Sunday, February 23, 2014

Now where was I?

My mind has been preoccupied by non wargaming matters this week but having a hobby to keep my hands busy was good at times so not a total loss.
The Faraway Ministry of Defence has analyzed the recent string of defeats and having spotted the likely reason behind the Oberhilse successes, has taken quick steps to reequip Her Majesty's soldiers. Can you guess what their conclusion was? 

I did mean to offer some comprehensive comments on last week's game but I'm afraid that time has dulled my memory of details and also altered my interpretation of events and left me less sure about what did and didn't work and why.

The scenario was simple enough I pulled a bunch of Blue army units off the shelf, avoiding any of the Mexican War and 1812 style uniforms. Then I pulled a few Red figures down and decided to let the  commander pull down more as reinforcements till I figured he had enough. Blue's mission was to capture the bridge and hold a secure line of communications.

An overview of the setup.

Blue's force comprised a General, 2 infantry regiments each consisting of a commander and 4 companies, a detachment of Guards with commander and 2 5 figure companies, 2 batteries of the latest imoroved rifled, breechloading artillery and a squadron of mounted rifles (irregular cavalry with rifles, superior fire power, inferior melee.) 

The 1st shot of the game, the FLH inflicts a Retreat (flag) on the dismounted DGBG whose Colonel unwisely risks his life to cancel it (6)  and hold the exposed position so that the cavalry troopers will be able to enter the building on their next move and attempt to hold it against 8 times their numbers backed by artillery. But then he had been led to expect speedy reinforcement.
One of the problems with dice based activation systems is that every now and then the rolls come out lopsided for several turns in a row sometimes at a critical point. That happened here, just as Red was trying to bring on reinforcements he ran into a string of 1s and 2s. By the time the order dice returned to average, the advance guard of cavalry had been shot to pieces with little damage or delay to the attackers. A charge by the 2 troops of lancers saw them throw a fistful of 2s and 3s, not even a 1 to force the enemy back. Then the last surviving lancer pulled back to a safe place for the rest of the game.

The Zouaves, 4 units (companies in this game), deployed with 2 companies forward as a firing line and 2 companies behind as supports. In the face of the threatened cavalry charge they have closed up with 2 companies per square.

When pulling troops off the shelf before deciding to play a game I had grabbed some old Crescent WW1 15lbers with Oberhilse crews (the 40mm Prussian gunners are a perfect fit, the seated gunner can actually fit on the aimer's seat) so I just included them. When the FTC horse artillery finally showed  with their smoothbore muzzle loaders they were shot to pieces in no time. Oops. Sorry guys.

The Red Force has finally brought almost as many troops onto the table as Blue but because of early losses Blue still out numbers them by 2:1 and holds the road up to the middle of town.

So, over all I was quite happy with how the game played but I had a few concerns which I didn't have time to think about right away. One was the speed with which Red units disappeared but given how badly they were mismatched and outnumbered its probably not an issue.

A more serious one which also cropped up in the acw test was that shooting was more effective than I liked. In part though that comes down to what shooting represents and what melee/assault/close combat  represents. The  theory is that with grids being somewhere around 150 yds per area, all decisive small arms fire happens in melee and shooting is basically harrassing  or skirmisher fire. However, somehow that doesn't feel right and obliterates the difference between firefights and bayonet charges.

By ignoring scale that difference could be added easily but possibly with other issues. Another option might be to add modifiers or start fiddling with a difference between adjacent and in contact, easy enough with small units on a large grid but tricky if units fill a grid area.

While I was working on my shortened, grid friendly train I realized that this meant that  I was subconsciously intending to play more skirmish like games which also raises the question of scale. If designing purely for effect scale issues may be over ruled in favour of what looks/feels right. It just requires overcoming 40 years of conditioning, something I've been struggling with for at least 15 years.

Oddly enough both of these issues, the shooting/melee issue and the using one rule set for both small battles and skirmishes cropped up with Hearts of Tin in 2009 during the Game a Week project and were successfully resolved at the time. Also oddly enough it occurred to me during the game that despite minor differences, the effect of units of individual figures on a grid was very similar to the effect of single base units without the grid such as in Morschauser or sometimes in smaller HofT games a few years ago.

