Being a treatise on VSF and Mars, and on 19th Century colonial warfare in general

(with a nod towards Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, lest I take myself too seriously)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Translating SC into DoB2

SC (the Soldier's Companion ruleset by GDW, now published by Heliograph) gives a great deal of useful information on building Martian states and armies, and it is as good a starting point as anything for building up scenarios and "consistent" backgrounds for battles and campaigns.

The norm in SC is for units of 20 foot or mounted (including 3 or 4 officer/NCO figures).  The implied scale is about 1:10, and the British army has 4 "companies" of 20 figures making a full battalion which confirms this.  It also states that "most Martian Regular infantry is armed with smoothbore musket as well as some sort of melee weapon" which somewhat belies the typical 50/50 split of a Martian band between "cutters" and "shooters", but we'll go with the flow.  For random cities, the base force strength is 2 bands of infantry, 1 band of mounted and 2 guns per "army number", so your basic building blocks  are of 60 figures plus 2 guns.

But as I want to use Piquet's DoB2 (Din of Battle 2) in company scale, I need to do some translation work.  Company scale in DoB2 has each infantry unit (12 figures) representing 80-150 men, and an 8-figure mounted unit representing 40-80 men.  A gun model (and 3 crew) represents a gun section of 2-3 guns.  We're therefore talking about a similar figure/man ratio to that used in SC.

In my "typical" regular Martian unit I have a 4-company battalion consisting of
- 2 companies of infantry armed with muskets
- 1 company of infantry armed with polearms
- 1 company of infantry armed with jingals and rockets
That's 48 figures, and is close enough to the 2 bands of 20 infantry in SC.  The 20-figure mounted band will be represented by 2 troops of 8 mounted under DoB2.  That's 64 figures in all, so pretty good.  And 2 gun models is 2 gun models, as both rules sets have a model representing a gun section.

SC also attaches both mounted and foot mercenary bands to much of the regular forces, again on the 20-figures per band model.  I'll therefore have each band represented by two DoB2 units of the relevant type.  That's overweight in infantry and underweight in mounted but balances out fairly well.  I haven't decided whether I'll split the foot units into one each of "shooters" and "cutters", or whether I'll have them as mixed-weapon units.  Splitting will make them more specialised, but also less versatile.  They are intended for "light scouting and skirmishing" duties, so versatility would seem to be more appropriate, and it would also help to differentiate them from regulars.  Time will tell.


  1. Interesting conversion. I've been a fan of Piquet since it's inception. But several of my friends don't enjoy playing it due to some games where one side just sits the whole time. Has DoB2 changed any of the mechanics or do you use specific house rules to avoid that happening?

    1. I should say that I'm a fan of the Piquet idea, but also that I've still never played it "in anger". The DoB2 rules do list the "Rule of 1/3" as an optional rule to mitigate against large impetus swings (or lack thereof). Basically the side that loses the impetus roll will get impetus points equal to 1/3 (round down) of the impetus points of the winner, with the winner deciding who goes first. This way I guess nobody should be idle for too long (unless they turn lots of Dress Lines cards!).

      I do sometimes wonder how many of the Piquet nay-sayers have actually experienced "games where one side just sits the whole time", and how much is now urban myth. I know I've heard and read about the criticism. I've never, ever seen a battle report of it happening, though. Statistically it possible of course, and I'd find it mighty frustrating if it happened to me, however historically justifiable it might be. It just seems inherently improbable that everyone has experienced it. Just thinking out loud really.

      Anyway, the Rule of 1/3 is probably the way to wean people on to the system.

    2. Thanks much. I'll have to give the 1/3 idea a try.

      Several of our games were not the one-sided variety, but 2 or 3 were and it really left folks wondering if it's what they wanted to be playing. I personally have no problems with it if that's how the dice roll, but when I put on games for others at home or conventions, I'd rather they all had a good time and got to actually play.