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, October 18, 2017

Meanwhile, back on the workdesk

Just before interrupting myself for last Saturday's game set in.........what is the current accepted term for Twightlight years of the Roman Empire? Anyway, I was about to start updating some more old figures.
Oerberg Militia preparing for battle.
These lads were recruited almost a decade ago (in my pre-blog 'MacDuff on the Web' days) as a unit of Irregular mounted rifle unit, for my aborted Oregon War. The figures are Scruby ACW cavalry, in shell jackets, most wearing slouch hats. I took advantage of the original alt-history setting to borrow inspiration from various attractive uniforms from the 1840's ranging from Cape Mounted Rifles  to Texas Rangers.

Since I have decided to jettison the 1840's I now need these favourite figures to blend into an early 20thC setting so I have set to with my renewed store of Greenstuff to lengthen jackets and add ammunition bandoleers.

A lick of paint and varnish plus some regulation 2 man bases and there will be 2 stands of Oerberg citizen soldiers from two different units. I need to replace a couple of broken horses before I update the next 4 figures.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

No Animals Were Injured

It was the King's County Tabletop Game Fall Game Day in Kingston NS today so I took the opportunity to run 40mm Elastolin Late Roman vs Barbarian game using Mildly Modified Medieval Mayhem rules.

The game was played for the fun of a game with friends,  but also to give me some practice for my upcoming Huzzah game which will be a larger multi-faction affair.  
Martin, Mike & Paul early on. The cards in the river mark sections that have been checked for fords but not yet revealed to the enemy. Face cards were fords, a Joker indicated a difficult ford. A short ode please for the brave Saxon warriors swept away....
This game was a 3 sided border skirmish in Northern Britain. Roman, Saxon and Pict all had different victory conditions.  The Romans had to evict all non-Romans from the Roman side of the river while minimizing losses. The Saxons had to establish a bridgehead , minimize losses and get rid of as many Romans as possible regardless of who did it. The Picts were out to bring home some beef on the hoof while minimizing losses.

Bonus points were earned by having your Commander engage in an heroic duel with an enemy Commander.

One of my little modifications was to give each player one die which could be used once to reroll a die for his commander including to reroll an enemy impact die on him. Two were used in the game, one failed, the other helped the Roman commander survive the first fatal blow against him........

The Climactic Moment.
As his Saxon allies waver, Dearg Mor finally lays low Count Martinus
(who stays down this time)
The short version is that we enjoyed the game. It took about 3 hours to play, had some ups and downs in fortune and the winner remained in doubt right up to the end. All in all then, it worked.

However,  the rules were designed for a narrow set of parameters with the intent of being able to read everything off the table as in looking at the table and being able to see what was what. That worked well with the 100 Years context with only a handful of figure types so that it was easy to tell knight from man-at-arms from archer and no units, just retinues.

In this game, with smaller, more fanciful, figures and about a dozen variations of troop type and 4 levels of morale, it was much harder for players to recognize who was what. It also felt odd to me for Roman infantry to drift from unit to unit and so on. The skirmishers and horse archers sort of worked without any special rules but at the same time they didn't really feel 'right'.

I'm also concerned because even with only 3 players I found myself taking rules  shortcuts and being very liberal as to what I allowed in order to keep the game flowing. I have no idea how Rob manages to keep so many single combats flowing with 6 or 8 players. I suspect this may be where having fewer troop types helps?

The end.
The Saxons are clinging to a bridgehead but have lost 50% including their Earl, and will no longer advance. The Romans have failed to evict the invaders and have lost their Count and nearly 1/2 their men. The Picts haven't captured any cows but songs will be written about Dearg Mor's victorious duel with the Count and only one warrior was lost so it was a good day for them. Besides they have to pass the 1/2 empty Saxon camp on their way home, might be a few surplus cows there now...... 

Anyway, my conclusions are that the Mayhem system could work OK for my game, but I would like something which flows faster, less time spent on combat resolution and identifiable units which stay together with separate characters.  Something like what I used  for a 54mm  Prince Valiant game at Cold Wars about 14 or so  years ago.

Needs some thought.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Over Two Years in the Making

Bit of trivia for the day. It seems the bugler who sounded the Charge for the Light Brigade at Balaklava was named William Brittain. Not the same spelling as the famous maker of Toy Soldiers but close enough to elicit a "Hunh! How about that.".
Oerberg Republican Constabulary galloping towards their assigned bases.

Just got to cut one more base and mount these lads up. I did some digging back through old posts and it seems they've been in the "to be done" pile since at least March of 2015. Practically new then!

