Friday, December 30, 2016

The Last Bridge

I do like to end the blogging year with a game. The last game so far has been solo but by happy a chance I received a call from my friend Bruce who was home from Alberta visiting family. So today after several hours of chatting around the kitchen table I dragged him upstairs where I had a game laid out. Since the masking tape road and river for Blastoff Bridge was still on the table, I had hastily reset the rest of the terrain and laid out my War of 1812 armies for a Square Brigadier game, the first non-solo SB game I have played.

The British line under fire early on.
I had recently completed marking the middle of the 6" squares to allow them to be used as 3" squares figuring that this would allow me to use more units and give more maneuver room. By the time we finally got to it the afternoon was waning and it seemed to me that a game with 14 units aside  would take too long so I reverted to the 6" squares and just made all units 2 stands strong for looks only. It turned out to be a good decision.    I think it looked better and moved quickly with lots of decisive action and only a few lulls for manoeuvre and redeployment.  
The armies march on. The end of turn 2
Each side had 7 units and 2 commanders. The British had a battery, 2 light infantry and 4 infantry. The Americans had a battery, a squadron of Dragoons, 1 unit of Riflemen and 4 infantry. The US had the mission of destroying the bridge.  Bruce chose the Americans, largely I think because he was already sitting there while we chatted about wargaming and mutual friends. The first side to lose 4 units would lose otherwise victory was decided on whether the US could blow the bridge or at least hold one end at the end of the game.
Bruce in action.
I sent two units across the river to attack the farm while the rest marched forward with all speed and deployed to attack the bridge. Bruce quickly moved to occupy the farm, sending 1 lone unit across the river as a vague threat and massed the rest of his army around the farm and bridge.
Firing breaks out. Note the sneaky NY Dragoons lurking behind the farm. In a few turns they would sneak down the table edge and then take advantage of a flip in initiative to make a double move and charge into the rear of my British infantry before they could react.
 The firing was soon hot and having lost a brigadier while trying to steady the troops my infantry was driven back. Bruce decided to send his cavalry around my flank and with a sudden flip of initiative he was able to charge into my flank before I could rally and face him. He then proceeded to roll up and wipe out the 104th. My light infantry were caught in a pincer between a charge by the Lafeyette Volunteers and the pursuing Dragoons behind them. Having already taken losses from the riflemen they were easily over run. I was now 1/2 way to my break point and out of position.

Firefight across the river.
 In the centre a fierce firefight raged for several turns before I managed to silence his battery and drive his infantry back. I felt uneasy at doing it but crossed over my infantry and started moving up supports. A possibly rash charge by the now tired Dragoons ended with the loss of the Dragoons and their accompanying Brigadier. A chance card now allowed me to shake loose his reserve infantry unit threatening my flank. I was hoping it would retreat but rolled an unordered advance to the middle of no where. I expanded the bridgehead, opened with cannister on the stray infantry unit and was starting to relax when another initiative flip resulted in a sudden resurgence of Blue infantry. Swinging his unit around to fire across the river into my flank he attacked from two sides and destroyed my Glengarry Light Infantry. I was now down 3 units against his 2 losses. Cannister drove one American unit back and some unusually effective musketry routed another battered regiment and shot down his Brigadier. The game turned on a thread, next loss to either side would end the game otherwise the end was 5 turns away. and I no longer held both sides of the bridge. The next turn was indecisive but at last I sent in the Fusiliers supported by the 89th. Either or both sides could lose but the Fusiliers came through for me.
Mid game, the British have lost more units and leaders but the remaining American units are in worse shape.
All is yet to be lost or won.
Here ends the year.   A look ahead will be next.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Sort of like Boxing

Today I ventured down into the Valley to meet a couple of friends for a Boxing Day wargame.
A few of my old 15mm Condé's Legion Dragoons now doing their part in Jeff's Napoleonic army.
Today's game was a 4 player Epic C&C Napoleonic game. We had various levels of expertise with the rules and we kludged a few things to convert an 8 player game down to 4 but it was a fun gaming day.

Jeff, Brent and Zack laying out.
Who won you ask? Why would that matter? Let's just say that the Russian army ably commanded by Brent seconded by yours truly, fought bravely and well and died where they stood. What more could one ask of them?

Next post, a look at the new French moulds followed later by a final solo game of the year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yule Time

Merry Christmas to all. 

May you enjoy good food, good company
 and good toy soldiers.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Crossing The Sea of Good Intentions

So much for a pre-Christmas game. Most of what hobby time I've managed has been spent reading, thinking about game mechanics, unit organization, basing, fortress construction etc while trying not to contemplate the irationality of having two separate semi-flat, not completely historical, 18th Century armies, both at least half in French uniforms.  What the photos of the new French moulds had suggested to me was historical scenarios based on the siege of Fort Beausejour and the two sieges of Louisbourg, including some minor what if's such as historically possible reinforcements actually arriving along with replacing a few incompetent and/or timid French commanders.

However, the more I thought about the limits of my proposed  Acadia project, and the effort involved, compared to the joy of the untrammelled imagination of fictional lands and history of the Not Quite The Seven Years War (NQSYW), and thought about how incompatible the forces would be if I selected a different unit organization and scale,
the more sense it made to stick with last year's plan to incorporate some bits of Acadia and Quebec into my NQSYW.  I struggled, I held firm for a while but the walls started to crumble a bit, and I have hung out the white flag.  
While waiting for Christmas, I found some Austrian castings and have started making a new Rosmark  Provincial Regiment

So the new troops and the planned sieges, amphibious assaults, ships etc will shift to the wild northeastern frontier of Rosmark. Long ago the Maritime or Rebel provinces had founded colonies along the far shores of the Northern Sea and forged alliances with the wild native peoples who inhabited the woods and rivers of that wild land. Rosmark, however, needs resources  if she is to stand alone against the growing armies of the various Kingdoms, Free Cities and other states to the south and west.  With this in mind, Rosmark has begun to push east along the great rivers and found its own colonies along the shores of the northern sea and has declared suzerainty over the whole area as being part of the old Queen's Dowry. The colonists have called on the Rebel Provinces to help them resist these claims.

Monday, December 19, 2016

More Imagining, Planning and Experimenting.

