EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Huzzah 2017 Part Two

Saturday morning was to have been a morning for wandering about looking at games, chatting and so on but... one of the HAWKS who was scheduled to run a game Saturday morning had had to cancel so our table was empty in a full venue. I decided to set up an unscheduled  Portable Wargame session and nabbed one of the Sunday signees as well as Rob and gave the Zulus an outing. It seems the Zulu miniatures were unable to pass on any of the experience gained during the play tests and superior technology won out in each round. The last one was close however.

See Rob's blog for more pictures of the Pike and Shot game and the Portable Wargame.  ( sharpbrush.blogspot.ca )
and also Jeff's blog. (armchaircommander.blogspot.ca)

After a quick lunch on the run it was time for some American Old School Wargaming with Joe Linares and George Nafziger's Pas de Charge! from 1977. Joe had gamed with George back in the day and had acquired his collection of Hinton Hunts.

Little figures, big battalions and brain exercising arithmetic.

The game was based on the battle of Verona/Caldiero but boiled down to fit the table size and time available. Once again there was a good group of gamers on both sides of the table and some tense moments with some failed high probability and successful low probability rolls keeping everyone on their toes.  The combat rules involved a little bit of simple arithmatic like (no of figures x (2d10+factors)/200) sort  or say (34 muskets * 73) etc. We did a fair amount of rounding and guestimating on the corner of the table I was on but I noticed a few smartphones with calculater apps appearing on the far corner of the table). Despite that the rules were easy to grasp and played quickly.

The battle lines are drawn c Turn 3 or 4.
Alas these pictures are the best my cellphone could do in that light, the rest were even worse.

I commanded the Austrian Advance Guard, the only troops on table at the start. I placed my gun on a small knoll in the middle with infantry on either side and Uhlans guarding my open left. 

My Uhlans did very well, not running away until the enemy got close. My Grenzers did some what better, trading fire for several turns and not running away until charged by four French battalions. Even then they had the presence of mind to successfully make the narrow chance shot at the enemy General as they ran. The French then failed three fairly easy morale checks one after the other leaving one disordered battalion to charge my lone gun.

This gun was my Premiere Etoile of the game. It drew first blood in the game, helped drive back the first French infantry probe,  routed an opposing gun as it unlimbered and then with my personal figure at its head, stared calmly at the mob of French infantry rushing uphill at them. As the crisis approached they passed a difficult morale check and then  unleashed the most deadly possible shower of canister into the French attack sending the mob running back down the hill. 

Since the opposing forces had fought to a messy draw on the far side of the table and time was up, that battery was key at our holding the vital road exit. At least until the French regrouped  but that would be another game. Its a pity one can't really take credit for lucky rolling but I will claim some for choosing a solid position and not letting myself be drawn out of it and for not retiring prematurely in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.  Luckily the overall Austrian Commander was one of the better sort who used his reserves well and supported his subordinates.

Anyway, I'm not tempted to go back to rules needing constant arithmetic and much counting of noses but I had a good time and it did get me thinking about slightly more tactical detail in low level games.

My HOTT army in battle as I stare befuddled and rather bare headed at a ruler trying to remember how many cm=100 paces.
Propaganda shot by Rob, stolen from his blog.
Saturday evening was a much needed bit of relaxation and real food and the annual chance to catch up on life outside wargaming with Rob and Irene. We followed that up with a game of 1/72nd Hordes of the Things. I found that the previous 4 days and a few sips of a very nice Shipyard Ale (They support Huzzah so if you see one grab it and support them. One of the tastier American beers actually (sorry).) were getting to me and I was having a hard time thinking clearly but that in itself may have helped as did not being one of Rob's usual opponents. That is to say I made rather different tactical choices than his usual opponents make making me a little harder to predict. I was also still lucky but a victory first time out for a wargame army is always sweet. (Future opponents please note that buying me dinner does not guarantee you a victory) 

One of Sunday's big events the 25/28mm North West Frontier game.

Sunday morning and the last gaming session followed in its time. Already many people had cleared out but the room was by no means empty. I was up early(ish) and had two Portable Wargame tables set up.

Eric, another HAWK, loses Hook's Farm to the Americans Blue Army.
On one table I had the squared cloth and a choice of 54mm armies: Hook's Farm with Red vs Blue or Zulus vs British on the same terrain minus buildings.

