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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Green Fields of Ohio.


The resurrected 1998 cloth.

Well, it won't win any "marvelous diorama like terrain" awards but its serviceable, practical, flexible and I rather like it. All I did was use a little bit of scrounged green paint to freshen the meadow areas and some light blue craft paint to freshen the water. Oh, and I cut the straight edge of the top mat into a random series of curves. The trees still look a bit sparse to me and there's at least 1/2 dozen that could use bigger bases as well as more leaves and more trees but it'll be hard enough as it is to move figures around the woods. Some dead leaf coloured scatter on the ground and a few more bushes on the day will do nicely.


A wider angled look. Troops are not necessarily organized and placed as they will be.


and for those who don't remember what it was like before:







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Before Featherstone there was

My first heads up that there were "adult" wargames out there somewhere. A photocopy of 2 out of 3 pages of an article on Wargaming and making model soldiers from the Boy Scouts of Canada magazine, some time in the late 60'a or early 70's.  Wish I knew what happened to the 2nd part of the main article, not that it had any specifics on wargaming. 

I also wish you could still get Britain's for .35 apiece!


OK back to work on my game for Huzzah. The refurbishing of the old cloth is coming along nicely.


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.





Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fight At The Four Arms: Over so soon?

The Blue General declares the game over and rests on his laurels.
It was much too nice a day to be inside today but I slipped in a turn at lunch and watched as Brigadier Zinn rallied his brigade.  It was beginning to look like this game might go a full 18 turns and last all week so as evening drew on and the clouds came over, I put away the tiller just a little bit too early for supper and retired upstairs to my games room. Then I slipped upstairs for the decisive initiative roll and  then lingered to play the turn. In moments it was all over at the end of Turn 9.

Turn 7 ends.

The Initiative returned to Faraway on Turn 7 and the Bodyguards charged in , breaking the enemy 1st Infantry in a tough fight but being so badly beat up that they had to retire to the board edge. A storm of volley fire and canister sent the 3rd & 4th Infantry reeling backwards as well. Nothing daunted, General Scott and Brigadier Zinn galloped over and managed to rally all three broken units. It was going to take 2 or 3 turns to bring the regiments back to fighting status but at least they were there and sheltered from enemy action. Across the stream, the Blue Guards and Lafeyette Volunteers advanced into the gap.

 Turn 8 Brigadier Glasse goes down and the Royals break!

Again Faraway held the initiative but had to spend it rallying troops and filling gaps in the line, preparing for the oncoming storm. It was not long in coming, on the far right the San Carlos cavalry which had  crossed over beyond Red's flank charged into Larsen's Lancers fighting a prolonged and bloody melee. In the center, the Blue Dragoons split into troops and began making their way across the stream, reforming on the far side before they could be charged.  Beside them the Blue Guards and Volunteers pressed forward screened by skirmishers. Caught in a crossfire between the 5th Infantry firing from the edge of the woods and the Lafayette Volunteers, The 1st Royals were cut to pieces. When Brigadier Glasse attempted to steady them, he was shot from his saddle and soon the battalion was streaming to the rear.

Turn 9 - The end.

Then disaster struck! Oberhilse again stole the initiative and pulled a "Someone had blundered" chance card allowing them to move one enemy unit forward a move. They chose the Green Tigers and drawing them out of their cover, sent them in disorder over the stream. The Tigers converted the move to a charge but were checked by fire from the Grenadiers and  then routed by a blast of cannister. On Blue's left, the San Carlos cavalry renewed the fight and both regiments were blown and had to retreat leaving the way open for the Frontier Lancers. In the center, the Blue Dragoons, Kearney at their head, charged into the Princess Charlotte's Dragoons routing them and pursuing into the rallying skirmishers of the 2nd brigade, scattering them. Musketry from the Blue Guards, canister and skirmish fire tore into the 2nd Royals, already battered by their melee with the Guards on the previous turn and the remnants were also forced to retreat in disorder. Finally the Lafayette Volunteers advanced with a cheer and charged the gun that had been canistering them with little effect. The Dover Fusiliers were in close support and 1/2 the battery was saved but the line was in ruins and no troops stood between the Blue Guards and the crossroads, just a broken down steam tractor, towing a deflated balloon, smack dab in the middle of the crossroad.  To make matters worse, with both of his units in fierce firefights and showing signs of wavering, Brigadier Topper was also hit by enemy fire.

