EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I'm Gonna Need More Men!

By the time I'd done my homework and pushed some figures around, I found that, as suspected, I had been over all the various possibilities and resolved it a couple of years ago. I just hadn't needed the solution for the NorthWest game so had forgotten it.

The Final Game. In honour of Burns the British force is commanded by Colonel MacDuff and consists of 2 companies of the Scots Guards, 2 of the Black Watch a troop of Hussars and a gun. 

My mind had gone back to the old Macduff days when I could break down a battalion, detaching a company or two as skirmishers and recalling them later. I don't bother these days. For one thing, further reading gave me the impression that in battle, once half or so of a battalion had been sent out to skirmish, it could be reinforced but it was easier to call up reserves than to recall the skirmishers and reform in preparation for a close order asault.

So it is that in the Square Brigadier, there are small light or skirmisher units  and larger infantry units. The line infantry might have a thin security screen factored in but an 1870's style deployment of a heavy skirmish line and supports is to be represented by two light units in game terms. An  SB line unit represents an ACW or Indian Mutiny style battalion in line with perhaps a security line of skirmishers but relying on massed firepower and bayonets.

The real problem was just  a bit of confusion crossed with the already mentioned, scarcity of American toy soldiers and a surfeit of recent drafts variously labelled Square Brigadier in X or Tin Army of Y, none currently aimed at the 1860's.

Flank me? Flank you! Colonel Lannigan has sent two companies supported by artillery to take the farm anchoring the British light while two more companies and a company of cavalry hold the right against four British units.

I ended up playing the game today as originally laid down. Twice actually. One decisive American Win (Not pictured) and what was almost an equally successful British Win which turned into a last 1/2 of the 15th turn bare win.

Point of Balance. As the British make headway to the North, Lannigan brings up his gun in an effort to stem the British advance. The garrison in the farm is stalwart and holds.

The End. Turn 15. American initiative. It looks like Lanigan may have pulled a draw out by having his gun block the road but a desperate bayonet charge by Highkanders with MacDuff at their head drives the gun back and captures Lanigan with the last die roll of the game.

Friday, January 20, 2017

"and I Damn All Gentlemen!"

(In the words of Sergeant Kilraine.)

I sat down to resume the game today but suddenly realized that it wasn't the 'right' game any more! The rules I have been using for my North West games assume that all infantry are deployed as skirmishers with breechloaders but I had an itch to see formed battalions on the table as well and the urge to fallback to the 1860s and include rifled muskets was strong.

This may have something to do with my interest in the ACW and Fenian Raids which was the reason for buying 54mm ACW moulds in the first place but I have a strong suspicion that at least part of my discontent today arose from having just read over 'A Gentleman's War' .

Don't you hate encountering something like that then getting a nasty itch?

The Advanced Guards have fallen back and the main forces are now marching on.

So, having reset the table with 12 figure/4 stand infantry battalions, 2 stand/4 or 6 figure skirmisher detachments and cavalry squadrons  and  1 stand/4 figure artillery batteries, I've been looking over old versions of the Square Brigadier and Hearts of Tin for ideas and options for my  54mm gridded games.

I'm going to need more Bluebellies! Now, where'd I put that Zouave mould?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What We Need is a Diversion.

Today I felt like I "needed" a game.

I've been reviewing a slightly revised edition of Gentleman's War, Howard Whitehouse's toy soldier rules which I had played at Fall In and thought briefly about trying them out with my 54's. I have ample Redcoats but no longer have sufficient enemy infantry (though I will ere long). I have ample 40's but wish to give them some TLC before I deploy them again.

Anyway, I wanted to get my 54's out! Some variation of Square Brigadier then.
Imagine! Bumping into each other at a bridge! 
There was already a river and a road on the board so I decided to just do an equal encounter meeting engagement with both sides seeking to control the bridge. The stream is crossable by infantry and cavalry but artillery and wagons must use the bridge.

The setting and background is up in the air, just another border skirmish at some lightly settled point on a long frontier.

Turn three and the guns have opened fire.
Of course by the time I decided what I wanted to do, set the game up, and started playing, my time was over! Ah well, toy soldiers are patient and we will resume play tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Being flexible (updated)

Well the day has come and gone and I enjoyed myself, hopefully the players did too. It was certainly a close game for most of the more than two hours.