The ships were what was bothering me most. A "serious" approach might include off table ships for 40mm amphibious operations with fleets of 1:1200 ships for sea battles but the toy soldier approach really calls for fleets of bathtubbed toy ships that can sail on table and carry 40mm landing parties. I had temporarily  forgotten that I had a start on just such a fleet.
A quick mock-up of a small Acadian village with a rather grandiose clock tower, and a cutter and an armed brigantine.
You say 'toy pirate ship', I say 'Brig'. Of course, I need to get a few more and then complete some renovations, make or find some naval guns etc., but it looks promising. The pirate ship is a recast of the old MPC one. I found an affordable deal on a pack with three of the small ones like the one above and one of the big ones. Hopefully it'll still be available when the war funds get renewed. If only the Barzso naval cannon weren't OOP but I should be able to build naval carriages and use PA barrels as 8 lbers and eventually 12pdrs. These are mostly privateers anyway, not ships of the line.

Along the same lines, I've been contemplating the size of the armies and games and decided to stick with the sort of looks right and works approach urged by Lawford & Young and by Duffy. For me this will mean a vaguely 1:5 ratio with company sized units of 8 with most games having less than 100 figures per side but with perhaps 3 companies per bathtubbed battalion at 1:15 for the biggest envisaged  battles with up to 200 figures on the largest side. I've had to scrap the 8 figure bases though since I will have to split my units to provide outposts, sentries, landing barge complements, wagon escorts etc.  Since I want to keep the footprint per figure small, too small for stability, I won't go back to single figures on washers but instead will go with 2 figures on a 30mm*30mm base as the smallest individual detachment. These can then be grouped into larger formations as required, possibly on movement trays.

It also occured to me today when I did a trial layout of a town that I'm going to have to plot out my opposing towns, including surrounding terrain, so that I can lay them out the same each time. The grid should help with that.

However, all this won't be table ready for a while and this time I don't want to play with mock-ups and stand ins.  I'm ready to play a game of something soon though so more on this campaign when there is something to show

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sieges, Skirmishes and Ships

Not surprisingly, the early military history of Nova Scotia/Acadia (click)  is not well known.  What I basically remember from school in Montreal was that after some disagreement in the 17th Century about whether this was Nova Scotia or Acadia, the French built Louisbourg so that Wolfe could come and capture it before moving on to take Quebec bringing us back to 'real' Canadian history. So it was a surprise later on to hear that Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia was attacked more often than any other fort in North America (something like 13 times over a period of less than a century).  Why? By whom? Anything worthy of a wargame?

I've had a copy of this print for over 50 years. I used to wonder why some of the British are in Blue but these are of course all New England troops since the print portrays the 1744 siege not the 1758 one. (As many of my troops shall beBy F Stephen - Archives anglaises, Public Domain

A brief glance at the details of those 150 years suggests that there is ample scope for wargaming just not for conventional miniature wargaming. There were no pitched battles between conventional armies and the sort of terrorist warfare that plagued North American history during the conquest holds no interest for me as a  source of amusement. What there were in plenty were sieges, mostly small apart from the two sieges of Louisbourg and usually seaborne due to the difficulty of transporting artillery and regular troops over land and the ease with which any point of interest could be reached by sea. I have occasionally been tempted by the thought of staging a mini-skirmish level 17th Century land and sea mini campaign involving Fort La Tour, some ships, pike and shot Europeans on both sides as well as some Indian allies but since the driving point is the new Prince August Seven Years War moulds, I will once again put that temptation aside.

Leaving out those early days and the various expeditions against isolated garrisons of a mere score of men, we find at least a  dozen sieges, large or small, Some of these were successful, others were not and still others were more what one might call potential sieges where a land force blockaded a fort with plans to rendezvous with a fleet which was bringing more troops and artillery but which failed to arrive.  I haven't ruled out eventually building parts of the Louisburg defences such as the island battery that the New Englanders had to assault several times before capturing it or one of the bastions that were breached and scheduled to be assaulted only to be forestalled by a French surrender but apart from the preparation work on terrain etc, it will take some thought on how best to portray these in 40mm on my small table. That it is possible has been shown by my test siege game a few years ago. (Click "siege" label for more on past 40mm SYW sieges.)

A scene from a test of the Fire & Stone siege rules using a mock-up fort.
Instead I shall begin with a smaller largely earth and wood fort such as were Fort Anne and Fort Beausejour. Using my historical license I shall allow for some opposed amphibious landings, assaults on outlying works, sorties and petite guerre scenarios as well as the more formal siege work. The real problem will be fitting some toy sailing ships suitable for 40mm troops onto the table. Others have tackled this before me though so I am comfortable that I can do it. But first, I need troops and a fort!  (To really carry out the idea the way I want, I will also need to modify the Treaty of Utrecht slightly.....)

A model Fort Anne or Port Royal as it was called when the French first built it.
By Charny - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter in Acadia

Planning continues for this winter's campaign season.

This release from Prince August came earlier than expected but with a limited time free postage offer on top of  a package discount, well it would have seemed just rude not to buy. Besides the spare heads include bareheads and forage caps and the coats without turnbacks will serve nicely for urban militia as well as for British, French and New England troops in inclement weather.
Coming soon to a mailbox near me. 
For a few minutes the sight of all those French regulars had me thinking of the Plains of Abraham not to mention Minden etc.  especially as I  don't really want to do more single figure skirmishes. However, I soon managed to come back to my senses and stick with the Acadian theatre of King George's War in the 1740's.

Of course the original affair mostly consisted of the sieges of Fort Anne and Louisburg and the missed opportunity that was the disastrous expedition of the Duc d'Anville along with various minor skirmishes.  The 1st Siege of Louisburg has potential as a mini campaign but it would be hard to represent on my table and anyway we know how that ended. Something the size of Fort Anne would be more reasonable if we buggered the history enough to allow something like the planned attack rather than the weak investment that was managed largely by the Canadian expedition while the French fleet and army waffled and died of plague in Bedford Basin.

But, as long as we are messing with history, it would be just as easy to imagine two forts with adequate forces and bold commanders. Now there is scope for amphibious landings, ambushes, sieges and assaults. The primary forces will be New Englanders and Compagnies Franches (not the Canadian, frontier irregular types, the ones stationed at Louisburg were ordinary regulars straight from France). These will however be backed by French and British regulars, landing parties of sailors and marines from the fleets, woodswise Acadian militia and urban Louisbourg militia, indians, rangers and possibly a contingent of veteran Canadian woods fighters both militia and Compangies Franches under de Ramezay.

The tentative plan is for companies of 3 skirmishers or 8 infantry fixed to 6cm bases as individual units that may be grouped. So on this front at least,  it'll be more about casting and painting than playing this winter but I'm looking forward to the whole affair.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

They Came On In The Old Way

At last today I was able to sit down for two hours and play this game through.

