Peter Laing 15mm WW2 Skirmish

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I wanted in this skirmish games to get a motley collection of Peter Laing 15mm British and German infantry into action, WW2 figures bolstered by late war WW1 British and German Infantry in steel helmets.

I wanted to fight another skirmish over the hex terrain portable game board that  I had laid out for the American Civil War skirmish a few weeks previously.

I also wanted to test out a platoon level infantry scrap with few heavy weapons and almost no vehicles using a mash up of Donald Featherstone’s ‘Close Wars’ appendix rules to his 1962 War Games with a few additions from his simple WW2 rules in that book.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/ww2-platoon-level-close-little-world-wars-rules/

A lucky find of some Peter Laing WW1 / WW2 figures (lots of Sapper figures) amongst a job lot of 15mm WW2 figures of various manufactures gave me just enough for a small platoon level skirmish. Sappers and others  had rifles added by me from finely carved slivers of wooden coffee stirrers.

This gave me a scratch force of British infantry:

Three 5 man sections of pioneers or sappers with rifles and shovels (handy in a scrap!)

1 light mortar team (2 men)

1 Light Machine Gun (Bren Gun) team

1 motorcycle despatch rider

A  light 2pounder anti tank gun team with three men emerge in Turn 5. A spare Bren gunner was also found to join the British several turns in.

Versus a much larger but slightly lightly equipped German infantry group:

A larger infantry force of German infantry consisted of:

Three cycle reconnaissance troops

1 German despatch rider

Five x 5 men rifle squads directed by  1 officer with pistol

1 light machine gun (MG34) team of two men

1 light mortar team of 2 men

Officer and two rifle men

The game was played solo over two evenings with a skirmish figure scale of 1 figure = 1 man.

Arrival of different sections and weapons at a different times and locations was staggered by dice throws d6. The two board(s) being roughly marked with 6 by 6 squares A  to L  and 1-6, arrival of different sections was diced for using 1 d6.

Indirect artillery fire could be plotted in using this grid system and dicing to see which turn this lands but none was used in this game.

The Germans started with their reconnaissance troops (3 rifle equipped bicycle troops) in place at the river crossing and to the North a British 5 man pioneer unit of sappers and officer and the Bren Gun team on the board.

Dice thrown at start of each move to see who moves first, other side second, first side also fire first, other side second – highest score wins first move.

To speed things up, no casualty savings throws were used after Melee.

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Aerial reconnaissance view recording troop positions, end of Turn 2 (see dice)

In Turn 1, Germans moved first and shots were exchanged without casualty between the British motorcyclist and the German cycle troops who were behind the cover of the stone farm walls.

In Turn 2, the British despatch rider was not so lucky!  In turn the first British  rifle volley brings down one German infantryman.

Playing solo, deciding which of the two possible British infantry targets the German troops fire at is decided by dice throw: roll 1 to 3 aim at Bren gun team on left, 4 to 6 at British infantry on right.

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Dismount, aim, fire. Peter Laing 15mm British despatch rider spotted by German bicycle troops (unknown manufacturer, but good fit). Walls from N gauge model railway suppliers.

The terrain is the same portable hex wooden box lid territory as used for the American Civil War skirmish, but with the house location moved and a small wooden hut used instead.

The high rocks and the forest either side of the river are deemed impassable, the river unfordable. This concentrates the efforts into dominating the crossings and the ground between them with all available firepower.

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Peter Laing British WW2 (and a non Peter Laing British officer) fire at the German officer and infantry at the other bridgehead leafing to 1 German infantry  casualty in Turn 2.

 

The Peter Laing WW2 German officer and infantry  with rifles are really WW1 Germans with steel helmets.

Turn 3 sees more infantry on each side appear on the game board. Line of fire is checked with a reversed Lionel Tarr style periscope (from another appendix in Featherstone’s 1962 War Games).

Turn 4 sees the British  move first and a further British  rifle squad appear near where their despatch rider was killed. They close in melee with the German cyclists and two are killed for the loss of one British infantryman.

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Turn 5 sees more German troops emerge onto the board. The German motorcyclist emerges onto the board only to be blocked and killed in melee with three British Infantry.

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One of the British Bren Gun team is hit – I diced quickly to see if another nearby British soldier could help man the gun and it to remain operational. It did and brought down a German infantryman, as did the light field gun. Fortunately for the Germans the British light mortar team is just out of range.

