Friday, August 31, 2018

Ready to take the field again

 The enemy appears to be on high ground.

The Victoria Rifles are now ready to take the field again as a full strength infantry unit. The bases have had my usual treatment these days: a coat of glue then dipped in sawdust, a coat of mixed green paint and then a damp brush with lighter green and yellowy brown, the same paint I use on my table top but since its mixed fresh each time, everything is similar but nothing is quite the same which oddly lends a more natural look and means that no one minor variation stands out.

I'm really pleased at how well the two new figures fit in but amazed at how much better the old figures look with a coat of gloss varnish (Twenty years ago when they were painted, I was still using matte varnish, even for old toy soldiers). The dark green uniforms in particular now look an appropriately dark shade of green although the varnish was the only change. 

At one point I had considered using the rifle units as some sort of light infantry sharpshooters but in Faraway, as in Canada, the "Rifle" designation and uniforms didn't mean that they were trained or used differently from any other militia unit. Actually, at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill it was the Governor General's Foot Guards, an Ottawa militia unit, that provided a party of Sharpshooters that played a prominent role. I do have some original Britains' prone guardsmen and have not yet ruled out a small unit of Sharpshooters in bearskins!

Another angle. In the background the Black Watch is showing off their ankles and their new bases. I have decided on a standard 3 soldiers on a 60mmx60mm base as safer for rifle tips and conveniently  standard across several of my collections. It was a decision that I made and started to implement in 2015 then temporarily rebelled against as too sensible or something.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Victoria Rifles Recruitment Drive Continues

I had to go out for most of today but I had a little time early on and there was the new mould, just waiting to be tried out. Well........
Two new castings  to paint and some 20 year veterans to wash and touch up before I base and flock them.

The mould came out pretty well despite having some rough texture but while I was cleaning off the Plasticine  prior to pouring the second half, I dropped it and the Officer's head vanished into thin air on the first bounce. ARGHHH!

After an extensive search I gave up. The face part with peak and moustache was already set so I popped a pillbox cap head into the hole and hoped for the best. It didn't turn out as good as the original but its use-able with a bit of filing and I only need one or two anyway, the Rebel officers will be using kepis or broad brimmed campaign hats and some of the Queen's officers will be in Shako.

A very glare-y first casting.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Reconnaissance Flight

The Origawn Rebellion has grown serious enough that her Majesty's government has requested that the Faraway Trading Company provide one of the FTC Aeronautical Division balloon sections for reconnaissance and communication  duties.

Here an observer notes that the rebels seem to have developed an improved, sturdier, ox wagon that will fit within a 6" grid square

Thursday, August 23, 2018

We need more men!

Time to go on a recruiting drive.
First up. Somewhere over several moves and years in storage, the Victoria rifles have lost a rifleman and their officer. Since the set of moulds that The Wargame Hermit (of said blog) kindly passed me contain a mould for a prone figure, and I've managed to vent the rifle which  was giving me trouble, I'm adding one of these, just substituting a forage cap for the bearskin.  

First Up Point Five. The original Rifles officer was the ACW fellow in frock coat with his hands on his hips because that and the running officer were all that I had. What I want is one of the guys with field glasses. Actually, I want at least 5 of these if not more, so....I've sawn off the head of my armless, antique, kneeling grenadier officer and borrowed the arms from my artillery's Major Stuart. As long as I'm making a mould, might as well throw in some heads: a kepi for the Rebels, a Kilmarnock cap, and a cavalry helmet for dismounted cavalry.

Second Up. A start on 6 firing Fort Henry Guard. Might swap the standing officer for a binocular guy.
work, work, work.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Beef and Beer for the Boys

Excerpt from the "Illustrated History of the Origawn Rebellion".
While the Origawn Rebels had been holding General Douglas' attention, the Kree had invested Fort Henry and supplies were getting low. It was up to Douglas to ensure that they got through!

Aware of the Kree's uncanny ability to seemingly appear from nowhere, Douglas advanced prudently with scouts moving ahead to check for ambushes. As the column approached Little Bridgeton, the caution paid off.

The Kree, as usual, were determined fighters and deadly shots. The Advance Guard pulled back to regroup while the rest of the escort deployed and open fire. For the first time in this campaign a Naval Rocket Brigade took the field to the dismay of the rest of the convoy. 

A coordinated assault on the town was repulsed with heavy losses but the men rallied while the General weighed his options.
The sun was getting low in the sky and the defenders of the direct route had already taken losses so, "Hey Diddle Diddle". This time the Fusiliers went straight in with the bayonet and the enemy fled.

As the Kree warriors attempted to rally in the centre of town, Lt Cdr Burrell finally found the range and landed 2 rockets squarely on the rallying warriors, scattering them! Encouraged, the Fusiliers pushed ahead clearing the town. . 

In desperation, Chief Yeller Bonnet led a party of braves back over the ridge in a wild charge against the Director General's Bodyguard who dismounted and repulsed them with accurate rifled carbine fire. While the wounded chief was escorted to the rear, the wagons  began rumbling over the bridge and heading up the road to Fort Henry.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Recruits are flocking to answer the Sultan's call.

