My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gaming Hook's Farm with the Wife

I had initially planned to play the demonstration scenario "Hook's Farm", using Tin Soldiers in Action, with a gaming buddy from Texas (Justo), but we were not able to complete the armies and terrain so we could both play the two sides over Skype, so my wife suggested (!) that we play a game instead. Well, given that I had "Hook's Farm" set up, I suggested that we try that. How easy would it be to teach my wife Tin Soldiers in Action (TSIA)? More importantly, how would she like it?

My wife has played a few games with me over the years, but she is typically so engrossed with her garden that she would rather work out there than game, so the games have been few and far between. She started gaming when we met a couple – Marv and Betsy from New Mexico – and saw that not only did Betsy participate in gaming, she was an avid gamer. Betsy taught my wife DBA and, although she liked it, she did not stick with it. What she did like, and played a number of times, was the card game Dominion. She also played a few games of Abaddon with me and really enjoyed that. So none of the really hardcore stuff, but still some military oriented topics every so often.

Hook's Farm is a simple, introductory scenario converted from the scenario of the same name in H. G. Wells' book Little Wars, that you can download from the TSIA files section on Boardgame Geek. It uses a simple 8 square by 8 square grid board, which even if using the suggested 6" squares, only requires a 4' by 4' space. I was using 3" squares though, so this scenario fits nicely into the "small space gaming grid" category.

Map of Hook's Farm
The defender (Blue) sets up his forces in rows 1-3, with a single unit allowed in square D4, which is Hook's Farm, and the victory square. The attacker (Red) deploys her forces in row 8. Red rectangles are houses, green blobs are woods, and multiple squares outlined in brown are hills.

The forces are pretty basic with each player getting four infantry units, two artillery units, one light cavalry unit, and three commanders. The Blue defender must eliminate one of those units, of his choice, before the start of the game.

Here is my board all set up.

My version of Hook's Farm, viewed from the attacker's baseline
The board is the backside of a whiteboard. As it is metal, and magnetically receptive, it works well with magnetized bases (which mine are). I also magnetized the cardboard hills and the wooden block houses. (The hexes on the side are to indicate the grid number, which is used when playing remotely over Skype. They play no role in this game other than to demark the boundaries of the board.)

Hook's Farm takes place somewhere around the time of 1850. The infantry are armed with rifled muskets and the artillery with smoothbore muzzleloaders. I have been working on my 1866 Austrians and Prussians and I wanted them to take the field even though it was slightly out of period. Rather than altering the scenario, I used the figures to represent the Blue (Austrian) and Red (Prussian) sides.

The Blue/Austrian/Defending Forces

Commander-in-Chief and Austrian Cavalry Reserve


Although the unit has only four figures on the base, it actually has 12 tin soldiers on the roster. The cavalry unit depicts an Austrian Hussar unit.

Austrian 1st Division


This consisted of two infantry brigades, an artillery battery, and the Division Commander.

Austrian 2nd Division


This also consisted of two infantry brigades, an artillery battery, and the Division Commander. However, I decided to eliminate one of the infantry brigades as part of the scenario requirements.

As you can see in the picture, the infantry on the left is an older style, where the head is made from a round bead. The newer style, shown in the picture of the Austrian 1st Division, has the head made from a flathead, screwhole (furniture) plug, which looks much better as a shako in this scale.

The infantry on the right are modeled after the Austrian Jägers battalions, with the cock feathers in their top hats.

This artillery battery is incomplete. I have finished neither the gun or the limber.

The Red/Prussian/Attacking Forces

Commander-in-Chief and Prussian Cavalry Reserve


The cavalry unit depicts the Prussian 1st Hussar Regiment. The Commander-in-Chief is a Prussian Cuirassier Brigade Commander.

Prussian 1st Division


This consisted of two infantry brigades, an artillery battery, and the Division Commander. The gun of the artillery battery is completed, but the limber is not.

Prussian 2nd Division


This also consisted of two infantry brigades, an artillery battery, and the Division Commander.

As you can see in the picture, the infantry on the right after the Prussian Jägers battalions, with the shako rather than the pickelhaube.

This artillery battery is incomplete. I have finished neither the gun or the limber.

Let the Game Begin

My wily opponent tries to distract me
I did change the scenario a little, but not on purpose. I had the Red forces march on. The second change regarded line of sight to and from hills. I am fairly sure that I did it wrong, but I sort of wanted to do it that way as I felt I was handicapping myself in this game. (Turned out I was just penalizing both sides.) I am not going to go into the second change because I don't want to perpetuate it.

Deployment

As I was having Red march on, here were the only deployed forces. Note that both artillery batteries are limbered at the start. Also, the yellow disorder markers are not out yet.

The Austrian defenders, deployed.

Turn One

The first turn saw the Prussians advance onto the board. No casualties were registered, but the Austrian artillery is deployed. (All pictures are of the end of the turn.)

Turn Two

This turn saw the Prussian 2nd Division concentrate fire on the Austrian 2nd Brigade (1st Division) and rout them out of the woods and off of the board. (Rita got some good hits and I absolutely failed my morale, then rolled the maximum on desertion.) The Prussians have opened their left flank.

Turn Three

The Prussians aggressively advance against Hook's Farm, but fail to inflict any damage on them. Fire is mostly concentrated on my left flank artillery and infantry. Rita is attempting to make a pincer movement against the farm! (Why, oh why, did I ever tell her about pincer movements!)

Turn Four

Man, that turn hurt! You can see that Rita has completely wiped out my artillery and infantry on my left flank. This forces me to pull back my cavalry reserve so it won't disintegrate under withering Prussian artillery fire.

What this picture does not show is the damage – or lack thereof – on Rita's forces. Her rightmost battery and the two infantry brigades in the center, in front of Hook's Farm, have no hits on any unit. The only saving grace is that the Austrian unit in Hook's Farm still has not taken any hits either.

Turn Five

At this point I just noticed that I have been using the Prussian CinC and Cavalry Reserve for the Austrians and vice versa! Either I am tired or I subconsciously wanted to play the Prussian Hussars, which I think are painted much better.
My pulling the cavalry back lured out Rita's cavalry. I make a quick charge and am fortunate in that the Prussians fail their Close Combat Test, while the Austrians succeed. Austrian cavalry in close formation charging disordered Prussian cavalry in open formation results in dead Prussian cavalry, which routs off of the board.


As I was playing the variable turn end (for no particular reason other than to force the attacker not to dawdle) there is a chance that the game ends at the end of turn 5 or turn 6, rather than turn 7. Rita's rolling of sixes had been hot so I ask her to roll for an early end, and it does! I tricked her into rolling another six and won the game!