In Turn 6 the German Light Machine Gun MG34 and light mortar teams (each of two men) make it onto the Board at G and J on the German / South side of the river.

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This mortar team in Turn 7 take out one British infantry, whilst melee and rifle fire take out 3 German infantry and 2 further British.

The forest, impassable scrub, rocky ridge and river crossings continue to create safe spaces or bunchings but once the mortars come into action, lobbing their shells over trees and obstacles etc, these safe spaces are no more.

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British 2 man mortar team in the foreground. Turn 9

The British field gun is a board game piece from childhood.

In Turn 8, this gun begins to damage the hut and the Germans inside it. Melee, mortar and rifle fire  brought down 8 German infantry including their officer and 3 British including their officer.

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Turn 9 – stalemate.

By Turn 9 , a stalemate has set in – the British mortar team from behind cover takes out the German Light Machine Gun team. Positions are consolidated. Both sides have lost their officers.

If the German infantry remain in the cover of the hut, they will eventually be killed by the 2 pounder which is just out of rifle range.

The British bridge position is now covered by one British mortar team and two Bren gun teams.

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Sketch map round about Turn 10. British left /west , Germans to the right / east

In Turn 10, the German mortar team move closer towards the British position whilst four German infantry take cover behind the stone wall to give themselves a better field of fire onto the British dominated bridge, should anyone try to cross it. Many of the German and British troops  are now out of sight of each other and out of rifle range.

A lucky ‘counter battery’ hit by the British mortar team on their German rival reduces the last opportunity of the Germans to dislodge their opponents without a fatal rifle charge.

Turn 12 – the German infantry dice to advance or stay put. They stay put but a further German infantryman in the hut is then killed by 2 pounder fire.

By Turn 14, one of the British mortar team is hit crossing the British sector bridge. The last German in the hut retreats over the German bridge behind the stone wall.

Turn 15 – no movement, just British gun and mortar fire.

Turn 16 – The 5 Germans behind the stone wall must decide what to do as they are now within British mortar range. 1-2 Advance, 3-4 Retreat, 5-6 Stay Put. They roll d6 – advance.

3 Germans killed are crossing the bridge under rifle and gun fire; the bridge is destroyed (d6 1-3 destroyed, 4-6 intact). In the return fire, a further British infantryman is hit.

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A view from the German position back down the valley to the British field gun, annoyingly just out of rifle range. The bridge destroyed by field gun fire and the hut damaged by gun fire. Time for those last two German soldiers to slip away out of range and await reinforcements?

Turn 17 – German infantry retreat behind wall out of rifle range, their bridge blown.

The game is at an end, nominally a British victory but  all depends on whose reinforcements turn up first.

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Sheltering behind the rocks: the British position, tucked out of rifle fire range.
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The British final position looking up the valley towards the abandoned German line. Mixed Peter Laing and other 15mm WW2 figures.

Play testing these Close Little World Wars rules

The increasingly dominant force in this game were the heavier weapons – mortars, light machine guns and the light field gun. It would be interesting to play / replay this game at rifle squad level without (some of) these other weapons.

This and the restricted terrain created the shape and the pressures of this solo game.

Posted by Man of TIN blog, October 2016.

 

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WW2 Platoon Level Close Little World Wars rules

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Peter Laing WW1 and WW2 infantry figures.,

 

Close Little (World ) Wars

Recently I have been improvising a WW2 platoon level version of Donald Featherstone’s ‘Close Wars’ rules. These were originally written as an appendix in his book War Games (1962), as suitable rules for 18th Century redcoat versus tribal natives in a cluttered forest or wooded terrain.

I have been looking for very simple platoon level WW2 game rules, suitable for Peter Laing’s limited 15mm WW2 range, which were designed to give “a most satisfactory infantry action game”

Bolt Action they may not be, but it is interesting to look at the background logic, assumptions, simplifications, mechanisms and whys or wherefores involved to make suitable rules and weapons ranges for your style of game.

These simple rules could be used with WW2 infantry action in wooded or cluttered terrain, where vehicles cannot easily  follow such as Normandy ’44 bocage hedged terrain (but without armoured vehicles) or early 1939-40 infantry action, the Bicycle Blitzkreig, the withdrawal to Dunkirk etc.

An Operation Sealion invasion of Britain scenario (1939 /1940/ 1941) is also possible with the few WW2 types that Peter Laing made. (I’m source some of them could double up as The Warmington Home Guard as required.)

