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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Adventures of Prince Micheal of Valdur: Episode 17

LADY KATHERINE RIDES HOME

Peace has reigned in Britain for nearly two years so Count Hubert has allowed his daughter, Lady Katherine, to travel north to visit her sister, Queen Lilian. Now she is being escorted home escorted by her brother, Duke Stephen. Her nephew, Prince Micheal leads an advance party of Valdurian knights. Suddenly:
From a small patch of scrubby bushes beside the road rise a line of Saxon archers and the lead knight is struck from his horse!

Wheeling quickly and drawing his sword, Micheal leads his men into the woods and cuts down the archer's Captain. These are no brigands though and fade back into the woods rather than running. 

As the main party arrives, yet more Saxons emerge from hiding and more arrows fly. Duke Stephen sends his sister and her baggage cart with its precious treasures, to the side of the road and starts to deploy his men. 

Hiding behind a low hill to the North Helgin the Saxon chief orders the horn sounded and his banner to be raised. Drawing his sword he leads his Huscarls forward to battle.


As the Duke deploys his forces across the road, both Micheal and  the Red Company chase the elusive enemy archers farther and farther from the column but cannot catch them! Suddenly a horn sounds! Behind them, the Banner of Earl Helgin appears over a hill while over the hill to their front rides a cluster of Pictish knights with Dearg Mor at their head. These are no Brigands! 

The Red Company and Prince Micheal finally catch the enemy archers and their arrows are soon paid for. Dearg Mor does not waste time on them though but leads his party at a gallop through the hole they have left in the Valdurian line. Across the field, the Green Company holds Helgin's first assault then falls back a little to buy time and let their archers shoot. 

Suddenly there are battlecries and a clash of steel behind the Valdurian lines as the Pictish cavalry sweep into the thin line of guards around the baggage. At the same time the great Bull Horn sounds again as Helgin and his Huscarls sweep forward. The Green company wavers and then breaks apart. Only the Captain, his squire and one brave warrior stand to face the onslaught. The Duke and his standard bearer join the fight as Lady Katherine hovers to the rear, ready for flight should the need come. Down goes the Duke's standard bearer but the two knights and a squire hold back the howling horde of huscarles. 
(ps: For Bluebear Jeff, RIP my friend, I promise I will paint the bottoms of the bases!


As a fresh band of Saxons struggles over the small creek the fighting clashes on all sides, Lady Katherine leads her baggage wagon and entourage back towards safety in case the worst should happen.

At every turn luck has seemed to favour the barbarians but the Valdurians are resolute. They fall back again and form a new line and their archers tear into the Saxon lines causing a number of fainter hearts to fade back from the front line. The rest pause, gathering courage perhaps before they advance again over the line of bodies. 

Finally, Prince Micheal at the head of the Red Company crashes into the flank of the Pictish cavalry.  The fighting is fierce but the end inevitable and as Dearg Mor is pulled from his horse Helgin gives the signal to retreat. Lady Katherine will be home for Sunday dinner.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Behind the Scenes (Updated)

With a forecast of cool and cloudy for Saturday morning it still looks good for  an early game. Even if I weren't hot and tired from working outside on a muggy afternoon my upstairs game room is like a sweat box today so this opportunity is not to be lost.

Still available as an inexpensive pdf from Henry's site:
henrys-wargaming.co.uk
The rules I'll be using are a slight modification of Medieval Mayhem, a quick, simple set of medieval skirmish rules by Rob Dean (Sharp End of the Brush Blog) with a little input from myself. They were written for multi-player convention games and have proved themselves over and over. Not bad for a set hammered out in a restaurant and jotted down on a napkin during a power outage fifteen years ago. In 2007 they were printed in Battlegames Issue 6 and are still available as an inexpensive pdf from Henry Hyde's blog.

However, they were written for a Hundred Years War game and for the Accurate 54mm figures that Rob had and as such they aren't always a perfect match for my Elastolin Prince Valiant figures.   I had to redefine what constitutes light, medium and heavy armour and needed to add two morale classes (veterans and civilians) but have been very restrained about other changes.

These are as follows:

1) Groups have been redefined as having less than a base width between figures rather than physically touching. This was done largely to counter the sharp practice discovered by some of deploying figures as individuals with a mere mm or so between them so that they need not take morale checks for losses and would never all run away if charged but were still quite massed. This worked best with high morale troops or if an average group had no high morale leaders. This tweak fixes that and is easy to implement and enforce.
Update. During the game, this worked up until I discovered it was not only possible to form unintentional groups but very hard to avoid accidentally forming super groups. I think a better solution might be to maintain the groups are touching rule but add a rule saying that an individual may not move to within a base width of another figure unless forming a group.

