Thursday, October 29, 2020

Alea iacta est

 The die is cast! 

The Four Winds have lain dormant the longest so they shall begin. The teaser is already up: The search for na dallag naomh. It picks up the 2017 story of the theft of the Chest of the Sacred Totem from Free Folk and sets the scene for the battle. 

  With luck, the game will be fought on Friday and a post go up Saturday. 

 Prince Micheal will join Prince Valiant to fight the Huns next and then we'll be off to the 16thC!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Can't Fix Stupid

 Well, I did play the second game, with the rules as written. The armoured car did much better. I did take the time to replace the reaalllllly under scale, and decades before its time, Vickers tank by the originally planned second Cavalry Squadron which also gave me a Commander.   I didn't repaint them khaki, or take the time to rebase them, just de-based one stand. I also separated the Village commander from his base to avoid avoid last game's very effective phantom cavalry unit. 

Mid game: Larsen's Lancers suffered heavy casualties early on from MG and artillery fire but rallied well and played a key support role on the right flank for the rest of the game battle.

Did it help? Well, the armoured car worked as intended and so on and it was damned close at the end but the Faraway Commander once again failed to concentrate his force and maintain his aim. He was so concerned with the enemy's heavy gun that he barely spared a few shells for the enemy holding the target position until it was too late, and he again wasted too many men and too much time on trying to secure the village on his flank rather than masking it. 

Games's End. A desperate dismounted charge by the Lancers took the position but a counter attack by dismounted Oerberg rifles  from one side and tribesmen from the other retook the position. Meanwhile, after prolonged heavy casualties, the rest of the Faraway force was verging on a complete rout. It was time to pull back while the force could still put up some sort of rearguard.
(all those units with 3 hits showing on the die are 1 hit from breaking).

Ah well, it was an enjoyable game, but he's not getting a third try!  

I'm now pondering the next game. It should be something that is on the current list but hasn't been out much or at all in the last 6 months. What should I pick?......

25mm Medieval/Fantasy?  

A Prince Valiant semi-skirmish?

A 16thC  Anglo Scots affray?

or even ACW since the new Hat sets are out?

...or maybe something else. Its not a poll but comments will be considered.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Seizing the Pass: First Crack

 Well, what can I say, its been a rough week and I was tired..........

The ambush is sprung. Artillery, an MG and rifles open up from cover. Damn that smokeless powder! I think I need to make some little under fire markers, maybe some little dust clouds being kicked up when the bullets hit and some artillery shell explosions.

Nonetheless, I grabbed an hour this morning in between chores and played the game. Started OK but the the vulnerability of the armoured cars to rifle and machine gunfire came as a surprise, not what I remembered from past games. I quickly perused the 2 page rules, without bothering to hunt down one of my 1/2 dozen pairs of reading glasses, then decided to worry about it later. It was still 2:1 odds. 

The Advance Guard has been driven back but Ross's Rifles have a foothold in the village and are moving up the road. Behind them the guns are putting a hot fire down on the gun on the rocky hill while the Royals move up to support the attack. 

Ah! An assault on the village! hmm...perhaps I should have decided on troop qualities, morale, shock, etc before I started playing....... Oh well, all average then!

Ah, the enemy had reserves too.....the Advance Guard has pulled back to rally, the artillery has deployed and opened fire, Ross' Rifles have stormed the first farm and the Royals are moving up in support. So far so good but the game is half over.

The next problem was the dice and the initiative/chance deck, they were supposed to be impartial.......  Ah well, it was close enough at the end despite all, and I enjoyed it. 

Game Over  (13 of 15 turns played with 2 more being cancelled by jokers) 
The Oerbergers and villagers have suffered some heavy losses but rallied well and their rifles are still in the fight and holding the pass. The Queen's infantry seemed to have been discouraged by the vulnerability of the armoured cars and are mostly huddling in cover and refusing to rally. 

 The table is still set up so I think I'll have a "do over" tomorrow using the same battle plans, but the correct rules. Except maybe I should do something about the Irregular leader with sidekick who somehow became a company of mounted rifles midgame....

