Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Usual Result of a Decision to Focus

Yes, it was time to focus on getting my 40mm Homecast French Revolution forces ready. Despite the bitter cold and damp I sallied forth to the woodshed and fired up the smelter. In a short time I had a selection of heads and bodies for the project along with a head of unusable castings due to the poor conditions, and a handful of goblins and wargs.

Wait, what?

Yup. Well, I mean I had the mould but hadn't used it and...well what harm could it do to cast them. Not like I was going to paint  them and then get a 25mm Medieval/Fantasy game going? Right?

Yeah OK, not really a surprise then.

Up Next??  Why are you asking me?!? 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Republican and Royalist

Yesterday I took advantage of the annual 'January Thaw '  to cast up  enough figures to bring my two Revolutionary French units up to twelve figures each as well as a start on my first Emigre unit.

Naturally, doing a test of the Emigre conversion using a PA Prussian grenadier and one of my own 1812 heads took precedence over finishing a unit!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

As the Dust Settles

This may sound over optimistic but after the last half decade of poking, prodding, experimenting and exploring, I think I may have just finally agreed with me and myself about what we want from the Square Brigadier.

 Well, until I get a brand new idea perhaps.

The rules are available here (click) .
The armies march on and deploy.
The game was a meeting engagement over random terrain with victory conditions being determined after laying it out.  (
Capture a road exit on the enemy's baseline while stopping him from grabbing one on your baseline.) Each side had 4 "Brigades" totalling 14 units. Some dicing resulted in Blue having 4 cavalry, 8 infantry and 2 guns while Red had 2 cavalry 10 infantry and 2 guns.
Anyway all of the old ideas have been tried in various combinations as well as every alternative or new idea that has come to me over the last 6 years and most had some merits and some faults but when push came to shove, every attempt to make the rules more detailed or flavourful, or gamey (sic) eventually failed when tested and I'm left pretty near where I started  and originally got so excited because despite past preferences, I had discovered that I now liked the feel of this quick simple set of rules where the tactical details were below the grain forcing me to focus on over all battle plans and when and where to pull back or push ahead and when and where to throw in what reserves I had managed to hold on to. 

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story:
The lines engage.

On the far side of the table, Blue's guns struggle to silence the Red gun while Red's infantry start pushing around Blue's right causing heavy losses to the Bluecoat Brigade. The center is a stand off. 

As Blue's losses grow and the sun sinks (along with the remaining stack of turn cards), Red sends his whole line forward with orders to "Attack!". 

The Grey Coat Brigade managed to hold back twice their numbers backed by artillery but on the far flank, Red's artillery and infantry forced back Blue's cavalry and artillery. In the end Red's cavalry swept forward routing the Blue cavalry and overrunning their artillery. 

Time to get back to some converting and painting.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

OK Enough Fun, Time To Get Back To Work

Yesterday Jeff, ( hosted a group of Nova Scotia wargamers for a 15mm  Nappy's Battle of Friedland game.  Hopefully he will be posting a Blog post including some of the great pics he posted on FB.

(Thanks for these pics Gary )
The Russian Right Wing commander trying to balance questionable command decisions with even more questionable die rolling. Luckily as many a Russian commander knows: "Quantity has a Quality of its own" and I errr..I mean..."he" eventually  crossed the streams and stormed the village on the hill with great loss despite the 5:1 odds.....(against my opponent ).
I will admit to a tinge of nostalgia at the sight of a table, loaded with 15mm troops yet not crowded, BUT, given that I needed to don reading glasses and peer closely to tell one unit from another, I'm not tempted to rebuild my 'lost' 15mm armies. Actually, I don't need to, apart from the horde of 15mm figures Jeff has painted, he has also acquired used figures from several different people including a bunch of my old 1799 Austrians and Russians, some of the latter which I have had the pleasure to command in battle again from time to time.

The rules are not really to my taste but by the end of this game, I was finally beginning to get a grip on them and enjoyed the battle despite several faux pas due largely to not yet having a sufficient understanding of the rules to properly assess risk. Of course, now that I'm getting a handle on the rules, the four NB Franco-Russian battles that Jeff had planned to fight are over! None the less, knowledge is never wasted and it was a good day in good company.

