I'm planning to release all of these Suneos de Libertad scenarios in a large PDF, and release the rules as a second PDF, hopefully early next year. However, before doing so, I wanted to test out the rules and some scenarios on real humans. My friends Chris and John were kind enough to play guinea pigs last weekend. We started with the first scenario: The Liberation of Mexicali.
As described in the link above, this scenario attempts to recreate the first action of the Baja California campaign undertaken by the PLM at the end of January, 1911. Mexicali, little more than a workers' colony for the Colorado River Land Company at the time, was pressed right up against the US border (the green, grassy area on the right edge of the table is the US.)
This was an enjoyable battle to watch/referee, one in which the outcome wasn't clear until the very end. Being the first test of these rules and scenarios played by two humans (as opposed to myself playing against a single-player mechanism), it was interesting to see how Chris and John interpreted the rules and used them to their advantage. I thought Chris showed some moments of strategic clarity, such as deciding to consolidate remaining forces at the jail. But ultimately, he was sabotaged by his poor rolling, allowing John to overcome early setbacks and accomplish the difficult task of capturing the jail.
I mentioned to them after the game my surprise at how little attention both players paid to the buildings themselves, which offer 2 points against each firing roll as "Hard cover." They both complained that my rules had no mechanism for sleeping or unaware defenders to hear approaching attackers. We discussed the addition of an "Alert rule," wherein unsuspecting defenders can hear approaching footsteps and whispered voices at 3/4 the range of sight. For this scenario, for example, where the dark of night and the snow reduced visibility to 10", the defenders may have heard rebels that passed within 7.5" of their positions. In daytime/clear weather scenarios, however, a 40" visibility would mean a 30" Alert range, which won't do, so we'll have to think through this rule change a little more. Ultimately, this is likely the only scenario in the entire campaign where such a rule is necessary, as after the PLM liberated Mexicali, everyone knew the war was on, forces dug in or march on fortified towns, and there was little sneaking around or surprising anyone after that. However, such a rule addition is still warranted.
John and Chris also took issue with my Fire Starting rule, wherein each individual mini figure can start a fire, if they roll 3+ once to light the match, and then a second 3+ to light the fire. While I prefer my way, as anyone with a match can start a fire, and its fun to watch things burn..., my friends suggested fire-starting could be a whole-unit action, with bonuses for numbers of figures within each unit. Clearly, I have some editing to do!
Compared to both my solo play through and the actual historic event, this First Battle of Mexicali play-through was far bloodier. It was fun to watch, but John's four surviving rebels would have had a hard time defending the town! My rules do not allow for wounds: each hit tallied is a death. Thus, these games are usually bloodier than the historical engagements they are based on. However, as with many of the flaws in my rules, for me, the need for simplicity and brevity often outweighs other considerations.
We all had a great time drinking beer in the basement and enjoying a tense contest. We plan to give it another go in two weeks, skipping ahead to the next battle over this town: Scenario Four - The Defense of Mexicali. While we are not yet sure who will field which side, as John won this game, he will be awarded 15 additional recruits plus the roll of 1D6 to his forces.