Saturday, January 30, 2021

The FTC Returns to the Kapelle District


With the failure of  last year's Trade Negotiations with Kyuquoit,  (see Across the Border)  things looked bleak for the Faraway Trading Company's prospects of expansion but the company representatives had not crossed the Kapelle without noticing its possibilities as a colony in its own right. The Queen's ministers agreed and once again the Queen's men under General Turner were loaned to the company so that they could establish a series of posts from the Kapelle River to the northern plain to serve as a  base for colonization. The various villages and tribes in Kapelle formed a loose confederacy but there was no government and no army so little opposition was expected, unless of course, their neighbours decided to march to their aid in order to stop any further advance by the FTC.   

A small party of villagers ambushed the advance guard, driving back the light infantry and forcing the Buffs to deploy and drive them back through the palm grove. 

The skirmishers in the wood were proving more persistent than expected so the Buffs were left to deal with them while the rest of the army deployed to attack the town. Before the assault could go in,  the neighbours had shown up, The Black Fox and a force of the Brethren! General Turner ordered the artillery to open fire and sent in the lancers to sweep them away. The resulting fight was long and bloody but eventually the Brethren were driven back and half the town taken.

It was then that Brigadier Zinn's Oberhilse Free Corps reached the field. Either Kyuquoit had released  them in hopes they could keep the FTC away from their border, or they had marched on their own to strike a blow at the old enemy. All was yet to play for.


The fight was fierce and prolonged with heavy casualties on both sides but once the villagers and Bretheren had fled the field, there were not enough of the Free Corps to retake the town so Brigadier Zinn had the bugler sound retreat. There would be other battlefields.  

One small skirmish had ended but the war was just beginning.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Early Edition: Fierce Fighting in the Kapelle.

 Reports have been received of resistance to the Faraway Trading Company's expedition to establish an inland trading post in the Kapelle District.

Details in the Sunday morning papers.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Wide Open Plains

 After last year's bloody battle on the Kyuquoit frontier (See The Newport Noodle Report <link>), the FTC decided to pull back and consolidate its position in the Kapelle. Finally, in January of the following year, they sent a small expedition to establish a border post. As the cavalry scouting ahead of the column passed through the defile between a cliff and some jungle, shots rang out!  

Leaving the enemy sharpshooters to the infantry, the Lancers spurred ahead, into the wide open plains surrounding the village.

The table is set, the first 2 turns have been played so that I could show some Redcoats on table, and all is set for the game to resume on Friday or Saturday.  (Yes, its another go at the OHW Late Arrival Scenario.)  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Return to Kapelle

 "Milord, I have a clever plan".  

So, there I was, part way through reorganizing my 1812 armies into their original 8 figure companies, gluing them on to 3" wide bases and thinking about a small scenario, when it struck me that I wasn't really in the mood for the War of 1812, what I wanted was to have a not very serious bungle in the jungle. 

So, since a bunch of the Colonial units had already been sorted back into their proper units, and there were still some of the 1812 bases waiting for figures,.....

Almost enough for a One Hour scenario with two bases/units per scenario unit.

There's a little bit more work to do, and I need to pick or design a scenario, but I should have a game on by Thursday.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The War of 1812 and Hexes

 This weekend I took a bit of time to look at my options for fitting my 1812 and 1840's figures to the hex grid and do some experimenting.

Eventually I decided that I want to stick with one base units (essentially a Wing or 1/2 Battalion or a Squadron) but that they need to fill a hex. So.......the infantry are reforming back into their original 8 figure MacDuff companies. This is why they were on temporary bases, I wasn't quite convinced it was right.

As a side bar, I also decided that I have no more interest in reworking my 1840's Colonial troops into War of 1812 figures than I have in building a large native army to fight them. So the campaigns against the Black Fox with his pirates and allies will continue after all. Might even build myself a new Adobe fort and town to fit the 40's.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Reporting for Duty.

