Thursday, June 29, 2023

A Project For This Fall and WInter

Having grown up an "Anglo" in Montreal, you'd think I'd have wargamed Wolfe's Quebec several times by now, but really, given the way it was presented in school, there was nothing to it. Wolfe had a brilliant plan, The British were gallant and the French all ran away. It was while I was studying at the Military College in St. Jean, that doubts started creeping in. 

I think the first crack came during  the American Bicentennial, as Cadet Curator of the Musee de Fort St. Jean, I and my 2ic Simon MacDowall, under the guidance of Dr Ruddy (as good a professor and friend as one could wish for), had the pleasure of coordinating a portion of the visit of the Brigade of the American Revolution to Quebec. Montgomery had besieged Fort St. Jean back in the day and the Brigade was following in their footsteps, putting on displays of drill and firing a few volleys etc.. I was invited to accompany Dr Ruddy for the finale on the Plains of Abraham, and that's where this becomes relevant to the matter in hand. 

OK, Hopefully the games will look better than this quick mockup.

While touristing around, I went to see the famous Wolfe's Cove/L'Anse au Foulon where the British soldiers scaled the cliffs, dragging cannon behind them to surprise Montcalm. Having wandered through the old Lower Town and followed the road up to the heights, I was confused. The map and some plaques indicated that I was there but it wasn't even a stiff walk up really. Eventually I shrugged my shoulders and decided that at some time in the past, someone must have blasted a road out of the cliff face. 

Then, a year or so ago, I bought a new book on the campaign: Northern Armageddon: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the Making of the American Revolution by D. Peter MacLeod. This Canadian historian has done some very thorough research, including digging through archives in France and Britain as well as Canada, and letters and diaries etc from various individuals including both armies, the Royal Navy, and les Canadiens and even a transcription of an account by one of the First Nations who was there. He also studied a lot of period maps. Turns out, the maps and French accounts all agree that there had long been a road running from the cove to the plain at the top, that's why the French used it for supplies and why the British were able to get the army up so quickly including artillery pieces. 

By studying current information etc in RN records and various diaries and reports, several things became clear. The French post was not at the top of the cliff, it was partway up the road. The advance party of Grenadiers and Highlanders was supposed to land at the cove but the current carried them past it. Not ones to quit, they landed and scaled the cliff to the top. By the time they got there, the main party was already making a frontal assault with little success, so the advanced party descended and attacked the French in the rear!

For the first time, it all made sense. I'd always wondered why the French had used a steep path up a cliffside to bring in supplies when they had plenty of more convenient landing spots with roads. There was another accepted story about the one volley thing which never quite rang true once I grew up, and it  was also debunked and explained but that's for later. The point is, its time I played out some sort of series of tabletop games based around the Quebec campaign 1759/60, and if I start planning and preparing this summer and fall, it'll provide a number of games this fall and winter.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Battle Of Anthill Ridge

I was going to write up a backstory for this battle but really, when did the Dominion and the Rebels need a reason to fight? So, this is just what it looks like, a chance encounter in a pass which both want to control.

The Dominion forces managed to reach the crest first with a battery and a squadron of the Mounted Rifles and one of the Bodyguard.

A brief lull followed as both sides deployed their infantry and the opposing batteries duelled.

The Rebel battery won the artillery duel and Rebel cavalry came close to dispersing the Dominion cavalry but the Highlanders deployed in time and their rapid and accurate fire drove the enemy horsemen back. It was down to the opposing infantry lines to decide the day. 

The cavalry on both sides dismounted and an ineffective long range firefight ensued. In the centre, the opposing infantry exchanged a hot fire but the decision came on the eastern wing. There, the Voltigeurs and Rifles had the advantage of cover and as the sun started to sink, the remnants of Grey's gave way.

A minor victory for the Dominion but not the end of this campaign!

Friday, June 23, 2023

The Sun Was High

Too high as it turned out. Not only was my skin starting to sizzle despite a coat of sunblock, but my phone's camera just wasn't up to the bright light mottled with shadows.

The armies approached each other as the sun rose high in the sky.

Fortunately, the opposing generals agreed to a temporary ceasefire until the sun sank a little lower in the sky and shadows crept over the pass. The men downed packs, reached for their canteens and then had a little snooze in the summer heat.  At last, the adjutants met, bugles sounded and the cannons began to roar.
As always, click on the pictures to enlarge.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Summer Is Here!

Let the games begin!

"Whose turn is it to attack Lannigan? I seem to recall that we attacked last Fall.
"Oh no! You're not pulling that one on us Douglas! We attacked through that damned icy swamp last December, even if it was indoors, and two summers ago, we stormed Nor'East Hill, just over there behind you and darned hot work that was too!"
"Excuse me Sir, but now that we've cleared this field, perhaps an encounter battle would be a welcome change.
"Eh? Well, Sergeant Major, that sounds like a Capital idea. Whaddiya say Lannigan?"
"Sounds fine. Let's roll for sides. Even's you attack from the Plum Tree on your left, odds we do." 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Goodness! Is that the time?

