Wednesday 31 October 2012

Encounter at Pilgrims Falls

Battle of Pilgrims Falls -

Our regular Monday night game was determined to be a straight forward engagement between the French and British forces on the Canadian Border.

The setting was the ficticious settlement of Pilgrims Falls. This strategic location on the upper stretches of the George River has become the battleground of two strong opposing forces. The settlement itself is based on the last trading post in the wilderness, with a prosperos village developing in the vicinity of the small port. Farmsteads, crops and livestock scatter the valley floor. To the North East lie the actual Pilgrim Falls.

Village of Pilgrim Falls, The waterfall at top of photo.
The battlefield gave me a chance to put out my new roads/ tracks - I'll get round to posting a tutorial on these soon.
The Jetty at Pilgrims Falls

Livestock - (all from Redoubt Miniatures) - Daisy the Cow needs from friends

Chickens - soon to be Coq au Vin!

New Field - with workers

The Settlement oblivious to the noise that follows

The forces based on circa 600 points (Muskets & Tomahawks were evenly matched). The objective simple - drive the opposition from the field.

The Britrish commanded by Colonial Richards had three units of Regular infantry with two regular artillery pieces. These redcoats were supported by three units of rifle armed Rangers. Approcimately 70 men in this sizeable force.

The French were lead by the infamous Colonel Orly, he mustered three strong units of French Infantry, three units of musket armed Canadian Militia and three local Indian Warbands - a total of around 80 men.

The French emerge from the woods

It was agreed that both forces would start just over 2 foot apart with the French forces played out first. Both sides took advantage of cover from walls, buildings and woods.

Les Pigs...

French deployment on Eastern Flank

During the first turn the French took the initiative and moved forward. Two flanking attacks using the Indians and Irregulars aimed top sweep around the British line, whilst the formed troops would attack the centre.

Militia sweep through Pilgrim Falls

The early phases of the game saw the French sweep out around the flanks capturing the port and the western Farmhouse. (Much to the amusement of the local domestic animals)

Militia & Indians on Western Flank

Meanwhile the French Regulars moved into the central village. With neither side seeing the other the battlefield remained eerily silent.

French Regulars under Colonel Orly advance

Eventually some of the cards for the British began to turnover. The British centre advanced with Artillery support. Finally the Redcoats could see the French mingling around the central village. Firing Lines were hastily drawn up and two units opened fire on the belkeagured defenders. Despite the solid walls of the cabin French men died and the unit was driven backwards out of the building.

AImpressive British Line with Artillery support

French Defenders

Over on the western flank a gun battle had erupted between the Indians and the Rangers hidden in the Cornfield. Sporadic firing caused few casualties. The Western redcoat unit advanced and opened fire on the Indians skulking in the farmyard, a few kills drove them off the field. However this line soon came under fire from Canadian Militia and they too were driven backwards.

Rangers in Maize field
Indians advancing

Back on the Eastern Flank the Canadian Militia under the guidance of Major Dumas had circled around the Rangers holding the flank, driving one unit into flight and causing no end of consternation as they advanced along the woods on the British baseline.

Canadian Militia Push forward

In the centre the two comnbatants slugged it out with their regulars, some damn fine firing from the French began to tell on the British Defenders. As the eveing wore on Casualties began to build on both sides with the French performing better.

Rangers - soon to be flanked
French Line 'duel' with British Defenders

Back to the West an Indian unit had rushed an unloaded artillery piece, dropping one gunner in the tomahawk charge they expected the rest to fall quickly. Six braves against three men. Three hits from the Indians, three saves from the gunners - three hits from the gunners and no saves for the Indians saw an unlikely victory for the English. The Indians were driven back into the sights of a formed British line - boom their bodies dead before they hit the ground.

Indian Tomahawk Charge on Cannon Crew

Indians get wasted

Despite this small victory the British had no answer for the massed French units and the Militia charging towards them. With the majority of buildings in the hands of the French and the British position comntracting a victory was given to the men from Gaul.

A retreating British Force


Artillery is not very good - it raely hits and does not have a major impact - we will strengthen this for next game.
Rifles are effective at longer ranges but onluy if you can see the enemy
600 points plus per side allows for a good game but be wary of it turning into a slogfest

All good fun...

