Raid on Key West by Gaslight Ė Rules and Comments
By Dave Markley
The raid on Key West was our groupís first experience with Gaslight, so there were the usual number of rules glitches and uncertainties. In general, I found the rules to be straightforward and easy to use. I will address the scenario specific rules, the rules difficulties, and some questions/recommendations about the rules.
The scenario specific rules covered the reaction of the sentries and the large naval guns. For the sentry reactions, we rolled against the figures shoot number. A successful roll meant the sentry could react to the Allies. In the game the pier sentry never made his roll, but the observers on the water tower were successful in the second turn, which started to activate the Prussian forces. We also used the shoot roll to determine if the Prussian units would form up or if they were still waking up, getting weapons, etc. This worked well. I had the Prussian player roll for the arrival of the zeppelin, but as GM accelerated the arrival to keep the game moving along.
For the naval bombardment, I wanted the Allies to be able to target some of the Prussian facilities but suffer from the lack of communications and fire control of the period. I added the two rockets (flares) to the Allied commander, one to start the bombardment and one to cease firing. The targets were pre-plotted prior to game start. Thus, the Allied commander could choose when to start the naval bombardment and if he felt his troops were too close, he could cease-fire. To represent the inaccuracies of the period, I made the allied players roll 2D6 and a Games Workshop scatter dice. The scatter dice has a hit facing, which I scored as a direct hit on the intended target. Otherwise the round would scatter in the direction on the dice and 2d6 inches away from the impact point. The monitor, USS SCIOTO had two twin gun turrets, so I allowed the allied player to fire one gun per turret per turn, or a four gun salvo requiring a turn to reload.
For the Prussian Krupp Tri-barrel shore batteries, I planned a similar approach. Each gun could fire a single round per turn, or two rounds with a turn to reload. The Krupps would hit on the hit value of the scatter dice and two hits would cause the SCIOTO to break off the engagement. These rules were not tested because in the game the Krupp guns were destroyed before they could fire a shot.
I used the GASLIGHT rules without modification with a couple of exceptions. In the pre-game preparations I did not give the character figures a skill. My experience with other games has taught me that the skills are usually forgotten until the players are familiar with the rules. So I chose not to use skills in this game. We also wound up not using the recommended blast radii for the artillery. I have a couple of clear plastic blast templates from Games Workshop in 3 and 5 inch diameters that we used. We could have measured out the radius of the explosion, but in our game this would not have affected the outcomes. I intend to make up some blast templates for the GASLIGHT specified blast radii.
The only other area where we tripped over the rules was in the morale for vehicles. It was not until near the end of the game that I realized that the crew of a vehicle rolled a morale check every time the vehicle was hit. This could have changed the game outcome because the Zeppelin took several non-damaging hits, but could have suffered from failed morale. The morale results charts also need some modification for flying vehicles as I canít seen the Zeppelin crew bailing out and running away. I could see the captain or helmsman panicking and cause the flier to retreat from combat or crewmembers frozen in action. Perhaps this just needs to be a GM call. I also question the concept that a vehicle takes a morale check every time it is hit. This would allow a unit of infantry to keep firing at a vehicle until the crew panicked. However, if a hit only counts if the vehicle must roll on the Vehicle Hit Chart then this would reduce the number of Morale check rolls.
I found preparing for the game to be straightforward. I rolled up a number of leader characters then randomly assigned them to units. I also rolled up the vehicles and the rolls came out, as I wanted. I was prepared to fudge a little because I wanted the Curtis Rotary Conveyance to be fairly agile. The only real problem I had in the set up was preparing the character stats for the Tyrannosaurus Rex family. It took me a while to figure out the tables for the animals, that for the Scuffle and Save characteristics you rolled against the Character Attributes chart. I would recommend that Buck or Chris (or someone web savvy) prepare a step by step example of how to build an animal and add it to the FAQ portion of the web site. It might help newcomers if similar examples for characters, vehicles, and weapons were posted.
Overall, we found the rules to be easy to understand and more importantly easy to play. There is a lot of information and potential packed into the few pages of the GASLIGHT rulebook. We look forward to continuing to run GASLIGHT games. GASLIGHT is the prime contender for the slowly developing Nautilus Affair, coming to a HMGS convention soon (Well maybe for Cold Wars! ).