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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Very Good! Now do it again.

Everyone has skills, interpreting maps has never been one of mine. I can understand on some intellectual plane what all the various squiggles are supposed to mean and can work out what they are supposed to tell me but it doesn't help. I just don't see it in my head. This is one reason why I avoid board and computer games and, ah, may not exactly excel at navigation.

Anyway, the bottom of the scenario map was quite busy so I ah... mumble .. started with the easy bits when I started laying down roads and rivers onto the board. This involves the tremendously difficult task of taking the stuff in one grid square on the map and copying it onto the equivalent grid square on the table. The one in the appropriate position, maintaining the appropriate orientation. It is probably related in some way to dyslexia....  anyway eventually it was all looking pretty good until I got to the busy bit near the bottom, around Seminary and McPherson Ridges. I started adding the hills and realized it wasn't going to fit! Huh?

I had a table grid square for each map grid square plus an extra row on each side. If I'm mapping one for one, how can it not fit? Let me add some of the starting units...Ahhhh.  Suddenly I grasped why my subconscious had sensed a problem. (I still can't figure out how my conscious mind didn't grasp the significance  of  what I had been looking at.) The 12" Fire & Fury squares in that busy section were not aligned as conveniently with the terrain as they were in most areas and in particular, the narrow ridges with a slight hollow between them, overlapped the grid lines and in any case were 1/2 the width of my wooden block hills.

Gettysburg 2nd try. Sort of works but extra room on the far edge, not enough on the near edge. 

I decided to make use of the spare row of squares and separate the ridges despite the slight distortion and it seemed to work ok. I went back to placing units and.....right. According to the map some opposing units are already sharing a 12" grid square which with an 8" musket range is only a minor bit of being committed since before the start, but it doesn't work with the proposed rules even if I could physically fit them in the same square!

Three options occurred to me: "Get over it and play", back up the time and have the Rebs move on table and into contact on turn 1 or rip up the masking tape rivers and roads and move everything up 1 row leaving 2 extra rows at the bottom and then roll back the time so the Rebs can start on table but out of contact.
But.but..sighhhh.... Rippppppp.

Reynolds to Buford in the bell tower: "Now can you hold John?" "I reckon I can."

OK, its not perfect but  it'll do and "There's the Devil to pay!".


  1. Recognisable as Gettysburg ! - looking forward to the game , Tony

    1. Me too but probably not till Sunday, but maybe, just maybe tomorrow.

    2. ps its close enough that I've managed to locate the future location of the Greystone Historical Book (and Toy Soldiers) shop at the corner of Emmitsburg and Baltimore Pikes.

  2. Quite a bit of effort in the setting up - not an easy decision to 'scroll' the map up one, however needful! Looking forward to the action! Remind me: what size squares are we looking at here - 4 inch, 6 inch...?

    1. Once I stopped whining, it took less than 15 minutes to rearrange it. Masking tape can be darned useful for this sort of thing. The squares on this cloth are 9 cm across, 10 x 8 squares.
      The 2nd day will be played on my main table which has 4" squares (close to 10cm so not too far off this) but 15x18 squares.

      If I were to redo it again for the first day, I would rotate the battlefield to be 10 deep and 8 wide rather than 8 deep and 10 wide as of now.

  3. Hi Ross,
    This looks like the situation at Gettysburg on Day 1. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Did you take into account that the range of Buford's carbine armed troopers was substantially less than the rifles of Harry Heth's infantry?
    2. What happens to an artillery battery if you hit it? And did it make a difference that Buford's horse artillery battery had six rifled guns while the CSA artillery was organized in smaller batteries (usually four guns) and that the range of their smoothbores was less?
    3. And did Buford "hold until relieved"? Wait...that's a different movie....
    Happy Holidays!

  4. Jerry, I thought about both questions but with each grid area being around 700 yards, each turn averaging 1 hour of combat and movement, and each game unit an average of 2,000 men or 20 guns, a lot of detail is lost and all we see is the result without knowing exactly why the dice rolled the way they did.

    So for example, hopefully the longer range of the rifles is offset by the faster rate of fire of the breechloading carbines and the ability of the cavalry to fire while lying or crouching behind cover.
    In any case, the game is based on the Fire and Fury scenario which starts at 10 am so most of the cavalry's fight is already over.

    Happy Holidays to you as well!