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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Road Block

On the 24th of August, 1919, the Dominion of Faraway declared war against Oerberg claiming that Oerberg had violated the peace treaty in February when their troops ambushed a Dominion convoy in the disputed zone.  Within hours a column of Faraway  troops crossed the border from the Kapelle into Oerberg.

The column consisted of a light tank, a squadron of cavalry, 7 companies of infantry including 2 machine guns and three batteries including one light mountain gun. No enemy were in sight but the Oerbergers were well known for their ability to hide their entrenchments and make good use of dead ground.

The advance guard was hit hard by fire from artillery and an advanced post of Frontier Mounted Police with a Pompom gun.

As soon as the squadron of Larsen's Lancers came within rifle range of the farmhouse a furious fusillade followed by artillery fire tore into them causing heavy losses. They pulled back as Ross's Rifles deployed to attack the farm supported by the light tank. As the Rifles extended their front they came under a heavy fire from a wooded knoll to their right but the casualties did not stop the advance and the Mounted Police fell back before they could be flanked.
An ambush of Oerberg mounted rifles waits until the time is right, 
As the Dominion troops pressed forward they were surprised again by a concealed PomPom gun which opened up from a rocky knoll on the other side of the farm. The advance threatened to stall but the Royals were at hand and the artillery opened up as they deployed.

The advanced guard takes the farm as the artillery arrives.
(The smokeless powder makes it harder to follow the action)

Quickly the advance resumed and the advanced Oerberg troops were either wiped out or forced to retreat. As the Dominion infantry pushed forward the artillery fire became more deadly and was joined by a hail of bullets from the two companies of the Railway Volunteers.  The battle stalled into an intense firefight. The defenders took serious losses but not quite enough to force them to reterat while the Dominion forces did not have enough effective infantry companies available to risk an assault. To avoid useless bloodshed, General Spice order his men to fall back to regroup.
Evening approaches. The Oerberg forces have taken heavy losses but are still holding. The attack has to be called off for today. 

And that was that, just the sort  of brisk action with the advantage shifting back and forth that I had been picturing. I did pick up a few minor ommissions, errors and bad choices in the rules but they were quickly fixed up. The game itself took about an hour to play through which was about perfect for what I wanted. If I hadn't pulled noy 1 but 2!! aces, the Dominion just might have gotten the extra couple of hits needed to break the enemy's morale, maybe.

I'm going to need more hills for the native army! Luckily the large bases allow me to go back to building hills under the cloth.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ready to Roll

The Square Brigadier Rules (click to view) have been updated and the table is set.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


"Be sure you are right then go ahead!" 
Oom Bob is ready. 

One of my goals is to have each of my remaining collections of figures present a different sort of gaming experience. In part this can be done by different historical periods and different levels or battle but it also includes styles of gaming. This tends to go against my instinctive urge to use variations of the a current favourite rule system for as many periods as possible.

So, having some time today,  I took the plunge and reorganized and rebased ny remaining early 20thC  forces for a style of game that was once a favourite. The goal will be to have twelve units per army or at least twelve where more are already available. 
The Faraway Expeditionary Force: Force HQ, 1 cavalry squadron, 1 light tank, 7 infantry companies, 2 of which include an MG, 3 batteries.
 The Kapelle Rebels almost have enough units based for an ambush. Recruiting continues.

The Oerberg Defence Force: HQ, 3 cavalry squadron, 1 cavalry MG, 4 infantry inc 1 MG, 2 batteries.

At this point the quick and easy foamcore bases are just painted to not jar with the cloth but with only one 3"x3" base per unit I'd like to add unit names (or id) and maybe stats to the base. But not until they've been engaged. In this format there are several rules systems they could use but my plan is to resurrect the Square Brigadier and fine tune it.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Filling a Hole in the Line(up)

The other day I was enjoying a battle report on Maudlin Jack Tar's Projects and Procrastination when I was hit by a wave of nosatalgia for my old Morschauser inspired games and a sudden realization that I no longer had a similar game or even a Portable Wargame style game ready to go.  Time to get on that.

Atlantican irregulars preparing for war.
mostly Scruby from Historifig)

In part this nostalgia goes back to memories of small 54mm Volley & Bayonet games with my friend Tom in the late 90's, and in part to my various cardtable and portable games.

I think this 2015 post sums up much of the attraction  reasonably well.

