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

Monday, May 17, 2010

MacDuff To The Rescue

Since the table was set up and with one of the original periods that With MacDuff To The Frontier was written for, and I was working on the 2010 revision, I decided to reset the scenario and try them out. Some of the units were a little small, especially the cavalry, but I decided to work with the units as is.

The game started out in similar fashion with Top Hat and his rebels sniping at long range while the convoy trudged forward. Col. MacDuff deployed B company of the Black Watch to return fire while A company pushed across the river and deployed. One of the first figures to fall was MacDuff himself, grazed by a bullet (6 to hit, 6 to hit an officer, 6 again to hit the senior office present!). By turn 3, Prince Kwannabe and the main body of Nku Khu warriors arrived and moved to the edge of the rough ground on the hill and started to work their way through the cover towards the wagons. Captain Britain of the 11th Hussars, responding to orders to advance and protect the flank of the cavalry, spotted the warriors and being too far to request clarification, decided that his duty was to engage the enemy  (i.e. he was beyond control range and rolled 6 on the control chart). The 1st troops drew their sabers and charged but the enemy was thicker in the bush than suspected and the rough ground disrupted the charge. Badly mauled, they fell back behind the 2nd troop.  

   Despite orders to hold their ground, the victorious warriors swarmed after the cavalry and were met by the 2nd troop.  Unable to work up sufficient impetus (that's their story) the Hussars were swamped by stabbing shouting warriors and broke to the rear. Without orders, both companies of Highlanders stood and fired on the elusive enemy, Captain Fraser went down then private after private until at last Sergeant Herald pulled the remnants back (were broken technically) as Top Hat urged his men to constantly close the range. Given a brief respite, the sergeant pulled the men together and then to his great relief, the stunned Colonel awoke and with his head bandaged, resumed command. (MacDuff and 2 privates rallied)
By now,  the Nkh Khu flanking force had arrived and were creeping up the hill, later than expected but welcome. Rapidly Brigadier Steele deployed first the Victoria rifles and then the New Durban volunteers to hold them off. Behind them, the remnants of the cavalry fell back covered by the fire of the Black Watch. Sensing that an opportunity was slipping away, Kwannabe ordered his warriors forward but the disciplined fire of A company broke the right hand band while the lancers, supported by the light artillery, drove back the center.
As the light started to fade, the head of the convoy neared the edge of the table. One chance remained, the flanking force surged across the ford, Black Shields leading and crashed into the Volunteers. Every shot told as the warriors closed and after a brief struggle, the Black Shields broke and fell back.  Kwannabe still had  warriors in hand but he was not one to throw their lives away lightly and the odds were now too long to offer any real hope of success. He waved them back into the brush.

This was the first play test of the 2010 edition of MacDuff and so far it was just what I was looking for. The game, admittedly a small one, took about 2 hours of playing time and about 10 turns.

 The major change was separating the  movement and firing into two phases, hardly original but I had been so pleased  with not having a separate fire phase, something I had only seen suggested in a Courier article at the time, that I beat my head against the wall to keep it that way although it was the cause of innumerable headaches over how to handle reactions, limit the ability of one side to fire multiple times without reply due to the random sequencing and so forth. Of course, having now met Morschauser who also didn't have  a separate fire phase, well its nothing new!

A draft of the 2010 edition  which covers North American wars as well as Victorian Colonial warfare is available on my website. I know there are some formatting issues and it is inevitable that I will have missed some anomaly but it is ready to be read over and, if anyone is brave enough and interested, to be tried out. All and any feedback is not just welcome but actively sought.


  1. Ross, it is almost 6am here on the coast and I have not yet been to bed (but will very soon). I have started the download of the new MacDuff . . . but may not get a chance to read it for a while.

    A very nice battle report by the way.

    -- Jeff

  2. A revised McDuff is always a treat!