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

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meanwhile, on another ridge Far Away


OK back to the 1830's. As mentioned, I intend to focus on my 2 games for Huzzah for the next month. To separate scenario issues from rules issues, I reset the terrain and prepared to play a variation on Saturday's ACW game but pitting Oberhilse vs Faraway. While laying out troops, admiring my new 9 stand Brigade and trying to calculate if I had enough Red infantry for 3 brigades if I used both 1812 & glossy toy units, I suddenly realized something was wrong. Something about the look of the troops vs the terrain was off but I wasn't sure exactly what. As I studied it, I suddenly heard a little inner voice asking 'What's the point?". Now that's a scary question for some one who spends as much time with their toy soldiers as I do! 

Luckily, it didn't take long to recognize that the question was actually "What's the point of doing this with 40mm troops?". The game was starting to look/feel like a the previous game but with fewer units that didn't fit into the table as well as the 1/72nd ones. That was still a scary question. My first response was that it was supposed to present different tactical challenges due to the shorter ranges and the greater number of cavalry. Cavalry of which I only had 4 stands laid out (vs 3 ACW ones) and not much room for them to operate in. OK, so the table was a bit crowded with terrain. I started taking a few things off and comforted myself that if I was playing a game set in a fictional land, or in say, the Punjaub, then I wouldn't need so many fences and patches of woods but this was supposed to be vaguely early 19thC Eastern North America. Which led me to think about the unlikeliness of armies of 9 or 12 battalions or larger in that setting. Ahhh.

Technically at 1"~25 yards, my 6" wide battalions represent units of around 450 men, about right for the Canadian campaigns of the War of 1812 but the terrain having too big a foot print, they didn't look quite right (conditioning probably) and under the rules, 3 stand battalions are weak so you need more than a handful of them to make a decent game. I laid out one of my few 5 stand battalions and it looked pretty good  but it implied either a 750 man battalion or a change in scale and would mean adding figures to existing units. I had settled on 4 stand units a few months back so as to be able to play Table Top Teasers with 1 of my units = 1 scenario unit, but had decided to go back to three stands before reopening the rules because the four stand units were too resilient when taking 12 hit, leading to inconclusive games. I hadn't actually tried them in any of the five games I had played after the return to the older style rules so I ran a few 1 on 1 clashes, enough to show that the four stand units now seemed to be have a good balance between stamina and vulnerability. 

OK then, looking just at line infantry,  instead of 3 defending brigades (9 stands each) vs 4 brigades (27 stands vs 36 stands), I would try 4 battalions (4 stands each) vs 7 (16 vs 27 as it worked out).  Add in some light infantry, guns and 2 squadrons of cavalry and we have forces of a reasonable size and organization for an historical 1812 or 1837 game. The battalion frontages are perhaps slightly wide indicating strong units of 600 men, rare but some were fielded, or an actual ground scale of 1"=20 yards or a bit less which is close enough to for me to ignore.
The opposing armies laid out, ready to do battle.

Tomorrow: The game!.

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