Friday, August 28, 2020

Battle of Gypsum Ridge Pt2


Close and deadly action on the Ridge.

On their left, the Dominion's first attack on the village
was repulsed as was a rather ragged rush forward by the grenadiers. On the ridge, a steady stream of Rebel companies were thrown into the gaps as they appeared.

At last, the Rifles forced their way into the village while the Grenadiers fell back to reorganize. The Rebels took advantage of the break to rearrange their units, sending fresh units into the line and pulling the dismounted cavalry back from the wall to ride to the open flank .

Accurate fire from the Dominion artillery managed to silence the Rebel battery just in time for a renewed Dominion assault. The fighting was fierce and prolonged.

The Grenadiers did not have the strength to storm the wall and were taking such heavy casualties that General Douglas feared they might be forced to retreat but the Rebel line was flanked and the exposed units suffered from heavy and accurate fire. The last straw came when the Director General's Bodyguard remounted and swept around the flank, driving all opposition before them. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Battle of Gypsum Ridge Pt1

Although the last game was enjoyable in itself, there were various issues that had been sidestepped rather than resolved in order to get the game on the table. After considering a host of practical issues and reviewing a bunch of games over the last few years, I decided to give the well tested Square Brigadier another go. Since everything from unit foot prints to terrain are still geared to 4" squares, which happen to give me effectively a "bigger" table top, I decided to use virtual squares, measuring in 4" increments and checking alignment now and then.
Turn 3: The Dominion forces advance and engage a Rebel outpost as Rebel reinforcements begin to pour onto the table on the other side of the hill.

The scenario was inspired by the Reinforcements On Table scenario from CS Grants's Scenarios for Wargames (which is now available again), crossed with a relevant small historical action from 1866.
The Grenadiers line has been broken up by terrain and the Rebels defending the village have been stubborn. 
To be continued......

Monday, August 24, 2020

Straight Into Action

 Yesterday he took command. 

Tonight, he is leading his brigade to battle.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Warm Welcome Please for

 Colonel St. Jean, 

the new commander of the Grey Patriote Brigade, part of the Origawn Republic Army (or Rebel army depending on your POV).

Saturday, August 22, 2020

As Long As I'm Painting....

The Origawn Rebels have been short a mounted infantry  officer for a while now. Since I've been in painting mode, and had a suitable mounted homecast Guards Officer casting on hand, I figured that this was a good time to convert him and get him ready for action.

Painting to begin on Sunday.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

All's Well As Ends Well

 A couple of years ago....ok..ok.. possibly a couple of couple of years ago, I painted some miniatures for a friend. Somehow, one set of them went awol from my desk. I searched high, I searched low, I searched and researched, I looked in the most unlikely places I could think of and then some I hadn't thought of, but no joy, they were AWOL! 

Time passed..... last week I was doing some housekeeping, going through a drawer full of obsolete cables, chargers for long gone devices, adapters, and so on and getting rid of the ones that had no hope of ever being useful again. Amongst them were a couple of tiny boxes with  meaningless codes marked on them. I opened the first one...empty! I opened the second one .. "Hello! You lot are under arrest for desertion!!" Looking at the code closer, it was WRxxx, ah Wars of the Roses.. still, I have no idea how they escaped and hid in there, or how they evaded the various searches! 

25mm medieval pioneers made by Somebodyorother, a stray handgunner by Someone Else and a few ladies who had hoped to make their fortunes at King's Landing.

Still, they have joined 3 other laggards who weren't ready when I handed over the main body and they will all, finally, be handed  over tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Why is so hard?

 Keep It Simple Stupid!

I did get a chance to try my "improved", more 'accurate', less 'gamey' version of the rules and once again by the time the game was over, it was tedious, bordering on boring actually, and taking far too long for a quick solo game. (Please imagine a clever gif of me scrounching up a piece of paper and dunking it in a waste basket.) 

So I did what works best for me. I did other things for a while (including a 16thC game over Hangouts where I was rightfully trounced - sorry no pics but I expect the game will appear on the Sharp Brush blog.). 

Then, today, I came back with a fresh eye and an open mind.

Once more unto the Bridge! 
Turn 8ish of 15: the armies are all on board and well engaged.

The first step was to spend some time with my nose in books. Then, I let my subconscious mind guide me as I poked at the figures and started to think of other mechanisms, "the look of the thing", what needs to be shown and what doesn't and about the sorts of decisions I want to be making as a player.

Casualties mount. The Bodyguards charge into the battered grey infantry!

The next thing was to again regroup the figures into units of 8 infantry or 4 other figures which is how they are painted. I then dumped the existing command control and activation rules, the fiddlyier bits, the existing morale rules, the mutiphase charge resolution and the proposed reintroduction of pinned and rally rules.

...and they pursue, sweeping away the fleeing rebels. Then, once the refugees were clear..... the two Rebel batteries opened fire on them at close range! The Guards quickly retreated to lick their wounds.