All just food for thought at the moment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting Back on Track

There I was, happily browsing through the websites of Historifigs, SpencerSmith/Jacklex and Reviresco looking at 1/72 figures, guns and vehicles and wondering where to get the makings of a train that would fit the grid, and I starting thinking about various inspirations and some past train games in 54mm and 40mm.  Next thing you know I had some of my old Britain's on the table. Then I had one of those "uhoh here we go again" moments. Its only been a month since I called myself on allowing unresolved issues and various shiny, easy, distractions to draw me away from what I want to be doing but almost 2 years since I started  musing about 40mm Boer War/WWI toy soldiers and 3 years since I started fooling around with big figures on a grid.  

Time to address some of those issues and get on with the toy soldiers again, or let it go and get off the pot, so to speak.
OK now it'll fit! I guess it needs a bit more work though.
Why I am so attracted to the combination of grid and toy soldiers (in a technical sense vs miniatures) has been a bit of a mystery to me. I think partly that it is because a gridded game is so obviously a game rather than a form of diorama and toy soldier style figures are so obviously toys not serious models that the two complement each other, but that's not all of it. In some fashion the grid seems to enhance our ability to distance ourselves from the direct, literal interpretation of what we see and to accept a higher level of abstraction.  In my own case that distance makes me more comfortable with smaller units and shorter ranges so that actually makes it ideal for larger figures.  (And yes it has taken 3 years for my intellect to catch up to my instinct on this)

2011 Little Wars meets Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame.
Two of the things that have kept me from jumping in have been uncertainty about coming up with suitable terrain that would fit 40mm figures and trying to figure out how to  fit 40m wagons and trains into a grid so that I can continue to play the convoy and ambush games that are a favorite of mine. 

Selecting the 4" grid was based in part on experiments which show that a handful of my houses will fit and I can easily do more. Similar experiments proved that a 2 wheeled cart can fit one square as do  a pair of pack animals giving me 2 options, 3 if I include a few wagons I have that will fit in 1 square with a horse team in an adjacent square. That just left the train but I just happened to have a 2nd, pristine, battery operated toy train and I figured if they can bash kits in Little England, I should be able to bash a toy in Belmont. Out came saw, screwdriver and other assorted implements. (see above).

40mm toy soldier style Boer War is back on the menu.

A non gridded train game from 2012

The next post will discuss Sunday's 40mm Atlantica Square Brigadier game with some discussion of the rules, some examples of play and some thoughts on organization and period differences.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Goin' down the road.

There are days when I feel like I've spent most of the last 2 years testing ideas and probing for a way ahead. Its a relief to start feeling like things are finally coming together.

The Rebel rifled artillery opens up as the Federal troops march on.

Having updated The Square Brigadier to broadly match the format of the 20th Century version, I wanted to give it a whirl. I picked my 1/72nd ACW for the job. I decided that the scenario would involve a Confederate force on a hill overlooking a road which Union forces were expected to be using.

The armies are organized into regiments with 3 bases each with 6 figures but on the 9cm grid I can't quite fit the 3rd base so I made do with 2 bases plus 2 supernumeries that I can remove to record hits. I wanted a quick game so kept the forces small. The Rebs had 6 regiments in 2 brigades and 2 batteries, 1 rifled, 1 Napoleon 12pdrs. Their mission was to hold the hill and prevent the enemy from moving  along the road. The Yanks had 9 regiments in 3 brigades and 2 batteries as above. Their mission is to clear the enemy off the hill.

The 1st Federal brigade stands under fire, threatening the Rebs on the hill while the 2nd Brigade drives straight ahead seeking to turn the enemy's flank. The third Brigade is just arriving and can  reinforce either flank.

