Advisory Note

Please Note: This blog contains poorly painted toy soldiers that may offend those of an aesthetically sensitive disposition.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

A (small) Railway Incident


In my imaginary state of New Wiltshire, the American Civil War is being fought primarily between General Gilder (CSA) and General Wise (USA). General Gilder's army marching towards Washington is constantly short of supplies. On hearing of a large depot full of food and ammunition on the edge of Scrubyville (County Featherstone), the General hits upon a bold plan and despatches 2 regiments of infantry and a squad of his favourite cavalry to capture the 10:00 train to Scrubyville Junction...
This battle drew inspiration from the Railway Incident Tabletop Teaser by C.S.Grant published in Military Modelling in March 1979. PW rules were used with the following variations. Infantry Regiments had 10 SPs, the cavalry squad 4 SPs and the Junction box guard unit had 2 SPs. Cavalry took 1 grid square move to dismount and fight as infantry (and vice versa). After the enemy was sighted from the Junction box the guard would roll a dice each turn to see if they got a telegraph through to the town. The captured train would arrive on turn 6. It would take 4 unhindered turns for a regiment to load the supplies onto the train. It took 1 turn to disembark a regiment from the train during which they could take hits but not return fire. Exhaustion Point was set at 50% hits.


Scrubyville Jnc.
Junction box guard
Town garrison
Confederate cavalry race up the line
Dismounting they attack the guards
End of turn 2, the cavalry have taken hits and the town has been alerted
End of turn 5, CSA cavalry have captured and changed the points
Turn 6 the train arrives and 1 regiment disembarks
Union forces in position start firing on the disembarking troops
The train rattles on into the station and the second regiment climb down into the face of the Zouaves 
The remounted cavalry head for town
The Zouaves have fallen back from fierce CSA melee and meet the bold cavalry!
Turn 12 - the Zouaves are still fighting the remaining cavalry and the train is nearly loaded!!
The train, now full of supplies moves out leaving the soldiers to fight their way out
The Zouaves have finally killed off the cavalry
With what can only be described as a rebel yell, the CSA regiment forces back the Zouaves
The remnants of the other CSA regiment fall back under fire and eventually leave the field
The Zouaves continued to fall back and at turn 16 the battle was over
The Union Colonel wonders if he'll have a commission tomorrow morning

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Introduction, in which the scene is set

The little Kingdom of Nearsea (so named due to its proximity to a large body of saline water) is a "flickering light in a dark and chaotic world", according to the Church that is. Currently it is threatened by an invading force of "Wild men" from the East. This large group of wandering peoples is an amalgamation of tribes who have been forced to migrate by something clearly more aggressive and unpleasant than themselves. Led by their Paramount Chief, Ragnar Greybeard, they are now drawing nearer to the Kingdom looking for somewhere to settle. Hearing that the people of Nearsea are a tough breed, Ragnar has employed the services of a Giant from the Northern Isles, Angus the Terrible (who it is said was personally responsible for the Great Stool of Scooone).
Ragnar and a force of his men, accompanied by Angus, approach the town of Homlett from the hills to the North. The local Lord is Sir Edmund (Overprivileged) who's serfs saw off the Hungry Trolls (see below).
Ragnar Greybeard and bodyguard
Angus the Terrible


Peasants move their kine into the town
The two forces (note the half built wall on the right - an attempt to keep out the migrants)
The enemy approach
Ragnar holds back hoping the Giant will do the work
First blows - the peasants hold their ground - the townsmen tackle the giant
On the right peasants and woodsmen hold firm too
The Wild Men fall back and regroup
Angus is taking hits from front and flank
Ragnar joins the fight
The centre collapses
The left flank weakens
Turn 6 and the Barbarians are through the wall and in the town
Turn 9 - the defenders are just hanging on
but the enemy are beginning to fire the town
Angus takes another hit, goes berserk and leaves (see house rules)
Sir Edmund and men have reached the end and flee the field

The men of Homlett kept the enemy at bay long enough for the towns folk and peasants to flee South, but now the deserted town is at the mercy of the Wild Men, or migrants (depends on your point of view). What does the future hold for Nearsea?

Sunday, 11 February 2018

One Basic Battle

Rambling Intro

Like many people, I started wargaming armed with some boxes of Airfix 1/72nd scale figures and some library copies of Donald Featherstone's marvellous books, and (again like some others I think) that is where I have often returned, in spirit at least. It's a "happy place".  Anyway, it came to my attention recently that it's probably nearly 40 years since I played an American Civil War game in 1/72nd scale (I've played some 2mm ACW which was fun but not quite the same) so I thought I'd put this right. Following is an infantry skirmish in what is likely to be a familiar setting to many, using The Portable Wargame rules.

