Wednesday 28 June 2017

Idea for a Future Wargame

NOTE: I have updated the text of the original post. The additions are indicated in italics.

A few months ago I stumbled across an image of an old board game, I think from about the time of the Boer War by the look of it, titled “Called to Arms: A New Military Game For 2 or More Players”. It consists of a board with 100 steps and starting at 1 you roll a die and move your counters. On step four you miss a turn; step 8 “promoted to corporal”; step 18 “made Sergeant”; step 24 “Awarded Victoria Cross”; step 26 “Untidy return to corporal”…and so it goes on until as Commander in Chief you end the game at the Governor’s palace. It is a rather quaint “Snakes and Ladders” type of thing.

I printed out a copy onto a large sheet of paper and laminated it, thinking of using it as simple little evening game that could be played over a few beers.


But the concept of incorporating some of the game mechanisms into a table wargame as a means of determining where and when troops would arrive began to intrigue me. Often in our games we will say that a reinforcing column can come on the table on turn three, or if you roll a 4,5,6, but what if the player has a chance to influence the arrivals? What if he could march to a flank? Or even to march into the enemy’s rear?  What if, instead of a single route to a point of contact there were several routes to several points on a wargames table, in exactly the way that there are usually multiple approach roads to a real battlefield? What if those routes started pretty much at the same point, but bent and forked as real roads do so that some routes are longer and some shorter? And what if there were interruptions along the route, such as broken bridges, wrong turns, etc?


I quickly got out pen and paper and drew up some ideas. In a very short space of time I had a rough plan that was drawn up on the PC. In this simple version I have just put some “Miss a Turn” and “Go Back (or forward) 3 Spaces” instead of some nice descriptions like “River in flood miss one turn” or “Scout loses way and you have to retrace steps, go back 3 hexes” or even “Scout finds shortcut, go forward 3 hexes”. Maybe be later if the system proves useful I will add things like that and make it a bit more graphical.


Next I put some rules around the system that are as follow:


The Rules


Each side has a number of counters representing units or groups of units (brigades or divisions) in play. For every four real counters they may have one false counter.

Each commander allocates counters to a an approach path, that starts with the hexes numbered 1, 2 or 3 on the appropriate side of the playing board. One counter is ruled the advanced guard for each approach path and is placed in the numbered hex, any additional counters on that approach patch are placed in the coloured box behind the numbered hex.

Players must declare the intended destination for the advanced guard, but do not have to de-clare the destinations of any counters in the coloured box.

The Turn

Each turn each player rolls 1xD6 for each of his counters. The die score indicates the number of hexes that the command may move with the following restrictions:

•  All units MUST roll every turn and MUST move the number of hexes indicated by the die score, with the following exceptions and variations:

-  Counters with a declared destination MUST make for that point and cannot deviate unless the destination is blocked by an enemy force (see Deployment)

-  If the unit landed on a Miss a Turn hex last turn it will not move in the turn that follows.

-  Apart from entering the table, counters may not occupy the same location as another counter

-  No more than one counter can occupy a hex at any one time so if another counter is occupying the hex that they are about to move into, they will occupy the next unoccupied hex back in the direction of their advance.

-  Counters may not jump over another counter, friendly or enemy. If their path is blocked by another counter they will stop one hex behind it or join the tail of the queue.

- If a counter ends its turn of an arrow with a “3” on it, it must move immediately three hexes in the direction indicated. In this case it may jump over intervening counters and if another counter is located on the hex to which it is directed, it will force that counter and any other counters following back one hex.

• Counters that start in the coloured boxes do not have to declare their intended line of match and are free to move in any direction they wish, including towards the enemy rear if a route is available.


When one or more counters from opposing sides appear on the playing area contact is made and the wargame proper begins.

At the beginning of each player turn in the wargame, the units which are still marching roll their dice to march as normal and if they roll enough to bring them onto the playing area, they may march onto the table during the normal movement phase of their side’s game turn.

When counters appear in the playing area the number and type of units are declared and the wargames units are deployed.

Where counters meet outside the playing area dummy counters must be declared and immediately removed  from play. If after removing dummy counters one side has real units still in play and the other side does not, the type an number of real units does not have to be declared and the real units can resume their march.

If there are still two groups of real units facing each other both sides declare the type and number of units present. If one side outnumbers the other by three to one or greater, the smaller force is ruled swept aside and eliminated from the game. The larger force will  take a Miss a Turn result for the next turn and then move normally. If the difference is less than three to one, both forces are deemed to be engaged off table and will not arrive on the playing area.


Units are deployed on the wargames table from arrival points that are the termination points of approach paths. Unless otherwise specified in the game rules, units are deployed by marching onto the table from any point along the table edge within 300mm of the arrival point.  

An arriving unit will always try to march onto the table outside of an enemy unit’s charge range, or outside small arms range. If this is not possible they have the choice of taking the risk of marching on or marching away and to a different arrival point. 

•  If one side has a unit or units on the table unopposed for at least one turn, that unit or units may be deployed as far forward as the centre line of the table, but still no further than 300mm either side of the entry point.

