The latest draft of my ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s FRONTIER wargames rules

Having play-tested the latest daft of my ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ wargames rules during my recent mini-campaign, I am now in a position to share it with my regular blog readers.


UNIT TYPES

Click on the table to enlarge it.

Notes:

  • A unit is destroyed and removed from the battlefield when its Strength Value is reduced to 0.
  • No unit’s Combat Power may drop below 1 regardless of other rules.
  • Elite units may increase their Combat Power by 1.
  • Poor quality Infantry or Cavalry units (e.g. Militia) reduce their Combat Power by 1.

TURN SEQUENCE

  • Fire Phase takes place.
  • Both sides throw a D6 die. The side with the highest score (side A) moves first this turn.
  • Side A may activate each of its units that have not fired during the Fire Phase in turn. When a unit is activated it may either:
    • Move or
    • Move and initiate a combat with an enemy unit or
    • Remove barbed wire or
    • Work on the removal of a minefield
    • (An activated unit may not initiate a combat with an enemy unit and then move unless it is an Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit that is moving into an adjacent hex that was occupied by an enemy unit they have just destroyed or forced to retreat.)
  • Once side A has activated all the units it wishes to activate this turn, Side B may activate each of their its units that have not fired during the Fire Phase in turn..
  • Once both sides have activated all the units they wish to activate this turn, the turn has ended and the next turn begins.
  • Before the next turn can commence, both sides check to see if they have reached their Exhaustion Point. A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point may not undertake any aggressive actions during the next and subsequent turns. When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point, the battle ends.

FIRE PHASE

  • Fire is simultaneous; therefore if firing unit is destroyed, it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
  • Assault Guns and Artillery fire within an arc-of-fire that is 120° forward of the direction in which it is facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 60° diagonal line of hexes to the other).
  • Tanks and Armoured Cars have a 360° arc-of-fire.
  • Weapon ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the hexes not the corners).
  • Units may only fire once each turn.
  • Units that fire may not move during the same turn.
  • If an entire enemy unit can be seen from a unit that is firing at it, the fire is direct fire.
  • If an entire enemy unit cannot be seen or it is in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood, the fire is indirect fire.
  • Before it fires, each unit identifies the hex it is firing at. It then throws a D6 die to see where its fire will land:
    • Die score = 1: Fire lands in the hex beyond the target hex (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target hex).
    • Die score = 2: Fire lands in the hex in front of the target hex (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target hex).
    • Die score = 3, 4, 5, or 6: Fire lands on the target hex.
  • If the fire lands in a hex occupied by a friendly unit the opposing side’s commander throws a D6 die to determine the effectiveness of the fire upon that unit (see below).
  • If the fire lands in a hex occupied by an enemy unit a D6 die is thrown to determine the effectiveness of the fire upon that unit (see below).
    • Direct fire: D6 die score = 4, 5 or 6: The unit in the target hex has its Strength Value reduced by 1.
    • Indirect fire: D6 die score = 5 or 6: The unit in the target hex has its Strength Value reduced by 1.

MOVEMENT RULES

  • All movement is measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the hexes not the corners).
  • A unit may only move once each turn. Any unit that has fired during the Fire Phase at the beginning of a turn may not move during that turn.
  • No more than one unit may occupy a hex at any time.
  • A unit may pass through – but not stop in – a hex that is already occupied by a friendly unit.
  • A unit may not move through a hex that is adjacent to a hex occupied by an enemy unit. The moving unit must stop as soon as it enters such a hex (thus ending its movement for that turn), face the enemy unit, and initiate combat with the enemy unit.
  • A unit that is facing or being faced by an enemy unit that is in an adjacent hex at start of its move may break contact with that enemy unit and move away provided that it does not come into contact with any other enemy unit this turn as it breaks contact or after it has broken contact.

