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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rebels with a Cause

Another unit for the Fantasians, Bright and shiny and ready to rumble!

The  'Old Toy Soldier' look is certainly fast! My version is not terribly authentic if compared to the real thing but I like 'em like they are.

This puts me back on track for the planned mix of Union, Confederate and ..."special" units which I abandoned in 2016 to make a plausible Western US army for a fictional clash on the Prairies.

The uniforms and mix of poses were inspired by the following Britains set.

The Fort Henry Guard  officer has now been cast and work will start on them and then, finally, maybe, a game!

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Cowbells

I've had trouble trying to figure out what it is about my Square Brigadier rules that feels like its missing for this Fantasian adventure.

The Morschauser base that the Square Brigadier was originally built on is fast and emphasizes the over all plan and general military  principles (concentration, maintenance of the aim etc) which is great for even small battles. It "kinda" lacks flavour though for low level scenarios though an active imagination can still invent such things to explain what is going on "below the grain". 

I've been playing about with various alternate mechanisms and even found myself tempted to break my taboo on stealing recent, copyrighted, original, mechanisms from anyone  that hasn't urged readers to borrow and modify their ideas to make one's own rules. However, after much thought, what's lacking for the sort of game I'm thinking about for the Fantasian campaign, is more colour than substance. The sort of colour and faux detail that I used to get from MacDuff.

That's given me some ideas for rewriting the rules with minor technical changes and bigger language changes to help deliver a different feel  for this Border campaign.

New Fantasian Recruits.  I want these lads assembled and cleaned up before their officer appears.

In the meantime, I have been casting! Tomorrow I will finish the Officer mould and then get serious but I not only have the rank and file cast for my Fort Henry Guard but also for my next Fantasian unit. This one will be inspired by Britain's Confederate Infantry set with riflemen firing or 'ready' plus command, all in grey with kepis except for one pose in Butternut and slouch hat.

I didn't have the metal version but I did have the Eyes Right version which followed the same pattern so have been looking forward to doing this unit.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Volunteers are Pouring in.

Literally being poured in, from molten recruit to uni-formed soldier in no time at all.

Homecast copy of restored Britain's figure.
I chopped down a spare Ft Henry Guard shako to make a kepi.

Tomorrow, the officer hits the rubber.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

We interrupt this restoration

to report on today's WWII rules exploration at Ron's.

Modified Battle. The Soviets look to be in trouble.
It wasn't my fault really that we didn't play the proposed Colonial PW game, or even Ron's fault, no I lay the blame at the foot of Bob Kett of the (bobthepainterblog) and his initial fiddlings with a hex based WWII version of the tank side of Grant's Battle . Ever since I read that post I've had an itch to try a more old school WWII game again. The various mechanism heavy, rules heavy, planning and manoeuvre light, sudden death, WWII games we've been playing the last couple of years have not been satisfying. 

Ron laid out a table based on the Recce in Force scenario in Battle then we pitched four T34/85 against five PzrIVH. It was a fun little game that was over in 3 or 4 turns so we hauled out various Grant and Featherstone books and bent our minds to hex based infantry and artillery rules to match.

But they win in the end.
Before we were also looking at Bolt Action and Airfix Battles infantry rules (which appear to be derivative) and I was beginning to despair. This was not looking like it would get us back to the sort of enjoyable WWII games we used to have.

I started to reminisce about those fun, modified Memoir games from 3 and 4 years ago. It didn't take long for us to remember the issues we had meshing the card deck and 3 zone  system with Grant scenarios nor did it take long to speculate about using our modified armour rules without the cards and sectors. (In this case the 85mm gun on the T34/85 would hit the PzrIV on an emblem as well as on the armour symbol.)

Essentially a Featherstonian type game  where the players develop the plan and try to execute it in the face of the enemy while the dice help determine the success or failure of their plans. 
Modified Memoir: Everyone wins but technically the Soviets are about to win another close battle with a lucky shot at the critical point.
A sharp little refight was soon under way with the advantage swaying back and forth until a lucky die roll rescued the 'superior Soviet plan' from imminent disaster!  The whole thing lasted about the same time as the modified Grant game BUT we played twice as many turns and there was more manoeuvring, more tension and more swings of fortune. In other words, more fun.

Hopefully next week we can get a full all arms scenario in.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Resurrecting my Ft. Henry Guard

The Work has begun.
Overnight in Natura Safe Strip to remove both original Britain's enamel and '70's hobby paint then onto the work table for repairs. (in progress)
Somewhere there is a B&W snap of these lads converted to War of 1812 models but it is hiding. Anyway, the plan is to cast one unit of 6 as originally issued and another wearing gaiters since one figure has them carved in. I also want to do a unit in combat poses wearing shakos and maybe, just maybe, a Fantasian unit in shako.

My 2nd FHG c 1999. All from Soldierpac, except the goat who is an old goat, nearly as old as me but "not dead yet". He'll be back, still in original coat.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Finding the Fantasians

Meriam Webster: Fantasia: (2) a work (such as a poem or play) in which the author's fancy roves unrestricted.


