How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Pudel and Peper attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Wargaming: An Introduction" by Neil Thomas - Reviewed

Got this somewhat battered copy a while ago, and have read all the rules a few times. With chatter at the AMW yahoo group and some inspiration from my pal Steve at Sound Officer's Call! about looking for the right Horse and Musket rules, it's time to look into this book.

BLUF: If you're new to the hobby and have some time to invest in thinking before you buy, then BUY THIS BOOK! If you are an old hand at wargaming but beginning to feel jaded OR an interest in design is starting to get a hold of you, OR you are contemplating new periods to get into, BUY THIS BOOK! At about $20, and with all games perfectly playable with cut-out cardboard bits, there's no way to go wrong.

If you want to know more, then read on!

BOOK ITSELF: Soft cover, 178 pp and solidly bound - no complaints there. Further details in Amazon here where it has 4.5 stars and sells used about $20 with shipping.

CONTENT: has a preface that answers the wife or teacher's question of "Why Wargaming?" Iain Dickie of Miniature Wargames magazine starts off: "Life in today's society is hedged about by complex rules and convoluted relationships. Understanding those rules and deciphering the relationships is essential, not just to create a successful career but also to deal with life's setbacks with equanimity." He then posits quite reasonably that the skills one develops on the game table are ones which will help one do well in life, wither starting a business project, job interviewing, moving house or changing partners." Not bad.

Mr. Dickie also makes some great suggestions for the budding wargamer:

  • Buy all the figures you need to get started lest the manufacturer close down!
  • Pick opponents carefully, some to learn from, others to teach,
  • Look for friends and clubs who share and support your interest,
  • Seek to extend yourself by hosting team games and campaigns.
Noting that all these, skillfully done, can become career enhancements, and are in fact used by military staff and some civil governments.

Mr. Thomas kicks off Ch. 1 "What is Wargaming", stating that "the object of the exercise is twofold; firstly, to enjoy a stimulating game and secondly, to appreciate how battles were fought, and why they were won and lost, throughout history." He then gives a history of wargaming from chess to Kriegspiel to boardgames [started in the USA with Avalon Hill and then SPI in the 1950s] to D&D, to miniatures in Great Britain. This he traces from H.G. Wells "Little Wars" to Featherstone, Bath, and the goal of simple, enjoyable rules.

This heads into a quick foray to WRG and some interesting comments along the lines of "less details and modifiers is actually more realism" that hold real merit, IMHO. He puts forward Phil Barker's DBA as a "less is more realistic" design that puts the gamer in the role of General, not Unit Commander. He then leads us into the "DBA wargames revolution" towards simpler rules, putting forward the Games Workshop designs, including Warhammer Ancients" as results of this sort of thinking - fun can be realistic depending on the player's role in the process, and avoiding tedious paperwork. He concludes that his rules have a similar intention: to use simple processes to bring about historically valid outcomes.

I wonder what he'd say about the bloated monstrosity of Games Workshop over recent years, and the collapse of Warhammer Fantasy, 40K and Ancients for similar reasons - unplayable games with too many special rules that drown the player in paperwork! There's certainly something to be learned here, but I doubt that Battlefront is going to learn it.

Mr. Thomas then brings the reader to the purpose of the book - playing wargames. His next chapter gets you started, and then he gets into the six sets of rules - five periods plus skirmish rules - that make up the books wargaming content:

As you can see, the periods are Ancient, Pike and Shot, Napoleonic, American Civil War, WWII, plus a set of all-purpose skirmish rules [that I've played and worked with several times in my Dark Ages blog, "Spear to the Strife" HERE].

These run from about 3000 B.C. to WWII yet all contain certain design concepts, including: casualty point removal leading to morale checks and base losses that result in Unit disintegration and eventual removal or uselessness. The Ancients set has 11 Unit types all explained, followed by explanation of his concepts for Movement, Shooting, Armor [Armour!], and Hand-to-hand combat. 

Victory is obtained through reducing the opposition to 25%, or 2 of the 8 Units all armies start with in these rules. There is an interesting twist with exiting your Units off your opponents board edge - it counts as eliminated but two of the enemy Units are also eliminated as they dash away to protect the camp or just panic! So there's a reward for gaining ground and pushing on, in a 2-1 ratio, exactly.

He concludes that his goal is an historically valid, yet playable and exciting game, and reminds us that game rules are always works in progress that may need to be altered.

Each set of rules has an explanation on basing, altho they are not tied to the basing strictly. The Turn Sequence is always:
  1. Charges
  2. Movement
  3. Shooting
  4. Hand-to-Hand
  5. Morale
One is then brought through the rules which are written in the order of the Turn Sequence above. After the rules are five Ancient periods with two armies each, including the Persian invasion of Greece, Alexander's invasion of Persia, The Punic Wars [plus the Zama Campaign], Imperial Rome, and the Later Crusades.

Pike and Shot brings the rules forwards into the 16th and 17th C. with six Renaissance periods, including: the Italian Wars, French Religious Wars, Dutch War of Independence, Elizabeth I's Irish Wars, the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil War.

The rules then jump forward into Napoleonic Wargaming. [skipping the tricorne period, surprisingly] including all the well-known theaters from the Peninsula War to Central Europe, Russia and even Egypt, and in time from Revolutionary France to Waterloo. Some AARs are over at Sound Officer's Call HERE.

From there it is an easy slide forward into very similar rules for the American Civil War. This has very generalized army lists rolled by periods of the war including 1861, 1862-3, 1864-5, and varying in size from 7 to 14. Unit Morale is also based upon die rolling, which can take place before the game or - more interestingly - during the game when the Unit takes it's first morale test! Altho ACW experts [self-declared as well as military historians] may dispute some of Mr. Thomas' conclusions, there's little denying some generalized truths and lots of difficulties and fun in the playing, I think.