COMBAT RULES

  • Combat takes place when a unit ends its move facing an enemy unit that is in an adjacent hex.
  • The unit that has initiated the combat is regarded as being the attacker and the unit they are attacking is regarded as being the defender.
  • Units may only attack once each turn but may defend themselves as often as may be necessary.
  • When a unit moves into contact with the flank or rear of an enemy unit the latter is turned to face to the attacker at once.
  • To determine the outcome of a battle, each unit throws a D6 die and adds the result to their Combat Power:
    • If the resulting amended dice scores are equal, the battle is a draw.
    • If one unit has a higher amended dice score than the other it has won the battle and the losing unit must retreat one hex immediately or reduce its Strength Value by 1. Any unit that is unable to retreat reduces its Strength Value by 2.
    • If a unit throws a 6, the opposing unit’s Strength Value is reduced by 1 even if the opposing unit has won the overall combat.
  • If the unit that did not initiate the combat is destroyed or is forced to retreat and the unit that initiated the combat is an Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit, then that Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit may immediately move into the newly vacated hex. If as a result of that move into the newly vacated hex that Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit comes into contact with the enemy unit that they have just forced to retreat or another enemy unit, the Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit may not attack that enemy unit this turn.
  • No unit’s Combat Power may drop below 1.
  • A defending unit that is in cover (e.g. built-up areas or woods) increases its Combat Power by 1.
  • A defending unit that is in fortifications (e.g. trenches or a fortress) increases its Combat Power by 2.

SPECIAL GROUND COMBAT RULES

Barbed Wire:

  • With the exception of Tank, Armoured Car, and Assault Gun units, a unit must stop as soon as it enters a hex in which there is barbed wire.
  • The unit that has stopped may remove the barbed wire the next time it is activated and must remove it before it can move again.

Built-up areas:

  • A unit must stop as soon as it enters a built-up area.
  • A unit moving through a built-up area has a maximum movement rate of 1 hex per turn.
  • The range of all weapons fired within a built-up area is reduced to 1 hex.
  • A unit that is in a built-up area increases its Combat Power by 1.

Exhaustion Point:

  • Before the battle begins, both sides calculate their Exhaustion Point. This is one third of the side’s total initial Strength Values, rounded up.
  • When a side has lost that proportion of initial Strength Values, it has reached its Exhaustion Point.
  • A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point must immediately stop taking aggressive action (i.e. it will continue to fight to defend its existing position, but will not continue any movement towards the enemy).
  • When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point, the battle ends.

Hills:

  • Infantry and dismounted Cavalry units may move up or down one or two hill contours per turn; all other units may only move up or down one hill contour per turn.
  • A unit that is in a combat an enemy unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Combat Power by 1.
  • A unit that is in a combat an enemy unit that is two hill contours above it reduces its Combat Power by 2.
  • A unit that is in combat against an enemy unit that is one or two hill contours below it increases its Combat Power by 1.

Minefields:

  • A unit may pass through an uncleared minefield, but must throw a D6 die to determine the effect the minefield has upon that unit (see below).
    • D6 die score = 5 or 6: The unit passing through the minefield has its Strength Value reduced by 2.
    • D6 die score = 2, 3, or 4: The unit passing through the minefield has its Strength Value reduced by 1.
  • Each time a unit passes through an uncleared minefield, the D6 die score is reduced by 1.
  • A unit may remove a minefield by staying in an adjacent hex for five consecutive turns. During those five turns the unit may not fire, move, or initiate combat with an enemy unit; they may, however, defend themselves if attacked.
  • The number of turns required to remove a minefield is reduced by one every time:
    • A unit passes through the uncleared minefield or
    • The uncleared minefield is hit by artillery fire.

Rivers:

  • It costs two hexes of movement for a unit to cross a hex with a river in it other than via a bridge.
  • A unit that is in a hex with a river in it and is in combat an enemy unit reduces its Combat Power by 1.
  • Units from opposing sides that are in adjacent hexes with a river between them may be in contact with each other if the attacking side decides that they are.

Roads:

  • Each hex of movement made along an open road (i.e. one that does not pass through a built-up area or wood) by a unit uses up only half a hex of movement.
  • If a unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-hexes of movement are lost.

Woods:

  • A unit must stop as soon as it enters a wood.
  • A unit moving through a wood has a maximum movement rate of 1 hex per turn.
  • The range of all weapons fired within a wood is reduced to 1 hex.
  • A unit that is a wood increases its Combat Power by 1.
Advertisements

A ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s FRONTIER wargames rules … rediscovered!

Back in July 2013 I wrote a ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s FRONTIER wargames rules … but even though I wrote a blog entry about my desire to play-test them, I never actually got around to doing so.

