Saturday, November 30, 2019

Old Army

This is the first half of the "Regular" battalion in my demi-brigade.

I was going to do at least a couple in white but decided not to. Instead they're just going to be a little bit less ragged and more uniform in pose.

These Prince August Prussian grenadiers are better match for Meisterzinn size-wise but I only have the one static pose and the uniforms needed more work.

I need to do 6 more to finish the unit but I think the other 18 figures will come from my Zinnbrigade Napoleonic moulds.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Revolution is in the air.

Work is finally resuming on my little 40mm French Revolutionary "army".

A little knife and file work then a little putty et voila! 

These Prince August Prussian Grenadiers have all volunteered to fight for la Republique.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Hold the Pass!

For a week the tired Maritime army had marched hard in pursuit of the retreating Rosmark forces. It was almost a relief when they approached Grant's Pass and saw the enemy guns posted atop the crest of the narrow pass.

The army had been marching in two columns along parallel roads which converged to run through the pass.  The order went out for the cavalry to deploy and clear the enemy guns off the ridge.

The Light Dragoons, eager to retrieve their reputation after the fight at the Boinne, galloped forward on the right giving the gunners time for a single blast of canister before cutting them down. The heavy cavalrymen of the Council Guards were not as quick and recoiled with heavy losses from the well handled guns on that side. The Naval Battalion and the Grenadiers were then ordered to deploy and hasten to attack the battery before the Rosish infantry could come forward to support the guns.

 The gallant but ill advised attempt was met with blast after blast of musketry from  the Queen's Foreign Regiment which had stepped up onto the crest to stand beside the guns as well as canister from the battery itself. The Naval Battalion was cut to pieces and sent reeling back without firing a shot but the Grenadiers stood firm, closed ranks and eventually, the survivors began to return fire. Grenadier after Grenadier fell but they were determined to fight to the last man and never yield an inch.

At last the rest of the infantry arrived and deployed and the line began to advance, muskets blazing. Thick clouds of smoke rolled across the field as neither side showed any inclination to retreat but suddenly the Light Dragoons appeared through the smoke taking the Provincial Regiment by surprise and driving them back. The Council Guards followed their example and drove back the Queen's regiment at great cost while step by step the Red line, a handful of Grenadiers showing the way, advanced pouring volley after volley into the enemy until at last they broke and ran.

Beyond the fleeing Rosish troops could be seen the end of the convoy full of the FTC Governors personal effects, company ledgers and a year's profits as well as the army's  pay chest and supplies. To the victor the spoils! 

Never yet had any army given King Michael's soldiers such a sustained drubbing as they suffered in this campaign. Already there was talk of a National Levy of men and money to form an army to take back what had been lost.

Thus ended the Maritime Alliance's first joint campaign.  The scenario was a Holding Action from CS Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, the rules were once again A Gentleman's War. Once again these rules worked well with lots of unexpected bits but nothing untoward and despite all the cards and dice, the player's decisions still felt like they were more important. However, once again trying to keep track of both armies, place markers etc while constantly running (sic)  from  one side of the table to the other to move troops or get back to the card deck,  turned the game into a minor athletic event as well. I don't have an answer for that beyond finding an opponent but its the same thing that was a major factor in my decision to stop playing MacDuff at home.

What next? We'll all of us just have to wait and see!

When the Hurley Burley's Done

Actually it is done. But I haven't written up the battle yet.

Hopefully I'll do that tonight after I get home from playing in a Big Napoleonic game with Little 15mm guys.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Something is a Foote

Over the last year I've been listening my way through an audiobook version of Shelby Foote's massive trilogy on the American Civil War.  Over the last 10 years I've been seesawing between my desire to fight higher level ACW battle with brigade sized  units and lower level ones with regiments but Shelby's books are nudging me back towards something more like corps level battles.

Picket's Charge game from July of 2013 (click)

There is a lot to be said for each type of game and there are multiple ways of doing each or both. Key decision points crop up. How much detail and "flavour" do I want to show? What kind of decisions do I want to make during a game? How long do I want the games to last in real time and how many "units" do I want on table for a game and how big should they be? The list of questions is long!

