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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

If you want to have a good time Jine the Cavalry!

Its been more than 6 years since a  reinforcement from Ireland arrived in my mailbox leading to the formation of Kinch's brigade. Included in the box were some primed Italeri Confederate cavalry which were added to "the list" along with the rest of my box of Italeri Yankee cavalry . Well, the wheels turn slowly, but they turn.
I thought these would be done by now! (I'm gettin' slow.)
After last week's game I decided that it was time to overhaul and organize my cavalry resources and make them table ready. Between my one unit and stragglers, Conrad Kinch's contribution and the combined cavalry might from the old Halifax wargamers' collection that Rob Hingley had forwarded to me  there were surely enough for my immediate needs.

If they were all at attention  or charging straight forward with sabres raised to the front,  I could have easily fit 9 or more figures in a square.  However, most of the plastic cavalry is engaged in melee, swinging sabres in all direction or firing carbines to the side, and need nearly an inch of real estate each to avoid getting in each other's way. My existing painted unit was 6 strong on 3 bases and fits nicely so I decided to just go with it.
Order slowly emerges from chaos.

By painting up 3 new units and sorting the old figures I was able to draw up 4 Regiments each with 6 mounted and 4 dismounted troopers. There are enough figures left over to add at least 2 more regiments at some future point. There are also enough dismounted Rebel cavalry with full length rifles to form one of the regiments of dismounted cavalry that one finds in some Western OB's.

I was going to paint the new units one at a time but once I had them sorted, I figured I may as well prime them all together. As the top picture shows, its probably a bit late make a choice now.

Note: for anyone wondering why I don't appear to be commenting on other blogs recently, I've just noticed a glitch with my blogger account that blocked my comments The matter has now been rectified.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Very Civil War

On Saturday I met with some of the lads at the King's County Table Top Games Assn Quarterly games day in Kentville.

This was another 25mm ECW game, this one was based on Marston Moor using a rough ratio of 1:100 for over all numbers but using standard units in OSW mode. The players were not confined to historical deployments. Jeff as Prince Rupert deployed first with the Allied army under Paul and Martin deploying second.

Paul's vintage Minifigs provided the Scots Covenanters/Parliamentry Army while Jeff's (see  Armchair Commander blog) contemporary figure provided the Royalist army.

Scots and Parliament

This was the third outing for my one page, Quick Play, low detail ECW rules. Over all the rules again worked ok thanks to players with the right spirit but there were a few new glitches and "not covered" bits. In addition my suspicion during the last game that I shouldn't have removed the melee resolution rule was confirmed. I also got some useful feed back on a few bits. We're only talking a few lines of text but that'll take me onto  the other side of the page so I may as well fill up the remaining space by adding more explanation and making some of the writing down some of the unwritten rules.

The first clash.

Same moment zoomed in.
The allies attacked slowly forward all along the line but Jeff did a Rupert and launched a strong cavalry counter attack on his right. This swept away the allied cavalry and then sacrificed itself knocking a whole in the flanking infantry. It was close though, they almost crushed the whole flank without being destroyed.

On the other flank, Martin found his cavalry hampered by a village and close and the resulting cavalry fight lasted the rest of the game without decisive result.

In the centre, the largely Scottish infantry mass attacked about as slowly as is possible rolling 2 d6 a turn for distance! This gave the Royalist guns time to do enough damage to make a difference in the following melee.

However, by this time, the Allied army had managed to lose all of but one of their commanders which was made coordination nearly impossible. Both armies had taken heavy losses but there seemed little hope of Parliament breaking the Royalist line and in case of a draw, the strategic advantage lay with the Royalists. They certainly did better than they did in history.

Thanks to Jeff, Paul, and Martin for an enjoyable game.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Lest We Forget

This November 11th is the 100th Anniversary of the guns falling silent in France at the end  of the "Great War".

