Friday, December 6, 2019

The painting queue

  Things have been a bit quiet here.  What with Thanksgiving and planning our holiday vacation and the first big snow storm of the year I have not had time for any painting.  But I took some time out from the schedule and got a few figures ready for the paint brush.

  First off is a nice vignette from the Perry Brothers.  It is a American camp scene with a camp follower preparing a meal while a soldier fetches water.  In addition a few veterans sit around ( one getting his hair dressed) smoking and setting things right with the world.  I am going to paint the figures as American Continental line infantry.

  Next I felt I needed more elite troops for Lord Cornwallis'  Division.  So I am adding a additional light Infantry and Grenadier battalion. These figures are from Fife and Drum miniatures.  And most beautiful figures they are!

  First off they are lightly tacked into popsicle sticks. Next they will be given a coat of black gesso as a primer. Once dried they will be dry brushed white.  I find this gives a nice shades appearance to my figures.  Once painted the black gives nice shadows while the white highlights gives the appearance of faded material.  This is not for everyone but it works for me.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Adventures with Nathaniel

Occasionally my son and I will play a miniature war game together. While I am.more I go the period and the history he is a much better gamer.  Here is an example of our approach to the game.

Playing Wings of War:

Me:  Ok, see this plane.  It was flown by the famous ace Voss.  This is how he painted his plane, and this was a special insignia he used...
Nathan:  Hey Dad, my plane is behind you, and here are my cards shooting at you.
Me:  Oh!  Well down I go, let's play again.  This time this plane was flown by the ace David Putnam.   I painted his plane based on a photo and....
Nathan: Dad, I am behind you again....
Me: Oh drat!

  This weekend was Nathaniel 's 24th birthday.  We have started a tradition of going to a football game together to celebrate.   Our airline JetBlue  is the official airline of the Patriots. So we get tickets sent to us  occasionally.  usually pre season games sometimes regular games.   This year we were given two sets of tickets to two different games.  One set of tickets was to the game against the Cowboys, the other against the Kansas City Chiefs. in the drawing I won the set for the Chief's game!  We are most excited for what will be a incredibly excellent game.  Happy Birthday Nathaniel!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

  I  love Thanksgiving.  Unlike other holidays there is no tyranny of gift giving.  There is a minimum of house decoration.   It is a time to get together with family and enjoy a wonderful meal. This year both Alexandra and Nathaniel will be home. Due to the joys and wonders of seniority in the airline industry I do not have to work and can sleep in.  We all pitch in to assist with preparation of the feast although Janine does the lions share and so deserves the lion share of the credit.  And we all have a most wonder meal.

   And watch too much football.   Some very good games on this day that I am looking forward to.  We can all relax and just enjoy each game.

  But at the end of the day remember.....

(For non sports fans who are scratching your head over coach Belichick's curious meme here is a explanation:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

They Fought bravely...

  They ...fought bravely, but were unfortunate: " The True Story of  Rhode Island's "Black Regiment" and the Failure of Segregation in Rhode Island's Continental nLine, 1777-1783.

  "Rhode Island’s “Black Regiment” of the American Revolutionary War is fairly well-known to students of American History. Most published histories of the small colored battalion from Rhode Island are clearly biased in favor of the “regiment” and tend to interpret it as an elite military unit. However, a detailed study and analysis of Rhode Island’s segregated Continental Line by the author reveals a “military experiment” that was beset with difficulties from its start and ultimately failed as a segregated unit in 1780. In this work, many of the popular stories of Rhode Island’s “Black Regiment” are proven to be myths. Follow the accurate historical stories of the colored and white soldiers of Rhode Island’s Continental Line whose courage and sacrifices helped create an independent nation." ( From Amzon review)

   I do highly encourage anyone who is looking for a VERY detailed history of the regiment with service records of all the men who served to look into another book that was published in late 2015. At just shy of 1000 or so pages, “They “… fought bravely, but were unfortunate: ” The True Story of Rhode Island’s “Black Regiment” and the Failure of Segregation in Rhode Island’s Continental Line, 1777-1783″ by Daniel Popek should be the go to resource for historians researching the 1st Rhode Island (1778+)/the Rhode Island Regiment (1781+).

