Tuesday, April 29, 2014

They're Back!

Here they come again! 
At last! The more things I get squared away, the closer I get to what I thought I would be doing now, playing 40mm Toy Soldier games. I had been making some progress but it took a delightful game on Steadfast Tin Soldier to spur me to action, along with finally starting in on my patient copy of Malleson's  book on the Indian Mutiny. I might have started earlier if I'd realized he was such a readable author and that he had been in the thick of things at HQ in Calcutta. Just the thing to inspire some games. (Don't get excited in the back, still not going to India.)

After my Crysler's Farm game I was sold on the strip basing of my toys to allow them to have the narrow frontage I wanted without losing stability or being forced into permanent ranks.  I can't remember why I chose 3 figures, possibly because I was thinking of 12 man units and also thinking 4 stand units for Hearts of Tin but it threw my tiny brain into a tizzy when I contemplated the current dysfuntional version of HofT which only allows the front stands of a unit to shoot and MacDuff which has 4 man firing groups. Now there is no reason why 3 man stands can't be used with 4 man fire groups but for some reason it irks me. This is why I used improvised thin cardboard test bases for a change. Some pleasant time was wasted exploring 2 man bases and deciding that they are just right. I also found that on a painted surface, the individual figures actually stand quite well on their own bases.

So today, I cleared the table and began the last game, hoping to prove that 4 x 5 is big enough if the regiments are based tightly enough. That illusion was shattered before the end of set up. The previous 5x6 is the smallest I can work happily with unless I go to a grid for all non skirmish games. I'll need a different solution to the lack of off table maneuver room between games but that is in the hands of the chief engineer as we speak and having consulted myself, I am convinced the new plan will work and eliminate the difficulty of taking pictures towards the windows.

The game was going to be MacDuff but after looking at the ranges, and the whole card draw, variable moves and so on, it just doesn't didn't seem right for a game with over a dozen battalions trying to maneuver over a mere 20 square feet. So I decided to give Rattle of Dice a go. Then I tweaked it abit for the mid century, and soon I found that I had reinvented the version of Hearts of Tin that I was using last year. The one used for Kinch's charge. Oh. Oh well good then! I didn't like the intermediate one but haven't had time to work on it while I sorted out the whole Square's issue. This is not the original element based one but the one which translated things like "1 die per stand" into "1 die per 4 figures" so I could use figures on bases or not on bases. It does use inches like the original rather than trying to be flexible. 

So far so good. The game will hopefully resume on Thursday, I'm off to have a social lunch and then sink some ships tomorrow. 

The game begins. Blue has launched yet another surprise attack on the Red Queen's territory,

Monday, April 28, 2014

By Request

I was going to do some more casting over the weekend and take shots of the figures in the mold etc but between  weather and nongaming interference, I did neither.

Here is a quick snap of an unassembled drummer and nco  after the neck hole plugs have been removed and the sprue  snipped off.

Hopefully  tomorrow I will manage 1 last game before tearing my game room apart in yet another attempt to get a workable solution. This time evicting tools etc but including a relocated office area in the hope that next year's tax time is less stressful, amongst  other things.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trial by Paint

Painting up the Hanoverian yesterday didn't help as much as I'd hoped though I did get a vibe that it wasn't right for Rosmark or the Maritime Provinces which are currently in rebellion. I was also a bit concerned that if I put all of the new units in the rebel army, I might be tempted to take it and not the Rosmark army south next year which would entail further political disruption outside my borders and leave old favorite units behind. The idea of an alliance is harder to see than previously, things have changed in Rosmark. A contingent for each side might be more likely.

I decided to paint up a British and a Hessian figure to continue to explore the possibilities. First, however, I reviewed the existing forces and was reminded that with 7 different coat colours amongst the 20 companies of infantry (inc grenadiers and lights), the most distinctive feature was that 1/2 of them have red small clothes and last year I tweaked the politics so that all the cavalry, infantry and artillery with red small clothes fought for the King.  (Since 3 rebel units happened to have started life as brown coated militia before they started to fight for Independence while the forces of the King, fighting to maintain Unification have red waistcoats giving them red bellies, I found myself humming "Burn the land, boil the sea, you can't take the skies from me" and muttering "Its not my fault" - those who don't understand that, just you never mind about it.)

The British troops in the late 1750's  were looking considerably tighter and trimmer than they did in the 1740's and while sometimes buttoning over their lapels with belt over the coat, especially in inclement weather, they often wore the coats open with the sword belt underneath. this made the Prussian infantryman a fair starting point. It was dead easy to trim the mustaches and pigtail and notch the cuffs on the English fellow to be, the Hessian didn't need any work. I didn't worry about details of equipment on either.

