Thursday, April 29, 2021

We Are A Go!

 The decisions are made, the games are listed and I have a good supply of volunteers for the test games. Now I have some figures to paint along with other preparations.

For anyone interested in the whole event, you can see the listed games and sign up at


Game 1

Name: A Matter of Outposts

Game Master: Ross Macfarlane

Saturday  May 22: 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM 

Rules: With MacDuff to the Frontier. (French Rev variant)

Scale of Miniatures: 40mm

Players: 4

Game Length: 4 hours

Platform:  Skype

Format (Miniatures over Webcam)

Description: The armies of the young French Republic and a polyglot allied army have faced each other over the border for the winter but a new campaign season may open any day now. Political, National, and Professional goals are at stake! 
Game 2. 

Name: Frogs and Lobsters

Game Master: Ross Macfarlane

Date/Time:  Sunday May 23: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM EDT 

Rules: With MacDuff to the Frontier. (French Rev variant)

Scale of Miniatures: 40mm

Players: 4

Game Length: 4 hours

Platform:  Skype

Format (Miniatures over Webcam)

Description: There is a Royalist revolt in the west. The Royal Navy has dropped an army of Emigres and British troops to link up and sweep away the Revolution. What could go wrong? 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Call to Arms: Game of the Month Needs YOU!

 Upon finding out that the Maine Wargamers are planning a sort of on line version of Huzzah! since the usual convention can not be held again this years, I decided to volunteer to run one or two. 

I've played and hosted remote games but haven't GM'd a virtual multiplayer one before. Time is short and I need to decide what to run. This week I'll be busy upgrading lighting etc in my room and planning the games.  Here's where the call to arms comes in, a call for guinea volunteers to play in some pre-convention test/learning games and opinions on which games to run. 

At this point, the first game is set, having started French Rev armies in 40mm for a co-hosted Huzzah 2019 game, I am determined to run a smaller one in its place. Just need to paint a few more units and borrow some troops from the SYW, and design a scenario and a set of simple rules. Hmm I've just figured out that I don't have the time and energy to prepare two periods for this so I will do one or two French Rev scenarios using a simplified Hearts of Tin.

The 2nd game (if any) is up in the air. Since I am unlikely to haul the fragile Elastolins to Huzzah (though I might), a virtual Prince Valiant game is a top option but 20mm ACW is also attractive though I hesitate as a foreigner to take an ACW game to Maine :) (just kidding). The War of 1812 or SYW in America (F&IW to many) are also options. 


1) If you are interested in playing in a test game, please leave a comment or email me at .  Dates and times to be settled but tentatively 1 on the weekend of May 8/9 and 1 on the weekend of May 15/16. I would like to get 4 for each game but will settle for 2. I do have 1 volunteer already  and a few more local friends that I am waiting hear from, to but that leaves lots of room for more.

2) If you have a preference/opinion over choice of 2nd game, whether as possible participant of the real thing or just an opinion please let me know as I will consider opinions as well as my own consideration of period/scenario vs time and simplicity of unknown rules and what has attracted gamers in the past and might work over the net.

3) I know Zoom and Skype are popular along with other systems but Google Hangouts/ Google Meet is what I am used to my first choice. Opinions? 

Never a dull moment.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Battle's End

 I'm not quite back to my leisurely life but a man can't work all the time. An apology in advance for the poor picture quality today.

At the crossroads, the Reb's have overrun the battery and taken the high ground that dominates the cross roads. One more push and they might be able to breakthrough the thin Yankee line and cut the line of advance of the main Federal army or even crumple it  before it can deploy.

A balloon's eye view as the battle resumed.  It was hard to coordinate an attack in such wooded ground and the Yankees weren't showing any signs of giving up

With a Rebel yell, the line came forward. The flanks were stalled by heavy Yankee fire but the centre blew a hole in the Federal line and pursued into that troublesome Federal battery.
(Please note the approach of the new Hat Confederate regiment in the foreground  while in the distance, barely visible behind a tree, the first charge of the Black Hats has retaken the battery on the hill.)

The Confederates soon recaptured the crossroads and prepared for one last push.

On the Federal right, some bitter fighting saw the Confederates push forward and then stall while in the center, a Yankee counter attack inflicted heavy casualties and drove the Rebs back to their starting line. 
Already the dusk was gathering and with it came the head of the main body of the Federal army. Both armies had suffered heavy losses and the Rebs had forced the Yanks back, but they hadn't broken them. It was time to fallback.

I think we'll see the ACW boys on the table more often this year but I've put my name forward to run a virtual game for a Virtual Huzzah con and I have to spend time getting prepared. A game with larger figures and fewer trees for sure. I have a month to prepare but only a few days to figure out what I'm going to run!


Heads up: I'll be putting a call out for human guinea pigs in 2-3 weeks time so I can test my upgraded equipment and see what I need to learn about GMing a game for 4 remote players as opposed to a one on one game. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Hold The Road

 I decided to take a break today. Maybe a 'yay I got my first Covid shot' day or just an 'I'm tired' day but I managed to finish resetting my table with terrain that better matches the contemporary narratives that I've read. I also managed to finally grasp and write down a new rules approach for my ACW armies which has been rattling around the shadowy corners of my mind for a couple of years.