 General Henry Pineas  has just reported to the Plastic Army of the Potomac  to take command of the Heavy Brigade.

Mounted officer from the new Hat ACW Command. 

Once completed by the arrival of the 2nd Zouaves (still awaiting their nice light blue Zouave uniforms), this brigade will consist of two regiments of Regulars in their black felt hats and two regiments of metal Zouaves (Thank you Cesar). 


Note: This guy was a little bit of a pain to do. His sword arm is separate, handy for making slightly varied poses but tiny and slippery. I lost one 3 times when washing the castings, the third time being its charm and the arm has not been seen since. The second arm (yes I'll now need to steal an arm for the 4th officer in the box,  I think I may have a spare WWI figure with binoculars in the cupboard)  dropped his glued on arm (yes ever the optimist) during the  priming process, so I pinned it but he dropped off his horse during the painting process, throwing his arm as he bounced on the desk. After multiple searches, eventually using the entire search and rescue paraphernalia, l managed to find the arm hidden underneath the desk, several feet away. I then did a more serious pinning and also carved the saddle out a bit to hold him more securely and  put a pin into the saddle and up, well, lets just say he's now got a tight seat. Then I mounted him on his individual, permanent base and spackled him in place before painting. So, if I get to personalities for Commanders, this one will be tenacious but cranky and uncooperative by nature.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

2021: A Vague Plan

Twenty Twenty One still sounds like a Scifi date to me but it needs to be dealt with anyway.  This past year was a good time to have had life long hermit tendencies and they served me well and will doubtless do so again this year. None the less, I might find myself able to play a face to face in person game again before the year is out and it will be welcome. Plans are afoot  to improve the lighting in my games room and to acquire a real webcam to facilitate better video-chat games and hopefully there will be a few more of those.  In the meantime, the solo games will continue unabated!

There will definitely be some of these.

While reviewing the unruly mob  of furloughed  forties on the bottom shelves, and my officially not-really-plans, I decided it was time to decide what to do with the idlers that I obviously don't wish to dismiss. Tentatively they were supposed to mesh with the 1812 lads, themselves in need of attention. It didn't take long to remember my old determination that every part of my collection provide a different style of game in some way. Two days later, after poking about with figures and looking at old blog posts and old rules, I decided that I'd now rather play what I like than worry about duplication, and apparently don't mind using the figures from 1812 and the 1840's together against enemies both historical and fictional, using the same basic rules I'm using for the 54mm Toy Soldier games, just set earlier with  close order formations and less effective shooting. That should make enough difference in the games to matter and be less confusing and easier on the brain and memory. Oh well, searching on labels and rereading old blog posts from the last decade was interesting and sometimes enjoyable as well as useful 

The 1812-1850 40mm figures have already begun being sorted, organized and based to make units (1/2 battalions or "wings") of 2 stands, each of 4 figures for use with the Model Major General  on the hex grid once a few more lines and modifiers are added and so on. Once all that is done, life and gaming continue with only a few gentle ripples.

So, hopefully some of something like this before too long.

I was a little surprised that in 2020 I had easily managed to table each of my Active collections  as well as all of my Reserve ones and at least one that had supposedly been retired. Since the original goal was to have armies played with and/or added to at least once in 3 years, I just remarked them all as Active. It is highly unlikely that I will be co-hosting at, or even attending,  any conventions this year so all together, the goal for this year is to play or paint what I feel like when I feel like it! That's probably going to be harder than it sounds but I'll give it my best effort. 

and I'm pretty sure there'll be more from this lot.

So.....what's up next...and after that? Why are you asking me?  Any suggestions in case I can't make up my mind?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Planning for 2021: A Retrospect?

 While I'm trying to herd a small flock of ducks into a nice row, here's a look at my look ahead  from 10 years ago (6ish months after my heart attack). I was a little shocked that some of it got done and is still valid! Luckily some of it is very outdated. (phew!