Once artillery, heavy machine guns, vehicles and other long range weapons are introduced, the distances and ranges  become too big for the smaller game boards and tabletops I work with.

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Reference to weapons ranges and other scenario rules (buildings, street fighting etc) as situations emerge can be made to the ‘Simple WW2 rules’ that Donald Featherstone includes  in his 1962 book War Games; the Close Wars rules are an appendix to this book (shown at end of blogpost).

Using 20mm plastic figures with a wider range of troop types available gives the possibility of an interesting jungle action of cluttered terrain which could be played with a box of Airfix OO/HO Australian / Gurkha infantry or  US Marines and a box of Japanese infantry. Get those palm trees out to replace the fir trees.

1 figure = 1 man in skirmish rules.

Small numbers, small tables, short actions or games time = my style of usually solo game. 

Aims or Victory Conditions

The aim of each force (as set out in Featherstone’s Close Wars rules) unless otherwise described is:
1. to seek out and destroy their enemy.
2. Alternatively, to get at least 50% of your troops to the opposite enemy baseline

However for each game, you can set your own scenario end or Victory Conditions.

This usually involves fighting to the last man, but occasionally involves rescuing or escorting to safety civilians, stretcher bearers or  secret plans.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

WW2 Peter Laing figures

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/peter-laing-ww2-figures/

WW2 Infantry Movement Rates

Infantry on foot move 6 inches per move or 2 hex / squares.

Uphill  – moves up (opposed or unopposed) hills count as 1 hex / squares or half  rate move e.g. 3 inches.

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Peter Laing 15mm WW1 despatch rider.

Motorised vehicle e.g. motorcycle despatch rider moves 12 inches per move or 4 hex squares off-road (Plus 3 inches / 1 hex on road).  Bicycle moves 12 inches on road / 4 hexes, 9 inches / 3 hexes  offroad.

Stretcher bearers move 1 hex per move. They are not armed.

Difficult Terrain
If deemed passable, fording streams take 3 inches or 1 hex to cross. Fording places or bridges can be marked out.

Bogs and marshes (if deemed passable) at half speed eg 1 hex square per move. Other impassable features you can introduce include marked minefields.

Moves on clear paths or roads (if they exist) have 3 inch extra or 1 hex extra BONUS per move.

Crossing walls, fences etc or other barriers – as required, throw dice 1-3 yes, 4-6 no; takes 1 hex of a move.

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Firing (if range of fire clear)
Range of  LMG  light machine guns (Bren Gun, MG34) – 12 inches or 4 hexes; throw 1 dice for LMG, full score counts as hits.

Rifles have a  range of 12 inches or 4 hexes. Throw one d6 dice per firing man: 6 scores a hit.
If firer is under cover or in buildings, 5 or 6 scores a hit on enemy.
SMG or Submachine Guns (Sten, Tommy, etc)  – 6 inches or 2 hexes; SMG – half dice counts as hits.

Pistols  have under 6 inches or  1 hex range. Throw one d6 dice per firing man: 6 scores a hit. If firer is under cover or in buildings, 5 or 6 scores a hit on enemy

HMG (e.g. Maxim gun) – 18 inches or 6 hexes; Featherstone has a Mitrailleuse rule for ACW throw dice 1 to 3 entitles one dice for hits. 4 to 6 entitles 2 dice for hits.

WW1 / WW2 Maxim / heavy machine guns had an effective firing range of up to 2000 metres (effectively 48 inches or 16 hexes) which is too much for our space.

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Peter Laing 15mm British and German light mortar carriers.

Mortars (2 inch or 50 mm / 60mm)  require 2 man crew – target range from 1  hex to 3 hexes. Burst pattern for 50mm mortar is 3 inches or one hex. Roll d6 – if 3,4,5,6 hit  target hex; all in nominated hex counted as hit.

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Peter Laing German infantry WW1 rifleman, officer, grenade thrower and WW2 machine gunner and light mortar man. (Figures: Man of TIN collection)

Grenades – treat as mortars but with one hex throwing range /burst pattern; all in that square /hex counted as hits. Roll d6 – if 3,4,5,6 – all in nominated hex counted as hit.

Casualty Savings Throws

For each man hit, throw a casualty saving throw.
If fired on, each casualty has a d6 thrown for him. 4,5,6 wounded and carry on. If 123, casualty is  dead.
If casualty under cover, 3,4,5,6 wounded and carry on 1,2,3 dead (except for mortar fire where use above as if not under cover)

You can choose to dispense with casualty savings throws if you wish, after firing and /or Melee. This gives a faster game.

