One soggy Friar later, Little John takes on Will Scarlett.
I did not have a quarter staff figure for Will Scarlett or Maid Marian so very quickly masking taped a brown wooden cocktail stick to his sword and coloured the tape with felt tip. The same done for Maid Marian.
Robin Hood is busy watching and eyeing up a deer on the far side of the stream – no doubt the King’s Venison! Before he aims his bow, the deer bounds off with all the splash and noise of pretend battle.
Next up the undefeated two times champion of the log crossing, the still dry Little John is challenged by Maid Marian.
A slip and hit on Little John sees his third or melee life point gone – and into the water with him.
Being a big fellow, he makes a big splash, so Maid Marian isn’t laughing in her well deserved but now soaking victory.
A fun quick knockabout duel, keeping their fighting skills up for their next encounter with the Sheriff of Nottingham – boo, hiss!
Robin Hood figures
The duel on the log is a great chapter in the early part of the Robin Hood story. There was even a duelling set of Tuck vs Little John and log bridge in the Britain’s quite inspired but short lived issue (c.1996) of Robin Hood figures to complement their existing Knights of The Sword, Crusaders and Turkish Knights / Saracens.
Baden Powell’s Boy Scouts were encouraged to do quarter staff fighting (probably as part of their early Master at Arms badge). Can’t remember if the early Girl Scouts or Guides did. Robin Hood and other chivalrous tales fitted well with the literary and historical “Cloak of Romance” imaginative scenarios for Wide Games.
See my Scouting related quarter staff blog and Scouting Wide Games blog site:
Snortt now knocked out, Kate MacGuffin the Major’s daughter is now faced with three Forest Indians intent on taking her hostage.
All she has to defend herself is her hiking staff, concealed pistol and brave dog Patch.
Should she open fire? Kate has a hidden pistol but she is out of pistol range and outgunned two or three to one by the three Forest Indians who are carrying hunting rifles and muskets. These muskets or rifles fire twice pistol range, much longer ranges than her.
She climbs the nearby hillock and backs towards a tree guarded by her dog Patch.
D6 thrown for how quickly Snortt and Redjacket will recover from being knocked out. Snortt will recover after two more turns (Active again in Turn Four) whilst Redjacket recover in three turns (Active again from Turn Five).
One of the Forest Indians named Redbonnet recognises Miss MacGuffin from the attack on the supply column and tells the other two not to open fire. They realise that this woman is a valuable hostage to bargain with the Redcoats, as is Captain Snortt. She is best captured alive.
Redbonnet is not carrying any ropes otherwise he would stop and quickly tie Snortt up.
Snortt is now active. Where is his sword though?
The d6 dice throw for which side moves first this turn is won by the Forest Indians who move in on three sides of Kate MacGuffin.
RedBonnet heads around the back of the tree to prevent her escaping. They are wary of her and of her dog Patch who has positioned himself in front of her. He is growling fiercely at them.
Snort staggers to his feet, sizes up the situation and groggily rushes towards Kate on the hill and the nearest Forest Indian Greenbreeches. He is too faraway for melee this turn.
The Forest Indians move first and continue to try and encircle her on the hill. Active again, RedJacket staggers to his feet and heads towards Snortt and Greenbreeches.
Greenbreeches heads into Melee with Snortt.
Stop Thrust matches / cancels Stop Thrust.
Next card is drawn by Greenbreeches (Attacker) who draws the ‘Killed’ card!
Big problem. With Snortt now active and one of the Forest Indians dead, rifles may be used, at least on Snortt.
The Forest Indians both fire at Snortt. Yellowfeather misses at Close Range. RedJacket scores a hit but Snortt is saved by a lucky Casualty Savings Throw.
Snortt has no rifle to return fire. Kate uses her concealed pistol at Close Range on Yellowfeather but fails the shot.
d6 throw – Snortt and Kate move first .
Kate backs round the tree into shadow and cover to keep watch for the out of sight Forest Indian Redbonnet.
Snortt moves into a melee attack on Yellowfeather.
Snortt closes with Yellowfeather, after two successful hits reducing Yellowfeather’s life points or melee points, Snortt finishes the knock out with a Parry and Lunge countering Yellowfeather’s Stop Thrust. Yellowfeather is knocked out and topples back down the slope.
Snortt still has no rifle, so it is Kate who fires her pistol close range at Redbonnet but again misses. Redbonnet knows she would be more valuable as a prisoner, so a d6 is thrown to see if he fires back. He does not, hoping to take her alive as a hostage.
Turn 7 Movement and Melee
D6 thrown, Snortt and Kate move first. I threw a d6 to see if Kate would attack Redbonnet directly or retreat round the tree, closer to Snortt. She retreated out of Red Bonnet’s way.
Snortt headed for RedJacket as he arrived at the brim of the slope. He swung his staff but after a slip (hit on Snortt), Snortt next drew a “Run away” card! Rather than running downhill, he headed back into the cover of the trees only to meet Redbonnet coming round the corner of the large trees on the hill.
