Sunday, March 4, 2012

Smooth & Rifled playtest

Earlier this week, my friend Phil emailed me about the Smooth & Rifled skirmish rules from Dadi & Piombo (that name always makes me think of Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King). He's been painting 40mm figures for years and finally had a hankering to game with them. He's currently working away at some Front Rank 40mm British light infantry from the AWI. But he's had several Sash & Saber 40mm ACW figures hanging around for years: 16 Union dismounted cavalry and about 20 Confederate infantry.

I went to the Timon and Pumbaa Dadi & Piombo site and bought the rules on Wednesday, then downloaded the free supplements for specific periods. We arranged to meet at The Panzer Depot in Kirkland and play a trial game.

We thought we might suck Bill "the forgotten man" Stewart into the game, but he was making up for lost time with his first free weekend since the Nixon administration (or so it seems). We did, however, get Wes Rodgers and Chris Craft involved.

The game was pretty slap-dash. We just lined figures up on a table that had originally been a FOW game. We carefully removed the burnt-out tank models, but otherwise had 15mm terrain for 40mm figures. In those days, giants stalked the land...

Chris and I were the Confederates organized in three groups; Phil and Wes were the Union organized in two groups. The game was probably set in 1862 at a time when the Union cavalrymen couldn't stay on their horses without being tied on, which is why there were on foot. The Rebels, of course, were Old Jack's foot cavalry already.

The Confederates outnumbered and outranged the Union, but the Union had Spencers, which fired faster. We were curious to see if the higher rate of fire could win the day.

The rules are pretty simple, but make for a nice game. While not being a competition system, there are points to use in building forces, which we ignored, but they come in handy for those wanting to do things right. We kept it simple with just one "unit" per side.

Initiative rolls give you a set number of action points for the unit to spend. The actions can be things like moving a set number of centimeters, firing, reloading, fighting a melee, etc. The combat resolution is pretty straight forward, although that didn't keep us from missing a lot of things that we didn't notice until re-reading the rules after the game.

The Johnnies looked to be getting the best of it at the start because their longer-range rifles were picking off the Union horse infantry from beyond where the Union could effectively reply. Phil ran his men into some woods and I, being the overly-aggressive gamer type, decided to close the range (thereby giving up my advantage).

Once Phil's remaining troopers got their Spencers working, there were fewer and fewer Seccessionists on the table. Wes had worked his way through some woods and starting knocking Chris' men off their feet. We got a significant number of hits against them, but their saving rolls were low (meaning the figures hit just became shaken) while our saving rolls were high (meaning our figures became dead).

Once a unit reaches 30% of its original points value, it has to test morale. We needed to roll low, but by force of habit, rolled high instead. Game over.

It was a pleasure pushing around Phil's beautiful 40mm figures. They look great and the size gives them a nice heft, which is a good feeling for a skirmish game. I think I see some Sash and Saber in my future, but I don't want to dilute myself; I have my 1672 project and rules to focus on for now (more on that project to follow).

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