Oddly, the book then presents the skirmish rules, which I think are a very solid basic design, and should be able to cover Ancients to pre-maching guns [there are repeaters and revolvers] with no modifications, altho tricky items like chariots and elephants are not provided! Army lists are for the Queen Victoria colonial era, and include: The Sikh Wars, the Indian Mutiny, the Second Afghan War, Zulu War, Egypt and the Sudan, and conclude with the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902.

We then returned to unit-based wargaming with WWII. Here we find a very admirable foray into a period that is bloated with more than just the horrors of the actual war - too many wargames are bloated from the horrors of rivet-counters and Newtonian Physics Phans. These come in at only 8 pages of rules! An AAR is HERE. These diverge the most from the previous four unit-based designs which are very similar.

The WWII Turn Sequence is:
  1. Morale
  2. Movement
  3. Anti-personnel firing: small arms
  4. Anti-personnel firing: artillery
  5. Tank, Anti-Tank Gun, and Assault Gun fire
  6. Close assaults
The sequence of fire should be noted as an important element of the design.

There are 15 categories of Units overall, with 8 for movement, 4 for small-arms shooting, 2 for Artillery, 3 Armor and 4 tank gun categories. Still quite a bit for "simple" rules, but needless to say one doesn't need to use all of them in a scenario! There are 39 tanks from 7 belligerents covered. 

Periods for the army lists are Blitzkrieg 1940, Western Desert 1941 [and 1942], Eastern Front 1942-43, Western Front 1944-45, the Pacific 1941-5. There are four scenarios:
  1. Encounter Battle
  2. Frontal Assault
  3. Surprise Assault
  4. Escalating Engagement
each of which has different numbers and types of units shaping the battle.

Suffice it to say, there is much of the "less is more realistic" philosophy in this set of rules, and I have to say that I've quite come around to Mr. Thomas' way of thinking. This is largely based upon a combination of two things - reading memoirs and the limits of my real life time, tolerance and treasure. Both are slowly but surely pushing me into a "less is more" frame of mind, perhaps better said as a "game of mind". When you read how officers are thinking from company commander up, they aren't terribly worried about the nuances of AT rounds and does Pvt. Snuffy have warm boots. They are trying to set up their company to fulfill the mission given, with the resources at hand. A good frame of mind for the gamer, also.

The book concludes with some useful addresses, a short but good bibliography, and - amazingly - an index.

Summary: Almost anyone can use this book, including the wargamer who didn't get "just what he wanted" for Christmas. Grab a copy and become edified, and even challenged, by Mr. Thomas' direct prose and relatively simple - but not simplistic - games. Further thinking on this book is available in these threads at Sound Officer's Call HERE to which I happily refer you since Steve has played more of the games than I have.

Next up - my first foray into the ACW rules from this book, using a OHW Scenario.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Romanoff Pikemen - RTW1 'Charge Your Pike!'

This set has the same approach as the other Romanoff packs, 5 multi-pose figures who therefore require some thinking and assembling. This does result in an ability to play with the poses and reduce the "toy soldier effect" if desired, and get more realism albeit at the price of some more work. There are:
  • 5 identical bodies / trunks in back-and-breast with tassets [no gorget],
  • 5 identical nicely sculpted swords,
  • 6 pairs of arms [2 types - one set has the right had pushing the pike from the rear end of it, the other set has the right hand holding the pike shaft, so based on the provided arms you will have three of one and two of the other],
  • 5 heads with helmets in three types [2-2-1, the 1 has no mustache, the two others both have a slightly different face with very different helmets].
All are pretty clean with nice small details like the fastening buckles on the armor, etc.

When assembled, they will look something like the below pic; this nicely shows both hand sets and the narrower helmet of the closest pikeman compared to the others, so for example you could have pikes up as high as about 45 degrees or completely leveled with the ground:
with gracious permission from Andy the OGUK chap! Check out his site for more pics.

It should also be noted that the arms all have the somewhat "older fashion" of wings on the shoulders.  These are part of the arm sculpt and as they were falling out of fashion during the ECW one may consider trimming them off or down a bit.

For me, I like a little more variety in the leg posturing, and I've included the pic from my other post on Romanoff musketeers firing, to show how I snip the base and then use it as a lever to manipulate the leg somewhat. Combined with some head and arm posing differences, and you get a nice natural and realistic effect.
Based upon the above pics, and a close examination of the two sets of arms, I can actually see a few other possibilities for "postures" [poses] of these pikemen.  Looking at my trusty copy of de Gheyn [by Dover Editions] I'd say that the most restrictive pair of arms is the one with the long-extended right arm, but could still have the following postures:

Granted, these are not radically different poses!  But you can see this as both a fighting posture and a transitional posture in the notations.

For the other pair of arms, there's several different postures:

These two show a high point, useful to spare cavalry figures in contact a spear in the face! The second is some sort of trailing pike posture, which also shortens the distance the pike tip would be in front of the figure and therefore within the base.

These two postures have an interesting facing, with a flat body but forward pike. The lowered tip will - again - keep that tip out of the way for gaming. Only thing about this posture is the left hand would have to be flipped over so the palm is down [twisting, or cutting off and gluing back on].

I think these pics show how effective a real drill manual is - that is also easily accessible - and how simple it is to not only get variety of pose but also to find historical postures that are "gaming friend" and teach a bit about drill in the 17th C.

Hope this is useful for you if you are considering getting into 40mm, ECW, or just picking up a few packs of these sculpts to make a unit.  Mine will make their way into my ECW story as some sort of Trained Bande for the county in which my fighting will take place.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Going Small p.2 - 6mm Bacchus Fig prep

EDIT: Started this post and it was basically finished before I got busy with 1:1 Army and departed for a while.  Returned and things have just been too busy and motivation was not there.  I then departed again for more 1:1 fun and while away got a great email from a gaming pal who sent me Neil Thomas' "Simplicity in Practice" which I devoured in my tiny amount of down time in billet. Anyway, here's P.2 of the 6mm saga...

Having decided on the 6mm project, I'm pretty excited to see how the figs prep and paint up. I'm very much hoping that it will be faster than 10/15mm and certainly than 25mm. Needless to say, this will depend on technique and some practice working with them. I've put some thought into it and am also timing the project so that you can see how long it takes for yourself.

