Bloody Big Battles…First Impressions

January 30, 2015

bbbBloody Big Battles is a simple game designed to play out large 19th century battles in an evening.  The book is 56 page black and white magazine style book.  The rules of play cover just 14 pages and include several examples on movement, shooting and assault.  The game requires 2 six-sided dice and a largish table along with many stands of infantry.  The nominal scale in the book is 1000 infantry or cavalry per base or 24 guns for artillery.  The ground scale is approximately 150 yards per inch.  These numbers are scaled up or down depending on the size of the scenario played.  Speaking of scenarios, there are 8 included with this game manual covering the entire Franco-Prussian war.

The author has based this game largely on Fire and Fury ACW rules set but has greatly simplified many aspects.  Units, regardless of size, become spent based on their training level.  A raw unit becomes spent if it lose just 1 stand while a veteran unit can take 3 hits before becoming spent.

Several aspects dealing with morale are built right into the maneuver table.  As units are raw, trained or veteran, one of the results of shooting is to halt a charge based on the charging units training level.  This will cause no damage but will cause disruption if the unit in question is not better than the result rolled.  For example, I roll an R result when firing at a charger.  That unit is trained so the unit will still charge home.  As well, when rolling on the maneuver table, if the unit in question is in good order, some results will allow the unit to recover a stand if the training level is high enough.

There is one oddity that stood out for me.  When a unit is in a reinforced line (deployed deep by game terms), it may only shoot with the front rank.  But if that same unit were assaulting, it may shoot with BOTH ranks.  I am not sure why this is unless it is because the unit in question is performing some sort of rolling fire drill as it advances.

Otherwise, shooting and assaulting are similar to Fire and Fury.  Each stand is worth so many fire points on the fire table.  Total these points up, roll 2D6 and check the result.  Defender fires first followed by the attacker.  The big difference is the 2D6 instead of the D10.

Assaults also work like Fire and Fury but each player rolls a single D6 and adds up modifiers.  A quick note, the rules sate that the dice are compared immediately and the difference is modified up or down based on attacker and defender.  Attackers will add modifiers while the defenders will subtract.  It would be more straight forward if each player were to roll their die, add modifiers to it and then compare.  It’s a minor quibble.

The rules set covers weaponry from 1815 through 1900.  This means that you can have a wide variety of troops represented on the table top.  As units are ostensibly divisions, this means that much of the tactical detail is abstract.  The reason I say this is that you can probably extend the game pretty easily all the way back to 1700 when armies became truly large.  For instance, there are rules for armies being passive which is a -1 penalty when trying to maneuver a unit.  This can be applied to most armies through the Seven years War.  There are fire control modifiers which will give you a +/-1 combat shift depending on how good/bad your troops are.  English/Dutch troops in the Wars of Spanish Succession might be average while other continental troops would get a penalty for rank fire.  So while this book is clearly aimed at 19th century Europe, the nuts and bolts are there to extend this game to earlier periods.

I picked my game up from FRP games for $20.  Other places are selling the game for $25.  If you enjoyed Fire and Fury but want something a little lighter in concept, you should check these rules out.




Quatre Bras using Featherstone’s Rules Pt 1

January 27, 2015

My old gaming friend has landed back in the area, hopefully for good.  he has expressed interest in doing some miniature gaming again.  I’ve been toying with the idea of using a modified version of Featherstone’s Horse and Musket rules from here on out.  They are simple and give a good game which is what most of my gaming friends want these days.  I have enough figures based and ready to go so we can test all the finer points and modifications.  Among these points are a completely revamped morale system.  One roll determines the fate of the unit in question.  Most of the other changes are minor tweaks to make combat a little less deadly.

“So what does this have to do with Quatre Bras?” you ask.  Well, my ultimate goal is to make a stylized game for the battle.  Each unit will be a Brigade sized unit of 24 figures.  Light infantry are outlyers and will be represented by 12 figure “regiments.”  Cavalry will also be represented by 12 figures.  Finally, artillery represent 2 batteries represented by a single stand and 4 gunners.

The game will be stylized in that, although each unit is a brigade, they will behave like battalions for combat, forming up in squares columns of assault and so forth.  Most of the figures in my collection are minifigs 15mm painted by several of my friends, and I some 38 years ago.

Infantry are based at 3/8″ per figure.  I am putting them on stands of 3 with a single split stand of 2 and 1 figures to make change for casualties.  Cavalry are based at 1/2″ on stands of 2.  Artillery are based on 40mm square stands.


Got Trees?

January 25, 2015
JTT HO Trees

JTT HO Trees

Our hobby can be expensive.  These days, it is hard to find inexpensive terrain.  I have noticed tree manufacturers are still selling, but at a premium price.  There was a kickstarter not long ago for a company called “War Trees“.  They were making resin trees ready for the battlefield.  The pine trees did not look like much but the deciduous trees looked like they would do.  The problem was that each tree cost about $4US.   Sadly, the funding was unsuccessful as they did not generate any interest.

The other day, I was up near a local hobby shop and popped in to see what they had in their model railroad scenery.  I found a bulk back of 24 HO scale trees (3″-4″ tall) for about $30.  This was the best deal I had seen in a long time.  I decided to take a chance.  The trees are made from natural material and come with small plastic bases.  The bases are inadequate to hold the tree up reliably on their own.  So some wider bases will have to be manufactured.  The plastic bases can still be utilized as they are molded to look like the roots at the base of the tree.  The flocking on the tree also seems to shed pretty easily.  I remedied this by giving each tree a generous coat of dull coat.  I am not finished basing them yet…who am I kidding!  I have not even got them started!  I’ll post some pictures when I get them done.  There are also other bags of 36 N-Scale trees (2″-3″) and 55 micro scale (1″-2”) for the same price.  Company website is here.


Some counters for To the Strongest

January 21, 2015

I’ve drawn up some counters for To the Strongest wargame rules by Simon MillerThese are 1″ counters that can replace the playing cards that are normally used in the game.  As they are 1″ square and olive colored, they will work well to blend in with the wargames terrain.   The are available on the miscellaneous page as well as right here.

Some freebies online at the Jackson Gamers site

January 16, 2015

Having a slower day at work the other day, I went back to an old favorite of mine…that of the Jackson Gamers club.  Specifically, I always go through and browse their rules section.  of which there are many.  They have a dizzying array of rules on just about every era history can provide.  If it isn’t there, one of the near contemporary rules sets could be modified.  What I like most about these rules designs is that they are simple and favor the game over the simulation.

Quick Tricorne is a system originally designed by Father Aelred Glidden which may have been taken from ideas by Don Featherstone.  Essentially, units that shoot or melee automatically hit.  It is up to the owning player of the target unit to pass a saving throw or lose a stand off the unit in question.  The system is also similar to Twilight of the Sun King which uses the same methodologies.

Ramming Speed is a rules set that once appeared in Paul Hague’s Sea Battles in Miniature.  It is a simple set that still tries to cover the important aspects of galley warfare: ramming, shooting, boarding and sinking.  There is even some instructions and templates to build your own galleys. I have a piece of 1/4″ balsa sitting at home with nothing to do.  I will give these a try.

Finally, here is a modified version of Rules by Ral.  The originals are free to download but this set adds a small amount of extra detail but stays true to the simplicity of this game.  It is a bit reminiscent of the One Hour Wargames set by Neil Thomas.

The blogs they own are still alive but updated pretty infrequently.  A great repository for those who like simple and fun games.