Saturday, February 25, 2023

Vive Le Roi!

 My Breton "Chouans" are now ready for battle the new (old) way.

The figures are a real mishmash.They started as a mix of 1837 Upper Canadian rebels, 1812 militia, pirates and spanish guerillas, conscripted for a one off game. Since then various additional figures have been converted based on the handful of pictures I've been able to find. 90% are original sculpts, home cast, then converted to fit the new role and to provide variety. The 10% include some Perry Spanish guerrillas and converted Prince August cowboys and SYW figures. 

All in all, probably no more that Hollywood levels of historical accuracy but that works for me in this context.

4 stands of pikemen, 6 stands of skirmishers with muskets and 2 leaders. The flag is the Bourbons' "unstained banner", a white cross on a white field. (I need to have another go at two shades of white.....) 

Having added a 5'x1' unpainted extension to my table I decided to throw one of my cloths over it. I decided that this one with fields, forest and roads painted on would make for the simplest setup. I need to add a few more hedges etc and round up some teamsters for the mule train, maybe add some more French cavalry (just because), and then give it a go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Next Step

After spending too much time worrying (like a terrier) at my rules, I decided it was time to test one of the scenarios I plan to run, a slightly bigger version than I ran last summer.  

Starting to lay out terrain and take note of what needs to be repaired, replaced, or added.

The tables at Huzzah! will be 5'x8'. My 5'x4' table at home just isn't really "doing it" for me in general and doesn't quite capture the full feel of the scenario. With one side needing to be up against the wall and me needing to reach the middle from somewhere I decided to just add a foot on one end, something that I had had an argument with myself about when I replaced the table top last year. I'd seriously considered a 5'x5' table then, but wanted the extra space. A few things have changed and I'm now testing a 5'x5' tabletop. A foot or so of ocean on one end of the larger table will nicely fill the table while leaving room  off the gaming cloth for coffee cups, tape measures, dice etc, 

By the time another minor snow event hits us on Friday, I should have sufficiently finished refurbishing, repairing and laying out terrain, and be ready to playtest again.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Battle for the Ridge: Day 2

Having pulled themselves together over the night, and the Scarlet Pimpernal having switched the rules without the French realizing it, the British were back on Saturday morning.

The French must have been celebrating through the night as the reinforcements were slow in moving from the town in the morning. This took a little bit of pressure off the Brits. 

A prolonged close range firefight ensued with the opposing cavalry shouting insults and taunts at their counterparts without either being willing to risking leaving a hole in the line. 

For what seemed an eternity, the two lines stood and traded point blank fire. Casualties were heavy on both sides but neither would give ground or risk a charge.

At last as the sun began to sink towards the horizon, the Debrouiller Regiment wavered. The General rushed over waving his hat to encourage them but a cannister round found him and the emigres broke. The situation was desperate! Col Grey took command and putting himself at the head of the 42nd and with the pipes urging them on, led them forward with the bayonet. Their battered French opponents broke and fled.

The hill was solidly in British hands and the French in full retreat.


The main difference between this version of the rules and the one used in the first game, was that instead of a stand being removed for every 4 hits, the hits were accumulated until the unit had 8 or 12 hits depending on the troop types. That not only kept more figures on the table but it meant there was room to take a pounding and come back. 

There are still some minor tweaking to do but the biggest thing is to reconsider for the 100th time whether I can stick to the original idea in Morschauser's rules that had inspired the earliest versions of Hearts of Tin, and lump pointblank shooting with charges with cold steel into one type of potentially deadly combat called "melee" while all shooting at effective ranges is "shooting" or divide combat into 3 zones: long range shooting that has  minimal effect but can slowly weaken units, effective close range shooting that can break units, and charges with cold steel which are largely about opposed will but can also be bloody. 

