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.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Taking it forward

Once again I'm not going to do the look back/look ahead thing, looking back, please browse the past posts, looking ahead, just expect more of the same sort of thing and often something to surprise me as well as you. 

I'm trying to catch up with some non-wargaming things delayed by 3 weeks of flu as well as answering to General Winter but things aren't entirely stalled. There has been enough of a break and a little bit of variety to get me out of "this is what I do" mode which almost always means a) Trouble and sometimes b) New and Improved Something. 

In this case, the older form of  sequence of play that I've been experimenting with again has hit the spot this time around. In essence it is a modified form of one of the three systems proposed by Featherstone in Battles With Model Soldiers. The original was "dice for initiative at the start of the turn. A moves, B moves, B shoots, A shoots, Resolve Melee". My kluge for the Square Major General was to incorporate a premovement artillery bombardment phase inspired by Bob Cordery's rules inspired by Morschauser's Frontier Wargame Rules and to lump the infantry fire and melee together into 1 phase. For the level of game, with 1/2 hour turns and brigade units, having non-simultaneous fire doesn't make sense to me even if one side did get the first shot in out of the dozens or more that they traded before it was over. For a lower level of game in a black powder era, it might still make some sense as adding a bit of flavour/chrome. Which brings me to the next point.
Here is a peek at some of the items passed to me on behalf of the late Joseph Lapin. The box contained various old or never finished bits of terrain as well as some always useful items such as trees and so on but the real treasures were 3 Airfix kits. The Waterloo Farmhouse is one piece that appeared on the table during games I took part in back in the '80s. The Roman and Foreign Legion forts are kits I always felt I ought to have but never did (I once had a farmhouse but it stayed behind at college iir). I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet but finishing up Fort Beau Joseph for a semi-skirmish game with Airfix figures is a possibility.

As mentioned occasionally, to minimise confusion when switching back and forth, I like having a series of rules for various "periods" that share as many common mechanisms as possible as well as having specific things to give that special period/level of action feel. For instance a similar play sequence, a similar style of combat resolution even though the particulars are different.  Having a complete change now and then is fine but its best if its very different. For example, I am unlikely to confuse Charge! mechanisms with the Square Brigadier whereas I do occasionally get confused midgame if Gathering of Hosts and the Square Brigadier do similar things in different ways. So expect some testing and adjusting of an alignment of my various 'Square Based' rules over the next month to have stand based combat & losses, a similar play sequence (eg for the medieval rules archers will fire in the bombardment phase so same idea, different detail).

At the same time, I have been meaning to revisit Hearts of Tin.  These poor rules have suffered since I got hooked on grids and at some point I took a set of rules that I was happy with and changed them into a set where all I can remember is that I don't feel like playing them. In part this is because I explored strange  new territory with the square based rules using my HofT armies and tried things that I have eventually decided were not really where I wanted to go but buggered about with HofT a bit anyway. Since the Square based rules have now returned closer to their roots but improved, I have already updated HofT to a happier place. There needs to be a bit more checking and unit stats updated and then I will be running a non-gridded HofT game in the next few weeks, either ACW or 40mm and posting a link to the rules again.

First up though will be an early 20thC Toy Soldier game using the appropriately modified Tin Brigadier with each figure being a "stand" for consistency sake. Since this is definitely a Toy Soldier game as opposed to the recent ACW game, I will be fielding inappropriate levels of units in a traditional reverse bathtub approach where a "skirmish" teaser with a train ambush might see several wargame battalions  used where platoons might be more appropriate just as later games might see those same battalions filling in for brigades in a "battle".


  1. Dear Ross,

    First let me wish you a totally splendid & HAPPY NEW YEARS!!

    Actually confusion about the details of the rules you are playing is not that unusual at all. You have thought through lots of various war gaming issues, played in what - a thousand or more table top games, read dozens of rules sets and written lots more. So what if you mixed up a rules procedure? If you did it consistently so that both sides suffered/benefited equally it really doesn't matter, does it?

    But more than that, you deserve our collective gratitude for working and re-working rules like Hearts of Tin. Do I misunderstand that once you get a game underway, you will be posting a tweaked set of rules? I am looking forward to seeing the AAR for the game, the analysis of how HoT worked, and finally the finished rules.

    Thanks again for all your hard work in getting this blog out.


    1. Jerry thanks for the kind comments and a Happy New Year to you as well.

      If I mix up a rule in a game its no big deal but when I do it during a test game it rather defeats the purpose, esp if I do it too often.

      You did not misunderstand, I have every intention of playing a game using a proposed new version of HofT and posting a report, sometime this month.

  2. I'm kicking myself for not buying all the Airfix forts when they reproduced them a few years ago. I especially like the foreign legion fort. Lots of potential in that fort!