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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Squaring Off at the Crossroads

The OHW scenario I chose for my 40mm Square Brigadier game was Surprise, inspired by Quatre Bras. As before I laid it out with each 9cm grid representing a 3" square on the map.  By happy coincidence this ended up making the movement equivalent though my ranges were shorter. Based on that ground scale each 6" wide infantry or cavalry scenario unit became 2 of my 1 square units but artillery remained 1 for 1. In addition to the major terrain features I added some minor bits to make it look more like Atlantica. The small stand alone lake without a stream to feed it or drain it or even a fringe of vegetation  was a minor puzzler. If there had been farms or villages about I might have thought artificial duck pond or golf course water hazard while a desert setting might have suggested a water tank or oasis. Eventually I decided to go with a slough or stagnant pond in a slight dip in the ground surrounded by boggy ground and vegetation rendering 4 squares impassible while obscuring ing line of fire.

NOTE: (warning?) The account of this Square Brigadier game has been done in the picture captions. The rest of the text is just me babbling about rules and general hobby stuff.

Turn 5. A black chance card has frozen Red's cavalry, Black's cavalry has reached the vital crosroad while so far his infantry is more than holding its own. Still the day is only 1/3 done.
 For the last few years I have been seesawing between rolling for initiative or rolling for orders (number of group moves that turn). I've also been using Chance Cards off and on. Recently I started using the chance card deck as a way to track number of turns played since I am lousy at remembering to tick them off or move a marker. Of course I still forgot to turn a card sometimes. I finally hit on the idea of using the deck to determine who gets first move as well as being a chance deck and tracking turns. Works brilliantly for me.  I can't proceed without determining initiative so the deck never gets forgotten.  Red was heard muttering about stacked decks at one point since he only got the initiative about 3 turns and Black got all of the chance cards but them's the breaks. The dice weren't always more impartial.
Gratuitous shot of the 4.7" going into action with a Royal Artillery crew. They were obviously well trained and equal to the task. Premier etoile.
For the last 20 years almost all of my rules have treated "hits"as representing mostly a loss of cohesion and allowed units to recover from them by "rallying". Recently I started dropping it since unless one side was being crushed, it was hard to stop units rallying indefinitely which in turn made it harder to reach a conclusion. Recently I have started paying more attention to turn limits and shortening the usual limit. Instead of aiming for 18-24 turns I have gone to 12-15. That helps.

It also helps the feel that rather than just removing units the second that they hit their limit, a new feature for me, I have gone back to forcing them to retreat and try to rally, retreating again with each failure until they succeed or leave the table. That simple combination has resolved my major headache over the last hmm 5 years?
The Zouaves are driven back with losses by artillery and rifle fire. Half of them cannot be rallied and retreat off table. Red's cavalry sweep has been thrown back by Black's cavalry, well by the Hougal Chasseurs really. The Guard Lancers focussed on looking pretty.

Part of last years plan was to reduce the number of major collections that are active. The reduction was successful in that I am now down to 8. (Prince Valiant, 5 Kingdoms, 16th C, NQSYW, Atlantica 1812-1850, ACW, 54mm NW Rebellion, Alantica 1880-1910,  )  There are also a few "Game in a Box" things that each fill the same niche as one of the above, eg my 30mm "Quebec 1759",  tucked away in the cupboard  mostly because they don't take up much room and don't look easy to sell. 


Gratuitous close up of the 2nd and 4th Companies, Hougal Zouaves, around turn 7.  These guys fought all day against heavy odds and were still hanging on to the inn at the crossroad at the end of the day. Deuxieme Etoile.
Part of the plan was also to make sure that each major era in weaponry was covered as well as each of the levels of game that might interest me, all without duplication. I didn't quite get there. All of the games  in boxes do duplicate the niche occupied by one or the other of the main collections but they aren't in the way.  One major technique that I have used to cover all angles of interest without duplication has been to convert strict historical collections to fictional ones so my Atlantican musket forces will be able to play games inspired by Napoleonic wars, War of 1812, 1837 rebellions, Sikh Wars,Mexican American War and so on. The uniforms  won't be right but the rest can be.

More to the point, this 40mm Atlantican game and the preceding 54mm NW Rebellion game both fit the same niche. This isn't surprising since its my favorite period and I originally set out to do the Atlantica thing with 54's and the remaining troops are the original ones, the ones in the style I wanted before I was seduced temporarily by the outflow of larger, more detailed, chunky/clunky plastic and metal "New" toy soldiers that soon lost their appeal and took up too much room. Since I have both and can't seem to square myself to get rid of either, I've decided that I may as well use 'em both. Hopefully the different settings and troop choices will provide enough differentiation.

   
Umhh... 8 turns later.... after much advancing, desperate stands and more desperate rout, it occurred to me that I should take another photo. It is the 2nd to last turn and Black is still hanging on to the crossroads. Off camera, Red's cavalry Brigade has been broken. The infantry has taken a pounding but its still in the game. Frontal charges are a desperate gamble but they seem to be the only hope as the light fades.

Lastly, a look ahead. I'm slowly making progress on repainting the table and have started to work on squaring the hills to the grid. Terrain for the Square Brigadier games in particular is going to be my focus for the next while with some figure painting for relief esp for the 2 Square Brigadier collections and the 25mm Fantasy Medievals. I am also going to get a good copy of the Square Brigadier put together as well as a short summary.  The musket guys will probably stay on the shelf until summer or fall since they need so much work on figures and rules but there might well be a midwinter/early spring Charge! game, esp if I finish some new troops as well as an ACW game if I get a bit more painting done on that front.

There should also be more work on the various background summary pages now that I am getting more focussed.

The last card flipped the initiative to Red giving them a double move just when they needed it most. The deck is forgiven. All along the line Red's infantry surged forward with the bayonet. The Zouaves easily repulsed the rash attack on them but in the center the 2nd Black Battery and a company of Oberhilse line infantry that had arrived on turn 9 were driven back by a flurry of 5's and 6's after being battered by long range artillery and rifle fire for several turns. If they rally in the back half then Black would win. Alas they had taken 2 hits over their morale point and both were forced off table. Black was left with 3 out of 10 units and 1/2 the crossroads meaning forced reteat off table while Red had 7 out of 10 and the other half so a win by a Nose. For routing the enemy and taking the crossroad on the last turn, 'A'Company of the Royal`s gets Troisieme Etoile.

Onward and upward!

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