2) Groups will only test morale for losses if they take at least 10% hits.

3) If a group fails morale, individuals will test and be removed if they fail the secondary test but any remaining figures will retreat as a group (or groups if routers create a big gap).

Ye Olde Cloth at Huzzah 2014.
Made for Cold Wars 1998 it has seen many games, not bad value for a remnant.

The scenario was going to be the ambush scenario from CS Grant's Scenarios for Wargames (very similar to the original Tabletop Teaser version) but I decided that I wanted to do the cloth over hills thing and it was only when I laid out the cloth that I remembered that the river half still had the converging painted roads on it from my 2014 Huzzah game. I decided to modify the scenario rather than fuss too much with the cloth at this time.

There are several ways to handle solo ambushes but I've decided to repeat the method used in a Gathering of Hosts game in 2015 which keeps the player in suspense. Each turn I roll two dice to see if one, two or no ambushing units arrive then dice for each to see if they appear in the nearest, uncleared cover and shoot or charge or in the player's choice of uncleared cover.

 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

All Clear

"So" said Sir Gawain to young Marten the page, "You have come with a message from Sir Hubert that the convoy with the Lady Katherine should reach the bridge on Saturday but you don't know which  road they will be coming by?"


"No milord" answered young Marten, "But I saw nothing on my journey to suggest that there is any danger to the convoy on either route."



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer Daze

Very little happening here as Summer stretches on. A little puttering with new, consistent, bases for my Prince Valiant collection and some prep work on figures to finish the Wolf Regiment.

However, yesterday I made the trek down to Sobey's Community Room in Greenwood to join the lads down there for some games. In the end only 4 of us showed up so we played 2 games of 2 on 2.

OK, the explosion is over kill but one must celebrate one's victories such as they  are and this was my only 'kill' of the day and my first battle in Space since the late 70's and Starfleet Battles. 
The second game, shown above, was X-Wing. It was ok. The base was sound as it used basic concepts that I first encountered in Wings of War a decade ago. However, like so many "fantasy/scifi" games today it has a strong streak of profit mongering built it with expansions, presumably limited edition, which add new features, special rules and capabilities that allow players to build "Super" squadrons for competitions so that, given equal talent, the guy with deepest pockets can grab a technical advantage.

The first game, however, was Wings of Glory, the re-release of Wings of War and virtually identical and still putting the weight on pilot skill (and luck - there is no escaping the one explosion result if you pull it!). It was just as enjoyable as it was when I first played it. Not something I would go seeking to play but something I'm happy to play as a social event.

"High above the Fields of France" (for Al Stewart fans)
That's me in the middle.....

Meanwhile back home, while the Elastolin are reasonably stable on their native bases, as sold, the bases are too small and the figures too light for stability in the rough and tumble of skirmish gaming. Having done some experimenting and also some contemplating  on getting cheap, I decided to go buy new washers 1" wide which exactly match the length of the standard Elastolin infantry base. Two will do nicely for a figure-eight cavalry base and are heavy enough to keep the light figures stable even on a steep slope and to withstand the dreaded Domino effect.

Its mildly annoying that the hardware store tends to classify wargame skirmish bases by the width of the hole rather than the width of the base, which is what really matters. Still, its not that hard to puzzle it out, esp with a sample in hand to confirm the desired weight and width.
LtoR: figure base vs washer, sawdust and glue groundwork, painted, cavalry.
I did contemplate buying some sort of drywall compound or similar to attempt to imitate the texture and finish of the original plastic bases and match my painted table top texture better but got home without it and decided to just press on with what I had. Who knows, table tops change, as long as the colours are reasonably close it won't bother me.




Monday, August 7, 2017

Taking Easy Ridge

When I started my post on angles last week, I was actually planning to discuss 4 or 5 issues that I had with using any of my usual Gridded options for small battles of the War of 1812 and various mid- 19thC games using conventional sized units of 40mm figures. (I'll write more about them if anyone is interested.) The post quickly got too long so I stopped after the first, minor issue.