Waiting for the attack.

This meant a reset and 'do over' of the abandoned game. 

The quiet before the battle.

Five turns in, it appears to have the sort of feel I was looking for but its early days  yet.

The end of turn 5. Two assaults on the battery at the crossroad have been repulsed but casualties are mounting on both sides and the opposing lines are engaged along their whole length.

The end goal apart from enjoying pushing the figures about and rolling some dice is to eventually put together a new generic scenario. But, before I do that, I have to design and submit a game or two for a Virtual Huzzah in May.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Interlude: From the Archives

Life is still interfering with hobby, and I managed to find a better, contemporary map and another eyewitness account which have confirmed my strong suspicion that the table setup is wrong. Once I've had my Covid shot tomorrow, weathered any reactions (which seem to vary), and made more headway on year end tax preparation,  I'll tackle this delayed ACW game and move on! 

In the meantime, as a form of intermission entertainment, here is a pair of Pirate games from April 2011. Ten years! Some things change, some don't! 

First: The elemental (sic) version (Hearts of Tin).

then the follow up single figure reprise (With MacDuff to the Frontier)

Hopefully there will finally be a new game by the weekend.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

So, It Has Begun.

 Barely begun,  but I figured I'd rush and get an illustration  into the Sunday morning edition.

The first Confederate assault was stoutly repulsed but the day is young.


The Black Hät Regiment marches steadily to their first fight.

More to come when there is more to be reported.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

And with troops

The new growth of trees for my table won't be in place for a fortnight, and I'm knee deep in the year end books for my wife's business, but the table is as set as its going to be and I intend to play on the weekend.

Opening positions as the Confederate attack begins.
I had to nudge the terrain a bit to keep the plot while maintaining "one unit in one hex" integrity and relative battle line positions keeping in mind that the map is a modern 'moment in time' teaching conjecture by well informed historians.

Since my artillery park greatly expanded even as my table shrank, I am seriously thinking about doubling up my guns to have two per battery/hex. If it works I'll have to remount the guns and crews on slightly smaller bases, or at least trim them but I'll be able to use more of my existing guns more often and have room for more! So yes, I'm enjoying this!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

ACW Game Step 2

After a great deal of flaffing about with maps, scales, hex sheets and my table, I decided that there had to be a better way. Not only was I starting to spin some mental tires, there was also a metaphorical smell of burning brain cells.  

What I wanted to end up with, was a hex map with terrain and troop deployments marked on it. I had been attempting to compare, combine and transfer by hand to a printed sheet of hexes,  variously scaled ( and not scaled)  maps. My Chromebook and I are both a little behind the latest technology and lacking in CPU power these days and we won't talk about the various (censored) android devices available. I don't want to change my technology, except for an overdue but planned upgraded replacement for my Chromebook before summer, but do want to exercise my brain without straining it to the break point as I weaken the rust in the cogs. 

So there I was staring at a sheet of hex paper and various maps including the American Battlefield Trust one which had regimental positions marked on it and at last the light bulb came on. Instead of trying to trace it, why don't I just crop my downloaded copy, scale it and print it onto one of the sheets of hexes that I had printed? 

Easy peasy. Lets see how it goes...Oh..ummh...., I set up the battlefield with the Yanks against the wall Didn't think about that. Should have just put the Rebs against the wall. ...Sorry!

(Anyway I've at least flipped the map. 

Now my head really hurts. I was expecting the Yanks to appear in the back left hand corner, no wonder I was having trouble getting the battle field to fit on the table. Rotating the battlefield by 90 degrees to do that would have cut the room for the battle lines by 1/3. 

Not perfect but good enough for my purpose.
Did I mention that I need more trees? I wonder if I could get away with a mere 2 dozen more for now? That should give me 1 tree per woods hex. In the meantime I'm also using 2d woods hex markers.

OK, didn't expect that to take more than an hour but its a learning experience. Like re-learning how to read really faint, crowded, unlabelled contour lines which are buried in woods and how many more hill hexes I need to cut now that my unheated workshop is usable again.

Next, I need to add the troops, and re-re-re-write my simple rules. Given that no units were destroyed during a few hours of close fighting with heavy casualties, any rule inspired by modern games that routinely see units removed from the board as a result of a firefight, is going to need a rethink if I'm going to play scenarios based on real actions. Time to go back to some older methods.   

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This Hex Grid Is Getting Me Down....loading

As I started preparing for an ACW game, it came to me that I was getting off track.  The plan was to have my 1/72 ACW provide a different kind of game from the 54mm mid 19thC armies but instead,  I appeared to be heading full tilt towards playing one of my usual scenarios with my usual rules but with 18 little guys in a hex instead of 4 big ones.

I decided to change course by designing a scenario based on an historical ACW action. Having found a suitable one, I started trying to convert an old map from my pdf of Vol2 of Battles and Leaders directly onto the hexes on my table.  Arrrrgggghhhh!

I needed to make a map.......a hex map....

