Friday, April 29, 2022

At Last!

They're a bit rough around the edges but the armies are again ready to rumble.
Well, some of them anyway.

And its supposed to be yet another rainy day tomorrow! Game ON!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

While We're Waiting - Battle of Blast Off Ridge 2008

I've been doing some refurbishing, reorganizing and rebasing of two small forces and should be ready to play tomorrow. In the meantime, this battle report was recovered from my old (pre-blog) website With MacDuff on the Web. It was played our old place on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia near Halifax in 2008. Its the same locale, time and figures as the game in my header.  I've forgotten whether Les and I used  "Charge!" or a version of my old "Hearts of Tin" rules.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Sar'nt-major! Get These Men Formed Up!

I'm Done! Tomorrow is a 'me' day. It could be a good day to get back to poking at the table with a paintbrush but I'm keen to try the table out. While trying to tidy up at least some of the mess and clutter at the same time I rearranged furniture and table, I was reminded that I had one collection that was in limbo, waiting for a decision as to whether they would stay active or be pensioned off.     

The troops are once again shuffled to conform to new rules and a new organization. 

In theory, they should be disposed of as not fitting the 'Grand Plan', and seeing little action in the last few years but.......they've earned their spot over the last 2 decades. 

Scenario 15 Battle Report from "Playing through the Scenarios for All Ages (The Red Book)"

They are on the blog header, are in 9 issues of the Noodle, including some of the best issues, featured in many of the games in the "Playing through the Scenarios for All Ages (The Red Book)" and have been getting out at least once a year, most years anyway. 

Hunting down a Pirate Lair by Air (Balloon Borne landing), Land and Sea.
 (Early Edition, Full Battle Report)

More than that, they are also close to my heart and were my first glossy toy soldier style figures, so, they will stay and will have the honour of "First to the fray" on the new table top. They just need to be reorganized and tidied up a bit then a scenario designed or picked.

Their last game as reported in the Newport Noodle in January 2021.

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Inch By Inch, Row By Row

Lots of detailing left to do, but the table is at least useable now.

The French Rev armies weren't planned to work with the grid but they kinda like it.

There is a 3" wide strip  on the northern side (viewers left) due to the table being 48" wide. Originally this was going to be against the wall and could be used for backdrop scenery or for off table troops nearing the edge. When I turned the table, I contemplating splitting it between the two sides or using it as a base for a backdrop panel but decided to leave it be as it would be  easy to add a 2" extension if i found that 9 squares by 12 squares wasn't quite enough

Cutting and repainting hills to fit the grid and colour scheme should start this coming week but I'll probably test it before then....

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Things Are Beginning To Turn Around

Its been a busy few days for many reasons, mostly seasonal, but I  made time to almost completely rearrange my multipurpose cubbyhole. The table lost a foot but I can now access two of the longsides again for the the first time in ... well... a couple of  years anyway.  I also have my old painting desk back and space to move around the room. 

Having turned the table on myself, I'm well into the process of shrinking the grid to make it bigger. (‽)

Still lots to do before things are finished, but the progress is encouraging.

If the Boss ever lifts the Quarantine on the house, there'll even be room for a guest player or two to face me across the table for the first time in well....years!


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Incident at Square Crossroad

As the Dominion column moved down the road towards their objective, the silence was broken by the roar and pom-pom-pom of the Oerberg artillery. 

The armoured car halted and poured forth a hail of machine gun bullets in attempt to silence the enemy but their cavalry escort was cut to pieces with the dazed survivors forced to gallop to the rear to reform. Behind them, the infantry began to deploy at the double.

As the infantry advanced, they were met with a hail of rifle and artillery fire but the Dominion artillery was soon in action, silencing the Oerburg guns and driving the defenders back from the fence line at least.

The Orberg artillery withdrew their gun behind the crest and redeployed in time to open a murderous fire on the Dominion infantry advancing on the village. At the same time, the deadly accurate rifle fire from the rocky hills had Ross's Rifles pinned in the open. 

