Sunday, 28 November 2010

River Don Revisited & Los Americanos (or not)

This blog was supposed to be about two things:

1) The next play test of the Return to the River Don rules with modified command and control
2) The completion of my next SCW unit, the International Brigade battalion "Los Americanos".

Still that was the plan at the start of the week. However having aged parents sometimes interrupts things and my father going into hospital (nothing life threatening but unexpected however) threw a spanner in the works. This means lots of driving back and forwards in the evening to make sure everything is okay and so on. It isn't a problem really, - my father is quite good company if I get the chance to sit and chat with him. Plus my brother bought him the latest copy of History magazine which has a long article about armoured trains in it, so I'll nick that when he comes out.

So Los Americanos stalled a bit and now (Sunday morning) they are finally sitting on the desk with the sand/polyfilla drying out. I postponed the RCW game as I didn't have the time to re-do the rules and put together the scenario (although Phil says my idea of a scenario is to get all of my toys and put them all on the table at once. I say this isn't true, but in any event if I've painted stuff why should it sit in boxes not being used?)

As it turned out I was off visiting duty on Friday evening as Miss Trebian went over to see the grandparents and keep them amused. So I drove up to see Phil and pick up my purchases from Warfare. I try to pre-order from Mr Pig to get the shows discount and as Phil does the SoA stand at most shows I have a willing courier.

My order was mainly a gap-filling job. XIVth Army gun crew for the 25pdrs I got at Derby (no Piggy stand there), extra HMGs for the SCW, plus gun crew and a few T26s. Well 8, actually.

I think I may have rather over bought the armour for my SCW armies, but I love the look of that inter-war kit. Still, I won't put it all out at once. Honest Phil. And I need T26s for both sides so I can do those Fascist tanks with the wrap-round spanish flags painted on the turrets. So 8 isn't too many really.

So we had an evening of wargaming chat on subjects covering game design, figure basing and so on. Phil and I have very different ways of working on figures. You'll all know my method if you read my early blogs. Phil may have a routine but I can't discern it. Whatever it is he produces lovely stuff. He seems to set figures up on the bases before he paints then. But he doesn't always glue then down. My rule is if you see something on my desk on a base the glue is either drying or has dried. That's not the case on Phil's workbench. So, sorry for picking that base up and I hope you find the other frame gun soon. It must be there somewhere.

Final note - I've agreed to do a version of The Elephant in the Room together with Phil's Greyhounds in the Slips as the SoA's incentive game for next year. Why do I do these things?

Does anyone know what the copyright rules are on using photos of pre-painted figures in a publication for sale?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

23rd European Anti-Fascist Battalion

Finally finished a Spanish Civil War Battalion. In the end I went for semi- fictional units. Like pretty much everyone I wanted to have an International Brigade Unit but I didn't want to cliche myself by doing the 15th (which for those of you who don't know is the English speaking one with the British Battalion in it). So this is the 23rd European Anti-Fascist Battalion of a yet un-numbered brigade. It even has a flag, - this has been drawn with my latest version of Drawplus which has some new tools in it. This has enabled me to curve the text symmetrically in both clockwise & anti clockwise direction and put a fringe around it.

Having said that my units are goinbg to be quite closely based on the 15th Brigade simply because there's a lot more info available to me on that one rather than the others.

Plus they get a 37mm ATK battery as well. Here's a picture of them lining a compound in some adobe buildings, which I'm using because I haven't got any Spanish buildings yet (any suggestions for where I might get suitable buildings greatly welcomed).

I'm quite pleased with how they've come out, although the non-uniform nature of the paint scheme has slowed me down a lot and they look a bit "cluttered" close up as I've gone for sticking on as much detail as I can. I've also done one of the FT-17's I got in the boxed set, although I'm not convinced that International Brigade units were ever deployed with then. Still it's a nice model.