There was one chance left, if Faraway could rally enough troops they could pull back into the buildings and try to defend them. Blue's cavalry and artillery was in good shape but their infantry had also been badly battered in the fighting. It turned out to be a fat chance as unit after unit ran off the back of the table. There was no hope of resisting for more than a few turns, it was time to save what was left. Pondering how it had gone so wrong so quickly and whether or not there was a way to come back, I looked up and saw that the Blue Commander had made up his mind that it was over and had curled up behind General Scott for a victory nap.


Thoughts on the game in a day or so.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fight at the Four Arms: Interim Report

 Turns 1-6

This game really deserved a full day and my full attention but sometimes domestic duties take precedence. I did manage to fit in 6 turns during several sessions Saturday night and Sunday taking 20 - 30 minutes per turn.  I'm too tired and pressed for time for a proper narrative but here are a few pictures with notes on the game.

Turn 3 from the South.

I was originally going to deploy Faraway (Red) and dice for Oberhilse's (Blue's) attack plan but given the terrain, situation and limited forces, Faraway had few options so I just chose an attack plan for Oberhilse and deployed them then the defenders. Faraway deployed 1 battalion in the woods, a detachment in the farm by the bridge with the rest of the battalion lining the stream, the Victoria Rifles stretched out along the stream further south, a gun deployed by the lefthand (Southern) bridge and one battalion in reserve in the center. It was about turn 4 when I remembered that only the Rifles were light infantry and normally the other units should have been unformed in the woods and formed in the open not deployed entirely as skirmishers but by then the game was too far advanced to worry about it. It may have been the distraction and being tired but I also kept forgetting to draw a chance card and several times forgot that the unit in the woods was out of range of the Brigadier. 

Blue's plan was simple enough. The terrain on the left and in the center was not favourable for cavalry so the two Oberhilse Field Force brigades were concentrated there. Zinn's brigade to take the farm and bridge and push up the center while Alexander's brigade attacked through the farm hoping to cut off reinforcements and flank the town. The Allied brigade was deployed on the right largely to apply pressure and draw off reinforcements but with a secondary objective of flanking the town from that side if not stopped. The Frontier Light Horse was posted in the center to support and exploit. As the remaining infantry arrived it was to be fed forward in the center if possible with the Dragoons eventually moving to the right as a final assault force.

The farm and the skirmish line along the stream and through the woods was tougher than expected. In the woods, sheer weight of numbers and being out shot 2:1 by 1/2 their number of lucky riflemen forced the red skirmish line to fall back fighting or face almost certain destruction. They slowed Blue's advance but could not stop it. In the center the first attack on the farm was held and artillery brought up. On Blue's right skirmishers backed by columns were pushed forward and the the allied cavalry made a somewhat foolhardy dash at the gun. They succeeded in  drawing the Oberhilse reserve battalion and managed to get away unbroken but did no real damage.   The Rifles were easily outshooting the Irregular skirmishers and these were pulled back to allow the Grenadiers to advance  and charge. Despite their numbers the Grenadiers were disordered by the wooded stream and failed to dislodge the rifles. 
Turn 4 Southern Bridge.

By now,  Faraway reinforcements were at hand and were pushing forward in the center where the line was weak.  The San Carlos Grenadiers, forced to fall back after the drawn melee, were subject to a hail of rifle fire and cannister and were pulled back behind the skirmish line to rally. After some difficulties, the steam battery came forward to trade fire with the battery. At this point I decided that I didn't like the 6 man cavalry units, especially since Faraway was only going to have 2. I didn't have enough figures or room really to boost them to 12 or double the number of units and anyway, that would give me a mid-18thC century cavalry to infantry ratio. I decided just to boost them up to my usual 8.Then Faraway pulled a chance card allowing them an extra unit of reinforcements and I hauled out another cavalry unit bringing the odds up to 3:5. 

