Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Hook's Farm (In Glorious 54mm)

Once again my latest battle report is from an afternoon visit to Mr Asquith's dining room. Most of my own wargaming effort recently has been devoted to building up my Ancient Period armies, and games at my own house have been conspicuous by their absence. I hope that may change soon, but for the moment a monthly fix of Old School gaming at Stuart's is most welcome.

This month Stuart suggested playing H.G.Wells' Hook's Farm battle using Britains 54mm metal soldiers. How could I refuse? For some background on Stuart's current gaming outlook, check out his article in the latest Wargamer's Notes Quarterly (issue 2), available free on request via the email address given in the linked blog. For the moment, below is the map of the original Hook's Farm game, and a photo from Little Wars of the original game in progress.

The Game In Pictures
A full game report here is hardly necessary. In truth, figures were moved, dice were rolled and casualties taken off, but this was very much a leisurely afternoon spent discussing wargaming in general and Britains figures in particular. The rules were of Stuart's devising, and as you would expect they were simplicity itself, being similar in character (but not in detail) to those used in previous games. See my previous posts regarding games with Stuart for examples.

The first photo below shows the set-up - Scottish units under my control to the left, English ones commanded by Stuart on the right. 

This view of the table is from roughly the same direction as the original photo above.
Aah! Britains cavalry. 
A melee takes place to the west of Hook's Farm.
English infantry advancing towards the Hovel.
Fierce fighting took place on the ground east of Firefly Church.
On the other flank an infantry clash is pending as the cavalry fight continues.
Hook's Farm in the background.
Control of the Hovel is disputed.
I think I picked the Scots because they had the Britains 4.7" naval guns.
Along with naval crews!
The final fight of the game saw the Scots infantry see off the English near Hooks Farm.

The result of the game? Well, we stopped playing when it was time for me to depart. Beyond that, I don't think either of us paid much attention to who was actually winning.

Thanks as usual to Stuart for such a fine bit of escapism with some truly lovely figures. I think my next post should be an update of how my Ancient armies are progressing. Time to get the camera out!

'Til next time.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Action At Annie's Farm

In late April I once again travelled the short distance to Stuart's house for our monthly game. The table was set out with a particularly delightful collection of figures which Stuart had selected from his Tardis-like set of storage cabinets and boxes. In short, an American War of Independence game had been prepared using 40mm figures from the Front Rank AWI range. Annie's Farm itself is from the Caliver 15mm 'Battlefield Buildings' range.

The units were infantry regiments or battalions of 10 figures each. No cavalry or artillery were present. The British had 7 such units plus a 7 figure unit of Indians, whilst the Americans had 9 units. The slight imbalance was corrected by one British unit being grenadiers. Rules in use were (of course) a much simplified version of Charge!, adapted for the narrow table available. These are appended at the end of the post. I was offered my choice of side, and chose the British.

The Set-Up

A sight to gladden the heart of any true wargamer.
Americans to the left, British to the right. Annie's Farm is top left.

American troops lining a wall adjacent to the farm 

British light infantry opposite the crossroads.

Units of the British centre.

The American centre on the hill to the right of the farm.

The Game

The British light infantry hurry forward and claim the crossroads.

Both sides push forward.

This is the British right/American left flank. The British-allied Indians have infiltrated around
the flank of the advancing Americans, exploiting the cover of a small wood.

Once again the master of pointing exhibits his skills. Quite right Stuart, that regiment of yours
is indeed about to have a bad experience!

Determined chaps - just look at those faces! These Americans are pushing forward near the farm.

Around moves 3 to 4 the Americans hurled themselves forward in a series of
desperate charges right across the table.

The British responded in the same spirited manner. Here the Indians engage on the
British right flank, despite being outnumbered.

Action in the centre, with Annie's farm in the background.
'After you with the dice old boy!'

The British light infantry got the best of the hand to hand fighting at the cross roads.

In fact, this was true overall across the table. The dice were kind to the British and the Americans
suffered terribly. Annie's farm was soon under pressure.

The photos give a flavour of the action. With a number of American units removed from the table after suffering two thirds casualties, Stuart conceded.

