Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

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

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

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rounding Off the Square Brigadier.

 Oberhilse and Faraway clash yet again, this time in the late 1850's.

My interest in using my 40mm 19thC toy soldiers in a more Morschauser-ly fashion does not seem to be waning with practice. When I get a chance I intend to try it on the existing 4" hex grid upstairs but for now, the ease of fitting 1/72nd terrain on the card table does not seem to balance the enjoyment I get from the bigger toy soldiers, even if the units are smaller and the whole look much more abstract and toyish. I also want to try the game grid free using my measuring stick  marked with 3" bands without any smaller gradation.

Rather than maintain two gridded games, I am in the process of taking what I like best from the improvised Toy Soldier Game and the Square Brigadier crossed with the test games of the SB and will just update the SB. I haven't updated the SB and all of its period charts yet but the rules as played tonight are posted below in Back of a Postcard fashion.

There are three main differences from the Square Brigadier as last played.

Command Control/ Sequence of Play.
Rather than a fixed turn sequence and PIPS I am reverting to the Initiative roll to see who goes first each turn crossed with a die roll for units beyond command control. The PIPs work fairly well when the number of units is strictly controlled but works less well when games end up with too high or too low a ratio of Generals to units. The other system has served me well for years and adds a nice bit of uncertainty and at times tension as well as a decision point.

Attrition vs  Degradation.
While the results of the OK/Disordered/Destroyed progression were fine over all, it just didn't feel satisfying to me  and the resultant seesaw didn't feel right either. I've gone back to the system used in the original Hearts of Tin where units take hits until removed. The twist is that I have beat my self down and removed the rally roll so that the attrition is one way which drastically shortens games or allows more units. Rather than rallying, players will need to pull out battered units before they break and keep a reserve to plug the gaps.Generals can still risk themselves to try to cancel hits as they come in.

Die Modifiers vs Hit/Dice adjustment
There is a lot to be said for a system that limits the absolute number of hits on units in cover etc rather than just the average number but there are issues as well, especially when the number of dice are low. Since the hit number is easier to adjust I've gone back to that and kept the number of dice low. Given the lack of rallying, the low number of dice should help prevent a too frequent occurrence of units being swept away in a single turn by lucky rolls.

A closer though not clearer shot of the new experimental Faraway Service uniform with the 1856 tunic and sun helmet being worn by the Royal Fusiliers along side the old shell jacket and forage caps or shakos of the other units. 


A Game of Toy Soldiers v2
aka short form of The Square Brigadier v3.
4 Apr 2013
*** Please Note that this is only a partial draft with new ideas
for play testing**

Game Units: General, Reg Infantry: 4 SP, Irregular Inf, Militia, Arty, Cav 3 SP, Skirmishers, Machine Guns: 2SP  (SP may equal figures or be tracked)

Measuring. Diagonal counts as 2 squares. Front is an arc 45 degrees either side. (60 if hexes)

Toss for initiative each turn. Winner chooses to move first or second. Ties repeat.
1st player moves or shoots any and all of his units, If not within 3 squares of general roll to move: 1,2, no move 3-6 obey orders. Fight Melees.
Repeat reversing roles.

Infantry/Militia/Artillery 2,  Irregular/Skirmisher 3, Cavalry 4
+1 in column on road but may not move adjacent to enemy. Inf in square move 1. 
Artillery may not enter woods or town except on road. Cavalry, Infantry and Militia may only move 1 square into or out of woods. Lose 1 square to cross stream. Turns are free when moving.
Passage of lines: to move through a friendly unit, the moving unit must begin adjacent and must stop adjacent to the other unit. 
Must stop when moving into a square adjacent to enemy.

Target must be in front but if adjacent to direct front then fight melee. 

1 die per unit if small arms or shot/shell, 2 dice if MG or canister
  6 hits: Fortification or bow/jav vs heavy armour,
 5,6 hits Cover or skirmisher or arty or cavalry or bow/jav vs armour,
4,5,6 vs Other
+1 per die if arty vs dense or if sharpshooter or if superior firepower.

