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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking back and thinking ahead

I find this sort of comparative exercise a good way to get things out of my head and on to the table but I have learned that I have to wait for the initial excitement to pass and I have to be wary of decisions made in the heat of the moment. Decisions are better made after the day after.

As well as reviewing these games, I also reviewed some of the earlier test games, esp Plattsburg and Rosa's and reviewed earlier posts on plans and thoughts.  The good news is that despite my meanderings, I am making visible progress and when I look back at the over all strategic plan posted in March, I am back on track. Sometimes I feel that it should bother me that I tend to back into these things by making a decision then doing the opposite, but I have learned to accept it.

There are a couple of key goals that I need to keep in mind:

1. I want as many as possible of my painted figures on display, and the rest need to be stored safely and be easy to access. Since I have limited space, this means limited numbers of troops.

2. In order to conserve space, time and money, I want to get multi-use out of terrain especially but also figures where possible. This is behind my push to 1 scale that has stalled out at 2 (40mm + 25mm) ( ok 4 but the handful of old style 54mms will use 40mm terrain and 1/72nd and 25mm will share).

3. I like playing TT Teaser type games as a staple but want the option to do historical games as well. The ability to play "good old" line 'em up and go at, if needed, exists without special effort.

4. I want at least 1 project with glossy, old style figures, based individually on small bases.

and now I am going to add another one:

5. If I am going to have redundant projects from the same broad tactical era and using the same style and size of figure, there should be a reason why that becomes 2 projects rather than 1. In other words, to be allowed to exist, there needs to be a good reason beyond "oooh pretty".

All of which brings me back to THE PLAN and the series of test games. I've been pretty much set on the kind of games I wanted for the Faraway project but as a throw away, in the last post suggested that I had it backwards. I was right! The 1812 and the 1840's projects need to be split but the kind of 20 man battalion, single toy soldier game I had in mind for Faraway is what i need for the 1812 project. Its what I was working towards and what has worked for years. Something where I can do fictional battles, play teasers or do historical actions at 1:10 or 1:20 or even 1:5.  But, I don't really want to be playing 5 or 6 hour games as an average, that sort if thing should be a once a year special event. When I look back at MacDuff and HofT and my trials over the summer, I had a fusion that seemed to work for me, I just haven't been able to decide which to call it. Since I have been reluctant to give up the semi-skirmish idea, as unrealistic as it was, I went with HofT for the new synthesis. That was wrong, as a single figure game it is really a development of MacDuff so that's what it will be.  The attempt to refit and resurrect the old one with tracking every unit leader and so forth, has to end.

There is a handy if non-empirical formula that I try to keep in mind:

length of game = complexity of rules x size of game x complexity of scenario. 

The test game was low complexity and used a medium number of units so if the time was longer than was optimal, then it will not be really feasible to play larger or more complex scenarios. The 2nd game hit all the sweet spots which means that the game could be bigger or smaller and the complexity of the scenario could be increased and the result would be acceptable in the right conditions. The 3rd game was on the short side as an average game for me, although there are times when an hour is perfect, but that means that the complexity of scenario and number of units could be increased substantially before it became unwieldy.

 Looking back at my plans, it can be seen that lingering on for years (and weighing down 1 whole shelf with books) are the wars in India from the Mahrattas to the Mutiny. plans to try to merge this with the low troop density, small scale North American wars have been a constant source of problems, even though such small actions did occur in India as well.

Now that I have entertained having 2 glossy 40mm toy soldier projects and want them to each offer something different. It rapidly becomes clear that this, the 1840's, India/Fictional side of things is where the possibilities of small units, large armies for "real" battles can be entertained. This is also the right place for multi-figure elements. If I am using a similar frontage and similar figure style then I can still loan figures back and forth when needed but eventually there will be no need. This will give me scope for 10 years worth of casting and painting but with basing and organization questions settled, it can proceed apace.

The Mexican-American War Americans, who have been at a loss at what to do with themselves can still pit themselves against the Indian campaign British in Faraway as they have been doing, perhaps calling battalions companies for skirmishes along the Aroostock, but they can also hope for enough Mexicans to fight their own war one day. (Maybe the NQSYW could move to a new cabinet)

Now, what will the Indian/Faraway project use for rules? HofT needs to about face and head back to its Morschauser roots and its early days when a stand was a unit. The result will be armies ready to fight using either HofT or the PW depending on mood.

To summarize:

War of 1812: Glossy 40mm figures, primarily by Scruby or homecast on individual steel 15mm wide oval bases. Opposing armies of a maximum of 8 battalions each about 24 strong but able to fight as 8 or 12 man detachments, plus militia, Indian allies for the British, a little artillery, very little cavalry, and boats. Most games will use around 1/2 the maximum figures  in total with many numerically unbalanced games. Some units in 1830's uniforms will be included. Existing clunky 1812 units will be kept until replaced after the maximums have been reached, (unless I get an offer 1st).

1840s: (India, Am-Mex, Fictional) Glossy 40mm figures primarily by Scruby or homecast, mounted 10 -12 figures per battalion on a single stand with around a 3"-ish frontage.  Substantial quantities of cavalry and artillery will be needed to support the armies but OB's have not yet been worked up. The initial goal is 1 all arms division of British and Indian troops to face a larger Native army, say 6 infantry units, 3-4 cavalry, 3 guns. The hope would be to double this.

Best get at it.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget elephants! Delighted to hear that India is back on the table.