Sunday, 24 May 2015

Funny Little Wars battle

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in a FUNNY LITTLE WARS battle in central London. It was originally planned to fight the battle outdoors, but thanks to some inclement weather it took place in a large carpeted room instead.

Paul acted as umpire and the two sides (Army Red and Army Dark Green) each had two commanders. Mike and Andrew commanded Army Red, and Tim and myself commanded Army Dark Green. (It should be noted that half of Army Dark Green were actually Scottish troops who were more than willing to serve under the Cross of St Andrew, as were the Royal Marines who served as the crew of one of Army Dark Green's field guns. It is not for nothing that the Royal Navy has the nickname of 'The Andrew'!)

Army Dark Green defended a town and its outlying hamlets. The main body of their troops (two battalions of the Black Watch, a battalion of Tratvian infantry, two Tratvian machine gun detachments, two Tratvian medium artillery guns, and two field guns (one crewed by Tratvians and one Royal Marines) were in positions within the town and three small pickets of three men each (two drawn from the ranks of the Gordon Highlanders and one from a Tratvian Cossack unit) were deployed where they could give warning of any enemy attacks. A Tratvian assassin was also concealed somewhere on the battlefield ... but nobody (except the Tratvian commander) knew where.

The town.
Another view of the town.
A view of part of the country over which the battle was fought.
The old factory.
The battle began when Army Red decided to attack the town from two opposite directions.

One half of Army Red advanced from the left ....
... whilst the other half moved forward on the right flank..
Although one might have thought that this pincer movement would have been intended to overwhelm the defenders by making them split their firepower, it didn't. In fact it proved to be a double-edged weapon, especially when the artillery of one half of Army Red started overshooting the town and began hitting troops in the other half.

The pickets proved their worth, and managed to hold up the Army Red advance on one flank and cause Army Red to concentrate their fire on an empty building on the other flank.

Army Red's Riflemen engaged the Army Dark Green picket in the Old Factory ...
The pickets were eventually destroyed ...

... and eventually wiped them out.
... but in moving to attack them Army Red became exposed.

One of Army Dark Green's Black Watch battalions deployed to meet the advancing Army Red troops.
Army Red's mighty cavalry force moved forward ...
... supported by infantry and artillery.
Army Red was poised to mount a major attack on the town.
Army Red's artillery fire was very effective, and tore holes in the ranks of the Tratvian infantry.
On one flank the Tratvian infantry and machine guns and Royal Marine artillery managed to cause so many casualties on an Army Red cavalry unit that it had to retreat ...

Army Red's cavalry commander learned the hard way that attacking steadfast infantry and machine guns ...
... was an easy way to empty the saddles of your own cavalry ...
... and cause them to retreat!
... and disrupted the units through which it had to pass. Their machine gun detachment also proved to be very deadly, and depleted the ranks of one of Army Red's infantry battalions. On the other flank an entire regiment of Army Red lancers were shot from their saddles when they rode across the front of one battalion of the Black Watch in order to charge the other.

The Army Dark Green defenders prepare to see off another Army Red assault.
By this point in the battle the entire Army Dark Green was visible to the commanders of Army Red.
The Army Red lancers prepare to charge the battalion of the Black Watch who are not behind a wall. Now you see them ...
... and now you don't! Yet another lesson in the vulnerability of cavalry to close range rifle fire.
In the end numbers began to tell, and although Army Red's artillery fire managed to destroy their main objective (Army Dark Green's HQ ... which they were supposed to capture!), the day ended with a depleted Army Dark Green still holding the town.

The town at the end of the battle.
This was a fantastically enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The company was excellent, everyone enjoyed themselves, and the rules (which included a couple of tweaks regarding artillery ammunition) worked extremely well. My thanks go to Paul and his wife for providing the venue and the afternoon tea, and to my fellow 'generals' for being all-round good chaps.

Here's to the next time we meet!


  1. Hi Bob,

    Now that's the way to wargame! Any gamer seeing that and not being inspired should hang their head in shame!

    It looked like enormous fun and I suspect that your own Cordeguay forces may feature in something similar soon.

    All the best


  2. David Crook,

    I think that most wargamers would love to have the opportunity to take part in such a battle ... including quite a few of those who try to make the hobby appear to be a lot more 'serious' than it actually is.

    If only I had the room to stage battles like this myself! If I did it might even persuade me to give up using grids.

    The Scottish troops and the Royal Marines were all from my collection of metal Britain's figures, and I thought that they acquitted themselves quite well. As to any future appearance of the Cordeguayan Army ... well that has yet to be decided.

    All the best,


  3. Tradgardmastare (Alan),

    It truly was a magnificent little war. With a bit of luck we might one day end up facing each other across the floor (or lawn) in such a battle!

    All the best,


  4. Hurrah for Army Dark Green! And now if you'll excuse me I think that Bob and I have an appointment with a firing squad....

  5. Tim Gow,

    As I assume that the firing squad will be made up of Army Red soldiers, we should be quite safe! They are more likely to shoot each other than us.

    It was a great little battle, and it has left me wanting to take part in more of the same.

    Here's to the next time!

    All the best,


  6. Looks like a splendid way to spend an afternoon. Brings back fond memories of stretching out on the floor at Huzzah 2 years ago.

    All new war gamers should be encouraged if not forced to play something eith shooting cannon before moving on to more "serious" things.

  7. Ross Mac,

    Fighting this battle on carpet was a lot easier on the knees than doing so on a lawn!

    I think that every wargamer should fight a 'proper' wargame like this at least once a year to remind them that their hobby is supposed to be as much about fun as anything else. I certainly hope to do so!

    All the best,


  8. Bob,

    What a splendid looking game! And great fun too, unlike the mind-numbing complexity of so many later sets of wargame rules - none of which will still be played over a hundred years after they were first published!

    Perhaps Little Wars will one day be the only work by HG Wells that will still be read - I wonder what he'd think of that?

    Best wishes,

  9. Arthur1815,

    It was a very enjoyable game and redolent of the games we all like to think that we fought as children.

    The rules are a development of the ones written by HG Wells, and use dice for rifle fire and close combat. This actually seems to speed up the game and reduces the number of matchsticks one has to pick up at the end of the battle.

    I suspect that LITTLE WARS will remain one of H G Wells' lesser known works ... except amongst wargamers. If he were alive today I suspect that Wells would still be pushing toy soldiers around on the floor ... and claiming that the rest of us were doing it wrong.

    After yesterday's wargame, I might well agree with him.

    All the best,