Thursday, 31 March 2011

Polemos: The search produces results!

The search for more details about POLEMOS has seemingly developed a life of its own, with numerous emails flying about between interested parties, including some of the staff of RUSI (the Royal United Services Institute).

John Bassett – another stalwart member of Wargame Developments and an Associate Fellow of RUSI – has been doing some research, and found an abstract from the eighth international colloquium of the International Society for Board Game Studies, which was held at Oxford in 2005. The abstract is from a paper about JAQUES BOARD GAMES, 1850-1900 by Richard Ballam. It states that:
In 1885 Polemos (second edition) was played at the Royal United Service Institution and awarded a prize medal at the International Inventions Exhibition.
He has also found some excellent photographs of what appears to be a complete POLEMOS game on THE GAMES BOARD website.

Nick Huband has also been pursuing his researches into POLEMOS and found an article from THE TIMES that was seemingly reprinted in a New Zealand newspaper, dated 1885. The article states that:
Under the name of Polemos, a new war game has been invented, and was exhibited at the offices of the United Services Gazette, the other day. It may be described as a kind of military chess, and can be played on a dining table on which is spread a cloth which is marked off in two-inch squares and representing a battlefield ten miles by five. The "pieces" are made of lead, and represent each arm of the service. The players have each an equal number of pieces, and reserves in boxes, and a very instructive game may be played by two or more players. In the game just played no obstructions like rivers, bridges, hills or forests were used, but the inventor explained that these can be added when desired, so as to represent with tolerable accuracy a real battlefield. The moves are sufficiently simple to enable young officers to play the game with very little practice, and the combinations often become sufficiently intricate to interest even field officers. The Mechanics Institute should at once send home an order for a complete outfit for the game of Polemos.
It appears that a Lt.-Col. G.J.R. Glünicke – the author of THE CAMPAIGN IN BOHEMIA 1866 and THE NEW GERMAN FIELD EXERCISE – was also the author of the wargame.

I have also not been idle, and found the following article in a copy of the OTAGO DAILY TIMES of 1899. It states that:
A new wargame called “Polemos” has been invented by Dr Griffith, of Brighton. A sheet, divided into inch squares by red lines, is spread on a table, each inch square representing 440 yards. Under this are built up hills or downs; roads, rivers, woods, enclosed grounds, bridges, but not ravines or valleys, are laid out from a map or from fancy, so that the nature of the terrain can be varied illimitably. Towns or villages are represented, and all arms of the service are shown by little coloured leaden blocks. A curtain hides one side of the sheet from the officer commanding the other. He makes his dispositions in secrecy, but is allowed to see a mile and a-half into his enemy’s lines, unless he gains the top of a hill, when he may see three miles. When the troops come into contact gains or losses are claimed by this side or that, and the umpire awards them, although an umpire is not necessary as at the ordinary war game. In fact, the game decides itself. There is no element of chance in it. A move has its consequences, as at chess and in actual warfare. There would seem to be, in a word, as endless an opportunity of combination as in a real campaign. But the objection made to the war game has been applied to Polemos. It is more apt to teach strategy than tactics, and minor tactics scarcely enter into it. At the same time it lends itself to dash, decision, “nerve”, as well as caution, foresight, and the calculation of consequences. The maps in a war game have to be in triplicate, or, at the lowest, in duplicate. A model necessarily occupies a great deal of space. Polemos can be played on an ordinary dining table. The whole apparatus is packed in a box 18in by 12, by about 10in, and it costs only £4 15s. It has, it is stated, been adopted at the Cadet College of Prussia. The game seems to be best played by two persons, but it would be more useful if played by three a side – one to plan, one to execute the movements, and one to learn the moves and the rules, so as to be able without further instruction to take his side in playing the game on some other occasion. Since the game was shown at the Royal Military Exhibition at Chelsea the rules have been much improved.
This article seems to be describing a war game with the same name as that produce by Jaques of London, but it may be a later derivation or possibly even a competitor.

All-in-all, the more I find out about POLEMOS the more my interest grows, especially as my own original portable wargame bears a passing resemblance to that featured in the photographs John Bassett has unearthed.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

In search of Polemos ...

Yesterday Nick Huband (whose excellent Battle of Homs play-test of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules was featured in a recent blog entry) sent me a scanned image of an illustration from a copy an ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS published in November 1888. It showed several distinguished looking gentlemen (two of whom are very obviously military officers) playing a wargame on a gridded battlefield.

The game was called POLEMOS, and apparently it featured in a tournament played at RUSI (the Royal United Service Institute) in 1885. Further research has indicated that the game was commercially produced by Jaques, a company that still exists today and that specialises in high-quality indoor and outdoor games.

I am very interested to know more about this game, and I have contacted Jaques to find out if they can supply any further details. In the meantime I understand that Nick Huband has been in contact with RUSI, and they are also interested in find out more about this 'lost' wargame.

More news as and when it comes in ...

PS. As far as I know, the rules used to play the Jaques wargame POLEMOS are not the same as the POLEMOS wargame rules produced by Baccus6mm.

The portable wargame: Progress at last!

Last night I was actually able to spend half an hour redrafting the nineteenth century version of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules so that they are easier to understand and incorporate some of the ideas and mechanisms that were in the twentieth century version of the rules.

At the current rate, this task is going to take me several evenings to complete, and visits to both my father and father-in-law are going to seriously eat into the time that is available … but at least I have made a start!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Back on the road again …

Last night my wife and I visited my father-in-law in hospital. It appears that the fracture in his pelvis is likely to heal within five to six weeks and that he should be able to return home before then.

At work, the dreaded NSS is now finally completed, and the paperwork and marked scripts are on their way to the external verifier by courier. I understand that letters have been sent to all teachers who’s January AS and A2 examination results were below par, and that have been warned that the courses that they teach may be downgraded or removed from next year’s curriculum offer. This is no doubt a foretaste of what is to come, and the situation will become clearer after the Principal talks to the whole staff at a special staff meeting on Thursday after school ends.

I am now looking forward to what I hope will be a bit more free time in the run-up to Easter. The school’s Easter holidays start on Friday 8th April and the last day is Monday 25th April, and I can hardly wait for the break. I have lots of things that I want to do during that fortnight … including some wargaming!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Things can only get better ... I hope!

I was just about to leave work this evening to visit my father-in-law in hospital in Ashford when I was summoned to a very late notice faculty meeting. The only item on the agenda was the impact of the recent January AS and A2 examination results upon the future of the school. It appears that the Principal is under pressure to make significant changes, and the examination results are going to play a major part in the academic review that the senior management team is currently undertaking. It looks as if some existing courses - and therefore the staff who teach them - are very likely to be 'chopped' in the very near future.