Several times I have toyed with the idea of breaking all the usual "how to play using a grid" conventions. I hadn't really pursued it but  a comment from Stu got me thinking about it again since all I really wanted was a way to measure without faffing about with my bevy of evasive measuring sticks.

What I really needed to do was get away from the 1 unit, 1 grid area maxim. HERESY!

Turn 1. The game begins. Blue is deployed along a ridge line with orders to stop Red's from advancing. There are two roads leading off Blue's baseline. Victory requires controlling both roads at the end of 15 turns or breaking the other army. 
My clearly marked 6" grid is lightly/obscurely subdivided into 3" quadrants.  Each 3" quadrant holds one of my early 20th Century 'companies' and that works well since they are deployed in open order under local control but one of my  War of 1812  battalions need an area 3" deep and between 4" and 8" wide.  None of my various attempts to deal with this quite worked for me whether by reorganizing and rebasing to turn 24 man battalions into 16 man ones in a single 6" grid square which meant most historical actions were too small to game or by breaking each battalion into several small units which just happened to be standing next to each other in a sort of dotted line which sort of worked but looked and felt wrong despite 'support' and  'command integrity' rules to encourage units to stick together.

Well, I'm tired of rebasing and reorganizing want the option to have a full length game with historical Orders of Battle when I want to go there.

   

Turn 3. Opposing skirmishers clash over a grove between the line. The Grey's have some initial luck despite the 1:2 odds but then pay for it having bought a tiny bit of time.

 So, I decided to let the bases sizes and units sizes be what they are and treat Units as Units regardless of how many grid squares they covered as long as they maintain a proper formation. Range and arc of fire would be determined stand by stand just like it would be off grid except that it is done by consulting the grid instead of a ruler. Movement is the same idea, no stand can move farther than its allowance. So when a line  changes direction for example, one end has to move less than its allowance or the other end won't be able to move around, things naturally happen the way they happen.

Apart from that the rules used were basically the latest draft-in-theory of Hearts of Tin, which is the rules set that the Square Brigadier was based on. I don't have a version written up as played to share yet but will have in a week or two.

Turn 4. Red deploys under artillery fire. 
I didn't want to muck up my coming campaign so rolled back the clock to the days of Faraway and Oberhilse's Origawn War.

General Scott commanded the Blue (Oberhilse) troops consisting of:

Blue Dragoons: 1 Squadron (2 stands) shock cavalry
Rifles: 2 companies each of 2 stands 
1st Brigade: Brigadier Wavey. 4th Infantry (3 stands), 1st Volunteers (3 stands), 1 field gun.
2nd Brigade: Brigadier St. John. Lafayette County Volunteers (3 stands), 2nd Volunteers (3 stands), Origawn Militia 1 stand, Bangor Rifles (2 stands), Mountain Howitzer.
 23 stands.  Break Point: 13 stands or Commanders lost.
Turn 6. Red's plan was to pin Blue's units along the wall with the first Brigade while the 2nd Brigade turned the position but casualties from artillery and long range musketry have been heavier than expected so the elite Royal Fusiliers went in with the bayonet. Flanking fire from the house backed by a reformed line soon drove them back but their job was done.   
General  Turner commanded the Red Queen of Faraway's army.
Princess Charlotte Dragoons: 4 stands.
Advance. Brigadier Green. Victoria Rifles. 2 companies ea of 2 stands.
1st Brigade. Brigadier Spye. Royal Fusiliers 4 Elite stands, Royal Veterans: 4 stands.
2nd Brigade. Brigadier Stone. Green Tigers (3 stands), Young Buffs (3 stands), Belmont Fusiliers (3 stands)
Artillery: A Battery RFFA 2 field guns.

27 stands. Army Morale: 14 stands & Commanders lost.

Turn 13.  The reformed Royals have stormed the Stone House and Blue has taken very heavy losses but Red hasn't quite reached the road.  On turn 14 a 2nd charge by the Princess Charlotte Dragoons swept away the last remnant of the Blue Dragoons, breaking the Blue Army Morale.  (There must have been a lot of powder smoke in the air when I took this snap.

So did it work? By GUM! it did, just as I pictured it. The engagement was roughly the size of many of War of 1812 battles so fits there yet still leaves me room to add a few more units. (One of my issues with my Square Brigadier version was that I already had too many figures).

It took  about 3 hours to play not counting set up which is about right. Sometimes a quick game is good but I have both Square Brigadier and Portable Wargame options for a quick game but was starting to run short of afternoon or evening length games and a series of short games is not the same.