The Yankee plan was to deploy in the center and make a massed assault on the hill. Of course this is just what the Rebs were prepared for. Unfortunately for the Reb General, he decided to feed a regiment forward into the woods which looked like a better defensive position. It was also turned out to be close enough to the road to prevent its use and thus  triggered an unplanned response from the Yankee 2nd brigade. This in turn drew reserves from the center to hold the gap which emerged as more Confederate regiments got sucked into the fight in the woods.

A belated pinning attack by the Union 1st Brigade is halted by a flanking move by the rebs and then shattered by cannister but on the other flank the other Rebel brigade is routed forcing a Confederate retreat.

The rules played even better than I expected, there was some inevitable tweaking and fine tuning afterward but today I made the commitment and laid down a 4" grid on my table. This will fit all periods and allow the full 3 stand ACW regiments. 

But  somehow that doesn't seem to be what is set up for the first game on the new grid.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Teaser: Seeing the Elephant Again

The Square Brigadier has been updated to make use of some of the combat mechanisms in the 20C Square Brigadier. It'll  be a while before the  Boer War is table  ready and I want to minimize the temptations to stray  so this seemed like a good time to get the ACW out again.

Now have the updates helped  or hurt? 
Stay tuned.

Steppe Away From Those Cossacks!

That Russian Civil War game last week got me excited about the early 20th Century again but also reminded me of how limited and superficial is my knowledge of those wars.

My go to on this is the Pygmy Wars site ( ). A wealth of both first hand sources that can be downloaded but also some excellent presentations dealing with both history and war gaming.

I also broke open a box of Strelitz, hoping that they had developed from ugly little trolls into attractive figures since I last looked. Nope!

However, by this time I was already running over why I had put the RCW aside and remembering about my plan to reduce the number of separate collections until some are more developed. I decided to haul out some more Scruby Boers to paint and ponder the possibilities.

A reprint of a picture of my first Jacklex and Scruby Boers.

If I were to stick with a strictly historical approach I would need to cover the 2nd Boer War, France in 1914, SouthWest Africa, East Africa, Palestine and the Russian Civil War. If I were to go the HG Wells route, I would need a campaign involving lots of cavalry and mounted rifles, mostly in uniform but including volunteers in civilian clothes, natives as well Europeans, artillery and machine guns, early trucks and armored cars, planes, amphibious operations, open plains with rivers, hills and patches of woods, small villages and farms and possibly some desert.

The 2  most obvious choices to me would be to either delay or soften the 2nd Boer War so that the 1914 uprising is successful leading to a hook up with German South West Africa forces for a prolonged WWI campaign or to add a 1/72 early 20thC chapter to the Atlantica saga. I'll paint the rest of my handful of Boer castings before I decide but any expansion of my RCW collection is going to have to wait.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Straight at her Mr. Mowatt

Interesting day yesterday. On my way to Ron's for a game I was annoyed to be greeted by a flat. Part of life's version of friction and as with the most of the military sort I handled it by being alert, trained and equipped and was delayed but not critically so nor prevented from accomplishing my mission.

Sails of Glory, Game 1. HMS Somethingorother uses her superior seamanship to rake her French opponent. Unfortunately she only had 2 working guns left and was shortly forced to strike her colors having suffered so many crew casualties as to be unable to work what was left of the ship.

While trying to replace the flat with the spare,  in the teeth of a -21C wind, alternating woolen mittens which kept my fingers warm with a pair of workgloves which allowed me to grasp smallish things like lugnuts and which didn't snag on the jack, my mind wandered, as it would, to  wargaming the Russian Civil War.

Despite the fact that Russia in 1918 was a big place and had more than 1 season, inevitably one seems to think of snow. So it was that my first order for this collection included a lot of guys in great coats and fur caps and my intention was to do finish the bases white and do a winter board to play on. A snow board one might say since it seems fitting to acknowedge the winter games.

However, as I crouched there muttering sweet nothings to reluctant nuts I had a moment of clarity. I'm not trying to do a serious re-creation or a study of the RCW or of the many ways people suffered, I'm playing an heroic fantasy and part of me, if only a subconscious part,  is picturing me down there mounted on a dashing steed (hopefully not the big  black brute Piggy who was my charger when I took riding classes while in college) . I don't have any real urge to imagine my self freezing various appendages in the midst of a battle so why should I want to put my toy soldiers through it?