Les Chasseurs de St. Jean.
Well, my imagination is not totally unrestricted, though the restrictions are self imposed, so there will be Fantasians but no Fantasia, as there were Fenians but no country called Fenia bordering on Canada. In effect I am going to embark on a whimsical bit of alternate history, using the name Fantasians rather than Fenians to avoid confusion with the actual history.

This Fantasian unit was partly inspired by the uniforms of the Canadian Voltigeurs in 1812 and partly by various US, CSA, and British, Volunteer units.

This alternate history is based on the following proposals or assumptions:

1) The Fantasian movement was better led and organized than the historical Fenians and operated with a still angry US administration exercising a blind eye thus allowing them to mount larger, more effective raids and incursions into Canada.

2) Her Majesty's government was fully preoccupied with other matters and was unwilling to risk hostility with the US over anything less than an outright US invasion and therefore left the new Dominion to largely defend itself.

3) The Fantasians were in league with a renewed but very minor Patriote movement in Quebec, as the Hunter Lodges worked with the original  Patriotes in 1837/38's, and with Riel and the Red River Metis. However, the rest of Canada is still celebrating Confederation and eager to prove itself.

4) The original idea remains of armies that look like they were cobbled together from a range of boxed sets of toy soldiers in department stores in the '50s and early 60's though not necessarily sets that really existed.

The Papal Zouaves are still waiting in the wings but the next onto my painting table will be the remnants of my original Ft Henry Guard set which were converted to War of 1812 figures when I was 16. They were replaced via Soldierpac in the late 90's when I first started a 54mm Fenian Raid collection but were sold to a friend when I had to downsize. So, it's reconstruct time to be followed by some mould making.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Truth and Fantasy and Toy Soldiers

As long as I was reorganizing my old toy soldier armies back into 6 figure units now that I have figured out how to manage a table with sufficient 5" grid squares, and working on expanding my opposing conventional mid-19thC armies, I decided to revisit the "enemy" for my Canadian army.  I don't want to refight the actual Fenian raids since this is about playing a wide variety of scenarios as the mood takes me but the "Fenians" are starting to look a bit too much like the US army and I don't want to go there either.

Archive photo from April.

While I was pondering an alternative look for the "Fenian" invaders, I remembered another option, the one that provided my first wargame enemy back in the days of Black Watch Cadets, Airfix and Featherstone. I'll let this extract from an old, archived, Department of National Defence document about exercise-royal-flush explain:

In Exercise Royal Flush, there was a general reference to the enemy force mobilizing in the Montreal area. It must be made clear that this is a Cold War era exercise where the enemy force was referred to as FANTASIANS, a force based on Warsaw Pact structure and equipment. This scenario was created for realism in a Cold War environment and has nothing to do with the political situation in Canada......The reference to a Fantasian army in the Montreal area was for scenario purposes only. In other words, an artificial scenario is superimposed on actual maps."

"An artificial scenario superimposed on actual maps"... Yeah! That's what I wanted! Now I can start designing uniforms for the Fantasian Republican Guard as well as continuing to add to the Canadian Toy Army.

Not only are Governor-General's Footguards finally up to full strength but, they have a bugler!

which made me think of this bit from the irreverent  Perth Conspiracy's 1970 album, amazing what will stick in your mind over the decades (click on image below : 
"and then I heard it...the BUGLE cry......"

Friday, June 8, 2018

Zulu's? No mostly I won.

Every time I get the old Britains' out, I seem to get the urge to paint more of them and to play another game. It occurred to me that by expanding the One Hour game to full table size and using double the number of units to maintain the ratio of unit foot print to battlefield, I was robbing myself of the opportunity to have a simple, clear, distinction between really quick, simple  OHW scenarios with  a handful of units  in a corner of the table and longer, more complex Grant Teasers with larger forces on the full table, all while drawing from the same armies with the same campaign background. By adopting a scale of 1 square per 4" on the OHW table instead of 3" as in the previous game, I could use a 1:1 ratio of units equating to the smaller 4" frontage suggested by Thomas for his scenarios.

I reset the table using 81 squares instead of the previous 144.
"Zulus sir! Dozens of them!"
 Since only my Zulu War units are set up for my planned 6 figure infantry units, and haven't been out in over a year, I decided to go to South Africa.
The shrunken layout with hippo instead of a cat.
 Once I got the troops out I remembered that I hadn't gotten around to adding spearmen and the like to the Tin Army and decided that I was over due for a Portable Wargame anyway.
One unit of Lancers tried to deal with 3 Zulu units but they zoomed past them and bounced them and, well, I think they did manage to stick one Zulu in 5 rounds of melee before they were surrounded and cut down.

The line gets pushed back but thank heavens there was a Taboo preventing the Zulus going into the woods. The British are also grateful that for 4 turns the Colonel single handily held off 2 units of Zulus in hand to hand combat after the Naval Brigade was cut down. 

Turn 15 of 15.  A desperate, last half of the last turn  British counter attack got the Rutlandshires to with 6" of the road thus earning a technical but cheesy win.

