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.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Attack on Missisjones

It was barely an hour after the patrols left that the first Oerbergers were spotted coming over the mountains from both North and South.

Note: The large Blue or Red Poker Chips mark a destroyed unit. The small red bingo markers indicate a need to Rally.
The first assault was by a force of 3 Mounted Rifles and a Cavalry MG unit against a hilltop redoubt containing an Infantry company reinforced by an MG. Despite the numbers the Infantry held out and one of the cavalry units was destroyed by MG fire before it could rally and return to the fight. A second squadron was soon lost to artillery and rifle fire as reinforcements rushed to the fighting.

Then the Oerberg artillery deployed and opened up on the redoubt. The battle was a long way from over.
The recent repulse of the Dominion's invasion seems to have brought in volunteers from the outlying districts.
As more Oerberg units poured out of the passes, the situation looked grim. Would the isolated redoubts be enough to hold back double the Dominion numbers? When would the patrols return?

The Lancers arrived in time to shore up the line before the mounted Oerbergers had managed to creep up through cover into firing positions. 

Before long, the town was under attack from three sides and casualties began to mount for both armies. The Dominion commander ordered the Lancers to mount up and clear the threat to the rear.

Job done! Three of the Oerberg units had now been knocked out of the battle. 

It couldn't last forever though. Without the support of the Lancers, the redoubt was unable to hold back the enveloping waves of Oerbergers. Despite inflicting heavy casualties they were eventually forced to fall back towards the town.

Fallback!

Across the line the heavy shell and rifle fire was taking its toll.  The Oerberg infantry began to work their way forward into the gaps. Where was the train? When would it return?

Clear the road!

At last the sound of the approaching engine could be heard, Loud cheers erupted from the defenders. As the train approached the engine driver slammed on the brakes. He refused to steam straight through point blank gunfire from two enemy batteries. It was an ordinary train with boiler plate bolted on, not a Dreadnought! 


The Rifles detrained and advanced on the enemy while the Naval gunners opened fire. In no time one enemy battery had been silenced and forced to retire, The Rifles took heavy casualties assaulting the battery and being Volunteers were slow to get reorganized for a follow up attack to finish the job.

Their Colonel joined them crying "One more hit on that gun and the enemy is finished!". They were too winded to shoot straight though and the veteran Oerberg gunners  were already back in action. A storm of point blank fire from two batteries torn into the Rifles. When their Colonel stood up to urge them on he was blown off his feet by a shell burst and the remaining Rifles broke and scattered for cover.

Fortunes of War: 4 dice:"1,5,6,6"  3 hits! BOOM!

With two turns to go, the victory suddenly teetered on a knife edge. The next side to lose a unit would crack and lose the game. An initiative card draw gave  Oerberg the first shot. There was only one place where they could do enough damage to take out a unit but it was a long shot, they needed to inflict 3 hits with 4 dice. Fortune smiled.

A sad day for the Dominion. Another humiliating defeat. At least the backdoor is open and the  enemy too  badly hurt to pursue closely.


________________________

The game was played with 40mm figures on a gridded board using my Square Brigadier rules. The defenders had 4 infantry units, 2 inf/MG units, a battery and an HQ on table. Off table was a cavalry unit on one side and an armoured train with a gun and a unit of infantry. The attackers had 3 entry points and a total of 6 mounted rifle units, 2 cavalry MG units, 3 Infantry units, 2 batteries and an HQ. The game was set to last 15 turns with a card being drawn each turn to see which side would go first that turn. The game ended on turn 14 when the defending Dominion of Faraway army reached its breakpoint.

At several points I had been afraid that the improvised scenario favoured one side or the other. Given that the attacking Oerberg army had been only 1 unit away its break point for 2 turns and had several units only 1 hit from breaking, I decided that it had been well balanced. In the end, it was not only an interesting and enjoyable solo game  but alternately a nail biter for each side!

This was only the second game with the resurrected rules. After the game I decided that a few tweaks were needed. The first was  go back to exhaustion by Colonel's command (battalion for regular infantry) rather than by the whole army, the other was to go back to '1/2 hits' for cover etc rather than reducing the "to hit" number. The goal is to get the same result on average but without the wild swings that come too easily when only rolling a few dice. The updated version is available here .

