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, June 3, 2014


My mind has split into 2 directions while thinking about this in background mode.

The 1st was that the DBA/DBR Pips command system would work well for those big blocks containing 20 or 30 companies (or perhaps 9 to 16 wargame stands). If all grouped into 1 block, 1 PIP could control them all but if individual stands start hiving off they could soon be stranded out of position.

I should check out  the "new" DBMM to see what it is all about. I never took to DBM although DBA was ok with the right sort of not picky opponent as is HOTT. Haven't seen my copy of DBR in decades and only recall trying them once or twice.Any rules that require me to remember whose turn it is when I roll dice is in trouble.

The 2nd thought wasn't 16thC at all. I was wondering how my Atlantica campaign plans are going to fare on the all season front. I may need to revisit what I consider a small, medium and large game and plot out a siege situation to see if things are looking reasonable. Looking over the last game, I'm also wondering if I need to push things to be a bit more decisive. In other words get to the same place in fewer turns allowing a bigger game to be handled in 4 or 5 hours and more turns.

In any case while the Spring reno and refitting is only partially done, my table should be back together by the weekend. Can some form of game be far behind?  


  1. Hi Ross,

    Two observations. First, during the Renaissance did large blocks of troops have smaller units split off on a regular basis? Was it the common practice? If it was, then how did the real guys handle the detachment of small groups? Did command simply move to the officer in charge of the unit? I have no expertise in this area and really do not know how this worked. Would the unit commander point to his aide and simply say "Gustav, take thosearquebusiers and hold that wall..."

    My second observation is that you might want to think about one or two mechanisms, both of which I have seen used more or less successfully. First option is some kind of a map game prior to the table top game. You do a rough sketch of the table top on graph paper which is given to both players. Their troops start off board on the edge of the table. They then move their troops on the table via the map which is handed to you. If the table top is 5' X 7' then the map is drawn on a surface which is five big blocks by seven. If cavalry moves a total of 12 inches, then that unit, stationed at table edge, draws an arrow across the relevant box and indicats the formation and facing when it reaches the maximum distance it could have travelled on the map. You are a very brightguy and I know you understand this.
    The second option "borrows" concepts from the Empire family of games. why not allow a double or triple move until the unit(s) gat within a tactical range of the enemy. This I would define as the charge distance of the given unit. It could also be defined as 12 inches apart. Your job as GM would be to determine where the stop point is between both units if they move towards each other on the same turn.
    Hope you figure this out in a satisfactory way.
    A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon
    "Grumpy is good."

    1. Thanks Jerry. You have hit the nail on the head on the first part, we don't really know how it worked, no manuals just memoirs and battle descriptions to intrepret. We don't even know really how a mass of say the pikemen gathered from 20 or 30 companies gets arranged for battle and knows when to step off or halt esp without intermediate command. Heck without uniforms it must have been hard enough identifying whether or not an officer had authority to give an order.

      One presumes that flags, drums and trumpets are crucial and that the formation is not tight nor is it marching in step, just keeping roughly in line. I recall someone making a comparison between an old Landsknecht chant and the way students in the 60's and 70`s locked armed and chanted "hey hey LBJ" etc to help maintain cohesion.

      There do seem to be times, based on memoirs that subordinate officers were approached by a superior and given a specific task and sometimes extra resources under their command but all very improvised. Not a WWII expert but it sounds like the small adhoc late war German and American battlegroups of a senior officer and whatever resources are available.

      One thing I'm really curious about is how the rear ranks knew when it was time to run.Presumably the high casualty rates that are seen are a testement to how it was to know when you had lost.

      On the other matters, I am familiar with and have used both but thanks for the reminder.

      I prefer to miniimize paper work at conventions and maximize visual appeal for walkers by (as in something visibly going on not in terms of pretty figures and terrain). At home its nothing but solo games these days so maps hide nothing (except when I get around to doing some email games again).

      A couple of years ago I started playing around again with the idea of "operational" and tactical moves. I ended up going another route but I might come back to it yet. Esp if I get around to arranging for a larger temporary table to be used several times year.