Saturday, November 28, 2020

Random Arrival of the Enemy

 Previously, many of us have introduced uncertainty into solo wargaming by having enemy units arrive each round at a randomly selected edge of the battle field.   This works well and I heartily recommend it.  

However, you can take the idea further when playing modern forces.  Consider airborne units dropping at random locations on the battle field.  This could apply in World War II scenarios, modern warfare, or future warfare.  Science fiction scenarios might have troops arriving in space shuttles or even as individuals (as Iron Man does).

When airborne units arrive, they might be scattered and will need to regroup.  Their battle plan is to cluster their forces as soon as possible.  As the defender, your job is decimate units as they arrive.  However, you would not engage 1-1.  Instead, 2 or 3-1 would be better.  Lacking those odds, you would withdraw and attempt to link up with your other units. 

Your tactical challenge is to use cover well, to prevent the enemy from grouping up, and to avoid losing battles.  And, of course, to be lucky when rolling the dice.

Friday, November 6, 2020

ACW II in Minnesota


ACW II in Minnesota

By Jim Rohrer

H.G Wells, famed for his science fiction novels, also was a pioneer of wargaming (Wells 1913).  He was a pacifist.  He said he hoped wargaming would allow men to fight mock wars instead of real ones.  It was a vain hope.  However, it is nevertheless true that wargaming is cathartic in that it allows us to play out our anxieties on the mock battlefield.

Hence the genesis for the battle described in this article.  The action takes place in a HO scale Plasticville town. Structures include the police station, several stores, a church, a school, a water tower, several Cape Cod houses and several ranch houses.

Note: this is a solo battle.  I played both sides.  With a little practice, I have learned to switch back and forth without difficulty.  However, two players would also be able to fight this battle.

The pictures shown were taken from the middle part of the game and are not intended to show the sequence of events.



In 2021, rioters took possession of several major cities in the United States.  They arrested the state Governors and forced them to order National Guard units to stand down.  The newly elected President of the United States declined to act, lacking invitations from the Governors.  The revolutionary movement authorized a military force called the Anti-Fascist Army (AFA).  Guard units in rural areas joined with local militia units to resist encroachments from the cities.  They called themselves the Liberty Army (Libs).  Historians would look back on these events and call them the Second American Civil War (ACW II).

This alt-history scenario takes place in southern Minnesota.  AFA Humvee patrols from the Twin Cities are scouting southern Minnesota as part of a plan to take control over the entire state.  Liberty forces are patrolling their area with Humvees liberated from National Guard armories and one eighty-year old halftrack.  Neither group is aware of the other prior to initial contact.


Mission Objective

Both sides want to drive their enemy out of the town.


Battle Plan and Tactics

The AFA enters the town from the west and the Libs from the east.  Entering and exiting the town will only be on the road. Two vehicles will enter each turn. Each pair of vehicles is a patrol.  Any patrol coming under fire will be reinforced if possible. No single vehicle will stand and fight against two or more enemy vehicles.  All units will stay behind cover as much as possible. Vehicles may not move and fire in the same turn, so the advantage is to the hidden vehicle that is waiting for the enemy to appear.  Therefore, a vehicle will flee combat and then lurk in a side street awaiting pursuers.



Order of Battle


Lt.  Dalvin Cook.



Lt. Homer Smith.


1st Humvee (light armor and heavy weapon)

1st Humvee (heavy armor and heavy weapon). 

2nd Humvee

2nd Humvee

3rd Humvee

3rd Humvee

4th Humvee

4th Humvee

5th Humvee

5th Humvee

6th Humvee (heavy armor and heavy weapon)

Halftrack (light armor, heavy weapon)



The rules are modified from the WWII rules suggested in One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas (2014). 

Hits (D6).

Each unit can withstand only 15 hits.

Units with heavy weapons hit harder (D6+2).

Armored units receive fewer hits (D6-2).

All units can fire 360 degrees.

Movement is 12 inches.

One side moves some units and shoots with other units.  Then, the other side finishes the turn.

You cannot move and shoot in the same turn.

Shooting is line of site.


