Thursday, November 24, 2011

Battle of Snoughbound Ridge

24 Nov 1861

Word has been received of yet another clash between Federal and Rebel forces along the line of the Paynted River. Catching the Rebels by surprise, the First Division of the Army of the Kennetcook made an over night march and threw a pontoon bridge across the river. As the 2nd Brigade crossed over, Rebel cavalry could be seen topping the low ridge ahead. As they hastened  to deploy, a puff of smoke and loud report announced the presence of horse artillery.

Despite casualties from sharpshooters as well as the battery, the blue clad veterans maneuvered steadily while their own guns returned fire just as grey clad infantry began to appear, Initially ahead of the 2nd Brigade and then to its left. General Williams grasped the situation in a flash and messengers galloped off. Moments later the blue line began to shift to the left as the First Brigade moved up to take over their positions and form a reserve. With a ringing cheer the long blue line swept forward, pausing only to unleash a tremendous volley. It was like a pair of boxcars rolling up the hill and the Grey clad infantry wavered and fell back.
Following up on their success, the 2nd Brigade surged up the hill, three regiments attacking with two more in reserve. Smashing into a thin line of dismounted cavalry, the 2nd Illinois sent them running but the Second Carolina wheeled forward, enfilading the brigade's left. After a prolonged struggle the battered Blue regiments fell back.

  The Rebel line on the hill was looked thin and ragged by now and without a pause, the reserves pressed forward and opened a hot fire.  The Rebs began to waver as the 1st Brigade came forward at a run, extending the line and opening fire. Eventually the battered rebels could take no more and retreated off the field.    

On the right, the concentrated fire of 4 Federal batteries silenced one Rebel battery after another. At last General Rosser seemed to wake up and the 1st Georgia and 1st Carolina  began a hesitant counter attack on the Federal Second Brigade.  As the musket fire rippled up and down the lines, the 11th Indiana Cavalry slipped almost unnoticed around the Rebel flank. At the last minute, General Rosser galloped across, ordered the reserve battery to be change front to the rear while he personally led the sharpshooters to help defend  the guns. It was too little, too late. The bugles rang out, the swords went up and with a cheer, the Hosier cavalry  charged up the hill, scattering the sharpshooters, cutting down Rosser and crashing through the battery into the rear of the 2nd Georgia. The shock collapsed the rebel line and sent the survivors fleeing into the woods.  

It seems that an aide helped General Rosser to evade the Federal cavalry and it is certain that this resilient officer shall fight again, but not today.


It took me most of the morning to clear the snow today so the game was a welcome diversion despite a few achy muscles. Once again the rules were Hearts of Tin. I meant to lean  a bit towards the Rebs but  today it went all the Yankee way. The Reb army started off ok but after a  lapse in judgement which left a  gap in the defence of the sunken road on the right hand hill was followed up by a shockingly effect Yankee volley ( 5 dice, 4x6's!), the army seemed dazed, like a deer in the headlights. The first brigade and 3 guns sat quietly under a barrage by 4 batteries and watched a masking force of 2 regiments while the other 8 Yankee regiments assaulted the 2nd Brigade on the right hand hill. It wasn't until the cavalry and 2nd Brigade were shaken  that it occurred to me to make use of the 1st. The Yankee 2nd Brigade had suffered heavily in their repulsed assault and there was some hope that a counter attack would shake them.  But really, it was over. The Yankee artillery was just too well handled and maybe a little bit lucky while the Reb artillery was just the opposite. The 2nd brigade battery never even got off a shot.  The spectacularly effective cavalry charge that ended the game was just the icing on the cake.

Rules wise, the tweaks all worked but I realized afterwards when I double checked a few things, that I had been playing with some unwritten rules and some others where what was written didn't accurately  reflect what I had meant, and a few others where I found myself playing an older version. I have added the minor bits that were missing or misleading and rather than trying to retrain myself, I have adjusted some bits (esp melee result) to reflect what I actually do.

For anyone curious about the designations, I merely coupled the arbitrary, sequential ID number on the back of the stands with a State name, based on what the uniform made me thing of. No representation of any real regiment is intended.

That's probably it for the ACW until I get some more Rebs painted up but who knows?.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bring up the guns

The view at noon. Bugler! Sound retreat! Back to the Games Room men!

For once the forecast was spot on. Just the sort of  day for some quality time with my toys. The temptation to run another game was almost overwhelming but the lack of Rebs in general and Reb artillery and Brigadiers in particular couldn't be ignored. A fairly thorough search turned up a few bits and bobs that could be pressed into service until some proper ordinance makes it though the blockade. this  included, a metal Napoleonic gun that I commandeered from its Les Higgins  RHA crew (poor lads they waited for 30m years to be painted and now their gun has been taken!), some spare barrels and a WWI gun, surplus to requirements that, with a bit of trimming, provided a not quite right carriage.   Annoyingly, all but 2 of my old Airfix gunners are still AWOL so I dug out various infantry and pioneers and started trimming off muskets and adding implements and lanyards. 

The new Reb batteries, with their improvised guns, defending a copy of Vol 1 of Battles and Leaders. I used to have a 1 volume condensed version but it is no match for the full thing. Getting the remaining volumes is on my list of ways to spend money.

While I was waiting for an undercoat to dry, I turned my attention back to organization and scenarios. It didn't take long contemplating the F&F Great Western Battles scenarios and my table, and how many 100's more troops I would need to paint, as well as remembering how long, tedious and inconclusive the several that I had tried back in our 15mm F&F days had been, for me to remember that I didn't really want to go there, especially since this is supposed to be a minor sideshow. Next time I refight Shilo or Corinth or the like, it'll be either a V&B type game with 1 stand brigades or else a Grant style fudge. About double my current armies are about the most I want to think about painting and harbouring. Since the various options I had been considering all seem to have value, I decided the way the 3 stand regiments that they are currently organized into are as good as any. I'll just have to print off a whole stack of flags and convert a few more colour bearers. Several of the regiments are easily identifiable at the moment, for example there is only 1 on each side that is standing at attention with arms shouldered, but to make life easier when laying out and  picking up, (not to mention removing a casualty from the middle of a brigade line), I assigned the regiments to brigades and proceeded to paint a Roman numeral on the back of each stand as a regimental identifier. Red for the first brigade, white for the 2nd. the rest will follow. Selection of State and number will also follow and be marked underneath. 

Brigadier Steele, originally a conversion forming part of a unit of volunteer Scouts for a Riel Rebellion game that never materialized, with a new hat to replace the one he lost, a new base for his horse, and a lick of new paint here and there, cheers on the Horse Artillery while a sharpshooter pulls a bead on the camera man.

After a delightful afternoon of converting, fixing, painting and basing, I was ready to lay out a game. The artillery was evened up but the Yankee infantry still outnumbered the Rebs 5:3.  I decided on an attack against a hasty defence. I'd had enough of Sawmill Village for now, so I cleared it off, and rearranged things a bit.  

Sometime late in 1861, the Yanks, under General Williams,with 10 regiments, 4 guns and a regiment of cavalry have thrown yet another pontoon bridge over the Paynted River. The Confederates under General Rosser have been alerted and are rushing to the spot with 6 regiments of infantry, a company of sharpshooters, 4 guns and a small regiment of cavalry.  The cavalry, horse artillery and sharpshooters arrive on table on Turn 1. The 1st Brigade on turn 2 and the 3rd Brigade on turn 3. the Federals start with the bridge in place and their columns ready to cross. Their aim is to control the ridge overlooking the bridge.

Why don't things ever go smooth? Just when the river crossing seemed to be going according to plan, Reb cavalry appears on the ridge. 

After 15 hours, the snow seems to be slowly ending as the temperatures warm up but I don't think I'm going very far tomorrow so the Battle of Snoughbound Ridge will resume. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The weather forecast is calling for 15-25 cm of unseasonable snow  on Wednesday so I postponed my trip and spent the day getting the yard ready and stacking more firewood into the shed.