If the Dominion had had another battalion of infantry or a full regiment of cavalry, they might yet have cleared the way to the vital crossroad but as the sun dipped towards the horizon, it seem wiser to maintain their force in being and try again in the morning if indeed, the enemy did not slip away in the night.



When reading about the sort of late 19thC, early 20thC engagements that interest me, especially when reading first hand accounts, it is hard not to notice that it was common for infantry under a heavy and accurate fire to go to ground and return fire. Periodically they might make short rushes towards the enemy if well led and of good morale, often to be pinned again but were sometimes able to work close enough to eventually close with cold steel. 

Ever since I started using the Square Brigadier for such engagements, I have usually included some sort of "pin" result, something often used in WWII games, but always the games ended up being long, indecisive, and all too often, as boring as lying on the Prairie or Veldt as bullets whizzed over your head. This became a real issue when I was preparing my centennial WWI game for Huzzah 2018. Eventually, I ended up giving up a "pin" result and resurrecting a "rally" action for units not closely engaged. This allowed players to try to remove a hit as their action instead of moving or shooting. It had the right result as far as stalling an advance but was heavily dice dependent and so wasn't as attractive or effective as it might have been. The same could be said for die modifiers for cover and for saving throws, sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't, all depending on the dice. Lawford & Young's Charge! used a simple 1/2 casualties in cover, a technique as old as Kriegspiel. However, they were dealing with big units and lots of hits and weren't afraid of a bit of mid-game arithmetic (A company of 13 infantry shooting at a close range enemy in cover roll 1 die plus 5/8ths of a 2nd die, divided by 1/2 for cover with fractions rounded off then carried over. )

For some decades now, I have tended to use die modifiers instead. These reduce the probability of any given die hitting but not the maximum number of possible hits. A few lucky rolls can easily convert cover to completely irrelevant, especially if rolling small numbers of dice. Recently (say 3-5 years), inspired by Battlecry, I have instead experimented with subtracting dice for things like cover and it seems to be working for Square Brigadier variants at least. This does not affect the odds of any one die scoring a hit but does reduce the possible maximum number of hits regardless of how lucky you are that day. 

When it comes to being pinned, I have decided to let the player decide. Once per turn he can cancel 1 hit by going to ground (being pinned), and this being unable to move or shoot next turn. Units with higher morale can risk taking the hits while rather shaky units will tend to stall easily. 

It seemed to work well in this game as in a few others recently played with a version of the Square Brigadier from a few years back. It lacks a lot of the hedging of bets that tend to creep into my rules when I get lax, but seems to give the best games. It does, however, mean that one must careful about having too many modifiers leading to no chance of any hit or even more deadly fire against targets without modifiers. Its a balancing act.

Since my recent reductions, I only have two remaining collections for the late 19th and early 20thC period (say 1870-1910) (ie the shiny 54mm toys and these 40's) so the tentative plan is to chuck all the other tentative SB variants and alternative rules, and just revert to this latest variant of The Square Brigadier (link) as my rules for this period, which is where these collections all started! I'll need to ensure that all the relevant troop types are covered but keeping in mind that the later period are balancing magazine rifles with drab uniforms to get a similar effect.  

That will of course mean playing more games to confirm the decision. Oh well...needs must! 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Fierce Fighting On The Frontier

Dominion forces have been ambushed at Kloth Junction!


Details to follow.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Pregame Conference (Amended)

"Gentlemen, thank you for your presence. I've been asked as a Neutral Observer to confirm that you are both aware of the result of the Joint Committee's Review of the 2019 rules for The Great Game and have been given a copy to review?" "Yes? and Yes?" "Good! 

"Shall we have a picture of this conference for the record?"
Hopefully, you have both had a chance to review the changes, understand them, and agree to play according to these rules. Are there any questions?....Yes, Colonel?" "Yes, this is just an amendment of the rules used at the affair at the train junction at Missisjones Junction back in '19."  "Colonel, Weren't  you were in charge of that fias-oha-hmm-hrrum... well, never mind that."

