Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space 1889 Soldier's Companion High Martian draft house rules

Basing up some of the RAFM High Martians has presented a few problems.  The landed figures will fit on the standard basing washer but the flying figures aren't really stable. I was thinking about basing the flyers on mounted washers and turned to the Soldier's Companion for guidance. As many others have found, our favourite flying monkeys are barely mentioned in the Soldier's Companion rules. I decided to work up a set of draft house rules. Below are my thoughts and the end results.

The Thought Process

In the Space 1889 rules, High Martians are described as primitive brutes who primarily use hand weapons and Bows. Physically they are shorter than other Martians. Martians overall are limited in strength as player characters. As flyers, we can reasonably expect Hill Martians to be weaker still. And yet these primitive, technologically backward, physically inferior beings maintain an iron grip on the liftwood supply and keep large numbers of slaves under control. How is this possible?

I decided to use the dual basing sizes to drive the process. Each airborne High Martian needs space to manoeuvre just to stay aloft making them cavalry sized yet they can land and fight as foot troops. This sounded a lot to me like a flying variant of mounted infantry. Reading those rules, especially the restrictions on mounted fire further suggested that High Martians are more like Light Horse, capable of firing on the move and charging into combat but not getting the full melee benefit of Light Cavalry. This decision also sets the movement rate to that of irregular cavalry while flying and irregular foot while landed. The average cavalry movement also roughly fits the High Martian move rates in Sky Galleons of Mars

Irregular troops are limited to mass and open order formations. I thought about limiting flyers to open order to represent the extra space needed but we have used a large flying base to compensate for that already - besides who doesn't want to see a mass formation of flying monkeys charging across the board?  That leaves formation changes. By the book, irregulars have to take a full move to make a formation change. That makes sense for troops shaking out into skirmish order from mass formation or vice versa but what about landing? High Martians are supposedly good flyers so let's say they can make a half move and land, or take off and make a half move.

So far so good. What about terrain? For units on foot, it is simple - they move and are blocked as irregular foot. Flyers present another set of problems.  Let's fix combat height at Very Low as used in Cloudships and Gunboats and call this out of the reach of any hand weapon used from the ground but not quite as high as your average multi-storey building, woods or forest - NOE if you will. At Very Low, flyers can move over any terrain without delay but must move around large buildings. They can fly through forests and woods at the normal cavalry rate. Line of site is normal. Let's call Low higher than anything on the board. Barring the standard blocking terrain shadow, flyers at Low can see and be seen by any unit on the board. Guns get dangerous. To change levels, let's call that another half move. For firing or being fired at, units at very low count as being at ground level. Units at low count as 12" further away.

So now to combat. There are a couple of things to take into consideration here. The Soldier's Companion rules don't really address shooting at or by flyers. The 1889 rules give a bonus to the to hit target number making it harder to fire against flyers. I had thought about giving the Hill Martians extra fieldcraft and allow them to use that only when flying.  That works fairly well but instead I decided to stick with a low field craft for use both when landed and flying. The aerial field craft  bonus, the targeting flyers bonus and the open order bonus add up pretty quickly making it tough to hit skirmishing flyers. High Martians in mass lose two of the three bonuses which makes sense - it being easier to hit a fur ball of flying monkeys.

Next is melee. Given their smaller size, High Martians count as a weak adversary. High Martians can charge into melee on foot as any other ground troops. If flying, they can charge into melee as light horse and if their move permits, can land on top of an opposing unit. In this case, High Martians get the bonuses for flying, light horse and defending from higher ground for the first round of combat. For morale purposes this initial attack counts as a rear attack. In subsequent rounds, the High Martians are considered to be brought to ground and fight as normal foot. And that about does it. I haven't tested these yet but will post results when I do.

The short version

High Martians, standard V1,   Kings Guards E1
Weak Adversary
High Martians follow the same rules as Light Horse when airborne and irregular foot when landed. Foot and mounted bases can be used by agreement. At Very Low level, flying High Martians can move over any terrain except high buildings which they must move around  and forests or woods which they can move around or through with the normal mounted movement penalties. Normal range and line of sight rules apply. At Low level, A High Martian unit can see or be seen by any unit on the board subject to the normal blocking terrain shadow rules. They can fly over any terrain on the board without penalty. They count as an additional 12" further away when firing or being fired at. It costs a half cavalry move to change level, land or take off.

Hill Martians on foot fight as any other similarly armed foot unit. Flying High Martians receive their fieldcraft bonus when flying as well as the aerial target bonus when shot at.   They can charge into melee as light horse and if their moves allows, land on top of the defending unit counting as flying and up hill for the first round of melee. For morale purposes, this first round counts as a rear attack against their opponents. For subsequent rounds the High Martians are considered to have been brought to ground and fight as normal foot.


J Womack, Esq. said...

Good work there. I have some High Martians that I am trying to figure out how I want to base them. I haven't gotten as far as rules.

Ksarul said...

Great work. I have three of the old RAFM High Martian boxed sets that I never got round to painting... This will help get me started on them!