A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 14 April 2012

ECW - VwQ Rules - Pt 1

I got an email from someone asking me where he could download Clarence Harrison's Victory without Quarter miniatures rules for the English Civil War, and I had a look around and I'm no wiser. It is a damned good question. I believe that if you email Clarence he will send you them, but a couple of discussion threads I saw mentioned that he is in any case very busy with his own life, and this might be both onerous (for Clarence) and slow (for everyone). I have a pdf which was sent to me very kindly by Clive, but as far as I can see the Quindia Studios site doesn't have a download available at present. I have emailed Clarence myself, but thus far have no response.

So I thought I'd take it upon myself to put the rules up here in a series of short posts - not because they have anything to do with me directly, other than my own enthusiasm for them. I don't think this should cause any offence against copyright, since I am not selling them and since they are not offered commercially anywhere anyway. I'll put them out in three instalments, and I will also say a few things about why I like them, how I propose to use them, and about a few things I propose to build into them. If this does step on anyone's toes, or causes any problem, then please shout and I'll pull the posts as necessary. They are intended to be supportive and encouraging - the game should be widely available if it is not already.

Reviews of any sort are always a bit dodgy, since they often tell you more about the reviewer than the item under review, so I hasten to add that any criticism implied here is entirely my personal view, and that overall I think VwQ is an unusually good game. There will be the odd enthusiast who feels moved to say that I should just use Forlorn Hope, or 1644, or De Bellis Renationis, and be really cool (like them). If anyone thinks anything along these lines, then I'm sure you are right, and I will probably have a go at these other rule sets at some time in the future - I have certainly looked at and considered all of these, and a number of others going all the way back to George Gush, Terry Wise, Wm B Protz et alia. I have recently played Charlie Wesencraft's rules from his Practical Wargaming and enjoyed them, but I'm still pretty firm on VwQ as my game of choice for what is - for me - a completely new period.

Why? Well, first and foremost, I likes 'em. I like the philosophy, and I identify very strongly with Clarence's stated objectives and preferences in his own games. In particular the multiple-figure stands, the lack of rosters and record keeping (casualties are not removed), the simplified tactics are all very appealing, and the card-driven activation system is good anyway, but is eminently suitable for solo play, in which I need just the right amount of control to be be placed in the lap of the gods.

Because of my solo game interests, I have also produced a computerised management program incorporating VwQ for my own use. The program is useable in solo or non-solo contexts, of course, but is especially useful for solo stuff, in which the banter and jollity surrounding card shuffling and dice throwing duties are conspicious by their absence, and such functions can become a pain in the butt. The solo gamer (at least this particular solo gamer) is certainly looking for a pleasurable experience, but he is primarily a facilitator for a little piece of (fake) history, and some of the social traditions of miniatures gaming can become a little wretched without a room full of pals. I will trust my laptop to shuffle cards accurately, without cheating and without dropping them on the floor, and to test morale every few seconds without developing the Screaming Habdabs or losing the will to live.

So the program exists, it runs, though it still needs some debugging and the Optional Rules (notably the Event Cards) are not in there yet. Writing the program undoubtedly cements understanding, but it also revealed a few gaps in the game - things which are not covered. Clarence, in his introduction, makes no claims for originality or even completeness of his game, and there are some interesting and useful expansions on the League of Augsburg forum. I do not think it would be disloyal of me to say a little about some of these gaps, and what I have done about them - in any game of this type, there will be a good many points where the author knows what he meant, and takes as understood certain house conventions of his own which he carries in his head and which make sense of situations which are not explicitly covered - Clarence even invites gamers to add their own extensions where they think they are needed.

I'll say a bit more in later parts of this about the add-ons which I (and others) have - erm - added on, and I may even say a bit more about my computer program. In the meantime (at last), here are the first sheets of the rules. If there is some more sensible way to incorporate pdf files in a blog post, I'd be very pleased to learn of it. Oh, and Clarence - if you are out there, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

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