Well, not ALL the day, I didn't have time for  a game but I broke out Vol 1 of Battles and Leaders and looked at a couple of Orders of Battle, contemplated elastic ground scales and scenarios then did some experimental maneuvering of various regiment and brigade sizes and configurations.  Apart from Gettysburg, I'm more interested in the early years of the war, 1861 & 62 when many of the armies were smaller and it was all new. It seems that if gaming 1861 at least, a  500 man regiment is not unreasonable in either army. Depending on where you peg the ground scale, each of my stands can reasonably be anywhere from 120 to 200 men so 3 stands is reasonable but 2 or  4 would also work.  A total of 15,000 troops or 30 "standard"  regiments would cover a number of battles but they need anywhere up to about 10 miles of frontage as opposed to the 1 or 2 miles that I can squeeze onto my table unless I measure in centimeters in which case each stand becomes a regiment and the whole thing will look out of scale anyway. So, no firm conclusion yet but  I'm leaning towards 4 stand regiments as units without dismissing the 3 stand ones yet.  For teasers, I'll field 2 regiments per scenario "unit'" (once I have enough troops) and for historical battles, I'll calculate how many stands per brigade and use that to decide how many regiments to field rather than adjusting the regiments even though that will lead to some units being the "3rd & 5th Texas" or what have you.
I also took some time tonight to play out some Brigade firefights and some charges. it didn't take long to notice the ripple effect of taking of stands as originally intended. Losses went from severe to unsupportable. The double dice in melee was a relatively recent introduction so I went back closer to Morschauser's original values.  So, for infantry with rifles for example, instead of 1 die over 4,5,6 when shooting and 2 dice for 4,5,6 in "melee" (up to 3" apart so we aren't talking fisticuffs). it is back to 1 die per stand 4,5,6 to hit in melee and 5,6 to hit when shooting, 6 if using muskets.  Those are the values I originally used for Morschauser meets MacDuff and after a number of 1 on 1 brigade scuffles, they seem to still work. i also went to check the details on the Hold Fire rule and couldn't find it so that has been added. A necessary rule if fire and movement is allowed so, another ripple.
Having noticed that I need more guns, I also spent time looking at the Musket Miniatures 23mm ACW range again. Pity they don't take Paypal. If you have coin for  a bulk deal, the artillery actually works out cheaper for actual model guns than buying boxes of plastic. At least if you leave off limbers but even these are reasonable. They also have command figures.

Monday, November 21, 2011

If at first you don't succeed, or "Git around behint 'em".

General Williams and Brigadier Taleri peer through the morning mist at the Rebel lines

Well there I was, I wanted to try an 1840 MacDuff game on my flat hills but I also wanted to play a bigger ACW game despite not having any more Rebs painted up. A completely different scenario would mean clearing the table but what if the Yanks who had just been seen off, came back with friends? What if they threw a pontoon bridge BEHIND the Rebels?
As quick as thought the Rebs fell back towards their entry point and dug in along the hills with the right flank refused. The Butternut Brigade on the left, Virginians on the right. Each of 3 regiments and a battery deployed with 1 regiment in reserve. Two stray stands of cavalry formed an army reserve. All under General Rosser.
General Rosser (on Ol' Whitey) and Brigadier Porter watch the Federal army deploy.

The Yanks, having also refilled  their ranks, sent the 1st and 2nd Brigades back up the way they had come, each with 3 regiments and a battery, the plan being to advance in column of Brigade and attack the Rebel right. The newly arrived 3rd brigade with 4 regiments and a battery crossed over the new pontoon bridge facing the Rebel left with orders to "amuse" them and then, once the main assault went in, to attack the enemy left. 

Colonel French filling in as Brigadier for 3rd Brigade. The lads in front were painted back c 1982, the ones on the bridge  are part of the new additions from that same lot.
Things went more or less as planned for Billy Yank. After a bit of softening up with artillery and rifle fire, the 1st Brigade charged in led by Brigadier Dryver.  OK so maybe the charge didn't quite go as planned. However, Reb losses were heavy and they didn't have many men to spare.

The shocking aftermath of the first charge on the entrenchments. The Rebs threw 10 dice for 4,5 or 6 and scored 10 hits! Then the Brigadier went down! The remnants of the 1st Brigade may be seen on the hill behind the 2nd Brigade.  

On the Yankee right, the 3rd Brigade was a bit more cautious, and traded fire with the Rebs for a few more turns, opening up some gaps. When they finally charged in, they seized the front line, only to be thrown back by a counter attack.

 The 3rd Brigade prepares to charge.
Bringing their 2nd line forward, the 3rd Brigade charged in again and were bloodily repulsed, routing back towards the bridge. Hurriedly, the remnants of the Butternut brigade rushed to support the Virginians who had fallen back to rally while the cavalry held the line. Every one expected the cavalry to hold for a while but they were barely in place when a storm of shot, shell and rifle fire blew them away. The 2nd Brigade surged forward over the lines and in a fierce firefight broke the Virginians just as the Butternuts hurried up.  The issue hung in the balance. Could the battered Butternut counter attack throw back the last Yankee Brigade?

    A brief pause as the Rebs desperately struggle to form a  line. The very hasty nature of the entrenchments is clearly shown here. A redoubt and sunken road from my old 15mm ACW setup and a toy sandbag emplacement.

Nope. The dismounted cavalry stormed up the hill and took the battery and while the Union line appeared to be wavering, they seized the initiative and kept up a hot fire, mowing down the Butternuts and driving them from the field.  
So there we have it. 18 stands of Reb infantry with 2 stands of cavalry and 2 guns defending against 30 stands of Yanks with 3 cavalry and 4 guns and it came down to the wire. If the Yanks  hadn't won a shift in initiative and then fired their most devastating volley of the day, the game might well have tipped in the Reb favour. A Pyrrhic Victory either way.  I've no idea how many turns I played,probably between 12 and 16 but the game took a little under an hour. For a pitched battle, I should be able to squeeze 3 times the number of stands on and get a solid day's battle from it.

I should also be able to do some smaller historical battles or sections of larger ones,  I need to reconsider my organization though which is standard 3 stand regiments as Units with 3 to 6 regiments forming brigades  as Commands. At this rate the game just fought was 2 divisions facing off and allowing up to a corps aside if I paint enough to crowd the table. 

Some calculation on ground scale tells me that my stands have the right frontage for about 200 men so 3 stands is a very strong regiment and anyway, I don't really want 1 man in 12 to carry a flag or have to figure out to tell 30 regiments apart.I'm even more dismayed at having an anonymous collection of stands that get parceled out into temporary regiments. 

I may be better off organizing to use Brigades as Units with these grouped into Divisions and the whole forming a Corps. 200 men per stand is the same as the alternate Fire & Fury scale with typical brigades being 6 to 8 stands, occasionally larger. This would mean that I could use F&F set ups from the Great Western Battles book, the Gettysburg scenarios from the rule book and Bull Run from the Courier. Or, well, I could if I still had a 6'x8' table... Parts of battles then! or maybe I should think about that temporary 5'x7' extension for my table.

Rules wise, I was pretty happy. Apart from some editing errors, there were 2 small tweaks, 1 to the wording for Shaken Commands, the other to the options for how hits get translated to stand removal.  

The idea was that since "hits" are as much or more about loss of cohesion as actual casualties then it would make sense to mark one hit on every stand and then start taking them off. The unit would still be able to take the same number of hits. That was the theory. Apart from the hassle of  marking more hits, the idea had also been that brigades would gradually get weaker as they lost stands but with distributing hits,  the brigade could sometimes take 50% hits without losing any combat power. Then it would disintegrate rapidly as each  additional hit removed a stand. It also meant that defensive fire against a charge was less effective since they often wouldn't reduce the attacker's combat power.  So I have gone back to the original idea that a stand comes off for every 2 hits. One could always substitute casualty stands as space holders, could. 

I'm off to Fredericton for a few days to visit family. This means several days away from gaming and about 10 hours of highway time to ponder gaming, so who knows what I'll do next. More ACW? An 1840's MacDuff game or maybe back to Ancients? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Small Relief or Its All About Shoes

The Federal forces deploy for a piecemeal attack of Sawmill Village.

