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, April 12, 2015


This isn't exactly the blog post I was expecting to write but that's ok. Yesterday I found myself with time so I laid out the Reb army and replayed the game just to prove to myself that nothing would be different except the visuals and period and that the 6" grid game was no different than the 3" one apart from the scenery, the number of miniatures and the difficulty of reaching the middle squares. Oddly enough I tried the same thing last summer using my 1/72nd RCW troops but apparently forgot afterwards or didn't pay close enough attention.

 The game is set. The Rebs have stuck with an attack up the left assigning Brigadier Kinch with 4 regiments to tackle the job supported by Brigadier Featherstone's 3 regiments and 2 batteries on the ridge. The brigade of 3 cavalry regiments was assigned the job of holding the right as well as being a mobile reserve. The Yankees have a new plan. Attack up the right, use the cavalry as a mobile reserve. The game will last a maximum of 12 turns. The first side to lose 5 units will retreat. If after 12 turns the Yankees still have a bridgehead and the Rebs still hold the ridge then the battle will be a draw.
The sheer joy of seeing my ACW troops manoeuvring on the table made me smile but suddenly, as I struggled to remember that I wasn't supposed to be fiddling with wheeling lines and deploying skirmishers, I realized that I wasn't really playing a physically larger version of my Bob Cordery/Battly Cry inspired cardtable game at all. In fact it appears that my subconscious had been secretly agitating for a return to a more ..conventional? traditional? I'm not sure what the right term is, a game more like what I grew up playing. I have spent a fair amout of time yesterday evening and this morning, rereading old blog posts over the last couple of years and the struggle last fall as I tackled this late 19thC/early 20thC period is very obvious as  is my repeated return to some version of Hearts of Tin (nee Morschauser Meets MacDuff).

Turn 8 out of 12. The Reb attack on the right was held then destroyed by the Federal counter attack. The action was so intense and the result so dramatic that I forgot to take pictures. The Rebs have only lost 2 units completely but 3 infantry and 1 artillery are all down to a single stand with 1 or 2 hits left. The Yanks have only lost 1 unit with several having some losses but they only have 4 turns left.

Fair enough, There is a place in my hobby for a portable/cardtable game  but there is also a place for a gridded game designed to last a bit longer and show just a tiny bit more detail while still maintaining a fairly high level of abstraction. In other words I seem to have developed a style and might as well accept it.

This does not mean big changes to the rules I was using yesterday but it does mean some work on terminology and explaining things and including things I do which aren't in the rules officially, and slacking off on some things like the 1 unit = 1 grid area rule. This does nicely put me back 2 1/2 years (see Universal Soldier post) but with no time wasted as these things need to be not just thought about but tried and stress tested. "Morschauser Meets the Square Brigadier MacDuff and his Heart of Tin" is far too long a name for a set of rules but is either SB or HofT right or do I need a new name?  

 Turn 12. Federal infantry and mounted Cavalry have suffered heavy losses in a series of hasty piecemeal attacks but in their half of the last turn have finally driven the Rebs off one corner of the hill without  having captured it. If the Rebs can rally their 3 routing units then it a draw...nope 3 failed rallies! As night falls the Reb army's morale cracks.

Now what I had meant to write about were the topics of grid size vs figure height vs unit size and about more small units vs fewer larger units and some related topics but it will all have to wait till another day.  The expanded draft won't be ready for a few days as there is lots of explanation to add as well as a return to campaign charts with unit stats as per Hearts of Tin,  At least my armies aren't affected! They are doing now what I want them to do. Its just a matter of catching up on the paperwork.


  1. For my vote I say 'Hearts of Tin' is a truly inspirational name for a set of wargame rules.

    I become quite attached to my wee lead warriors and their on table exploits so much so that at times they really do seem to have personalities and hearts of tin. When I pick up Sir Percival Frockmorton or Oberst Von Fleihofen from their box I recall with delight their battles and adventures, triumphs and tragedies. Aren't we exceedingly fortunate that weve steadfastly refused to grow up?

    1. Thanks. So far tge vote is 2 nothing for a return to Hesrts of Tin.

      Yes, its been a struggle sometimes but keeping the inner child alive has been worth it.

  2. I think you have had a great game here, pushing lead and rolling dice.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the words you want to use, their time will come in due course.

    1. Thanks Jim. All part of keeping the little grey cells firing.

  3. I like all the names but would vote for Hearts of Tin because of its humour and touch of poignancy.

    Laying my cards on the (gridded) table, I can say that I've followed the small units-squares-late 19thC-early 20thC exercise intently, with a lot of interest, finding it highly plausible and logical, but with some lack of emotional engagement.

    Not sure how much of this is due to some innate conservatism after years of habit but I do like the look of the ACW game very much and also I do have some sort of MacDuffish nostalgia; however, maybe I'm just not sufficiently into the later period and that's the only reason for the relative lack of involvement.

    1. Steve, The ACW game certainly felt a bit like coming home. A lot to be said for 20mm as a wargaming scale.

      The early 20thC is one of those periods that I want to like for reasons that have little to do with wargames but something to do with Toy Soldiers, personal connections and books but its also one that I find hard to tackle satisfactorily in historical simulation fashion. The small abstract game was fun in part because it was abstract, and in part because it was cheap and fast to assemble (ie no time to get bored) but I can't help feeling that an original MacDuff level game might have been a better approach, esp in a Colonial setting, if my table was bigger.