The sun sets on Hook's Farm, with the Austrians still in possession of it (with a mere two tin soldiers). Rita gives me a sour look and says "What do you mean I lost? How could I have lost when I killed all of your soldiers?!?" But she laughs it off, even after I offer to continue playing. I know she would have taken the farm on the following turn. There was no way to stop that damn gun line.

Conclusion

First and foremost: how did Rita like the game? She admitted that she was initially bored with all of the explanation and the marching. But once the action started, not only was she hooked, she was getting it. By the end of the game I had her controlling the cards and indicating whose turn was next and she was even starting to calculate the odds. (Funny how she kept forgetting to halve the firepower of her rifles, but not mine though.)

Honestly, at no prompting from me, Rita concentrated her firepower on the center and kept it there, not getting distracted by all of the other elements on the board. Although she lost her cavalry at the end, it was really a minor moral victory for me. There was no way my cavalry was going to survive a canister blast to the face if I tried to charge her artillery. Unlike me, she resisted the urge to charge in with the bayonet and just simply blasted away all of my supports in preparation of that final charge into the farm. Only an early sunset stopped the inevitable.

The best reaction of all was when she said we needed to try that again tomorrow. Hopefully I can not screw up the rules regarding hills and line of sight and convince her that I am not simply changing the rules on her to get an advantage.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hold the Line Kickstarter Arrived

After my debacle with the Upfront Kickstarter I now view Kickstarter like a raffle ticket, only with better odds. First they tell you about the prizes and how much it costs to buy a ticket. But you can't buy the ticket yet, you have to wait up to 30 days first. If they can get enough people to buy into the raffle, you get this notice that hey, it is time to pay your money for that raffle ticket you said you wanted. But that is all well in advance of the actual raffle so there is a lot of waiting again, and when the day comes, only then do you see if you won. With all of that waiting, I often forget about that raffle prize. So when I win, it sort of comes as a surprise to me.

On the Friday before Christmas I get a notice that I have a package arrived. Having a rural post office I cannot get it before Christmas, of course, because they aren't open on Saturdays like the city slickers have, and Monday is the official "day off" holiday for Christmas, so I only just picked up my package(s) yesterday. Merry Belated Christmas! It turns out the package is from Worthington Games and it is the Hold the Line Kickstarter raffle that has paid off.

I had purchased Worthington's first game on the topic, Clash for a Continent (CfaC) and had played every scenario. Like various Command and Colors games, they had opted for using wooden blocks rather than miniatures. Unlike Command and Colors however, they had opted to use a single wooden block for each unit and to rotate and flip the block around, like some Columbia Games' block games, to indicate how many strength points remained. It was a clunky mechanic, but it worked. But the real issue was that the other components were flimsy. The game board was glossy cardstock, as were the terrain tile overlays. Further, the artwork for the woods looked ... odd. It looked like someone took an overhead picture of a pile of green sponges. No matter, I had plenty of terrain tiles from BattleLore and it fit the hexes perfectly.

At first I heard that CfaC was a Command and Colors clone, but that is far from the truth. There are no sections on the board, nor any cards. Orders are issued by throwing a die to get command action points and then assigning those points to units in order to indicate which units can take action. Much more reminiscent of DBA than anything. Combat was also a simple combat table using D6 rather than special dice. But I digress.

Worthington later came out for a replacement to CfaC called Hold the Line. It expanded the period to include the War of 1812, I believe. I am not sure because I did not buy it. I downloaded the rules from Worthington's web site and so no appreciable changes, so I did not bother as I heard that Worthington mostly issued this edition because they had run out of copies of CfaC and decided to rebrand the game. They also changed the units to counters.

Eventually – perhaps after seeing what the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) did for The Great War (Richard Borg's World War One game, similar to Memoir '44 – Worthington decided to team up with PSC and produce another version of Hold the Line, only this time they were going to include 20mm (😖) plastic miniatures. (Actually, I did not know they were going to be 20mm at the time. I thought they were going for 15mm.) I had no real interest until they said they were going to revamp all of the scenarios and include even more. I looked at my no-longer-played copy of CfaC with its partially torn box cover and decided it was time for an upgrade.

And here it is.


The boxes are nice and sturdy, using thick, pressed cardboard (as you expect with modern games) and not using the corrugated cardboard box like CfaC.

The rule book and scenario book are printed professionally on nice, glossy paper. The rules are a mere 12 pages of large type while the scenario book comes in at 36 pages with 34 scenarios! The quick reference card is a little unusual in that both sides contain the exact same information. It makes me wonder if it was a misprint, but there really are few charts in the game. The flags are glossy stickers and reminiscent of the ones provided with the old Battlecry game.


You get two bags of 20mm miniatures, red for British and blue for Americans. This is not a buckets of dice game, so three dice is not skimping. No one uses more than three dice in combat.


Here is a close-up of the figures. Note that the artillery pieces are glued together and needs some straightening. The plastic is a firmer soft plastic.

There are figures for line and light infantry (shares the same figure in cocked hat, the flag differentiates the unit type), militia (round hat), artillery (no gunners), Commanders, and cavalry (in helmet).


You may notice some similarities with the American infantry. The only difference is that the line infantry is in a defending pose rather than a march attack pose. The cocked hat on the American (and as you will see, the French figure) has a defect, however, and the back brim is significantly higher than the left and right brims (the turned up parts) so it gives the figure a pointy-headed look. I will have to sand it down because, truth be told, it really bothers me.

Actually, I might very well sell the figures because I have so many singly-based, painted, 15mm figures that I have more than enough to use them for this.


My biggest complaint for CfaC was regarding the thin terrain tile overlays. These tiles are thick like with BattleLore and Memoir '44. Good heft to them, so they are less likely to shift. Unlike many other games what is on the back side of the tile makes sense for what you see of the front side. For example it might be a village on the front and a village in the woods on the back. It is not like Memoir '44 where it leads to a search through every single tile looking for that curved river segment that sometimes appears on the back of a woods, hill, or village.


The game board itself is featureless, but there is no discernable, repeating pattern. The coloring is more yellow than green, but still looks pleasant. As you can see, the sections are thick. The board is one-sided; the reverse is black with binding tape to strengthen it.


The French and Indian War comes as a separate, boxed expansion. I am assuming they are selling it this way.

It includes some additional terrain, an expansion book (2 pages of rules, 13 additional scenarios), flag stickers, and French, Indian, and Ranger figures. Note that two of the new scenarios are for the American Revolution, as they include Indians in the British forces.


The French forces are really disappointing. They are the exact same figures as the Americans, only molded in off white. The militia should look like coureur de bois, not round hat with feather. The funny part is that it include cavalry for the French, but no scenario uses them and they are modeled after the British light dragoons, so totally inappropriate. If anything, they should be Lauzun's Legion hussars.

