Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Blank Canvas

 Well, apparently I'm not ready for a bigger French Revolutionary game just yet. Too many figures I want to convert and paint before I play. But I am ready for a small, quick, game of something. The question is:

Who gets to play?

Monday, March 29, 2021

From the archives: MacDuff in the American Revolution

 While we're waiting for a  game, here's  an ambush of a convoy from 2010. It is set during the American Revolution and was played solo using MacDuff to the Frontier.

See:  Circle the Wagons! A squeaker of a MacDuff AWI game from 2010 <Click here to see>  

Is it possible  that something  similar might be about to happen during the French Revolution? Might agents of the Scarlet Pimpernal be involved?

Friday, March 26, 2021

Winter Left Early

 Well, it had to happen sometime. Winter went from mild to over, several weeks early. The winter campaigning season is now, officially, over.

Right then gentlemen, I believe we are agreed. No fortifying or reinforcing for the next two weeks and no hostilities without prior notification. 

This doesn't mean a halt to all hobby activity but apart from the usual outdoor stuff, we are finally tackling an interrupted renovation. My games room is now crowded with evacuees from the war zone and my table has become a temporary sawhorse and work table but only for a few hours at a time.

So  gaming will continue but less often and only the smaller, simpler sorts of game for the next few weeks.

Right, back to work. Save our battlefield!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Not Just Whistlin' Dixie

 It was quick and dirty painting but they are table ready.

Hat ACW Marching Set 1 + Command

These figures would well repay careful shading and highlighting but a quick wash of burnt umber thinned with matte varnish will do for battle. (Semigloss varnish added for protection)

For comparison: To the right of the new boys (viewers left): a mix of Imex, Italeri and Airfix painted about a decade ago. To their left: mostly Airfix, painted 40 yrs ago. When I rescued them after a few decades thrown into a bin full of a jumble of unemployed 1/72nd plastic, mostly unpainted, I added a few Imex to fill out the ranks.

With TWO untested units, I suppose I'll have to set up a game now! 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Pursuit

For  Toy Soldiers, time does not fly by as it does for we mortals. For us, the repulse of the Rebel raid <link> happened more than two months ago, but for them, it was as yesterday. So it is that we find ourselves watching as the pursuit catches up with the Rebel rearguard.


At the Southern ford, the defenders put up a tough defence, holding off three times their numbers till late in the afternoon.

The situation near the beginning of the fight. The Rebel rearguard was tasked with delaying pursuit till nightfall. Leaving half their force to hold the ford, the artillery, Lancers and two remaining companies of infantry fell back to the line of a hill and two woods which dominated the exits from the defile. The Dominion force, having had to leave their artillery behind and the cavalry not being of much use in forcing the ford, had to use their slightly larger force of infantry to take the fords before their numbers could be brought to bear.

Eventually the fire of the Dominion's left wing forced the Rebels to pull back to a wood in their rear. This gave the Queen's men room to cross the marshy stream but also exposed them to the Rebel artillery. The Rebel cavalry moved forward to block any move to relieve their other attacking column but the sight of twice as much Dominion cavalry gave them pause.

Relentlessly Colonel Ross's infantry drove the Bluecoats back while Colonel Denison led his squadrons forward against Lagg's Lancers and a company of the Black Hats.

With the Redcoats pouring over the stream on his right and the Grey battalion reduced to a handful of men, General Lannigan ordered all forces to fallback to the hill for a final defence. There was only an hour and a half till dusk. If they could hold back the Redcoats till then, it would be too late for General Douglas to press his pursuit tonight, given the losses that he had already suffered. The remaining Rebels, veterans of many a hard fight, gripped their rifles and faced the enemy.

It was not to be. The Redcoats' blood was up. The Grenadiers could not come up in time but paused to pour in long range fire along with the NorthWest Mounted Rifles and the Victoria's. As the cavalry trumpets sounded the charge again, Colonel Ross ordered his regulars to fix bayonets and rush the canon on the hill. It was too late, there was nothing left but to occupy the crest and cheer.

 General Lannigan had already ordered a general retreat. There might be another place to make a stand and darkness was not  far away.


This game was Scenario 20 from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames. This involves a force which has to retreat across two fords then hold a hill at the rear until the 15 turn limit is reached. 

Since my table is larger, my units smaller, and I like the chance of an all arms force and don't use his rules, I double the number of units by rolling twice on the unit chart. The rules are the latest version of A Model Major General . The changes were minor in detail but major in effect and bring the rules I will use for various conflicts, from the Conquest of Canada up to the NorthWest Rebellion, into line with each other. 

I made one little error when laying out the game. To make it clear which hexes were fordable, and for scenic effect, I scattered various bits of "stuff" along the non-fordable bits as usual but since my container of lichen was hiding and I was already using plastic 'rushes' to mark an area of swamp,  I used more of them to thicken up the vegetation along the non-fordable lengths of the river.   