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This handy light gun with Peter Laing crew was an old board game piece from my childhood.

Light Field Artillery

To check line of sight / range of fire, the Lionel Tarr reversed periscope can be used for fun to get you down to table top toy soldier eye level.

2 pounder anti tank gun with crew of 3 (British QF) using Featherstone rules counts as LMG throw 1 dice, full score counts as hits.

2 pdr gun if hit by mortar: 10-12 knocked out, 9 knocked out for 2 moves, 8 knocked out for 3 moves.  Crew? Casualty savings throws.

Taking Turns

Turns consist of four sections:
a) First side moves (possible melee)
b) Other side moves (possible melee)
c) First side fires
d) Other side fires

Throw dice at start of each game turn for each side to see who moves first.

Variations on this include: 1st  side Move, 2nd side Fire , 1st side  Fire, 2nd side  move.

Melee 

This is the ‘Bish Bash Am-Bush’ bit! Assume each man has something to fight at close hand with (pistols, clubs, rifles, bayonets, entrenching tools, fists or boots, etc)

Remember – We are playing 1:1 scale, each figure represents one man.

Melee is joined when one group of figures invades or faces the other square / hex.

You can add +1 to d6 throw for attacking side  (if you choose / remember / can be bothered.) This is what Featherstone calls impetus bonus.

Choose pairs (of attacker vs. defender) and throw 1 d6 for each man involved.
Attacker can have  the + 1 added to their d6 dice throw (if you choose / remember / can be bothered).
Highest score wins, loser can throw casualty saving throw* to see if killed 1-3 or only wounded / unharmed 4-6
Continue until each man has been involved in melee.

“Usual dice saving throws for melee Casualties”  – Donald Featherstone.

* Or not if you want to speed things up. 

Melee Morale Test (if desired / wanted / can be bothered)
At end of melee session, throw d6 for each side to see who wins melee morale test and who loses and retires 1 hex backwards. Some Featherstone versions times the dice by number of each side to come up with a post Melee Morale score.
Then d6 again for losers to see if routed:

Throw 1-3 in rout, unable to fire or move further that round, effectively in modern games terms “pinned”. Roll again next move to see if still routed and retreating. A suitable coloured marker can be added to remember this.
or throw 4-6 in good order, retreat only one pace / hex.

Movement and ranges

The original ‘Close Wars’ appendix rules by Featherstone has a Redcoat Infantry man in the French and Indian Wars travelling at 9 inches in loose formation (under 3 figures) or in formation (over 3 figures) 6 inches in cluttered terrain. Natives carrying less and living off the land etc moved 9 inches.

In cluttered terrain, I assume that a heavily encumbered infantryman in WW2 is still carrying about the same amount of stuff and moving at the same speed as his ancestor in the 18th Century. Hopefully his boots and field rations would have improved though!

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I take each 3 inches to be a Heroscape hex square.

Featherstone has  a ‘Rifle’ range  in his simplified WW2 rules and in Close Wars appendix rules both as 12 inches (which I take to be about 4 hexes) so assuming 500 metres to be 12 inches or 30 centimetres / 300mm, this gives us a rough working scale of a 3 inch hex equals 125 metres.

1 inch equals 42 (41.6) metres

1 centimetre equals 17 metres (or 16.666 metres)

More in our blogpost  Researching WW2 equipment  ranges, matching the limited weapons ranges shown in the Peter Laing range to the rules.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/researching-ww2-equipment-for-rules-and-ranges/

It is possible to scale this set of rules and ranges up to 54mm skirmish games by simply doubling the ranges etc set out above. This would allow the use of 54mm  Airfix, Britain’s Deetail or Pound Store plastic figures; I intend in better weather in future to try these Close Little (World) Wars  rules outside as a garden game fought “on the  beaches and on the landing grounds …” Sorry, on the flower beds and garden terrain. Could be fun!

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The original and best …

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(Mostly) Peter Laing WW2 and WW1 figures in my recent  WW2 skirmish game.

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, October 2016.

 

 

Close Little Space Wars

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They may be Airfix but …Space laser swords and space blaster pistols?  What would Donald Featherstone think?

As a further insult to Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars appendix rules to his 1962 book War Games, I have scaled these up to 54mm and taken them outside to a bigger outer space and another planet, the far off galaxies or planets of Yarden. How will they work out?

