Saturday, September 23, 2023

Long Ago And Far Away

I had an email recently from old long time friend Simon MacDowell (author and wargamer, amongst other things: see Legio Wargames website) which included a photo he'd taken during a recent visit to the Fort St. Jean museum at R.M.C St. Jean ( C.M.R or College Militaire Royal de St. Jean as it was known when we were there). 

Soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres building the first fort at St. Jean in 1666.
(diorama built in 1973)

Now there is nothing really extraordinary about the diorama except that I made it in 1973! The figures are converted Airfix (ahhh good old low heat soldering iron, paper, plastecene and glue!) I find it hard to believe that it survived and is still on display.

That was when I was a '1st Year' cadet (meaning it was my 2nd year having been a 'Prep' the year before) and a member of the museum club which was working to establish a museum. Well, made it with some help from then new recruit Simon which led to wargames and 5 decades of friendship (so far, not done yet). 

The museum was eventually opened and accredited, and I was the 3rd Cadet Curator. In the latter part of the 20thC, sometime around when the Berlin Wall came down and history and wars "ended", the Canadian Forces shut down two of the three military colleges and the St. Jean campus was used for some senior officer courses and I think various civilian courses and possibly for sports team training, Anyway, once it was discovered that there were going to be more wars after all, the St. Jean campus was reinstated as a military college  that was not only bilingual, but also bisexual, well, no, that's the wrong term, coed is better, but call it what you will, looking back at 5 years in my teens and early 20's when the only females were a handful of antique waitresses in the mess and a couple of secretaries and a librarian.....sighhh....  

But I digress,  the museum had been preserved and when the college was reopened the museum was as well, in a larger setting with a much bigger budget judging by the pictures! I'm hoping to get there in person some day and see what they've done with the place where I grew from kid to adult, and see what they've made of the little museum that a small group of cadets put together half a century ago.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Renovation Time

 I'm going to be running my Syrian game at a local event next week. Having decided to go back to the Square Brigadier, I decided to update my motley collection of adobe buildings. Most of them had been done last century for 25mm Colonial games with a few newer ones meant for the 40's. None had been designed for play on a grid using figures on 60mm square bases,

So, with some chopping and modifying and some new  additions, I have a renovated village.

Another town, another battle.


Stay tuned.

Friday, September 15, 2023

First Battle of Edgeton

It was easy enough for the English under the command of the Earl of Belmont: "Gentlemen, we have no need to concern ourselves with some Scots on a hill, we will go straight at that town and those guns.  For the King, for England and St. George, FORWARD! 

But for the Scots, with three  prickly Dukes, each with their own contingents and their own idea of who should have been appointed commander of the army, it was more problematic. Everyone had agreed that the guns  should be placed beside the town with a clear field of fire and that a town was no place for cavalry. Argyle argued that Douglas's pikes would be the best defenders for the town. Their long spears turning the hedges and improvised barricades into an abatis while their armour would help protect them in hand to hand combat. Douglas naturally answered that the terrain would disrupt the pike's formation and make then vulnerable, especially if the treacherous English flanked the town and that if the Highlanders did not have the discipline to hold defences, perhaps the barricade could protect the archers while they shoot down the English until relieved. Home backed that suggestion and offered to move his cavalry against the English first but Argyle insisted that if his men were first to the fray, Douglas's men should at least be second.       (For those not familiar with the scenario, the Scots may only activate 1 unit on the hill, until it is destroyed, then another unit may be activated.)  

On such infirm ground was the Scots plan rooted.

Douglas, reluctant to risk all of his men at once, led his own schiltron forward to tangle with twice his number of enemies.

At first, all went well. Argyle's archers shot true and though lightly armed, they held the barricade against twice their numbers, confident that the main body of Highland warriors would soon relieve them. However, across the field, despite having fought bravely for so long, Douglas's men were reaching their breakpoint and the gunners which had done such damage had at last succumbed to an arrow storm.

With loud cries of "Huzzah" and "Saint George" the White Coats finally surged over the barricades and chased the last archers from the town. Hoping still that he was in time, Argyle finally led his clansmen forward.

The Highlanders fought hard but already the sun was sinking, earlier than anticipated (wild cards shortened the game) and the order came to fallback, leaving the Lowland town to the English.


I've only played the scenario once before, back in 2015 when I had been gifted with a copy. I decided not to look at that after-game report until this game had been played. (see: ACW Botched Relief Game, 2015). I couldn't even remember if that had been a good game or a flop, turns out I had enjoyed it.)

This time around, the game started off quite slow after the heated solo debate over which reinforcement unit to activate (see above). A fairly prolonged melee, and an artillery bombardment were the only active thing until the English white coats got to the town, then stalled. The Scots pike were doing better than expected (darned dice) and suddenly I realized that the Scots pike units were not only the slowest units, they were also the toughest units, meaning their prolonged fight was pinning all of the other units on the hill.  By the time they were finally broken, the Highlanders (rated as light infantry for speed) barely had time to reach the village  and make one desperate try to retake it when the game ended, (two turns early thanks to 2 "turn over" chance cards, ie jokers). 

That left me wondering if my original plan of putting the Highlanders in the town and sending out the cavalry first, might have been better? Well, there's only one way to settle that sort of question..........