Saturday, September 23, 2023

Long Ago And Far Away

I had an email recently from old long time friend Simon MacDowell (author and wargamer, amongst other things: see Legio Wargames website) which included a photo he'd taken during a recent visit to the Fort St. Jean museum at R.M.C St. Jean ( C.M.R or College Militaire Royal de St. Jean as it was known when we were there). 

Soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres building the first fort at St. Jean in 1666.
(diorama built in 1973)

Now there is nothing really extraordinary about the diorama except that I made it in 1973! The figures are converted Airfix (ahhh good old low heat soldering iron, paper, plastecene and glue!) I find it hard to believe that it survived and is still on display.

That was when I was a '1st Year' cadet (meaning it was my 2nd year having been a 'Prep' the year before) and a member of the museum club which was working to establish a museum. Well, made it with some help from then new recruit Simon which led to wargames and 5 decades of friendship (so far, not done yet). 

The museum was eventually opened and accredited, and I was the 3rd Cadet Curator. In the latter part of the 20thC, sometime around when the Berlin Wall came down and history and wars "ended", the Canadian Forces shut down two of the three military colleges and the St. Jean campus was used for some senior officer courses and I think various civilian courses and possibly for sports team training, Anyway, once it was discovered that there were going to be more wars after all, the St. Jean campus was reinstated as a military college  that was not only bilingual, but also bisexual, well, no, that's the wrong term, coed is better, but call it what you will, looking back at 5 years in my teens and early 20's when the only females were a handful of antique waitresses in the mess and a couple of secretaries and a librarian.....sighhh....  

But I digress,  the museum had been preserved and when the college was reopened the museum was as well, in a larger setting with a much bigger budget judging by the pictures! I'm hoping to get there in person some day and see what they've done with the place where I grew from kid to adult, and see what they've made of the little museum that a small group of cadets put together half a century ago.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Renovation Time

 I'm going to be running my Syrian game at a local event next week. Having decided to go back to the Square Brigadier, I decided to update my motley collection of adobe buildings. Most of them had been done last century for 25mm Colonial games with a few newer ones meant for the 40's. None had been designed for play on a grid using figures on 60mm square bases,

So, with some chopping and modifying and some new  additions, I have a renovated village.

Another town, another battle.


Stay tuned.

Friday, September 15, 2023

First Battle of Edgeton

It was easy enough for the English under the command of the Earl of Belmont: "Gentlemen, we have no need to concern ourselves with some Scots on a hill, we will go straight at that town and those guns.  For the King, for England and St. George, FORWARD! 

But for the Scots, with three  prickly Dukes, each with their own contingents and their own idea of who should have been appointed commander of the army, it was more problematic. Everyone had agreed that the guns  should be placed beside the town with a clear field of fire and that a town was no place for cavalry. Argyle argued that Douglas's pikes would be the best defenders for the town. Their long spears turning the hedges and improvised barricades into an abatis while their armour would help protect them in hand to hand combat. Douglas naturally answered that the terrain would disrupt the pike's formation and make then vulnerable, especially if the treacherous English flanked the town and that if the Highlanders did not have the discipline to hold defences, perhaps the barricade could protect the archers while they shoot down the English until relieved. Home backed that suggestion and offered to move his cavalry against the English first but Argyle insisted that if his men were first to the fray, Douglas's men should at least be second.       (For those not familiar with the scenario, the Scots may only activate 1 unit on the hill, until it is destroyed, then another unit may be activated.)  

On such infirm ground was the Scots plan rooted.

Douglas, reluctant to risk all of his men at once, led his own schiltron forward to tangle with twice his number of enemies.

At first, all went well. Argyle's archers shot true and though lightly armed, they held the barricade against twice their numbers, confident that the main body of Highland warriors would soon relieve them. However, across the field, despite having fought bravely for so long, Douglas's men were reaching their breakpoint and the gunners which had done such damage had at last succumbed to an arrow storm.

With loud cries of "Huzzah" and "Saint George" the White Coats finally surged over the barricades and chased the last archers from the town. Hoping still that he was in time, Argyle finally led his clansmen forward.

The Highlanders fought hard but already the sun was sinking, earlier than anticipated (wild cards shortened the game) and the order came to fallback, leaving the Lowland town to the English.


I've only played the scenario once before, back in 2015 when I had been gifted with a copy. I decided not to look at that after-game report until this game had been played. (see: ACW Botched Relief Game, 2015). I couldn't even remember if that had been a good game or a flop, turns out I had enjoyed it.)