Having heard that my job may well be on the line, I went home, picked my wife up, and drove to Ashford to see my father-in-law ... who seems to be feeling a bit better today. It was nice to hear some good news, and things got even better when I opened my post and found that a DVD of CALLAN - WET JOB had been delivered. This was a one-off TV programme that was produced in 1981, and it was the last appearance Edward Woodward made as David Callan. Although Callan has retired from 'The Section', has a new identity, and is now running a militaria shop, he is recalled by 'Hunter' (the head of 'The Section') to undertake one last job.

I am looking forward to watching this DVD in the near future ... and if the Principal does 'cull' the staff, I may have plenty of time to do so.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Caught out by British Summer Time!

I have a lot of things that I planned to do today, and I set my alarm to wake me up early to make sure I had plenty of time to do what I had to do and to give me some time to do things that I wanted to do ... but I forgot that British Summer Time started last night and that the clocks went forward an hour!

I cannot ever remember this happening to me before, and it probably shows how much recent events have 'thrown' me out of kilter. So rather than spend some time this morning writing the new draft of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules, I am off to do some of the things I have to do.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The London Toy Soldier Show

When I was told about this show by Tim Gow earlier in the week, I had planned to go along in the hope that I could buy enough 54mm figures to form an infantry unit for my LITTLE WARS project ... and then real life intervened and my plans were put on hold. This morning my wife told me that she thought that I needed a break and that it would do me good to go to the Toy Soldier Show ... so I did!

The show was held at the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, and was organised by King and County. Although I was only able to stay for just over an hour, Tim Gow – who was working on one of the stands – sold me enough figures to form my first LITTLE WARS infantry unit, and we were able to have a coffee in a nearby café with my nephew Jonathan, who is currently a student of Chinese and Tibetan at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies).

I enjoyed my visit to this show, and I will try to go to the next one when it takes place. I got lots of inspiration for my project ... and all I need to do now to begin work on it is to paint the figures I have bought.

The portable wargame: Another play-tester!

In the midst of dealing with my father-in-law's fall and subsequent stay in hospital, I almost missed reading an email from an old friend and fellow member of Wargame Developments – Nick Huband – about his play-test of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules. The following part of his email is reproduced with his permission:
'I've been following your chessboard wargames with a great deal of interest, there's a peculiar charm about a game in such a small space, reminiscent of a miniature painting.

Anyway, coming to the point, I dug out a piece of mdf that was 450mm square, sprayed it up and gridded it. Last night I tried out your Frontier/Musket rules with my 1839 Turks & Egyptians using a scenario loosely based on the Battle of Homs in 1832.

The game ran well and the rules were quite clear. One thing that struck me was that combat was very bloody with the cavalry on both sides pretty well wiping each other out early on. Artillery was pretty lethal too. I was wondering whether the introduction of some sort of saving throw might ease this a little. If 5 or 6 was thrown for a unit under fire or a 4, 5 or 6 for a unit in close combat then the unit is not destroyed but is pushed back one square, possibly with a loss in combat power next turn?
'
Nick has made some interesting observations, and I will give his suggestions some thought, although the ideas I am currently working on will – I think – deal with the problems he has identified.

Besides his email, he also sent me some photographs of his battle, and I have reproduced them below with his permission.

I must admit that the board that he has made does make the whole thing look much more like a wargame, and is very much in keeping with the game's Morschauser 'roots'.

I like driving in my car ...

Over the last few days I seem to have spent a large part of my time driving round the county of Kent. I have been to Herne Bay four times, Ashford twice, and Maidstone and Rochester once each.

Yesterday my wife and I went to Herne Bay to collect some personal bits and pieces that my father-in-law needs whilst he remains in hospital. We also spent several hours cleaning and tidying up his house. When my father-in-law fell over, he was carrying a full mug of hot drinking chocolate which seems to have gone everywhere when he fell, and which had dried hard on the floor and walls. He had also bled from several cuts and abrasions, and the dried blood stains also required quite a lot of work to remove them.

We finally got to Ashford to visit my father-in-law in hospital, only to find that he was having a CT scan. We had to wait for an hour before he returned to his bed space, but despite the pain and discomfort he was in, he was well enough to complain about the food!

The diagnosis is that he has a small fracture in his hip that should heal without the need for surgery. He will have to undergo physiotherapy to help him recover from his accident, and the staff are going to undertake a care assessment on Monday to determine what level of support he will need when he returns home. He also has a chest infection that they are treating with antibiotics.

My wife and I are going to visit him again this afternoon. Although he is the oldest person in his hospital ward, he is the most alert and mentally active and we think that as long as he stays like that, his recovery should be quite swift.

PS. For those of you who did not recognise it, the title for this blog entry comes from a song recorded by the band 'Madness'. It seemed appropriate as it describes the way my life seems to be at the moment!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates …

If Forrest Gump was correct, my wife and I seem to be getting all hard centres and unpopular flavours at the moment.

After taking my father-in-law to the funeral of his lady friend on Wednesday, we went back to her son’s house for several hours. My father-in-law was quite upset by the funeral, and when he was ready to leave, we took him home to Herne Bay. Normally we would then have stayed with him to make sure that he was all right, but he made it very obvious that he wanted to be alone, so we left and went home.

On Thursday evening, after she had returned home from work, my wife tried to telephone her father several times to find out how he was … and got no reply. By the time I got home, she was growing increasingly concerned. She finally made contact just after 6.00pm … and discovered that he had fallen over within thirty minutes of us leaving on Wednesday, had spent some time on the kitchen floor before being able to drag himself into his bedroom and on to his bed, and that he was now sitting in his armchair in his living room, unable to move. By 6.15pm we were driving to his house, and by 7.15pm we were there and had insisted that we call an ambulance to take him to hospital.

The ambulance arrived very promptly, and after he was assessed by the paramedic, they arranged for him to be taken to hospital. This was, however, not as straight forward as it should have been. The nearest Accident and Emergency centre is at Margate, but they had no beds available if he needed to be kept in overnight. The next nearest hospital – the Kent and Canterbury – did not have the facilities to deal with his sort of injury, so in the end we were sent to Ashford.

My wife went with her father in the ambulance, and in the words of the song ‘I followed on’. Once we got to Ashford, my father-in-law was whisked into the Accident and Emergency Department, whilst my wife and I were delayed trying to find enough money to pay for the visitor’s car park!

We finally found my father-in-law in the Accident and Emergency Department, where he waited for some time before he was given an initial assessment. He was then sent for an x-ray on his hip, and when the doctor had examined both my father-in-law and the x-ray, he announced that the hip was fractured. He also expressed concern that my father-in-law may have picked up a secondary chest infection during the previous night whilst he had been incapacitated on the floor for some hours, and he was sent for further x-rays. He was finally admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay – just after midnight – so that further tests could be carried out and a full assessment of his needs be made. We then drove home … and once there we both collapsed into a deep and dreamless sleep.

My wife and I are now preparing to set off for the hospital to find out how my father-in-law is feeling today, and to begin the process of sorting out what will happen next.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring a soft-centre … but somehow, I doubt it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A brief respite from work ...