Below, pic of the Bacchus figure blocks - they come in groups of four figures marching side-by-side [meant to stay together] or in file [meant to be cut apart and mounted in skirmish groups].  The blocks are very easy to work with and I highly recommend using them instead of Adler if you are interested in speed. I cleaned them in warm water with dishsoap then a quick brushing with a soft toothbrush to clean off any casting residue - about 30 min.

Below, final concept for these ACW brigade bases.  The bases will be 6x3", with six stands of 1.5" x 3.4" representing about 3-6 regiments. Each stand fits 16 figures in two ranks, or four blocks. The pennies represent one small base for a mounted leader - the Brigadier - and two small bases for skirmishers. They'll look good on the Unit base, but also I'm still toying with using them as indicators for skirmish deployments in the advanced rules.

Below, I took the blocks and organized them into Brigades as above, each craft stick has 32 figures so are two bases of the six, ergo three sticks is a Brigade. The file blocks of firing figures - skirmishers - also make perfectly good shooting regiments, and as I've plenty of them and little need for many skirmishers they're becoming a Brigade also, but have half as many figures per stick, so you can see them clustered together in the left column.
The total is five Units - Brigades - plus several bases of gunners, mounted generals and enough skirmishers for two small bases per Unit. Combined with the painted figures I have from the trade, this'll give me nine Units of infantry and 2-3 of Artillery. No cavalry yet. The gluing process went quickly, about another 30 minutes for one hour total thus far.

Below are the primed figures. I toyed with a few ideas including using white for them all, or sky blue for the Union. As most of the leather is black, I went with black for the Union to block paint the jacket blue. The Rebs are grey and brown [butternut] so I'll have to paint their leather at least in part. I'm hoping to figure out if it is easier to paint the grey primed figs some brown or the brown figs some grey! The Union sky-blue trousers should be easy to hit with paint, especially in the blocks. This took an hour to spray then hit again with a brush using thinned-down pain, so I'm at two hours for about 500 Bacchus figs - that's FAST!

Below, some close-ups of the figures, the lighting shows the details much better when they are primed than when they are bare metal, especially the straps and pouches.

So far, very happy with this project. It is going quickly and I think the blocks of 32 small figures will look good on the bases. I put a lot of thinking into it, and so far I seem to be correct in many assumptions and approaches - hope it stays like that!

Despite feeling a bit overworked on the big-battle ACW rules, I like the concept of where the 6mm is going, and am considering a few other options like using Simplicity in Practice or perhaps Altar of Freedom, and I've a pal who thinks Volley and Bayonet are "all that and a bag of chips / crisps".  We'll see!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

S&S Dragoons - 40ECW101 & 102

Ok, the first of the reinforcements in my mind is the dragoons.  They come in a pack of 5 foot or 3 mounted for $14.50 or $23 respectively. All the figures are very nice, and they are a must for any serious gamer as they are present in every engagement, and they are basically the "first to go, last to know" people of the ECW.

The foot pack has two firing, one loading, one cocking and one ready to fire, but not leveled yet. There are five heads with brimmed hats [cavalier style] and one Monmouth and one Montero cap.  All are very crisp, nice castings, and look like a pleasure to paint in the near future.  The interesting thing is that with two mounted packs [6 figs] and one foot pack [5 figs] you get the one lost figure who's holding horses.   Still, they are a lot more expensive than regular foot, so it is great that they are lovely figs.

Each stands about 32mm high without a head [granted, an important issue for all soldiers of the ECW] and has cavalry boots and about 12 "apostles" of powder to load with, which distinguishes them from regular cavalry or infantry.

Below a comparison shot of Romanoff officer from the command pack and one of the dragoons. Clearly, the Romanoff is about 3mm taller, in the 35-56mm height range, that's not taking into account the height of heads that are interchangeable, in any event.

As for the mounted dragoons, there are the same three as usual horses. Two figs are identical and holding a matchlock musket in a hand that is unattached. One is holding the musket braced against his thigh in one piece. There are 4 big hats, one montero and one monmouth head.

Overall, these are great figs, and well worth my time and effort. While I'm not thrilled about the horses, I'll hope that they all fit together better than the cavalry.

Since dragoons are "force 1 figures" who fight nearly all the time, I'm glad these are nicely done. They will figure prominently in skirmish and larger games, providing a mobile force of firepower and seizing objectives just like they did in real life.

The only thing that's a tad annoying is the expense - a force of 6 mounted and 5 dismounted dragoons is about $60, but one doesn't have to field them as a single force, so I look at it as about two small units for $30 each. I figure in colonial times, these mounted men would serve as scouts and work the road networks most likely, as well as occasionally venturing out into the less densely overgrown wilderness, so will be very useful.

In any event, looking forward to painting these up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

40mm Reinforcements Arrived! Terrain gathering...

Well, they arrived quite a long time ago - almost exactly a year ago.  So long ago that I'd forgotten I ordered them! Quite embarrassing, really.  So just to remind myself what was ordered here it is:

40RTW1 Armoured Pikemen "Charge Your Pike" 5 figs @$17
$17 to make Romanoff Trained Bande of 15 figs + command

40ECW3 Musketeers Firing, 20 figs @ $45

40ECW202 Infantry Command B, 5 figs @ $17
$62 for 25 more foote

40ECW5 Cavalry in Back-and-Breast 7 figs @$45 [parliament cavalry with Pistols]
40ECW203 Cavalry Command 3 figs @$23
$68 for 10 more cav figs

40ECW101 Mounted Dragoons 3 figs @$23 x 2 = 46

40ECW102 Dismounted Dragoons 5 figs @$14.50 x 2 = $29
$75 for 6 mounted and 10 dismounted dragoons

TOTAL = $ 222.00

Shipping from Old Glory was pretty quick, I remember, and no problem despite the Christmas season.

