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

Friday, April 19, 2013

After Thoughts

In no particular order

1. The Green Canvas Cloth. It has to go, I think. The stiff creases made it hard to maintain formations as even figures on wide heavy bases wouldn't stand on any part of one and the creases and puckers pop up in odd spots all over the cloth. Last year I used it with multi-figure bases so it wasn't an issue. I was going to try to de-crease it but even if successful,  it'd be tough to stuff a 6 ft roll into a packed car for the trip. I think its time to see if I can freshen the soft, pliant, 15 year old one a bit. In the meantime I've cut a couple of dozen tree bases and am trying to reforest my table.

3. Bigger Battles.  MacDuff To the Frontier was not written for battles between armies of 30-40,000 men a side, not even when they're bath tubbed. I did NOT intend this as an attempt at a refight of Quatres Bras but I was curious if the game would feel different if I crammed as many small units on the table as I could. I enjoyed the game but it didn't feel any different or feel like a big battle. Good! That means less risk of internal confusion.

If (and its a BIG IF) I decide I want to do bigger battles with a handful of 40mm toy soldiers, it should be in a different period with different, even more abstracted rules with an emphasis on command processes and timing. Ground scale more on the 1"=100 yard range, and yes 10mm would be a better if less stubborn choice but after all I've had some good ACW games with 54mm plastics and Frank Chadwick's Volley & Bayonet rules which he also uses with 54mm figures so it can be done. A heavy dose of Morschauser would be involved I think.

Archive shot of a 54mm V&B game of Cedar Mountain
fought between Tom Nolan & Walter Spielman(?) and myself c 1999.

4. Goldilocks' Choice. I like the look of my old 20-24 man units but they cramp maneuver room on my table so were too big. The 12 man units in the War of 1812 game felt ok, if any thing maybe too big but here they were too small and having 11 rather than 8 units on the larger size wasn't a game changing choice so I'm going to just leave my existing 16/8 organization for Atlantica. There might be one or two fewer units on the table but they will have more staying power and should balance out. Its an organization that seems Jusssst Right.

5. Run Away!.  There are I think, good historical reasons for my having made it so hard to rout units off table. From a strictly  gaming POV though, there are good arguments to be made for removing broken units and making it more worthwhile for unbroken units to stop and rally.  Essentially the rally rolls were meant as a replacement for both morale tests and Charge!'s compulsory after melee rally moves. This way it is easy and worth while for player's to stop and rally before its too late but at the same time, if there are no fresh units at hand to take up the pursuit, it risks letting the enemy rally as well. Choices to be made and good reason to have supports and reserves.

After considering various alternatives that have been tested in the past few years I took away the rally from broken units again and went back to dicing for all missing figures with a slightly lower chance of success per roll. Should do it.


  1. Good that there was no internal confusion. 16/8 unit size sounds good.

    As I understand it, in the current version, 'broken' is irretrievable? Don't have a problem with that, just want to make sure I've got it right.

  2. Yes, broken is now irretrievable in the course of the game. Units would be expected to rally off table in a multi-day game.

    Makes me a bit uncomfortable to give up that one more try and the temptation was strong to follow Charge! closer and just force them to retreat 2 turns and be denied offensive action and be penalized after that but I've come to appreciate a bit more of uncertainty and dread, especially in solo games as well as appreciating clear endings, even when they come suddenly to the wrong side!

  3. Ross, you've not tried hanging your canvas out on the line on a warm summers' day or two? That and gravity ought to take the worst creases out. Especially if it's a bit humid.


    1. Warm? Summer? No, I did think about either the clothes line or the dryer with a damp towel. I even thought about trying to find a steam iron, I think we own one somewhere... but even if it worked, I don't have room to stow an 8 foot roll of canvas + 2 passengers and it would mean taking the hard board river and not putting any hills underneath the cloth. So I've been experimenting with brush on some new paint on the old cloth. Looks promising esp once some scatter is add on top on the day.

  4. All of it makes good sense, Ross. The 16/8 figure ratio sounds right for what you're doing. Admitting to personal prejudice here, a 12 man infantry battalion does little for me aesthetically regardless if it suits the context of the rules.

    And I look forward to seeing your refurbished tabletop.


  5. Don't get too excited ver the refurbished tabletop, its a question of degrees only. I agree with you on the 12 man battalions, even the 16 is a bit too small but at the same time a game with 7 ot 8 unit is often more interesting than one with 3 or 4 and it would be the same number of figures on the table in both cases. Somewhere there is a sweet spot ans I'm going to add a foot back onto the table, that should help.