Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Backdoor

The Dominion Government had a problem. Despite embargoes, road blocks, and patrols, it was becoming increasingly obvious that arms and ammunition were making its way to the Hunters and Q'ree rebels, not to mention the Hunters who had slipped through the other way to join the Rebel army at Rawdon Gap last December. The Intelligence department had come across tales of a pass occasionally used by trappers and traders leading from the northern hills of Origawn to a pass north of Great Sloy Lake.

A mobile column of 3 mounted squadrons supported by a detachment of Horse Artillery was ordered to check it out. As they approached the crest of the pass, scouts came galloping back. Rebels in the pass!

Initially all that could be seen were some pioneers at work, screened by a few cavalry, but soon more infantry crossed the crest and deployed, followed by a light mountain gun.  

The Mounted Rifles and artillery deployed and opened fire while the cavalry spurred forward. Bullets and shells were soon flying back and forth and men began to fall.

Charge and countercharge raised more dust and excitement as the fight flowed back and forth until the Grey Horsemen were forced back.

It did not last. The rebel horsemen managed to rally back and their next countercharge scattered the bodyguard. 

Badly outnumbered now, the Government forces had no viable option but to retreat

Friday, July 30, 2021

Another One Rides With Us,.....

Having decided that, on the whole,  I did prefer slightly fewer but slightly larger units, I've started to upsize the few companies/troops that were never painted to the 6 inf/4 cav standard.  One of these was the Rebel Black Horse. I didn't feel like breaking out my casting pot for one head and I didn't want these rebel horsemen to look too regular anyway, so I looked in the Bin of Heads and pulled out a kepi to put on one of the few remaining spare Crimean Hussars.  

I had had great plans for an outdoor game this weekend. The Boss is  off to a dogshow (finally-its been a lonngg Covid ...) , so I'm in charge of the 2 remaining young puppies as well as the rest of the crew. The forecast had been promising for putting the 2 young'uns in the 6 foot chainlink exercise yard I made for them in the front yard, quite near to the scene of last July 4th's battlefield which would allow me to play and monitor.  

Assault on Noreast Ridge. (battle report)

Alas!.... Weather! Frailty is thy name!  Its been pouring most of the day with promises of more to come over the rest of the long weekend so I'll have to get the table cleared and then set up over the next day or so and then play a game inside while the pups are napping. (Humphrey is going through an Indiana Jones phase and has been teaching himself how to scale a wire exercise pen that is twice his "stand on 2 legs" height so I need to keep a close watch on him when he's not napping in the smaller pen which has a lid. )  

So, it may be smaller and without the panoramic view, but a game will go on before the weekend is over!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Time To Stop Running

With the Rebel army pretty well organized, I turned my attention to the Dominion.

'A' company ready to go.

When I ordered my first Guard moulds from Castings over 20 years ago, I  was thinking "most versatile pose", so I got a Guardsman at the "Ready" who could be about to "Present! FIRE!" (OK by the book once the present was ordered the soldiers were supposed to lift their rifle, aim, and then fire without waiting for another order but ......). I  also bought the only officer mould, a running officer, sword in hand. Sighhhh. I did convert one standing Guardsman to an officer but also put up with a running officer with standing men.

I should have taken a 'before' picture. The v shaped cut was in the front, the straight slash in the back. When the leg was straightened this was reversed.

Today, I was sorting through the Faraway troops, making up 18 man battalions, when it occured to me, with Blum's manual  still in mind, that I  had learned how to handle this long ago but seem to have forgotten! So I hauled out razor saw, exacto  etc, made a V shaped notch on the front of the knee which had to be straightened, and made a thin cut in the back of the knee joint and then gently straightened the leg,  filled the gaps with putty then touched up the paint.


Not perfect, but it only  took a few minutes. I have this awful feeling  that I may find myself doing more of this stuff again.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ready To Take The Field

It was a busy weekend of the non-wargaming sort but I managed a few things.