Previously on Man of Tin blog we have featured my hexed up version of these Close Wars  rules:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

Rainy day?  Crowded alien planets work quite well on your tabletop (if forced inside by British wet weather) using different borrowed pieces of your Yarden (Yard / Garden). Fake plastic or real plants, rocks, stones etc create a sense of a cluttered planet / terrain etc.

As a child growing up in the 1970s, life changed around about 1977/78 when Star Wars came out as a rival to Airfix, Weebles, Cowboys, toy cars, Knights, Busybodies Etc.

This is primarily a ground troops / infantry based space game without much in the way of space vehicles or larger laser cannons, otherwise the ranges become toooooo big!

Create your own big laser cannon range and dice hit rules as needed.

Imperial (Earth) measurements and Earth GMT time will be used throughout (with Metric for those as likes)

Weapon Ranges

Space Laser blaster pistol – 12″ or 30cms

Space Laser blaster rifle – 24″ or  60 cms

Space laser bow – 12″ or 30 cms

Space Laser swords – melee weapons only. 

Space Laser spears – 6″ or 15 cms

 

Movement ranges

Natives / Aliens / Savages  – 18″ or 45cms

Space Infantry (<4) – 18″ or 45 cms

Space Infantry (groups of 4+) – 12″ or 30cms

Astromech droids 6″ or 15 cms.

Humanoid Robots – 9″ to 12″ 22 to 30cms

Hover Infantry on Space Bikes – 36″ or  90cms

Star Crawler vehicles, lunar buggies – 24″ or 60cms

Usual Melee Rules. Usual hit d6 Dice throws. Featherstone savings throws if you like them.

Add other rules, weapons and characters as you see fit.

Mark up a garden cane with 6″ intervals or use a metal retractable ruler as needed.

Find some knee pads or a garden kneeler if playing outside.

Before you play, some essential research for your Close Little Star Wars:

a) watch movies and TV, from Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica to Flash Gordon (Black and white 1930s) or the colour movie 1980, choose your favourite. Flash, ah-ah! 

b) find some suitable plastic figures, raid the pound store for suitable plastic figures. Read our previous blog posts  and Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog for conversion possibilities.

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Space Marine / Police with laser blaster rifle?

Track down the very scarce 1981  Airfix Space Warriors, they’re now in the V&A museum of childhood collection as toys of their time http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O41122/space-warriors-space-crews-airfix/

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There’s the very odd Britain’s 1980s metal based Star Guards range with vehicles and aliens. There are more recent 54mm Star Wars Command plastic figures that were cheaply available c. £4 a box   in branches of Wilko (2016). Some good deals on the eBay / Amazon / internet too!

Pound store fire fighters and their equipment make good space stuff.

Alternatively you could upscale the rules to use old or new 10″ Star Wars play figures (buy bundles of the more battered ones on EBay) but the fiddly weapons tend to get lost in gardens. The Playskool Heroes Star Wars series for younger children have weapons moulded on.

Hopefully H.G. Wells, father of modern science fiction, would approve of this futuristic version of Little Wars.

Let play commence in a galaxy / planet / garden “far far away …”  in my next blog post.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/in-a-garden-far-far-away/

Posted by Man of TIN blog, September 2016.

 

 

 

 

Close Little Wars: Featherstone’s simplest rules?

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Vintage veteran Airfix figures Redcoats versus Settlers  (Photo / figures: Man of TIN)
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More vintage Airfix desert warriors fight over a desert hexscape. (Photo / game: Man of TIN)

To me, gaming since childhood,  many rule sets look frighteningly both expensive and offputtingly complex what with ‘combat factors’ and worse still,  lots of unfamiliar dice (always a bad sign that there’ll be advanced maths involved).

Airfix have recently launched or franchised a new battle game ‘system’ by Modiphius Games. It looks beautifully produced. You can use your old or new Airfix figures. It uses classic and familiar Airfix box artwork for illustrations. But is it more hidden maths? Is this likely to be as complicated to me as many of those dungeons and dragons rules that  I could never understand as a child? (They also had lots of strange dice, another giveaway).

My Bish Bash Am-Bush ‘Close Wars’ rules
I currently use my adapted version of the simple two page appendix rules for ‘Close Wars’ out of the back of Donald Featherstone’s War Games 1962 book.