This time around, the game started off quite slow after the heated solo debate over which reinforcement unit to activate (see above). A fairly prolonged melee, and an artillery bombardment were the only active thing until the English white coats got to the town, then stalled. The Scots pike were doing better than expected (darned dice) and suddenly I realized that the Scots pike units were not only the slowest units, they were also the toughest units, meaning their prolonged fight was pinning all of the other units on the hill.  By the time they were finally broken, the Highlanders (rated as light infantry for speed) barely had time to reach the village  and make one desperate try to retake it when the game ended, (two turns early thanks to 2 "turn over" chance cards, ie jokers). 

That left me wondering if my original plan of putting the Highlanders in the town and sending out the cavalry first, might have been better? Well, there's only one way to settle that sort of question..........

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Now The Hurley Burley's Done

The Hurley Burley, and the game as well, but, I've been too occupied with preparing for the next retired hurricane (aka post-tropical storm) to come roaring in from the sea this weekend, to write it up yet. 

So, just a peek ahead. The rest should be posted sometime Friday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Reinforcements Have Arrived Sire

Just in time. There will be a battle in the morning!

Scots Pike from Triguard (apart from the Blue Bonnet. ) Archers are 3d printed from Day of Battle.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Botched Relief

Having finished my jigsaw puzzle, and with the two new stands of Scots being almost table ready, I figured it was time to pick a scenario.

The English deploy for battle.

Flipping through the One Hour book, I noticed the Botched Relief scenario (#28) which I've only played once. Suddenly seemed just the thing. A small English force needs to capture a town despite being outnumbered by the Scots. The catch for the Scots is that the bulk of their force, which is on a ridge ready to flank any attack, is having command and control issues and can only be committed one formation at a time.

The Highlanders, supported by artillery, are defending the village. 

and here's my proof that the puzzle was solved and not just quietly packed away so I could use my table again:

Minnow did her best to "help".

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Oh Look: More Scots!

One stand of archers and one of pikes, should be enough to justify a game!

Hmm, weird angle. The pikeman on the left is actually wearing one of my Scots bonnets.

The archers are 3d printed from Day of Battle, the pikes are metal fromTriguard.

Last outing for my Scots and English from last November.
(click to see blog post)

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Thogail nam bo!

Not my best work ever but about as good as it gets these days of shaky hands, blurry eyes etc. 

The 16thC is too soon for clan tartans (a largely Victorian 'thing' according to some scholars)  or belted  plaids/kilts, a 17thC  new fashion, and the figures reflect this. Its a pity they have the anatomy and stoutness of fantasy Dwarves but they look just fine for the tabletop once painted.

Hmm, the guy with the receding hairline has a distinct family resemblance. Coincidence?

So, that's 3 down, and about a dozen to go.

(The blog post title translates roughly into 'Let's go 'lift' some cows', an unofficial cry of a certain clan whose name I happen to bear, though I have never rustled any cattle, not even my neighbours Highland cows. Yet)    

Monday, September 4, 2023

On My Desk

Since the 3d figures from  Day of Battles don't come with bases,  I decided to mount them on their wargame base before painting. Luckily, my highlanders are all 3 to a base as a reminder that they are in a looser formation than the pikemen and billmen.

Not trusting a straight glue bond with such a small contact area, I drilled holes in the soles of their feet and the base and inserted wire pegs to reinforce the glue. Should make them a bit more awkward to paint but not too much so. Anyway, one stand at a time these days, just don't have the patience or the back stamina for large batches anymore.

Thankfully, being early to mid 16thC, tartan belted plaids are not yet a "thing" so it'll be linen or wool tunics and woolen cloaks, which might have an early tartan pattern.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

There May Be A Delay.......

We often had a communal  jigsaw puzzle going in a corner of a room at home, and the same in the lunchroom at work for a while, when we had access to a lunchroom.....

It's been a few years now since I've tackled one that wasn't virtual. This arrived on Christmas at some point this century and since my table was momentarily vacant and I wasn't sure what I felt like playing next, I seized the day! It's time I get back to my painting desk anyway. However, I long ago learned to put puzzles on a board so they could be moved if needed, So, if it takes too long and I start itching for a wargame, I can set up Mom's old, heritage, card table (well, its older than me anyway)  over by the bookshelf, and slide the puzzle over to make room for a wargame.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Same But Different

Its been well over a decade now since I was introduced to miniatures on a grid and I still haven't figured out whether the advantages of a grid outweigh the disadvantages or not. I am leaning towards the unhappy conclusion that "it depends".