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Irruption

About an hour after the morning patrols headed out, a swarm of Oerbergers rode over the hills. 

The Oerberg artillery was not up to its usual standard today. So far, their 2 guns have fired 12 dice on the redoubt, looking for 5's and 6's, and inflicted 1 hit!

Today didn't go quite as planned though. I had various duties elsewhere, not to mention distractions, and it was late afternoon before I could sort out the armies, scrape up Oerberg reinforcements,  review the rules, sort out a scenario, and get the game underway. All under the watchful eye of an omnipresent, hungry, female cat lacking the late Hector's affinity for toy soldiers.


As the fifth turn drew to a close, just a little later then the usual feeding time at the zoo,  Minnow finally decided it was time for me to go back on duty and feed the hungry masses, or her anyway.



The game will resume tomorrow with a battle report ready for Monday morning if all goes well.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Its Quiet, too quiet!

Since the repulse of the Oerberg Expedition in August, the southern border of the Kapelle Territory has been uneasy.
All is quiet as the armoured train begins its daily patrol.
The town called Missisjones is an important mining centre in the hills of southern Kapelle, not far from the border with Oerberg. A garrison has been left to hold the town and patrol the border. So far all has been quiet but no one believes that the quiet will last forever.
Meanwhile, in the surrounding hills........


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sailing, Sailing.....

Storm day! A tired storm by the time it passed over us but a little extra hobby time none the less .

Martime troops on the move. Official sources deny that this exercise is related to the irresponsible rumours of an impending campaign in Furland.


But how to spend my sudden free time? Poke bamboo splints under my finger nails then set them on fire? Or build a toy boat? I was leaning towards the burning bamboo but there was none available so boats it was.

Well, boat. I did cut four bottoms from foamcore and some slices of cereal box and one day I'll finish the other three. Well I say finish.....its really more sort of slap a few bits together in haphazard fashion using white glue and masking tape and hope that a quick lick of paint will disguise the leaky, rickety, scows as landing barges.



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Odds are Evening.

One more French Revolution unit done!


Still with the easy pickings. Four Royal Artillery crew in campaign uniform to man an existing gun.

The crew are more Prince August Prussians with some heads I made years ago.  The gun is a Sash and Sabre (ACW) painted, well, before the blog anyway.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Battle of Darcrum Moor (Continued)

Not impressed by the Scots display, the English pressed forward to sweep the handful of Scots from the heights so they could press on to recapture the cattle and inflict a punishment that would be remembered for years.

True to fashion, the Scots retreated as the English pressed forward so the Warden sent a troop of his Border Lances galloping forward. As they approached the crest they were surprised by a fierce volley as a forest of pikes suddenly poked up behind the crest and began advancing. The Lancers turned and fled to safer ground. (Sorry, that was supposed to be "prudently pulled back to report as was their duty".)
"Battle ON!"
Despite earlier losses, the English still outnumbered the Scots by 3:2 and their duty to punish the raiders was clear. The pass was too narrow to allow a full deployment so the Warden ordered the English foot to advance on the right while the Germans were to come forward on the left, leaving their shot to hold back the highlanders.

The Scots fervour showed in their dice!
(English bills hitting on 4,5,6, Scots Pike on 5,6.)

Now the English had bought the best mercenaries that the smallest possible amount of money could buy but with the Italian Wars raging again the pickings had been slim. The "German" pikes pressed forward at the fastest pace that didn't involve rolling higher than a "2" on any of their movement dice. Alas, before they could make their way to the front the Scots had followed up the billmen, shattered their formation and sent the remainder scampering back to England.  

The Italian arquebusiers seemed just a bit shy of chasing highlanders into the hills but they did advance and trade fire while the pikes pressed on. Every arquebusier with an arrow in him seemed to be escorted back by two or three comrades though and soon the hill was bare of all but the Highland archers who turned their bows on the pikes. 

With Highlanders on one side, cavalry and shot to the front and Scots pike threatening the other flank, the German commander ordered his pikemen to form square. With an eye to the re-emboldened Scots horse and the threat to the flank, the Warden ordered his English archers to fall back and clear "the damned hill" to the flank. 

A lull as the players are rearranged upon the stage.

