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

Monday, April 29, 2019

They're Back!

After their recent repulse, the rebels have regrouped, moved by the flank, and thrown a brigade over the river but Dominion forces are already  on the scene.

I really need to work on the lighting in my room.

Taxes, yard work, household taxes, preparations for Huzzah, some local volunteer stuff, and....and....and suddenly I felt like I needed to play a simple, meaningless, solo game. Well I got it set up anyway. Might even be able to play on Wednesday before I get back to Huzzah preparations.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Thundering Hooves in the Valley

"and on the right the veteran Rossius, Lord of Belmontia stood surrounded by his bold horsemen"


Today's game with the Greenwood Wargamers was a live test of Jeff's Huzzah game: Gaugamela!  using the Epic C&C Ancients system.

It was good to see some familiar faces on the table. Well good to see the ones around it too but Jeff kindly gave a home to what was left of my 25mm Persian and Greek armies.  Now refurbished and based up for C&C they have joined with his forces and are marching off to war again, a sight to gladden the heart.


The game was enjoyable and at one point late in the day we had victory within our grasp with just a little luck but the luck didn't come, Alexander came instead!


If you're going to be at Huzzah! and like Ancients, check Jeff's game out!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Three Weeks and Counting

Three weeks to go.

First mock up of the layout.
There are more troops on hand than are needed but those selected will be be inspected and touched up before embarking. 

First priority at the moment is the table. The convention table will be 12" longer and 6" wider than mine so I have to keep that in mind. 

Still lots of work to be done but Saturday is game day in Kingston and this time, I'm just a player.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

An Ether Wargame

Today I "Hungout" at  Rob's place  2,000 km away for a playtest of our Ambush scenario for Huzzah.

End Game. The ambushers will retire and the wagons will make it through.
Photo by Rob since I couldn't figure out how to do a screen capture on the new version of Google Hangouts.


We had a host of unrelated technical problems but we overcame them and managed a good play through and chat. We also tweaked the rules to help them run a little quicker and more decisively in aid of reaching a conclusion within out timeslot. The OB will also be tweaked a little.

One month to go!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Well, I did have my doubts BUT.....

It had to be tried.

The Grand Experiment grinds to a halt as the list of unresolved rules questions begins to grow exponentially.
I had previously  tried a similar approach using the Square Brigadier but this was going to be less abstract and enable me to fight reasonable recreations of small historical actions like the Battles of Ridgeway and Cut Knife Creek. It took nearly two turns for me to decide that if I added a lot of detail, dealt with all the grey areas  and made a bunch of markers to track unit status etc, it might turn into a reasonable wargame. It was never going to be the sort of fast easy game of toy soldiers that I was looking for though.

The armies have now been quickly but gently nudged back into their natural units, the rules adjusted and the battle resumed. 

Without pausing for second thought, I shuffled the units back into their usual 8 figure units (whatever they represent) . This gave each side 3 small Brigades each of 2 battalions, plus a small brigade of 2 cavalry squadrons and a battery. Too big for an historical Fenian Battle but just right for a Toy Solider game. 

I then quickly implemented the other set of movement and combat rules that I had  been planning to use when I set the game out then I  continued to play.
Fighting rages around North Farm.

At this moment, the rules are just a few scribbled notes flushed out by habit but the four page version will be written up in short order and expanded later.  What follows is a brief look at some of the mechanics.

Basically the game follows an old Don Featherstone sequence from Battles with Model Soldiers with a Card draw each turn (Don used a die roll)  to see who goes first that turn.  The turn them proceeds as follows:  1st player moves, 2nd player moves, 2nd player shoots, 1st player shoots, resolve charges and melee. One of the reasons I like this because the player going second MIGHT get a double move so the 1st player always has to keep that in mind. It is also balanced with the 2nd player having the advantage of first shot.

All situational die modifiers are as ruled by umpire or by consensus between players. (An idea I borrowed from a friend. It is simple and effective and reminds me of Kriegsspiel with an umpire.)

The battle lines are heavily engaged, The Fort Henry Guard is reserve, the only unit still formed for rapid marching rather than deployed for combat .

Shooting is 1 die per 2 figures (artillery counts the limber crew to give them 3 dice. Long range hits on 6, Medium 5,6, Close 4,5,6. +1 if unit is deemed to have an advantage (sharpshooter, enfilade etc), -1 if the unit is at a disadvantage (tgt in cover etc) 

Melee is the same process but  1d per figure for 5,6 then modified for advantages and disadvantages.

General Douglas had to intervene personally to reinforce his order to the cavalry to charge but Col. Denison's reluctance was justified when the attack up the hill into heavy carbine fire was repulsed with losses including the good Colonel himself.

