Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revolution! A Campaign - History to Fiction (Pt 5)

Hopefully I haven't bored everyone away, this has been a very useful exercise for me. I now have a clear understanding of how I could stage several of the engagements of these 2 rebellions as historical wargames and a good understanding of why I don't want to go that route. Even better I now have a pretty good idea of how to incorporate this interest in revolutions with an existing, but sketchy, planned alternate history project.

In short, I wish to take facets of various revolutions in different lands and different times, dress the troops in uniforms from the 1830's, set them in local terrain and come up with a series of games that can be played solo or with one or more friends with the capability for some of them to be serve as a multi-player club or convention game.


I may have been born and raised in Montreal but I have lived in Nova Scotia for more than 30 years and my roots have sunk into the ground here in what was the historic Newport Township at the head of the Annapolis Valley. This is home and here is where the revolution will begin!   Joseph Howe was a 19thC journalist and politician whi is credited with leading the peaceful struggle for Responsible Government . Something Nova Scotia obtained in 1848 without a revolt, the 1st British Colony to do so. But in 1835, Howe went on trial for Seditious Libel because he had printed articles attacking corruption amongst politicians and police. The trial judge ordered the jury to find him guilty but they refused. What if he had been convicted? What if reform minded hotheads had followed the path of Upper and Lower Canada and dissent and clamour for reform had led to armed revolt 3 years later in 1838?  What if Maine took advantage of the distraction to push her border claims along the Aroostock just a little bit harder? I won't sully Joe Howe's name but will use his trial as a turning point for my agitator John Watt and his associates.

Here is history with one small alteration suddenly opening a host of alternate or fictional possibilities.


The organization for my 40mm 19thC toy soldiers has been see-sawing  back and forth over the last 4 years as I tried to figure what exactly I wanted to do. They have been on bases, off bases, onto other bases and lately back onto single bases again. They have been companies, big battalions and small regiments, prepared themselves for skirmishes and for battles. All the while, recruiting has lagged until I could decide what I wanted. I'm still not sure why and when I decided that I wanted to play battles with regiments not skirmishes with companies, perhaps I had just been having too much fun? Anyway, I don't actually fight battles and sometime the obvious fit is the way to go and after all, I have an ACW 1/72nd project lurking for the battle thing. So the company/troop/section will be the basis of organization and scenario design. Will it be Charge! companies of 16 plus officer, sergeant and drummer,     old MacDuff companies of 12 including officer and sergeant or maybe the newer 8?  That still remains to be decided after some test games.

Perhaps one day I'll play out an actual campaign but I'm in no hurry, wouldn't want the whole thing squashed early on!  In the meantime, I have already thought up a dozen existing or easily written scenarios which can be adapted and applied. The idea is that each should be able to be played a couple of times without wearing them out. Assuming optimistically that I play  8 to 12 a year in addition to other periods and games and assuming I develop additional ones, that should easily provide 5-10 years of gaming.

Obviously I haven't written up 12 scenarios in detail in 1 day but here is a brief synopsis of what I have in mind:

A scenario from the early rebellion. A column of regulars and militia arrives at a town with known
 rebel sympathies with orders to seize any or all of : A Rebel leader, a cache of arms, printing press etc. This is inspired by St Denis, Montgomery Tavern and by Lexington but is based on a variation of one of the scenarios published with the original Colonial version of MacDuff.    The rebels divide a deck of cards between 2 stacks, one in a village, the other in a tavern or Inn. The aces signify prizes worth capturing. Neither side knows where they are (the rebels know where things are but perhaps not what is important to the government). The rebels get to remove 1 or 2 cards per turn. If the government seizes a stack, they get all the cards which are left.  The goal for the rebels is to delay the government troops long enough to get their leaders/caches to safety.

The rebel forces, mostly unarmed/pike armed gather and march on a local armory which is inadequately protected by local militia. Various reinforcements and routes can be added for complexity.

A variation on several CS Grant Tabletop Teasers where the rebels need to blow a bridge to stop the advance of a Government column.

4) AMBUSH! (1)
A standard ambush scenario, I will probably adapt my Magugua scenario from 1812 but there is the Wagon Train Teaser as well. (oh and just barely the railroad one..)

5) AMBUSH! (2) 
Based on the rescue of Davignon and Demary in Quebec in 1837 it may end up being a variation of a CS Grant tabletop teaser. Rebels suprise a party of troops escorting a carriage and seek to free the prisoners. Alternately, the carriage might contain the Lt Governor who would make a valuable prize.

Inspired by the Alamo, the Windmill and St Eustache as well as one of the CS Grant scenarios, the rebels have occupied Fort MacDuff, an abandoned fort dating back to the 18thC. They are hoping for the arrival of schooners full of Patriot Hunter volunteers from Maine but the government army arrives first. An option could be to have the schooners arrive!   (Ft MacDuff which I have been intending to build for some years will reflect either or both Ft Anne or Ft Beausejour.

A schooner or 2 of Patriot Hunters from Maine arrive in the Minas Basin and land troops at Grand Pre, expecting local rebels to meet them but Government troops get there first. This may have several variations.

The rebels attempt to outflank and seize an important bridge. A variation on my River Canard scenario which appeared in Battle Games

One side or the other makes a night march and launches an assault at dawn. There are several existing scenarios by S Asquith and CS Grant as well as Stony Creek.

The rebels are retreating and take advantage of a defile to try and hold off the advancing Government forces. There are a couple of Grant Scenarios that I could use but probably the one from Wargame Scenarios.

A variation on the Tabletop Teaser from Battle games. Loyal volunteers are in a retaliatory mood and attempt to burn out rebel homes while rebel forces try to protect what's their's.

A variation on my Belle Famille scenario from the 1759 siege of Ft. Niagara  which was published with the F&IW version of MacDuff. A rebel force is moving along the River Road past uncut forest and a Government force deploys in a clearing to stop them .

Hmm I've just thought of several 1812 and AWI scenarios that could be adapted as well. Not to mention the attempt to capture the hot air observation balloon! or some Aroostcok scenarios.

Now I need a catchy project name! or perhaps Revolution! is it?

Queue Chris de Berg!
"Bring my gun and a handful of silver"


  1. This sounds like quite a project, Ross.

    I do have one question, which you might have considered, but didn't mention.

    "Will the result of any of the games affect the forces for future games?" . . . in other words, will there be any sort of "campaign effect"?

    -- Jeff

  2. I might play a full campaign at some point or a series of mini-campaigns but initially its just a "wargame period". Knowing me though, there will be some sort of narrative trail to tie things together and prepare the next game. Gotta sculpt, cast and paint the rebels first though and more Brits.