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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hook's Trading Post and A Truce

This month has seen an almost unparalleled focus on one subject. All I have painted or played has been my 54mm NorthWest or Cyprus Hills game. Its time to switch focus for a few weeks so beware of Tricornes in September, and maybe a few other things.

Yesterday saw one last quick game. Really it deserves a full telling and narrative but not only was I  tired but I was called away several times by duties as jack of all. Now, the memories are fast fading and the pictures too few and too poor so this will be a quick "fare thee well till we meet again" post for the 54's.  Don't worry, they'll be back well before Christmas.

Its been 5 1/2 years since my Britain's engaged in battle at Hook's Farm and it seemed like as good a scenario as any to close the month with.
The Canadian and  US forces meet again at the site of Hook's Trading Post and Firely Mission. Each side having by arrangement a General, 2 Colonels, 2 cavalry, 6 infantry, and a gun.
I have been fearing, and working to avoid, this moment for 6 years now. Having cracked open the 54's and tried out actual toy style fashions on them, its going to be hard to keep them from expanding out of the box. Not only does that threaten the "No duplication of period, game scale and theatre of war in different figure sizes" rule but also the space distribution in my room, especially since "54mm wars" creep threatens.  We'll see.

A cavalry clash goes terribly for the Canadians but the Highlanders hold steady. They are unable to drive the Irish from the Whiskey Trader's General Store however and eventually Douglas concentrates on his left. 

Another old fluctuating choice beckons as well. When I started in 54's around 1995, I wrote a set of 1 stand = a unit rules but got drawn into Old School singles for Colonial's and for the War of 1812. Ever since I've felt the pull back to one base units and its strong now. I like knocking figures over for photos for a while but eventually the novelty wears off. With small units, not only does it look odd to me to have a single figure left as a functioning unit  and not only are stands easier to deploy and clear away and less prone to damage but I just have this odd irrational attraction to the idea of Permanence that a fixed and labelled stand has. A neat contrast of Permanence for toys, things which are usually considered Impermanent by nature. A question for later.

The end of turn 15 and with each side holding 1 objective, the American morale collapses. They have only 4 of 9 units left in action while the Canadians still have 6. Three turns earlier the Canadians had been behind thanks largely to the astonishing combat and rally dice of the Black Horse cavalry. E troop I'm afraid fell prey to "new unit syndrome".  

Summer is over (ok not technically). Autumn is coming!  (We have more than 2 season here..)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reinforcements Ride In

I didn't manage a game this weekend but I did make time to cast 3 heads and convert 3 more Britain's Light Dragoons into US cavalry.

E Troop charges across the plains.

Good thing they aren't the next Troop.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Unfinished Business

After another entertaining game at Ron's yesterday (WWII Grant scenario using Airfix Battles), I came home and started to clear my table. I thought that might make it easier to work on the ACW scenario I have started to plan, a sort of "inspired by historical events" thing rather than a refight.

By the time I got the figures and trees put away, I was getting twitchy. Wouldn't it make sense to test the cancelled OHW scenario before clearing the hill? Wouldn't really take long to put figures and a few decorative bits of scenery back on would it? My Indians haven't been out since the first skirmish, I could put the Yanks on the hill attacked by a small but mobile force of Indians............

The set up.
The OHW scenarios call for units to be between 4" and 6" wide on a 3 ft x 3 ft table. Normally I double the number of units so that my forces occupy the same footprint on my table as 6" wide units on his but since I didn't have enough refurbished Indians I went with one and a half times the number of units equating to the footprint of 4" wide units. This gave me 6 units of Indians attacking what was meant to be 6 American units on the hill with 3 in reserve but I just realized that I had only placed 3 infantry, 1 gun and 1 cavalry on the hill or in other words, all of the painted American forces but short one unit. Oh well, it happens.

In my rules the Cree, Blackfoot and Assiniboine move quickly, mounting or dismounting as required without the horses being shown or running on foot when required but have reduced firepower to reflect their lack of ammunition and modern firearms at this point. They also have a lower melee value and unit strength to reflect their preference for skirmishing tactics on foot and their inability to afford heavy casualties. In game terms this forces them to make the most of their manoeuvrability to surround vulnerable enemies with concentrated mid range fire and the use the Give Ground rule to minimize losses. It worked like a charm.  

The Indians quickly flank the hill but lack the assault capability to carry it in a rush instead  converging fire to drive back the Volunteer units one after another.
It took a while to adapt to the 'only two units may move or fight'  rule for the Americans (2x1.5=3 units here) but I did let units defend themselves in melee and once I got a feel for things it worked without feeling silly. After some hemming and hawing I decided that rallying counted as moving or fighting. At first I worried about trying to rally units on the hill who had been shot up or forced back but eventually I just left them as speed bumps and moved at least one reinforcement each turn. This resulted in the Indians taking almost all of the second contour but since the contours kept blocking their line of sight when the Americans gave ground and they had taken losses and couldn't really afford to assault except as a last resort, it took time to follow up between shots given the Yanks a breathing space.

I only succeeded in bringing up two of the reinforcing units but they were decisive in counter attacking the hill. It did not help that with Strombecker at their head, they were rolling buckets full of 5's and 6's.  On turn 15  an unsupported charge by B Company retook the last peak and a desperate last ditch assault by the remaining battered Indian units was swept away by defensive fire breaking their army morale to achieve a decisive victory for the boys in blue.  

General Byrd went down while rallying a volunteer unit but Colonel Strombecker came up with the reserves and retook the hill in a series of assaults. 

I was pretty sure that the scenario would work well with my rules once I swapped forces to protect the ego of my red coated defenders who were already on a losing streak and I was right. It was a close 40 minute game  made more so by the difference in troop types and thus a difference in tactical options.  There were a number of points where the unpredictability of combat threatened to topple one side or the other but it always balanced out leaving the player choices King in the end. Once again trusting to luck proved to be a poor plan. That said, a regular attacker might have had an easier time.  (hmm maybe I should test that....)

Now, back to trying to write the rules to accurately reflect the way I actually play the game.

Oh and there's that 1/72nd ACW thing..........might take me to the Labour Day weekend to get that on the table.