Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bandits and Villains - a Flashing Steel mini-campaign

Flashing Steel is now my preferred skirmish game for the 17th and 18th centuries. With a bit of tinkering very unique attributes can be given to figures. The rulebook also has a mini-campaign system, but in this case not too useful. 
What I'd like to do is a series of clashes between the bandits now taking shelter in Calvacasa's land, and a ruthless loyalist officer sent to destroy them. The loyalist army is not ready for a direct engagement,  especially after their recent defeat, but a larger number of provincials can be sent against the hundred or so outlaws. Word also travels slowly and the Parmigiano court might not at all be aware of the loss of the Civita Maria garrison. 

So here are a few outlines for my own future references, and ideas which may help someone:

#1 Battle planning
The stage is given, northern Quattro Formaggi. The bandits can range most of the area with small groups, so the size of the country is not a factor. 
The campaign will consist of five battles. The first one is "staged" by the loyalists. There is no specific attacker and defender role. 
In each battle, two objectives are assigned to both parties. These can be as simple as "eliminate the enemy" or as complicated as "capture the nobleman for ransom, then bring him to safety at the table's edge". They can overlap: the loyalists must protect the nobleman while the bandits must capture them; or be entirely different and fulfilled independently at the same time. Gaining the objective, that side receives a victory point or marker. The next battle will be set up by the winner of the previous one. If the overall campaign status is a draw (both sides have the same amount of VPs), the side who was 'passive' in the previous battle will assign objectives and choose the ground.
Each battle should have a 400-500 point limit for both sides, and only a handful of "super awesome" figures (a single figure costing over 80 points) should ever be present. 

#2 Attrition
The bandits can retreat from the table if they feel they are losing. The loyalists can never do this voluntarily. Both sides can vary their force composition between battles - it is unlikely that the same group of 10-20 men will fight every battle.
Both forces have a core morale: Bandits have 6 and loyalists 8. If a battle is lost or the participating detachment loses half or more of its men, a die is rolled. If the result is 3 or less, force morale drops by 1, if 4 or more, it drops by 2. 
If one side's morale reaches zero before the last battle is concluded, this tabletop encounter will be a "pursuit" style of game where the side with remaining morale points has a 100 point advantage and has the single objective of capturing/killing as many of the defeated as they can. If the bandits are the losers, the last battle is an attack on the bandit hideout by the loyalist forces: they cannot retreat this time. 

If, by the time of the last battle, the loyalists have an advantage in victory points by at least 3, the same "pursuit" scenario will be concluded with the same 100 point advantage, but the bandits can safely retreat to Calvacasa land, and the campaign's short term goals will fail for the loyalists if they cannot terminate more than half of the enemy.

#3 It's a trap!
The loyalist officer (name yet to be determined) is a cunning man, accustomed to irregular warfare. He knows the tricks of forest bandits too well. This means that one scenario in the series may include a loyalist reinforcement of 80 points of cavalry. Roll one die at the beginning of the game, and the result is the number of the turn the reinforcements will enter in. The loyalist player will choose which encounter of the first four will feature these cavalrymen (they cannot be used in the fifth). 

#4 Artillery 
Both sides can choose a battle in which they will have a small cannon (galloper/battalion gun). 
This is a small device, so instead of using the rules from the SDS expansion, it is going to have a crew of 2 (C2 Q4+) and a limber. It has no point cost, it is considered an inherent part of the scenario.
Reloading the cannon takes 6 activations, aiming 3. On the third successful activation it fires a solid shot up to 4L with a +4 +3 +2 +1 modifier, respectively. Up to two models can be hit if they are in the same line of fire. Walls have a C score of 2 against it, reduced by 1 after every successful hit (scoring more than the targeted wall's roll on 1d6+C). If the wall reaches a C score of 0, it is breached.
The gun can be pivoted during the aiming process. It takes two actions to limber/unlimber. When limbered, the entire crew has a Medium movement and is not slowed down by rough ground.
The loyalists may only use their gun in the last two battles. If the bandits' morale is already zero by the time of the 4th battle, they must use it in the last, fifth one. The bandits' hideout is heavily fortified and surrounded by rough ground, so the loyalists should suffer a bunch if they use their cannon prematurely. This gives an edge to the bandits, but their cannon is still one-use so they must time well. (It would be wise to use it when they can set the stage also, and place it in a critical position, but the question is, how well versed bandits are in the fine art of war?)

#5 Strategic objectives
The loyalists must ensure the safety of their remaining lands without provoking a major rebel advance on it. The best way to do this is to engage that part of the rebel force which is isolated, not too well organized, and thus vulnerable.
The bandits are threatened by the loyalist aggression because they cannot receive direct support from the rebels. However, if their morale reaches 0 in the campaign, Calvacasa will lose the advantages provided by them - e.g. tying down loyalist forces, raiding supply lines, providing communication, a large portion of what irregular forces do in war. The count still has no choice - he's just begun negotiating with the freshly conquered Civita Maria council and all of it could end abruptly if word got out of his alliance with the outlaws.
The bandits can win both with a cumulative VP advantage and reducing enemy morale. The loyalist contingent may only score a strategic victory: if they have more VPs, but the bandits still have morale points remaining, they simply retreat and the provincials will be tied down again, trying to keep them out of their land.

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