Battle Report

Two Libs enter the town on the east and advance 12 inches up the street.  Two AFAs do the same from the west. The Libs fire on them and they divert on to a side street.  The early game proceeds in a similar fashion until all units have deployed.  During this phase, the AFA units have taken several hits while the Libs have taken none.

However, the situation changes in the midgame, because the Libs now pursue two AFAs north of the street, attempting to bracket them.  The AFAs take a lot of hits and one unit is destroyed, but so it one Lib unit.  The surviving AFA turns up a side street and waits for the Lib unit to show itself.

AFAs south of the street move out so they fire on the Libs.  Libs fire and the AFAs fire back, then withdraw into side streets. 

Now we are into the endgame. Two AFAs move toward the rear of the Lib column.  Two other AFAs cross the street and bracket the Lib unit, quickly destroying it.  Meanwhile, the other two AFAs have reached the place where they can move up behind the Lib column.  A fire fight commences.  While the column is firing toward the rear, the AFAs in the northwest quadrant move back onto the street and fire forward onto the column.  Two of Lib units escape into the residential neighborhood while the column is being decimated.  They swing around toward the point where they entered the town.  By the time they arrive back on the street, the column has been destroyed.  The two remain Lib HumVees retreat from the town.  The AFA forces have won this battle. Either side could have won depending of choices and the roll of the dice.  Elapsed time: 30 minutes.


After Action Report

Most wargames take place on a fairly open battlefield.  Some elements of terrain will be present, such as trees, hills, rivers, a structure or two, a swamp, and a road.  Urban battles are less common. The battle described here is hardly urban, since the village is small.  However, it takes place entirely within the city limits of a town.  That made it unusual and also affected the tactics. In addition, this battle used Matchbox Humvees (and one halftrack made by Corgi) instead of miniature soldiers.  Tabletop battles often contain a mix of figures and vehicles, but forces composed entirely of vehicles are unusual.   Even so, this worked well for me and I intend to play this out again.  HO scale figures are available for low prices; a box of 40 Airfix plastic soldiers can be purchased on Amazon for ten dollars.  The best way to prepare them for battle is beyond the scope of this article.  However, they are the correct size for a battlefield that uses Plasticville structures as terrain features.

Plasticville HO scale buildings are useful for battles that might be set in the USA.  Any time period from 1940 to present day would be consistent with the architectural style.  The warm nostalgic feelings generated by Plasticville structures conflict with the violence of warfare, creating a disturbing incongruity that adds to the excitement of the battle.



Wells, HG.  Little Wars (1913).

Thomas, Neil. One-Hour Wargames (2014).  Pen & Sword Military.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Airship Defense (1880)


In this light steampunk scenario, the Russian Empire is invading an unspecified location in East Prussia.  The German have a steam-powered airship to assist in their defense.  The Russians do not have any weapons that can harm the airship.

Mission objective for the Russians: take and hold the bridge.

Mission objective for the Germans: take and hold the bridge; destroy the invaders if possible.

Order of Battle:

The Russian army has four infantry units (one heavy), one cavalry unit and one artillery battery.

The German army has four infantry units, one cavalry unit and one airship.


Any unit touching cover is in cover.  This includes trees and buildings. Being under cover reduces hits by 50%.

Firing is assumed to be in any direction for all units except the artillery.

Flank attacks by cavalry get 2x hits.

No units can move and fire in the same turn.  The airship can move anywhere on the battlefield in one turn.

Heavy infantry gets +2 hits.

The river can only be crossed the bridge.  The church represents a village. Cavalry and artillery cannot enter the village.


War Diary.

Round one.

The Russian units all move toward cover except the artillery.  The artillery fires on the German cavalry.  2 hits.

The Germans move toward the invaders. The airship moves over the Russian artillery unit.



Round 2.

The Russian artillery moves east to avoid bombs from the airship.  Other units move under cover.  The German units move to cover.  One starts to cross the bridge. The airship moves over the artillery. The cavalry fires on 4th infantry.  2 hits.

Round 3.

The Russian artillery moves west.  1st infantry, the cavalry and 4th infantry fire on 2nd infantry, 1st infantry and 3rd infantry on the bridge.  Hits were 3, 3, and 3.