The previous days' bits and pieces of free time were not lost though as I sorted through the figures on hand and reviewed three years worth of late 19thC/early 20thC game reports on various grid sizes using various versions of the rules and various organizations. I also contemplated how various scenarios would work with each system and cross referenced all this with what I really want the games to feel like. The end result was to fall back on the organization of battalions composed of 4 stands each of 2 infantry which I selected back in the fall of 2014 because the originally planned 16 man battalions were more figures than I wanted to paint and more than I had room for. This organization got lost when I started trying to cram everything into smaller squares on a smaller table. There are other very viable options for the bigger squares and I considered some but the 4x2 was the one that I liked best and wanted to make work. So I did.

A rough quick reference version of the rules is available (click) but I need to expand it to a full explanation of how my troops are organized and how things work as well as by adding all the extras such as field hospitals, boats and so on. Unlike earlier versions I am just going to lay out what I do but anyone who wishes to is free to borrow or adapt to suit themselves. The rules will be an example of my new 'sweet spot' a cross between a "serious" traditional historical wargame and playing with toy soldiers.

Now....On with the game!
Early in the game. The Royal forces have seized the bridge and are attacking up the West Bank while the Republican forces are advancing cautiously.  
The game was essentially Blasthof Bridge, the introductory example wargame from Lawford & Young's Charge! or How to Play Wargames. The Red Queen of Faraway's army stood in for the Imperial army while the Republic of Oberhilse's army took the role of the Elector's force. I made no conscious attempt to follow the original plans or to program either side. The only change to the army lists apart from grouping the figures into 8 figure infantry battalions and 4 figure cavalry squadrons was to reduce the artillery to 1 gun aside. That was due as much to a shortage of artillery pieces for the late 19th Century as to a concern that the force was too small to warrant 2 batteries. The infantry were all armed with breechloaders, the cavalry all carried carbines for dismounted work as well as swords and lances.

Having a cavalry advantage, General Milne split his cavalry and rapidly seized both ends of the bridge and then concentrated on the West bank as soon as his infantry was up. He then split his infantry and set up a defensive line screened by a brief spoiling attack by part of his cavalry. His explanations of why he felt that move was necessary and whether or not he felt that the damage to his cavalry nearly lost him the battle have never been properly answered.

General Zinn began by sending a screening party of infantry over the river and concentrated the rest of his force for a push up the West bank. He soon found himself channeled by the steep hill which made it difficult to exploit his numbers. Once his cavalry and gun had thrown back the Royal cavalry and the battle began to settle into a desultory long range firefight, he decided to transfer half of his infantry to the other side to launch a coordinated assault up the East bank.    

The Red Queen's men have been thrown back and only a bold advance by the last fresh squadron of lancers has plugged the gap. Across the river though, the Republican losses have been heavy and their last chance to seize the bridge will be a desperate assault by a battered battalion of the Blue Guard. 
On the East bank there was again a funnel, this time though the farm full of riflemen was more of a threat than the hill crowned by a squadron of dismounted cavalry had been. Every attempt to organize a concentrated attack was shot apart before it got started,  a situation not helped by some timely chance cards in the enemy's favour. In the end he was forced to lead the last assault and risk all. For a minute the redcoats wavered and Colonel Marten was forced to risk the bullets to steady his men and bring up reserves. Across the river the slow dribble of casualties finally broke the back of the Queen's cavalry but the Republican cavalry was too badly shot up to take advantage of the situation.

It was now or never, the last attack went forward and was shattered, General Zinn rallied them but then the 4.7 shells came crashing in and both the Blue Guard and 7th Infantry fell below 1/2 strength while Red's infantry still had 2 fresh battalions. It was time to retreat.

Turn 12 and a despite General's Zinn personal intervention the Republican army is shattered and must withdraw leaving the Royal Army in possession of the bridge. 
This is the sort of game that these armies, and my WW1 and Colonial ones were designed to play and the sort that I was getting sorted when I decided that I had to shrink my table a year ago. I'm glad they're back. Now I can start work healing the damage done to the armies in my search for a smaller foot print and get ready for some winter campaigning, everything from a train ambush to a pitched battle are possible again.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blast Off eh?

The refurbished table isn't finished yet but its far enough along to be played on and I'm  ready for a game.
The armies of the Blue Republic and the Red Queen are about to clash over the Belmont bridge.
We'll see when the game is played but so far it feels very good to have my big squares back!  After some waffling the re-re-re-inaugural game will be set in Atlantica in the opening years of the 20th Century. A nice simple meeting engagement, based on a well known scenario, one of the first I ever read, one which has never failed me yet.

I took a few minutes to update the Tin Army and to reinstate a few rules that only work when the squares have room for two infantry units. The result can be accessed from this link:  The Tin Army.

Game to follow as soon as I can get away with it. I suspect Saturday with a Sunday morning report.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Winter Quarters: Bigger on the Outside

At last winter weather is upon us. Two more weeks and the winter break/campaign season wull begin in earnest. In preparation I have been borrowing, if not downright stealing, time to begin by clearing for action.

The last year and a half has been one of turmoil for my gaming room as I have attempted to use it for more. This has been most obvious in the shrinking tabletop leading to explorations of how to get the most out of the smallest convenient space, and by a sea of seemingly unclearable clutter which has impeded me at every turn.  There comes a time when one must recognize and accept defeat and start to deal with the consequences and search for a new plan.

The taking apart has been done, things have been "disappeared" and now begins the reconstruction. Experimentation has shown that the less cluttered room could once again house a 5*8 table should I be willing to bump into it constantly but a 4*6 will now fit easily without being in the way. On the surface this will make the table slightly bigger but since I have learned a lot about the pleasure and possibilities of small games I am also going to decrease the number of grid squares thus making the table smaller on the inside ,(a sort of anti-TARDIS?).

The main benefit of going back to 6" squares is merely looks, the larger squares make it easier to fit troops and terrain in together and easier to improve the look, something I'm looking forward to after all this improvisong and experimenting.

More to come in a few days when the table is in fewer pieces.......

Friday, December 2, 2016


Last week was another hectic 'winter is coming ' sort of week leaving little time and energy for hobbies so any comments or conclusions may be even less cohesive than usual.

Mercenary pikemen in French pay clash with old fashioned English bills and bows c1548.
If I remember correctly my aim had been to play a wargame that felt a bit more like a traditional wargame while also turning my mind to the thorny issue of the relationship between historical command and control and game mechanisms. Rather than spend a lot of effort on scenario design or pick one of my usual teasers, I just threw the painted cloth (game mat I suppose in modern parlance) on the table and let it suggest something. That something ended up with one force trying to deny passage along a road through a gap between woods and some broken high ground. When I turned to pick armies my eye fell on my 16thC Anglo-Scottish wars figures and the game was soon good to go.