It was about turn five when I realized that I was treating it as blocking line of sight which wasn't intended. This was hampering the ability of the attackers to bring fire to bear on the defenders of the fords!  If the Dominion had rolled up a battery it would have been a serious penalty but I wasn't about to change the ruling part way through the game. At least it also protected the Redcoats from the Blue Artillery until they broke through so that made it fair in the end anyway. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Please Wait

While we're preparng the battle report....

Mostly 1/72nd Airfix behind some of my newly painted Musket Miniatures fencing.

Tomorrow: Rearguard.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

General I thought you said you were chasing a small Rebel force?

" They look pretty big to me!"

"Son, you ever report on a 54mm battle before?"

OK, this ain't a 1/72 ACW battle. The fence sections are done and the infantry have had a basecoat but.......that was all the sitting I had in me and I  was suffering from game withdrawal. 

The table is all set up, the first two turns have been  played and a late winter storm is forecast for Friday, so I 'm all set.   

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

OK, The Dragoons are done, what's next?

A number of years ago, having gone through a long phase  of using the same style of rules and basing for many of the various periods I wanted to game, I decided to change to having each part of my collection provide a different style of game. I am pleased to announce that the failure of this plan has been recognized and accepted and this goal has been repudiated! More than that, I am immensely pleased and relieved to say so!

The official plan is to revert to having a series of rules, each covering a series of wars that share similar weapons and tactics and which I will play at the same level. This approach allows me to borrow from adjacent periods without this being "contrary to plan".  As an example, some of the First Nations units may be used to fight against the British as allies of the French and later as allies of the British.  In a pinch, I can even officially excuse my habit of making up discrepancies in an order of battle by fielding units whose uniforms are 10 or 20 years out of date!!

The painting, refurbishing and rebasing of my Century of Conflict collections (1745 1st Siege of Louisburg to the 1848 Battle of the Windmill)  is still ongoing and will be for the next decade but "a change is as good as a rest".

More of the new Hat ACW figures and the first batch of Stone Mountain rail fences, glued at a 120 degree angle to conform to the hexes (more or less).

Well, a quick check of blog posts showed that the ACW is now the primary collection that has spent the longest time on the shelf since its last battle. By the time I get these Rebs painted I should have decided on a scenario.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Something on the Lighter Side

 When I started in on the War of 1812 in the mid 1990's, it was in 54mm, before my first trip to Cold Wars and just as the first trickle of new 54mm Plastics were appearing. I managed to convert 1 of the brand new Hat French Dragoons into a British 19th Light Dragoon. The next thing I knew I was waist deep in 40mm homecast figures and the rest never got done. 

Since 40mm 1812 is back on the table I decided that it was time for my New York 2nd Dragoons to finally have a proper opponent.

19th Light Dragoons 1814

Since my 1840's Heavy Dragoons (painted in 2011) are surplus, storage space is at a premium and I had been planning to convert some of the same castings to Light Dragoons, I decided to apply the refurbish, reuse principle. The result is not perfect in many details but it was all the conversion and repainting I wanted to do and they are quite serviceable as toy soldiers. Besides, I  like gaming with old friends.

Basic conversion done.
Repainting of the Dragoons only about to start.

Of course now the I'm getting official complaints from the US Regular Dragoons, Kentucky Mounted Rifles and the Canadian Provincial Dragoons, all demanding to also be represented.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

11 Years Ago Today

 I was at Cold Wars in Lancaster  PA, where Rob Dean & I were cohosting the last scenario in the HAWKS Not Quite The Seven Years War presentation of CS Grant's Raid on St Michel click to see all 5 games (5 posts in reverse order so scroll down to the start). 

The Final Game

Me in 2010, checking some scenario detail. (OMG Look at that hair!)

Last convention before my little heart incident 3 months later. Here's to a convention in 2022!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody dice today"

 Well, the final test game has been played. I'm not quite sure why the British lost the third game in a row, after all, its a simple encounter scenario, not favouring either side. 

The French had a hard time deploying so once again they stalled not even half way through the gap, leaving their light troops isolated.

Each game was close with the British gaining a superior tactical position by mid-game and then suddenly crumbling at the height of the fighting thanks to some of the worst dice rolling I've seen in a while.  The French were using the same dice and managed to even out the distribution by rolling low early on and then handfuls of 5's and 6's vs the British 1's and 2's at critical moments to achieve a minor victory. That's fate, kharma or just plain luck. 

The British fell for it and pressed forward with their right while unintentionally refusing their left even as they extended it to try and flank the shorter French line.

The revived mutual melee rule didn't last even the first round, (I rather partly blame/credit the subconscious influence of Neil Thomas for that but the routine randomness of the mechanic also played its part.

