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, August 3, 2015

While we're waiting: The Setup.

Yesterday's game came about as a cross between an urge to get away from all these 20th Century test games and the urge to get a "Colonial" game on table. Now the term "colonial wargaming" has become rather a vague concept these days often including almost anything with exotic locales and asymmetrical warfare though usually set in the 19th or early 20th Century but also being the second home of fictional countries and wars.  My Colonial urge was originally to do with my interest in WW1 "sideshows" but the troops aren't ready for any of those campaigns so it is that we find ourselves in 1853 with a expedition of the Red Queen's troops on their way to stamp out another stronghold of the Brethren of the Coast, a collection of freebooters, independence minded Atlantican natives and refugees from the Blue River Rebellion.

The setting and the presence of so many singly based miniatures suggested MacDuff to the Frontier for rules, after all this is exactly the sort of game they were initially written for, but logistics and human frailty intervened. That is to say that with my current set up, nearly 1/3 of the table is beyond my easy reach and in order to avoid 1/2 crawling onto the table to lean way across it with sleeve or other body part collecting miscellaneous trees and figures along the way, I often have to resort to using a stick to reach across and push units in the dead zone, This is hard enough with fixed stands let alone groups of individuals, The other complication is that the combination of middle aged short sightedness with my particular type of Astigmatism makes multi-focal glasses near useless and combined with the dim lighting in this room makes it hard for me to read a ruler at arms length. This is one of the reasons I like the grid but an old fashion stick with coloured bands seems to work quite well. Add a dash of nostalgia for the games of the 2009 Game a Week project and a revised older form of Hearts of Tin seemed the way to go. Still working on converting rough notes to readable draft. 
The Flank Companies rush forward through the jungle to reinforce the Rifles.
(archive footage from yesterday's Noodle)
Usually when I play a solo game I just play both sides to the best of my ability, but every now and then as discussed occasionally over the last 2 years, I feel the urge to "play a game", to feel like "I" am trying to "win", to beat the system if not another player. I haven't settled on a constant method of doing that yet but I was in the mood to give it a go again.

I decided to play the attacking force with all the nice toys and let the Brethren be game controlled ambushers.  In the past I have used various hidden markers and blanks to add confusion to solo games but I wanted to revisit something I tried in a  game on my Gathering of Hosts blog.  What I did here was to set out what the total possible defending  force would be. Then I assigned certain units as garrison in the fort and as ships's crews and designated others as to where they might show up leaving a few that could be deployed anywhere using the Programmed Pirates scenario rule.

Programmed Pirates.
Each turn roll 1d6 per invading unit in the bush/jungle where visibility is limited. For each 1 or 2  (or an Infantry signal on a Battlecry die) place a Defender in cover within 3" of an attacking unit.  A 6 (or flag) activates a ship. Muskets units will shoot. Sword/spear units will charge.

Once deployed I used a combination of the HofT "out of command" roll and on rolling a die to choose between options where there was no obvious best move to control them. Hardly original ideas but they worked damn well!

Lets take a closer look at the incident reported in the recent Noodle edition, I had sent a single company of Rifles into the bush to open the chain that stretched across the river. Having had a dry spell on ambushers I should not have been so sanguine (hopeful) as this bit was about to get very sanguine (bloody) (Sorry, had my Browncoat on there for a minute).  Their first move was unopposed but they were soon ambushed by some very straight shooting ruffians who were joined by more the next turn. This was looking a little bleak so I rushed the combined flank companies ashore to reinforce them. With only a  1/3rd chance there were already an unlucky number of enemy at hand but the arrival of 2 companies just seemed to egg the dice on and on each of the next 2 turns 2 more units appeared in ambush. It was beginning to look like a well laid trap, especially since there was no room left in front so when the pikemen were put down they had to go on the flank. I still wasn't worried though since the pike guys aren't normally very tough, these guys sure knew where the 5's and 6's were in melee though. Even then it wouldn't have been a disaster if I had remembered that these were the collected Grenadiers with a combat bonus and an extra strength point but oh well, it was confusing with all the brush and the powder smoke.

A wider view.
BTW, destroyed units are normally considered to have received heavy casualties and morale loss not actually be all dead and wounded. Hence the survivor telling his tale. )
But I need to go help the editor with illustrations for the report on the thrilling, nail biting conclusion of the battle for tommorrow's edition of the Noodle.


  1. I'm more interested in the balloon landing companies. Any dab hand with a quill riding along with those boys?