Monday, January 31, 2022

For My Next Act

 Reaching into my hat I pull..... 

40mm mostly Prince August homecast bodies with my original heads.

..... 4 of the old regular army and 4 of the new "Les Bleus". These will bring the other two battalions of my demibrigade up to their new strength of 16.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Done In One

A win! In-between shifts of snow shovelling and baking cookies, I got the 4 figures painted. (Not exactly a top notch job but they're done and match the first twelve.)

The Regiment de Brouille on parade at full strength at last.

I had meant to do one figure as an nco with the colours but I was nearly finished when I saw the flag pole lying on my desk. Oops, I'd given him a musket....oh well, I hadn't found a record of what the emigre colours looked like anyway. 

I also haven't found any mention of the drummers' uniforms. Did they follow the British custom of facing colour coats? Most of the Emigre coats were essentially red copies of the Austrian coatees rather than copying the British style so maybe he should be in a red coat. I finally decided to go for reversed colours, but the regiment doesn't wear lace so should the drummer have the usual lace? Well, sometimes less is more.

These castings are fairly crude but seems to fit the toyish painting. 

Now for another artillery crew for each side, a couple of mounted officers and more French infantry to flush out the two remaining twelve figure battalions to the new establishment.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Who'll Take The King's Shilling?

There are rumours of another face to face game in the near future. Plans are afoot......

Corporal! Assemble the new recruits!

The Regiment de Brouiller will soon be up to its authorized strength.

Monday, January 24, 2022

And This Will Be The Last Day!

Well, the past 10 days are finally done and so is the game. Life is beginning to return to what passes for normal here.

The day is drawing near its end. There is no hope now of driving the Yankees from the field but the whole Reb army is on the field and their defensive perimeter is holding.  That's General Kinch, the Confederate Commander, on the big round base consulting his staff about the best way to hold on and renew the battle in the morning. 

I started out to use an off grid version of the rules I used for the last few hex games. That was working but I had an urge to inject more flavour and granularity to the regiments so tried a more detailed set based largely on my old Hearts of Tin rules. That was also working well and I was enjoying it until I realized that it was taking about an hour to play one turn. With a 15 turn scenario....... well, I don't have the stamina for that these days and the feel of the game suffered from only having one or two, occasionally three if there was not much happening, turns in a day. 

In the end, I decided that since is my only collection capable of fighting a large action, I should stick to my plan of having my acw armies being capable of being used in the largest battles I can fit on my table in a long afternoon as well as shorter one or two hour games using smaller forces in between the occasional larger game. That would also give me the availability to play some campaigns where units on the map all have their miniature version. The sort of thing where I could perhaps recruit some volunteers to play commanders for map moves and then fight the battles over video chat facilities. Lots to do before then but maybe by the fall or next winter. 

First I need to turn the 1 page and bit quick reference sheet into something close to a proper set. I apologize to those who were expecting to be able to download a set this week but it will be coming now that I have reconfirmed the approach. I just need to explain thiungs and add all the devils that are details. Could take a week or a month or two depending on how the winds blow.
Moments later the Yankees launched an attack all along the line, including 2 fresh brigades of the 2nd Division. It was too much for many of the tired Reb units who had been under heavy pressure all afternoon. Several regiments broke. In the centre, Caesar's Zouaves finally seized the Blue House, and captured a battery of guns to boot.  

I also have to revisit my unit base marking system to make it easier for me to be able to recognize a stand or unit quickly and easily at arms length. Sad to say but with my current markings, where complete, I often need to change glasses to be sure I am reading them right. Something easy to paint and easy to read at arms length is needed. 

I want more, and more clearly recognizable, marker figures for units status, morale status etc. I like casualty figures, buglers, sergeants, officers and so on. These can be used to mark unit status, disorder, hits, and so on, I have spare figures  to use for these so its just a bit of painting and basing some more and coming up with a batter arm's length id. 

Then there is the growing need to record more names/numbers for the units and commanders and mark their figure so I can be consistent in battle reports and start building up unit histories.