Shoes? Yes as in "If the shoe fits", though there may have been a stack of shoes in Sawmill Village, it would explain its importance anyway. One needs a good match of figures, rules and intent. It was a relief to try out the restored Hearts of Tin with my 1/72nd ACW troops and find that it all worked for me again. Playing one small game left me wanting to do another, bigger one.

There is very little to any particular unit's activity in the game but it was quickly obvious, painfully obvious, that having lost the race to grab the strategic objective, the Union commander had no plan and was just throwing units forward as and when they appeared, without even the hutzpah to throw them into a close assault before the enemy could consolidate. After a period of trying of vainly trying to out shoot troops in cover without even a numerical advantage, the Union finally started to use their artillery and organize some co-ordinated assaults which worked much better but early losses told and a counter attack.threw them back. A small game resolved in an hour.

Now to fit another 100 or so ACW figures into my over long painting queue.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Maintenance of the Aim

Congested street fighting (again) in Sawmill Village. This time Red won by a nose.

This has been a good exercise this week and things are all finally, falling nicely into place with 2 distinct rule systems for 2 types of game.

Having rescued MacDuff and finally getting it working the way I wanted, it is once again my game of choice for single toy soldier games. That in turn has allowed me restore Hearts of Tin to its original purpose as a quick game for elements or stands of troops, capable of handling small to medium sized historical battles.   Both games have been updated and can be found under links to the left, subject to further proof reading and play testing.

To avoid my old problem of having 2 sets of rules with the same name, 1 for the late18thC/early 19thC and 1 for the mid and late 19thC, I have renamed the 19th/20th C set With MacDuff To the Front and will leave the 18thC game as With MacDuff to the Frontier, or at least I will when I get to fixing it. The 2 rules will be as alike as I can get them to be, the main difference being in weapons.

Leaving aside minor changes, the main changes between the original and current MacDuff, at least in my mind, are:

1. A reduction in friction. This has been done partly by simplifying the Control Check and asking it to do less and partly by substituting fixed for variable movement rates for most troops. This has reduced the number of steps speeding play,  eliminated some double jeopardy and increased player control over their units decreasing frustration and increasing engagement.

2. A reduction in fiddleyiness. A lot of minor restrictions and clever bits have been dropped as being of little import for the end result and, based on experience running multi-player games over 15 years,  of interest to a minority of players.

3. A reduction is staying power of units. I have reluctantly, finally given up on my casualty recovery rules. The essential part of the original idea that units should be able to be repulsed, rally and come back has been retained in a different format but units now slide irreversibly towards destruction and a decision is reached more quickly and decisively.

The updates to Hearts of Tin was largely to simply revert all references to groups of figures to references to "companies" but I also took the opportunity to reinstate the ability of better troops to absorb more hits. When I get a chance I want to replace the fire and melee charts  with unit capability charts listing melee and shooting "to hit" numbers and ranges and movement for various units which will allow for easy addition of tweaked unit types.

Now to test HofT using 1/72nd ACW troops, play an 1840's MacDuff game and get casting and painting troops in khaki!.

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the Archives: MacDuff as originally published in the Courier.

After an interesting lunch time chat about rules design yesterday, including the difference between fixing a rule that doesn't work vs trying to incorporate a "better" idea, I decided to go back to the original With MacDuff to the Frontier and see what I would have to change or take out to get close to what I used in my play test as opposed to starting from scratch. MacDuff was developed for 25mm Colonial Games, specifically British vs Sudanese, Zulu and Pathans though I had in mind dragging it back as far as the Mutiny (aka War of Independence). Imaginary conflicts and country were not on my radar at the time.

Since  the oldest version I have is an html version of the rules as  submitted to The Courier, and since Dick had kindly given me permission to post it on my now defunct website, I thought I would repost it here. 

Wouldn't it be great if there could be a compendium of back issues of the Courier printed up? or at least collected on CD?  

This is the version of the rules that were published in Issue 73 in 1997 as transcribed for MacDuff on the Web. The introduction is actually lifted from the sister version  adapted from this for the French & Indian Wars.   