This book pictured below is a very old favourite: it’s the original copy from my childhood local branch library, withdrawn from lending and sold to me many years later. Still by my bedside and frequently reread.

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Donald Featherstone, War Games, published by Stanley Paul, 1962.

Simple as Featherstone’s rules are in War Games, these two pages have always been a delight. They make up the core of my own fast quick simple small number of figures game that I can quickly and easily set up and play solo.

“It must be confessed that the question of how to fight a successful action with natives against disciplined troops has yet to be completely solved by the writer.”

This is a gaming problem that Donald Featherstone mentions with several brief solutions on page 58 of his “How to Start a War Game” chapter in War Games (1962). He solves it pretty well in my view in his Close Wars appendix (page 149-150).

A keen Colonial gamer, Featherstone was focussed here on “the type of fighting that happens between small numbers of men in forests, such as in the French and Indian Wars of the late eighteenth century in America” (page 149). Close Wars has many applications to other periods as brutal fighting in forests between organised troops and natives has not changed much since Ancient times.

Look out for future Close Little Wars scenarios and inspirations blogposts.

What do I  like most about the Close Wars rules ?

  1. “Small numbers of men in forests”, possibly large figure sizes

I’ve always liked these simple fast  Bish Bash Am-Bush rules using about 20 to 25 odd figures each side. If rules have figures representing more than 1 figure: 1 man I get brain freeze and lose interest …

With such small numbers, you can also have Close Little Wars games set in many periods with only needing a few figures each side. Alternatively as I usually play Bronte style “imagi-nations”, I often mix the periods up if suitable figures aren’t around; this is not far from the plot of  the 1969 Dr. Who ‘The War Game’ episodes (still available in book, audiobook or DVD form). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Games

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A cluttered terrain of Heroscape hexes and natural materials on a handy portable tray,  set out for 15mm Peter Laing figures. (Photo / game: Man of TIN)

2. “The terrain must be crowded with material

“To play chess one needs a chessboard”, Featherstone writes as his opening to chapter 3, “How to Lay Out a Battlefield”.

After years of raiding and returning natural materials to the  garden and yard for Close Wars terrain, I tried not very successfully making my own interlocking paper hexes (a bit like those “endless landscape” cards from Tobar / Hawkin’s Bazaar). Fiddly and unfulfilling. Much more happily, I then found on Ebay several damaged starter boxes of plastic MB ‘Heroscape’ sets, bought  mostly to acquire the interlocking plastic hex tiles of rock, water, mud (and whatever else you paint them as ).

The starter sets include some useful fantastic / fantasy figures, dragons and usual (to me) incomprehensible rules.  I think this game system bombed in the US and UK, apart from a very very niche cult following, hence the cheap starter sets around. I bought Heroscape partly so that I can build quick 3D landscapes for these Close Wars scenarios.

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3D hex terrain using Heroscape terrain fought over by a mixed bunch of Peter Laing 15mm natives versus redcoats. Photo/ game: Man of TIN

Heroscape is almost a 3D kind of early Minecraft but also combines well with natural materials. You can use the hexes as they come already coloured. Alternatively you can flock them, gravel them with railway ballast or fine beach sand / stones or paint them.

Piled up with garden or hard sourced twig logs, stones, lichen and moss bushes and other impassable features, these Heroscape hexes work really well with even just a small tray or table for a short skirmish. Being hexes, with adapted rules, there is  no need for rulers and measuring inches.

“Fill any bare spaces with pieces of twig to represent fallen logs and trees …” Donald Featherstone.

Using natural materials to enhance the hex boards feels a little like the joy of  Garden Wargames but with the comfort of indoors! A little less fuss about wet weather and creaky knees but still retaining some of the childhood fun of “fight them on the beaches” (sandpit), the “landing grounds” (lawn), the “jungles and forests” (shrubbery and flower beds) of childhood. A bit of dirt, some fresh air and sunshine, all that the childhood gurus want for modern children held prisoner indoors by tiny screens. Maybe Heroscape hexes are the indoor Terrarium or Bottle Garden version of garden wargaming, but it’s not far off the improvised spirit of H.G. Wells’ Floor Games and Little Wars use of real sprigs of bush and hedge trimmings.

I have also rediscovered on Project Gutenberg the original HG Wells Little Wars rules that I read once as a child in reprint and could never borrow again from my local  branch library. It’s charmingly illustrated with line drawings in a suitably childish toy soldier way. Floor Games by Wells is also available on Project Gutenberg.

