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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rosters and things

This started as a reply comment to Bob Cordery but sort of turned itself into a post. :)

I was keen on either a roster or a pin/kill result with the gridded game but the RCW & Hook's Farm games went well without it which has given me pause. The roster averages things out, making results more gradual but it does lengthen the game (and affects the activation) and causes issues with the current simple melee rules..

Both of the games mentioned "felt" to me like skirmishes between a handful of companies, which is different than massed close order battalions. I am pondering the possibility of using a version of this to fight battles such as Meani or Lundy's Lane, where a unit=a battalion is a good fit but losing a battalion to skirmish fire won;t feel right and there are other issues, some touched on in the last post.

The mutual destruction melee is also problematic though very Morschauser-ian if I can put it that way.

The effect of losses also changes with the number of units so that instead of 1 unit/1 square = 1 battalion, if I go to 3 units in 3 squares = a battalion then that gets some of the same result as a roster but requires a larger grid (as in more squares vs larger squares) . An added benefit is that armies get more robust and the game more complex in an organic fashion as the game grows rather than by increasing the complexity of rules.

An added advantage of this approach is that a skirmish can take place with the same rules, troops and grid rather than having a small game set and a big game set.  The skirmishes can be relied on when time or space is limited and the bigger games indulged in as a special event. The only issue for me is squeezing my big figures and terrain into a small grid. But that is nothing that a little ingenuity and compromise can't handle.

However, another option that I have been mulling in background mode is to have a pin or disorder result from shooting, something easily tracked with a small marker.

 I'm also leaning towards a change in melee so that there is a defender roll followed by an attacker roll rather than simultaneous rolls. (yes this is what I do in HofT) This would eliminate mutual destruction, make attacking at 1:1 a dangerous task and would avoid the need for more complex ways of dealing with some of the issues.

Right, I'm off to town to get my reading glasses, have lunch with a friend and play a game of either Wings of War or BKC on hexes.


  1. This may not be a bad idea - I have found the command and colours series of games change feel when played on a bigger board. You may be on to something here.

  2. Ross Mac,

    I have read your latest blog entry with considerable interest, and here are my initial comments:

    1. Although the rules were designed to be used on an 8 x 8 grid (i.e. a chessboard) the play-tests show that they are capable of being used to fight battles on much bigger grids, and I must admit that I am now of the opinion that in the near future I will be moving towards using a 12 x 12 grid (as was used in Morschauser’s original ‘Frontier’ rules). It seems to me to be easier to start small and build up than to start big and try to reduce size.

    2. If one moves to grids with more grid squares, it becomes possible to have Units that are made up from smaller sub-Units. As long as these sub-Units are in contiguous grid squares (including diagonals!), they could be activated as a single Unit. This means that Units can take ‘steps down’ in strength and are not wiped out at a single blow (although that is still possible in the right circumstances!).

    3. As you state, this move to a larger grid means that you can have one set of rules for both skirmishes and larger actions, and this has a particular appeal for me.

    4. You could easily introduce a ‘pin’ or ‘disorder’ result for artillery fire and/or non-artillery fire (in fact, I like the idea A LOT!). This would mean that players could ‘expend’ activations moving, firing, or unpinning Units (I like the idea EVEN MORE NOW!)

    5. I am not quite sure how your proposed ‘defender rolls then attacker rolls’ mechanism works unless it means that the defender can throw an attacker back before the attacker can mount their attack. If that is the case, it would not remove the mutual annihilation result entirely but it would give defenders a better chance overall because the defender has to ‘lose’ their Close Combat before the attacker can ‘win’ or ‘lose’ theirs.

    I hope that your new glasses are ready and that you have an enjoyable lunch and game.

    All the best,


  3. Conrad, I like the look of the miniatures versions of C&C units you and Tony and Tim have produced.

  4. Bob you are right. There is also an attraction to the idea of a small portable game and to using an actual chessboard.

    I had enough highway time today to gather my thoughts so I should be able to put together a summary tomorrow and explain my thinking.