With MacDuff To The Frontier Colonial Wargame Rules
 (Ross's Colonial Rules) SEP 95
These rules were  published in the Courier Issue #73. The Courier, (IMHO a great wargaming magazine)
 Table of Contents
 I. Introduction
II. The Rules
       1. Organisation
       2. Sequence of Play
       3. Command Control
       4. Formations
       5. Movement
       6. Charging
       7. Terrain
       8. Small Arms
       9. Artillery
     10. Casualties
     11. Melee
     12. Morale
     13. Engineering
    14. Errata
    15. Peshwar Gazette (Battle Reports from the NW Frontier)
    15. New Durban Times (Battle Reports from Africa)
I Introduction
This introduction is a slight modification of the introduction published with my French & Indian Wars rules which were developed from this set.
These rules may look a little old fashioned but they represent the culmination of 25 years of wargaming ranging from Don  Featherstone and Lawford and Young through WRG and on to Fire and Fury and Armati with many other stops along the way  including 10 years of playing only with homegrown rules. My aim has been to create a game which has an historical flavour, is  easy and enjoyable to play after a hard week's work, rewards historical tactics and gives a believable outcome to actions.
To further this group of divergent aims, ground and figure scales have been kept flexible and some things are done for the look or ease of play rather than as my best scientific simulation. For example after many bad and some good experiences  with seperate charge morale tests, I decided to combine the effects of fire, and morale (including the threat of the bayonet) into an old fashioned melee even though troops rarely crossed bayonets. Basically both  sides will suffer disorganisation and casualties and one side will run away. Whether the bulk of the losing side actually ran before the charge struck home or not is not really important in the long run. It is just a mechanism that is fun, lends colour  and gives an appropriate result in the end.
1.2 Scales and basing. Time, ground and figure scales are flexible but have been balanced to achieve the desired effect.
I have used companies of 6 to 12 figures giving a figure scale of about 1:10 but reduced the number of companies per battalion  dropping the overall scale to about 1:20 for large games. For scenario design assume 6 turns per hour and 1 inch per 10 yards  if fighting a small skirmish, 1 inch per 20 yards if fighting larger actions. Any distortions of ground and figure scales  this flexibility implies has no practical effect on the game. Regardless of scale, figures should be treated as if individuals not as groups of men. Normally all figures should be individually based, but, multiple bases and casualties  markers or rosters  may be used.
 1.1. General Rule. Figures must be organised into units with a leader and assigned to the command of a general. Units may not be reorganised during a battle and must stay together. A leader and up to 3 figures may be detached in open order to act as a scouting patrol. Native refers to non Europeans fighting in their own armies as opposed to those enlisted in Imperial armies. Imperial refers to the forces of European or American powers. Regulars are drilled according to European methods with a fixed comamnd structure. All artillery is regular. All other units whether disciplined Zulus, wild Afgan tribesmen or European volunteer cavalry are Irregulars. All units whether tribes, impis or battalions may be referred to as regiments for simplicity. Likewise native leaders may be refered to using equivalent European titles such as Colonel or Brigadier or they may use native titles.
1.2. Irregular Infantry. An irregular infantry unit consists of 1 leader and 19 other figures. All figures must try to stay within 12" of their leader. Normally no more than 1/2 of an irregular unit will have fire arms.
1.3. Irregular Cavalry. All irregular cavalry is light cavalry. Even if some figures carry lances, they do not get the lance bonus due to their lack of order. Irregular cavalry units are composed of a leader and 9 to 19 men.
1.4. Regular Infantry. A regular infantry regiment consists of a mounted colonel, a musician, and 2-4 companies each with an officer, an nco and 6-10 other ranks. As long as a company is within 12" of the colonel or his replacement, it is treated as part of the regiment for morale. If it is farther away it is treated as an independant unit. Companies do not have to adopt the same formation. A sergent-major and/or a standard bearer may be added to the regimental head quarters to represent units with higher morale or staying power. If only 1 company is fielded the colonel can not be fielded. Composite regiments composed of companies from different regiments get a colonel but no sergeant major, musician or standard bearer.
1.5. Regular Cavalry. A cavalry regiment is composed of a Colonel, a trumpeter and 2 squadrons each with an officer, an NCO and 6-10 other ranks. Light cavalry may be lancers.
1.6. Artillery. An artillery battery consists of an officer and 2 gun sections each with a gun crewed by a junior officer or NCO and 3 crew. Heavy artillery requires a 5 crew instead.
1.7. Engineers. An engineer company consists of an Engineer officer, an NCO and up to 6 sappers and miners.
1.8. Generals. A general is required to command each side. If there are 4 or fewer regiments this will be a brigadier equivalent. If there are 5 or more units, a brigadier may be fielded for every 2-3 units and a division commander may be added as commander in chief. Larger battles are not envisaged. Irregular generals may be accompanied by a drummer and standard bearer. They may be attached to one of his units to assist in rallying, but, may not leave a unit once attached.
2.1. General rule. Draw cards from a deck one at a time. As each card comes up one unit is activated. Imperial units act on red cards, native units on black cards. When activated a unit takes a control check if required then moves and/or shoots or passes. Each unit completes its action before the next starts. Detachments will act on the same card as their parent unit even if seperated. A unit which has been charged may react but is then pinned until the melee is resolved. After all units have acted or passed, resolve melees bewteen units in contact.
3.1. General Rule. Units within 24" and in sight of their brigadier are deemed to be in control and may be moved as he commands (subject to morale and movement restrictions). Units which are not in control must take a control check unless shattered.
3.2. Control Check. Roll 1 die and consult the following chart:
Cavalry and irregulars without firearms charge the nearest enemy if any are within reach. Other troops stand and shoot. 
Act as the player desires
No advance. The unit may retreat. 
3.3. Attached Leaders. The senior leader attached to the unit may influence the die roll according to his personality. Rash leaders always add, cautious leaders always subtract, bold leaders may add or subtract, indecisive leaders neither add nor subtract. Company or irregular officers add or subtract 1, higher officers add or subtract 2.
3.4. Personality. On the first occasion it needs to be known roll 1 die for each officer and consult the following chart.
Rash Leader
Indecisive Leader
Bold Leader
Cautious Leader
4.1. General Rule. All the figures of a unit must normally be kept together in a recognised formation and must act together.
4.2. Skirmishers. Any infantry may deploy as skirmishers in 2 ranks with 1" to 2" between figures.
 4.3. Mass. Any troops may form a mass 3 or 4 ranks deep with up to 1" between figures. This is the only formation shattered units may use, and the only close order formation that irregulars may use.
 4.4. Line. Any regular troops may form line 2 deep with all figures touching. Normally a regiment in line will form with all companies side by side. It is allowed to deploy with each company in line but lined up one behind the other. This is basically an assault column. it moves as a line but is easier to manouvre and adds depth to an attack on a narrow front.
 4.5. Column. Any regular troops may form column 2 wide with all figures touching.
4.6. Square. Only regular infantry and dismounted cavalry may form square. A multi-regiment square is not treated as a single formation. It is composed of units in line and or column each moving on their own card.
5.1. General Rule. The distance a unit can move is based on a fixed portion plus a random factor. It can be further reduced by shooting, terrain and formation. Infantry and cavalry may shoot then move half a move. See the shooting rules for the effect on their shooting.
5.2.Irregular Infantry. Irregular infantry could move quite rapidly but lacking discipline might not move when their general desired. Their close order formations were not tightly ordered, therefore they move the same speed whether skirmishers or in close order.
    Irregular infantry move 6" + the score of 2 dice.
5.3. Regular Infantry. Regular infantry was slowed by the need to keep order but their disciplined movement was more predictable. Skirmishers had less need of order than troops in line but were strictly contolled and therefore move the same speed as troops in line. Troops were formed in column when they needed to move any distance as the narrow formation was easier to manouvre, therefore our columns move faster. Squares were very difficult to move while maintaining formation and are therefore penalised.
    Regular infantry move 6"+ the score of 1 die.
    Regular infantry in column add 3" to their move
    Regular infantry in square move at 1/2 speed.
5.4. Cavalry. Cavalry's speed was affected by the need, even for irregular cavalry, to keep order and to preserve their horses. Irregular light cavalry tended to use hardy mounts and had less need to keep order, while regular light cavalry was practised at manouvering quickly and carried less weight than their heavy counterparts. Light cavalry will therefore be able to move faster than heavy cavalry. All cavalry usually charged at the gallop by this period therefore charging cavalry get a bonus. They must rally on the next turn even if they do not contact the enemy.
    Light Cavalry moves 18" plus the score of a die.
    Heavy Cavalry moves 12" plus the score of a die.
    Charging cavalry may add 6" to their move.
5.5. Manhandled Artillery. Artillery pieces may be manhandled by their crews. Machine guns were mounted on light carriages and were easily manhandled. Other artillery normally used limbers or pack animals to go any distance. If an artillery piece has less than 1/2 its full crew, it cannot be manhandled unless some infantry are assigned to assist.
    Machine guns may be manhandled 3" plus the score of 1 die.
    Other artillery may be manhandled the score of 1 die in inches.
5.6. Limbered Artillery. Pack artillery and heavy guns take a full turn to limber or unlimber. Other guns may move full and unlimber, limber and move full or unlimber and fire.
    Pack animals, heavy artillery and wagons move 6" plus a die
    Other limbered guns move 12" plus the score of a die.
5.7. Changes of Direction. Units may retire or take ground to the flank, facing the enemy at half speed or may turn and retire a full move. They must spend a full turn to face the enemy again and reorder their ranks. Other changes of facing must be done by wheeling or as part of a formation change.
5.8. Changing Formation. Only regular infantry need to change formation. Irregulars may close up or spread out as they move. Regular infantry take 1/2 a move to change formation including a 90o turn when changing between a line and column. Mounting/dismounting cavalry takes a half a move, not including a formation change.
6.1. General rule. A unit must declare its intention to charge and whether or not it will fire first, before rolling its movement dice. Its target must then announce its reaction. The charger may then wheel up to 45o then must move straight toward the target, moving figures into contact with enemy. Counter chargers move simultaneously. The chargers may break formation or close up as they charge so long as no individual moves more than their maximum movement. Now resolve firing, if any, from the defending unit. Casualties may be taken from the rear ranks if any. The defenders may now move figures upto 1" to contact attackers.
6.2. Reactions. A unit which is rallying this turn, which is shattered or which has already acted may not react to a charge. A unit which passed or which has not yet acted may react as follows:
Skirmishers may fire and retreat or retreat a full move.
Regular infantry may form square.
Cavalry may counter charge, wheeling up to 45o first
 Any troops may stand, firing if able
6.3. Reserved Fire. Infantry which moved upto 1/2 move and artillery which did not move may choose to reserve fire when they act. In this case they may conduct their fire when they are charged. If they are not charged they lose their fire. Note that the number of figures eligible to fire may be reduced if the unit moves.
7.1. General Rule. Any terrain other than a flat plain disrupted the movement of cavalry, artillery and regular infantry in close order. Some terrain is even more of an obstacle while other types can provide cover from fire or sight.
7.2. Difficult Terrain. Steep rocky slopes, swamps jungle and other very difiicult terrain is impassable to horses, wheeled vehicles and close order formations. They can only be crossed by skirmishers moving at half speed, or infantry columns and pack mules following a trail.
7.3. Broken Terrain. Woods, brush, soft sand, steep or rough slopes and similar may be crossed by all troops.
    Skirmishers and irregular infantry may move at full speed.
    Other infantry and pack mules may move at half speed.
    Cavalry, artillery and wagons may move at 1/4 speed. Camels are unaffected by sand.