The battle wasn't over yet though. The Warden ordered the Germans to fall back to make room and ordered his lancers to advance and clear off the Scots shot and then the enemy cavalry while the archers drove off the highlanders. The fighting was fierce and the Scots pushed back on both flanks but when Lord Home led his Reivers forward, they once again sent the English flying.
Another bloody repulse but damage has been done and victory is still possible if the Warden can reach his Foe and finish this hand to hand.
There was one chance left. The fight on the heights to the flank was still raging and if the Warden could just reach the Scottish commander before any more of his troops broke,  the day could still be his.

Alas for the English, time ran out when their archers broke and ran. All that could be done was to try and get as many of his levies safely back over the border. At least the Warden wouldn't have to pay the Germans again.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Cum'on Ye Bunch of Sissies


The cattle are long gone and the Scots rearguard have given the English cavalry a bloody check....so.....


...why are they still hanging around taunting the English and their mercenaries to come on?


Stay tuned!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Cross Border Shopping 16thC Style

Looks like a good haul, I hope they remembered to report to Customs and fill in all the appropriate paperwork.



Uhoh, I guess not. That looks like the Warden in hot pursuit.



Could be a fight brewing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Lieutenant, Assemble your gun crew!

I managed to steal an hour of hobby time today. (Bring on winter!)

May and Huzzah! are coming and I only have four of twelve pledged French Revolution units painted. I should have started on one of the additional twelve figure infantry units I need but four artillery crew sounded easier. Got a ways to go yet but the weekend looks promising.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Digging into some Not Quite History

It seems that while I was distracted by Rosmark's latest war with Schoeffen-Buschhagen, there had been some serious political shifts closer to home. Shifting alliances were not unusual during the Not Quite Seven Years War and in this case it seemed to me that something must have triggered a falling out between the Duchy and the Alliance on one hand and a reconciliation between the Duchy and Rosmark on the other.


It had been two years earlier that a combined Duchy and Maritime Army last stood together in battle against Rosmark and almost a year since the Dowager's White Coats were last seen at all while the Red coats of the Maritime  troops had continued to battle against Rosish forces.

I decided to dig a little deeper.
The last Allied battle

The coast of Rosmark is shallow with few natural harbours in which to shelter against the fierce storms that blow in from the north so it had never developed a strong maritime presence. The acquisition by marriage of what became known as the Maritime or Dowry Province to the West gave Rosmark an interest in the coastal trade between the Duchy and the Furland East of the Hye Mountains.

With the outbreak of civil war between the King and the Duchess, that maritime trade was lost to Rosmark and the Rosish merchants of lobbied the King to open a land route to Furland through the mountains, thus threatening the Duchy's trading posts and native relations. The idea appealed to him and he had sent his Frontier Guards over the mountains.

(See Battle of Newlanding).

The decision by the Duchy's Council to send companies from the  Irish Regiment to guard their trading posts proved to be an unfortunate one for them.

This regiment had been raised largely from Iremark, an island which was not only a member of the Northern or Maritime Alliance but also much closer to Furland than the Duchy itself. When the soldiers spread stories of the richness of the Eastern lands, the other members of the Alliance began to expand their own trade with Furland to the dismay of Duchy merchants.

Rosish troops in pursuit of Schoeffen-Bushhagen forces in May.

With the successful conclusion of his spring campaign against Schoeffen-Buschhagen, the King's eye turned back to the Duchy.  The Dowager, having lost some of the fire of her youth and now subject to the pleas of her subjects to end the expensive war, succumbed and negotiated an agreement with Rosmark. The Duchy would retain its special privileges and laws but would acknowledge King Michael as Regent and as Heir to the Ducal seat.

With his southern and Western borders secure, but the Maritime Alliance showing an ever increasing interest in the Furland trade, King Michael once again turned his eyes to the East.








Friday, October 4, 2019

Here come the Rebs again!

By Wednesday I had my head back in the right place, had cobbled the rules back together based on the decisions I had made last summer (and apparently forgotten  despite rereading the blog posts!), and had the table reset. Once again the dice started rolling.

On the Yankee left a thin screen of cavalry was assaulted by two brigades of Rebels and quickly driven back with losses.
The scenario was the same as the aborted game.