Quickly reviewing my shelves, I was relieved to be reminded that my shiny Colonial 40mm collection was in limbo and that this was just the sort of thing that I had had in mind for them when I got around to it. In other words, a small, limited,  collection of figures, based and organized to quickly set up, play, and pack away small games. Phew! The perfect period for it.

A quick check confirmed that I had enough Brits (by any other name) and almost enough of my Not-Boer and fictional Native opponents ready to play with only a little work. I also have enough unpainted figures on hand to finish the armies.

The General reviews the Dominion of Faraway's troops as war looms.
Three Squadrons of Lancers, seven companies of infantry, 2 machine guns, a motor machine gun, a battery of field guns, a Mountain Battery and a heavy howitzer. ("Hmm Feswig, where is the Koolahat Battery?" "Sir, they'll be coming 'round the Mountain anytime now" "Yaaas all right and see if we can get them all into khaki before the Oerbergers shoot them to pieces" )

I should be able to get a game on the table by this weekend to see how it fits.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

In the Absence of a Story Teller

What a ballad could have been told of the stand of Tribune Johan and the White Cohort. Alas, no bards were available after all and my inner bard is too tired to weave a narrative. All I can offer tonight is a quick recap with  technical details.

Turn 8..ish? The game is 1/2way through. All forces are now on hand. Duke Stephen has been wounded slightly and the first charge by his household knights has been held. The spearmen of the rearguard suffered grievious losses in that first charge but stubbornly refused to give an inch.

The game was Scenario 13, "Escape", from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames. The game sees a single defending unit facing the enemy who is tasked with getting...hmmm..2? units off the far end by road by turn 15. Why by road? Maybe there's a bridge? I made a pass between rugged wooded and hill terrain just off table, something that would certainly be an obstacle to the ...Picts??  well maybe to the Saxons? hmm,  anyway, "Why?" isn't the point, its just what they have to do to win.

The defender gets reinforcements according to a fixed schedule, the entry points are largely behind the retreating party except for one unit (the White Cohort in this game) that reinforces the original road block.

The Raiders rearguard has been scattered and Duke Stephen's troops are hurrying as fast as the dice will allow to save the small blocking force. 

I started playing with the 2018 version of my Castle Dangerous which I had used for some games I ran but never actually used in a solo game. (Delinquent!!) . By turn 7 I decided that I didn't like them, rest the table to turn 4 and reverted the rules to the original version without saving throws and a few other differences and then applied what I had learned over the last 3 years about my current likes and dislikes. They still need alot of work (and a forever name) but they were just the sort of thing I wanted for this kind of quick scenario game with traditional units. (Current draft here for the curious).

The game was played using my usual initiative deck which tracks the number of turns and decides each turn who will go first, allowing the occasional double move when initiative changes. In this game several of the initiative switches gave temporary, but potentially critical, boosts to one side or the other.

The only wild card I used was the Joker which means the turn ends immediately but still counts as a turn played for scenario purposes. In this case, two jokers turned up early meaning that the raiders lost two turns to clear the road block before the last reinforcement arrived. The game went to turn 14 of 15 before being decided and I suspect that those 2 turns were what gave the Romano-British the chance to make it be in a position to win on turn 12 and 13 if Lady Luck hadn't annulled the advantage by suddenly turning their dice cold on turn 12 AND 13! Got to rally and move? Nope, not today. Needing 1 hit on 6 dice needing 4's+ to hit? Nope! No hits!   Don't think you can do that twice in a row? Here let me show you...... 

The Saxon? Well, she was cruel to him earlier with those aces but she did smile on the barbarian morale and rally tests, including letting Helgin's standard bearer and guard roll a 6 and rally despite being the last survivors. Then when it was his last chance and he needed a hit with his last die, no problem. OK Tribune and the remnant of the White cohort, 2 or better to not break. Oh! So sorry but the Tribune allows you to reroll....look at that! Another 1! 

Dice! Never trust your life to them!

The local soldiery who had arrived first to hold the pass had bravely stood and repulsed charges by Dearg Mor's household cavalry and a band of Saxon raiders but were eventually driven back and broken by subsequent charges. By then however, Duke Johan and the armoured veterans of the  White Cohort had arrived. These proceeeded to repulse Earl Helgin's Hearthguard not once but twice, cutting them to shreds. Follow up attacks by Saxon warriors and continuous showers of arrows and javelins slowly whittled their numbers but by then the Duke was at hand!
More technical stuff. The OHW  scenarios are designed to be played on a 3ftx3ft table with units being 4" to 6" wide. Since my table is 4.5ftx6ft, I just use a 4.5ftx4.5ft area with the last 18" being "off table" and use roughly 6" wide units which each take up the same relative space as 4" ones on a 36ft sq table. Seems to work well when translating the scenarios for my own armies and rules.