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Peter Laing 15mm ‘native’ bowmen (really Egyptians) defend the bridge amid a crowded Close Little Wars hex game board. (Photo / game: Man of TIN)

3. Flexible scales and figure sizes 

My version of Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars rules and these interconnecting Heroscape hexes work really well with my original childhood 15mm Peter Laing English Civil War figures. I have been buying up some  EBay oddments of Peter Laing figures, becoming more collectable now that Peter Laing has retired and the moulds vanished. (More on collecting Peter Laing in future blogposts.)

The rules and hexes work equally well with Airfix OO/HO or 1:72 figures.

 

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As I scale up to DIY made ‘cakes of death’ figures (round about an inch high) or 30 to 40mm Prince August and Schneider home cast figures, I shall have to rethink the original Close Wars inches or my hexed up Bish Bash Am-Bush movement and shooting ranges.

Keeping the same inch / hex move and fire ranges for different scale figures  presents some problems. Presumably the bigger the figure, the shorter the time period each hex move represents (if you simplistically keep to the same hex movement ranges) ? This doesn’t solve the firing range problem though.

There are some interesting thoughts on scaling up and down ranges and distances on the Sheil’s USA simple ‘sandpit’ rules for using plastic pound store figures on the Sheil family’s lovely USA Toy Army Men section of their Thor Trains website, adaptable to the garden, beach, sandpit or floor (though even these rapidly become a little complex for me).

You decide what the basic range is. All others are multiples of that range.

The Sheil family “Jersey Shore Battle Games: The Basics”

More on ranges and scales and Sheil family rules etc on a future blogpost The Sheil Sandpit rules seem to be in the spirit of H.G. Wells’ original rules.


And finally …

Close Little Wars, Bish Bash Bush! or Bish Bash Am-Bush!

Rules adapted from ‘Close Wars’ the 2 page Appendix of Donald Featherstone’s War Games (1962) in respectful tribute to Donald Featherstone (1918-2013)

Fast, simple and often fatal rules for small troop action versus ‘natives’ in cluttered bush terrain on a small scale table or hex grid for 15mm and 20mm troops or even outdoors with 54 mm troops in the garden, yard or sand pit.

Suits Cowboys, Indians, Bandits, Pirates, French-Indian wars, Natives and others … Whatever you have …

Especially suitable for solo play.

Donald Featherstone sets out simple aims or what would now be called Victory Conditions:

The aim of each force unless otherwise described is:
1. to seek out and destroy their enemy.
2. Alternatively, to get at least 50% of your troops to the opposite enemy baseline

However for each game, you can set your own scenario end or Victory Conditions. This usually involves fighting to the last man, but occasionally involves rescuing or escorting to safety the Governor General’s Daughter (always the same handy Airfix Wagon Train girl or lady civilian) or the secret plans.

Movement Rates

Natives on foot move 9 inches per move or 3 hex / squares.

Troops in groups of 3 or less also move 9 inches or 3 hex / squares.

Uphill moves count as 2 hex / squares or half a move e.g. 4.5 inches.

Troops in groups of 4 or more move only 6 inches per move or 2 hex / squares. (Uphill moves of 1 hex square).

Difficult Terrain
If deemed passable, Fording streams take 3 inches or 1 hex to cross. Fording places or bridges can be marked out.

Bogs and marshes (if deemed passable) at half speed eg 1 or 2 hex squares.

Moves on clear paths or roads (if they exist) have 3 inch extra or 1 hex extra BONUS.

Firing (if range of fire clear)
Range of rifles and longbows or crossbows (slingshots?) – 12 inches or 4 hexes
Pistols and spears half range – 6 inches or 2 hexes.

Throw one d6 dice per firing man: 6 scores a hit.
If firer is under cover or in buildings, 5 or 6 scores a hit on enemy.

For each man hit, throw a casualty saving throw.
If fired on, each casualty has a d6 thrown for him. 4,5,6 wounded and carry on. If 123, casualty is  deaded.
If casualty under cover, 3,4,5,6 wounded and carry on. 123 deaded.

To check line of sight / range of fire, the Lionel Tarr reversed periscope can be used for fun to get you down to table top toy soldier eye level.

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Periscope from Tiger high street  stores, about £1 to £2.

 

Taking Turns

Turns consist of four sections:
a) First side moves (possible melee)
b) Other side fires.
c) First side fires
d) Other side moves (possible melee)

Throw dice at start of each game turn for each side to see who moves first.