ACW Weapons:  Ranges: Musket, carbine:2, Rifled Musket:3, Sharpshooter 4, Mixed battery: Cannister: 3, Shot/Shell: 6   Breechloading small arms are superior.

If adjacent to enemy to direct front. 2 dice per unit except 1 die for militia or skirmisher,
+1 die each supporting unit to flank or rear +1 die if cavalry attcking
-1 die if attacking over an obstacle or any but irregular or skirmisher attacking through difficult terrain.
The inactive player rolls 1st and hits are applied then active player rolls.

  6 hits: vs Fortification or vs heavy armour, or cavalry vs square
 5,6 hits vs Cover or skirmisher or arty or cavalry or vs armour
4,5,6 vs Other

Elite + 1 per die

When a unit takes hits = SP it is removed. Units which are elite, fanatic, stubborn etc get 1 extra SP. Units which are demoralized, disaffected etc get 1 less SP than normal.

General with unit must try to steady troops if hit by shooting or melee. Decision to join may be taken after hits inflicted.  1=General hit, 4,5,6 = cancel 1 hit.

General in melee may roll. 1=General hit, 4,5,6 = 1 hit inflicted.

If general hit all units are out of command next turn. Replacement cannot join units.

(For things not covered, check Square Brigadier at left, most of it applies and all will once updated to V3.)


  1. Good to see you have come back to the initiative roll and die roll for those beyond command control. It has always worked very well for me.
    If you are worried about attrition being one way why not play around with the Andy Callan's DP system. Put a rock on for a hit, take it off if the unit redresses ranks while staying halted (and if not shot at?)? It removes the need for a rally roll and does not have to be any more complex than that.
    BTW you do not say how many SPs Reg Inf have.

    1. OOps even a back of the post card abbreviation needs crucial bits. 4 SP. Should probably bump elite units up by 1 to boost their staying power since I took away their rally bonus.

      The way I used Hits for Hearts of Tin was similar to DP as far as combat was concerned, mostly indicating a drop in cohesion and morale over and above actual casualties. I think the DP for movement and fatigue are somewhat over rated esp for 15 minute turns. I tend to just penalize troops who cross obstacles etc during an attack and rely on die rolls to sort out if regimental officers and nco's are doing their job otherwise. A fistful of 6's from the enemy and/or 1's from the unit probably indicate that the target unit was out of sorts, disordered etc.

      Dropping the rally has more to do with a cross between player tedium from going up and down and from the effect it seems to have on player choices which was often different from the intended effect. Not to mention trying not to drag a game (as game) on endlessly which has been known to happen.

  2. Ross Mac,

    A very nice, simple set of rules that use proven mechanisms that should provide for a degree of unpredictability. Just my cup of tea!

    I look forward to seeing how they work on the tabletop.

    All the best,


    1. The first couple of small, off the cuff trials have been promising. Just about time for something more complex.

  3. Simple and fast... that's what we like.
    but no fire distance?

  4. Eh? Oh! OK I think I was so used to the ranges fm the Square Brigadier that I didn't bother writing them down. A basic selection has now been put in as a guide.

    1. Dear fellow wargamer,

      Now that your are referring to your excellent

      "The Square Brigadier v3" rules.

      Could you join a list (addendum) of all the specials that can used by troops (e.g. Rash, skirmish, strong firepower...). Still I hope it will not be to complex.

      Useful for players experimenting with there own armylists.


  5. I am working on it but still mucking with details. The play test last night was not as good in some ways as the ones before so backing up a bit. Soon.......

  6. One suggestion I would make concerning movement rates: diagonal movement counting as 1.5, with unused halves dropped. The present system is in effect the same as orthogonal movement only, except the square 'footprint' of potential destinations becomes a square diamond shape. The 1.5 move for diagonals will make the 'footprint' more nearly circular for movement allowances greater than 2 'squares'.

    If a unit of move allowance 4 wants to go from (1,1) to (4,2) it will cost 3.5 movement points (2 orthogonal, 1 diagonal), at which one drops the half over.

    That is just a thought, but it will I think mitigate the peculiar topological effects of 'orthogonal' only movement. If you play chess at all, you'll know what I mean. :-)