On the other table I had a 3" gridded Hotz mat with the choice of 1/72nd Russian Civil War or Boer War.
Red and White fight over control of a small village.
I was too busy briefing players and answering questions to keep records of how many games were played or of any coherent details but I think there were about 7 games played by 6 new players. In every case the players picked up the rules quite simply though it took a few games to start picking up some of the tactical subtleties. Most of the games were fairly evenly fought where both players had equal experience and all were fast. Everyone who played seemed to have enjoyed the game and a few asked about where to get a copy since it seemed to fill a niche for them.

The 54's were quite popular with passer's by and with the players. (Only 1 game was played with the 1/72nd setup).

Another photo stolen from Rob's blog (see above).
For those who excuse off-scale minis please not that while Rob is noticeably taller than me in pictures, his head is roughly the same size.  
And then it was over, just a long ride back, another short visit with family, a planned tooth extraction a day or so  after I got back and so on. In other words, back to real life. Sighhhhh.

Its going to be a very busy domestic month ahead but there will be more wargaming blog posts appearing here regardless, just not about Rough Wooing, Zulus or Portable Wargaming, not right away at least. Time to get back to those new Prince August moulds I think and possibly some skirmish-y games.


  1. Ross Mac,

    You seem to have had a very busy time at HUZZAH! I'm very pleased to read that the PORTABLE WARGAME was well received, and hopefully it will be reflected in more interest in the rules.

    Have a good rest now that you are back home,

    All the best,


    PS. Sue and I visited Portland the last time we were in North America. We even went to the retail village near to the HUZZAH! venue ... and I didn't realise we had been that close until today.

    1. Bob, it was a fun convention and a busy one,but not a big one!

  2. Sounds like you had a great time ! , Tony

  3. 'Real Life' - Boo-Hiss.

    Some nice shots and an enjoyable wargame fest by the look of it. Love the artillery piece in Eric's photo.

    1. Its a vintage Britain's field gun. Nearly 100 years old but it still shoots (not that I do)

  4. I'll be having a tooth yanked later this summer as well (once I get up the gumption to make the appointment). Good sense to have a good time at Huzzah! before heading into that sort of thing.

    1. I had an abscess a while back and put off a decision on root canal or extraction. When it bothered me again and I went in, it turned out that I'd been dithering for almost 4 years!

  5. Sounds like you had a great weekend, Ross!

  6. I'm trying to recreate Hooks Farm for portable wargame using hexes. It was frustrating not to see all of your set up (which looks great btw). Can you describe it?

    1. The one I set up at the con was not terribly accurate, more of an impression, it was highly influenced by what I had on hand that would match the ground cloth and grid size and fit in my packing case.

      The key point to Hooks Farm is that the line of sight between the baselines was blocked by a series of low hills and woods, not to mention the buildings. Rather then focus on the exact positioning I just provided a similar barrier which forces both armies to come forward. But I will add another picture to the blogpost.

      There is a better one on this post from last fall.

      Just for fun, have a look at my first 54mm gridded game which was also Hook's Farm but on a bigger grid. No


    2. Ok that didn't work, I'll set it up and take pictures sometime in the next week.

    3. Stephen Briddon,

      Funnily enough, The Battle of Hooks Farm is a scenario that I mention in the forthcoming DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book ... and I have included a hexed map.

      I'll try to send you a copy of the map later today.

      All the best,


    4. Coo. I wonder if it will look like my version. Sorry Ross, I'm turning your blog into a chat room!

    5. Stephen if that actually happened I would thank you. The friendly exchange of ideas is the point really.

  7. Looks like a great weekend out Ross. I love old school, but can't say that I miss those math heavy mechanisms. If you need a calculator, you need better rules!

    1. I was tempted to refer to them as Early Middle School. The real old school not generally getting that "accurate".

      I didn't ask but it appeared to me that the calculators were in the hands of a slightly younger group of older gamers than those doing the arithmetic in their heads. Something about schooling and early habits....

  8. What was the size (in squares) of your Portable Wargame play mat? It looks like excellent fun!

    1. It was game board sized according to what was to hand. I think it was 12 by 15 ish. A bit small but adequate.