The reinforced 2nd Origawn Infantry drilling.

Apart from the 4 new figures and rebasing a score or two of older ones, I also typed up several basic quick reference versions of the rules: on grid/off grid, morale tests vs rallying hits, 12 figure battalions vs battalions composed of  3 or 4 companies, each of  3,4, or 6 figures, and so on. These are all variations that I've  tried over the last couple of years, in various combinations, so reviewing old blog posts  allowed me to assess many of the pros and cons of each. Luckily, some of that 'work' was able to be done while minding puppies in the new outdoor pen or 1/2 watching tv during evening family time with some of the hounds. 

The new mixed with the old.

At this time, a 2 sides of a page set of rules using many MacDuff features and battalions with 3 companies, has been printed and are ready to be tested at the first opportunity. This should come somewhere between Tuesday and Saturday. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

A Beginning

The second book (booklet technically) that I learned conversion and painting from in my pre-wargamer days in the early 70's, was Peter Blum's The Model Soldier Manual. 

It was illustrated by Claude Risley. (Which probably explains why the  drawings are all of ImrieRisley castings. Note the identical ACW  uniform to my marching fellows and the arms which also appear on some of the figures that are currently on my painting desk.)
It was from the text and these b&w line drawings that I learned to convert and paint figures. None of these full colour, step by step, plates for the young me!

I forget what I paid for the booklet in 1970, a couple of bucks perhaps, and have no idea what the equivalent would be in today's dollars, but it led to hundred's of hours of enjoyment and satisfaction. Money well spent indeed!

Today I didn't have hours but I had enough minutes to begin the un-shaded shiny toy soldier painting style that I am now imposing on these model soldiers. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Just Like Old Times.

Its raining today! Hooray!

Back around 1969/70,  before I became a Wargamer, inspired and informed by Henry Harris's book "Model Soldiers", I started converting and painting my old toy soldiers into display models and making little vignettes. So, it is always a pleasure to get back to chopping, gluing, puttying and generally individualizing figures. 

An officer with three more privates for the 2nd Origawn Infantry. These will deploy as skirmishers for the marching battalion when required.

These figures are all based on the same multipart Castings moulds (now sold by the Dunken company, a company well worth supporting.) The basic ACW body bears a remarkable resemblance to  the old line of Imrie Risley kits that I spent so much time dreaming about as I browsed the catalogue and occasionally managed to fund so I was hugely pleased when I was able to buy these in the late 90's. Other bits and pieces came mostly from two of the Castings Coldstream Guards spare arms moulds but the officer's head was an original homecast piece gifted to me by an e-friend from the old Little Wars email group years ago. 

Enough of that, the glue, putty and primer should be dry by now so...let the business of painting begin!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Summertime And

Finding Hobbytime  ain't  easy!

What little 'me' time I have had has allowed me to do a bit more re-basing back onto the washers and to take a closer look at the pros and cons of several organizations and ideas that I've been contemplating including  what impact each option might have on what extra figures would be needed and whether or not they would work on my smaller table. 

The Blues Brigade.  The Black Hats deployed as a heavy skirmish line with supports in line and the 2nd Infantry in march column.

The urge to go back to a MacDuff or Charge! style organizations with several Companies making a Battalion or Regiment has once again been squashed as that would work best if the rules were made a bit more complicated than I want, the games would tend to be longer, and would benefit from having table made bigger again. Instead, I  will stick with my  also traditional 12 man regiments with the ability to throw out skirmishers.

Every bit counts! Things will get easier in August and rules and armies  need to be ready  for a fullscale outside trial by combat!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Maintenance of the Aim

That was one of the main Principles of War that I was taught in my military college days. 

One of the principal hobby goals that I adopted when I retired  was that each part of my collection should be used AND each part should provide a different sort of game.

A brigade of two battalions, 1 in column, 1 in line, both with skirmishers out.

