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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not Quite The Raid on St. Michel (Preparation)

One year's uneasy peace followed the repulse of the Pragmatic Alliance's attack on Lobositz. (see http://www.lochsloy.ca/wargames/CW09Lobositz.htm ). This was broken when Rosmark and Schoeffen-Buschhagan clashed at Sawyer's Farm, the first documented encounter between the forces of these 2 countries outside of their respective alliances. In this battle, the newest squadron of pistol wielding SB dragoons destroyed a veteran squadron of Yellow Hussars and then, despite being charged while rallying, drove back the newly formed 2nd squadron of Hussars. The Crown Prince Pandours, also seeing action for the first time, took heavy casualties but were closing from the flank on the solitary SB artillery piece when the SB commander beat a parley and ceded the town, being allowed to retire with honour. The scene was set for the Pragmatic Alliance's raid into Rosmark.

(They don't call 'em semi-flat for nothing!)
(Testing the house rules showed that when attackers failed to break in, it's good for the defenders, when they break in with twice the numbers of the defenders, its not so good.....)

There were several issues to be considered when we decided to stage C S Grant's Raid on St Michel as a convention game:
1. How would using Charge! instead of the Wargame affect the game set up and play?
Based on past experience with Grant scenarios, I didn't expect the rules to be a major issue although artillery seems to be quite a bit more powerful in Charge!, especially shot & shell. Since many of the movement rates are about 50% faster, we adjusted some of the arrival times and the time limit on Game 4. The end results were fun to run and the players appeared to have fun, several coming back to play a 2nd game.

2. Could the scenarios handle the potentially large number of players and short time frames?
One of the keys to a good convention game is to see that all the players have something to do and that the games flow quickly and reach a conclusion within the time allotted. Most players are happy to control less than they normally would in a face to face game.  We decided that there were enough forces in games 1,2 & 4 for up to 6 players with 4 being ideal. We allowed for up to 10 for games 3 & 5 with 6-8 being ideal. As it turned out, we didn't fill any of the games which is unusual for NQSYW. We had 3 to 4 players for each of the smaller games and 4-6 for the larger ones. All of the games reached a conclusion within 3 hours with victory in 2 of them hanging in the balance until the last turn.
3. Would it be possible to play the games as a mini-campaign when each game might be played by a different group of players?
We were somewhat concerned about the heavier casualties that are incurred in Charge! and about players' attitudes and were thus prepared to improvise if needed to make sure that all of the games were viable. As it turned out, while several units were virtually destroyed, the casualties were even enough that it did not unbalance any of the games. Even more pleasing, the players were unfailingly diligent in not throwing away their troops in senseless attacks, even, for example, hording grenadiers for future games that they themselves would not be playing in.

4. How could we plan properly when we wouldn't be sure what troops would be available until the day of battle (there were a dozen people potentially providing troops, some of these painting troops up to the day of battle!)
After studying the force levels and counting existing troops, making alowances for planned units and possible no-shows, we determined that we needed 15 cavalry squadrons in 5 regiments on each side but only had 10 Pragmatic vs 12 Northern squardons, some in 3 squadron regiments, others being independent or in 2 squadron regiments. One possible answer was to field 2 squadron regiments but we decided to leave the heavies as three squadron regiments but fielded the light regiments as 2 squadrons. To make up the numbers, we allowed the single squadrons of SB and Wachovian Hussars to appear multiple times as the 1st, 2nd and eventually 3rd Squadrons of their respective regiments. This could have been an issue but casulaties were heavy enough that by the time they were all together, a single squadron was enough!
Light infantry and artillery was available in an abundance and some had to be left out but infantry was short, especially for the raiders. In the end we fielded all possible Pragmatic units at full strength (3 companies or about 60 all ranks) which was about 3 units short and only enough Northern units to maintain the proper ratio. This turned out to be enough and indeeed since 60 40mm figures take up considerably more room than 48 30mm ones, more troops would have crowded the table.

The next entry will recount Game 1 but meanwhile, here are the Rosmark troops mustering for morning parade at the border town of St. Stephen.



  1. Ross,

    I'm looking forward to the accounts of all of your NQSYW games.

    -- Jeff

  2. Dear Ross,
    Absolutely glorious pictures! I am very sorry to have missed this event. You have genuinely caught the spirit of these five games as laid out in the book. Maybe next year when the wife's health improves....