extremely expensive propositions.

Because those conditions occur rarely, naval warfare is a very unusual occurrence. While battles on land are spread throughout the last 50-plus centuries, battles at sea are concentrated in about 10 of those centuries, in two consecutive batches.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Session report: Winter War Rematch

More in my series of pre-game strategy discussions followed by post-game analysis.

Last year Mark and I played a game of Winter War with me as the Russians and him as the stalwart Finns. My Russians managed to get a substantive victory.

We discussed how that game came out in a session report, and disagreed somewhat over the strategies employed by each side and agreed to try a rematch with sides switched someday.

Well, someday is scheduled to be this weekend, a few days away as I write this, so I thought it would instructive to discuss my plans as the Finns before the vent and see how they turn out in practice.

In my opinion the standard game slightly favors the Russians, although I think that using the

optional rules swings the game balance strongly towards the Finns. In most cases I think the Russians can capture Petsamo and the Mannerheim Line for a total of 70 points and marginal victory. If the Russians can get as far as Viipuri then they get up to 95 and a substantive victory and two more hexes of westward progress bring 105 points and decisive victory.The Finns, on the other hand, can't allow the Mannerheim line to fall and still win, although the fall of Petsamo alone is acceptable.

So clearly the Mannerheim line is the vital front for the Finns, so my focus will be there.



My initial deployment will use four 6-6-2 divisions stacked with four 1-1-3 battalions to hold all four hexes of the line. I am trying to take advantage of the unusual configuration of the front here, where four hexes of fortified line can only be assaulted from 3 hexes. The Soviets are obligated to attack adjacent units, so this configuration means that no Finnish hex can be attacked by more than one Soviet hex and at least two will just face a soak-off attack. The strongest Soviet attacking hex is 40 attack factors so the best possible odds against the two Finns (who are doubled to 14 defense factors) is a 2-1. At 2-1 against a fort there is a 50% chance of an exchange, 1/6 chance of an attacker retreat and 1/3 chance of no effect at all.

Interestingly, stacking a second Finnish division does little to help strengthen the defense unless more divisions are used overall, which, as we shall see below, has negative consequences elsewhere. If the Finns hold the line with just two hexes of two divisions each they provide the Soviets with an opportunity for concentrating up to 80 attack factors against 24 (12 doubled) which is a 3-1. At a 3-1 there is still a 50% chance of an exchange, except now the Finns lose 12 factors instead of 7 while the Soviets still lose just one 20-12-2 unit.

The 1-1-3 is useful because it bumps up the defense of the fortified hex just enough to shift the odds down from a 3-1 to a 2-1, which has no practical effect on the main attacks if the Soviets use just 20-12-2 armies but it prevents the Soviets from trying to use 6-6-2 divisions to soak up exchange losses with 2-1 attacks made by a stack comprised of a 20-12-2 and a 6-4-2. A defense of 7 means every exchange will cost the Soviets a 20-12-2. The drawback of this plan is that it strips four useful 1-1-3 battalions from elsewhere.

The objective is to hold the Mannerheim line throughout the game.

The second most critical front is the Ladoga Line, just north of its namesake lake. While no victory point areas lie behind that position, its early fall will compromise the Mannerheim line and probably force the Finns to abandon it. So substantial forces will be committed to that front as well, comprised of three 6-6-2 divisions and a couple of 1-1-3 battalions guarding the flank of the line. The objective here is to hold the line until about turn 5 or 6, which should be long enough for the Mannerheim Line battle to be decided one way or the other. Making the Mannerheim Line stronger necessarily means reducing the Ladoga Line defenses too much.

