EXERT 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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pass in Review: Oberhilse

The plan to get the late 19th Century Atlantican affair going is gathering steam. Oberhilse already has plenty of troops on hand, based and ready, enough for most scenarios with more in reserve. The only key deficit is a period appropriate General and Head Quarters but I have figures on hand so that will soon be resolved.
Oberhilse 1880ish table ready muster including the Hougal contingent:
 4 guns, 6 cavalry, 16 infantry "units".
This review of organization has reminded me of an unresolved (aka ignored) issue. When I started painting up WWI figures in 2014 I decided to paint up "battalions" of 4 companies each of 4 figures. This meshed nicely with the 16 figure battalions that I was using for my earlier armies. However, a WWI scenario with 8 such battalions deployed in open order would crowd my table and was too many units to paint and store given the variety of armies I was thinking about doing, so I cut that down to 2 x 4 man 1/2 battalion units per scenario unit.  Since then Oberhilse has remained painted in groups of 16 but acts in groups of 8 (2x4) while Faraway has been painted in "battalions" (no game role) of 8 figures in distinct uniforms.

Putting on my Kriegspiel hat and taking a ground scale of roughly 200 yards per square this worked perfectly scale wise with battalions occupying 2 squares if deployed or in road column and a single square in mass and I could fit modern artillery onto my tabletop. All good so far but it also meant that I was going beyond the planned brigade sized games towards division sized games.  It took a few months to confirm that most of the scenarios that I liked were aimed closer to actions of brigade size at the largest with many being smaller and that the rules needed more complex command rules or multiple players before a game might feel like a late 19th/early 20th C Division level action. I didn't intend to play Kriegspeils though, I had meant to play something more like, well, say  Little Wars crossed with Battlecry or something on that level. Work on the rules continues with a revisit of moves and ranges vs scenarios instead of vs scale as well as a revisit of the command and rallying rules vs the desired flow and player focus.

I spent some time today staring at the existing Faraway units and contemplating the reources needed to update the existing units to 4 companies and the consequences on rules and background story. At the same time I pondered the impact of the recall to duty of my 54mm Britans.  As a result I'm taking the plunge and recommitting to the original plan of 4 company "units" grouped into battalions with a commander. This means my "armies" will only have 4 "battalions"  of infantry for the early period plus a few battalions in the new drab uniforms, primarily for the "Colonial" theatres of war. This means there is no room for my planned Guards inbearskins or Highlanders but since both of these appear in my 54mm inspired by  the NorthWest Rebellion campaign, I'm OK with that. There still might be a 40mm highand battalion in drab in time.  First however, in the absence of a re-release of Scruby Colonial, I have begun work on converting Zinnbrigade Germans into redcoats in Pith helmets to flush out the existing 8 figure Scruby unit. The next unit might be a firing battalion in spiked helmets, again converted from Zinnbrigade Prussians.

The sticking point is how Oerberg and Hougal fit in, especially with the NW Rebellion game filling some of the same space as early Oerbeg campaigns and with the shortage of suitable Oerberg figures. I am leaning towards a 19thC Oberhilse-Farawy 1880 war fought in full colour before the Hougal Revolt and an early 20th C Oerberg war with a  expeditionary force from Oerberg in their new fieldgray uniforms vs drab Faraway troops. That leaves room for something in the middle with a mix of the two to show the evolution.

With that resolved, I am finally free again to convert and paint, knowing what is needed and what it should look like.


  1. Hi Ross,
    Once again many thanks for sharing your thoughts on your project. Your comment on uniforms brought back memories of a unit I purchased a while back (too far back!) from a chap on E-Bay. The figures had blue pants with a neat stripe and white pith helmets suitably stained. But what made me think of a transitional uniform is that these Zulu War period figures had khaki jackets to go with their otherwise Victorian looking uniforms. Didn't the Indian army of that period also have a mix of uniforms - khaki, red coats, and even green for some of the Gurkhas? And since the cavalry could have an even greater mix of colors, the transition - in terms of color - would be obvious - and complete.
    All the very best,

    1. Thanks Jerry yes there were mixes, iir some US units went to cuba with blue shirts and khaki pants. However I was thinking more of the 1881-82 Egyptian and Boer campaigns where troops stationed in South Africa or shipped out from England were in the red (or blue etc) home service uniforms while units dispatched from India were in khaki or in 1914 where most British and German units were in drab but the naval brigade landed at Antwerp was in blue and several Landwehr units went to war in their blue tunics as did the French and Belgians.