• If one side has a unit or units on the table unopposed for at least one turn, that unit or units may be deployed as far forward as the centre line of the table,  but still no further than 300mm either side of the entry point and may have constructed hasty field fortifications.

•  All other units will march onto the table from the table edge.


I haven’t put a huge amount of thought into the rules, so there may be some gaps.


I think I will try this with the next game I set up. If anyone decides to try this, I would be interested in hearing the outcome.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Russian Napoleonic Generals

This has been a busy week on the painting table with work on three projects: 

• The Napoleonic Russians
• A batch of German Askaris for a friend's WWI East African force
• Phase two of the Dark Ages collection

While more than fifty figures have worked their way off the table, only the mounted Russian Napoleonic generals have been based up and finished.

For these I had to go outside the Perry Miniatures range. The Perrys make a lovely high command set (which I have), but it consists of Kutusov's staff at Borodino, and they are all dismounted. For divisional and brigade command, I want mounted officers. The only mounted figures they make are colonels, which I also have.

The only correct mounted generals I could find in 28mm are made by Front Rank. 

For my army I need an infantry divisional command, three infantry brigadiers and a divisional artillery chief. I also need a cavalry divisional command, two cavalry brigadiers and a cossack brigadier.  I like to make the divisional command groups two figures and the brigades one. I decided to "reassign" the mounted colonels set, by making one the artillery chief and the other two as the second figure on the divisional command bases. 

For the infantry division I chose the Front Rank Barclay de Tolly figure to which I added the Perry colonel in fatigue cap.

For the brigadiers I chose the Front Rank general in regulation dress.

For the artillery chief I used the most passive of the three Perry colonels.

The complete infantry divisional staff.

For the cavalry division I used the Front Rank General Uvarov  figure and the Perry grenadier colonel.

For the two cavalry brigadiers I decided to use cavalry officers and used a cuirassier officer and a dragoon officer, while the cossacks would be commanded by Platov, all three are Front Rank  figures.

The cavalry divisional staff.

Monday 19 June 2017

Winter Village - Part 2

Over the weekend I finished the first half of the village, that now consists of two small wooden houses on a small base. Since the construction technique did not differ all that much from the first house, I didn't take any work in progress images, but here is the second house.

Ths base was made from foamcore board with the "paths" to the doors cut deep within the board to give the impression of deep snow. The fences were then built as though they were deep in snow and were painted.

The whole surface was them coated in fine sand and painted an off-white. When that was dry about a dozen coats of white were drybrushed over the surface and some Woodlands Scenics snow sprinkled on it on as well. At the same time snow was glued on the tops of the fences and the small piece of stone wall in front. The dead tree was scratch built from wire and tissue paper.

There will be another two houses made to complete this village in due course.

Saturday 17 June 2017

First Carlist War Game

Last night four of us played a small First Carlist War battle. 

On the Isabellino side there were:
* 3 guard battalions
* 5 line battalions
* 2 National Guard battalions
* 1 battalion of British Marines
* 2 battalions of British Auxiliary Legion
* 2 squadrons of Isabelino cavalry (1 light, 1 heavy)
* 2 Isabelino guns (1 field, 1 mountain)
* 1  British gun

The bulk of the infantry (the guards and the marines excluded) were raw, while the cavalry and the guns were trained.

The Carlists had:
* 1 battalion of Navarre Guides
* 2 battalions of Valencian volunteers
* 7 line battalions
* 3 squadrons of cavalry
* 1 field gun
* 1 mountain gun.

Like their opponents most of the Carlist infantry was raw, the rest if the force trained

The Carlists were charged with defending a pass formed by two hills that extended from to corners of the table. Two large woods stood on the slopes and a road ran between the two hills. The cavalry was on the flanks, two squadrons on the right an one on the left. Five battalions held the right centre five on the left and the guns in the centre.

To face them the British force, supported by the National militia was on the left, the eight battalions of Isabelino infantry and the guns were in the centre with two cavalry squadrons on the right.

The action developed quickly. The two Carlist cavalry squadrons moved forward and engaged the British. The Ontorio Hussars charged the Marines, who promptly formed square. After an extended melee the hussars were driven off, but not broken. The other unit of Carlist cavalry plowed into the BAL lancers, routed them and then, falling on the broken British unit, dispersed them to the wind. But here the Carlist cavalry stalled and the British infantry and guns turned on them, mowing them down.

In the centre things did not go well for the Isabelino troops. Two battalions of guard were badly shot up, first by the guns and then by Carlist musketry and decide to quit the field, but when the Isabelino guns came into action the line stabilised. Some lucky shooting by the Isabelino raw units halted the advance of the Carlists and allowed the one remaining guard unit to charge the Valencian volunters, routing one unit and breaking through onto another.

On the Carlist left the Merino Lancers charged the Isabelino heavy cavalry and after a protracted melee were routed and destroyed.

Meanwhile the Carlist infantry in the woods tried to shoot it out with the Isabelino infantry, but with little effect, and the remaining Carlist cavalry unit charged the Marines for a second time. Again the Marines formed square and easily repelled the attack.

