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, February 22, 2019

Battle of Weeburg Day 1

Late in February, with both armies reorganized, reinforced and resupplied, the fighting resumed.

General Douglas pushed a small body of infantry and artillery ahead of the main body to seize the small crossroads town of Weeburg. The day was well advanced when the Rebel army finally appeared. (Rebel arrival times diced for by unit.)
The Grey Brigade arrived first and deployed on the double. 

After Rebel skirmishers were spotted, the Dominion artillery shelled the small wood in the centre.

Despite the late hour, the Rebels attacked. On their left, the 2nd Brigade come under effective fire  but pushed forward to envelope the Dominion flank.

Moving swifter than thought possible (chance card plus initiative flip), the Rebels managed to  flank the redcoats  but their attempt to take the ridge at the point of their bayonets was repulsed regardless

The sun was already sinking by the time the Grey Brigade began it's assault on  the West Ridge. 

Casualties were heavy on both sides but the Rebels did not have time to reorganize and attack the town before dark. Already the sound of bagpipes could be heard as the head of the Highland Brigade approached the battlefield.Both sides pulled back slightly and consolidated their positions to await the arrival of the main armies.

For sure, there was going to be a proper battle in the morning. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Squared Off

Well, I almost got a game set up today, but non-wargaming matters intervened for a couple of hours.
The Zouaves and Highlanders try it on. 
I did, however, get the new smaller grid marked on. It had belatedly occurred to me that the majority of my houses fit a 4" grid but over hang a 3" one in awkward ways. So, instead of each 12"x12" area which had been subdivided into 4x6" area now being subdivided into 16x3" squares, it has instead been subdivided into 9x4" squares.

Instead of repainting, I've just marked on dashed lines. Its clear up close, but from a distance the eye catches the larger coloured fields and woods areas. Needs some tidying and the hills will need work but I'm rather liking the effect. Next step will be to set up a game and see how it all works.

Oh look, my schedule for tomorrow is wide open......

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines

After almost 2 1/2 years under the command of Sergeant Fury, 'A' Company of the 3rd cavalry finally  has an officer!
Capt. Jinks (listen to song) posing for the camera.
The reorganization and build up has been proceeding rapidly. I've settled on an organization on the smaller side (8 infantry, 4 cavalry, sharpshooters, artillery) as the best compromise which will get a few more figures on the table but not over crowd.

The small units won't work with the proposed 25% loss morale check so I've ended going back to the venerable "unit fights as ordered till it drops below 1/2 strength" rule used in Charge! and in Big Wars by Stuart Asquith and Jack Alexander. 

I'd almost forgotten how much I used to like playing with (and playing about with) single figures. A scene from the 2016 battle where the new US army troops made their debut:
Action at Rocky Top  

I feel a battle coming on!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The 3 R's of Wargaming

Reassess, Reorganize, Rebase.

Its only been a couple of years since I popped my 54's off their 1" washers and reorganized the 8 single figure units into units of 2x3 figure bases.


Shouldn't take long to make that right for the older units. Bringing the newer 6 man units up to scratch will only take a little longer.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Battle of Lonely Hill

There's no better way to come up with a solution for a nagging problem than to stop thinking about it.

The NorthWest Mounted Rifles had galloped forward to seize the hill (seebut were driven off by the Zouaves. The swift arrival of reinforcements allowed the Queen's forces to drive off the Zouaves in turn.
In this case my original intention was just to tweak my Square Brigadier rules so I could use more figures and play longer games without them dragging. However, lurking below the surface was that suppressed urge for something more like playing with toy soldiers and less like a board game even if that board game worked well and was fun.

Both sides rushed reinforcements to the front. An indecisive long range firefight followed while the armies extended their lines and prepared for a decisive attack.
What I ended doing, step by step without seeing where I was headed was creating exactly what I had wanted, a fairly conventional toy soldier game with units of individual figures (even if fixed to bases for convenience) but using a grid for measuring.
The Queen's forces won the build up race. (1 die each turn for 4,5,6 to bring on a new unit.

The key decisions were to use larger units on smaller squares and to allow units to spread across multiple contiguous squares, measuring movement, ranges and arcs of fire  separately by 3" square. (Invisible or nominal squares at the moment but soon to be marked.)

