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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WW Who? Where's my Horse and Musket?

The 1st Brigade of the Oberhilse Field Force, pride of the Blue Republic, fielded with its experimental organization of 3 x 12 battalions plus Brigadier, flag and drummer.

OK so things have been a little bit more unfocused than is usual, even around here. In an unusually  persistent manner, I set aside distractions, set up one of the larger sized scenarios/TableTop teasers as previously mentioned. and despite interruptions, naps and movies, played out a Hearts of Tin (HofT) game to see how that felt compared to the semi-skirmish one played last week.
What's wrong with the smoke trail on those rockets?

On the whole the experiment was a solid success. Early on, I had a somewhat strange sensation as, despite the lack of a grid, or 1 Stand units and a different set of rules, it felt reminiscent of a Portable Wargame.   After some thought I am speculating that it was because the game was quick to set up and play, the number of units was similar to what I might have deployed in a PW2 version of the scenario, and the degree of decisiveness was similar. All of those I consider to be positive since it was being done with  over 200 of my 40mm Toy Soldiers in play which means it indicates that I am on the cusp of realizing all of my criteria for pushing on with my various mid 19thC campaigns.  I then realized that it also reminded me of early Morschauser Meets MacDuff games.

On the whole I would say that Mr.Cordery has been a very beneficial influence on me this year.

The Noel Bridge turns into a bloody shambles as Larsen's Lancers  hold the exits against all comers.

Due to various non-gaming related issues I was not able to sit and play the game out in one session, or two. I wasn't worried since by about turn 4 or 5 it was obvious that Red was about to win a major victory despite the valiant attempts of the Faraway Trading Company Horse Artillery Rocket Battery to prove themselves to be impartial (doing almost as much damage to their own side as they did to the enemy.)  Every attempt by Blue to cross the bridge has been thrown back with heavy loss, including one by the Dragoons, committed from reserve. The Blue Guards had been thrown back and only the Oberhilse Field Force was unbloodied.
The Blue Guards have been repulsed. Time for bed, we can finish up in the morning.

I got up this morning to finish off loose ends, after all, one doesn't wish to lay oneself open to charges of favoritism. OK in goes Blue's 1st Infantry brigade. Storming up out of the river, up the hill against the defended villages. Not much hope there. Oops.

  Ever have one of those games where  the winning side's dice suddenly go cold?

About 8 turns later, after the Rocket Battery came close to blowing itself up, and after heavy casualties, Red finally won their victory, by a nose. The only thing keeping Red on the field when Blue's morale finally cracked was Larsen's Lancers. They had been left by themselves to  hold the bridge while the rest of the flanking force fell back on the double to the main position, had repulsed a final desperate attack by a Squadron of Blue Dragoons and were still in fighting fettle. Full honours to the Lancers this day. 

The narrowness of the victory was partly due to Red's dice going suddenly cold but mostly to me not really noticing how much slowly accumulated damage had been inflicted on Red while over estimating how much damage had been done to Blue. As a result, I was slow to make the best of the available resource and also failed to pay heed to the victory conditions which were about blocking Blue's ability to proceed off table, not to necessarily stop them from getting a bridgehead. I could see however that some tweaks to the morale rules had not had the desired effect of making things more decisive but in fact had made them less so. This is a delicate matter that I have been alternately tweaking or drastically experimenting with over the last 8 years, occasionally getting it close to what I want. Hopefully the latest tweak will do it as I had been close enough this time for it to have been acceptable if not perfect. In any event, by the end of the game, and about 6 short gaming sessions over 2 days, the Portable feeling had evaporated.

As a minor aside, I was also trying out how the Observation balloon and Hospital worked with the simplified rule. For the 1st 1/2 of the game, they were pretty much irrelevant, for the 3rd quarter the hospital kept Blue in the game while the Balloon was useless while during the final quarter, the hospital became useless and  the balloon saved the day, breaking ties to give Red the initiative on several key turns.   So, good all around.
(hmm that came after the balloon was hauled down, moved and relaunched, maybe it was just in the wrong position at the start....)

The situation near the end of day.

Anyway, after a successful and enjoyable game which indicated that I am on the right track for my "main thing", and having posted the 1st couple of ideas for early/mid 20thC games, it seemed logical to clear off the troops and deploy 1/72nd Roscian and Naryatrian tanks and infantry to try out the rules.  Buuuuuuut there were just a few niggly little things before I pitch into painting and basing, making scenery, tidying my room, and all the other horde of things that have been put off over the last while.

While the 12 man units worked ok and could be a good basis for my projected campaigns,  this was one of the larger of the scenarios, top third anyway, and the table hadn't exactly been crammed. The Battalions felt small and fairly brittle and the Brigade turned into the effective unit. OK for my 1/72nd ACW where I'll be able to field brigades as scenario units but not so great for the 40's who will not be able to squeeze 8 brigades onto the table. A quick check of my scales also reminded me that a 12 man battalion is less than 400 men, ok for 1812, not so good for India. Perhaps I should run my 16 man line infantry, 8 cavalry or light infantry units  to see if they were the right solution after all, and then, there are those small tweaks to the rules that need to be tested.  I want to work a bit on bases and maybe movement trays and want to play the game in 1 or at most 2 sittings so while the table is set, I plan to try it out on Saturday.

Its been 2 years since my 20th C troops have been out, I guess they can wait a while longer.

Deja Vue only bigger. The forces redeployed with 16 man Battalions, 48 man Brigades


  1. I love the look, very inspirational. The 16-man units look fine in that last photo, not crowded at all.

    With both sides evidently being anglophone I sometimes have trouble working out which army a unit belongs to in the text but I expect that's partly/mostly down to laziness on my part, i.e. not concentrating.

  2. Lovely - and there's that balloon again. My morning is brightened - thanks. With the style of troops, the vegetation and the Middle-Eastern buildings, this looks very Morschauser - which is meant as a compliment, by the way.

    Enjoyed the report very much, though the boys will obviously have to rest a bit after that.


  3. Not sure why but I do enjoy plastic palm trees, like plastic pine trees, perhaps because tehy are so obviously toy trees that they look more realistic alongside toy soldiers? and then nothing says "exotic and far away" than a palm tree (if you live in a cold climate that is )

    Rest! Rest? There are toy soldiers lying down resting all over the field of battle.

  4. Thank you Fitz and T master.

    Dave, mea culpa, BB Jeff has mentioned the same thing. He sugegsted changing the font to blue or red but I'm too lazy so have tried to include Blue or Red in the txt as often as possibly. (mind you there is at least 1 red unit on the blue side and vice versa, damned undisciplined cavalry!)

    Oddly Blue was not meant to be English speaking. They were originally a Danish colony but those damned Outlanders seem to have taken over all together. I should have made them French so I could speak the lingo.

  5. Ross

    Love the pics, you've got a real "Little Wars" ambiance to the affair. Love the balloon too