In addition it had the feel I wanted without needing to fuss with my disappearing rulers. This confirms my conclusion after my last Square Brigadier and Portable Wargame games that the subdivided 6" squares are best, easiest option for my table but doesn't require compromises on organization and basing for my 1812 and mid-19thC Atlantica games.
It does mean I need to get back to work on finishing hills that fit the grid and on making some of the subdivision markings clearer.

Was it perfect?  No, some judgement was occasional required where the grid wasn't clear or during occasional manoeuvres, such trying to track the farthest distance travelled when a unit in line changed front by less than 45 degrees, but nothing too difficult, especial when playing with an agreeable opponent like myself.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

More Angles

I decided to add a few more units then take more picturesto help clarify the options and effects in my mind.

The "Face an Angle or Edge" option.
This looks the closest to what a non-gridded version would look although there wouldn't be what look like gaps in the battle line if there was no grid. At least only the units on the ends of the battle line have a flank in the air.

The "Face an Edge only option".
With the edge only option I tried various times to arrange the Batleline so that each unit in both armies could cover it's neighbour's flank but was unable to do so except by proposing slightly more complex rules about when one could start relative to an enemy and move to contact a flank.

I didn't  pursue the "face two directions" options  because the possibilities depend on the basing used whereas I wish the rules to work the same way regardless of how the units are based.

So, the next step will involve laying out options for moving along the diagonal considering that a unit in line will have to pass through one or both of the intervening adjacent orthagonal squares to reach the diagonally adjacent one and rules regarding splitting fire.

Hopefully some sort of game will result tomorrow.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Working an Angle

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't played a gridded game at home since early May.  I was thinking about just going gridfree for a while, especially for my upcoming "more Old School" Horse & Musket games,  but between my constant search for brightly coloured  but periodically invisible measuring sticks and tapes during the last couple of home games and some recent blogposts on various sites about miniatures on grids and rules (including the Man of Tin Blog where it seems that I can no longer leave a comment, hopefully a technical issue...) got me thinking about my grid again  as did accidentally grabbing one of my old multi-hex-hills leftover from 5 or so years ago.

One of my main issues, (not one that I saw being discussed) has to do with linear, close order, battle lines facing each other  across the diagonal grain of a square gridded table.

A fuzzy shot of just such a situation as that described below on a 6" grid with 2 stand units. Note that the two Grenadier units are technically adjacent as are the two Blue units which are opposing them with a refused flank.
(
Based loosely on an unnamed historical battle not involving British toy soldiers.)

Lets say you have Blue defending a ridge that runs North-South against an attack by Red coming from the West. All is fine and dandy. Then more Red troops appear in the North-West corner and Blue reinforcements moving up from the South-East corner have to rush forward to form a refused flank on a NorthWest to SouthWest line to meet them.  If all movement and facing are ordinal, instead of two opposing parallel battlelines at an angle to the grid, you get a series of steps which each side having their flanks exposed to attack from either one direction or the other. If one adds some complexity to zone of control rules to allow one unit to cover you might be able to swing it but it will at the very least look odd.


Another example of armies manoeuvring oddly in right angles.  There is no way for the Tigers to face both enemy units. 

My original reaction to this was to allow units to face the diagonal and this works ok but while I was happy with my small units shooting either way when facing a corner of a 3" square, it looks wrong or at least odd with a wide battalion in line all firing at a 45 degree angle on a 6" square.
It also would seem wrong for the Young Buffs in the picture below to ignore the Volunteer directly in their front across the diagonal to all fire at a slant at the Wolves which are technically at the same range. That sort of thing would call for some very careful wording or a strong sense of proper vs allowed.

It was primarily these diagonal issues that had me pondering drawing hexes on a cloth.

Oh and should that Royal's column be able to move through that gap between the deployed lines? It looks wide enough if the enemy weren't there to receive them. I might just start allowing columns to move on the diagonal.
 However, I think that these matters of diagonally adjacent units, target priority, and split firing units can all be handled by a combination of the use of multi-stand units with combat dice by stand and some slight rule amendments using definitions such as "Adjoining" (sharing one corner), "Adjacent" (sharing an edge), and "Engaged" (adjacent to the front of an enemy stand) .

It won't completely solve the diagonal multi-battalion battle line issue, but it should get me closer.