What was supposed to be a brief diversion has turned into a week long one, followed by a battle for my Gathering of Hosts blog.

That's the refurbished old timers charging across the table in the distance, as is their wont. The riders in the foreground were recruited only a few months later, a souvenir of my Great, if not grand, $5 a day tour of Europe in 1974.

A teaser has been posted to my Gathering of Hosts blog and a battle report should follow in a day or so. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

1/2 Century of Service

"When the world was young, there came a race of warriors from the White Plains. They were like giants to the Aerphix  warriors who preceded them as today's warrior's are to these heroes. 

Long years they have slept in the caves, waiting the call to return to serve the King again."
"Excerpt from the Book of the Four Winds

Minifigs, bought, painted and 'bloodied' in the service of Valdur in the winter of 1974. (WRG 3rd),
(Except the Ral Partha guy in the back rank, not sure where he came from!)
Now, at last, called upon once again to take up arms and face the dice.

It was back in the fall and winter of 1973/74  at Military College that Simon MacDowall  (see Legio Wargames blog) ordered a copy of the 3rd ed of WRG Ancient's, built small armies of Airfix figures, soon joined by Minifigs.  We haven't stopped yet, and neither have these lads though they haven't marched under my command since 1976/77. 

When I graduated, I was posted immediately to a ship in Halifax for on job training. I managed to pack a few of my favourite figures but left the bulk for the Wargames Club to use until I could collect them. Well, that time never came but over the years I would periodically bump into some of them in friends' armies, where they were well and happily employed.  Not too long ago, I was surprised when a package from Simon showed up including some old Minifig castings and....... some of my original Minifig Britons! 

Veteran Warriors: still ready for battle 1/2 a century on!

I replaced a few broken weapons, and a missing leg and stand, touched up the occasional scuffed paint and they are once again ready for service to the King, pardon me, the now Duke of Valdur, on my Gathering of Hosts blog.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

A Little Canard

Life is returning to normal. For the first time since early March, I have played a game for the pleasure of it, rather than as preparation for running my 2 games at Huzzah!. More than that, the game was once again in my own comfy, (sighhh, I hate this next word but......) "Imagination" setting of Atlantica. 

The first shots have been fired as the armies press forward, eager for the fray.

The scenario was a minor adaption of a War of 1812 scenario based on the first action in the War of 1812 which took place along the Canard River. It was published as "From Battle To Battlegame" in Issue 5 of Battlegames Magazine. 

***Update, apparently issues of Battlegames are now available from

Don't know anything about payhip so you're on your own there.

I was going to point interested readers to The Wargames Vault which is the official source for pdf versions of Battlegames, but I see that that issue is sold out 'unavailable'. (No I don't think it was my article on designing scenarios that drew the crowds, Jim Purky's magnificent Sudan pictures in his article on Colonial wargaming in the Peter Gilder style is a more likely draw.) In essence, it is the start of a campaign (a war really) and Blue has launched a surprise attack to capture a bridge over a marshy stream in the woods so that an invasion can begin. (See Duck River Crossing in the Newport News for an 1870's 54mm version of the scenario.)

The Oberhilse forces seem stalled as Faraway's troops rush forward and begin to press their enemy.

The scenario was designed as a low level action with companies as units. (At the time I wrote it, I was still using MacDuff To The Frontier for my 1812 games.) The forces I had at hand had been designed to be able to used either as multi-stand 'battalions' for battles, or single stand 'companies' for small actions, but while both the rules and the scenario, and my troops were all  designed to handle either, I was in the mood to see the refurbished battalions take the field.

With a loud "Huzzah" the redcoats rush forward then hesitated and began firing. (sigh..) The Light Dragoons charged gallantly forward but ran into a field of gopher holes (their story) and rolling six dice for 4 or better, scored 2 hits. (2 !? Seriously?) They needed to inflict more hits AND 1 hit per enemy stand to win a melee, so they rallied back for another try. The Royal Fusiliers had their bayonets on by then though and finished the job on the next turn

During the games down at Huzzah!, I noticed that the play sequence which I thought would be simpler and more straight forward, was actually confusing since it went against ingrained instincts and habits. So I have changed back to what this game confirmed as a simpler, more instinctive, more effective and possible more dramatic sequence. It is now a traditional sequence (ie I first encountered it in Featherstone's Battle with Model Soldiers.) in which the player with initiative moves first then the other player moves, then both shoot, then both resolve charges. Worked like a charm and was faster to boot

The Queen's Light Dragoons, seeing the enemy dragoons about to charge the two companies of the Brooklyn Fusiliers, ambled slowly forward for a better view....(sighhh) General Wavey waved his hat as is his wont, and charged forward at the head of the Red Dragoons. The tired Fusiliers, short on ammo after a lengthy firefight (that's what the survivors told me anyway), fired high then ran, being cut down by the pursuing dragoons (6 dice for 5's plus giving 4 or 5 hits on the already worn unit.....OUCH! The pursuit scattered the remainder.) The Faraway Trading Company Inspector who was acting 2ic, foolishly tried to intervene and was captured....
So, on turn 14, I was predicting a Faraway victory, but had to adjust that to an indecisive draw with both armies rather battered and incapable of further offensive action. 