  The book is a labor of love from the author.  It is packed with detailed information and very well researched.  Not a repetion of the same old, it contains new and serious research.  Privately publish this is a very big book.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Rules I use for Wargaming: War of 1812

Mr Maddison's War:
War of 1812 rules

These rules for gaming the War of 1812 originally started out as a set of rules for The American Revolution by Jim Purkey at Fife and Drum miniatures.  These are offered free on his miniature site.  I liked them, and made a few changes to better reflect the new time period.  In addition I have posted a few clarifications and additions here to how we play the game.  They provide a really fun and fast game. Since playing these rules I have had lots of wonderful games and great fun.  My title for these rules, "Mr Maddison's War meets Fife and Drum" reflects the negative image the war had among many Americans.  In addition I often use these rules for American Revolution games with my friends who do not care for Loose Files. 

Please do not be fooled by the simple mechanics of these rules.  They are simple but create lots of deep thinking here.  The "I Go You Go" move and move system has a major twist.  Casualties are removed when they happen. So it's important to fire first.  But if you move first you may pin your opponent in a unfavorable position or run down exposed units.  As I said a lot of thinking goes I to these rules. 

In addition, if you like them here is a beautiful example of how to play by the author.  I really wish more rules writers would do this.  Brilliant!  As the two men from Guinness would say.

Now, on to my interpretation.

Here are the rules. A nice one page set ready to go!

Move first, fire second, move second, fire first:  when it is your turn to fire remove all casualties from hits.  No, casualties removed do not get to return fire that was the advantage of firing first.

Retire facing or not facing enemy:  deduct 2" from move to retire with back towards enemy.  Half move to retire facing enemy or move sideways.

Charges or moving into melee:  during your move declare charge.  Defender tests morale, if pass they stand and can fire at charger if not retire column distance back shaken.  There is no charge move bonus.  Fight two rounds of melee then loser (most casualties) tests morale.  If pass then winner tests.  If both sides pass then attacked is considered to have failed to push back defender from their position.  The attacker retired one column move back towards their line facing the enemy. 

Routing units effect on other units:  ignore friendly units routing past if router is lower morale.  Take morale test if equal or better morale.

Multiple units in melee:  If two units vs one distribute casualties evenly to both units.

Wheeling regiments:   Wheels are made from the left, right, or center of the unit only.

Fences, small streams:  Units move up to them and stop move.  Next move you cross obstacles and continue your move. If both units are touching the same fence line and facing each other across it neither gets the benefit of the fence.

Artillery:  one operation costs 1/2 move, this included fire.  So you can limber and move half movement;  move full move if limbered; unlimber and fire Artillery cannot enter woods, need infantry to knock hole in fences to cross.  Any friendly unit within a friendly artillery arc of fire, if the arc of fire goes through two opposite sides of that friendly unit the artillery can not fire.  Arch of fire is measured  from cannon barrell, with of stand forward like a bowling alley

Difficult terrain (fields, Rocky ground): cost 2" for every 1" of movement in it

Woods; units stop movement at edge of woods.  They enter next turn (similar to fences).  Once in woods skirmishers troops (skirmishes or Indians)  move their full movement, while formed troops move half their movement.  Small arm range is half.  Only skirmishes get cover modifiers. Yes, it sucks for regulars in the woods (please ask General Braddock).

Indians:  always unformed, in mass formation (I.e. in a bunch).  No penalty to change direction.  In woods move full movement.  Units fired at by Indians for first time check morale.  In open clear terrain go one step down chart for firing and morale (if on line "C" use line "D").  Indians are not shock troops. They race about being obnoxious and scaring volunteers and militia who are not used to them.

Rockets:  roll  d10.
   10 = hit, one casualty and test morale.
6 - 9 = test morale
3 - 5 = miss
     2 =  hit nearest friendly unit test morale

Monday, November 18, 2019

Rules I use for Wargaming: The American Revolution

  An older set of rules which were available in the first issue of Wargames Illustrative.  Written by Andy Callan these rules capture the feel and tactics of the war. I was instantly taken with them and have been playing them since they first came out. Not to everyone's taste but a great favorite of mine.  They have brought a lot of fun games and enjoyment to me over the years.