Time to paint some Cossacks and Hussars in summer dress and at last more of those marvelous Zvezda infantry in their summer dress. My RCW will take place in summer!

Sails of Glory Game 2. Having found two new ships to replace the ones sunk or taken in the first engagement, the brave, bold but disciplined Royal Navy sails on in line ahead towards a gaggle of Frenchmen.
Once I got to Ron's he had his latest acquisition laid out, Sails-of-glory, a Naploleonic Naval game inspired by Wings of War. Pure genius.

While the frigate draws the enemy fire, my ship swings across the enemy's bows, raking her once again. So far so good but alas we were playing the introductory game where there is no bonus for raking and the 5 chits I drew were underwhelming in effect while Ron pulled a tremendous load of 4 and 5 points hits for his 7 shots and my poor frigate rolled over and sank. I battled on for an hour and came within a chit of taking or sinking both his ships but again, in the end, I ran out of crew and had to strike.
Took me 3 or 4 turns, about 15 minutes, to get my sea legs but if you have even a slight sense of or any experience of sailing and any slight knowledge of naval warfare in the age of sail ( as in have read Hornblower or some of Obrien's novels etc let alone actual history) the game is dead easy to pick up and you are soon thinking seamanship and tactics not rules and mechanisms. We only played the simple, introductory game but I'd happily play that level again even though  I'm looking forward to trying some of the standard and advanced rules as well. Five very enjoyable hours,
A closer look at these little 1:1000 gems, straight out of the box. Alongside is the wind marker used to determine the attitude of tge dhip, running, reaching, beating ir taken aback, based on the particular model.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Up 100

One of the main reasons for play testing is to see what ideas were off target and what was missed so you can adjust before playing for effect. 

Roscian forces deploy to seize control of a disputed area on the border with Lital.

 didn't really have time to play a game on Sunday but I got a break mid afternoon and decided to see if I could rearrange a scenario for the 1950s game to fit on the 8x10 grid of 9cm squares. The tanks being too big to fit on the 3" grid. The first stab at it had led me to believe that the only option was to restrict these games to the full table but I suspected the layout was the real issue. By turning the game 90 degrees, bending the roads to the corners so as to prevent lead mechanized elements from reaching the center on the initial turn and by using terrain to restrict line of sight, it suddenly seemed doable. I set up a few units to check but of coarse I had to move them on for a turn or two to be sure, and that of course meant that they were engaged. I confess that I was quite surprised when my wife arrived home early, just as I was deciding that the Roscians had just lost yet another encounter, and commented on the dying embers in the wood stove we rely on. Ooops. 

Lital Pershings work their way through the palm groves in a bid to outflank the Roscian troops. The red counters are reminders that they have been getting the worse of a duel with some Centurions.
So as you might have guessed I was enjoying the game and finding it engaging but I also identified one major issue and a couple of small ones. The big one was that since I hadn't really planned on getting the Lital forces into action this quick, I hadn't figured out their organization and I hadn't stopped to classify any of the units on either side for use with TCSB so I had to wing it. The minor things included having forgotten to write in a road bonus and not knowing if the mechanized infantry and their apc should be 1 unit or 2, and realizing that I had no mount/dismount rule. During the game I realized that the way I was treating HQ units like a 19th C commanders was not sitting well.  Rating the various tanks was a real headache and having looked at various ways of representing the effect of heavy armour and various guns, I found myself getting confused and changing my mind mid game until I sat down  chose unit capabilities and decided to play it as written. That worked better.

Having lost 1 troop of Centurions and suffered severe infantry casualties in heavy street fighting, the Roscians pull back.

By Sunday night all updates were made and the rules are ready for more testing. I need to do some work on miniatures, background and organization of the nearly modern stuff and I want to get some more RCW figures painted (finally) so it might be a week or three. A game might be sooner but I am also nearly done updating the 19th C version to use the same sequence and methods of applying modifiers and determining  retreats and the 1/72 ACW lads haven't had a chance to try out their new bases yet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Spencer Smith Flashback

I've only seen Spencer Smith plastics in the flesh once, not my own but rather an e friend's that I asked the favor of being allowed to paint a few of these classics , about 8ish years ago iir. Having lost the original picture files I just remembered that they were on the OSW yshoo group and have retrieved them.

