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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


A few days ago I  started to think about my next solo game. There are a few figures that I want to paint before I play again but I thought that was it. One of the dangers of the blogosphere however, is inspiration when you weren't looking for any.

 I think I was weakened a little  by looking at Kevin's splendid new naval brigade but the trigger for my internal disturbance came when a certain Duke calmly mentioned making a bounce stick for Tony Bath's Horse & Musket rules as presented in Lost Tales. I didn't remember looking at said rules when I got the book and next thing you know I was neck deep in Don Featherstone's Colonial and WWI in East Africa rules and picturing 20 man units of 40mm Askari.

It was nip and tuck but I eventually managed to drag myself back to reality before any serious damage was done, just another attempt to differentiate between close range firefights and charges with cold steel, oh and a decision that I was right last year and I should be using a grid with a smaller number of larger squares, squares big enough to each hold one of my 8 man infantry battalions in extended order or 2 battalions in close order. Of course it would be rather impetuous to have the thought  over coffee one morning and have it repainted by lunch.

Besides the base color is waaay too translucent and needs to dry overnight before I add more shades to break it up and hide the intermediate grid. Here we see a battalion in road column passing through a town block, a battalion in extended order and a regiment of cavalry. Each of these would be  a scenario unit.

This change means rolling back range and movement increases found necessary with 270 squares rather than the 120 originally used with the Square Brigadier.  Apart from the look of the thing when using larger squares, experience tells me that the smaller number of squares tends to make for a tighter, more intense game with less drag.


  1. Oh dear yes, Kev's naval brigade is very distracting. Someone innocently blundering around online could contract a bad case of fortymilitis if they're not careful :-)

    The units on the bigger squares do look good and if as you say the 12 x 10 grid is sufficient for a good game that's encouraging.

    1. Yes not only that the size I used in the first couple of years of experimenting but most of the games played on the bigger grid ended up being played out largely in one section roughly that size. The real reason for the larger number of squares was incase I wanted to triple the size of the armies and play a 2 or 3 day game.

  2. Do like Your troops ROSS- absolutely Splend! - what is all this about Kev's Blog - oh - dear- oh-dear: My mere desire is to share what I've done in pictures and text - if enthusiasts get a good dose of 40mm Fever then that IS all the better - I'm sure You'll agrees with me ROSS. Regards. KEV.

  3. I agree; also it seems the nearly invisible square lines are the best solutions, even if the measurement not perfect. I gives a structure to the mat and you can count and measure easily. Fine work (as always!).

    1. I agree Peter. Subtle is the way to go. The squares are useful but should not detract from the look.

  4. Egad, not bounce sticks again! They keep coming back like vampires. They once seemed like a good idea, but B.P.Hughes's book "Firepower" revealed cannon balls did not bounce higher than 6', so unless there happened to be a short soldier standing right below the high point of the bounce, shot was lethal out to the limits of its range.

    Best regards,


    1. No bounce sticks here! I've always preferred the Featherstone and Lawford & Young approach relying on dice.

    2. Chris,
      Its retro gaming rather than a slavish simulation I'm interested in,in this particular case. I too like Lawson & Young etc but am willing to give Tony Bath a whirl.
      The certain Duke

  5. I have so swithered about ww1 in africa over the years. I did it in 15mm with Peter Laing figures long ago with figures sadly long since gone. 40 mm sounds fun...

  6. Ross, I am having fairly significant wobbles in the direction of german East Africa at the moment. These are based on re-reading "Mimi and Toutou's Big Adventure: The bizarra Battle of Lake Tanganyika" by Giles Foden.

    There is an excellent article on the German perspective on operations on the Lake, too. If you've not done it before, try googling "Tanganyikasee:A Gunboat War in Deutch-Ostafriks, 1914-1916" by Dennis Bishop and Holger Dobold (both of the Colonial Wars Yahoo Group).

    Good times.


  7. PS - the new tablwe layout loks promising.