Anyhow, as I was starting to clear the table I found myself pondering the benefits of reorganizing various armies with 3 stand units into 2 stands. All it would take was to move the colours and possible paint a another dozen or so figures for each army to turn the excess stands into full units. Rather unusually, before I did any excessive damage, I decided to replay the scenario without using the grid and using my troops as currently organized and based. I also changed the setting, partly to make it obviously not the same game, partly to give my recently refurbished "Not Quite The War of 1812" collection, another outing.


Somewhere in Atlantica in the early 19thC, the armies of Faraway and Oberhilse are at it again.

OHW Scenario 9. Double Delay. 
The Greys were given the task of holding the ford, by themselves.

Mauled in a firefight with the Brooklyn Fencibles, supported by militia light infantry, the Greys were forced to fallback before they were wiped out.

On the right, Gen. Turner decided to wear down the village defenders with skirmisher and artillery fire until the his left wing came up at which time he would send in the Royal Fusiliers. In the distance. the Oberhilse forces were slowly retiring from the field.

Across! The Fencibles pushed forward to drive off the Greys while the cavalry and light infantry rushed forward to block the enemy's retreat. 

The Greys were being particularly stubborn, leading the Fencibles to match them, shot for shot, forgetting their real mission.
As the Dragoons advanced on the gun, they spotted the enemy cavalry disappearing down the road, with the rifles falling back as well. The Captain order his dragoons to veer left and ride down the riflemen. The ground suddenly turned soft and uneven and while the Dragoons were closing the distance, they just couldn't quite catch up with the enemy riflemen. (
Bloody movement dice!!)

As the sun set, the Queen's infantry continued to pour fire into the village but, inspired by General Wavey, they rallied again and again and held out till nightfall.
With a sudden misgiving. General Turner consulted his orders. He had felt so confident at midday that his Dragoons would over run the riflemen, limiting the enemy's withdrawal to two units and that he would be able to seize the town and get his cavalry and chasseurs off the table, that he had not focused on either plan and thus achieved neither. 

OK, that worked. The grid has a place but its not worth reorganizing my armies to fit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Long After, In A Land 'Faraway'....

 .......a very similar battle was fought.

But that's a story for another day.

Monday, August 28, 2023


The French commander was under orders to hold this little hamlet and the important bridge, the only place where guns and supply wagons could pass. However, he was also under orders to send half of his force on a forced march to Louisburg. It was a tough enough assignment but if the British found the ford, it would be near impossible. Well, none the less, it would have to be done.   He would send 2 of the detachments of French infantry, followed by his only gun.  The troupes de la marine, the native Acadiens and the Mq'ma warriors would have to be up to holding the village.

A futile long range artillery duel begins the fight. 

On the British left, an overwhelming force of British regulars runs into an impenetrable wall of Colonial troops.

Meanwhile, back at the Bridge, after 4 attempts, and some bitter point blank fighting, the Grenadiers had taken the bridge and seized one quarter of the town but the men were exhausted and were sent running by a French counterattack. The 28th Foot stepped forward to renew the attack.

The fighting only grew in intensity as the troops from the ford rushed to join the main battle.

The British commander decided on a desperate gamble and threw every man into the assault. As battalion after battalion was forced to retreat, the Commander suddenly remembered that he was also under orders, and was supposed to send two battalions to serve under Brigadier Wolfe.
Well,.... fat chance of that now. His only option was to fallback and seek the cover of the fleet's guns.

(Figures are homecast, mostly from Prince August moulds, but the Acadian militia are my originals. Rules were the the current The Square Brigadier.)

Sunday, August 27, 2023

I Had An Hour To Spare So.....

Well, OK, I had more than an hour and I didn't time how long it took me to pick a scenario, lay out the table, pick a setting and era, and then select units (whooff) and then play the game (without putting it away yet). The point being that on a Sunday afternoon in 1758 on Ile Royale, a small force of British infantry supported by artillery attempted to cut off and capture  a detachment of French troops which was retreating to Louisburg and had stopped for the night in a small Acadian village. 

(No don't bother try to find any other report of this action, especially not in history books or memoirs, you'd be better off looking in One Hour Wargames).

To be continued.....

Friday, August 25, 2023

A Game! A Real Game! With A Live Opponent!

Yesterday I made the hour+ drive across to the Atlantic coast for a game with a longtime wargaming friend, also an ex-Montreal Wargamer.

A pregame overview.

Not only was it good to catch up, but it was good to once again fight with masses of little guys (15mm) on a table (roughly) twice the size of my current one.  Good old 'Reinforcements on Table' from  CS Grant's 'Scenarios For All Ages' was set up and waiting for me. A favourite chestnut which we've played many times over the years, in various periods and scales under multiple rules.

