December is a very busy time of the year for me. First as a college/university professor I have a lot of grading in the first couple of weeks of December (final exams and senior seminar papers and the like). As my wife is also a college/university professor, we are swamped and pretty much spend the first 24 days of December grading, keeping our children fed, and preparing for Christmas. About the only time off I have until the summer is the week between Christmas and New Years’ Day. Which means the only wargame things I get to do this time of year are some occasional painting late at night and pondering rules during my 40 minute commute to work (which thankfully I don’t have to do every weekday).
I had hoped to play the Volley & Bayonet American Civil War campaign game, at least the first year or two as a trial. I planned on using Adler 6mm (really 8mm) figures. I got pretty far into that, but after a few trial games with 1.25″ bases (5/12ths scale), I realized the bases were really too small to be aesthetically pleasing. Also I have a much bigger table space in my new house (I could do a 6′ x 10′ table if I really wanted to, but I don’t), so too small was not good. I tried out half scale bases (1.5″) and I liked them a lot more. So I’ve rebased most of my Union figures (something like 40 infantry massed bases, 10 cavalry massed bases, 10 cavalry dismounted bases, and 18 artillery bases), but I still have to rebase the Confederates. What has slowed down that process is that I found I really didn’t like painting Adler 6mm figures anymore. They were great when I was a poor student and didn’t have a lot of room for a big table, but these days I just find them fiddly. I will complete the ACW figures for the campaign, but I’m not sure what I’ll do with my Adler Napoleonic figures.
What has always interested me as a period is the American Revolution. I like the period as both sides are interesting (and not politically vile humans like in some other periods). Also there is a nice variety in terms of types of troops and uniforms. Finally, it is something I study professionally (maybe the subject of my next research project/book). I have a fair amount of 15mm figures (about 500 painted and another 500 waiting to be painted) for the period as well. But what rules to use?
I’ve tried a lot of rules for this period and read many more. Maybe someday I’ll post a review of the various rules, but really the key requirements for me were that I could play all of the battles, which meant a variable scale for units, and the rules had to be both interesting to play and fun to play. I just don’t have the interest anymore to play rules I find boring. Boring is a subjective thing, so I fully realize that what I find boring might be your favorite rules, so be it. I also wanted to get away from gamey rules that had silly things like triple moves or were really about playing a game while playing a game (to quote my friend Arturo Lorioli). A lot of rules work very well for one scale, usually a game where units equal a battalion/regiment and there are a decent number of units per side. However, few of those rules allow you to play all of the big battles like Monmouth, Brandywine, or Long Island. Also most rules don’t do a decent job of allowing you to play smaller battles (like I found with my tries at playing Cowpens).
The only set of rules that seemed to allow me to play all level of battles and was also fun at the same time was Volley & Bayonet. I’ll admit that these are very bottom up rules that model units well but are pretty slim in terms of command friction sort of rules (but then most command friction oriented rules don’t really model command friction that well). They are also simple, but at the same time not simplistic (to quote my now departed friend Les Reese). That means they are fun to play as you are playing the battle and not the rules (see Seven Balagan’s blog post about that: http://balagan.info/volley-and-bayonet-is-easy-fun-and-challenging). So that is what I will be concentrating on for 2014 (along with finishing my Adler figures for VnB/ACW). I plan to start out with scenarios first, especially the big battle ones that I want to play, such as Monmouth (which I have played before) and those I have yet to play such as Brandywine and Long Island. I do have a pretty complete campaign base for Morgan’s 1781 Campaign, but that will be a later effort as I need to paint more militia to do that as it is very militia heavy.
I’ve opted to use 15mm figures on 2/3rds scale bases as much of this will be solo games due to my lack of free time to game on Saturdays these days (I tend to have to work on Sundays due to some additional online university teaching). My son is 13, and will be off to college in four and a half years so he deserves more of my attention now; I will have time to play more games once he is off to college. As I plan on playing a lot of solo games, table size is a big deal. I can do a 6′ x 10′ table, but that isn’t the most convenient size for 1 or 2 player games. So I have opted for the 2/3rds scale as that allows me to play any battle on a 4′ x 6′ table, and it also allows me to play big battles (such as Monmouth) at the battalion scale (rather than the regiment scale) once I get enough stands done (I think Monmouth at the battalion scale has 50 Continental infantry stands alone).
So look for a lot of American Revolution general information as well as Volley & Bayonet specific information on this blog in the future.