The unit has got 9 Peter pig style 30mm square bases . I've gone for two bases to a company, including the MG company. Based upon a couple of books I've read, - but chiefly the Osprey on the IBs - it seems the MG companies had both light & heavy MGs so I've done a base of each. As ever, welcome being corrected on this. Plus, should I ever want to play BAIT there's a base with a grenadier/bomber figure on it. Finally there's a battalion HQ featuring and officer in a natty leather short zipper jacket and the standard bearer.

Whenever I start a new project the first unit always turns out as a bit of a guinea pig to see how things look. Often I reduce the painting steps after this point to increase production speed, but on this occasion I don't think I will. I may make the colours more uniform and I need to look again at the colour of Spanish leather webbing because the "Y" webbing seen in a lot of pictures appears quite pale in black and white photographs.

The bases are my normal polyfilla and sand, but this time painted brown. I've spiced thern up with some peoples I sifted out of coarse sand and some flock. Finally a few have tufts of tall "grass" on then. This has been taken from the top f a coconut Miss Trebian was given during a school trip and has been held back against just such a need. Thats been attached by drilling holes through the bases with a pin drill and securing with superglue.

I'm well over halfway through "Homage to Catalonia" now, and the people in this war are becoming more real to me at last, - so I am moving from an academic relationship to them to a more emotional one. That'll help me understand what sort of game/simulation I want to produce. There were comments at CoW that the skeleton of "Return to the River Don" would be a good starting point, but I might try out Martin Rapier's "Mexikanski 36" once I've got enough bits and pieces together. It'll only be once I start to play games that I'll be able to work out what I want to see on the table top.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Real Life (part...I've lost count)

Friday was...well made up of bits and pieces. I was running behind most of the time due to a medical appointment. (Nothing serious, - just can't see out of one eye. This is really mucking up my depth perception when I try to paint anything). What this meant was I ended up having to take various rat runs round traffic build ups and so on to get to the office. But then this took me past a village primary school and the assembled 4x4s (that are so essential for getting children safely the 100 yards they have to walk to school). And the people who park them 3 foot from the kerb on a single track road and then when they're about to get into them stand in the middle of the road to discuss loudly with their equally air-headed friend where they're going to for their next manicure.

So by the time I got to the office I was a bit grumpy. However as it was Children in Need day I soon cheered up with all the jolly japes going on in and around the building. Alas as I actually had some work to do I was unable to join in with most of them. However proud to say our department raised at least £400.

The centre piece of the day was a bingo competition that involved 10 numbers being called out over the building tannoy once an hour. There was considerable debate during a slack period if, in our very PC company, the traditional "Two Fat Ladies" would be used for "88". The numbers were being read out by a range of Senior Managers from around the building. Strangely enough they didn't ask me (can't think why).

This lead me to thinking what the calls would be like if you did let a wargamer do them. For example:

"Anti-aircraft - 88"
"AK - 47"
"RPG - 7"
"Soixante Quinze - 75"
"Perry Miniatures - 28"
"Black Watch - 42"

Well, it amused me for a while.

When I got back home I checked my Facebook page (look, I've got 20 something kids so I'm trying to be hip) and saw that an old wargaming friend is about to fall victim to the deficit reduction process. Dammit, that's Real Life that is.

And apparently I have some cyber stalkers. So hello to them as well.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I've got that sync-ing feeling

And my library hasn't loaded correctly on i-Tunes so I've got to re-sync my i-Pod completely from scratch.

Three hours so far, and not a third of the way in yet.

Maybe it'll be done by morning.

Still, the old PC took about two days.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Victory Without Squares (v2)

I've had a request for these rules from a number of sources, so here they are. First up I must make it clear that most of the design credits belong with Richard Brooks and his "Victory Without Quarter" square based system. There may be the odd whole in them. Please fill in as required.


4” to 250 yards (long musket shot); 1 turn to 10 minutes. 4 figures (infantry) or 3 figures (cavalry) on 30mm frontage base representing 200 men in 3 ranks.