Battle rages across the board. 
Among the C&C mechanisms that I considered were written game orders as in WRG 3rd edition Ancients, fixed, predefined orders as used in various rules, a variation on DBA's PIPs, diced activation, variable length moves with in command bonus, card draw activation by subordinate command, a couple of others and various combinations. I changed the system mid game and even mid turn and restarted the game twice before essentially giving up and thus finding the best feel yet.

The answer of course, which I should have known by now, was to stop trying to mimic historical processes in favour of getting appropriate results and to stop worrying about inventing "game like" mechanisms for their own sake unless I wanted to make that my focus, which I don't.

A last desperate charge by English heavy cavalry is repulsed and the Earl of Belmont is wounded. The English yield the field but it was nip and tuck.
I went back today and reread some of my own thoughts on control vs fiction from an August 2010 post  (Control vs Friction) and that post still holds true. However that in turn reminded me of Frank Chadwick's design notes from Volley and Bayonet (linked page removed) which resonate with me even more now than they did then.

Anyway, what I ended up doing was going back to my now usual card draw for initiative each turn including chance cards in the deck. This was combined with fixed moves which are long enough to let troops get into trouble easily, a zone of control to complicate maneuver once engaged, fewer bigger units or rather groups of stands under a commander (brigades if you will), a rule for detached subunits and combat rules which tend towards the middle but with the possiblity of extreme results. (Thank you to Lawford & Young for that!)

Now to apply this sort of thinking to the mid-ninteenth century. BTW, next time I think that I should ponder about making a wargame more "game like" I must remind myself that Chess is also a game.

Monday, November 28, 2016

That Reminds Me

One of the things that I like about blogging is the feedback and ideas I get back through comments. At the very least they often get me thinking and sometimes rethinking. Whether that extra thinking confirms or changes my mind, or just awakens a dormant thought or intent, I'm better off for it.

I did some ciphering and imagining yesterday about the footprint of various sizes of 54mm units, about scenarios and force make up, about existing figures and possible future units and about force and command structures in various mid-ninteenth century historical engagements of a comparable size to various scenarios that I might play .  I didn't come to any conclusions other than that I need to cast and paint at least three dozen figures before any of it is relevent.

However, just thinking about rules for command reminded me of a thought/feeling that I had at Fall In which was that while I enjoy the sort of short quick "game" Wargames that I have mostly been playing recently, I miss my old style of longer, still simple but slightly more complex and less "gamey", wargames. The resolution I took then was to make an effort to keep doing both when I got home.

So, while my 54mm armies are being rebuilt, I have a generic 16th Century English army  vs an Auld Alliance Franco-Scots army Gathering of Hosts game set up on the table while I tinker with version 8 of the rules which will hearken back to Rough Wooing.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What to do with unemployed Colonels?

If I was less fond of my mounted toy soldier officers, toy soldier game design would be much easier and I could just go with one General per side for these small games.

For some time now I have been quite aware that too many commanders spoil the wargame command broth either by making it too easy to get everyone going or by adding too much overhead in the way of either artificial rules to hinder them from doing their job or excessive details and processes. If the player is the General then someone else (ie the game mechanics) should be doing those lower level jobs, and doing them competently most of the time, unless they are part of an army which is both untrained and inexperienced.

But if I only need one General, maybe with some aides for the look of things, what do I do with all these other mounted officers?

Recently my mind has started going back to all those magazine pictures of Peter Gilder inspired battalions with a mounted officer in the middle. Hard to do with four man units, hence my prolonged efforts to include rules for Colonels and Brigadiers. Even my proposed twelve figure units don't have room for a mounted officer but it occured to me yesterday that for the 1860's Anglo-American border war, a three stand 54mm battalion could accomodate a mounted officer, flag, musician, foot officer and sergeant along with twelve other ranks and look acceptable.

Mock up of two of the new battalions.

Unless I expand my table significantly the maximum number of figures per game has to stay roughly the same. This brings me back to needing a set of rules designed for a small number of long lasting units, in other words, the sort of games suggested by  One Hour Wargames, just not those rules since they are not to my taste.  This means fewer regimental uniforms will be represented but at least my Colonels will have a home that doesn't adversely affect the game.

Right now there are two approaches that seem attractive. One is to ditch the grid and look at various past versions of Hearts of Tin with three stand battalions.  The other is to drop down to a 3" grid with each stand being a unit and allow a Colonel to control 2 adjacent units then proceed with a version of the Square Brigadier. Both sets would probably go back to rolling an "Orders" die each turn, a system that has worked well in the past with a small number of units.

Since the basing and organization will be the same either way, I will proceed to paint and base figures and delay a decision on rules until I have enough battalions painted and based. The NorthWest campaign against the Indians and metis will continue to use one rank half- stands since all units are skirmishers. Initially some existing units will see double duty but, since the numbers are so low, I hope to eventually have all the Canadians wearing more appropriate uniforms.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Meet Me At The Oasis

During the final decade of the 20th Century a couple of us got into 54mm WWII. We started with Rapid Fire! then experimented a bit but drifted off to other things early this century.

After our last game of Airfix Battles, Ron decided that it wasn't quite what he was looking for so he picked up Bolt Action and yesterday we gave them a whirl. I'm not sure why I was expecting him to stay with his 20mm figures.

Once again 1/32 Airfix Ghurkas and Afrika Korps clash! Somewhere in that oasis is a vital well.

As usual, we like to do things our way and adapt rules to our purposes rather than mindlessly obeying so I shouldn't have been surprised when Ron hauled out the 54's  and we started discussing adapting BA to the hex grid.

For the curious, a basic squad of 5x54's will fit nicely in a 10cm Hexon hex so we just declared each grid equal to 3" for ranges and moving etc, rounded odd numbers when they appeared and declared that the 1" rule applied to adjacent hexes. Seemed to work well.

The highpoint of the battle. Several of Ron's units are pinned in the open and the infantry I had rushed into the oasis have located and seized the well.
The basic rules were pretty straight forward and made sense. There were some odd omissions and odd inclusions on the quick reference sheets which resulted in a lot of time spent checking and rechecking for basics like morale check details but by the time a couple of turns had been played it was flowing well.
As darkness fell (ie I realized that I was already an hour late) Ron offered me a draw since I still held the well, (technically). Since I only had 1 lone infantry squad left, my heavy weapons, which were all pinned down, were covering the approaches that his three remaing units of superior infantry no longer needed to use, and he had an infantry unit adjacent to and arguably contesting for control of the objective, I declined the generous offer and ceded the game.
One game is almost never enough to judge a set of rules by but we had fun and overall they seemed to work without too many oddities. Basic fire and move tactics, fire zones etc seemed to work and so on.