My brain tells me that the long range shooting can be safely "factored in" (ie ignored) and close range shooting and cold steel lumped together. After all, that's what I've been doing for the last 2 decades since  Rob handed me a copy of Morschauser at a used book stand at a Cold Wars convention, but from the back of my brain, my older British wargaming roots occasionally urge a return to long range, short range and melee. In theory, its a mere matter of a modifier here or there but in practice, the whole thing seems to shift players' attitudes and choices in ways that often negatively affect the games, even if only dragging them on beyond the time available. 

There's also the variance between Morschauser's "every stand is a unit" and the traditional the battalion or higher is the unit unless its a man-to-man "skirmish" (in the gaming rather than historical sense). 

I'll have another quick consult with me and myself but I'm pretty sure we'll eventually back Morschauser in most of these questions if we can't find a compromise.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Battle For The Ridge: Day 1

The scenario I chose was the stripped down One Hour Wargame version of CS Grant's Reinforcements On Table from Scenarios For Wargames, but using a new version of A Whiff of Dice which was basically a variant of my old Hearts of Tin rules. The units were 3 stands of infantry, 2 of cavalry or light infantry or 1 gun and crew.  

The game began well for the British, they marched straight up under the heavy and accurate fire of the French artillery, gave three cheers and swept the French off the hill.

I was almost ready to call it here, can never be too sure of the outcome so I tin soldiered on.

A protracted firefight ensued while the cavalry charged and countercharged indecisively. Again I was about to call it when the French commander protested. So, to be fair I carried on with the French artillery, which had pulled back before the ridge was stormed, and its fire was accurate and inflicted a heavy toll on the emigres. The balance began to even out.

Once or twice the French commander seemed set to charge the hill, but always he paused and poured more fire into the shrinking line of redcoats and then took the redcoat volleys in return. Finally, the last card went down, French initiative! "En avants mes enfants! A la bayonette pour la republique!"  

(Hopeless I thought, they'd need to roll a handful of 5's and 6's AND have the British falter and threw low. What were the odds?

"Save the Colours!!"

My first impression was that the rules had worked well enough but the stand removal, a deep seated habit, was thinning the lines too quickly and spoiled the look with single stands representing a whole battalion as stands were removed making it look that the battalions were taking 75% casualties in minutes but remaining steady. It didn't look right and distorted the tactical picture.  I decided to rework it so that battalions could stay on table until they broke. Of course you can't just change one little thing without a cascade of side effects.......   It was mid afternoon before I was ready to test the rules again but that's for tomorrow's post!


For those who missed yesterday's pic, here it is again to show the table during the early turns:

To be continued!

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Hurley Burley Is Done

It was a lovely day with light snow then rain then freezing rain,,,,just right for an indoor wargame. 

After a brief cavalry clash, the British infantry is ready to assault the hill.

Full report tomorrow.

Somewhere in Flanders

A Republican advance guard stands-to as dawn breaks.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

When In Doubt, Fall Back to Bases......(sic)

When I started planning my games for Huzzah, I was thinking of a semi-skirmish game with two "GameMasters" and individual player goals as well as team goals. This sort of game isn't really "my thing" but that's where my 40mm French Revolution collection began, that's where "MacDuff to the Frontier" started, and that would allow Rob's 40mm Scarlet Pimpernel skirmish game collection and mine to collaborate to pull it off.

Dress rehearsal shot before flocking.

Well, things have changed. I'm going to be sole GM and the test games along with past convention experiences, have convinced me that what I'm planning is not going to work within 4 hours, with 1 GM and 6 gamers, unfamiliar with the rules and each having individual victory conditions and 30-40 individual figures to move on a 5'x8' table with only 1 active at a time, and a 4 hour window.

I needed to speed up play and simplify things.

My standard basing, all on 6cm wide bases. Nothing like semiflats for getting extra cavalry on a base!