Cavalry with swords and pistols, or swords and lances if Scots/Irish


Mounted infantry with muskets


Musketeers, known as ‘Shot’, and pikemen, usually 1 pike to 2 shot


Pieces of ordnance


1. Formations:


3 in 1 rank

Parliamentarian Horse 1642

6 in 2 ranks


6 in 2 ranks

Pikes in centre

Commanded shot

Min 2 bases

When a unit is moving advance the central figure base as an aide memoire that the unit is advancing. This is important as it is necessary to draw a card to stop.

2. Bodies must be in one of the following states:




Usual formation at game start


Rear rank straggles first


May not fire or approach the enemy. Break if another step lost


Run away from enemy until rallied

NB: Commanded Shot and Dragoons go directly from Formed to Disordered.


  1. Move up to 8”. Any body of troops to which a leader is attached may draw two cards when effecting a manoeuvre and use the most favourable.
  2. Draw card for leaders under fire/in combat, and see below if picture:

♥ ♦

Unhorsed – ineffective 1 turn: captured if overrun

♣ ♠

Killed or sorely hurt – remove from play


Armies are usually organised into three “divisions”, a left & right wing, and a centre. Each division will be under the command of at least one leader. In addition each leader may have a second in command (who will usually command the second line, if there is one), and the army may have an over all Commander. It must be clear at the start of the game which units are commanded by which Leader.

Dragoons and commanded shot move independently of the division structure.


1. Roll a D10. Highest decides which side moves first.

2. Players move a division at a time. Units within the division are moved one at a time either from left to right, or right to left. Front ranks must be moved before rear ranks. The moving player moves one unit at a time, starting from either left or right flank. Each unit is moved & resolves combat before moving on to the next unit.

3. When all the units in the Division have been moved and combat resolved the player may nominate another Division to move, or pass the turn over.

4. Dragoons and commanded foot are moved at any point in lieu of a divisional move.

5. If a unit moves within range of a unit that has not fired this turn it may be fired on out of sequence (see table below).


1. Infantry: Move 4” per turn (including an about face if required), or wheel up to 90 o, or form hedgehog, or fire. Commanded shot move back/sideways without turning.

2. Cavalry: Move 8” per turn. To wheel up to 90 o or about face or fire pistols deduct 4”. NB By firing cavalry are effectively halted if then contacted. Parliamentarian cavalry in two ranks may fire twice per turn.

3. Dragoons: Move as horse when mounted, foot when dismounted. To dismount/dismount takes 4” movement from the move allowance at the start of the turn. (ie cannot mount up and ride off in same turn)

4. Artillery: 4” per move. Full turn to unlimber

5. Manoeuvring and reforming. If a unit wishes to perform any other actions or cross difficult terrain, draw a playing card and follow the results in the table below. NB Once a unit starts moving it will continue to do so until it is able to draw a card to stop, meets an obstacle or comes within musket range of the enemy.

6. Bodies may move through friendly bodies which are stationary and have not and do not fire or fight this turn. Bodies overrun by fleeing friends lose a formation level.


Enter/leave woods/bogs or cross ditch, hedge etc





Fire in opponent’s turn





Halt/Turn About





Reform (Unsteady/Disordered troops)





Rally (Broken troops)






(*)Lose a formation step, unless in column

(#) Not under fire/in combat

($)Not if mounted, except Dragoons drawing Ace-10;


1. Troops with firearms can fire once per turn instead of moving/ rallying/ reforming:

a. In their own turn when it is their turn to move. OR

b. when the enemy come in range if they draw the correct card (see above).

2. Mounted troops in 1 rank fire once per turn, those in 2 ranks fire twice. Note, this is two shots, calculated separately

3. Ranges: Muskets 4”, Pistols 1”.

4. Musketeers, horse, and dragoons fire directly to the front, with no arc of fire. Gunners fire at any target in a cone 20” forwards and 4” to either side. Disordered bodies do not fire.