The third most important front is the far north around Petsamo. I don't believe the Finns can keep the Soviets out of Petsamo if the Russians send enough force. The Finns cannot reinforce the area in a timely fashion, while the Soviet railroad to Murmansk means they can deploy whatever force they require and redeploy those forces when the mission is complete. While Petsamo can't be held against determined Soviet attack, I don't believe it's in the Finns interest to make it too easy, either. So I will commit the 4-4-2 division, a 2-2-3 and 1-1-3 to that front. The 4-4-2 will garrison Petsamo itself. This will force the Soviets to commit significant resources to that sector.

The center of the map gets the leftover Finnish forces, which amount to just one 2-2-3 regiment and three 1-1-3 battalions to start, although the lion's share of the reinforcements will probably go to that sector. There's only one victory point objective in this entire zone, Oulu, and it's a very far journey for the Soviets to get to. I'm all for letting them try. If the Soviets make a determined effort to get there it will take a long time and expose them to being cut off and destroyed.


The Session

Overall things went as planned and expected.Up in the north, Petsamo fell, although not until the Russians lost a few regiments. The Finns' 2-2-3 regiment and 1-1-3 battalion hung around for a while, picked off one more regiment and then redeployed to aid in the central front battle. The Murmansk defense rule obligated the Soviets to keep seven units within five hexes of Murmansk after turn 4. Mark elected to fulfill a lot of that requirement with NKVD regiments, although I think that deprived him of useful units needed elsewhere. I think he did that in order to maximize his offensive potential elsewhere because the NKVD units cannot enter Finland and are therefore purely defensive.
At the other end of the line, the Mannerheim Line was never really seriously threatened. Mark's Soviets couldn't figure out an attractive way to attack the 6-6-2/1-1-3 combos and made just a few efforts in the early going. Instead he preferred to send extra troops from the Leningrad area to aid the Ladoga Line fight. By the time he made a strong effort in the last few turns there wasn't enough time to punch through. The pressure on the Mannerheim Line was so light that at one point I was able to redeploy most of the divisions using rail lines to attack the spearhead of the Ladoga Line breakthrough (discussed below) and then scurry back to the Mannerheim Line.
The Finnish rail net played a very important role in their defense, giving them many of the advantages mechanized German forces often enjoy in Eastern Front games, of being able to rapidly concentrate force, strike and then redeploy.
Mark's Soviets made their main effort on the Ladoga front, eventually breaking through around turn 6, although at heavy cost to both sides. Fortunately for the Finns, victory in the central front had freed up forces that could threaten the flank of the Ladoga advance and then reinforcements from the Mannerheim Line hit the spearhead hard, forcing a Soviet retreat.
In the center the Soviets made a main effort, committing unusually heavy forces including the Tank Corps, the Cavalry Corps, the tank brigades and extra army headquarters and most of the 2-1-2 regiments. This formidable force was able to make good initial progress, even destroying an unwisely forward-deployed 2-2-3 Finn regiment.I'm no believer in a strong Soviet effort on that front however, and the fate of Mark's Soviets illustrates why. On the second turn the Finns get some substantial light reinforcements including the ski patrols and 1-1-3 battalions that can retreat before combat and are therefore very hard for the Soviets to pin down inside Finland. Before long the Finns were probing the Soviet lines and inevitably weak points and small whole began to appear. The end came rather suddenly when Mark forgot that Soviet headquarters units don't have zone of control and he allowed one of his army headquarters to get surrounded by ski patrols, cutting off supply to the whole sector. Truthfully, though, from my perspective it appeared the Soviets were in serious trouble anyway and that headquarters would have had to retreat to avoid being cut off -- which still would have left the sector largely unsupplied.
Once unsupplied the Soviets lost their zones of control and their line collapsed into isolated pockets that were mostly mopped up, although the tank corps was ignored. Some of the Finnish units made a gesture towards the Soviet rail line but even the NKVD-less Soviets were tough enough to fight off that effort after causing some Finnish casualties and the Finns gave up the effort as not worth the risk considering favorable developments elsewhere.
The majority of the victorious Finnish central front forces redeployed via the rail lines to a position on the northern flank of the Ladoga Front Soviets, compromising their breakthrough's potential, helping to surround some units and eventually forcing a general retreat to protect Petrozadovsk.
The final result was 30 Soviet victory points for Petsamo, which meant a Finnish victory.Mark would like another rematch and I expect he'll devote considerable thought to how to counter this Finnish strategy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Initial observations of Quebec 1759 version 2.0