Once my table is cleaned off and dressed up, ready for a brawl, I'm always reluctant to pack it up after just one game. so its away with the musket and bayonet and in with ........the bow and the sword and the plastic fists of the raiders.

Sighhhh, how did I come to this....


Saturday, June 10, 2023

Now The Battle's Neither Lost Nor Won!

A glorious day off, and a battle played to boot!

But I haven't finished writing a report yet. That is for Sunday.

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Scene Is Set

 I should have known that the sight of a game ready to play .....

This scenario was originally published in Issue #5 of Battlegames Magazine as
"From Battle to Battlegame".

would bring the sun out......

Still, there'll be time on Saturday to play.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Bases Are Loaded

A scenario has been chosen, the units selected, organised, and based. The bases still need to be painted and flocked but that's a quick job. 

Oberhilse's forces closest to the camera, Faraway in the distance.

Friday, I'll finish the bases, set the table up for my chosen scenario and......hit the yard. Unless the rain comes back.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Eleven Years Ago This Week, and Today

In June of 2012, my friend Les and I played a remote game using Skype, a game oddly enough played using the armies that I've just moved back into my Active Duty list, with essentially an older version of the rules I resurrected this winter for use at Huzzah!, and the same unit organization as I adopted for my French Revolution games.


The Belmont Greys: The drummer (behind the colours) is a Zinnbrigade homecast, the 4 firing figures are Scruby War of 1812 Americans with my heads, and the rest are homecast from my own masters. 

There were three main reasons for my detour. The first and most pressing was a lack of space once we had moved in full time, including an elderly mother in law, but my prolonged fatigue after a heart attack was also a factor. The last reason was that at last, I had time to indulge my urge to experiment, to try all sorts of ideas and options to see what worked for me rather than what I thought I liked or what I was playing with friends. Sometimes decisions  based on best guesses have to be made but I've really enjoyed having the time to explore and test.

A shot of the "Bridge Over the River Skype" game in June 2012 
(Links to 1st post of battle report and the conclusion .)

Meanwhile, in the present, the reorganization and refurbishing has begun with enough units ready to allow me to clear the table........

Rally Round Your Colours Lads!

......., choose and setup a scenario, and then to play a game tomorrow.


Monday, June 5, 2023

It All Coming Back To Me Now

While I was sorting out the boxes of early to mid 19th Century figures and reviewing uniforms etc., I was reminded how much I disliked many of the War of 1812 uniforms, and that despite presenting a good variety of small actions, they were still fairly restricted from a wargame scenario POV. 

I also noted that once I had rehomed my big chunky Old Glory figures, about a decade ago, in order to focus on the smaller Scruby figures as well as my various homecast figures, including a number  of my original sculpts, (not masterpieces but my own progeny) my  1812 "armies" now have as many 1830/40's figures as 1812 ones. 

When I started assessing how much work it would be to swap heads and repaint my later figures to turn them back into 1812 figures, I called a halt until a Council of Wargamers could be held to discuss the matter.

A desperate charge by Col. Flowerdew at Faraway's surprise attack on Oberhilse's camp at Stony Creek. 

At the moment, it seems almost inevitable that the three Councillors (me, myself, and I) will vote unanimously to Officially reactivate my old 1830/40 Atlantica collection to play out scenarios, some based on historical 1812 battles, and other, fictional, scenarios with steamboats, trains, observation balloons, cavalry and all the rest. 

Stay tuned....

Sunday, June 4, 2023

A Call For Volunteers

 It's been nearly 20 years since my 1812 shrank from 54mm to 40mm and then had to go through various reorganizations and drill books. 

Homecast from my own sculpts. 2 new recruits waiting for uniforms.

"Never say never " but I'm satisfied that my old ways suit me best so I'm once again settling on 60mm wide bases for almost everything.

More to follow.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Now What.

This past week has been largely recuperate and catch up on domestic duties. However, I did at least do some planning.

Plans to re-home my 40mm War of 1812 having drifted into limbo, and having been happy with the return to 60mm wide bases and the Horse and Musket rules I used at Huzzah!, I broke the 1812 guys out and started planning.

More to follow.