I did intend to give black gaiters to both  but by the time I got to gaiters the white undercoat on the gaiters looked good and I remembered that only light infantry wear black gaiters in the Rossish army. At this point the English soldier looked so appealing to me  that keeping in mind  that I don't have room for too many 40 figure regiments, I took a brush to yesterday's Hanoverian and transferred him. I couldn't bring myself to take a file to his painted face so I took a line from Britain's and declared what isn't painted doesn't exist and just painted over his mustache. Doesn't show up in poor light from a distance but I'll always be able to identify the first recruit.

This leaves the Hessians to represent the new National Guard of the Maritime Provinces.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hot Off The Press

The plan for today was to start organizing a full sized Oberhilse and Faraway MacDuff game but then the mail came, with a little box from Ireland.
One of the new PA Prussian figures painted up in a vaguely Hanoverian Toy Soldierish style.

The last time I started fussing about with figures for the NQSYW I found myself thinking again that just accepting the figures as early 18th C would make life easier. However, Lawford & Young's Charge! rules are explicitly stated to be aimed at the late 18thC despite the use of do many mid 18th Century figures ( which explains the attention paid to column attacks and skirmishers) .  This dove tails nicely with my preference for black gaiters, white or buff small clothes and tighter coats. It just doesn't mesh well with Prince August's previous offerings. Anyway I had decided to just finish off the last incomplete "regiment", and another squadron or 2 of cavalry and then let my semiflat armies rest on their laurels, coming out to fight a battle now and then. 

Then they announced their new multi head Seven Years War range and I thought I should support this, maybe I could paint up some Hessians.

L to R one of my pre Rosmark French figures, the new figure, one of the PA Rosbach range Prussians looking just a bit big & clunky.

I'll write more another time but lets just say the new molds are well done in a technical sense. It was easy to cast clean, complete figures straight away and the heads fit easily. The sample also painted up easily. I rather like this pose better than the old one. If you don't look at the feet, he might almost be recovering arms in preparation for firing a volley.

I need to do some background inventing before I go much farther, these guys look too prim for rebel regiments, the forth coming Russians should be better for that,  but I have some thoughts. Hessian types and mustacheless 1760 ish Brits in their " I wanna look more like a Prussian" phase are also possible role models as I work on the cover story for a Tabletop Enemy for Rosmark and a new player in the NQSYW, replacing the tired, travel scarred veterans of past fights.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Honing the Brigadier

General Eaton takes command.
(Airfix ACW meets Guardsman, Hat Russian meets Esci 24th Foot and Italeri ACW meet a paint conversion.)
When I decided to set about a definitive version of the Square Brigadier I was torn between 2 methods of determining how many dice to roll, both methods I had used in the past. One was to base the number of dice on the number of figures, the other was to have a fixed number which remained until the unit is eliminated. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. The number of dice of course affects not just the average effect but also the extreme ones. When combined with modifiers to the score and to the number of dice, the delicate balance can easily become either boring or too drastic.

The first two games gave me some qualms about my initial choice without clinching it. The Zulu game did. Initially I was tempted to dismiss it as out of scale and isolated but although it looked like a skirmish, if taken at face value it was on a similar scale to the battle of Gingindlovu so  I decided to pay attention. A quick fix made the situation worse and I began to worry and contemplate a drastic change but after more pondering I decided a small tweak was enough. The shooting dice are now fixed and the number of melee dice reduced to increase the odds that units will survive their first melee long enough to need to determine a winner.

As long as I had the rules open, there was another issue on my mind since answering some questions by Arthur 1815  and looking at a very promising draft he sent me of a version with divisions as units which has some interesting features added.  The Square Brigadier tries hard to gloss over what is happening at a lower level to allow the player to concentrate on managing the battle as a whole but long years of fiddling with unit formations, limbering and unlimbering guns and so forth has left its mark and these sorts of things were starting to creep back in. That's the business of unit commanders and non-player subordinates, not the over all commander and so an inspection was held to identify and banish as many such culprits as I could.

With that done I painted up some new Allied Commanders (haven't done many 1/72 head swaps in the last 30 years. Once I got started on these it was hard to stop myself from veering from toy soldier to model soldier mode but I held firm)  and a unit of Imperial Mounted Huntsmen, and set up a game.

The first attack is repulsed.
This game follows on from the last one with the 1st 2 rows being repeated from the last 2 on the other game.  The Hungoverians have fallen back and taken up defensive positions along a ridgeline by a vital crossroad. I meant to send away the mounted rifles and dig entrenchments but the new Allied commander arrived and launched his attack before entrenchments to fit the square grid could be constructed. I still meant to give the attackers an advantage in numbers but 1/2 way through realized that it was only 14 units to 12, a pretty narrow advantage. The game was frequently interrupted and did not involve much dramatic movement. Since the story is easily told and the score of pictures taken mediocre at best, I'll be quick.