The truth of the matter is that almost as soon as the draft rules were written, Sue and I went on a cruise to the Baltic, and by the time I came back I had forgotten all about both the rules and the promise to play-test them. It was my recent re-fight of ‘The Attack on Morobad‘ that reignited my interest in producing a ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s FRONTIER wargames rules … and it was then that I rediscovered my 2013 draft.

The rules need a bit of tidying up (back in 2013 I got some very useful feedback that I want/need to act on) and once that is done, I will begin play-testing them. Thanks to having read FINLAND AT WAR: THE WINTER WAR 1939-40 by Vesa Nenye with Peter Munter and Toni Wirtanen whilst on our recent cruise, and having watched THE WINTER WAR: THE TRUE STORY OF A BATTLE AGAINST ALL ODDS (or to give it its Finnish title, TALVISOTA) since I got back, I have a mini-campaign in mind that will see hordes of Soviet-style troops attacking a series of border fortifications that are being manned by vastly outnumbered defenders.


A ‘Modern’ version of Joseph Morschauser’s FRONTIER wargames rules
(as drafted in July 2013)

Turn Sequence:

  1. At the start of each turn a playing card tile is picked out of the bag and placed FACE DOWN next to each unit on the tabletop.
  2. The Artillery Fire Phase takes place.
  3. Any artillery units (including AFV units and anti-tank gun units) that fire in the Artillery Fire Phase of the Turn Sequence have their playing card tile removed.
  4. Once the Artillery Fire Phase is completed, the playing card tiles are turned over and units are activated in turn. The order of activation is in ascending numerical/face value and suit order precedence (i.e. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King being the numerical/face values, and Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades the suit order precedence).
  5. When activated a unit can move or move and initiate a battle with an enemy unit. A unit may not initiate a battle with an enemy unit and then move unless it is an AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit that is advancing into a grid square that has been vacated by an enemy unit they have destroyed or forced to retreat.
  6. Once both sides have activated each of their units in turn – subject to any restrictions laid down in the rules – the turn is complete and the next turn can commence.

Artillery:

  • AFV guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Anti-tank guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Mortars: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Infantry guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Mountain artillery: Range = 6 grid squares
  • Light field artillery: Range = 6 grid squares
  • Field artillery: Range = 8 grid squares
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Range = 12 grid squares
  • Artillery fire is simultaneous; therefore if an artillery unit (including an AFV unit or an anti-tank gun unit) is destroyed, it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
  • With the exception of units with turreted AFVs, artillery fires within an arc-of-fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which it is facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
  • Units of turreted AFVs have an arc-of-fire of 360 degrees.
  • Artillery ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the grid squares).
  • Artillery units may only fire once each turn.
  • If an entire unit can be seen from an artillery unit that is firing at it, the artillery fire is direct fire; if an entire unit cannot be seen or it is in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood, the artillery fire is indirect fire. N.B. AFV units and anti-tank gun units may never fire at units they cannot see and therefore never fire indirectly, although enemy units that can be seen but are in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood are treated as if they are being fired at indirectly for the purposes of determining the effectiveness of the AFV units or anti-tank gun fire upon that target unit.
  • Before it fires, each artillery unit identifies the grid square it is firing at. They then throw a D6 die to see where their artillery fire will land:
    • Die score = 5 or 6: Artillery fire lands on the target grid square.
    • Die score = 1: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the left of the target grid square (i.e. at 9 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 2: Artillery fire lands in the grid square beyond the target grid square (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 3: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the right of the target grid square (i.e. at 3 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 4: Artillery fire lands in the grid square before the target grid square (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • N.B. If the firing unit is an AFV unit or anti-tank gun unit, D6 die scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 are regarded as misses and are deemed not to have landed in a grid square.
  • If the artillery fire lands in a grid square occupied by a friendly unit, the opposing side’s commander throws the D6 die to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon that unit (see below).
  • A D6 die is then rolled to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon any unit that is in the grid square in which the artillery fire has landed.
    • Direct artillery fire: 5 or 6: Destroys a unit.
    • Indirect artillery fire: 6: Destroys a unit.