 7.4. Linear Obstacles. Streams, river fords, ditches, hedges and low walls or fences take half a turn for infantry and cavalry to cross. Artillery and wagons take a whole turn to cross. They leave a gap in walls, fences and hedges which can be used by any column, wagon or gun without penalty. Very high walls or deep ditches can only be crossed in pioneers spend a turn to prepare a crossing point. Troops in column can then cross as if over a minor obstacle.
7.5. Villages. Villages are represented by a group of buildings on a base. Towns are represented by several villages seperated by a road. Only infantry may enter a village. They immediately loose all formation and move as individuals at half speed. They may not move through solid walls; they must enter the village and any interior rooms through doors, windows or breaches.
7.6. Roads. Roads are only useful to artillery, wagons and regulars in column. Troops on a road ignore off road terrain. Troops on a secondary road add 50% to their movement. troops on a highway may double their move. If a road crosses a steep hill road units move at normal speed.
7.7. Concealment. Native units may be deployed in concealment at the start of a game and kept off table until they are spotted or they move or fire. Unless an umpire is available, place a marker when they move to show their location, they may not be fired on or charged unless spotted. Massed troops may be concealed in brush, forest, jungle, villages or dead ground. Skirmishers may also hide in rocky areas and scrub. Dead ground should be defined when the terrain is laid out. Units within 6" may always see each other. Spotting is done prior to moving or firing. Each unit may attempt to spot into one area of concealing terrain within 12". Roll 1 die and add the fieldcraft rating of the spotting unit. If the result is 6 then any enemy have been spotted.
7.8. Field Craft. Units with field experience or composed of men from the fronteirs were more adept at scouting than units fresh from Europe. This is measured by giving Imperial units field craft ratings of 1, 2 or 3.Most European imperial units would be 1 with some veteran units and most sepoy type units being 2. 3 is reserved for Gurkhas and frontier light horse or the like.
8.1. General Procedures This period saw, first the wide spread introduction of percussion rifles, then the deployment of breachloading weapons that significantly increased infantry firepower. These rules do not cover the introduction of modern smokeless magazine rifles which changed the face of battle. Roll 1 die for each 2 eligible figures. Count remainders of 1/2 or more. Two ranks of figures may fire. The target must be within 45o of straight ahead and must be visible. If charged a unit must fire at the unit charging it, otherwise it must fire at the nearest eligible enemy. Firing uses 1/2 a move.
8.2. To Hit. At close range 4,5 or 6 will inflict a hit. At long range 5 or 6 will inflict a hit.
Smoothbore Carbines
Smoothbore Muskets
Jezzails/Rifled Carbines
8.3. National Modifiers. Boers and Metis add 1 to their dice. Other native units subtract 1 from their shooting dice when fighting the British. This variously reflects lack of training, shortages of ammunition and just generally British good luck. They often got off light when under heavy fire.
8.4. Muskets. The term muskets includes all muzzle loading small arms including rifled muskets and cavalry carbines. Although a musket could easily be fired and reloaded in 30 seconds by even an average soldier, they were slower to fire than breechloaders especially for skirmishers trying to stay under cover. To represent this muskets take 1/2 a turn to fire. When a unit fires mark the unit with a smoke cloud to indicate that some figures will now be unloaded. This will remain untill the unit rallies. The options available to the unit are as follows:
     a. Standstill and fire all figures
     b. Fire 1/2 the unit and move ½.
     c. Regulars in close order who have not fired since they last rallied  may opt to fire all figures then move half. Mark them with 2 smoke
        clouds, they cannot fire again until they rally.
     d. Early rifles firing patched ball take a whole turn to reload. They must use option c even if skirmishers. Once they fire, however,
        they may elect not to use patched balland may then commence to be treated as ordinary smoothbores. They may only regain rifle
        status by rallying.
8.5. Breechloaders. Breechloaders could be reloaded much easier than muzzle loaders. Troops with breechloaders may fire all figures and move half or may stand fire twice.
8.6. Repeaters. Early magazine rifles could put out a much higher rate of fire for a short period of time, however, prior to the introduction of magazine chargers, reloading was a lengthy process. Magazine rifles may operate as ordinary breechloaders or they may choose to stand and fire four times. If so they must rally before firing again.
8.7. Pistols. Early pistols will be ignored and only revolvers will be counted. They have a very short range but allow a single officer to roll 1 die for hits.
8.8. Spears. Thrown spears are included as part of charge resolution.
8.9. Mounted Fire. Only light horse or irregular cavalry can fire mounted. They use the normal rules for their weapon type but need to score 6 to hit.
9.1. General Rule. Artillery did not improve as drastically during this period. There was a gradual switch from smoothbore cannon to rifled guns but muzzleloaders remained in service along side breechloaders with field trials showing little to choose between them for speed or functionality.
Artillery targets must be within 45o of straight ahead and must be visible. If charged a battery must fire at the unit charging it, otherwise they may pick their target. Artillery may not fire then move. Horse Artillery may unlimber then fire. Heavy guns may only fire on alternate turns.
9.2. Cannister. At close range all guns fire cannister. Roll 1 die per gunner needing 4,5,6 to hit for smoothbores, 5,6 for rifles. Native artillery deducts 1 from all dice. When firing cannister against a battalion or company square, roll double the normal number of dice. Errata 12" for all guns
9.3. Shot and Shell. At long range ammunition is assumed to be a combination of shot and shell or shrapnell. Measure the range to the target in feet then roll 1 die per gun needing to score equal to or greater than the range to hit.
     Rifled guns +1 to the die to hit.
     Mountain guns and 6 pdrs -1 to the die to hit.
     Native artillery -1 to the die
 If a hit is scored roll 1 die per 2 crew needing 4,5,6 to hit. Native artillery deducts 1 from all dice.
9.4. Machine Guns. Early machine guns were prone to jaming when most needed. Roll 1 die before firing a score of 1 or 0 means the gun has jammed and may not fire this turn. Machine guns have a range of 24". If there is no jam roll 1 die per crew needing 4,5,6 to hit. Native crews subtract 1 from all dice.
9.5. Breaching Walls. When artillery scores 6 when rolling for effect against a wall or building, a breech 1 figure wide is created. Heavy guns create a breach on a score of 5 or 6.9.6 Line of Sight
10.1. General Rule. Close order infantry in the open suffer 1 casualty for each hit.
10.2. Cover. Troops behind hard cover suffer 1 casualty for every 2 hits on the unit from shooting. Native units may claim cover from small arms fire, but not artillery, if they are in brush or rocks.
10.3. Skirmishers. Skirmishers were harder to hit because they were dispersed and making maximum use of cover. Therefore, skirmishers remove 1 casualty for each 2 hits when being fired at. This is cumulative with the reduction for cover.
10.4. Cavalry. Cavalry usually suffered less shooting than infantry for several reasons. They tended to be in less dense formations and moved quickly while under fire and were thus not a target for as long as well as being harder to hit. Many of the hits were on the horses who would often carry on after wounds that would send a man out of the ranks. There also tended to be less straggling than in the infantry, if a man went down he was on his own as the regiment swept on as opposed to the infantry who would be helped to the rear by 1 or more comrades. Therefore cavalry suffer 1 casualty for each 2 hits from shooting.
10.5. Artillery. When artillery is fired on the hits may fall on the gun, the crew or the animals. Batteries normally contained enough horses to enable the guns to be moved even if some were hit, but there could be a delay while horse were redistributed. For each hit against artillery roll 1 die. A 6 means the gun was hit if the hit was from artillery the gun is destroyed otherwise there is no effect.A score of 4 or 5 means a draft animal has been hit. The gun may not move limbered this turn. A score of 1,2 or 3 makes a crew figure a casualty.
10.5. Remainders. If there is a remainder of half or more, place a casualty marker by the unit. If the unit receives a second casualty marker, remove both markers and a casualty. Ignore fractions of less than 1/2.
10.6. Risk to leaders. If a leader (including musician or standard bearer) is a target or is with a unit which suffers casualties, roll one die. If a 6 is scored a leader is hit. If several leaders are with a unit dice with an even chance for each to be hit.
11.1. General rule. Dice for each pair of opponents in contact. If one side's score is 2 higher than their opponent than 1 opposing figure is hit.
11.2. Die Modifiers.
    +1 Imperial Infantry/cavalry
    +1 Lancers or heavy cavlry charging
    +1 Defending obstacle
    +1 2 vs 1 (2nd figure must touch the enemy)
    x2 Cavalry charging infantry not in square or cover, or halted cavalry
11.3. Resolution. The side with the highest casualties from shooting and melee combined retreats a 1/2 move facing the enemy. If the original fight is a tie, cavalry which charged will pass though the enemy using any unused movement from their charge. Other troops will stand and fight again. Casualties may be replaced from rear ranks. If there is no result after a second round of combat, the charger must retreat a half move. Both sides must rally after a melee.
12.1. Shattered Units. When a unit suffers very heavy casualties it loses spirit as well as manpower. When a regiment, battery, tribe or detached company falls below 1/2 strength it becomes shattered and must immediately retire a full move in disorder unless surrounded. On its next move it must rally. If still shattered after rallying, it must retreat off the field of battle.
12.2. Surrounded Units. If a unit is surrounded and cannot retreat without approaching closer to some enemy then it may stand and fight until an opening appears. Once per turn the enemy may call upon the unit to surrender, both sides roll a die with the surrounded unit adding 1 for each attached leaders and 1 if the regimental standard is present. The highest score decides whether or not the unit will surrender. If a way becomes clear the unit must retire .
12.3. Recovery. If a shattered unit recovers enough casualties to rise above half strength, it ceases to be shattered and may operate normally until it falls below 1/2 strength again. A shattered company may rejoin its parent regiment. The status of the regiment is then based on the entire regiment.
12.4. Rallying. Rallying represents the regrouping of troops by their officers. Units must rally after a melee, when shattered, and may rally to recover casualties or reload. A unit may rally on the spot or fall back 1/2 move while rallying and may include a free facing or formation change. The unit may not shoot, evade or countercharge while rallying. The unit must end up in line or square if regular or in mass in irregular.
12.5. Casualty Recovery. Casualties include stragglers, men helping wounded comrades and lightly wounded or stunned men as well as serious casualties. Some of these may be recovered, therefore, when a unit suffers casualties, put them in a holding area. When the unit next rallies it may attempt to recall casualties to the ranks if it has any leaders attached.
 For each casualty in the holding area roll 1 die, on a score of 6 the figure rejoins his unit. Commanders were often able to inspire their men, if a bold or rash general has joined a unit to rally it, add 1 to the die. Martial music has long been used to stir men's spirit and many acts of heroism have been done out of devotion to a unit's or countrys colours. If there is a musician or standard bearer with the unit 1 may be added to the die. Any casualties which fail their roll are permenantly lost. Most armies attempted to rescue their wounded, particular Imperial forces facing enemies who did not take prisoners. On occasion, however, if units were under too much stress the men panicked and abandoned thier comrades. If a unit loses a melee and is shattered in the same turn, all casualties currently in the holding area are taken by the enemy and become permenantly lost.
13. Engineering
 13.1 General rule.  An engineer officer and a tool wagon must be present to supervise engineering tasks and provide materials. Only trained sappers may build a pontoon bridge or lay demolition charges. Any troops or conscripted civilians may be used for other tasks. Engineering tasks may not be conducted by shattered units or by units which shoot, move or which have been engaged in mellee during the turn. The owning player announces when that group is activated that they are working. If at the end of the turn they have not been disturbed then 1 period of work is completed.
13.2 Tasks.  The time taken for each task is as follows.
a) Build pontoon bridge if materials available: 1" per turn.
b) Lay demolition charge. 1 turn. When ready roll 1 per charge to find the damage inflicted. 6 points are required to damage a wooden bridge,
    12 points are required to destroy a wooden bridge or damage a stone one, 24 points are required to destroy a stone bridge. A damaged bridge
    may only be crossed by infantry moving at 1/2 speed.
c) Repair a damaged bridge: 1d6 turns.
d) Construct a redoubt to hold a gun or company: 6 turns.
e) Cut a road through a hedge or wall 1 turn.
f) Fortify a village: 3 turns.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dispatch from the Front

