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, October 19, 2015

Finale. Trying a One Hour scenario the Impractical Way.

Having concluded partly by experiment and partly by listening (sic) to comments and looking at other blogs, I am satisfied that Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargame does what it set out to do, so, Kudos to Mr Thomas.

Catching up on and experiencing something new while it is still 'the buzz' is a rare pleasure for me these days and since it seemed to fall in one of my corners I admit to having been curious so I wish to thank the generous and always inspiring Bob Cordery (wargaming miscellany blog ) for his gift to me of Thomas' book. Of course one must be careful of who you give gifts to and in a week or so I will be trying out and reporting on the brand spanking new copy of Bob's When Empires Clash which came with it!

But first, since I normally play impractical games (not my definition) and have normally played scenarios for the last thirty years and since OHW includes a few new ones and some variations of some old favorites, I decided to see if a OHW wargame could be expanded to suit what I've been calling my little table.
The Zouaves prepare for their first action.
I started by selecting Number 28 where a larger defending force is hampered by having 1/2 of its army frozen. A situation I've encountered all too often by chance using rules like Black Powder or BKC, but not often otherwise.

I started by converting the map. Ordinarily I would usually stretch the map but since part of the defending force was parked on a big hill on one end of the table, I decided to square the board up by using some impassable terrain.  I thought about ignoring the grid but decided to stick with it which gave me a field of 9x9 squares. Easy peasey, each of the 9 squares on the map became 9 squares on my table. (hmm as I type this, it occurs to me that if I shrink distances and use 1 table square per map square, I  could deploy 9 scenarios on table simultaneously forming a sort of on table mini campaign, but not today).

The Opening Positions. The Rebs can only activate one unit from the force on the hill but if it is destroyed they may then activate another.

Next I turned to forces. It felt like time to get my 1/72 ACW troops out. If nothing else there were Cesar's Zouaves who had not yet 'seen the elephant'. Since my units are nearly 5"  wide, 3 such regiments nicely take up the same ground as 1 unit in the original so I deployed a three regiment brigade for each scenario "unit". Another option would have been to roll 3 times on the unit chart but I didn't think of that at the time. Since it was not uncommon to go into battle without cavalry but very rare for a division to engage without artillery, I only rolled for options with artillery for the 4 unit attacking force. I then attached 1 battery to each brigade. For the 6 defending units I rolled twice on the 3 chart instead of once on the 6. Since they were supposed to have an incompetent commander, I let the dice decide whether or not the artillery was present.

The Rebs deployed Featherstone's Elite Brigade of veteran Airfix figures in town supported by Taleri's Brigade. Kinch then deployed a scratch brigade of cavalry and 2 brigades of infantry on the hill in support of a mass of 3 batteries with orders to open fire and keep it up until there were no Yanks left.

The Yanks sent 1 brigade against the town with another in reserve while sending an elite or Zouave brigade to screen the flank and drive off the supporting Reb brigade.

The Zouaves launch their first ever charge, driving back the Rebs and  capturing General Kinch during the pursuit.
They kin fight!
The attacking Yankee regiments took a pounding coming forward and the lead regiments had to be pulled back and the reserves sent forward. The defenders had been somewhat weakened though and the attack eventually cleared the town and held against repeated counter attacks.

Seeing the supporting Reb brigade preparing to counter attack the town to its flank, the Zouaves lowered bayonets and charged. The sight of the colorful metal Zouaves must have unsettled the enemy and they broke one unit and sent a 2nd one packing without taking a scratch. They even managed to nab General  Kinch before he could see what was happening through the pipe smoke.

On the flank one lone regiment and a battery stood threatening the Reb massed guns to deter them from firing into the flank of the division as it attacked. The Reb guns were on fire and even after growing support from more Yankee batteries, at the end of the day the Reb guns took out an elite regiment and 2 batteries in exchange for 1. They couldn't stop the attack though and the Yanks, despite heavy losses, were no where near collapse when the sun went down.

I couldn't help but wonder if I should have activated an infantry brigade first but that will have to wait for the next play through of the scenario.