Lets see how the armoured cars affect things then!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Courier from the Advance Guard Sir!

"What news?" 

"Sir, the Pass is in sight. No sign of the enemy."

"Very well."  

"Right, we shall press on without deploying. "

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Who's up next Captain?

The Third Oerberg War sir, early 20thC. Its been a year since they've seen action now due to the proposed reorg which you just cancelled. Oom Bob has reported the Oerberg and some Kapelle rebel forces ready but the Dominion forces aren't quite finished undoing the summer reorg and the new armoured car needs a few finishing touches.

A rather fuzzy looking lot Captain. Better get that cleared up before the game.

Should be good to go by Friday sir.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

THE PRAIRIE IS ABLAZE! Fighting breaks out at Goose Lake.

The Dominion government blames Origawn Rebels for renewed fighting in the Sloy Lake District and denounces a treacherous attempt to assassinate  Major MacEachern during talks. 

Our correspondent Russell Williams has filed this report from Fort MacDuff in the Lake Sloy District.
Upon hearing word of a cache of arms at Goose Lake, Brigadier Ross was dispatched to investigate and deal with the situation. Under his command were a squadron of the newly raised NorthWest Mounted Rifles, 4 companies of infantry and a field gun. Upon arrival at the local trading post, Major MacEachern was sent forward to discuss the situation with Father Black while the column deployed in case of trouble.  

At first, all seemed well but then a figure stepped forward and, pulling a revolver, fired at the Major. The Father intervened before he could fire again but as Major MacEachern fell back to report, hidden rebels opened a hot fire .  

Brigadier Ross swiftly ordered his men forward to clear the small settlement. The Rebels' fire was heavy and accurate but B Battery forced the rebels back from their roadblock.

The Brigadier was content to let the artillery and rifle fire soften the enemy so that his men could follow up and seize the settlement with minimal losses. Suddenly, rifles cracked from behind the Column's flank!  The Kree had joined the fight. 

There was no time to waste, the Brigadier ordered the Rifles to take the settlement at the point of their bayonets. The Victoria's rushed forward and drove the rebels from their barricades.  The rebels spirits were high however and counter attacking from two directions, drove the Rifles back out of the town with heavy losses.  The Mounted Rifles were ordered in to retake the ground.  

It was no good, having suffered heavy casualties, the Dominion troops did not have the strength to take the settlement while fending off a flank attack.

With half his companies retreating in great disorder, slowly rallying to their officers calls and incapable of further fighting,  Brigadier Ross reluctantly ordered a general retreat while he still had a viable rearguard to prevent a massacre. The danger was less than anticipated though as the rebels had also suffered heavy casualties, and Father Black discouraged all talk of a pursuit or massacre.  

It seems that the Dominion must again wage this war on two fronts.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Boots and Saddles! Duty calls men, we must away.

Dominion agents have heard word that the Rebels had collected a cache of arms and supplies at the little settlement of Goose Lake.  With the newly raised NW Mounted Rifles having just marched in the night before, Colonel Ross issued orders for  an expedition to march in the morning.

The question on everyone's mind was "What would they find?".

Friday, October 16, 2020

Looking for their man

 Right, back to the present: the Dominion of Faraway Mounted Rifles are ready for service.

Dismounted and Mounted
(Hmm, the men actually have yellow trouser stripes, they just can't be seen in any of these pics )

I was going to put the dismounted figures on a wider base but there could be occasions when they have to travel by sleigh, railroad or steamboat or garrison a blockhouse so I kept it small. 

Unlike dismounted cavalry, the mounted rifles picket their horses, therefore their dismounted combat strength is the same as their mounted strength as no horseholders are needed.  

I should really do a picketed horse stand for each unit of dismounted rifles on each side in case they move away from them. Scaring the enemy's horses off (or shooting them) was considered a valid tactic  but that's going to take a bit of work to either remove harness from spare plastic limber horses, or remove riders from mounted officer castings, so it won't happen soon. Some sort of marker can always be improvised.