There were a few Warhammerish oddities such as the deadly Ninja-like rules for the Ghurkas which we only discovered when Ron charged one of my units to see what would happen and we cracked the close asssault rules. Things like that can be dealt with easily enough by house rules though.

There will be more games.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Coming Home

I didn't exactly expect my revived Toy Soldier enthusiasm to lead me here but its a happy place.

Today I gave Scenario 12, "Unfortunate Oversight", from Thomas' One Hour Wargames, its third outing in a week. The first game was last Saturday's  non-gridded British vs US game using variable moves and counting noses. The second was an on-grid US vs Indians game using an experimental set of rules which gave an OKish but not very exciting game. Today's game was a return to the Square Brigadier (Tin Army) with some tweaks to the rules and unit sizes.

The scenario is an attack by one force on an equal sized force of defenders. The trick is that the objective is a hill in the middle of the board but the armies are separated by an unfordable river and the defender thinks that the only crossing is a bridge by a town so he must deploy all units within a foot (3 squares here) of the town. The attacker, however, knows of a secret ford off to the flank.
The setup. The Americans have 3 infantry, 1 militia. 1 gun, 1 cavalry. The Indians have 6 Indian units.

Amongst all the various small issues there have been two main ones.

1. Command Control. I want a role a C&C role for commanders, one that adds some friction but which is neither too random nor too onerous/distracting or artificial in terms of mechanisms. There are lots of approaches which work well but one of the simplest and most adaptable is to mix chance cards with a die roll for detached/isolated units  to provide for the oddities, delayed orders, court martial-August I started experimenting with an initial "command control" phase in which I seek out and mark isolated or detached units which need to test before acting. The markers make it harder to forget and just move the units without rolling. Today I realized that I could actually combine these units with those recovering from adverse combat results and by giving a range of results on 1 die roll could make everything work smoother. With the units being slightly larger this allowed the one common roll to effectively replace the Rally and Command rules by a combined one while giving players less choice on how their units act under fire, thus increasing the benefit of reserves and supports.

The defender reacts and occupys the hill. I'm not sure why the American allowed himself to devote so many assets to the small decoy force across the river. 
It came close to costing him the battle.

2. Firefights. A common theme in 19th Century battles is that long and medium range firefights between opposing skirmishers or lines of prone infantrymen tended to be long and indecisive. For the men on the line a slow trickle of casualties was disconcerting but ammunition shortages and exhaustion were usually a bigger threat. One could just assume its happening  but especially in smaller actions like the battles in the Riel Rebellion, and the Boer War they were important to the men there and often did eventually influence the final result. For the last two years I've been trying different approaches from a simple fire or move to various "pinned" results or options, reaction tests and so on. The result was generally either a boring game or units that died too quickly or never at all. I am now using units that are slightly stronger without an increase in firepower and an involuntary pinned/go to ground result using the same marker as put on isolated ones and triggering the same test. There is also a a chance of actual casualties and a chance to be forced back by the fire of several units.  Several units were weakened and forced back by overwhelming fire and some heavily damaged units struggled to rally but the only units destroyed outright were destroyed in close combat.

Together it all felt just right during the game.
As the turn deck sank slowly in the west, a prolonged firefight had worn down several US units and a rush led by Chief Yellow Feather drove the Americans off the crest of the hill despite the intervention of Colonel Lannigan. By a typical fluke of the dice both leaders were wounded in the fierce fighting. Alas for the Indians I forgot that a replacement should have been able to take over after a short while. Leaderless, both sides rather ground to a halt. The Indians had been doing much more damage than they were taking and a few more hits might have broken the American force but for the last 3  or 4 turns even the broad side of the barn was safe  and the game ended in a draw with the hill still in dispute. 
One small game is not much to go on but after five...six? (I should look that up) years it feels like what I was aiming for all along and not quite reaching.

More testing is of course needed. A test of the battalion rules though may have to wait for another two dozen Bluecoats and Zouaves to be painted up. For those wanting to look at a copy of the revised rules, well, its just a few scratches on a slip of paper right now backed up by habit but I'm working on an updated edition on the rules and they will be available here as soon as they are done.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Harnessing Enthusiasm

The physical work of upgrading the North West campaign "armies" has begun but that is the lesser part really.
The three existing units of US infantry have now been updated to 6 figures each on 2 unfinished bases. Anyone who has noticed that their pants are a slightly darker hue is paying altogether too much attention. 😑
I confess that lately I have had to withstand an internal barrage of nostalgia for simple, fast moving, single figure games but much of that is really nostalgia for games that I didn't really play or games that I played but don't really want to play again  on a regular basis, especially as solo games. So, work has begun to find a compromise between that nostalgia and the sorts of games that I have been playing over the last five years. A compromise that will give me just the right sort of game for these 54mm armies.

Some things have already been decided such as:

  • A relatively small number of persistent units rather than a large number of short lived ones. (A greater number of persistent units would call for a longer game and probably a bigger table.)
  • Player focus on the battle plan rather on micromanaging the details of unit tactics, formations etc. The assumpion is that unit officers and ncos are usually competent to do their job. Really lousy combat results in a favourable situation may indicate a failure of unit command along with other possibilities that we will never know.
  • The basic premise from Hearts of Tin and the Square Brigadier will be maintained thus there will be a clear division between long ranged combat which slowly  wears units down and much more decisive  close combat, whether close range shooting or the threat or use of cold steel, which can quickly result in the destruction or retreat of one side.

Other things such grid or no grid remain to be resolved.