Yes that means that even though this was an impractical game (some folks just don't know when to let things go!) played with 400 1/72nd miniatures on a 4 ft x 5ft temporary table over the course of an hour and a half, the scenario provided the basis of a fun, engaging game. I look forward to playing it again and trying more of them. I might even try Thomas's rules on the bigger surface using triple size armies. Maybe.

Around turn 10 of 15.  The Yanks have taken the town and the Rebs are running out of troops to counter attack with. It may come down to whether or not the artillery can break the Yankee morale by itself.
There was one troublesome note to the game, not scenario based. This is the 3rd or 4th Hearts of Tin game that I've played in the last few months and its been the same issue each time. I've gotten used to not removing casualties and having combats resolved quickly (as in 1 or 2 turns not as in how long the playing takes). The whole process of marking hits, removing stands, then reuniting units later as I put them away has become a chore where it used to be a joy and I get impatient for a result (I blame Morschauser and Borg!). In other words, "it's me", I've changed. Only 1/2 the Rebs and 1/3 the Yanks were out yesterday so it was ok, but it doesn't make me want to get them all out. (Plse note that 1/2 the troops were a group donation of retired veterans looking for work. The troops on table exceed my initial planned count).

I probably won't have time until the weekend but I think I'll replay the game using an ACW version of Tin Army with each unit being treated as an entity rather than as 3 stands grouped together.


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  2. Ross Mac,

    I hope that you get as much enjoyment out of 'When Empires Clash!' as you have had from Neil Thomas's book. In my defence - and just in case you don't like it - all I can say is that I wrote it some years ago, and my experience of game design has increased somewhat in the interim.

    All the best,


    1. To be honest Bob, I read it first and it looks well and carefully put together and promises some interesting little games. But we will see!

  3. Frankly speaking: I really feel relieved knowing the zouaves behaved well in their baptism of fire!
    It is a pleasure to see my "creatures" on your tabletop and I want to thank you for giving them such a warm reception.
    I enjoyed this series of posts about OHW. I am currently working in a related project and you gave me a lot to think about.
    Regarding this post, I am confused about the size of the board and the units frontage you employed for this battle. Your tabletop seems to be of similar size of the ones in the book but your units seems to be 3 times wider.
    Probably I miss something but as I understood: The squares in the map are 1' by 1' and your grid seems to be 6" by 6". So your 9 by 9 squares table give 4,5 ' by 4,5' instead of the original 3' by 3'. So the side of the board increased 1,5 times but you trebled the units frontage.
    Am I right?

    1. Cesar, the pleasure was mine. They looked great, added some colour and filled a gap. I am looking forward to getting the next unit painted but I was also nervous about the "new unit curse" but luckily they passed!

      The squares are 5" so only a small increase in table size. My ranges and movement and how combat is resolved are different from his so I did not try to do an exact match of numbers of units but only aimed to keep the relative strength of the opposing armies at a ratio of 6:4 (3:2. ) . This allowed me to test "my" style of rules and 3 times as many figures with his scenario. Lucky for me, it worked.

    2. Many thanks for your explanation.
      I await your replay of this game with the ACW version of Tin Army with great interest.
      This series of posts renewed my interest in your rules and Morschauser.
      My OHW project is trembling!!!

    3. Since the units and table and terrain ans scenarios I have been using are the same size for both games, there should be no threat to your OHW project. You can prepare a small game yhen do either or both!

    4. You are right Ross (I was only joking).
      In fact, by reading these posts I realized exactly what you point. That is why I found this serie so interesting!
      Thanks again.

  4. Superb Battle Photos ROSS- well done! Do like 1/72nd for all looks- just so right. Regards. KEV.

  5. What a beautiful table Ross! The first two pictures are my favourites, very impressive!

  6. 400 figures on a 4'x5' table: now that's what I'm talkin' about! As usual, an entertaining and thought provoking read. It is these series of articles that have helped inspire me to hoik out from their boxes, where they have lain unemployed and neglected for years, my old ACW units, and do some finishing work on them.