Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tin Hearts and Ross Mac Comin'

Here they COME!

Not that I want to associate myself in any fashion with Dickie but some of my Union regiments are from Ohio.  As mentioned, I finished off yesterday's game using Hearts of Tin, we don't need to mention how Red's attack fared or what happened to the Bodyguard and the Princess Charlotte Dragoon Guards when faced by one scruffy squadron of Blue Dragoons, but the square rules seem to work, just ask the Blue Guards.  However, when I went to reset and try again with the post game improvements and some of the new, ummn Features, removed. I was suddenly tired of trying to round up stragglers, dressing the ranks and standing figures up so I decided that bases were called for even if the rules work without them. Actually I was a bit taken aback by my eagerness to get them back onto their bases. After all, I never did finish the single bases on all the ones I de-based last fall. It seemed smarter to just go with armies that were already based. It made even more sense to use armies which had recently played with the previous draft so I could see how it compared. So off to O-Hi-O or Tennessee or somewhere for Scenario 1, Scene 2.

Where the scenario called for light infantry or cavalry in excess of what I had, I merely fielded another infantry unit. It turned out there were enough stands to give every regiment 4 stands. (They had been painted as 3,4 or 5 stands depending on when they were done.) 2 batteries each of 2 guns, 6 infantry in 2 brigades, a sharpshooter and 2 stands of cavalry for Johnny Reb. 2 batteries, 8 infantry and 1 cavalry for Billy Yank. 3 of the batteries had 1 rifled gun and 1 Napoleon, the remaining, Yankee battery had a 6 pdr instead of the Rifle. Not nearly as good to be honest, 2 Napoleons would have been OK though.

 After an hour of shelling (4 turns),  the Union battery in the center was slowly getting the upper hand and the infantry was ordered forward. On the Federal left, the battery supported by cavalry had already shifted forward to bring the 6pdr into action.  The Rebs on the hill got tired of being shot at and advanced which triggered a reaction from the hovering cavalry (who seem to have forgotten about their breechloading carbines and the 2 nice new dismounted cavalry stands).
 The real action begins.
 The infantry, obviously a bit rattled, fired high and if the Brigadier hadn't been there, (he had had to drag them off the hill by the ear), and able to inspire them in melee, they would have broken and probably been ridden down. As it was, it was a tied melee.
 OOPS! Rebs, Rebs on Horses! (where the heck did they come from?)

Once they had mopped up the Yankee cavalry, the Reb horsemen started eyeing the now unsupported battery. Good timing for box cars from the artillery!

It was about this time that the Rebs realized that they had made a BIG mistake. During the artillery duel, they had ample warning that their battery was losing the fight but instead of pulling back to dead ground and slowly rallying the battery to get it ready to hold off the inevitable infantry attack, they stuck it out until they reached their break point. Then they figured what the hell, nothing to lose now, except there was, they soon went from 1 army morale point lost, to 2 points lost for a destroyed battery and no canister to stop  a break through. Well, not like the Yanks will break through with a mere 6 regiments vs 3 on that side of the hill. (Why were there still 3 Reb regiments fending off a 1/2 hearted attack by 2 Yankee regiments on the other side? Well, there was a lot of smoke and I was busy and well it was Hoods fault! He should have been here.)

 Where did the Yanks find all those 6's??

Oh Damn!

At this point, the flank charge actually stalled in a tied melee. The Rebs had 3 units at their Break Point and 2 units destroyed. Their morale was down to 3 from 10. But the Yanks were already down to...hmm 8 from 11.   OK, not good but the day is not lost yet! Counter attack on the right, then if the reserve wheels about and fires a load of ....OK failed order check. Oh crap the Butternuts just broke, General Ryder has been captured and the Yanks have just plowed into the  flank of the reserve. There goes the Army Morale. Skidaddle boys! Every man for himself!

What can I say? This is just the sort of game that I've been wanting to play for 2 well, 12 well, many years!

Hard to say how long it took as I was stealing away from other things to play a turn here and a turn there, not to mention updating the draft as I found things. About 10- 12 turns I think, and somewhere between 1 and 2 hours.

The slightly longer but much freer moves coupled with the reaction system and the cards worked like a charm as did interplay from the improved combat system with the double hits on a 6 (Thank you WRG 1685-1845 rules!), the increased number of hits per stand and the way the accumulating hits works.  I did have a couple of units that were on the verge of reaching their Break Point but were able to pull back and rally to the point where they could rejoin the action but most were too busy or the hits came too fast.

One thing has given me some concern. Once again I really enjoyed the 1/72nd armies on my 5x6 table. Not crowded at all. in fact I could have doubled the number of stands easily and possibly tripled though that might have made the game a long one. That means Divisional or even small Corps battles. If I compress the ground scale to 1mm = 2 yds, and use brigades as units, I'm into fighting original F&F scenario territory. And these guys will stand on my rolling cloth over hills terrain. If I do some spray painting of drop cloths and ... 1/72 nd Sikhs did you say? or 1/72nd Franco-Prussian? That was NOT the plan!

I'd better get working on getting my 40mm Toy Soldiers onto their bases so they can work their glossy magic on me..

I'm looking forward to trying the rules out vs a live opponent. 10mm Tricornes anyone?


  1. I'd love to be there and try them out, Ross . . . but I'm due at hospital for a diagnostic procedure in the morning . . . that and being four time zones away will pretty much prevent that . . . *sigh* . . . but I'm glad that you're getting the rules to where you want them.

