Tuesday, October 30, 2018

20 Years and 6 months ago

I recently came across a scanned image of this old photo from Cold Wars 1998.

In 1997 I made my first trip down to HMGS' Cold Wars in Lancaster PA. I made the trip primarily to meet up with and play games with Arty and other members of Armati email group but also to bring some 54mm Napoleonic figures to add to Pete Panzeri's  54mm La Haye Sainte wargame. That event led to a discussion about having a 54mm themed room for Cold Wars 1998.

This was my 54mm War of 1812 'inspired by Sittingbad' game. I dragged Ron down to Cold Wars with me that year and as often happens some of our old Montreal gang were there.
(l to r) Ron Porter, Graham Wilkinson, me
(I suspect Eric was behind the camera but it was 20 years ago...)

So it was that I registered  to run two  54mm War of 1812 games: The Battle of Chateauguay and an 1812 get the wagons over the bridge and blow it up game. Since the Courier had published With MacDuff to the Frontier the previous fall, I decided I'd best use them for my games but a chap called Rob Dean was also running a 40mm F&IW game using MacDuff so I signed up and we have been friends and a convention GM team ever since.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Hold the Line!

The general consensus in the Queen's camp was that the Rebels had been dealt a serious blow (See Battle of Rocky's Road)  and were no immediate threat. Senior officers had been recalled to the capital to discuss plans for a winter offensive and news that the Rebels had already reorganized and relaunched their offensive caught the Queen's forces off guard.
The newly raised 'B' Company of the Fort Henry Garrison and 'A' company, the Victoria Rifles, were ordered  to hold the bridge over the Haistee River until reinforcements could reach them.

The Rebel army rushed on to the field only to find the road blocked.
The Rebel's initial advance was checked with heavy losses but the attack was soon renewed.

At last the Rebels managed to push over the bridge.

Late in the day, the 2nd Cavalry charged into the Highlanders flank and broke the line, but at a terrible cost.

Supported by the rallied Highlanders, the Fusiliers easily repulsed a direct assault of the vital ridge which blocks the road forward. The Rebels were forced to fall back and reconsider their options. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ready for Action

Rain day forecast for tomorrow,  and I'll be ready!

The York County Battalion and Victoria Rifles are on guard.
While I have had no time and energy for painting or playing, I entertained myself during breaks and after supper Human/Hound couch time by taking copies of old, simple, rules and making them into more detailed ones, trashing the new ones and starting over with a different sort of convoluted and...... again and....yup had enough. Simple yet covering a lot  can be done but its not quick and easy to write or to learn and I only need the bits I need.

The table was still set for the Triple Line scenario so I basically just pulled the cloth out of the way, added a river and laid out some troops for a game of good old, generic, Square Brigadier.

The Hochelaga's and Highlanders wait in reserve.
But where's the General?
While I was having 2nd thoughts about things and reading old battle reports, I realized that I missed the fictional Canadian setting. Well, I have tonight to think about it, the sun is shining, coffee's done, its time to get my coat on and get some more winterizing done before the sun dips below the tree tops.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Clearing a Road Block

The scenario chosen for this  game was Triple Line from One Hour Wargames. Since I was still on the fence a bit about the exact plans for these figures, I kept the game small, but increased the army sizes slightly so that I could  use more than 1/4 of my table. The rules were Hearts of Tin using variable moves but no command control mechanisms.  

The Rosish forces have forced the bridge but crossing over the bridge and deploying for battle is taking longer than expected though the Maritime forces are content to wait.
The game wasn't bad though the Maritime Alliance forces thrashed the Rosmark army without even trying.  As far as practical matters, my preference for fixed multi-figure stands over loose figures on trays, magnetized or not was confirmed. Its not all physical or logical though there are some psychological and emotional or aesthetic aspects to my preference.

Anyway, this game helped confirm my decision to leave a contingent organized as proper Charge! units to join in NQSYW convention games in the US while once again organizing the rest for my own use at home rather than having the whole collection organized for Charge! games when I don't have room at home.
The Rosish general gets desperate as the day slips away and throws his army in piecemeal as they come up. (At this time my battery went out and I had to grab an old phone which just can't cope with the bad lighting.)
Anyway, I still like the variable length moves in Heart of Tin but...... given that all the units had a 6"  frontage and would thus fit the table grid, fussing with measuring and finding the tape and all hardly seemed worth the effort.

The Marshal's Horse braces for the 3rd charge by the Yellow Hussars while the infantry fight gets fierce and bloody. 
So, once the game was over, I removed the cloth and reset the table.

So....Hearts of Tin on a grid or SYW Square Brigadier?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Men Who Would Play Colonial Games

Ron had recently picked up a copy of The Men who would be Kings so we gave it a whirl today.  The setting was along the Nile with 24 points of British facing a similar force of Arabs. We went with the first scenario which sees two forces passing each other with orders to pass on and victory going to the side which exits the most troops.

We did tweak the rules by the minimum to fit it to the grid. All it took was to use the suggested 1/2 strength units for skirmishes and divide all distances by 3 rounding off to the nearest number of hexes.