The Rebels have no option but to strike before the odds get worse or give it up. A fierce and prolonged close quarters fight resulted but the attack was eventually thrown back.
The result was so much like a simplified MacDuff game that I borrowed the morale and charge resolution and various other rules from MacDuff as well.

An attempt to rally was broken up by rifle and artillery fire and with all of the Rebel Brigadiers wounded, the Rebel army suddenly collapsed.
The result was exactly what I have been looking for. Now to bring my 6 and 8 figure infantry units up to 12, do some dismounted cavalry, get some limbers painted up  and......

The Defended Frontier (click on link to read the short, 4 page, version of the rules.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A New Way of Doing Things

I was tired yesterday with no afternoon obligations so I hauled out One Hour Wargames, my 54's and The Square Brigadier and had a small, quick, and rather dissatisfying clash of advance guards over an isolated hill in the middle of nowhere. Having time left over I started thinking back to last fall's ideas about a different, more 'Old School' approach to my gridded games. In no time at all I had decided that I needed to change the grid, rebase all of my 54's and paint extra figures to bring the units back to 8 figures each. Wisely, at that point, I called a recess and left the room.

Today was a snow day, lots of time for some proper analysis of the issues and possible solutions and time for a test game of a  different, more traditional approach with bigger, multi-stand units.
The NorthWest Mounted Rifles dismount and open fire.
(Ok ok, here they appear to be armed with lances and pistols but that's merely artistic licence. )

The result is much closer to my Hearts of Tin rules than to the Square Brigadier but uses the grid for measuring to avoid the mid-game search for rulers and squinting at small numbers(and not just because my eyes are dim and I'm occasionally stubborn).

It'll take me a while to get the quick jottings translated into (hopefully) clear rules but not too long.  Essentially standard units will switch to 4 stands of 3 infantry (because that's how they're based and partially organized now), 3 stands of 2 cavalry and a gun stand with 2 crew + a limber stand with 2 crew.

My grid of 6" squares is now a grid of 3" squares (theoretically at this point) each of which will hold 1 stand. The stands of a unit must maintain unit integrity by staying in adjacent or diagonally touching squares unless they are detached to become a separate unit, to garrison a house for example. Movement and shooting ranges are measured for each stand.

From there its pretty conventional but now, for example, my 6 unit forces saw 60 infantry and a gun fighting 48 infantry, 6 cavalry and a gun instead of 15 and a gun vs 12, 2 and a gun. The extra number of figures (or strength points)  allowed for more dice and thus a more average curve of results while still leaving room for extremes. At the same time, the reduced number of manoeuvre elements made each command choice more significant with less room for error thus increasing the tension and mental focus for players.
Mid-Game. The Queen's army is finally all on table but the Rebels are still straggling on and the hardest fighting is still ahead.

Next post should be a battle report. A link to the new rules should follow by the weekend.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Just like the good old days

On Saturday I got to run one of the Scenarios that we are planning  to run at Huzzah with actual players. (Honestly, despite their not appearing in any of the pictures.)
Surprised! (But not very) The British allied Hussars scout ahead. 
The terrain was quickly improvised on Saturday morning using my old cloth and a few bits. I was planning to slide the hills under the cloth since they don't match but at the last minute remembered that single metal 40mm miniatures don't stand well on unsupported thin cloth slopes. I also only brought what I could carry up 3 flights of stairs in one trip.
Oh! Look what we found!
We had several players lined up but on the day only 2 were able to make it. Luckily 2 is enough!

Random selection gave Brent the French ambushers while Martin took charge of the British convoy.  Victory for the British meant getting both wagons through the pass and over the bridge. If the British got 1 over the bridge or withdrew both wagons safely then the game would be a draw.

The pictures give a general idea of how the game went. The French chose to focus on denying the British the passage they needed while hoping to grab at least 1 wagon when their army routed. The British pushed doggedly ahead into the meat grinder, replacing spent units as needed and making the most of their numerical superiority.
The British infantry pushed ahead into the pass, one unit at a time while the 28th made repeated attempts to  push the enemy light troops out of the broken ground, falling back to rally when needed.
  The game played like I remember MacDuff games from the 90's: fast, furious, hard to predict but also long and indecisive.