To counter this aim, I have an ingrained urge to take a successful rules and organization approach,  and adapt it for multiple periods. Naturally this tends to make the games a bit  "same-ish" as well as sometimes pushing a set of rules beyond what they were meant for. 

So......... despite how well the various Square Brigadier variants play when used as intended for small games with minimal tactical detail,  they don't always work so well if used for larger games. 

So, I'm taking another stab at designing simple rules that can handle units of say a dozen figures, spread over 3 or 4 hexes. Its early days though.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Reorganize, Re-uniform

Having narrowly lost several hard fought battles, it was time for the Army of the Origawn Republic to fall back, regroup and reorganize. 

The Black Horse, raised in the NorthWest, the second senior cavalry regiment in the army, and now the senior regiment of the 1st NorthWest Cavalry Brigade, leads a march past in their new coats (of paint). 

There had long been a tendency towards an unofficial division of the army into North-Western and Eastern regiments. The Joint Committee now ordered that this division be formalized and that to ease logistics, only the Eastern Regiments were to continue wearing Oberhilse Blue uniforms, while the North West Regiments were to all adopt the Grey or Drab uniforms that were already popular amongst the Volunteers from that region. 

The war was not over yet.


Postscript: For those who are curious why I actually bothered to repaint the coats and hats, there are three main reasons.

Firstly, I would like to have an option to use these figures to play a small 54mm ACW game, probably with a guest. Since I've run out of room, adding more 54mm cavalry units is something I'd really like to avoid, especially since there are piles of 40mm in the queue for several other eras.

Secondly, I want to make it easier to tell the two Division/Brigades apart when packing up or laying out. The plan had been to leave the two Blue cavalry units alone and add a second Grey/Butternut unit but then the idea of a lancer unit came up and I  needed someome for Captain Jinks to command,  so I ended up with three Blue and 1 Grey cavalry unit. Rather unbalanced.

Thirdly, and most importantly, when I painted them, the plan was to continue with the historical fiction setting witha  late 1870’s Canada and US border clash on the prairies. So I painted them like US cavalry on the plains. The problem was that whever I look at them, with their buff hats turned up in front, I think "F Troop". (60's historical sitcom) Despite their successful and dashing career, I  just can't  shake it. 

Now all those issues are sorted with 15 minutes work!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

An Attention Divided

During our last remote game,  Rob mention that he had ordered some boxes of A.C.T.A. ECW figures for a small, low level game.

Irregular Miniatures (iir)

During the late 1990's, another friend and I had started painting up ECW when the range was first released. The CF had seen fit to post him to the other coast and that was that. I eventually sold off the ones I had painted but it occurred to me that I still had a few unpainted ones, so I offered them to Rob.

A Call To Arms 54mm

Then it occurred to me that I wouldn't mind painting up a few of them up myself without building an army. Besides, it would help him get a game on his table all the sooner.  Hmmm,   and maybe on my computer screen as well. It might be interest to command units I had painted on his table without the long journey.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Please do not adjust your set!


Normal service will resume shortly.

Friday, July 9, 2021

It Was Like Thunder!

Then I realized it actually was thunder...Huzzah!  No yard chores this morning! Drummers! Sound the long roll! Forward the Dice!

The first charge resulted in a bloody repulse.

The second charge saw a prolonged struggle but numbers prevailed.

Firing was now general across the entire front.

When the centre gave way after heavy casualties and his right was turned, General Lannigan swallowed his instinct to counter attack the stronger enemy force and ordered a withdrawl. They could keep their damn hill and crossroad.....for now.  


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Finally The Hour Had Come

The Queen's army had been posted, ready for action, for days while negotiations with the Rebels over the rules of battle and a convenient time continued. Across the narrow gap they stared at the old enemy while they cleaned their rifles and sharpened their bayonets.

At last, couriers from HQ approached!