It was an interesting experience, it didn't give me the urge to build my own armies the Prince August 40mm homecasts are more to my taste but I'm glad that I had the chance.

I've never liked working with this new fangled black undercoat stuff and don't care for the black lining look. I don't see details of belts and things popping out like that in real life so I don't see why they should on the table. So these were painted in craft acrylics with colors blocked in and a very tiny bit of gentle shading or highlighting here and there to suggest depth rather than detail. Not too much or I'd have gone mad. I am an impatient painter.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Introducing 20th Century Square Brigadier

Well here we are, the first draft of The 20th Century Square Brigadier hss been posted as a blog page (see tab above). If this works I'll see about migrating other rules to the same format.

The changes to my original concept were a little more drastic than anticipated. Partly this was to harmonize but it was because I wanted the feel of units being shot at as they moved. I actually tried this with the Square Brigadier at one point but stumbled because I was using the same mechanism in melee but I've since found my way around that.

A key concept of the rules series are that things are relative. There are basic troop types which can have various attributes added such as inferior for shooting or superior in melee and so on to add more granularity and flavour. So US infantry would with bazookas might be rated as having superior anti-tank capabilities in 1943, average in 1945 but inferior when facing T34s in Korea unless they had the new 3.5" super bazooka.  So there is a crucial bit missing from the rules as posted, army lists with ratings, ranges etc.. I'll work at adding some samples for what I'll use before long but you can easily make up your own.
The Red Army attacks a hasty White Army trench line.
The lighting downstairs at night is too dim for the tablet camera but hopefully you can at least get an idea of the game set up.
The test game turned out to be Russian Civil War since that was ready to go. This means I didn't really get a chance to test the tank rules very far. What I did test worked well though.

I made up the scenario as I pulled troops and scenery out of the box and started laying things out. This is what I ended up with.
White Army is defending some hastily dug trenches counting as cover and a broken ground obstacle. (It looks like I am going to have to break down and make some simple,  robust,  barbed wire entaglements. Hate that sort of fiddly work.) They have:
White Army
Brigade HQ 2 area radius
Artillery battery with observer connected by telephone.
Battalion HQ 2 area radius
8 units of infantry average shooting, average morale and assault, inferior at
2 units mg
1 mortar direct area fire only, range 4

Red Army.
Brigade HQ 2 area radius
1 slow tank, inferior firepower
2 batteries of artillery, no observers

Cavalry HQ 2 area radius
5 units cavalry, no firepower, superior assault

Battalion HQ
5 units infantry average firepower,
1 mg
1 mortar direct area fire only, range 4.

White had insufficient firepower to even slow down Reds infantry but they did hurt it and repulsed the first attack on the woods. The Red gunners were spot on while they had targets but the Whites held on as long as possible, shifting reserves to hold the attack through the woods which was slowly working around the flank.

A headlong charge by cavalry on the other trench, supported by the tank, was repulsed bloodily. It was supposed to go at the same time as a flank attack over the river but the Red HQ rarely rolled high enough to move everything at once. Neither did White but being on the defense it was ususlly less critical. When that cavalry charge finally went in, it cost a regimental commander and 1/2 the men but they over ran the battery and cracked White's morale just as the last few companies of infantry on the other flank finally took the wood.


PS  I did start a test of a post WWII game but not only do I need a larger playing area (in terms of numbers of squares big enough to hold a tank) I also need to work out troop and equipment stats and army organization as well as building more terrain. The scenario at very least needs to be adapted to the small grid. :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

A River Runs Through

The first draft of 20th Century Square Brigadier (aka Hats of Tin) is almost ready.  Working on a 7" tablet is mmmmm..... frustrating at times but getting easier as I learn new ways. Good for the little grey cells.