So, first comments...The figs look great - especially the dragoons, who I'd definitely get more of.  The firing musketeers are also very nice.  The cavalry and Romanoff are like the previous cavalry and Romanoff, needing some assembly and work. The foote dragoons and firing musketeers just need their heads screwed on [don't we all...] and a little cleanup.

All are very nice figures, and I'll be doing a series of reviews of them very soon.  This force puts me around 100 foote and 28 horse, enough to do plenty of games.

Along those lines, my recent inspiration has been to play skirmish games where 1 Figure = 1 Man.  This way even just 10-15 men will make a game.  I also have some cattle from my 40mm adventure in Vikings and Saxons - they were acquired inexpensively at a train shop [since closed, regrettably...the train and hobby stores are closing quite regularly in the region].  The only thing left to get organized is the terrain.

To that end, I'm grateful it is Christmastime [well, almost Christmastide] which is when the craft stores will be dumping all their extra stock of Christmas towns, etc.  I'm prepared to hit the local Michael's and wherever else on Christmas Monday to see what they want to get rid of - previously, I've done quite well, acquiring a village wall, plenty of hedges and a few odds and ends. I wasn't sure they'd fit in here, but the hedges are just around gun height, and I'm considering making some stands for the hedge bases in the future:

The hedges look a bit shorter at this angle, but you can see that the second fellow has his hand near the top. In the distance, you can see that the classical ruins from the pet store [for aquariums] are a little small, but not bad, while the 25mm hills just don't fit. Featured to left is my fiery Cavalier general, who is clearly giving an oration to his safely hiding musketeers - is he exhorting them to advance, or just berating them for sacking a local village without his permission? That story has yet to develop!

Very much desired on my holiday shopping will be a bridge, some craft birdhouses and wagons. Plastic floor mats make good planted fields, and there are some sources for Canadian Pine Stems here, which I shall look into:

These sources were found at Lead Adventure Forum, at this nice little batrep I saw recently:
not only does the terrain look great, but it is about a game with just what I was thinking - using Muskets and Tomahawks for the late Renaissance, including Colonial Adventures!  More on this very soon...

Hope the return to 40mm is interesting to followers of this blog - interestingly, there will be more on 6mm and rules to play them very soon, but they are all headed in the same direction, which is interesting and fast play with interesting and fast painting!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Going Small p.1 - 6mm Basing, Decisions & Concepts

Life is full of surprises, some little and less important - like everything in this hobby!  I'd been thinking of some concepts to "go small" due to my frequent play with the NT rules on a little 3x4' IKEA folding table in my office - frequently seen in AARs here.  But I can be quite picky when it comes to actually painting up and working with certain figures.  If I don't like the figs or the final result, I lose interest in the project.  

Perhaps, too, the irony of a 6mm or 10mm project on a 40mm ECW blog was a bit weighty!  

Whatever has happened with that project?  I got it to the point of playtesting the OHW rules several posts ago, here, and I've been neglecting it ever since. I'm a bad person!

Anyway, our inspiring pal over at Cambronne's Reply had a whole series of appealing and detailed posts RE: working and playing OHW with 6mm figures that I was at least willing to consider it.  I liked the possibility of a more historical top-down view of a deployed regiment but still wasn't sure about the figures themselves - yet things just kept moving that way.  

First, I found myself unsatisfied with the appearance of the 25mm figures when laid out for battle basing.  The small number of figs weren't the effect I wanted.  Below, some pics of concepts for bases and Units for WSS using my painted 25mm Old Glory Hessians. 

At top are the French-style deep formation of 4-5 ranks. At bottom are the British / Dutch style 3-rank formation. While one does look wider, the 2 v. 3 ranks of figures isn't obvious enough, and they look like a squad or platoon rather than a regiment. 

Below, same from the other side. French deep style up close and British style facing them up top. The Brits are on 6" bases and the French on 4.5" wide bases for 12 and 13.5 inches total a regiment. Just not liking this much, so did some drawing to see alternatives.

Below, some concept drawings made with a 6" craft stick upon which I drew the 4-fig blocks from Bacchus, just to get a feel of what they look like.  I thought the mass effect of 70-80 figures per regiment was quite nice, and also gave better distinction to the way that War of Spanish Succession regiments fought, French deep or British shallow.  The top drawing is British style, the bottom one French style.

While the large number of figures per regiment seems a tad daunting, the fact that one only needs four Units of infantry for OHW, then two each of Guns, Cavalry and Skirmishers [if one has skirmishers] made it seem more feasible.  The total number of infantry would be 300-400 a side in this concept. Still quite a few, I admit, but maybe they paint up faster? Couldn't make up my mind so this sat around for a few months.

Then I dropped by an FLGS to check on the hobby and a gaming pal. There, I got a few micro-games, historical ones in pouches. While I rarely touch boardgames anymore, I have always had a soft spot for simpler ones that are inexpensive, and Decision Games seemed to deliver on that. I got one for Operation Crusader [my third or fourth on that subject!] and one for Germantown. 

Altho the map was a bit disappointing regarding elevations in particular, the expanded design notes here certainly got me thinking a lot about larger games with smaller figures. Below, British set up just south of Germantown [now within Philadelphia's city limits] with incoming patriots in blue at road entry points.
This also got me thinking along the lines of grand strategic miniatures rules that one could use to resolve combat for a campaign game based off of a board game design.

The final straw was when Steve over at Sound Officer's Call let out that he had a pile of 6mm lead he no longer wanted and was willing to trade for it.  He even let me borrow the painted ones, about 14 little units worth, to try them out and see how I liked the scale. These were featured on this blog here and other posts about the ACW tinkering with the OHW rules. 

I also borrowed some of his 10mm painted napoleonics to see how they'd look on my basing concept of a brigade a base or so. Below, 10mm brigades in line and column with attached battery. 10mm figures by Old Glory.

Below, 15mm counters from Napoleon's Battles by Avalon Hill. Convenient and quite forgotten, these struck me as still too big for what I was thinking compared to the 10mm.