I then scribbled some note outlining the new simple game, tweaked it once or twice for things that arose mid game, and played an engaging, very close, occasionally nail biting, rematch of the same OHW scenario in roughly an hour. 

The details are more abstracted but then so are the shiny toys and the things I had to think about as player seemed to me more like things a General should be thinking about.

Turn 13/15. The Hochelaga Fusiliers are the last fresh Dominion unit. "Fix Bayonets" "CHARGE!!" and the last remnants  of shaken rebel units flee over the bridge. Another incursion has been repulsed.

So, that's one happy test game. The rules have been amended to match and the link posted on my Rules blog page. 

I think its time to do some casting and painting and the like, and then try it again with a bigger scenario and more men! 

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Reasons Why

This post is as at least partly for my own benefit, as a reminder of where I was when the time comes for me to get back to the 54's. Hopefully, the thoughts behind the rules may be of interest to some and, of course, there are pictures of toy soldiers!     

Turn 3: Red began with 4 companies of infantry (=2 scenario units) randomly arriving in the best spot. They have just followed up with a gun and a troop of cavalry arriving on the main road. Blue has the initial 2 companies now backed by a field gun with 2 companies of Zouaves just arriving. 

I want a Toy Soldier-ish wargame, not an accurate historical recreation of real battles, but I want them to invoke the feel of small historical actions from the 1870's and 80's  such as Ridgeway during the Fenian Raids or Laing's Nek in the First Boer War not bigger affairs like Tel El Kebir or the battles for the Shipka Pass.  

I also want to use a small table but have at least a little room and some reason to manoeuvre. This means that each unit needs to be small as well as the armies being small and ranges need to be curtailed. My first adult battles with 54's were played  with a set of Colonial Rules written for OS25mm figures but the figures didn't take up much more room (25mm washers vs pennies) and my table was 6'x10' so there was plenty of room for 8 man companies grouped into 3 company battalions, themselves grouped into brigades for the bigger games. However, I have come to like games played with 4 man companies on a smaller table so there are no regrets and an appreciation of the ease of set up, solo play and take down with my current set up.

Turn 6: Both armies are all on board.
There are still a few issues that I am struggling with because what feels like a good "game" mechanism, often appears to be "wrong" from a historical perspective. There are always such conflicts when designing a simple, fun game and it comes down to which compromises give the best over all feel (for me, since I'm not going to be selling the rules). 

The two main issues are Command Control and how to show the effects of combat. 

Whenever I find myself getting bogged down in C&C issues again, I remind myself of Lawford & Young's comments on the subject, reread the old Kriegspiel rules designed to train officers but where they were free to make their own bad decisions, or just read some memoirs. Most wargamers can quote an example of a subordinate not carrying out an order according to the defeated general who is explaining why he lost but few reflect that these known failures are each balanced by thousands of orders which were carried out, or at least attempted.  Then I remind myself to go with Lawford & Young and let player's make their own mistakes rather then hiding behind a die roll. (Mind you I keep some uncertainty by rolling dice for distance as I did back in my MacDuff days in the 90's.)

Later: The battlelines trade fire.

Casualties are a harder thing. Charles Grant was right here, its much easier to show a trickle of casualties on large units. Given that the historical actions that have inspired me for this game had very low numbers of killed and wounded (ie 5% or less in some cases), I have had to forgo removing every hit. Having multi-figure bases at least helps reduce the urge to tip the little guys over. 

Then the bayonet sweeps the field!
(Rolling up 2 guns was probably better than 2 cavalry for Blue but more infantry might have helped!)

I do need to reflect the tendency of units to be pinned by heavy fire as well as a tendency to become brittle and to suddenly break when something changes, like being charged or surprised, having friends run or being ordered to retreat. 

The jury is still out on this topic but at the moment units may fire OR move so the player needs to forgo a chance to shoot if he wants to get close.  They may neither advance nor shoot once  when they have taken their maximum hits and may run if they lose a charge combat, but they might succeed in rallying once they are in a  safe spot. Just removing them and having them automatically rally on the shelf overnight would be easier though, and maybe more toy soldierish.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

One More Quick Game

 Before I return to the 16thC.

Places everyone!

One Hour Wargame Scenario #5 Bridgehead. Rather oddly, until I reread it, I didn't recognize or remember that this OHW scenario was based on  a well worn CS Grant scenario that I played using brigades of 1/72 ACW troops last spring. It was played with companies of 54mm 1870's troops today.

Report and discussion for Saturday morning.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Once More Unto the Bridgehead!

 One last set of pictures of this scenario. The next game will  be a different scenario or a different era, or both! The next post might be one about the rules, or something altogether different.

Second attempt to breakout.  

So far the plan is working! 

Bloody stubborn Grenadiers and Highlanders!  Didn't even give them any special treatment!

And its heigh ho and back we go. 
(Sorry  about the fuzzy pictures, the cameraman was behind the Blue lines and in a hurry to get out of harms way!)