The Figures
Just a couple of close-ups of the lovely figures it was my pleasure to handle.

The Rules
These simple, one-side-of-A4 rules proved ample for an afternoon's wargaming between gentlemen. A few additional paragraphs might be needed if we play some more games in future. 

CHARGE! For AWI Rules Summary
(Changes suggested in order to allow
for reduced playing area)

Line Infantry   Move and fire (line)    3”                    (Half rates through woods, over
Battalion in line           4½"                 obstacles, on hills)
Column                        7½"

Change formation        6”                    (Maximum move, no firing)

Light Infantry Movement                    9”                    (No firing)
                        Move and fire              6”


Indians            Movement                  9”                    (No firing)
                        Move and fire             6”



Line Infantry Fire

0 - 3"               5, 6 kills                      (1 dice per two figures)
3 - 6"               6 kills                          (grenadiers add +1 to the dice score)


Light Infantry Fire

0 - 3"               4,5,6 kills                    (1 dice per two figures)

3 - 6"               5,6 kills                       (Note that specific individual targets need 6

6 – 9”              6 kills                          whatever the range)               


Musketry Fire in Melees

Distance of Charge  Type of Target          Range for Musketry Effect

0-3”                             All                               Firing not allowed
over 3 – 6”                  Cavalry                       Long range
over 3 – 6”                  Dismounted                Short range
over 6”                        All                               Long range

(Roll one dice per figure.)
Infantry v irregular infantry and infantry v infantry, individual combats,
grenadiers add +1 to each dice.
RESULT: Draw unless one side scores more than one dice ‘pip’ than the other. Casualties include those from any fire received when charging.
DRAW – both sides withdraw half a move, rally next turn.
WINNER – Rally on spot next turn.
LOSER withdraws one move, then rallies next turn.
UNDER STRENGTH: Units become under strength when they have lost 2/3rds their number and are immediately removed from play.

First Version: April 2017

Thanks to Stuart for arranging such a treat. Once again the world's cares were set aside for a couple of hours whilst we played with our toys in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. Wargaming at its best.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Bargain Basement

Whilst it's great to hear about big projects and buying whole new armies, the dedicated wargaming nerd also knows the distinctive pleasure of modest bargain purchases, especially of things you never knew you needed until you found them online. Here's a couple of my recent ones.

How cheap are your palm trees?
Thinking it was time to assemble a little ancients-style terrain for my Trimsos armies, I started searching for palm trees, and happened on some ultra cheap ones on ebay. Ten for less than £3? And post free, for Christ's sake. I had to try them. 

Thinking they would be junk, I was pleasantly surprised when they finally arrived (about 10 days later). They were actually pretty good, well up to my requirements for wargames terrain. They come with 1cm pegs moulded to the end of the trunk, which I removed before tacking them to some pennies with super-glue. Then I reinforced the bond by spreading Araldite around the base of the trunks. Now it's time to base them up properly. 

These will do fine for me. There's a whole range of them on ebay in different sizes, retailed by the same Chinese company, 'toysloveit'. They also have other types of trees dirt cheap.

Tea Is Served
I have occasionally felt the need for some tea-time style trays which would serve as the middle man between storage cabinets and wargames table. The usefulness of such things was highlighted by my large scale Aufeld game last year, when I had to put the troops out on the table overnight for deployment by the gamers next morning:

This turned out to be a bit inconvenient for the players, who had to shuffle large numbers of figures around in a cramped space trying to get their deployment sorted out. How much easier if the various brigades were available on convenient trays, stored on any nearby level surface, which could be brought to the table as required for the unloading and deployment of the various units.

So again I got busy in the interweb. There's plenty of relatively expensive stuff out there, but then I happened on the products of a catering supplies company called Nisbets and found these babies. Yes, £1.80 each, with £5 postage which gets you next day delivery. I ordered four, once again not sure what to expect.

And once again I was very pleasantly surprised. These are solid, well moulded, hard-plastic items designed to put up with daily abuse in your typical cafeteria. They'll last indefinitely, as far as I can tell, and come in a tasteful British racing green. They have a nice non-slip interior surface which should avoid your soldiers or vehicles sliding around too much.