From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

"Canada is traditionally assigned the tragic distinction of losing the last casualty among British Commonwealth forces during the First World War. Private George Price was hit in the chest from a sniper shot in the town of Ville-sur-Haine, near Mons. He died at 10:58 a.m., two minutes before the armistice went into effect, officially ending the ​First World War ."

National War Memorial, Ottawa - Confederation Square 
(courtesy Parks Canada/photo by B. Morin).

(I have twice had the privilege  of  going on parade at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa. This year Kathy and I will be attending the local ceremony in Windsor.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Boogie Woogie Bugle Zouave Boy (restored)

*** Prologue: Don't I hate it when this happens, although its only the second time (I think) that it has happened. Yesterday evening I wrote and published a brief blog post and at some point since, I apparently  overwrote it with an earlier  word-free draft while using my stupidphone as a flash light. (Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the useless piece of C^&% Samsung phone that I was talked into as a replacement for my wonderful but aging Motorolla?)  Anyway, its camera is the one redeeming feature and I had used it to upload the pictures directly to an empty post to see if that helped with the picture quality then I closed Blogger, BUT you have to close everything twice on this phone and the draft hung there, waiting to ambush and overwrite the published post at 4 am when a sleepy victim  would pick up the phone  and randomly squeeze buttons trying to wake it up while trying to see what time it is...... yup it cleverly reopened the wordless draft and published it over top of the published one without so much as a howdiyahdo!

So what follows is a new blog post because I don't remember exactly what I said the first time around.     
Its been over a month(!?!) since I last set brush to figure (which has to do with the demise of the halogen floor lamp that used to help illuminate my wargame table as much as anything else but its a boring story).  My decision to reorganize my ACW regiments into 4 stand units instead of 3 is fairly easy to manage for an army of motly Airfix ACW figures except for a few special units like Cesar's Zouaves (click here for their story).

Luckily I haven't painted them all yet and I bought a Zouave command pack from Musket Miniatures last year. These latter are HO/20mm and are therefore slightly smaller, accentuated here by the drummer and bugler being apparently portrayed as boys and the Zouaves being big fellows. I grabbed the bugler and 3 Zouaves and saved the rest for the 2nd regiment.

It was only after I had finished painting and started to base them that I remembered that I'm doing 6 to a stand, not 4.  hmmm  paint two more or...??   A quick head count showed that one unit or other was going to be short a figure or two so might as well be the Veterans. I just left 2 blank files.

What next? Well, next free day is next week sometime and there is a group ECW game on Saturday so we'll see when we get there!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Battle of Windy Corner


Before I start, I thought it best to reiterate the main principle for my collection of figures, and admit to two personal quirks that I have accepted despite the added difficulties they raise.

The principle is simple: every portion of my wargaming collection should provide a different wargaming experience rather than being "the same thing with different hats".

The main quirk is that while having different styles of rules for each period, I am strongly drawn to using variations of the same basic rules, partly because they are easier to remember when I start flitting from period to period, and partly because if properly done, it can reflect the differences and similarities between periods while reminding one of the evolutionary nature of warfare.

The other quirk has no rationale. Since high school days if not earlier, I hate being trendy or worse, appearing to be so!
Somewhere far from the main armies, General Smith's blue regiments, advancing on a 3 road frontage towards the Stone Bridge at Littelton, bump into General Kinch's grey columns moving down 2 roads.  
So, I decided that it was time to put the 54's away for a few days to give someone else some exercise and the choice fell on the ACW lads.  The last ACW game (click) I had played was yet another attempt to go from regiments to brigades as basic units. I've played my share  of the original Fire & Fury as well as Volley & Bayonet, and have a copy of On To Richmond but, well, writing my own has been part of wargaming since the beginning.

The game laid out with 8 stand brigades using variable length moves and ignoring the grid.

The rules I wrote up in July were non-gridded with Brigade sized units so I set the game up ignoring the grid consciously but subconsciously making the terrain conform. The game started well but after about the 10th time I had to circumnavigate the table to search for the tape measure I had put down...somewhere......, I decided that the grid wasn't so bad and could be used to measure distances in 6" increments, measuring by the stand and not worrying about forcing units to conform to the grid.

