16 October 2016

Some Doctored Photographs. . .

Some newly cropped, brightened, and sharpened photographs taken during the recent Battle of Doltz.  Enjoy!  Now, if only my new 2" roads from Hotz Artworks would arrive.

-- Stokes

15 October 2016

Tinkering with the Rules. . .

 A 'macaroni' was yet another derisive term for a popinjay, a fop, or a dandy (in the extreme.  A vain, conceited man overly concerned with his attire and appearance.  Ouch!  That description strikes a little close to home I fear.

Not a whole lot of painting recently as real life and work-related stuff have encroached into my evenings and weekends these last several weeks.  But, I have stitched together a short, simple set of very derivative rules based on the work of many wargaming "greats" both past and present, stretching from Featherstone, Wesencraft, and the Grants to Mason, Gilder, and Hezzlewood, to Purky and Protz. 

The reason for the rules presented below is due to my growing dissatisfaction with Charge! as an easily recalled, playable set of rules that keeps the game moving forward at a reasonable pace.  As much as I love the book and the illustrative stories contained therein, in practice I find even the basic rules slow going.  Greg (Horne) more or less concurred when I asked him about it in a subsequent e-mail.  

 After 30+ years in the hobby (something I find really difficult to get my head around since on a good day I still feel 17), it finally dawned on me that what I really want on those all too rare occasions when the soldiers are set up for a battle is an easy, fun game without the need to consult a rule book or playsheet each and every turn.  I'm not after a hyper-realistic simulation of 18th century warfare.  I simply want to see and play with my toy soldiers on an attractively laid out table AND reach a decisive conclusion to the game before my eyebrows are completely gray.

This realization hit me like a bolt out of the blue during the recently concluded Battle of Doltz e-game, which I ran much in the style of a classic kriegspiel where Greg and Ross (MacFarlane) sent me their general orders at the start of the game and followed up with subsequent orders as the game developed.  I handled all of the dice rolling to resolve combats and chance occurrences, feeding them new information via photographs with descriptions right here on the GD of S blog as the situation changed and/or new ones arose.  

I enjoyed the game as I always do, but the need to consult the quick play sheet that I cobbled together several years ago, coincidentally for a an e-refight of Sittangbad with Greg, became a pain in the neck.  Isn't there an easier way to have fun with our model soldiers and terrain?  It dawned on me that the late Donald Featherstone had the right idea.

So, below is what I have worked up based on various simple rules by the hobby "greats," both past and present.  They present six -- That's right, ONLY six -- easily remembered core rules with an additional dozen to keep in mind should a scenario or situation call for it.  Have a look, think about them, try 'em out if you wish, see what you think, tinker with them to your heart's content, and maybe drop me a line here with your own thoughts and conclusions.  Let's talkLadies and Gentlemen, I give you. . .  Call It Macaroni!

Call It Macaroni!   Simple Old School Rules for Tabletop Warfare

D6 per unit moving 1 = -2”; 2 = -1”; 3 or 4 = Normal; 5 = +1”; 6 = +2”

Line 12” (No woods; Move OR Fire)
Light 18” (Move AND Fire)
Cavalry 18” (No Woods)
Hussars/Uhlans 24” (No Woods)
Artillery 12” (Unlimber/Limber -1/2 Move)
Transport 12” (No Woods)
Staff/ADCs 30”

***Formation Change/Enter or Leave BUAs/ Obstacles/Uphill -1/2.  No penalties for Light Infantry.

Skirmish Fire (Individuals)
0-6” - D6 per each figure firing, 3, 4, 5, or 6 hits.
6”-12” - 4, 5, or 6 hits.
12”-18” - 5 or 6 hits.

***Use this rule too for odd numbers of line infantry, but at the shorter musketry ranges.
Artillery Fire
A) Ranging (Once for each NEW target)
0-6” Automatic Hit
6”-12” 4, 5, 6 Hits
12”-36” 5, 6 Hits
36”-60” 6 Hits

B) Determining Casualties
0-6” D6 per Gun
6”-12” D6 -2
12”-36” D6 -3
36”-60” D6 -4

***Cavalry, skirmishers, troops in cover -1/2 hits.

***Guns that use a half move to unlimber may still come into action that turn, attempt to range up, and, if proper range established, determine casualties inflicted.

