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, January 22, 2016

MacDuff Junior

The internet can be an awful thing, corrupting idle middle aged men and seducing them off into shiny old things. Shiny old toy soldiers that is.

I knew hauling out the Britain's again last fall was risky but I thought I had it contained. Then, last week, as I was steeling myself again to list my handful of Soldierpac Britain's Arabs on eBay and explaining again to myself that I don't have room to play those sorts of games any more, when various people (you know who you are!)  start posting pictures of just that style of figures and suddenly my plans started to feel a bit curmudgeonly and well, cowardly and defeatist.

Infidal! We will NOT GO!

Then there was another issue. I really enjoyed the Square Brigadier NW Rebellion game with the old toy soldiers and am looking forward to finally working on some of the figures that have been waiting up to 17 years now. However, I've also been concerned about my pledge to myself that each collection would offer me a different sort of game as justification for being kept. All the 54mm NW game was  offering me was some bigger figures in variations of the same period dress and a different theoretical backstory for games that would fit just as well into Atlantica.

Enter some comments and email conversations and suddenly I'm thinking about my last rifle armed single figures, the old MacDuff Colonial games and about my newish appreciation for smaller games on a smaller table and suddenly I saw an opportunity.

Before there was Atlantica in 40mm there was Nkukhuland in 54mm. The British colony of New Durban to the south, the Zulu like NkuKhu in the middle and the Arab slaver stronghold of Wadifoulyam in the North. That campaign took place in the same world as the historical NW Rebellion games with Imperial units being representations of real Imperial units.   In those days, games took place on 60 sq feet with 100 to 500 54mm figures on table. Today  I know how to stage smaller Colonial games with simple rules on my current table. The NorthWest Rebellion and Nkhukhuland games would exist as 2 parts of 1 collection providing Colonial skirmish games leaving the 40mm Atlantic setting for gridded battles.

Having hauled out the original MacDuff , it had simple rules but it had a lot of them with lots of special cases, modifiers and so on and was always a time consuming game to play but best done with a dozen or so units at least.  What follows bears little resmblance to MacDuff to the Frontier except the desire but I'll worry about names later.

Macduff Junior

Used a card deck  to track turns, determine initiative and as a chance card deck as per my other recent rulesets.

Units 8 infantry, 4 cavalry or gun and 4 crew.

Move OR Shoot

Moves based on a stick with 3" bands.
Infantry move 3 if in column or native. 2 if deployed 1 if regulars in difficult going.  
Artillery move 3 limbered. Only in good going.
Cavalry & Mounted Infantry move 4 (1 in broken ground. Not in difficult going)

Shooting. No shooting if moved dismounting/unlimbering does not count as moving. Rifles. 6, Cannon 12 Cavalry with carbines 2. Roll 1 die per figure / crew.

5,6 hits up to 1/2 range, 6 only over 1/2 range.
Effect. For each hit on a unit roll a die.
5,6 Dead. 1 figure as dead.
3,4 I'm Hit!  1 figure is hit. May not move or shoot except to retreat with unit. Roll again on the player's next turn.
1,2 Just Close. 1 figure is pinned and may not move or shoot on the next turn except to retreat with unit.  (Figure that was previously hit has bound the wound etc and will be ready for action next turn.)
0 I'm OK.  Ready for action.
Cover. Troops in cover treat odd  numbers as saved by cover.
Stretcher Bearer! -1 from die roll if a stretcher team, doctor etc is with unit when rolling for a figure that was hit previously.

Hand to Hand. If a unit charges into contact, line up figures. Roll 1 die per figure.
+1 if character or some sort of scenario or unit bonus or if enemy is pinned.
+1 if cavalry in the open
If 2+vs 1, choose which figure/die to use. any negative effect is to the figure chosen.
Loser is killed/captured.

A morale check may be needed afterwards.

Unit Morale. If a unit drops below 1/2 strength effective (not dead, wounded or pinned) roll 1 die needing 4,5,6 to stand. On a 1,2,3 the unit will retreat a full move bringing any hit or pinned figures with it. The unit may neither shoot nor move on its next turn. If it reaches the board edge it will leave. Roll again each time the unit takes a hit unless it recovers enough pinned and hit figures. +1 to the die if joined by the Commander.

Army Morale. If at the end of a turn a player has less than half his original units on table in good order roll  die. 4,5,6 fight on. 1,2,3 retreat off table if possible, if not then surrender if Imperial fighting other Imperial but fight on if Imperial vs native.

So far after 6 turns I'm having fun playing and thinking about all the figures I want to work on.


  1. Twenty years ago (time really does fly!), MacDuff To The Frontier was in the regular rotation for 25mm colonial and FIW gaming at my table.

    1. I'm glad to hear that, it was developed for multi-player 25mm Colonial games, primarily Sudan: Partha, Frontier, Minifig. Some great gaming memories.

  2. Those chaps on camels look very menacing, the rules seem nice and simple - just about my level!

  3. The lure is indeed strong.
    Camel riders look great and rules just crying out to be played.