Link to 2019 Battle of Missisjones Junction

 "Yes? General Oom Bob?"  

"Hmm well, you are right General, the Oerberg government have no responsibility for or authority over these Kapelle villagers whose allies you are, and cannot make promises on their behalf. I did approach their Village Elder but he says his people are farmers not soldiers and know nothing of rules. Brigands is more like it but we won't hold their behaviour against you, though if I might say it, you might choose your allies more carefully".

"No other comments? Well Gentlemen, you may begin your battle. For the public record, I'll attach this agreement to the draft of the rules which have been agreed upon. " 

"uhh One minute please Gentlemen!" ....... "Hmm, yes, I see, thank you Captain" Gentlemen, apparently the draft has been rejected by the joint committee. Best stand down your men and we will reconvene in the morning."

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Here They Come

 I thought I'd give my early 20thC Colonial figures first crack at the 5" grid maybe because they've used it before, or perhaps because its been nearly a year since their last outing

Either way, the winter campaign season is officially over which means it might happen soon, or maybe not for a week. Pleased stay tuned!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Well, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time

I knew I was never going to have room for another 6'x10' wargame table, but I was pretty pleased in December when a 4'x6' tabletop dropped into my lap, as it were.  

Alas and alack, trying to reach the middle seems to get harder every day, it doesn't have enough grid squares in depth,  and the damned thing is always in my way when I'm not playing.  Out of curiosity, I started looking to see how many games actually used the whole table in the three and a bit months since I installed it.  Out of the 8 scenarios I've played on the bigger table, (some of them several times), exactly none used the whole table. None?!? So, I started to look farther back to see how often the entire surface of the preceding, slightly smaller, bits and pieces tacked together, table had been used. I gave up looking after 2 years.  At most, reinforcements moving onto the table travelled all the way from the edge rather than appearing just behind the frontline. Oh!

A mock up of the proposed 9x12 grid of  5" squares, ready for testing.

A search farther back in time showed that there had been a time when the whole table was frequently used, and sometimes crammed with figures. Possibly, being in my early 50's then rather than creeping up on 70, and not yet having become a solo player, might have had an effect on that. ...Sighhhhh. 

So, I thought about how to make access to the middle of the back of the table easier, how to reduce the amount of running back and forth during a game, AND how to make the table slightly deeper than it is. Thinking about the 3'x3' Practical Wargaming layouts, a grid of at least 9 x 9 squares seemed like a good idea. For a brief while I contemplated chopping a bit off and adding on a strip at the back but luckily my brain woke up before I did any damage, and suggested laying out my 5" gridded cloth to see if 5" squares would give that extra row of squares and work with all of my gridded armies. Yes they will!

My current grid is 12 x 8 6" squares on a 4' deep x 6' wide surface with some of the squares being very hard to reach. The proposed plan will give me a 12 x 9 grid instead on a table 4' deep x 5' wide. (with a 3" border at the back for scenery as a backdrop)

Now to play some games to try it out.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch....

When I broke out my fictional version of the historical Metis (the descendants of marriages between of First Nations women and mostly French and Scottish men who had worked in the fur trade in one capacity or other) for my North West Rebellion, I realized that I hadn't reorganized them from their original 3 figure units into the current 4 figure Cavalry or Mounted Rifle units. I started looking in the spares box for some bits and bodies with which to make another figure.

54mm Britain's conversions + 1 PA Cowboy (kneeling w butt on ground

When I came across one of these large 40mm (probably over 45mm if he stood up) PA Holgar Ericson cowboys. I noticed that his hatted head looked like it might be big enough to fit on a kneeling guardsman  to add some variety but when I set the two figures down, side by side, I realized that while he's a little smaller, he was not unnaturally smaller. He was more like, lets say me next to Rob Dean or many other people. (Remember, many of the older Britain's were just over 52mm). It was even less noticeable because he was kneeling, as are two or his neighbours. Sounded like a quick and easy answer and it was.

