EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stepping Out

One of the test games from this weekend.

The decision to forego the attempt to find a One Rule solution (One rule to ring them all?) means that while I plan to share some mechanisms where it makes sense to do so and keep them identical, I am also free to do some things quite differently. In this context, I was looking at pictures of previous cardtable games and noticed how prominent all the little marker dice were when there was one for almost every stand. Then I remembered how annoying it was to run out of them midgame.  I also remembered that I need something like a pin result for late 19/early 20C games which brought my original RCW rules to mind as they used an older pin/kill step rather than a roster-ish 3/4/5 hits. So it was that I found my self revisiting the Square Brigadier with an eye to finding an alternate mechanism to deliver a broadly similar over all result.

Since units are being treated as entities not clusters of elements and since the theory is that hits are cohesion as well as casualties an improved version of the  2 step pin/kill process I used in my old Lawrence of Arabia rules in the late 80's seemed suitable. This was similar to one I used in my first RCW game and such as was used in some versions and variants of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame.  

I also wanted to incorporate the idea of some advantages or tactics cancelling hits rather than modifying dice to decrease the possibility of one lucky die roll negating say entrenchments. The system needed to work with a maximum of one marker per unit. Eventually, once proved, these could be casualty figures rather than red dots. Ideally it would be nice to have a possibility of sudden death from overwhelming circumstances but in practice it always ended up being too easy to achieve so I settled on doing without. What that left me was that a unit that took one or more hits after applying the benefits of cover etc would become "disordered" (pinned) with penalties. Cavalry and light infantry can use their mobility to negate 1 hit by falling back a square. If already disordered, a 2nd hit will kill. On their turn, units may attempt to rally. To incorporate the difference between qualities of troops I ended up making them easier or harder to hit. Not perfect but a compromise

I managed to try out the ancients version of the rules on the weekend and a battle report has been posted to my Gathering of Hosts blog. So far so good. Its time to buff up the late 19th/early 20th century section and try  it again.


  1. Good to see you hard at work Ross. I must say, I think you've done a fine job on your gridded mat. I love the colours.

  2. Yes I like to think of those hard hours of playing and flocking and so on as a public duty of sorts, ("but dear.....") It is coming together slowly despite the complete antipathy between glue and myself. I need more hills, and a frame to take the warp out, and figures based to match. But yes again and thanks, I'm starting to be pleased with it.

  3. Interesting to see the casualties Vs pin/kill. My own ancient rules, that I keep modifying, was based on the fact my 2 favourite rulesets used casualties - anywhere from 2 to 5-6 per unit. And a unit was a single WRG type base. I really like a two step process of disorder/kill or pin/kill or whatever. Which is why I went to writing my own rules with a two step process. One marker per unit was the goal (which I have met). I do like the variations you can do with it as you have mentioned - negate 1 hit by moving back. The possibilities of a 2 step process are great. But I do like the nuances that come from tracking casualties too, so won't be moving away from those rulesets that do. There is no one ruleset! (as you seem to have discovered as well as most).