Wednesday, November 1, 2017

(UPDATED) Rainy Day Games and their Consequences.

Monday was a windy, rainy, day and the table was all set ..... obviously it was time for another game.
Blue's Lancers rally back in disorder after a clash with Red Dragoons. (Game 2b)
The first step as to decide what to play. I still had an urge for Old School Shiny and bright red coats. I was tempted to stick with 54mm but I'd would 'kinda' like to get away from the Canada-US thing but at the same time I'm not sure exactly where else to go with what I have and don't want to duplicate Atlantica.  Needs some more thought or possibly less thought. Anyway, having mentioned Atlantica.........
Game 2a. Same terrain, different armies, different rules.
I rolled up 1870's Square Brigadier armies using the OHW lists giving Red 2 Cavalry and 4 infantry. (Technically 3 infantry plus either a skirmisher or zouave unit but I kept forgetting to give the Rifles their sharpshooter bonus.) Blue got a gun, 1 cavalry and 4 infantry.

The game worked OK but wasn't particularly interesting as it quickly bogged down in house to house fighting and it didn't feel quite right for the period. In theory the support rules should allow a group of adjacent "companies" to feel like 'battalion" but they don't, especially since the rules don't differentiate between a company of the same battalion or any adjacent friend. Works OK for the 20th C where companies were larger and spread out, being forced to some degree to act as separate units tactically  while being coordinated by battalion or brigade HQ. It didn't quite look and feel right here though and never quite seems to for this sub-period.

That was only part of it though. I went back and looked at the scenario again and realized that I had screwed up the translation of map and forces to the table. The scenario was designed for  a 36"x36" table with about a 6", maybe 9" wide town in the middle and 6 units each of a 6" (recommended) or 4" frontage. I had increased the table to 48"x48" with an 8"x8" town and reduced the unit foot print to 4".  Instead of being able to hold 1 unit or 1/6 of an 'army', my town could absorb 4 or 2/3 of an 'army'. Ah. When I tried this with my War of 1812 troops a year ago, I had doubled the number of units to compensate.

The linear problem was really the same one as had bothered me with the War of 1812 using 40mm figures and the same easy solution suggested itself. Skip the grid and break out Hearts of Tin. I was going to leave the game till another day but, you know, it was still cold and wet out and ...........
Game 2b. The unit footprints have been enlarged. 

The game had much more of the look and feel that had been in my mind. Of course, since the rules have not yet been updated and these troops have been resisting the orders to conform to 20thC standards and so the infantry were using two different basing systems, the game was a bit loosey-goosey at times, but it still felt right and worked.

One example of the indecision was whether the typical 1870's/80's deployment as a heavy skirmish line for firing with supports and reserves to the rear was better represented by a single line or double line since I had rejected my old way of doing it with a firing line spread out in front  with supports in column 6" to 12" behind them. Looked good but was a pain to track in action especially in armies without distinct regimental uniforms.

Note: (After more a more thorough post game review of both theory and practice, the "2 ranks with 3 companies per standard battalion, each with 4 bases of 2  figures" solution has won out despite the fact that this is consistent with my 1812 armies and my 20thC armies will use the same 2 figure stands albeit with only 2 of them per Square Brigadier company.)

Anyway, the game worked well with larger units and more of the action took place outside the town. Red had some disturbingly low die rolls and eventually both armies were exhausted but clinging to at least a quarter of the town so when the dogs signalled that dinner time had rolled around with three turns left to go, I called it a draw.

It would seem that the 1870's/80's is back in 40mm and I need to expand my list of active collections/"periods" back up from 9 to 12, refurbish and complete the troops, and finish the update to Hearts of Tin. I'll add all that to "The List".



  1. Hi Ross,

    Nice series of reflections as always. One thing I did note especially was your discontnent with establishing which stands were supporting which in your supported skirmish line. Would it help to run a thin stripe of paint on the back of each stand? Failing that what about using those small colored sticker/dots which would allow you the option of peeling them off if you found them esthetically displeasing.
    All the very best,

    1. Thanks Jerry, I sort of shortened that up clumsily. I didn't actually have much trouble tracking which skirmishers belonged to which unit but one needed to be constantly doing each Colonel's job, watching that the supports and reserves stay behind the skirmishers and close enough to support but out of rifle range of the enemy firing line and remember that other troops can't move through that big empty space without taking fire since the skirmishers don't actually stop bullets if they are doing their job. It all quickly made by table too small and the rules too finicky for a quick simple game.

      Invariably if using even a simplified version at a club or convention game 75% of players had trouble with the minor technical bits and the point of the games would get lost or rules dropped or ignored. Its easier to assume Colonels are doing their job.

      "Factoring" all this stuff in and putting one body of troops on the table also looks more like a game of toy soldiers.

  2. Another thing when translating OHW scenarios, part of the OHW formula is that units (well ordinary infantry) typically can cross the board in 6 turns (without firing), though your action was at the centre of the table, rather than armies having to exit the board, so irrelevant I suppose for todays game.

    1. Norm, coincidentally, that was already true of my rules. At least when playing across it.

  3. This post too is causing me to see some pesky mid- to late 19th century butterflies flittering before my eyes, darn it. And those Spencer Smith 'Classic Wargaming' figures look mighty tempting. It also occurs to me the loosey goosey is underrated.

    Best Regards,