Movement:

  • Infantry: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Cavalry: Move = 2 grid squares
  • AFVs: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Machine guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Anti-tank guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Mortars: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Infantry guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Mountain artillery: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Light field artillery: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Field artillery: Move = 2 grid square
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Move = 1 grid square
  • All movement is measured orthogonally.
  • A unit may only move once each turn. Any artillery unit (including AFV or anti-tank gun units) that has fired during the Artillery Fire Phase at the beginning of this turn may not move.
  • A unit may move through grid squares that are adjacent to the flank or rear of enemy unit providing that the front of its own unit does not face the enemy unit during the move past the enemy unit.
  • A unit may not move through grid squares that are adjacent to the front of an enemy unit. It must stop as soon as it enters a grid square that is adjacent to the front of an enemy unit, face the enemy unit, and end its movement for that turn. If it moves into a grid square that is adjacent to the front of several enemy units it may choose which of the enemy units it will face; it then does battle with that enemy unit.
  • A unit that is facing or being faced by an enemy unit that is in an adjacent grid square at start of its move may break contact with that enemy unit and move away providing that it does not come into contact with any other enemy unit this turn as it breaks contact or after it has broken contact.
  • Infantry and cavalry units may move forward to replace an enemy unit after it has been successfully attacked and destroyed or forced to retreat; other units may not move forward in these circumstances.

Battles:

  • Infantry: Battle Power = 5
  • Cavalry: Battle Power = 5
  • AFVs: Battle Power = 7
  • Machine guns: Battle Power = 6
  • Anti-tank guns: Battle Power = 1
  • Mortars: Battle Power = 1
  • Infantry guns: Battle Power = 1
  • Mountain artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Light field artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Field artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Battles are fought when a unit ends it move facing an enemy unit that is in an adjacent grid square.
  • Units may only attack once each turn but may defend themselves as often as may be necessary.
  • When a unit moves into contact with the flank or rear of an enemy unit the latter is turned to face to the attacker at once.
  • To determine the outcome of a battle, each unit throws a D6 die and adds the result to their Battle Power:
  • If the resulting amended dice scores are equal, the battle is a draw.
  • If one unit has a higher amended dice score than the other, it has won the battle. If the winner threw a 6, the losing unit is destroyed; if not, then the losing unit must retreat one grid square immediately. Any unit that is unable to retreat is destroyed.
  • If the unit that won the battle is an AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit it may move into the newly empty grid square. If this results in that AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit coming into contact with the enemy unit that they have just beaten or another enemy unit, the AFV, infantry, or cavalry may not attack the enemy unit this turn.
  • No unit’s Battle Power may drop below 1.
  • A unit that is in cover (built-up areas, woods) increases its Battle Power by 1.
  • A unit that is in fortifications (trenches, pillboxes) increases its Battle Power by 2.
  • Poor quality infantry or cavalry units (e.g. Militia) reduce their battle Power by 1.

Special Rules:

  • Hills:
    • Infantry units may move up or down one or two hill contours.
    • AFV, cavalry, machine gun, and field artillery units may only move up or down one hill contour.
    • A unit that is battling an enemy unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Battle Power by 1.
    • A unit that is battling an enemy unit that is two hill contours above it reduces its Battle Power by 2.
    • A unit that is battling against an enemy unit that is one or two hill contours below it increases its Battle Power by 1.
  • Roads:
    • Each grid square of movement made along a road by a unit uses up only half a grid square of movement.
    • If a unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-grid squares of movement are lost.
    • Towns and built-up areas count as roads.
  • Rivers:
    • It costs two grid squares of movement for a unit to cross a grid square with a river in it.
    • A unit that is in a grid square with a river in it and is attacking an enemy unit reduces its Battle Power by 1.
    • Units from opposing sides that are in adjacent grid squares with a river between them may be in contact with each other if the attacking side decides that they are.

The Attack on Morobad

I have finally managed to fight my version of ‘The Attack on Morobad’, and here is the battle report.

Note: Special rules for this battle:

  • If a section of wall or a tower receives three direct hits from artillery fire, it is deemed to have been demolished.
  • If two sections of wall are demolished, the Hauserians must take a morale test. If they fail, the Sultan will surrender.
  • The morale test is repeated every time a further section of wall is demolished.
  • If an enemy unit manages to enter the city of Morobad, the Hauserians must take a further morale test. If they fail, the Sultan will surrender.

The forces involved
The British sent an Infantry Brigade to attack the Hauserian capital, Morobad.