Of course I need some standing horses to remind me that they are Mounted Rifles, not Infantry, and.......  

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Haddington and a Re-Post From the Archives: A Man-At-Arms for All Seasons

I was pondering a post giving a bit of the history of my Anglo-Scots wars in 3 scales over the decades, when it occurred to me that I might have already posted something on it. Sure enough, checking the 16thC label on the right hand menu I found a brief one from Dec 2011. It was short enough that I just appended it to the end of this post. (Mind you on that same list was the 2010 New Years Eve Anglo-Scots game so I had to stop and look at it too!)  

However, before you get to the repost,  here are scans of some of the prints (Yes, we hadn't all gone digital yet.) of the 2005 Relief of Haddington game taken by co-GM Rob Dean (Sharp End of the Brush blog) with a bit of commentary. (Some of these may have appeared in my article on it for Issue 2 of Battle games Magazine if you have a stack of old magazines that includes it.)

Saturday morning, waiting for the players to gather for the first play through. (We hadn't been able to have a full test game partly because we didn't have a big enough table and partly because we had barely finished building the fortifications in the two days before the Con!)

Who the heck was this tubby young feller in Rob's backyard? Only 17 yrs ago eh? 

And here is the result of those two mad days.
(Well okay, not all day each day, we fitted in some partial play tests and a LOT of talking etc)

Just a favourite shot of some of my guys. They don't look as tired as they do now.... 

The Relief of Haddington game which Rob Dean and I ran at HMGS Cold Wars in 2005, did not win its Best in Show award  for being the most beautiful game, with the best painted figures in the current style and diorama like terrain (because it wasn't any of those). Partly they rewarded us for running something other than the usual, and because of the fun being had by the players, some of whom played more than once and some who shared their command with a friend so they could both play although all 8 spots were taken. 

It was also awarded as an example of creativity, originality and imagination, things that HMGS likes to encourage. Things like practical homemade terrain, simple but effective homegrown rules (inspired by Joe Morschauser's classic 1962 book in this instance, right up there with Jack Scruby as one of the fathers of wargaming in North America),  and for the originality of the armies ranging from converted homecast figures, some from commercial moulds, others from homemade moulds of original sculpts, and even some figures converted from old toys from the '50's and '60's!  (The commander of my French Gensdarmes is my oldest serving wargame figure with over 60 years of service!)

Late in the first game, the French cavalry finally appeared on the field (bottom left) as the convoy approached the gate, well, assuming they could clear out the remaining force of French infantry in the ruined town and hold the Scots infantry back from the wagons.
During the next two games there were no pictures since one us had to answer questions from onlookers while the other GM'd the game.

(btw the English won through twice and even took the siege lines in one game and sacked the French camp,  while the Franco-Scots manage to block  the convoy once). 

Well, I could probably have assembled and primed and maybe even painted 3 more pikemen in the time this look back in time took, but it was fun for me. Hopefully it wasn't too boring for every one else! 

(btw there are 50+ posts under the 16thC tag on this post or from the suggested groups of posts on the right. I think it may be time to trim the list again to make it more useful.

And here is a  "repost" of my December 14, 2011 post touching on my Anglo-Scots wargaming background:

A Man-At-Arms for All Seasons

Opposing Border Horse. Homecast from a Meisterzinn conversion on largely Zinnbrigade horses.

The Early 16th Century is one of those periods that is on my Short List if I ever had to choose just 1 wargame period. It has all the attractions of what Morschauser called the Shock period, pikemen, archers, 1/2 naked barbarians with big swords, axes shields and  javelins (yes those would be my ancestors on my father's side) as well as the classic Knight in Shining Armour. But it also has the muskets or arqubuses and cannon and the professional soldiers of the Horse and Musket period. It can also give some of the Classic East meets West,  exploring the unknown, and technology meets tradition of Colonial gaming when Turks and Cossacks are thrown into the mix, not to mention Aztecs and Cannibals as Europeans cross the Oceans to the Americas and Africa.

