Wednesday, November 23, 2011

flashback: R vs. B ...

 Well, it’s been an interesting year in a Chinese proverb kind of way. Suffice to say that a life-style change is upon me which will provide endless challenges for my hobbies. In one last hurrah, however, I did get the opportunity to play a classic war-game. I think if my opponent and I were wearing ties, jackets and smoking pipes it would have been easy to confuse us with early war gamers of the 1960s.

Joseph Morschauser was one of the leading lights of early war gaming. Being something of a bibliophile, I picked up a copy of Morschauser’s ‘How to Play War Games in Miniature’ quite a few years ago. No doubt from one of the local used book sellers. This 1962 book contains a charming set of rules divided into three periods: Shock, Musket and Modern. The rules are simple, elegant and gentlemanly vague. When in doubt “Let the Dice Decide.”

I’ve long wanted to play a Morschauser game (as well as H.G. Wells’ ‘Little Wars’ and I am intrigued to learn more about Robert Louis Stevensons’ game). When my regular opponent took it upon himself to run a classic Red vs. Blue game, I was delighted. Though I think he was more excited to find a fellow gamer who would deign to play with the cheapest, unpainted 54mm plastic figures. No matter. To me that just added to the ambiance of the game. All we needed was cognac. And so it was we fought the battle of Sittenbadenburg, an epic duel between the Bluvians and the Redikens.


The forces were equal. The Bluvians were, perhaps, a bit more proactive and quickly advanced into the wooded terrain on their right. The Redikens responded by ordering the light infantry to make a dash into the village of Sittenbadenburg but it was difficult to find an advantageous position in that small hamlet.

In response the Bluvians opened up with their artillery battery and quickly reduced the Rediken artillery to 1/3 of its original size. Rediken artillery responded but was not as effective in its counter-battery fire. The artillery duel was decided in favor of the Bluvians.

The Redikans continued infiltrating Sittenbadenburg while the Bluvians attempted to outflank them by marching through the woods on their right. In a short time the lines closed, nearly equal in disposition, the light infantry of each side sparring over the town, while the regulars halted at musket range to pummel each other. The Bluvian artillery continued its deadly work.

Eventually the Rediken forlorn hope contesting the Bluvian advance through the woods was destroyed. But that only gave an advantage to the Redikens as their remaining artillery piece was unmasked and had a clear shot at the advancing Bluvians as they emerged from the woods. The Bluvians halted to allow their own artillery to finish the job of destroying the opposing battery. But such is the fickleness of fate that the Rediken guns bested their opponents and then limbered up and moved behind the village of Sittenbadenburg. They redeployed in a defensive position so they could guard the approach to the town out of reach of the last remaining Bluvian gun.

Not wanting to charge the maw of the cannon, the Bluvians hesitated. When they thought their chances were good they ran towards the guns only to end up short. Then, to their utter consternation, the remnants of the Rediken left flanked re-emerged from the woods and rolled up the flank of the winded Bluvians. Suddenly, the outcome of the battle was in doubt!

The Bluvians threw in their only reserve unit (in actuality, they weren’t reserves, they were laggards!) and polished off the Redikan flank, though they paid a high price. Gasping with exhaustion, the Bluvian right flank fired a ragged volley in desperation. They were lucky. The Redikan artillery was silenced, the gun crews suffering the fate of heroes. The way to Sittenbaddenburg was clear. The battle was over.


  1. You know, the game really had a great ambiance: surrounded by books and your militaria collection. You should move back, and bring it all with you. I will help you unpack it!

  2. This is FANTASTIC! I love your table. Also - using the BMC guys in a wargame you are quite literally "playing with toy soldiers." This makes me want to purchase the rules you spoke of, or Charles Grant's toy soldier rules and play them.