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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Desperate Measures

Its interesting how a fairly minor issue can begin to feel like a desperate situation if it stalls progress and threatens what's already done. The more I struggled to reconcile half a dozen command control options with historical organizations, varying sizes of battle, my understanding of what they represent in terms of process, friction and history and what bits of solo gaming I like most and least, the more frustrating it all got. Switching gears I pondered various older school approaches especially Featherstone, Charge! and Big Wars and  also reread a number of my own related posts. The result was  a surprise to myself.

A full division of Oberhilse troops encounters the vanguard of a mixed body of Hougal rebels and their Faraway allies.
The first thing I tackled was unit structure. The original plan was for a 4 man battalion as a unit but having decided I needed an option for companies as units I made the 4 man units into nominal companies and proposed following historical organizations. This then quadrupled the number of proposed units and added a 3rd and potentially 4th layer of command which in turn broke the command system. To be fair it was already ailing a bit in larger and smaller games.

It didn't take long after my last post to realize that I was not going to write orders nor was I going to pretend that I didn't know what my solo game opponent was planning. To cut this short after intensive thought and some digging I came to the following conclusions about my real preferences :

1. The 4 man unit works and I wish to keep it.
2. I don't get alot of enjoyment from trying to manage 3 or 4 levels of command but neither do I wish to ignore all structure.
3. An obstacle or two or a bit of friction adds interest  to a game but too much becomes a burden and hindrance whether through monotony or frustration. The exact form of this uncertainty is not important to me as long it does not dominate a player's decisions which should be focussed more on defeating the enemy.
4. While I prefer to duplicate historical organizations, long term, esp. in a fictional setting, I would rather have a consistent organization and scale even if its wrong.  In this respect I follow Lawford and Young who explained that while their regiments had 3 companies instead of the historical 8 or 10, that 3 could do the same evolutions so they saw no point in having more.

Translating thoughts into a game I avoided innovation and decided on the following:

1). Wargame units are 4 man "companies". 4 to 8 companies plus support and a Commander form a Brigade.  Intermediate levels may exist but are not shown while my companies represent around two real ones. Units not within 3 areas of their commander must score 4,5,6 to move. The Commander is assumed to have orders from the General and to be in communication to report and get order changes without this being shown.

2) The general's role is focussed on the higher plan and on trying to maintain the initiative assisted possibly by staff, observation balloon etc. This translates  into a return of the initiative roll at the start of each turn. Winner choosing to go first or second for thst turn.

3)The return of initiative means I need to ensure that in the age of rifles, the defender can shoot at an attacker so I have also reverted to an older sequence: A moves, B shoots, resolve charges, B moves A shoots, resolve charges.

Old fashioned but simple. So far so good.


  1. An interesting post Ross and I think you have progressed well.I enjoyed reading your thought processes leading to your conclusions.

  2. Ross Mac,

    Interestingly your thoughts have been paralleling something that I am working on (a re-write of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules) and I think that we are coming to similar conclusions.

    I continue to follow the development of your rules with considerable interest.

    All the best,


  3. I admire your work on these rules...and this beautiful picture...well done Ross!

  4. I admire your work on these rules...and this beautiful picture...well done Ross!