 The Disorganization Points (DP) are a clever way to tract the temporary wavering, disruption and casulties of a regiment.  This can be caused by movement, terrain, small arms, artillery or close combat.  Better trained regiments can dress the line and reform while poorer regiments tend to fall to pieces.   This is done by removing DP's.  A unit stops, does nothing for a turn and can remove a DP based on training and quality.  In addition a mounted officer can assist by helping to remove additional DP's.   Quality in this game is vastly  superior to quantity.

Here is a link to the rules as they first appeared in WI #1

  A personal observation of mine.   When I have played these rules with players for the first time long time wargamers get confused or bogged down.  The rules are unlike most wargamer rules out there.  But reenactors or individuals who have been in reenactment regiments pick them up just fine.  I find this most curious.  But then I do tend to think of table top miniature  games more as battle reenactments then simulations.

  Here is a quick cheat sheet for playing these rules.  They started as a quick cheat sheet put out by the Corlears Hook Fencibels.  I have made a handful of changes within these.  I have made a couple minor changes to better reflex how I interpret the game. These have been based on reading Matthew Spring's With Zeal And Bayonets.   By the way I play with 25mm figures instead of 15mm but have not changed the measurements.  Please feel free to adapt as you like.  Also, if you currently play these rules I would love to hear from you about how you play them.  Any house rules or such.

Loose Files & American Scramble Quick   Reference Sheet

Order of Play in a Turn (all movement is simultaneous)
1.Compulsory Retreats/Routs following combat in previous turns.
2.Calculate Morale effects provoked by 1 above.
3.Firing (units can fire or move not both)*
4.Allocate Command Points.
5.Move units. Announce attempted advances to contact/charges before moving.
7.Re-dress ranks (according to training) of units that did not move this turn.
*skirmishers may fire then move

Command Points CP
Move own commander up to 1 die (choice of average or D6) inches = 1CP
Inspire troops in combat (give +1) = 3 CPs *
Rally (remove) one DP = 2 CPs *      * must be in contact with unit

Disorder/demoralization points DP
1st class (elite, veteran) may remove up to 2 DPs per turn if stationary and not in combat
2nd class (line) may remove 1 DP per turn as above
3rd class (green,  partisans) may remove 1 DP per turn if stationary, not in combat/shot at
4th class (militia, Indians) may only remove DPs with aid of an officer
5th class (unmotivated Indians) may only remove DPs with the aid of the Army CO
Once a unit has taken the maximum number of DP's (5) each DP after is a casualty.  Remove a stand of infantry  (3 figures), troop cavalry (2 figures) or artillery stand.

Artillery and Small Arms Fire
Artillery Fire range under 10 inches close, 10-30 long (light) 10-36 long (medium)
Roll one D6 for each stand firing modified by below:
+1 heavy gun, target column or limbered artillery, same target/range as last turn
- 1 new target, each DP of firing stand, light gun
- 2 target in fieldwork or stone building or target in skirmish order/unlimbered
Long range inflict 1 DP for 4 or higher.
Short range inflict 1 DP for 2 or 3, 2 DPs for 4 or 5, 1 DP and 1 casualty for 6 or higher.

Infantry fire (Only skirmishing infantry can fire and move in the same turn)
Musket range 8 inches, rifles 10 inches. Roll 1 D6 for each stand firing, minus DPs of firing unit. Halve result shooting at skirmishers/unlimbered artillery, halve if target in fieldwork or building. Round up.
1 DP for each 6 rolled. Skirmishers roll again on 5, with subsequent 4,5,6 = 1 DP.