A) Determine if one side or the other flinches before contact made -- at 6” or less -- by rolling a D6:

0-10% Casualties = 6 unit retires full move to rear.
10%-20% Casualties = 5, 6 ----------
20%-50% Casualties = 4, 5, 6 ----------

B) If and when units close with one another:

D6 for each foot figure
2D6 per each cavalry figure

High score wins.  Side with most losses retires two full move distances where it must remain stationary and rally during next turn with no offensive movement.  Winner moves immediately forward into space vacated by loser.

0-4” D6 (per eight figures)
4”-8” D6 -2
8”12” D6 -3

***+1 per D6 on first volley
***D6 for 6-7 figures.  Dice individually for 5 or less.
***Cavalry and target in cover -1/2.

The 50% Rule
A unit reduced to half of its original strength must be removed from the table and takes no further role in the battle.

Initial general orders must be written out beforehand and troops correspondingly placed on the table before the start of the game.

Turns equal roughly 30 minutes of actual time give or take.  Dice to determine time when battle begins, or decide randomly.  Battles slow at sundown and come to a halt at dark depending on the season.

Orders may only be changed by writing and issuing new ones via an ADC. Roll a D6:

1 = ADC lost or captured, orders never arrive.
2 = ½ Speed
3 or 4 = Normal Speed.
5 = ½ Speed
6 = Orders reach intended destination but misunderstood and go unfollowed

Rafts, Barges, and Boats
Downstream 12”
Upstream 9”
Each holds a half company of infantry (8 figs.).
Each takes half a move to load/unload.
Leaves landing/boarding site at half move distance.  Subsequent moves are at full distance.

Isolation and Prisoners
If one side has no supporting troops within one move distance when a melee occurs, it is isolated.  If the isolated figures are less than half the number of their remaining opponents AFTER melee casualties have been determined, they are taken prisoner and are escorted to the rear (one sentry for every six prisoners).

Building Bridges
Two companies of pioneers can bridge a:

Small river in 1 day
Medium river in 2 days
Large river in 3 days

Bridge Demolition
One company of pioneers:

Small Bridge 4 turns (two hours)
Medium Bridge 6 turns (three hours)
Large Bridge 8 turns (four hours)

Pontoon Bridges
Two companies of pontooniers can:

Float one pontoon 1 turn (30 min.)
Add bridge decking 1 turn (30 min.)

*** D6 for each pontoon.  It breaks free on a 6.

Field Works
Two companies of pioneers can build:

Redoubt for two guns 24 turns (twelve hours)
12” of trench 6 turns (three hours)
12” of abattis 6 turns (three hours)

Fog or Mist
If fog or mist present on tabletop battlefield, throw a D6 per unit:

1-2 = 1” to L
3-4 = No Change
5-6 = 1” to R

The Unexpected
Keep the spirit of the game in mind!  Players should handle unexpected situations not catered for in the rules by the seats of their pants, making up something on the spot to arrive at quick and decisive conclusions that keep the game pleasant and moving forward.

Period Feel
Players are encouraged to scatter extra vignettes, vehicles, period and location specific buildings, or anything else that might help create the right historic flavor around the tabletop battlefield.  These items and impedimenta play no direct role in the game, but foster the right sort of atmosphere.  Think Peter Gilder, Doug Mason, Bill Protz, and Jim Purky!


13 October 2016

Thank you for your interest and support so far!!!

A special thanks to all of you who have gotten in touch with either Greg or myself so far.  We are excited about The Wargamer's Notebook, which will be e-mailed quarterly as a PDF to subscribers and contributors around the world.  Greg and I spent quite a bit of time discussing and planning it, and we hope it will take off.  I have it on extremely good authority, by the way, that the PDF will be high quality, so those who might prefer to do so can print out a copy, and it will look mighty good. Whether you are interested in subscribing, or possibly also contributing an article, get in touch with us forthwith via this email: wargamersnotebook@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, I've got to set up and fight the next battle, solo this time, in my ongoing campaign.  The table has been ready to go for a couple of weeks, but real life (i.e. work) has kept me pretty busy since then.  It's also time to make the push and finish the final remaining steps on the six Prussian limber teams that have been in-progress since August.  

And last of all, while there are a few small things left to paint before December and the Christmas Holidays are upon us, I have been thinking ahead to 2017.  It's time to beef up my cavalry arm, so besides rationalizing and rebasing my existing three-squadron regiments of 30 figures (of which I think there are six), reorganizing them as two-squadron regiments of 30 figures, I plan to paint nothing but cavalry units next year -- a squadron of 12 at a time -- plus the occasional small vignette when I need a break from the temptations of. . .  the horseflesh.  What can I say?  I am a weak, weak man.  Time to find and join a group of Model Equine Painters Anonymous I guess.