There were a couple of options but it was nearly inevitable that I decided to fall back on my personal preferences. So, the armies are back on bases with "companies" as the lowest unit. These being grouped into battalions and squadrons with allowances for detached companies in certain situations. That in turned called for different rules and after a year of puttering about, I settled on re-writing "A Whiff of Dice" (click to see the set to be tested) as a variant of my old "Hearts of Tin" rules which were meant for this sort of things and have worked before. 

A Demi-Brigade with skirmishers deployed and support from artillery and cavalry.

I have some local volunteers ready to play some more test games when I'm ready, and the armies are growing rapidly. Something close to double would be nice but half again as much will do and what I've got now will be enough for some test games. 

The first test will be a solo game on Friday!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Close Enough

 The bases need work but I have enough units based to give a One Hour scenario a go.

To be continued...

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Thank goodness, just forgetful, not too focused afterall!

There WAS  a game in January! I just didn't blog it properly, just a few pics and a comment in my Jan 2 post. Ok, it was a small, short game was a game!

1 Jan: Refight of January's 1812 LaColle Mill game, but set in the 1790's West Indies! 

I'm not really ready for a Syrian game yet, probably won't be till mid-March, but once I base a few more units, I'll be ready to head to the West Indies. Maybe as early as tomorrow? or even this afternoon?  hmm  

I've got a pile of debased men  (hmm should probably have used a hyphen there) and some reclaimed bases (recycle, hoard, reuse), so just got to put them together, clear the table, decide on a scenario, lay out the terrain and sound the trumpets!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Oh that it should come to this

Work on the French dragoons is progressing, slowly, but progressing.

Slowly but...,

It struck me today that all this planning and plotting and casting and...... 

Well, let's just say that it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't played a game recently. More than a week I thought, and started flipping through blog posts.....Dec 31, 2022!!  ???   Oops!  January MIGHT have been the only month with no game since the blog was launched in 2010!

I won't bore you with all the distractions, duties, road blocks etc on top of the casting,  painting, conversions, and rules editing, nor make excuses about needing to prepare for  Huzzah! in Maine in May. 

Friday, the table WILL be cleared and reset, ready for battle. But what to play?

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Recycle, Reuse, Recruit

Looking at what I need for my Syrian/Egyptian games, I decided that the French need some more cavalry. My Black Hussars are wrong in detail but by laying down my "Toy Soldier License", my Black Hussars will be allowed to serve anywhere they are needed. Eventually I'll add some regular Hussars and/or Chasseurs. 

Now, the majority of the French cavalry in Egypt were Dragoons so Dragoons are a 'must have'. I don't have a mould but by mixing and matching I can get close enough for my purposes.

The body of the unpainted Dragoon is the same Prince August SYW Dragoon body as I used for my 1793 Scots Greys by using one of my Bicorne heads instead on any of the PA heads. The French Dragoon head has been removed from a Meisterin Waterloo British Dragoon body and used as "close enough for a shiny Toy Soldier".

Having decided to switch the focus of my French Revolution games away from Flanders, I've started seeing which, if any, of my existing 1st Coalition and Republican forces can serve elsewhere without looking too far out of place for me, or needing a lot of work. There are some like my Hesse-Darmstadt Erbprinz regiment that just have no place elsewhere, so they'll stay as they are for when I do want to play a 1st Coalition game. Others I am going to tweak to fit in better in a wider range of settings. 

For example, when starting out, I hemmed and hawed about doing Friekorps Riflemen in round hats but ended up doing Hessian Jaegers in bicornes to increase the German contingent. Well, they are no use elsewhere but if I went with my alternate plan and did a head swap and paint touch up, they could serve almost anywhere from Flanders to the West Indies. It took a few hems and haws and a pause for caution then sat down and did it.

New hats, minor changes to the uniforms and they're ready to serve anywhere the King commands.
(The bases still need painting once I settle on a colour.)

Next up will be 5 more Dragoon head swaps, (and some casting of sword arms) and I'll be ready to paint my 1st Squadron of French Dragoons.