Its also a period that I have rather neglected for the the last 2 years. In part, that is because rather than seek out just one period, I have been tackling aspects of all those other periods, which makes it a bit redundant.    

Bills, Bows and Cannon. The English guard the gap. A mix of converted homecast figures and my own original homecasts with 1 lone Irregular. The English gunner in red is actually a Prince August semi-flat 18thC gunner with one of my fully round heads. The head seems to make a big difference to how these fit in.

This is the third 16thC Scottish wargame army I have built. The first one, from my college days,  was based around a Heritage (supposed) fantasy range taken directly pose and all from Almark's book on Flodden. Then during the 80's, a friend, (you KNOW who you are), knowing I had 25mm Scots,  started on Henry VIII's army in 15mm. Now, its hard for a Scot to see an English army left without opposition so I raised a 15mm army based on Pinkie. How I then found myself sculpting 40mm 16thC Scottish and English troops while this century was just getting its legs, is another tale. Old habits possibly. By rights, I should have been by sculpting 16thC Turks to face Rob's Imperials. However, the 1547 Haddington campaign was the first step and now I have small English and Franco-Scots armies.

Having only a smallish Scottish force and only slightly more English, while both Rob and I can now field Landsknechts and Gensdarmes,  the next logical step was Henry VIII in France.  For some reason, since deciding on that course 5 !! ??? years ago, I have produced a grand total of 2 painted Gensdarmes and 2 1/2 painted ones, 8 Landsknechts, and 3 sword & bucklermen. I think more games are called for, nothing like playing a game to inspire painting. I'm hoping that our combined forces will take the field at Huzzah in May.

Seemed a shame to take down the table after only 1 game.....

(End of repost)


Monday, April 4, 2022

Painting a Flower

 A Flower of the Forest that is!

The first painted Triguard Miniatures 40mm Scots pikemen.

Yes I know, two years ago, after the last Anglo-Scots wargame, I said that I was going to focus on Henry VIII's campaigns in France and not add to my Scots. Well, it's not my fault, I didn't start a Kickstarter, I don't even remember how it came to my attention, and after all, it's designed for The Bruce's campaigns! However........they were such nice sculpts, and after all, some bits of armour and fashion either stayed fashionable or were used by those who had to go with granddad's old helmet.

The Triguard figure on the viewers left, my decade old original homecast figures (apart from the officer's stolen head) on the right. A....'slight' :) difference in quality of sculpting but these are some of the first that I did from scratch.

So, I poked about a bit and found that they were going to be added to the  Triguard catalogue who are the new home of the lovely but big Trident AWI figures that I had enjoyed painting a decade ago, as well as Vanguard Medieval's. That gave me hope that this would be a reinforcement that wouldn't make my home sculpted & cast figures look like giants.  They are still a head taller than my castings when they are standing straight but then most people are a head taller than me and more heavily muscled so that doesn't bother me. The heads are a similar size which is what one really notices. I can remember when we would have to doff our headgear indoors and if they went on a table, it was hard to tell the small hats from the big ones till you put one on without checking the name inside and it came down over your nose! 

Of course, they are even more like Darby and the Little Folk when they come up against the Elastolin's, but the English Channel can keep them apart.

So........16th C Scotland is back on the menu boys! I have enough of the new figures that once mixed in with a few more of my homecast ones, I'll have enough Scots for my needs, after all, the plan was never to refight Flodden or Pinkie but rather to set scenarios during the decades of raids, ambushes and sieges.

A quick look at some of the bits and pieces. Some of them came with separate heads and my homemade 16thC wallets fit quite nicely so I will use some of them to help them fit in even though the faces aren't as well done. The green guy was my original Highland archer master whose mould broke early on. He was so much taller than everyone else that I just left it but I might fix him up a bit and make a new mould.

Ok, looking at that pile, and my current rate of assembly and painting, and the need to add some more English, despite my quick paint method,  it's going to take a while for me to get them all table ready, and then Triguard has some Islemen, gallolach etc in the works....but I don't need them all for every game so I'll shoot for sometime in May.