The photos show some 28mm Prussian grenadiers loaded on board. These small size trays are 10" x 14", but you can also get get medium and large, as well as a good range of other colours. I expect to get some good use out these fellows, but at £13.20 for the whole order, who cares if they only see occasional service?

Happy, Happy, Happy
And so my week has been brightened by the simple pleasure of receiving these items. My wife thinks I'm crazy, but as I always tell her, she should be thankful I don't go online to empty the family bank account through internet gambling. Such rational arguments, however, appear to have little effect on the female mind.

'Til next time!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Leaping Indians

My latest game with Stuart featured a scenario that has been a great favourite of his for many years, a French-Indian War scenario which rejoices in the title 'Leaping Indians', or more prosaically 'The Relief Of Fort Cumberland'. It featured in an issue of Practical Wargamer many years ago (Stuart doesn't remember the exact one), with the fort then called Fort Rodwell. I include the original article below with Stuart's permission. Clicking on the page should make it easier to read. This scenario later formed the inspiration for scenario 27 'Raid On A Stockade' in the 1996 book Scenarios For All Ages, authored by Stuart and Charles S. Grant.

There were a few alterations for our own game to take account of the figures and terrain available, but the basic idea of the game remained identical. So without further ado I append Stuart's rules for this contest and the order of battle we used. Thanks to Stuart for writing these out and providing them for inclusion in the blog.

The Relief of Fort Cumberland (7YW)
(aka ‘Leaping Indians’) by Stuart Asquith

All artillerymen, all line infantry, Compagnes Franches de la Marine
Provincial: The New Jersey Regiment
Militia: Coureurs de bois, rangers, colonial infantry
Irregulars: Civilians, Indians


Regulars and provincials                     1 dice
Regular light infantry and Militia       1½ dice
Irregulars                                             2 dice
(Note: Figures defending the fort are allowed a 6 inch move within the fort).
Light infantry deployed into open order move as militia.
General points:
All figures are individually based.
Regular and provincial troops move at half speed if moving and firing.
Militia and irregulars may make a full move and fire.
Artillery takes a complete move to unlimber or limber up, and cannot move and fire.


General points:
Regular and provincial troops suffer standard casualties
Militia and irregular troops suffer only half casualties
Cover reduces all casualties by half. (All troops within the fort are under cover.)



Musket short range: 0-3”, long range: 3-6”.
Rifle short range: 0-6”, long range: 6-12”.
Each figure firing rolls one dice.
At short range a score of 5 or 6 removes one figure, at long range a 6 is needed.
Any casualties have the right to return fire that game turn before they are removed.


Each artillery piece rolls one dice (D6).
Short range: 0-12”, long range: 12-24”.
At short range a score of 5 or 6 removes one figure, at long range a 6 is needed.
For counter battery fire, a 6 is needed at long or short range.
Each hit kills a gunner, three hits and the gun is out of action until new gunners arrive. Two infantry figures (regulars or provincials only) may replace each of the first two gunner casualties, but there must always be at least one gunner serving the piece for it to fire. There are no penalties however, even if the gun is crewed by four non-specialists and one artilleryman.



Conduct of melees:
Roll one dice per base; highest score by one clear pip is the winner.
Variables:        +1 charging
                        +1 regular or provincial troops (bayonets)
-1 militia and irregulars
                        -1 contacted whilst falling back (disordered)
-2 contacted whilst rallying (disordered)
Loser then falls back one move (normal speed) then rallies.
Winner rallies on spot.
Rallying lasts for one complete game move.

Attacking the Fort:
Figures of coureurs de bois, rangers and Indians (only) are moved up into contact with the base of the fort’s wall. They may be fired at by the defenders.
On the next move, one dice per figure in contact is rolled; a dice score of 6 is sufficient to permit the figure to scale the wall and land on the walkway behind it.
If a defender is within half a move, a melee takes place at once, with the attacker being -1 for the first round (only). If there is no defender, the attacker’s figure may not move or fire for that turn, but may do so next turn without penalty (ie not melee at -1).
Apart from engaging in small arms fire, for regular and provincials to attack the fort, the gates must be opened from the inside of the fort.