More on 2021 plans in a day or so but rumour has it that 'Hearts of Tin' as arisen from the ashes and War of 1812 armies and the 1830's soldiers & sailors vs pirate&rebels in the jungle, are in refit.

From the archives

2 Jan 2011

Strength Through Diversity: The Year Ahead

There is an old saying that no wind is a fair wind if you don't know what port you want to sail to.

It may not be evident from my blog (he says with tongue firmly in cheek) but I'm not a very tightly focussed fellow when it comes to my hobby (or other areas of life). I like to sample a bit of this and a bit of that. One of the consequences is that despite having painted thousands of figures in 8 scales and almost every period over the last 4 decades, I can't stage even a moderately large wargame on my own, say one with 2,000 miniatures, all appropriate for the battle in hand and with terrain to match.. Probably the closest I came were my 15mm French Revolutionary Wars armies but they are all gone now anyway.  For the last few years, I have been trying to convince myself that I needed to rectify that, without success. It strikes me that if that was really what I wanted to do, I'd have done it by now.

Part of a beloved 15mm project which was sold off in bits over the last 2 years once I decided that 15mm was toooo small after all. 

When I look at the 8 or 9 (or 12)  sideshows that I have "permitted" myself to indulge in, I see that  10 of these appeared on my gaming table in 2010 and 7 of them had new figures added this year. Would I have been happier if more of these parts of my collection had sat neglected on the shelf while I focussed on just 1? No, not really, I like to see "my guys" getting out for a bit of exercise and I enjoy each of the periods I dabble in (and then some). So, hats off to them as enjoy the focus and indulge it, my path is my own.

A failed project from 2003, 40mm 1st Shleswig Holstein War. It foundered first on having unwittingly bought 2 irreconcilable (for my taste) styles of figures to convert, Zinnbrigade home cast & Scruby both slim slightly old toy stylish which look best in glossy toy style and Sash & Saber chunky which look best matte and shaded. I do use them together still but still don't like it and am working towards separating the styles. The final nail was that the Zinnbrigade Prussians were wearing knee boots and tight pants I could have overlooked the smaller picklehaube and other uniform differences if they had had loose trousers but all in all they looked too modern and I was not toy soldier-y enough in spirit to over look it  at the start of a project.

I have also noticed that these days I don't seem to have the mental and physical stamina to really enjoy an 8 or 10 hour game all the way through and I have never been keen on picking things up after a night or week's rest. I like to start and finish a game in 1 session where possible. Now that may change as my health & fitness improves again but that can be addressed on that happy day. In the meantime, 1 or 2 big events per year will suit me fine and having those be joint affairs makes them all the sweeter as far as I'm concerned.

Chippewa in 54mm at Cold Wars. The first of several "bring your own" battles staged by a group of us from the yahoo LittleWars group. Held in 2000 if memory serves.)

So here's the objectives for this year:

1. Make sure every part of my collection gets to play and gets something added at least once every 3 years and that most (off the cuff lets say 75%) get played during a year.

2. Make more of an effort to diversify the existing collection, not by necessarily increasing periods but by having different styles of game as well as different periods. Where parts of the collection overlap in terms of period and style they should be compatible/interchangeable, for example my 40mm Indians were raised for the War of 1812 but happily serve in the American Rebellion as well as the French & Indian Wars even if they may not be perfectly accurate.

3. Include at least one large wargame  per year though this need not be solo nor held at home. The goal is to use a convention such as Cold Wars or Historicon as the focus of this.

A Table Top Teaser, Surprise! where 1 wing of an allied army defects.  Fought in my old wargames room c2001. 54mm using WHAB . My Macedonians, Ron's Carthaginians and Tom's Romans iir. 

Breaking down the 2nd point I want to be able to tick each of the following boxes, note that the boxes are not mutually exclusive and that each part of the collection will normally tick various boxes.