The Indians are green as they can be used by either the British or the French. But, as you can probably guess, there are scenarios where there are Indian units on both sides. I can see having to do something to sort that out.

The Rangers are green also, but they only appear on the British side, so it does not make sense that they are not red. I assume it was a cost-cutting measure.

If they had made some Indians in white and some in red, then made the Rangers in red, they could have still limited themselves to two colors, but they would have probably had to give us more Indians.


I did not intend to do a review of the rules – maybe at a future date – but skimming through the rules they look exactly the same as CfaC with some additions for new terrain types and the Rangers. The main changes are exactly what they stated at the start, which is to revamp the scenarios and add a lot more.

There were two additional figure types – Scottish Highlanders and Hessian Grenadiers – that were optional figures to purchase, but I did not get them. Given that the figures are 20mm, I just did not want to add another scale. I have so many painted 15mm figures that are still not based, the idea that I should paint these was just too much. So no reason to collect even more that I would not paint. Further, those figures are not required for the scenarios, but they are usable for specific scenarios, like Bushy Run and Trenton.

All in all I am happy with the purchase. Even if the figures were 15mm, they would be more of a nuisance (because I would be compelled to paint them), so that they are 20mm convinces me more to just sell them off.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Miniatures Wargaming over Skype

One of the 'new things' that I wanted to try over the Christmas holiday was wargaming over the internet. That does not sound very new, especially because I have already been wargaming over the internet, such as when I won that BattleLore campaign run on Vassal (gloat, gloat). No, what I wanted to try was playing a miniatures game over the internet and not using Vassal (besides, there is no module for what I wanted to try, Tin Soldiers in Action).

My Prussian Jägers are aching to get into action!
I have heard about webcam gaming, which is basically pointing a web camera at your table or using a handheld and showing your opponent what is going on, the state of the units, and so on. Your opponent may or may not have a similar setup on their own side. Sounds interesting but my main gaming space has a weak internet connection, so it would not support the amount of bandwidth I needed. I would either need to clear a large space in the house, risking the wrath of my wife, or I would need to scale something down. Fortunately, I had already done this exercise with Neil Thomas' rules Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815–1878 in my article Converting Rules to a Grid and a Small Gaming Space. As Tin Soldiers in Action (TSIA) is already on the grid, all I needed to do was to convert it to a small gaming space. Basically, scale the table down in size.

The scenario I was to play was Invasion of Back Cup Island, which comes from the back of TSIA. The scenario in TSIA is nine squares wide by 12 squares long, so with 6" squares that means a 4 1/2' by 6' table. Nope. I would need it down much smaller than that.

Although I have a good 4' by 4' space on the dining room table, because of its height, it is very hard to reach all of the way across. I usually game on the table by either making a game board out of foam core board or poster board. The foam core boards are generally 20" by 30", but you can buy larger ones like 30" by 40" and 48" by 96". I did not have any of those larger boards around, so I decided to use poster board that I had, which are also about 20" by 30". That meant I would have to use 2" squares. Pretty small! (In hindsight, I should have gone out and bought a 30" by 40" board and used 3" squares. More on that later.)

A simple game board drawn on poster board
Unit sizes were 12 figures per unit, so in order for that to fit in a 2" square, bases sizes would have had to be 1/2" or less (four figures wide by three ranks deep). It was starting to look like I would have to use 6mm figures and not use figure removal, but a roster system for tracking casualties.

The next surprise was that the scenario was not horse and musket, but a Jules Verne scenario set in about 1870–1896 due to the technology used. Well, all I had sufficient quantities of were 6mm Napoleonics or 6mm Space Marines, Space Elves, and Space Orcs. I was running out of time (the game was slated for the day after Christmas at 2 PM), so I bit the bullet and decided to make counters. 😞  Had I decided upon 3" squares at the start I could have used my fledgling Austrian and Prussian 1866 armies for the game, and quickly made unpainted units for the ones that were missing! But the stores were closed and I was running out of time.

Actually the counters were not so bad. I was able to put the unit name, stats, and 12 hit boxes comfortably all within about 1 3/4" square. This allowed me to use a pencil to mark off casualties as we went along, so the unit was the roster. I drew up a sheet of unit counters in Word using tables, printed it to paper, and glued them to wood squares in order to give them weight, so no accidents would happen with a gust of wind.

Pieces used for the game. The "O"s are the hit boxes.
I was all set up, ready for my game with Rüdiger Hofrichter (the author). I would be the attacker and he would be the defender (which is running a static defense, to be honest). The game is well balanced, but I knew it was going to be tough for me because it introduced a lot of new elements that I had not played, like fortifications, entrenchments, houses, modern artillery, siege artillery, and armored gunboats for starters.

As I said, the scenario is a Jules Verne-like story. The Evil Count (Blue defender) and his pirates kidnap a scientist and forces him to make not one, but two Ultimate Weapons. The International Force sends out their military to invade Back Cup Island, where the scientist is being held, to rescue him and destroy the weapons. The problem is: the Ultimate Weapons kick some serious butt.


The map above shows the layout. The International Force (Red attacker) enters the board on row 12. The four victory squares are C2, G4, G6, and G9. You must capture and hold all four by the end of the game (turn 9, although it could end at turn 7 or 8); failure to do so means the International Force loses.

The problem is that two Ultimate Weapons have been built, are functional, and are manned by crews. They are entrenched in E2 and G8. In game terms, the Ultimate Weapon is the biggest and baddest artillery defined in the game (WW I siege artillery) in an era of muzzle-loading, rifled field artillery and early breechloader naval guns. They hurt. Worse, they can hit any unit on the board that they have line of sight to.

Essentially the attackers have four infantry brigades, an artillery brigade, and an armored cruiser to punch through all of this. The assessment of this scenario by the author is that you only have about two turns where you can delay. Otherwise you need to keep moving in order to reach the opposite end of the board by the time the game ends. (For reference, an infantry unit moving flat out – no firing – can move two squares a turn.) All that sounds good, but you do not have the space to spread out and use your superior numbers.

If you have read previous battle reports then you know that my style is to see if I can break the rules. Although I felt that I had already sufficiently field-tested TSIA, there were so many new elements introduced that I decided before the game to go into 'break it' mode 1. I knew I was going to be beaten, badly, because I was warned that this was a tough scenario for the attacker, yet well-balanced, and heavily playtested.

I am not going to go into a blow-by-blow, as this was not really intended as a battle report as much as it was a 'miniature gaming over Skype' report. How did we pull it off mechanically. First, one of the core components of a TSIA game is the card deck. There is one card for each command on each side. In the case of Red it had six commands, while Blue only had two. Thus the deck consisted of eight cards, mixed together. So one of the players has to be responsible for the deck, creating it, shuffling, pulling cards, and calling out (or showing) the card pulled 2. I let Rüdiger handle that.