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Closer to Home

 That's better!  

The inner call to free my 54's from the grid and to restore the infantry to their original 8 figure units, some of which date back to the 1990's and MacDuff to the Frontier, has finally won the hearts and minds battle, and now appears to have finally led to a real contender for a set of rules that will allow me to play interesting, full scenarios on my pint size table with enough units and figures to satisfy me.  

End of Turn 3 of the current game.

The last three attempts all had something to offer but each suffered from some critical failures, not engaging enough, too abstract, too obviously derived from current copyrighted games (Did anyone notice the battlecry dice in some of the photos in the last post?), too tedious/repetitive/indecisive/etc, or just didn't use my old 8 figure infantry unit standard that I would like to revive. 

Three turns in is a little early to call success but so far it IS promising. More in a day or so.

Saturday, August 8, 2020


 After a lot of interruptions  calls to duty, and rejected reorganization and rules variants, I finally got to play the game today.  More on the end result later but here's a quick look.

The initial Rebel attack suffered heavy losses followed by a flank attack by Dominion cavalry.

A renewed assault fared a little better but ran out of steam when command control issues held up the reserves. This enticed the Dominion General to launch an attack by the Highlanders supported by cavalry and artillery.

The Rebel reserves finally made it to the front, threw the highlanders back and followed up, threatening the vital central hill.
Concentrated firepower halted the attacks and as the line wavered, the Gentlemen Pensioners charged home  and broke the Rebel morale.

12 turns played out of 15 before  Blue's army break point was reached.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

And so it begins

 Summer! So many things to do, so hot up in my games room!

Turn Two.

To be continued.......

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Ready to Rumble

All the troops are laid out, they're ready to go. 

(Annoyed aside:  What the $#$@$##$# is blogger playing at? The old version was soooo easy to use. The new one is ok if you work in compose and never want to change more than spelling, but the html editor is about the worst I've ever worked with. I tried to move ONE picture so I could post then go to bed then spent 45 minutes trying to fix the post to make it legible while blogger covertly added 2 to 6 lines of code for every line I took out or added. I finally deleted 2/3rd of the post so I could get to bed and not put a hammer through the screen. Luckily, none of it was really worth reading anyway. )

Please don't copy this out of print, copyrighted, map of the scenario I'm playing, taken from from CS Grant's Scenarios for Wargames ....
(The map shows a 5'x7' table, mine is now down to 4'x4.5')

After playing about with map, table and measuring devices, I finally managed to work out that about 2cm on the map was roughly equivalent to 12" on my reduced table with just a little bit being cropped on the ends.  I made no effort to match unit footprints but I think the 8 man organization ends up with a close enough foot print that I can use the scenario orders of battle without having to tweak the number of units used. Its been a while since I could do that so its 2 feathers in the cap for the 8/4 figure units that the figures were painted for. That'll make my life easier. 

I didn't even have to tweak the ranges. Once the game was scaled out and the troops deployed, I realized that even though the frontlines begin within extreme rifle range in places, the addition of cover means an exchange of fire could last all day without decisive effect unless someone moves forward. 

In the meantime, a battlefield truce has been declared so that I can get on with some overdue errands and chores after having taken advantage of the "Atlantic Bubble" to spent a few days visiting family in New Brunswick. 


Monday, August 3, 2020

Choices and Compromises

"You pays your money and takes your choice".

I had a very wise and well informed prof who made good use of that expression when young officer cadets used to press him for the definite "right" answer to various historical questions such as "which side was in the right?".  

Well, if you are going to play with big figures on a small table, and abide by a choice that every collection provide a different sort of game, you have to get used to making choices, choices that sometimes  go against the expectations formed by decades of miniature historical wargaming.  

Testing the fit for Bridgehead Breakout on a small table with small units of 54's.  

This is the sort of scenario where I tend to picture the units as battalions or even brigades of troops  but my 54mm games are supposed to fighting small battles such as those fought during the Fenian Raids where a whole "army" is only as strong as a paper strength battalion or maybe two. Theoretically this should mean longer ranges but since I've chosen to play on a small table, I am going to have to shorten the ranges again, even if it the unit frontage vs range makes units feel more like battalions  or else like musket armed troops.  If not the sides will be able to fight it out without and need to manouver. 

A variation on the scenario played a few years ago with 18 figure, 1/72nd regiments, the way my mind sees a "real" wargame.  
My inner "realist" is protesting but my "practical" hat  is on, allowing me to override objections despite the danger of edging the whole thing closer to "just a game".

Now to add the rest of the  terrain and the Red army.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Staging a Marathon

The first wargame Battle report on this blog came early. In January 2010 I made a short series of posts about the Battle of Marathon.

Post 1: Inspiration

Post: First Game (scenario and rules as published in Battlegames 1)

Post : Second Game (WHAB)


Here are links to the whole series of post in reverse order (beginning with the final post)  (Click for whole seried of Marathon posts.)