I wrote about my the various phases of my Louisiana project a few years ago. For those who’ve heard this before, feel free to skip this stuff and follow down to something more interesting.
Let’s see, Louisiana in a few words. In the decade from 1995-2005 or so, I was utterly taken with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Right, the bicentennial and all that. I read everything I could get my hands on including Donald Jackson’s Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. A letter confirmed Spain sent an expedition to arrest Lewis and Clark and bring a halt to the expedition. I thought there was a game in that, and lo, I made a game.
Further reading, especially Seduced by the West by Laurie Winn Carlson, convinced me Lewis and Clark was the first of a number military exploring expeditions intended to poke Spain in the eye and threaten its distant western empire. Enough, in fact, that Spain and the United States were on the verge of war several times between 1797-1810 when Mexico launched its decade-long war of independence. If I had the 150 or so figures for Lewis and Clark, surely it wouldn’t take many more to put together more Americans and some Spanish to put this together. Heck I already had 100 or so painted Woodland Indians who could double as Chickasaw Spanish allies. I even kicked in the cash to buy a Comanche mounted warband from Conquest Miniatures. I ran a few games at Enfilade and even put together a role-playing/miniatures game featuring something loosely based on The Burr Conspiracy.
If all this sounds incredibly strange and obscure, well, I’m used to it. I’m Mr. Obscure, but I’m totally fine with it. Let’s face it, miniature wargames are simply problems that need solving, and the problems I choose to solve are just a bit different than everyone else’s
Even so, I was never terribly happy with the way the games played out. I began by using Two Hour Wargames wonderful Black Powder Battles. I really liked them, but the games I wanted to play were just too big to use them effectively. Then I moved on to the AWI rules in Brother Against Brother, but those too left me unsatisfied. I didn’t like the morale rules, and it felt like I was trying to graft some ACW rules on a different period, which is exactly what I was doing.
Louisiana has largely been on the shelf since 2014, but I’m looking for an excuse to finish the figures I have for it-about 100 Americans, Indians and Spanish-and play some games.
Some photos from my Louisiana project. From upper left, Spanish troops in my Burr Conspiracy game. Comanche cavalry that could sometimes be persuaded to fight for Spain when they weren’t raiding the frontier. The Louisiana Regiment with the Hibernians in the background. Mounted militia rifles. Bottom, Spanish Cuera lance armed, musket armed, shielded cavalry that regularly fought native adversaries–including those nasty Comanches.
The Big Remount
But there are two major issues on the table to make me happier with the project. First I decided to remount my miniatures. Just to be clear I’m not a remounting fetishist. I hate remounting. But since I wrote an article for the dearly departed NHMGS Citadel six or seven years ago declaiming about the proliferation of single figure games, I’ve worked on nothing but single figure projects.
My Louisianans are all mounted as single figures, along with my Lion Rampant, Quetzacoatl Rampant and Irish Civil War miniatures. While singles have their advantage for skirmish and semi-skirmish games, they are also an enormous pain for three reasons: 1) Singles slow down set up and put away of a game. 2) Singles slow movement during a game. 3) Safely transporting zillions of singly mounted figures is dicey, because many tend to fall down despite my best efforts to prevent that. I think singles are great if you’re talking 40-100 figures, but my games are never less than 200-400 figures and that is simply too many.
I’ve decided to remount my figures in a style that has begun to gain traction at least among some of my friends. It’s a 3-2-1 system, with stands of three, two and one figures mounted on round bases. It’s basically a making change system. So a twelve figure Native American unit has 3-three figure bases, 1-two figure base, and 1-one figure base. That’s five bases to set up, put away, and move around in a game rather than twelve. And the larger bases will offer more stability during transportation than a bunch of single bases with high centers of gravity rattling around in the car despite their magnetized base bottoms.
Rules: America Rampant
My friend Dave Schueler suggested The Men Who Would Be King for Louisiana. He noted the use of obsolete muskets in the colonial era rules and suggested this combined with the use of melee characteristics for Britain and France’s colonial opponents might work for my 1797-1810 era.
I picked up a copy of TMWWBK shortly after they were released, but hadn’t looked at them very closely. I was tucking them away toward a future Sudan project. But with summer break and allocating my game project time, I decided to give them a closer look. I really like these rules. They retain a lot of the interesting quirkiness of Daniel Mersey’s other rules sets, and eliminate some of the annoying glitchy stuff. Every unit has some automatic activations it can do, and a failed activation doesn’t end the turn for a player.
But in the end, I didn’t feel the rules had the right period feel for that early black powder era. So I did what all good gamers do and I “adapted” the rules to my needs and produced America Rampant: War on the Border 1792-1810. Finished the framework on Tuesday. I’ll have the opportunity to try them out on July 8th with Dave. Will keep you posted.