5. Count firearms bases in firing (NB two ranks may fire in an infantry unit together). Artillery bases count double when firing. Modify as follows:


Firing pistols; Unsteady; small arms target in cover


Oblique fire; target unsteady/broken


Firing at hedgehog


Enfilading or rear fire; disordered target; guns up to 8”

6. Roll D10: Score <= modified firing figures to reduce target formation 1 level.

7. Disordered targets draw card if hit again:

Break; about face and move away from enemy. This counts as this turns move

Retire 4” facing enemy at once, This counts as this turns move

8. Guns rolling “0” when firing run out of powder. Reduce effectiveness by half.


Fire 1 figure in any direction (up to 4). Figures firing at hedgehogs add 1 to numbers. Horse attacking hedgehogs count as attacking head on, see below.


Bodies not in combat or pursuit regain formation as follows:

Rally ( only):


Reform ( )


NB: Broken pikemen throw away their pikes, and cannot be rallied. Remove the broken pike bases.


Armies ending a turn with more broken or disordered bodies than otherwise are beaten, and may not advance. Dragoons, commanded shot, gunners and disordered bodies break. Foot next to formed enemy and 12” or more from unbroken friends surrender.


1. Combat occurs when a moving body (Attackers) contacts an opposing body (Defenders). Bodies may fight several combats in a turn. If a unit contacts two units it must fight them one at a time, starting with the one contacted in the direction of movement, applying the appropriate combat results. After fighting that round of combat the moving player may move up another unit to contact the second enemy unit, if possible, and use that to fight it instead, otherwise the attacking unit must fight it with the “already fought” modifier.

NB When contacting two units an attacker may not be able to apply all combat results (eg “Attackers follow up”) until the second round of combat is resolved.

2. Note the following restrictions:

Troop Type

Combat Restriction

Disordered troops

Never attack

Commanded shot/dragoons/gunners

Never attack/defend: retreat 4” if attacked. If contacted, remove unit.


Never attack formed foot head on


Never attack formed/unsteady horse

Parliamentarian Horse before 1644

Only attack after firing pistols

  1. The moving player rolls a D10 modified as below. “Attacker” & “Attacked” refer to who originated the initial combat.

Per Formation step/ Terrain advantage


Fighting vs horse across hedges/woods


Attacking obliquely or from flank


Attacking from /rear


Mounted attackers vs moving foot/standing cavalry


Attackers following up success (replaces above)


All Pike; 2 ranks Horse; Pikes/Horse attacking Shot


Better quality than opponents


Own body has leader attached


Per Formation step/ Terrain disadvantage


Horse vs hedges/woods


Attacked obliquely or from flank


Attacked from rear


Per round already fought this turn


Previously broken and rallied/Poor quality


Opponents body has leader attached


Worse quality than opponents.

4. Read Final Result from the following table




Less than 0

Defenders - 3 steps

Defenders retreat 2” if infantry, 4” if cavalry, facing enemy unless broken.

May not move again in this turn

Attackers hold ground, unless defenders break, when pursue

0 - 1

Defenders - 2 steps

2 - 3

Defenders - 1 step

4 - 7

Both sides - 1 step

Both sides lose 1 formation step.

Attackers retreat 4” or to starting position, whichever is shorter, unless Defenders break, when Attackers pursue.

If Defenders have not moved, or Attacking horse moved less than 4” may move again.

8 - 9

Attackers - 1 step

Attackers retreat 2” if infantry, 4” if cavalry, facing enemy unless broken

May not move again this turn.

Defenders do NOT follow up.

10 - 11

Attackers - 2 steps


Attackers - 3 steps

NB: Broken bodies turn about, and move 4” away from the enemy, and may not move again if they have not already done so.


1. Horse winning a combat draw a card and must pursue on a Black, and may do so on Red. If they contact the routed unit it is pushed in front of them. In order to rally, draw a red card, or be 4” or more behind.

2. Broken bodies move away from enemy until rallied or halted by obstacle; may not rally next to enemy or return after leaving table. Surrender if unable to escape.

3. Pursuing units become Unsteady after the second round of pursuit.

4. Units next to broken friendly bodies draw card: lose 2 formation steps; lose 1.