Oberhilse Guard Jaeger advances c 1990.

The first play test, involving Farway and Oberhilse forces in the years just before the adoption of drab uniforms, was a success!  At first it seemed odd to be using open order tactics and modern rifles with colourful uniforms but of course magazine rifles and machine guns were adopted into European armies long before drab uniforms came in.

I was interested to see that the rules seemed to fit quite comfortably but then remembered that the original rules were written for Victorian Colonial wargames. The musket era adaptation came later. I was also interested to see that removal of 2 of the key concepts: variable length movement and the ability to recover strength improved the feel rather than detracting from it.

The game, of course, was a version of Sawmill Village. Each side fielded 4 companies of 12 infantry, a troop of 6 cavalry, a field gun and an MG. In brief, the Oberhilse cavalry forged ahead and seized the village but failed an Orders check, charged the Faraway cavalry and was driven back. The Victoria Rifles were able to move up and seize the village but were thrown out of 1 building by a company of Blue Guard, A 1st counter by the Buffs faltered but a second one recaptured it. An attempt by a Blue company to cross an open spot in the woods and outflank the town was stopped by Red's infantry in the woods.

On the left flank, a column of infantry was caught by Larsen's Lancers before it could deploy (failed Orders check) and was sent reeling, their retreat being coverd by the MG which was over run but held the cavalry just long enough. It was the turn of  the Lancers to launch a charge against orders and suffer the penalty when they were hit by rifle fire when trying to sneak past a deployed company of  infantry to over run a limbered battery which was just moving up.

Attempts by Blue's center to muster another attack on the town  kept faltering, occasionally due to fire but mostly due to poor orders dice. Not surprisingly, the resulting fire fight with an equal number of enemy in cover resulted in Blue being repulsed, causing the whole Blue army to retire.

I'm feeling  a bit ambivalent about the Orders checks. 1 detachment of rifles, having lost its officer, needed 3 or better to rally but rolled 5 1's in a row and Blue suffered disastrous freezes 4 or 5 times, in each case needing 2 or better to pass. Not having kept records, I'm not sure if there were an unlikely number of 1's or if it just felt like it, particularly as they seem to have been inflicted on Blue in droves, usually at critical times (like trying to deploy out of march column before an unexpected cavalry charge).   On the other hand, several of the events were quite reasonable if frustrating. The question is not whether or not to have some unpredictability and friction, but how much. The cavalry charge for example, would have worked as well if the Red Card was pulled first. having the Black card be pulled first but then be a non-event smacked of double jeopardy. It may be that a minor tweak and a stiff upper lip will suffice. After all the control chart was a major feature of the original rules.

I also need to think a bit about organization and how it fits typical Table Top Teasers and my table top and preferred figure size. 12 figures was just too clumsy and once around any terrain, units tended to break into 2 x 6 man detachments. I suspect that my old 8 man organization will work best with 4 of them forming a battalion and 2 being counted as 1 scenario "unit".

Last but not least I need to think a bit about Orders. Part of me would like to see each battalion have a written game order but in small games, 1 side might only have 1 or 2 battalions plus a few supporting units. it may be that the Orders check if properly tweaked, will suffice to discourage players from dispatching companies to do strange things on the other side of the table.

A test of the new organization and a few other tweaks is planned for tomorrow and work will also start on writing up the rules properly. The prospect suddenly looms ahead of me of having  a series of armies covering 100 years of Atlantica history with units slowly being replaced as styles and weapons change from smooth bore rifles through to magazine rifles, machine guns and early AFV's. All using the same terrain and support units, wagons, boats etc. Scary, very scary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sending MacDuff to the Front.

