EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Sunday, October 23, 2016

More Rough Than Ready

But as ready as they are going to get.

Very naive, toy-like, yes? (He asked disingenuously.)

Actually, I think the naive appearance of the buildings fits rather well as an accompaniment to the shiny toy soldier finish on the semi-flat home cast figures.  
Of course rather than being naive by intent, what they really reflect is what a klutz I am and always have been at precision work whether real or toy, how tedious I find terrain construction and how little discipline I have. I did try to cut, fold and draw straight and make all the pieces traced from the same template end up being the same size and shape (don't ask), did intend to include more details like chimney's and shutters etc and the latter at least could be retrofitted but experience tells me that these will serve me happily as is for a decade or more.

Nine buildings to hide them...
I did a quick check and at the rough scale of the game, my old farmhouse would occupy about one square inch. These are a bit more than three by a bit less than four or about the area covered by my house, woodshed, garden shed, garden, lawn, and the old hay barn on the far side of the little stream.  My neighbours would be about eight to twelve inches away but in New France they would have been much closer though not quite cheek by jowl.

I'm not sure how many houses were in the particular village that was involved in the skirmish that inspired my scenario but on a full sized 6x10 table for a small village on the river front and another in the second "rank" along a road parallel to the river, I could probably  have found room for more than a dozen houses, barns and so on but these nine buildings will be just about right for my scenario, setting the scene and providing objectives without overwhelming the game.

If I can harden my resolve, I'll make more of the board fences which along with the clay covered houses help reinforce that "this ain't the  Pennsylvania frontier". I'd forgotten that there were a number of these fences in Louisburg which just goes to show that its been too long since I was last there. I'm not actually sure that I've been back since the Grand Encampment in 1999.  I may need to plan an outing next year, after all, once the rest of the Prince August SYW French and British molds arrive, I expect to be staging a series of fictional campaigns around opposing British and French forts in a more populous Acadia/New Scotland.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

There is still time.

"He said hopefully"

Twelve sleeps till I leave for Fall In. Six houses to finish plus six more to refurbish, a gun boat to equip (and hopefully crew), and some board fences to build. No problem. At least Rob already has all of the figures we'll be using including my Fraser Highlanders.

The British begin their first assault over the open fields against the French line.
The houses are being made from foam core and cardboard in the mode of the Stone House often seen on my table but using the smaller foot print of the revised version which I have adopted with an eye to my smaller table and 4" grid. The basic technique is a slacker's version of the Major General's technique. I've had the idea and materials since I built the Stone House but have been stymied by not knowing just how I wanted them to look and what size to make them.

La maison que j'ai n'a pas de toiture,
De porte non plus, de fenêtre point;
J'entre par le haut, comme en cheminée
Rentre la fumée quand le temps est doux
CHANSON DÉMODÉE, paroles et musique: Gilles Vigneault
It was the 1st track on this album by Les Séguins
which I just about wore out at college.
To summarise the relevant part: "my house has no roof, nor door, of windows, none, I enter from above...".
Earlier this year I resolved the size issue and the decision to run this rural Quebec 1759 game decided the look for me. I'm reasonably familiar with the look of 19th Century Quebec urban houses from observation and from looking at prints of the 1837 rebellions but rural Quebec in 1759 is less familiar. Enter the internet which was quite helpful, especially this page on architecture in New France.

As with many things there was no universal pattern and houses built in the late 1600's and early 1700's would have been more primitive and European peasant like just like later ones would be more likely to be stone even in rural areas.  The basic structure would made with vertical posts and either horizontal or vertical wooden boards or a mix of wood and stone fill but usually covered by some form of plaster to keep the wind and snow out. Any one who has experienced winter in Quebec or New England will appreciate the need to block the cold north wind in winter from blowing snow and cold through any chinks in the wall. Windows would be few for the same reason unlike later homes when glass was more readily available. Thatch could still be found but wooden boards or slate were more common on houses especially given the danger of fire from sparks in winter.

One could add gables etc but I'm going for simplified, quick, rugged, underscale buildings with a "floor" to place troops on when the roof is lifted. The second floor is too far down inside most of the houses but my criteria was simply to make sure I could place a company of firing figures into the house and have their muskets stick over the wall to make more room inside.

The following picture was especially useful.

It shows the typical linear arrangement but also some interesting board fencing around the nearer fields where I have planned on making more snake rail fencing. It also shows that the houses themselves would be nearly useless for defence by all but a handful of individuals since there are so few windows to shoot from. I am proposing that a string of my houses will represent an area of houses, barns, sheds and fences where skirmishers could take cover but not line infantry . A large, stone, seigneurial manor or similar might be a more formidable strong point such as the windmill at Ste. Foye.

Inevitably these houses will end up being used in imaginary lands and I hope to do more stone city buildings. The idea I had floated for Atlantica of making town buildings 1/2 square wide hasn't worked well in prototype and I have decided to compromise with the alternate plan of city streets being 1 square wide with buildings on either side. A standard town would then be a nine to fifteen square block needing four to six buildings for a full road junction, three to five for a Tee junction and anywhere from two to six for a town along a road without a major junction.   Grandiose plans might call for several such for a major city fight but most tables will only have one.
It was nip and tuck but after a fallback and rally, a second attack won the day allowing the British to torch the supply depot.
Of course these are for wargames so I must keep in mind that all too often at least some of them will end the game going up in smoke.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall In is coming!

I managed a last (I think) playtest of 1/2 of one of the scenarios today. Two weeks till we head out.

Quebec militia skirmishers open fire at extreme range.

More pics perhaps tomorrow but if I don't start working on more fences and buildings VERY soon, I shall have to speak VERY sternly to myself!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Generosity of Wargamers.

New Old Toys!

A big thank-you to Nick from California. Having a 1/2 dozen old Britain's 54mm plastic 'Eyes Right' RCMP on hand and surplus, and having enjoyed the beginning of my 54mm NorthWest Campaign wargame setting, Nick did what only the best of on line wargaming comrades would do and offered to send them to me.

Oddly enough I had been eyeing the one Mountie I had as a kid, long since retired (and converted  (damn you and thank you Henry Harris) and now serving as a retired, honorary Militia Colonel in the 5th Royal Scots and wondering what to use as a basis for a unit of NWMP. Question answered!

Now, yes, in the 1870's the uniform was different and its unlikely the lance would ever have been carried on the plains but that sort of thing is just what this campaign is about. Print the legend and play with the toys the way they are.

Luckily, there are a few damaged figures so I should be able to field a troop of three lancers in stetson and a troop of three mounted riflemen in pillbox caps. Excellent! It will have to wait untill after Fall In though.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Hole in the Blogosphere

Late last night I received the sad news that the well known wargames blogger (amongst many, many, other things)  Jeff Hudelson of Saxe-Bearstein finally lost his heroic fight with cancer earlier this month.

A shot of the battle of Wollmitz lifted from Jeff's blog.
My friend and ally Tom trying to negotiate a town on our left flank.
Jeff and I lived on opposite coasts of Canada, over 6,000 km apart, so I have only once had the pleasure of facing him across the table. The occasion was the Battle of Wollmitz in 2008, back  when I was maintaining a website rather than blogging. There was also a rather disastrous (for me) but fun Renaissance PBEM mini-campaign that he invited me to play in a few years ago ( alpianduchy.blogspot). Above all though, he was a valued friend, e-correspondent and fellow blogger whose emails, questions and observations often got my brain whirring.

He will be missed.

Rest easy Jeff.