The airship moves above 4th infantry.  The other units fire on their opposing targets.  Hits were 2, 3, 5, 1 and 3.

Round 4.

The Russian units all fire.  Hits were 2, 1, 1, 3, and 2. The German units fire.  Hits were 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 and 1.



Round 5.

The Russian units hit 3, 4, 4 (destroyed), 2 and 2.  German 3rd infantry is the destroyed unit.

The Germans hit 2, 3 (destroyed), 3 and 3.  Russian 4th infantry was destroyed.

Round 6.

The Russian units in the village reposition to the north side where they can fire on the Germans units under cover on the other side of the river.  The artillery, 1st infantry and cavalry units fire.  Hits were 3, 1, 2, 2 and 2.

Round 7. 

The Russians blaze away.  Hits were 1, 1, 2, 2, and 3.

The Germans also fire.  Hits were 3, 3, 3, 2, and 3.

Round 8.

Russians.  Hits were 1, 1, 2 (destroyed), and 4 (destroyed).  Destroyed units were the German 2nd and 4th infantry.

Germans: Hits were 2, 3 and 3 (Russian 3rd infantry was destroyed).

Round 9.

Russian units on the west side face no opposition so they move toward the bridge.  The artillery fires on 4th infantry.  2 hits.  2nd infantry fires on the cavalry.  1 hit.

German hits on the Russians were 1, 2 and 1. 




Round 10.

Two Russian units are crossing the bridge.  The artillery and cavalry fire.  Hits were 2 and 3.

German get 3, 1 and 1 hits.

Round 11.

Russian hits were 1, 3 (German 4th infantry is destroyed) and 3.

German cavalry retreats. The airship hits 2nd infantry and destroys it.

Round 12.

The remaining two Russian units advance toward the Fort.  The artillery scores two hits against the cavalry.

The German cavalry enters the fort.  The airship moves over 1st infantry.

Round 13.

Russian 1st infantry moves west while the cavalry fires on the cavalry unit in the fort and destroys it.

The German airship moves over the bridge and destroys it.


After Action Report

Neither side achieved its objectives.  The Russian artillery survived (five hits) as did 1st heavy infantry (11 hits) and the cavalry (12 hits).  They were badly mauled.  The Germans would have won this battle had their shooting been more accurate.

The Germans lost all units except the airship.  Destroying the bridge prevented the Russians from controlling it and trapped two weakened units in enemy territory.  Their airship was not highly effective against the Russian units but it was not in danger at any time.  The Russians needed fighter planes with incendiary rounds.

Elapsed time: one hour. 





Saturday, October 3, 2020

Burn it Down!

This scenario is loosely based on a Minneapolis riot that occurred in 2020.  Riot control in the United States requires use of nonlethal force in almost all situations.  However, various types of weaponry have been developed for this purpose.  See the Wikipedia article for more information (  The map and markers are glued to poster board.

Order of Battle, Movement, Combat and Shooting

Police forces have six units: two regular riot (RR) police units (infantry), two special weapons and tactics (SWAT) units, one mounted (M) police (cavalry) unit and one artillery. Unit markers are shown below.  (Note: players may change the number and types of units how they want.  Experiment and see how the outcome changes.)

RR units have armor and batons (the X symbol on the markers).  They are like medieval foot knights in that they are fully armored and have shields.  However, their weapons are batons instead of swords.  In hand-to-hand combat they get plus two.  Their armor protects them so attack hits are divided by two. They do not shoot. Movement is one square (two on a major road).

SWAT units are classed as mechanized heavy infantry (X symbol plus oval).  They have riot guns that fire plastic bullets, bean bags, or pepper spray.  Their offensive power is limited so hits equal 1D6.  They are armored so hits against = D6/2. Range is one square.  They travel in police vans. Movement is three squares (six on a major road).

M units are cavalry (the slash symbol) who use their horses for shock and dispersal.  Hits are D6+2.  Hits against are D6.  They do not shoot.  Movement is two squares (four on a major road).  After an attack, they fall back one square unless the defending unit is dispersed. They are vulnerable to hits so will avoid frontal assaults and instead will maneuver until they can mount a flank attack.