The defenders set up their main position on the reverse slope of the hill with the artillery forward. Mounted rifles held either flank with volunteers and the Guard holding the vital crossroad. The attacker a planned a preliminary bombardment then an assault up the center by infantry with Guards in reserve and mounted troops protecting the flanks. It didn't take long to drive in the defending artillery but then there were no more targets. The infantry assault arrived unscathed but was shot apart when the assaulted over the crest and a cavalry sweep around the flank  fared no better. 

The defender looked pretty smug until they realized that they had no way to safely intervene and stop the attacker from rallying  in the dead ground. As the guns and Guards moved up, the 2nd assault went in and did better despite heavy casualties. The Guards pushed past and took the first part of the town. Continued fighting saw the destruction of several defending units and their General who had been holding his boys to their work. It was the perfect time for a counter attack but without an order die on the next turn it couldn't happen and then it was too late. 

A quick count showed that Blue had now failed its army morale after losing 3 units and a general but that gave no heed to the actual goal of holding the crossroad and I didn't feel like quitting so I tweaked the victory conditions and pressed on.  A counter attack on the Guards was repulsed but a second one drove them out and brought the Allied army to the brink of defeat. A final assault by the Imperial cavalry in the center as another infantry attack captured the contested building for good. As counter battery fire silenced the defending artillery on their right, the defending army morale broke. 

The Allied intervention will continue. The rules page has been updated to reflect the game as played. Now to go 3 games without changes.

Final Victory. After much slaughter the Initial Decision is confirmed, with great slaughter.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Work, work work

It is sort of sad, 10 years ago this would have been fun not work. I can't wait to get back to some glossy toy soldiers.

I don't technically need these guys for Huzzah but they've been on my desk wearing a base coat on flesh and clothes for  2 years now and this could be the last chance for them to appear on a table in the foreseeable future.  Part of it may be that I've done Woodland Indians in 4 scales and the first time was the most fun and I enjoyed going to town on the warpaint. Those were mostly Freikorps 15's, very nice figures. these are Old Glory 40's. The 1 part figures are quite nice but the multipart ones are pretty bad and the separate powder belts and bags are awful and would be better scratch built on.

Anyhow 6 more to go but not this weekend. Tomorrow the 1/72nd  Nine Years War resumes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zulu Noon or A Playtester's Work is Never Done.

Compulsory  opening shot of  Zulu ceremonial dance involving  bare chested Zulu girl.
After the NW Rebellion game I was content with how the irregular riflemen were working (I need a better game term, sharpshooters isn't quite right, just simple.)  but the rules for spearmen hadn't been tested at all. It so happened that my eyes fell on the Zulu shelf and I thought, why not?  Some of the changes done on Sunday were as a result of some quick partial tests that showed that 2 units of Zulus could over run 1 unit of British pretty much every time, even if the Brits were defending a lager. Only if the dice were bad did it take 2 turns. So, a movement penalty for attacking was added meaning a charge would have to start within rifle range thus allowing at least 1 shot for the defender in open ground. I also allowed tried letting the British roll against each attacking unit. That seemed to work but I was uneasy. Only a game would see if there was reason.
Overview at the end of Turn 1.
I wanted something quick and not too big but not exactly the same. Some quick shuffling resulted in a wagon laager on a hill defended by a Colonel, a field gun and 4 companies of infantry with superior firepower against a Zulu Impi composed of a  General and four ibutho each with an Induna commander and 4 units one of which had rifles for a total of 12 units and 4 leaders vs the British 5 and 1. The wagon laager was deemed to be cover vs shooting and an obstacle in melee. The Zulu mission was to eliminate the British. The British mission was to defend to the last and they were immune to army morale.