In the meantime I bought a dollar's worth of blue foam sheets and used some to make some river sections for the 9cm grid. 

I wasn't at it long before I decided I really wanted to include these rules in the Square Brigadier series using the same generic concepts, sequence and basic mechanisms but with different unit characteristics and particular or period rules. This is going to cause me a small amount of grief as while they all started with the same general ideas, this iteration looks better to me  from a practical game experience so that means more rewriting to align them again. 

It also didn't take long to realize that in that case, one set could be stretched to go from 1900 to 1960ish if using relative values and allowing for improvements in organization and communications as well as weapons.

Hopefully  a test game and the first draft tomorrow. Probably RCW since the Lital army only has enough painted figures for 5 infantry units and is having an internal fight over whether or not the ease of removing single figure casualties balances the logistic issues of tracking 3 score figures less than an inch tall and light enough to float on the wind and the cost and trouble of magnets and unit trays.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

With MacDuff on the Farm

There are more test games coming so I'll skip a detailed description of the action as well as some thoughts around designing convention participation games till another day and talk a little about the rules.

Trying on 12 man units for size.

To save repetion I would like to refer readers to 2 posts from 2010.

The first is what I look for in a wargame.

The second gives my thoughts on friction in a wargame

The short summary of the last 3 solo games is that With MacDuff to the Frontier is now, finally, meeting all of my criteria. They are giving me just what I want.

Does that mean that I will abandon all other rules? Don't be silly. I have new requirements dealing with convenience and a potential break through on efforts on the gridded game front!

Now we see the units beefed up to 16.

Ok some longer comments. A couple of key decisions have answered all of the concerns I had with the original variable moves from a practical POV. By stripping out most of the fiddly bits and unclenching enough to just live with the occasional extreme moments and by looking at the base roll as the restricted or basic move that can be doubled in some instances rather than a maximum to be reduced by almost everything, the game had a faster pace and a more free flowing feel which allows players to occasionally suprise the enemy or to have a clever combination foiled by a subordinate. All done in a quick and integrated one step method.

The light from the windows made it particularly  hard to take a shot of the whole table but I wanted to give some idea of the layout. On both flanks American columns advance along paths through the woods opposed by Indians and rangers while in the center militia advance across the open fields against regular infantry and a light gun. Obviously I could use a LOT more trees and bushes. This is a 20 square foot table, picture how naked my old 48 square foot would have been but how much more room for maneuvers or more figures!

Once again the fire chart with the double hit on a 6 provided just the right sort of result. (Thank you WRG for that one) Close range volleys were usually average, taking several turns to resolve but every now and then there would be a devastating volley that would decide the issue or an ineffective one allowing the enemy an opening.

I was uneasy about not having the double hit in melee but it works. Infantry is best relying on firepower until the enemy is shaken unless he is defending cover in which case closing is best.
The cavalry may seem weak vs infantry but the pursuit move should normally help especially if the enemy is in the open and unsupported. Still, its best to wait until the infantry has been shot up a bit.
Charging the gun with a battalion of militia that had already been shot up seemed like a dodgy move. With 3 dice of cannister at least 2 hits would be likely and as many as 6 were possible. As it turns out no hits at all was another possibility! Apparently the gunners must have been too busy limbering to shoot, after losing the melee they managed to outrun pursuit covered by their supports, just, not for long. Next time it was the brown coated Canadian Regiment and no one got away.

The revised shaken rule is having the right result. Units do not automatically flee the table but they become so vulnerable and ineffective that not pulling them back is a desperate act.

The chance cards are still fun. The last game was almost reversed when the Americans pulled a card allowing them to stop one enemy unit from moving. There were the Elite Highlanders, general at their head, about to charge into a continental unit that they had just decimated with return fire.

Saved by a chance card but on the next turn the American general errs and finally succeeds in turning a clear victory into a bloody draw in the King's favour.

Now, if the American general had just considered that a bunch of indians that had been sniping at him from the woods might charge into his rear when he led the Blues against the Jagers who could only either stand at 1:2 without bayonets or flee the table, or remembered that more dice with a better chance to hit doesn't guarantee success or that you can't really retreat when surrounded.....