I sometimes roll on his charts to see what units are available but this time I just went with what was ready to go. Units of 12 infantry or 6 cavalry or archers.

The Barbarians had Earl Helgin and his Elite Hearthguard infantry, a unit of Saxon infantry and a unit of archer. Dearg Mor, the Pictish (ish) King had his bodyguard of light cavalry, a unit of spearmen and a unit of archers. 

The Romano-British had Duke Stephen with his Elite Armoured knights, a unit of garrison light cavalry, Tribune Johan with a unit of armoured infantry, 2 units of infantry and one of archers. Earl Helgin Dearg Mor, the Pictish king, Duke Stephen and Tribune Johan were all rated as commanders.

All figures are vintage 4cm Elastolins, mostly repainted with a number of conversions. 

Alas for the Guardians of Britain, fate intervened and just before the Duke could launch his knights into a charge to sweep away the remnants of the enemy force, a change in initiative allowed a final desperate charge by Dearg Mor at the head of his remaining light cavalry which broke the square and swept it away allowing the remaining raiders to escape. 54 men had entered the pass,  11 escaped but the leaders, despite having been in the thick of the fight all day, were amongst them. Their fame would quickly gather new recruits to their banners.
(Uhoh, those bare washer bottoms! BB Jeff my friend, I will get the underside of those bases painted! Soon!)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Rumours of War

Never a bard around when you want one.

Did the square stand? Did reinforcements arrive in time?
Who went first next turn?

Hopefully someone will write up the tale soon!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

You Shall Not Pass!

It was too hot to work this afternoon.....time for an impromptu solo game!

Earl Helgin the Saxon leads an allied raiding party home. Only a band of local British levies bars the way.
After several ho's and hum's I settled on my Elastolins and the Age of Arthur and scenario 13, "Escape", from Thomas's One Hour wargames.

OK, so now that Minnow has left, we can see the whole table. Reinforcements from the wall have just arrived on one flank! Where is Duke Stephen and his knights?

To be continued!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

They're Back! Doug Miller 40mm Landsknechts are back!

Bless the internet, and, I suspect, the blogosphere.

About 15 years ago, I bought three Doug Miller Landsknecht figures (yes the author of the old Osprey Landsknect book),  through the Michigan Toy Soldier Company if memory serves. I then found Doug's old website on line but by the time I had spare funds, it was gone. This spring I was surprised to receive an email from Doug saying that he had heard that I was looking for more of his figures. I didn't ask him how he knew but a BIG thank you to whoever tipped him off and gave him my email.

1525 (Doug Miller ) and Elastolin recruits.

Anyway, when I got home from visiting family yesterday, the package was waiting on the kitchen table (Of course).  I still don't have ample funds and don't realllly need  more 16thC figures but do have a box full of Elastolin kits that I got cheap, BUT they are mostly duplicates of a few very active poses rather than the nice, useful, standing or advancing figures. The 1525 range fits very nicely with Elastolin, as was Doug's intent, and apart from the pleasure of building custom figures and painting them, even a few will help me move forward with building an Imperial army that can stand up to the French without relying on English allies. It'll also help grow my collection of civilians, supply trains and character figures.

Doug was quite flexible about mixing etc so I bought a few more of the armoured horses so that I will finally be able to add a small but much needed reinforcement for my gensdarmes.

His illustrated catalogue can be viewed at https://1525miniatures.net and orders placed through the contact page. The dioramas in the gallery are well worth viewing even if 40mm 16thC isn't your thing.

Doug Miller 1525 range commander and arquebusier figures with Elastolin trumpeter, horses and arquebusiers.
Note: I suspect that I may not have been clear above, this is a small reinforcement for one of these 3 armies: 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dawn Surprise

I suddenly decided today that I needed a quick game, as one does sometimes.
Swiss mercenaries in French pay storm the heights.
Casting my eye about to see who hadn't been out recently and would be easy to fit into a One Hour Wargames scenario, I decided that the 40mm 16thC lads were up. The last time I used them I noted that the simplified rules needed an overhaul to make them clearer and more engaging. An hour later I was ready to go.

