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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Huzzah 2017: Day 3 Heading Home

Well Huzzah 2017 is over.

Once again a great event, well staged and hosted by the Maine Warhamers. Thanks to a combination of good  health,  good weather,  good friends and good fellow gamers, one of the most enjoyable conventions for me in years which is saying a lot.

1 of 7 Portable Wargames played in 3 different  periods and 2 scales.
Tonight I am ensconced at my my sister's  with hopes of getting home  tomorrow.  On Wednesday or Thursday I will hopefully  write an illustrated report of the convention or at least what I can still remember of it!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Huzzah 2017 Day 2 Teaser

Another good day!

Pas de Charge and Hinton Hunt, from the Nafzinger collection.

Huzzah2017 Day 1 Teaser

Day 1 is done. 1 game played and 1 GM'd. Both with a great bunch of gamers and both good games.

Time for bed!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

and they're off!

Amazingly compactly  packed and organized compared to my usual. A bit unsettling really.


More as we go.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

D-3 Pre-Packing Checks

Its the usual May crunch, trying to get yard work and gardening done when the weather is good while trying to get everything ready and tested for Huzzah.
Blue vs Red
One of my checks was to re-read what I had included in the description for the event listing. Friday night's 16thC game: OK, Sunday Morning's Portable Wargame tutorial..ah what? various options, yeah, including "Toy Soldier" ..(right! crap, haven't finished basing the Blue troops)... "or try my Square Brigadier.." (What! Double Crap, did I say that? Which version?)

So, thankfully a bit of sunshine did not equate to warm today so apart from a short, shivery, spell of pushing the roto tiller around one corner of the veggie patch I set up the Travelling Mat and deployed the newly rebased Red and Blue armies along with a few dual purpose Zulu War units and sat down to produce a Quick Reference sheet for the Portable Wargame. Luckily that was on my list for after the convention anyway.

Rather than wade through a dozen of the latest trial versions and variations, I sat down and typed what came to mind, pushed a few stands around and then updated them as events in the game prompted me to remember various decisions made recently like once again banishing hit removal because it makes the game drag on, and returning once again to d6 group orders. Then I updated the QRS and played a game through to confirm  that this was all on track with my post game thoughts after the last game.  The new Quick Reference for the Square Brigadier (1870's) is now available here.

On Monday the serious packing begins!

Thursday, May 11, 2017


A week and a Wake Up till Huzzah. It's time for some of those last minute  things.

Plastic Soldier Co Yankees painted by me for Ron a few years back.

Well OK I  wasn't  thinking of the 20mm hexed adaptation of Bolt Action that Ron and I played on Monday  or watching this great 1943 movie featuring the  RCN, real corvettes, shots of Halifax and rather realistic shots of life and storms at sea. (Based on my admittedly limited and much later experience in rather larger destroyers. The Sweepers we did navigation training in rarely went far from land.)

BUT, today I did finally start rebasing enough 54mm American Federal troops and a few Guards in Bearskins to allow for a Red vs Blue toy soldier option for my Portable Wargame 'walk up and try it' sessions at Huzzah. Should be able to try them out on the weekend before packing.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Long Ridge, Short Report

My apologies to anyone expecting a thorough battle report. The game was as much about exploring rules for what is a relatively new style of wargaming for me as anything else and once the game was done my blogging time was mostly spent editing rules. Tomorrow I am off to Halifax for a visit and game with Ron so a hasty report it is!
Featherstone's Division of Rebs hits the weak Yankee left flank.

The main ideas behind this game and set of rules were:
a) to give me an ACW game that was different from everything else I was doing rather than being a variation,
b) to allow me to fight all or part of various historical actions as well as fictional battles of similar size in an afternoon,
c) to allow me to use my existing collection on my current table with a minimum of work and reorganization
d) to give me another non-gridded game for balance. (and, I am embarrassed to admit, to avoid appearing trendy as much as possible!)

Mid game. The Zouaves have arrived in the nick of time to shore up the centre but the Reb left wing has flanked the Yankee right and is pressing hard while the Yankee left is crumbling. 
Having sorted through the painted and based figures I arranged a very slight numerical advantage for the Confederates. General Kinch's corp consisted of 3 divisions each of 3 brigades and 2 batteries. (More like 12 gun artillery battalions probably). The Federals defended a line of hills with 3 Divisions, 2 with 3 Brigades and a battery, 1 with 2 Brigades and a battery and a Corps artillery battery. Some units on both sides started off table by a random process.  The basic flow of the battle is summarized in the pictures.

