Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Die Fighting Part 1 - introduction, and setting up the forces

Die Fighting is a new (just released this month) set or wargames rules for the Horse and Musket era by Bob Jones. There is plenty of introductory information about the game at the publisher's (Bob himself) website, Repique Rules . Now, a disclaimer of sorts... I've followed Bob's wargames writing, designs, activities and antics from way back in the early NEWA Courier days (circa 1970), and first met Bob in person more than 10 years ago, at Fall In in 1999, if I recall correctly. I consider him to be a friend, and one of the more talented and original wargames designers. I wrote the second edition of Piquet: Band of Brothers (with Ken Baggaley), and the Piquet Fantasy rules, Hostile Realms, so I can make no claim to be a neutral observer.  Last year, Bob brought out Zouave, which is aimed at fairly large battles in the transitional era circa 1860-1870. While Zouave had quite a few interesting ideas, it was for an era where I have no armies and only limited interest. Zouave, while very much an original game, showed obvious influence from Bob's own Piquet, including the use of 10 sided dice, cards, and a sort of impetus.

Die Fighting is a completely different animal. No polyhedral dice whatsoever; not a single one... but plenty of old fashioned D6's - maybe hundreds, even (no, you don't really need to have hundreds of dice, although you may decide you want to!).  There are just a few limited cards as an optional rule. No formal impetus, but....  there are the Dice. Lots and lots of Dice. Actually, Die Fighting uses three different kinds of Dice. The key concept behind the rules has to do with the Resource Dice, which by convention are supposed to be red, like the lifeblood of the army. *Every* action a player's troops take in a game of Die Fighting needs Resource dice - moving, firing, melee, and even retreating and rallying. When they are used, they are gone forever. When the supply runs out - you LOSE!  End of game, add up the scores (and Die Fighting is uniquely set up to score the results of the battle, which promises to be especially useful for the follow up Campaign rules promised by Bob, to be called Die Marching). Each army gets a certain amount of pooled Resource Dice, determined by the composition of its forces and possibly scenario or campaign determined variables. Usually, the only way to gain more resource dice is to take designated terrain objectives, which have an assigned Resource Dice value which is added to the pool of Resource dice when the terrain is taken (or re-taken!). The Resource Dice thus act as a sort of combined Impetus and Morale Chip pool (to place it in Piquet-esque terms) and more. Careless frittering away of the Resource Dice will lose you a game very quickly! The second type of Dice are Leadership Dice; each leader in the army gets a small number of these, ranging from 1 to 5, based upon their rating (usually randomly determined). These Leadership Dice, by convention yellow, are consumed as they are used, but unlike the Resource Dice, they are replenished once a turn. Ordinarily, they are used to add more "oomph" to an activity where Resource dice are already being expended, say a critical attack, move, rally attempt, etc. Wise use of these appears to be critical to improve your forces' odds of success where it matters most. Finally, there are "free Dice", which are green by convention. They are much like the various modifiers for tactical situations, etc, and are awarded solely based on the situation and are not consumed in the sense that the other dice are (which is why they are "Free").

My plan is to do an annotated playtest game next month, of course set in the 1809 Campaign, probably using a fictional scenario. As the process for setting up a force under Die Fighting seems a bit confusing at first, I thought I'd give a fairly detailed example of how it is done.  I used the "late" (1809 -1815) Napoleonic tables (Bob calls them templates, and there are four of them in the rules, covering roughly 1700 - 1870, with more to be released online in the future) for rating the units and Leaders (in each case based upon the sum of 2 D6's). I thought that NC for the Austrian generals was a bit generous for1809, especially with the French Leadership modifier dropping to +1 from +2, and the French Command divisor (this determines the number of Leaders in a force relative to the number of units - lower is better) dropping from 2 to 3. Therefore, when the Austrian generals rolled for their leadership ratings, if the higher of the two six-sided dice rolled was "dark", then one was subtracted form the score; ties were ignored. This is a bit similar to dark/light resource dice adjustment in rating the units, and translates (sort of) to about a 15/36 chance of a minus one;  or minus 0.42, roughly. :-)  Note also that the "Initial Dice" listed for Leaders are their individual Leadership Dice, and do NOT add to the Resource Dice pool of the army.