That actually worked quite well for a couple of turns but did it really feel like these units were brigades and I was a division or corps commander?  Do I really know enough to know if the feel was right? What I did know was that some of the colour and period, not to mention "toy soldier feel" is lost when a famous regiment becomes just one or two of the stands in a unit. 

So I took a few more minutes to reorder the brigades into regiments then grouping them into 3 regiment brigades for the Federal army and 4 regiment brigades for the Confederates, borrowed the movement rules came from the Square Brigadier and the combat system from Hearts of Tin. I added a simple morale check as a nod to Don Featherstone's early influence and was ready to go.

OK, at last, on to the battle!
(with apologies for the fuzzy pictures, a technical issue which is under investigation)

The Union army was cursed with a wood, a hill and a farm right in their path in a way that made it hard to deploy but they were blessed with a wood and a hill for their advance guard to hold while General Smith decided where to commit the rear brigade. 

General Kinch's force came on in a fairly concentrated formation in open ground with hills at the back for his artillery. He lost no time in throwing his brigades forward in a massed attack hoping to crunch the Union line before their whole army could deploy. As the troops advanced, the word came down to reorganize the Division from 8 stand brigade units into 4 stand regiments which was swiftly done without confusion and the battle went on.

The Rebel attack hit the Union line hard but the close range fire of the Union guns and the good defensive terrain helped the Blue line to hold. A lengthy close range firefight ensued but as reinforcements arrived to plug gaps and extend the line, threatening the Rebel flanks, the attack faltered and suddenly the Grey line gave way.

It took a little time for Smith to get his division reformed and ready for a counter attack but eventually the Blue lines moved forward.

.That time was enough for the Confederate lines to reform and the Union troops were reluctant to risk a charge. A prolonged firefight ensued but the  Rebels had suffered heavy losses in their earlier charge  and in the end Kinch was forced to order a retreat while he still had a viable Division. (i.e. He hit his army morale loss point.)

The game from there moved quickly and eventually reached a clear but never inevitable conclusion in what seemed like half an hour but which appears to have actually been more than three hours by the clock.

I fielded about 600 figures without crowding the table so there is room for some of the unused units as well as some additions.

Using a "regiment as unit" set of rules, I'll never be able to fit any of the larger historical battles on my  table without extreme bathtubbing but that wasn't one of my serious ambitions anyway.

This setup finally ticks all my boxes so the plan for the fall/winter is to turn the loose collection of stands into permanent, 4 stand, identifiable, named and marked regiments, each with their own good flag, as planned in 2010. Then I have to make sure I have enough brigadiers and that they all have names to help with developing narratives and possibly a campaign at some future time. Once that is done I can turn my attention to organizing the mess of painted cavalry and then, finally,  paint up some more of the figures who have been idling in the cupboard for much of the last decade.

Oh, and I have to turn my quickly scribbled notes into a proper, comprehensive set of rules along the way.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2nd Teaser

No time for a full battle report tonight but here's a sneak peek as the Confederate attack goes in before the Union finishes its deployment.

Picture taken about turn 4, just before I paused the game to reorganize from 6-8 stand Brigade units back to 4 stand Regiments, swapped rules, and then continued happily for 3 hours ! 

More tomorrow! 

(Hopefully, got a full day of commitments.)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rainy Day Game

Its a rainy weekend and I have no outside commitments on Saturday and no big household projects ready to go. Sounded like a game day to me but what to play?

For various reasons I found myself thinking back to my first wargame with the Montreal wargamers, an ACW game using Airfix figures. Well, why not?

I had a look at the new Plastic Army of the Potomac that I wrote up and tried in July and decided to replace the Rally rule with a basic morale throw  based on one in Battles With Model Soldiers.
Impromptu terrain for a basic meeting engagement.