One map hex = one table hex, one regiment per hex, haven't actually translated it to the table yet. 

Which is where the downloading came in: 

Free printable hex sheets link

( )

So now, armed with a map, I  can start laying out the battlefield. 

Hmm, trees, more trees, and ...oh, of course,  more trees!  If I'm going to do ACW battles in 1/72, I'm going  need more trees!!! Still, the game must go on! I  have a plan, but that's for the next post, along with some consideration of rules ....

Saturday, April 10, 2021

This and That

As predicted, there wasn't much hobby time last week but I  did get 2 games in: the Prince Valiant solo game and a remote 1914 'A Gentleman's Wargame'. 

A cellphone snap of my view. Couldn't  figure out how to do a screen capture

It was good fun and a great chance to chat with and get to know long time internet friend Nick Stern better.

The Prince Valiant inspired game was based on the CS Grant Wagontrain scenario from Scenarios for Wargames which I believe is now back in print. It was also a test run of my latest attempt to adapt my Fall of Rome games onto my hex grid. 

I have made several attempts over the years to learn to enjoy single figure, semi role-playing,  'skirmish'  games but my heart and mind just don't seem to run that way. This time, I  decided to focus on a "board game" approach with fixed units on hexes but with simple rules that might be accessible to non-wargamers but still appeal to me. (You know, the sort of thing one.  could perhaps take to a seniors care home a few decades from now.)

Early days yet, and they aren't properly written up, but the feel of the game was good and I enjoyed it. 

I have already started re-sorting the Elastolin figures that I have painted back into fixed units but now of 6 infantry, 4 light infantry or 3 cavalry,  and planning a fixed maximum OB for each faction. 

I expect to see them appear on the blog more frequently this year but there are still those new ACW lads who have yet to see the elephant.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Adventures of Prince Micheal: Episode 22: Wagon Train


Duke Stephen welcomed his nephew home and praised him for his successes against the Huns. Then he asked if Micheal was ready for more adventure. In the morning he was leading a convoy south to the wall and could use a commander for the rearguard.

The convoy was in sight of the wall when the Picts and their Saxon allies struck from all sides. The Duke was in the thick of the fight and his men responded and fought stubbornly.

The fighting was fierce and bloody and the enemy managed to snatch some of the supplies. Micheal and his companions had to dash left and right in turn to hold off the Pictish cavalry which was attacking from the rear.

For a few minutes disaster loomed over the column but the soldiers fought fiercely and a rescue force of cavalry was beginning to make its presence known. Behind the column though, the rear guard had held off three times their numbers of enemy cavalry and given the convoy time to cross the hill, in the end they paid dearly for their exploit.

The Saxons also paid dearly as they strove to reach the wagons. When the bolts and arrows from the garrison began to rain down on them, they reluctantly gave up the chase.

Dearg Mohr drove his men forward until the wagons disappeared through the gates. Only then did he turn and retreat with the few spoils they had managed to grab.

It was only when the gates closed that Duke Stephen had time to look  for Prince Micheal. At last a soldier was found who had seen the last stand of the Prince and his companions. Reinforced by the garrison, a party went out to retrieve the dead and wounded. There at the scene of his desperate fight they found the wounded Prince pinned beneath his horse and playing dead until the Pictish cavalry had left. In short order he was rescued and assisted back to the great hall where a feast was being prepared.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Almost There

After a grueling trip, the convoy scouts could see the castle.

There was no sign of the enemy and the men were beginning to relax and think about cool beer and hot stew. 

Suddenly, a trumpet in the castle sounded the alarm!!


To be continued....

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Stage is Set

 The actors have taken their places.

When the sun rises, let the play begin!

Oh good, no Picts or Saxons in view, should be a clean run to the castle...........

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Suddenly a dense mist engulfed the battlefield

 The sounds of battle faded to an eerie quiet, then came the sound of a trumpet followed by the growing thunder of hooves on dry ground. 

The mist began to lift as a rider burst into the open....

It was like the viewer had been magically transported to a different time and place............  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Lost Opportunity

Well, I had a short amount of time this morning, so I headed for the game which was set up and 3 turns in. Then I remembered  that the plan had been to go grid free and to try my MacDuff rules on the small table. So I  reorganized the troops and started over.

The MacDuff game in progress. The cards indicate units that have activated this turn.

I messed up the scenario unit conversion and the arrival mechanism a little but the game was still OK. However, by the time the game was half done, the old card activation just wasn't  "doing it" for me anymore. So, I reset the game again and started playing with my usual rules.

It was going nicely but by the time I was halfway through, time was up! It was time to clear the table so I  could use it as a worktable to paint shelves for an expanded walk-in bedroom closet which I'm building.

I should have my table back by Sunday  and time to reset the table and play a game all the way through.  

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Somewhere in the NorthWest

Col Ross, mounted on his charger Prince, a Valiant steed, is in command of a supply convoy destinied for Fort Indakorner.

With the approach of the garden wargame season, I thought this might be a good time for my toy soldiers to leave the hexes behind and give a new revised version of With MacDuff to the Frontier a go.

To be continued....