On the far right, Brigadier Standing's Brigade of fresh troops crumpled at the first Union attack. General Kinch felt that only a quick retreat over the bridge while he still had enough steady troops to hold a perimiter, was now the only way to save  his command from being trapped against the river and forced to surrender. 

Lots to do and I'll be starting this week but the next ACW game is probably at least a month away. The next game will of course be sooner but even I don't yet know what it will be.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Movie-ing Right Along.

Progress!  Today I had time to work on the rules and play several turns. With the last of today's 'me time',  I made a short video of the game currently on table. 

(What to expect: Static table,  with the camera occasionally panning across the table to show what I'm talking about, when I remember, and a commentary that doesn't start as soon as I thought and occasionally disappears. Apparently I can walk and chew gum but panning and talking are sometimes a struggle).

There is a lot of learning and growing for me to do, but that's good for keeping the little grey cells alive and active. Better equipment would be nice but that's one of those compromises that came with very early retirement and I  still consider that a good trade off and one of the best life decisions that I've ever made. Learning how to make better use of  my current equipment and available software will be a good first step anyway. 

Meanwhile, during the first half of the game I've been able retest each of the various rules approaches that I've tried over the last decade, on or off grid.  To my relief, the approach I had finally settled on for my grid is also the best approach for the kind of off grid ACW games I want to play.  


Thursday, January 20, 2022

News From The Front

 Not much news but its news!

General Taleri's 1st Division has made a hole in the Rebels' left flank. Reinforcements are rushing to fill the gap but there has been some sort of accident on the bridge and two Reb Brigades are stalled on the other side. 
Hmmm, all that powder smoke seems to have effected the photo!

To be continued......

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.....

 "Creeps in this petty pace"  and so Exit MacBeth and back to the ACW.

The Infantry engage.

By now, its obvious that this is never going to suddenly turn back into the quick afternoon game that I had intended, its going to be played out several turns a day for a week. This makes writing up a battle report a little hard and I may need to play another game when its done, just to scratch that itch. (Its a hard life.)

Apart from hours of shovelling snow and chipping ice and so on,  some other domestic duties are eating my time. Still, if I'd had my revised off grid ACW rules buffed up and ready to go, I might have been finished by now. These poor blighters were the first to go onto the hex grid and now they are the last to come off it and I've had to figure out what sort of approach I wanted to take to get as many figures on the table  and still be able to play in a reasonable amount of time while still being able to play some satisfying small actions with the same rules. 

The 2nd Confederate Division arrives on the field.

I'll leave all that for after the game, but I'm 1/3rd of the way through with a good chance of finishing up tomorrow if all goes well. If I'm as happy with them after the game as I am at the moment, I'll share them and write a post about the whats and whys, then reset the table and play another ACW game, hopefully all in one go!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Suspended Animation

 Well, what a weekend!  All the uninvited challenges, including a dash in the dark  to the pharmacy, through ice pellets followed by snow, to pick up a new prescription for my wife on Friday and digging out on Saturday and Sunday through thigh high snow drifts and -20C temps, have been met and handled successfully, for now. In addition, I managed to play 2 more turns!

Not what I had in mind for the anticipated quiet weekend but that's life. "Its all good" as a friend of mine would say. 

Reb's Eve view of General Taleri's command arriving.

Not having a scenario in mind, I started rummaging in the terrain boxes and drawers, pulling out bits that "spoke to me".  Before long, a river crossing with a reaction force marching on suggested itself so I started adjusting the terrain to match the idea. The armies are marked to form brigades of 3 stand units so I started with the cavalry and diced each turn to see what appeared (as in I am rolling a die needing to score =< the turn number for another infantry brigade to arrive).

Bird's eye view of the 4'x6' battlefield at the end of turn 3. The measuring sticks are to give an idea of scale. The black and yellow stripes are 1" wide on an 18" long stick as are the blue and red stripes on the other, 12" long stick 

The Yankees need to eliminate the bridgehead to win, the Rebels need to break the Union army and be in a position to push on into Union territory. Anything else will be a draw.

To be continued,

Friday, January 14, 2022

Duty First

Family matters preempted my game today.

OK, I did manage 1 turn.