The final result was that I ended up with a load of many hundreds of the little tykes - altho they pretty much look like toy soldiers in the hands of my 40mm ECW generals as seen in the last post! Embarrassingly, I don't actually know how many figures there are - perhaps 1,000?  More? Steve didn't know altho he gave an estimate on prices and numbers. There are several of these tackle boxes filled with stuff! More as this situation develops.

12,000 Visits... updates, present and future projets

Hoy lads, look at the amazing detail on my son's toy soldiers...
but when was the American Civil War?
lovely little Adler sculpt, held by lovely big Sash'n Saber sculpt!
alternative title for this..."careful, they might be giants"

Sooo, have spent a lot of time on the latest and greatest projects, of which a bunch will be posted this week.  key suspenseful music... As can now be seen in the sub-title, I'm working on 6mm ACW - for this I blame Cambronne's Reply and Sound Officer's Call, two nice blogs you should check out!

One thing that I had to do was to finally re-title this blog.  This renaissance into ACW period is very much about the regiment [or battalion - whatever] and so one's commission into a regiment was a significant event for many officers. As I'm now covering the Renaissance as well as the Horse'n Musket period, this seemed like a better explanation and title.

Worth considering for yourself - my experience is that it is better to have one blog with lots of topics that is regularly updated than several blogs that are very occasionally updated.  I've narrowed things down to a couple of themes that are logically separated but it still might be better to have a couple less blogs! I recomend 2 max as they're easier to track and update than 3-4, and people will find more interests in you interests.

But to get back to the last update and future plans post, August of 2015, I had plans to:

  1. Experiment with the NT rules. Done! played them RAW as well as making the basic needed changes to complete the rules.
  2. Assembly of last 20-30 figures Not done! got started and made some progress with the cavalry, but haven't finished yet.
  3. Terrain acquisition and assembly as needed.  Worked on this for a while. Agreed to do a trial on a well-known gamer's paper ECW project, including printing and assembling the paper terrain he is planning to release. Trial went OK, but the buildings need more fine-tuning. I may have to reconsider using paper terrain or look elsewhere. It's a little awkward to have to get more terrain as I've loads of 25mm but I knew that getting into this. Paper seems like the best temporary expedient at this time.

As 12,000 visits gets closer and closer, I'm still working on the 40mm ECW project, but without the focus that Tidders at For Ye King has managed [God bless 'im!]. At present, I'll be prioritizing:

  1. Getting the ACW grand-tactical variant of NT's rules up and posting about the hobby side of the 6mm project.
  2. Some more 40mm ECW cleaning and assembly.  I actually made some good progress with the cavalry, really must finish them up as I do love the mounted in this era - they're so odd and exotic looking!
  3. check out some more painted examples at "Lead Gardens" HERE and read some more of his posts about his work for inspiration.
As always, thanks for checking in and stay tuned this week for 2-3 more posts on 6mm ACW! And if you've a better caption for the above pic, do let me know!

Monday, April 18, 2016

NT OHW Scenario #11 Surprise Attack - replay

So I played this several times. Each time I found it very difficult for the defender [Union in this case] to do anything but lose valiantly.  The consistent approach for the attacker - as long as they've a skirmisher unit - is to double envelope the defender by pushing hard into the woods gaining a flanking position, while a couple of Units push hard on the right to do the same.

Attemps by the Union to stand result in them getting wiped out fairly quickly as the firepower of the entire force is quickly brought to bear on Turn 2. Deploying them into skirmish order halves Hits, and then I consistently used the "Reform" rule from my posted NT OHW ACW rules to pull back in 2" increments. Altho this prevents shooting, the defending Units are able to withdraw to the crossroads and be reinforced on Turn 3, making it a 6-4 contest. This helps a lot, but still usually results in a defender loss as their final reinforcements arrive late, Turn 9.

The only way to preserve these forces and contest the road is for one of the defending Union Units to sidle into the woods, preventing their being outflanked, and quartering Hits [1/2 for skirmish formation, 1/2 for being in the woods].  In this case, aggressive movement by the cavalry into the woods resulted in them reaching the North end pretty fast, but it was hard to exploit this as I had pushed one of the original Union Units into the woods also. Eventually, there were two infantry and a gun unit defending the crossroads against four infantry and a gun. The cavalry were destroyed on Turn 10 by the reinforcements, having pushed too far and getting pinned in place by the union unit in the woods, the confederates lost a couple units and it ended in a draw.  This is the best I've done with Scenario 11 so far for the defender.  I welcome any other feedback, but I think the reinforcements should arrive more on turn 6 or so.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Neil Thomas OHW: Horse & Musket AAR, #11 Surprise Attack

So of course after publishing the rules, and updating the post, it is time to play the RAW that I have written.  Getting the unit interactions "feel" right was the trickiest part. Having played it several times, I took the best battle and present it to you here now.

Featured here are my Litko bases that are 3"x1.5" and giving me sabots and ideas for the 6mm figures I'm preparing to trade for with my good buddy Steve over at Sound Officer's Call!.  I've been pursuing scale issues with my adaptation and take on NT's Horse'n Musket rules, so not ready to commit to any particular basing system.  The figs were painted by Steve I believe, but he's moved on to 15mm for everything - good for him!

The scenario in #11 is that the attacking Blue force is moving quickly to capture a crossroads that is lightly guarded by two Red units.  Two more units enter on T3, and the final two on T9.  Having played this previously, I can assure you that the wait time from 3 to 9 is a nail-biter for team Red!  In this case, the Rebels are attacking and are, ironically, "Blue"!  Generally, it just feels right to me to give the tactical attack to them.  I did roll for forces and stuck with them altho I felt it might be tough for the Union who have four infantry and two Guns.  On the other hand, the Rebs have four infantry also and one battery of Guns and a Cavalry unit.  In these rules, Cavalry are basically faster moving skirmish units, it being assume that they are always ready to get back to their horses and scamper off or just redeploy elsewhere.