Quebec 1759 is one of the true classic wargames of all time. It's been continuously in print since 1972, which is probably the record for a wargame. The only other hobby game that I can think of that has been in print longer is Diplomacy, which is sometimes considered a category unto itself. With the demise of Avalon Hill for than a decade past, which had kept some classics such as Afrika Korps, D-Day and Midway in print for decades, I think the mantle for longevity may very well have passed to Quebec 1759.
And it's been a very stable design, with mostly cosmetic changes over most of that time. Some rules clarifications and component upgrades have occurred, but the game itself has changed very little. Even War of 1812 and Napoleon, two other original designs from Gamma Two Games days have seen more significant changes.
Until Quebec 1759 2.0 anyway. This latest version of the game makes some subtle changes that breathe some fresh air into the design and should prompt a new look from gamers who haven't played it in a while.



The first and most obvious change is a pair of new units, leaders. Inspired perhaps, by the leaders in the revised Napoleon, these new counters add the overall commanders for each side, generals Wolfe and Montcalm.

Each acts as a regular one CV infantry unit with two special abilities and one special disability. The special abilities are A) they always fire at double fire (two dice) in combat. The rules aren't entirely clear, but it doesn't appear to me that this is increased for any reason, such as against an amphibious attack. B) They can move one or two zone in a move. The disability is that if they roll doubles with their two attack dice they are eliminated, so use them with care as there is a 1/6 chance per firing of losing them. This draconian rule is because of the historical fact that both commanders were mortally wounded on the field of battle.

While a colorful addition to the game, a single pair of 1CV units is unlikely to drastically change the game.

What does change things significantly is the substitution of 1CV "Detachments" for the 0 CV "decoys" in all previous versions of the rules.

While this might seem like a minor change, it is not. These new detachments are much your useful and flexible than their predecessors. Under the old rules decoys could never move by themselves or be left by themselves, so all they could do is inflate the strength of a position. While the British actually had more decoys than the French it was hard to get much use out of them. They could even act as drag on British deployments, as one might have to leave a real unit on Ile d'Orlean to babysit them. About the only real good they did was reduce the effectiveness of Indian scouting missions a little.

Now they add an additional seven CV to the British, putting them that much further from the magic level of 19CV where the British automatically lose. They can act as scouts and are good for sending off to burn out French farms, too. Overall they seem a benefit to the British, although they are useful to the French as well.

As to how much they change strategy, I'll have to play a few more times to firm up my opinion, but they do seem to have a major impact based on the pair of games that Mark and I recently played. More on that later this week.

Overall it appears like an interesting change.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hold the Line session report

Continuing my series of prospective strategy discussions followed by post-game session reporting, is a look at the Hold The Line scenario Louisbourg.

This situation is kind of like an Eighteenth Century Omaha Beach. A British force lands on the beach in the teeth of a fortified defensive line and has to fight its way inland.




As always, any discussion of strategy starts with a look at the Objective, what the victory conditions require. As is usual in the Wars for America system, victory is achieved by accumulating victory points, with the most common source being eliminated enemy units, at one VP each.

For the French, victory is achieved by getting 7 victory points or avoiding the British victory conditions.

For the British the goal is also 7 VPs, but they only have 18 turns to do it, which makes this one of the shorter scenarios in the game system. It also clearly puts the burden of attack on the British. In addition to VPs for eliminating enemy units, the British have four victory points of objective hexes deep behind the French lines.

Terrain.

The left two-hex deep edge of the map is the ocean, from which the British invaders will come.