The Left Horn probes and is repulsed.
 The game opened with the Zulu horns working around the British position covered by a smatter of ineffective shooting. Once they had moved in the open into charge range, Left Horn rolled a 1  for orders while the General rolled 3 allowing 2 instead of 4 units to charge in on the Gordon Highlanders who handily repulsed them.
The Right Horn makes a more committed attack and is repulsed more bloodily.
While the left horn fell back to rally covered by its snipers, the right horn charged in on the Victoria Rifles and were repulsed after causing a few casualties. Rallying was proving ineffective so the Old Man threw the Loins into the battle as well as sending both Horns back in with what they had left. 
They've broken in!
 The artillery and rifle fire managed to drive back part of the attack but not enough. Attacked on 2 sides at once  while the left worked around to the now unguarded rear, things were tense. The heaviest assault fell on the gun crew and despite inflicting grievous harm as the enemy closed, the last gunner was forced to flee into the square pursued by Zulu warriors. On the British turn  as reinforcements rushed across to fill gaps and the men faced back to back the battle continued. It was a bad time for the British across the table to roll a single 5 or 6 on something like 12 dice. On the next Zulu turn the Guards and Rifles were wiped out. As the Zulus closed in from 4 sides on the last remaining Ghurkas and Highlanders, I was tempted to close my eyes. Good thing I didn't or I'd have missed the swing in dice which resulted in 2 hits from the mass of Zulus, 1 canceled by Col Beaver, vs about 5 from not very many British dice.
"Not as many of them as there were before". "Nor of us sir!"
(Yes I know, wrong movie but that's what it felt like.)
Pheww!  OK I hadn't pictured a situation where 3 British units in 2 squares  fought 5 Zulu units in 4 squares, there were ALOT of dice flying around! It was fun and exciting but too much. I went back to 1 die per figure period rather than 1 vs each enemy but reduced the number of dice a 2nd unit gets. I'll have to play the scenario over but I think I can handle that. The 10 turn game took about maybe an hour to play.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Duty before Pleasure

OK this was not an onerous duty but while my mind is buzzing about other projects, Huzzah is only a month away and I have troops and terrain to get ready.

Today I did 3 of the Trident figures that I picked up last year at Huzzah. 1 armed woman and 2 more Loyalist rank and file.  I was a little confused at first by the frontierswoman until I realized that instead of a hunting musket with powder horn and ball, she has a military musket and an apron full of cartridges! This picture looked better when it was only an inch big on my phone rather than blown up to twice life size. They still need to be flocked.

Next up I need to finish a dozen Indians that have been 1/2 painted for a year or more so that I can release the Prince August Skraelings which are just right to go with the Scruby 1812 figures but too short and scrawny for the AWI Tridents and Sash & Saber.

Monday, April 14, 2014

and it cuts like a knife

Yesterday's forecast sun turned to rain and I retreated upstairs to play out the game which was laid out.
"Well drummer, we'll show those savages what for eh?"
To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much, quite apart from the minimalist terrain, simple situation and the dodgy condition of many of the more senior participants, the Square Brigadier wasn't written for skirmishes on the prairie. I wonder if I was secretly hoping it would fail?

Anyway, I soldiered on. The Cree (or is that Atlantican?) leader, not being a warchief,  was confined to camp but due to his extraordinary power over his people he was granted a +1 to his command rolls. He was able to muster a grand total of 6 sharp shooter units. The clumps of bushes on the table marked the line of a series of coulees or gullies filled with brush that were used by the Indians and Metis for cover during the campaign.

To reflect the inexperience and make shift nature of the opposition, the Canadian (or Faraway) Commander had no modifier and no subordinates to help control his 9 units: 7 infantry, 1 gun, 1 hospital wagon. I wanted a unit of mounted rifles but the bits and pieces I cast up 2 years ago are still bits and pieces. Officially this was a Reconnaissance in Force but secretly there were hopes of routing the hostiles.  I had meant to give command to Colonel Beaver in his spiffy white helmet but somehow General Centerville showed up in his plumed hat and took command without me noticing.
"So far so good, the boys are looking steady. Whatever is taking the rest so long to come up?"
The game started off well enough, it was a little tricky keeping the column together and moving on 1 orders die so eventually an advance guard was sent ahead the seize the high ground over looking the hostile camp and soon a brisk firefight was under way with honours even.

To my dismay the rules were actually doing a very good job. The Indians hiding in the brush could be driven back but not seriously hurt without closing in on them. The soldiers on the hill had to periodically pull back into dead ground because the return fire was so hot.  Just like the soldiers' experience during the NW Rebellion.

Then the gun deployed and had the punch to do serious damage, unfortunately, because of the terrain, the only way to bring fire to bear was to deploy on the edge of the hill where they were exposed to rifle fire. The gunners began to suffer but the Indians also began working around the flanks. Again, both things as happened during two of the historical engagements.

Also as in history, the battle became a long drawn out exchange with no decisive results on either side. Politics and the perceived need to avoid casualties was the deciding tactical factor on both sides.

"For Gosh Sake, BRING UP THE GUNS! We're being slaughtered up here."
By this time it was turn 24! With only a handful of units and 1 leader a side, the turns were flying by, sometimes  in a matter of 2 or 3 minutes but while there were some tense moments it was an interesting rather than an exciting game. 

