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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rainy Day Soldiers

Few things are as delightful as a cold, rainy Autumn Saturday when one has no immediate obligations. Nowhere to go, nothing that HAS to be done, no reason not to play a war game, nothing to do but clear the table and choose what to do. Ah......hmm.
The 1/72nd Zouaves are ready for duty.

Since the new Zouaves were ready to march I thought about an ACW battle but I wanted to do some more work on commanders, cavalry and artillery before playing, not to mention getting names and organization down on paper. Still I did want to see if a full battle could fit on the small table so I looked at rules and scenarios and suddenly it all felt like a lot of bother and I was starting to miss my bigger table. Not good, but then I hadn't designed this set up to be ideal for the largest ACW game I could manage. I put the Zouaves into the Federal box until I get more work done and started trying to remember what I did design this set up for.

As I recall, the idea was to play smaller games, either skirmishes or games with small units. For some reason I have been side tracked into trying to figure out how many 40mm figures I could cram onto the table. It was probably good timing that another generous friend recently gifted me with a copy of  One Hour Wargames, the book that has been creating a buzz on the blogosphere since it came out.  Its been well reviewed elsewhere so let me just say that based on those reviews and tests I had decided that the scenarios were largely simplified versions of existing published ones or of popular battles and that the rules would not be to my taste. Having read through it both those things hold up though I do intend to try both scenarios and rules anyway since that is the best way to see what I can learn from them. In fact, on my first read through, I found some interesting thoughts and ideas and realized that we share more common ideas of how to approach things than I anticipated. I'm very glad to have read it and to have a copy to reread again and look forward to trying them  out. But not today. It did however get me back on track.

Looking at the disarray on my shelves, I suddenly had the bright idea of starting with armies that were ready to go using rules that I plan to use going forward.
16th Century English and Scots face each other across the table.
This is probably as good a time as any to mention that I have decided to consolidate my two main blogs. I will leave the Gathering of Hosts blog available to any who wish to peruse it but all new posts will be done here. While I was at it I started adding a page for each of the "campaigns" or "periods" that I intend to focus on going forward. There is at least 1 more to come for the early 20th Century stuff when I figure out what to call it and where it fits in and I will probably add one page for the various small odds and sodds. There will be fewer armies when this year ends than when it began.

Anyway, the armies that I selected were 16th Century English and Scots using the new version of Gathering of Hosts rules. These are now an adaptation of Morschauser's Shock rules, as was Rough Wooing when Rob & I started them. These ones are closer to the original and were intended for an Old School fantasy mass combat game but I like them so much that I've adopted them for my Medieval fantasy and 16th Century games. The Draft is available from the links at the right or the one at the start of this paragraph.

A simple scenario was what I was after, something fought across the width of the table so I could see if it was too shallow when used this way and one without rivers or a lot of terrain. After going through 5 different books of scenarios I was bemused to  find that they contained a very small number of such scenarios and I had played them all too often, too recently. I decided to improvise. I rolled for a selection of hills and placed them roughly by die roll using 2d6 to locate them on the grid. Once they were down I rearranged them slightly to fit then rolled for the number of woods. Since the number of woods matched the number of mottled dark green squares I just filled them with trees, I had chosen those squares as likely spots anyway.

Then I turned to the armies and tossed a die to select the first, the English won. I then rolled 2d6 for infantry and 2d6 for cavalry and artillery. This gave me 6 infantry, 1 gun and 8 cavalry. Looking at the table I decided they were a blocking force and deployed them astride the road. Turning to the Scots I rolled up 8 infantry and 5 cavalry. OK, well being outnumbered, out gunned and out armoured it was starting to look like a raiding party trying to slip by.

"Oh Flower of Scotland....."

Fair enough. A little over an hour later, with the English just hanging on, the Scots collapsed with only 2 units escaped. Oh well, tough enough for the Scots when they outnumber the English. It was a fun game and just the sort of thing I had had in mind for this setup.    

The rules are still being developed and while I was 90% happy with them, I decided I shouldn't have taken out the melee resolution mechanism I had tried. I decided to reset with some 25mm fantasy medieval's and play again using an improved resolution rule, hoping for a more powerful attack force. Once again the deployment dice favoured the defenders and an even smaller party of Westfolk light troops was forced to make their way past an even larger all arms Midlands army. For a minute it looked like an end run through the woods would work but there was this one stubborn unit of archers, The Tunstall Tower archers......... oh well, once again 2 units managed to escape.  Oh well, both armies are well loved and the rules tweak worked just the way I envisaged.  The narrow table worked just fine but with a 6 "length" bow range, I think I'd best make a stick marked in 2" segments instead of the 3" one I made for the 5'x6' table.

Felt like another game but  it was time to make supper.

Deja Vue all over again.

Playing these two games reminded me of why I have been trying to deal with a sudden itch to give 1 stand units another try in other periods, harking back to the original Morschauser Meets MacDuff. Hopefully something late 19thC ish tomorrow if I can.


  1. Interesting post and the game sounds/looks fun too. I hope the 19th century one works as well for you.

  2. Oh, how I wish for a rainy day!
    I agree with Alan that it looks and sounds like some fun games.

  3. The zouave unit look very nice.
    You have done a great paint job Ross!

    1. They were easy to paint because the castings were so clean and crisp!

  4. Well, it seems drop-casting is not so bad after all! :-)