EXCERPT 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

Friday, May 27, 2011

History repeating itself.

In various ways.

First and most obviously, I reset the table with 40mm Toy Soldiers and fought the scenario again with muskets.
I won't go through the whole game but the US (attacking) arrived on only 1 road and at the latest possible hour, 9:15. This lead their General to feel rushed and he made various tactical errors which led to artillery fire being blocked and to a series of piecemeal attacks going in.. (The British General also made a couple of bad calls but got away with them). I do have to report a bizarre sequence of events though. In the last game, the first shot of the game saw the defending artillery firing at maximum range and scoring a ko on an attacking infantry unit. It happened again. On the next turn, the defending artillery pinned its opposite number but was destroyed by the return fire, and yes, it happened again!  Its only 4 d6 die rolls but it felt just BIZARRE in a deja vue kinda way.  Skipping ahead, the American Dragoons got over the bridge for a few minutes but that was it and the tattered remnants of the Army of the Columbia had to retrace their steps towards Plattsburg.

A good game which took a little longer to play. Attacking with muskets is a lot harder. Needs planning and careful execution, lines of troops are best oddly enough. With a 2nd line in support if possible. The rules worked well, tactics flowing nicely from weapons. The only concern was with the rule that pinned troops go to ground. Made perfect sense with troops with magazine rifles but with smoothbore muzzle loaders, it just didn't feel right. Felt even less right once I realized I was better off NOT unpinning my defenders. Not sure what to recommend at this point, just excuse musket armed troops from lying down when pinned or find them a different penalty such as treating their targets as in cover to represent the reduced effect of their volleys as panic and disorder eats away at their discipline?

Secondly, it did not escape my eagle eye that 12 25mm figures on a 4" hex looked more "unit"ish than 6 40mm figures on a 3" hex. So I spent a little time contemplating basing again.

Just happening to have a wide selection of precut sample base sizes on hand, and remembering that I had originally mounted my 40mm AWI troops 6 to a 50mm square base. I broke some out to see. (no I didn't rebase any painted troops for a first test). Looks like a close fit, I'll have to wait until I get my template to see what works best. 

Not that all of my troops need to be based to fit on 4" hexes but nice to know one's options. Might come in handy when I get to India. Given a 2 hex musket range, a 600-700 British battalion in 2 ranks would be 2 hexes worth of troops, somewhere between 8 and 12 figures per hex. Meeannee would call for 8 "units" of infantry, probably 2 guns and 4 cavalry. Since the "native" opposition probably formed deeper than 2 ranks, one could put them at least 3 figures deep, if going for 8 British per hex then perhaps 12 natives helping to give that look of being out numbered. 

And last but not least, I picked up another dolly, broke it (accidentally) and glued it back together in an advancing pose and dressed as an Albanian (vaguely). There is still some detail to work on but with luck and perseverance (why oh why did the sun finally come out after 4 weeks of cold cloudy drizzle? Still one can't till all day, too strenuous.) I'll start on the mold tonight. If it works, I should be able to cast up 48 of each in no time. They look a little wobbly head doll-ish to me but I'm sure they'll fight well for all that.



  1. Ross Mac,

    Yet another very interesting battle report.

    As you say, going to ground is something that troops did in the late ninetieth century, but not in the earlier part of the century.

    I think that your idea that before the introduction of magazine rifles 'pinned' troops should have a reduced fire effect makes sense. Perhaps a -1 on all D6 fire effect scores might be the answer? It reduces their chance of destroying an enemy Unit and increases their chance of having no effect.

    Would this have made a difference in you latest play-test?

    All the best,


  2. Bob, Hope you're feeling better. Ron and I have talked about it and what we are going to try next (I say we, due to the hour commute, we are playing solo and discussing the results and what to try ) is having pinned units count their targets as being in cover. This will reflect that they are disorganized and wavering in the face of enemy fire and thus less effective. I would think the same could apply to later troops who have gone to ground as some of the unit are no doubt too busy keeping their head down to shoot back. We discussed a -1 but that would make troops in cover invulnerable to fire from pinned units.

    The other thing we have been playing with is a rule for Elite troops, after all one need's one's Grenadiers! The next thing we are going to try is having Elite units able to remove a pin when activated AND shoot or move.(possibly costing an extra activation point) This reflects their superior training and morale and makes them formidable on the attack as they can press forward more easily.

  3. Ross Mac,

    Yet more good ideas! Once you are happy with them, let me know and I will add them to the 'Additional Rules' page of the website.

    All the best,


    PS. I am slighly better than I was, and hope to be back to normal very soon.

  4. Will do. I have a double size 1812 game set up at the moment. 26 units vs 22.