The other element of chance are dice (lots of dice!), so you typically have three methods: roll your own, use an die roller app, or let one player roll all of the dice. Actually, this last option did not really dawn on me, but Rüdiger suggested it and I was game. He would roll all of the dice and call out the results. (I would not even have the excuse of bad die rolling given that I was not rolling any dice!)

Game play was pretty easy, actually. I was like playing a modern version of Battleship. A card would be drawn and that would indicate which command would act next. The player would then indicate the unit in that command to take action by calling out the unit's name and grid coordinate location, state the action, and if the action were a move, what grid coordinate it would move to. If it was a double move I would simply change it to 'taking a double move' and then state the grid coordinate of the second move square. It actually worked very well and moved along very quickly.

When it came time to combat, we would state the unit firing, the target unit by grid coordinate, and then work out the dice together. Rüdiger would roll the dice and call out the hits. The only hitch was when the die roll was so horrendously bad against me I think he felt a little twinge of guilt and wanted to show me the roll. I was saying "no, no" but he would fumble with the camera and try to get it aimed and zoomed in.

As you can imagine, gaming this way requires a certain amount of trust between the two players. If you have that level of trust then I say forego completely trying to show your opponent the die rolls as it slows the game down. If you are the type that likes to roll your own dice, I would still say to forego showing the die rolls to the opponent, unless you have some two camera setup (which I am not even sure is possible with Skype). If the trust level is not quite there, or you want to keep a record, you can easily use an online dice roller like Rolz to handle the dice for you. It is easy, free, and you can get a private chat room so no one else comes in and starts rolling dice.

In my case, I did not have any trust issues, don't care if I roll the dice physically, virtually or not at all, and the last thing I want to do is look at the actual dice that just chewed through half a unit without the ability to fling them across the room! 😄

I really like playing gridded games and scenarios, so as I find good version of both, I have a tendency to make game board from foam core board or poster board so that replaying the scenarios are much quicker and easier to set up. As I continue to expand my minimalist 12mm armies (like the Prussian Jägers 1866 and 1870, at the start of this post) I can see doing more game board using 3" squares. My bases are exactly 3" by 1 1/2" (although the artillery are 1 1/2" by 3") and infantry can comfortably fit 12 figures on the base, I could potentially have 24 figure units. Cavalry would be four to eight figures per unit. Or I could just put a removable label on the base and use hit boxes to indicate the number of figures in the unit, as I did with these counters. In any case, I can see using these armies to explore new periods in a small space (2' by 3'), using a gridded board.

Would I game over Skype again? Yes. I think this is a great way to teach someone the rules, for example. For me, as I love dissecting rules, it is a great way to game with an author of rules or someone very experienced with a set of rules I am trying out and not flub it so much as I did with Hail of Fire (Beta). On the other hand, me doing what I am doing now helps authors test the clarity of their writing. Just by seeing how badly I twist the rules they can get clues where they need to tighten it up.

Which is what happened in the game with Rüdiger and I. I don't think he will mind me revealing this little bit, but it turned out that there was a translation issue that had a noticeable effect on the game, or at least I think so. It turns out that when calculating the dice the English rules say "round to the next whole number" while the German version says "round to the nearest whole number". So when Rüdiger and I were calculating the number of dice to roll and it came up different, I was able to point him to the rule and ask why he was doing it differently. That is when he discovered the mistranslation. All in all, I feel good about helping him with these little tweaks and fixes. My understanding is that a second printing may be upcoming, so these changes might be able to make it in. For now, if I play any of you, just remember that the rules is actually round to the nearest.

Footnotes

1 Break mode is where I intentionally do things that I think should not work, but I do them anyway to see if I get an unexpected result. Now I know this sounds like a lame excuse for making stupid moves – and it is one – but it really does help me figure out if rules have thought about the 'edge cases', or unusual circumstances not normally covered by the main rules, or where the math is simply not well thought out.

2 Quick, funny story: I chose the Jack and Queen as two cards representing two of my commands. Rüdiger was in control of the deck and was using a standard deck of German playing cards and apparently the 'Jack' has the letter 'B' on the card instead of 'J', while the 'Queen' has the letter 'D' instead of a 'Q'. It took me awhile to get used to it. Apparently the German 'Jack' is called 'Bauer', which I find extremely funny given who Jack Bauer is in our television culture. The German 'Queen' is 'Dame'.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Using the Deco Art Ultra Fine Writer Tip for 6mm Grass

Time for something a little different. Recently I have been trying to get the troops that I have painted into a usable shape for the tabletop. They are either not based or they are based in some way that I cannot easily use them for the rules that I have decided upon. The biggest challenge I have is with 6mm figures, as I have never been completely happy with my previously basing methods.

Well, that is not completely true. When I use larger bases, I am pretty happy with the results, but not with smaller bases. As it happens, I am now going with 1" by 1/2" bases for infantry. (I refuse to use bases that are a multiple of 20mm anymore, but that is another story.)

Basing 6mm troops seems to always have the following issues:

  • Most basing material (gravel, rocks, volcanic sand, grass tufts, clump foliage, twigs, foam-based flock, etc.) is too large and thus way out of scale of the figure.
  • Given the close spacing of the figures, once they are fixed to the base it is very hard to get basing material between the figures while also not getting the material on the figure itself.
  • Where figures' bases are not touching, and gaps appear, it is hard to get glue into those gaps in order to fill them, and then to get paint onto the filler without also getting it on the figure.
My basing method for 6mm is:

  1. Make sure the bases to the figures are painted either an earth color or a grass color. This usually means touching up cavalry and skirmisher infantry because they were painted on strips and have to be cut off of them before mounting.
  2. Tack the figures to the base, minimizing the gap between the figures for infantry. Unfortunately, due to the number of figures that I use for cavalry bases it is too few to put them close together; they gaps on the sides would be too great. (I probably need to change that at some point.)
  3. Secure the figures by adding another layer of glue. I have it overlap more of the figure's base.
  4. Add another layer of glue and sprinkle a mix of sand, very fine gravel, and volcanic sand on top, knocking off the excess.
From this point is where I generally have issues. In the past I have tried adding spots of glue onto the base and sprinkling ground foam flocking or static grass, but the closeness of the figures has made it hard to reach the inner areas of the bases without accidentally flocking the figures.

The thing I have always searched for was a very small nozzle that I could use to place glue in these tight areas. Well, recent experiments with "Writers" – acrylic dimensional paint – has led me to the DecoArt Ultra-Fine Writer Tip, which allows you to "write" fine lines with acrylic paint.



As you can see in the photo below, the writer tip is very much like a drafting pen, only without the wire nib in the center. This tip is attached to a screw top, allowing you to screw it onto paint bottles.