Below, Turn 1.  Rebs moving ahead trying to envelope the skirmish line of Yanks, who are positioned on the road between an impassible bog and some woods.  Advancing hard up the right are two infantry units.  On the left the cav, with two infantry and a gun up the middle to break the skirmish line.  In the back can be seen the gun and infantry coming in T3, and to the back left the gun and infantry coming in T9. The red dice is the Rebs and the blue the Yanks.

Below T2.  Pushing hard forward, working the flanks and trying to get to the crossroads.

Turn 3. The aggressive action of the cavalry force the Union skirmish line to pull back a bit.  Help is on the way. I chose one gun b/c it can help immediately, altho I've a long range out to 16" with the infantry, also. The cavalry whiff their shot, and the left infantry is not rolling well. The other Yank unit is taking some solid hits as the guns are helping.

Turn 4. Rebs drive on the right flank. Yanks occupy the crossroads and victory! Delaying force continues to hold out due to poor rolls by the cavalry and gun. Also, the right Yank chose to Rally instead of Fire, and rolled a '5' getting 2.5 rounded up = 3 Hits off! Note that the right Reb infantry by the Gun is at Point Blank Range 4" while the other is at Effective Range which is 8". Long Range is 16" if you've a minnie rifle.

Turn 5. Pressure increases on the front, and the odds are evening out. Rebs deploy and prepare to engage the Yanks at the crossroads as the Guns move up to support.

Turn 6. The front begins to collapse. One Yank unit gone, the other taking a lot of hits. Not that the Rebs haven't gotten beat up, but the rule saying you can't pick on a single unit if there's a continuous line in the fire arc is making things a lot more realistic than sniping away at a unit with multiple shooting friendlies until it is dead. 
The grind with the skirmish line is historical for me, but I also want to experiment with a rule that allows infantry to charge under certain circumstances.  No doubt there were charges that broke the enemy, but this is handled in OHW rules by firing upon the unit until it breaks, then occupying the position. Certainly there's an argument to that effect, but there's ZERO incentive to get close to drive away the enemy and I don't like that, either.

Turn 7. The cavalry roll a natural '5' resulting in many hits, and the last Yank unit holding up the Rebs is destroyed. The right unit advances into the gap with the guns also moving. Up at the crossroads, Long Range shots are resulting in substantial casualties.

Turn 8. Rebel general advance continues. Action really heats up at the crossroads. 

Turn 9. Union reinforcements arrive but too late to save the force at the crossroads. Altho they gave telling blows, they were unable to knock out one of the Reb infantry. It doesn't look good - all six confederate units are alive, and there's a rally option in the game!

Turn 10. Yank gunners work furiously to hold off the Rebel horde and at least take out a unit before they go down. Reb gun works its way up the right flank as field of fire is obstructed. Cavalry adjust their position in the woods to threaten the Union gun that's just entered and is raking the infantry unit next to it, putting 14 Hits in. Clearly, I advanced that Unit too far!

Turn 11. Concentrated fire wipes out the Yank gun at the crossroads. It's now clear, but the Rebs have lost an infantry unit finally. But will it make a difference?

Turn 12. Another Reb Unit disintegrates under a hail of cannister. The Union can say they fought with honor at this point. If the top Rebel can be destroyed, there may be a chance to contest the crossroads and get a draw. Nine hits is just enough to make it possible...

Turn 13. The gun and infantry push the Reb at the crossroads to the brink. Union gun not looking so good thanks to the cavalry figuring out how to shoot again and some counter-battery fire. Reb infantry below is rallying off some Hits.

Turn 14. Reb infantry at 13 Hits!  But Union Gun destroyed. Union will destroy it 5/6 of the possibilities of the D5, anything but a '2'...

Turn 15. AARGH!  Never say "anything but a x" it always happens! Cavalry and bottom reb infantry advance out to push the draw to their favor. Crossroads clearly secured!

This played very well. It's a tough scenario for the defender if there's any shooting involved since the entire Blue force enters together and can concentrate firepower at about 2-1 even while enveloping the flank[s]. Most importantly, the rules worked and made sense all the time.  Have made a few type changes and such, and clarified a few things, but they are looking solid. I'll have to amend the post with the rules.

I think the game played nicely as focused on firepower over rebel melee ability. I do think that charges and melee should be a part of a civil war set, but need to figure out what the limit is on it. Certainly a picket line shouldn't be holding off a brigade that is under attack orders. "Driving in" a skirmish line is something I'll have to think about.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Project Focus & Hobby Approach, p.3

Note empty box...  :(

Well, the final report is that I sold off a lot of items resulting in quite a bit of decision making and effort, but plenty of rewards. Some thoughts:

eBay - the system is smoother now than it used to be. I found it quicker and easier to use, to make quick auctions and perform feedback, etc. The message system is still cumbersome, but I bought a cheap postal scale and started printing postage off eBay resulting in savings of 10-45% depending! That was nice. I got a lot of great prices for many items, and solid and reasonable prices for almost everything else.

Separate Hobby Bank Account was finally created. I ended up using Freedom and that is now my link for Amazon and Paypal, keeping my main finances off the net and unlinked. It also helps me monitor hobby purchases and spending as I know that entire account and money stream is hobby junk. I recommend this to anyone serious about being responsible for their hobby spending and time!

Cash flow was excellent, with over $1,000 being transferred from gaming into my main account. After all fees were paid I netted about $1500, of which 1K went to bills, $250 to some gaming stuff and books and $250 is now in the account. However, I'm pursuing trade for a latest interest, ACW 6mm. Nice thing is it is local so we've no postage bills, and I got to see his stuff before even deciding I wanted it.

Mongoose Publishing's "Starship Troopers" were all sold. While it was hard to sell off some of the items, I consoled myself with the possibility of switching to 15s using the lovely line from Khurasan LINK with more realism and better space optimizing.

Games Workshop "The Lord of the Rings - Strategy Battle Game" took a bunch of hits, with lots of "big army" stuff getting sold off. I haven't reconciled and am still struggling with what scale to pursue fantasy in - historical 25-28 or Heroic 28 [e.g. Warhammer Fantasy]. I decided I prefer LOTR as a skirmish game more than anything else, and that I'd use historicals mainly to game big battles since I've plenty of them. I kept enough for a Gondor style force and lots of Moria Goblins - like 100+.  Can you ever have enough Moria Goblins??