The Brigade consisted of:

  • 1st Battalion, The Cambridgeshire Light Infantry Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Essex Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, The Mackay Highlanders
  • A & B Field Batteries, the Regiment of Royal Artillery
  • Machine Gun Battery, The Loyal Kent Regiment

The outnumbered Hauserian defenders were all riflemen armed with slightly obsolete single-shot rifles.


The terrain
The approach to Morobad was across a flat plain that was dotted with clumps of palm trees.

As can be seen, Morobad was surrounded by a considerable wall that the British artillery would have to breach if they were to be able to capture the city.


The battle

Turn 1
The Hauserian defenders were already manning the Great Wall of Morobad …

… as the British approached.

Turn 2
The British force advanced …

Turn 3
… until the artillery was in range of the Great Wall of Morobad.

Turn 4
The fighting began when the two Field Batteries of the Regiment of Royal Artillery opened fire on the Great Wall of Morobad …

… and caused some damage to the corner tower and inflicted a casualty on the defenders. Under cover of the artillery fire, the British infantry continued to advance on the flanks whist those in the centre began to form up into an assault column.

In spite of this growing threat, the Hauserians stayed behind their defences and patiently waited.

Turn 5
The British artillery failed to hit anything of significance with its second salvo …

… and the Mackay Highlanders and the Machine Gun Battery continued to move forward on the British right flank.

Turn 6
The third salvo of British artillery fire hit a section of city’s wall twice, and although no casualties were inflicted, this gave the Hauserians some cause for concern.

Whilst this was happening the Mackay Highlanders and the Machine Gun Battery deployed into line to meet any potential threat from within the city.

Turn 7
A further salvo of British artillery fire hit the same section of city wall for a third time, inflicting a casualty and causing the wall to collapse. It also hit the city’s gateway and caused a further casualty on the defenders.

Stung by this some the Hauserian defenders rushed forward to attack the oncoming British …

… who countered by moving the Royal Essex Regiment forward. Such was the ferocity of the Hauserian attack that the Royal Essex Regiment suffered three casualties!

Turn 8
Because the presence of the foremost Hauserian troops masked the city’s gateway from further artillery fire, the British artillery fired at the corner tower …

… which they hit once, causing further casualties on the defenders.

(The British artillery batteries did not want to risk hitting their own troops if they fired at the Hauserian infantry!)

The infantry melee continued, with the initiative first going to the Hauserians, …

… who wiped out a company of the Royal Essex Regiment, …

… and then to the Cambridgeshire Light Infantry, who attacked one of the Hauserian infantry units from the rear …

… inflicting two casualties on the Hauserians in the process.

The Royal Essex Regiment managed to gain some degree of revenge on the Hauserians when they forced the main attackers to fall back.

Turn 9
The deadly accurate British artillery fire hit the corner tower yet again …

… causing it to collapse and killing all the defenders who were on it.

The initiative in the infantry melee was now firmly in British hands. The Royal Essex Regiment pressed forward, …

… causing further casualties on the Hauserians and forcing them to retreat.

The Cambridgeshire Light Infantry Regiment likewise pressed home their advantage …

… and also inflicted casualties that forced some more of the Hauserians to fall back.

The Hauserians were now faced with an almost total collapse of their morale, and failed to counter-attack the British.

Turn 10
Faced with almost inevitable defeat, the Sultan of Hauser considered surrendering the city of Morobad to the British … but he didn’t.

The British artillery now switched their fire to the walls facing the Mackay Highlanders … and two lucky shots hit adjoining sections of wall, causing casualties on the defenders.

The Hauserians who were outside the walls of the city now withdrew back through the city gateway …

… whilst the British reorganised themselves prior to making their next move.

Turn 11
The British artillery continued to bombard the Great Wall of Morobad, …

… and forced some of the defenders to abandon them for fear of suffering further casualties.

The British began a general advance …

… and the Hauserian defenders prepared to meet them.

Turn 12
Yet again the British artillery fired at the Great Wall of Morobad and hit it in two different places.

Further casualties were inflicted on the defenders, who had now begun to assemble in the open area behind the Great Wall.

The British halted, and waited for the Field Batteries to do more damage to the Great Wall before making their final assault.

Turn 13
The British artillery fired at the Great Wall of Morobad for what they hoped would be the last time … and missed their target with both shells!

Although only two sections of the Great Wall had been demolished, the British infantry surged forward and began their assault.