Well I finally finished the last piece of the paperwork I needed to complete for the dreaded NSS at about 5.30pm last night, and then managed to wend my way over the Cheshunt, Hertfordshire to meet some good friends for an evening of convivial chat and – in my case – non-alcoholic drink.

It was just the sort of morale boost I needed … and the drive home gave me time to think about the changes I might need to make to the next draft of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

I am not at work today as I am going to the funeral of my father-in-law’s lady friend. Because he cannot drive, my wife and I have to go to Herne Bay, Kent to pick him up, then take him to Maidstone for the funeral, and then home again.

This is going to take up most of the day and means that I will not be able to host the annual ‘Do The Right Thing’ awards ceremony at Eltham Palace this evening as I have done for several years past. This awards ceremony is organised by the Greenwich Education-Business Partnership and sponsored by Canary Wharf Contractors, and it recognises the many and varied achievements of young people in the local area. What I like about the ceremony is that it is a much needed reminder that most young people are intrinsically good, honest, and willing to make sacrifices for others … and are very unlike the youngsters that the media so often portrays as the norm.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Portable Wargame goes larger!

One of the original parameters for my portable wargame was that it should be able to function within the constraints of a chessboard grid (i.e. a grid that was eight squares by eight squares). Since then, things have moved on.

Ross Mac has been experimenting very successfully with grids with more that sixty four squares and Joseph Morschauser's original rules were designed for a twelve by twelve grid. So it is inevitable that I should look at redrafting THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules to reflect this ... and I hope to begin doing this sometime within the next week, with the hope of having the draft ready to play-test before the Easter holidays.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The portable wargame is now ... The Portable Wargame

In my reverie as I sit here at my computer, idly whiling away a few minutes of time that are not filled with work or the cares of the daily world, my thoughts have turned to my portable wargame rules … or as I now call them, my Portable Wargame rules (note the use of the capital letters; the name has moved from a mere description to become their working title).

Portable has more than one meaning. Most people understand it to mean ‘easily or conveniently transported’, and this was the original meaning I had in mind when I started its design process but … some years ago I used to teach Information Technology (i.e. using and developing computer applications), and in that world portable – more precisely portability – means ‘ the degree to which a program can be transferred from one operating system to another without too much disruption and/or loss of functionality’.

Now wargames rules have a lot in common with computer programs, and it has become apparent that the basic architecture and mechanisms that I have used and/or developed for my portable wargame are capable of being transferred from their original historical period to another without too many problems and/or loss of functionality. The work that Ross Mac and I have written blog entries about over the past few months has shown that to be true, hence the change from 'the portable wargame' to 'The Portable Wargame'.

PS. You might have noticed that the label has always identified it thus ... but that was its choice, not mine!

On the downhill slope ... I hope!

I finally seem to be on the downhill slope of this part of the dreaded NSS. All I have to do now is finish the last bit of paperwork, and then I can hand my marked and assessed sample work over to the internal verifier to do their bit. Assuming that they do not find anything drastically wrong with it, I will then be able to concentrate on acting as internal verifier for the work marked and assessed by another of my colleagues.

I must admit that I have found the NSS process a lot harder than in previous years. I am not sure why. It might be something to do with the fact that the group that I have taught – and whose work I have marked and assessed this year – has some 'challenging' students ... but I have had far more 'challenging' students in the past and not felt like this. Maybe it is the culmination of the build-up to the Ofsted inspection and all the extra work that it generated has just left me feeling very dispirited and tired. It could also be the domestic trials and tribulations my wife and I have had to face over the past few months dealing with our respective fathers. Or most likely, it is a combination of all of these factors and the fact that I am no longer as young as I think I am.

I look forward to the day when I no longer have to get up and go to work. With a bit of luck, that day should not be too soon a coming!

Ah! Halcyon days!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It has been a long, hard slog ... and I have still not finished!

I have spent most of yesterday and today trying to make sense of some of the work my students have given me before it goes of to the internal verifier for checking. It has been a very long and very hard slog ... and I still have another one to do.

It will not get done today.

I am now physically and mentally exhausted, and my eyes are aching from staring at scripts, spreadsheets, and presentations, some of them are quite good, but many of them need more work before they are of an acceptable standard. I have annotated suggested improvements and changes, and hopefully the students will act on what I have written before presenting their work for final assessment ... but I doubt it. For them, working for more than thirty minutes without a break for a drink, a text message, a phone call on their mobile, or a computer game is not just unthinkable, it is unimaginable. They will think that what I have done this weekend is totally mad ... and I am beginning to think that they are probably right!

I am also very fed up reading what young people think passes for written English. Sentences without any form of punctuation seem to be the norm, as does a total reliance on predictive spell-checkers. The latter has led to some interesting mistakes which can make the meaning of a whole sentence the exact opposite of what the writer intended. My biggest bugbear is, however, the transposition of ‘borrow’ and ‘lend’, which when you are writing about banks financing a business can lead to some odd results. Examples include ‘The bank can borrow the business money’ (i.e. ‘The bank can lend the business money’) and ‘The business can lend off the payment from their investors’ (i.e. ‘The business can borrow the money for the payment from their investors’).

I am now going off for a drink and a well-earned rest. I need to be properly rested before I go back to work tomorrow ... but I doubt if I will be!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Work ... and still more work

I have managed to take a short break from my work on the NSS, and I have specially made time to read all of Ross Mac's thoughts about the way he is developing his own version of my rules for my portable wargame.

I think that many of his ideas are not only excellent but improve upon my original rules. I will probably 'steal' some of his ideas ... with his permission, I hope.

In the meantime, it is now time to get back to the NSS. Hopefully I will manage to make some time tomorrow to do some wargame-related activity, but if today is anything to go by, I will be lucky if I do!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Busy, busy, busy ... again!

I was so busy yesterday that I did not have to write even a short blog entry. This was due to the need to prepare for the NSS. Sounds ominous, doesn't it?

The NSS is the National Standards Sampling, and it happens every year for vocational courses in the UK. Basically, it is the means by which the awarding body – BTEC (the Business and Technical Education Council) – is able to show that the students are getting both the right level of work set, and that it is being assessed correctly. The process by which this is done is currently changing, and because the courses I teach are sampled using the older method rather than the newer one, we seem to have been asked to do even more work than usual for the NSS. They process works like this:
  • I write a Unit assignment that matches the assessment criteria laid down by the awarding body.
  • This is then checked by a colleague (the internal verifier), and any changes that need to be made are made.
  • The assignment is then given to the students, who do the work.
  • I then mark the work according to the assessment criteria.
  • A colleague then marks a sample of the students’ work (usually the work of four students whose results cover the spread of possible grades), and if they think that I have graded it incorrectly or that the students have not quite met the criteria, changes have to be made or additional work done.
  • Once the grades have been agreed, the Unit assignment and the checked work is sent to an external verifier, who checks that everything meets the requirements of the awarding body. If it does, our grades are ‘signed off’ by the awarding body.
The problem is that this all takes a lot of time, and that is one thing that always seems to be in short supply.