Mantic "Kings of War" figures also took hits. I had a large undead army mint in boxes, and it all was sold. Love the figures, but have to draw the line at yet another army! With GW Empire, Chaos and Goblins laying around, something had to give. Besides, they'd be easy to replace someday.

While there are still some issue to resolve, periods and projects to sell off or get working on, I limited my exposure in two areas and sold off an entire project in which I had a lot invested.  I'm calling that a pretty big win!  I'm also getting encouragement and encouraging some of my gamer pals to get responsible with what is at the end of the day just a hobby.

Neil Thomas "One-Hour Wargames" Horse & Musket Rules

Well, one of my gaming buddies got me helping him with a period that I do like, the horse'n musket era.  He has AWI, 7YW, AWI, Napoleonics, and ACW,  In a very responsible coarse of action, he decided to rid himself of several projects and also limit himself to two scales, 15mm and 10mm, ditching 25 and 6mm. This eventually got me thinking about 6mm again, and the great posts over at Cambronne's Reply [now beling blogged at Campaign Chronicles, incidentally, here: LINK]. 

I borrowed his unwanted ACW stuff and also used my old Napoleon's Battles counters, and began tinkering with some generic Horse and Musket era rules.  It's pretty hard to fit everything from 1700 - 1865 in one set, but I think I got War of Austrian Succession to Napoleonics squashed in here, perhaps including the War with Mexico and such. As always, NT was my inspiration and it took several playtests and re-writes for the rules to make sense, but I believe they're good enough to cover things in a Complete Brigadier sort of general way.  

The optional and advanced rules will need a lot of work, as they'd cover period specific distinctions.  But for now, I think these play well while answering many of the unwritten mechanics NT left out.  They also restrict at least the worst of player excesses, and hopefully make sense to more people than me!  I'll post some batreps with them soon. Until then, enjoy and feel free to contact me for a hard copy or with comments.

Grey Areas.  Any situation not explicitly covered in the rules, or a measurement that is “too close to call”, should be defined in “either/or” terms and resolved with a friendly roll off in the winner’s favor.
Pre-measuring.  Distances between Units may be measured at any time.
Scale. 6” is 100 yards / meters. A turn represents about 5 minutes of action and inaction.
Dice. May be either standard six-sided, D6, or D5 [six sides of 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5] so are referred to as Dx.

Units.  There are four types of Units in the H&M rules, representing the most common types.
1.    Infantry: About 400 close order Foot with muskets/bayonets who rely on firepower to stop or drive away the enemy. Bayonets are to defend against cavalry or threaten the enemy when closing.
2.    Skirmishers: About 200 light Foot operating in a dispersed formation allowing rapid movement even through rough terrain. Their smaller size and open formation makes their musketry less effective.
3.    Cavalry: About 200 Close-order horse who rely entirely upon hand to hand combat and rapid movement to affect the battle. Flank charges can be devastating and are a potent threat. 
4.    Artillery: A 6-gun field battery with longer Range but less firepower than an infantry battalion. They may have trained crews with horses to move them but are still not very mobile.

Figures & Basing.  6”x 3” depth [4”x2” for Cavalry and Guns], any sensible figure size/number per base.  Units with multiple bases fight with all front edges and corners aligned. 

Front, Left, Right & Rear Sides.  Measure these off the Unit corners, 45° arcs off the front, rear, left / right Side.  A Unit’s Front center point determines if it is in an enemy Unit’s Front, left/right or Rear Side. Left / right Sides may not be targeted for Shot / Charge if Protected by mutual 1” Front corner distance to a friendly Unit.

Line of Sight.  LoS is measured from a Firing or Charging Unit's front center point to the center of a side of the Target Unit Base: Front, Left, Right or Rear.  It is blocked by anything intervening and apparently taller than the height of the figures, e.g. hills, woods, towns, and Units [cavalry are higher than any other Unit type].
      I.        A gap 4” wide is needed to trace LoS through.
    II.        Half of a Targeted Unit’s side must be visible and in shooter/charger Front Arc.
   III.        Units may see 4” into and out of woods, town, and hills [plateau effect] but not through two sides. 
  IV.        Units lining the edge of terrain do not have their LoS blocked by it.
    V.        Guns on a Hill may trace LoS over intervening Units closer to the guns than the Target Unit.
Units must have LoS to Fire or charge enemy Units at the time of the shot or charge.

Play Sequence.  A full turn has each player taking four phases:
Attacker  [player A]: 1) Actions: Fire or Move, 2) Melee, 3) Routs and Rallies
Defender [player D]: 1) Actions: Fire or Move, 2) Melee, 3) Routs and Rallies

1.1. Fire
Units may Fire at Target Units to which they have LoS, but may not move [mark with cotton balls].
A.    Priority. Units fire at the closest, most directly forward Unit in their Front Arc. If two Units are in LoS at the same Range, and have mutually Protected Sides, both must be targeted.
B.    Range. Guns have an 8” Point Blank and 36” Effective Range.  Infantry and Skirmishers have a 4” Point Blank and 8” Effective Range.
Roll Dx, this is the number of Hits against the Target Unit, modified in the following sequence:
                      i.        Adding. Add 2 if Firing at a Foot Unit’s Flank or Rear, or if it is Cavalry.
                     ii.        Subtracting. Skirmishers and Artillery subtract 2 from the amount rolled, then,
                    iii.        Double. All Units double the amount rolled at Point Blank Range, then,
                   iv.        Halve. Hits against Skirmishers are halved at every Range, then,
                    v.        Terrain.  Units within Woods, Brush or Marsh or Towns, or behind Walls, halve Hits.
                   vi.        Stacked Modifiers. The maximum benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].
The final dice total is the number of Hits the Target receives, rounding fractions UP. If Firing at two Units, divide Hits equally, an odd Hit placed upon the closest Unit.  If a Unit has 15+ Hits it is removed.

