Rangers and Forest Indians 54mm skirmish with Bold Frontiers Trees and Rules For Junior Generals

Back in the period of the French Indian Wars / Seven Years War (1750s 1760s) in North America you had Warriors with good bushcraft skills such as the Forest or Woodland Indians and Light Infantry type scouting units such as Rogers Rangers.

Rather than set this in historical America, this scenario is set back in the same period of the 1750s and 60s in North Gondal, one of the Bronte ImagiNations of the North Pacific where we recently set our later 1870s skirmishes between Forest Indians, Redcoats and Loggers.

If that is not to your taste, this is North Generica, a parallel but slightly altered version of North America. So no one can say “That Never Happened” in that way …

Gruber’s Rangers cooking up lunch (hopefully not red squirrel) outside my RoyToys USA log cabin.

As well as trying out a small patrol of my new Gruber’s Rangers, I also wanted to try out the simple Rules for Junior Generals enclosed with my Bold Frontiers (Australia) cardboard tree sets that made up my forest. I was playing both sides, solo play.

I have been recently chatting by email to the trees designer Chris Lynch of Bold Frontiers (Australia) about 54mm gaming, toy soldiers and forest wars. He asked what I thought of these simple starter rules on 3 sides of A5 paper.

There are more complex rules about using the trees for concealment and using markers etc on his website but these Rules for Junior Generals are more akin to simple H G Wells starter rules or simple Featherstone rules to give a basic ruleset for young players, slipped into his attractively packaged historical figure and trees selections and playsets.

This is trying to give young players a step into figure gaming beyond firing at them with Nerf Guns in place of various projectiles such as matchstick firing toy cannons and marbles that we all had as young gamers.

Firstly Chris suggests simple equipment that any school age child might have – two d6 dice, a 30cm ruler and optional protractor.

My Battlefield

This was quickly set up on the dining between meals. It was fairly traditional, made up of large felt pieces over book hills with blue felt strips for stream, grey strips for the road, Bold Frontiers trees, a rocky scatter of slate chippings, twig logs and a coffee stirrer plank bridge alongside a swiftly assembled Roy Toys USA wooden log cabin. Simple enough. A few Lego Friends forest animals mysteriously appeared during the fighting.


Once the trees are placed on the playing surface, Chris suggests an aim for the battle such as building a small ruin out of construction bricks as something that the two sides fight for.

I used my RoyToys ‘build your own’ log cabin as I thought it suited the forest setting. It helps suggest that the Forest Indians are angered by their Sacred Forest being felled to make the cabin and the bridge and overall resent the building of the military road to help supply the soldiers and settlers. An attack on these might discourage settlers and troops.

Once each side had reached half casualties, a d6 morale dice would be thrown – fight on or retreat.

The starting moves

A pony and cart escorted by a Ranger was due to arrive with basic supplies for the Ranger post and then on to settlers beyond.

Repaired or restored Britain’s and others hollowcast Indians led by Big Chief Blue Trousers!

The Forest Indians had to get quite close in to start firing, as befits the fairly forested cover of this area. Any figures hit whilst under cover have a simple d6 savings throw to reflect the protection that this cover affords.

Basic movement ranges are given, Chris’ suggested movement of 15 cms matches the old 6 inch move and is not too big for the average dinner table. My game was set up on the dining table between lunch and tea.

Climbing walls and obstacles also has a simple movement penalty in cms, depending on the size of wall or obstacle of chest height or lower. Again, simple for young gamers to work out.

Line of Sight, sightlines and eyeline are simply outlined, with more detail of arc of sight for each figure also set out (this is where you could use your protractor). I didn’t use this to closely. I simply thought – Could the characters see each other?

The suggested firing ranges in this case for flintlocks, muskets or rifles were not too long, close range being under 30cms and long range beyond 30cms.

Chris’ Rules for Junior Generals mentions inventing dice rolls to solve disputes or unforeseen situations. I added in a d6 dice roll regarding whether the Ranger sentries spotted any Forest Indian movement as they flitted from tree cover to cover closer and closer to the log cabin. A 6 on a d6 would mean the sentry spotted the Indians moving before they opened fire or charged.

Until the Forest Indians opened fire, whilst they were sheltered behind trees, they were classed as concealed. Once firing began, especially with Black Powder, their positions were known. More detailed points about tactics and concealment are made here.

Rather than my usual Close Wars / Featherstone type dice rolls to choose which one side moves first, before the others move, then fires first etc. (IGOYUGO).

Chris instead has a simple approach that each side (or individual) can only do one of these actions in their turn – FIRE, MOVE or FIGHT (Melee). I rolled a simple d6 as suggested to decide which side went first.

The Forest Indians close in on the log cabin and Rangers inside.

Chris suggested that once a side reaches 50% casualties or lower, to roll a d6 to stay on or retreat.