I have to make sure that all my work samples are ready for the internal verifier by Wednesday of next week at the latest … and then I will act as the internal verifier for one of my colleagues. Once we have both done our ‘bit’, all the paperwork has to be sent off to the external verifier by the end of March. I am going to have a very busy weekend, as besides doing all the work that I can for the NSS, I also have to visit my father and deliver a tumble-dryer to my father-in-law.

I will be lucky if I get time to breath, let alone blog over the next few days … but if the opportunity arises, I will take it!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wooden 'Town in a bag' buildings

I have just received an email from Amazon UK that notified me that several different sets of wooden buildings were now on sale.

The sets include:

Little Wooden Village


Little London


My Little Wooden Village


London City in a bag

In the past I have had several requests as to where these sets of building can be obtained ... well now you have an answer!

‘I never knew you wrote that much …’

Last weekend my wife and I spent most of Sunday helping my brother and sister-in-law begin the process of sorting out my father’s house. In amongst a load of bags that my wife found was one that contained quite a large collection of wargames publications. The collection had belonged to my mother(!) … but on closer inspection it became apparent what they were … they were all things that I had written.

I was very touched by this. I knew that my mother was quite proud of the fact that I had had various articles and books published, but I never knew that she had secretly acquired copies of her own. What also surprised me was how much I had written and forgotten about!

The collection included the following:
  • Computer Assisted Wargames (1984)
  • ‘Chaco’ (Miniature Wargames No. 13 – 1984)
  • Spanish Civil War Rules (Wargames Illustrated No. 13 – September 1988)
  • ‘Dardanelles’ Submarine Game (Wargames World No. 2 – Christmas 1988)
  • Arriba Espana! Wargames Rules (Partizan Press – 1989)
  • La Ultima Cruzada (Partizan Press – 1989)
  • Guadalcanal 1942 – Wargaming Midway (Osprey Campaign Series No. 18 – 1992)
  • La Ultima Cruzada [Revised edition] (Partizan Press – 1993)
  • Midway 1942 – Wargaming Midway (Osprey Campaign Series No. 30 – 1993)
  • Matrix Games (Wargames Illustrated No. 64 – January 1993)
  • The Balkan League Matrix Game (Wargames Illustrated No. 66 – March 1993)
  • ‘Save Gordon!’ Matrix Game (Wargames Illustrated No. 77 – February 1994)
  • The Balkan Wars Wargames Rules (Wargames Illustrated No. 78 – March 1994)
Not a bad haul … but it set me wondering … why did I stop writing for publication after 1994?

PS. The title of this blog entry is a quote from my wife. It is what she said after she had found the bag and just before she gave it to me.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The portable wargame: Another designer of chessboard games!

I had only just finished writing my last blog entry when I received an email from Edward Rodhouse. It turns out that he also designs wargames that fit onto a chessboard ... and mighty interesting they look.

His games include:

Tiger Hunt – Normandy 1944


Kronstadt 1919 – The 'secret' Coastal Motor Boat raid


Balin’s Tomb (from Lord of the Rings)


1914 Rearguard


Three Musketeers Bar Brawl

Edward uses a chessboard with 42mm grid squares, and has also developed a Pirate game and naval boarding action game based on S.W.A.B. ("The Scuppers Were Awash with Blood", which were designed by my old friend Tom Mouat).

I particularly like the scenery he has developed for his games. It is both functional and elegant, and really enhances to 'look' of his games.

It is nice to know that there is someone else out there trying to develop wargames that use a chessboard ... and from what I have seen of Edward's game, I have some way to go to equal his!

The portable wargame: Watching from the sidelines ... and enjoying every minute!

For reasons that I have already bored people to death with in previous blog entries, I have not had time lately to do much wargaming or to undertake a lot of wargame-related activity. One thing that I have been able to do, however, is to follow Ross Mac's play-tests of the rules I have written for my portable wargame ... and I have had enormous enjoyment reading them.

What has been of particular interest has been the very helpful and insightful feedback he has given me (including some very searching and challenging questions that needed to be asked!) and the fact that he has modified them to suit a much earlier period than I originally designed them for ... which goes to prove that the basic architecture and mechanisms I used are sound.

The battles he fought included two Russian Civil War battles (where he used 20mm-scale figures) ...

... a refight of the famous 'Battle of Hook's Farm' (as featured in H G Well's original LITTLE WARS book, and which was re-fought using Ross Mac's collection of Britains toy soldiers) ...

... and the 'Battle of Little Chrysler's Farm' (where Ross Mac's collection of 40mm-scale 'War of 1812' figures were used).

Ross Mac is also using these figures to fight another battle on the Hook's Farm terrain, and I am looking forward to reading this forthcoming battle report in due course.

My favourite photograph is an overview of the 'Battle of Hook's Farm'. Taken in black and white, the photograph could almost have been taken during one of HG Well's own battles, and to me, it captures the essence of all that a good wargame should have ... lots of fun!

My thanks go to Ross Mac for fighting these battles (although I get the impression that it was not too onerous a task for him), supporting me with lots of good ideas, advice, and positive and helpful feedback, and giving me permission to use some of his photographs.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tanks, figures ... and more tanks!

During my visit to SKIRMISH yesterday I managed to buy some of the things that I had planned to purchase including some Britains Deetail American Civil War figures (to form the basis of an infantry unit for my LITTLE WARS army) ...

... two boxes of 1:72nd-scale Pzkpfw38(t) models (made by Pegasus Hobbies) ...

... and two boxes of Carro Armato M13/40s (made by Italeri).

The tank models are all fast assembly kits, and when they are constructed and painted they will probably form the backbone of a 1930s imagi-nation's tank force.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

I have been to ... Skirmish in Sidcup

Despite having a very long list of things to do today, I did manage to squeeze in a quick visit to SKIRMISH. This is a twice yearly wargames and toy soldier show that is held at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School.
The entrance was buzzing when I arrived just after 10.00am ...

... and most of the wargames were already underway.

I spent most of my time in the main hall, which was where the majority of the traders had set up their stalls.

Despite my somewhat abbreviated visit to SKIRMISH, I did manage to have a quick chat with one or two wargaming friends as well as buying some bits and pieces ... but more of that later!

I might just squeeze this in ...

We have not had a telephone call from my father-in-law this morning, so it means that it looks like we are not going to have to drive to Herne Bay again today. This means that my wife and I can spend the day helping my brother and sister-in-law begin the process of sorting out my father's house. His health is not getting any better, and it looks very likely that we will have to sell his house sometime in the very near future to help to pay for his care.

