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

Monday, May 4, 2015

Still Alive

Well, the Winter campaigning season, such as it was, is over. Spring has been skipped and we are now in full summer mode. Wow, what a mess the yard is!

I have been trying to finish up the 2 new lancers and the 5 new horses for the Oberhilse Republican Guard but they have been resisting so there are still some belts and bits of harness and details to finish and touch up.

Apart from domestic distractions though I've also hmmm...used up .. a lot of time reviewing past posts as I prepare a summary of my plans and as I try to confirm that I'm on the right track ruleswise. Now even I am not self absorbed, diligent or crazy enough to read every one of the more than 1,000 posts (really? didn't seem that many at the time) , but I did at least scan enough to interfere with painting, playing and rule writing over the last week.

Archive shot of a game from April. This is the look that will continue.

Three things struck me as worth heeding. The first is that there is a fair amount of repetition as various thoughts and issues pop up and are considered . The second is that despite superficial changes some things have remained fairly constant for the last 10 years. Lastly, despite some change in detail, what I want and what I am planning have remained surprisingly constant.

The full plan is still coming but with great relief I have found a wording and format that will allow me to continue to use one set of rules for various sub-periods of horse and musket games in various scales with or without the grid. That is to say the same mechanisms but with different restrictions for units on the grid and off the grid. The plan is to take another shot at having 2 parallel versions rather than trying dealing with awkward phrasing or alternate rules side by side to deal with things like "adjacent". For the foreseeable future the 40mm Atlantica games will stay on grid because I'm lazy!.
At the moment the gridded version will keep the title Square Brigadier and has the mechanisms, all tried and proven, that will remain for both as well as some generic stats. I still need to add more detail on units and weapons and special rules for various wars and campaigns but it is available at right. 

As soon as I can get those pesky lancers dressed and sober I'll play a game then Atlatica will go on the shelf for a bit until I get some sculpting and painting of her Majesty's troops done. But that will have to wait until after Huzzah. In the menatime there are preparations for the Huzzah Charge! games and there is the Morschauser based Medieval/Fantasy exploration.

A Distraction. A shot borrowed from Gathering of Hosts blog.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Life and Times of Brigadier Zinn

I know, they are just little metal or plastic figurines but some wargame figures just do seem to take on a character of their own. It may start with us embellishing stories,  attributing to them decisions made by us on their behalf or remarking on the way the dice seem to smile or frown upon certain characters or units but in the end does it matter how it started? Some little guys just seem to end up with a tale of their own.

Brigadier Zinn is one of those.

(For the curious, this famous officer is represented on my table top by a 40mm Zinnbrigade casting of a 1900 Prussian officer, suitably converted in 2007 and again this morning. His brigade was recruited principally from Historifig (Scruby) ACW figures now being restored) 

Brigadier Zinn in 1875  with a detachment of the Oberhilse 2nd Infantry.
Note that his hair and mustache have gone grey and he is wearing the new Republican uniform inspired by the dark blue of the old Republican Guard as well as one of the new small caps copied from Hougal volunteers.
There is no record of Brigadier Zinn's early career in the army but in "The Rattle of Dice: Memoirs of a Frontier Soldier" by General M. Ross Ret'd  (click here) he is mentioned as being the Major in charge of the Oberhilse Field Force artillery at the Battle of Blast Off Ridge in 1838. This was the opening battle of the Origawn War which lasted until 1845. There was a rapid expansion of the army and the  contribution of the artillery under his command during that battle must have been noted. In the days of the old Oligarchy, the notice of the Council was all that was needed and with a few months there is photographic evidence of him leading the Oberhilse Field Force's First Brigade at the Battle of Wye.  Soon the name of Brigadier Zinn appears in battle report after battle report, often credited with saving the day and even more famous for the number of wounds he has suffered at the head of his men.
Brigadier Zinn wearing the old uniform at the head of the OFF 1st Infantry in 1843.
Between the end of the Origawn War and the outbreak in 1875 of the Intervention, the first of a series of wars now known collectively as the Twenty Year's War, Oberhilse  went through a tumultuous time which included the over throw of  the Oligarchy and the Declaration of the Republic of Oberhilse. Brigadier Zinn was one of those military officers who did their duty and stayed out of politics. The result was that he maintained his position but lost favour with the new government and with favour, all chance of promotion. 

Thus it was that at the outbreak of War, mere months before his 50th birthday, he found himself  once again marching to battle at the head of the Oberhilse First Infantry Brigade.  "Hooray for Papa Zinn!" was the cry in the streets and in the papers.

PS. It has come to my attention that Brigadier Zinn had a son George who followed in his foot steps in the Oberhilse Artillery as can be seen here

"Hallo young George, come up for the races have you? Well, I suppose I should be calling you Lieutenant Zinn now shouldn't I? congratulations on graduating young man. and smartly turned out too. What's this nonsense in the papers about this so called service dress? Why, when your daddy and I campaigned in the Origawn Territory, we did so with boots properly blacked and brass shining. No batman worth his salt would have let it be otherwise."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finishing Up. A Battle Report.

The sun was already high in the sky when General Turner stopped by Molly with her mule full of Mussels and Kegs of Rum. Satisfied that she was as good for the men as any Field Hospital, he pressed on up the hill and surveyed the Old Enemy. 