Here the game ended. The Carlist flanks were turned and the centre was close to collapse. Their units in the woods were pretty much intact, but it would only be a matter of time before they would be cut off.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Winter Village - Part 1

I have dozens of wargames buildings. So many, in fact, that I am running out of storage space.


I have buildings to cover the Dark Ages, Medieval, English Civil War, pretty much the whole gambit for European warfare from 1700 to WWI, plus more for the North American and African theatres.


But all the recent work I have done with troops in winter kit has made me realise that all the structures I have are for summer use.  With the prospect of a Great Northern War project on the 2018 horizon I have decided that I need some relatively generic Russian/Scandanavian hovels in snow conditions.


So I set about to determine what I wanted as an end result. I wanted these buildings to represent what I see as typical of rural village in  Northeastern Europe probably from 1700 right through to the early 20th Century. The need to be small and rustic and covered with snow, but not looking like a picture from a Christmas card.


My first task was to search the internet for images of Russian rural structures. Thankfully there are many images on the web, more often from the 1920s, but also some from the turn of the 20th century. Since I seriously doubt that the style and construction of these had changed at all in 200 years, these formed the basis of my inspiration. I can’t post all of the images here because some are protected by copyright, but these three images give a pretty good (and grim) idea of what a village must have looked like, with lots of wooden structures, some of logs and some of rough-hewn timber, with thatched roofs, arranged in a fairly chaotic way (apart from the last image below), each with a small fenced area.


I also like the effect and simplicity of my recently made Dark Ages buildings, where I used cardboard forms covered with matchsticks. With that in mind I decided to make a first test model.


First I cut the four sides from heavy card and, because I want a bit of an overhang in the gable, I made the gable a double thickness, hence the additional triangles in the image below.


The next step was to fix the matchsticks to the surface. I decided to do the base levels as horizontals and the gables in verticals. I glued in place seven matchsticks for the doors and cut small uprights for the window frames, then I laid the other matchsticks in place. The door frame and the window lintels and ledges were glued in place next. Many of the matchsticks extended beyond the edge of the card, and I just left them like that until the glue was well and truly dry and then trimmed them off with a very sharp blade.

The matchsticks untrimmed...

...And trimmed

The base structure was then glued together, with cardboard right angled triangles glued into the corners for strength.

Next the roof was cut fromcore board with one side of the card cut away to expose the foam. The foamcore board was then fixed to the structure.


Once the glue for the roof was set the reason that one face of the card was removed becomes clear, because now I can carve the foam into the shape I want for a snow covered roof. I carved some smooth but irregular edges. I also sanded some of the rougher areas to smooth then out a little.


Then to provide some more texture on the roof surface I coated it with PVA glue and applied a very fine sand, the purpose of which will become apparent soon.


The next step is to paint the model. First I undercoat the base in black, and the roof brown. Then the top coat is applied. The base woodwork is painted brown, then drybrushed with three lighter shades of brown until the surface is almost grey. Adding a touch of yellow to one of the drybrush coats adds a little depth here and there.

The roof was drybrushed with six layers of white, with a hint of the brown undercoat showing top provide a bit of depth.


The first coat of while applied over the brown

The final touch for the basic structure was to add some snow to the lower parts of the base structure, where the wind has blown it against the building, and along window ledges and door frames. For this I used a piece of foam rubber that was pressed into PVA and then “padded” against the surface. Some Woodlands Scenics snow over I was then sprinkled onto the surface. This padding technique is important otherwise the glue shows through the snow and degrades the effect. I repeated this process a couple of times until the depth of snow seemed right. I may yet try this technique on the roof.


The building is yet to be fixed to a base, but I want to fix two or three to one base, in close proximity, so I will hold off basing these until I have a couple more made.

Sunday 11 June 2017

Saxon Village Houses

With the lead (and plastic) pile temporarily levelled, I have turned to my old fall back - buildings.

This weekend I have finished the last of the Dark Ages buildings, two Saxon dwellings.

The first is a simple A frame structure with a low door and thatched roof.

Second is another thatched building, with a timber and daub base.

Then to put all three Saxon buildings together...

There is still a little work to finish here, such as constructing the animal pens and similar, but I shall use the Renedra plastic fencing for this and they will wait for a while.

Next up, while I wait for the next batch of lead and plastic to arrive, will be a Russian village in winter that I shall document in due course.

Saturday 10 June 2017

Russian Napoleonic Artillery

Over the last week I have been working on two field batteries for my Russian Napoleonic project, foe which I have used the Perry Miniatures sets.

Typically the Russians in 1812 and 1813 had three batteries with each intantry division, two field batteries and one position battery, although in some divisions the position battery was not always present, particularly in the 1813 armies.

Each battery comprised of eight field guns and four howitzers. In the field batteries the guns and howitzers were 6lb and 10lb pieces respectively, while the position batteries were 12lb and 20 lb pieces.

In my rules a battery is usually represented by a single gun model and its crew, but in the case of the Russians, since their batties are substantially bigger than others, I have made them two models, one field gun and one howitzer.

The position battery and the horse artillery battery, the two items required to finish the artillery contingent, will be ordered in the next month or two.