The fighting was intense, and both sides suffered casualties …

… but eventually numbers prevailed, and the British managed to enter Morobad …

… at which point the Sultan surrendered and ordered his troops to lay down their weapons!

The result
The Sultan was allowed to remain on his throne, as long as he accepted British control of Hauser. As one of the conditions of his acceptance was a sizeable annual annuity, the Sultan was only too keen to accept … although some of his subjects were less happy to have the benefits of European civilisation (i.e. a British garrison, regular and efficient tax collection, and Christian missionaries) thrust upon them. Only time will tell if they will remain acquiescent or not.


I fought this battle after a period of three months during which I had done no actual wargaming … and I thoroughly enjoyed getting troops back onto the tabletop! It also allowed me to fulfil a long-held ambition; to re-fight Joseph Morschauser’s ‘The Attack of Morobad’ wargame using my interpretation of his ‘Frontier’ wargame rules.

Preparing for and fighting this battle has revived my interest in both wargaming in general and Colonial wargaming in particular. It has also left me with a modular fortress that I can use in further wargames, so it has been a ‘win-win’ all around for me!


The Attack on Morobad: A brief introduction

As I explained in a blog entry in late November, after a recent hiatus during which I have not fought any wargames, I gained inspiration – and renewed interest – from a photograph of the attack on the Great Wall of Morobad.

This was a wargame fought by Joseph Morschauser using his gridded wargame rules, and dealt with a British attack on the capital of the Sultanate of Hauser, Morobad. Morschauser described the Sultanate as follows:

French Central Sahara borders the Sultanate … on the west, Italian East Somali borders on the east. Anglo-Sudan is north and British East/Central Somali on the S.E. Directly south of course is the Kingdom of Zulu inhabited by (naturally) Zulu types who have always been friendly to the Hauserians. It’s all imaginary but fun.

I have now completed work on my modular fortress, and can reproduce the Great Wall of Morobad … or at least that section that the British force will attack. I already have written a draft of the rules that I am going to use (my own version of Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ wargame rules), I have plenty of suitable figures to use to represent both the British and the Hauserians, and I now have the terrain; all I need now is a long enough block of time to fight the battle!


Colonial inspiration!

I have been fumbling about for some inspiration for my first tabletop battle in some time … and then I came across some pictures that I had used in a blog entry that I wrote quite some time ago.

The pictures are of one of Joseph Morschauser’s wargames, and they were featured in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE. From the description in an article about his wargame that Joseph Morschauser sent to Donald Featherstone, and which the latter published in WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER: No.66 (September 1967), they appear to show an attack by British troops on the Great Wall of Morobad, which surrounded the city of that name.

These photographs have given me an idea for a scenario, and I hope to use it for my forthcoming wargame.


Looking back

As my work on varnishing and basing my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures progresses, I have been thinking about the rules I am going to use. As a result I looked back to some battles that I fought in late August and early September 2011 using part of this collection … and remembered how much fun I had had.

The battles were set in a South American imagi-nation (Cordeguay) in the period after it had gained independence, and were the result of a civil war fought between the President-for-life, General José Santa Maria, and the leader of the Constitutionalists, General Roberto Branco.

The two armies looked like this:

Presidential Army

  • 1st Presidential Guard Infantry
  • 2nd Presidential Guard Infantry
  • Presidential Guard Foot Artillery
  • 1st Cuirassiers
  • 2nd Cuirassiers
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 2nd Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 3rd Regular Infantry
  • 4th Regular Infantry
  • 5th Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
  • 8th Militia Infantry
  • 9th Militia Infantry
  • 10th Militia Infantry

Constitutional Army

  • English Infantry (British Legion)
  • Scottish Infantry (British Legion)
  • The Rifles (British Legion)
  • British Artillery (British Legion)
  • 1st (Northern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Northern) Cavalry
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 1st (Northern) Artillery
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 1st (Northern) Infantry
  • 2nd (Northern) Infantry
  • 3rd (Northern) Infantry
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry

The first battle was THE BATTLE OF THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIO BLANCO and involved the following forces:

Presidential Army

  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry

Constitutionalist Army

  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry

The battlefield.

The battle ended with the Constitutionalists as marginal victors as they were able to capture and cross the bridge before the Presidential Army could stop them, but were unwilling to pursue the retreating Presidential Army troops.