 Turn 4 Northern end.

At the other end of the table fire finally broke the garrison of the farmhouse forcing the survivor to rejoin his battalion which was also badly shot up. A charge then persuaded the unit to evade and cede the stream. In the woods, Blue's advance was slow but inexorable.

 Turn 5 Center

. During Turn 5 Faraway continued to rush up reinforcements and to not successfully rally troops. Since Blue was well away, the Royals pushed forward in march column to just behind the rallying skirmishers by the town.  Blue continued to push forward through the woods and reinforce in the center.On his right, he poured canister and musketry into the skirmish line.

Turn 6. South and Center. 

So far, Faraway had gone first each turn. (Technically they had won the initiative and had choice but when playing solo I make the high roller go first to add that air of uncertainty and lack of control.) This hadn't made much difference but it had meant that the defender had to 2nd guess the attacker's moves, and left the attacker with the potential for a double move. On Turn 6 it came. Oberhilse had been pushing forward. Seizing the initiative they charged the barely reformed skirmish line hoping to pursue forward into the march column behind it. The skirmishers had no choice but to try and hold them, Their reaction fire was severe but not quite enough to repulse the charge but in the first round of melee Oberhilse's luck finally run out and both units hung in just. The next hit would break them but the blue units had been mauled. Both units pulled out. The 6th Infantry was staring at  fresh unit of Elite infantry in line while the 4th Infantry, despite facing a tempting target, was on the verge of breaking itself after fighting all morning.  Both units took the ground and declined to pursue. In the wood though, the red skirmishers were finally caught and broken. The way was open.

Towards the center the 3rd Infantry was unable to push into the gap because of the presence of the Buffs. Because they were in the frontal arc of the Buffs they were unable to march past them or wheel to take them in flank while the Buffs stood and watched. By the letter of the law they would have had to oblique into contact in an unrealistic manner so I just allowed the two units to wheel. A fierce melee followed with neither side gaining an advantage and the 3rd Infantry was forced to recoil slightly. Further along the stream, the 1st Infantry charged across the river as did the now rallied San Carlos Grenadiers. The Victoria Rifles and the skirmishers of the 2nd Brigade gave way and retreated to avoid being broken.  Oberhilse was now across the stream all along the line and were on the outskirts of town with reinforcements and support hurrying forward to consolidate.



At last it was the turn of Faraway again. On their right they formed their line and brought up artillery while the skirmishers rallied. In the center the temptation to hold was strong but the enemy infantry was still in disorder from struggling across the stream. The Director General's Bodyguard was at hand and they were sent forward against the 1st Infantry while the Tigers charged the Grenadiers. After a brief struggle the Grenadiers gave way leaving the Tigers in control but the First Infantry was facing the DGB, famed for their poor dice. It was close, but the the cavalry was forced  to  recoil while the First Infantry clung to their edge of the  stream, 1 hit away from breaking.

To be continued.....


Saturday, April 13, 2013

I went down to the crossroads

Unlike Robert Johnson, I wasn't looking to trade my soul for success though, I was just looking for a game. My intention had been to play some more Square Brigadier, specifically a full table game, while also wanting to get some pre-horse and musket troops out. But........Huzzah is coming so I dove back into proof reading MacDuff, making a QRS and proper chance cards, painting up a few new figures, especially officers, mending a few figures and so on. Playing another MacDuff War of 1812 game to keep me in fighting trim as GM just made so much sense that I put the troops away. It was all starting to feel like work!  

Any resemblance to an actual battlefield, living or dead, is purely a shortage of imagination.