It so happens that the route I will be driving to go to my father's house takes us within a mile or so of Sidcup ... which is where SKIRMISH (a twice-yearly Wargames and Toy Soldier show) is taking place today. With a bit of luck I might just be able to 'make' enough time to pay the show a fleeting visit. I had planned to go so that I can buy some figures for my LITTLE WARS project, but recent events seemed to have conspired to make this difficult.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A sad day all round

Just after I wrote my blog entry this morning about my ‘new’ aircraft carrier model, my wife received a telephone call from her father. His partner – a lady that he has shared a house with on and off for the last fifteen years – died yesterday at her son’s home after a long battle against a variety of different illnesses, including breast cancer.

As my father-in-law no longer has a car, we drove down to Herne Bay, Kent, to see him and to make sure that he was coping alright. We also wanted to give him any support or help that we could. We offered to drive him over to see his partner’s son, but they had already spoken on the telephone before we arrived, and had decided that it was probably not yet the right time for him to visit. We spent several hours with my father-in-law, did his shopping, sorted out his bank account, and generally helped keep his mind occupied. He is a tough old bird, and despite being ninety five years of age, he is still very mentally alert … even if he is a bit deaf. When we left, we told him to get in contact if he needed anything before next weekend, which is when we plan to visit him again.

In the great scheme of things, one person’s death may not seem very important except to those who knew them, especially at a time when so many people are dead or dying in Libya for their political beliefs or are dead in Japan as a result of a natural disaster. Stalin is reputed to have said ‘A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic' ... but he seemed to have forgotten that each of those deaths was an individual tragedy to the dead person’s family and friends. As the death toll rises in Libya and Japan, there are many people there who do not know what has happened to their loved ones, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. I hope that yours are as well.

I didn't need it ... but it was a bargain!

Last week a colleague mentioned to me that they had seen a large outdoor chessboard in the 'sale' area of a toy super-store at a very reasonable price, and mindful of the fact that this might have possibilities if I ever wanted to demonstrate my portable wargame at a wargames show, I went to the store to check it out. Needless to say, it had been sold before I got there but then ...

Taking up quite a large part of the 'sale' area was a rather battered box that contained what was described as an 'electronic' aircraft carrier. The end of the box was quite badly bashed in, and the six model aircraft and the electronic sound effect box seemed to be missing. The model inside looked in one piece, and looked very much like a large version of the aircraft carrier that I bought very recently.

The whole thing was marked down to almost half price because of the damage and the missing pieces ... and so I bought it. Why? I don't know. I don't need it ... but it was a bargain ... and as such it was irresistible. Even better, when I got the box home and opened it, the model aircraft and the sound effects box fell out undamaged. They must have been dislodged by whatever had caused the box to get damaged in the first place.

So now I have a second, larger aircraft carrier to play around with. It is 78cm/31-inches long, and it does not look at all crowded with all six model aircraft on deck. 15mm-scale figures do not look out of place when standing on the model. All I have to do now is to find a wargaming use for the model!

Friday, 11 March 2011

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – Second draft of the rules

I have just finished proof-reading the second draft of the twentieth century version of the portable wargame rules. They have undergone some significant changes since the first draft, but retain many of the original game mechanisms.

The second daft is now available for interested blog readers to read and/or print at:
Frontier/Modern Wargames Rules
for use with a chessboard battlefield
Please remember that these are still a draft set of the rules, and are likely to be amended in the light of further play-testing.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Admiral

Just before my birthday I happened to mention to my wife that I had seen a trailer for the DVD of a film that would like – THE ADMIRAL. At the time she did not know where to buy a copy, but a recent search on Amazon turned up a copy ... and it was promptly purchased!
The film is about Admiral Koltchak, who was one of the leaders of the White forces during the period after the Russian Revolution.

What had attracted my attention during the film trailer that I saw was the apparent quality and scope of the battle scenes. I hope that I will not be disappointed when I watch it ... which will – I hope – be very soon.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – New turn sequence

In the light of Ross Mac's very helpful suggestions, I have revised the turn sequence as follows:
  • Any Artillery Unit that is within range may fire. Because artillery fire is deemed to be simultaneous, casualties are removed after all artillery fire has taken place.
  • Both sides roll a D6 die to see which side will activate its Units first. The side with the highest score activates its Units first this turn.
  • The first side throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
  • The first side then selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn.
  • When activated, a Unit may move or fire; it cannot do both. It therefore follows that any of the first side’s Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not be activated this turn.
  • All Close Combats initiated by the first side are resolved and casualties are removed.
  • Once the first side has activated all the Units it may activate, the second side throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
  • The second side then selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn.
  • When activated, a Unit may move or fire; it cannot do both. It therefore follows that any of the second side’s Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not be activated this turn.
  • All Close Combats initiated by the second side are resolved and casualties are removed.
  • Once the Close Combats have been resolved, the turn has ended and the next may begin.
This new turn sequence means that the activation dice have a central role in determining how many of each side's Units can move or fire each turn, and the introduction of the move or fire option opens up a variety of tactical possibilities. For example, it should encourage players to use their Artillery Units (and even their Mortar and Machine Gun Units) to fire in support other Units as they move. It should also prevent Tank Units moving forward and firing as they do so ... which is something that seems to have been done in films far more frequently than in real life.

I have now begun to look at the Close Combat rules, as these also seem ripe for amendment, if only to make them somewhat easier to understand.

The portable wargame: All change ... no change … again!

I have to blame someone … and I blame Ross Mac!

There I was, trundling gently along, ‘pruning’ the latest draft of the modern version of the rules I am developing from Joseph Morschauser's originals to use with my portable wargame, pretty sure where I am going … and then Ross Mac makes this really, really, thought-provoking comment that makes me seriously re-think the turn sequence I am currently re-drafting. Furthermore, if I adopt his suggestion – and it is a very good suggestion – it will mean renaming the ‘movement dice’ back to what they were previously – ‘activation dice’.

So what should I do? Reject an excellent idea that would both simplify the rules and reinforce the need for each player to exhibit a degree of ‘generalship’ … or stick with what I was working on.

The answer is simple … go with the suggestion and ‘junk’ my half-framed (and currently incoherent) new draft turn sequence.

As Snoopy would have said, ‘Curse you, Ross Mac!’ (Not really, of course … it should be ‘Thank you, Ross Mac; you have been a great help to me!’)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pruning is good for roses ... and wargames rules

I am not a gardener ... but both my father and paternal grandfather were. They took it very seriously ... so seriously, in fact, that my grandfather won prizes for his flowers.

Although I was not very interested, I do remember some of what I was told as a child about gardening, and one thing in particular sticks in my mind ... and that is that if you want your roses to grow, you have to prune them very vigorously at the right time. The same is true of wargames rules.

I have begun the process of redrafting the modern version of the rules I am developing from Joseph Morschauser's originals to use with my portable wargame ... and very soon realised that I had a serious pruning job on my hands. On re-reading what I already had written, it was very apparent to me that I had forgotten one of the basic rules for writing wargames rules ... namely to keep things simple and not to fall prey to over complication. As a result, I have been having a field day with the word-processing equivalent of the pruning knife; the 'select' and 'delete' functions!

