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

Friday, July 24, 2015

Oh Me of Little Faith or Remixing the Square Brigadier

I actually had the solution to this pinning problem last year and forgot it somewhere along the way. In my "Wisdom of the Young" post last August, about the Brigadier Peter Young, I included the following quote:

"elaborate Morale rules are a waste of time. Morale is in the mind of the wargamer himself, for ultimately a war game is a duel between the two opposing generals themselves. Do not let them hide their deficiencies behind the alleged failings of their metal or plastic followers!"

At the time I was also listening to Colonel Sykes as reported by HG Wells in his Appendix to Little Wars where the Colonel suggested that infantry should be allowed to fire or move but not to do both. Taken together with my standard Square Brigadier system of taking hits but being allowed to try to rally them if you didn't move or shoot, no pin rule was needed. If a unit under fire took a hit, it risked defeat and destruction if it charged into melee, much better to lay down and rally, hoping to rally faster than the hits came in so as to be in a better position to rush the enemy while taking a few pot shots of your own from time to time while waiting for a flanking force or the artillery to break the deadlock. In practice it is possible but rare for a unit lying there to accumulate enough unrallied hits to destroy them unless they are the subject of machine gun and artillery fire but it is possible. At any event the system is quick and includes enough risk to add tension. (Oh F! 3 hits! If I don;t make at least 1 of these rally rolls.....)

At any event when I started playing with fire and movement and started backing away from rallying hits I found I needed something else. I'm not sure if it was Helpful Kinch's comment on the last post, my digging out a copy of Tin Hats in preparation for a possible WW2 game in August, or both, but partway through some test fiddling with command rolls it all came back. So initiative gone, orders dice gone, pins gone, no where to hide.  If you take losses from firing as you close then either push your men to their limit and risk destruction or lay down and rally. Your choice.

Of course, like in Charge!, this leaves my little metal commanders with nothing to do. So, taking a page from Morschauser, which is where these rules started, I just made the HQ mandatory but a liability if you lose it while letting each side have a couple of colourful "Leaders" to capture just the  heroic side of officers of the time leaving the drudgery, discipline  and brain work to the unseen heroes.


  1. It always seems to me more natural and intuitive, elegant even, when a set of rules creates a situation when the player is required to take a decision and weigh up risks, without his hand being forced by something like a morale or a command test.

    This push or rally dilemma sounds promisingly like one of those kind of rules sweet spots.

  2. Thanks Steve, I tend to agree. The twitch here is that it might still be too indecisive and repetitive for a good game, and maybe too low a decision for the commander. I guess it depends on how many units I give him? Anyway it was with trepidation that I tried some Morschauser medieval games this year with no morale, command or even win/lose melees, just long moves, sudden death and lots of units. Gave a whole new perspective away from the unit to the army.