The second battle was THE BATTLE OF THE CHERRO RICO ROAD and involved the following forces:

Presidential Army

  • 1st Presidential Guard Infantry
  • 2nd Presidential Guard Infantry
  • Presidential Guard Foot Artillery
  • 1st Cuirassiers
  • 2nd Cuirassiers
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 2nd Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 3rd Regular Infantry
  • 4th Regular Infantry
  • 5th Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
  • 8th Militia Infantry
  • 9th Militia Infantry
  • 10th Militia Infantry

Constitutionalist Army

  • English Infantry (British Legion)
  • Scottish Infantry (British Legion)
  • The Rifles (British Legion)
  • British Artillery (British Legion)
  • 1st (Northern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Northern) Cavalry
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 1st (Northern) Artillery
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 1st (Northern) Infantry
  • 2nd (Northern) Infantry
  • 3rd (Northern) Infantry
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry

The battlefield.

This battle resulted in a much more convincing win for the Constitutionalists, but the actual result of the civil war was not known.

The rules that I used to fight these battles were a lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Musket’ and ‘Frontier’ wargames rules … and in retrospect they were fun to use even though the results were a bit extreme at times.


Shades of Morschauser

Despite all my good intentions, I was not able to mount a large play-test of the latest draft of my heavily revised PORTABLE WARGAME: COLONIAL rules yesterday … but I did manage a small skirmish!

It so happened that I found my green 3-inch square gridded felt cloth whilst looking for something else (isn’t that always the way?) and remembered that when Joseph Morschauser had written his original ‘Frontier’ rules, he had used 54mm-scale figures and a 3-inch squared grid. My collection of 54mm-scale Britains American Civil War figures was to hand … so I decided to use them. The resulting battle was a bit different from the one I had planned to fight, but nonetheless it was great fun!


ScenarioTwo small forces of Union and Confederate troops are scouting ahead of the main bodies of their armies. The countryside they are traversing is flat and featureless, and both sides are expecting to run into enemy Units during their reconnaissance.

The Union and Confederate forces are each comprised of four Infantry Units, a Cavalry Unit, and Artillery Unit, and a Command Unit. This means that both sides have a Strength Value of 24 and an Exhaustion Point of 12.

The Union side has been allocated Black as its Unit Activation Card suit colour, and the Confederates have been allocated Red.


The BattleBoth sides advanced with their Cavalry Unit covering one flank and their Artillery Unit the other. Both the Union and Confederate Artillery Units engaged the enemy’s Cavalry Units, and eventually destroyed them, although in the case of the Union Artillery this only happened as a result of the depleted Confederate Cavalry charging them and engaging them in Close Combat.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 3, Red 4, Red 2, Black 3, Black 3, Red 4, Red 4, Joker. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union side threw two of its Infantry Units forward, and they engaged the Confederate line with musketry. In reply, two of the Confederates Infantry Units fired back and then charged forward to engage the Union troops in Close Combat. In both instances both sides suffered casualties but the Confederate troops were forced to withdraw.

The Confederate Artillery Unit also fired at the closest of the Union Infantry Units, but missed their target.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 2, Red 4, Joker. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union troops were unable to make much progress before the Confederates launched a number of further Infantry attacks using musketry followed by Close Combat …

… not all of which were successful.

When the Union troops copied the Confederate example their choice of tactic proved to be costly, and ended up with one of their Infantry Units being destroyed.

At this point the number of Union casualties reached the Exhaustion Point, and the Union troops were no longer permitted to carry out any further offensive actions.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 2, Red 4, Black 4. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union troops continued to suffer casualties …

… but eventually they were able to extricate themselves from the battle and withdraw …

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Red 3, Black 3, Red 3. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The final Unit Activation Card turned over was Black 4. This allowed the Union troops to withdraw.

… leaving the victorious Confederates in possession of the battlefield.


Lessons learntThe main object of this play-test was to see if the revised Close Combat system worked … and it does.

A by-product of this particular play-test was the fact that I now realise that it is quite possible to use the rules with much larger scale figures than I originally intended to use them with (my plan was to use them with 15mm and 20mm-scale figures) … and that playing wargames with traditional toy soldiers can be great fun. As I have quite a collection of them, I can foresee using them in PORTABLE WARGAME battles as well as in FUNNY LITTLE WARS wargames.