Since I what I really wanted to do was play with my glossy toy soldiers, I decided to set up a MacDuff in Atlantica game, the biggest one I could fit on the table but using the proposed new organization. For once I didn't feel like hauling out an old chestnut of a Teaser so I started by casting about to see what would appeal. Attack and defense actions were more common historically than meeting engagements and the time seemed right but I didn't want to deal with fortifications, I wanted to see some maneuver. Battles where reinforcements arrived for one side or both were not uncommon and are welcome on a small table. I wanted all arms involved and I didn't want to do an actual refight. One of the more famous historical examples suggested itself as loose inspiration. 

The last southern Atlantica game saw Oberhilse launch a surprise attack on Faraway but fail to capture a bridge intact. (see here) I decided that the delay while Oberhilse bridged the river would have allowed Faraway to bring up  reinforcements but that Oberhilse (Blue) might catch up with the  Faraway (Red) rearguard before the main army was up and concentrated. At the little hamlet of Belmont, the road from Standington to Brooklyn meets the road stretching from New Dundee to the Origawn Territory. (see map) Control of this crossroad is vital to Faraway's ability to counter Oberhilse's designs on the Origawn Territory. At the crossroad is a little tavern known to all as the Four Arms. It is the last tavern before crossing the frontier and is better know that the town itself and so the battle has come to be known as the Fight at the Four Arms..           

The Uniake Fusiliers defend Bossie's Wood against the Green Mountain Rifles.

Forces will be as follows:

Royal Army Commander: General Turner
On Table,
3rd Brigade: Brigadier Topper with the Uniake, Dover and Brooklyn Regiments, a company of Victoria Rifles and a C Battery Field Artillery.

Reinforcements.
1st Brigade: Brigadier Glasse, 1st & 2nd Royals, company of Victoria Rifles, A Battery Field Artillery.
2nd Brigade: Brigadier Stonefort, Buffs, Green Tigers, Voltigeurs, B Battery Field Artillery
Cavalry brigade: Brigadier Dennison, Sq. Princess Charlotte Dragoons, Sq Larsen's Lancers, FTC Rocket Battery.
Observation Balloon..  

Republican Army Commander: General Scott.
On Table
Zinn's Brigade: Brigadier Zinn, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Infantry, Bangor Rifles, 1st Foot Battery
Alexander's Brigade: Brigadier Alexander, 4th, 5th, 6th Infantry, Mountain Battery, Green Mountain Rifles,
Frontier Light Horse. 2 squadrons.
Allied Brigade. Brigadier Paz, 2 battalions of San Carlos Grenadiers, 1 Sq Coastal Guards, Brethern
 Volunteers,
Detached: Bangor Boiler Company Mobile Battery

Off Table.
The Blue Guards. Colonel + 2 battalions of Blue Guards + field battery
Volunteer Brigade: Brigadier St. John, Lafayette Rifle Volunteers, Lafayette Light Infantry.
Kearney's Brigade: Brigadier Kearny, 1st & 2nd Dragoons    

Unfortunately, after spending hours sorting troops, adding bases to spare figures and working it all out, I ran out of time. Hopefully the game will start tomorrow and run over to Monday.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Square River Crossing.



Having spent a few hours on getting the revised Square Brigadier ready for another test this seemed like as good a time as any to try it out. Rather than do the encounter again I looked around for an attack/defense that would work with the terrain I had to hand. The result was a simple assault on a bridge.  I set the game in the early 1860's again so used the ACW chart.

Since Red lost the last game they got to defend. I gave them 4 units of infantry, 1 battery, 1 squadron of cavalry and a unit of riflemen. Blue got everything in the box which turned out to be 6 units of infantry, 2 of riflemen, 2 batteries and 2 squadrons of cavalry. The force seemed small so I restored the Blue Guards to Elite status, able to suck up an extra hit.  Blue units were allowed to scout 1 area of river bank each turn, discovering a ford on a roll of 6. It took most of the game but eventually the cavalry found one on the far right and crossed over. 

