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.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Carry On Men!

Today I played a solo The Sword and the Flame skirmish in honour of the late Larry Brom who was such an inspiration to so many of us. My 25mm  Sudan figures are long gone as are most of my 54mm fictional Colonial figures but Colonial Wargaming, like historical Colonial campaigns before them, is often about doing the best you can with what you've got.

I have just embarked on a mini-project to refurbish some Britain's toy soldiers, some 90 year old antiques along with some 15 year old recasts, for a fictional North West Rebellion campaign. This game will kick that off. My Canadians were originally painted 15 years ago in 8 man companies for my own With MacDuff To The Frontier rules but TS&TF is nothing if not flexible so I just kept that organization.

The scenario has a vital supply cart broken down in the Cyprus Hills, miles from Fort MacDuff. A relief column, including a Pioneer who can repair the wagon, is on its way. News of the supplies has reached a hungry Rebel force of Metis and Cree and they are out to capture them.

All units are 8 strong, the Canadians are classed as British, the Metis and Cree were treated like Boers. The rebels began with eight 40mm marker figures in the woods which could be moved as normal. When a unit was spotted or wanted to fire I pulled a card. A red card indicated a dummy while on a black card I set out a unit. Once all 4 units were down I removed any remaining dummies since I didn't have a 5th unit to twist the game balance. (Luckily for the Canadians!).  A company of Victoria rifles provided the escort with numbers being made up by a teamster and a Commisary clerk. Two companies of the 6th Hochelaga Fusiliers (later merged with the Canadian Grenadier Guards) and 1 of the 5th Royal Scots (later Royal Highland Regiment of Canada) under Lt Col. Bromfoot formed the rescue party with 1 company on table and another arriving each turn.

As is so often the case with TS&TF games it didn't exactly go as planned but it had plenty of moments of tension and relief and not a little drama along the way. Luckily it came out alright in the end.

It certainly wasn't planned that the Ace of Hearts would turn up when assessing the effect of shooting hits on A company of the Fusiliers while the Colonel was with them, nor that a die roll would decide that it would fall not on the Sergeant or the Captain but on the Colonel. It happened though and the little group of wargamer figures lost their leader. They all passed morale and carried on though and we shall do the same.
There was an air of excitement when the column headed out to recover the broken down supply cart. Almost anything beat drill, fatigues and boredom. Two hours later they came upon the cart  in a hollow between low wooded hills. As the Fusiliers followed the cart track past some brush a rifle cracked out followed by wild yells and a furious fusillade. This was it! The Boys from Montreal were in action!  

Those hours of drill paid off as the Volunteers extended at the double and returned fire. While B Company engaged the enemy frontally, A Company wheeled to face what turned out to be a fleeing deer. Suddenly the woods behind them exploded into action and bullets whistled about their ears. Their brave captain was hit in the leg and the bold Colonel himself stiffened suddenly, cried out "Carry on Brave Boys" and then slid lifeless to the ground. Suddenly it didn't seem all fun and games anymore.
The Victoria Rifles scurried for cover behind flour sacks, barrels and the wagon and returned fire as best they could. With the Highlanders coming up at the double and the Fusiliers slowly creeping closer, the situation appeared to be in hand but then a Cree warrior in a chieftain's bonnet raised a tomahawk and bounded forward from the trees followed by a mere handful of braves. A young rifleman took careful aim and brought the chief down but the handful of braves kept coming. A brief fight ensued, bayonet vs tomahawk, then the last living warrior turned and sprinted back to the treeline to join the skulkers.

Soon the Fusiliers arrived and formed a cordon around the cart while the sapper fixed the wheel. It was the work of a few moments to fill the cart with supplies and wounded soldiers then the march back began with the Fusiliers acting as escort and the Scots forming a rear/flank guard to disuade the handful of remaining Cree and Metis riflemen from any rash pursuit.

One hurdle remained. B company of the Fusiliers had been left to keep the way home open. After a long exchange of fire they had suffered 50% losses but were still clinging to their position. Their Captain decided on a shift to the right towards the rest of the column. The wounded had been left in a little hollow where they appeared to be safe but as soon as the fighting men had shifted to the right, a party of Cree warriors emerged from the woods. The Captain ordered his men to hurry back to save the wounded but as the Cree opened fire confusion and fatigue suddenly turned to panic and the survivors broke and ran for the fort. The soldiers around the wagon soon sent the Cree fleeing back into cover and the retreat continued unmolested, collecting wounded soldiers as they went.

Mission accomplished but hostilities had begun and casualties had been heavy, 7 dead and as many wounded.


  1. My friend, I think Mr. Brom would have felt quite honored at this commemoration. What a fun game this made for!

    1. Well, I had fun anyway which is rather the point of TS&TF I guess.

  2. A fitting tribute indeed.
    Great selection of figures on the table.

    1. Potluck but the available figures suggested the context.

  3. A cracking little action in the best toy soldier tradition.

  4. Ross Mac,

    What a splendid little wargame ... and one that I am sure that Larry Brom would have enjoyed reading about.

    All the best,


  5. Top Skirmish- Battle- with an equally well written narrative- Thanks Ross.

  6. Terrific game, Ross, and as others have noted, a very fitting tribute to Larry B's legacy.
    I wonder if if there is a senior leaders course that includes an EC on Fittingly Heroic Things to Say as One Expires. I would hope that I would say something inspiring like the Colonel did, but knowing me, it would probably be "Bugger".

  7. A soldier's life on the wild frontier - an evocative little action.

  8. Nice report, fun game, fitting tribute.