Is Musket Smoke a serious wargame?

Is Musket Smoke a serious wargame?

Someone asked this on Pocket Tactics. So I responded with the following.

ok.. here I go.. Some details to help you decide.

It’s a hybrid abstract wargame, that is serious about tactical options, fun competition and conflict between players. It is serious about capturing the ‘feel’ of Napoleonic tactics and situations but not serious about the historical details of specific battles or special abilities of specific units. Both sides are usually the same as this is a competitive abstract tactical wargame at its heart.

That said, it tries to cover some of the basics. For example cavalry become disorganized after a charge. (can only move 1 hex in following round). It has form of Zone of Control, meaningful smoke and wind, infantry formations. But the scale is small and so if you want a line then you just align multiple units of 30 men. It tries to simulate cavalry’s ability to avoid melee from infantry if desired, but just vs one infantry unit.

It a serious perfect information game with the exception of some smoke, mortar hit locations, and line of sight in campaign mode that hides units. It has a chess like seriousness with position but also has flanking moves that do morale hits and thus reward good tactical play and make it much less of a battle of attrition – more of an exciting thinking mans game with better chances for comebacks.

Muskets that go in the water become wet (blue indicator) and can’t shoot any longer. Muskets auto reload but not if they were involved in melee the previous round. Water and light trees limit movement and can affect damage. Muskets move 2 instead of 3 to abstractly factor in reloading.

It has seriously good training in the form of videos, interactive tutorials, and a mini match mode that lets players undo and try different tactics, gradually learning to make seriously perfect moves. (No undo in the campaign)

It has serious custom UI for each unit type. Making ones decisions fun, informative, and more ‘tactile’ giving you more of that ‘boardgame feel’ and maximizing the use of a touch tablet.

However, a cannon unit is a single cannon with 10 swordsmen defenders, who can work a cannon. It can still be wiped out fairly easily but they don’t just drop and run when the enemy approaches. Instead they load grapeshot and fight – because that is more fun for most people. But it can still only move or shoot, not both.

In short ‘some’ grognards really do love it, and some grognards could do without a game that doesn’t use a special flavour of black powder rules, lookup tables and 4 different types of elite musket units for each side.

Some casual players feel overwhelmed by all the ‘open tactical options’ at first but then come to love the UI and just jump in and start killing things, quickly noticing that distance and unit cooperation is important.

This game is serious about finding a fun balance between abstract tactical and realism. It is serious about being a ‘new style of wargame’. That’s not just a slogan, its more about correcting expectations and seriously expecting something different.

I think I said serious too much.. erg. But anyways, now you have a better sense how how serious this game is. Whatever that means.. haha..

Gore piles, smoke and morale explained..

Gore piles, smoke and morale explained..

Gore Piles:

CREATED BY: a heavy cannon (artillery) hit that does 4 or more damage. Heavy cannon hits ALWAYS cause a morale hit AND a gore pile.  Note that siege cannons do 4 upon specified target (without a lock) and mortars do 4 damage to everything in a 7 hex area.  A normal cannon usually needs the target unit to be locked before this will happen.

UNITS AFFECTED BY BEING ON A GORE PILE: low confident units (units with no yellow stars)

– unit takes +1 damage from all attacks.
– all further cannon (artillery) shots cause a morale hit. (even weak shots)

– decide if it’s worth it to stay or break away. Usually you will break away.

CREATED BY: 2 layers of normal smoke.
DURRATION: 1-2 rounds
MOVEMENT 1 hex per round, you can see what direction it will move in the following round. But you can’t be certain if it will fade out or not.

The smoke view can be controlled with the smoke-puff button.  This toggles natural smoke view (showing all the little wisps) or just the thick smoke view (showing only hexes with overlapping smoke that blocks line of sight.)  Natural looks better, but thick view is more practical tactically.  Sometimes though you want to see where the wisp’s of thin smoke are so that you can add a musket shot over top of it to deliberately create thick smoke for defensive (or offensive) purposes.

– Cavalry LOVE smoke to sneak up on units in hard core mode where the smoke makes them invisible.
– A defensive cannon shield. Where should you move? Look at the smoke, look at the wind direction, look at the shooters (mostly cannons) and move to where the smoke will be next round (if it doesn’t fade away) This gives you a ‘chance’ at some cover.
– Don’t have your cannons too close together. They will smoke block their own shots quicker and you don’t want a cavalry unit to take them both out at once with a single charge.
– A bunch of slow moving muskets on an open field facing lots of cannons only have his one thing to help them. When the forward cannon defenders come out to lock or get close the muskets can form a temporary defensive wall that allows the rest of the army to close in safely for a round or two. Without ‘thick blocking smoke’ cannons on an open field would be too powerful and nobody would want to engage. Smoke adds the right amount of balance for a fun and realistic fight.

– Normal units can take 2 morale hits then they are gone (routed).
– Boosted units with extra confidence (yellow stars) can take extra morale hits. Each star is like an extra morale hit point.
– Each star also allows that unit an extra point of melee damage.

Morale Hits are what reduce your morale: 4 things cause morale hits.
1) Cavalry charges **
2) Rear flank melee attacks. (all 3 rear positions) **
3) Heavy cannon hits (4 or more points of damage)
4) Any Cannon hit (upon low confident units upon a gore pile)

** (the attacker must be same size or larger than target)

Morale-hits are rewards to players for good play. Force your enemy to lock and expose their rear sides. Charge them or blast them with cannons when the time is right.

But they are also a good way for the weaker player to make a comeback. With some good moves large amounts of men can be removed from the battle field.

Good defensive play can reduce how many morale hits you take, and good offensive play can increase how many morale hits you cause. In general you want to cause more than you get to win. A great leader tries to keep his men from fleeing while causing as much terror to the enemy as possible. Unit morale states are more important that casualty losses in these types of battles.

The great leader doesn’t just manoeuvre with unit sizes in mind. He watches the smoke and wind directions and is aware of uneasy and panicked units on both sides. Then he makes his moves with all things considered.

iTunes Link:

Musket Smoke – a new style of wargaming.

Musket Smoke was released – finally.

iTunes Link:

This is a fast-paced (and bloody) tactical turn-based game inspired by Napoleonic warfare. It’s a frantic battle between two commander units as they constantly try to maneuver forces around each other.

This game was designed ground up specifically for the iPad and and features a unique engaging UI experience that is a blast to play with.

When units lock in melee they become ‘dramatically’ vulnerable to flanking units, musket fire, and mass death from cavalry charges and various styles of gory artillery hits.

Position and movement is everything, even angles of fire are important as you need to prevent friendly fire (when possible).

– Competitive online turn based (async).
– Local pass n play.
– Solo training skirmish maps with AI.
– Full replay (for online games)
– Player to Player message.
– Tutorials and Videos
– Online campaign – mega match.

The actual gameplay is simple, but there is no end to the depth.