Monday, August 7, 2017

Taking Easy Ridge

When I started my post on angles last week, I was actually planning to discuss 4 or 5 issues that I had with using any of my usual Gridded options for small battles of the War of 1812 and various mid- 19thC games using conventional sized units of 40mm figures. (I'll write more about them if anyone is interested.) The post quickly got too long so I stopped after the first, minor issue.

Several times I have toyed with the idea of breaking all the usual "how to play using a grid" conventions. I hadn't really pursued it but  a comment from Stu got me thinking about it again since all I really wanted was a way to measure without faffing about with my bevy of evasive measuring sticks.

What I really needed to do was get away from the 1 unit, 1 grid area maxim. HERESY!

Turn 1. The game begins. Blue is deployed along a ridge line with orders to stop Red's from advancing. There are two roads leading off Blue's baseline. Victory requires controlling both roads at the end of 15 turns or breaking the other army. 
My clearly marked 6" grid is lightly/obscurely subdivided into 3" quadrants.  Each 3" quadrant holds one of my early 20th Century 'companies' and that works well since they are deployed in open order under local control but one of my  War of 1812  battalions need an area 3" deep and between 4" and 8" wide.  None of my various attempts to deal with this quite worked for me whether by reorganizing and rebasing to turn 24 man battalions into 16 man ones in a single 6" grid square which meant most historical actions were too small to game or by breaking each battalion into several small units which just happened to be standing next to each other in a sort of dotted line which sort of worked but looked and felt wrong despite 'support' and  'command integrity' rules to encourage units to stick together.

Well, I'm tired of rebasing and reorganizing want the option to have a full length game with historical Orders of Battle when I want to go there.


Turn 3. Opposing skirmishers clash over a grove between the line. The Grey's have some initial luck despite the 1:2 odds but then pay for it having bought a tiny bit of time.

 So, I decided to let the bases sizes and units sizes be what they are and treat Units as Units regardless of how many grid squares they covered as long as they maintain a proper formation. Range and arc of fire would be determined stand by stand just like it would be off grid except that it is done by consulting the grid instead of a ruler. Movement is the same idea, no stand can move farther than its allowance. So when a line  changes direction for example, one end has to move less than its allowance or the other end won't be able to move around, things naturally happen the way they happen.

Apart from that the rules used were basically the latest draft-in-theory of Hearts of Tin, which is the rules set that the Square Brigadier was based on. I don't have a version written up as played to share yet but will have in a week or two.

Turn 4. Red deploys under artillery fire. 
I didn't want to muck up my coming campaign so rolled back the clock to the days of Faraway and Oberhilse's Origawn War.

General Scott commanded the Blue (Oberhilse) troops consisting of:

Blue Dragoons: 1 Squadron (2 stands) shock cavalry
Rifles: 2 companies each of 2 stands 
1st Brigade: Brigadier Wavey. 4th Infantry (3 stands), 1st Volunteers (3 stands), 1 field gun.
2nd Brigade: Brigadier St. John. Lafayette County Volunteers (3 stands), 2nd Volunteers (3 stands), Origawn Militia 1 stand, Bangor Rifles (2 stands), Mountain Howitzer.
 23 stands.  Break Point: 13 stands or Commanders lost.
Turn 6. Red's plan was to pin Blue's units along the wall with the first Brigade while the 2nd Brigade turned the position but casualties from artillery and long range musketry have been heavier than expected so the elite Royal Fusiliers went in with the bayonet. Flanking fire from the house backed by a reformed line soon drove them back but their job was done.   
General  Turner commanded the Red Queen of Faraway's army.
Princess Charlotte Dragoons: 4 stands.
Advance. Brigadier Green. Victoria Rifles. 2 companies ea of 2 stands.
1st Brigade. Brigadier Spye. Royal Fusiliers 4 Elite stands, Royal Veterans: 4 stands.
2nd Brigade. Brigadier Stone. Green Tigers (3 stands), Young Buffs (3 stands), Belmont Fusiliers (3 stands)
Artillery: A Battery RFFA 2 field guns.

27 stands. Army Morale: 14 stands & Commanders lost.

Turn 13.  The reformed Royals have stormed the Stone House and Blue has taken very heavy losses but Red hasn't quite reached the road.  On turn 14 a 2nd charge by the Princess Charlotte Dragoons swept away the last remnant of the Blue Dragoons, breaking the Blue Army Morale.  (There must have been a lot of powder smoke in the air when I took this snap.

So did it work? By GUM! it did, just as I pictured it. The engagement was roughly the size of many of War of 1812 battles so fits there yet still leaves me room to add a few more units. (One of my issues with my Square Brigadier version was that I already had too many figures).

It took  about 3 hours to play not counting set up which is about right. Sometimes a quick game is good but I have both Square Brigadier and Portable Wargame options for a quick game but was starting to run short of afternoon or evening length games and a series of short games is not the same.

In addition it had the feel I wanted without needing to fuss with my disappearing rulers. This confirms my conclusion after my last Square Brigadier and Portable Wargame games that the subdivided 6" squares are best, easiest option for my table but doesn't require compromises on organization and basing for my 1812 and mid-19thC Atlantica games.
It does mean I need to get back to work on finishing hills that fit the grid and on making some of the subdivision markings clearer.

Was it perfect?  No, some judgement was occasional required where the grid wasn't clear or during occasional manoeuvres, such trying to track the farthest distance travelled when a unit in line changed front by less than 45 degrees, but nothing too difficult, especial when playing with an agreeable opponent like myself.


  1. Interesting hybrid approach to using the grid. Looking forward to further developments.

  2. I never tire of seeing your games, Ross. There is always so much going on.

    Best Regards,