Austrians    +1 to Cavalry rolls, - 0.42 to Officer rolls
Unit Name                          Type       Quality           Initial Dice  Dk/Lt   Plus/Minus     

C-in-C - General #1            Officer      Headstrong              4            N/A         

Advanced Guard Division

1st Bde - General #2           Officer       Inept                        1            N/A
Grenz Infantry A                  Irregulars   Average                  10           Dk               -5
Grenz Infantry B                  Irregulars   Crack                      10           Lt                +5
Landwehr A                        Militia        Average                    8            Lt                +5
Landwehr B                        Militia        Average                    8            Lt                +5
Line Infantry A                    Regular      Crack                      12           Dk               -5
Line Infantry B                    Regular      Crack                      12            =                  0

2nd Bde - General #3          Officer       Average                     3         N/A
Hussar                                Elite LC      Crack                      14         Dk               -5
Uhlan                                  Light Cavalry Average                 14         Dk               -5
6# Cavalry Battery A         Horse Arty   Average                   16         Lt                 +5

Line Division - General #4  Officer         Very Dependable        4        N/A
Line Infantry C                   Regular        Average                     12       Dk                -5
Line Infantry D                   Regular        Crack                         12       Dk               -5
Line Infantry E                   Regular         Poor                           12       Dk               -5
Line Infantry F                   Regular         Average                     12       Lt                 +5
Line Infantry G                   Regular         Average                     12       Dk               -5
Line Infantry H                  Regular          Average                      12      Lt                +5
Line Infantry I                    Regular          Poor                           12      Dk              -5
Line Infantry J                    Regular          Crack                         12      Lt                 +5
6# Foot Battery A             Lt Field Arty  Average                      14      Dk               -5
6# Foot Battery B             Lt Field Arty  Average                       14      Lt                +5

Reserve Division - General #5  Officer    Foolhardy                       3     N/A
Grenadiers A                    Guards           Crack                          16      Dk                -5
Grenadiers B                     Guards          Crack                           16      Dk                -5
Grenadiers C                    Guards           Crack                           16      Lt                 +5
Grenadiers D                    Guards           Crack                           16      Lt                 +5
6# Foot Battery C            Lt Field Arty   Average                       14       =
Cuirassier Brigade - General #6  Officer  Headstrong                     4       N/A
Cuirassiers A                   Heavy Cavalry Average                        16      Lt                 +5
Cuirassiers B                   Heavy Cavalry Average                        16      Lt                  +5

  Dice Total (not including LD):   352     +/-:   -5       Grand Total:   357 resource dice  

French  +1 to Officer rolls
Unit Name                        Type         Quality     Initial Dice  Dk/Lt   Plus/Minus  
C-in-C  - General A            Officer        Average           3           N/A

1st Division

1st Brigade - General B         Officer       Average           3           N/A
1st Legere                            Elite Lt Inf   Average         14          Lt                +5
2nd Legere                           Elite Lt Inf   Average         14          Lt                +5

2nd Brigade - General C      Officer         Headstrong       4           N/A
1st Ligne                              Regular        Poor                12          Lt                +5
2nd Ligne                             Regular        Poor                12          Dk               -5
3rd Ligne                             Regular        Crack              12          Dk              -5
4th Ligne                              Regular        Average           12          Lt                +5

3rd Brigade - General D       Officer         Average             3           N/A
5th Ligne                              Regular        Poor                 12          Dk               -5
6th Ligne                              Regular        Poor                 12           Lt              +5
7th  Ligne                             Regular        Average            12           Lt              +5
8th Ligne                              Regular        Average            12           =                 0
1st 6# Foot Battery              Lt Field Arty Average           14           Lt               +5

2nd Division

4th Brigade - General E       Officer           Fabian                5            N/A
3rd Legere                          Elite Lt Inf      Average            14           Dk              -5
4th Legere                          Elite Lt Inf       Average            14           Lt               +5

5th Brigade - General F       Officer            Average              3           N/A
9th Ligne                            Regular            Average             12          Dk              -5
10th Ligne                          Regular            Crack                12           Lt              +5
11th Ligne                          Regular            Average              12          Dk              -5
12th Ligne                          Regular            Average              12          Dk              -5