The Union started with 8 regiments of infantry, 2 of cavalry and 4 batteries on table with another 4 regiments and 1 battery marching on. Their job was to prevent the Confederate forces from seizing the crossroad and town at the edge of the table. The game had a maximum length of 15 turns and lasted for 14 which took me about 3 hours of actual playing (not counting innumerable interruptions).

The Confederates deployed 20 regiments of infantry supported by 2 of cavalry and 6 batteries.

Both sides were organized into brigades of 4 infantry or 2 cavalry regiments.

An overview. For some reason the colours kept washing out in the overviews, apparently a side effect of me trying to improve the lighting to get sharper images. 
Rather than  trying to recall all the details, I will let the pictures show the rough progression and  summarize. On the Confederate right, the initial assault drove in the cavalry flank guard with little effort but they suffered a lot of casualties, primarily in their initial assault on the stone wall and while reforming under artillery fire. This included the loss of their leading Brigadier. 

Have you heard that the old Jacklex figures are available again ( https://www.jacklexminiatures.com/), That Jeb Stuart on the black is one. So now I'll need to order some Jacklex as well as some Historifigs to add to these armies!


The Federal centre was pounded by massed artillery then assaulted by superior numbers but fought fiercely .
Wheeling the two brigades  around the outside of the arc through a patch of woods was not going to work and so one brigade did its best to keep up the pressure while the other turned to attack the flank of the centre hill.

The Union left fell back and had a slight breather while the Confederates manoeuvred their two attacking brigades along the outside of the arc. 
In the centre, two waves of Confederate infantry headed for the hill while their artillery bombarded the Federal troops from the heights on the Confederate side. With the Reb attack coming in on two sides of the hill, the fighting was fierce and prolonged with heavy losses on both sides. Eventually the Union first brigade was driven back but without artillery support it was doubtful that the remaining infantry could push on to the objective before nightfall.
After fierce fighting the Union 1st Brigade gave way but they had caused heavy losses to the two leading enemy brigades and the Union third brigade was in position to dispute any farther advance. 
Belatedly the Reb General ordered his batteries to advance to support the attack more closely as he scanned the Federal line for a weak spot before committing his last reserve.

The right flank Union brigade had been spread in a thin arc across the road and up onto  a wooded ridge on the far right. While the Rebel cavalry skirmished with the defenders of the wooded ridge, the Rebel infantry slowly shifted their attack towards the road while the Federal commander, lacking any fresh reserves,  hastened to shift regiments to correct his oversight.

Here was the spot for the Confederate reserve to strike!
The weight of the Rebel reserves attacked up the main road bypassing the central hill and the Federal commander had to scramble to strengthen what had clearly become the weakest part of his line, right in front of the Rebel objective and main assault!

On the Confederate left, the cavalry moved forward to keep up the pressure but declined to mount up and charge. The weight of the eight attacking  Confederate infantry regiments fell on just three Union units but the gap was narrow and the  Rebel regiments had to take turns attacking. Slowly and stubbornly the Union line fell back but they did not break despite the loss of their Brigadier and their Division Commander. At last the carnage was too much and several Reb regiments broke and the rest halted at long range to shoot and could not be urged forward. With dusk setting in and the guns not yet up, the order was given to break off the attack and retire.

The Confederate cavalry followed up more slowly than the General would have preferred and stuck with skirmishing rather than mounting for a desperate charge.  
So it took 14 out of 15 turns to reach a decision and while the Union army was vulnerable to a sudden break during the last 3 turns and was incapable of any aggressive action, they managed to hold on long enough to blunt the Rebel attack giving them a win at the end of the day since they were not broken and still held the town and crossroad.  Perhaps the Reb cavalry should have mounted up and charged....

A hastily done one page Quick Reference sheet can be read here for those who are interested. The full rules will probably take 4-6 pages and hopefully get down at some point in the next 6 months.
The Rebel regiment's bases have now been marked to ease deployment and cleaning up. Little State or National battle flag inspired patches to ID the Brigade, located in one of 4 locations on the back of the base to indicate the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th regiment within the brigade. 
(Next time I'll think to scrape off the flocking before trying to paint on the back of the base!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

And the winner is?

The Tricornes have it!



However, to reflect the votes for The War of 1812 ("with Indians") and for what our southern neighbours like to call "The French & Indian Wars" (The term wasn't in common usage in Quebec where I grew up.), and since I've been wanting to get back to my nascent colonial-ish NQSYW,  over the mountains to Furland,  setting, I'm going to set the mini-campaign there, complete with the introduction of native allies and local militia. 


