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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The end of the Pass

I didn't plan on finishing this game today but I sat down beside the game with my mid-morning coffee and somehow, by the time the last sip of cold coffee was gone, the game was over. (and my chores were late..)
Mid game. General Milne's redcoats have cleared the heights against light resistance following the unexpected rout of the new battalion of Irish volunteers. The battle is far from over though and the veteran General Zinn has called up his reserves and formed a new line across the mouth of the valley.
The rules played out well again with no new tweaking required and took about 1/2 the time of the larger game (with smaller figures). I had both sides use the same programmed orders for continuity but allowed Red to reroll for level of aggression and this time was allowed to attack before all troops were deployed. The initial attack went better than last time, possibly due in part to the reduced number of units which made each encounter more important. The wheels almost came off though when the Oerberg Volunteers were destroyed in a fierce 2 round melee and the Irish who were in reserve had to take a rally test due to disorder from artillery fire. With a +l for Brigadier attached but -2 for being part of a Brigade that had lost 1/2 of its units they needed 2 or better to pass. They rolled a 1 and routed. Oops! With the Western flank being slowly forced back by a combination of artillery, infantry and the threat of cavalry charges, the whole Eastern flank and centre was now held by 1 battery of guns. Time to call up the reserve of Blue Guards and Dragoons.

There was a break in the action as Faraway's redcoats struggled to advance and reform prior to a final assault on Oberhilse's new line. Since the moves and ranges were slightly longer and the forces smaller, I had only set a turn limit of 12 turns. There was no time to waste.

At last, after a brief bombardment the assault went in. The Tigers and Buffs vs the disordered Blue Guards, 2 Volunteer units against Blue's battered regular brigade, the Victoria Rifles against the gun and the Kapelle Mounted Rifles against the 3rd unit of Oberhilse regulars.  The Blue Guards held against twice their numbers and the Mounted Rifles drove back the battered and disordered 2nd Infantry and then rode them down during the pursuit. On the hill though, 3 Oberhilse units rolled 9 dice and scored seven 5's and 6's while taking 1 hit in exchange! Faraway was repulsed all along the line! On their half of the turn the Blue Dragoons counter attacked hitting the Lancer's and routing them, pursuing into the Victoria Rifles and dispersing them before they could rally!

There was one turn left and Red had only 1 infantry unit that was not disordered. The Belmont Rifles were sent forward in a Hail Mary assault on the battered 1st Infantry while the quickly rallied York Volunteers and a battery opened up on the Blue Dragoons, who only had 1 hit left. It was a long shot that any of the Blue units would be destroyed and if Blue only lost 1 unit he would still be able to hold his ground and win the game. It was Red's turn to roll high though, the Volunteers rallied and scored a 5 while the battery rolled a 6, enough to inflict the necessary hit on the cavalry. It was down to the Belmont lads and they came through 2 hits on 3 dice and the veteran 1st Infantry was swept away bringing General Zinn's command to over 50% units lost and forcing him to concede and  retreat. The pass was clear!

It doesn't get much closer than that!
Game's End. Last Turn. Red manages a last minute rally and a Hail Mary charge to win the day. 

Thankfully the result of these two games is that both the 1/72nd ACW and 40mm Atlantic games are confirmed as "on track" and I can continue puttering on them as I feel like it, a few figures here and there, some basing and repairs to be done, some odds and sods and interesting bits to add as it pleases me.

It did occur to me though that while the 40mm troops work OK off grid, they didn't benefit from it since the little units look very Game-ish rather than dioramic anyway. Several times as I searched for the measuring stick and tried to manoeuvre around vague terrain   I found myself wishing I had decided to just use the grid. To that end I will persevere with completing grid friendly terrain so that I can quickly lay out an attractive game and get playing. That'll be a better use of my time than doubling the size of the armies.

I did notice one minor issue though and not for the first time. When I decided to drop the Orders dice concept I fell back on the old roll if beyond command radius method (Probably inspired by Koenigkreig originally but dating back to the original Colonial version of With MacDuff to the Frontier). It works OK except that its a nuisance, it rarely makes a difference, doesn't model how things actually work and I keep forgetting about it anyway. I don't  want to go back to Orders dice or adopt every turn activation style command rolls such as the F&IW version of MacDuff used.

I'm currently contemplating two options. One is to cut back on Commanders and just use them for boosting morale and combat, leaving it to the chance deck to interfere with player's plans. The other is to go for some sort of Brigade/Detached unit Orders rule as in Attack X or Defend Y with a definition of what is allowed or forced under each order and a die roll to accept a change of orders. Needs some thought then maybe some testing.


  1. I am very comfortable with a grid and I a also OK on an open table in which a grid is not shown at all. The difficulty I have is playing a non-gridded game on a grid surface. My 'conditioned' eye just cannot ignore the grid, I want and expect units to conform to it ........ Yet in a gridded game, the his is not obtrusive at all to me, all very strange.

    I am presently having the same tussle as you with regards to aesthetic of a large figure, but them. Not looking like a unit when they occupy the grid. I am thinking about making a unit span across two hexes to keep things gridded, while having a large unit that does at least look proportionately linear, though in terms of game mechanics, it needs extra rules over head and potentially narrows the equivalent width of the table (but not the depth by contrast).

    1. I prefer to cover the grid when I'm not using it and was a bit annoyed that none of my cloths worked and that I did not have sufficient gridded hills.

      I did look at 2 grid wide units but without a larger table it meant too few units in the battle line. Choices!

  2. Ross Mac,

    A very interesting battle report, and one that seems to be helping you to define what you want from your rules. I will not comment about the 'number of figures in a unit' issue as it is one that I am constantly going over again and again in my own head ... along with the single figure vs. multi-figure bases issue. One day I favour one way of doing things, and on another I favour the alternative.

    All the best,


    1. One day the ideal solution will emerge, or solutions....

  3. Agreed with the splendidness of he battle and accompanying report. Grid notwithstanding, the whole thing brings H.G. Wells' Little Wars immediately to mind, which isn't a bad thing. Not at all.

    Best Regards,


    1. Indeed, and not entirely accidentally though I think it may be mostly the uniforms and low density.

  4. Can you give the link to the most recent version of the rules you used for this battle?

    1. Be careful what you wish for! The link was in the ACW battle report post and notes that it is just a rough summary for testing and not a full set of rules. That remains true. Here is the link:
      google docs link