In one late move, about half the surviving Rangers were killed, dropping them rapidly below half numbers, so a morale roll saw the three surviving Ranger slipping quietly away into the forest.

Aerial bird’s eye view of the skirmish casualties including the fierce fighting around and inside the log cabin.

The final paragraph of Fight (Melee) section is a little unclear, possibly a typo or cut and paste paragraph error, as it reprints the ‘firing at figures in cover’ savings throws paragraph, not a mechanism for resolving a Fight / Melee. Instead, I settled melee with a dice roll.

I have to say that my firing dice rolls were generally lousy on both sides throughout the whole game!

The end of the skirmish

Once the last Rangers had slipped away through the trees, the Forest Indians harnessed the pony and cart and stripped the cabin of all its supplies. They carried away their own fallen warriors and also collected the fallen Rangers Flintlock Muskets and ammunition. The Rangers were roughly buried.

Finally the Forest Indians set fire to the log cabin.

Hopefully it would discourage the settlers and soldiers from returning to the Sacred Forests of the Forest Indians. Or would it?

Surviving Forest Indians and their loot. The cabin packs neatly away in its Roy Toy box.
The three surviving Gruber’s Rangers slip away through the Bold Frontiers trees.

Final reflections on Rules for Junior Generals from Bold Frontiers

They prove a good enough starting point for a young gamer wanting a few rules for an Infantry game, without the complications of cavalry or artillery. This makes sense as the current Bold Frontiers playsets do not include cavalry or artillery.

They cover simple mechanisms for moving, shooting, fighting, arc or line of sight, cover savings throws and end of game victory conditions.

They encourage you in the final ‘safety clause’ to create your own rules:

“If you find that your game can be improved or made easier to understand, don’t hesitate to modify and refine the rules. Write down these changes so you don’t forget them. This process can help to improve a game and make it more satisfying and enjoyable to play.”

A licence for a lifetime of rules tinkering begins here!

Chris Lynch mentions on his front page (August 2020):

“We are no  longer selling Armies in Plastic figures by the box.  In the near future, we will begin introducing more comprehensive playsets depicting military and other adventurous themes.  These will include foot figures, cavalry and artillery, and exciting new ranges of scenery such as rocky terrain, tropical jungles, deserts with palm trees, and the scarred battlefields of World War I.  There will also be some economical architectural features to add atmosphere to games with 54mm figures.”

All sounds promising!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 3 August 2020.

Quarter Staff fighting in Sherwood Forest

A quick duelling game, the Bold Frontiers trees and felt streams rearranged quickly to make the log crossing over the stream quarterstaff fight from Robin Hood.

Little John vs. Tuck on the log bridge, Marian vs Will Scarlett in Duelling practice

First off using the Gerard du Gre Duelling rules (via Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming)


Little John versus Friar Tuck

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.

Heroscape markers 1,2,3 are used to keep track of life or melee points / hits.
Little John, big splash! Maid Marin gets a soaking too.

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!

1963 Enid Blyton Tales of Brave Adventure retelling of Robin Hood & Arthur, unknown illustrator

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.

Photo from the toysoldier.co website – still available mint in box

Some interesting variations over the years of Robin Hood figures, including Replicants and LOD figures (still available from Steve Weston Plastic Soldiers). http://plasticsoldiers.co.uk/index.php/period/pirates-robin-hood-ancients/

I also have somewhere in my family collection a 1960s Crescent Friar Tuck from Kellogg’s http://cerealoffers.com/Kelloggs/Cornflakes/1960s/Robin_Hood_Figures/robin_hood_figures.html


Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 29 May 2020

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

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:


This one got away on eBay 2020 – didn’t win but took screenshot as good reference of uniform


A Romantic Walk in The Forest Interrupted

A Romantic Walk in the Forest, Interrupted …

May 25th – it is Memorial Day Weekend in America (thanks VSF for the reminder),

it’s also Geek Pride Day (anniversary of Star Wars, various Sci-fi Discworld and Hitchhiker’s Guide links etc), which we have celebrated here over the last few years:




… which means it’s my Fourth Blogaversary of Man of TIN blog.

Happy Blogaversary to Me! Thanks for reading and all your comments, ideas, interest and support.

What next?

“A Romantic Forest Walk, Interrupted” is the follow up duelling skirmish suggested by Tony Adams after reading my recent Forest Indians vs Redcoats skirmish posted yesterday:


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 it in my opinion.

Previously on duelling skirmishes, some fine blogposts, borrowed rules and entertaining Bartitsu Youtube videos – Suffrajitzu anyone?




Duelling meets Geek Pride Day – image from the former Bartitsu.org website

And Happy Geek Pride Day

“I didn’t choose the Geek Life … the Geek Life chose me.”

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, fourth Blogaversary, 25 May 2020