In order to ensure the tip does not get clogged, the cap has a tiny wire that inserts into the top, pushing paint material out.


It screws on the top, acting as a cap. I am not sure if you are expected to keep the cap on permanently or to remove and wash it each time. But given that I put my grass green paint into a one ounce bottle and that is what I will use the tip for, I am not taking it off.


So rather than following the original plan – to use this time to apply glue to a tight area – I decided to give it a try for its intended purpose: to "write" with acrylic paint. I decided to try and draw on patches of grass onto the sand base and see what it looked like.


The above is an extreme close-up of a stand of 6mm infantry (Belgian infantry 1815, to be exact). Notice how the paint lays down pretty precisely in lines? I also like the effect that the paint has when soaking into the sand, giving the grass a "clumpy" look.

Granted, you cannot see this when holding the figure at arm's length, but you can tell that it no longer looks like the figures are standing out in the Arizona landscape. Once I paint the sides of the stand, I think it will look decent. I think I am also going to go back to the craft store, buy a few more, and use different colors for each writer, allowing me to have multiple colors for the foliage.



I do have very small grass tufts (for 6mm figures) and I do find that adding one to three tufts per stand makes it look pretty nice. Also, I used the writer to draw little lines from the top of the base down a bit, making it look like grass growing on top of earth. So I think I may have found a method I am happy with.

Arm's Length View of Stand
Arm's Length View of Painted (left) and Original (right)
Close View of Painted (left) and Original (right)
I think both views are enhanced by adding the green color and tufts. I am playing around with thickening the craft paint I use as a basing color to see if I can get it closer to the consistency of toothpaste, without excessively clogging the tip. This might also make for some interesting effects.

By the way, my painter for 6mm is pretty good, isn't he? 😊

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Guilford Courthouse-like Battle

Background

I have been collecting 15mm American Revolutionary War (ARW) figures for a long time now. The first ones I collected and painted were Airfix and I started doing that at about 14 years old. At that time I had been gaming with an established wargaming club that had tens of thousands of 25mm Napoleonics figures and when I mentioned the ARW it was always "Why would you want to play that? It is just Napoleonics without the cavalry!" I read some books (but not very serious ones) and it did not seem like it was 'Napoleonics without the cavalry', but I could not really put my finger on what it was. In any case, I could never convince anyone to collect armies with me so it became a solo effort, as it still is today.

If you have read this blog for a while then you know that I have tried a number of rules with my ARW figures, including a variant of De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) that I called DB-AWI, a variant of Hordes of the Thing (HOTT) that I called Heroes of the Revolution, a variant of Warrior Kings that I called One More Volley, a variant of '61–'65 that I called '76–'83, a variant of Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming (that I did not call anything), Clash for a ContinentThe Sword and the Flame, Black Powder (before the Rebellion supplement came out) and I forget what else. And those were the ones I tried. I bought even more rules including Disperse Ye Damn Rebels, Washington's Army, 1776, The Complete Brigadier and I forget what else. Always it just didn't feel right to me.

One of the problems seemed to be an issue with movement ranges versus firing ranges. If the movement was too long and the firing too short, the British could often simply charge in without bothering to stop and fire, running off the Patriots without a problem. That was the second problem: too many rules were written by obvious Anglophiles. It was rare to see rules that rated British Line Regiments – any of them – as anything less than Crack, Superior, or Elite. To me this was not only overly generous to the British, it was sloppy research.

I still kept reading the books and buying the materials. I really started preferring the battles in the Southern Campaign (later war). The Patriots got better, especially the Continentals, so they seemed a lot closer run affairs. Besides, that is where the war was won, not in the North. 😉

Revelation

As I stated in my previous piece on the ARW, I agreed with the concept of how the ARW was fought, as described in the Black Powder supplement Rebellion:
When infantry met infantry on the battlefields of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Europe the dominant tactic was for opposing battalions to form lines facing each other and fire their muskets at close range until one side could take no more and ran away or surrendered. Bayonet charges and hand-to-hand combat were considered rare.

At the outset of the rebellion, the British battalions in America retained the close order line as the preferred battlefield formation. ... Within the British drill manual there were three further arrangements. "Order" placed the files 18 inches apart, "open order" increased separation to 36 inches and "extended order" to as much as ten feet between men in the same rank. Each of these also progressively increase the gap between ranks and collectively they are sometimes referred to as "loose order". There was not specific skirmish formation, but in battle the command "to tree" would direct the men to disperse in woodland to take advantage of cover. The latter instruction could be given to any infantry and was most definitely not reserved only for designated "light infantry" or "skirmishers", although some units were naturally better suited, equipped and trained for this kind of bush fighting.

Upon assuming command of the army, General Howe re-trained his battalions to adopt "order" in two ranks as their default battlefield formation and with some exceptions this remained the case for British and Loyalist infantry for the majority of the conflict. This change in preferred formation reflects a number of the reasons why the rebellion is unique amongst Eighteenth Century wars. Firstly, the lack of effective cavalry meant the infantry were seldom compelled to adopt dense formations to repel charging horsemen. Secondly the terrain of North America made maneuver in close order a slow and cumbersome process; by adopting a looser formation the British were able to move faster than rebel battalions, who lacked the proficiency to do this, allowing them to gain the tactical initiative. Thirdly the two sides were fairly closely matched when it came to exchanging small arms fire, but the rebels would seldom stand to face a charge, prompting the British to adopt shock tactics which required the ability to maneuver at speed, only closing files at the point of contact. It is important to remember that the tactical flexibility of being able to open and close files rapidly as the situation demanded, required infantry who were drilled to a high standard and sufficiently battle-hardened to not panic when changing formation in the face of the enemy.
This basically described what I was thinking. British troops had adopted light infantry tactics to account for the American woodland terrain. Patriot troops were always trying to play 'catch up', first by mimicking British close order, battle line tactics and later British light infantry tactics. The result would be that generally British troops could out-maneuver Patriot troops, especially the lower quality one, and their goal would be to close in quickly, disorder the enemy in a sharp firefight, then close ranks and charge, sending the Patriots running. Whether the Patriots would 'win' depended upon how well they volleyed before the gave up the field. The Patriots wanted to make every British victory costly, in terms of men. This was a war of attrition.

The British, in turn, realized that in order to win they needed to defeat the 'hope' of the Patriot army, the Continental troops. By defeating this symbol of organized rebellion they hoped to stifle rebellion at the local level and encourage loyalists to fight for the Crown.