A Hearts of Tin game with 3 stand regiments from 2015. (click)

Well, its time for another experiment.

Rule one was : No rebasing!
Rule two was make room for a few more figures but not too many.
Rule three was that the length of the games must not increase and it must be possible to play some quick but interesting games with a few units as well as all afternoon ones with every man on parade.

Gettysburg in 2014 with too many too small brigades. Neither fish nor fowl (click).

My latest decision has been to put 2 of my regiments together to form standard sized brigades of 6 stands for now but to write the rules to allow  for variable sized brigades. This will give me about 10 infantry brigades  with room for another couple. It is no accident that this was the standard On to Richmond Union Brigade, smaller than Fire & Fury Brigades but bigger than Volley & Bayonet ones. To achieve this I merely need to roughly double my ground scale and halve weapon ranges. Clear the table!

But wait!

I have one last game to play in my Not Quite the Seven Years War mini-campaign! Best get that done first!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Discussing Wye

When I decided to use Big Wars to play my Stuart Asquith memorial game I had been curious/apprehensive about how I would like them. I did play them at least once in the 90's (link to old report)  but only remembered that they'd been quick and rather bloody.

The pictures from the Big Wars game are in the previous post. The pictures here are of my Reprise of the scenario using my latest Toy Soldier rules (link) which have finally come together, largely duty to the Big Wars game having helped me decide just what I was looking for.  So, once again I owe Stuart Asquith one for his inspiration. Thank you Stuart, gone but not soon forgotten
The Grey General surveys the battlefield around the 1/2 way mark.
I really enjoyed the first few turns of the Big Wars game, It was rather refreshing to not have to worry about command control or variable moves, just the enemy and his attempts to foil your plan. The drastic combat results caught me a little off guard though. When rolling 1 die per figure to hit with rifle fire,  and figure vs figure dice offs in melee with a difference of 1 pip being fatal and there being no saving throws in either case, combat quickly becomes very deadly.

The armies are all on table and heavily engaged all along the line. 
Artillery fire on the other hand is pretty much harmless which was a huge surprise. (I hadn't used any artillery in my Colonial Big Wars game 20 years ago.) On the surface it is similar to Charge! but the effect rolls are halved again from what charge does with any fractions been rounded down rather than rounding off as in Charge! so that beyond musket range the effect die is quartered meaning 4,5,6 is 1 hit while 1,2,3 misses. This means the maximum you can do is inflict a single casualty and the odds of that are low (1 in 36 at 30"-36", going up in 6" increments to 1 in 4 at 18"-24". If the enemy is in hard cover and puts his head down then he can't be harmed at all! I understand that there was a revised version included in a magazine and I wonder if this modified the artillery rules as printed at all.

The Rifles have suffered heavily under rifle and shell fire and Gen. Douglas has pulled them back into reserve. The Hochelaga Fusiliers are put in the line and despite also taking heavy casualties manage to drive off the Rebel infantry. 
At any rate, the rules were quick and fun if a little too quick and bloody for my tastes, apart from the artillery which wasn't dangerous enough for my tastes, and it got me in the mood for more of something similar. I have been trying to develop such a game for my 54's over the last few years but never quite getting there before  veering away to something quite different. This game with Big Wars gave me just the impetus, (and a few ideas) that I needed to have another go at a set of simple toy soldier rules for the 1860's and 70's. The new rules don't contain any new ideas, just a new mix of old ones.