There's one hex of hill on the beach, but otherwise the French have a clear line of fire at the disembarking British. The main French position is made up of a five-hex long line of entrenchments, which provide protection from fire and morale benefits. Behind the French line the rest of the battlefield is made up of clear terrain with scattered woods hexes providing some cover but far enough apart to provide plenty of movement paths.

Order of battle:

The French are heavily outnumbered. They have a single leader, five regular infantry, an artillery unit and one band of Indians. The VP value of the entire force is 8, so the British victory condition is, essentially, to wipe out the French force. The VP hexes mean the French cannot simply run away, they will have to fight.

The British host comprises 22 pieces. There are two leaders, two Elite infantry, two light infanty, a unit of American rangers and 10 regular infantry. They also have five boats to carry them ashore. The first wave of British comprises the rangers, both elites and both light infantry, along with one leader.

Plans:

My objective as the French is to take advantage of the fortified line to achieve a positive kill ratio against the British. I expect British numbers to tell, eventually, and be forced to fall back either because of British flankers or because the British have penetrated the line.

Three of the French regulars will man the line, along with the cannon and fire at will against British troops within range. A fourth regular will pull back slightly and be used to guard the line against any short flanking moves. The Indians will be used to guard against any infiltrating rangers or light infantry. The last regular and leader Saint Julien will form the general reserve, either assisting the Indians if the British try an infiltration strategy or helping guard the flanks of the entrenched line.

My British plan aims to stretch the French by posing multiple threats and then exploit the weakest point in the line that develops. This could mean infiltrating rangers or light infantry past the flanks, taking the entrenchments in the flank or pushing directly into the French main line of resistance.

The British only have enough boats to carry one third of their force at a time, so the invaders are naturally broken down into three waves. The first wave is set by the scenario setup and comprises the rangers, both elite infantry and the two lights, along with 2/1 leader Wolfe. As this wave comes ashore it will pressure the French left flank by threatening to outflank the line with the light infantry. Wolfe and the elites with him will shelter on the hill while waiting for the second wave to arrive. The other Elite will endeavor to occupy the attention of the cannon in order to spare the rangers, who will lie low in the early going.

The priority for commands will be to empty the boats as soon as possible and bring on the second wave at the earliest opportunity. This wave will comprise leader Amherst and five of the regulars, who will join Wolf for the main assault on the French line. Once the French are fully committed the rangers will make a break for the VP hexes. I don't necessarily expect them to make it, but the threat may be enough to provide a critical edge in the main fight by drawing off French units and commands.

The third wave will be loaded and brought on if extra commands allow, but I don't think they can arrive in time to have a real impact.


The Battles:


I started with the French side in my game with Mark K. Frankly things went precisely according to plan for the first half of the game and I was feeling pretty good about the overall situation. Mark was trying to win pretty much with the initial wave, spending nearly all his action points moving and fighting those troops, with just a few spared to bring on a trickle of second wave forces.


And this plan wasn't working all that well. His elite troops and the few regulars on the beach were making no headway against the main French line, and I was even able to wipe out the rangers on the beach with cannon and musket fire.


About the only worrisome aspect of the situation was on the French left flank, where the British light infantry was able to slide past the French flank and threaten the rear VP hexes, although one of those light infantry was reduced to just 1 morale point. As per the plan I had the Indian band and a leader-led regular unit detailed to deal with that threat.


While this should have been sufficient force, it wasn't. The first sign of trouble appeared when I got a little too feisty with the Indians and let them stray within long-range of the lights, who promptly eliminated them with a single volley! Now it was up to St. Julien and his regulars to hold off the lights, a task they failed at miserably. Because the British lights could just sweep up the VP markers without stopping it seemed necessary to park the regulars on one of the markers to force the lights into range if they wanted to claim the points. They accepted the challenge and moved up on both sides of the regulars to set up a flanking attack.


