Sunday, September 25, 2022

An unusual visitor

   We had an unusual visitor today in our yard.   We occasionally get a fox who passes through;  or a few turkeys and in the winter some deer.  But now we have a rather large Moose who has decided he likes our trees and brush.   Not sure if he us just passing through or will be returning.

I wonder if his name is Bullwinkle?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Books on tape


Recently Amazon's Audible books on tape had a promotion.  You got three months of Audible for free and you could get three of their Audible books for free for trying them out.  You can cancel at anytime during  the three months and you will not be charged.  

I enjoy these books and gave often gotten them from the library.  they are especially good to listen to while painting, or cutting the grass.  And getting three free books was too good to pass up. So, what did I get?  

The Battle of Brandywine by Michael Harris  and

The Battle of Germantown by Michael Harris

These are very good studies of these battles during the 1777 campaign in Pennsylvania.  I find both battles endlessly fascinating and full of great ideas for the wargame table.  

Sherlock Holmes as read by Stephen Fry.  

Over the years I have read most of the stories but I still find them entertaining.

Monday, September 5, 2022

"...a thin red streak topped with a line of steel..."


    "...a thin red streak topped with a line of steel..."

             William Russell, dispatch to The Times.

   Its a rainy, chilly day here in New England.  So the perfect time to get out the figures and play a quick game.  Being in a Crimean War mood I think its time to play out that most  iconic of all Crimean actions;   the stand of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders at Balaclava.

The Battle of Balaclava ( 25 October 1854)  A Russiancolumn attempted to get between British forces besieging Sebastopol and thir supply base at Balaclava. Best known for the "Charge of the Light Brigade"  but also for 'when a single Scottish Highland regiment, the 93rd Highlanders, remarkably halted a Russian cavalry charge.

 Four Russian cavalry squadrons, numbering around 400 men, advanced on some 500-600 Highlanders. At this time, infantry were not thought to be able to withstand cavalry in the open, and woul usually form squares. On this occasion, the regiment deployed in line and fired three volleys, which inflicted terrible damage on the Russians, who halted and withdrew. An act of great courage and discipline, but also helped by a development.  The 93rd was one of the regiments in the Crimea which had been issued and trained with the new pattern 1851 service rifle, which boasted improved accuracy, range and rate of fire.  In addition a battery if artillery was nearby to lend their fire power.

The phrase "The Thin Red Line" is a misquote.  William Russell wrote in his dispatch to The Times a "thin red streak with a line of steel.". In later accounts he changed it to " The Thin Red Line" which is how it is remembered today.

The game:

On the first turn the Russian commander won the initiative roll to go first.  He sent his Cossacks Regiment to swung to the left and out flank the British position.  The Lancers and Hussars entered the board in double line headed towards the 93rd. (The rules are a simple I Go U Go.  Each side rolls for initiative with high side getting first go. 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.)O

To advance quicker the Russian spent command points to move a second time.  (  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.  Better units can do more at critical times. But when your CP are gone they are gone

Here is how it works: after the free move You may then spend a CP and do something else. Fire, remove a Morale marker or what ever.  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.)

The Royal Artillery opened fired on the Hussars causing casualties but more importantly put a morale chip on them. (  Morale is a sneaky system that most folks don't think a lot about until it bites them!  Since you subtract 1 pip from every die roll morale effects everything you do. Move, shot or fight it ties into morale.)

Turn Two:

The Russians won the initiative roll and continued their charge, again paying a command point to move a second tine.  

But now they were in range of not only the Royal Artillery but the rifled muskets of the 93rd.  The Highlanders fired a devastating volley; six hits and another morale chip! (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. .  Watch out for double 6's as they can cause a morale marker to drop onto your unit. 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.)

The Russian move brought the Hussars to within two inches of the British.  Paying yet another command point they attempted to charge into close combat.  But the rifle fire caused two more hits and another morale chip.  There were now as many chips as stands so the Hussars routed away.

Turn Three:

The Russians won the initiative roll to go first.    (Close Combats takes 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.)

Charging forward the Lancers arrived within two inches if the 93rd. They paid a command point and charged into contact (after the 93rd fired at them).  But in the close combat the Hughlanders easily defeated the lancers.  (Uphill, and more stands) and the lancers turned about and routed.

The Cossacks seeing this also turned about to head for home.  But not before the Royal Artillery score another series of hits on them.

A fine field day said General Colin Campbell!


Again a entertaining game in a cold rainy day.  This worked fine solo, but I doubt it would be much fun in a multiplayer game.  But thus us the joy if solo war gaming.  You can recreate moments if history, no matter how one sided they are without worrying if your friends will return for another game.   In addition I thought to write thus up s an explanation if his the rules worked.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Valley of Death


  On the Fife & Drum miniature forum Chase suggested I try out this game from Warlords.  Its a scenario loosely based on the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.  I guess its a starter pack that company sells.  You get a Russian battery, two Infantry regiments, some fortifications and the British Light Cavalry Brigade. Its a quick and fast game to be played using the Black Powder rules.  Game is to last six turns.