On the Forest Indian’s turn to move around the trees, Redbonnet closes as the attacker on Snortt for melee.
Snortt is attacked in melee by Redbonnet as they grapple and fight, staff to musket – two stop thrusts cancel each other out.
Redbonnet’s parry and lunge is deflected by Snortt’s cut to the head – first blow on Redbonnet. Two more stop thrusts cancel each other out.
Redbonnet’s stop thrust is countered by Snortt’s parry and lunge, another blow on Redbonnet.
Weakening, Redbonnet again parries and lunges at Snortt, only for this move to be countered by a cut to the head with his hiking staff – a third blow – and Redbonnet staggers back and topples down the slope towards the stream.
Snortt has knocked him clean out! Can he grab the rifle before Redbonnet staggers away? D6 throw – no luck, Redbonnet keeps his grasp on his rifle as he rolls down hill.
Meanwhile a few yards away Kate faces up in melee to RedJacket.
Redjacket aimed to grab or fight Kate MacGuffin but would he first have to fight off Patch the Dog? Patch had bravely put himself between them, growling fiercely. A d6 was thrown – Kate or the dog? It was her brave dog Patch who needed dealing with first, giving Kate time to prime her pistol, ready her staff and prepare her next move.
RedJacket swung at the growling dog, knife in one hand, musket in the other.
Kaptain Kobold rules using dice were used here for the Dog vs Man melee. Each has three melee or life points.
First move – 4 rolled – both Miss.
Second move – 3 – both Hit, both lose a point.
Third move – 4 – both Miss.
Fourth move – 5 – Hit on Patch the dog, defender – loses another point.
Fifth move – 6 – disaster, another hit on Patch the dog, defending his mistress, his final life point lost. He slumps sideways with a whimper.
Turn 7 – Firing phase.
Distraught at the loss of her dog, dead or knocked out, it was Kate’s firing move. She coolly raised her pistol at Close Range and fired. Redjacket staggered backwards. A hit at Close Range and failing his saving throw, he staggered and rolled down the hill, dead. Patch was avenged.
Relief! Snortt and Kate were safe for the moment – two Forest Indians were dead, two more dead or knocked out – but for how long? They were also still lost in the forest. Patch the dog was dead or unconscious, it was hard to tell. The pistol and rifle shots might draw attention from the Redcoats at the Fort. Equally it might attract more Hunting Parties of Forest Indians.
At that moment, they heard the signal cannon from the Fort fired, the sound echoing around the trees. It was hard to pinpoint exactly where it came from. Moments later, a signal flare streaked into the air to the Northwest, from the direction of the Fort. This would give Snortt a rough idea which direction to aim for. It also told him that a foot patrol of Redcoats had been despatched by Major MacGuffin, the Fort commander, anxious for news of his daughter. They should have been back at the Fort by now.
Tired and lost as they were, Snortt said they should not hang around for the Forest Indians to wake up or more to turn up. As they made ready to head northwest towards the direction of the signal rocket, Kate MacGuffin pleaded with Snortt not to leave Patch’s body behind.
It would be quicker without him, Snortt argued. That dog saved my life, Kate said.
They agreed that they would try to carry Patch between them using their hiking staffs, the spear and an Indian jacket as an improvised stretcher. It would slow them down but hopefully they would soon stumble across a Redcoat patrol.
Snortt quickly removed Redjacket’s Indian tunic, which looked much like one stolen and cut down from a Redcoat jacket long ago as a hunting trophy. He tucked Redjacket’s hunting knife into his belt and gathered up Redjacket’s musket.
Snortt and Kate lifted Patch gently onto the stretcher and gathered up the herb basket.
Grabbing an Indian rifle or musket each, ammunition and powder, they laid these in the stretcher alongside the faithful but unmoving hound. Worryingly, struck several heavy blows by Redjacket, Patch still showed no obvious signs of life.
They set off as quickly as they could, carrying the stretcher, heading northwest through the forest towards the Fort, keeping watch for any further Forest Indians.
The Forest Indians would not be pleased when they found the bodies of several of their warriors. There was more trouble ahead for the Redcoat defenders of Fort MacGuffin.
Sometime later that day, dodging Redcoat patrols in the forest, a Hunting Party of the Forest Indians comes across the dead bodies of two warriors of their tribe, Redjacket and Greenbreeches.
Nearby they find two unconscious warriors, Yellowfeather and Redbonnet. When they wake, no doubt they will have brave tales of fierce fighting with an overwhelming number of Redcoats. The four warriors are gathered up and the Hunting Party slowly makes its way back towards their hidden encampment deep in the Forest. They carry with them an officer’s sword of the Redcoats.
North Gondal 1870s – A trip to the forest to gather herbs accidentally interrupted by a Forest Indian Hunting Party.
