Guess what I’ve been doing!

Here’s a clue …

I finally managed to throw off my recent lethargy … and fought a small wargame!

I used Joseph Morschauser’s basic ‘Frontier’ rules (plus his Roster System) with one major change; I replaced his turn sequence with one that used playing cards. This is a system that I had experimentally used earlier this year, and with a minor change they worked quite well in this battle.

The system works thus:

  • Both sides are allocated a suit colour (British = Red, Mahdists = Black) and the Aces, twos and threes are taken from two packs of standard playing cards to produce the pack of unit activation cards.
  • Two Jokers are also added to the pack.
  • The pack of unit activation cards is thoroughly shuffled, and when the top card is turned over, it determines how many units one of the sides can activate.
  • This continues until a Joker is turned over, at which point the pack is re-shuffled.

This time I also added the four Jacks/Knaves from the one of the packs of cards, and these were used to determine when both side’s artillery units could fire. (In Morschauser’s rules artillery fires at the beginning of each turn. As the unit activation card system does not have ‘turns’ as such, I had to come up with an alternative means to determine when artillery units would fire. In this instance, it seemed to work without a hitch. The artillery units fired about as often as I would have expected had I used Morschauser’s rules ‘as is’.)

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and can hardly wait until I can fight my next battle. As this one only took about fifteen minutes to set up – and that included sorting out and shuffling the pack unit activation cards as well as finding the figures and the terrain cloth – I should be able to do that fairly soon.

As to a battle report about this wargame … well I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to take any more photographs. What I can say is that it was a near-run thing, and the British won … just!


16 Comments on “Guess what I’ve been doing!”

  1. Blaxkleric says:

    Great posting Bob and glad you've found something to reinvigorate your enthusiasm. haven't heard of those rules before but quickly found a 3-page PDF and it looks good. Thanks for sharing and for explaining how your own system works as well. Looking forward to an AAR.

  2. Blaxkleric,

    It was great to actually fight a battle! I had forgotten the fun that I get from solo wargaming … and it was nice to use such simple rules and my unit activation card system.

    I will certainly try to write a battle report for my next wargame.

    All the best,


  3. Excellent to see you gaming again. I am delighted you enjoyed it so much.

  4. Tradgardmastare (Alan),

    It was great to get back into harness so to speak … and I hope that all the other blog readers who have experienced a similar lack of enthusiasm will take heart – and encouragement – from my example.

    All the best,


  5. Jim Duncan,

    Cheers! It was great to fight a wargame again.

    I hope that you manage to do the same as soon as possible.

    All the best,


  6. Fitz-Badger says:

    The one photo looks good. I concur with the others, good to see you having a game and a bit of fun. Sounds like you are finding some good, simple mechanisms. I like simple.

    I will keep reading blogs, like yours, and hopefully will build up inspiration for a time when I am not too tired from work and have the wherewithal to play some games myself.

    Thanks for sharing! It really does help to see reports like yours.

  7. Gonsalvo says:

    Good to see you “back in the saddle” once again!

  8. Prufrock says:

    Always nice when we wargamers actually get to play a game! Hope to hear of more soon.


  9. Fitz-Badger,

    If things are simple – simple rules, simple mechanisms, simple terrain – it makes it so much easier to set up and fight a battle, especially if one is not feeling 100%.

    I hope that you feel up to fighting your own wargames soon; in the meantime, I hope that whatever battle reports I manage to write will keep you amused and enthused.

    All the best,


  10. Gonsalvo,

    I just hope that I manage to retain my enthusiasm and keep wargaming regularly.

    All the best,


  11. Prufrock (Aaron),

    I must admit that it made a pleasant change to fight a wargame rather that to just write about the possibility of doing so.

    Here's to the next one!

    All the best,


  12. arthur1815 says:

    Good to read that you're 'back in the saddle' so to speak and actually playing a wargame! I must give your card activation a try – perhaps to liven up the Thomas OHW rules? – but as I'm tutoring seven days a week, I'm not sure when it will be…
    I alway imagined when I quit the classroom I would have lots of time to wargame… How wrong I was!
    Best wishes,

  13. Arthur1815,

    There is nothing like fighting a wargame – even a small one – to raise ones spirits and remove mental lethargy. I have already begun to think about my next battle, which will hopefully take place later this week.

    When I retired from full-time teaching in 2001 I said that I wouldn't do more than two days per week. This quickly became three days, and when I finally gave up I was teaching five days per week. Funnily enough, when I did manage to retire for good, I seemed to find less time for wargaming!

    All the best,


  14. Sometimes 1 picture is enough, it certainly conveys a sense of tension and drama. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Now if I could just figure out how I apparently lost 10 hours a day when I retired? ..

  15. Ross Mac,

    The Gatling Gun was about to be overrun, after which the two Mahdist units were wiped out by a combination of infantry and artillery fire.

    It was a close run battle, and the Mahdists almost outflanked the British twice, but on each occasion the British line just held.

    It was a thoroughly enjoyable battle … and made me realise how much I had missed fighting wargames.

    It is amazing how the time just seems to slip by when you are retired. I never realised how much I managed to cram into day until I stopped having to do so.

    All the best,


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