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, April 25, 2011

Preparing to campaign with a shifting zoom lens

When I set about this 40mm 19thC campaign, I thought long and hard about whether to go with the constant or variable scale approach. I decided to go with the constant approach with five 4 man "companies" per battalion and planned for opposing forces of 2 weak infantry and 1 cavalry division. More men than Zachery Taylor took into Mexico in 1846, or Sir Charles Napier into Scinde four years before.  This was a force that would fill my 6'x8' table when all troops were deployed but even a single company could be deployed under the rules so small skirmishers, pitched battles and anything in between would be possible.

It sounded good but as theory slowly became practice, a deviation became noticeable between  "possible" and "desirable".  A full battle with all troops on the table would be good for a 3-4 hour game, a 1/2 sized battle an hour or 2 and a small skirmish perhaps 20 minutes. All well and good if the campaign was the actual object. If several small engagements occurred in a turn, they could all be resolved in an evening, especially if I adopted the Portable Wargame to simplify battlefield layout. Unfortunately, the original idea had been to play scenarios and table top teasers and the campaign was supposed to be just a vague backdrop.

When I played out Sawmill Village last month, I ended up doubling the recommended forces turning a minor clash of advance guards into a major battle involving over 1/2 the full armies for both sides. To test matters I played a scenario with smaller forces and found it too quick and satisfying for a main event. I either needed to  accept a reinforced brigade as a bare minimum force for an evening's game or rethink things.
1st US Infantry maneuvering with four 8 man companies.

So, here I am, buffing up MacDuff, rebasing troops (almost done) and contemplating organization and the impact on the "campaign".   There are two main options being considered. The first is to use my late War of 1812 organization and field battalions with four companies plus a command group. Each company would have an officer, sergeant and 6 privates, a little heavy on the officer side but not far off what Britain's used to sell. If I fielded 2 companies for each scenario "unit", 4 battalions would suffice. Of course, three such battalions with some cavalry and guns will fill my table.

The 1st US reformed into three 12 man companies.
 The other option is to field a 12 man "company"  per scenario unit with each being a company for small skirmishes or standing in for a battalion for "big" battles. This will feel better for the more common small games but if I want a game to feel like a "real" battle, I may have to break out HofT and my 1/72nd ACW armies (once they are big enough).

Since I already have more than enough troops, (once I round out units with officers and ncos plus a few privates here and there) I will be able to separate out the theaters of war, calling reinforcements should I ever want to put an extension on my table and play a bigger game.

1 comment:

  1. Cheers MacDuff

    I've nominated your for a stylish blogger award. Details are at
    http://singlehandedadmiral.blogspot.com/

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