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 11, 2012

After thoughts (and during thoughts)

My main impression of the last 2 games is that they were very much like the games I was playing with my 54's 10 and more years ago except that I was finishing them in a very reasonable time, and that they were pretty much what I am looking for, for this sort of scenario.

54mm British assault the last stronghold on the Emir of Wadi Foulyam somewhere around 2003 

How well they will work in a more straight forward encounter between two regular armies, remains to be tested.

Miscellaneous thoughts in more or less random order:

  • Card Activation.  They old card activation still works well for this sort of game. This may, or may not, be one thing that needs adjustment for larger, more regular battles. If so I can always re-instate the initiative roll option so that's not a worry.
  • Chance Cards. Once again I was very happy with how they worked. I used the same 10 mixed with 10 blanks (this time shuffled more thoroughly)  and it seemed about the right mix. I will need more cards to choose from eventually so I can tailor the deck for each campaign and even have scenario specific ones. During the 12 turns played, the Rebels pulled one blunder to play on the enemy which they were unable to do, and 5 blanks. The Government pulled 3 cards allowing them to recover d6 casualties (they rolled a 6 but only had 3 eligible since they couldn't use it on the unit that was wiped out),i to fight an immediate 2nd round if a charge drew the first round (which the Royal Veterans used to drive the Rebels out of town after they rolled spectacularly well during the 1st round), and brought them an extra unit of reinforcements. (They didn't see action but made the already shaky Rebel position helpless). The missing card is due to the joker being last card one turn so that neither side drew a chance card.
  • Morale. The original MacDuff rules stipulated that if a unit fell below 1/2 strength then it had one chance to recover enough hits to rise to 1/2 strength or it had to leave the board. Sometimes units rallied too well but over all it worked. Some years ago I began to fret because in the campaigns that I was most interested in, very few units ever seemed to "leave the board" as it were, especially if not escorted to the door by an enemy charge.  I tried various modificatons, morale tests and so on, fussed to try to make sure that shaken units wouldn't be combat worthy and finally settled on having them rout if they lost a melee or hang around being useless if not. Then I started fretting that I couldn't reproduce those instances where units did rout, I think it was looking at Dettingen that brought it back to mind. I decided to just leave well enough alone.  Halfway through the game, however, I realized that I had subconsciously gone back to the old way of doing things. Worse, it was working better than the new way I had been trying to bring in.  So, I paused the game, fixed the morale rule, and carried on. So it is once again possible to break an enemy unit by fire but you will need, overwhelming numbers, overwhelming luck or a long time. It will never be automatic to rout a unit in melee if you beat it, unless you  wipe it out, so best keep the pressure on. 
  • Melee. It was a bit of a shock to find several melee situations where the regulars were attacking rebels at even odds due to a bit of cover or where the Rebels were at a -2 disadvantage and won or tied a melee but no tweaks are needed as that risk made the game more exciting. No automatic victory for being the big bad Imperial power.
  • Risk To Commanders. As a matter of habit, when a commander was with a unit which took casualties, I rolled for him with a '1' being lethal. It was near the end of the game that I remembered that I had deleted the rule. Since the 4 occasions on which I had to test result in 3 '1's being rolled and 3 leaders put out of action, one might have thought the deletion justified but it felt right that there be risk so I quietly  slipped the rule back into place. I also noted that I consistently forgot about the +1 to the melee score for a commander fighting in the front rank, not that any of them survived the defensive fire. The mechanism is not consistent with how the rules normally work and I suspect I would constantly be forgetting it so I deleted it and gave commanders back their personal bonus so that they are more likely to win their own fight and contribute to winning in that fashion.     
  • Game length. I played the game in several short sessions due to family calls on my time  but it took about 12 turns and at least 2 hours if not more. That surprised me since it was such a small game but it was never boring so I'm ok with it.I'm not sure more troops would have added much playing time as a lot of time was spent planning, look at the game and taking pictures. I suspect that as a 2 player uninterrupted game the 12 turns would have gone faster.
Various memorable incidents or aspects of the game.

  • The Faraway reinforcements rolling the turn number or less on 2d6, showed up on turns 3 and 6. The Rebels rolling on 1 die showed up on turn 2, 5,5 and 6.  Fickle things dice!
  • When the Rebel pikemen stormed the barricade, the defenders were at +2. The rebels lost 1, won 1 and tied 1, drawing the melee.  On the next turn if the Regulars went first they could have brought up reinforcements but the rebels went first charged back in again +2 for the Regulars who lost both rolls. The pikes pursued into the York volunteers rushing to the rescue and fought them with +1 for the regulars in the open. The regulars won 1, tied 1 and lost 2! The rebels pursued again, having to attack the armory rather than catching the broken survivors becuase of the 8" proximity rule or ZOC. In this attack, the defenders were +3 and tied 1, lost 1 and won 2, barely winning the battle!  Tense moments, I was picturing the Government reinforcements trying to recapture the town.
  • When the cavalry came on, rebels in ambush fired at long range needing 6 to hit on either of 2 dice. They got a hit then rolled a 1 to also get the commander. The Cavalry couldn't go past the rebels but weren't allowed into the woods so they fell back to go around a little wood near the town but by then there were rebels in the town. The 8" ZOC of the 2 enemy units overlapped so the cavalry was not allowed to go though or to attack either unit unless they dismounted. It seemed harsh but reasonable. Irregular cavalry would have been allowed into the woods. 
  • Later, the skirmishers came out of the woods and took a pot shot, 1 group at close range needing a 5, the other at long range needing a 6. A 5 and a 6 showed up in the right order. 25% casualties and the cavalry was forced to halt. Next turn they charged and the skirmishers chose to stand. They needed 2 hits to stop the charge and would in all likely-hood be ridden down if they didn't.  Needing 5's to hit, they rolled 2!  The cavalry fell back and spent 3 turns rallying.  When they came back the skirmishers didn't wait, just ran for cover. Just for fun I threw the dice to see what would have happened, in the 'never happened' charge, they missed when they shot and were wiped out in melee. I had been worried that the mostly light infantry rebel army would have no chance against cavalry but then added lots of terrain. Worked quite nicely. 
Part of me wants to complete the plan and finish the rebellion with a last stand game, (not saying it won't break out again later!) but part of me wants to switch up and get a 1/72 ACW Hearts of Tin battle on the table since that side of things has been  neglected of late, or else an Ancients game. 

Tomorrow is a Battlecry Colonial game at Ron's so afterwards, we'll see what's up.


The first Faraway game c 2001, MacDuff & 54mm in Grant's Island Battle.
The 2 John's Daniel who were commanding are off screen and that's Sylvia in the corner.   

2 comments:

  1. Speaking of "Hearts of Tin", I notice that the link to those rules has disappeared from your Links section.

    Thanks for the comments on the game . . . sounds like you had fun.


    -- Jeff

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  2. It does sound like good fun.

    As a "budding" rules-tinkerer I'm also enjoying reading your thoughts on your rules.

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