A side view to show that they do actually have rifles.

I think I need a game now!   Put the new troops to work or take a break and pull something that hasn't seen action recently off the shelf or out of the cupboard?  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

End of an Era: Last Post at the Littlewars Email Group.

I've known this was coming and the group hasn't been as active in the last 10 or more years as it was 20 years ago but.......its hard to over estimate how important the group, and the friends I made through it, have been to me.  It all goes back to the 90's and the message board followed by Onelist email groups, later taken over by Yahoo. Bits of this have appeared in past blog posts but its a nostalgic moment and this was a big part of why this blog is here, so, please bear with me.

Cold Wars 1997. A colour photo taken in poor light then later scanned.  

My first exposure to sharing my hobby on line came during the early/mid-90's. I forget now, who or what got me started, but there I was dialing into (yes dialing) the news group It was around this time that some articles in Wargames Illustrated  (or was in Miniature Wargames, or one in each?) about 54mm miniatures appeared and after having scoffed a few times, and reread the article 100 times, I some how found myself picking up some boxes of 1/32 Revel, Accurate and old Airfix, figures, and thinking about a War of 1812 skirmish game. Then I met a local guy who collected and painted 54mm plastics but hadn't wargamed..yet.....suddenly a group of us were playing Rapid Fire in 54mm and I was building War of 1812 armies and fiddling with some rules. 
I don't remember what made me to decide to do some Yugoslav partisans but information was scarce   
and I turned to r.g.m.h and asked if anyone had information to share. The first response was from a gentleman in the US and started :"When I joined the partisans as a boy in 194........ " suddenly the world seemed smaller. A later response was from a Yugoslav wargamer whose father had been a partisan  and he shared pictures and resources with me as well as pictures of his wargame figures, mostly Foundry iir. The last time I heard from him was during the NATO bombing . He and his friends were determined that the bombing would not beat them and he was venturing out for a game, as a mark of defiance I think. A little awkward since Canada was part of Nato.  I still wonder sometimes if he made it through all that followed and hope he did. 

In the meantime,  my friend Ron and I had been playing Armati and One List had come along, an email list rather than on line message board and I joined Arty's Armati mailing list.  In 1996, many of the members got together to play Armati at Cold Wars while the rest of us just got to read about how great it had been.  I had been to Cangames in Ottawa a couple of times and in ..hmm..81? went down to  Philadelphia  with 3 friends to a multifacet wargaming, rpg, boardgames,miniatures etc con but had not yet flown down to the states  to go to an HMGS con. I decided not to miss Cold Wars 1997.  Then Pete Panzeri put out a call on r.g.m.h for help, he needed more troops for a 54mm La Haye Sainte game he was running at that Cold Wars. I was building up a War of 1812 54mm army and volunteered to bring about 100 figures,  British, Canadian Militia in green subbing for rifles and US as Dutch.Belgians. I had also picked up a clearance on 54mm Airfix figures but had no immediate use for the Highlanders or WWII Russians so offered them for sale on rgmh. Pete offered to buy the Highlanders and a chap named Rob Dean expressed an interest in the Russians for a skirmish game he was considering. I packed my bags, boarded a plane and was off!
Cold Wars 1998. I dragged Ron down to help me run the games.
(Graham and Eric from our old Montreal group from the 70's stopped by, Eric being behind the camera.

I had a great time at both events and met some great people but of relevance here, I met a number of 54mm and homecast 40mm gamers and we did a lot of talking. We resolved to hold a special 54mm event room in 1998. Well that needed more organization in advance, some of the games were held elsewhere, some were cancelled and there was no official mention anywhere but some 54mm games went ahead including my two War of 1812 ones using the recently published With MacDuff to the Frontier and I got to play my first full game of Charge! with semiflat 40's which the HAWKS were running.  Rob who I had met briefly the year before and Chris Palmer had been building a homecast 40mm French & Indian war game using MacDuff so I had to sign up and somehow ended up sort of helping run it. (always awkward having the author sign up to play.) We've been running games together ever since but he never did buy those Russians.