Many thanks to tradgardmastare of the Duchy of Tradgardland for his donation of this trio of Elastolin Turks to my slowwwwwwly growing 40mm  Turkish army. Another great example of the generosity of bloggers.

L to R: Elastolin, Drabant, my own (sculpting & casting). 

My Turks are pledged to appear at Huzzah! in Portland Maine next May so you'll be seeing more and more of them over the next 8 months

Sunday, August 19, 2018

It felt like time for a change

While I enjoy traditional battle wargames, I also enjoy petite guerre scenarios with ambushes and raids, the sort of game that I wrote "With MacDuff to the Frontier" for.

Today, that was the sort of game that I felt like playing.

Reconnaissance in Force
Since I had just painted some Scruby natives to join the Black Fox in mid-19thC Atlantica that seemed like a good starting point until I remembered that this collection needs to use the same rules, organization and basing as my War of 1812 collection  since some of the figures will serve in both. That decision is pending and I want to wait until I have time and interest to look at a couple of scenarios and orders of battle before making a final decision on rule, on/off grid and basing options.

So, having recently found a better home my 45 year old 30mm Quebec figures where they will be seen and played with (Look for guest photos of them at BIG Bushy Run game later this fall), and thus been able to resurrect my plans for a 40mm "Not Quite the War for Acadia"  campaign, I turned there. Alas I haven't started that resurrection yet either, and its also a mess with no decision on rules and organization: Square Brigadier or go off grid with Hearts of Tin or with MacDuff?

From a 2016 MacDuff game (link). 
A straight Not Quite the Seven Years War Charge! game would have been possible but I've put off a decision on using 1/2 distance Charge! since my table is about the same size as the one used for Blastoff Bridge, the sample intro game which effectively uses 1/2 distances and it suddenly seemed too much work.

Now, my revived 54mm collection was designed for just such games with each unit being a "Company" but when I increased the size of the grid and moved the setting to Origawn, I somehow decided to treat units as battalions and aim for battles not semi-skirmishes. After all, who assigns a full brigade or more to escort a couple of wagons?

I started to feel constrained by my own attempts to  rationalize my collection. This had been picked last fall to once again retake its original place as my "go to" collection, capable of doing any sort of game according to my mood and allowing me to add what I felt like and paint as many uniforms as possible.  Obviously I had accidentally led it off the tracks  while trying to rationalize the rules, setting and painting plans. I was now constrained by self imposed restrictions such as "I have too many battalions in bearskins  and shouldn't paint more of the same Zouaves and so on.

The solution was simple.
The convoy proceeds according to the book despite being in friendly territory. 

When in doubt, follow your heart.

Friday, August 17, 2018

There are men coming down from the valleys.

The Black Fox is recruiting  again!
New recruits from Skrubee Province,
the paint on them barely dry.

There is word of a valuable shipment of arms and gold being moved through the Whoulden Hills and a call to gather to the Fox and strike a blow against the Redcoats.

A band of the Black Fox's Freedom Fighters.

Chris de Berg's Revolution Trilogy on Youtube.

At the double

For today's experiment, Ron and I played our non-fixed zone version of Memoir using double all distances.

It is very difficult for Ron to recreate the terrain on Grant's maps using Hexon unless he uses the whole table but the scenarios get distorted if using Memoir ranges and movement rates.

This wasn't the first try but its been a while and in previous tries we didn't go all out and double close assault range etc. This time we screwed up our nerves and went all the way.

It worked like a charm!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

They'd never expect me to try that again......

This is, I think, my third try at trying to mesh a gridded game where "a unit is a unit is a unit" and small matters of formation and the like are "below the grain" with an Old School approach where the figures matter, players can play with formations etc., and you count noses when resolving combat. The final conclusion in each case is that it can be done but the resulting game is not as good as either style of game on its own.

Note the new street barricades to indicate that the town block is prepared for defence.

The hybrid game actually worked OK but it was quickly obvious that to make it work, I would need to make the rules much more detailed and do custom made terrain, and, more importantly, counter to my intention, the added detail was a distraction from the General's POV rather than being a "fun" addition.

Game 3 getting under way with hybrid rules.

So, I paused the game, put the rules back more or less to the War of 1812 version used for the 2016 New Year's Eve game and then modernized them in that spirit, keeping a few innovations from the Great War rules. Then I resumed the game with the renewed Square Brigadier.

The Gentlemen Pensioners support Fort Henry guard just before the break.For some reason it wasn't a good day for sharp pictures. 
That worked well which was no surprise and I enjoyed the simpler game more, partly because it was quicker and easier, but mostly because I was freed from that attention to the minor details of  how the units were trying to carry out their orders and could focus on directing the army.

At the end of  turn 12 out of 15. Red has captured one bridge and is about to attack the other from both sides leaving the Zouaves still holding on in their original post. "To the Last Round!" However, Blue has now lost 6 out of 9 units and has to concede.  
Its a relief to put this question to bed at last. If I get another urge to adapt an Old School game to the grid, I can fit 24 man ACW regiments or 18 figure semi-flat SYW units in my 6" grid squares and break out Featherstone or Charge!, just converting movement and ranges to numbers of grid squares. I could also just skip the grid anytime I want but the fact that it doesn't happen very often is significant.