As usual,  the Portable Wargame  served well and the game came out at roughly an hour so the whole thing can be considered a success.

Now I want to play a full Grant game but I need to get back to bringing the armies up to scratch since a few of the existing units are short a few figures  or are temporarily mounted on slightly wider bases which won't allow 6 figures in a 5" square and I need to add a few more units to both Canadian and American armies.

We have work to do!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

They've Still Got It!

Excerpt from "The Defended Border" by H. MacDuff. 

"When Major Saur  offered to raise and equip a squadron of cavalry recruited exclusively from retired British veteran cavalrymen, there was some skepticism about the value of old parade soldiers on the modern battlefield but the action at Round Lake Narrow put an end to that!"
General Byrd being taken during the pursuit by an officer who turned out to be a distant cousin.
"Early on the morning of the 7th of June a dense fog hung over Round Lake blocking the view but scouts reported that while the enemy had erected a formidable abatis along the edge of the woods to the East, rendering it effectively impenetrable to the Canadians, there was a clear path to the West of the Lake leading to the open enemy flank."
Some fanciful participants claim that the fog on the lake looked like the silhouette of a giant cat.
" General Douglas' plan was to pound the invaders with his artillery, use his Highanders to mask the woods and form a reserve, flank him with his cavalry and then push up the center with the Hochelaga Fusiliers and the Foot Guards."

"As happens all too often with volunteers, the men and their officers were too eager to get to grips with the enemy despite the General's plan. Soon the Highlanders were stung by accurate rifle fire to throw themselves upon the abatis and attempt to drive off the enemy. It earned them a short reprieve but at a heavy cost in casualties.

In the centre the Guards, impatient with the apparent lack of effect from the artillery barrage pushed forward with out orders and ran into a hail of cannister and rifle fire. The Douglas was forced to order his cavalry to charge in hopes of relieving the pressure on the infantry."

"The first charge, by the Governor General's Bodyguard, was repulsed  but the Queen's Pensioners, breastplates shining, smashed the enemy line scattering one unit and driving the other back."

"Elated by the sight of this success,the infantry pushed forward in the centre.The Highlanders, having learned their lesson edged away from the woods and pressed forward to support the remnants of the Fusiliers."

"The invaders stood their ground and continued to pour a murderous fire into their assailants  but were unable to resist the impetuous onslaught of the cavalry from the flank and before the sunset the pass had been secured."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Little Trade Dispute

It occurred to me that this is June 6th, DDay that was and that I have no WWII armies for a commemorative invasion game and that what amphibious forces I may have for other "periods" are in refit. Still  I've been itching to get some kind of game set up.

Softwood lumber tariffs are always a good excuse for a spat.

"There is your enemy!"
Apparently there are still some One Hour Wagame scenarios that I haven't played yet. This one is #24 Bottleneck.

Overview of the table. Each sq=3 inches on the OHW map so there are 2 "companies" for each OHW  6 inch wide "unit". The artillery is still one gun for one gun.
I am pleased to announce the arrival in Canada of a squadron of her Majesty's Life Guards. (The Scarlet coated, armoured, cavalry in the bottom right corner of the picture.) These are part of a generous donation by a friend and I am doubly pleased to get them. Some of the Lifeguards are old figures, pre-1952 at least but some are from one of the Coronation  sets (according to Rose's guide). More importantly, I had the small set of these Lifeguards in the 60's and converted them during my "Military Miniature" phase. He was reconverted a few years ago and now leads the US cavalry so I am MOST pleased to have one of this figure in his original uniform again.

The Lifeguard Officer on the left  is how US General Byrd started life. 
My intent was just to play the Square Brigadier with bigger figures but in light of my re-dedication  to having each collection provide a different gaming experience beyond different figures, I'm hastily adjusting the Tin Army using similar principles but at a different scale and some slightly different mechanisms for a mid-19thC Small Wars  feel.

Of course there isn't actually time to play today but a battle report is only a day or two away.

Friday, June 1, 2018

1813: Spring Training Underway

I find to hard to believe but its been five years (!!) since my last liquid rtv mould  of an original figure. ( see getting-mold-y) 

First sample casting of an early War of 1812 US Infantry man.
Well, this lad has been a while in the making. The head was originally done in 2005  to convert Sash & Saber British into Americans, the naked dolly was done around the same time, the musket just 5 years ago. One of the dollies was dressed and given head and uniform just a year or so again and now, at last, they are ready.

I was just going to paint him straight up in regulation blue faced with red but I've painted enough of that uniform in 54mm and in chunky 40mm and wanted something different. Since I like the grey or drab uniforms I went for that.

The 1813 period of the war saw some of my favourite engagements but the new tombstone shako was being introduced during 1813 and troops along the  Niagara front and at Sackets Harbour  seemed to have gotten it first so I'm pegging this lot as one of those who were stationed on Lake Champlain and fought at Chateauguay.

Of course, his regiment  will have to fight when and where they are told regardless of their hats.
Mould with figure.