Cold Wars 2000.  The Littlewars email group's "Bring your own" 54mm battle of Chippewa. 

An awful lot of people stopped and looked and some even talked. A comment of "I didn't know we were allowed to play with big figures" really got to me. Its a hobby! Who's  going to stop you? Talk got going on having an email list for  wargaming with bigger figures (some of it may have happened in the bar in the evening...)  When I got home I floated the idea on rgmh and the response was quick and enthusiastic and the Little Wars email list was born to be transferred to Yahoo when they took over the one list groups. 

By 2000, the Little Wars group was buzzing and we had .. 6-8 people all eager to bring a unit of two to stage a "bring and play" 54mm Wargame. (Troops provided for those without.)   We had similar events over the next few years but with the new century the world seemed to change a bit. Technology exploded and there were so many social media options for people to choose from that things seemed to splinter. At that same time it became easier to find like minded people for just about any niche and to find almost any miniature in any scale that you could think of that playing with bigger figures had become just another routine option. Slowly the group dwindled and activity died down to sporadic chatter, often about new releases. 

Still, I will miss it and am ever grateful for those years, the companionship of those on line friends over the years and all the tips I picked  up from them. Here's  to the even richer electronic community of today.   
ps Yes Charley, you're still right, when it comes to toy soldiers, "a shako is a shako" and we shouldn't let details spoil a good game.

Monday, October 12, 2020

To Ride, to Shoot and To Tell The Truth.

 Oh wait, that was Persian nobles, these lads will need to be able to ride, to shoot, and to enforce law and order.

NW Mounted Rifles, mounted and dismounted.

But first they will need some clothes and a healthier complexion.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Keep To the Right

Six  squadrons plus various commanders have now been properly mounted on wooden bases. Its time to add some more.

The North West Mounted Rifles have begun recruiting.

Ps: About the post title, aficianados of the CBC's Royal Canadian Air Farce political satire show will get the reference, for the rest of you, its a tongue in cheek mistranslation of "Maintiens le droit", the motto of the North West Mounted Police, now the RCMP or Mounties. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Call the Vet!

At last Brigadier Pubhill has been cleared to resume command of the Dominion's light cavalry.

Sometimes one barely notices the injury.

Some time ago, he and his gallant charger suffered a terrible fall during the final stages of a battle and required toy-veterinary care.

The operation in progress with two leg pins and a brace in place.

At last these 20 year veterans have been cleared to return to the fray.

Other times its a bit more obvious. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Carrying On Carrying On

 Having finally exhausted my fund of attractive options to  explore, I'm now focusing on getting these toy soldier armies up to scratch with standard organizations and basing protocols designed to work with the 4" grid and the expanded version of the Square Brigadier. Only took a decade of exploration and trials. 

The Rebel Sappers prepare to defend their earthwork against twice their number of Dominion troops. 

My trial deployment of proposed Sharpshooters was not a success and any future experiment will adhere to standard unit organization but with the option to split designsted Sharpshooter units into two detachments. So, I painted up an extra figure for each of the two units and rebased them to standard. 

Meanwhile, I have reduced the Square Brigadier to a "two sides of a page" Quick Reference sheet and have begun the process of writing a full set with more complete explanations, more unit types, and laid out with stats, options, special rules and notes for each unit type. This will allow for a greater range of unit types with more "personality".  To distinguish the two sets I am expropriating the "Model Major General" for the full version.

Past experience suggests that its going to take a while to finish.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Marching with our spades to the war.

 OK, wrong context for the song, but my Rebel sappers are now up to full strength: two companies, each of an officer and 3 sappers with the senior officer being an Engineer. 

Only one new figure has been added, the chap in lighter brown, an homage to the butternut chap in my old Swoppet set but I did add slung rifles to the three sappers with tools. 

Like the Bengal Sappers and Miners, these guys can dig, build bridges, blow things up, and fight like infantry.