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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ready, Set.......

I have been beavering away at the draft of Hearts of Tin whenever I can spare a minute. At last I am ready again and have a new test game laid out. OK and 2 turns played.  I'll leave readers to guess the historical battle that the game is very (VERY) loosely based on as more pictures are published.

The opposing skirmish lines clash.
 Since even I am getting tired of the ever shifting nature of these rules, I am proceeding diligently. First I come up with clever new complicated ideas, update the draft in a hurry then remember the successful application of K.I.S.S. and go back and remove them substituting tried and true methods, sifted for consistency.

Four quick examples:

  • For some time now the Brigade Order rule was just that if a Brigadier was given an order, he could order any or all of his units within his command radius. (3 squares, 6", 12" etc.) I've gone back to that. This means that a typical Division commander will usually only need 3 or 4 orders per turn but every now and then he will only roll a 1 and it might not be enough or his division will be scattered and hard pressed and 5 or 6 wouldn't be too many.
  • During most of the last 10 years a group of units formed together into 1 line or column or square could be treated as 1 for movement whether using variable moves or order dice. I've gone back to that as well as a way of encouraging battle lines and keeping the Brigadiers command radius low.
  • By stopping the time line in the mid 1860's I have been able to sidestep the whole question of 1870's and later formations where all firing lines were heavy skirmish lines armed with breech loaders with integral supports a few hundred yards in the rear, under cover. That can be incorporated easily enough but the language and mechanisms to handle this plus varying earlier systems and differentiating them on table are not easy.  I'll leave the later stuff for the Square Brigadier. Not that earlier practices were uniform. Skirmish lines were sometimes provided by individual light companies without coordination, sometimes by whole units assigned to the task and sometimes by detached light companies being coordinated rather than acting independently. It seems that by the 1850's it was becoming more common to send out whole units unless just deploying a thin security line which can be safely ignored at this level. That's how I originally treated skirmishers, as separate units, and I am going back to it just because the hassle of writing a simple, effective rule to handle individual, uncoordinated  skirmisher stands acting as part of their parent unit is not worth the effort. So, in the picture above each brigade's skirmish line is one unit with bases spread out. Simple to handle regardless of the size of the game. In a low level skirmish, most units will be single stands anyway.
  • Lastly, when playing I get easily confused when there is a mish mash of modifiers, numbers of dice and special cases hidden in various places so I have focused on the other main approach that I have been using since last year with the Square Brigadier. A fixed 'to hit' score for all combat with the only modifier being the rolling unit's quality. All situation modifiers are done by adapting the number of dice per stand.

The game will continue on Sunday. Then I want to do some casting and painting. I have a toy soldier todo list longer than my arms which has been waiting for questions of time, place and organizaton to be settled.

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