"Colonels! You are to Stand to and form your Battalions! As soon as the artillery opens fire, the Grenadiers, Rifles, and Footguards are to move forward and assault the Rocky Knoll."

The troops fell in, the guns opened up and the enemy answered. The battalions stepped out. 

Suddenly the battlefield fell silent again.

"General, would you be so kind as  to take my baby  puppies to their outside pen and supervise them for a few hours while I attend to important matters of state? .  You can do a bit of trimming the grass, weeding etc  and preparing for the forecast tropical storm if you want as long as you stay close with an eye on them." "Yes'Ma'am, my pleasure Ma'am".  
(May not be an accurate word for word transcription of the conversation.)

Ahh well, its not every year I have puppies to play with on a sunny summer day and this might be the last litter. Its been more than 40 years and 9 generations since Iggies were new to me and old Jack discovered that his mom had finally found an acceptable man servant for him.

Young Italian Greyhound pups at play.

Besides,  toy soldiers are VERY patient.

Sunday, July 4, 2021


Well here I am. Today was the 11th anniversary of my relatively mild heart attack and I'm in better health now than I was before it. Part of me thinks its time to let it go but part of me still thinks its a good idea to remember.

Anyway, despite Covid, its been a good year with almost as many non-solo games as usual except that they were all video-chat games. I  expect a few local games by fall.

Today's game came to me from Delaware, USA: MacDuff in the Not Quite Seven Years War.
(Oh alright, Rob and I fought to a draw. A small game with big figures, somehow that's become my favourite style. How did that happen?)

The original idea was to use this annual post to look at what I plan to focus on over the next year but rather oddly for me, I'm quite happy to just keep doing what I'm doing and to continue pimping up my troops and terrain, adding a few bits and pieces here and there. At least I think I have now accepted my new preference for smaller armies of larger toy soldiers as a regular feature, with the occasional bigger battle with smaller, model figures to remind me that I was once a serious historical wargamer at times. 

It was the end of June, nine years ago that I first started thinking about using 54mm figures in units of 4 infantry and 3 cavalry on a 4" hex. Apparently  it still seems like a good idea to me.

OK, enough babbling, on to the game waiting on the table!

The counter attack!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Hard Decisions Are Made

The armies are deployed. Now comes the waiting.

Morning finds the opposing armies rested, reinforced and ready to go.

Rolling the battlefield back by 2 or 4 hexes was simple enough until I realized that the optimum shift was 3 hexes which was actually 3 back and 1/2 sideways. This was okay for houses and woods but was tricky with some of the multi-hex hills made of  various bits but I got close enough for my purposes.  

Rather than fiddle with the next day strength of each company, I brought all companies back to full strength since the hits are primarily fatigue, fear, ammo etc but subtracted 1 company from the worst hit regiments on each side.  

A wider view.

I've also done a fair bit of thinking, and revisiting past versions of my proposed rules for this period as far back as 2013, including stated intent as well as practical issues, and revisited some of my  sources and past battle reports with comments  on what went wrong or right. 

My firm intent has long been a fast, simple, game of toy soldiers to enable battles which remind me of the 1st hand accounts  that I've read of small actions from the 2nd half of the 19thC, without getting bogged down in tedious consistency and detail. The evidence is that many of the attempts were too finicky, too bland, or too tedious/repetitive/boring in play without capturing that feel, or were too generic or vague. It is some of the in between versions  of the  Square Brigadier that focused on the feel rather than the detail that have been most satisfying so I've wasted time, something that I luckily happen to have a fair amount of,  screwed up my willpower to overcome habit and expectations and, perhaps most important, have  squished my brain into a shape which allows it to see that some simple rules which are not strictly 'how' or 'why' processes manage to give a game with the right feel and narrative for me. 

So I'm going with in the same rules as in the last game with a few minor tweak to return certain process to earlier versions because they made for a better game while getting more or less the right feel even if for the wrong reasons. 

The proof will be in the playing.