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

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One step forward

Not sure how many backwards. The main conclusion so far is that I'm really tired today and its not a good day to make any big decisions.

I did finally get Scenario 1 from Programmed Scenarios laid out. To my dismay, the 20 man units didn't fit well. This is only a medium size game and I was running out of room to deploy, let alone maneuver.  16 men don't sound like a lot fewer than 20 but it seems to be just enough. Which is why I had decided to go that route last fall now that I think about it.


Red (attacker, on left) 1 HC, 1 MC, 1 LC, 1 Lt Inf, 5 Inf, 2 Batteries. 
Blue (defender, on right) 1 MC, 1 Lt Inf, 5 Inf, 2 Batteries.


I did some refreshing on the idea of using rules with battalions as units to fight battles where each unit is actually a brigade. I was getting all excited about it but once I laid the figures out today, I realized that in practice,  I think that I'm going to have problems with that, esp with 40mm figures vs terrain, and with trying to forget about scale for weapons, unit frontages, etc. I think I'd be happier using brigade stands, small figures and small terrain but maybe if I use fictional armies I won't confuse the resulting generic scenarios with the historical battles. Luckily I already have a start on fictional armies.  As an aside, the Blue force chosen from the list for this scenario is very close to the American force at Palo Alto while the Red force is not so far from the Mexican one. Interesting.

Anyway, there are certainly campaigns where forces of the size used in the scenario books (and of the size that will fit my table) did do battle so I won't fret about not being able to field corps and divisions. Its a question of getting just the right balance of rules. It turns out I may have made an error by joining a new Yahoo rules discussion group. There has been some interesting discussion but my toy soldier mojo is hiding and needs to be coaxed back out because as much as I am fascinated by the history and ways to recreate it, too much reality can kill the fun in a game of toy soldiers. In any event, I'm going to sketch out yet another simple MacDuff derivative tomorrow,  aimed at just the sort of 5-8 battalions + support games that I'm planning to do with the glossy 40's and not trying to do anything else, not initially anyway. One of the issues I've had with rules for the last 20 years, is the disconnect between game movement and generally what can be done in a certain amount of time vs what happens in real life. There are so many things we don't know in detail, so many things that we don't usually try to model (partly because they aren't fun),not to mention that real life doesn't happen in "turns" like a game and that we are conditioned to expect things to be a certain way.  (and no, I don't have a magic bullet for this one.)

  



11 comments:

  1. Ross,

    I love the line you typed because it is so RIGHT . . . "too much reality can kill the fun in a game of toy soldiers".

    Also I think that you might like the "challenge" that I laid out in my recent blog post:

    http://saxe-bearstein.blogspot.com/2012/02/mini-campaign-challenge-most-of-us-are.html

    I will be very interested in what you come up with . . . particularly if you use "Programmed Scenarios" for solo gaming.


    -- Jeff

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  2. OK; Jeff beat me to it. Surely that sentence ultimately solves all problems of time and scale.

    I think Brigadier Young wrote that it was the feel of the thing.

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  3. "...the feel of the thing..." I absolutly agree with this.
    When I take part in the Oberhilse Peninsula Mini-Campaign I have an small commamd (3 brigades plus one more as a possible reinforment,about 12 Rgts in total) to defend a territory the size of 20 wargames table. The command was of Division size, but because I have to take and make "strategic" decitions and manouvres, I realy felt I was commanding a much bigger army.

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    1. Thanks Cesar, I played out those battles using 15mm figures and Hearts of Tin. I think that may be what is bothering me when trying to get 40mm figures to give that same feel. Having a campaign context might help, after all there were historical campaigns that were no bigger.

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    2. Ross: I think one way to solve all this could be concentrate your efforts in your Fictional "World" and duplicate your Faraway-Oberhilse armies in 15mm using cm scale (so you 2"x 2"stand became
      2cm x 2cm). Then you could set up Mini-Campaigns whithin the context of your "World", about the size suggested in D. Featherstone "Wargames Campaigns" book (from 4 to 20-30 wargames tables) and play the resulting battles using your 40mm soldiers and MacDuff in inches or 15mm with Hoft in cm, depending on the size of the encounter or if you think some reinforcements could arrive.
      I am sure in this context (and without the "Historic" reference) commands of 3-4 brigades will became armies and brigades will became corps.

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    3. Cesar, not a bad plan. My 15's are all sold and I have sworn off doing more but that could be changed if I wanted. I am quite happy with battles with a few regiments for my fictional world, saving the divisions and may corps for the American Civil War in 1/72nd if I feel the need to play a big battle. It is really the small skirmishes that are the issue and my desire to use the same figures for both. But a good idea none the less. I will keep the mini-campaign in mind.

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  4. Ross

    So there's 3 scales at play here - unit size, table size and figure size. I'm assuming that changing the last two is out of the question - but out of curiosity's sake what is the table size?

    PD

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    1. The table is 5x6.

      But there are 4 scales. Time is the real bug bear. Same issue since the 15mm WRG Napoleonics days, troops don't move anywhere near fast enough but if they move at realistic speeds, how do you control the interaction and how do you build in the displays.

      I think the latest tweaks will let me extend the movement again like I tried last fall but I'm also trying to keep Lawford & Youngs "not all the same turns last the same amount of time."
      Since Lawfor

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  5. If I may, there is a 5th scale, the audience (players). Are the rules designed for solo, one-on-one, or multiple players per side. There is crossover between these but they are different.

    When playing solo I really don't need 20 units per side; but for multiplayer 20 may not be enough. Ditto for single vs base mounted figures.

    Lots of great thoughts and comments here - Thanks

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  6. Hmm, good point. I was pretty fixed on the number of units, my pondering has been on, "are they companies, battalions or brigades". But, if the units are fragile and decisions few, you need more per player. ditto single element units vs 48 individuals.

    I'll start bu pleasing myself and then worry about whether I can make turn this into a convention game.

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    1. I think Ross that much like how many Angels may dance on the head of a pin this is a question that you will not get a definitive answer for, merely one that suits you.

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