I even finally managed to play alongside the Fiery Monkey Boy at last!(see  for more pics and comments)  
FWIW The Russian Dragoons in Bicornes  are some of my old Battlehonours 1799 figures. In 15mm, the uniform anachronisms get a little lost in the crowd once you step back.

Meantime, at home, on a blustery snowy day, I've managed to clear some of the more drastic ideas from my head out and started to test the one page version of my 4" grid, 1 stand=a unit  version of the old Square Brigadier.

The game is a simple meeting engagement on random terrain with "brigades" arriving on random roads. Each side has a General, 14 single stand "companies" grouped into 4 brigades + 2 independent batteries on each side.   This is near to 1/2 the number of  units I have or intend to paint up.
Turn 4 is over and all troops are now present.

The game will resume Monday if the fates are gentle with a report to follow.

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Today I gave my brain a break and used my free time to get a few more units onto their bases and to do a bit more of touching up of the 4" grid.
The Rebel brigade has two units deployed (representing a typical 1870's heavy skirmish line with supports with 2 units formed in column in support.

I did run my brain over some rules ideas though, helped, as so often, by some of the thought stimulating comments on the last couple of posts. Thats one of the reasons I enjoy getting comments in addition to the confirmation that someone is indeed out their.

I'm almost ready for another test game but Saturday Jeff is running another group 15mm Nappy's battle and my old Cossacks will be expecting me!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Wheels Are Still Turning

I was stoked for the first game but with each stand being a unit, there were too many units on the table for the mechanisms to flow well and keep up interest and excitement in the game so something had to change.

#2: An old chestnut of a scenario and improvised basing but a brisk game. 
After rejecting various options as too "gamey" and abstract or too tedious, I remembered that I had at one point contemplated a system where 2 stand units occupied two adjacent 3" grid squares giving an easy way to reflect formations and frontages without complex or confusing rules or  excessive empty space to confuse me mid-game or distort the look of the thing.  The result feels much more "old school" than the Square Brigadier ever did but with all the convenience of a simple gridded game.

So far that is! Early days yet.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Of Form and Function

"Form follows Function" and "Function follows Form", two duelling design maxims and like most such bitter fights, both sides of the debate are right to some degree. This weekend I belatedly realized that this debate was at the heart of my seesaw problems without it having been consciously considered in that light.   Worse than that, solving the issues was going to require deciding on priorities, making careful, informed, choices and sticking with them. Oh NO!
"Sawmill Village" is an encounter scenario with victory resting on control of the crossroads town. Blue won the race to the town but wasn't aggressive enough to  take the whole thing before Red grabbed a foothold.
One of the advantages of writing a blog is that I have a decade of posts not only recounting games and showing pictures but snatches of design discussions of varying merit. Somethings come and go, some things get invented and reinvented and too often forgotten, and somethings just keep coming back if one looks.  One thing I seem to periodically take a run at is designing a game which has it all, large armies of big figures in big units which has all the detail of the most complex games but which fits easily on a small table and can be played in an hour or two even when tired or all day with a crowd of players.

I blame my Old School introduction and fondness for reading low level memoirs when I can find them but if I were ever to achieve that contrary goal, turning lead to gold should be easy as my next trick.
The armies are both up and battle plans have been decided on.
When I played the game I was going to write up on Saturday, I enjoyed it but something niggled so I played it again then again focusing more on how the game played rather than on enjoying the story that was unfolding on the table. I like the look of the slightly larger units in the 6" squares but when paying careful attention I soon realized that the table wasn't big enough (functionally) to give sufficient manoeuvre  room to make an interesting game and that while units were wide enough to fill a square, they were thin enough in line that several times I discovered that I had moved a unit adjacent to an enemy unit without seeing it and that the units that should have been resolving close combat were either ignoring each other or planning to open fire at range 2 when they were already at 1.

The use of multi-stand figures and large squares also gave me an irresistible urge to play with formations and other of the things that were supposed to be below the level of the game and as a result I was not really focusing on my intended role as "General" but rather on being Brigadier and Colonel focused on the various details more than on the over all battle. The practice belied the stated intent that the player was General not every officer on the table.