On the other hand, the old rally mechanism which I've been using since 2002 but which stems from my own MacDuff rules 10 years before that did confirm its place. So did the alternate 'move OR fire OR rally' sequence with more effective musketry at range 1 rather than a different mechanism. Since I can't think of any examples of opposing infantry crossing bayonets in an open field during the wars I'm covering, I have nothing to argue against the simplicity and apparent effectiveness of the method. When coupled with shifting initiative, an attacker is likely to suffer one or two close range volleys from the defender but if they wait until they go second they have a chance at getting in the first volley and if the enemy has been softened up by artillery or skirmishers before the attack goes in, well.....

So, once again, the online draft of rules has been adjusted to match how the game was actually played (see here). This is very close to the version I used for the 1812 game and the first of these Anglo-French games and that is how they will stay for the foreseeable future.  Of course around here the future is veiled, but at least until the next game, probably an 1812 one, whenever it happens.

And so, having succeeding in throwing 8 units vs 5, the British were swiftly routed.  
(I think I'll paint up a new British General using one of the new cavalry officer moulds...)

In the meantime, there is painting and basing to be done and that collection of Prince Valiant strips waiting to be read which will doubtless lead to more painting and maybe... 

Well, the crystal ball is cloudy, we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Right! ......Now, Do It Again!

By the time I had just about finished editing the rules,  I realized that I had pretty much recreated the rules I used for the January's War of 1812 game (click) .  

The refurbished French reenter the field. Shiny!

Well, thats not a bad thing. I had really enjoyed that game but had been unsure if all the rules choices had been the right ones for me. I've now reassured myself that they are right for me but that still calls for another game to confirm it. 
Oh! Those pesky Abenaki and Mi'kmaq have already found the English.

Still, it won't hurt to replay the same scenario again.  I find that playing the same scenario keeps the variables to a minimum when comparing rules. 

The rules may be found here <click>.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Well, the rally rule looked promising but the test game was just 'okay'. It was slightly different rather than better, and still not quite what I wanted and didn't feel worth a blog post.  I wasted a fair amount of time replacing the rally rules by a morale test only to decide that I  didn't really want to go back there either.

Well, when in doubt, paint! 

So, I  sorted through my box of retired French infantry, mostly painted for Europe, formed three regiments of two stands each and hit the books. A touch up on two of the quarters on Picardie's flag changed it to Cambis' flag, I restored La Reine's red cuffs which had been repainted blue a few years ago for an amalgamation into a Charge! unit, gloss varnish applied, 6 bases cut and painted, troops mounted  and there we are! (Well, ok the bases need a little work but they are functional, ) 

Six refurbished game units ready to rumble in America and a decision made on what to try next!

This will involve a step back towards Morschauser, Hearts of Tin, and the Square Brigadier.  Moving adjacent will again lead to both sides rolling for hits with a chance of one side or the other being forced to retreat. I guess I wasn't really ready for a change.

I  am  ready for another test game though!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Promising New Recruit

 One test game is not much to go on but this one was promising. 

After a lengthy approach march with several delays, the British force of 6 infantry, 1 light infantry, and 1 gun, are now engaging the French force of 4 infantry, 3 light infantry, and 1 gun. At least those were the starting numbers. Having pulled 15 cards from an ordinary deck of 54 (inc Jokers) I drew all 4!! Aces, each adding an extra unit to the appropriate side.  

It didn't take long to remember how much I hate halving casualties when the hits are few. Rounding down seems too harsh while rounding off generally means that half a hit as as good as a whole one. I decided to switch to halving the dice instead. Other than that, I was quite pleased with the game. It was fast and easy with my focus on battle plans rather than details, and just enough friction to make life interesting. 

I'm afraid the British had a hard day, the infantry stopped several times to adjust their dressing or something, The artillery's powder took a while to dry out and their light infantry obviously hadn't gotten the bit about hiding behind trees and were wiped out early on.  

After the game, it struck me that it lacked any possibility  of drastic results, everything was the long slog. Now as far as I can tell the long slog was common at this time and place but there were instances of sudden panic. Its taken some thought and exploration, including some of possibilities that I don't want to embrace, from morale checks to more complexity. In the end. I've chosen an old familiar, simple, option.
Still,  it became a hard fight with heavy losses on both sides. At the end, the British retreated with heavier casualties and having lost 3 units broken , 2 of them line infantry, compared to 1 broken unit of French light infantry.

The original draft included a version of my usual Rally rules but casualties didn't seem high enough to warrant it so I had taken it out. I have now upped the potential lethality of close range combat and brought back a rally rule which will allow broken units to retreat, attempt to rally and, if successful, come back somewhat weakened for another go or a last stand.

Oh wait! Does this mean I have to fight another game? Oh well, if I must.....