(The Quick Reference Sheet is available here (link), the full 4 page version hasn't been written yet,)

Beyond the town, the remaining Rebel gunners belatedly return the fire of the Montreal battery. On the near side a gallant charge by the Highlanders has been momentarily repulsed. In the town the close range fighting is deadly and so far indecisive. Its beginning to look like "May the last reserve win"! 
The play sequence  isn't my usual. It is a rehash of one I experimented with a few years ago and liked but the other pieces  didn't quite fit together with it then.  Essentially, the turn begins with a shared fire phase followed by determining initiative and one side moving then the other, then a joint charge resolution followed finally by rally rolls to see if figures lost that turn rejoin the ranks or are permanent losses.
With the enemy artillery silenced, the Dominion gunners shell the sharpshooters out of the stone house.  The Grenadiers are slowly winning their extended firefight with the dismounted Black Horse. The Rifles have moved back into the firing line while the Volunteers fall back to rest and regroup. There are no fresh reserves left and both armies are stretched to near the break point. 
The resulting game went 14 out a possible 15 turns with bloody street fighting leaving both armies tottering on the verge of army morale failure due to high casualties but with the Dominion (Red) forces having a slight advantage due to the Rebels (Blue & Grey) having had their battery knocked out. The game could easily have ended in both sides losing or in a stalemate but the Dominion troops caused enough hits that the Rebels failed to rally to drop their army below its breakpoint (6/11 units lost) thus caused them to withdraw leaving  the Dominion (4/9 units lost)  in sole possession of the town and able to garrison it and send some units on down the road as ordered.

The Grey General approaches General Douglas under a flag of truce to inform him that its suppertime so she is withdrawing her remaining troops but that regardless of what the stupid rules say, she is not admitting to defeat just because over half of her units are lost. She's just hungry. 

It was an excellent and enjoyable game and now it's time to get back to converting and painting figures for a while. There are some 40mm French Rev figures in the works and I need to add another Commander and a limber to the 54mm rebel army, flush out a couple of understrength Dominion infantry units, add dismounted cavalry and ........

Friday, November 15, 2019

Seeing the Elephant

The young bugler was trying hard not to appear nervous but tomorrow would be his first battle. He would finally "See the Elephant!" He lay down in his tent and tried to imagine it.

It seemed an instant later that he found himself riding beside the Colonel, trotting down  the dusty road to Wye and there was the enemy, brass buttons and badges shining in the sun. This was it! At last! They were going into battle!

Leaving the infantry skirmishers to screen the main body,  the Rebel Cavalry moved into town. The Black Horse dismounted and occupied one sector while the rest trotted forward to secure the vital road from the enemy.

From beyond the town came the crack, crack, of rifle fire  followed shortly by the BOOM of artillery. But here it was like the old days as the order came down to draw sabres and prepare to charge! This was the first fight for Stuart's Greys, how would they do? The air crackled with anticipation and the order came for him to blow his bugle. This was it!

Moments later all was chaos! The Bluecoats, the famed Governor General's Bodyguard with their shiny helmets  and nodding plumes had broken the Greys apart like dried leaves. Lying on the ground, it was some consolation to watch the Black Hats chase the enemy Hussars and the stout defence of the town by the infantry.

But even that bit of consolation faded as the Redcoats stormed the town and the Bodyguards scattered the Black Hats in their turn. He burned with shame at the easy defeat of the brave Rebel army. It was like a nightmare and he seemed to see and hear the cheery chat of the enemy's officers as they celebrated their victory.

Then suddenly he felt himself shaken and he heard again, louder, the order: "Boy! Wake up and Blow your Bugle! Its dawn and we have a battle to fight today!"

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Stuart's Grey Horse and Big Wars

Here they are, ready for their first fight:

Stuart's Greys: Ready for some frays.

The Big Wars rules are nearly as simple and basic as one can get and if memory serves from my few trials in the days before I was ready for simple, they work quite well.

Play is simultaneous with a shared movement phase, shared fire phase and a shared melee phase.  The shared movement phase can be a bit tricky for solo play so I'll substitute an initiative draw to see who moves first each turn but keep the other two phases simultaneous.

Movement and ranges look relatively short compared to 54mm figures but fit a smaller table well. There is a fixed distance and penalties depending on troop type, formation and terrain.

Artillery fire resembles Charge! with a roll to "find the range" followed by a roll for effect but with shorter ranges and less deadly effect.  After several readings and some reflection, I've decided to rule that once artillery has "found the range" they don't have to do it again until the target moves.