That was  when I decided to go back and review more than a hundred Square Brigadier posts and as expected I found certain themes, issues and debates cropping up again and again with every major deviation from the original game eventually failing and forcing a  reboot or a turn to Old School rules for a simple but lengthy, tiring, game of tactics which I soon tire of.

Blue has stuck to their plan in a passive sort of way, but Red has flip flopped with the usual result.
At least I understand now that my urge to mount units on a single base is not really driven by aesthetics or  convenience but as a way to remove the urge to fiddle with formations which despite my best intentions, always leads me to increased attention to all of those tactical details that the rules are supposed to "factor in" so that player must focus on being the general.  `

I also stumbled on a post from late 2017 when I was working on my Great War centennial game that expresses my conclusion that the six inch grid was a failure because the squares there were too few squares for manoeuvre, even after expanding my table enough to hamper movement through my room and for all the same reasons I mentioned above as well as a few others and that I needed to go back to smaller grid squares when I got back from Huzzah! Oops.

Thus it was that I got out my 5" grid cloth and laid out this game and with my Oerburg games in mind, reorganized my 54's to simulate old Square Brigadier style units with 4 infantry or 3 cavalry on a single base.

Having repulsed all of Red's attacks, Blue sits back contentedly as the sun sets and contemplates his report on how he boldly seized the important crossroad, throwing the Red forces back until an aide reminds him that actually, Red still holds a corner of the town. The Blue army had been too busy repelling attacks to ever launch one of their own. Oh........oh dear.
The 5" grid that Sunday's game was played on worked better and the troops gamely pretended to be fixed to a single base per unit with rules adjusted back to something very like the old Square Brigadier.  The corner markers for the four inch grid on the main table have mysteriously reappeared though and I plan to give them a go today, a tight fit for 54's and some terrain items but an expansive field with than twice as many squares as the six inch grid and room for more units as well as more manoeuvre. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

While We're Waiting

Had a delightful time playing the game this morning, a game both enjoyable and useful.

They came on in the old style.

I also have a half written blog post, mostly about rules and games and choices and preferences and the like. Hopefully we'll see what I make of it but right now, I'm off to bed.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Post That Hesitates

Is Lost. Yeah, ummh,  sorry folks, no Noodle, no battle report.

However, after hours of revisiting  8 years of Square Brigadier posts and rules versions and some experimentation, things are rolling again.
A slight variation on 'Sawmill Village'.
Sunday is forecast to be another storm day, freezing rain this time, so, my board is reset with the 5" Grid cloth, and the revised rules are typed up.  All is ready.

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

While we're waiting

Today was a snow day so I was sure I'd manage to write up a battle report of Tuesday's game and a good copy of the revised original Square Brigadier rules.........
Opening phases of Tuesday's game: On the first turn, the DG Bodyguard took advantage of a chance card giving a double move to gallop through town and seize a bridgehead over the river thus  giving the new dismounted troopers a chance to show their stuff. They held out for turn after turn against artillery and three times their numbers but help never came. 
I didn't write a game report though. Instead, I replayed the game using the updated rules as adopted after the first, rather enjoyable game which was played with various mid-game rule adjustments ( eg: drop a die vs cover or -1 from each die or just say 1/2 casualties, range 2 for rifles or 3, that sort of thing). Once that was successfully done, I then spent an unconscionable amount of time trying to use my mental powers to clear the driveway while sipping coffee and listening to youtube videos etc.

During the test game the Rebels pressed their attack against the Dominion position, their General having forgotten that he had already won unless Red counterattacked, throwing Blue back across the river and seizing one bridge themselves. It was a rather rash attack which resulted in heavy losses but it may have also fallen foul of some of the mid-game rule tweaks, as well as a sudden change in Red's luck.
Looking back over last year's 54mm games, almost all of their share of my time was spent putting to the test several alternative approaches to those Toy Soldier games. I had been quite happen with the games played in 2018 with the Square Brigadier but the games were neither very Toy Soldierish nor did they have an Old School air of detail with unit formations, relative scale and so forth and I thought that maybe my Toy Soldier games should have one or both of those things. There was also was a question of which exact niche the Toy Soldiers were supposed to be filling in the 19thC part of collection 19thC, other than being taller than my 40mm's. Were they to let me "play with toy soldiers",  "play abstract wargames",  "refight Historical battles and skirmishes", "play Imagi-Nation Battles", or something else?