There were also some small issues that I had noticed in the previous 2 games so I decided that 3 games was enough to allow a little tweaking. One was to modify the 'to hit' scores slightly, the other was to rule that troops cannot rally within 3 areas of visible enemy rather  than just not being adjacent. These means  that a commander has to pull units out of the line to rally them and by inference means he needs a reserve to plug the gaps. While the rules were opened I added a prone rule that I had been playing with, after all my Britain's collections does include prone figures! I also added a hospital rule since they were originally added to my other rules for my Britain's collection and I had been using it during this game. As always there were a few other clarifications and lapses dealt with. Then I got stuck back in.
"That's better they're retreating....or maybe going around our flank??? Look out back there!"
The tweaked rules did help to make things more decisive and slightly less dice dependent but it was also the situation coming to a head that made the last 10 turns the most exciting. The crucial bit didn't get sketched of course but you can  see the final result below. 

Luckily Buckmaker stopped the pursuit for political reasons but the morning papers back east are going to be grim. Its going to be hard to disguise this one as a victory once the casualty list comes out, 20 men dead, seriously wounded or missing out of a force of less than 300. At least they didn't lose the gun or the wagons, but they came damn close. Admittedly there were some casualties amongst the Indians but despite claims to the contrary the rebellion in this corner has not been dealt a fatal blow. (3 stands of Canadian troops eliminated vs 1 Cree, 50 men per stand today and roughly 25% of lost stands are killed, wounded or missing so just very slightly higher than the casualties in the historical action this game wasn't based on,...)
"Close up men! Load the wounded in the wagon. Save the guns! Drummer! Beat retreat!"
OK, I guess it was just as well I didn't bin the lot when I decided to restrict myself to 40mm. This was about the mimimum size of game but its pretty well all of my Indians. The original idea when they landed in my lap was to add an equal number of Metis to make a decent larger game. I also need some mounted troops, mounted rifles essentially.  Now the Royal Grenadiers didn't actually wear their bearskins in the field when they went west and none of the Highland units were sent so the gunners and Queen's Own Rifles are the only units that look right and even there, there is evidence that slouch hats were worn by many including regulars. Not a problem, print the legend and use what I got. I still have a small supply of pill box heads and molds for grenadiers and highlanders as well as for a mounted officer as well as a few Soldierpac castings and lots of broken figures for conversions. I could of course call on Dorset or London Bridge but I'm going to try to do this at 0 new dollars and I'm only looking at 12 x 4 infantry, 1 gun, 3 x 4 cavalry and maybe a gatling at some point. As much as I like the limber, it'll have to stay on the shelf, even after I get it fixed up. 

That still leaves a pile of 54mm metal on shelves and cupboards. This is going to take a firm hand to keep them in check! The main idea though, as I go through and assess, is to minimize  new casting, purchases and painting until all of the current projects are up to scratch  so if I have a 100 54's almost ready vs 4 40mm's for a new campaign, I'll go with the 54's. That should allow me to concentrate more on the somewhat stagnant Atlantican campaign which has been trying to decide whether or not to go 1880's. 

The updated rules are here. Hopefully they will be tested some more tomorrow with the 20mm lads, or the 54mm Zulus, or both.

 (btw the title of the post has nothing to do with Bryan Adam's song although it did feel so right)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Toy Brigadier

At least once a year I come up with yet another scheme to avoid ditching my old Britain's  without investing a lot of time and space. The Portable Wargame in particular seemed to offer possibilities when I refought Hook's Farm as a portable wargame with vintage figures. Now that I have Officially abandoned any pretense of going down to 1 scale of figure and terrain and 1 main project in favour of a series of small, simple, games in a box (or on a shelf) and since I had identified a shortage of projects in my list, it occurred to me that I might want to revisit the late Colonial 40mm Square Brigadier Atlantica campaign I was contemplating which stands at about 12 figures, and check out my selection of a couple of hundred painted, unpainted, refurbished and unfurbished  54mm Britain's and compatible figures for the same period. That  should give me more time to sculpt and paint 1812 and 1840's figures and maybe do something like bringing them up to sufficient strength to not have to borrow troops for every game
The Queen's soldiers approach a hill over looking the hostile camp.
Ideally most of these particular figures should have been stripped and repainted before being seen in public but with due respect to my elders (many of these are around 90 years of age) I decided to play a test now and paint later if it works.

Any resemblance between the approaching game and any historical event, living or dead, would be even more  fictional than newspaper accounts of Colonel Otter's battle at Cut Knife Hill in 1885.

 Chief Buckmaker decides that there is no time for his warriors to freshen their paint and  repair broken arms and so orders them to go forth and meet the enemy as they are.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dress Rehearsal

Huzzah is fast approaching and as of Friday morning my game consisted of a general idea and bits of existing troops and terrain. Rob Dean is going to be cohost and it is years since we last ran a MacDuff game . Taking the opportunity offered by Rob having a day off work we arranged a remote test game. 