Sighhhhh. This is why I had dropped one of my favourite parts of the rules which is that shooting and combat weakens units by removing figures temporarily on the assumption that the player, as overall commander, does not yet know if they are permanent losses ie: killed, wounded or run away or only temporary losses due to fear, fatigue, temporary ammo shortages etc., etc.. I liked the theory but in practice it was a right pain in the arse.

I suspect one reason I clung to the system (apart from liking how it worked) is that I took so much flak for it in the 90's when gamers were used to all wargame "casualties" being dead or wounded and some didn't like having some "come back from the dead" as it were.

I haven't had that sort of complaint much since the Lardies came out with their Shock concept so I can probably pack in the ego side of the question and look at the functionality in multiplayer convention games with  lots of units and figures and limited time. In theory I still like the idea but even when players understand the rules and implications it has two serious drawbacks: the logistics of tracking temporary vs permanent casualties and the difficulty of knocking units out of the game if they are well handled means that a convention game will often run out of time before a decision is reached.
As light failed the fight still raged. The convoy was forced to fall back safety. Tomorrow would be time enough for another try.  
So I have decided to let the issue sleep and revert to the ancient custom of morale tests with casualties which can be removed or marked once with no need to differentiate between temporary and permanent hits. This worked well for the 2014/15 games and I a have no doubt that it will do so again.

The fact that this also makes it easy to play the game with fixed multi-figure bases is merely a happy coincidence.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Into the Valley of Dice

Just back from TableTop Games day in Kentville.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Mustering for Battle

The 28th Foot are now up to strength and fully trained. 


A vital convoy is departing Windsor on Saturday, en route to Fort Anne. There are rumours of French troops lurking near Kingston so the 28th has been ordered to join the escort and be ready for their first fight.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Green bonnets over the border.

Since I want to test the updated version of my old rules in preparation for a couple of 18thC  games for Huzzah, an early 20thC game may seem like a strange choice. However, the first version of the rules was written for late 19thC Colonial games and these lads haven't been out in over a year.
When the first shells exploded around the head of the column, the reaction was immediate. The cavalry, armoured car and motorized infantry deployed and engaged the enemy.
The good news is that the rules still work for the early 20thC when adjusted for weapons and tactics of the day. Mind you, I'll need to find someway to indicate firing units in the pictures since clouds of cotton powder smoke are no longer appropriate.
To everyone's surprise the Oerberg Railway Battalion crumbled quickly despite being dug in around the customs house. The convoy rolled on.
The bad news is that playing these rules solo is still good exercise since the activation of 1 unit at a time still leads to a lot of moving forth around the table. Its also a fair amount of brain work when running both sides that way compared to an igougo game. Of course neither of these things apply to a multi-person game.
Despite effective counter-battery fire from the 4.7", the Oerberg artillery zeroes in on the convoy while the Oerberg Constabulary moved forward to block the convoy's advance. 
At least the lads have been out and I've had enjoyable 1 1/2 hour game with a surprise ending. Twice I thought the invading forces had it wrapped up but that seems to have lulled me into pushing the convoy forward too fast, giving the Oerbergers a chance for some "good" shooting.
Under a heavy fire the convoy pulled back rapidly. Once the armoured car had driven off the Oerberg horsemen and the 4.7" had silenced the enemy artillery, the rallied convoy came forward again.  The Oerbergers weren't done yet though. While the Border Police opened fire on the convoy from the cover of the stonewalls, the Oerberg artillery redeployed and opened a surprisingly accurate fire on the convoy. Within minutes the road was a shambles of wrecked vehicles. No coup de main today, a full scale invasion will be needed. 

This campaign will resume later this year, once I finally get the armies up to scratch but for now its back to the 18thC or maybe the War of 1812.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Meanwhile, Back in Oerberg

Now that the Great War is over, the Queen's government has decided that its high time to re-assert its claims to the northern townships of Oerberg.


Troops and supplies have been collected with great secrecy and sent over the border with orders to seize Cowstead, the township capital, before Oerberg can react.


Of course, its pretty hard keep things secret on the rather porous Kapelle/Oerberg border.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Rumours of my demise.....

Been that sort of week, no games, precious little time spent painting and just a little time  spent editing MacDuff and making choices where various copies have differences.

SO.........here's another flashback, this one from December 2011:

16thC Holding Action