I want to be able to stage at least one 3 to 5 hour game in each of the following:

1. historical eras/wargaming periods:

  • Ancient
  • Dark Age/Medieval
  • Pike & Shot
  • Horse & Musket
  • Victorian Colonial
  • Age of Rifles
  • Mechanized Warfare
  • ( I probably "ought" to include naval and air games but won't except as an adjunct though I did once have 16thC fleets)
2. game styles:
  • single figure skirmish
  • Old School single figure Horse & Musket
  • element based game
  • historical refight of an entire battle
  • small unit action with platoons or companies as units
  • mid-level game with battalions or brigades as units 
  • army or corps level game  
  • more rigid, game style with a sense of beginning, middle & end with definite choices and win/lose criteria (the Chess with a 1,000 pieces approach)
  • open, process game where what happens and how it happens and the story that gets told is what it is about. (The Kriegspiel approach) (these last 2 are not absolute differences but questions of focus).   

Peter Douglas on a trip home to Halifax c 2002 taking the Emir's forces against the might of the British Empire. 54mm Colonial. Like the Ancients & WWII 54mm collections, most of these figures are now gone as well after deciding that 54mm was tooo big.

In terms of numbers, I hope to play an average of 2 "at home" and 1 "away" game per month. Some of the at home games will inevitably be solo.

Right, time to come back to the present!


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Ready For Inspection

 Well, its Sunday and I'd run out of excuses and distractions so I got back to my 1/2 painted Hat ACW unit.

Hat 1/72 ACW
Flag by

The trousers came out a little darker than intended but they'll blend in well with my veterans. With a better chair and a couple of good night's sleep, they were faster and easier to paint than my first go and will blend into my existing armies quite well. 

HAT beside 40 yr old Airfix veterans.

I think the next unit will join the Rebs

Friday, January 15, 2021

Cometh the Hour

 Cometh the game!  

Mind you, considerably more than an hour was spent today as I had to "reset and start over" thrice  because the official version of the rules had been misfiled while the various older, familiar variations had not been properly relabeled as retired and were thus mistaken for the approved one until tried. At last I got it straightened  out and the game quickly progressed. Once things were sorted the game took less than an hour to reach a conclusion. Just right for a small, quick, game using a small number of the available forces. In retrospect though,  for these scenarios, I  should double the number of cavalry  and artillery units like I do the infantry since in OHW all units can take 15 hits. It comes from playing Grant scenarios where scenarios call for cavalry units to be 1/2 the size of infantry units. 

The garrison, with their dice reflecting their training and zeal, swiftly fell back and  seized the hill dominating all routes away from the river while the rebels struggled to cross the river and form for an attack.

The artillery duelled while the infantry struggled to cross the river under fire and form for an attack and the cavalry hovered nervously and wondered where the heck their supports were!

The DG's Bodyguard, drove off the remnants of the Rebel cavalry but not without loss. They fell back as the Rebel infantry finally got formed and advanced.


As the main Rebel attack went in, the Dominion infantry started to suffer heavy losses.  

Finally, the Voltigeurs charged and drove in the Dominion's left flank.

It was a good effort but too little too late and as the last Dominion reserve counterattacked, the Rebels broke and headed back over the river. The battered remnant of the Dominion  forces watched them go and began to tend to the wounded.  

The version of the rules used was essentially the same one as was used for the last day of the larger Battle of Rawdon Gap in December and they again delivered the sort of game I want to play. Now I need to test their ability to   handle less straight forward situations. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

An Unfortunate Oversight

 The scenario for this week's game is An Unfortunate Oversight from Thomas' One Hour Wargames.

My version at the end of turn 1. To aid me in laying out the battlefields when playing OHW scenarios, I  marked out 9 sectors using dark green squiggles.

And here is the original for comparison purposes:

Red deploys first within 12" of the village. Blue then deploys anywhere "south" of the river.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Oh, Quelle Surprise

There will be questions about the failure to identify and defend a good ford so close to the occupied enemy town. 

But that's for later, right now its a matter of containment.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Stand To!