In the unlikely event that the howling winds of this 18 hour over night snow storm don't knock out our power, the game will proceed on Saturday. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Up Next: Battle of Daniel's Crossing

Tramp, tramp, tramp the boys are marching. 

The Rebs have stolen a march on the Yankees and seized a bridge over the Lil'Phoam River.

Thank you all for  your condolences. 

Since my friend John had been an avid Civil War reenactor as well as a wargamer, I decided I should get the boys in Blue and Grey out for a game in his honour. 

An overview of the field of battle as the Yankee cavalry arrives on the high ground across the field.

If all goes well, there should be a battle report by Saturday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Another Empty Chair

A few days ago I received the sad news that a friend of some 25 years has passed away.
John Daniel at Cold Wars early this century, playing in my 54mm 1812 game using my newly written Morschauser inspired rules (eventually Hearts of Tin), wearing his habitual smile and having painted up a unit to help swell my ranks, since history, helping people and smiling were some of the many things that came naturally to him.

I haven't seen John in a few years since I haven't been farther south than Maine and his health has prevented him from travelling as widely as he used to, but we have always stayed in touch. He is one of only two of my American  wagaming friends who have had me for a guest at their home, and one of only three who I have had the pleasure of having  hosted for game at my home in Nova Scotia. 

John was an avid re-enactor, (iir  he's somewhere in the mass of Union soldiers at the assault on Fort Wagner in 'Glory' as well as others,) and he often offered to kit me out if I came to visit during the reenacting season. I would have loved to have taken him up on that offer but time, distance and affairs at home and work always got in my way.

Good bye old friend, we were blessed by your presence here and I am sure your spirit somewhere, is marching on. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

And Now For Something

 Almost completely different:

A botched up, impromptu, stop action, 3 part video battle report, my first ever. Obviously a bit of planning and preparation, a script, and mastery of the software and hardware tools would all have been of benefit. 

This morning Rob from the Sharp End of the Brush blog and I, played a test game using discord. There is no proper battle report but it went reasonably well for a first go, 

However, for various technical reasons, I have no pictures to share, hence the improvised experiment with about 30 seconds of planning and preparation, not even something as basic as writing a script.  I also had some technical glitches like hitting stop instead of pause or not hitting the pause properly, thus exposing the hand of the Friendly Giant at work. Dispite the technical glitches, I did not have a precise record of specific unit's actions but over all it reflects what happened in this game that was up in the air right up until the last turn.  

Due to those stops I ended up  with 3 videos and no software that I could find on phone or chromebook that would let me splice and edit the videos. 


To be honest they weren't really worth editing but it was kinda fun and I might be tempted to do a properly prepared one with a script after having the right tools on hand and a better idea of how to use them.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Now That the Fog Has Lifted A Bit

Having had my 3rd or Booster anti-Covid shot on Tuesday, the after effects yesterday, including a rather fuzzy brain, meant a rather unproductive day. Still, one must do one's duty for community, family, and self so I don't begrudge the 1/2 lost day or the result of trying to be productive with a fuzzy brain. 

After a long pursuit, Lord Rosius, Satrap of Ballimont, caught up with the remnants of the Roman expedition. He had an uncanny feeling that he had been here before, in a dream perhaps, or another life? He shook his head, muttered a prayer and ordered his troops to advance.  

Today I'm more or less back to par and had a quick replay of my watering hole scenario using the updated, fog-bound, version  of the Gathering of Hosts rules that I had worked on yesterday. It went OK, fast with some tough decisions and moments of tension and choices outweighing luck, but obviously the rules were nowhere near ready or complete. Even I couldn't quite follow them and had to improvise.

The Hunnic mercenaries seemed rather reluctant to tussle with the Romans when not under his direct eye but their attempts to flank the enemy helped force them back sooner than they attended. If the mercenaries defending the watering hole would hold, he could wipe out this band of brigands!  

To skip over the details, it still feels like the right path for me to get to where I want to be, but they need a helluva lot of editing to make sense of them and I need to expand them with nice clear troop capability charts. I also need to guard against some bad habits such as tweaking things to conform to a pattern at the cost of a reduction in flavour and tactical options, and unintentionally hiding stray rules in introductions or thinly related places leading to questions like "what the hell was I thinking?" and "I thought I had...". 