Artillery units (the dot symbol) fire tear gas, water cannon, fire hoses, stink bombs, sticky foam, sound cannon, energy weapons or lasers.  Hits are D6. Range is two squares.  They are armored. Movement is one square (two on a major road).

Rioters have six units: three rabble marked as infantry (the X symbol shaded with a color), one motorcycle gang (classed as cavalry and marked with a slash) and two looter car units classed as mech infantry (an X with an oval).  The looter cars are armed with laser guns and bottles filled with noxious liquids.  The two looter car units seeks to loot and burn the stores.  The other group (three rabble and one motorcycle unit) seeks to take the police station and burn it.  Rabble units fight hand-to-hand and get D6-2 hits against armored police.  Movement is one square (two on a major road).  Looter car units will avoid hand-to-hand combat if possible but will withdraw instead.  They hit with projectiles and lasers from a distance of one square (one D6).  They travel three squares (six squares on a major road).

General Rules

1.       Any unit will scatter after receiving 15 hits.

2.       Flank and rear attacks double the hits. 

3.       Cover only applies when a police unit is in the police station.  Cover reduces hits by ½. 

4.       Units in the police station have 360-degree field of fire and cannot be flanked.

5.       Armor reduces hits by two.

6.       No unit may pass through another unit. 

7.       No unit may shoot over the heads of another unit.

8.       No unit may occupy the same square as another unit.

9.       Units may rotate 90 degrees at the beginning AND middle AND the end of a move.

10.   When a unit moves adjacent to an enemy unit, hand-to-hand combat begins immediately.

11.   Game sequence is as follows: the first player moves units, counts hits, shoots, counts hits.  Then the second player does the same.  Hits against each unit should be recorded.

12.   No diagonal moving or shooting is allowed.

13.   Any building that is occupied by an enemy is considered looted and burned.

14.   Hits are rounded up so no less than one hit can occur.

All of my suggestions for hits and mobility are taken from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas (2014).  I modified them to fit this situation.  The Thomas book is available as a kindle book from Amazon.


Rioters enter the battlefield on the southwest corner from the residential area.  One RR police unit is placed in the police station.  Reinforcing police units arrive one each turn.  Reinforcements enter from the north or east depending on the dice roll (1-3=north, 4-6=east).    

The commercial area is on the northwest corner.  The police station is southeast of the central park.    An east-west street runs through the central park.  Another east-west street runs through the retail district.   

Battle Plans and Victory Conditions

Rioters in the looter group will move directly toward the commercial district and attack police forces head-on if their path is blocked.  Rioters in the group attacking the police station will move directly toward the police station and charge police forces directly in front of them if their path is blocked.

The player commands the police forces.  Flank attacks will be employed if possible but no frontal attacks.  Instead, RR police forces will defend-in-place and other police units will withdraw to avoid hand-to-hand combat unless they are assisting other police units. 

Rioters win if they loot the stores and occupy the police station.  Police win if they contain or scatter the rioters.  The battle ends after 15 rounds.  


Example of a Battle

Player is the commander of the police forces.  The automated battle plan for the rioters is as follows: A) they will move directly toward their objective; and B) they will attack police units directly in front of them but will not turn away from their objective for flank attacks.

Round one.

Rioters.  1 and 2 looter car units move north.  The other units move toward the station.

Police.  The M unit arrives on the east and moves west to the intersection.

Round two.

Rioters.  1st and 2nd looter car units move north.  The other units move toward the station.

Police.  The M unit moves north toward the retail district.  One SWAT unit arrives and moves to the intersection.

Round three.

Rioters.  1st and 2nd looter car units move north.  The other units move east.  The motorcycle unit holds in the central park.

Police.  2nd RR arrives and moves south toward the station.  The M unit moves west two squares.  The 1st SWAT unit moves north to the intersection.

Round four.

Rioters.  1st and 2nd looter cars occupy the retail stores.  They are looted and burned.  Other units continue to move east toward the station.

Police.  A second SWAT unit arrives on the east side and moves west to the intersection.  2nd RR moves south toward the station.  The first SWAT unit attacks rioters in the rear.  2 hits.

