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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Huzzah 2017 Part Two

Saturday morning was to have been a morning for wandering about looking at games, chatting and so on but... one of the HAWKS who was scheduled to run a game Saturday morning had had to cancel so our table was empty in a full venue. I decided to set up an unscheduled  Portable Wargame session and nabbed one of the Sunday signees as well as Rob and gave the Zulus an outing. It seems the Zulu miniatures were unable to pass on any of the experience gained during the play tests and superior technology won out in each round. The last one was close however.

See Rob's blog for more pictures of the Pike and Shot game and the Portable Wargame.  ( sharpbrush.blogspot.ca )
and also Jeff's blog. (armchaircommander.blogspot.ca)

After a quick lunch on the run it was time for some American Old School Wargaming with Joe Linares and George Nafziger's Pas de Charge! from 1977. Joe had gamed with George back in the day and had acquired his collection of Hinton Hunts.

Little figures, big battalions and brain exercising arithmetic.

The game was based on the battle of Verona/Caldiero but boiled down to fit the table size and time available. Once again there was a good group of gamers on both sides of the table and some tense moments with some failed high probability and successful low probability rolls keeping everyone on their toes.  The combat rules involved a little bit of simple arithmatic like (no of figures x (2d10+factors)/200) sort  or say (34 muskets * 73) etc. We did a fair amount of rounding and guestimating on the corner of the table I was on but I noticed a few smartphones with calculater apps appearing on the far corner of the table). Despite that the rules were easy to grasp and played quickly.

The battle lines are drawn c Turn 3 or 4.
Alas these pictures are the best my cellphone could do in that light, the rest were even worse.

I commanded the Austrian Advance Guard, the only troops on table at the start. I placed my gun on a small knoll in the middle with infantry on either side and Uhlans guarding my open left. 

My Uhlans did very well, not running away until the enemy got close. My Grenzers did some what better, trading fire for several turns and not running away until charged by four French battalions. Even then they had the presence of mind to successfully make the narrow chance shot at the enemy General as they ran. The French then failed three fairly easy morale checks one after the other leaving one disordered battalion to charge my lone gun.

This gun was my Premiere Etoile of the game. It drew first blood in the game, helped drive back the first French infantry probe,  routed an opposing gun as it unlimbered and then with my personal figure at its head, stared calmly at the mob of French infantry rushing uphill at them. As the crisis approached they passed a difficult morale check and then  unleashed the most deadly possible shower of canister into the French attack sending the mob running back down the hill. 

Since the opposing forces had fought to a messy draw on the far side of the table and time was up, that battery was key at our holding the vital road exit. At least until the French regrouped  but that would be another game. Its a pity one can't really take credit for lucky rolling but I will claim some for choosing a solid position and not letting myself be drawn out of it and for not retiring prematurely in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.  Luckily the overall Austrian Commander was one of the better sort who used his reserves well and supported his subordinates.

Anyway, I'm not tempted to go back to rules needing constant arithmetic and much counting of noses but I had a good time and it did get me thinking about slightly more tactical detail in low level games.

My HOTT army in battle as I stare befuddled and rather bare headed at a ruler trying to remember how many cm=100 paces.
Propaganda shot by Rob, stolen from his blog.
Saturday evening was a much needed bit of relaxation and real food and the annual chance to catch up on life outside wargaming with Rob and Irene. We followed that up with a game of 1/72nd Hordes of the Things. I found that the previous 4 days and a few sips of a very nice Shipyard Ale (They support Huzzah so if you see one grab it and support them. One of the tastier American beers actually (sorry).) were getting to me and I was having a hard time thinking clearly but that in itself may have helped as did not being one of Rob's usual opponents. That is to say I made rather different tactical choices than his usual opponents make making me a little harder to predict. I was also still lucky but a victory first time out for a wargame army is always sweet. (Future opponents please note that buying me dinner does not guarantee you a victory) 

One of Sunday's big events the 25/28mm North West Frontier game.

Sunday morning and the last gaming session followed in its time. Already many people had cleared out but the room was by no means empty. I was up early(ish) and had two Portable Wargame tables set up.

Eric, another HAWK, loses Hook's Farm to the Americans Blue Army.
On one table I had the squared cloth and a choice of 54mm armies: Hook's Farm with Red vs Blue or Zulus vs British on the same terrain minus buildings.

On the other table I had a 3" gridded Hotz mat with the choice of 1/72nd Russian Civil War or Boer War.
Red and White fight over control of a small village.
I was too busy briefing players and answering questions to keep records of how many games were played or of any coherent details but I think there were about 7 games played by 6 new players. In every case the players picked up the rules quite simply though it took a few games to start picking up some of the tactical subtleties. Most of the games were fairly evenly fought where both players had equal experience and all were fast. Everyone who played seemed to have enjoyed the game and a few asked about where to get a copy since it seemed to fill a niche for them.

The 54's were quite popular with passer's by and with the players. (Only 1 game was played with the 1/72nd setup).

Another photo stolen from Rob's blog (see above).
For those who excuse off-scale minis please not that while Rob is noticeably taller than me in pictures, his head is roughly the same size.  
And then it was over, just a long ride back, another short visit with family, a planned tooth extraction a day or so  after I got back and so on. In other words, back to real life. Sighhhhh.

Its going to be a very busy domestic month ahead but there will be more wargaming blog posts appearing here regardless, just not about Rough Wooing, Zulus or Portable Wargaming, not right away at least. Time to get back to those new Prince August moulds I think and possibly some skirmish-y games.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Huzzah 2017 Part 1

Ignoring the first 1,000 km of driving, the weekend began Thursday night when we arrived at our first destination to find our hostess in a bit of a stew. Being a novice at wargaming and figure painting Julie had bravely volunteered to paint a contingent of Pathan's for Sunday's big NW Frontier game. Now her painting experience had focused on single pieces like this: ............