Morale is checked if a unit takes shooting casualties of at least 25% of current strength or if it loses a melee or the situation requires it. 4,5,6 OK, 1,2,3 Halt no advance, 0 Retreat full move test to rally next turn. +1 If Elite or in an especially advantageous situation -1  if Militia or in a bad situation (eg flanked, isolated etc) , -1 @25% lost to date. +1 joined by an inspiring commander.

The Rebels are pressing the attack on the Farm. Heavy fire from William's Rebel Brigade which has turned the flank has reduced the 2nd Highlanders to 1/2 strength but these Veterans brace themselves  as the enemy closes in. Coming on top of the repulsed cavalry attack it looks bad for the Dominion.
Lastly I brought back a version of my old control check from the 1980's which has appeared in various formats ever since. An isolated unit or detached commander  must check when activated:
5,6 No retreat, take appropriate aggressive action
3,4 Act as player wishes
1,2 No Advance.
Modify for situation and Commander personality.

Never say die!
A  heavy fire from the Grenadiers has broken the the Elite Zouaves as the cavalry, having rallied, has returned to the charge. Eager to revenge their fallen leader they ride over the Rebel cavalry.  On the far flank the rebel 2nd Infantry is shattered by rifle fire from the Highlanders and the 3rd Brigade commander decides that he is not going to sacrifice his men in an assault on that farm.. As the sun sets, neither farm has fallen but the Rebels have lost 4 units out of 9 and are now outflanked and outnumbered. The Dominion has taken some heavy casualties but has not lost a unit. The field is theirs.
 

I'm already looking forward to the next game.

That this video was one of the musical selections played in the background might or might not have affected my Redcoats' performance in battle. I should really paint up a small band for each side shouldn't I?



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Reconnaissance by Fire

Since my logical mind was having trouble figuring out exactly what my emotional mind was looking for,  I decided to try laying out the soldiers and more or less pushing them around to see what developed and let the rules take shape as I went. So far it seems to be working.
5 turns in, this encounter battle is starting to develop nicely. 
Here's what I have figured out so far. None of it is really new to me but it is a slightly different mix that seems to be developing.

A. The grid stays.

B.  I want the lowest level of unit to fit in a grid square and I want to keep the 4" grid so my basic 54mm "companies"/"squadrons" will be old Square Brigadier  units of  4 infantry or 3 cavalry because that fits regardless of pose.

C. I want a  hierarchical organization lie the original MacDuff where a group of companies  plus a commander forms a larger unit which in turn is formed of a commander plus a number of mid-level units. At this point, 2-4 "companies"  plus a Commander form a "Brigade" (battalions of detachments really brigaded in the old sense).

D. I miss having subordinate commanders with personalities and want to go back there, even if its just a simple Rash, Bold, Cautious sort of thing.

E. I want the player to be in control even if there are situations where things don't happen the way he wanted. So no activation rolls or card activation but commanders who are more than 3 squares away the general will take a control check each turn which might affect what they do. I have kept the turn initiative and chance card deck to shake things up a bit.

F. I want manoeuvre to be important so I have lengthened moves and kept ranges short.

G. I want the game to operate simultaneously at what are essentially different scales, like Charge! did with its 3 company battalions or The Wargame with 2 battalion Brigades and historical battles refought by a handful or battalions over a battlefield drawn up using a different scale than the rules so that the whole thing works.

Well, that's a start anyway and I'm liking the feel that is starting to emerge. Its going to need more than 2 sides of a piece of paper to describe but I expect to be able to play and post more over the weekend.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Words. Choose them carefully.

Having made a comment about randomness in my Saturday post, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday thinking about it and thinking about various comments until it hit me that I was way off track.

The problem wasn't a lack of randomness and fun, (I'm not really keen on either of those) but once mentioned that stuck with me. The actual problem would be better summed up as being a shortage of the important decision points that keep my brain engaged along with a lack of period flavour.
Toy Soldiers are always ready to play.
So I spent more time yesterday and today revisiting relevant historical actions, various old rules and some old games while thinking about what I do like based on experience. I was soon reminded of how much I enjoyed the Battle of Weeburg in February and where I had been headed.

So, I jotted down some outline rules, started to push some figures about and roll some dice.   Much better.

Toy Soldiers are also very patient, battle will recommence in a day or two,
Alas, after a good start, time was up! Duty called so the game halted but will resume another day.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What to do on a Sunday?

It occurred to me this week that one possible reason that several of my recent games have seemed a little dull is that I had again allowed my suppressed suspicion of randomness to coax me into limiting the range of possible combat results.