Round five.

Rioters.  In the retail district, 1st looter car unit turns and hits the police 1st SWAT and the 2nd looter car unit does the same.  8 hits total damage. In the south, all units continue to move toward the station.

Police. The artillery unit arrives and moves west on the street.  1st RR moves south.  2nd SWAT moves south.  In the retail district, the M unit moves west.  The SWAT unit hits the 1st looter unit again.  4 hits.

Round six. 

Rioters.  In the retail district, 1st SWAT is hit by both looter car units for 5 points damage.  In the south, all units continue to move toward the station.

Police.  In the retail district, the M unit hits 2nd looter car unit.  10 points damage.  1st SWAT hits 1st looter car unit.  5 points damage.  In the south, 2nd RR moves west to face oncoming rioters.  2nd SWAT moves south. The artillery fires on 1st rabble. 4 hits.

Round seven.

Rioters. In the retail district, both looter car units hit 1st SWAT.  DESTROYED.  In the south, 1st rabble hits the station.  2 hits.  2nd rabble hits 2nd RR.  1 hit.  3rd rabble moves east.

Police.  In the retail district, the mounted unit hits 2nd looter car.  DESTROYED.  Down at the station, 2nd SWAT hits 1st rabble. DESTROYED.  The artillery unit moves south.  2nd RR hits 2nd rabble.  4 hits.

Round eight.

Rioters. 1st looter car unit races east to the intersection. 2nd rabble hits 2nd RR.  1 hit.  3rd rabble hits 2nd RR.  2 hits.

Police.  The mounted unit in the retail district moves east. The artillery unit moves south.  2nd SWAT moves south.  2nd RR hits 2nd rabble.  6 hits.

Round nine.

Rioters.  1st looter car moves south.  2nd rabble hits 2nd RR. 1 hit.  3rd rabble hits second RR.  2 hits.  Mounted unit hits 1st looter car unit in the flank.  12 hits.

Police.  The M unit moves east and south.  The artillery unit hits 2nd rabble.  4 hits.  2nd RR hits 2nd rabble.  DESTROYED.  2nd SWAT hits 3rd rabble.  8 hits.

Round ten.

Rioters.  1st looter car unit hits the artillery in the flank.  10 hits.  3rd rabble hits 2nd RR.  1 hit.  The motorcycle gang hits 2nd SWAT.  DESTROYED.

Police.  The artillery moves south.  2nd RR hits 3rd rabble.  5 hits.  The mounted unit hits the 1st looter car unit.  2 hits.

Round eleven. 

Rioters.  The motorcycle gang hits the artillery.  DESTROYED.   1st looter car unit hits the mounted unit.  5 hits.  3rd rabble hits 2nd RR.  1 hit.

Police.  The mounted police unit hits the motorcycle gang.  Ten hits.   2nd RR hits 3rd rabble.  DESTROYED.

Round twelve.

Rioters.  The motorcycle gang hits the 2nd RR.  DESTROYED.  1st looter car unit hits 1st RR in the police station.  1 hit.

Police.  1st RR hits the looter car  unit.  4 hits.  The mounted unit hits the looter car unit.  DESTROYED. 

The motorcycle gang is the only remaining unit of rioters.  They retreat.  The retail district was destroyed.  The police station was protected.  The battle ends in a draw.





Saturday, September 19, 2020

Battle of the Pomeranian Bridge (1890)



The German Empire, in this light steampunk scenario, had by 1890 consolidated its control over central Europe.  The Russian Empire justifiably fears German aggression and decides to strike first by weakening the German position in Pomerania.  Russian units will move northward from Poland.  This is a sneak attack and so the German Airships will be unable to reinforce before the action has begun. Sky Marines will be dropped in as reinforcements during rounds 1, 2 and 5.  In addition, the German boffins have developed portable machine guns and the Kaiser’s High Command distributed them to heavy infantry units on the eastern front.  The Russians have no special steampunk technology of their own.  However, The British developed short-range mortars which they are generously allowing the Russians to test.