The scenario chosen was "Shambolic Command".  After diddling about a bit I decided that when using a 45" x 45" table, a 1/3 increase in stands would give me about the same frontage of troops as the original scenario. I then rolled a few dice and selected armies. That gave me a defending force of 2 small units of Landsknechts on the hill (probably should have been one), each 2 pike and 1 shot with a similar force plus a light gun, a unit of mounted arquebusiers and a unit of lancers back in camp, with no General. My equivalent to the original command restiction was to merely have all units out of command and let them roll each turn as per the rules. It worked very shambolically.

The attacking French force was represented by 2x 4 pike, a unit of 2 shot, a light gun and a commander.

The battle gets going. (End of Turn 2 I think)
The attack up the hill was a hard slog, not helped by the commander rushing to the front to inspire the men and dying a glorious death instead. Meanwhile the gun and arquebusiers did a sterling job of thwarting  attempts by Imperial cavalry to turn the flank.

About an hour and 8 turns later, the Imperial army broke and retreated at which point I remembered that I had meant to take more pictures. Oh well.

The end.
The rules worked better but since I several times found myself confused by the language and all the unexplained bits. I have decided to rework them to make more sense at which point I'll get the lads out for another go.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Cannonade of Belmont

Ready for action!

Well, the bases will need to be flocked once I decide on how I want them but they could take the field today if the need arose.

The odds are starting to even out.
Ragged Republican skirmishers and that General next, haven't had a good excuse for painting striped trousers in years.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

And a Great Battle was Won and Lost.

Today's outing was a great success as far as I'm concerned.

Jeff now owns my old 15mm Russian and Austrian French Rev. armies and its always a pleasure to briefly resume command of some of my old units from time to time. 
A good mix of gamers either played or dropped by for a bit to chat and have a look, including old friends from the 70's and 80's  to newer friends made over the years and some new gamers giving historical minis a go for the first time.  Really glad to finally be able to put a face to my fellow wargaming blogger, The monkey that walks .

I played Dokhturov on the left, so this was my command. Lets just say that 5 hours later I was still holding our left. Jeff's terrain and armies.

The game was Austerlitz organized by Jeff using Napoleon's Battles and his 15mm troops. Yes I know, not my usual style but it did the job OK considering that most of the 8 players had never read the rules let alone played them. Looks like another NB game will follow in September. I think I might work on a QRS that I can read and understand without specialist equipment!

A rather blurry shot of Suvorov playing the role of Kutuzov and the table reencarnation of an old friend since college days who has just returned to Nova Scotia. 

Thanks to Jeff (Armchair Commander blog) and Brent for a good outing.

Oh alright, Brent and the French team won an epic victory over the allies.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Bringing up the guns

A little bit more done today.

Looking over my artillery moulds I decided that the old Karoliner/1750 French gun would not serve as anything but a 3 pounder with these larger figures but that the Rosbach 12pdr was a suitable size and shape to pass as a Gribeauval 8 pdr. Given that the games are most likely to be affairs of outposts, a four pounder seemed more likely and the carriage was very similar. A bit more research showed that the French 4 pdr was of similar length as the Austrian 6pdr so I chose that barrel. The wheels are also from the new SYW mould as looking more 1790's-ish.

I wanted to use at least a few of the tall new crewman but didn't want everyone in waistcoats so I used two plus two converted Rosbach Prussians. Probably I could have gotten away with ignoring the old fashioned long waistcoats but trimming them wasn't a huge job, especially since it was rather crudely done. I'm hoping that the simple glossy painting will gloss over it (so to speak). I'm not sure if the veste had sleeves or not in 1792 but I'm going to go with shirtsleeves to emphasis that they have removed their coats.

My old, reliable, nearly 50 year old, copy of Kannick shows a Republican French gunner with a horse hair plume which I rather like, so I copied it!

Waiting in the wings is a mock up of a future General of the Republic! Aka new SYW Dragoon officer with one of my bicorne heads. Its back in the melting pot for this first go but I really like the look of these new cavalry moulds.

Much as I want to get this gun crew painted, they are going to have to wait. I'm off to Austerlitz on Saturday morning! Well, ok my body is off to Lower Sackville where Jeff of the Armchair Commander blog will be hosting an all day 15mm Austerlitz wargame. Attendance looks to be good so I expect to see a number of old friends as well as newer ones around the table or dropping by. I also expect to see some old 15mm friends marching on to the field as well.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ca ira! Ca ira! Ca ira!

Enough ACW for a bit. My latest Prince August moulds arrived and have been tested.