I still have some way to go, but the rules are already looking a lot slimmer and less complicated.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Using the right term

I began the process of reviewing and redrafting the twentieth century version of the rules I am developing for my portable wargame this evening ... and very quickly realised that the term 'activation dice' was not really the right one to use to describe their function.

The dice are used to determine how many Units a player can move each turn, not how many they can activate. I have, therefore, replaced the term 'activation dice' with the term 'movement dice' as this seems to be a more accurate reflection of their function within the rules.

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – Some very helpful feedback

I enjoyed yesterday's spur-of-the-moment play-test of the first draft of the twentieth century version of the rules I have developed for my portable wargame. That said, I realised that although they worked, they were by no means perfect. I knew that further revisions and changes were going to be needed, but I was unsure where to start.

At this point one of my regular blog readers and fellow wargame developer, Ross Mac, made the first of two thought-provoking and extremely helpful comments on my blog. His comments made me think about the reasons why I had used some of the mechanisms I had utilised, and he also made some excellent suggestions as to how they could be improved.

I hope to begin the process of revising and redrafting the rules later this week, and once I have completed that draft, I will mount another play-test of the rules. I will also make them available to any blog reader who wants to read and/or print them.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – First play-test

Having written the first draft of the twentieth century version of my rules for my portable wargame, I decided to see what it might look like as a game. I am a great believer in the axiom that 'if it looks right, it probably is right'.

Now almost all of my twentieth century wargames figures and models are 20mm-scale, and I already knew from a previous 'experiment' that they would not look 'right' on the vinyl chessboard I have been using recently. I them remembered that I still have the board that I made for Richard Brooks' SOLFERINO IN THIRTY MINUTES game. This is basically a large chessboard, with two different shades of green used to represent the different grid squares.

So I set up a scenario which pitted some Russian Marines (supported by a T34/76 tank) against a smaller group of German troops who are defending an industrial town. The set-up looked like this:
At this point I fully intended to pack everything back into its storage ... and then I decided to try out a few moves just to see how the rules worked. My intention was not to fight a full play-test ... but then I began to enjoy what I was doing, and things sort of went from there.

The result is not a full blow-by-blow account of the battle, but more a photo-report of the main action.

Turn 1
After artillery fire by the Russian Marine Artillery Unit, the Russian left flank advanced towards the town.
Turn 2
The Germans decided to stay put in their defences, and after yet further ineffective artillery fire, the Russian advance continued. A sharp exchange of fire destroyed one of the German Machine Gun Units of the edge of the town.
Turn 3
The Russian Marine Artillery Unit managed to knock out the German Infantry Gun Unit and the advancing Russian Marine Machine Gun Units cleared the last remaining German Unit on the edge of the town. Elsewhere, the Russian advance continued unopposed.
Turn 4
After further ineffective Russian artillery fire, the Germans moved forward within the town to meet the Russian attack. The German Mortar Unit scored a notable success when it knocked out the Russian Tank Unit that was just about to enter the town.
Despite the growing German resistance, the Russians continued their advance, and one of their Marine Machine Gun Units engaged the German Mortar Unit at almost point blank range ... and destroyed it. Things did not, however, go so well for the Russian Marine Infantry Unit that attacked one of the German Infantry Units. In a short but fierce close combat, the Russian Marines were wiped out.
Turn 5
The Russian Marine Artillery chose not to fire as there was a danger that one of their own Units might be hit by mistake. The Russian assault on the town continued, with one of the Russian Marine Machine Gun Units attacking and destroying a German Infantry Unit.
On the other side of town, a Russian Marine Infantry Unit fought a close combat with a German Infantry Unit. The combat was drawn, and the Russian Unit was forced to fall back.
The German response was to fall back towards the rear of the town. They were hopelessly outnumbered, and there was little likelihood that they would be able to contain the Russian advance.
At this point I saw no reason to continue the battle any further.

Comments
The rules functioned fairly well, and produced reasonable results most of the time. However, I need to look at how the rules currently represent fighting in a built-up area. In this play-test the Germans did not gain much of an advantage for being in the town, and the Russians seemed to have no problems dislodging them once they were inside the built-up area.

The portable wargame: First draft of the twentieth century version

I have just finished proof-reading the first draft of the twentieth century version of the rules I have developed for my portable wargame. It follows the same basic layout as the earlier version, and most of the game mechanisms as the same or very similar.

The main differences arise from the introduction of new weapons - such as the tank - and the elimination of rules specifically written to cover colonial battles between European and Native armies.

The first daft is now available for interested blog readers to read and/or print at:
Frontier/Modern Wargames Rules
for use with a chessboard battlefield
Please remember that these are the first draft of the rules, and are very likely to be amended in the light of play-testing.

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version

Whilst I was hors de combat yesterday, I had plenty of time to think about where to go next with my portable wargame. The rules are pretty well at the end of their development, and are suitable for fighting battles set during the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century.

I know that at least one person is working on a Napoleonic Wars version of the rules I have developed from Joseph Morschauser's original 'Frontier' and 'Musket' wargame rules, and I had been thinking of developing a version for fighting battles set during the 1930s and 1940s. This morning I decided to see if such a development was possible, and during the course of the day I have been writing the first draft of this new set of rules. Unlike my previous attempts, this time I started with my existing rules and amended them to include new weapons, including Mortars, Infantry Guns, Anti-tank Guns, Armoured Cars, Tanks, Self-propelled Artillery, and Medium Artillery. The basic architecture and mechanisms of the rules remains unchanged, and I hope to be able to make this first draft available for interested blog readers to read and/or print sometime tomorrow (or even later today!).

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Little Wars: Guns, Guns, Guns ...

Over the past few months I have been trawling through eBay at regular intervals on the lookout for artillery for my as-yet-to-be-formed LITTLE WARS army (or armies). After an initial burst of enthusiasm, I settled down to buy artillery as and when it became available at reasonable prices ... and I collected the most recent purchase this morning from the local Post Office.

It was at this point that my wife made a comment about how many I was going to need to buy ... so I decided to get all my purchase together to see how large my artillery gun park was ... and it was much larger than I expected.

I now own the following artillery, all of which have been tested and will fire a matchstick a reasonable distance (with varying degrees of accuracy!):
  • Five Britains 4.7-inch Guns (one of which has a cut-down barrel)
  • Six Britains Field Guns
  • Four Crescent 18-pounder Field Guns
Some of these guns are in good condition and some are in need of repair. For example, one of the 4.7-inch guns has a split in its barrel. As it is made of zinc, it will not be easy to repair; however, if I cut the barrel down, it will remove the damaged section and make a pair for the other 4.7-inch that has a shortened barrel.

What I need to do now is to acquire both some gun grews for my existing artillery as well as some infantry and cavalry for my LITTLE WARS army.