Mission Objectives

The Russian army (south) seeks to take and hold the bridge as a primary objective.  The German army seeks to prevent the Russians from holding the bridge.  The map shown below is patterned after one shown in One Hour Wargames (Thomas 2014).  The map and order of battle are taken from Scenario 5: Bridgehead.

Victory for the Germans is to control the bridge.  Victory for the Russians is there being no German units within 12 inches of the bridge on the north bank.

Battle Plan

The Russians will batter the Germans with an artillery barrage when the battery arrives.  Their artillery will target the German artillery on the hill.  All infantry units will begin moving toward the bridge when they arrive.  The Russian army is closer to the bridge than the Germans, so they will reach it first. The cavalry holds back. Infantry units will cross the bridge and defend the units still crossing.  All units will engage the German units with small arms fire, seeking flanking opportunities. After the German army takes several hits they are expected to retreat.  Russian army units will then advance into German territory.  The cavalry will seek to flank the infantry.

The Germans will advance three infantry units toward the bridge.  One will attack frontally and the other two will execute left and right flanking maneuvers, remaining out of range of Russian units still on the south bank of the river. 

The German artillery will be placed on the hill.  The battery will target the Russian artillery.  1st infantry moves to support the artillery on the hill.  Those two units will defend the hill and provide reinforcements to the forces at the bridge. The cavalry unit holds back.

Order of Battle

Symbols shown on the units are as follows: X=infantry, /=cavalry, and a circle=artillery.  Black signifies German and White signifies Russian. Units were not chosen randomly.  (See table below.)

The Russian force is composed of four infantry battalions (one heavy), a cavalry company and an artillery battery.  The defending German force consists of three infantry battalions, one heavy infantry battalion, one cavalry company, and one artillery battery.


Russian Brigade.   Col Dimitri Parsky


German Brigade.  Gen Alexender von Kluck

1st Infantry battalion

1st Infantry battalion

2nd Infantry battalion

2nd Infantry battalion

3rd Infantry battalion

3rd Infantry battalion

4th Infantry battalion (Heavy)

4th Infantry battalion (Heavy)

1st Cavalry

1st Cavalry

1st Artillery

1st Artillery



The rules are taken from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas (2014).

The hill provides cover (divide by 2).

Infantry hits (D6).

Heavy infantry hits (D6+2).

Flank attack hits (D6 x 2).

Cavalry dismount to shoot.  Hits (D6-2).

Artillery hits (D6).

There is no hand to hand combat.

Shooting is in a 45-degree arc forward.

Movement is 6 inches except cavalry, who can move 12 inches.

One side moves some units and shoots with other units.  Then, the other side finishes the turn.

You cannot move and shoot in the same turn.


Battle Report

Following the scenario as suggested by Thomas, the sequence of deployment was as follows:

One Russian unit was deployed north of the river within 6” of the bridge.

Turn 1.  2 German units deployed using special rules (D6 1-2=point A, 3-4=point B, 5-6=point C). Points A, B and C are north of the bridge.  Point A is on the west, point B is north and point C is on the east. 

Turn 2.  Russians deployed one unit at point D.

Turn 3.  Germans deployed 2 units using the special rules.

              Russians deployed one unit at point D.

Turn 4.  Russians deployed one unit at point D.

Turn 5.  Germans deployed 2 units using special rules.

              Russians deployed one unit at point D.

Turn 6.  Russians deployed one unit at point D.

The picture below shows how the battlefield looked after all the units were deployed.  The German battle plan called for deployment of the artillery unit on the hill.  However, the artillery battery appeared from the west, so deployment to the hill was not practical.  This turned out not to be a disadvantage for the Germans.  The Russians, on the other hand, were hampered by slow deployment across the bridge.  In short, the battle plans were obsolete almost immediately.


The Russians were able to hold for a while, but 1st infantry was taking too many hits and was destroyed in round 6 (see picture below).  The Russian cavalry were now exposed to fire from two directions.  The good news was that the late arrivals were able to face off against the German units to the west of the road.

The German 1st infantry also was destroyed in round 6.  