   I have addapted it to my set of rules for the period, "Charge of the Light Brigade." Because of the small size if the British cavalry units I field both the Heavy and Light cavalry as two units.  Batteries are three stands of a gun and two crew each.  Infantry are twenty four figures plus a Colonel each.   I will be setting up two Russian batteries with two supporting infantry battalion.  Although I put the fortification on the board I will not count it towards close combat.  The Russian has too much of an advantage as is!  I will leave them on the table to breakup a otherwise bland table.   To give the British some chance I will give them both the Heavy and Light cavalry brigades.   Table will be six feet by four feet.  There will be ridges/hills on both long sides which neither side can cross.  The Russians set up in one side and the British the other.  Now, off you go...

  The game starts with the British cavalry division advancing towards the Russians.( In the rules each unit gets a certain bunch of bonus command points. These can be used to do Extra things.  You can move twice, or fire twice.  But each activity costs a point and when they are gone they are gine.  Plus for each point you use the enemy gets to react.  Usually by firing back!  )

 The Cavalry are met with long range artillery fire.   But they shrug it off and continue.   The British continue  their advance and once again are hit by artillery fire.  This time light casualties. 

By the third turn the cavalry have reached the artillery line.  They play a command point and continue into close combat.  In the fight the cavalry over run the guns and continue the charge!

The Light Brigade turns the flank of the enemy infantry and rides them down.  The Russian government infantry retires to regroup.

The Heavy Brigade just plowed ahead.  Poor due rolling by the Russians cause no casualties and in the do we fighting the infantry are also beaten and retire!

At this point I am not sure I wish to continue the game.  The British cavalry have done incredibly well.  Poems will be written and their praises sung.  But the Russian infantry regrouped and are returning to the fight.  Time for the cavalry to turn about and return home I think!

A fast game and very entertaining.  Not much tactical thnking.  Perhaps perfect for the Crimean!  Played solo it was a great chance to get some figures out and play a quick game based on a historical incident that might not be a exciting club night type game for four or six players.

For those who are interested in the rules I used here are the rules and a explanation.

I think I hear the 93rd Highlanders asking to have a crack at the Russian cavalry.  Perhaps the next game?

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A visit to Old Sturbridge Village


  Over the weekend Janine and I went to Old Sturbridge Village. This is a recreated 19th Century New England village and living history museum.  Most buildings are restored and have been moved there.  Its a beautiful location and a pleasant day walking about the grounds which are very expensive.  There are certain days each month when you can bring your dog so Fritz, to his delight went along.

 The time period is about thirty years after the American Revolution or the 1830's.  Buildings range in age from late 18th century to mid 19th century.  As such they are a great chance to look at styles and colors for buildings in my table top games for American Rev War and War of 1812.

Very similar in construction to a British Rev War cartridge box



more knapsack

Although clothing and military equipment were changing there was a great exhibit in 1830 New England militia equipment.  This gives me suggestions for painting War of 1812 militia and volunteer figures.

It also gives you great ideas for terrain and landscape on your table top.

A great day was had by all!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Prince of Wales American Regiment gets a flag

  After initially posting this regiment I had not awarded them set of  colors.  My rational was loyalist regiments this early in the war probably did not have them.  Also, with such a hard luck history did they deserve them? Or would they just lose them in battle?  But I did post the question here and on the Fife and Drum forum should they get colors?  The answer overwhelmingly was yes they should.

  In their first action on the table top the regiment  broke the long time tradition of new regiments mucking it up and instead did very well.  They advanced, took casualties and passed morale checks.  Almost as if they were saying, "yes, we deserve colors!"

  But which colors to give them and what would they look like?  Dave from "Not By Appointment" website ( came to my rescue.  He designs flags for the Seven Years War , but used his vast knowledge of vexillology to come up with a plausible looking flag.  I think it looks outstanding and not out of place in the Rev War period.   I think it also reflects the grandiose ideas Colonel Browne had for his Regiment and himself.

  Because I do not have a printer my friend AJ  ( did this for me.  The templet worked and after sizing it to fit in with my other colors he sent me two sets. Warren was kind enough to drop it off at the hoyse after getting it from AJ.  Then it was just cut it out and glue to the pole.  In not time the Prince of Wales America Regiment had its new set of colors.  Magnificent!

  Then it was staging a review and award ceremony with Lord Cornwallis.

  A gigantic and heartfelt "Thank You" to Dave for the flag design and templet, AJ for printing it for me and Warren for getting it from AJ to me.  Thank you guys very much! You are the best.  And three cheers and a tiger for the PoWAR regiment and their brand new colors.  Well done lads!