Movement is the number of dice score X inches
1st/2nd/3rd class units may move one or two average dice
4th/5th class units may move one average dice or one average plus one D6
Skirmishers may move an extra D6, Cavalry may move one or two extra D6
Formed troops get 1 DP for each 1 or 2 rolled, 1, 2 or 3 in woods.
Hessian infantry (except Jaegers and von Bose regiment in South) move one average die or one average die + 2 inches.
Cavalry who charge must roll at least 3 dice. Can change speed 1 dice up or down per turn.
Moving in woods or uphill -1 inch from each die rolled.
Wheeling, change formation or facing : pivot either right or left stand and line up figures,   1 DP (2 if under fire).
Cross fence/wall,; stop at obstacle, continue nice next turn, 1 DP (2 if under fire).
Retire facing enemy: ½ move get 1 DP if cavalry or under fire.
Heavy artillery takes two moves to limber/unlimited take 1DP
Medium artillery one turn limber/unlimited take 1DP
Light Artillery can do two operations each turn. ( move and unlimber, etc) 1DP

Morale: seeing friends retreat/rout within 6 inches
Troops ignore retreat of lower grade friends but get 1 DP if such rout within 6 inches.
If equal/higher grade friend retreats within 6 inches get 2 DPs.
If equal grade friend routs within 6 inches get 2 DPs and one stand deserts.
If higher grade friend routs within 6 inches get 3 DPs and one stand deserts.

 Combat occurs when a unit closes with enemy.   To close must declare charge to contact before movement otherwise just stop 4 inches from enemy.  Each side throws an average die modified by below:

+3 each training grade better than enemy
      defending fort or stone building
+2 defending fieldwork or wood building
      making bayonet attack*
+1 terrain advantage
      officer spends 3 CPs inspiring troops
- 3 in skirmish order
     attacked in flank/rear
- 2 each DP, each casualty
- 1 outnumbered
- 2 outnumbered 3-2
- 3 outnumbered 2-1
- 5 outnumbered 3-1 or worse   1 cavalry figure = three infantry, one gun = six infantry

Result is difference in scores:
+4 or more: Easy victory get 1 DP. 1st/2nd/3rd class obey orders. 4th/5th class pursue.

+2/3: Successful get 1 DP and (vs. infantry or artillery, not in fort, building or fieldwork) one casualty. Halt one turn.

+1/even/-1: Stand off both sides halt fight continues next turn. Each get 1 DP and (unless infantry facing cavalry or bayonet attack, or in a fort, building or fieldwork) one casualty

-2/-3/-4: Driven back get 2 DPs and one casualty. Retreat one move at maximum speed.

-5/-6/-7/-8: Defeated get 2 DPs and 2 casualties. Retreat at maximum speed behind next line of friendly troops, or next terrain obstacle if no support.

-9 or worse: Routed run away at maximum speed to beyond enemy artillery range or next terrain obstacle, whichever is further. Get 4 DPs and 2 casualties.

* Option only for British to represent aggressive tactics during war.

House rules:
Must move full distance rolled unless point out stopping point (i.e. stop at fence line or top of hill, etc).

Can roll movement for entire brigade if moving together.

Corlears Hook Fencibles House rules: after 2nd stand off in a row both sides retreat 1 average die unless defending an obstacle, fieldwork, building or fort.

Militia units with 50% losses or more flee the field  remove from table. Other units with 75% or more losses flee. No further DP losses by friends who see this

Friday, November 15, 2019

Rules I use for Wargaming: Crimean War

   I have been playing "Charge of the Light Brigade" since 2003.  These are home brewed self published rules from the author David Raybin so possibly only a few of you have tried them.   I thought I would share some of my impressions about the rules and how they play.  They provide a fun game which captures the spirit of the period and deserve a wider audience.

You can download a set of the rules here:

  I will state right off I am a big fan of these rules. I like simple rules, but with a twist. I like regiments to look like regiments.  And it is important to me that that a group of colorful miniature soldiers represents such and such a regiment.  I want a game I can play in a evening, gives a period "feel" for the time period played, have fun with and come to a conclusion.  "Charge of the Light Brigade" does all of these.

   The rules are a simple I Go U Go but with a difference.  Each side rolls for initiative with high side getting first go.  If you won the roll last time you add one to your roll.  Each of your regiments or batteries do one action (move, change formation, fire or remove a morale point).  To move roll two dice (or more depending on formation) and that is how far you can move.   After all your units have moved  you may spend a command point (CP) per unit and that unit may do a second thing.