LtoR Meisterzinn in later bicorne, Zinnbrigade w 1792 bicorne from PA Prussian NCO mould, said PA mould being converted to artillery officer, PA gunner with same early bicorne.

(Juryrigged with plasticene to give me an idea what they might look like.)

It wasn't the best of conditions, hot and humid so that sweat was literally dripping off my forehead into the mould and occasionally the melting pot.
However, I managed to get enough bits to mock up some conversions and confirm that I'll be able to make some 1793 units that will look ok beside Meisterzinn.

Oh and the Dragoons look Great! Bicornes coming for them as well!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Habits Are Hard To Break

Once again I sat down, looked at the still unfinished 20 turn game on my table and thought: "I have not done what I thought I was doing. Instead, I've gone  even farther off course.".  Reset!

Simple scenario. Equal forces, 3 roads either side. Roll for entry point per division. Sieze an enemy road without losing any.

The original plan had been to write a ruleset with as little  regimental detail and as few artificial command mechanisms as I could but instead, with each tweak or rewrite I seemed to have slipped ever farther back down that well trodden road. So,  I opened up a blank document and began again.

I thought about what a revelation it had been 17 years ago when I first read Joe Morschauser and, after scoffing, tried playing his rules. Then I thought about how  much I had enjoyed, and been excited about, the games I had played using the very simple rules he inspired me to write. Rules which I had proceeded to regress until the rules were neither fast nor fun while convincing myself that I wasn't doing that at all. It comes I think from my early days, WRG and reading Charles Grant's books. The simpler Featherstone and Lawford and Young had been hastily put aside by the young man for more modern, detailed, scale conscious rules. Unlearning that approach has been a steep curve over the last years.

I reset the table, typed up a one page rules summary,  and started again.

Desperate Union counter attack repulsed with heavy losses.

This time I played 15 turns in about 3 hours and was able to declare a narrow Confederate minor victory. More than that, the advantage had swung back and forth but in the end it was player decisions not dice that decided the issue. (Mind you a last desperate Yankee charge might have come off against the odds if the dice had been kinder to them and turned the game to a draw.)

So here's the one page rules:

Ross Fast PLay ACW QRS

Determine initiative My usual card initiative deck

Sequence of Play

A moves or  shoots
Resolve charges (Oops missed this phase when I was typing)
B moves or shoots
Resolve charges
Generals, Cav, Horse Arty 18” 
Inf, Arty 12”  
If with 6” of enemy no sideways move
1/2 speed  if maneuvering (fall back, sidestep, pass through,  etc) 
1/2 speed across delaying terrain, inf only in thick woods, swamp, steep rocky hills etc
Roads negate off road terrain for columns

Shooting: Shoot straight ahead. Units may change facing, unlimer etc and shoot. 
Inf: 2d6 per unit  6” @5,6 hits    
Cav: 2d6 per dismounted  unit. 6” @5,6 hits 
Arty 2d6 per gun  12” @4,5,6 hits, 36” @5,6 hits  
-1 vs cover
Support. A unit may pass up to 1/2 hits to an infantry unit within 1” to flank or up to 3” to rear. 
Rally Men! A Cdr may join one unit within 6” each turn and roll 1d6: 5,6=cancel 1  hit, 1=Cdr dead  

Charge Resolution: Both sides roll  2d6 per unit in contact, 4,5,6 hits     
-1 if attacking cover or an obstacle or if charged in flank.
Follow Me! A Cdr may join a unit in contact. Roll 1d6 5,6 = inflict 1 hit or cancel 1. 1=dead
Apply hits then if neither removed side that took most hits retreats. Charger may occupy ground. If tied charger falls back 1” (cav may dismount) or full move. (Player choice)

Unit Morale. 
Inf take 4 hits, Cav/Arty take 3 hits
+1 if Elite (crack/Veteran etc)
-1 if Green (demoralized etc).

One of the Union roads is blocked by Rebs. Not really controlled by either but adding in the shattered Union 2nd Division enough for a technical victory.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Maintenance of the Aim or Adjusting the Plan.

A key Principle of War. Don't let  yourself be distracted by details or put the plan above the mission.

I brought my coffee upstairs this morning and looked at the table covered in disorder markers which tended to blend in with the units.  What was the Aim again?
Two turns later, with modified rules in play,  a Reb unit has  punched their way through the Yankee first line. Well, the rump of a Reb unit anyway.