Anyway, what I to do now is to cast and paint more units for both armies!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Optical Delusions

For me at least, the look of a table including figures and terrain affects my expectations.

An overview of the first game in progress. The Zouaves, seeing action for the first time, held their post to the last man, delaying the Government forces long enough for reinforcements to arrive and secure the town.
(To my great annoyance most of 6" squares that had been clearly delineated were covered by buildings and roads or were under hills  leading to delay and frustration.)

I can come up with any sort of theoretically sound rule but if it doesn't look "right" during a game I can easily go off track in an attempt to bring the rule into line with the visuals.  The larger the grid areas the more the visuals can play with one's mind. As an example, a firefight on the diagonal never bothered me when using 4 figure units on a 4" grid but did bother me when using 16 figure units on a 6" grid. In theory there was no difference but the large units on a larger grid just didn't  look right and it took me a while to get my head around it.

Buildings that only occupy half of a square have the been the big issue this week though a pointless effort to replicate the exact terrain on the map for a CS Grant scenario without much regard to how my rules work provides an example of another trap.

The 2nd game getting under way. The Government forces have a new, more effective, battle plan and some dice with 5's and 6's on them.

The result has been some enjoyable hours of thinking up and testing some variant rules as well as flirting with a return to off grid gaming. Two solo games have now been played using different proposed variants of the Square Brigadier once again exploring ideas such as attempting to differentiate between point blank firefights and bayonet charges in traditional fashion as opposed to the Square Brigadier which rolls both into one mechanism since the details of an attack are deemed to be the business of subordinates.   Both worked but neither was as good as the original approach.

Now the successful 2016 version has had some minor tweaking such as having troops in a town be either on the road passing through the town or, if infantry, occupying the houses. With the 6" squares now back on my table, most of my buildings can hold a unit but still leave enough space for a stretch of road. For the handful of buildings I still occasionally use that cannot hold troops, some form of marker will be needed.
The Second game. Rebel reinforcements have been slow to arrive and casualties have been heavy. On the next turn the Lifeguards will charge, break the remaining enemy cavalry and seize the bridge then in town another infantry unit is destroyed bring the Rebel Army Morale to the break point on the 2nd last turn.
(Note: Most of my current buildings only hold 1 stand but that is enough to mark a unit as defending the buildings in that block.)

So, on the next day that I am free and the temperature in my games room is bearable, I'll rerun the game a third time using the updated traditional Square Brigadier. At the moment honours are even at one win each so the last one will count for the campaign.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Its been a busy couple of social summer days and so blogging has lagged.

So, instead of a battle report, here are those Transylvanians, ready for action. I confess that I started finding all the detail and shading (which used to be the fun bits) tedious and decided that ready or not, I was done! Shiny toy soldiers are just so much more fun these days. 

Hopefully, when I finally get to writing a proper blog post,  I'll still be able to remember what happened during the fight for the bridges.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Hold the bridges! (Preview)

I was surprised yesterday that I didn't immediately recognize the scenario. I have vague memories of playing it before, decades ago in 15mm and sometime in the last decade as a WWII scenario at Ron's but obviously I haven't played it recently enough, or often enough, to identify it with a quick glance at the terrain as I can with most of my favourites.

So, today I set a solo game up to give it a whirl.

Brigadier MacDuff leads the pursuit of the retreating Rebels.
This is obviously not a one hour wargame as it took me over an hour to set the terrain up!
(and yes, that is the bare, painted, table top with the experimental, off set, 4" squares restored to 6" squares 9 deep by 12 wide)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

More Not Quite Memoir

I finally made it back to Ron's today to continue our experiments with adapting Memoir to CS Grant scenarios on an 18 hexes x 18 hexes tabletop.
A German Assault card used primarily to bring reinforcements forward, is about to be counter attacked followed by an initiative flip and an all arms assault which will take out both German tanks and a unit of militia.
After the last game we decided to go back to using the cards but since many of the Grant scenarios are not zone-friendly we decided to just choose a location each turn to mark as the centre of which ever zone or zones we wanted. The Centre cards would have a radius of 3 hexes while the left and right had a radius of 2.

The ranges and movement was left as per the rules but for each Grant scenario unit we placed 2 memoir units. To spice things up we drew an ordinary playing card each turn to determine who had the initiative and got to go first that turn (Red for the Reds).

The game played well but after a dozen turns and maybe 3 hours, we were barely half through the game and had barely half our units on table.

An earlier overview shot. I entered along the road with the mission of capturing the 2 bridges. Ron started off with some units defending the town and others arriving later at various randomly selected turns at 1 of 3 randomly selected  roads.

After much debate we decided that we would go back to double ranges and double movement   except that close assault  still requires being adjacent. In addition, we decided to expand the zone size by 1 to allow more units to be activated by the cards affecting "all units in Sector X" etc.. This should allow us to often activate more units per turn.

Next game, (hopefully) in 2 weeks.