Next post its back to well almost the present with Mk3 Hats of Tin.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Old Macfarlane's Farm A convention game in the making.

When my local gaming group decided to do some 40mm AWI gaming a few years back, I already had 1/72nd and 54mm armies, both aimed primarily at the Saratoga campaign.  While I didn't want to recreate them again and have very little interest in the campaigns further south (as in New Jersey or Pennsylvania let alone the Carolinas) I  did want to participate.  I  had some suitable Indians from my 40mm 1812 collection and some  F&IW Canadiens. I decided to build on these and look at the Oriskany campaign as a starting point.

The scene is set and the American militia have begun their advance.
Once I had a sufficient contribution to the group effort I slid it to the back burner but kept finding small numbers of the excellent Trident  AWI figures following me home from conventions. When I was looking for a game to run at Huzzah last year I didn't have enough AWI done so settled for a War of 1812 game based on Ft Meigs, Indians ambushing American militia on their way to relieve a fort beseiged by British troops.  This year I decided that if I put a push on and borrowed a few figures, I could have enough for Oriskany.  Lets see, American fort beseiged by British, relieving force of militia is ambushed by Indians ok, I could reuse the fort...oh.... ok, 2 historical scenarios from 2 separate wars but just variations on a theme. Maybe not 2 years in a row, even if there would be wagons and no river.
Gratuitous shot of elements of the 84th Foot or Royal Highland Emmigrants and the King's Royal Regiment of New York.

There are some interesting little fights on the Nova Scotia and Maine coasts including bombardments, shore landings and cutting out expeditions not to mention Nova Scotia rebels besieging Fort Cumberland but I don't  have the right figure mix, ships or terrain......... yet. So the search for a scenario began again. For a game rather than a test I like to use historical actions as inspiration rather than worry about precise numbers,  unifoms and terrain so having found a suitable action I set to work.

So it is that a force of Indians and Tories have camped at Macfarlane's Farm on their way home after a successful raid in the Mohawk Valley. Come morning, scouts bring news that a small force of Rebel militia is hot on their heels. They decide to wait and give them a drubbing.
Morgan's Riflemen lead the Belmont Blues and other Continental units along a forest path to cut the Loyalists retreat.

For the first game I decided to give  each "player" a commander and 3 x 8 man "companies" in the  old style. Since I removed both multi-company battalions and the replacement battleline rule, the companies were on their own for morale and to maintain dressing using variable length moves. At first the attacking militia showed admirable restraint, not taking advantage of long rolls, using commanders to chivy along lagging units. Then the shooting started and discipline crumbled. The more excited the player became the easier it was to let units get scattered and isolated on the attack.

 The attack by a single company on the gun didn't go too well and the right hand commander apparently forgot about the possibility of indians emerging from the woods behind his flank. Oddly so had the indians for several turns but they woke up to the possibility first, or maybe they just got bored.
Realistic enough but I'm running a game not a training session for would be battalion commanders. I've been down that route before with these rules. Since most of the militia companies were already shaken as well as being surrounded, I decided to play the next turn   and then reset.

5 or 6 turns after I decided  to quit an attack by the regulars looked like it might reverse the decision.
At least I was having fun.

So, 7 or 8 turns later when the flank attack by continental units which had almost turned the tide was finally repulsed,  and after the indians who were being shot to pieces  by the riflemen made a desperate charge with warclubs, unexpectedly scattering their tormentors,  I finally did  manage to reset.

OK I guess not. Shortly after this shot the Highlanders fired a devastating volley before charging with the bayonet and sweeping the field.

So, I shifted the terrain a bit, added more troops, reorganized the units and  so on then played a bigger, better, more exciting,  closer game, but that's another post.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Teaser: Old Macfarlane's Farm

Today I played out a test of both rules and a possible scenario for Huzzah, twice. Just a smple scenario but I've found that at a convention, I'd rather have a simple, fast paced game that ends decisively than one that has to be called without a decision because time has run out.

More tomorrow.