Thanks for reading

Eric the Shed

Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Pay Chest - A tale of muskets, greed and treachery

The scene was set. Deep in the woods of the Canadian Frontier lies the small trading post of Fork Point. Its nestled on the banks of the George River and the smaller tributary of the River May. This settlement has over the last few seasons flourished with trading with both sides of the conflict and has somehow maintained its neutrality in the gathering storm. Hardened settlers, trappers and huntsmen bearing no allegiance to either European King.

All this was about to change with the War of the Americas being fought right on its doorstep.

How did this come to pass? Three days ago a certain Major Dumas of the Canadian Militia ambushed a wagon train heading for the British held Fort Martin William. What was going to be straight issue of plunder turned into something far more serious. The wagon train held the British Armies pay chest for North America, a fortune in gold and silver coins.

Major Dumas realising the enormity of this capture took the treasure to Fork Point the closest and safest haven in the wilderness. Before reaching the settlement he sent a runner to French command with a request for support and further orders.

Loose tongues have informed the British of the whereabouts of the money and incensed by this theft they want their money back. Under the command of Major Dunlop have sent a strong force to Fork Point. (3 units of British Regulars, 2 units of Rangers, 1 unit of native Indians)

The French equally want control of the chest so they have sent a large force of Regulars under the command of Colonel Orly to support Major Dumas. (3 large units of French Regulars, 1 unit of allied Indians)

And what of this Monsieur Dumas, well money does a strange thing to man and over the past 24 hours he along with the village leaders have decided that they wish to keep it to themselves. (1 unit of Canadian Militia, 1 unit Militia, 2 units of Indians)

A French spy in Fork Point, known as Jean Christophe has overheard Dumas’s plans of treachery and has fled into the woods outside the village seeking refuge. He is waiting in the Loggers cabin.

Our game starts...

At this point neither the British nor the French forces arriving in the Fork Point area are aware of the double cross.

As the forces entered the table each player was passed an additional note.

The British are informed that a spy lurks in the woods and has valuable information. They must capture and interrogate him.

The French are told of the spy and must rescue him. Whoever recovers him first will learn of Major Dumas’s duplicity.

Meanwhile Major Dumas is holed up in the village with his small band of men and some local militia. Some braves lured by the treasure have been recruited and lie in ambush on the village outskirts. Dumas is awaiting a boat to take him and the treasure away from Fork Point.

The boat manned by 6 swarthy irregular mercenaries will support Dumas on their arrival.

In our first few turns the British and French forces split their troops with groups headed for the location of the spy in the old loggers cabin, whilst others head for the village. Whereas the British regulars had to deal with dense woodland the French marched in columns rapidly up the road into Fork Point.

The French natives seconded to Colonel Orly reached the cabin first. Jean Christophe, not knowing whether these were friendlies or not, decided to open fire, missing. The natives quickly overcame the French spy and bundled him out of the door. The documentation on his body could not be read by these savages and as such they had to drag him and the notes to a uniformed French soldier. The reports on him informed the French of Major Dumas’s treachery but the delay in getting this to the French Colonel would cost them dear.

Sporadic fire between the rangers and Indians in the woods rang out for the rest of the game but had little effect.

Meanwhile the boat to take Major Dumas and his ill gotten gains has appeared and is making steady progress up the river towards the jetty. Major Dumas has decided that until the boat arrives he will keep his forces hidden around the settlement.

The British forces have started to press forward into the village, a unit of rangers is ambushed by hidden braves on the outskirts, taking casualties the unit withdraws and licks its wounds. The successful Indians skulk back into the village to reload their muskets and await a new target.

British Allied Indians charge into the village only to be driven back by some of Dumas’s militias shooting from windows of the log cabins. Hidden behind stout wooden walls the village men are safe from returning fire.

Colonel Orly, still without news of the Major’s treachery has now marched with two regular units into the village square, a third column marches past the cornfield. Major Dumas has now decided with the boat tied up on the jetty he must play his hand.

Recognising that something is afoot, Dumas is moving the chest ! Colonel Orly quickly mustered his troops into firing lines and opens fire on the mercenaries accompanying the boats. In the flash of an eye a the mercenary unit was destroyed.

However, the ambush has started, unaware of the traitors mission the French columns soon come under withering fire from across the village. A succession of fire from Militia, Braves and Canadians at close range rip apart the neat regular lines. This happened twice and before the regulars could react the French relief forces are decimated.

