EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Clearing a roadblock

Once I had settled that I didn't need spend any cash to make an expansion module for my table, it was time to put it away and get back to work on writing and testing the 20th Anniversary edition of MacDuff. During the week I had retrieved the full 2013 draft and updated it. While doing so I fell victim to the temptation to put in some of the older ideas again. Today, it was time to test them out.

Game 1 hangs in the balance.


I have been thinking mostly about the usual sort of ambushes and raids but the rules were originally conceived for playing Grant Teasers. It looks like I can expect a full Grant scenario  to last three or four hours but I was in the mood for something quick so I settled for something plain and small. Must be the One Hour influence. Lacking an appropriate historical inspiration I went for a simple blocking position with the French astride a road which the British had to move up. I gave the British Advance Guard twelve turns to clear the road.

One of the things I eliminated last year was the  rule around allowing close order companies to form up as a  battalion and then use the battalion as the movement and morale unit still tracking hits by company. Its a simple idea buts its always ended up causing confusion in practice especially at a convention game where  there may be 6 or 8 players who don't know the rules and where identically dressed 8 man companies easily get mixed up. It gets especially complicated when only a part of a battalion is engaged. Anyway I decided to try it again.

The French had a battalion of 4x8 companies of regular infantry and 2 units of 8 militia light infantry. The British marched on in column on the road with an Elite Advance Guard Battalion with a company of 8 Highlanders and 2x8 Grenadiers followed by a battalion of 4x8 line infantry.  

I shuffled the deck and......but that's tomorrow's post.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Go Deep or Go wide?

There was never really a serious chance that I would revert to a permanent table large enough to make the room awkward for day to day purposes but having set it up triggered some interesting reactions and presents a choice that needs serious thought before I act.

Once I had the extension propped up in place to make a 5'x6' table, I placed some troops on it and started trying to picturing  a bigger game. Would it look better with bigger units or more of them?  Its only 50% more area but that was my first instinct, more figures! It didn't take long to remember that I'm still in the mood to try to finish a few smaller projects and master the art of smaller games, even with big figures.

So, what exactly do I want to do with the extra square footage?

For starters my existing Not Quite Seven Years War forces could use the extra width to give room for an infantry line with cavalry wings.  Oddly enough my smallest figures, the 1/72nd ACW, can also use the extra width  should I deploy full armies.

Other than that the main use would be for scenarios that would benefit from manouver room without resorting to off table reserves and flank marches or for games such as ambushes of a convoy with the short sides being the entry and exit points. I turned my attention back to how I could add the extra bit which is a light, 1/4", composite board with wood veneer. It'll need a frame like the main table and either a hinge or else some sort of support.

However, when I remade the 4'x5' tabletop last winter I included a way to slide inserts into the end to support an extension on the end to make a 4'x6' or 4'x7' table. It looked very wide and narrow when I tried it and it wouldn't add any depth to scenarios, reinforcements would have to stay off table and ranges remain short, but the battlelines, or the trip for a convoy, could be even longer or the flanks be even more in the air. It would also make the transition from small table to large fairly painless and remove the urge to fiddle with ranges, movement rates and unit sizes. As a bonus it would only take 1 saw cut, everything else is done. It would also be a matter of seconds to install or remove the extension. Its j6st not a shape I'm used to.

I'm going to have to do some trials before I decide.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wide Open Spaces

"Room to make the big mistakes"

I set out this morning to finally make space in the woodshed/workshop/storage dump  for another cord of firewood. As I was shifting valuable flotsam and jetsam I spied an unexpected item which appeared to be a remnant of  the stuff my table surface is made of.  I hauled it out and OMGoogle! it was the 2x5ft expansion to my old 5x7 table that I had had to remove last June! Having failed to locate it last fall I  figured that I had cannabilised it but Not So!

Bringing it swiftly into the house I thought, "Here's what I need to make my table 4x6 which should be plenty big".  Just to be bold I propped it up to see what 4x7 looked like. Lonnnnng and narrow, very narrow, much narrower than it looks at 4x5, which just goes to show how easily the eye is fooled.

Then I thought the table is 5 wide, the piece is 5 wide, I could....no...maybe...well just to see.... ARGHHHHHHH! I practically got a sort of vertigo! Such open spaces! How many troops and how much scenery would it take to fill this beast?

The 40's don't look as big on a 5x6.


OK, breathe Ross!  This is the same table you were using this time last year!


So now the question is, do I make it into an extension for soecial games? or do I give  up the day to day space that I've been enjoying and remake a permanent 5x6 table? I seemed to recall that always felt odd playing a small game in one corner of the table.