Rifle fire is similar to Charge! skirmisher fire with a die per figure, but again shorter ranges, 6's hit at long range, 5,6 at short. Troops in cover as well as skirmishers, cavalry and artillery suffer 1/2 casualties as in Charge! but round down rather than up.

Melee is a series of figure to figure dice offs with a surprisingly long list of die modifiers.  +1 for this, -1 for that. Loser falls back otherwise fight again and if still a draw, both sides fall back.

Morale is dead simple, again as in Charge!, both units and armies fight on till below 1/2 strength then go home. That left me at a loss for what to do with the Elite infantry unit Red has so I gave them 2 extra figures which not only increase their fighting power slightly but also allow them to take 1 extra hit. The heavier cavalry types are slower without any compensating benefit so I am going to award a +1 vs lighter cavalry in melee.

The game is a-table.

Should be quick and bloody!  Probably tomorrow afternoon or Friday. I wonder what the odds are that I'll reset the table and play it again with AGW on the weekend?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Preparing to Fight Over Wye

The scenario has been chosen, the table is set, the troops are ready: Force A: 3 units of light cavalry....3?   Really? But I only have 2 painted up. The other is...sighhh OK they are months over due. Give me a day or two.

This game will be dedicated to Stuart Asquith whose writing persuaded me to allow myself to indulge in playing wargames with old style shiny 54mm Toy Soldiers. The scenario is Scenario 1: "The Village" from Stuart Asquith's The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming. 

I have played this game maybe a dozen times in various periods over the last ten years and I JUST DISCOVERED that I've been missing (at least for the last few years)  a key terrain feature. ALL of the woods are IMPASSIBLE to all troop types. What? No sending light infantry through the woods to snipe at the enemy? I once saw a  player send a pike block through the woods (didn't work too well for him as I recall).

But its time to finally add that Grey cavalry regiment to the Rebel army. These are the sweep...errrr the picked few of the other regiments from the Britain's Light Brigade that I bought from Stuart 20 years ago. One ex-Hussar, one ex-Lancer and 3 Light Dragoons.
Stuart's Greys begin to train together while awaiting their new uniforms.

Once the glue and putty is well set and they have been repainted, the battle will commence.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lest We Forget

Take a least a minute this November 11 to remember those who have put and those who are still putting their lives at risk to keep us free and safe.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Battle of the Boinne (2/2)

When the battle resumed, I decided it was time for the Maritime army to press the attack.

A bridgehead has been established.

With the bridgehead finally secured, Maritime reinforcements poured into it.....until they ran out of room. The Rosmark forces had fallen back, brought up reserves and established a line on the heights.

The attention shifted again to the flank.

The flanking forces on both sides reform.

With both river crossings appearing secure and several defending units routed, I was tempted to call the game but the victory conditions require the defending army to be destroyed or driven off. A draw in this game would be a Rosmark victory and a quick review of troops and situation  soon showed me that the battle was not yet won for the Maritime Alliance.

A slow advance of reserves and several firefights followed as the Redcoats prepared for the final assault. At last the battle lines formed and advanced, one on the Bluecoats on the hill, one against the rallied frontiersmen in the marsh.

With 2:1 odds the red infantry marched up to point blank range then prepared to fire but the Bluecoats were ready... black court card BOOM  a handful of 4's, 5's and 6's, the Redcoats wavered, black Ace! (Yikes) BOOM  (they can't do that  ag...what?! A 2nd Ace BOOM! In seconds, two fresh battalions had been demolished with only a handful of stragglers running for the ford!

Only one unit escaped the storm of fire, the tardy Nordmark battalion was finally across the river, just in time to plug the gap. 
Again I was about ready to call the game after that unexpected blood bath but the toy soldiers had stouter morale and insisted that the fight was not over. The infantry assault in the bridgehead stopped to be replaced by a long range firefight between the Normark battalion, the garrison of the village and the long range artillery firing hilltop to hilltop on one side and the remains of the Rosmark infantry on the other. The Maritimers picked away at the enemy but the Rosmark troops seemed to have shot their bolt. As man after man fell they began to waver, their Brigadier rode forward but was immediately shot down and the remnant gave way.

