At The Old Toy Soldier Show


A couple of times a year I attend old toy soldier shows. This is a world that has a hard core audience, mostly older, a good part of it nostalgia-based. It tends to advertise by post cards rather than the internet.

Lots of old 54mm Britain’s and later models in the same style. Some American dime store toys, occasionally French and German figures. Lots of plastics, especially Marx.

Not a lot of customers though, which worries me. Someone blamed it on the state of the parking area, which seemed unlikely. Nobody drives to a show and abandons the effort because there’s construction work behind the venue.

Britain’s plastic hospital, which I’d never seen before. Plastic, expensive, that’s all I know.


I bought some books, some smaller than 54mm Herald highland pipers I hope will look okay with my 42mms, and these wonderful c19th German flats, for $20 the set. Flats aren’t big with this crowd, so I got a bargain.


‘A Gentleman’s War’ skirmish, with angry nuns.


There had been some discussion about a ‘skirmish level’ version of ‘A Gentleman’s War.’ So, last week we tried it, with a single unit of 12 French infantry and a cantiniere defending a cemetery against twice as many Russians.

The Russians, nominally led by the company officers, were actually commanded by a tiny but irascible Orthodox nun. It was her harangue that inspired  the bayonet charge that cleared the French out of the cemetery.

This  week we went to Dan’s house for a bigger game, a thoroughly bloody event in which almost everyone was killed. At least, it seemed that way. My highlight was when my artillery piece was charged by Spanish infantry. I ha theee dice. I need a 3+ to hit. I could blow this attack to smithereens. I rolled all ones and twos. Well, huh.

The rules. Right. We wanted to leave as much ‘as is’ as we could. Here are the differences.

The unit, which we’ve always been vague about anyway, is much smaller. It’s not necessary 1/1 scale, but something under 1/10. The unit might be a platoon, or a small company.

A Court card activates your whole force, a number card one group of figures.

You can break down a unit into as many groups as you like. However, once you’ve done that, each requires it own card to activate.

Each officer figure is treated as a general, with all those particular rules applied.

Long range for shooting is anywhere on the board, but short range is 12” for muskets or rifles, because we aren’t making those distinctions.

A saving throw failure of 1-2 means the figure is dead, and placed face down. Above that (but still failing) it’s wounded, face up. It may return.

On a joker, aside from everything else, roll for wounded men. 1-2 they die, 3-4 remain in wounded state, 5-6 jump up and rejoin unit. +1 if medic, nurse or cantiniere with unit.

We will be working on this.

A Gentleman’s War goes to New Jersey


Matt Rector and I ran a large, well-received game at NJCon yesterday. I won’t give you a blow by blow account, except to say that at two hours the French had won, at two and a half suddenly they had not, and at three, finally, they had. Don’t assume that because you have units across a bridge, the bridge is yours!

The French form up to attack.

The British do the same, with cavalry on their left.

And then they went at it!

‘A Gentleman’s War’ at Cold Wars


It’s been a couple of weeks, and I still haven’t written this up. At Cold Wars I put on a ten player game of A Gentleman’s War, set in the late American Disturbances, using the now famous comic book flat armies. It was based on no actual battle or OB, but featured far too much cavalry and too many native warriors,  cardboard building from the 70s, flat wooden trees and an absurd Kelly green cloth.

The players were broken up into pairs, five Redcoats and five Rebels, each pair sharing a deck of cards for activation. It doesn’t matter where other players are in their own turn sequence as long as the two matched players follow the fall of cards in their own deck. A couple of times in this game, one player found himself under attack by not merely his direct opponent, but the player next to him.

The British player in the centre rashly attacked at what must be regarded as uphill odds, which meant that, after this early failure, he spent the rest of the game desperately fending off an overwhelming number of irate colonial fellows. The Hessians to his right, despite gallant efforts, failed to clear away the American left flank, and mostly seem to have decided to desert in favour of farming in Pennsylvania.

On the far flank everything went very well for the forces of the Crown, the Americans falling back outnumbered. Gallant cavalry charged in ways that would surprise a student of the campaign.

After a couple of hours of conflict, it was clear that each side had won on one flank. A sudden rainstorm, courtesy of a random ‘What Luck’ card, was taken as reason to call the game, both sides write home of their great victory.

Few  of the players had payed AGW before, but all seemed to pick it up quickly — it’s fast and simple — and the multiple decks of cards meant the whole thing moved along at a fast clip.

I think everyone enjoyed it, which is all I can hope for.

you can get paperback copies of the rules at

while a pdf version, and the cards, can be found here:


“A Gentleman’s War” released!


Our shiny toy soldier game, ‘A Gentleman’s War’ is now available. In a collaborative arrangement between Pulp Action Library (which is Roderick Robertson and myself) and Vince Rospond at Winged Hussar,  we offer the rules as either paperback or pdf. The pdf includes the ‘What Luck!’  and Cameo Role cards, which are available separately, either pre printed or for downloading.

For the paperback:

Why yes, you want a copy…




Back to the Revolution!


For the monthly game evening at our local game shop, Toy Wiz in Nanuet NY, Dan set up the battle of White Plains, just across the river from us. I suspect that the terrain no longer looks like 1776. Dan brought everything except for my test copy of ‘A Gentleman’s War’ and some dice and counters.


He used a rather nice game mat and had everything set up by the time I arrived. I chose to be the Americans, on the grounds that they were mostly militia, and if I lost it would not be my fault. We did decide that there were two regular Continental units, from Connecticut and New York, who could at least be rated as vanilla average. Not really an elite force.

The cards ran Dan’s way at first, and he advanced boldly. Okay, not too boldly. There was a lot of shooting, in a not very lethal way. Yet. I had three very good hold cards, but nowhere worth using them for now. Why waste a king?

The first of these photos shows the first volley of my 3rd NY regiment. Hoping for sixes. Do you see any sixes?

when Dan charged my militia unit at the fence line it did what you’d expect, and ran away. A second unit, advancing to fill the gap, also ran away when charged. In fairness, Dan had dropped the ‘ate green apples’ random card on it, and it didn’t feel well at all. In fact, on a D6 roll, it scored a modified 0.

Things got better for a while. I plugged the gap and shot at    Dan’s lead units, whittling them away. A Hessian unit charged uphill against the 3rd NY, rolled terribly as the New Yorkers rolled well, and was destroyed. In a fit of excitement, however, the N.Y. unit charged downhill into the supporting Hessian grenadiers, and took almost 50% losses from a very effective volley. Then the melee went about as you’d expect. Oh.

… and that was it. Nine units a side, two hours, lots of chatting with friendly gamers who came to see what we were doing. Good game!