**Update. For the Hun's POV and a more detailed report of the game with more (and better) pictures, check out Jeff's Armchair Commander blog
Ping Pong table? Ohhhhhkay, I can stretch the terrain a bit.....

Even the smallest event can remind us of the potential need to react to the unforseen (ie friction). In this case I missed a passing reference to a ping-pong table in a day-before-email on start times.  I was expecting something like a 5x6 playing area.

Now, I could have just declared that we were only playing on 1/2 the table but I hate to surrender playing area without a struggle so I rearranged things a bit and stretched terrain out while berating myself for not extending the roads to the edge of the cloth as originally planned and for deciding not to bother bringing extra wall sections, trees etc. Aw well, one has to adapt, be flexible and make do as best as one can.

Told you we'd be safe from the horse archers in these woods. Enemy Light Infantry? Where?

The rules are still in development so I was especially glad to get in an actual test game with actual players before heading to Huzzah in May.

Over all they worked as intended but it was soon clear that I had forgotten to actually write down a couple of little things, relying on my own habits, and that there were, as usual, some different ways of doing certain things that I hadn't considered. I need to add the accidental omissions but also need to decide how picky I want to be. Do I need to be more explicit about manouver options, tweak the rules to be clearer and simpler (one man's simple is another man's puzzle) or just not worry about it. All this quick play, gridded stuff has made me more forgiving  but some contemplation is required.

I also need better a QRS which is going to require me to master the Android tools at my disposal. What would really help are unit stats on the back of the bases, I nearly got that done..........

All of the beef, mutton and flour were captured during the last couple of turns  but the Beer cart made it to the Fort which tried to declare a draw if not an outright win due to cargo value.

So much for the game, time to get back to Toy Soldiers with rifles.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Too Busy To Blog

I've had various topics to blog about this week, including a new Prince of Valdur adventure, but apart from the usual extra Winter type chores and the following recovery periods, I've been too busy.
The Centurions have been busy.

On Saturday I'll be running a Miniature Wargame at a multi-genre games day event. Not just a public venue but the first game that I've run for the guys from the valley who I've started gaming with a couple of times a year (except Jeff who I've gamed with for a decade) .  It doesn't need to be spectacular but it would be good if it was fun and doesn't embarass me by being too shoddy.

The chosen scenario is a minor variation of the venerable Wagon Train from Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, an old chestnut that rarely fails in any period. My choice of toys and rules was to make it the first public outing for both my new increased 'horde' of Elastolin Huns and Romans and my Gathering of Hosts rules. The trick was that neither were ready!

Between Dithering and Distractions, the refurbishing and integration of my new and old Elastolin hosts, which I had expected to have finished last fall, hadn't really begun. Taken slowly and done with loving care, this was a project that I could have dragged out and enjoyed for a decade or more, if that was my nature, but as it turns out, using my new 'wait, wait.....GO GO GO", impetuous, slapdash approach allowed me to make a final decision on permanent unit stands vs temporary units using individuals on magnetic movement trays, and get about 40 useable units based and refurbished in a week. In other words over half  of the figure pool and sufficient for the day.

The armies are a hodgepodge of original, repainted, partially repainted, converted and done from kits and I love 'em all.

I also managed to implement an idea I stole from Jeff ( Armchair Commander blog) a nail stuck in the base to hold my casualty rings.

A new armoured Hun, converted from a knight. Note post and red ring.

The basic idea and form of the rules was fairly set but some the exact details were swinging back and forth. Confirmation to a pattern vied with the attraction of strong differences and distinct characteristics for various troop types.

Then the whole thing nearly got ambushed and upset by an urge to go with 2 stand units on a 6" grid. A good idea on its own possibly but the associated Rough Wooing is a joint, nongridded, 1 stand is a unit, project and by covering the gridded table and playing a game I banished the deviant thought.

The quickly improvised test game. Not all the troops had been refurbished yet but I enjoyed myself.

Just player QR sheets to do including unit stats, combat modifiers etc and a mere handful of individuals needing a few more touch ups and I'll be ready to go.