The Artillery Gun Park:

Friday, 4 March 2011

The portable wargame: Latest draft of the rules

I have now completed the latest revisions to the draft of the rules I am using with my portable wargame. These revisions include changes to the rules relating to the activation dice and the ability of cavalry to dismount and fight on foot.

I have uploaded a pdf version for any interested blog reader to read and/or print, and it is available from the following link:
Frontier/Musket Wargames Rules
for use with a chessboard battlefield

The portable wargame: A few adjustments

As I have not gone to work today (I am going to hospital later this morning to have a minor surgical procedure to remove a wart from under my right eye), I have been able to spend some time making a few adjustments to the rules I am using with my portable wargame.

Besides tidying up the grammar in one or two places in the hope that this will make the rules clearer or less ambiguous, I have made the changes to the activation dice that I outlined in yesterday's blog entry.

I have also given some thought as to how Dismounted Cavalry Units are treated in the rules. As they are currently written, dismounting cavalry is not an option, but by the end of the nineteenth century this was quite normal. In fact, in some armies – such as the Boer armies – this was the norm. I therefore propose allowing cavalry to dismount and fight as infantry should the need arise, but with a reduced Close Combat Power whilst they are dismounted.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The portable wargame: Changing the activation dice?

The recent comments made by Ross Mac and arthur1815 in response to the latest play-test of the Frontier/Musket wargames rules I am using with my portable wargame, have given me something to think about.

I therefore propose to retain the concept of activation dice, but to no longer use the 'Risk Express' dice for that purpose. Instead, I intend to use dice marked as follows:
  • One face will be blank
  • Two faces will be marked '1'
  • Two faces will be marked '2'
  • One face will be marked '3'
These numbers will represent the number of Units of any type that a player may activate during a turn.

This means that a player throwing four activation dice has a range of results from not being able activate any Units to being able to activate twelve Units during a turn, with six being the average number of Units they will be able to activate.

This is somewhat less restrictive than the present system, and also allows for more gifted commanders to be allocated more activation dice than less able ones.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Yet another milestone!

I have just realised that the average number of daily 'hits' my blog has had since I added the 'hit' counter back on 11th February, 2009, has just reached two hundred!

The last two months have seen a big surge in interest in my blog, with well over three hundred 'hits' per day being the norm. The surge seems to have started at roughly the same time that I began to write blog entries about the development of the portable wargame. This may be a coincidence, but I somehow think that the two things are not unrelated.

I have also just noticed that the 'hit' counter indicates that the total number of 'hits' my blog has had is about to reach 150,000. As I wrote in a blog entry only last month:
'I never, ever expected that anything like that number of people would be interested in 'the random thoughts of an ancient wargamer', but obviously I was wrong.'

'Big thanks go to all my regular blog readers. I'll keep writing my blog if you'll keep reading it!'
That still holds true today ... and I hope that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The portable wargame: The latest draft of the rules

After yesterday's battle report, I thought that blog readers might like to see the latest draft of the rules I used. I have therefore uploaded a pdf version, and it is available from the following link:
Frontier/Musket Wargames Rules
for use with a chessboard battlefield

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The portable wargame: Another play-test – ‘Seize and hold!’

For this play-test I wanted to see how the rules would work when the opponents were equally matched … and how the rules relating to road movement would affect the battle. For the purposes of the play-test I selected Units from my 15mm-scale 1866-era Austrian and Prussian armies. Both sides were allocated:
  • Two Units of Light Infantry
  • Six Units of Line Infantry
  • A Field Artillery Unit
  • A Command Unit
Both sides would therefore begin the battle throwing four activation dice each.

Scenario
It has come to the attention of both the Austrian and Prussian Army Commanders that a river crossing has been left unguarded by the opposition, and both Army Commanders have ordered forces to seize and hold the bridge as quickly as possible. They are advancing on the bridge over the river in column-of-march, and will only appear on the battlefield as and when the activation dice allow them to appear.

Each column is marching along the road towards the bridge, and enters the battlefield at the positions indicated on the following photograph of the battlefield:

Each side’s column-of-march is in the following order:
  • Two Light Infantry Units
  • Two Line Infantry Units
  • The Command Unit
  • The Field Artillery Unit
  • Four Line Infantry Units
Turn 1
The Prussian move first and throw four activation dice. These allow them to activate seven Infantry Units and the Command Unit, but as the Units may only entry the battlefield in the order of their column-of-march, only the leading two Infantry Units – the Prussian Light Infantry – appear at the Prussian Entry Point.

The Austrians then throw their four activation dice and can activate six Infantry Units and the Command Unit. Like the Prussians, the Austrians are constrained by the composition of their column-of-march, and only the Austrian Light Infantry enter the battlefield at the Austrian Entry Point.

The Prussian Light Infantry advancing as fast as they can down the road towards the bridge.
Like their Prussian counterparts, the Austrian Light Infantry are moving quickly forwards in order to seize the bridge.
Turn 2
This turn the Austrians move first, and their activation dice allow them to activate six Infantry Units. They therefore move their Light Infantry forward along the road to the bridge, and two Austrian Line Infantry Units enter the battlefield.

The head of the advancing Austrian column is within sight of the bridge.
The Prussian activation dice permit them to activate five Infantry Units and a Cavalry Unit (which they do not have), and they also move their Light Infantry forward so that two of their Line Infantry Units may enter the battlefield.

The leading Prussian Unit can also see their objective.
Turn 3
The Austrians move first again this turn, and their activation dice allow them to activate four Infantry Units and the Command Unit. They therefore move their Light Infantry closer to the bridge – which is now only one grid square away from the leading Austrian Unit – followed by the two Line Infantry Units that entered the battlefield last turn. The Command Unit has also arrived on the battlefield, and may soon be able to influence events as they unfold.

The leading Austrian Light Infantry Unit are now only a short distance from the bridge.
The Prussians respond by activating four Infantry Units (they could also have activated a Cavalry Unit, had they had one), and the Prussian force continues its advance. Its leading Unit is also close to the bridge, but has further to go than the Austrians.

The Prussian column marching parallel to the river. The leading Light Infantry Unit is only a short distance from the river crossing … but can they get there before the Austrians?
Turn 4
At this crucial moment, the Prussians move first. Their activation dice allow them to move two Infantry Units, the Command Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit. They rush the leading Light Infantry Units forward, and the foremost seizes the bridge and engages the leading Austrian Light Infantry Unit in close combat … and destroys it! The Prussian Command Unit and the Field Artillery Unit enter the battlefield.

The leading Prussian Light Infantry Unit seizes the bridge and engages the foremost Austrian Light Infantry Unit in close combat … which it wins!
In response, the Austrians are able to activate three Infantry Units and the Command Unit. They mount an immediate counter-attack, and the remaining Austrian Light Infantry Unit engages the Prussians holding the bridge in close combat. This is a draw, and the Austrians are forced to withdraw.