It'll help if I go back to pairing simple core rules with army lists giving unit stats including any special rules, rather than working with generic movement and combat charts with scads of modifiers. Luckily I still have copies of several of those from the early versions of The Gathering of Hosts.      

The mercenaries put up a stern fight but the Roman infantry cut them to shreds. The fighting in the centre had also been fierce and bloody for both sides. There was still a chance that one last charge could crush the Roman scum.

Lastly, I need to focus on the aim: simple, flexible rules, clearly written, which can be easily adapted to various "Shock Era" (to use Joe Morschauser's term), armies.  The resulting games should be quick to play with the emphasis on tactics (in the general sense) and a contest of wits, spirit and luck, between the players, with enough colour to inspire a story. 

Alas, it was not to be. The Huns declined to do more than shoot while on the right, some barbarian knight in Yellow, an ally or mercenary perhaps,  charged out with a few companions and slew one elephant while spooking the rest. With such a Hero, he could have won he thought to himself while ordering the trumpeter to sound the retreat.  

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Winds of Change

A new year, always as good  a time as any to revisit things. 

The Satrap caught up with the Duke before they reached the oasis. A running fight ensued. 
PS: For those who haven't noticed, if you click on the pictures you will get the large version.)

There was a time that I was all in favour of having just a few basic rule systems with adjustments for various periods but for much of the last decade I have been struggling to carry out a proposal to have a different style of rules for each collection of figures. This led to far too much time spent tweaking and re-tweaking too many sets of rules for too many collections (I refuse to say projects since I have no formal plans and no  goals beyond enjoying the process where ever it goes). 

The Roman cavalry managed to hold back the enemy's light cavalry but the Roman infantry had to turn and fight their pursuers before they could attack the Oasis. The Roman archers however, kept themselves busy by shooting arrows into the trees, the bushes, the pool....anywhere except the enemy! 

I don't "do" resolutions but do often think about time past, the present and the near future.  Last year I finally started on reducing the number of collections and figures my plan showed as active. Having been reluctant to let go of yet more beloved figures, I have been trying to get as many of my current collections as I could onto the table each year. Alas the only way to get anywhere near to that goal was by constantly changing horses with the usual result of not being able to really "get into" anything or get a proper campaign going, because I was always "flipping the channel". 

Casualties mounted on both sides but the Romans could not seem to get closer to the oasis.

For the the pre-musket era that Morschauser called the "Shock" period, I had three sets of figures and three sets of rules. The Elastolin Prince Valiant figures seemed to call for skirmish rules since I didn't have any. I don't really enjoy roleplaying or skirmish games as much as battle games, so I've struggled constantly with this! 

To be honest, I'm much happier just playing a simple conventional game and then using my imagination when writing up the blog posts to turn the game into a tale, adding motives, colour and so on as I write.  

For a time the balance hung by a thread but at last the Persians were starting to waver and the Duke was able to order a cohort of legionaries to clean the mercenaries out of the oasis. The Satrap decided not to risk an assault with what remained of his force.

So,  I have decided to  roll the clock back 5 years and resume my intention to use an updated version of the Morschauser inspired Gathering of Hosts rules to serve for the 25's, Prince Valiant and my 16thC 40's. 

Having played this scenario with constantly fluctuating rules, I'm now updating the rules to cover all three collections ranging from the 5thC to the 16thC as well as medieval fantasy which is how they began 5 years ago.   As soon as that is done, I'll replay the scenario.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

And Now It Begins Again

 Happy New Year! Now, let the 2022 Gaming Season begin!

New Year's Breakfast Interrupted! The mercenaries guarding the oasis turn out.

The Duke, with Prince Micheal back in the saddle, and what remained of his army, were close to escaping into the mountains but they needed water. An oasis lay ahead, but glimpses of bright colours and the glint of steel showed that it was guarded. Behind, the Satrap's forces were close on the Duke's heels.

to be continued!