Here is today's updated version (click). (I'm still struggling to come up with a name. )

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Trial by Dice

I was raised (wargaming-wise) to believe that resolution of close combat (aka melee in OS terms) should have a mechanism that involves both sides and have a win/lose/draw result. I think Battlecry was the first game I played that did not have a mutual melee/charge resolution mechanism and the absence bothered me. At least an attack on an adjacent enemy was more deadly than long range shooting unlike some rules. Anyway, to shorten the story, I decided I should try incorporating some variation of the idea in my new hex based rules for the Conquest of Acadia and Canada, and the War of 1812 and test them.

The scenario is a simple encounter between equal forces with a slightly different force make up. I'll report on it when its done.

Anyone curious about the rules can find the rough draft here. (Updated 8 Mar)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Exercising the Little Grey Cells

Today I turned my mind to the new rules for the musket era in North America. It didn't take long  to get into the old cycle of adding colour, detail, and old familiar rules and then gradually taking them back out again to stream line them to suit the sort of short games on a smallish table that I am hoping and planning to play.

The 2nd half of the Royals have had their lace updated while the 2nd half of the 60th just need buttons and gloss varnish. That'll give me 6 game units of British regular infantry which will do for now.

I found my mind turning to the simplicity of Thomas's One Hour Wargames. They are too simple for my taste, especially the lack of tactical options. (eg Each troop type has only one tactic.  For musket era infantry, it is to shoot and maximum range is every bit as good as point blank.) The end result may be what counts but I want a bit more. Still, its got me rethinking some old ways and assumptions. 

Needs some testing on the table top.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Bit by Bit

 I managed an hour at my painting desk today so:

1st Foot with lace, 60th without

I now have 1/2 a battalion of the 1st Foot and the same of the 60th. Neither difficult nor exciting. I SHOULD do the other halves before I switch to something else...  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Looking Ahead and Back

 "If you can't go through, go around."  

My old fictional NQSYW 'Irish' Regiment (originally painted as the Roth Regiment in French Service) being touched up slightly to become toy soldier style battalions of the 60th or Royal Americans (L) and the 1st or Royal Regiment (R). 

One of my expressed goals is to reach a state where every part of my collection of soldiers and rules, would provide a different gaming experience rather than being the "same thing with different hats".  For example, if starting from scratch, despite some minor changes in uniforms, tactics and weapons,  many of the battles, sieges, and skirmishes in North America from the 1740's to the 1840's could be happily fought with armies and rules from the American Revolution or the War of 1812.  Compare the assault at Ticonderoga to New Orleans or the confused and prolonged close combat at Ste Foye to Lundy's Lane.

Some of my old 15's, from the early '90's I think. Possibly part of a small PBEM siege game I hosted.
The long boat is out of period, a Battle Honours Royal Marine landing party.

In an effort to get to a point where the figures I have get used and get seen or at least have a proper place to stay, I have managed to narrow my interests and find new homes for most of the "been there done that" or "built that to face the army of a friend who moved away" etc collections. 

More of my old 15's: Minifgs both strip and later, Roundway, Frontier, & Freikorps.
The fort was build from thick cardboard by my friend Dave Wilson.

One of the real sticklers has been what the hobby calls the French & Indian Wars, not a term that was used a lot when I was growing up in Montreal. Its not one of my favourite periods for wargaming, too few pitched battles suitable for table top games and no cavalry but its also the period that shaped the land I grew up in and once I had moved to Nova Scotia, the last war that saw significant fighting on land in the province I live in. So it keeps coming back.     

One of Rob Dean's mostly homecast F&IW games, (Cold Wars 2001ish?) using With MacDuff to the Frontier. 
A tactless comment by me about the kilt on Rob's prototype highlander conversion (part of the group just visible in the bottom left corner of the picture) was what triggered my sculpting and home casting interests. Its a long story of the "be careful what you say at 2 in the morning after a 12 hour trip full of delays and detours until rescued by a friend" sort but it ended well in the long run.  

A majority of the figures it the last game had been painted for the fictional Not Quite The Seven Years War campaign but I had begun my armies for that with each company painted as an historical French battalion, the fictional regiments came later. I no longer have a big enough table for decent Charge! battles and have more units than I can use at home or take to join in a club game at a convention so I am going to keep a fictional contingent for travel or the occasional scrap at home and do the minor touch ups to turn others into reasonably historical toy soldier units for my not quite historical fight for Acadia and Canada. Just to cover my bases though, I will convert each Charge! company into a 2 company Battalion for use at home, just in case the call comes for them to take the field as a company in a composite Charge! regiment one day. 

A example of the result of that comment. Some of the Highlanders that I converted from Meisterzin castings,which were then spin cast for us some 18 or more years ago.  I painted up 3 companies of Fraser's (based on now discredited sources) for Rob's and some for myself, now converted to the French Revolution. There are still more in the drawer though!

Right, time to get back to work.