Here I blundered. There was still a lot going on elsewhere and I was loathe to spend my limited stock of command points on just this one threat, so I spent the one AP to fire at the weaker light infantry (in order to break up the flanking bonus) and promptly missed. In retrospect I think I should have spent the 3AP needed to make a leader-led close combat against that weak light infantry because it was critical that it be taken out.


On the following turn the two British lights fired with flanking bonus and wiped out the French regulars, although St. Julien escaped. The way was clear for them to sweep up the four VP markers and they did, suddenly putting the British way ahead in VPs with several turns left to get the last one they needed. The British had 4 VPs for objective markers, 1 for the Indian and 1 for the French regular, so the two British light infantry were responsible for all of the British success! The French tried falling back but the British were able to pick off the last VP they needed for a 7-1 win.


On the flip side, I tried executing my British plan, spending the majority of my action points to bring on the first two waves of British. The created a scenario that really did resemble Omaha Beach, and not in a good way. Mark insisted the dice were about average and they probably were, but it sure seemed like the French fire was exceptionally effective and British casualties mounted. Even though I tried rotating damaged units out of the line to rally them it did no good as the casualties came too fast to keep up.


I was able to spring the rangers into the French rear by covering their advance with regular troops. The Indians weren't able to stop the rangers from picking up all four VP markers, but as it turned out that was a Pyrrhic victory. On the beach the French were closing in on their 7 VP and bringing in parts of the third wave just seemed to add more targets.


The final score was 7-4 for the French.


Mark's approach was probably better, I think the first British wave needs to be active enough that it creates space for the second wave to come ashore. I ended up just giving the French more folks to shoot at.


Interestingly, in neither game was it possible to stop the British from infiltrating someone through to pick up the 4 VPs in the rear. Mark was better able to absorb this loss because he didn't pull any regulars away from the main fight on the beach. My French lost no units on the beach, but also were not able to inflict any permanent losses on the British. Mark's French concentrated on pummeling the beach landing and let the Indians try to protect the rear area unsupported. This proved to be the better solution.


Despite the fact my French lost, I do think my approach could also have worked, but for some mistakes on my part, so I would consider the French side slightly favored in this scenario.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Clash for a Continent session report

This will be an experiment. I'm going to discuss the scenario and my planned strategy ahead of the game, save it in draft form and then discuss how things actually unfolded later and post it.

The scenario will be the Battle of Lake George, 8 September 1755 from the game Clash for a Continent. This was part of a full day of gaming with Mark K.

The map from the scenario:


The basic situation is that the British have sent out a force (in the middle of the map in red) from their fortified camp (at left) that is about to be ambushed by larger force of French and Indians (in black on three sides of the British force).

The first thing to do is check the victory conditions.:

British: 6 Victory Pointss (VP) or avoid French victory for 25 turns

French: 7 VPs in 25 turns or less

Victory points are mostly scored by eliminating units, including generals, at 1 VP each. The French can also earn VPs for capturing the VP markers inside the British camp. These VPs basically exist to keep the British from simply abandoning their camp and making a sortie to rescue the ambushed force. Unless the British strip the camp of defenders these VPs are out of reach for the French. The burden of attack is on the French, if time runs out without a resolution the British win.

Terrain analysis

The left side of the map is dominated by the British fortified line, which both reduces the effect of enemy fire while providing a morale bonus to the defenders. There's a two-hex wide cleared zone in front of the trench line meaning the defenders will have a clear line of fire on any attackers. The line is anchored on one end by an impassable swamp and the other end by the board edge.

Most of the rest of the map is covered with light woods, in which hexes of woods and clear terrain are inter-spaced. There's a clearing in the middle of the map where the British force is marching. The woods provide some benefit to defenders, reducing the effect of fire and providing a morale benefit, but they block fire and slow non-Indian movement.

Order of Battle:

Both armies are the same size, with 13 combat units and two leaders.