Here the 3 stand Tigers have refused a flank by turning one Stand and it is clear that one stand could fire at the Volunteers if the Wolves hadn't attacked while only the other 2 are available to fight the the Wolves who fortunely for the Tigers only have 2 stands in uniform so far. If the Wolves fell back 1 square then the Tigers could shoot 1 stand at the Volunteers and 2 stands at the Wolves. 

Hopefully on Monday I can give it a whirl on the existing 6" grid and then I can get back to terrain making and painting.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

While I wasn't blogging

Its summer! The weather is beautiful and the Toodoo list long, from lawn and garden to keeping SWMBO company on our grassy patio equivalent from time to time. All this has reduced but not entirely replaced my hobby and blogging time.

In Kyuquat (see map), a scratch force musters to oppose an impending invasion by the Red Queen. Brethren of the Coast allies provide 4 stands of skirmishers, 4 stands of massed infantry and a battery  under the Black Fox. Foreign Volunteers provide a full 4 stand regiment of infantry plus a mountain gun (most still wearing various old Oberhilse uniforms...that's gonna be an issue I think).  Finally there is a wing of actual Kyuquat Infantry. Its not much but it will have to do for now.
(Hexes? What hexes?, You mean these old things? )

Reduced time means choices so I chose to spend my hobby time on the wee troops rather than blogging. In particular I chose to paint, refurbish, reorganize, and rebase in preparation for the opening shots of the rapidly approaching 1st Farawayo-Kyuquat War.

The right wing of the Wolf Regiment still in training.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Return to Atlantica

Serendipity!

I finally have the last piece of the puzzle that is my Plan sorted out.

Kyuquat Wolf Brothers Regiment in training.
I finished painting my Rosmark Provincials this morning. Just need to finish the bases and design a flag. With the baseless lads lined up shoulder to shoulder on my gaming table I was once more bemoaning my current lack of any reasonable, all arms, 40mm, horse and musket, force of reasonably sized but compact battalions for teasers and the like. While doing so, I opened the drawer full of Lost Bases to get..something, anyway I noticed a stack of removed bases and hauled them out to see just how many there are and if I could think of something to do with them.

The 45mmX45mm bases will nicely hold 6 of the Prince August figures and three such will fit in a 6" grid square, but more importantly, if deployed with reserves in a second line I could field up to 12 such battalions on my current table plus cavalry and artillery in proportion. The new Provincials gallantly stepped onto the bases to prove that six will fit comfortably but they are pledged to be singles on a wider base.

Glancing up at my shelves I noticed the ragged horde of half-pay Faraway troops.  Troops that I want back in action once I figure out what that action should look like in a world of no duplication. Then I looked at the bases and remembered that they originally held 6 of the Faraway and Oberhilse figures organized into 3 stand battalions. I also remembered that I had disbanded the 1840's Oberhilse troops and slotted many of them into the early 20th C collection. Then I remembered my plans for a Colonial-ish Faraway game once I figured out what it would look like. AH!

I even had a few castings on my desk to start the regular portion of the Kyuquat army. AHHA! This had been going to be  my Not Quite  the Mex-Am/Sikh or Indian Mutiny War but had stalled, partly to work on other things but also because I had wondered whether it should be a "normal" OS battle game or should be a semi-skirmish game. I have the skirmish game now, as part of the NQSYW so it can proceed to be my 40mm conventional OS Battle wargame that fits on my table, as originally envisaged.

This sort of thing. A cobbled together rules test from 2015.


I have enough "ready to play" Redcoats  for now so the focus will be on sorting out the native forces. I will do two Zinnbrigade native battalions in white coats and shakos. I now have an Oberhilse "European" volunteer battalion all based up, still wearing a mix of their old uniforms, and will cobble some irregulars again from Indians and the Brethren. That will be enough to start though it'll take a few weeks to get it on the table. If I rebase the temporarily based 1812 figures to match I'll be able to get a game in even sooner and prove the theory.

That will be the last loose end tightened down! Eight active Collections.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meanwhile, on the gaming table....

For those who don't follow my Gathering of Hosts blog I've been distracted  by setting up and playing my first 25mm Medieval/Fantasy game in over a year.

The Setup.

I may have lost my Ancients mojo but I still like pointy sticks!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

19thC Command Module for Hearts of Tin

Under the premise "Strike while the iron is hot" I passed some time today sitting under a patio umbrella on a hot summer's afternoon, contemplating command rules for my ACW games.

Kinch's Charge sets out 4 years ago.