The Russian 2nd infantry was destroyed in round 7.  The Russian artillery was destroyed in round 8. At this point, it appears that the Russian cavalry should have disengaged and tried to flank the German 2nd infantry.  Instead, they continued to fire at it; it was destroyed in round 9 along with the German 3rd infantry.  Miraculously, the Russian cavalry survived until round 10.  The Russians lost the 3rd infantry in round 9. The remaining two Russian units (the cavalry and 3rd infantry) were scattered in round 10.





After-Action Report

This scenario worked well.  It turned out to be a straight pitched-battle but I believe that was partly due to the strange luck in random deployment of German forces and partly due to poor tactical decisions made by the Russian leader during the heat of battle. 

The battle lasted 44 minutes.  Some of that time was devoted to recording hits and movements. Also, I had to think carefully for special deployment, but hopefully during replay this will be less distracting.  Even though I have been using One Hour Wargames rules exclusively for a long time, I confess this is the first time I have played one of Thomas’ scenarios because they looked a bit mundane to me. To my delight, I found playing this scenario to be richly rewarding.  I will definitely play the scenarios as written more often.

This is the first game in which I used the flat unit markers.  The reader will have to judge whether the action was as apparent in the photos as it would have been had miniature figures been used, but I found that it was easier to distinguish the unit types with the flat markers.  They are a lot cheaper than figures; just make them in a word processing program and print them out.  Or make them by hand.  Not being embarrassed about my sloppy paint jobs on figures is a plus. The idea for using markers like this came from the many articles published by Scott Hahn in Lone Warrior, but mine are a lot simpler than his.  See Hahn (2014) for an example of his work.

For this game I used a battle log sheet to record deployment, movements, attacks, hits, total hits, and when units were destroyed.  I would show a picture of the log pages but my scribbles would not be helpful.  The columns were round, attacking unit, defending unit, hits, total hits, and movement.  Recording the game consumed three pages in a steno notepad. 



Featherstone, Donald and Curry, John (2013).  Donald Featherstone’s Solo-Wargaming.  Kindle edition.  First published by Kayle and Ward, London, 1973.

Hahn, Chris (2014).  The Governor’s Gamble AAR.  Published in Game Reports, Lone Warrior.


Thomas, Neal (2014). One-Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and SpaceKindle Edition.  Pen & Sword.











Friday, September 11, 2020

Battle of the Blue Rhinocorn (1899)


The Islands of Gurensey, Herm and Sark (left to right) seen from space (


After the conquest of Sark, the High Command of the German Empire planned to expand its base in the English Channel by taking the larger island of Gurnsey.  Guernsey was protected by the Royal Guernsey Militia, a force that the Germans did not take lightly.  In 1898, the Militia won the Kolopore Cup, a shooting competition open to all countries in the British Empire, excluding the mother country.  In 1899, the Queen's Prize was won by Private William A. Priaulx.  The Queen's Prize was considered to be the most coveted shooting prize in the world.

The strategic goal for the Germans, obvious to all, was a strong position in the Channel from which the German Empire could monitor and perhaps threaten both the British Empire and the French Republic.  A secret objective was known only to a few: capture of the Blue Rhinocorn.  The rare Blue Rhinocorn, like the Guernsey cow, was a species uniquely developed in Guernsey.  German physicists theorized that the milk of the Rhinocorn could be used to synthesize a powerful laser.  They intended to use the laser in a handheld weapon to be named the Blue Ray Gun. 

Order of Battle, Battle Plans and Rules

The Royal Guernsey Militia is composed of four units of infantry; all are expert marksmen. The German force contains six units of marines.  Each unit is represented by four figures mounted on a four-inch base. 

The German Sky Marines were dropped from their airship on the southwestern shore and advance toward the center. One objective is to take the lighthouse and the other is to take the village.  

The Militia is based on the northeastern shore. They will attempt to prevent the Germans from taking either the lighthouse or the village.  They will send some units toward the center despite being outnumbered and deplete the German forces with expert sniper fire. 

One Hour Wargames rules for the machine age are used (Thomas 2014). There is no hand to hand combat.  Shooting range is 12 inches. One D6 determines hits for the Germans but for the Militia hits are D6+2 because they are sharpshooters.  Cover reduces hits by 1/2.  Flank and rear attacks double the hits. Neither side has artillery or cavalry. Movement is six inches (8 inches on the road). Units are removed after 15 hits. 