On the flank, the Grenadiers cleared out the remaining frontiersmen while the Naval Battalion overran the gun.  When the Rosmark cavalry wheeled around for a 3rd charge, the Red infantry fell back into the marsh and began peppering them with musket balls while their artillery enfiladed the cavalry at long range from across the river. There was no choice but for the cavalry to fall back and dare the enemy infantry to advance in the open.

In the bridgehead, the Maritime cavalry finally moved to the fore. The 1st squadron charged the Carabiniers and was duly routed but not without doing some damage. Before the Carabiniers could rally, the Council Guards were on them with sword and pistol and scattered them to the winds.

The battle was over. There was only one option left to Rosmark. Fall back to the mountain passes. The Maritime army was too battered to pursue close on their heels. The question now is whether Rosmark can maintain a foothold east of the mountains.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Battle of the Boinne (1/2)

Life does have a habit of interfering, instead of a tight series of games, this mini-mini-campaign has been dragging its heels with this game being played in three sessions over the course of a week. I haven't the time and "Mental Oomph" (technical term) to create a proper narrative so it'll have to be a quick recap, game thoughts and pictures, all rolled together.

Before I go further I would like to thank everyone who left a comment on the last post about Stuart Asquith and apologize for not answering any of them. I couldn't think of any reply other than "Thank you" and "I agree".   Being an Asquith & Grant Scenario and a Solo game with occasional bits drawn from Stuart's book on the subject, this game could be considered a sort of tribute but it was already in progress and is just the way my gaming has developed under those and other influences. However, I am planning an intentional Big Wars, Toy Soldier, Stuart Asquith tribute game for the near future.

But for now, "On with the Battle!".

The Maritime Attack Begins.
(See for the set up and forces). The rules used were A Gentleman's War by Howard Whitehouse ably assisted by Dan Foley. You should really buy a copy if you haven't yet. Its available from or from Amazon.

The rules were played straight up except for a) making the occasional mistake and b) being the biggest AGW game I had played, especially being solo on a 6'x4'6" table, (meaning lots of rushing back and forth from one side to the other)  with initial deployment set out by the scenario and thus beyond my control,  I fielded a few extra commanders to  increase the number of group moves I could make. To keep things under control I ruled that they had to stick with their own "brigades" and had the Generals sit at the back. I won't bother next time, afterwards I realized that it would have worked just fine out 'of the box' with the commanders being sort of "Wing Commanders" rather than "Brigadiers" and the Generals earning their place in history. ("Lee to the rear!")

I also used a minimum of unit attributes largely because I'm just getting this campaign set up and haven't sat down yet to review all unit histories and assign attributes, nor did I want to assign too many blindly. Still some units have already earned them or worse, in one case, assigned them and once assigned, in campaign terms, they need to carry them 'til proved inappropriate. So, the Red Grenadiers remained Brave and the Bluecoats were Slow, and they were slow, apparently they thought they weren't supposed to roll higher than 3 on their single die. I'm thinking of getting them their own Colonel and a burly Sergeant Major with a big stick.

MacDuff's Fusiliers are one of those regiments with a 20 year history of gallant, sometimes desperate battle winning charges and stubborn defences from their first game on, so I left them in the capital to guard the King. I'll figure that out another day.

Now I had intended to make most of the Rosmark cavalry Gallant based on past history but I forgot. They didn't though and rolled handfuls of 5's and 6's in every charge and never any melee die lower than 4!


The game started out with the lead Red Brigade rushing across the ford and assailing the house but the Grenadiers took horrendous casualties and their Brigadier chickened out from storming the house though mid-battle analysis suggested it might have been safer to do so. A theory later proved correct as well as reasonable.  

Point blank volleys blasted holes in the plaster walls and occasionally hit someone on the inside.