An overview of the game about 1/2 way through.
The tablet is clamped in a vise and perched on some books beside the fort.

This was the first remote game where all I had was a 7" tablet and it took a while to figure out how to get something workable but Rob soldiered on  despite limited fuzzy views and abysmal luck with die rolls and event cards.  You can read his experience here and see what he could see here.

The Eastern settlers took most of the game to struggle a foot onto the board but they managed to eventually see off both Loyalists and Indians, largely due to hogging the good rolls, and were well on their way by the end.
I won't go into details even though the real thing will be slightly different on the larger table but I will try to take pictures this year. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the game, am looking forward to painting up a few more figures and rebasing some of the 4 man stands as individuals and feel much less enthusiastic about selling off the project (always happens when I play something.). Unless of course I get a good offer.........

The harrowing ordeal is almost over for the families.
Here the garrison has sortied out to see the Western settlers to safety.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking Ahead

I decided it was time for a quick glimpse of what I think is ahead. This was going to include a bit about how I got to here and about the shock of realizing that the gap between a comfortable  "50 something" and a slightly less comfortable "70 something" has suddenly shrunken to a mere 11 years and a few months,  but 2 paragraphs in I just found it boring. The one useful reflection was that all of my current plans involve things I was already working on 11 years ago, even if some have changed shape a little on the way, so I see no reason to doubt gaming plans for the next decade.

Briefly here's what to expect from time to time over the next years:

(All pictures from blog archives  of games fought over the last 9 months)

1. The Five Kingdoms. Old School 25mm medieval/fantasy small battles. (Actually appearing on Gathering of Hosts). 3-4  games a year with occasional new or refurbished units.

2. Prince Michel. 40mm Elastolin Dark Ages skirmish inspired by Prince Valiant. 2-3 games a year, occasional new figure.

3. Rough Wooing. 40mm 16thC including a large group of original homecast as well as Elastolin and others.  The long awaited Turks are making noises again and should start appearing in numbers this year. 2-3 games a year with a con outing sometime in the next couple of years.

4. NQSYW  40mm home cast Prince August and Charge! New molds and thus new units on the way. 2-3 games a year + probably a convention outing next year.

5. War of 1812. 40mm Scruby + Original homecast. Hearts of Tin. Focused on actual battles and engagements but including the option to do a facsimile of 1837 Rebellion games and fictional scenarios. 1 - 3 games a year. New figures to be sculpted and units added. Existing  chunky figures to be sold.

6. Atlantica. 40mm Scruby and original home cast.Set in the (2nd or) 3rd quarter of the 19th C. A decision on the future form is pending. The top 3 options include:  single figure Colonial skirmish type games using MacDuff, Square Brigadier battles on a grid, or a Morschauser like battle game with 1 stand units. The 1st 2 options might actually be compatible in terms of figure use. 6 -8 games a year New figures to be sculpted and unit's added as well as terrain once  game style or styles decided on.

7. ACW . 1/72, mostly Airfix,  ACW battles using Hearts of Tin.
2-3 games year. A few cavalry and artillery to refurbish.

8. Nine Years War. 1/72  fictional late 19thC portable gridded game using Square Brigadier. As odd as it seems this started life in 1997 as a Volley & Bayonet game using recast Britain's 54's. Well, the period and unit sizes are the same and my first Airfix were toy soldiers in the original sense so not so far off. 10 - 15 games a year. A few units to add and terrain.

9. The Littal War. Post WWII 20mm fictional using 20thC Sq Brigadier. 1-3 games a year. Something so as to have at least 1 game with tanks.

That's only a game roughly every 2 weeks and thus leaving room for more of something or more painting. It also leaves 3 spots to bring it to 12 from new or existing projects not yet on the list.  What will they be? 30mm Quebec 1759? 25mm Montrose? 54mm Zulus?  Hmmm lots to choose from. Everything else from 54mm knights to 15mm ACW must go apart perhaps from some small shelf displays.

This includes my 40mm AWI, for sale once Huzzah is over. Email me or comment if you've seen something that might be of interest, gotta make room on the shelves, in the cupboard and on the table.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NYW: Junction Pt2

There I was, game all set and ready to play. Since the attackers were presumed to have just spotted the defenders, the latter were granted first move. There seemed no justification yet to move so the 4.7" opened up and blasted the head of the column with 2 hits. That was easy, splendid opening to the game. The unit cancelled 1 hit by falling back but had to take the other. Then it was time for the attacking Free State forces to move......ummmmmm suddenly I had a problem.