The British are mostly American militia with a couple of allied Indian units and a single unit of cannons in the fort. Half of the militia, the Indians and the leader Williams make up the ambushed force. The historical notes say that Mohawk chief Hendrick observed of the detached force that if the men "were to be killed, they were too many; if they are to fight, they are too few."

This is reflected in the game by the fact that the entire force is worth 8 VPs for the French if they wipe it out, more than enough for them to win without attacking the British fort. But the force is also outnumbered nearly 2-1 by the ambushing French force.

The other half of the militia, the cannon and leader Johnson are behind the fortified line.

The French are likewise divided into two parts, each under a leader. The larger part, assumed to be under leader Dieskau, comprised of two regular French infantry, three militia and two Indians lies in wait North of the British detachment. The other portion, under De Saint-Pierre, comprising one regular, two militia and three Indians is to the South.

Although both sides are equal in numbers, the French regulars give them an edge in overall strength of 32 to 26, and 32 to 14 at the ambush site.

Strategy:

For the French and Indians the strategy has already been set and its really a matter of execution. A classic three-sided ambush as been set up and the French side has overwhelming force. The only thing standing in their way is that the game system makes it hard to bring all that force to bear at once. The best possible command roll will allow less than half the French army to move or fire at any given time. Still, the British command situation is just as bad.My French plan will be to use the mobility of the Indians to finish encircling the British force and block any breakout while the French regulars move in for the kill. Priority for commands will be Indians, regulars next and militia last. The militia units will be used to support the Indians and regulars as necessary. The goal is to wipe out the British detachment and get the 7 VPs before they can escape to the fort.

The British situation is challenging. The obvious course of action is to simply hightail it for the British forts. There's a good chance half of them will escape, although it means forgoing any chance of causing much damage to the French because any actions spent shooting will not be spent running. This could result in an almost pristine French army being able to attack the fortified line, with a good chance of breaking through, given the fragility of militia units.

The doctrinal US Army solution to being ambushed is to attack the ambush and I think that is what I will try to do. I will attack the southern, weaker half of the French ambush force with my militia and leader while the Indians cover the rear. The idea is for the British detachment to make its way into the woods along the south side of the clearing and then use the woods to provide cover during the retreat to the portion of the fort between the cannon and the swamp. If 3 or 4 of the units from the detachment make it back then that will be a success, so long as they kill 2-3 VPs worth of French units. With prior losses, the French task of breaking into the forts without losing 6 VPs is much harder.

The battles:

I ended up playing the British side first, and it ended up being even more of a disaster than I thought it might be. The very first couple of Indian attacks wiped out a pair of militia units, fatally compromising my plan to have some guys cover the rear while the rest tried to fight their way through the ambush. There was no rear and Mark's French simply kept running and gunning down the fleeing militiamen. The only survivors ended up being the Leader Williams and the British-allied Indians, who had been unmolested.

Things looked pretty grim, with an untouched French force slowly gathering just outside of range, the British having already lost 5 VPs worth of units. Mark didn't bother bringing up any of the French militia, who were largely spectators throughout the battle. His Indians were mostly near the scene anyway after their pursuit, so he spent the next few turns bringing up the French regulars. When the final assault came it was led by the two French leaders, each at the head of one unit of regulars, while a pair of Indian warbands joined in on the French right. (Top map edge in the map above)

The French regulars who attacked the portion of the fort with the cannon suffered heavy losses, but were still standing when the end came, having done their job of occupying the guns while the main assault went in on the French right. There the sole French casualty was the leader, who fell while gloriously leading his men over the parapet. The militiamen were no more stalwart on the walls then they had been in the woods and the last two VPs soon came the French way.

The final score was 7-1 in Mark's favor with the game ending around Turn 15. A decisive victory.

My original plan with the British never really got started and I ended up switching to the high-tailing option, but that worked as badly as I thought it would. I wondered if the British might be better off standing and fighting, but Mark's experience in our next game makes me doubt that would work either.