I suspect its a byproduct of having  played too much WRG Ancients at too young an age. At least I'm not rolling average dice and consulting charts but I have been making rules decisions that limit extreme results and encourage average ones. No wonder the  games have been more average and less exciting than those I imagined. It was me!  Its been a frequent seesaw battle for years, usually taking place in my subconscious where it is fairly safe but its out now and I've gone back and tweaked my 54mm rules to increase the possible range of combat and rallying results.

It needs testing though, a little game perhaps. Just the thing for a quiet Sunday.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Wagons Rolled Out ....

Bridge? Check!
Convoy? Check!
The Supply Train has 5 weeks to get to Huzzah! but its ready to roll.
1 carriage, 5 carts, 4 pack horses. The rest will stay home.
In case anyone thinks comments have no effect, I had just about talked myself out of putting in the work to make the bridge sides thicker but Fitz-Badger's comment spurred me to go ahead. I was right, I had to add 2 layers to each side but it was worth it.

Thanks for all the other comments as well, they are always welcome and read with intent.


I like an old fashioned look to go with my glossy toy soldiers so I went old school, just a bit of fine sawdust for texture over the cardboard and masking tape and then paint. Its not art but I like it and it'll fit with my houses.  I suppose that's the next concern, how few buildings can I get away with and do I need to add anymore?

and it works with my 54's. 

Since not everyone will know or remember the great old Lighthouse song that gave me my blogpost title, here, for your listening pleasure, is 1849 by Lighthouse.  Another old favourite of mine from the 70's.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bridge 2: The Sequel

This morning, I had a go at improving the profile of my bridge. It was while I was trying to figure out how to recover from a slight error when trimming that I remembered that I needed to measure the bridge vs the river I'll be using.

1/2 inch too short. Wellllll I could get my paints out and modify the river or just grab some more foamcore and make a new bridge with a profile more like the image in my head.


At least, I was sure I had more foamcore..... apparently I was mistaken but its an hour's drive to the closest supplier and I did have some thin corrugated cardboard. This stuff is strong enough and, with masking take over the edges and a bit of texturing followed by paint, it'll do fine. If I'd thought of it earlier I'd have made the sides double thick to make them look sturdier.



So now the bridge fits across the wider river and looks  and more like what I pictured, especially with the 54's.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Like a Bridge in Troubled

After browsing a score or 5 of pictures of old stone bridges, work has begun on a 40/54mm compatible toy bridge. 

Just fits in the 4" grid, is wide enough for a wagon, and crosses the masking tape river nicely,  hmm...hope it fits over the painted river, must check that before going farther. The angle of the top rail needs to broaden out a bit I think, or even be flattened though the straight line with an angle seems to be common in low lying areas as does the more difficult curved profile.

Still, its a beginning.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Minor Affair

Well, I got my game in!
The new guns proved surprisingly accurate.
The scenario selected was another boiled down CS Grant scenario with both sides rushing reinforcements to reinforce/eliminate a bridgehead over a river.  My original intention was to use my gridded rules but since I will be running MacDuff games at Huzzzah!, I decided to add the 19thC weapons in and use them , after all the original Colonial version was aimed at just this period. I did find myself using the grid to estimate ranges and movement instead of measuring and I may pursue that thought.

The Rebels have seized an unguarded crossing and both sides are rushing troops to the scene.
The game was  pretty much  what the book claims to offer: a quick, easy game. However, it also settled into an extended firefight again with little scope for manoeuvre,  This is not wrong for a clash between two small 1870's forces but  its not as engaging a game as one might want though it was as fast as desired. It may be a case "You pays your money and takes your choice" but  it may that a different set of rules or different period might have given a more satisfying game. I'll leave the table as is in case I get a chance to put the question to the test.
Casualties were heavy on both sides but eventually the Rebels were forced to retreat.

In any case, I wanted to get my 54's out and have a game and I did and I enjoyed it! Mission accomplished. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Hour! An Hour! My Kingdom for an Hour!

I managed to get my table cleared today and set up a One Hour Wargame scenario.


However, I didn't manage the hour needed to play. Maybe tomorrow.


Monday, April 1, 2019

The Wheels Turn Slowly

Actually, these new wheels won't turn at all, they are solidly fixed in place.


Apart from finishing the various bases, the new undercarriage and wheels on the carriage is all that is left to do.

The carriage itself was from a bag of cheap $ store cowboys and indians. Back in 1998 I modified and painted it for a 54mm War of 1812 game at Cold Wars. A few years ago I removed the large wheels but hadn't gotten around to replacing them for use in 40mm games, just dropped the carriage onto my pontoon wagon.  The new wheels and undercarriage are from PA's old limber and new artillery moulds.
The carriage can just be seen peeking over the white canvas of the wagon in the middle of this photo taken at Cold Wars 1998.

After that's done, I need a new bridge but I think I "need" a game first.