Modifying Tin Soldiers in Action

The idea was to minimize the number of changes to Tin Soldiers in Action (TSIA), so I started with the premise that the unit type light infantry would not be that as described in TSIA, but rather how it operated in the game, which is a type of infantry that could operate in open formation. Why is open formation so important? In TSIA most terrain has the effect of disordering units, except for light infantry operating in open formation. Disorder itself is a debilitating effect on units that essentially halves their ranged and close combat power, and increases the casualty rate due to desertions. (The rules Loose Files and American Scramble was based around this same principle of being disrupted by a number of factors, and much of the game was about removing this disruption before it deteriorated your unit to the point where it was no longer effective.) In short, you do not want to become disordered (although you often cannot stop it), you want to rally from it as soon as you can, and you want to apply force to your opponent in hopes of disordering them at a critical moment (such as right when you charge).

So the big change is that many of the 'line' infantry units are rated as light infantry so they can operate in open formation, which indicates the superior ability to maneuver in combat.

Although there are several other minor rules additions, such as the new Special Abilities (-) No Skirmishers and No Limbers, the primary special ability (-) to discuss is No Bayonets.

No Bayonets does not simply represent a unit that does not possess bayonets for the muskets or rifles, but a unit that actively avoided close combat and was often cited for doing so due to having no bayonets for their weapons. Two groups of units are largely affected by this rule: Patriot rifle units and poorly equipped Patriot and Loyalist 1 local militia units.

No Bayonets applies a -1 die roll modifier to the Close Combat Test. If the unit fails the Close Combat Test it is immediately disordered (or loses one die for deserters if already disordered) and retreats two squares away from the attacker. If the unit passes the Close Combat Test, No Bayonets has no other effect.

Automatically losing the combat before it begins, and retreating away, may seem like a benefit of sorts for a unit poorly equipped to conduct close combat. In fact, it might almost seem desirable. But, each time it runs it is disordered. Given that the unit is likely amateur, it will have to spend its entire next turn removing the disorder, or risking that the disorder will lead to the unit's deterioration. This is much more serious than it sounds, but hopefully the battle report will reflect that.

What is a Guilford Courthouse-like Battle?

To me Guilford Courthouse is a battle that tries to replicate the overwhelming victory at Cowpens, but does not quite pull it off despite looking somewhat similar in nature. However, many acknowledge that although Guilford Courthouse was a tactical defeat, it was a strategic victory as it bled Cornwallis' army dry. The victory was far too costly for the British.

Both Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse share the same basic battle plan, which is that the Patriots conducted a 'defense in depth'. The idea was to wear down the British troops with multiple lines of defense, increasing in resistance the deeper they penetrated, until they hit the final line, which contained the elite Continental troops. General Greene was criticized for keeping his successive lines too far apart from one another, so they could not support one another, and that is going to be replicated here. Why it is only Guilford Courthouse-like is because I do not have the appropriate troops to replicate the actual order of battle. My collection is unfortunately rather random, and largely dictated by my purchases of other people's collections of painted figures, plus a few commissioned units painted.


As you can see in the picture above, the closest line is the third, which are the Continentals. Three squares forward is the second line on a hill, surrounded by woods. Two squares forward of that is the first line, which is defended by the Patriot militia. Ahead of the first line are more woods and an open field enclosed by a stone wall.


The Continental Brigade consists of General Greene (Commander-in-Chief), two regiments of Continental infantry, a small regiment of Continental Light Dragoons (William Washington's), and a Continental artillery section. The Brigade is on a hill and the area ahead of it is largely clear of obstructions.


The VA Brigade is neither particularly good nor bad. Compared to the British it is below average, but compared to the majority of the Patriot army, it is above average. It consists of two State Line Regiments, one being a large unit. It also has a State Rifle Regiment in addition to the Brigade Commander. This Brigade is situated on a hill, but is surrounded by woods. To the left of the position is where the SC Light Dragoons are stationed.


The left half of the first line consists of the NC Militia Brigade. There are two rifle regiments and three locally raised regiments of militia. All of these units have No Bayonets. Note that the militia units (but not the rifles) are disordered as they are in close formation in the woods. The NC State Artillery section is on the Brigade's right flank, separating it from the VA Militia Brigade to its right.


The VA Militia Brigade is slightly better equipped than the NC Militia, although smaller in strength. There are two militia units, only one of which has No Bayonets. There are also two rifle regiments. The larger unit, Lynch's Rifles, is a superior amateur unit, and can be relied upon as it has many veteran ex-Continental officers and soldiers serving in it. This Brigade is largely stationed behind the woods.

All of the British, Loyalist, and Hessian troops start off of the board, marching on turn one (or later, at the discretion of the British Commander-in-Chief).

You can get a PDF of my Order of Battle if you want to see how I rated the units in TSIA. (Let me know if you have trouble getting to it.)

Turn 1

The NC Militia Brigade acts first and decides to push into the woods, denying the British any cover early in the battle.


Just in time too as the 2nd British Brigade is the next to act. (For those that may not remember, TSIA uses a card activation mechanic to determine which units move in what order. Each command is assigned a card in a deck and when that card is drawn, all of the units in that command perform their actions and conduct combat.)


The British 1st Brigade quickly follows suit.

At this point I would like to quickly point out something. Patriot unit 'A', you will notice, is not in a very useful position as it cannot fire either diagonally left or diagonally right, as both squares are blocked by having friendly units on both sides of the lines of fire 2. We are going to see some more local tactics that take advantage of this sort of blocking.

The Hessian Brigade have moved in on the far left flank of the British side, with the Loyalist Brigade to their immediate right. The Hessians have one regiment of Fusiliers and one of Grenadiers. The Loyalists mostly are not completely trained although they are well equipped. There is one large, professional Loyalist unit in the Brigade, however.


The 'inside' woods has a more restricted line of fire (it has woods on both sides of the diagonal line of fire) – especially given that this is a rifle unit and it has a range of two squares – so the smaller unit moves to the woods on the left, in hopes to delay the Loyalist units, while the veteran Lynch's Rifles moves to the woods on the right, where it has a better line of fire. Note that the position is also exposed to fire from multiple squares, so given that it is superior it should be able to better withstand the pressure.


To further ensure that the gap on the flank remains plugged, the VA State Rifle Regiment swings to the far right and occupies the woods.

The turn is now complete and the main brigades have established their positions in the battle line. Only the British 17th Light Dragoons have not been brought on to the table yet.

Turn 2

This is actually the second time I have played this scenario (but the first time all of the way through), as I changed a lot of the original order of battle after discussions with the author. One of the things I decided to change was how I approached the battle as the British, taking it a little slower this time.
The British 2nd Brigade pours fire into the NC rifle units. I decided to stay in open formation as the British as I wanted to take less fire from the Patriots. The basic formula is that I can either fire with six figures in open formation with two dice each, twice, or I can fire with 12 figures in close formation with three dice each, once (because I have to change formation as one of my actions).


I decide to keep in open formation as I am not ready to charge in yet.