1.2) MOVE
Players sequentially move their Units, with no corner exceeding the total distance allowed.  If a Unit Moves, it may not Fire [mark with dust cloud].  If any movement except straight ahead is made, the Bonus is lost.
      i.        Class 1. Infantry & Guns        move 1Dx, +2” Bonus
     ii.        Class 2. Skirmishers               move 1Dx, +4” Bonus
    iii.        Class 3. Cavalry                     move 1Dx, +6”            Bonus
Moves that begin and remain over 12” away from all enemy Units may move double the total allowed.

Maneuvering.  All maneuvers count as movement.
      i.        Wheel. Units turn on either front corner by pinning that corner in place and moving the opposite corner forward, just like a hinged door.  Foot may wheel once, all others twice.
     ii.        Reform. Make 2” move in any direction, including 2” move into / out of column.
    iii.        Fall Back. Move directly back Dx facing the new direction. Cavalry may face original direction instead.
   iv.        Column. Place Unit bases one after the other or mark a single Base Unit. Columns permit Road movement, passing narrow gaps, and unlimited wheels, so the move Bonus is not lost.

Terrain.  There are two terrain types, Linear and Area.  Linear are 6-12” long x 1-3” wide.  Area are 6-12” per side or diameter.  Building or tree models are only decorative – move as needed to position Units.
              i.        Hills. Area.  Defensive Bonus when uphill.
            ii.        Woods, Rocky Brush.  Area. Skirmishers may enter.  Defensive Bonus if entirely inside.
           iii.        Town. 6x6” Area. Skirmishers and Infantry may enter. One Unit receives a defensive Bonus if it Reforms entirely within it. It then also has a 360 LoS from the center of any side.
           iv.        Lake, Marsh / Rivers.  Impassible Area / Linear respectively. Units may cross at a bridge or ford.
            v.        Walls, Gullies, Riverbank. Linear. Defensive Bonus if behind and in full edge contact.
           vi.        Roads. Linear, any length. Units in column and following a road cancel terrain restrictions but lose Shot or Melee Bonuses and may not Charge.

Interpenetration. Skirmishers may move through but not stop upon any Unit and vice-versa.

Enemy Units have a 4” threat zone in their Front Arc. Enemy Units may not move in it except to Charge, Fall Back, or target a new Unit with Point Blank Fire.

Charging.  Only Cavalry may move into Contact with an enemy Unit.
      i.        Target Units must be in LoS, and the LoS distance equal or less than the move amount with Bonus.
     ii.        Contact is made by moving the shortest LoS distance from the Charging Unit’s Front side to the center of any uncontacted side.  It immediately stops moving upon contact, even if just a corner contact.  
    iii.        Contact may be only one Cavalry Unit per Side; front, rear and left/right.
There is no additional free movement to achieve fully aligned edge-to-edge contact [the “closing the door” of DBA and other rules].   Gaps are filled with fighting men! Melee is resolved during the Melee phase.

2) MELEE Units only inflict Hits when they Charge. 
Roll 1Dx +2, this is the number of Hits modified in sequence as follows:
      i.        Terrain.  Units uphill or defending woods / river bank / gully / wall halve Hits.
     ii.        Type. Cavalry Targets halve Hits, Gun Targets double Hits.
    iii.        Side.  Double Hits by Cavalry attacking on the left/ right or rear Side of a Target.
   iv.        Stacked Modifiers. The max benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].
The final total is the Hits the Target Unit receives, round fractions UP.  Remove any Unit with 15+ Hits. If the Target was removed, the Cavalry Unit[s] remain in place. If not, the Cavalry Unit[s] Fall Back Dx.

3) ROUTS AND RALLIES.  Any Unit that neither Moves nor Fires may rally as long as it is not within Point Blank Range and Fire Arc of an enemy Unit. Simply roll a Dx and remove half that many Hits [round up]. If presently eligible to receive a Terrain Bonus from enemy Fire, remove another Hit.  A Unit with more than 5 Hits may not rally to below 5 Hits.

The below are ones that I've actually used and playtested, and will likely appear in AARs.

For each army of six Units, allow one advantage per disadvantage taken, one or two each per force upon agreement.
Stubborn = removed at 18+ Casualties. Reluctant = removed at 12+ Casualties.
Elite = all dice rolled receive +1. Militia = all dice rolled receive -1.

Any Firing roll of a natural ‘5’ [‘6’ with d6] results in the Unit having used the last of their ammunition with that devastating shot or series of fast volleys.  It may not fire until it performs a Rally, during which it is assumed to also replenish its ammunition.

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR modifications
All Infantry Units in close order act as Infantry.
2.     *All Infantry Units may use the Reform maneuver to switch to column or skirmish. Shift Bases into the formation [one base behind the other for columns, a ½” gap between them for skirmish] or mark a single base accordingly. If Militia, use the Poor Drill rule, and if experienced use the Elite rule.
      *If armed with a Minnie rifle, they’ve a Long Range out to 16” at which Hits are halved.
4.    * Guns have a 48” effective Range.
5.    * Cavalry are Skirmishers with the cavalry move rate, best portrayed as foot with horse-holders behind.

6.   *  Infantry may shoot in column at -2. This would be in addition to other penalties such as being in Skirmish, and just represents the narrow frontage.
*    * infantry may change into Skirmish formation and fight as skirmishers in all respects.
EDIT: great AWI suggestion from Steve at "Sound Officer's Call":

Charging Infantry. Some periods and theaters had little to no cavalry, or their battlefield use was very limited. Instead, Infantry charges were routinely performed, e.g. British in AWI would fire a volley and then "have at the Damned Rebels" with the bayonet. 

To reflect this, allow some AWI regiments to charge like cavalry - but at the infantry move rate. The frequency of their appearance should be identical to that of Cavalry in the army composition chart if you are rolling up you armies. The limit can be easily explained in that some regiments are given the task of assaulting while others are given the task of engaging the enemy with fire.