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

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Small Detour

"Rebs Sir! Thousands of 'em"

I was laying out a scenario for an 1860's game when I remembered that I had 2 1860's armies that could use an airing. This is an old chestnut of a scenario which lets me take scenario design out of the analysis and also just happens to be a scenario that puts me in mind of a certain ACW battle which started with a force holding a ridge against a larger force until reinforcements arrive. The similarity ends there but its enough.

The original plan was to try out the square brigadier straight up as written but after Chris's AWI game at Huzzah, I had Battlecry on the brain so decided to basically use that combat system with Pips instead of cards. The first few turns flew by despite there being in excess of 30 units on the table but it didn't take long before I called a halt and reset. For reasons that I will  avoid going into, I rearranged the originally planned Brigades of 4 regiments each of 2 stands  into Divisions of  4 or 6 two-stand "units" with Pips being rolled at Division level. This led to really ragged advances, and with so many dice having such a big effect, felt a bit "snakes & ladders" -ish. Worse, with 4 hits per unit but 2 stands, I quickly ran out of hit markers and realized that I might need close to 30 if units didn't die quick enough. The whole feel was wrong too, not enough planning and too much reaction for a Corps level action, not enough meat for a Division level one. It would have been better with an opponent but what seemed to work OK as a small, casual solo game wasn't working for a large one. Too much work to set up and play for too little reward.

I reset the game, extended moves, restored the Hearts of Tin idea of only rolling for the Division or higher general for Pips but moving a whole formed Brigade on 1 Pip and that worked fine. It was possible to form a plan and keep it more or less going if you focussed and the enemy didn't interfere. I also went for stand removal to avoid markers but as soon as we got within range it was obvious that I didn't have enough stands on the table to give the game depth. The clock had run out on my play time anyway so I let things be.

There is no really good answer to the marker/stand question when using the hexes except either live with it, make bigger hexes or reorganize the figures. I could go all Irish and add separate command figures behind the rank and file and remove one of those for each hit but the last or  given that 2 of my stands work in a hex, I could just add a command stand and skirmisher stand bringing it up to 4. However, some of the units donated last year are mounted for BOFF (Basic Old Fire & Fury) with 4 men to a 1" stand and 3 of these fit nicely, add a command stand and there you go, 14 man units instead of 8 but that means rebasing again. For now my conclusion is to keep the 20mm lads for the non-hexed Hearts of Tin games and don't worry about it until such time as I get serious about an "all day, full multi-corps battle on my table" sort of game which will need to be something like 100 yards an inch, 1 stand per regiment with Brigades as units if not divisions. (and I need a heck of a lot more 20mm scenery before I get serious about them anyway.)

So, next game will be single 40mm toy soldiers on the same terrain to try out that plan.

In the meantime, if anyone can tell me where I stashed my camera before heading off to Huzzah, I'd greatly appreciate it! Sighhh I might as well have taken it with me and not worried about losing it on the road!

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  1. Hi Ross,
    All other considerations aside, have your unspecified-unit-size-and-ground-scale games been been more fun, or your games where you have specific unit sizes and ground scale?

    What does Hector think?


  2. Hector refuses to commit himself. The short answer is when the scenario is well chosen, both can provide an equally good game. I think the real issue is that the historical vs generic games require more planning both as far as game and what to paint or twice the work for the same bang, but guilt free!