  Here is something that sets this set of rules aside from all others. The author has taken the simple move/counter move system and twisted it. Every unit has a commander (i.e. Colonel). He has so many command points (CP). More if he and the regiment are good, less if mediocare or poor. Russians often get around 8 (sluggish, dull)  while British line get 12 and elite Guards might get as many of 16.  Better units can do more at critical times. But when your CP are gone they are gone.

   OK, now it is your turn, and every unit on your side has done one free action. You may then spend a CP and do something else. Fire, remove a Morale marker or what ever. It gives you a chance to take advantage of something or react to what is happeneing on the table. BUT for every action there is a reaction and the enemy now gets to react against that unit and can either return fire at you or change position/facing.   But only against the enemy that spent that CP.   In a past game a Russian battalion removed a Morale pip by paying a CP. The British reacted by firing at the unit and puting 2 morale pips right on back (darn good shooting with the Guards who rolled four 6's). So you spends your money and takes your chaces.  This portion of the rules is what gets a lot of comments and attention from people who  have played this game for the first time. And rightly so. It is simple, inovative and fun. But I would recommend a GM to run the first few games you try to ensure you all stay on tract and not move ahead.  To track CP I put a sticky note under the command figure stand with the number of that units CP.

  Firing is simple. You throw 1D6 per stand for Infantry and 2D6 per artillery stand. Cross refinance with the firing chart for weapon vs. target and this gives you the chances for a hit. Since there is a possible saving roll you might not lose all those figures hit. Yes, the dreaded saving roll.  But here it takes the place of all those calculations you have to do with other rules.  Watch out for double 6's as they can cause a morale marker to drop onto your unit.  Each infantry stand has four figures. Once all four figures are gone you remove the stand.  Until then the stand fights on.

  To me, the neat thing about this system is that you forget about calculation, tables and charts. Hits, saves and morale are all tied into each other. The save chart also brings a little of the old "national modifiers" into the mix. With Russians, who get saved on a 5 or 6 no matter how many stands are left you have to beat each one with a stick until they are all dead. You get that steady, dogged feeling you read about. The British start with a high save chance (they dodge bullets like the bat man said the rules author) but as they loose stands save chances go way down so they wither away. A little fragile. Poor Johnny Turk never gets a save

   Morale is a sneaky system that most folks don't think a lot about until it bites them! You get a morale pip for any number of things (crossing an obstacle, being fired at or having friends route past you). Since you subtract 1 pip from every die roll morale effects everything you do. Move, shot or fight it ties into morale.  In a past game a Russia commander with three morale markers on a regiment found out fast that he could not shoot, or save casualties with that unit. With morale markers, once you get into trouble it comes fast and furious. To me this is a superior system then used in many rules. The unit is effected, and everything it can do is effected.

   Close Combats takes a bit getting used to since it is very different from most rules. You do not charge like in other rules. You move within 2' of the enemy. THEN, you would have to pay a Command Point or wait till next turn to close and fight. This gives the defender a chance to do something. Like blast the enemy with a close range volley that causes casualties or mabey a morale marker.  It is actually hard to close into close combat due to small arms fire.  But when you do it can be devastating.

  I really love these rules. The game feels like the Crimean to me based on my reading.  Also for a I Go U Go both sides get to do something so no sitting around. In my games Russians tend to form columns (or at least reinforced lines) and try and close with the British quickly.  (One player has nicked named them "Zulu's in overcoats.") Russian artillery is better then the allies and there is a lot of it.  Russian cavalry is, well, sluggish.  The British tend to want to shoot at things. And shoot a lot. Cavalry is small but very aggressive.  By the way small numbers of cavalry will not damage infantry who can usually shoot them down before they close. Many of my games have seen a single British battalion stopping massed charge like at Balaklva.  The French are interesting as their line have muskets while elite troops like Zouaves have rifles and  more CP.  So each army is very different from the other.  You have to work with what you have and get the best out of them.