I've tried  various familiar techniques such as activation rolls or charts, card draws, command  point rolls, command radius, written orders, mapped movement and more and they all had something to contribute but yet didn't quite do it. They reduced player control but usually felt "game-y"  and often did a poor job of both modelling how things were done and reproducing typical historical battlefield behaviour. Even worse they often absorbed so much time and mental energy that the focus shifted from the battle to the game mechanics.

Colonel Lawford and Brigadier Young, who both had considerable experience of command in battle with all that entails, relied on a combination of simultaneous written orders and highly variable combat results to represent the uncertainty of battle. I'm not sure that either my reading or my life experience gives me a solid basis for saying they were wrong, especially at the battle rather than skirmish level. Certainly the Charge! games I have played in or run have seen some of the most unexpected command failures, errors and omissions as well as some notable moments of recognizing and seizing sudden opportunities that I have seen (not to mention misleading the enemy). Unfortunately the system does not lend itself well to solo games with 40 units on the table.

The impromptu ACW game that I played in May relied on variable length moves at Brigade level with provision for Division Commanders to try to push people a little. Overall I liked the effect but I want to go back to regiments as units and basically adapt my old Hearts of Tin rules.

Gratuitous copy of a picture from last summer's ACW game.

Before going On Grid I used to use variable length moves and I am going to go back there as well as using a turn initiative card deck with chance cards. Each regiment or formed brigade will roll its movement dice and complete its move before the next one rolls.

Here are a couple of the command ideas that I am contemplating.

a) Brigade move. Two or more regiments formed into a Brigade line or column with Brigadier attached will roll once for movement of the whole line which must then move together.

b) Generals have a short range at which they can boost the movement of one, two or three individual regiments by adding a die depending on their ability. These dice may alternately be used to boost morale or combat performance if not used to boost movement. Choices!

c) Getting a brigade formed up requires the guide regiment to stand still.

d) Once  a brigade is engaged (however that is defined, 3" for close combat but perhaps rifle range for command control purposes)  it should be difficult to coordinate a voluntary disengagement or a pursuit. If engaged at the start of a turn any retirement moves must be one regiment at a time and the unit must move the full amount rolled but may roll just 1 die if desired. If pursuing each regiment rolls and moves one at a time and must move the full amount as above unless storming a fortified position.

e) Generals who get involved in any way inside the engagement zone must be at risk somehow and there should be a delay before a replacement takes over.

Cobb's Farm from 2012. A game where the old C&C rules played their part. 


That's as far as I've gotten. The next step is to dig out an old version, check them over, adjust and try it all out.

Something New Played - 20mm Punic Wars!

On Saturday I joined 2 friends for a 20mm Ancients game using Sword & Spear. I cut my teeth on 20mm Ancients but its been a long time since I've seen a table full of them.

Newline metal and various plastic miniatures.
(and an old Garrison representing me)
This was my first exposure to the Sword & Spear rules. Like most rules, they had somethings that I liked and some that I was less keen on. As a game I had no quibbles at all. They are designed to keep both players actively engaged at all times and succeed well. One game is not enough to properly judge but in broad terms they did seem to encourage broadly historical deployments and battle plans. Most importantly it was a fun and engaged afternoon of social gaming.

My one quibble, and it may be that I've  missed some subtleties, is that, like most ancients rules, there was no feel of the primitive nature of most armies command control mechanisms or of rigidity and importance of battle lines/phalanxes. Yes, there were 'beyond command radius' penalties and a very limited group move option when not attacking, but I suspect that it would be hard to do a good reenactment of an historical battle without a lot of voluntary fudging. A rather timely reminder since I'm about to back up and refresh my own Shock era rules which, frankly, would deserve the same criticism.

Overview just before the first Shock.

Its a good thing that assembling the sort of well ordered, well painted armies that our host provided takes a lot of work because the sight of them was almost enough to give me an urge to go back there and do it right this time!  Obviously time to get the lads in Blue and Grey out to scratch the 20mm itch!

For more pictures and a report on the actual battle please see Jeff's Armchair Commander blog.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Time for a change

Well, I've reached an impasse with my Prince August collection and the new campaign.

I replayed the scenario with Charge! as written. It was an ok game but only lasted 5 turns so not many decisions to make. For reference, on an 6×4 table artillery could  fire 6 feet and cavalry charge 2 feet. My 2/3 strength infantry units were almost 2 ft wide and the Rosmark force only had 5 units including the battery of artillery.


