Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Preparing for Hook's Farm

I have been told more than once that I have very twisted logic so it is possible that not everyone recognized a Morschauser based game as ideal for staging a refight of HG Well's classic battle from Little Wars. There is logic behind it though. I have no desire to shoot projectiles at my figures but neither do I want a complex set of historical rules to refight this classic action fought using rules which were inspired by contemporary (late 18th/early 20thC) warfare and the basic Principles of War. Morschauser's rules have a simplicity which encourages adherence to those principles  and has numerous shots of Britain's Toy Soldiers in action, thus providing a visual link between the 2 books. However, his rules are at times a bit too simple, simpler than Little Wars itself in some ways and it lacks somewhat as a solo game. Bob's development solves both those issues. 

One doesn't need to use antique Britain's to refight Hook's Farm but since I acquired a small collection of these from the widow of the original owner a dozen years ago, with the promise that I would enjoy and cherish them, it seemed appropriate to base the battle around them with newer troops supplementing where necessary. 

Aging Gordon Highlanders with some 80 years of service
Some newer sailors with a modern 4.7" gun, supported by new Britain's cavalry and backed by more 80yr old vets.

My first thought was to make some wooden block houses like those used in the original game. It was tricky getting house and troops to all fit in a  3" square, but I managed it. However, with only 4 infantry or 2 cavalry per square on a 24" x 24" grid, it just didn't seem worthy of this classic game. (not to mention that the 4.7" just did NOT fit)  My first thought was to increase the size of each square and put more troops in each but while it would look better and make it easier to fit in terrain, it wouldn't change the dynamics of the game. Using the roster system was one option, another was to increase the size of the grid, 16 squares by 16 instead of 8 by 8. This would allow me to double the size of the armies and make for a more complex game. I still want to try this option but Saturday's RCW games went well enough that I reconsidered. 
Vintage Guardsmen take cover behind a miniscule Firely Church

Turning to my copy of Little Wars, I looked again at the big cavalry melee when 18 Red cavalry charge 21 Blue leaving 15 dead on each side with 3 Red prisoners. Suddenly losing 4 horsemen on the roll of a die didn't seem so bad. I had also considered not allowing the infantry to fire since in the standard Little Wars game, only artillery shoots but there was no way the guns in this game were going to cause enough havoc so I decided to play it straight up. 

The next step was to transform 3 guns, 25 cavalry and 50 infantry into 12 units including 1 command. Over all numbers of infantry were not an issue, I was spoiled for choice, but I only had 2 vintage field guns, 1 later Gun of the Horse Artillery and 1 of the later version 4.7". I could have dragged out some plastic ACW guns but more than 2 guns would cut into my infantry allotment. Since I had sold off my new Britain's Household and Indian Cavalry, I was also a little short in horsemen. In the end, I settled on 1 Command, 1 Heavy gun, 1 Field gun, 4 cavalry, 5 infantry or a total of 2 guns, 17 horsemen and 42 infantry per side.  

For infantry, Red fielded 2 units of Guardsmen and 3 of Highlanders. Since I had virtually no Red cavalry,  I decided that Red pants and Busby flaps counted and assigned the Hussars to serve with Red. To bring up the numbers I recruited mounted infantry officers like was done in the early days of the Mutiny. Blue fielded 2 units of sailors, 1 of rifles, 1 of Ghurka's and 1 of militia. Their cavalry included lancers and light dragoons. 
Since Blue had the Sailors, they got the 4.7" while Red got the RHA gun as a heavy, manned by bandsmen in red since I am fond of the line drawing of a drummer boy marching off with a gun.. 

It just remained to convert the map to a grid, layout out terrain and begin.

This post was to be a battle report on Chrysler's Farm. That and the Hook's Farm report will follow tomorrow, and then some discussion on the thoughts that are bubbling in my head after these games, especially on wargaming and the principles of war and on rosters vs more units..


  1. Ooh, Britains. I'm having one of those why ever bother with any other figures moments :-)

    And Morschauser and Hooks Farm too, great stuff.

  2. 54mm, being the size of our childhood toy soldiers, is the (often secretly) cherished size for many of us.

  3. Ross, I like the look of all of this except . . . the freshly cut edges of some of the "hills". A touch of green paint would easily remedy this, eh?

    I look forward to reading/seeing how this all works out.

    -- Jeff

  4. Steve, As I cleared up, I found myself contemplating some Dragoon Guard castings I bought from Soldier Pac and never got to and pondering about what was required to convert castings from the Guards mounted officer mold that I have into Scots Greys and then thought "waybe this wasn't such a great idea...." Oh well, long as I got 'em they may as well come out once a year at least. Not so much angst over historical irregularities at least!

  5. Ross Mac,

    The 'look' of the Hooks' Farm battle is very Wellsian. I can hardly wait to read the battle report.

    All the best,


    PS.I am of the opinion that once the rules for the chessboard game are fairly finalised (I doubt if I will ever be able to resist the odd 'tinker'), it will work for larger grids, both in terms of the number of grid squares on the battlefiled and the size of each individual grid square.

  6. Bien sur Jean Louis. But shall we say for those of us who are of "a certain age"?

  7. That looks great. Nice to see these veteran figure in use.

  8. Very fresh Jeff, the sawdust was still clinging to the wood. If I'd been able to find the table green can of paint, I'd have touched them up but having wrapped this up I might round the contours before I paint.

  9. Bob, I think you are right but I was surprised at the complexity of the tactical issues and the strain on generalship that arose from this game.

  10. Ross Mac,

    Your comments are very intriguing, and I look forward to reading more later today!

    All the best,