I hadn't taken any time at all to consider just  how the force available might carry out their mission and despite having written the rules, I wasn't sure of the unit capabilites in this situation or what the best plan of attack was. In fact I was probably feeling much like the inexperienced little plastic general on the table.

My first instinct was to send the mounted troops through the open country on their right  to turn the Nottinglish flank and cut the road. It was a good instinct but I didn't know when reinforcements would arrive and it seemed like the best bet was to move fast, seize the bridge objective and prevent the Imperial troops from crossing. So, off they went leaving the infantry and guns to handle the rest.

It didn't take long to realize that a defile made the approach difficult and the machine gun in town made it dangerous to approach. Worse, between the river and the hill there was no way to concentrate enough rifle fire on the enemy to drive them away. It would have to be done the hard way.

No sooner was the attack set in motion than the Imperials rolled a 6 and their cavalry appeared. It was going to be one of those days.

A fine mess.
Too late to back out, a unit of mounted rifles charged and to everyone's surprise, drove back the cavalry but not being cavalry could not pursue. On the next turn they charged back in while their supports charged the infantry. Both were repulsed but the enemy had been weakened. With sharpshooters moving up to support the attack and supporting guns and infantry pinning the enemy center, there was not going to be a better time to risk some casualties and press the attack.

Then, above the din of battle, could be heard the clear notes of a bugle followed by the sounds of men singing. "Come on Soldiers of the Emmmmpire. The day of gloryyyy has arrived!" The marching song of the Imperial Marines. (You'll have to imagine the tune, its very catchy, could bring a nightclub full of people to their feet).

In the Nick of Time

Rifle fire drove the Imperial artillery back, off the road and ..........into a good firing position, hmm. With the Free State artillery that was supposed to be supporting the attack stalled in the rear and the defenders around the bridge now outnumbering the attackers in that sector, the attack turned into a pinning action.  

The focus switched to other flank where an artillery duel was in progress with honours even. The Colonial Mounted Rifles had been switched to the right to backstop against the first attack but with the gun with its escort now being attacked by 4 infantry, a gun and sharpshooters, they were quickly shuttled back and the 2nd Guards ordered forward as well.

 At this point I seem to have forgotten the camera so here is a wider shot at the same point in time as the last shot.
Before the reinforcements could arrive the first assault rolled in on the gun but was repulsed with losses. Supports were close behind but suddenly the Free State orders dice hit a cold spell. As the supports edged forward piecemeal, the sharpshooters opened a heavy fire on the gun. To relieve the pressure the Guards came forward with the bayonet and were stopped dead by accurate fire. Repulsed, they spread out and returned fire without effect and were forced to give ground to avoid being decimated. Their sacrifice was not in vain. By the time the Free Staters were ready to resume the attack, the mounted rifles had galloped forward to flank it, dismounting, and pouring in a hot fire supported by infantry swinging down off the hill to protect the gun The Free Staters were shot to pieces and forced to give ground.  The general rode forward to steady them but was struck by a bullet.

The sharpshooters continued their fusillade against the 4.7 and forced it to limber and retreat but there was no one to follow up. Taking advantage of the confusion in the Free State ranks, and with the gun safe, the Nottinglish infantry and mounted rifles fell back into dead ground, daring the enemy to come and get them. As the wounded General climbed back into the saddle he contemplated doing just that but his army was battered and now the enemy was in position with equal numbers and fresh units. The opportunity to keep the enemy allies apart had slipped away. He ordered a retreat.

The scene at the end.
What? I had become so used to games ending with 2 men and a dog rallying for a last stand that it didn't seem right to end a game with NO units destroyed.  What could be wrong? Should I renew the assault? The game had already run nearly 2 hours instead of the one I had planned but an extension was possible, I just didn't feel like it. Hadn't it been fun? Yes it had. What were the odds of a final attack succeeding? Slim to nil. Oh. Was that due to the troop mix? The victory conditions? Partly yes and yes. If this was an actual campaign and I was playing the Free State though, I wouldn't throw more men away so why should I do it now? Oh. Ok, that actually worked then.

So was it fair? Since the Free State sharpshooters and mounted rifles were originally Boers I had thought about giving them superior firepower but hadn't, was that a problem? No, they had actually done quite well. Was it just a string of bad luck? The timely arrival of reinforcements? Partly, but, looked at after the fact, it had been a battle plan that was dependent on luck that ignored terrain and the enemy's strengths while minimizing the attacking unit's mobility advantage and the ability of the sharpshooters and dismounted rifles  to win firefights in the open. It also ignored their inability to take heavy casualties.  When the Free State units started taking hits early on, instead of pressing forward to take their objectives before the Imperial troops could arrive, they gave ground to avoid the hits but at the cost of lost time.