I started by wondering if I really did need to bring back a disorder status after having once again managed to banish it as an explicit state.  At this stage of battle with a close range firefight raging, it was hard for officers to get troops to cease fire and move forward unless the enemy started to give way. On table, it would be quicker and easier to just treat everyone involved in a close range firefight as being "disordered" without any markers.

OK, so what about commanders and orders?

What was a Brigadier's job?
Essentially to coordinate his regiments and carry out the orders given him by his Division commander, to keep higher command informed and to risk his life  leading his men in action.

The last bit is covered by my usual rules for leaders in combat (not included here), the first bit is covered by requiring the brigadier to be present to make a group move. We don't really need to concern ourselves with him beyond those two things, especially if there are as many as 20 of them on the table at once as could happen in a large game.

What was a Division Commander's job?
Unless he is the highest officer on the field, his job is to implement his orders, use his judgement, keep higher command informed and coordinate his brigades and only in desperate situations to risk his life trying to lead troops in person. (Not that they weren't at risk of stray shells and bullets, not to mention snipers, regardless of where they were.)

Really this is the Player's job and ideally one should have a player for each Division Commander and higher but in a solo game, they are all me as is the Commanding Officer on each side.  If I stick with some sort of simpler activation/orders table then a modifier there is probably enough for now.

So  hits and stand removal. If I don't have a disorder result and don't really want to track hits or have units evaporate, what is my best option?  After much pondering and a bit of die rolling I think the easiest way to meet my criteria is to remove a stand for each 2 hits dropping remainders. (One could carry them over but...) Here is where I can use some of those marker figures again. Units may start the game with up to 3 markers each depending on unit quality. Each marker can be used once to make a saving throw or as an extra die in charge combat. This would give crack units a small edge, not need any immediate work from me, and help reduce clutter as the game goes on instead of increasing it.

Since the disorder is gone, I have replaced it with the assumption that at long range a combination of skirmisher and long range rifle fire are causing a trickle of casualties resulting in the urge to stop and fire despite orders and officers.

Overview from the other flank.

So now how do the stripped down core command and combat rules look now?

Active player rolls for each detached unit or formed brigade before moving it:
   5,6   Move Full
   3,4   Move 1/2
   1,2   No advance

+1@ if  Division or Corps General within 6"
+1 Full strength
-1 Within 12" of enemy

1 d6 per inf stand, 2d6 per arty stand.
Side moving shoots 1st unless charging. Apply hits
Side moving 2nd then shoots unless charging. Apply hits
Roll for all charging units and apply hits
Arc of fire per stand, fire at tgt closest to front. Target is unit. Allocate all dice against target before any are rolled at it.
Hit on 4,5,6 at point blank, 5,6 at close, 6 at long
-1 vs cover
Rifles: contact/6"/12"
Artillery: 6"/18"/36"

If at least 1 stand remaining, units taking more hits (not stand losses)  than  inflicted will retreat a full move and must reform next turn. If still in contact charger must fall back at least 1" and may retreat up to a full move and must do so if mounted cavalry. If defender eliminated or forced back, charging unit may occupy position.

Friday, July 26, 2019

OK So not really so Old School after all.

I confess, I was struggling. Things either worked but were too fiddly for me these days, or they were easy but didn't work for this size of game let alone larger ones, or just didn't work at all! Swapping the variable length move for a simple activation chart got the movement.. ummh.. moving?

Firefights proved a bit tougher since my mind was locked into various methods that had become standard but which failed the test one after another. (yes, I know, it was a 1/72nd nightmare with the dead rising only to be shot again, and again and again.)  Eventually, I realized that none of my usual tricks were going to give me what I wanted for my ACW battles.  I started thinking broader, trying some brand new things until one of them started to remind me vaguely of a game I used to enjoy playing.  A bit more thinking, exploring, trying and adjusting and suddenly and I had what I needed and wanted. No need for marker dice to follow units around tracking hits, no sudden death from firefights for average units but not endless firefights either.

Firy & Fury were the rules that got me back into ACW during the 90's. I always liked the system overall. It managed to combine what my orders, morale and fire charts did into just 2 tables: Maneuver Table and Firing. However, I have a strong dislike of non-cubic dice and the F&F tables had too many factors, rows and columns for my eyes and brain so that I always spent more time with my head buried in the QRS and counting on my fingers than I did looking at the table and planning my moves, and the games were longggg. Still a nod to them for the inspiration.