After an exchange of fire with losses but no clear winners, Blue charged across the bridge with one unit supported by another. The lead unit withered away but was replaced by a unit of Guards, a Brigadier went down but still troops were fed into the meat grinder. Counter battery fire backed by rifle fire pounded the lone Red battery. It was when I went to apply the Give Ground"  to extract the gun that I realized that I had boxed it in between troops and terrain and it wasn't going to be easy to get the gun out. By the time I cleared a retreat path, the battery had been shot to pieces. (It now occurs for me that I could have done retreated the guns through the infantry using the Passage of Lines rule. Oh well)

With heavy casualties in the melee, Blue's artillery advancing and cavalry coming around the flank it was time to pull back and defend the town and block the road. Too late, a counter attack by Larsen's Lancers was met and defeated, the company of Victoria rifles cut down and finally a second unit of infantry was broken and it was time to concede defeat and try to save someone.  

The game was as simple as it gets with an average number of units over all, perhaps a little small but took just a little over an hour to set up, play and put away. It also had enough tension to maintain my interest. Red's army was nearly destroyed with 5 out of 7 units being broken but while Blue suffered more hits, they were able to cycle most units out of the frontline and only lost 2 units in total. (The table would look less empty if I didn't remove figures as a way of tracking hits)  I was a little surprised at how effective the infantry fire was until I remembered that these were  Minie rifles not smoothbore muskets. Even so, I must note that Red rolled high all game while Blue brought the overall numbers back to average.    

Now I want to get some ancient or medieval troops onto the table. Hopefully that'll happen upstairs this weekend.


The rules as played are available here but I am including the ACW chart as an example..


Basic Unit Chart for the ACW
Army Commander may have ADC

UNIT
MORALE
MOVE
SHOOTING
Range/To Hit
MELEE
SPECIAL
Infantry
4
2
2 / 5,6
4,5,6

Inf with smoothbores
4
2
2 / 6
4,5,6

Elite Infantry
5
2
2 / 5,6
4,5,6

Wilder’s Lightning Brigade Infantry
4
3
2 / 4,5,6
3,4,5,6

Sharpshooters
2
3
3 / 5,6
5,6
Skirmishers,
Mounted Cavalry
3
4

4,5,6
Shock
Dismounted Cavalry  smoothbore carbines
3
2
2 / 6
5,6

Dismounted Cavalry breechloading carbines
3
2
2 / 5,6
4,5,6

Foot Artillery
Mixed battery
3
2
2 / 3,4,5,6
3,4,5,6

6 / 5,6
Foot Artillery
Rifled battery
3
2
2 / 4,5,6
4,5,6

9 / 5,6
HorseArtillery
Mixed battery
2
4
2 / 3,4,5,6
3,4,5,6
May give ground if attacked.
6 / 4,5,6
Siege Battery
2
1
2 / 3,4,5,6
3,4,5,6
May not give ground.
9 / 4,5,6
Light Artillery
3
3
2 / 4,5,6
4,5,6
May move 1 area in/out of woods
4 / 5,6


Weeding, Pruning and Grafting - Wargame Style


Another run through of the meeting engagement but with double the number of units.

I really didn't feel like working yesterday. The smart thing would have been to run another play test and that's what I meant to do. Instead I spent several hours updating the Square Brigadier, pruning fiddly rules that I would probably never use or which could be added for a specific game.

An example would be facing and the ability to change it, especially for poorly  trained troops. Yes they did have a hard time maneuvering but was it that they couldn't maneuver at all or that they fell into disorder more easily while doing so and took longer? If the latter, a simple reduction in the number of hits they can take relative to better trained troops is not the same thing but just might be sufficient since the goals is to show that better trained troops are more likely to defeat poorly trained ones. If both sides are poorly trained, does it matter so much? It really means that each turn takes more time since I've never found any non-game examples of opposing units not being able to find some way to get to grips with each other.