Young Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin square up to four startled Forest Indians.
First card of the Duelling draw …
That just leaves the plucky Major’s Daughter Kate MacGuffin with only a concealed pistol and a hiking staff (unless she can get to the Captain’s sword) and her dog Patch pursued by three hostile Forest Indians intent on taking her hostage.
The Waggon repaired, and no further need for that pistol, Miss MacGuffin?
North Gondal Forests, 1870s somewhere near Fort MacGuffin
Fed up with the security lockdown at the Fort MacGuffin, our feisty frontier heroine Miss Kate MacGuffin persuades the Fort’s founder and commanding officer, her father Major MacGuffin to reluctantly let her out of its confines for an afternoon’s plant and herb collecting in the Forest to restock the Fort’s medicine chest.
Unaccompanied botanising would be too risky with aggrieved Forest Indians Hunting in the forest, and “The Major’s Daughter” would be a fine hostage and bargaining chip. So young Captain Snortt, hero of the hour and commander of the Besieged Wagon Skirmish, is entrusted with accompanying Kate and keeping watch over her as her guide, guard and chaperone. A very different Wheel Meet Again scenario indeed!
Well met again, Miss MacGuffin and Captain Snortt set off hiking through forest glades with their collecting basket, stout walking poles and her faithful dog Patch. They intend to stay near the Fort but enjoying each other’s company a little too much, they lose track of time and the blazed forest trails.
Lost? Not to worry, says the Captain.
Suddenly from out of the forest behind them burst a small deer, pursued by a Forest Indian Hunting Party.
Both parties stared at each other for a split second.
The deer fled but a fine hunting prize this hostage would make.
All that Miss MacGuffin and Captain Snortt have to defend themselves is his sword, their two hiking staffs, her revolver and whatever else they can find around them.
All set for a duelling skirmish where a valuable live hostage is at stake!
The Brontes maybe, but the redcoat Militia and heroines in Jane Austen all dressed up for balls were never like this, except maybe with zombies, and the books are all the poorer for itin my opinion.
Previously on duelling skirmishes, some fine blogposts, borrowed rules and entertaining Bartitsu Youtube videos – Suffrajitzu anyone?
The Forests of North Gondal, 1870. A stranded wagon, its wheel off and axle broken. Awaiting rescue and surrounded, the small group of defenders listen to their Captain.
Captain Snortt of the Yestershires is busy briefing his Redcoats, drawing lines in the surface of the Forest Road with his swordpoint.
The Forest Road is a glorified name for a track to the Forest Fort and old Trading Post Fort MacGuffin to the North. Its edges were cleared of timber to make the Fort itself and also make it easier to spot an ambush.
Invading and clearing their sacred forests and hunting grounds had caused tension with the usually peaceful Forest Indians who over the years had traded and stolen many Redcoat muskets and rifles.
Snortt: “We can expect reinforcements to march from the Fort to the North here, unless Ambushed en route. Forest Indians may well appear from here and here to the East, as well as travelling in from the West. We will keep a sentry posted in cover at each point of the compass.”
Snortt: “On first sight of the enemy, fire when you sight them. Whilst it will reveal your location, we need to keep them at a distance and away from accurately counting our numbers. We need to keep them at long range and stop them from closing in too quickly. They will be sounding us out. We need to give them an idea that we have troops all around the perimeter.”
“Only when they are too close and you are likely to be surrounded, may you fall back towards the wagon using what cover you can.”
Snortt: “Meanwhile, Private Fuller and you Miss MacGuffin will remain with the wagon and try to fix the axle and wheel whilst we wait for the repair team and reinforcements from the fort. Miss MacGuffin has also volunteered along with myself to make sure you have enough ammunition.”
“We also have taken off the Wagon two small barrels of gunpowder supplied for the Fort’s cannons that we can explode if we need.”
“Good luck, Men. To your posts. You too, Miss MacGuffin.”
Snortt saluted Major MacGuffin’s daughter and hurried off to post his few men at compass points around the Wagon.
Thus began the desperate situation of the Yestershire Regiment’s daily supply column to Fort MacGuffin, broken down with a damaged wheel and axle, stranded at the plank bridge. The Forest Indian Drums have been heard and glimpses of movement amongst the trees.
Addressing his Braves and Hunting Parties – Forest Indian Chief Old Wooden Legs
A big 54mm game in a small space.
Post 2: The Skirmish
Forest Indian Chief Old Wooden Legs spoke to his assembled braves, now arriving in the grove, from hunting parties across their forest.
Translation of Old Wooden Legs’ words: “I will split you into three groups, one to travel north and circle round to delay any reinforcements and appear to the North and the West side.
“The other two hunting parties will split up and approach through the trees and stream valley to their East.”
“We will raid their supplies, take civilian hostages to barter with the Redcoats and make the Forest Fort Warriors fearful of their supply wagons being attacked again.”