Variations on this include: 1st  side Move, 2nd side Move, 1st side  Fire, 2nd side  Fire.

Melee / Messy Bish Bash Bush bit!
Assume each man has something to fight at close hand with (pistols, clubs, swords, rifles, bayonets, fists or boots, etc)

We are playing 1:1 scale each figure represents one man.

Melee is joined when one group of figures invades or faces the other square / hex.

You can add +1 to d6 throw for attacking side  if you choose / can be bothered. This is what Featherstone calls impetus bonus.

Choose pairs (of attacker vs. defender) and throw 1 d6 for each man involved.
Attacker can have  the + 1 added to their d6 dice throw (if you choose or can be bothered).
Highest score wins, loser throws casualty saving throw to see if killed 1-3 or only wounded / unharmed.
Continue until each man has been involved in melee.

“Usual dice saving throws for melee Casualties”  – Donald Featherstone. Or not if you want to speed things up. 

 

Melee Morale Test (if desired / wanted / can be bothered)
At end of melee session, throw d6 for each side to see who wins melee morale test and who retires 1 hex backwards.
Then d6 again for losers to see if routed:

Throw 1-3 in rout unable to fire or move further that round. Roll again next move to see if still routed and retreating. A suitable coloured marker can be added to remember this.
or throw 4-6 in good order, retreat only one pace / hex.

Not really got round to adding cavalry or cannons yet in this Last of the Mohicans / Robin Hood / Hollywood B Movie cowboy ambush bash up or mash up. 

Featherstone also adds the final paragraph section about attacking troops in the flank or rear that you can choose to use or not. Keep it as simple as you like.

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Ancient warriors rules
If using your Knights,  ancients or partly armoured men, Featherstone (and Tony Bath?) Ancients rules from War Games (1962) had various protection/ survival elements modifying casualty saving throws after firing or melee. Use as you see fit:

If casualty unarmoured and without shield,  throw 6 to live.
If casualty wearing armour or shield, 5 or 6 to live.
If armour and shield, 4,5 or 6 to live.
Unarmoured cavalry 5 or 6 to live (6 saves rider alone).
Armoured cavalry 4, 5 or 6 to live (4 saves rider alone).

Inevitably over time, new troops acquired will need new rules. What about cavalry, if they can operate in such Close Wars terrain? What about artillery? It might be a small forest outpost fort you are defending with your single gun … An artillery train would be near impossible in such cluttered terrain as the British fought over  in America.

Close Wars has many possible small fort scenarios – awaiting the relieving column, escorting a supply wagon, sending out or rescuing a patrol.

Most important rule 
If you’re ever not sure of the rules or what to do next, especially if playing solo: If in doubt about a decision or situation devise a suitable d6 dice throw e.g. Roll 1 to 3,  group retreat to safety, roll 4 to 6 attack nearest enemies.

Another example of a rule that was needed on the spot when troops had some rescued civilians / the Governor General’s daughter with them and were surrounded in a building: If figures are holed up in a building, throw 6 for automatic risking breakout (unless group decide or are ordered to leave). But then do civilians always follow orders? Throw again: 1 to 3 non combatants stay, 4 to 6 non combatants or civilians leave with the troops.

Another example of a “made up dice throw rule” which emerged:
Crossing bridges (or fordable rivers)
Throw d6 for each man, roll 1= Lose footing and  lost in river, to be eaten by crocodiles and piranhas etc; you can use casualty saving throws or not as required.

Officer casualties: If needed to determine an officer casualty amongst group, throw a coloured dice (for officer) amongst X others for correct X number of men. Lowest score loses etc. To be fair, officers don’t have much of a magical morale rule or role  anyway in this Close Little Wars scenario.

Add rules or make them up as needed, play as you go …

Misquoting Miley Cyrus, “This is our house , this is our rules …” and I’m sticking to them for now. Anyway I don’t tend to argue with myself, playing solo.

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I think Stuart Asquith summed it up well when he finished his “Comfortable Wargaming” article: “Note: There are no units, no morale throws” etc. and “no need to spent 30 quid on rules Sets either“. Read his  article (generous free download!) on the Lone Warrior solo wargamers association newsletter website:
http://lonewarriorswa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Comfortable-War-Gaming.pdf

Happy gaming!

Leave your thoughts through the comments pages.

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.