The third column marching past the cornfield are ambushed by hidden braves – musket fire, followed by a tomahawk charge slaughter the brave men in white jackets.

In less than the turn of one deck of cards all the French regulars lie dying or routed around the village. We have been wargaming for several years and on occasions we have seen some interesting ambushes but this was devastating. Given the damage was inflicted by perceived friendly troops and the victim had no idea of this possibility (great argument for Umpires) we all stood in a state of shock. The British commander was furious that there were no French left to kill.

With the British forces hampered by difficult ground there was no way they were going to re-capture the chest, so Major Dumas with his remaining men were allowed to flee the scene victorious.


1.   Regular troops in difficult terrain are virtually impossible to move, next time the British forces will be given easier terrain to traverse.
2.   Umpiring scenarios such as these adds to the tension, confusion and excitement.
3.   Firing lines are devastating but so are well planned ambushes with the ambushers in hard cover and in sufficient numbers
4.   Next time we will use some artillery.

Thanks for reading


(all events, places and names are entirely fictitious)

Sunday 21 October 2012

Big Rivers

Big (or should I say Wide) Rivers

Kicking off the French Indian Wars project has given me the opportunity to really focus on the type of terrain I want for these skirmish games. The other night I watched Last of the Mohicans for the umpteenth time and what became apparent in the movie was the impact the rivers had on the terrain.

Like many gamers I had relied on a narrow ‘stream’ to illustrate the waterways on my battlefield. I needed something bigger that would make sense of the canoes, boats and other elements I want to introduce. So the idea was born.

I decided early on that the good old floor tiles from Homebase (Oxford Blue)would be the basis of my river and quite quickly decided that they would be c25cm in breadth. As you can see from the following pictures the canoes look too big for the old style but now work much better with the wider format.

As before the base boards are cut from hardboard with the tiles stuck to the rough side of the board.

It became apparent that this river would not need twisty turns and bends but rather a sweeping turn if required. Given that I didn’t want the table to be dominated by  the wide river I elected on building just over 2 metres. This used up just under two packs of tiles. Most of the sections are straights (25 cm long) with the bends made up of a series of rhomboids and triangles cut from the straight sections.

To meet my immediate needs I have built the ‘vanilla’ sections of my river course. The full construction followed exactly the same pattern as the smaller rivers (see link)


Next I decided to build a waterfall -

I was quite keen to create a waterfall for my big river – nothing too grand or too dominant. So the following illustrates how I went about it.

The Waterfall itself will be placed on the edge of the table, this gives the illustration that higher ground lies beyond. The base of this was constructed from the type of foam used by builders for insulation. I was lucky I still had some off cuts from my extension seven years ago and these came with a plywood backing. The foam itself stands about 12-15cm high. After hacking this about a bit I ended up with the rock shape I wanted.

Two outcrops either side of the river were separate pieces of foam glued onto the larger base. Heres a tip – I supported the glueing with skewers driven into both top and bottom of the outcrops. These serve to hold the outcrops in place whilst the glue sets and reinforce the total structure.

The whole construction was painted with two coats of acrylic black. This toughens the exterior.

On top of the black I dry brushed dark and then light grey. Static grass will add to the affect.

The river was constructed as before using the floor tiles. Now comes the fun bit. On other boards I read that flowing water could be represented by clear bathroom sealant. I sourced a product that seemed to fit the bill. Taking an old Ferrero Rocher lid (very useful things) I marked out the width of the waterfall. It’s about 25cm. Then steadily I squeezed the tube and created small runs of the acetate filler. Warning: This staff smells and should be worked outside – after 10 mins I was feeling quite woozy and realised my error after reading the instructions.

Slowly and steadily the water began to take shape. One a few runs were done I rouged them up with the same strokes downward with a cocktail stick.

Make sure the length of acetate runs are longer than the waterfall drop ! You are going to need to trim this and the bottom of the fall is going to need fixing.

Finally the bits can be bought together. The ' splash as the bottom was created with more acetate whisked up at the bottom.

It was now time to marry this up with the river...

From this angle I am pleased with the overall effect..

Some Galloping major Indians looking to cross the river....


The warcry (on the side of the waterfall)
If you want to see the bridge plus some more piccies head here

Come back soon