15mm Napoleonic was one of the era's/scales where Ron had one side and......... well, I don't have any 15mm armies anymore and no one else was coming, so, he had improvised an Hungarian revolution scenario. Having a bit of 'equality of man', anti-establishment, etc, etc, blood in me, I called dibs on the Hungarians.   

We started off trying the Portable Napoleonic Wargame but it just wasn't our style so we fumbled a bit and then improvised a variation on Battlecry, quick and easy. Instead of the ACW card deck, we just rolled a die DBA fashion to see how many formations we could move that turn and used the Battlecry dice for combat resolution. Worked like a charm. 

The bold Hungarian artillerymen open up and score hits with their first salvo.

Ron managed to take most of the hill with his first attack but in his hurry to take ir before my reinforcements arrived, combined with low activation dice, his 2nd line lagged behind, giving my reserves time to march up, deploy and recapture the bit of ground that he had taken. Ron's 2nd assault was "this" close to retaking the ridge and breaking my army but the dice liked me that day and I held most of what I held by the skin of my teeth, and then my last reserve blasted his centre away and retook the crest. VICTORY!

Not many better ways for a fellow of my age to spend an afternoon.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

At Aboukir and Acre (Pt2)

As the main French assault on the village began, a scout came galloping towards the General: "Mamlukes approaching our rear sir! Moving fast!"   

There was no time to lose. "Ride to your Brigadier  and tell him to take two squadrons and protect the army's rear!",  "Lt. Leblanc, ride to the 3rd battalion and order Chef de Battaillon Desjardins to fallback to protect the artillery and the rear of the army".   
"We will 
NOT! let these barbarians disturb our attack! 

On the far side of the field, the fighting was hot and heavy but though several assaults had been repulsed,  French numbers were beginning to tell. The Turkish commander had been wounded repulsing an assault with the bayonet but his twin brother who was 2ic, took his place. 

Assault after assault was sent forward against the Lobsters and the Naval Battery, but led by their brave Captain Trumpeter, they repelled every assault despite their own heavy losses. If only the 3rd battalion had not been drawn off to face the Mamlukes, the attack might have been successful, but the 3rd had their own battle, along with the cavalry, against the Mamluke cavalry.

Vive Bonaparte! A third assault from two directions finally drove the remainder of the Turks from the low wall, abandoning their canon as they retreated. But the pursuit ran into the Marines and a determined battalion of the new Turkish army. The fighting was fierce and prolonged.

Suddenly, it was too much, the sun was sinking, casualties had been high and the French soldier would be facing street fighting to get to the wells against some of the toughest soldiers their enemy had. It was time to fall back before darkness caught them surrounded by increasing numbers of the enemy.

As hard as the French and Turkish soldiers and irregulars fought, in the end, it was Lt.(N) Trumpeter and his sailors and marines that had made the difference in a battle that had come close to being a defeat followed by a difficult retreat for our hero.

(Note: The die rolling was not fudged but those sailors and marines always rolled up in close combat!)

Sunday, August 20, 2023

At Aboukir and Acre (Pt1)

Ahhhh,  G. A. Henty! Bless him and his historical novels for young folks! How much I enjoyed them and how much I learned from them and what a thirst for more they inspired! 

(Disclaimer) Now, this scenario is NOT based on anything G.A. Henty (or anyone else) wrote OR anything that actually happened (that I'm aware of anyway), but nonetheless, I have set it during Bonaparte's Siege of Acre with our intrepid hero, Lt(RN) Trumpeter, having been ordered to take a Naval gun crew and a party of (not yet royal) Marines inland to assist the Turks to deny a crucial well to the French and to keep open communications with Syria and Palestine. 

I'll leave a discussion of rules and so on for another post except to add that the game was played using the latest update of "The Square Brigadier" on a 5" square grid. 

(Note: I apologize for the lack of quality of the photos. I need to work on my lighting as the mix of sources confuses my poor cell phone which is my sole camera these days.)


Turkish cavalry scouts have been keeping an eye on the French column as it approached Ta Bel so the British and Turkish garrison was ready, including the local villagers with their Jezails who had taken to the hills.
Supported by a squadron of Hussars, a detachment of the Camel Corps was sent to clear the hills only to surprised by a detachment of pack artillery.

These were Bonaparte's men though, and they were not dismayed by a few brigands on their flank. The main attack pressed on.

<<To be continued!>>


Saturday, August 19, 2023

A Turn Or Two A Day.....

Its just been one of "those" months. However.... 

.......a couple of turns a day is better than nothing. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

French and Turks Square Off (Teaser)

 Yup, I'm back on the grid.