The full battle armies won't be ready till midwinter at the earliest but I'm nearly ready to give the upgraded 6 figure skirmisher units and some rules a spin this weekend.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mustering While the Thought is Hot

I had better things to do today than muster 54's, well OK, not better really just not hobby related. However,  the fatigue and  burn out from my long drive is just catching up with me and peaking, so here are my short and long term 54mm toy soldier goals and an assessment of where I'm at.
Red's Commander musters his division for inspection, ready or not.
For the North West campaign I intend to muster the following for both Red and Blue based on Thomas's One Hour Wargames unit selection chart. Other scenarios will be accommodated by fudging or drawing on the full armies. There is one glitch in that I cannot imagine such small forces having two artillery units and anyway, I can no longer field four 54mm guns. In the short term I will substitute any unit but ere long I plan to convert two Britain's WW1 MG's into anachronistic carriage mounted Maxim guns. My old Marx repro Gatling which I no longer have was too big anyway. This means 4 infantry, 2 artillery, 2 sharpshooter, 2 cavalry/mounted rifle units. Infantry units will be 6 figures, artillery 1 piece + 3 crew, cavalry and sharpshooter units will be 4 figures. (Plus engineers and a field hospital)

For the Canadians I have enough infantry although I eventually want to replace at least some of them with figures in campaign dress. I have 1 unit of sharpshooters and some figures to refurbish as a second unit. The cavalry will consist of a unit of lancers in stetson and I have figures to convert to NW Mounted Rifles in pillbox caps. The artillery just needs the machine gun made.

The Americans need their infantry units expanded from 4 to 6, the cavalry upped by 1 figure each, the machine gun added, and a few sharpshooters touched up a bit to look more Buffalo hunter/scout like.

Hopefully all of that will be done by the end of the year including basing all three armies.

My initial forces for the Eastern campaign will have six, twelve figure, infantry units each plus two each of other units. The British can fudge that as seen above but some units could use refreshing and I intend to replace the copies of the Herald Highlanders with some line infantry and I will probably reduce the Naval Brigade to one company plus a gunboat crew. That can wait until I bring the American infantry units from 6 figures to twelve, add 3 more including Zouaves, and add cavalry as mentioned above. I also need 2 guns, not too big or too expensive. With luck I'd like to see at least a small game by New Years. Perhaps one of the  scenarios from Thomas's Wargaming tbe Ninteenth Century book which I picked up on kindle just before my trip. Coincidence?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Maybe some frog toes might have helped

Good thing this little exercise was really about trying to feel out which way to go with my collection of 54's. The rules were, well, ok but just. At the very least they need some tweaking to extend the life expectancy of units, add flavour and give players more to think about. However, rules aside, the game did what I wanted and helped me decide where this should go.

Turn Three. The Black Horse begin a charge on the gun but are handily repulsed with little damage on either side. 
There were a number of things I had been mulling about but the three biggest questions were: 

a) Since I already have more figures than I can squeeze into my NorthWest campaign in its current format and since there are a limited number of scenarios that fit within the setting and premise,  can I reasonably make it bigger or could I do some thing else that would compliment it using mostly what I already have in the way of figures and moulds?

b ) I am already tired of chasing single 54's around on uneven terrain so did I want to stick with flat terrain, single figures and small forces or give in to the urge to mount them on bases again and use the cloth over the hills terrain? If so should I go with Morschauser's proposed 4 infantry in 2 ranks on a base like I am tempted or go with larger units which is an attractive thought and what should units look like for the two different campaigns?   In any case the bases would have to allow units to occupy my new standard houses or in other words fit within a 60x60mm foot print.

c) Since using more figures per unit would allow me to use more of my collection to play exactly the same games using the gridded Tin Army is that a good option or is there a better way to have the North West game feel like small forces skirmishing on the wide Prairie and have a different game that feels more like a battle between armies and possibly be able to get double use out of figures by having basing and organization be compatible? 

First blood for the NorthWest Lancers! 
As I have mentioned previously, I originally started casting 54's for an 1860's British vs US game whether intervention in the Civil War, enhanced Fenian raids or just Toy Soldier Silliness. After looking at what I have on hand, it just makes sense to gracefully pick up where I left off fifteen years ago, but with 12 figure battalions instead of 24 given my 1/2 size table.  This will use basically all of what I have  on hand or have moulds for with room for only a few purchases such as artillery pieces needed and will allow virtually any scenario I want to tackle.  My 40's will have to content themselves with the War of 1812 and the Great Atlantican War of 1902. My 20mm ACW armies will again be nudged towards Brigades as units and bigger battles.
Less than 1/2 way into the game the US sort of ran out of units and I called it off.
I have a great fondness for Morschauser style 4 figure bases, especially if each is a unit, but there are issues. For the Prairies they just don't look like the iconic long lines of skirmishers one sees in the prints. That look is vital so the Prairie portion must have a single rank option. Back in August I decided that I liked 6 figure units with 3 figures in a single rank on a 60mmx30mm base. They didn't fit well with the Square Brigadier or 4 inch grid squares so I dropped them but they are just too useful and it will be easier to adjust the rules or the grid. The 3 figure bases are coming back then whether on a 5" grid or without a grid. Armies in the east will have 12 man battalions in 2 ranks with up to a dozen or more units on table, while those in the west will have to content themselves with 1/2 dozen 6 figure companies in a single rank.

My first plan, back in August.
Rules? We'll have to wait and see!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Eye of newt....(revised)

So I decided to try a OHW scenario using the 5" grid with 8 figure infantry units... no wait.....make that grid-less with 8 figure units and MacDuff... sorry, no  ...... how about...ahhh yes, grid-less using Tin Army-ish 4 figure company units (imagine Morschauser style stands) and vaguely MacDuff like movement......  Yeah, That's what I wanted to try.

**OK turns out the second option was the one I really wanted after all. The gridless Tin Army never got off the ground.

Britain's 54's vs Scruby & Zinnbrigade 40's

The rules are a bit of a witches' brew. Here's a brief rules summary: (as actually played)

With MacDuff on the Prairie
(an off the cuff set of rules)
Units are 8 infantry, 4 cavalry or 1 gun and 3 crew.
Sequence: Make a deck with 1 card per turn.
Draw cards for initiative, chance and to track turns as per Tin Army.
Active army activates 1 unit or group at a time and moves and/or shoots or rallies then melees if in contact.

Infantry 2 dice +1 in column.
Arty 3 dice
Cavalry 4 dice
Lose high die to change formation, limber, mount etc. Turns are free.
Lose high die to cross passable obstacle or terrain. Cavalry and arty can't go in woods, swamp etc.
Add 1 die if following road.
Lose 1 die to move and shoot. May not shoot and charge.
Colonel may join and reroll 1 die.

Shooting 1 die per 1 gunner or 2 rifles.
Arty: 24" 4,5,6 hits, 48" 5,6
Infantry: 6" 4,5,6 hits, 12" 5'6 hits 24" 6 hits
Dismounted cavalry  6" 4,5,6 hits 12" 6 hits
Troops in cover, cavalry and artillery suffer 1/2 casualties. Carry remainders.