Having laid out some 40mm troops t try again, it occurred to me that it was really a MacDuff game that was in my head, Here is a stripped down rethink of a MacDuff based late 19thC early 20thC ruleset. If it works out I'll do the legwork to put it together. AT stuff for later games will have to be added as well as many other things and explanations.
 With MacDuff at the Front
15 Nov 2011 (edited)

Company/Troop: 12 infantry, 6 cavalry, 1 gun and crew.
Regulars Officer+sergeant, conscript 1 officer, Elite Officer 2 nco.
Colonel commands several companies.
Brigade HQ commands Wargame army.
Sequence of play: Take deck of cards, assign Red to one side, Black to the other. Draw cards, when a card is drawn, 1 unit or group of units may Act. Group must be touching and receiving the same order.
 Actions are: Move, Shoot, Rally, Charge, Hold fire.
After all actions done resolve melee.

Orders. Company. Roll 1 die when activated. 2+ = obey. 1 = cavalry charge if able, others halt may shoot, may not rally or hold fire. -1 no officer, -1 beyond 12” of Colonel, -1 beyond 24” of Brigade HQ unless connected by wire or radio or signal team.

Infantry, Artillery, Brigade HQ 12”, Cavalry, Colonel, Horse Artillery 18”, Wagon, 6"
Road bonus +50% if in road column X 1/3 in bad going for cav, arty, HQ, all  -3:" cross obstacle.
Artillery except MG, HQ -6" to limber/unlimber, cav -6" to mount/dismount
Wire takes whole turn to cross.

1 die per 2 rifles, 1 per crew for arty, MG. 2 dice per grenade
Grenade 3”, Rifles 12”, MG 18”, Arty 48”
4,5,6 hits, X 1/2 over half range, X1/2 tgt has cover, Drop fractions
Double dice vs column
Special Effects.
If any hits roll 1 die 6=officer or specialist hit.
Vs cover or armour a 6 by a field gun is needed to breach cover or destroy armour.

Reaction. A unit may fire if charged from the front, even if it has already fired. Fire takes place at 3".
Cavalry can countercharge to the front unless disordered
A unit on Hold Fire orders, may shoot once at an enemy which moves to within 1/2 range or leaves cover.  

Melee.  Resolve if any figures in contact, Pair off. If 2 vs 1 then roll 1 die per figure and choose whoch to use. High score wins. Cav which charged doubles die except vs countercharging cavalry or enemy in cover. 
Side with most losses retreats full move. Winner may occupy position. Cavalry which charged and won may charge again and resolve melee. After melee both sides are disordered.

Morale. A unit which loses 25% of its current strength from shooting in 1 turn will immediately halt for the rest of the turn. (Note this may halt a charge for example)
A unit which loses 50% of its current strength from shooting in 1 turn will immediately retreat a full move in disorder.
If all infantry and cavalry units reduced to 1/2 strength then concede battle.

Disorder. A disordered unit may not shoot or move towards the enemy until rallied. A unit which obeys a rally order spends a turn stationary.

Tom and Jerry

With a slight twinge of guilt, (for abandoning a game, any game) I cleared the table of 1/72nd figures and started laying out some 40's. I don't have any 20thC armies in 40mm (yet) but I figured the Oberhilse troops in Pickelhaubs backed by some horizon blue infantry would serve on one side while the other side will have to make do with obsolete red for now.

It seemed like the perfect moment to put together the Irregular Mitrailleuse I bought a few years back. After all, I've tripped over it 3 or 4 times in the last month alone. Of course finally I put it...hmm not here, hmmm hmm not there, hmmm...  Oh well, I did find a couple of spare Zinnbrigade 1900 Prussian castings. A change of colour was enough for the Germans, a head swap with one of my Mex-American War heads and some token swipes with an exacto was needed for the Tommy. He's not exactly right but close enough for me given the price.( I already have molds for gunners, infantry, cavalry and staff as well as a stock of metal so it'll cost me nothing new to indulge myself.). The results of 15 minutes work can be seen above.

This is all making lots of sense to me now despite the ripples of excitement. There is a fair amount of synchronicity with my 19thC collection, scenery, wagons, civilians (people are obviously very conservative in Atlantica) and even some troops, especially as the armies march further into the 19thC. After all, some reservists and even whole armies in the real world  marched to war in 1814 in nice dark blue uniforms while if some Faraway units adapt khaki and sun helmets when they go North of the mountains, they'll look right at home in 1910.

Adding some later armoured vehicles to push it father into the  20thC will be a challenge. 1/48th or 1/50th vehicles exist but WWI and early WWII ones are hard to find and tend towards expensive. There are some cheap 38T's out now which might do but I'm leaning towards checking out a few 1/56th vehicles made to match "28"mm  miniatures which aren't much shorter than my old 40's and are substantially chubbier.. On the whole, I would rather have underscale vehicles than over scale ones, especially as the size grows. MG's are another issue. I could probably scratch build some but will probably give a little business to Irregular.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Change of Hearts

I was rather eager to try out the draft rules to see whether or not they were a good start. A quick survey of remaining WWII stuff in  hand, in any scale led to a quick conclusion that we would be looking at mostly unpainted plastic. I could mix in the AK47 and CWC stuff but I suspected that would just highlight the unpaintedness of the other figures and anyway, the mix  of figures on bases was awkward if I wanted to look at individuals..

A fudged late 19thC game of 40mm figures was tempting but begged the question of whether or not  1/72nd was going to be satisfying.

That left the RCW 1/72nd  despite the bases. I don't have enough painted figures to field 2 armies except in the Portable Wargame,  so once again my ACW troops were called to stand in and some Zulu War Brits thrown in for the feel of single figures.

When I started to fiddle with ideas for a 20thC game, I was tempted to start with Hearts of Tin mechanisms and update them. Instead I tried slotting in some older rule ideas from my Lawrence of Arabia game-in-a-box (now gone) with hits and pins but since I was borrowing the concept though not the detail of Don Featherstine's anti-tank rule, I figured I'd also try and adapt his infantry firing. Even toned down a bit, boy its bloody!  Anyway, by turn 2 I was already confusing HofT and what I was playing  and since it wasn't hordes of tanks and things, I started thinking, wouldn't it be easier adopting common mechanisms where I can? So I played a few more turns improvising on a HofT base

Conclusions so far:

A. The 1/72nd stuff is OK but.....something seems to have tipped inside me. It may not be just a phase that I'd rather play with a few single 40mm toy soldiers than a horde of 20'mm figures (or 40's) on bases. This doesn't bode well for vague plans of using 1/72nd ACW to fight big battles. . Not sure what it means for the unpainted RCW either though the PW still looks like a good use for both these.

B. An adaptation of HofT for early 20thC looks perfectly feasible. I'm just looking again at play sequence for fire and movement, some thing that periodically bothers me anyway. I have experimented  in the past with reaction/opportunity fire options and with revised sequence of play such as A moves B fires.  or else both move and then all fire. I need to check options farther. I'll add in anti-armour rules but the odds that I'll go big in 40mm WWII are pretttttty slim.    Boer War & WWI/post WWI are more likely. (still allowing a tank fix of sorts).

Monday, November 14, 2011

The dice flew furiously

The dice flew fast and furious across the grass green field,
The soldiers gripped their guns and swore they'd never yield.
The men were as brave as lions and their general as sly as a fox
For if the dice should get them, they'd just go back in the box.


The Dice Flew
A game for playing Wargames with toy soldiers in the age of machine guns and magazine rifles.
Initial Draft 14 November 2011
Immediate updates in purple

Notes: This is a simple set of rules for playing wargames in the Age of the Machine Gun. They are meant to provide an enjoyable game and to be evocative of stories told rather than an accurate simulation or recreation of experience or fact. More specifically, they aim to work in OSW fashion, not worrying about consistent time and ground scales and operating on multiple levels at once. Figures and vehicles are treated more or less as individuals so a player can get that emotional feel of being there in the midst of things while putting dozens if not hundreds of toy soldiers on the table and getting the feel of  commanding a "battalion" or even a "brigade", yet still be able to finish a game in 2 to 4 hours.   The rules are intended for use with individual figures of 20mm size or larger but it should be able to be used with multi-figure bases either counting each base as a figure or by marking hits.

Organization. The "modern" army is a bureaucracy and so the game includes 4 levels of organization.