When we switched sides I decided I would do my best to execute my pre-game French strategy and the French once again caught an early burst of good fortune as one of the first Indian attacks not only eliminated the British militia unit closest to the fort but also eliminated British leader Williams! This move and a couple of others effectively slammed the door on any British flight and the British column was swarmed by French militiamen and Indians. I think the regulars only got off one volley, although it was an effective one, destroying a British militia.

As the militia melted away the British-allied Indians desperately sought an escape. One band slipped by the French militia after taking a hit, but the other band of Indians was trapped. While the French-allied Indians would not shoot at their fellow Indians, they also would not let them pass. Flushed like quail from the bush, the British-allied Indians dodged a few volleys from French militia units until their luck finally ran out.

The sole witnesses to make it back to the fort was a half-strength warband of Indians. The final score was 7-0, with the game over around turn 7 or 8.

Given the disproportionate results in both battles I'd have to conclude that the British side has a tough time in this scenario. While it's true that the French in both episodes benefited from early good fortune, the results were so lopsided it's hard to credit luck alone for the outcomes. I proved the British can't run. Mark proved they can't stay and fight, either. The only French unit loss in either battles was a leader, which is a function of luck.

Militia in the Wars for America system is extremely fragile. It's not uncommon to roll a few pairs of sixes when rolling trios of dice, so the militia units are prone to disappear with little notice. While theoretically the French Indians and militia were just as vulnerable, it is a theoretical vulnerability if they aren't shot at. Neither Mark nor I found many opportunities to shoot as the trapped British always seemed to need to try moving to escape the trap.Wars for America is a fun system, so I think we enjoyed playing, but I do think that this one is almost a gimme for the French side as far as competitive play goes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Con scene, 2009

Summertime means convention time for game hobbyists and the industry the supports their addiction. While there are conventions all year round all over the country, the big four game conventions are concentrated in the summer months and have all settled down more or less permanently towards the middling parts of the country -- or at least the East Coast.

While each con has its area of emphasis, just about any kind of game can be found at all four of them and they all include open gaming areas.

The Big Four cons are:



Origins Game Fair
June 24-28
Columbus, Ohio


Emphasis: Board games
Notes: Descendent of the Origins Game convention started by Avalon Hill



Historicon
July 16-19
Lancaster, Pa.,


Emphasis: Historical miniatures
Notes: Originally a regional convention, this has grown into the de facto national convention for historical miniatures gamers.




World Boardgaming Championships
Aug. 3-9
Lancaster, Pa.



Emphasis: Competitive play of board games
Notes: Originally AvalonCon, this became an independent production after Avalon Hill was bought out by Hasbro. Takes place at the same site as Historicon. There are also "pre-cons" starting the weekend before the main convention begins.



Gen Con
Aug. 13-19
Indianapolis, Ind.



Emphasis: Role-playing and collectible card games
Notes: The oldest national gaming convention.

Which Borg not to resist

Star Trek's Borg famous claim "resistance is futile," and I think the same is probably true for wargame designer Richard Borg's creations. I know I haven't been able to resist buying anything related to his Commands & Colors system. I'm not alone in the collective, either, as Borg's designs are among the most popular wargames ever published.

Still, sometimes you have to choose and prospective purchasers may wonder which is the best choice for them. Each game has its vehement fans, but here is what I believe is a fairly objective rundown of their strengths and weaknesses.

Really, they are close enough in quality and game play (with the possible exception of Battle Cry) that I think the main consideration should be which theme a player finds the most interesting. pick that first.

From purely a game play perspective they each have strengths and weaknesses.

Battle Cry (American Civil War) is the weakest of the lot, simply because it was the first, and the subsequent designs have all refined the concept. If Battle Cry had expansions like the others I'm sure it would have kept up, but it's a one-off design.

