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.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Wargame in the Out Back

The Duchy of Alzheim recently posted a draft of  simple rules for an 18thC convention wargame. I appreciate it when someone suffers through testing one of my games and provides feedback so I offered to give them a go.

The rules were written with the intention of using 40mm Prince August home cast figures. I happen to have a couple of shelves of such figures but who plays a set of rules with the figures they were designed for? OK I've heard that some do these days but I'm practising to be an old git so.....
General Sansnom studies the map as his force approaches the Konkrete Plateau. Minifig 30mm. Alexander Keith's Regiment, in white, are my original home cast figures as are the  Albanians and Turkish Sekban 'regulars' when they appear.

My original intention was to use 40mm AWI figures despite my lack of cavalry but then I remembered my 30mm 18th century forces that haven't been out in ages. English vs French on the Plains of Abraham...but.... wait! What's this? Turks! They haven't been out since June 2011! (I had to look that up)  My 30mm units are mounted on 80mm (just over 3" wide) rather than 8" as called for by Greg but since all of his moves and ranges are in multiples of that 8" unit width and I happened to have a baton marked in 3" increments, I went with that. It was a beautiful summer day and I was tired of working in the garden but not of being outside so I bundled everyone up and headed to where we are starting to work on a patio area.

Close up of the Turkish position. 

My Turkish forces are rather small so I gave them a redoubt and placed them in defence. For game purposes they mustered 3 infantry, 2 light infantry, 2 cavalry and 1 artillery. I made the Albanians Elite.  The Imperial force ( mostly French actually) consisted of 4 battalions of Sir Alexander Keith's Regiment, 2 light infantry, 1 gun and 3 cavalry. I classed the Cuirassiers and the battalion with the flag as Elite.

Not being able to find a rule for woods, I decided that only light infantry could enter patches of grass and weeds and that visibility would be cut to 8 (ie 3) inches.

Overview as the battle begins. Little red baubles mark Elite units.
The opening deployments can be seen above. The Imperial plan was to advance on the redoubt with the infantry while the gun and light infantry amused the Turkish right and the cavalry swept around the flank. The Turkish plan was to stand and shoot.

The Imperial cavalry in their very fine hats sweep forward, are repulsed by the Turks and then.....routed!? 
(Note the little dice are marking how many Pips are lost rather than how many remain)

The shooting bit worked well for the Turks, the gun hitting with almost every shot. The Imperial gun which paused to shoot every other move, needn't have bothered. In the woods, the Turkish irregulars held their own for ages against twice their numbers. On the Austrian right the first 2 units swept forward a double move to crash into the lighter but apparently more deadly Turks who repulsed them then followed up and routed them. No wonder Imperial cavalry favoured receiving Turkish cavalry at the halt using carbines!

Getting perhaps over excited, on their turn, the Turks charged into the Elite Cuirassier regiment and into an infantry battalion with 3 hits on it, hoping to pretty much end the game. The infantry handily repulsed one unit while it was the Cuirassiers' turn to rout their opponent.

As casualties from artillery fire continued to mount despite pulling units back to rally and moving up the reserve, the Imperial General decided to change the plan and pull back rather than charge. On the left the lights finally blew away their opposite number while the Cuirassiers managed to catch the back peddling Turkish cavalry one turn and then the light infantry the next turn. 4 out of 8 Turks gone and victory to the Imperial Army with barely a scratch to the 3 Turkish infantry units, pride of the army. (Rossi Pasha, note to self. Keep the damn levies away from the fighting!)

Kornmont's Currassiers sweep aside the Turkish cavalry and light infantry forcing Rossi Pasha to order a retreat. 

On the whole my impression of the rules was favourable. They were certainly quick to learn and play but still presenting a need for thinking, tactics and for some gonads when attacking. I think I played 8 turns in about 30 minutes, maybe a bit more.

The +1 for Elites in melee was more powerful than I expected, especially combined with the +1 for having an advantage of 2 in current morale. That worked well.

I wouldn't have minded something less definite for the melee resolution, perhaps losing Pips equal to the difference but it worked well enough as is and made a 1 on 1 charge a gamble needing a reserve if the enemy is in a position  to pursue. The automatic retreat for both sides in case of a draw seems harsh, especially if one side is holding a redoubt or similar. Perhaps an exception could be made for troops defending a position?

The automatic pip recovery also felt odd, dicing for it would seem more natural but it worked well enough.

ps There is 2 other observations about melee that I forgot to add. I was surprised to find no bonus for a flank attack. For infantry it may be enough that they can't shoot and cavalry may be assumed to manoeuvre to face a single enemy. But what if there are 2 attacking units?  This morning it occurred to me that I may have erred by leaving all melee resolution to the end of the turn rather than resolving each charge as it happened.

I think a game between 2 slightly larger, regular, armies is in order but first there is a 19thC game waiting on the table. Pretty much every recently suggested rules change has been rejected but that's just as well.


  1. That looked and sounded like a fine game - I mean battle - that could have gone either way. A good 'first pass' test for the rule set.

    1. Yes, apparently the old school ways aren't the only ones that can work.

  2. Great-looking game. I always supposed that if I ever did any garden wargaming it would be with 54s, and why not of course, but it's probably another example of habitual thinking.

    I have been trying out Greg's rules but I have to confess so far only with flat bits of wood, of which there is an abundance as a consequence of various failed basing initiatives over the years.

  3. A nice looking game, and a great terrain!

  4. Haaah - a fine skirmish to be seen here. Wonderful little Turkishs with colorful uniforms. But the setting this time is great - the dry mud and dust is to be felt. Thanks for that eye-candy, Ross!

  5. Ross Mac,

    What a wonderful battle ... and fought outside as well! (It seems like only a few days ago when you were snowed in!) Having taken part in a lawn battle myself yesterday (it will feature on my blog very soon) it reminded me how much wargaming outside on a nice day enhances ones enjoyment considerably.

    All the best,


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  7. Backyard battle goodness! Thanks for sharing. The rules seem like they worked quite well overall.

  8. Hello Ross,

    Thanks for the playtest, I greatly appreciate it.

    I had a bit of a muck around with melee last night and feel that I might let the rules stand as they are for melee in the open. However, I did struggle with redoubts and feel you may be right for a pip loss instead of a push-back in the case of melee loss, reflecting the unique intensity of HtH in confined spaces.

    I think there may need to be a bonus for a flank attack it's been my experience so far that a single round of shooting makes little enough difference to the defense.

    ALSO, I have been resolving each charge as it happens.

    I'll modify the rules when I get a chance today.

    Thanks again,


    1. My pleasure.For the redoubt I wasn't thinking so much of a lost melee, it was the forced retreat for the defender in a tied melee. And the lack of a bonus for defending cover vs a charge.

      Very promising.

  9. I enjoyed reading this battle report, and it looks the better for being played outside. I quite like what you did with the home casts, Ross.