The view from the other flank.
I stopped once or twice to make changes to details or to the play sequence, partly to improve the flow and simplify/speed the game and partly to enforce letting go of inappropriately low detail. For example, the player is supposed to be the corps commander so limbering batteries should be someone else's concern and need not be shown, only the result.

One of the advantages of going off grid was that I could fall back on an old, simple and highly effect method of introducing the effect of "friction", which is to say dice based movement. In this case a simple 2d6 roll read in inches for infantry and artillery with Commanders having the ability to join one unit per turn to boost it by adding another die. Nothing like riding madly to spur on a Brigade that rolled 3 on 2 dice only to roll a 1 for your boot. Oops perhaps more cool analysis next time and less yelling!

At the moment the rules, which are available free here: Plastic Army of the Potomac,  are a brief basic summary and by the time I flush them out and add in the extras, engineering, amphibious ops, supplies and hospitals and so on they'll probably end up about twice as long. They are in effect though its not necessarily obviousl, an re-imagining of Hearts of Tin at a higher level and borrowing many ideas from past versions.     

The end. The Federal left division routed two turns ago and now the centre has followed. The right is still holding but must retreat before it is surrounded and crushed. General Kinch has won the day. 

Time for bed. The ACW in 1/72nd will return.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Long Ridge: The Setup

Having decided last year that I wanted to make some changes to my ACW games, I  spent some pleasant hours today reviewing and tweaking organizations and rules. I also looked at several feet of shiny new fences and then put them away again to be assembled and painted another day.

Featherstone's is the first Reb Division on the field.
One of my conclusions was that my ACW games would be better game-wise if I had fewer but larger units. Initially I was thinking larger regiments but, after  reviewing various options I decided to settle on brigades as units to make it easier to have larger wargame units and still fight small historical actions or significant pieces of big battles. This and my war of 1812 collection will be the only remaining periods where I can do that. The rest are all designed for petite guerre scenarios.

After several false starts I settled on standard brigades of 6 stands or around 1500 men. (36 figure brigades or very roughly 40:1.) That's a bit smaller than what I had in mind but  it fits the existing figures, my goals and the table.

The game below actually has a last minute tweak to rearrange the Union Divisions into a larger number of 4 stand Brigades but I think I'll undo that and use "standard" brigades on both sides until I'm happy that the new system will work. I can start adjusting to actual numbers later if I want though there are some advantages to standard units from a scenario design point of view.
Overview of the setup.
The scenario itself is just an adhoc attack/defence game with the Rebs having slightly more men. (VERY slightly). Basically, I threw out a hill line, put some woods in likely places, and did the same with some roads, divided up the available figures and  then diced for how many brigades in each army are still marching to the table and how many are in each sector of the battlefield. The opposing Corps commanders can take it from there. 
Waiting Patiently.
It'll be a restless night in camp tonight.

Gunsmoke or the Mists of Time

My older brother took this picture. Who knew he was old enough to have been at Waterloo?

RHA battery in action.

Or perhaps  its photo of some of my Airfix figures taken in the early 70's?  It all seems so  long ago now That its hard to be precise about these things.

Meanwhile, in the present, I should be getting ready for Huzzah, playing another solo Rough Wooing game or honing my Portable  Wargame knowledge and scenarios but.......I need a break from all that.

Once I get the table cleared I think I'll  break out my 1/72 ACW "boys" and do something more traditional. Probably set up today  and play tomorrow.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Abscess Without Leave

Things have been busy here, just not much time or energy for wargaming and painting. Having a recurrence of a tooth abscess hasn't really helped much.  I have, however, managed to dab some paint on another dozen or so Esci Brits to bring my 1/72nd Boer War Brits up to 10 units for my Petite Portable Wargame  demonstration for Huzzah.

Were 1/72nd figures always so small?

The 24th foot on the left were painted c1984.
The 58th on the right was speed painted a few days a go.
 Luckily, without my glasses on, the most obvious difference is the lack of the bright white lace on the 58th's new service frocks. The lack of shading, sloppy belts and skipped details are less visible from three feet away in dim light with dim eyes.   I have also noted that a few touch ups where painted flaked, a coat of varnish and 3 decades of weathering has obliterated most of the original shading so the old figures blend right in.
Two Portable companies of Rifles and two of 58th Foot.
 I'm hoping for rain on the weekend so that I can maybe squeak a game in.