Report and reasoning to follow. Hopefully in the Sunday 'papers'.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Minnow At The Oasis

Some enterprising folks (not me) have been busy organizing a weekend gaming convention in Halifax at the end of September and I've volunteered to run a semi-historical miniatures game. 

Minnow drives off the Mamlukes by using her silent stare.

Its a long boring story, and the bar is shut, so let me just say that, in essence, this week I realized that I missed the ease and smooth of the gridded games I had been largely playing until I decided that I needed to go off grid for Huzzah. So I set up the game I plan to run,  hauled out my Square Brigadier rules, and..... yup, that works for me. I think it'll be easier to learn and understand for many non-miniature players.

A battle report on the play test will follow and soon after, a copy of the updated rules, or at least a Quick Reference Sheet if the full thing is taking too long as I keep adding things, trains, balloons, amphibious ops, etc etc.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Answering the Call

A couple of energetic Halifax gamers (not me) have organized a small weekend wargame convention, hopefully the first of many.  Its been decades since the last small one that I can remember so I figured it was my duty as well as to my possible long term benefit, to support them so I'm going to run a game and hopefully play in something new to me. 

Newly cast and painted gunners for an upcoming local convention game.

However the real point of this post is that my friend Paul will run a 25mm ECW game. For the scenario he is planning, he needed some more Scots gunners. Knowing that back in 2010 I had sculpted and cast up a regiment of Lowland Scots ( one figure in neutral pose with open hand), he asked if I could cast up and paint 6 gunners for him.  Job Done! (see above)

About life size. 25mm, Sculpted, cast and painted 2010

I do like not having to find quarters, pay and rations for new figures! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Annnnnnnnd....We're BACK!

August has been 'that sort of month', so far. A little bit of time here and there for thinking, reorganizing, converting and painting/repainting a handful of shiny 54mm toy soldiers and so on. Hopefully (knock knock knock) some gaming will follow shortly. 

In the meantime here is a shot of the result.

The Dominion of Faraway (Red) faces the Oberhilse Free State (Blue).

The Fusiliers on the right were one of my 1st homecast units, cast and painted late in the 1990's. At the time, I was using my 'With MacDuff To The Frontier' rules so they were organised into battalions with a command group and 2-4 'companies', each of and 6-8 officers, ncos and privates. That worked OK on my 6'x10' table for a game lasting 4-6 hours, but I no longer have either the room nor the stamina of those days. So, one of my goals for July was to determine a final organization and rules to let me play 1-3 hour 54mm games on my 5'x5' table.  Over the last dozen years, most of my games were played on a grid, originally using Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame, then later, various versions of my Square Brigadier. I have decided to keep the grid as an option but to also be able to use the same armies off grid or on grid as the situation called for.

2014: My first 54mm Portable Wargame (I think), loosely (very loosely) inspired by the 1885 battle of Cut Knife Creek during our Northwest Rebellion.

I took two runs at the scenario in the previous blogpost, using different rules and organizations. The one posted saw the troops organized as 1 stand=a"company" grouped into 3 company 'battalions', and since the game had played well, I started thinking about reorganizing both armies, and expanding them. Luckily, life interfered with hobby as sometimes happens, and by the time I got back to it, I started seeing some issues such as breaking 3 stand units into 1/2 units as called for in some scenarios, fitting a unit into a house, or a grid square, that was only designed to hold 1 or 2 stands, what to do with leftover figures or the need to add figures to most units..........

I started looking back over past 54mm blogposts......

August 2016. The armies begin to form, ready to do battle under the Square Brigadier. 

and decided that units with 2x60mm wide stands, each stand holding 3 infantry or 2 cavalry figures, had been in use both on and off grid (5" grids) for some years now, and had served very well.  

I'm about to experience a long, long, weekend home alone (not counting 4 footed occupants) and will be surprised and disappointed if I don't get a couple of games in.

Monday, July 31, 2023

If At First

Its been a long and busy couple of days, BUT today I made time to try out my latest attempt at a  'Goldilocks' edition of my rules. (As in not too quick and simple nor too tedious, fiddly or dull,  needing too much time to finish a game.

The first assault goes in and a prolonged fight ensues before the ridge is in Dominion hands.

A Rebel counter attack recaptured the ridge and a larger 2nd assault led to an even longer fight.

As the sun began to set, the General Lannigan ordered his remaining troops to fall back on the town in hopes of a draw.

With night approaching, Gen. Douglas ordered an all out assault. For a few minutes it seemed like it was too late but suddenly the Rebels had had enough. They broke and ran, leaving the town in Dominion hands as well as the ridge.

Temperatures are moderating and there is a lot of overdue outside duties to catch up on, might rain tomorrow, or the next day.......