“They rely too much on their slow beast of two wheels, rather than hunting the swift beasts on four legs. The Redcoats are foolish and have not learned to live off the land as we can without destroying it.”
“When they see we can strike without warning and melt away again into the trees like spirits of the mist, maybe then they will become fearful and wise enough to leave our Forests in peace and return to their own places.”
“To your places and may the hunting go well with you!”
The Forest Indians disappeared back into the forest.
Pre-dice roll depositions
2xD6 thrown to decide when the Forest Fort reinforcements will arrive from the North forest road. On Turn 6, Snortt’s reinforcements will arrive on foot at the northern baseline at 4A.
The Forest Indians do not know how many soldiers there are with the wagon or how many will be sent to rescue them.
Snortt did not send the Major’s daughter back to the safety of the Fort on horseback as he did not know if his rider will got through with the message until he hears two of the Forest Fort guns fired in recognition. The Forest Indians will also have heard this sound echoing down the valley.
The Relief Party is setting out on foot. There is a shortage of horses and pack animals in general in Gondal in 1870 due to the ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ North Pacific climate and the horse sickness, horses not being native to the island or the four kingdoms of Gondal. The Forest Indians have become adept at stealing and hiding those horses that are imported and bred.
D6 are thrown for letter and number coordinates on the map
Forest Indian Hunting Party 1 starts out from map point D1 on Turn 1.
Hunting Party 2 from map point D4, starting out on Turn 6.
Hunting Party 3 from map point 4C starting out on Turn 10.
Wheel takes 1xd6 turns to repair once the Engineer arrives, in this case six turns.
D6 to decide if the Redcoat Relief Party appearing at Turn 6 is in one or two groups and how many turns apart. D6 1,3, 5 Apart or d6 2,4,6 Together. Dice roll says – They will arrive together.
Close Little Wars Rules tweak 1
Playing on a small corner table 2 foot by 4 foot meant that the generous Wells and Featherstone movement rates of 9 to 12 inches were too big and the game would come to blows too fast. This is stealthy forest movement in cluttered terrain of logs and hills, marsh and swamp. I simply cut movement rates and terrain modifiers in half but kept all weapons ranges the same. The effect is of halving each turn into two turns to reflect short skirmish times.
Going up hills, across streams and marshes really does cut into rapid movement.
Firing from cover or sometimes blindly at cover in confined spaces and cluttered terrain of Bold Frontiers trees, hills and streams requires the dice modifiers of casualty savings throws and extras for cover or no cover. Bullets and arrows get blocked by trees and rocks.
If firer is undercover and target in open, 5 or 6 scores a hit.
Casualty Savings Throws if hit
4, 5,6 – slightly / not wounded, carries on
3, 4, 5, 6 – If target undercover, slightly / not wounded, carries on.
Turn 1 and Turn 2
Close Wars rules. IGOYUGO. Dice thrown for A who moves first, sort out melee, B who moves second, sort out melee, A shoots first, B shoots second. End of Turn.
Redcoats assume their compass positions in cover around the wagon as centre. Sentries at N, NW, E, SE, S, SW and W.
Forest Indian Hunting Party move off from D1 towards wooded hill at B1 /C1.
No shooting – none within range.
First firing by Redcoat sentries to East of wagon – several hits on Forest Indians along the stream bed B3/C3. One killed, others saved by casualty savings throws.
Further exchanges of fire between both sides sees another Forest Indian killed by the stream.
Both parts of Hunting Party 1 are now moving in from the stream bed and downhill from the wooded hill, firing on the Redcoat sentries at E and SE positions. The Redcoat sentry at East by the stream is killed. Third Indian in the stream bed area is killed by Redcoat fire.
However three Forest Indians are closing in on the wagon, close to sentry posts around the E and SE positions.
Aware of the risk, Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin draw rifles from the wagon and stand behind it, ready to see off any marauding Forest Indians from raiding the supplies and taking Miss MacGuffin hostage.
Relief party of the Yestershires sighted in the distance on the road coming up the hill.
However the immediate threat remains the three Forest Indians getting close to the wagon. Two Indians engage the Redcoat sentry at SE (the Redcoat with the turban) in Melee.
Point markers for duelling from the old Heroscape Game.
Redcoat sentries to the southeast engage in hand to hand duelling with rifles and bayonets. Three life points given to each, attacker is the Indian. Card each detailing at random which blows and blocking blows are dealt are hit points removed. The Redcoat Sentry at SE sees off first one Indian, then the second Indian closes in.
Melee Duel 2 – cards reset, melee begins and one of the random cards sees the second Forest Indian retreat, his weapon broken.
Over the next few turns, the retreating Indian heads back up the wooded hill for safety to join Chief Old Wooden Legs, where he looks to pick up a spare musket or rifle from one of his fallen comrades.
The sentry due south on the road rushes over to cover the fallen E. sentry and is brought down by the Indian archer.
However Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin steady their rifles from behind the wagon and aim at the archer. He is brought down by Captain Snortt’s first shot, removing the nearest threat to the wagon and its defenders.
The Redcoat Relief Party of the Yestershires passes the Fallen Tree across the road. The black helmeted section spread out into the trees, whilst the white helmeted section head up the road to surround the wagon. Amongst them you can glimpse the Fort Engineer in his bush hat, ready to fix the wagon axle and wheel over the next six turns.
The Forest Indian Hunting Party 2, who set off at Turn 6, continue up the stream valley closer into range. They are now outnumbered by the Relief Party.
The Forest Indian Hunting Party 2 in the stream bed fire at the Redcoat sentries at long range but fail to kill one. Fire is returned and two further Indians are brought down.
The chief Old Wooden Legs notices that his forces are now down close to half strength, even with the third Hunting Party due to appear at Turn 10. Should he call them and recall them to fight another day?
A further exchange of fire between the remaining Indians on the Stream valley, including a Redcoat grenade being thrown. There was one further Indian dead, with no further Redcoat casualties, once casualty savings throws and being undercover taken into consideration.
The Redcoat Relief Party and Fort Engineer cross the bridge and begin work on repairing the wheel.
The Indian Chief calls to the Hunting Party 2 and 3 to retreat as they are now past 50% casualties and outnumbered.
The Redcoats fire upon these retreating Indians in the stream valley and bring down these three Indian. The battle is over – for now.
The shadowy stream valley of death …
Whilst the wagon is repaired, the Redcoat reinforcements keep watch on the trees, quickly bury the native dead and recover the native rifles.
Turn 11 onwards.
The Forest Indians regroup further in the woods. Snortt keeps his sentries posted watching for further attacks.
Will there be another attack from different directions?
Snortt keeps his troops quiet and watchful. It’s not over yet until they reach the Fort.
He thinks – There are no signal drums.
The forest sounds of trees and birdsong return amongst the sound of the wheel and axle being fixed.
They know we are still stranded. The Forest Indians will be watching and listening. The Forest is always full of eyes and ears.
Will they face further ambush and sniping on the road ahead?
The Chief recalls his remaining Warriors. They will return to retrieve their dead warriors after dark.
Later that evening
Back at Fort MacGuffin as he writes his report by oil lamp for Headquarters, Snortt reflects on the day and how things went.
From this – the stranded wagon and brave cool Miss MacGuffin …
Captain Snortt and the Major’s daughter Miss MacGuffin as ASC Private Fuller helps the Fort Engineer mend the wheel
To this – Relief or Rescue – and the wagon fixed, his young passenger safe with only two privates dead. Things could have been very different.
Miss Macguffin’s secret weapon … whilst her Guard dog Patch hopes Snortt has biscuits or a ball.
A Captain may dream of promotion – and other things …
I have a feeling we have not heard the end of Captain Snortt of the Yestershires, Miss MacGuffin and the aggrieved Forest Indians of Gondal led by Chief Old Wooden Legs.
The Forest returns to quietness and wild animals – for now.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that I have painted in the top of the shorter flat tree markers with green and white Acrylic paint, as they show when photographed from above.
Close Little Wars Scenario Post-mortem – initial thoughts
Playing solo, I had to work hard not to have favourites. I wanted both sides to succeed in their aims. If in doubt, a dice decided.
The opening turns for the Redcoats were those of stand and wait in cover until first contact and melee, but playing as solo player and umpire, I had to assume for the storyline that the Redcoats could be attacked from any angle and Snortt could not weaken any one side.
The presence of the delayed third Hunting Party who could loopin at the top North and attack from the NW or NE or engage the Relief column had to be borne in mind by Snortt.
Had the outcome of the dice throw for the arrival of the Relief Party been different, say for example Turn 6 plus 1d6, the game could have had a very different outcome.
Firing through cover and related savings throws had a big influence on the events. Strength of numbers and some lucky dice throws (or excellent shooting) made things easier for the Redcoats.
Melee – Duelling by cards – made it feel in places like a skirmish game.
I wish I had taken time to name the initial Redcoats and Forest Indian Hunting Parties, instead of talking about the SE or NW Sentry.
The lumps and bumps of the cluttered terrain of Bold Frontiers trees, book hills and felt streams (with attendant movement modifiers) works well for me. It slows down movement as it would in real life and provides a longer lasting target for concealed riflemen.
Judging Line of Sight (LOS) from the character’s eyeline in cluttered forest was tricky. I used a small mirror from a Christmas cracker to help me see what they could see.
Using a 12 inch ruler in cluttered forest terrain was tricky at times. A ruler half that size would help.
50% loss of strength as part of the Victory Conditions governed the retreat by Forest Indians.
An enjoyable and fulfilling solo skirmish game ImagiNations scenario of which I feel we have not heard the end.
I hope you have enjoyed the game, the terrain and the build up. I look forward to hearing reader’s thoughts and reflections.