Figures are 1/72 Airfix soldiers.  The Militia are in brown and the German Marines are in black. No event cards are used.

Round 1.  
Militia units advance 6".  4th Militia heads toward the village.  1st Militia heads toward goes toward the lighthouse.
German units advance 6".  1st German goes toward the lighthouse.  4th, 5th and 6th German go toward the village. 

Round 2.
4th Militia reaches the village.  1st Militia gets to the hill but cannot touch the lighthouse. 2nd and 3rd Militia hold on the road.
1st German touches the lighthouse and takes cover in it. The other German units advance 6".

Round 3.  
1st Militia fires on 1st German - 1 hit
2nd Militia fires on 2nd German- 7 hits
3rd Militia fires on 3rd German- 3 hits
4th German moves to flank 3rd Militia.
1st German fires on 1st Militia - 3 hits
2nd German fires on 1st Militia - 4 hits
3rd German fires on 3rd Militia - 4 hits

Round 4
1st Militia withdraws 6"
3rd Militia withdraws 6"
4th Militia fires on 5th German - 4 hits
1st German fires on 1st Militia -1 hit
2nd German fires on 2nd Militia - 1 hit
5th German fires on 4th Militia - 2 hits
6th German fires on 4th Militia - 1 hit

Round 5
1st, 2nd and 3rd Militia move
4th Militia fires on 5th German - 8 hits
1st-4th Germans move
5th German fires on 4th Militia - 2 hits
6th German fires on 4th Militia - 1 hit

Round 6
1st Militia fires on 2nd German - hits
2nd Militia fires on 2nd German - 3 hits
3rd Militia fires on 3rd German - 7 hits
4th Militia fires on 5th German - 5 hits (destroyed)
2nd German fires on 2nd Militia - 4 hits
3rd German fires on 2nd Militia - 4 hits
4th German fires on 4th Militia - 1 hit
6th German fires on 4th Militia - 3 hits

Round 7
1st Militia fires on 2nd German - 5 hits (destroyed)
2nd Militia fires on 3rd German - 6 hits (destroyed)
3rd Militia fires on 4th German - 4 hits
4th Militia fires on 6th German-7 hits
2nd German fires on 2nd Militia - 6 hits (destroyed)
6th German fires on 4th Militia - 4 hits

Round 8
1st Militia fires on 1st German - 6 hits
3rd Militia fires on 4th German - 3 hits
4th Militia fires on 6th German - 4 hits
4th German fires on 3rd Militia - 5 hits 
German fires on 4th Militia - 3 hits

Round 9
1st Militia fires on 1st German - 3 hits
3rd Militia fires on 4th German - 3 hits
4th Militia fires on 6th German - 4 hits (destroyed)
1st German fires on 1st Militia - 6 hits
4th German fires on 4th Militia - 4 hits (destroyed)

Round 10
1st Militia fires on 1st German - 6 hits
3rd Militia fires on 4th German - 6 hits (destroyed)
1st German fires on 3rd Militia - 2 hits (destroyed)

Round 11
The Militia retreats to the village and the Germans retreat to the lighthouse. 

Total elapsed time: 33 minutes.  The Germans did not see the Blue Rhinocorn.


This battle ended in a draw.  The superior marksmanship of the militia saved them from complete destruction by the Sky Marines.  However, I confess that I had to play through twice to achieve this result.  The Sky Marines did not attempt the flanking maneuver in the first game and the militia did not withdraw soon enough. As a result, the first battle ended after only 12 minutes with a lopsided German victory. 

This game was the first One Hour Wargame (OHW) I have played this year with several figures on a base.  This method is classic OHW.  Previously I had only one figure per unit.  For some reason, I confess to being more satisfied with four figures per base.

The other change from recent games is the decision to include less terrain.  Once again, this is classic OHW.  The sparse and 'clean' battlefield has visual appeal.

Lastly, I must confess that my notes were incomplete in places and I had to back-fill a few elements in the round-by-round report.  Hopefully, the insertions were accurate.


Thomas, Neal (2014). One-Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and SpaceKindle Edition.  Pen & Sword.