Time and interaction is of course the  essence, especially with alternate turns and a possible flip of initiative.  The actions of the General come with significant delay between making a decision and executing it but the reactions of a unit commander to what is happening on the spot would tend to come much faster. One option is to have complex reaction rules which cross the rapidly changing situation with the training and experience of the troops and officers involved and their need to conform to orders. Another is to let the General decide on an overall plan and let the dice decide if his troops managed their part properly or not. There were lots of these clumsy attempts to include as many minor bits as possible and make players work for it but like weeds in a garden and old growth, they choke the good bits. Its a struggle to keep them in check but doing so puts the focus back on the contest between General's plans and wills and away from the details and processes and encourages a more exciting game.

Scale is another issue that I am struggling with when using a Grid. I do keep trying to remember that things are an abstraction but its way too easy to get hung up. Its easier as you go down levels. If each  grid area was 50 yards, I could pretty much handle things though I would still need to be more clever at handling the nuances simply. The trick is that many units then would occupy 2 or 3 grid areas which is a no-no or have to be split into sub units with rules to allow them to act together and anyway, the resulting battlefield wouldn't be big enough theoretically for some of the battles I want to fight.

If I bump the grid up to 200 or so yards that works better but oh gosh, all musket fire is between adjacent areas! I did play with having attacking units cross the border between areas and move into contact. Works ok with some basing and large areas but not so well where a base pretty much fills a grid area.  It also awakens another issue, We all know that rifled muskets had a longer effective range than smoothbore muskets but I'm having trouble finding an examples where troops with rifles stood and shot down musket armed troops without any return fire. The trick seems to be that rifles were rarely used at extreme ranges by massed troops and that  muskets had a range much greater than their accuracy encouraged them to be used at so troops just blazed back anyway. In game terms, with one range band and a grid, it seems better to make the rifles more effective rather than longer ranged. It all levels out at decisive or melee ranges any way. Chassepots vs Needle Guns may be a different issue.

The original Morschauser Meets MacDuff  did actually handle it this way and while I was looking for something more systematic, I think its probably the route to go so I've been looking back and grafting the older system back into the gridded game as well as the reduction of hits against cover such as used in last weeks simple game rather than the in the chance to hit.

 A later shot, just before things got a little bit better and then very much worse for the Queen's troops.

The diagonals are still being a problem for me. I am seriously thinking about admitting defeat and following Bob Cordery's foot steps and rule that all measurement and movement be through the sides. It would also be easier if I dealt only with squares or only with hexes, especially when it comes to adjacent units and melee but I have both and want to use both so I will persevere. The resulting games won't be precisely the same but as long as they both work in their own way I'll be satisfied.

So, more juggling to merge old choices in new ways and then another test.

** Square Brigadier is now updated and is available at left. **


Apparently last night's game wasn't exciting enough to keep Spinner (Whippet) and Aunt Delilah (or Diedi for short, eldest and smallest of the Italian Greyhounds) awake. She's what they call "Blue" so you think she'd be cheering. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rounding Off the Square Brigadier.

 Oberhilse and Faraway clash yet again, this time in the late 1850's.

My interest in using my 40mm 19thC toy soldiers in a more Morschauser-ly fashion does not seem to be waning with practice. When I get a chance I intend to try it on the existing 4" hex grid upstairs but for now, the ease of fitting 1/72nd terrain on the card table does not seem to balance the enjoyment I get from the bigger toy soldiers, even if the units are smaller and the whole look much more abstract and toyish. I also want to try the game grid free using my measuring stick  marked with 3" bands without any smaller gradation.

Rather than maintain two gridded games, I am in the process of taking what I like best from the improvised Toy Soldier Game and the Square Brigadier crossed with the test games of the SB and will just update the SB. I haven't updated the SB and all of its period charts yet but the rules as played tonight are posted below in Back of a Postcard fashion.

There are three main differences from the Square Brigadier as last played.

Command Control/ Sequence of Play.
Rather than a fixed turn sequence and PIPS I am reverting to the Initiative roll to see who goes first each turn crossed with a die roll for units beyond command control. The PIPs work fairly well when the number of units is strictly controlled but works less well when games end up with too high or too low a ratio of Generals to units. The other system has served me well for years and adds a nice bit of uncertainty and at times tension as well as a decision point.