I generally am not fond...ok ok detest activation systems, especially any where the first failure ends a player's turn so I had my doubts. Luckily, these do what I've often muttered about over  coffee or beer and activation failure is for that unit only. In addition most units have an automatic action suitable for their troop type. These two things go a long way towards redemption for this silly business of activation rolls.

The game actually played pretty well with our respective battle plans working. My plan was to leave an expendable blocking force of shooting units which were hard for  me to move while rushing everyone else past him then either head for the far board edge or try to swarm individual units while avoiding fire if he gave me an opening.

I was seriously worried at one part, one of my cavalry units was blown away and 2 of my spear units and my last cavalry unit were facing 3 British infantry units with modern firearms supported what was left of his cavalry. Just as I was bracing for a run towards the far edge, Ron threw his mental dice and decided to march on rather than fight.  I could have let him go, run with my fast units and maybe my rearguard might have done enough damage with shooting  for a narrow win but my gun was finally in range and managed a hit on his already battered cavalry and I had 3 units in reach of the remainder. I turned around and gave chase.
Well if the other side is all killed I have still have some units left I should be able to get more troops off and win yes?
All in all it was an enjoyable, not very serious afternoon of gaming. I suspect we'll play again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Holding Action

As long as I was thinking about skinny Tricorne armies, I figured I might as well get'em out and brush up the rules.

In our world, nearly a year has passed since the Rossish flank attack but for the toys, it was only yesterday.  Today, a Duchy rearguard has been tasked with delaying the Rossish pursuit.

With a bit of luck I'll get to play on Thursday.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Cheap Cuirassiers for Christmas

Well Cuirassiers for any occasion really, the point is Prince August is having a one day 50% off sale and I have been thinking about buying  their new set of Cuirassiers moulds for myself for Christmas.

Image from the Prince August website
(Hopefully they won't mind me advertising on their behalf)
So if you are thinking about trying homecasting or want to expand your selection of moulds, October 15 is a good day to do it.

Image from Lace Wars in Tin blog.
(umh...Steve, can I use your picture?)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Now, where was I?

This has been a long, busy week with little time for hobby thoughts beyond a couple of blog posts. However, I did manage a few minutes here and there to ponder things. Luckily, for completely different reasons, I also found myself thinking about Howard Whitehouse's forthcoming Gentleman's War.

Hard to believe that its been two years since this Gentleman's War game at Fall In.
Now Gentleman's War is a well thought out game which I wholeheartedly endorse but its not a "simple gridded game". It has the right attitude though which is very similar to the attitude I had when I decided to resurrect my 54's and use them with the Square Brigadier.

Beef and beer for the boys game

So, yes, the answer is to just stop worrying about organizations, command levels, whether or not ranges correlate with theoretical unit frontages  or any of that sort of detail, put the theoretical stuff aside for another time  and just play the games and have fun.

The latest version: The Square Brigadier in the Great Game.

Crossroads: Day Two game.

Its supposed to rain on Tuesday, maybe I can squeeze a game in then.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Cabin Divided

The last miniatures game from last week saw Paul's old Minifig ECW troops take the field. The ECW has never quite been one of my "periods" though I have on occasion read a bit on campaigns and battles and painted troops in 15mm, 25mm and 54mm and played the occasional game with mostly other people's armies.

Note on images: The bright, clear, pictures are Rob's, the dark, fuzzy ones are mine.
My handful of Minifig Scots took a vote and marched off to join Paul's Scottish army. Here they are spearheading the counterattack.

None the less, when Paul recovered his old ECW armies along with a horde of Scots to which I added my own handful, we needed some rules so I did a one pager last Spring and we used a slightly improved version of those. Like most one pager's they are woefully inadequate for "accurate simulation" but provided a decisive game in a few hours with enough high level period flavour  for my superficial knowledge.
They are available here: Ross's One Page ECW.
The battle begins.  
The scenario was inspired by an historical one but inspired by is as close as it gets. There was no attempt to recreate any historical action. 

The Royalist army under Paul and Mike had an extra cavalry unit, one of which was Elite, all of which were "shock" cavalry with a charge bonus but lower staying power. 

The Allied army under Rob and Anthony had an extra Infantry unit, an Elite unit of Scots pike and shot as fate would have it (Well I painted them 40+ years ago and they're carrying my clan badge and battle cry aren't they - no prejudice involved!), as well as a unit of Cuirassiers.
Another shot as the game gets under way.
Parliament was allowed to send a handful of units to occupy the hill in the middle of the table before the battle began. Victory would go to the side which managed to break the enemy army's morale before night fall in 15 turns.

We were a little short of English cavalry so these bareheaded Scots were deemed sufficiently Cavalier to fight for the King.

Parliamentary foot, disordered by heavy casualties and 2 hits from destruction.
The battle began with an exchange of artillery fire followed by a lengthy period of musketry while the cavalry supported by dragoons and detached shot and Highlanders probed on the flanks and tried to get the enemy off balance or mislead him.