Command & Colors: Ancients (Ancient battles of the Classical Era) matches its era well and is probably the most tactically intricate because of all the different troop types, which often have fairly subtle differences between them. Terrain plays a smaller role in this game than the others as ancient armies tended to fight on the flattest and clearest terrain available.

BattleLore (fantasy but also historical medieval) is similar to C&C:A, especially when played with the Medieval Rules. Adding Lore adds some interesting new twists to the game system. The fantasy aspects of the game are not overpowering and it is still an army-level game and not a sort of role-playing experience.

Memoir '44 (World War II) is a lot more about terrain and combined arms effects. The interaction between the units is more subtle than it is in C&C:A because of the long ranges involved. Just because units are not near each other doesn't mean they don't affect each other. And the air pack adds a new dimension of course. There's more variety in the scenarios compared to the other games, which are almost all line-them-up-and-fight battles, with a few notable exceptions.

You may also want to consider how they are marketed.

Battle Cry (Hasbro/Avalon Hill) is a single, self-contained game, but it's out of print.

BattleLore (originally Days of Wonder, now Fantasy Flight Games) and Memoir '44 (Days of Wonder) each start with a self-contained base game that you can add to as finances and interests allow, although that may change for BattleLore as it is moving to a new publisher. While some of the expansions require parts from other expansions there are always scenarios that require nothing more than the base game and that particular expansion to play.

C&A:A (GMT Games) has a self-contained starter and then each of the expansions is a major purchase as well. These expansion tend to build on each other, so I would say this series is something you'd want to commit to in a serious way to get the most out of it.

Comparison of advanced optional rules between Clash for a Continent and Hold the Line

A comparison between the advanced and optional rules in Worthington Games' Hold the Line and Clash for Continent games.

Hold The Line advanced/optional rules 11.1-11.3 are the same in Clash for a Continent. They deal with attacker morale checks, rally and elite units, respectively.

Clash 11.4 refers to Indians and gives them a -2 vs forts and towns. Not mentioned in HTL.

HTL 11.4 & 11.5 are the same as Clash 11.5 & 11.6, dealing with increased artillery range on hills and reduced effect firing into forest, respectively.

Clash option 11.7 giving an attacker a +1 firing on units in waterways is a standard rule in HTL

Clash 11.8 and HTL 11.6 both deal with leaders. Clash simply has leaders add one extra die when attacking. HTL rule makes a few leaders better by adding more dice, taking more hits to eliminate or both. In HTL terms all Clash leaders are 1/1.

Clash 11.9 (flank/rear attacks) is the same as HTL 11.14.

Clash 11.10 (attacker advance) is the same as HTL 11.7

Clash 11.11 (force march) is the same as HTL 11.8 & 11.9 together.

Clash 11.12 (easier hill movement) is the same as HTL 11.10

Clash 11.13 (dragoon retreat before combat) is the same as HTL 11.13.

Clash 11.14 and 11.15 are the same as HTL 11.12 and 11.13 and have to do with changing the Command Action Points for play balance.

Finally, HTL includes two optional rules not mentioned in Clash.

The first is HTL 11.15 which only applies to Long Island and Brandywine scenarios. reducing the range of units.

The second is an optional rule in the French & Indian expansion that makes Indians and Rangers deadlier in close assaults in the woods (4 dice).

Other differences in the rules:

In Clash for a Continent victory is only checked at the end of a turn, in HTL it's checked at the end of each player turn.

In HTL leaders are a little less vulnerable to FIRE COMBAT. No matter how many 1's are rolled, only 1 confirmation die is rolled to see if the leader is actually hit. In Clash one confirmation die roll is made for EVERY 1 rolled in the fire attack. In both games a confirmation roll is made for every original 1 during Close Combat.

In HTL nothing is said about what happens when a leader is caught alone in a hex by an enemy unit. In Clash a leader caught alone is eliminated. I think this is just an oversight in HTL and players should use the same rule as in Clash for a Continent.