Stony Point Battlefield

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I visited Stony Point the weekend before it closed for the season. Lovely autumn weather and leaves. But, mostly, I came for the argument that happened in 1779. It was in all the papers.

Tents and camp equipment. There was a re-enactment scheduled for the following day.

Dioramas, very small scale. I’d have upped the green, less brown, and gone wild with the Woodland Scenics,  it that’s just me.

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A map, based on a period map, but legible. That’s helpful.

It would be wrong not to have photos of weapons. They take away your wargamer’s licence.

And, of course, ee, it’s nice outside. The Hudson Valley at its best.

 

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Fort Montgomery

I decided that, as October ends and the museums close for the winter season soon, I’d visit the local American Revolution sites. I started with Ft. Montgomery, on the Hudson just north of Bear Mountain. It was built by the Americans to cover the Hudson passage, but was assaulted and captured in October 1777. However, the surrender at Saratoga caused the garrison to withdraw to New York.

 

it has a very nice small museum, with some good uniformed mannequins and dioramas. There’s a short film, with cheesy dialogue but excellent work by re-enactors.

 

My favourite display is what I believe to be Keith Richard and Brian Jones in some sort of psychedelic photo shoot.

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I find this British Sergeant to be, well, creepy. He is not allowed within 200 yards of a playground.

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I didn’t wander the actual works on this trip, preferring to watch a very good display of musket drill put on for a high school field trip, then talked with the two interpreters until I had to go.

Swashbuckling Fun!

We continue with the buckling of the swashbuckling. This time we tried En Garde from Osprey, and I set up a dispute between a successful pirate crew, boasting and showing off, and the irate locals. Rather too many since we didn’t know the rules.

We bumbled through a. Few turns, finding it a little on the “that rule makes more sense after we reread it aloud.” We used far too many figures for a first try. The personal combat is clearly of the “My hero against your two ruffians” rather than “my six against your ten.” Our first turns killed everyone who was available for stabbing. We reread it, and there’s more to it. Much more lethal than Flashing Steel, which lacks excitement in that area, although it has excellent parts too.

Dan’s captain was pretty much a superhero, the rules being strongly hierarchical in combat skills. My ruffistood no chance. But kept attacking, keen but inept. Eventually my survivors ran off, as made sense.

There are rules for mounted combat, but here we were all quarreling outside a tavern, like a Saturday night in Glasgow.

We will try it again. Meanwhile, here’s Elmore.

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’A Nobleman’s War’

Sorry for my long absence, due to a trip home to England and general domestic  business rather than lack of activity on the toy soldier front. Much of this has concerned the almost-complete ‘A Gentleman’s War’, which I’ll speak of later. Our friend Matt Rector came up with an idea to backdate AGW into ‘A Nobleman’s War.’ This is a chance to use a lot of medieval figures we hadn’t used in ages. Matt’s idea was to do a medieval game of archetypes, to go with the Shiny Toy Soldier aspects of AGW.

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Knights are bold, and will charge at almost any opportunity. Matt wanted to make them ‘idealized’ knights, despite the reality that late medieval knights usually fought on foot. Likewise archers shoot long distances, sometimes overhead. Crossbows hit at greater impact than other weapons, punching through armour – but crossbows load slowly.

We had a debate about infantry. In AGW regular infantry of the 18th and 19th centuries can usually fight off a cavalry charge, but won’t attack them with cold steel – they shoot at a distance. We decided that close order archers and crossbowmen counted at a minus against cavalry,  but that halberdiers etc could actually attack cavalry under advantageous circumstances. Which, in this case, meant a unit of knights facing the wrong direction after a victorious melee.

 

So, after the first attempt, we’re very encouraged.

 

True Stories 10: Bad Luck and Trouble

Bad Luck

Wargamers are prone to excessive pessimism or the exact opposite. I used to play with a man who had an unnatural fear of bridges, because once he’d been caught in march column crossing one, and been charged with disastrous results. After that, any bridge threatened catastrophe for him.

Howard Fielding has a tale of pessimism.

I played in a game of Pony Wars one time. Never played it since so I don’t know if we used house rules or “straight up”.

Anyway, at one point I was playing some settlers in a wagon train. The referee said 1) you always had to reserve ammo for the “last bullet” to save yourself and the women and children from a “Fate Worst than Death” and 2) you had to roll to see how bad your ammo supply was. (And it always seemed to be bad for the settlers.)

 

So I am running this wagon train in, trying to get to the fort and encounter a large band of Indians. I roll for ammo and it’s pretty bad. So I say: “I shoot the women and children and fire the rest off at the Injuns” (Preparing to go down fighting…)

 

The referee says make a percentile roll and I roll really really extreme – 01 or 99 or 00 (I can’t remember which). He looks it up and says you killed some, including the chief. Then he has me roll again for the Indians morale (or response?) and again I roll an extreme number.

 

And they ran away…”

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Jay Arnold, however, has a story of wargamer optimism in the face of sensible judgement:

Playing 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 with my Tyranids (aliens like in the movie “Aliens”) vs. an Eldar (think Space Elves) force. The Eldar player had a brand new Warp Spider unit he was awfully proud of. At the time, Warp Spiders could warp into an area, shoot with a vicious, but short-ranged attack, and then warp out after shooting.


Well, he warped in front of my prime hand-to-to hand combat unit, the Genestealers, shot, didn’t hit any of my guys and then stayed. Well within charge range of my Genestealers.
He finished his shooting, did his psychic phase and declared he was done with his turn.


“Are you sure?” I asked.


He replied in the affirmative.


My turn. I declared charges. “The Genestealers charge into the Warp Spiders.”


His jaw dropped.


The Genestealers, being basically Cuisinarts on legs, did what they do best. After the slaughter was complete, he lost interest in the game and sulked for the rest of the evening. “

 

Bad luck dice

A Step into the Past.

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I bought a copy of Joseph Morschauser’s “Wargames” in Miniature “ from 1962 – the original rather than John Curry’s recent reprint. $8 at the Historicon flea market. Aside from noticing that the author lived – he died in 1993 – within easy driving distance of me, I was fascinated by the resource materials in the last few pages.

In 1962 the list of toy soldiers, and where to get them, was very short. Traditional 54mms, now increasingly in plastic. Flats from Germany. 30mms from Scruby and SAE. 20mms, which he refers to as ‘tiny’, including those brand new Airfix figures. And we have a list of mostly toy shops, where you could get them. Most are in New York, because that’s where the author lived.

Do you remember when we thought it was absolutely normal to write to people – private individuals – for lists of figures, or places you could buy figures?

 

Star weekly

Musketeers Do What You’d Expect …

I’ve always enjoyed a bit of swashbuckling, although everyone who knows me says I ought to leave it well alone. Since I am forbidden to leave the house with a pair of pistols and a rapier, I restrict this to toy soldiering.

The scenario involved our heroes drinking in a tavern when the sound of Trouble erupted at the other end of town, in the form of More Gunshots than Normal. It’s the C17th, and casual shooting around town is rare. What’s happening is that a group of hired villains is trying to kidnap a traveling duchess, as they do.  A masked nobleman was behind the plot, as they are.

Of course, she needed help.

The town itself was protected, sort-of, by several watchmen. Two of these were dwarfs, brothers. One made every effort to foil the plot, although short legs and unimpressive combat skills hampered his efforts. His brother raced, slowly to his aid. The other watchmen went back to their own tavern. Huh.

The raid failed, between the duchess’ Retainers, the musketeers and the heroic dwarf. Cursing his bad luck and low-rent minions, the kidnapper rode away.