(Hmm this photo looked crisper on my smartphone)

........not on rapid batch painting of two dozen 25mm Pathan's. The basic colours were laid in but time was running out! Luckily, veteran painters were now on hand and soon 6 people, 2 of whom had never before put brush to figure, had been pressed into service and coached and by the time pizza arrived a band of warlike Pathans was ready for action. Not only did they look pretty good individually, they also looked cohesive and when put down on the table on Sunday morning they charged fiercely and broke a unit of Sepoys!

The Hasty Tribe charges!

We finished off the evening with a 4 person + GM, fantasy, person-to-person, arena sort of skirmish. This isn't usually my kind of thing but I sorted through the available characters and selected a Ranger who was reasonably fast and proficient with both bow and sword. I then did my best to persuade various Barbarians and Fighters that I was fast enough that if I didn't manage to turn them into pin cushions they might collapse from boredom and fatigue  while trying to catch me and be easy prey for whoever  else was left. Whether the threat of boredom worked or they felt sorry for me, the other 3 fought until just 1 badly wounded, exhausted barbarian was left to stagger towards me and a few arrows settled the question. Alas no pictures were taken.

The convention itself started on Friday and Gary and I were there bright and early as was Rob who had driven up the 1,000 km from Maryland the day before. This gave Rob and I the chance to grab an empty table and go through a very small game to bring him up to speed on our Rough Wooing rules which I had, of course, tweaked since the last game some years ago.

If we'd been familiar with the units and rules the cards could have been pulled off to the side but it was handy to have them with the units. Luckily the 54mm figures were not lost amongst the clutter of stat cards and leader chits. 

We then took part in a 54mm "Very Civile Actions" ECW skirmish. In keeping with my experience throughout the weekend I found myself playing with a great group of people which was enough to render the game a pleasure to take part in. My character was mortally wounded while heroically leading the defence of a house blocking access to the critical crossroad which was a satisfying end. I rather suspect we were in trouble if the game had gone on much longer but perhaps not, in any event we were still holding after three hours and that had never seemed inevitable. And... no, I am not tempted to adopt the rules. They worked ok but not my style.
What initially seemed like a climatic charge turned into a bit of a stand off as the troopers fired their pistols over the cannon at the pikes. 

Friday night Rob and I hosted our Rough Wooing game. The scenario was the same one I had soloed and had hosted at Kentville, just bigger with more figures. The test games had done their job and the scenario played out to a conclusion after a tight game.

For those who missed those posts, the scenario was adapted from Stuart Asquith's Solo Wargaming. Two opposing forces have met at a road junction, both having orders to place a garrison in the town while exiting two Regiments off the far end of the table by road. Ron provided all but one of the French units as well as a stand of English Demi-lancers from his suitably converted Meisterzinn homecasts while I provided the rest of the troops.

The Advance Guard cavalry clash as the Landsknechts provided by the Emperor march on.
The French had the better plan, or perhaps I should say, based purely on observation, the French had a plan. They sent their advance guard cavalry backed by a unit of pikes to slow the English, sent their light infantry to seize the town and sent the heavy cavalry and a second unit of pikes to bypass the fighting and get off. Alas the French nobles appeared reluctant to miss the fighting and consistently rolled as low as possible for movement distances and the pikemen had no room to go past them. The Englishmen and their German mercenaries threw themselves on the old foe and there was much heavy fighting with many casualties on both sides before the English remembered the victory conditions.

An overview a little later. Just before I forgot to keep taking pictures.
Midway through the game the opposing Imperial and French pikemen settled into a push of pike amidst a swirl of archers and arquebusiers on the fringe and the focus of players and spectators was inevitably drawn towards that point until both sides remembered that the outcome had minimal effect on victory.

English billmen and archers stormed the town in bitter street fighting which wrecked both regiments. Behind the infantry both armies' remaining cavalry galloped towards the exit, or in the case of the French Gensdarmes slowly walked their horses while stopping to polish their armour, have a cup of wine.............. However, eventually the horsemen on both sides reached the decision point and in a confused series of melees where the French did some of the best and worst rolling of the game, the French cavalry was broken. That left the English with two regiments of not quite shaken cavalry ready to march off and while neither side held the town, the English still had 2 regiments in the fight including a fresh one against a single French unit and the French conceded rather than expend more whitemetal in hope of a draw.
I'm not sure how I managed this split exposure but the bottom portion is close to right. The upper, or French, unit is one of Rob's. The rest are part of my motley crew. 

After that it was time for bed and oddly it is again. Part two will cover Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Huzzah 2017: Day 3 Heading Home

Well Huzzah 2017 is over.

Once again a great event, well staged and hosted by the Maine Wargamers. Thanks to a combination of good  health,  good weather,  good friends and good fellow gamers, one of the most enjoyable conventions for me in years which is saying a lot.

1 of 7 Portable Wargames played in 3 different  periods and 2 scales.
Tonight I am ensconced at my my sister's  with hopes of getting home  tomorrow.  On Wednesday or Thursday I will hopefully  write an illustrated report of the convention or at least what I can still remember of it!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Huzzah 2017 Day 2 Teaser

Another good day!

Pas de Charge and Hinton Hunt, from the Nafzinger collection.

Huzzah2017 Day 1 Teaser

Day 1 is done. 1 game played and 1 GM'd. Both with a great bunch of gamers and both good games.

Time for bed!