The Austrian counter-attack!
Turn 5
The Austrians move first, and their activation dice allow them to activate one Infantry Unit, the Command Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit.

The combined small arms fire of the Austrian Light Infantry Unit and one of the Line Infantry Units destroys the Prussian Light Infantry Unit on the bridge …

The Austrians open fire on the Prussians holding the bridge!
… and the remaining Austrian Line Infantry Unit rushes forward across the bridge and engages the remaining Prussian Light Infantry Unit in close combat. Unfortunately, this is a draw, and the Austrians are forced back across the bridge.

The leading Austrian Line Infantry Unit crosses the bridge to engage the Prussians.
The Prussians are able to activate three Infantry Units, the Command Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit. In response to the Austrian attack, the Prussians swing their two Infantry Units off the road towards the river, thus allowing the Command Unit to move forward to support the remaining Prussian Light Infantry Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit to move into range of the Austrian forces near the bridge. They are also able to bring a further Line Infantry Unit on to the battlefield.

The Prussian Line Infantry Units appear to be preparing to cross the river so that they can flank the Austrian position. The Prussian Field Artillery is also well positioned to open fire on the Austrian force next turn.
The Prussian Light Infantry Unit engages the Austrian Line Infantry Unit across the bridge from it with small arms fire, and although they are in cover, the Austrian Line Infantry Unit is destroyed.

The leading Austrian Line Infantry Unit is destroyed by Prussian small arms fire despite being in cover.
Turn 6
The Prussian Field Artillery fires at the grid square occupied by the nearest Austrian Unit – the remaining Austrian Light Infantry Unit – and although its fire is on target, it does no damage to the Austrian Unit.

The Prussian Field Artillery open fire on the Austrians … but has no effect.
The Austrians move first this move, and their activation dice allow them to activate four Infantry units, the Command Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit. The Commander’s first action is to move the remaining Austrian Light Infantry Unit into the built-up area near to the bridge, so that it can open fire on the Prussian Light Infantry Unit across the bridge. This proves to be ineffective, as the Prussians are in cover.

The Austrian Light Infantry fire at the Prussian Light Infantry, but inflict no casualties on them.
The Austrian Command Unit moves back to clear the road to enable the Austrian Field Artillery Unit and a Line Infantry Unit that have just entered the battlefield to move forward along it.

The newly arrived Austrian Field Artillery Unit and Line Infantry Unit march down the road towards the bridge.
The Prussian response is determined by their activation dice throws; they can move four Infantry Units, the Command Unit, and the Field Artillery Unit. The Command Unit moves off the road and into the wooded hill. The two Prussian Line Infantry Units near the river begin to wade across it, whilst the Field Artillery Unit moves along the road towards the bridge. Finally, the newly entered Prussian Line Infantry Unit marches along the road, thus making room for another Prussian Line Infantry Unit to enter the battlefield.

Two Prussian Line Infantry Units begin to wade across the river whilst the Field Artillery – and another two Line Infantry Units – move towards the bridge.
The Prussian Light Infantry open fire on the Austrian Light Infantry at the opposite end of the bridge, but with no effect.

The Prussian Light Infantry fire at the Austrian Light Infantry … but have no effect.
Turn 7
The newly arrived Austrian Field Artillery Unit has no target that it can fire at, unlike the Prussian Field Artillery Unit, which fires at the Austrian Light Infantry Unit. Unfortunately, they miss the target and their shells land harmlessly in an unoccupied grid square.

The Prussian Field Artillery Unit fires at the Austrian Light Infantry Unit near the bridge … and miss!.
The Prussians move first, and their activation dice enable them to move two Line Infantry Units and the Field Artillery Unit. As the two Line Infantry units in the river cannot move this turn as they are wading across the river, the two Prussian Line Infantry units that have only recently entered the battlefield continue their march down the road. The Prussian Field Artillery Unit moves off the road to clear the way for Line Infantry and to position themselves so that they can fire at the Austrians next turn.

The Prussian plan seems to be coming to fruition. The Prussian Light Infantry Unit hold one end of the bridge and two Prussian Line Infantry Units are moving along the road to support them. The Field Artillery Unit is also in a position to give them supporting fire .
The Prussian Light Infantry fire once again at the Austrian Light Infantry at the opposite end of the bridge … and miss yet again!

The Prussian Light Infantry fire again at the Austrian Light Infantry … but are still unable to inflict any casualties on their opponents.
The Austrian response is limited by their activation dice, which only allow them to move the Command Unit and two Infantry Units. (Two of the dice allow Cavalry units to be activated, but the Austrians do not have any).

Realising the threat posed by the Prussian Line Infantry Units that are wading across the river, the foremost Austrian Line Unit moves back on to the road and faces the on-coming Prussians. The newly arrived Austrian Line Unit advances through the grid square occupied by the Austrian Field Artillery Unit into the grid square behind the other Austrian Line Infantry Unit.

The Austrians respond to the growing threat on their left flank.
Whilst this is happening, the Austrian Light Infantry continue the firefight at the bridge with little effect.

The Austrian Light Infantry fire back at the Prussian Light Infantry, but their small arms fire is equally ineffective.
Turn 8
The Austrian Field Artillery Unit still has no target that it can fire at, but the Prussian Field Artillery Unit does, and it fires yet again at the Austrian Light Infantry Unit. This time their shells are on target, and the Austrian Light Infantry Unit is destroyed!

(Note: The destruction of this Unit automatically reduces the number of activation dice the Austrians can throw to three as they have now lost three Units.)

The Prussian Field Artillery fires with deadly effect.
The Prussians move first again this turn. Their activation dice allow them to move five Infantry units and the Command Unit. The Prussian Line Infantry Units who have been wading across the river finally reach the bank and deploy into column facing the Austrians. At the same time, the Prussian Light Infantry Unit cross the bridge and open fire on the leading Austrian Line Infantry Unit … and destroy it.

The Prussian Light Infantry Unit open fire on the leading Austrian Line Infantry Unit and wipes them out.
The remaining two Prussian Line Infantry Units continue their march towards the bridge.

The Prussians are now advancing towards the Austrians on both sides of the river.
At this point the Austrian situation is becoming untenable. Luckily the activation dice allow them to move the remaining Infantry Unit, the Field Artillery Unit, and the Command Unit, and the Austrians begin to withdraw down the road, leaving the bridge in Prussian hands. Having no Cavalry with which to pursue the Austrians, the Prussians begin to consolidate their situation around the bridge in the expectation that their might be an Austrian counter-attack in due course.

Comments
This was a very enjoyable battle that I fought solo over the course of several evenings. The terrain worked well, as did the rules – especially after I realized that the rules regarding crossing rivers needed to be changed so that it took Units three turns to wade from one bank of the river to the other (i.e. one turn to move into the grid square containing the river, one turn in the river, and one turn to move to the grid square beyond the river).

I now feel that the rules are almost at the stage where major changes are no longer required, although there will always be room for further tinkering!