Friday, September 16, 2011

At the "Heart" of the Matter

Smoke from musket and cannon fire have fogged up this cell phone snap of the Righton militia covering the retreat of the Centerville Battery earlier tonight.

Last winter, I put away Hearts of Tin after getting confused over issues  arising from the Portable Wargame, the benefits of using a grid, my confusion over basing, organization and what I was planning to use the rules for.  Turned out to be a smart decision. Those other matters needed clarification first. After several months of pondering and experimenting, there came the MacDuff to the Frontier game just reported. After a day of further ruminating on the matter, and reviewing old battle reports, comments and blog entries, suddenly, all became clear!

In no particular order.

  • PW is a good game and I will design small projects for it, probably late 19thC/early 20thC but it isn't really what I had in mind for my 40mm glossy OSW project. 
  • Grids are useful but they appear, after some poking about and trying, to be at their best when one unit fits in a grid area and when terrain can conform roughly to the grid. Using a bigger grid is an option with the 40mm figures but its not where I want to go at the moment. I think I'll save the grid for 20mm troops for now.
  • When I started on the Oberhilse and Faraway project, I had TT Teasers in mind and armies of multiple battalions of infantry, batteries of artillery and cavalry regiments. When I called the troops British and American in order to play a Featherstone scenario, it got me off track and stuck in Historical/Alt-History mode. The particular historical campaigns I hit on were not very compatible with my plans, so the plans were bent. 
  • Most War of 1812 and especially alt-history 1837 Rebellion, Aroostock or Oregon Wargames, are really best suited for a set of Semi-skirmish games or lower at least level game, like MacDuff.   The American-Mexican and Sikh Wars, for which I had painted troops for use in Faraway,  are better suited to the traditional Battalion wargame.  I had hoped to get double use from the troops and have done so, but really they deserve a different  level of organisation and rules to get the best from each.  
  • I like "element" games where each stand is a unit or entity, and I like games where units are the entities. I don't really like mixing the two quite so much, where a unit is a collection of elements.
  • 40mm Scruby & Loch Sloy figures stand quite well on 15mmx24mm oval bases on my new terrain and a 20 man battalion  only takes up 6" so that I can fit a whole TT Teaser on my 5x6 table. 
Now the sudden clarity issues:
  • if the basing and figure style is similar, I will be able to make some double use of troops even if one project has 3x12 man companies to a battalion while the other has 20 man battalions.
  • since I nudged Hearts of Tin so that it could be played with any basing, I could go farther (and have once or twice unofficially) and abolish the 4 man company as the basis of the game and just make it the battalion of 12 -24 figures, making it essentially a blend of Featherstone and Morschauser with a touch of Lawford & Young and a bit of me and who knows what else. 
Conclusions and Action Plan?

1. The War of 1812 should continue as a historical project at 1:10 with 8 or 12 man "companies" as the basic wargame formation and a ground scale of about 1"=15 yards. For now it will be a mix of styles but I hope to replace all the chunkies over the next 5 years.  I will include enough figures to do 1837 Rebellion skirmishes as well. Rules may include MacDuff, HofT and the PW (a 12 man unit on 15mm bases will fit in a 10cm hex)

2. The Oberhilse Faraway campaign will continue as an OS game with 20 man battalions at about 1:30, a ground scale of 1"=25-30 yards and using Hearts of Tin as rules. The Faraway Army will be dressed in British style hot weather uniforms suitable for India and will include sepoy battalions.  The Oberhilse army will continue to be a mix of Am-Mex War, Danish and Schlieswig-Holsteinish troops. The un-named native state over the mountains will be likely be affected by Muslim connections and have adopted turbans and the like, though this is not yet firm.

3. HofT has already had the organizational change written in as well as having been updated with the new, simplified  Ordt and simplified combat and movement that I experimented with this summer when trying again to convert MacDuff to a battalion game.

The first 9 turns of the 2nd test game have been played (and enjoyed) and a short report will appear in a few days time when I have time to finish the game. Hopefully by them I'll have found new batteries for my camera.


  1. (off topic) . . . Ross, I sent you an email but I am not sure that I have your correct address . . . did you receive an email from me?

    -- Jeff

  2. Ross Mac,

    A very interesting blog entry.

    I can see your reasoning, and the decisions that you have made about 'what next' make prefect sense. I agree that if you are going to use a grid it makes a lot of sense to have one element fits one grid square/hex as the basis of the rules. I have tried alternatives ... but none of them seem to be quite 'right'.

    I could have almost have written your comment 'making it essentially a blend of Featherstone and Morschauser with a touch of Lawford & Young and a bit of me and who knows what else' myself! I find that when I am looking for a solution to a design problem or for a mechanism that works, I tend to look at what those gentlement (plus Charles Grant) did for inspiration ... and I have yet to be disappointed and not find something that points me in the right direction.

    The Oberhilse Faraway campaign seems to be taking shape, and I must admit that it parallels some of the things that I am thinking about for my 'imagi-world' campaign. Reading about your ideas have helped me to formulate my own.

    I am very much looking forward to reading your next battle report.

    All the best,


  3. I look forward to seeing your be-turbaned natives at some point in the future of Oberhilse Faraway.

    -- Jeff

  4. (off topic) Ross, I got your email and have re-sent my previous question.

    I almost had your correct email . . . but the one I had contained an extra period at the end and was bouncing back as "undeliverable".

    Hopefully you will get the new one and reply so that I know I'm getting through.

    -- Jeff

  5. Jeff, I'm happy to see lots of opportunity to add figures over the next few years.

  6. Bob, I should have mentioned Grant as well (he is directly responsible for my constant fussing over ground scale and frontages).

    I'm enjoying learning more about your fictional countries as well. New lands to discover!