The climax approaches!
At last Parliament had enough of an advantage in the infantry fight to pull back their hardest hit unit, replace it with a fresh reserve and launch an all out assault.

Casualties were heavy on both sides and the Elite Scots looked about to be overwhelmed and flanked.

Finally the Royalists brought on their Elite cavalry reserve  and launched an all out cavalry attack on the right.

But........ those old Scots are tough and handfuls of 1's and 2's won't over awe Roundhead cavalry, though they were amazed at how many such dice the Royalists could throw.  There were a lot of severely battered allied units at the end but even more broken Royalist ones.
The end of the game or near it. Rob is behind the camera, that's Anthony on the left, 3 victories on his first visit to the Maritimes, Paul, the eldest, is standing, Mike is seated behind the remnants of his cavalry and then there's the old geezer who wandered in and kept telling people what they could and couldn't do. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Friday Night Shopping: Visigoth Style

On Friday I set up the cottage dining table for an old favourite Grant scenario that I usually call The Wagon Train. Almost all the minis are from various Elastolin 4cm ranges but most have been painted and many converted by me.

Here is a link to my rules which we used: "Castle Dangerous".

(All photos by Rob Hingley except as otherwise noted.) Rob commanded the Escort, Paul the Castle garrison, Mike the Huns and Anthony the Visigoths.
Through the morning mists comes a glimpse of Hope!

"The lowing oxcarts wind slowly o'er the lea"
(from Graze Elegy Written in a Country Farmyard)
Then suddenly, some rowdy Sons of a Hun appear. The escorts deploy!

The castle gates open. Here come the cavalry!

"Huns to the front of me, Visigoths to the rear,
here I am, stuck in the middle with ewe."
Sorry but it was that sort of evening)

The last of the Hun cavalry managed to sack the lead wagon before being chased off the table and now the Visigoth Hearthguard emerge from the woods in which they have been lurking for the whole game to the consternation of everyone, including the King of the Visigoths himself who was on the far side of the table with his archers and warriors. Can they seize a second, game winning, wagon before it pulls away and the Elite Roman infantry moves up?

That night in the Visigoth camp, the warriors ate heartily.
One more game to report on.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Where the Train Derailed.

While I'm waiting to see what photos of last week's games become available to me, I'll get back to the matter at hand.

I was very clear in my head when I resurrected my Britain's toy soldiers: I wanted to play the sort of raids, ambushes and frontier warfare that MacDuff had been designed for. MacDuff called for more toy soldiers and a bigger table though so I turned to The Square Brigadier and it was working just fine. So how did I end up suddenly try to write rules for  multi-brigade pitched battles?

A 2005 MacDuff game when my table was bigger.
Its interesting how even small, casual ideas can unintentionally derail a plan. In this case I can track it back to the notion of painting up armies that looked like they could have been built in the 1950's by selecting boxed sets of painted toy soldiers from what was available at a fictional local department store.

The idea was that I could paint what I felt like and have a variety of uniforms without having to do a dozen or more of each and running out of room on my table.  It would then be up to my imagination  to explain how such a disparate group of units fit together.

Battle of Brioche from last year: an expedition to secure supplies. There was a slight mismatch between grid size and base width hence 1 stand units.

What has happened is that the logical part of my brain (its small and often defective but its there somewhere) translated "a group of units in different uniforms" into "a group of battalions" rather than "an early ACW composite volunteer regiment with individual company uniforms". From there it was a small step to promote "The Brigadier" into the "Major General" and away we went charging off up the wrong valley and starting to think about pitched battles using 54's instead of 20's.

The Opening Engagement of the Origawn Rebellion, when units were still companies and the whole "army" was one big, happy, Brigade.

Luckily this is easily rectified by recalling the Square Brigadier and getting the narrative back on track.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Party's Over

Well another wargaming getaway has gone by.
Compulsory vacation picture: Sunrise from the cottage deck. (and yes I screwed up on the panorama process)
A report on the two miniatures games will follow  when I get my hands on more of the photos taken by others.

Like this 25mm ECW picture snitched from Rob.

and when all the good food, wine and beer have settled and my brain stops thinking about the Senior Wargamers' Cottage Commune and chuckling and eye rolling at the jokes and the gaming incidents, and just plain glowing with the pleasure of time spent with old friends and new.

For now I'll leave you the quip of the weekend which came during a Viking Invasion board game.
Mike: "It takes a Pillage to Raze a Church"
Photo by Paul.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

On the menu

I'm off to a 2 day course for Museum volunteers being held in Hubbards on the Atlantic coast. By happy circumstance, Rob Hingley (Captain's Blog)  is on vacation at a nearby beachside cottage.

The same cottage where I spent a delightful two days last year, socializing and wargaming. Last year we played a 1/72nd ACW game.

and some Portable Russian Civil War games.

This year, we are extending the civil war theme and going to old metal with Paul's Minifig ECW collection with a few of my Scots volunteers.

A game with Paul's figures last fall.

but there may be some other games as well, the available options including but not limited to an Elastolin Romans vs Barbarians game.

Hmm, maybe I should turn the planned game into a Roman Civil War.....

Back in a few days.