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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Brigadier goes down to the Crossroads

That felt good!
Waiting for the 1st shot.
I spent a fair amount of time yesterday trying to figure out what I thought I wanted and tweaking the rules again, then managed a quick game last night. During the game I continued to tweak and un-tweak the rules as the effect of the changes became clearer as did my poor mental expression of what I wanted. The game wasn't bad but it still wasn't 'there' though. Some processes were clumsy or ineffective while others had unfortunate side effects on my decisions as a player.

The intent with these rules has always been "for effect" but decades of habit  keep trying to bring me back to focus on detail and "how" rather that accepting what seem like abstract rules which seem to have the right effect on player choices and game results almost despite everything. The actual combat and movement rules never seemed to be a serious problem. Where I have had the most problems is trying to come up with simple but effective rules to reflect issues of command control and the interaction of friendly units, especially in terms of moral and physical support and the risk of spreading panic as the battleline starts to give way.

So, in the evening I re-tweaked the rules, removing several cherished ones as well as most of the new ones. I also brought back a few rules I had tried at various times but abandoned either because the rules as a whole were getting too unwieldy or because some rules ended up working against each other rather than with each other as planned or because I mistook which rule was having which effect on my actions. This morning I played again and....it worked!

It didn't just work though, it had that mysterious "feel" which I have had such trouble identifying to myself and the result was that without any rules to explicitly mandate it, I found myself forming and maintaining my battle lines and not leaving isolated units hanging without a good reason. In addition, with both sides having been battered pretty badly and short of reserves, one side suddenly collapsed. (You'll have to wait for the report for details.)

The 2nd Battle Rages.
 The basic framework is still obviously a gridded development of my 2003 Morschauser Meets MacDuff rules, using the same key concepts, but it works and will work for something more than a  small game and it will be easy to add new troop types and weapons when needed.

These small games took about 1 hour to play and I would expect a full game with say triple the number of units to be able to be played in an afternoon or full evening.

Its finally time to start again to write a full version of The Square Brigadier complete with all the extras, engineering, combined ops and so on which I haven't really had since my Hearts of Tin days.

Here is a link to the "2 sides of a page" version.

Hopefully I'll get the battle report written before I forget what happened!


  1. Have you factored in what might happen if you increase the numbers of figures? For example, will all units be capable of being in range to receive changes in orders or will guns which reach their targets now be able to hit things on a larger board? I am certain that you have thought about these implications but it will be interesting to see how everything plays out in a larger game.

  2. Thanks Jerry. The table won't larger, merely more crowded. Each Brigade has a Commander so as long as the brigade maintains its cohesion there will be no problem but inevitably the stress and chances of battle will play their part and units will be orphaned. At the higher level, after a dozen C&C rule trials, I have given up. Some would work multiplayer but none that I liked will work well for a solo game. For me the command decisions are the important part and I rely mostly on the combat dice and the enemy as well as human error to determine success or failure. All the 'command friction' rules I've tried in various games seem to turn rarecevents into the norm and make the sight of an officer at least attempting to carry out orders the rarity. I'm with Col Lawford and Brigadier Young on this.

  3. I will be very interested to see the combined ops and engineering. I am pleased that all your thinking,playing and planning are coming together for you. I look forward to the battle report.