 5th April 2007

The Relief of Fort Cumberland
French and Indian War (25mm)

Fort Garrison:
General Wolfe (on foot)
Fort Commander (on foot)
Virginia Regiment (10, provincials)
Civilian militia (10, militia)
Cannon and (3) regular crew

French attacking force:
General Montcalm (mounted)
Force Commander (mounted)
Saint Agur Regiment (10, regulars)
Royale Brie Regiment (10, regulars)
Compagnes Franches de la Marine (10, regulars)
Colonial militia (10, militia)
Coureurs de Bois (10, militia)

British relief force:
British General (mounted)
Force Commander (mounted)
1st Bn, The Light Infantry (10, regular)
General Thomas’s Regiment (10, regular)
The Lady Beryl’s Regiment (10, regular)
New Jersey Regiment (‘Jersey Blues’) (10, provincials)
Hessian Grenadiers (10, regular)
Rogers Rangers (10, militia)

Joseph Brant and Red Jacket
Mohawk Indians (10, irregular) – with the British
Huron Indians (10, irregular) – with the French
Seneca Indians (10, irregular) – with the French

The Game In Pictures
The original 8' x 5' table was condensed down to the usual 6' x 3' available in Stuart's dining room, but the essential features of the terrain were retained. One interesting feature of the rules should be emphasised - the move distance rolled had to be moved in full, unless terrain intervened. This created unfamiliar problems (at least to me) of units dashing off uncontrollably or lagging behind, and made force cohesion a real headache. A very simple but very entertaining idea!

Most of the figures are from the Warrior AWI range, except the Indians which are Minifigs 'S' range. The river is made from Bellona stream sections of considerable pedigree, as gifted to Stuart by Charles S. Grant after use by his father. The buildings forming the farm are a Triang Lineside rubber cottage and a Skaledale barn. The house seen in the S.W. corner of the table in one or two photos is another vintage Charles Grant-made building as seen in the 1971 classic The War Game (complete with lift-off outer shell to reveal a ruined inner structure). The fort itself is home made.

Looking from the French baseline, the Coureurs de Bois lead the 2 Indian groups onto the table.
Fort Cumberland and its defenders.
Stuart looks on with approval as his British relief column enters the table.
Unfortunately, low dice rolling for movement slowed their approach to the fort.
The French-allied Indians have rushed ahead in their desire for scalps and have reached the fort walls.
Let 'leaping' commence!
British forces grind forward. Roger's Rangers lead the way, with the light infantry behind.
Table overview as the game progresses. The Compagnes Franches de la Marine are fording the river,
with the French regular companies coming onto the table behind them.
The old Charles Grant house is seen at top left.
Roger's Rangers and the Mohawk Indians forge ahead of the slower British regular troops.
A number of Indians are on the battlements fighting desperate melees with the British defenders.
Beyond the fort the Coureurs attempt to block the advance of the British Rangers at the line of the second river.
The Rangers are disadvantaged by fording the water in the face of the Coureur's musketry and suffer accordingly.
Above the fort gate, 4 indians have made it onto the walkway. A number of the defenders have already fallen.
The French regulars had as much trouble advancing as their British counterparts.
Here they struggle across the river east of the fort.
The Mohawks join the remaining Rangers and charge into the now outnumbered Coureurs.
Most of the combats were 2 to 1 and the Frenchmen suffered heavily. When melees are fought as individual combats, it pays to have a thoroughly experienced pointer to ensure fair play. Stuart is one of the best, as demonstrated here.
To the right can be seen a further group of Indians waiting to ascend into the fort.
Sadly, we had to call an end to an excellent game while there was still all to play for.
It was time for me to visit Lidl with my lady wife. Such are the pressures of modern living!

Stuart's simple rules and excellent scenario had created an absorbing and enjoyable game, which had to end before either side really gained the ascendancy. I'm hoping we can re-visit this particular game in the future, but we are lining up a whole series of other games in the months to come. Stay in touch for more Old School action!