I'd like to include an amphibious landing, and a siege of sorts but that's for the end of the month. For now, back to some games for the runners up.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Final Hours!

Its looking like Tricornes are more fashionable than Kepis, Slouchhats and Shakos but there are a few hours left to go before the poll closes.

Testing the improved Union Brigade & Regiment markings. The 1st Brigade's Red Patch is more visible and distinct now that the regimental white Roman numerals have been removed yet the placement of the colour bar still clearly identifies these as the 1st and 3rd regiments in the 1st Brigade and look, there's their Brigadier behind them and the 3 figure Corps commander stand behind him. (The 2 figure Division Commander is just out of the frame) 
(Of course for narrative purposes I'd like to have a roster giving the Number, State and any unit nickname of each regiment but let me get the practical stuff done first.)  


Now back to the ACW, yesterday I finally realized that the main issue was that the smaller and simpler the ACW rules got, the more the games felt the same as several other games. I also remembered that each "period" was supposed to give me a noticeably different gaming feel. The ACW has been assigned the job of filling the 90's style multi-stand (or element) type of game and that a medium sized game was intended to take at least 3-4 hours if not 6.  A shorter game could be played by fielding smaller forces.

One of the biggest issues I had experienced was the tedium of sorting the troops and then keeping them organized on table. A large part of this was due to my not having finished marking the stands to clearly to make it easier to identify which stand was part of which unit and which unit was part of which brigade. (Amazing how similar many ACW units can look, especially when painted from the same set of figures!)

However, the other issue was that I had started removing all the bits that made this (ACW) game different from my other games. The ACW game had become blander but still wasn't quick and easy due to the size and number of units each of stands which kwt wandering off.  It used to be that the details and the complexity of the interactions that made the games interesting despite the length, even if I had to just play a few turns at a time. All that was really lacking was the administrative preparation.

So, I took a few minutes to scribble down a simplified version of the old QRS then I took a few more to prototype some improved administrative aide ideas to help with setup, take down, and game play. With that done I reset the table and played turn 1. So far, its looking good but time was up so Turn 2 will have to wait until tomorrow! 
At last, troops who are light enough that magnetic sheeting will hold them. on a movement tray, even being hit by artillery hasn't dislodged any stands. I'm not sure I need the base though even if it does give me a place to add unit info and stats should I wish to. Still under consideration as a future step. I hate to colour code the Rebs in Federal fashion but it would be damned convenient. Maybe I can do something with mini-battle flags on the edge of the base.

Poll results will be released tomorrow along with the runners up who'll get a game each and a few suggestions of what the mini-campaign might entail. There might even be a call for remote volunteers to make campaign decisions back in the capital.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Yes..yes....no! CUT!

I managed to steal an hour to play this morning.


Things were moving along in the old way when I realized that something didn't "feel" right. So I paused to think about it. Then I tried a few ideas out for "feel" before getting back to work.

The problem seems fairly simple, the old stuff works fine  but with the ratio of  troops to me's the armies are more than I can handle without tedium, especially on days when I'm tired.

There are several good routes I can go to resolve the issue (playing smaller games not being one of them)  but I need to make some choices about things like what's important to me and are the sort of battles I want to fight the same as they were a couple of years ago, and so on.


The game will be reset and  resume shortly.


Friday, September 27, 2019

We Don't Need No Minicampaign

We can end this with just one battle.

Fall is always one of the hardest seasons for finding time to paint or play but some goes on anyway.

With only a few voting  days left it doesn't look like ACW is going to be the poll winner so I thought I'd give the boys an outing now.


The table is set, maybe I'll be able to make time on Sunday...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Battle at Last!

The Battle of Argentium Bridge has been fought!
One of the illustrations from the History of the Wars of the Four Winds.
(Click here to be taken to an account of the battle.)

What's next? Time will tell, Lets hope that tomorrow is rainy!
Don't forget to have your say in the poll for the 10th Anniversary Mini-Campaign by sending me an email or leaving a comment.
(See blog header for details)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Meanwhile, On The Table

Coming soon

To my Gathering of Hosts Blog.