Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Propose, Assess, Adjust

One of the advantages of the non-rigid scale style of Old School wargaming is that you can use a moderate collection of figures to fight everything from a skirmish to a major battle without getting hung up on ground, time and figure scales. However, if designing your own games, this means you are on your own for determining the optimum organization, you can't just pick up an OB and divide by the appropriate figure to man/gun ratio. This is why I found myself reassessing my artillery set up.

I've been a bit concerned that my artillery is somewhat less effective than it should be for the 1870's. The question is do I tweak the rules or add more guns. Now, its always tempting to go back to 2 gun batteries as in Charge! and on a 6" grid I could do it even in 54mm, if I REALLY wanted to.

Both Featherstone and Morschauser both used one gun batteries and they have been working for me so I decided to stay with that but to give the batteries a larger presence on the table, hence the return to a 4 man crew as in my Colonial MacDuff days and the move to a bigger base. It didn't look quite right to me and the blog comments only tended to reinforce that opinion so I've been experimenting with other options.
Two standard batteries.

The first thought that came to mind was that after the last game I had started thinking about having an Artillery Commander rather than parcelling out the guns and the officer with binoculars seemed to fit the bill.  I do like my commanders to be mounted though and now I have the ability to give a mounted artillery officer binoculars (queue 'a mental image of 'Gettysburg' and Porter Alexander receiving his orders).

Then I experimented with having batteries composed of 2 guns each with 2 crew. That could work but any terrain of any kind would be an issue and 2 figures did look lonely but 3 gunners and a gun does appears to work. It was going to take time to get the Parrot mould I want and then cast up an extra 4 guns and there is work on the house to be done this fall meaning extra calls on my time and money.

In the end I have decided to stick with my 3"x4" bases with 3 crew. This will leave the option of a 2 gun Grand Battery as a dense target but also allow me to increase the number of batteries on the table should I choose to go that route. The number of figures won't match the number of hits the stand can take (unless I adjust that) but that is just a "nice to have", not a necessity.

Two batteries formed as a Grand Battery in a single open terrain grid square.

Of course this means I now have one extra gunner left over so I will HAVE to paint up some more gunners and maybe buy that gun mould after all. Now, about limbers.......


  1. Given the constraints of squares containing terrain features, will there be a rule only allowing a two gun battery to deploy in open squares?

    1. Probably, if I ever add such a rule and they would be vulnerable to counterbattery fire. I will need more troops and more guns before I consider the matter seriouly.

  2. The problem I have encountered - well, sort of a problem - has been to allocate model cannon in a ratio to other figures that looks reasonable. Well I like the Fire and Fury rule set, you do need a heck of a lot of cannon - an expensive arm to raise even in war games!

    In my ACW armies, for a long time I used 2 (CSA) and 3 (USA) gun batteries, but they actually represented TWO real batteries, the gun ratio being 1 to 4. I could not persuade myself to adopt the alternative of one gun being used, but 4 or 6 figures to represent the battery size.

    Having said that, in my view 21 cannon is plenty for an army of 1000 figures; and 14 for an army of 700-odd. A ration of 1 cannon for 50 infantry or cavalry figures looks about right to me.

    In my 'Army Level' Napoleonic game, for the most part 1 cannon represents the whole corps inventory of ordnance, the crew numbers indicating the actual numbers to the nearest multiple of 8. I'm thinking of modifying this, still with the single park, but comprising 2 cannon each with 3 crew figure, to represent a Corps holding of 48 cannon.

    Again, my guiding 'rule' is to keep my gun-figure ratio withing reasonable bounds.

  3. Oh, by the way, I was trying to remember this Alexander Porter chappy. Thinking he might be a relative of Maj-Gen Fitz-John Porter USA, I imagined him as a Union commander, but it rang no other bells. Then I realised that it was E. Porter Alexander CSA, Lt-Genl Longstreet's artillery commander, to whom you were alluding.

    1. Sorry about that! I was tired and in a hurry and didn't notice the juxtaposition. I should fix it to avoid confusing others.