    -- Jeff

    PS, Sikhs or anyone with turbans are good to have on the table top.

    1. Jeff, you hang in there, I'm about 2 years away from having spare cash for a western vacation and we are over due for another game. So hopefully the procedure will go happily and you'll be feeling better soon.

  2. Stay on target.... stay on target..!

    Glad to hear the new rules gave you the game you were after, but beware of Magpie Syndrome distracting you from your goals with the lure of other shiny things*.

    (*Says he, having just won his third toy Pirate ship for conversion to 28mm. Heck I don't even have any pirate figures! Maybe I should listen to my own advice for a change :-)

    Plastic 1/72 has a lot going for it, especially for a "game in a box" but when it comes to the main event, 40mm Toy Soldiers are surely far more splendid?

  3. Its not shiny-ness Doc, its Meglomania Look how many units I can fit in!

    Mind you I confess I'm still trying to recover from seeing some really nice terrain on some smaller figure games at various Cold Wars over the last few years. Not high detail but very natural looking contours and features and the troops fit in well. 1 was a 20mm ACW game. Complete co-incidence that my friend Jerry should suggest to me that we go there.

    I must walk carefully!

    Enjoy those ships, good for all sorts of things.

  4. Great report and sounds like the rules worked perfect.

    But a question. Don't you think all those soldiers laying down on the battlefield give a better looking game than those green dicey looking things. Now I have to try HofT when I was really looking forward to a final version of MacDuff. :)

    But there is hope. Once you get those shiny 40mm toys on the table you will start to think how much better the game will look and play if they were mounted individually. The whole process will start again and the pleasure of the trip with you for that perfect game will begin again.

    Thanks for the journey.

    1. I think they make better looking pictures. I may have to paint up some casualties!

      A sense of loyalty will get me finishing MacDuff if nothing else. It shouldn't take much if I push it back to where it started as a small unit game for Petit Guerre. There are a few mechanisms like the sequencing and reaction systems which came from there originally and need to have their final version ported back, just fiddly details. The rest is just a matter of dotting i's etc. as I'm generally quite happy with what it does when I want to do that. For example the Black Rock Raid and the Pillage and Burn scenario. Just not good for the Division sized games I had in mind for my armies.

      As for the basing, I've been a group basing guy for most of the last 40 years, with only a few short lived trials of singles. This year has been the first to see whole armies of singles. I'll keep doing singles for some skirmish games but I can't see another OS style single based army ever emerging again.

      Some time this year though, expect to see the 54mm Colonials come back out. MacDuff at the head of a column invading Nku Khuland.

  5. Nku Khuland! Its about time someone took care to that troubled place, and I know MacDuff is the officer that can do it! Looking forward to the expedition.

    Interesting. I've always been a group basing guy myself but in the last couple years I've been drifting to single basing. I expect the drift to continue as my desire to field a cast of thousands (which I never succeeded) goes toward fielding smaller forces.

  6. Hi Ross,

    Got to say it - seeing those old Airfix ACWs on a tabletop in action gets me all misty eyed and nostalgic - they look really good!

    A great report Ross; it looked like a blast of a game. 1/72nd plastic has heaps to offer nowadays so scratching any obscure period itches should be pretty straightforward.

    All the best,


    1. DC, I'm secretly hoping that buying the occasional box and putting it at the back of the cupboard will scratch those itches sufficiently. :)

  7. It's clear from the report that you greatly enjoyed this game - and it looks good. What more is there?

    1. Well the Blog header will look more like what I'm currently playing?

  8. Glad to know you are happy with the results. It is a pleasure for me to read your comments and designer's notes.
    For the moment my only concern about this version is how to record all those hits, green dice are practical but not very plaesent from the aesthetic point of view.

    1. Cesar, the original solution (as in Joe Morschauser) was to use a paper roster sheet and records hits there. Easy to see and hidden from your deployment. I'm just lazy and too prone to mark the wrong unit in a big game.

      I am working on a more photogenic system. One, is to have a marker figure with a numbered dial and a pointer.

      Another would be a variation of a system I used to use with Armati. There units could accumulate up to 3 hits before being destroyed. I painted up casualty figures and painted the edge of the base red, white or blue for 1,2 or 3 hits. (the sequence was chosen because as a child we had the old "red, white and blue" drummed into our head so this was the easiest to remember) If I add yellow for 4 hits and black for 6, then it should be easy enough to mark hits which look better and don't get lost. Ideally each side if not each unit would have its own markers, which is either work or a chance to sculpt, cast and paint yet more figures.

    2. Thank for your answer, it´s good to know there are many "modelling" solutions. I really don´t like roster sheets.

  9. I am finding myself tempted to retire plans for a 10mm FPW "big battle" game and use these rules for 1870. We'll have to chat about the key points.

  10. Well, no need to be too hasty. It wouldn't hurt to have an option to do something different.
    Maybe FPW in 2 scales: (in both senses) Big figures and HofT for small battles, small figures and MLT_on_a_6x4 for Big Battles. (hmmm I was thinking 1/72nd but I do have molds to make nice shiny 40mm FPW Prussians.....)

  11. Newline have just done some wonderful 1/72 scale Sikhs....

  12. Yeah yeah, maybe once the ACW is over. But I may be able to think about it in 40mm again...