Melee. 1 die per 1 cavalryman, 2 infantry or 1 gunner. 5,6 hits, +1 if elite or shock trooos.
Troops in cover or behind obstacle suffer 1/2 hits.
Side suffering more hits retreats in disorder. If tie cavalry retreats 2d6 facing enemy, may dismount.
Leader may roll 1 die: 4,5,6= 1 hit cancelled or extra hit on enemy, 2,3 no effect, 1=dead.

Disorder. A disordered unit may not move or shoot

Morale. A unit which is below 1/2 strength must test the first time each turn that it takes hits including the hit that dropped it below 1/2. 4,5,6 carry on, 1,2,3 fall back a full move in disorder, 0 rout. +1 elite, -1 militia/irregular. Commander may reroll once.
An army which has lost over 1/2 of its units is defeated.

Turn 1, The Canadians react to an outflanking move.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Leave no man behind

In the grand scheme of things this is a small matter.

Half of my favourite glossy toy soldiers are old 54mm ones while the rest are only 40mm tall, all of the same era. This my friends raises the insane spectre of evil Dr. Duplication!

Zinnbrigade 40's face Britain's Standard.
My plan pre Fall in was to deploy a small number of 54's in a gridded 1870's  game with company sized units while the 40's could have the turn of the century with a similar style but more units.

Its still a good plan in many ways and I'm going to stick to some version of it. Being still under the influence of Howard's shiny 40mm game I just might give up the really small units on a grid approach for the little guys and go back to 12 or 16 man "battalions" off grid.

Or maybe I should do that the other way.....

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lest We Forget

My big  sister Glenna painted this portrait of our Dad. 
My father was one of the least soldier-like men that I've met but none the less he signed up early with the Royal Canadian Signal Corps and headed overseas. He served with the 5th Canadian Armoured Division in Italy and Holland as a front line linesman, laying and repairing telephone lines under fire amongst other  things. He didn't like to talk about how he earned the citation so I won't share the whole story here but he did share it with me once after I was in uniform myself. It wasn't some instance of dramatic heroism though, more a matter of steadfast, determined duty in difficult, dangerous circumstances when a counter attack broke through and divisional HQ was temporarily over run in Holland, far behind where he and his assistant were doing their job.

Fourteen years to the day since I last saw him alive but,
I remember.
A closer look at his commendation sign by Montgomery.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Falllllll OUT!

Its a pity that the title "There and Back Again" has already been taken but yes I am once again "Home from the War(games)".

I'll skip over the travelogue except to say that it was a lonnnng drive with enjoyable stopovers with friends and an even longer drive home without the visiting. The convention itself was excellent, most enjoyable and almost worth the travel.  For those who are hoping for detailed accounts of games seen or played and awesome pictures, SORRY. Just more poorly lit cell phone snaps and few brief accounts low on details plus a few very brief observations filtered through the various games and long hours of driving. (For the curious, about 24 hours road time each way spread over 3 uneven days and that feels about like what it sounds like if you are also a person who is not fond of driving and Hates the periods of heavy traffic ).  OK lets skip to Day 1.

Fall In 2016 Day 1.

My Highlanders land on the north shore south of Quebec. These figures are my conversions of various Meisterzinn castings which were moulded and cast for us by John McEwan of Reviresco, somewhere around 2000.

Friday started with a walk about and visit to the dealer hall where I snagged a clearance sale on about a dozen 40mm 17thC Drabant Russian and Polish infantry. No, I won't be building an army around them, just adding them in as more Hungarian or other European levies in my 16thC Ottoman army-to-be which uses a Morschauser inspired unit organization of 4 infantry or 2 cavalry to a base. Imagination coupled with wilful ignorance allows such travesties and they are such beautiful castings, too beautiful to be passed up.  Later at the flea market an attempt to buy a used Osprey on Pavia from a friend turned into a gifting of said book which is pretty darned good no matter how you look at it.

There was, as usual, a vast assortment of games in various styles, periods and scales, bother historical and fantasy/scifi. Some showed daunting levels of talent and dedication with regards to figures and terrain, some were pleasingly basic of the "you too can easily do this and have fun.." type but most were  somewhere in between. Rules ranged from common published ones through new or old but uncommon ones through the gamut to homegrown rules while the games varied from well thought out scenarios tbrough semi role playing or straight forward punch ups to organized competitions and anything else. I always find the variety refreshing and well, reassuring,

By 2pm it was time for my first game as player.
Lil Britain's and Irregular 40mm Toy Soldiers . A gallant charge on my battery was narrowly repulsed by my RHA gunners who bravely stood to their guns and refused to take shelter with the infantry. (OK There was a 5/6 chance they were going to be over run but I mean very fashionable busbies and lace vs old fashioned metal helmets,  was there any doubt?)
 This was my preregistered game, a 40mm Toy Soldier game run by Howard Whitehouse using a simple but effective, fun set of rules which he is developing. I was one of three British players in a fairly straight forward encounter with our aim being to prevent the foreigners from being able to march farther up the road. Since neither of my teammates wanted to take the prime command I took it and we agreed to a general plan and fairly equitable distribution of force. I figured the centre was no place for cavalry in the 1880's so placed 2 light regiments on the left hoping they could exploit an open area while detailing some heavies to the right. The guns, infantry and guns were spread across the front.

Rather than having fixed turns the game runs in a continuous loop with actions triggered by the turn of a card with Jokers triggering chance effects and end of turn things including shuffling. To keep the game going each pair of players had a deck with the occasional cross-deck interactions being handled as they came up. This kept the game running smoothly and the players constantly acting with little or no respite for players to take a breather and look around so I had but vague impressions of what was happening on either flank except when the boundaries between sectors wavered. I did notice the gallant but futile charge of our light cavalry very few of whom ran away and eventually noticed that near the end of the game, the British troops on my left had been replaced by French ones. Luckily by then I had pretty much cleared my front and was able to shift forces. I also noticed when there were no enemy between my riflemen and the gun shelling our right wing and took that one out before taking out the gun shelling me.   Still, all in all, I was relieved when the rest of the French army decided to retire against the General's wishes.

Wonderful toy soldiers, great game master and fellow players, fun game, everything a convention game should be.
The end.  In my imagination a few stragglers from the Fusiliers are still guarding the flank of my gun until the Highlanders and some Engineers arrive.
Once Howard's game was done I had to hotfoot back to the HAWK's room to help Rob set up our game. This was based loosely on an historical event during the siege of Quebec in 1759. In an effort to draw Montcalm out Wolfe sent raiding parties up and down the river, burning farms and destroying or disrupting the flow of supplies bound for Quebec. In this particular case they had information about a warehouse and one raid had already been repulsed. The French began with a handful of militia on hand with reinforcements of picked units, Indians and regulars arriving on table.