The British 1st Brigade also stays in open formation as it tries to push back NC militia with firepower.


The 17th Light Dragoons make their appearance, rapidly marching up the right flank and surprising the NC rifle regiment. Meanwhile, the NC artillery starts tearing into the flank of the British Grenadier battalion with canister. The Grenadiers cannot stay there very long and take that pounding.

I made the artillery much less powerful in this scenario. First, there were only two sections of two guns each "historically". So using two gunners per artillery unit seems like a good compromise. Some punch, but not dominant.
Here are the positions at the end of the turn.

Turn 3

The British 2nd Brigade continues to carry the initiative and this turn the regiments close formation and charge. Almost as if to thumb its nose at me, the No Bayonets rule kicks in as both NC rifle units roll a '1' and immediately retreat from close combat in disorder.


The NC artillery continues to pound the British Grenadiers with canister, forcing it to lose its first stand (and the first real blood in the game).


Here is an example where I use units to 'leapfrog' into combat.


The Loyalist unit indicated by the green arrow in the picture above cannot fire as it line of fire is blocked by the two friendly units on each side of that line 2. So rather than firing I decide to charge with the unit while the units with the unblocked line of fire conduct ranged combat, hoping to get a disorder result from a failed Tenacity test. Disordering the unit with fire and then immediately following it up with a charge can lead to faster deterioration of the enemy as in addition to taking the casualties from ranged and close combat, they will also lose figures from desertion.


Even superior units have to retreat in the face of such devastating bad luck! Lynch's Rifles rolled six dice and scored no hits in close combat while the Loyalist regiment scored three hits on its six dice. The Patriots retreat from the woods with the Loyalists now forcing the gap.

With support from the Grenadiers, the Light Bobs drive into NC militia forcing them back. The militia regiment is decimated from losses and desertion. There is no way they will stand there in the face of elite British troops attacking through the woods.


The militia unit to the right attempts to save the flank by delivering a fine volley into the face of the Lights.


Back on the British left flank, the Hessian Fusilier Regiment attempts to force the VA State Rifle Regiment from the woods with the same ease the Loyalist regiment threw Lynch's Rifles out of the woods. No luck. The VA State Rifles deliver a solid volley and throw the Fusiliers back.


Here is the situation at the end of the turn.


The British are steadily pushing their way through the woods, driving the militia back. The question is: will the British lose too many casualties grinding through these forward troops or will they have enough momentum to carry through to the third line?

Turn 4

The Loyalist Brigade starts off the turn with another charge, this time scattering the smaller VA militia rifle regiment. (The unit had started with nine figures, lost three in the melee, and then rolled a '6' for desertions. "Disperse ye damned Rebels!")


Back on the British right flank, the 2nd British Brigade continues to drive back the NC militia, also dispersing another unit.


Meanwhile, the large NC militia unit continues to hammer at the stalled British Lights with another heavy volley. The Lights are nearly at 50% unit effectiveness.


The Hessian Grenadiers, lead by their Commander, drive the VA State Rifle Regiment from the woods. This might be the breakout that the left flank has been looking for.


But a volley from the VA militia  waiting behind the woods brings them immediately to a halt!


The SC Light Dragoons, sensing a chance to hit the exposed right flank of the British 2nd Brigade, charge through the light woods, hoping to catch the British by surprise.


The quick-reacting British, however, quickly form a firing line and deliver a devastating volley, sending the cavalry fleeing. (The British rolled five hits on eight dice, taking out nearly half of the cavalry unit in one blow.)

After long suffering from the canister fire of the NC artillery, the Grenadiers mount a charge and overrun the artillery.


The Lights too charge, driving in the NC militia regiment that has been volleying at the with impunity.


At the end of the turn  you can see the results: the British flanks are pressing in, pushing the rebels back at every turn. Although they seem unstoppable, the Patriots have been slowly deteriorating their forces.


The question remains: are the Patriots attriting the British at a sufficient rate that by the time they reach the third line – the Continentals – they will be a spent force? At this point it is really hard to tell. Most of the British 2nd Brigade – with the larger British Line Regiments – is largely intact. Losing one stand from each regiment there means that the maximum number of figures able to fire in close formation still can. Losing a stand from each of the lead regiments in the British 1st Brigade, however, where the units are smaller, had a much greater impact. This has largely forced this elite Brigade to stay in open formation as a means to preserving itself from the fire it is receiving. As the way to the second line is now clear, heavier fire is going to continue to come in.


The VA militia has done a better job of holding up the weaker Loyalist and Hessian Brigades, but the NC militia was in a shambles.

Turn 5

The British 2nd Brigade again start off the action for the turn by charging the NC militia across their front. The right attack succeeds in driving back the militia rifles, but without causing substantial casualties while the left attack almost completely wipes out the militia unit. However the center attack fails in the face of determined fire; the unit is now spent as it has less than half of its unit remaining.


The 17th Light Dragoons sweep around the creek and charge into the retreating militia rifles. Unfortunately they are not able to cut them all down, so the unit cannot continue with a cavalry breakthrough.

Cavalry breakthroughs occur when a cavalry unit wins in close combat, or when a light cavalry unit wipes out the enemy in close combat. Breakthroughs allow the cavalry to continue their attack on another, nearby unit. As you can see in the photo below, one small militia units remains. For now, however, it is serving the purpose of blocking fire from the Continental artillery to the 17th Light Dragoons.


This development on the Patriot left flank forces Washington's Light Dragoons to shift to the flank. Unfortunately the Continental artillery cannot canister the 17th Light Dragoons as its line of fire is blocked by the remnants of the shattered NC militia.


The Hessian Grenadiers, led by their brave Commander, continue to push the VA militia back while the Fusiliers struggle to keep pace with the furious advance.


The end of the turn shows that the British brigades on their right largely consolidated their positions, although some advances were made, including into the center, against the second Patriot line. Stubborn pockets of Virginians continue to hold back the advances of the Hessians and Loyalists.


Although insufficient numbers of troops are present to threaten the third line, it is preparing to engage.

Turn 6

The 17th Light Dragoons start the turn with a charge into the SC Light Dragoons, driving them off with heavy casualties.


The British 2nd Brigade continues to push back the remnants of the NC militia, with the rifles finally being ousted from the woods while the second line regiment trades fire with the large militia regiment.


The Hessian Grenadiers tried to continue their successful assault, but a Militia Commander makes a stand with the VA State Rifle Regiment and repulses the Grenadiers, stalling their advance. Will the Fusiliers pick up next turn where the Grenadiers failed?


The Loyalist Brigade tries to dislodge the stubborn Virginians in order to clear the way to the second line, but a mixup in orders leads to the 1st Loyalist Regiment to only fire in support, rather than charge into one of the Virginian units. This miscalculation causes the second attack to fail and be repulsed. However, success against Lynch's Rifles – who retreats behind the hill of the second line – suddenly finds Loyalist units on all sides of one isolated Virginia unit.