Rather than continuing to spin my wheels over decisions about  rules, organisation and basing,  or make a hasty decision that I know is wrong, I'm just going to bring my  NQSYW Rosmark units up to scratch for now. This will involve bringing my "away' army at least up to proper establishment over the next year with a consistent style and with all cripples  and misfits pensioned off and replaced.  I can still draw detachments for fighting the occasional skirmish so nothing is lost. I'll delay any other decision until the British are released.


In the meantime, its time to get something different on both my painting desk and my gaming table .




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Different vs Better

Mid-summer is not the best season for testing wargame rules here, especially not with games designed to happily last a few hours. Its just too damned hot in my games room from around 10 until 6 and there are too many other things needing to be done. But after several days of one or two turns a day I'm done.
About 4 turns in. Reinforcements have arrived and been deployed on both sides and a bold cavalry charge has cleared off 1 unit of Rosmark light infantry. The big gun (which is the primary target for Rosish forces) has been manhandled out of the entrenchment and aimed at the enemy.  
The game was enjoyable in parts and frustrating in parts as I tried to sort out what I want from the game. This would be easier if I was starting from scratch but then I wouldn't be "here" if I were. (I'd be casting troops  in Shakos and gluing them on multi-figure stands)

Several things became abundantly clear however. The first, already known,  is that changing several key rule mechanisms several times during a game makes it  next to impossible to asses the game as a whole even while allowing a good comparison of the "feel" of each approach. The second, also known, is that while some mechanisms don't work, others are merely a choice between two valid approaches which deliver a different "feel" to the game.

A slightly earlier overview of the armies deploying.  
At times I wondered if I should just give up and play Charge! or seperate the two projects entirely but a large part of me wants this sort of rules for these figures and this campaign  and I want it to work on this table and without losing my compatibility for those joint convention games so the die is cast.

Late in the day the Grey Squadron of the Yellow Hussars are broken by an exceptionally stubborn bunch of Wild Geese.  Its a little hard to see but the Pandours brushed aside the Veteran militia without even breaking step. Only a halt by the Cautious Pandour Brigadier prolonged the game to 10 turns.
Luckily the game felt just right at points so I'm on the right road. A bit of history, a bit of storytelling and a bit of toy soldiering.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

MacDuff Meets Morschauser Again!

Well, I  tried but it never even made it to the tabletop.

It has long seemed to me that the number of times  that an attack was halted or a defence quickly broken by a single  long range volley or two are so rare or so low a percentage that they are best not catered to unless  using very complex rules. My efforts  yesterday were listing heavily towards complex to the point where their  character was lost.

A Skirmish for a Summer Sunday 


First I fell back on the 2015 version which only tested if below 50% but was still having trouble getting the balance right and found myself harking back to Morschauser's three inch melee zone which nicely  differentiated  between attrition by long ranged fire  and sudden death by close combat whether by volleys at 3" or my cold steel.

Then I found myself reviewing reasons  why I couldn't go there with a renewed MacDuff shorn of its rallying figures. They basically boiled  down to "because".

So it is that the game I have laid out is likely to feel more like an individual figure version of Morschauser Meets MacDuff than anything else. (Note: MMM was the precursor to Hearts of Tin)

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Little More Featherstone Mr. MacDuff

Having had time to reflect on it, there will not be an "as close as possible to the original" 20th Anniversary Edition of MacDuff. Instead there will be a proper edition developed from the games played in 2014/15.  The type of scenario I want  to play hasn't changed but some of my ideas on mechanics  have. (Its not you, its me....)

More of this sort of thing is what I want.
(Game from last year)


One of the original concepts for MacDuff was that, like Lawford and Young's Charge!, there would be no separate reaction  tests  to determine how troops would respond to receiving casualties. If defeated in melee or below 1/2 strength you retreated. Of course I watered that down by allowing units to attempt to rally hits, essentially a delayed saving throw of sorts although I didn't see it that way but rather as a process of regrouping.

In 2014/15 I experimented successfully with replacing the rally rules by simple morale rules based on some of the ones in Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers. It worked game-wise and had roughly the same effect with much less time and effort.

I'm still thinking about it but something like this:

"Test if receiving at least 25% casualties from shooting.

4,5,6 Steady. Unit obeys orders
1,2,3 Wavering. Infantry halt in disorder and return fire if eligible, artillery is silenced for a turn, mounted cavalry retreat.
0 Rout. The unit breaks and is removed.