Attrition vs  Degradation.
While the results of the OK/Disordered/Destroyed progression were fine over all, it just didn't feel satisfying to me  and the resultant seesaw didn't feel right either. I've gone back to the system used in the original Hearts of Tin where units take hits until removed. The twist is that I have beat my self down and removed the rally roll so that the attrition is one way which drastically shortens games or allows more units. Rather than rallying, players will need to pull out battered units before they break and keep a reserve to plug the gaps.Generals can still risk themselves to try to cancel hits as they come in.

Die Modifiers vs Hit/Dice adjustment
There is a lot to be said for a system that limits the absolute number of hits on units in cover etc rather than just the average number but there are issues as well, especially when the number of dice are low. Since the hit number is easier to adjust I've gone back to that and kept the number of dice low. Given the lack of rallying, the low number of dice should help prevent a too frequent occurrence of units being swept away in a single turn by lucky rolls.

A closer though not clearer shot of the new experimental Faraway Service uniform with the 1856 tunic and sun helmet being worn by the Royal Fusiliers along side the old shell jacket and forage caps or shakos of the other units. 

________________________________________________________________________________


A Game of Toy Soldiers v2
aka short form of The Square Brigadier v3.
4 Apr 2013
*** Please Note that this is only a partial draft with new ideas
for play testing**

Game Units: General, Reg Infantry: 4 SP, Irregular Inf, Militia, Arty, Cav 3 SP, Skirmishers, Machine Guns: 2SP  (SP may equal figures or be tracked)

Measuring. Diagonal counts as 2 squares. Front is an arc 45 degrees either side. (60 if hexes)

Sequence
Toss for initiative each turn. Winner chooses to move first or second. Ties repeat.
1st player moves or shoots any and all of his units, If not within 3 squares of general roll to move: 1,2, no move 3-6 obey orders. Fight Melees.
Repeat reversing roles.

Moves.
Infantry/Militia/Artillery 2,  Irregular/Skirmisher 3, Cavalry 4
+1 in column on road but may not move adjacent to enemy. 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.
Passage of lines: to move through a friendly unit, the moving unit must begin adjacent and must stop adjacent to the other unit. 
Must stop when moving into a square adjacent to enemy.

Shooting:
Target must be in front but if adjacent to direct front then fight melee. 

1 die per unit if small arms or shot/shell, 2 dice if MG or canister
  6 hits: Fortification or bow/jav vs heavy armour,
 5,6 hits Cover or skirmisher or arty or cavalry or bow/jav vs armour,
4,5,6 vs Other
+1 per die if arty vs dense or if sharpshooter or if superior firepower.


ACW Weapons:  Ranges: Musket, carbine:2, Rifled Musket:3, Sharpshooter 4, Mixed battery: Cannister: 3, Shot/Shell: 6   Breechloading small arms are superior.

Melee:
If adjacent to enemy to direct front. 2 dice per unit except 1 die for militia or skirmisher,
+1 die each supporting unit to flank or rear +1 die if cavalry attcking
-1 die if attacking over an obstacle or any but irregular or skirmisher attacking through difficult terrain.
The inactive player rolls 1st and hits are applied then active player rolls.

  6 hits: vs Fortification or vs heavy armour, or cavalry vs square
 5,6 hits vs Cover or skirmisher or arty or cavalry or vs armour
4,5,6 vs Other

Elite + 1 per die

Morale.
When a unit takes hits = SP it is removed. Units which are elite, fanatic, stubborn etc get 1 extra SP. Units which are demoralized, disaffected etc get 1 less SP than normal.

General with unit must try to steady troops if hit by shooting or melee. Decision to join may be taken after hits inflicted.  1=General hit, 4,5,6 = cancel 1 hit.

General in melee may roll. 1=General hit, 4,5,6 = 1 hit inflicted.

If general hit all units are out of command next turn. Replacement cannot join units.

(For things not covered, check Square Brigadier at left, most of it applies and all will once updated to V3.)