I had a mental image of how they should look but couldn't quite remember what sparked it. The Blue and khaki smacked of Teddy Roosvelt and his Rough Riders so I looked them up and close but not quite right. Eventually I remembered a B&W lithograph in my old faithful, pages falling out old,  Boer War book. Sure  enough there they were, illustrations of the British South Africa Mounted Police, in action during the Matabele War  and Jameson's Raid. I must have imagined the colours at the time based on the B&W shading where the shirts were darker. As far as I can tell it is roughly right though in younger years I might have made an attempt to roll the sleeves up and open the neck.

Anyway eight had been bought to provide Mounted Police and ordinary Commandos for Oerberg so they've ended up in the right place.

Dismounted O.R.C's to follow along with non-uniformed Oerbergers ere too long.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What I meant to say.....

It didn't take long for me to realize that I had not been clear in my last post that I was celebrating having solved a longstanding puzzle to do with the background and history of the fictional world that I initially started work on nearly 20 years ago. However, I was too busy casting figures, modifying maps and imagineering (as Bill Protz says) to post again yesterday.

Thank you all for the well meant, and appreciated, suggestions.
Atlantican Guides. Grey sheepskin cap with red bag, black coat.  Zinnbrigade conversion.
(Any fleeting to resemblance to the winter uniform we wore at Military College in the '70's is merely nostalgic.) 

Meanwhile, I've been busy casting and converting some new units.

Sometime this month I will post an updated map and background page on the, so far, largely unknown northern half of Atlantica.  That will lead in turn to the real start of planning and preparing for the series of wars that started in 1895.

Hopefully, I will also write some more posts about my experience of imagining and developing a fictional background. I was  a little surprised that I've actually written very little on the idea of it since 2011! For a teeny bit more on the idea and some issues see the following 2011 posts:

Uncovering the history of places that never were.

More on discovering imaginary peoples

The original development c 2000 of what became known as Atlantica was documented on my old webpage: With MacDuff on the Web. One day I should recover the files from disk while (if) I still can.

Oerberg Republican Constabulary.Scruby ACW on Zinnbrigade horses.
Blue shirts, drab hats and pants.

But in the mean time, there are troops to paint!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

So where is he going with this then?

For a number of years now I've been trying and failing to get  a "Colonial" campaign going within the context of the shiny Toy Soldier Island of Atlantica. I've started on a couple of what seemed like good ideas which have all stalled.

There seem to have two major sorts of obstacle. The first comes when I just can't seem to get motivated to work on the sort of figures that fill out what seems like a good option.

The second comes when there  is some sort of clash between what I get from my reading about the original history and what I want from my games. For example, the Boer War appeals but the range of credible scenarios is very limited and one has to either accept the limitations or leave the inspiration far behind. Neither option is attractive in cases where both matter.
There is one sort of troops that I originally wanted to fit into Atlantica but later  erased as a different backstory developed, almost against my will. That was Cossacks! I also wanted to sort of Afghan-ish mountain tribes and some hint of an Indian Mutiny sort of 'thing' where trained native troops rebelled. All of this was of course to be set around the middle of the 19th Century and WWI was not on the radar. 

As the time frame moved forward I came up with a vague blend of ideas blending Boer War, and Mexican revolution themes. These ideas could work but then a chance discovery did me in and sent me right back to long ago to old dreams of Cossacks, trains and machine guns.  

At the time I was looking at Canadian involvement in WW1 and also reading what I could find about the various non-European campaigns when I came across Colonel Dunster's diary from the Baku expedition. The what? Where is Baku and why were British trops there, let alone a handful of Canadians? Well, its in the Caucasus and they were there to train soldiers, including Armenians, to fight the Turks. I might  have let it go but at the time there was talk of a Canadian expedition to the region to train Armenian soldiers 100 years later.

Now, I have no intention or interest in setting up an historical campaign in this twisted, multi-faction setting that involved not only the British vs the Turks during WW1 and the Russian Civil War but also a host of bitter racial and religious factions with all the bloodshed and cruelty that tends to unleash. 

However, its alien enough to me that I'm happy to invent my own fake-history and  I've always had a 'thing' for Cossacks and for hardy mountain tribesmen, and WWI and for armoured cars, trains, and .... well. Have a look at this Australian War Memorial movie. The B&W clip should start at a significant point with a certain piece of equipment which is painted a very light  grey  which is fairly close to the tropical uniforms and the surrounding terrain.  

Baku Armoured Car Clip

The whole clip is well worth watching though. Surprisingly  there are other videos on the Caucasus in WW1, not surprising most are not in English though often dubbed or subtitled. 


Meanwhile planning of forces is going hand to hand on work rolling the backstory back to when there were supposed to be free range Cossacks or Circassians in what has since become known as Atlantica. The shift to the
South Atantic has helped.