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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Dangers of Idleness and Pain (amended 30Mar)

The plan for this weekend was to test the Macduff scenario I'm taking to Huzzah. Its all set up on the upstairs table but for 2 days an abscessed tooth had me huddled on the couch unable to concentrate on much of anything. (I see Bluebear Jeff also has a toothache, I wonder if you can get these things over the internet....) Anyway, yesterday I discovered Hot Teabags as Poultices and they worked marvels to reduce the swelling and hence the pain.  This left me today, stuffed full of pain killers but functioning, more or less, just not really up to wandering around the table by myself. Instead I decided to sit with my  friends  downstairs and play a Square  Brigadier game that I had pulled troops for a few weeks ago.  This is where I started to get myself into trouble.

I've been increasingly aware that I seem to be mostly painting and playing everything except what is supposed to be my main thing, my 40mm Toy Soldiers. I've also noted that I enjoy converting and painting a variety of uniforms but I enjoy it more when there are only a few of each type. This meshes well with playing card table games and with reducing the size of my collection but it clashes with my long held expectations of  20+ man units on the big table I don't have anymore.  To fit a game with some depth onto my medium table, I've actually been playing with the idea of a 1/2 scale game, smaller units and shorter movement and ranges. At the same time, since I've enjoyed Ron's Battlecry games with 4 man 25mm units I questioned whether or not I could use my Toy Soldiers for card table games.

The short answer is "yes" I can but the feel of the current rules isn't quite right. I've already been questioning the current good/disordered/dead system even though it works and again it is a question of feel not result but the with the singly based toy soldiers, I really felt the urge to give the individuals a role. Oddly enough the whole "toy soldier game" vs "conventional wargame" thing has also been stuck in my brain for a while without any useful ideas to try out.  Might have been the pain killers or the square grid but something clicked and in a few minutes I had a first draft and a better (as in more fun) game. So I polished a bit and tried again. Technically this would probably work just as well using elements with an arbitrary strength point value and markers so it might end up as a new version of Square Brigadier but I need to play with it more before I do anything rash.

 Some of my Italian Greyhound friends, (siblings Zoe, Si and Lila) hanging out while Dad plays. Apparently 40mm metal figures are less tempting as chew toys than 1/72 plastic ones. 

Here's the final quick draft.

A Game of Toy Soldiers

Game Units:
General, Infantry: 4  figures, Irregular, Militia: 3 figures, Skirmishers, Cavalry: 2 figures
Artillery: 3 figures, Machine Guns: 2 figures

Measuring. Diagonal counts as 1.5.2 Front is an arc 45 degrees either side. (60 if hexes)

Toss for initiative each turn. Winner chooses to move first or second. Ties repeat.
1st player moves or shoots or rallies any and all of his units. If not within 6 squares of general roll to move: 1,2, no move 3-6 obey orders.
Make melee rolls for all units on both sides. Defensive fire first o/w simultaneous.
Repeat reversing roles.

Infantry/Militia/Artillery 2, Light Infantry Irregular/Skirmisher 3, Cavalry 4
+1 in column on road but no attack or shooting or defensive fire. Inf in square move 1. 
Artillery may not enter woods or town except on road. Cavalry, Infantry and Militia may only move 1 square into or out of woods. Lose 1 square to cross stream. Turns are free when moving.or rallying.
Passage of lines: to move through a friendly unit, the moving unit must begin adjacent and must stop adjacent to the other unit. 
Attack is a move adjacent to enemy (8 squares) Enemy must be in front before attack. If in front of enemy must attack front. Must stop when moving adjacent and may not move from adjacent to adjacent.

Shooting: Target must be in front and not adjacent.
Skirmisher, artillery, cavalry or in cover suffer 1/2 casualties, round down
Fortified 1/4 casualties, round down.
Small Arms. 1 die/ 2 infantry, 1 die per skirmisher,  Musket Range  3   2 /hit on 6, Rifle Range 4 hit on 5+, Artillery 2 dice per gun hit on 4+. Smoothbore: Range 8 +1 die at range 4.  Rifled: Range 12.
MG 2 dice, Range 4, hit on 4+ 
General may try to cancel 1 hit 1=General hit, 4,5,6 = cancel 1 hit.

Melee: If adjacent to enemy. 1 die/figure, 2/gun if enemy is to their front.  All troops hit on 4,5,6. Artillery and Infantry with firearms may roll first and apply hits on the first round only if attacked. All other melee rolls are simultaneous.  The player being attacked rolls first and casualties are removed then the attacker rolls. 
Cavalry charge bonus +1 die per unit if attacking or attacked in open
Elite + 1 die per unit.
Cavalry or in cover suffer 1/2 casualties, sq vs cavalry or in fortification suffer 1/4 casualties.
General must roll. 1=General hit, 4,5,6 = 1 hit inflicted.

After a round of melee the attacker may retreat up to full or stand, if they stand the defender may retreat up to full move or stand.  Cavalry/Irregular spearmen may pursue up to 1 square less than a full move if enemy retreats. If still adjacent fight again immediately. (Clarification: there is no limit to the number of melee rounds in a turn. The combat must continue until one side retreats or is destroyed

Rally. If at least 1 figure left  Roll 1 die 4,5,6 recovers 1 figure.
+1 Elite or joined by general, -1 Militia/irregular.



  1. Those are some handsome fellows you have there Ross - and the figures aren't bad either.

    I hope the tooth ache improves.

    1. I hope the tooth goes away! They are a good crew.

  2. Ross Mac,

    Sorry to hear about your tooth ache ... but the resultant rules don't look bad. If I was able to concentrate myself at the moment, I might even try them out myself.