+1@ if Elite, joined by Commander,
-1 Militia
-2 @ Below 1/2 strength."

In the meantime the last 8 figures for the Rosmark Provincials are on my painting desk.

Archive footage from a MacDuff game from 2012.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Awkward Squad

These lads have just been recruited into the First Provincial Regiment of Rosmark. Unlike the Household Regiments which are largely recruited from abroad, the Provincial regiments are raised in each province and provide garrisons for its fortresses and towns as well as providing troops to assist Customs Officers and Magistrates. They even provide a service battalion for the King's field army if called upon in time of war but traditionally only for service in Rosmark.
Rosmark First Provincial Regiment in training.

Every now and then a new unit just seems to struggle into existence.  The trouble with these lads goes back to the accidental order of an Austrian infantry mould when I had meant to order the Hungarian one. In order to make use of it I decided  to raise a Rosmark Provincial regiment. I also decided  to use the Russian tricorne head which is clean shaven with a nice pointy tricorne but of course, once I got busy casting I forgot why I had pulled out the Russian mould......

The moulds poured well with few faults but once I started cleaning up the castings, I found an uneven number of poses amongst the good figures. I'll have to even it up with the last batch.

Then I primed them and noticed the mustaches. Oh dear. So I scraped the faces and reprimed, not perfect but I was in a hurry to get started painting, hoping to finish before I went away for the weekend. Things just continued from there with all the sorts of little errors and difficulties, awkward angles, missed bits, stray brush strokes etc that can occur. Anyway I ended up putting them aside until I got back and finished them today.



Not exactly my best work ever but they'll serve. Now to cast 6 more with the right mix of poses to have a 16 man unit with rear rank supporting arms and front rank charging.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Work in Progress

Barely begin and a long way to go but here is the current state of my NQSYW map.



Simple pen on paper, a process that I'm quite enjoying.

One of the next steps is to figure out the scale and decide on the level of detail. (As in just how big is Rosmark anywsy?)

It looks like I will have to do blown up local maps if I  decide to make actual campaign moves rather than using it for general background, but, first things first.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Battle in the Cornfield

Happy July 4 to my friends and neighbours who live South  of the Border.
Waves of Yankees attacking through a cornfield
OK, sorry folks, this is fake news.

I was tempted  but  the danger that I would  squish the Squash etc behind  me was too great. One of these days  though, I 'll go outside on some freshly mown grass, get down on my knees and play.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Year Eight

Well here it is, another 4th of July, seven years since my heart attack and still ticking. I get a bit more embarrassed by the fuss each year but then I hear that the folks south of the border are again organizing  parades and concerts and making a holiday of it so I  ought to be able to manage a blog post at least.

In honour of the 4th of July here are some ACW troops defending a Musket Miniatures Rock and Wood fence.
I assembled and painted it up over the 2nd & 3rd.

This last year has been a good one by and large but an odd one. I think the last time that I passed a year with so few stressors and changes was probably when I was 11. Still, we managed and I'd be up for a repeat.

Gaming-wise it has been much the same, a bit of consolidation including small expansions of existing collections  and I expect that to continue with at least  one "proper" campaign.

The Musket Miniatures fence before painting but after assembly. I quite like them but at roughly CAD$1 an inch I won't be covering my table with them. Wouldn't mind some corners though, and another section.

However, I think the 25mm fantasy/medievals are coming back. The 40mm version was ok but while a good imagination should be able to merge the variety​ of periods that my collection of Elastolins includes, the mix is insufficient to produce coherent armies for battles without a lot of work, work I don't want to do right now. I also miss Prince Michael so I will revert to the original​ plan with a 40mm Elastolin Heroic Dark Age skirmish setting with single figures and a Medieval Fantasy 25mm battle collection. The longbowmen, pikemen and plate armoured knights will then remain dedicated to the 16thC Rough Wooing collection. I currently have an excess of Prince Valiant Elastolins so will consider looking for a new home for a few of the quadruplicates.

The Earl of Cowcross. (Garrison 25mm)

So that's about it steady as it goes until ambushed. But...maybe, just maybe, this might be the year I get my room tidied up, cupboards and shelves organized, finish getting existing units onto matching bases, fix up my battered terrain and add to it?

Yah, probably not, but I did finally paint up a stone wall for my ACW guys!