I was hoping to report on Sunday's remote A Gentleman's War game but due to a glitch I don't have a single picture so hopefully Rob will post something on his Sharp End of the Brush blog

Today was another day of domestic duties and I wasn't in the mood to paint by the time I was done. January is the traditional start of the campaign season in Atlantica so I decided to set the table appropriately, just to be ready when the time is right.

Patrols have reported signs of Rebel activity so the order has been given to the garrison of a small border post to turn out.

To be continued........

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Getting There

Its been a busy week but, determined to make progress, I decided to continue painting in smaller batches.

Not a great photo but it gives a general idea of the progress.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Training Has Begun

 Not a lot of hobby time this week but I've started uniforming the first regiment of Hat figures.

I seem to remember a time when 1/72 were much easier to see, stayed in focus and stood still to be painted, as well as a time when I could happily paint for several hours. Sighh....

Well, do or die but I think when these are done, the next unit on the table will be 4 glossy toy soldiers.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Not Quite, Gentleman!

 Well there I was on New Year's, a little tired after a week of indulgence and too much herbal tea (sighhhh), and  there was a messy table full of the bodies of zulus and British soldiers and seamen. It seemed only right to dismiss them to their respective homes. Then I had an empty terrain staring at me.......... hmm.... I wonder how this scenario would work in a different period with different rules?

Not Quite A Gentleman's French Revolution. Note the improvised Cycle track to tie AGW cycles to OHW turns.

It has taken a fair bit of thought and a few games to manage to balance A Gentleman's War's lack of turns to One Hour Wargames scenario fixed turn limits, but,  I think I now have a good method of doing it. At least it has worked for 2 games in a row. 

What I have done is count each sides cycles. When both players have played at least as many cycles as the scenario has turns, the game is over and victory is assessed.  To make it easier to track, I quickly made a little scoreboard out of foam core and used coloured pins to advance each side as they started a new cycle. Once the first player reaches the end, that side no longer needs to track cycles. Once the other side finishes their 15th cycle, the game is over. 
Casualties were high on both sides and at last the French got to recycle a unit!

Once again the game played well with a fair degree of uncertainty. That aspect reminds me of my old MacDuff rules though with more fiddly bits and modifiers. I really need to make some period specific Quick Reference sheets for the French Revolution and print them out. 

Magically appearing on the other road (Good thing most of the French were in the new universal uniform!) the column attacked, took 1/2 the town and then broke momentarily. The Skirmishers moved in to finish the job.

More important is that like MacDuff, it takes longer to play and requires more thinking, chart checking and dice rolling than most of my current rules, especially when playing solo. Playing more often would help but isn't likely to happen this year. I'm trying to resist doing a lazy man's set of rules for my French Rev armies to use at home. There are lots of other troops to exercise! 

The Grand Finale. Three French units were in on the kill. It was nip and tuck with both Generals in the thick of it but on the 14th French cycle, the last Highlander fell along with the British General.
Vive la republique!

The table has now been cleared and the question is: "What shall I play after I finish painting up my first unit of the new Hat ACW?" 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A New Year, an Old Battlefield

 Recycle, reuse, right?

I'm all set to try out the same scenario in a different setting: A Gentleman's War in the French Revolution.

But first, I replayed the Zulu game. It seemed to me that my last minute reversion to the old Square Brigadier play sequence had been a mistake. So I brought back my Model Major General sequence with a shared fire phase and played it again. It worked like a charm.

2nd to last turn.

This time the game lasted the full 15 turns and victory or defeat came down to the last die roll. The Zulus had over run the wagon laager and the Brits were down to 1 company of sailors, 1 hit away from extinction. The third wave of Zulus was just crossing the river but the Zulus still had one unit in melee. They scored the necessary hit but Col Hill once again stepped forward to steady them. (5,6 =cancel 1 hit, 1=leader wounded.) This time it worked. 

Damn close run thing! Maybe he will get that medal!