Wargame rules tend to be long compared to boardgame rules. I think this is partly to be able to add more detail and tactical options, partly because what you’re trying to simulate is more complex and partly because the need to shorten the rules is less, since the intended audience is expecting long and complex rules. When I play a board game I usually have all the details down after a game or two and rarely – if at all – miss rules after that.
But for a wargame I keep finding new rules or ruledetails as long as I play. That is part of the reason why I often read and re-read the rules again and again – to be more familiar with them, so I make fewer mistakes, find new options and can play faster. This post is about three such findings that came to me rather recently. Maybe these were rules you noticed straight off (then you’re more observant than me), but if not, then these observations can be valuable for you too.
When I first read the scan order, I took notice of the fact that only one ship can do the scan order – all the other ships will have to do standard orders. What I read was “one ship per battle group” but what it quite clearly says (even underlined and everything) is “only one ship per group“.
If you run armies with small groups – as I have done a lot recently – this increases the usefulness of this order considerably and where I only used it in very specific circumstances, it is now an order I can see much greater use of since any battle group of 2+ groups can take any opposing ship to a major spike (baring silent running and cloaking rules).
I used to think that the Lima class was a amazingly good ship. But both after this interesting thread on the hawk forum and after properly reading the scan order, I realised that it is a good ship, but not so all-powerful as I initially thought.
Station keeping and turning
Reading all the orders it seems simple; some rules allow you to turn up to 45° at the beginning of your move, some don’t and a single allow you to turn twice at any time. The nice overview on page 43 (and in numerous rule cheat sheets) tell us that. But there is another small detail; the station keeping order actually give you the flexibility to turn either at the beginning or at the end of your movement.
While this is might seem as a small detail, everybody who have played a dozen matches can probably think of once or twice where this could have come in handy.
The consequences of splitting a battle group
This is not so much an undiscovered rule as it is the peculiar consequences of the rules for splitting a battle group. The rule on page 40 reads:
When it comes to comparing Strategy Ratings, a battlegroup temporarily increases its Strategy Rating by one for each of its groups that is more than 12″ away from any other group in the same battle group.
Let’s say I have a battle group of 2 groups and another of 3 groups.
If the 2-group battle group splits, the strategy rating increases by 2 – there is now two groups who are not in coherency with another group. If a 3-group battle have one group “run off” in another direction, the strategy rating only increases by 1, since the other two groups are in coherency with one another. But if they split totally up, the strategy rating is increased with a total of 3 since we now have three groups out of coherency.
I do think it is somewhat peculiar that a 2-group battle group is penalized more heavily for “one group running off” than a 3-group battle group, but I guess it is a matter of keeping the rules simple. I have, however, experienced quite a few people who assumed the penalty was just 1 on the example of the 2-group battlegroup thinking that one group was the “primary group” which was not penalized and the other group was the one “running off”. But as the rules describe it, they are both “out of cohesion” and penalized.
Another peculiarity of the penalty of battle group cohesion is around the open and outlier rules. This depends a little on how you. Let’s start with the rule on page 41:
Some Groups have a special coherency (most notably strike carriers and other troop deploying ships). These Ships do not have to maintain coherency and are not subject to either Battlegroup or Group coherency rules – they are effecively autonomous, though must still obey the rules for orders/special orders as their battlegroup.
And under the Outlier special rule it says like this (Open is almost the same):
Ships with this rule may ignore Battlegroup (but not Group) coherency rules, and the Battlegroup will suffer no negative modifiers to their Strategy Rating while ships with this rule are out of Battlegroup coherency.
So in short – these ships do not cause penalties for breaking the battlegroup coherency rules. But the rules (under the Open and Outlier special rules) says nothing about whether or not they can help other groups maintaining coherency.
So let’s say you have a battle group consisting of an Orpheus, an Ajax and two Medea classes. If I chose to fly one Medea with the Orpheus in one direction and one Medea with one Ajax in another directing both the Ajax and the Orpheus would still be in coherency (with the Medea group) even if they are not in coherency with one another. Neat trick, huh?
However, the two rule texts are somewhat in conflict. The first (the one under the battle group coherency part) seems to imply, that we should simply ignore Open and Outlier ships for the purpose of calculating battlegroup coherency (though it does not say it explicitly), while the individual special rules clearly state, that the penalty for breaking battlegroup coherency is just ignored for this group.
I think it is the first interpretation that is the correct one – that these groups should simply be ignored. I think that because the second interpretation has some peculiar consequences as seen in the following example.
Let’s say I have a battlegroup consisting of one Medea class and one Ajax class ship. The Medea class cannot get any Strategy Rating penalty. But the Ajax have to be in coherency with another group or get a strategy rating penalty! The only other group is the Medea group in effect cancelling the effect of the Open rule, as the Ajax have to follow after the Medea class. If it choose not to, it would get a penalty of Strategy Rating of 1.
So in short – while the it is an interesting thought that you can use Open ships to maintain battle group group coherency for other ships, it seems the most likely interpretation is that this is not allowed.