We ran the game previously in 2005 but that seemed like a long time ago now and my partial tests had taken place as solo games on a table less than 1/2 the size of this one. It had also been 2 1/2 years since the last time I had GM'd this sort of multi-player game so I was feeling just a little bit rusty and apprehensive as the start time approached.   Its always a bit tense waiting to see if you have a quorum but between preregisters and walk ups we filled all eight spots.

Pregame. Picked units of militia and a company of Colony Troops arrive. Three units of Rob's Irregular Miniatures.

This may sound odd but I was so busy with managing the flow and resolving rules questions that I have only a vague idea of how the game went other than that, as usual, the advantage seemed to ebb and flow from side to side. When we finally ran out of time the British were occupying the target but were too hard pressed by the defenders to have managed to identify and destroy the stores cache. Losses were heavy on both sides but I called it a winning draw for the British since they held the objective and were not so hard pressed that they couldn't have fired the building before withdrawing. It was certainly a relief that the players seem to have enjoyed the game on the whole.
The bulk of the troops were conversions of homecast Prince August or Meisterzinn figures. About 1/3rd were done by Chris Palmer with the rest being Rob's. Only the Highlanders and boat's crew were mine.  Here Gage's Light Infantry are Rob's work while the Royal Americans were done by Chris.

The next game came Saturday morning. This was based on the Battle of Bloody Creek during Pontiac's Rebellion. The previous day's toy soldier game had gotten me thinking about play sequencing and while I didn't want to go that far I decided to unilaterally change the sequence slightly between games.

In Friday's games each player on a side activated one unit each time a card was drawn. That was actually a new idea I hadn't tried before the game. I had also introduced a new "final fire phase" which allowed units that had held fire to fire at the end of the turn if their fire had not been triggered by enemy actions. That was contrary to the original rule and muddled the play sequence a little. In addition, the original rally when activated rule which allowed player's to slowly accumulate hits before rallying had been replaced  by a rule requiring rallying at the end of every turn to avoid having to drag 'hits' around from turn to turn. Melee's had always been fought at the end of turn which was contrary to every other combat.

What I decided was to activate 1 player or "command" per card and have those active units conclude their action, any enemy reaction, melee and rallying right away. To my mind this not only fit my idea of how the game was meant to work but was smoother and felt more natural as the game played out so this will be the new standard.

Roger's Rangers and a company of Grenadiers form the advance guard. Rangers by Chris, Grenadiers by Rob.
The British mission was to make a night march across the board to Pontiac's camp and attack it. The historical action developed around two key things: the Indians got word of the attack and the camp had actually been abandoned months ago. The game began with reduced visibility which increased as the day went on. possibly more quickly than it should. Once the British Advance Guard had fought their way through to the clearing they were informed that there was no camp and that their new mission was to get as many men as possible back to the fort.

The Indians had been told that their sole mission was to kill as many British as possible, that they would receive reinforcements through out the game and that their own "casualties" did not matter (most casualties being assumed to be warriors who had slipped away rather than actual dead or seriously wounded).  What I didn't explain, on purpose, was that their losses were the main source of reinforcements, I wanted to encourage bold attacks but not not suicidal ones. Despite repeating the victory conditions several times, I don't think I ever made it clear enough to the players as most of them were quite cautious through out the game in typical Indian fashion, unlike Pontiac's men on the day who seemed to have displayed unusually aggressive and persistent tactics on the day. This wasn't a problem when we first brought the scenario out about a decade ago but if we ever bring it out for a third time, I will have to prepare a better briefing.

The set up prior to the hidden Indian units being placed.

As it was, the British were still hard pressed but not as hard pressed as on the day. The players handled the mid game change of orders well with only minimal delay for it to sink in and have them react effectively. One of my favourite moments came here as the remnants of the Advance Guard came stampeding back past the main column with a brief order from the senior commander to "cover me". Almost instantly a chance card was pulled resulting in a bayonet charge by said new rearguard. Perfect, though random, timing.    

We didn't quite play to the end of the gaming session as it seemed pretty clear that the British were going to be able to escape with the bulk of their units intact. If I'm not mistaken, the rangers of the advance guard were the only unit routed. All in all, despite some occasionally heavy casualties, the British did much better than they did on the day. To my mind this was largely due to not having been pressed closely and kept under close range fire as they were in the actual engagement however, it may also be because the British were too crowded without enough gaps for the Indians to infiltrate through. Using eight figure units instead of 12 for the British line units might have been a better idea. This would have made each unit more vulnerable to losses as well as making it easier for the Indians to find gaps. Extending the hours of darkness would also have helped encourage close in fighting. Something to keep in mind should we ever run the scenario again.

The end of the game.  Rogers himself and his oft rallied Rangers were still holding the road open as they did on the day. (These are Rob's rangers and this unit are Irregulars).  The gunboat has arrived to provide cover fire.
I was hoping to get away mid morning on Sunday after a round of goodbyes and a last sweep of the dealer hall and flea market so all that remained of Fall In for me  was to find a game to play Saturday night. There were some interesting ones to consider but in several cases beautiful looking games in periods of interest used rules I knew I didn't like. Luckily there was a spot open in Roy Jones' Sword & The Flame game set in German South East Africa. Tick! Tick!  It turned out to be a good choice and a very enjoyable game despite our utter failure to secure victory over the Herero freedom fighters.

25mm The Sword and The Flame German South West Africa game. A good relaxing way to end a convention.

So now its back to "what next?"  In the near future there are some Mounties and friends waiting as well as the re-awakened desire to add a 12 -16 figure battalion, late 19th Century, Toy Soldier game (thank you Howard). Mostly though I want to do more with my enlarged collection of Elastolin figures.

Huzzah in May is fast approaching and while it is likely to be 5 or more years before I make the long haul again, Huzzah is an easy drive and gives me everything I need in a con, esp if my partner in crime can make it. The traffic on Sunday was too heavy, hour after wearing hour, for me to think about future games but on Monday I was cruising north on easy roads and ideas, obstacles, memories and inspirations kept surfacing of their own free will  until a thought (no doubt fed by having flipped through the Pavia book and talked about the 2005 Haddington game) popped into my head: "Prince Valiant and the Relief of Haddington 2 - with magic and maybe some monsters."  In other words a reworking of our successful 2005 historical game in a different setting using my Elastolin collection. Needs a bit of work but that might just be where I'm headed.