  1. ARMY: This is all of your guys that are taking part in the game, regardless of how few they are. There must be an Army Commander (CO) with a small staff and escort on table.
  2. BATTALION: This is an intermediate level of organization consisting of a Head Quarters (HQ) and 2 or more companies. Normally these will be part of a permanent organization but for game purposes they may be adhoc formations but must be formed before the game starts.  Each Battalion must be given a single mission.   
  3. COMPANY: This is the basic unit of the game and consists of an officer, sergeant and usually around 10 men. Poorly trained companies might not have a sergeant. Well trained and experienced ones with high morale may have an extra officer or sergeant. Companies much smaller than 10 figures at the start of a battle will probably be too brittle while those approaching 20 will be too clumsy. Companies may include attached heavy weapons such as machine guns.
  4. PATROL: This is a  group of up to 4 figures detached for a particular purpose. If it is more than 1/2 a move from the its company, it is treated as a separate company for movement, combat and morale.

  1. Game Orders. At the start of a game, players must write an order for each on table Battalion giving its mission. These may be written in plain language as long as they are clear or may use a short hand with an action and a location. Possible actions are: Hold X, Move to X, or Attack X where X is an identifiable terrain feature. A start time may be specified. Hold orders are implied for any unit awaiting its start time or after it has reached its objective.  A move order implies expeditious compliance, no unavoidable engagement and no attacks. Attack orders force a Battalion to advance, engage in a firefight or attack with at least 1/2 of its units.  Off table units do not need an order until they arrive  on table. Off table artillery may be controlled by an on table observed attached to a battalion or else will need a pre-game fire plan giving which targets to fire at on which turns. The fire plan can only be changed using the order change process. 
  2. Order changes. A Game Order can be changed at the start of any period. if communications exist. Roll 1 die, the order change succeeds on a roll of 2 or better. -1 to the die if the range between the army commander and Battalion HQ is over 2 feet and no radios are being used and there is no telephone link. (see advanced rules for laying and cutting telephone lines). 
  3. Company orders. If a company (or patrol) includes an officer or nco and is within 12" of its battalion HQ, 24" if equipped with radios,  then it will  act as the player wishes each turn. If either condition is not met then roll 1 die and a score of 2 or better is required for the unit to move or attack.  

Sequence of Play. At the start of each turn, each side rolls a die. The side with the highest score chooses whether to go 1st or 2nd that turn. If there is a tie, repeat the last turn's sequence.

  • The 1st player issues any order changes and rally units then fires any bombardments then moves with any or all of his units. The 2nd player may shoot with eligible units as the 1st player moves. Then any melees are resolved.
  • The 2nd player now  issues any order changes and rallies then fires any bombardments then moves with any or all of his units. The 1st player may shoot with eligible units as the 2nd player moves. Then any melees are resolved.

Do any end of turn activities such as weather checks or as called for by the scenario then start the next turn.

Movement. Figures may move up to the following maximum each turn. They may move in any direction. Movement through various types of terrain is pro-rated.

  • Infantry and infantry support weapons: 12" in the open or through broken terrain such as woods and fields, 18" in column on a road, 6" through difficult ground such as steep rocky hills and swamps.
  • Cavalry, Armoured Cars and Fast Tanks: 24" in the open, 6" through broken terrain, 36" in column by road. They may not move through difficult ground.
  • Artillery, HQ: 6" in the open. 18" in column by road. No off road movement through broken or difficult ground.
  • Tanks:. 18" in the open, 6" in broken ground, 24" in column by road. They may not move through difficult ground. 

Shooting. Figures may only fire out a 90 degree arc to their front (45 degrees either side of straight ahead).  The firing player may interrupt the movement of an enemy company to shoot at it and the effect is calculated before the move is completed.  A company that moved or bombarded or fought in melee during or since its last turn may not shoot. A company that can shoot, must do so at the closest target but may fire more than once if enemy movement brings another target closer.

When a company is fired on, it may choose to immediately halt and go to ground, counting as being in cover or it may choose to push on and continue moving.

  • Direct fire vs infantry and other soft targets: Shooting is by company against an opposing company which is not within 3" of the shooter of any unit friendly to the shooter. Only figures with a line of sight to the enemy  and sufficient range may be included.
    Roll 1 die per 5 10 points of fire. Round up remainders of 1/2 or more. 

Rifles: 12" 1 pt per rifle.
SMG: 6" 3 pts
LMG: 18" 3 pts .
HMG: 24" 5 points
Mortar: 6"-24" 5 points 
Artillery or tank gun:: 24: 5 points for medium or heavy gun + 5 pts for AFV with MG within 12" 
Snipers get 1 die each but they work alone so their fire cannot be added to any other.

  • Effect
    • Subtract 1 from each die if the target is up to 1/2 range.
    • Subtract 2 from each die if the target is beyond 1/2 range.
    • Subtract 2 from each die if the target is in cover. A company counts as in cover if 1/2 or more of the figures are in cover
    • The total score of all the dice after modifiers is the number of hits on the target.
    • For each die that scores 6 before modifiers, the firing player may select one critical figure such as an officer or a specialist as a casualty otherwise the owning player decides which figures are taken. If crew figures are killed, other men can be moved to take their place on a sunbsequent turn.    
    • If any figures were killed then the company is pinned.  
    • Pinned units may not move until they rally and cannot fire except in melee.

Anti-tank fire.All armoured vehicles have a defensive value, all anti-tank weapons have an offensive value.
Players may come up with their own charts as detailed as they like. A flank shot has to come from behind the front of the vehicle. An open topped vehicle attacked by mortars or artillery count as being shot at from the flank.

For anti-tank fire, instead of rolling company vs company, roll 1 die for each afv or gun firing at each trget and add the Attack value of the gun to its die. (If mixed guns fire at 1 target roll them separately or use different colours of dice.) If the result of any modified die is greater than  the defensive value of the target then it is destroyed. If the result is equal to the defensive value then the target will immediately retreat 2d6" but may stop when reaching cover.

Basic defense values: front/flank
Heavy Tank: 7/5
Medium tank: 6/4
Light Tank: 5/4

Basic Attack value: +1 within 1/2 range -1 if the target is hull down or in cover
Small arms, HMG, Mortar: 6" 0 Roll 1 die per 5 points of fire.
Bazooka, 6" 1.
Light: 12" 0
Medium: 24" 1
Heavy: 36" 2

 Examples: Tiger heavy tank with heavy gun, Sherman medium tank with medium gun, Firefly Medium tank with Heavy gun, Honey: Light Tank with light gun.  .  .

Artillery barrages.
Range unlimited for artillery. Must be pre planned or directed by a FOO using Order Change Communication roll. Count 5 points per light gun, 10 per medium and 15 per heavy gun. using same to hit and to kill score on target company as for direct fire at over 1/2 range.

Melee. All units within 3" of the enemy must resolve melee. Roll for hits as per shooting for both sides simultaneously, but with the following modifiers instead of the shooting ones:
Elite +1
Conscript -1
Enemy in cover -2 ( Infantry with grenades and rifles or smg do not count the enemy as in cover if they are touching the cover.)
All AT attacks in melee are made against the enemy's side value to represent the confusion of close fighting.

The side which suffers the highest number of hits must retreat 2d6". If tied, the melee will be resolved whenever either side is active again unless 1 side retreats before then.

Morale.  A Battalion that has lost 1/2 of its figures. (1/3rd if militia, 2/3 if Elite) is shaken and changes any Attack order to hold.  If at the end of either player's turn, all of the Battalions in an Army are shaken, the Commander must concede and withdraw.

If a company loses 1/2 of its current strength, 1/3 if conscript, 2/3 if elite,  to one round of shooting, then it will retreat 2d6" and become pinned until it rallies. A pinned unit may not move or shoot except in melee.

Rallying. To rally a pinned company, roll 1 die for each officer or nco present at the start of the turn. If any of the dice score 4,5 or 6 the pin is removed. -1 if conscripts, +1 if elite.

Advanced rules:  Still to come: entrenching, air support, parachuting, amphibious ops, mines, and more