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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rough Wooing in the Valley

Yesterday I packed up troops and terrain and made the 45 minute trip to Kentville to the Table Top Games day where I set up a version of the game that Rob Dean and I will be running  at Huzzah in Portland next month. The scenario was the same Stuart Asquith one that I played twice earlier this month. The goal for both sides is to garrison the town and exit a force off the far end of the table by road.

The French march on as the game gets underway.
The stand-in Scots barely glimpsed to the left are technically off table at this point.
 Since I didn't have Rob's troops or terrain I fudged things with what I had on hand, throwing in some Scots and so on. I was hoping to have at least four of the lads show up for the duration but life intervenes and some couldn't stay for the whole game while others couldn't come at all. However, I managed to pressgang a passing gamer  who paused by the table for a few seconds too long. He (Greg? Garry? Damn I am bad at names...) turned into an agreeable companion and an able commander for the English (hopefully we'll be able to entice him to join us for more games) and so we had at least four players at one point and two players for long enough for me to get a good feel for the rules and scenario which would have been enough to declare the event a success. Better yet though, Martin was able to stay an extra hour or so and put up with me filling in as both GM and player for the last hour to reach a reasonable conclusion after about three and a half hours in all.

I didn't have room for all the troops to start on table nor did I have a spare side table so please visualize the troops lined up along the board edges  as actually marching down the roads from off table. 
The English were fast off the mark and very aggressive. Their forlorn hope managed to drive off their French equivalent and bottle up the main French force for a good while. A unit of Landsknechts in English pay made their way through the open woods aided by good movement dice and By the time they fell back and rejoined the main English force, nearly half the French infantry had been drawn off to face them. Thanks to the sacrifice of the Forlorn Hope, English archers had already made it to the town while their cavalry and more infantry were well on the way to bypassing it on their way to the exit.

Battle is joined.
The pictures got foggier as the battle went on. I'd like to think this was the effect of gun smoke and the angle of the sun shining into a dark room but I suspect a trip to the snack table for a handful of chips (
crisps for those from the Old Country) may have had an inadvertent, but deleterious, effect on my smartphone lens.
The French had two choices at this point, try to race the English to the exit, a long shot, or try to catch them from behind, crush the rear guard and force the main body to turn back or lose the town. Their General chose the latter. The card sequence and dice had helped the English at first but these things rarely last and the French were able to drive into the middle of the English army. When the large block of Swiss rolled into a small group of Billmen, French expectations were high. Eleven dice for 5 or 6.....0 hits! 4 English dice for 4,5,6 came back  with  3 hits!  A stand off and tied melee since the French took fewer hits than they had stands but not what was expected! (the Swiss mercenaries in 1544 were not quite up to their fathers' reputation.) The English billmen pulled back and let the archers and artillery pound the pikes. A combination of card sequencing, an opportune/inopportune turn ending Joker and more high movement dice allowed the Landsknechts in English pay to run up in time to hit the French in the flank as the bills rushed back in from the front.   The Scots avenged  them and broke the Germans but this left the French General with one slightly worn pike unit and a few stands of heavy cavalry with no swordsmen or halberdiers and very few arquebusiers to storm the town while the English still had two formidible regiments of bills and bows backed by cavalry. There had been some rather tense moments for the English though and the French attack could well have changed the outcome.

Gratuitous shot of the English as their advance guard of light horse, bowmen and sword and buckler men prepares to deploy and go into action early on. 
I won't speak for the players but as GM and rules writer I was pleased at how the game went. This was the first outing for the buffed up rules which have not been out much in the last decade. During this period I have tortured them in various ways to try and get a smoother, faster game without losing too much of the original flavour. In that time they took several false trails but have come back close to where they began but streamlined a little in organization, stripped of some fiddly-ness, and with a few small twists such as the inclusion of a few Chance cards.

Dusk sets in. A couple of turns before the end. The opposing cavalry are manoeuvring to gain an advantage, speed vs weight. Beyond the town the English Landsknechts are about to crash into the obviously second rate Swiss hired by the French.
The game also gave me a chance to spot a few order of battle weaknesses with the French being weaker than intended in firepower and in troops able to take and hold a town (no job for pikemen). All things easily fixed for May. Another lesson of the test is that I need to clarify what is a an acceptable garrison  and what makes a sufficient force leaving the table. I think I will also force Shaken "Regiments" to leave the table rather than having restricted options. These things will help keep the game length inside the convention time limit and make it easier to call it at the end.


Bring on Huzzah!

18 comments:

  1. Great looking table!
    Awesome figures.

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    1. Thanks mostly my originals plus a bunch of vintage Elastolins.

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  2. Very good game report and photos of the action, including the fog or war photos. It is always good when rules get a good workout and not need modification.

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    1. Thanks. There are a few tweaks to be made to the wording but thankfully not to the rules.

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  3. Wonderful figures and bases

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  4. Great looking game.... I'm new to 40mm scale (but loving it). Can you kindly tell me what make most of these are?
    many thanks
    Mike

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    1. Mike, that's a good idea for a blog post with pictures to identify commercial makes.

      There​ are 9 makes in all. The majority are homecast originals. The next biggest group are vintage plastic from three 60's companies. The smallest group are modern metal from Perry, Doug Miller, Irregular and Sash & Saber and old but still available Meisterzinn homecast molds.

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    2. Thanks Ross, that's very helpful. I'm thinking of collecting 40mm Italian Wars armies, so Irregular will be leading the way, but I'm on the lookout for personalities and dressing,so peasants, a fat cardinal etc. Also some troops suitable as English 1500's. I may come back for advice if that's ok? Not blogging much due to time constraints, but that doesn't stop me planning!
      many thanks
      Mike

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    3. if Irregular's early renaissance range had been out in 2000 I might not have so many homemade figures or so many Elastolins hunted down on ebay! The Perry 40mm Border range has a few very nice figures including a few civilians. Worth checking out. The Miller range had some great peasants etc but they don't seem to be available anymore.

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    4. oh and by all means, questions etc are welcome.

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    5. Thanks Ross.... I expect that is the Doug Miller who wrote the Osprey book? That fired me up for the Italian wars period back in the 1980's. His mounted locotonent
      is amazing, one to try and find on ebay I suppose, if they are no longer in production. Many thanks for the information.

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  5. Sorry I missed this. Great looking game. I hope to play it at Huzzah!

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    1. Its one of the handful of Friday night games not sold out yet so at this point the odds are good for a seat! I'm hoping we have at least 2 players, 6 or 8 would be better!

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  6. That does look like a fun game. Wish I could be there.

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    1. You would have been most welcome but it is a long way to come!

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  7. Nice to see your Renaissance figures back in action, Ross.

    I once ordered some unusual 40mm figures for this period from Russia on eBay, as I recall being somewhat semi-round but not overly thin. Too bad the seller never actually shipped anything. Others had the same issue and he was banned. I got a refund but would much rather have had the figures.

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    1. I've only once not received an ebay purchase, mailed but not received. Some 40mm semiflat molds for the Franco-Prussian and 2nd Schlieswig wars some by by airfix, some from another company Schnieder maybe? I forget now. Ahh the lost possibilities!

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