North Gondal forests, 1870s – a supply column, deep in the forest, approach a stream
Ahead of the supply column, few yards over the old bridge, a large dead tree had fallen over the road, neatly blocking it.
Suspicious? Old dead trees fall over, and they had had heavy rain storms recently. The old plank bridge wasn’t looking in too good shape either. Must have happened overnight. The Forest Fort foot patrols should have noticed this damage and made good a repair.
They would need to proceed cautiously. Steady there! The weekly supply waggon for the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin) tipped precariously over and backwards as it crossed the old wooden bridge over the stream.
The Redcoat troops of the Yestershire Regiment heard the sound as one of the wheels skewed off at an odd angle. Barrels and boxes tipped out onto the rough forest road and stream. Some of the bridge had washed away … or maybe the rope and timbers had been hacked away?
Assessing the damage to the wheel, Captain Snortt of the Yestershires, the officer in charge of the supply column, quickly sent the wagon horse and rider ahead to summon reinforcements and a repair team from the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin).
As the horse and rider disappeared up the forest road, Snort sent his small column of seven redcoats to fan out and protect the cart whilst one of the Army Service Corps men Private Fuller tried to fix the axle and wheel.
The scattered barrels and boxes were stacked to make temporary cover positions.
They wedged the damaged axle on a haybale that they had been carrying for the horse.
Snortt knew that the Forests this far North had eyes everywhere. The local Native Indians were increasingly hostile, they did not enjoy their sacred hunting grounds being carved up by roads and forts, loggers and the land claims of settlers.
To add to his problems, the column included a rare civilian passenger, Kate the youngest daughter of Major McGuffin, the Fort Commander, who was travelling to visit her father. A fine hostage and bargaining chip she would make, if the Indians captured her.
Luckily for Snortt, young Kate was used to frontier life and quickly unpacked a pistol from the baggage, loaded it and watched the surrounding forest. There were spare rifles in the wagon if needed.
The Indian Scouts who were scattered around hunting through the forest return to their chiefs. They bring news. “The wagon is broken on the bridge.”
“The horse has gone to the fort.”
“Several redcoats have stayed to protect the wagon.”
“There are supplies and a passenger for the Fort.”
Meanwhile back at the bridge, the Redcoats of the Yestershires heard drums. The low sound of a native signal drum in the distance. Snortt was not sure how far away. Drums talking across the forest trees. Someone may have seen their difficulty and was even now summoning the local hunting parties.
Damn that bridge! Damn that wheel.
It looked to Snortt now that the fallen tree and the storm damaged bridge may not have been such natural events after all.
Meanwhile amongst the trees, the Indian Braves gathered with their spears and hunting rifles. Their tribal chief Old Wooden Legs spoke to the dancing Medicine Man who was blessing their hunt and ordered the drums be silenced. The Summoning was over.
“Let us harry the Redcoats and their wagons to remind them this is Our Land. There may be much of value in the Wagons – firesticks, metal bees* (bullets) and other important supplies for the Forest Fort, a Fort made from the timbers of our sacred trees.”
“Let us use the shadow and cover of these trees to approach the wagon and take something back in return for what these Redcoat devils have done to our forests. Civilians may prove good hostages. If the Redcoats attack or resist, we will use force to defend our forest.”
* The native Gondal Forest Indian name for bullets, “metal bees that sting death”.
Thus the die is set for a confrontation. In part 2 (or chapter 2?) of this small skirmish solo game I shall set out the terrain map, troop dispositions, aims and victory conditions.
Figures, Terrain and used.
Close Wars rules requires a cluttered terrain. Rather than clutter up the kitchen table with a 54mm Close Wars game and have to move it for meals, I wanted to leave this set up to play over several days squeezed in next to my desk and painting table.
I put sheets of felt over my usual portable hex boards for a change, using some chunky bound old volumes for hills. I used strips of felt for added streams and paths, exploiting the dips added some slate chips and chunks from the garden, some twigs and railway modelling bushes.
The damaged bridge was quickly made from a raft of coffee stirrers, superglued and ‘painted’ with felt tips. The bridge provides a “pinch point” between hills and stream for the wagon.
Hopefully it all keeps some of that improvised terrain spirit of our childhood games, of H. G. Wells’ Little Wars and early Donald Featherstone War Games 1962 (the book from which the two page ‘Close Wars’ rules appendix came).
The only large sheet of felt in the house when I was a child, a beautiful thick dark green, was the heat protector under the table cloth for our family dining table, so borrowing this or the dining table itself (above or below) meant toy soldier games had to fit in and finish around family mealtimes.
For a few moments I considered this as a garden game, but with creaky knees and changeable weather, I decided against this. The trees I use for pop-up 54mm games would not like being left outside.
The forest trees are beautiful preformed preprinted thick card ones from Bold Frontiers Australia, a recent gift to aid my Close Little Wars forest games. The three tree sets bring a real pop-up 3D picture book feel to this forest landscape.