The artillery on both sides proved remarkably deadly at fairly long ranges despite my forgetting that they get 1 die per gunner not 1 for 2. Halfway through the game I remembered but decided that it was best to just carry on. Perhaps the powder was wet on both sides.

Now the Furland Trading Company's brown coated troops, despite being used to garrison duties at trading posts and occasional irregular warfare, fought like lions. Both battalions were reduced below 1/2 strength without leaving the field while one fought to the last man. Just as well I hadn't laid some Metropolitan prejudiced negative attributes on them.  I'll have to take a note for the future.

The view from the other side as the Redcoats charge the gun and struggle in melee for THREE turns before they finally capture it by killing ONE gunner! (Lets see that was something like 24 dice for one 5 ...Argghh). Best note this battery as Stalwart.

At the far end of the table, the Maritimers made good use of Aces  to hurry across the bridge and deploy before the slow moving Frontier troops could wade through the marshy stream. (Why bother? Not sure, I'd ask the Colonel if he could be found.) The Frontiersmen were pummelled by musketry from the converged Flank Companies and raked by enfilading artillery fire and soon headed back to the marshy ground.

The Rosmark cavalry however, doesn't really like going backwards so they spurred forward.

The clash by the bridge, phase one. Please note the heap of red horsemen from the 1st Squadron and the hasty tactical retreat of the remaining 2nd Squadron Dragoons. 

At this point I had to leave the battle half done as I was overdue for a trip to New Brunswick to visit my big sister and the kids. 

Oh, and my brother and succeeding generations as well.

The battle however has already been concluded and this report will itself be concluded tomorrow. (If this approaching  snowstorm permits). 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Old Toy Soldier 'Nut's Never Die

If any one person could take credit for converting me from being a "serious" historical wargamer to playing simple, fun wargames with shiny toy soldiers, that person would be the late Stuart Asquith.

Stuart first came to my attention with his magazines Practical Wargamer and Regiment as well as his Toy Soldier Box column in Military Modelling which eventually pushed me over the edge into ordering enough recast Britains charging highlanders from Soldierpac to form a regiment for MacDuff. Of course I painted them in matte detailed fashion but it was a big step towards today's glossy toy regiments.

I don't remember now what motivated me to  write to  him, but I think it was on the demise of Practical Wargaming  to express how much I had enjoyed and would miss it and possibly about the positive effect it had had on my attitude towards wargaming.  (It was 20 years ago so details are fuzzy!) At any rate he wrote back after viewing my old website and we periodically exchanged notes and pictures then emails over the years that followed. When he started slimming his own collection he offered me his Britain's Light Brigade at a price I couldn't refuse and they still form the bulk of my  cavalry, for both sides!

I can't claim to be a close personal friend but I really enjoyed our periodic correspondence as well as his writing and was rather pleased when he invited me to contribute pictures of some of my War of 1812 40's for his first book on the subject and will miss hearing from him.

Stuart had a huge, positive influence on our hobby and that can continue through his books but it is a sad loss for the hobby as well as for his family and friends. 

For more about Stuart see Bob's eulogy at

Friday, November 1, 2019

There's Going To Be a Fight

Time has passed, the Maritime Alliance has landed on the Mainland, established a base camp and set out to drive the Rosmark forces back into the Mountains. Rosmark has had time to regroup and reinforce and General Eh has picked a good defensive position behind the Boinne River.

Rosmark is ready!
After studying the enemy position and sending out patrols to reconnoitre the surrounding countryside,  General Bee has decided to send a detachment of Maritime troops upstream to a bridge in hopes of turning the Rosmark flank or at least drawing off some of their forces.
The Alliance is keen to be at them!
Rosmark has managed to muster 3 squadrons of cavalry, 6 battalions of infantry and 2 batteries. The Maritime Alliance has taken the field with 4 squadrons, 8 battalions and 2 batteries but the river is a major obstacle. Scouts have only found one  fordable area, right in the bend of the river.

Dawn breaks.