6th Brigade - General G    Officer               Average               3           N/A
13th Ligne                         Regular              Average             12          Dk              -5
14th Ligne                         Regular              Average             12          Dk              -5
15th Ligne                         Regular              Average             12          Lt               +5
16th Ligne                         Regular              Average              12          Dk              -5
2nd 6# Foot Battery          Lt Field Arty      Crack                 14          Lt               +5

Corps Artillery - General G  Officer             Very Dependable 4           N/A
1st 12# Foot Battery         Hvy Field Arty    Average              16          Dk             -5
1st 6# Horse Artillery        Elite HA              Average              14          Dk            -5

Lt Cav Bde - General H      Officer               Very Dependable 4           N/A
Hussars                            Elite Lt Cav          Poor                   14          Dk            -5
Chasseurs                        Light Cavalry        Average              14          Lt             +5
Chevau-Leger Lanciers    Light Cavalry        Average              14          Lt             +5

 Dice Total (not incl LD): 358   + or -:   NC   Grand Total:    358   resource dice  

So, the players are now set (and yeah, I  know the French Chevau-Leger Lanciers are post 1809, but I just painted the unit and I want to put them on the table, OK?). Next time we'll set the stage with a scenario, and then finally let the show begin!



  1. Hi Peter,

    I have purchased these rules and have given them a quick flick through. I found it was regrettable that there was so few examples in the book, so I really look forward to your detailed play test.


  2. John, I have to agree with you that the book would definitely have benefited from more examples of play - those will probably be in the 2nd edition.:-) That is one of several goals for this project. If I make anywhere near the number of errors in my first game of Die Fighting that I did in playing Piquet for the first time, I'll learn a lot, LOL!


  3. Peter,

    I am setting up a La Haie Sainte scenario now, I am probably going to do it with my own variation on Lasalle first, but I could be interested in trying DF with the same scenario. I have 7 infantry battalions, an Engineering squad and 2 cavalry regiments in the French OB (all 4 base) and then a little more complicated Allied OB with 1 battery of RFA, 1 troop of RHA, 1 regiment of cavalry, 3 full infantry battalions (4 base) and 3 half battalions of skirmishers. Your experience is much greater then mine, so do you believe that DF would work for this level of play.



  4. What makes these rule better than Pique?

  5. John,

    At present my experience with Die Fighting is not much greater than yours, aside from reading the rules through twice and correspondance on the Repique rules forum. I think the OOB for La Haie Sainte above is probably a bit small for DF, which seems geared for about 12 - 20 units per player (although there is hardly any rigid rule there), but certainly do-able.

  6. Scott,

    Better than Piquet? I don't believe I've said that anywhere; I'm a Piquet (and Field of Battle) Fanatic, after all - heck, I've written two supplements for Piquet, namely Band of Brothers 2nd edition (1200 - 1600AD) and Hostile Realms (Piquet Fantasy rules), plus the Bluncers on the Danube Scenario book for FoB (just sent in the finalized version last week). I have yet to even *play* a game of Die Fighting - that's what this whole sequence of Post will be about - a first encounter with the rules, where the Dice meet the tabletop, as it were. I highly doubt Die Fighting will *replace* either Piquet of FoB in my gaming repetoire. Die Fighting would seem to have a rather "old school" feel to it, but with a decided twist, in the consumption of the Resource dice plus quite a few other twists which will come out as I play and relate the course of the game itself.

    Different flavors for different situations (and gamers). If I like DF, and I think I will, it will be yet another option for my gaming pleasure. I must admit I'm especially interested in the possibilities of the forthcoming unified Campaign system (Die Marching)with the game; DF is uniquely suited to scoring the results of the battle, and it is easy to see how that might be most useful in a campaign setting!

    Good gaming!


  7. Hi Peter

    This is a great idea and look forward to reading about how DF plays out in practice. Its an intriguing read but alas I have had had opportunity to give it a try out myself so will have to live vicariously through your efforts :-)


  8. I'm interested to hear more. What's the emphasis of these rules? It sounds like resource management.

  9. I hope to make some progress towards the playtest this weekend. The Resource dice will limit the energy in the game, but the Free and Leadership dice will augment them. I think the overall system should encourage putting the right troops in the right place in the right formation at the outset of the game; adjustments in your plan of battle are likely to be costly in RD. Note that you GAIN resource dice for capture of objectives, as well as destruction/routing off the table of enemy units, so pressing theenemy effectively also pays off... but losses are costly.