    All the best,


    1. Bob, I'm sorry to say you will probably be hard pressed for a little while yet but you can see that the past few years of your inspiration is still having an effect.

  3. Hello,


    Only one remarque: no special rule for attack in flank or back or can enemy face attacker?
    Proposition: – 1 for defender if attacked simultaneously on two or more sides.

    Future: variant for ancient and pike-shot? would be great.

    Looking forward. Meanwhile hope that you "survive" toothache. Strength..


  4. Thanks Lex,

    No the enemy cannot face if attacked in flank and thus gets no dice in melee. (Dice only against the 3 squares to front) Their only hope is to survive long enough to retreat and change facing or be rescued by friends.

    The penalty to be attacked by 2 or more enemy is that you can't kill them all and will be taking more incoming hits and thus be more likely to be destroyed.

    Yes an ancient and possibly pike & shot variant will follow.

  5. Thanks.
    Meanwhile 3 other questions.

    – I understand that it is possible to attack diagonaly and not necessary face to face?
    Example defender is 0D0; attacker is 00A

    – Can friendly troops pass each other? For exemple to retreat or attack.

    - Rally should not possible if in contact with enemy?

    Thanks for your reply your following projects.


    1. Lex, Yes in that example both units could fight. The front/rear of a unit would be like this:


      So the attacker would have the defender in his front and the reverse.

      Oops, Yes troops can go through but it takes a whole turn so they must start adjacent and finish adjacent.

      Yes Rally should not be possible if in contact but opposing units should never end in contact. This may not be clear. The rounds of melee continue until 1 side is destroyed or retreats. So more than one round per turn.

      You're very welcome. Questions and comments always welcome, they make me think and help clarify things for me too.

  6. Hope you get some relief from the tooth pain soon. The rules look good.

  7. Ross Mac,

    You really listen to your readers... and with what a reaction speed.
    I appreciate that very much.

    First thanks for the clarifications. Next:

    Is “spearmen” correct in the follow up after retreat of enemy. Cavalry OK, but spears? Is it not rather impetuous infantry?
    Under the sequence title, second last phrase could be: When attacking, defensive side rolls first o/w simultaneous (see melee).

    Greetings and indeed your rules are better and better,


    1. Lex, You are right that the word "spearman" is not a good name for the troop type, I was trying to think of one I liked andd decided to leave it till I saw if the rules worked ok! What I had in mind were 19thC Colonial wars against African tribesmen with spears, Amhdist Ansar, Zulus etc but also Afghans etc, non-europeans with melee weapons. I will need a better name.

      Under the sequence title, I meant to delete that line when I decided to not have melee rolls simultaneous after all. I decided that I needed to make the defense more powerful and I do not like situations where 2 units destroy each other and this is an easy way around it. (its just not how I am used to doing things for years and years)

  8. Howdy,
    I will resist making jokes about "abscess makes the heart grow fonder", and instead ask for a clarification:
    Under sequence, it says defensive fire goes first, otherwise simultaneous. I'm not sure how to interpret simultaneous fire. Does this mean that casualties inflicted by the 1st player remain on the board, moving and firing as usual, and then are removed after they have had their go?

    With regard to defensive fire, am I correct in assuming this applies only to troops that have been attacked by the enemy? Is this in addition to the die rolls for the melee itself? And if the unit does fire, is it still able to fire as usual during its half of the turn?

    I hope your tooth gets better soon. I had a molar pulled last year after 2 root canals failed to resolve the problem. A few days after the second root canal I went back to the endodontist because of the pain I was still having. "Yep", he said, "It'll do that sometimes." Yeah, I know, clown, that's why I'm here! Having the tooth pulled took care of it. Best of all, now that I have a gap in my teeth, all I need is a banjo and some moonshine and I'm all set for West Virginny.


    1. Just as well Chris, I just found out that it isn't an abscess, just a bump on a new filling making the tooth press on the nerve every time I shut my mouth. (careful) When the dentist buffed the tooth and "asked is that better?" I was surprised to find out it was. Should have called Thursday morning! I had originally gone expecting to have it pulled. Just as well it wasn't, can't play banjo to save my life.

      As for the defensive fire & simultaneous rolls, that was meant for melee only but was also meant to be deleted when I decided that I didn't want units engaging in mutual destruction. The term defensive fire came from my old Hearts of Tin and was a rule allowing infantry with firearms and artillery to make their melee rolls first if they were attacked frontally to represent the effect of defensive fire. Doesn't work so well in a quick draft without explanation.

  9. Ross,

    A suggestion: in melee, skirmishers hit only on 5-6 (or even just 6). Inasmuch as skirmishers are given 1 die per man instead of per 2 men when shooting, giving them a penalty in melee seems warranted, especially since otherwise there would be no reason to have infantry in anything other than skirmish formation.


    1. Ah, but skirmishers only have 2 figures instead of 4, so while they have equal firepower they don't have staying power and if they get into melee the line infantry get 4 dice and can take 4 hits while the skirmishers still only have 2 dice and can only take 2 hits. Pays them to try and avoid that situation.

      Now you might ask about units of infantry deploying as skirmishers but that would be a period specific advanced rule that I haven't thought about yet. :)

      It would probably involve splitting units with the training into 2 units. For Napoleonic probably a 1 figure skirmisher and a 3 figure line unit. For late 19thC I'll have to think about it. The other alternative is a negative fire modifier for shooting at troops which are trained to deploy skirmishers, or something like that.