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Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:07 pm
by Themomage
I recently spotted a comment in the Intro thread that TotW might work well for the Boxer Rebellion, and I have to say that I agree. I have considered ITLSU, but I think TotW would work better, and have been rolling it around in my head a bit, and I thought it was worth starting a specific thread to see if anyone else would bite.

I think I prefer TotW as a starting point because:
- Unit Initiative looks like a great way to characterise different unit types - Boxers can go onto the charge easily, whereas Chinese army units should be allowed to retreat easily
- Ditto re Leadership Characteristics, with a new tables being drawn up for Chinese commanders, for whom fighting on in a difficult situation was pointless; much better to fall back and fight another day;
- TotW is probably less "machine guns and artillery" than ITLSU is, even though it describes a later period.
- Leadership Characteristics might also better allow solo play, by forcing you to change Chinese/Boxer plans on the fly

In addition to creating different Leadership Characteristics tables, and building relevant unit initiative levels, I'd probably want to address the number of figures in a unit. I know that it represents Morale rather than headcount, but it just looks very wrong when you bring on a "horde" enemy such as Boxers. (That's a huge simplification/misrepresentation, I know, but bear with me.) It also allows "perfect knowledge", as a quick count of heads lets you know how strong or weak an enemy unit is before you launch an attack on it.

So here's an idea, which I'll restrict to infantry for the moment for ease of use.
1) Use a standard number of figures for a company, with 8-12 figures on 4 bases being a reasonable number. The fact is, the number of figures doesn't matter. Consistency across all unit is probably aesthetically pleasing, but I don't think that is absolutely necessary.
2) on one base in the company, build in space for 2 micro dice. (I suppose you could also have one each on two bases.) This is the key mechanic, as the total of the two dice equates to the old number of figures; this is your unit strength - the figures are just there for show.
3) Adjust the total of the two micro dice as the unit's morale falls and rises during the game.

I think this works of several levels
- Large units look large. A newly-raised green unit is likely to have a bigger headcount than a veteran one, but it would look much smaller under the rules as written. Looks matter, I'm afraid. If they didn't we would just use coloured wooden blocks.
- it introduces some fog of war. Now you can't tell how strong a distant enemy unit is (unless you have very good eyesight!)
- if you want to use the modifications to fight the RCW, you have the additional fun of using red dice for the Reds, white for the Whites, black for Anarchists and green for Ukrainians. Maybe dig out some red white’n’blue ones for intervention forces too? (MUCH easier than all having flags, but the flags would look better.)

Anyway that's some initial thinking. Any constructive thoughts would be welcome.

EDIT: fixed some of the more egregious typos

Re: Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:04 pm
by Emilio
I want to see how this developes. because I an interested in Russo Japanese war, and I an looking for a ruleset for this war. At first I thought on ITLSU, but not sure it is good for it.

Re: Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:06 pm
by Charles Eckart
I like your ideas. I have "55 Minutes at Peking" and am still trying to find time for it. I need an alternate system from the one in the article as I don't have an 8 foot playing area.

Keep us posted on this please.

Re: Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:53 pm
by Themomage
Hi Charles,
sorry for not being very fast in expanding the thread. Life is getting in the way, as usual.

Have you thought about using Sharp Practice to do the legation siege? It might work better that TotW or ITLSU as it is on a much smaller scale. Maybe have a look at the variant for the Indian Mutiny - War Without Mercy, which has its own Yahoo group. I suspect one or the other would work a bit better. Mud and the Blood might also do the job.

You could perhaps make it into a linked campaign à la At the Sharp End, as the fighting wasn't very constant. Most of the siege seems to have been sniping, which isn't what you want to game. Also, I'm not aware that all points of the legations were ever pressed simultaneously, so you only need to model part of it at a time - no 8' x 8' required for these:
- How does the attack via the Hanlin library pan out? Does it burn down (and who sets the fire)?
- Does the legation guard drive the Boxers out of the ruins of the Hanlin?
- Do the Chinese establish a presence on the Tartar Wall?
- Can they be driven off again?
- Can the Boxers overwhelm the Peitang Cathedral? If so, maybe they can redeploy agains the legation with improved morale?

These ideas could be extended earlier (do the initial reinforcements have to fight their way from the station?) and later (fighting their way into the legations and into the forbidden city), and I know I have have missed out several other notable events.

To be honest I'm more interested in using TotW for the siege and relief of the International settlement at Tientsin, the attack on the Chinese city there, and then the march to Peking. The numbers are far greater, and more suitable to these rules. In any case, the thought of saving Charlton Heston from people with sharp, stabby objects doesn't really thrill me. They can take the gun from his cold dead hands for all I care. (Ava Gardner, on the other hand, ...)

Sorry, I don't think I've given you any solutions, but perhaps some food for thought.

Re: Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:35 pm
by Charles Eckart
Hi, thanks for the reply.

I have "55 Minutes at Peking" rules but fear it will not work as is since I don't have the space.

The Boxer Rebellion is one of my favorite colonial episodes and I do like your ideas for expanding a game beyond the legation siege. A campaign must surely include the siege since saving the legations (and Ava) was a significant goal.

M&B with portions of Sharp for the Boxers might work with TOTW used for the relief forces and Manchu opposition. A multiple part campaign such as Sid used for the German 1918 offensive (stoss + line troops in separate but connected scenarios) from the Special might be adaptable.

In any event Lard rules are my preferred choice, must give this some thought.

Thanks,I do appreciate your reply.

Re: Boxer Rebellion

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:44 am
by sukhe_bator
I was struck by the same thoughts as Themomage. We use blinds to obscure the composition etc. of enemy forces until they are spotted, yet telegraph the relative strength of units for all to see. Much better to hide the effectiveness of troops under a mask of normality until they are tested in combat :evil:. I initially settled on fixed numbers of figures on bases for this reason and for the more practical rerason that I could draw upon irregular troops from other periods from my DB? forces into my Mongolian Civil War and Transcaspian campaigns. I shall certainly be trying out the micro dice idea.