The scenario of ‘Wheel Meet Again’, the broken wagon to defend in hostile territory is loosely based on one by the late Stuart Asquith that I used as a memorial game last November. Add a dash of Last of The Mohicans.
Gondal is a borrowed ImagiNation, one of the four kingdoms on a North Pacific ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ island created in the 1830s and 1840s by the Bronte family as youngsters. Other Bronte versions of ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ include Glass Town and Angria (roughly West Africa), whilst Gaaldine is Tropical Yorkshire on two South Pacific islands. Gondal is similar to my ImagiNations continents of North, Central and South Generica, roughly equivalent to the historical Americas.
I don’t have any French Indian War / Revolutionary War bicorne figures or redcoats in 54mm at the moment. The BMC 54mm ones are in a box patiently awaiting painting, a year on from Christmas 2019. Instead my 42mm Pound Store Redcoats have stepped in and borrowed the scout trek cart. This overloaded wagon is pulled by a flat cavalryman who disappears to take news to the Forest Fort, Fort McGuffin.
A few smaller Britains hollow-cast figures were added in. The Fort Commander’s daughter is a plastic seaside pirate girl with concealed pistol behind her back, her faithful hound from the old Tradition of London Victorian street figures.
Barrels are buttons from the local craft shop, hay from Britain’s farm series, the baggage from the old Herald cowboy raft.
I do have a host of repaired, tuppenny based hollow-cast 50 to 54mm Indians that I have repainted over the last two years. I have generally chosen the non Britain’s Indian figures as they tend to be a little smaller in the mid 40s to 50mm size.
Eighty years ago today 14 May 1940 was the founding day of the Local Defence Volunteers, the LDV or the “Look Duck and Vanish” as some unkindly folk called them – you might now them by their Churchillian rebrand as “The Home Guard”.
It would take another twenty five years and a TV sitcom for them to earn their modern nickname of “Dad’s Army.”
Over my last forty odd years or more of shoving tiny plastic figures meaningfully around a felt covered tabletop, vaguely inspired by historical events, the Home Guard has been a World War Two theme that I have often returned to.
Small numbers of Airfix German Paratroops and Infantry frequently encountered the lightly armed Airfix British infantry who were my “Dad’s Army” figures, invading some fictional village or small town, lashed together from spare buildings and scenery borrowed from my model railway making family. Sadly, being the 1970s, no photographs exist of these tiny titanic struggles.
After the 1984 40th anniversary, gaming D-Day with my Airfix landing craft felt a little too close in history. It was well within living memory. My game scenarios often shifted and reversed then to a British setting for the familiar Airfix Beach Head and Coastal Fort play-sets, manned by spindly Airfix British Infantry seeing off tankloads and Landing Craft loads of determined Germans and, after 1976, OO/HO German Paratroops.
Watching the Dad’s Army movie and episodes, then and now often on TV, obviously had some influence on my childhood games. So too did the glimpse of the odd pillbox, dragons teeth by the railway line and occasional blank .303 bullet, found with a metal detector.
The fact that Britain wasn’t invaded keeps the tabletop game of war as one of “what if?” historical fantasy, rather than gaming people’s lived experience as I grew up.
Growing up in the 1970s, there were plenty of older men and women around who lived through the war as children, civilians or service personnel, my evacuee parents included, some of whom had unpleasant experiences.
I wish now I had spoken to them more about this period of history but the general rule of “getting on” and “putting it behind you” meant that if they didn’t readily tell, you didn’t ask. As an older child, I slowly felt slightly conflicted that I did not want to trivialise their real-lived and often unpleasant experiences of war into my ‘games of toy soldiers’.
The Home Guard and the early war period of Operation Sea Lion, preparing for the invasion of Britain that thankfully never happened, were a different matter.
These Sealion and Home Guard games were in many ways an Imagi-Nation of Britain in 1940 and 1941 in much the same nostalgic way many railway layouts are a fictionalised portrait of “Britain in Steam in the 30s to 50s”. “The past” as L.P. Hartley wrote in The Go Between (1953) is a “foreign country, they do things differently there.”
What happened during four years from 1940 to stand down in late 1944 was effectively a series of mostly realistic gaming scenarios, live action role play, played with a deadly earnest and a determined purpose. These are set out in Home Guard training manuals (and often form the episodes of Dad’s Army, drawn out by Mainwaring in chalk on his black board ).
Dad’s Army at the same time on TV also gave me a key that it was possible to explore this invasion scenario in a respectful but imaginative way. It also gave the strong impression of the boredom, bravery and occasional buffoonery of service life.
The training against other Home Guard patrols and regular troops also gives some interesting possibilities for “non-lethal warfare”.
Adapting rules to Home Guard “non-lethal training exercises” against other Home Gaurd or regular units as “the enemy” should prove interesting.