Until then, there are a few additional infantry drummers, replacement standard bearers, cavalry musicians, and guidon/standard bearers to address once the limbers are done.  Don't look now, but I might actually finish my 2016 painting plan for efore the end of the year.  Imagine that!  But I should look at the list of things to do for this year one more time before making any rash, statements I suppose.

-- Stokes 

12 October 2016

Announcing. . . The Wargamer's Notebook!

Way back in 2010, Phil Olley put out an excellent magazine called The Classic Wargaming Journal.  Doubtless, some of you remember it, and some of you probably also subscribed like we did.

Each issue of Phil’s CWJ contained things like battle reports, how-to articles, scenarios, and even a regular column.  The whole tenor and style of articles captivated us, and we were bereft when the CWJ came to a premature halt after only five glorious issues.

So, we pose this question to all of you - Can lightning strike twice?

Now, we know already that there are many others around the globe who enjoy games of toy soldiers in various forms.  We also know many of you replay the great battles of history on your tables, across your floors, and even your lawns while others take a fictitious approach.  We know that you thrill at the spectacle of brightly painted miniature hussars, hoplites, and helicopters advancing to do battle too.  Old school.  New school.  White basecoat.  Black basecoat.  Flat finish.  No varnish.  Minimal stylized scenery.  Highly realistic terrain.  Whatever.  It’s all good.  Regardless of whether your chest swells at the thrill of 1/72 plastic victory, or you swoon at the agony of 54mm wooden (or even 2mm hair roller) defeat, we’re convinced that you might get a kick out of what we’re about to propose.  

Ok.  So, just what is it we’re on about?  Glad you asked!  Ladies and Gentlemen, we present:

The Wargamer’s Notebook

We’ve decided to assemble an initial issue, and we seek your help in the form of submissions and expressions of interest from potential subscribers. We are planning to get the first issue out in January 2017 and then quarterly as we go forward.

This will be an “amateur” publication, like one of the many wargaming society journals whose roots stretch at least as far back as Donald Featherstone’s Wargamer’s Newsletter.

Just to be up front about it, The Wargamer’s Notebook really is an amateur publication, and unlike the glossy pro-magazines, contributors cannot be paid.  We hope the amateur volunteer element will shine through, and that contributors’ enthusiasm and passion for historical miniatures wargaming in a certain style will be the main attraction.

Here is what we envision for The Wargamer’s Notebook:

TWN will include:

  • 3-4 battle reports/ scenarios per issue. These need not be long… a few paragraphs or a few pages, an order of battle, and a map. A photo or two if you wish.  Give us an account of a recent game as it happened. What can we say?  We miss Charles Grant’s “Tabletop Teasers.”  

  • Some “how to” articles… eg scratch building, painting, conversion work, etc. Simple stuff that anyone can do. We have one on the stocks already for building a Boer War blockhouse!

  • Game or campaign mechanics articles. Generic mechanics, house rules, ideas, guidelines that people use, why they use them, and how they have found them to work on the tabletop.

  • Fun. Nothing fancy, just good old fun and inspiring food for thought.  Tabletop chicken soup for the wargaming soul kind of stuff.  Sound good?  We think so too. We want to know what you love about the hobby, what’s the latest bit of fun you got up to. Fun, fun funny fun fun.

Before anyone asks, TWN will not include:

  • Advertising. Obviously.

  • Articles geared to a specific rules set, figure range, or the latest offering from one of the figure companies (although if you reckon you’ve got a cracking battle board for Saga, we’re all ears).

  • Text imploring you to buy the latest figures or rules to conform to the latest way that everyone else is doing it.  No, no, no! We want to hear what you are doing!
  • Potted political or historical articles.

  • So called “wargames navel-gazing”.

Contribute for the fun of it, for satisfaction, and for La Gloire!
We’re prepared to embark on our tabletop journey around the world and back again with The Wargamer’s Notebook for fun, and for as long as there are readers willing to contribute, who also find value and enjoyment in it.

We’ll toss the ball over to you now. Maybe there is something in it, and you’d like to help get the idea off the ground.  

If you’d like to join in the fun, please drop us a line at: wargamersnotebook@gmail.com

With Our Best Glossy 30mm Regards,

Greg Horne (The Duchy of Alzheim) & Stokes Schwartz (The Grand Duchy of Stollen)


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