Anyway here's the real short gist of how this part of my game is shaping up.

Active player rolls for each unit or formed brigade before moving it:
   5,6   Rally. Act as ordered.
   3,4   Rally. May move 1/2 but no charge.
   1,2   Rally. No advance
    0     Fall back a full move

+1@ if own Brigadier or General within 6" 
+1 Elite

-1 Disordered
-1 @ stand lost
-1 Green or Poor troops

1 d6 per stand. Arc of fire per stand, fire at tgt closest to front. Target is unit. Allocate all dice against target before any are rolled at it.
Hit on 4,5,6 at close, 5,6 at medium, 6 at long
-1 vs cover
Rifles: 3"/6"/12"
Artillery: 12"/24"/36"

At least now I again have a use for those marker stands ( buglers etc)  that I did a few years back. Mind you I think I will paint the rims of their bases red to make them easier to spot, and paint up some of those prone, crawling and wounded figures that I've been meaning to do!

Oh and added bonus. having all moves and shooting in increments of 3" again lets me use my easy to read painted measuring sticks!

Now, charge resolution............hmmm

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Wargames can be hell

Finally, battle is joined.

I was a little disconcerted at first to find that various favoured mechanisms proved unsuitable for the task in hand. However, it  didn't take long to resurrect some even older mechanisms and the game is now flowing.

Is it on the right track? We'll see!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Those who cannot remember the past (Updated)

"Are condemned to repeat it"  (Attributed to George Santayana)

Unless of course they keep a blog and by clicking the ACW label they can check back over old versions and proposed versions of the rules, read accounts of wargames played including post game analysis, and contemplate old plans and conclusions and compare them with where I'm at now.

Is it just me or does the Butternut and Grey Minnow overlooking the Yankee cavalry remind anyone else of the ghost of Jeb Stuart and the Haunted Tank?

I've saved my self some trouble there over the last two days. In fact the nostalgia factor had me on the point of going back to where I was 5 or so years ago until I read why I changed my approach slightly. It wasn't because the rules weren't working ot that I didn't like them. It was because, although smaller than what I am planning, the games were too incremental and process focussed (as in too much die rolling and too few command decisions), took too long to reach a  conclusion, and without two handy back tables, "dead" stands were scattered around the room, (especially when I was absorbed in the action) so that cleaning up afterwards usually took longer than the game.

So, having remembered that my trials of rules where dice and hits are allocated and tracked by unit rather than by stand, I have done up a new 2 page version and am set to play......soon. The current basic draft of the  Plastic Army of the Potomac may be found here.

(but be warned, it is a work in progress )

OK 25 July version now being tested is this one: Alt Plastic Army

and for comparison: the original 2003 version of Morschauser Meets MacDuff

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp ("Here they come agin")

Its a hot, muggy, summer week, in excess of 30C in the shade, a wargamer could imagine himself in southern Pennsylvania in July 1863. 

From 2015
Too hot to work but with the heat pump, not too hot to play inside. Time to plan and set up  a  battle, not a skirmish but a battle with the table full of troops. Time to revisit the ACW.

Before I do though, I'm going to spend time doing some organizational work such as recording names of commanders and regiments, marking stands again to ID regiment and brigade for ease of set up and pack away. The Commanders and Regiments will not necessarily be given strictly historical names nor will they be restricted to fighting in the battles that their namesakes fought in. These are after all Wargame (or Toy) armies!

I'm also going to revisit my ACW rules given that the forces in hand are now expecting to be reinforced over the next few years. In preparation, I've been rereading old rules and old posts under the ACW label to review what I've tried, what I liked and didn't and so on and crossed that with some recent thinking about what I like and want.

What I have decided is:

  • I want something quick and easy to play which will allow me to eventually drop more than a 1,000 1/72nd figures on an extended table and play a battle to a conclusion within 4 or so hours or to play a small game in 2 hours.  
  • I want the ability to add a little bit more detail, character and variability in troop and commander capablity to the rules without losing the simplicity of play. 
  • It HAS to work with what I've got. NO unit reorg or rebasing!