These non-lethal training exercises are quite similar to the Scouting Wide Games that I have also been exploring on the Tabletop, working with fellow blogger and Tabletop gamer Alan Gruber, Tradgardmastre of the Duchy of Tradgardland.
Alan has also been posting recently about gaming the Home Guard.
The inscription reads: “For Freedom. This seat and the path leading to it thereto have been provided as a memorial to the men of the Number [1?] Company (Falmouth) Home Guard who during 1940, 41, 42, 43, 44, after their day’s work, nightly patrolled this coast armed and vigilant against German landings. Thus they watched 1000 dawns appear across these great waters which form our country’s moat.”
There are some excellent reprints of Home Guard manuals around, a short Shire History volume and some great resources for your local area about the Auxiliary Units of the Home Guard from Coleshill House, the British Resistance Archive.
The Home Guard look to be a suitable focus for future WW2 themed games.
As my free 3 Gigabytes of Man of TIN blog on WordPress are now three quarters full or used with photos since 2016, I will give “Look Duck and Varnish” WW2 Home Guard Games for the Tabletop their own separate blogspot as needed, as I have done with Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop:
Work in progress … Minutemen from the 1960s 1970s Lucky Products USA
My thoughts recently have been about redcoats and simple Featherstone rules like Close Wars, about painting what I own that I have bought in the past and put away for future occasions (though who would have envisaged our Lockdown situations?)
My scratch / scrap Napoleonics and Tricorne figures in 15mm had no Forest Indian opponents and I had no great wish to buy even more 15mm figures during the Lockdown. Instead I looked through my hoard for some odd-looking plastic flat Indian and Redcoat figures that I had bought for Close Wars and put away unpainted for a rainy day.
On the painting table this week but not finished are a box of Revolutionary War Lucky Products Comic Book Soldiers from the USA in the 1960s/70s. I was intrigued by these crude 30mm plastic flat figures in their rare appearance on U.K. eBay, so bought them quite cheaply. I have not seen any ‘this side of the Pond’ recently.
Eventually I tracked down what they were, thanks to Doug Shand’s website.
Doug sets out pictures and comments on each of the flat figures, as well as the later smaller rounded figures, along with some superb old adverts which tell you how many figures there should be and what the poses are meant to be.
This Boy and Girl are very happy with their $1.98 toys! 99 cents each?
This website interview with comic book artist the late Russ Heath claimed “Surprisingly, Russ never actually saw any of the Toy Soldiers themselves! However, he knew they were Flats and he certainly heard about them. He says “No, I never saw them [the Toy Soldiers.] You know it’s funny, I got letters too that they forwarded to me from the company and everybody was bitching, they said ‘they’re not three dimensional, they’re only in relief [2D Flats] and it was really a rotten thing to do to the kids’. (laughs) Perhaps in his own humorous defense, Russ says “I tried to make, especially with the Revolutionary Soldiers Ad, I tried to make them look somewhat stiff and like the soldiers [Flats] would look.”
What I liked about these plastic flat figures was their curious cartoon or 18th Century print appearance, rather like these Revolutionary War ones in 1775. To both Doug and myself, the look as if these were satirical prints designed by Rowlandson or Gillray. The figures also really do look curiously like these American prints by Amos Doolittle.
So this Pinterest haul and web search, along with several Ladybird classics such as Soldiers and The Last of The Mohicans, gave me an idea a little of how I want these figures to look.
These redcoats are not specific but generic redcoats like my 15mm Coastguard Excisemen of previous posts. The rigorous uniform research I have done these include Ladybird book of Soldiers here:
I did look in Preben Kannik’s Military Unicorns of The World (sorry, Uniforms) and other Blandford books but wanted to keep these Redcoat / Tricorne era figures loose and generic.
I don’t expect to find any Lucky ‘Flat’ Revolutionary War figures easily and cheaply anytime soon in the UK. So I will make use of what I have and in time paint a small detachment of these figures as white coated French Infantry, along with some gun crews and the few Hesseans or redcoat Grenadiers. The cavalry are a little bit on the small side.
There are too many of some poses. Spare officers could make some gun crew. There are probably enough spare drummers and fifers to make up a small military band for some fun.
This gives me a range of small skirmish units for Close Wars in the forest.
I also liked these generic Redcoat / tricorne soldiers endpapers by Peter Spier in his Crash Bang Boom! Picture book (c.1973)
Not sure how much detail of lace or buttons etc I will manage with these 30mm flat figures or how to get that 18th Century Print look. They certainly won’t be the exquisitely painted flats I see online as these plastic flats will be roughing and tumbling on the games table and hopefully out in the garden. They arrived playworn, with engrained mud on some bases so I am glad they have already had a previous play life.
Close Wars usually requires a cluttered forest terrain. Throw in some stylised or stylish trees like the interesting card ones from Bold Frontiers of Australia or the ones on the painting table which are simple paint your own Made of Wood ones, a present bought for me from a local craft shop at Christmas.