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.

LotR miniatures first outing…with my son.

December 21, 2014

My son and I have been playing a few games this weekend.  This is not his first wargame.  We’ve played simple battle games and fellow TMPr’s house Matthew/45thDiv with him and his son.  This is probably Jack’s first “serious” wargame at our house, where measurement and actual miniature positions for terrain effects matter.  Here are the rules we used.

  1. Magic: Once per GAME, a spell caster may cast a fireball.  It can affect up to 3 miniatures within close proximity of each other.  Magic has a range of 12″.  The figure(s) affected get a saving through of 2 or less.  Once per TURN, the caster may cast freeze.  This will temporarily disable the target for its next turn.  It also gets a save like with fireball.  The frozen figure has a penalty of 1 on its armor save during combat.
  2. Movement: All figures get a move of 6″ with the following exceptions.  Dwarves and Hobbits only move 4″.  Wargs and other cavalry move 8″.
  3. Terrain: Climbing hills costs 1″ of move to cross a contour line.  Goblins, Dwarves and Hobbits are unaffected.  Woods reduce movement by 1″.  Elves are unaffected.
  4. Missile shooting:  Range of bows is 12″.  Hand hurled weapons is 6″.  Hit number for Elves and Longbowmen is 2 or less.  1 for Goblins.
  5. Melee: Figures in contact may strike at an enemy.  Good Heroes hit on a 4 or less.  Other elves hit on a 3 or less.  Goblin warriors hit on a 2 or less.  Goblin archers hit on a 1.
  6. Saves: When a hit is scored from missile shooting or melee, the target is entitled to an armor save.  4 or less for Good Heroes, 3 or less for Evil heroes, Wargs and Elven Warriors.  2 or less for Goblin warriors and Elven archers, and 1 for a Goblin archer.  In woods, or other blocking terrain, the armor save is increased against shooting or for the first round of melee combat.
  7. Morale: Goblin groups run away when they lose half of their figures or more.

Our games were generally a simple escort mission like The Hobbit or the Fellowship of the Rings.  The good guys have a Hobbit, several elven warriors and archers, a Hero and a Wizard.  Jack picked up the nuances of the game quickly.  We started simple with a handful of Elves vs a handful of goblins.  We then added the Wizard.  Finally I added a few more goblins including a few more Wargs to make the game more exciting.  The object was to get the hobbit safely over the bridge or to the far board edge.  If the hobbit died, the game was over.  Jack always took precautions to ensure the little guy was guarded the whole way.

The games often have river crossings and woods to hide in and usually feature a prominent hill.

Here is the setup after turn 1.  Goblins are guarding the bridge.  Figures are Caesar Miniatures Elves and Goblin Factory Goblins.  The Hobbit is a Chariot Miniatures (Magister Militum) 15mm Hobbit.

Here is the setup after turn 1. Goblins are guarding the bridge. Figures are Caesar Miniatures Elves and Goblin Factory Goblins. The Hobbit is a Chariot Miniatures (Magister Militum) 15mm Hobbit.  Roads are by Battlefield Terrain Concepts.  They were thrown into a box for several months and now have developed a “memory.”  Trees and Hills I think are GW.  The mat is from The Terrain Guy.  The river is from Hotz Artworks.  Bridge is by Kai Weaver from Falcon Figures of Chesapeake.  Yes, it needs some paint on it!

I forced jack to work for his victory.  he did well by using his caster to suppress one cgoblin with the Freeze spell while the warriors rushed over the bridge.  This is how the game looked at the end.

I forced jack to work for his victory by leaving 4 archers guarding the other side of the bridge. He did well by using his caster to suppress one Goblin with the freeze spell while the warriors rushed over the bridge. This is how the game looked at the end.

I think changing the morale rules to more than half should make the game a little tougher the last couple of outings, he did really well and cleaned his old man’s clock.  I’m starting to develop an inferiority complex. ;)  Good times were had by all.  On a final note, my daughter Mary also joined the fun for a game this afternoon.  Not quite to her liking but I think she still had some fun.  She is a kinder and gentler soul.  War is really not her thing.

Variable Movement in TMA6

December 11, 2014

Some folks like at least a little friction in there games.  Friction provides some uncertainty to the gamer so that he or she is unable to make the perfect move.  Essentially, their troops will not do exactly as they wish.  Taking an idea from the Black Powder series of games, we can add variable movement rules.  Rather than have commanders with command ratings, we will just allow a unit to move a variable amount of inches.  The kicker is that the player must declare the intent of the move before the dice are rolled.  If he says he wishes to charge an enemy but then rolls a number that does not allow his unit to make contact, he is still obligated to move the unit as far as possible.

In the basic game, units move 6,8,10 and 12″ for heavy infantry, loose order infantry etc, heavy cavalry and light cavalry respectively.  We can gauge these move distances based on the roll of several D6 taking the averages to come up with similar distances.

  • Heavy Infantry 2D6-1
  • Light Infantry, Warbands, Peltasts, Elephants etc 2D6+1
  • Heavy Cavalry, Light Chariots 3D6
  • Light Cavalry 3D6+2

To this we can add group movement.  Up to 3 units in line and within 2″ of the next unit in the group may move as one unit.  One toss of the dice based on the slowest unit determines how far the group moves.  Group moves can only be straight ahead.


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