As the Royals prepared to storm the town a sudden pre-emptive strike by the 1st Infantry sent them reeling back.  The Light Horse have dismounted behind cover and their rifles have already inflicted a hit on the Dragoons. A rogue rocket that veered right came very near to inflicting another!
Red dots mark where Red suffered a loss, Blue's losses are marked by umhmm ..
Green.. dots)

Even without a balloon hanging over his head he was able to count 3 battalions of Blue infantry, Brigadier Zinn's Oberhilse Field Force no doubt, a handful of Greyclad Riflemen, a squadron of Dragoons, a squadron of those damned Frontier Mounted  Rifles, a stubborn and cantankerous bunch as ever was, and 2 guns, one of them a small popgun on a packhorse. Kegs of rum were a better load for a horse or mule. The ever present Travelling Medicine Show seemed to be setting up shop in behind.

Well, he had his own rifles supported by the Royals under Spye, the Young Buffs and Green Tigers under Stoneforte backed by a 9 pounder and then Nolan's cavalry Brigade, Princess Charlotte's Heavies and the King's damned Hussars on their massive horses. Heaviest damn hussars you could ever want. All nicely backed up by the gallant Faraway Trading Company Rocket Brigade, wonder who gets those if the rumours about the company being taken over by the Crown are true?

Zinn's bluecoats seem to be in town already, that could be a problem. No amount of musket fire is going to drive them out. This will have to be bayonet work.  Well, Tin Hearts all.

Best order Nolan to take the cavalry around the right while the infantry storms the town.

Blue's cavalry has been driven in with heavy losses but not broken but Blue's infantry still holds the town.

Well, this is no good, thought Turner, losses are mounting, all attacks on the town have been repulsed with loss and that damned strumpet is sending more men back to the tents drunk than she is returning them refreshed to battle. However, the original plan still looks the best and the enemy has also been hit hard. Its only Zinn that's holding the 1st Infantry to their work under the artillery fire. I'd half swear he's propping dead soldiers back up in the windows with their muskets.

So I'll order the Royals to march to the centre and then every one in! No holding back.
Its Neck or Nothing now!  (and hopefully that rascal Scott doesn't have any Blue Rabbits up his sleeves).

Lord Snooty looks on as the Blue Army breaks, a sight he has not often seen during his tour as Observer. 
Well, he didn't. General Zinn was wounded once again, look for where the fight is hardest and you will find him there, without him the trickle of wounded blue coming out of the corner Pharmacy became a flood. Across the street, the Buff's stormed first the Stone House and then the Restaurant while the Queen's cavalry once again proved that they earn their fancy uniforms the hard way.

Each side had an army morale of 8. Red lost 1 point for a unit below 1/2 and had been down another for an objective in enemy hands until they retook 2/3 of the town. Blue lost 6 points for 3 destroyed units, 2 more for units below 1/2 strength and another because Red held one of the objectives, the bridge. It was much closer than it looked though as 2 turns earlier the army morale difference was only 1.

While I was clearing the table after this game I belatedly remembered that ``the plan`` calls for this period to be dropped. Some of the figures will fall back into the 1812 collection (musket era), some will be held for a future Northern Indian campaign and others will join those who have already been modernized and rolled forward to the 1870's & 80's (Rifle era) but this was quite likely the last battle of the Origawn War that has raged for 7 years without the armies ever being completed! (?)

Just as well the Queen's troops won the last round, it'll make it easier to explain the later history.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Shelf.

I went up to clear the table this morning so I could use it as a work surface to repaint some dog training apparatus for Kathy. Somehow this seems to have involved putting some of my ceramic buildings on the table to see how they fit the 6" grid. What followed seemed almost beyond my control  ..........

After a year's rest, the Red Queen's troops march onto the table.
40mm homecast 1840's conversions.
Since it appeared that I was about to replay the scenario I figured I could at least change the armies and period. Its been a year since my 1830's/40's Atlantican troops were last on the table so it seemed like a good time to get them out.  The last thing I did with these was to reorg them into 18 man  battalions based as  3's and 6's. Not ideal but it worked with each 3 counting as 1  ie the equivalent of 6 figure battalions. I looked at other options but they all resulted in "large" battalions which would have needed to be matched by larger artillery and cavalry units to maintain the balance.

One of the things that is not immediately apparent during the transition from musket to rifled musket to breech loader and eventually magazine rifles is that while ranges went up a little for serious combat and a lot for skirmishing, casualties did not except during the introductory period of each change.  There appear to be 3 main factors. 

One is that despite increases in ammunution allotments, the men acquired the ability to shoot everything they had in very short periods of time and therefore the officers had to control (prevent) shooting except when most needed. When engaging in a low intensity exchange of fire, higher rates of fire mean less since neither is firing at anything full speed or they would run out. The ability to take cover more easily and that increased range are the main advantages of the improvements for skirmishers.

Another, closely related, is that not everyman is a marksmen, even if properly trained rather than being a 1/2 trained conscript. This means long range shooting was best left to a small number of sharpshooters while the rest saved their ammo for the short range firefight.

Lastly, tactics changed. A line went from a close order line on the position to be held with a thin screen of skirmishers to a thick line of skirmishers taking cover on the position with the rest in support under cover to the rear, ready to counter attack, reinforce, defend the flank etc. Dispersal and cover countered increased rates of fire, ranges and accuracy.

During periods of transition the side with the newer weapons would reap the benefits but eventually things would even out. A low level detail analog game would need to show this, a more abstract just needs to know if someone has an advantage and what the result was.

The point? Ever since "meeting" Morschauser my rules have tended to rely on differential advantages not absolute effect. This means the game today used the same rules but with shorter ranges, something that had its own effect on tactics.

But its late. A report on the game tomorrow.