Game footage

Both Confederate and Union forces started with four infantry units and a commander; the standard bearer was just for the look of the thing and didn't count towards strength points etc.
The battlefield in Battles with Model Soldiers
The Gridded field of conflict
The two forces rush for the cover of the wall
End of Turn 1
Turn 2 - Union troops take the wall but also some casualties
Turn 5 - The exposed Rebels start to wilt under sustained fire
Turn 6 - The Confederates fall back but are rallied again and again
Turn 8 - Disaster for the Union as their Commander falls
Turn 9 - both sides reach Exhaustion Point. The Game is over.

Short, sharp but satisfying - the three S's of Battling with Model Soldiers? Perhaps not for everyone, but I enjoyed this fast little action. I think I'll count this a draw. The South lost more men but the Fed's commander fell so they could take no more decisive action. 
Next time, some more PW Fantasy! (Hopefully).

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Advent Game

This year I have been fortunate enough to have been given a Lego* Star Wars* Advent Calendar. Behind each door is a little model to build; some are figures and some are little space ships. (* Lego and Star Wars are Trade Marks - other plastic building bricks and Science Fiction Film franchises are available)
I have always enjoyed playing with Lego (when I was a child of course it was simply red and white bricks and blue roof tiles - oh dear poor old grand-dad) and building the little models is a great distraction from the dreary Breakfast News; however, it naturally occurred to me that more fun could be had from the little toys. Now that I have opened 9 of them I have 4 spaceships so what better than a space battle?
For some time I've wanted to try the Portable Wargame Air Combat Rules but I don't have any suitable planes, so instead I give to you the Portable Space Combat... Fun for all the Family.
1. Make some Spaceships from Lego bricks
2. Place them at each side of the gridded board - I have written these rules for square grids but they could easily be changed to hexes - I have only tried on a 10 x 8 grid so far; more grids would of course allow for more manoeuvring.
3. Determine the Strength Points (SP), Move rate and weapon range of your spaceships - so far I have tried giving ships about 5 or 6 SP and (due to the small board) limited speed to a move rate of 6 and weapon range of 4
4. As I currently only have 4 spaceships I have not bothered with Exhaustion Point
5. Roll for initiative
6. Movement - Movement is mandatory (minimum move of 1 grid space); Each 90o change of direction ‘costs’ the loss of 1 grid area of movement. No Spaceship may occupy the same grid space as another. Being adjacent to an enemy is allowed (there is no melee or boarding!)
Example of movement and turning
7. Firing - All ranges are measured through the edges of the grids not the corners. Spaceships may only fire once per Turn. Arc of Fire is 45 degrees (see below for illustration). Movement may be accompanied by firing (without penalty) at any single point during a manoeuvre.
Example of movement including firing - move limit is 8 for this vessel
Spaceships throw either 2d6 for forward or 1d6 for rear fire at enemies within arc of fire / range.
Blue's forward Arc of Fire - arrows show direction of travel

As above

Blue's Rear Arc of Fire

 The Front (bow?) of a Spaceship requires a 6 to hit; the sides and rear require 5 or 6 (they have less shielding). Each hit reduces the enemy's SP by 1 (so forward fire can possibly cause 2 SP damage).

Advanced (!!!) Rules

Bonuses can be applied to Ace Pilots, eg +1 to hit dice

Random Asteroids or Space Junk can appear on the throw of 6 at the start of each Turn (dice or draw cards for its starting row) - the object will float across the board in a straight line 1 square at a time until it leaves the field of play - the object moves before the players and will cause 1 SP damage to a spaceship it hits (being itself destroyed on contact). The object can be destroyed by fire on the roll of 5 or 6.

For (Han) Solo games make starting positions random.

Make adjustable stands from Lego to add a third (z) dimension to x and y movement or to allow for attacking surface objects during battles inside a Planets' atmosphere (I haven't tried this yet).

Hidden movement (Cloaking Devise) rules could be created - Spaceships only become visible once they fire...

Make space weapon noises and hum the theme to your favourite Science Fiction film during play for extra enjoyment.

A few pictures of the experimental games

Starting Positions

Two Spaceships engage

Double hit

An Asteroid floats into the game

A Star Cruiser of the Evil Space Empire is destroyed