Washington's Continental Light Dragoons form up in close formation (to get more figures into the upcoming close combat) and charge the 17th Light Dragoons, absolutely crushing them. (The British cavalry misses all strike while the Continentals score six hits.)


The British cavalry is largely a spent force. The Continentals do not advance as they wish to stay poised to threaten any attack on the flank of the third line.

While the Grenadiers and Lights of the British 1st Brigade trades fire with the VA State Line on the hill of the second line, a British regiment attempts to dislodge the VA militia. As they charge through the smoke of the battlefield they are met with a vicious volley and sent retreating.


As the turn ends you can see the devastation that this last turn has wrought on the British army. All of the orange stars indicate spent units (units under half strength). Although there is no particular rule about units under half strength, they are largely ineffective as they cannot muster enough ranged or close combat power to dislodge enemy units – especially fresh ones – and are themselves brittle and susceptible to collapse.



All but one unit of the British 1st Brigade is spent. One unit of the British 2nd Brigade is spent, with a second unit within two figures of being spent. The British cavalry is spent. The Hessians are within three figures of their brigade being spent. Only the Loyalist Brigade is still relatively intact, and only because a fair portion of them have been held back.

In short, this battle is over for the British. The result is a tactical and strategic victory for the Patriots. The Continental regiments are completely intact and the British have lost too many men. They must now beat a hasty retreat out of the Carolinas and head to Virginia to link up with another British force before they are reduced to nothing.

Battle Summary

Was this a 'fair' battle? Probably not. I am still working out how to balance factors in TSIA. The two line regiments in the British 1st Brigade should have been elite regiments (i.e. O'Hara's Guards), and thus rated superior. Even though I had a Virginia militia unit painted and modeled with bayonets, it should not have had them, nor an average rating. Oddly enough, rating Lynch's Rifles as superior did not have as much effect as I imagined. Granted, the unit never went away, but the effect of No Bayonets had more impact as the unit was forced to withdraw several times.

I have no problems with rating Washington's Continental Light Dragoons as superior professional (as I did with the 17 Light Dragoons) and having them beat the 17th. Patriot cavalry units were noted for having fresh mounts that were particularly large and strong, with Lee's Legion cavalry bowling over the British Legion cavalry in a skirmish prior to the start of the battle at Guilford Courthouse. I intentionally did not rate the "SC Light Dragoons" as well as I would have rated Lee's Legion cavalry.

Although I rated three of the four Loyalist regiments as average amateur I don't feel it had a real impact. A rating of amateur versus professional largely only comes into play if you are trying to perform complex maneuvers, such as moving and firing or changing to close formation and charging.

The one large (27 figure) NC militia unit may have been too large, thus giving it tremendous staying power. But I used it specifically so I could see if the effect of a very large unit was too powerful. It probably should be capped at 24 figures, and thus a Tenacity of 4 instead of 5.

Using TSIA for the ARW

Honestly, I think it did very well, especially for the sort of battle that I envisioned. I can now see that TSIA provides two avenues for rating one force as 'more maneuverable' than another.
  1. Rate the first army as professional while rating the second as amateur. This would represent the situation at the start of the ARW. The British and Hessians were professional and thus have the ability in these rules to take two different actions, such as move and fire, or fire and charge. The Patriots, rated as amateur, could still keep up with the British in firepower given that they could take two like actions – such as firing twice or moving twice – but could often be out-maneuvered because of their inability to take two different actions in a turn. Both sides are susceptible to the disordering effects of terrain, but because the professional can take two different actions, it can potentially rally in one action and fire or move in the other, while the amateur must take the entire turn to rally off the disorder.
  2. Rate the first army as professional light infantry while rating the second as professional [line] infantry. This would represent the situation towards the end of the ARW. The light infantry force can move faster over the course of several turns as it is far less susceptible to the disordering effect of terrain, so will be less likely to use actions to rally off the disorder.
The one area where I might still be too strict in my interpretation of ratings is when using professional versus amateur. Units like Lynch's Rifles, Morgan's Rifles, etc. were fairly steady, but one wonders whether they were as maneuverable as we would like to think frontiersmen armed with rifles would be. The amateur rating means that they cannot effectively fall back and fire, at least not in the course of a single turn. But rating them as professional and superior seems ... wrong. It is something I will have to mull over. Perhaps the best way to model it is as it turned out, they were steady troops but they would get a volley in when charged, lose the close combat, and then would fall back. As light infantry they can easily rally off the disorder after the retreat, so they are unlikely to ever lose many troops to desertion, keeping their reputation as being steady, veteran troops.

I will make the statement now: this has been the best game of ARW that I have played, as least as I envision how it should play out. For me, this scenario needs to be balanced more with force levels, but I think the unit rules and game mechanics work well for what is usually called the unique challenges of warfare in American terrain. By using a woods-heavy board  you can see it produced the effects desired, which was that it disordered the less maneuverable units (by this time, not the British) and in turn 'encouraged' the militia to slink off when the combat got hot and heavy.

The woods-heavy board probably also cut down on the effectiveness of rifles. Only in turn 2 did I have a rifle unit fire at full range. But this may have been just as likely due to the British pressing home the attack as quickly as possible. I find the same effect with the French versus the British in Command and Colors: Napoleonics, where the advancing French push straight into British range, negating their superiority in firepower.

All in all it has revitalized my interest in the period. I have always liked this period for the simple reason that almost all of the source material is written in English. This makes it much it much easier to get the perspective from both sides, unlike with Napoleonics. Granted, the same applies to the American Civil War, but for some reason that period never really grabbed me like the American Revolution. Maybe this will compel me to finish the basing on my figures and to be consistent in my basing. (I would say half of my collection is based as single figures and half as multiple figures on a base with about four to six bases per unit.) I am not really sure if I should fix my units at 12 and 18 figures per unit or 18 and 24. All things to ponder.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this (very long) battle report and have gained something from it, even if you do not use the Tin Soldiers in Action rules. Maybe one of these days I can convince one of my gaming buddies to try these rules with me so I can get some additional perspective.

Footnotes

1 Most Loyalist militia units were quickly equipped by the British when they were raised, and thus would not be affected by the No Bayonets rule. Units affected would be those units of Loyalists that were self-raised, banding together for protection from Patriot militias, and who largely remained in their local area. This was much more common in the South than in the North.

2 As I write this I am suddenly coming to the conclusion that I may have gotten this wrong. I believe that there is a rule that states you can always see/fire into an adjacent square. If so, this idea that you cannot fire diagonally when friendly units are on both sides of the line of fire may be incorrect. I guess I will find out after the author reads this!

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").