So, last year I tried the various other approaches and found merit and fault with each but found that the merit of both faded with use while the faults grew. In short, knocking over soldiers and hiding guys behind rocks is fun sometimes when in the right mood but distracts from the real point of game  while I now find that too much detail and fiddliness  tends to get tedious to play while usually failing to get things "right" anyway  despite every increasing complications.

The Rebels fell back and took up defensive positions and for a while it looked like the game was over until Red suddenly remembered that he needed to counterattack or lose!
Oddly enough those are the same conclusions I've reached each time I've gone through this recently but I've never made such a thorough attempt to try the matter on the table. I'm afraid Prince Valiant is condemned to be my one "single figure" collection which will allow me to "play toy soldiers" if I get that urge while my 22mm ACW and War of 1812 armies will have the "refight historical battles" job as well as the usual generic scenarios set in their particular eras.

As the last card turned, Red launched a desperate attack at 1:1 odds and was rescued by the dice. The game was arguably a Pyrrhic win for Red since Blue's army morale broke as night fell but as they hadn't yet crossed the river, Blue could argue a draw by a strict reading of the scenario victory conditions.
 Updating the full 4 page version of the Square Brigadier was also on the list for today but I decided to write this post instead! 

Somewhere around turn 4 of 15 of today's game. The chaos in the background seems to be some sort of reaction by the universe to my presence.
 Will there be a battle report of the 2nd battle in Thursday or Friday morning's Newport Noodle? You never know.

Monday, January 6, 2020

And So It Begins Again.....

Its January and in Atlantica the armies take the field for another season of hard campaigning.
The Rebel column approaches Westbridge Farm as a pursuing column of Dominion troops appears on the far side of the river, marching hard.

To be continued......

Friday, January 3, 2020

Looking Ahead

More by coincidence than any sort of clever planning, I have reached the new year at a moment of hobby tranquility if not stasis so it  seemed like as good a time as any to pause for reflection and make plans form some vague intentions for the winter campaigning season.  (Yay Snow!) (in moderation...)

The next time the Governor General's Bodyguard needs to dismount, I'll have proper figures. 

Last year I managed to get each and every one of my active collections on the table for a game. It felt good but also made it hard to focus on anything, which may be one reason that I didn't do a lot of painting last year. That's a good thing since the shelves are full but I have no intention of giving that side of the hobby up yet. I have mentioned recently that I don't enjoy painting as much as I used to but I was thinking mostly of the business of churning out unit after unit of 12 or 20 figures with lots of detail. A few 40's with simple shading or a few  glossy toy soldiers is a different matter.

The  Highlanders starting recruiting men for a second unit to fight the French in May. He's got a ways to go before he's a soldier yet!
Casting, converting and painting another 11 Highlanders, 12 Emigres in round hats, 6 Riflemen and 36 more Revolutionary French infantry is pretty low on my list of things I feel like doing, esp as my casting work area is temporarily shut down but I'm looking forward to the resulting game so "Duty calls" and that will have to dominate my winter painting time along with flushing out a few important gaps in my 54mm Toy Soldier OB as periodic relief. I want to get at least a few of my new Doug Miller landsknechts done but I will have to be in the mood to handle the delicate assembly, complex colours and shading so it may slip till spring.

Game wise, once I have enough French AGW figures to add to some SYW stand-ins,  I need to practice A Gentleman's War and conscript a few friends so I can be ready to GM a multiplayer AGW game at Huzzah! in May.

For fun, I expect to keep my 54's busy. Despite some very enjoyable games with the 54's it was not their best year as I started the year with some doubts about the path I was on and the various paths not taken. So it was that I rebased the armies to singles and tried then rejected what seemed like a dozen different approaches and then parked them. Having now tried out all the other various ways that I thought I might, or should, want go with the 54's, I'm satisfied that I don't actually want to go any of those routes, so I'm reforming back to the way things were last New Year's and looking forward to more games.
Sittingbad (click)from Boxing Day 2018,
as it was and shall be again!

Of course should I get a sudden urge......buckle up!
 2020, here we come!