Monday, July 21, 2014

More On The Braunstein - Questions From The Floor! - July 21st, 2014

The table for the night game...
I'm going to pause in my series of essays on running Braunsteins for a moment, and take some very good questions from the floor:

(From dervishdelver, on July 20, 2014 at 8:07 PM)

I have a number of questions Chirine. I’ll try to keep it brief.

You explained that movement is proportional to the size of the game you’re running. I like this. But how do you handle time in game? Is the measure of time simply winged or tossed since it does not have any real impact on play? Also, could you explain what “secret movements” are.

1] There's a nominal time scale, in effect the time it takes for a human to walk the 12" move on the table. We used to use one minute = one combat round in RPGs, and ten minutes = one game turn in large wargames. In practice, unless there's a really good reason to have one, a time scale is pretty much irrelevant to the game itself. In my games, over the years, we've always assumed that everything is happening at once - moves, shooting, melee, etc., so we kind of 'handwave' the time factor. It's never seemed to make any difference, so I tend not to worry about it.

2] 'Secret' and 'hidden' movement is how we try to simulate activities that players aren't supposed to see going on; I use lettered tiles, which I had out to players, and they can substitute these for any of their figures or units on the table. The chits move just like whatever they are supposed to represent, and the other players have to send somebody over to the chit to see what it really is; once 'spotted', the chit is replaced by the actual miniature(s). They can also be used as decoys, too; they represent 'noises in the bushes', 'disturbed wildlife', etc. for the purposes of the game, and provide a lot of fun for players as well as a challenge - do I or don't I go over there and have a look?

I also use these in 'straight' wargames, too; one of the funniest things we ever had happen was a game where one player had a chit moving around in the woods, and the opposing player sent one of their chits off to investigate. The two chits found each other in the woods, and much hilarity was had when the players were horribly surprised to find out what they'd tripped over.

Along the same lines, when dealing with scale, you mentioned unit frontage. Is it just a matter of keeping the basing consistent with all figures without getting bogged down with exactitudes?

This is an artifact of 'straight wargaming', where actual pace on the ground was a crucial factor in games, and thus had to be shown by the size base for the unit. I used this in my own wargame rules, for example. In RPGs, where one miniature usually represents one being, I use very standardized sizes - all humans have a nominal 25mm round base, for example - but you have to be flexible; not all figures fit on one base, so you pretty much have to have the base large enough to keep the figure from falling over. As long as you are consistent in your collection, you'll have no problems.

You also talked about the size of forces- “I give each player between a dozen to 20 figures to use”.
Does this mean that scale is irrelevant in Braunstein or that it is also variable and based on the size of the game being run?

In 'straight' wargames, there is often an assumption that the figures are representing a number of beings, in some sort of ratio. I used 1:100 in my rules, but again RPGs tend to assume that one figure = one being. I have found, over the years, that a single player can usually handle between a dozen and twenty figures on the table pretty well; so, I hand them a dozen to twenty beings, and it seems to work out quite well. You certainly could use a ratio factor in a Braunstein - the game is a style of play that emphasizes player interaction, more then anything else. The very first one that Dave Wesley ran was dine using a set of Napoleonics rules, so those units were representative scaled ones.

I’m very curious about how you use Chainmail to resolve combat. Are you using Man to Man or the Mass Combat tables? Or have you adapted the rules to your own tables, since each faction has a numerical attack and defense factor? Do you resolve missiles in the same way?

1] Man to man for small games, mass combat for large ones; the difference is in the number of figures on a side. Man to man works best when you have between a dozen and twenty figures on a side.

2] I also use my "Qadardalikoi" rules; the combat results table is different, but generates pretty much the same statistical results - weighted a bit to portray some of the particular aspects of warfare on Tekumel, of course. Longer weapons strike first, you get as many attacks as you have hands / appendages, and one or two other small differences.

3] Yes; it makes the game run a lot faster and is much easier for players to assimilate. You also have to choose between moving and shooting; moving cuts down on the number of times you can shoot in a turn.

Lastly, the goal of finding the two sisters involved collecting a ransom. In your game, is this an end in itself or do you run it as a campaign where loot can be used for other purposes?

Yes, to both. I run both 'one-off' games for people, as well as my long-running campaign; we've been at it now for over twelve years in the RPG campaign. In a 'one-off', it's an objective; in a campaign, it's a way for the players to pay off their losses and make money for new adventures.

Well, I guess I’ve chewed your ear enough for now. Maybe some of this will be answered in future posts.

Not a problem! I love to answer questions, and yours have been very good. Let me know if all of this helps, and feel free to ask more!

- chirine


  1. Thank you Chirine. Your answers were very helpful and it was kind of you to devote a post to them.

    I especially liked your explanation of "hidden movement". I can see how that would offer an element of strategy and be alot of fun at the same time.

    Overall, it's the looseness that's promoted in a Braunstein game, in regards to general minutiae, that I'm drawn to.


    1. You're welcome! Let me know if I can help with anything else...

      Yes, the game style has to be a little / lot looser; there's no other way to play it, I think, as being really detailed in the game mechanics really slows the game play down.

      - chirine

  2. Isn't frontage of a model also to critical to its facing?

    1. Good point - thank you!

      The 'tradition' in miniatures rules, back in my day, was that "frontage" and "depth" indicated the physical space a formed body of soldiers would take up on the game table, according to the ground scale of the particular rules.

      "Facing" was which way those soldiers were looking - normally, we based our figures with the little lead people's faces looking out from the narrowest side of the base, which we assumed to be the "front" of the unit - which is was, in most sets of rules at that time.

      Later rules sets, like the marvelous "Compleat Brigadier", were written after the historical re-enactment people started actually trying to move bodies of soldiers across the ground and bring their weaponry to bear. This is especially true of the gunpowder periods - military formations tended to be a lot wider (unit fronts) then deep (units with men in ranks) in order to use their weapons more effectively.

      I'll do a much longer post on this when I have the chance - I'm collecting a daughter from the airport, today - but in general melee-armed troops have deeper and narrower formations in order to take advantage of mass in shock power, while missle weapon-armed troops generally have wider and shallower formations.

      Does this help? I think I need to explain it more precisely...

      - chirine