In other words, it was a risky plan carried out in a cautious manner. That's not usually a recipe for success even though it came close twice. It was a recipe for a good game though!

Note: No changes were deemed necessary to the Square Brigadier rules (not often I say that!)

Friday, April 4, 2014


Free State cavalry on the march.  
For some reason when I look at this image, I hear the instrumental version of 13 Days of Glory from the opening scene of John Wayne's The Alamo.

This Nine Years War will be what I call a "Narrative Campaign". In other words, no maps, no logistics and record keeping, I just make up a story to explain how we got from the last game to this one. 

For example, the first game was the opener so I did an encounter between advance guards. Since Sawmill Village is an old favorite and only requires 6 units on each side, I prepared that many units. The invading Nottinglish lost so I saw the next game as some sort of rearguard action with reinforcements.

Before I got the game going I decided to make the reactionary forces an alliance. That suggested a game involving two poorly coordinated armies trying to join up with a pursuing force trying to separate them and assume a central position. 12 units a side happened to be what I had available so I started there crossed with the useable terrain on hand.

Up to this point I hadn't even thought about where the Imperial troops came from but if there was a shared border why hadn't the Emperor sent a division or more over the border rather than a brigade of Colonial Marines? 

With one army wearing  red coats and blue pants and the other wearing blue coats and red pants, there also lurks the possibility of a left side/right side sort of tension. I decided that since the armies hadn't actually joined yet that there would not be an over all General and that commanders could not order allied units yet.

An overview of the table at the start of the game.
This table is a mere 1/6 of my main table a couple of years ago. Hmm. 

After some experimentation I ended up with a small town at a T junction. One end of the road running through the town ran over a bridge towards the Imperial landing area while the other end ran off towards the Nottinglish camp.

The Nottinglish started deployed in and around the town. In order to win, the allies have to join up and control the road joining the two camps including the bridge, town and road exit. The on table force is a General, heavy gun, machine gun,
mounted rifle unit, 2 Guard infantry units (shock), 2 infantry units.

The Imperial forces start off table and need to roll a 6 to bring on a unit of shock cavalry. Once that is on they begin again to dice with a 6 bringing on a general, a gun and 3 infantry units.

The Free State forces enter in column on the road. First a commander and 4 units of mounted rifles, already on table then moving on, the General, a 2nd brigade commander, 2 units of sharpshooters 2 guns, and 4 infantry units including 1 Elite. Their goal is to sieze the road junction and prevent the enemy from joining up.

The armies will have an equal number of units but the Allies will have more infantry and artillery if the Imperial troops ever arrive. The Free Staters are more mobile, have better command control and will be more concentrated with a bit of luck. They also have a faster force which can hold its own or better in a shooting match but which is weaker on the attack in melee. Since so many of the figures are Boers I thought about giving them superior firepower but decided to go with the basic unit types from the rules trusting that they would work as is.
Burghers Sir! Dozens of 'em! Bugler, sound Alarm!

Next post, the game!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Allied Reinforcements Arrive

I had hoped to have these done and ready for a picture before the sun went down. Oh well, at least you're not missing any nice detail........... I didn't paint any!

 1/72 doesn't seem to be as big as it used to be, not when painting, and especially not when doing headswaps. So the latter are going to be avoided as much as possible and the painting is a basic toy style which is in keeping with the theme. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying this whole thing mightily and like how its turning out.

Nottinglish Colonial Mounted Rifles
When I first got the old Airfix Guards and Foreign Legion from John the Wargame Hermit and got the idea of a Little Wars like Square Brigadier setting, my mind went wild with possibilities. The basic idea was to achieve the sort of look one might have gotten by buying various sets of painted toy soldiers that Britains or some other make. 

I found myself perusing the Scruby FrancoPrussian and Colonial listings as well as the Plastic Soldier Review and day dreaming about a dozen armies and all sorts of neat conversions like I used to do. In other words duplicating my 40mm plans. Ooops.

To keep with the idea of a quick, no cost, game in a box, I decided to limit myself to 2 armies, each of 20 units or about 60 figures, built out of what I have on hand and minimal conversion.  So, no 20mm Scots Greys and lots of left overs. The not French army has become a brigade with 3 Foreign Legion units, a machine gun or artillery unit (gun not made yet) and 2 squadrons of cavalry. (Chasseurs d'Afrique- ish unit ready to paint.) Unpainted Boers volunteered as not English mounted police err I mean rifles, and  the allied army is now ready to field up to 12 units.

The Red Legs: an Imperial Marine Infantry brigade with a squadron of Imperial Mounted Guides.

 The Free State needs seven 1/2 painted Boer cavalry finished and seven ACW figures repainted and they will be also have 12 units  and the next game will be on!