So I’m still planning the Graustark-Axphain skirmishing for some VSF play-testing sessions using the TMWWBK (The Men Who Would Be Kings) rules from Osprey and Mr Mersey.
The Axphainians (it’s true, that’s how they are labelled in the books) as I’ve stated earlier are drawn from several Russian contingents of the RCW/Back-Of-Beyond collection, now re-purposed as the mortal enemies of Graustark. So all quite perfectly villainous in their Siberian fur hats, long coats and wickedly bayoneted rifles. Plus, the CHEKA elements also stand out as suitable ‘elite’ troops for the Axphain’s dastardly Baron Arkhov (my invention, not in the books). He’s a suitably ambitious and wicked fellow, with grand designs on border infiltration, and potentially the odd abduction of Graustark nobility if he can get his hands upon them. True to form, the Axphainians are a brutish lot, mainly peasants, underlings and thugs at home in their bleak mountainous domain. Society’s to blame.
So the force construction of both sides already provides a good deal of neutral balance, to then modify later with a range of options to create some useful differences. That all helps in exploring certain parts of the rules, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this will be – generally speaking – combat between regular or pseudo-regular forces, with no tribal forces present. The rules themselves I see as a delightful ‘toolkit’ with which you can create some hopefully simple-to-follow basic guidelines, and where you can add ‘character’ with additional delicious details to suit the genre and the setting.
Unit size is fairly standard, fortunately. Weapon abilities will be equal too, so that ‘special weapons’ – like Baron Arkhov’s Infernal Mechanical Gun, (historically a Russian-made Maxim MG) – can be added or removed from the force, depending on scenario criteria, to provide more variation. After all, it’s still play-testing for the VSF concepts.
I’m also still working on the game-within-a-game format too, bouncing ideas about that I and some of the gaming crew have had. That too needs to be simple, provide easy decision-making for the younger mind, and yet still create the interest – the hook – that keeps them involved.
The additional challenge is how to synchronize that and the main battle game together, and to even allow the two to interact with each other. Tricky perhaps, but I’m sure I can conjure something up that works. More on all this soon. And I think I’ll condense the demonym from ‘Axphainian’ to just the simpler ‘Axphain’ – it reads and sounds better, and after all, McCutcheon was an American author with some quaint ideas about Eastern Europe.