The bottom line is that the I expect the result to be effectively a descendent of Hearts of Tin with the following general features:

a) Standard Units will be my existing 3 stand "Regiments" of infantry and cavalry and 1 stand artillery batteries. Larger and smaller units will be allowed.

b) Off grid. As convenient as the grid can be, it can also be inconvenient such as when maps and historical dispositions don't fit the grid or when the gridded table is being shared between collections with different scales, basing, organization and terrain. Standardization across my collection seemed to be the cure to the second issue but while I approved the theory, I hated the side effects on period feel when I attempted implementation. A selection of game mats would be an option but not one I want to rely on right now.

c) Initiative Card deck used to determine initiative, track turns and trigger Events when desired. (My usual these days.)

d) Variable Length Moves. Back to 2d6 infantry moves etc as in the days of MacDuff and Hearts of Tin. Simple and effective chaos.

e) Dice per stand to hit/miss. This is back to Hearts of Tin. As much as my brain approves of Charge or Featherstone style shooting dice where the number rolled is the number hit, I prefer the Morschauser/WRG 1685-1845 system of a handful of dice to hit or miss, possibly including the WRG '6 = 2 hits' for close range volleys. This may mean a simple 'shooting vs target' table rather than a list of die modifiers.

f) Mutual Charge/Melee resolution. As per Hearts of Tin, Square Brigadier etc

g) Simple Morale Check for heavy casualties, losing melee or trying to rally. The same one I've been using recently, with or without any period tweaks.

Looks simple enough when put like that.

 from 2016

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Out and make way

for the Bold Fenian Men!

Bold Fenian men have joined the Rebel Alliance.
There are two survivors of the original Fenian company raised some 20 years ago (the nco and the chap loading) but with an issues of  fancy new green coats and natty blue trousers for new recruit and old veteran alike the unit is now ready to take the field at the first opportunity.

"Pay them back woe for woe, give them back blow for blow
Out and make way for the Bold Fenian Men!"

Yes, I know,  I'm supposed to be working on 40mm French Revolution heads and moulds....... 

Work, work, work.........

Sunday, July 14, 2019


The King's County Tabletop and Boardgame Society holds a quarterly Tabletop Games day in Kentville NS and have always made our little group of wargamers welcome.

That's me in the X-Wing shortly before I grab the bonus weapon and......... get blown up! Again!

Kingcon was their first go at a weekend long convention so we happily accepted their invitation to take part.  My main contribution was to run some Old School miniatures games of the "One Hour, walk up, learn and play" sort. On Saturday morning I laid out Chrsyler's Farm (War of 1812) and a small Prince Valiant wagon train ambush. For my convenience I used a single ground cloth divided in half so I could run both games singlehandedly if there was enough interest. I really did intend to take a picture.....

The plan was to hang around for the afternoon and try some non-wargame games but 'stuff' came up and I had to head home early both afternoon. I got to chat with friends, acquaintances and some new faces and got in a couple of games anyway.

On Saturday, a couple of the gang did a quick run through of the Prince Valiant game. (Don't worry Paul, I won't mention that you failed to protect the wagons again..oops

A larger version of the scenario played last fall.
Today I just set up Chrysler's Farm and had 3 players who fought a tight battle which ended in a British defeat. Then a couple of us slid down to the other end of the table to play XWing, my 2nd go at the game.

The American Dragoons over ran the British gun and sealed the victory, not that it would have changed the end of the campaign.

Well it may not have been Historicon but it was a good way to spend a big chunk of the weekend and about 1,500 km closer. For a small town in the country,  I think they had a good turn out with a lot going on  far into the evenings on Friday and Saturday. Hopefully they do it again next year.

Now... where was I?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

An X (Year 10)

Once again I show the trait that led my PT sergeant to nickname me the Late Mr. Macfarlane. None the less, I am still here in the pink a year and 9 days after my "little incident" and have every hope and expectation of continuing to do so for at least another decade or so.

Since I haven't painted any 40mm Bleu's yet, (soon, soon) here's the traditional Scruby 22mm one again.

Looking back and ahead, this has been one of very few of my adult years in which there has been no major upheaval either at work (don't miss it) or home or hobby. The plan is: "Steady as she goes!"

The only hobby commitment I have is to show up at Huzzah with 12 40mm French Revolution units for A Gentleman's War. Two down, ten to go. I'm going to shoot for an average of two units a month to give me time to exercise them before they go into action. First task is to do a bicorne head and a new head mould for bicornes and round hats so I can start converting.

Should leave plenty of time for my 54mm Toy Soldiers, Some Doug Miller Landsnechts, and oh by the way, I don't "NEED" them BUT have you seen Hat's upcoming 1/72nd ACW command and marching infantry sets?

Actual command figures and proper marching ones in real uniforms with various hats (sic)? Oh my. One can always find room for more ACW figs right?