Tuesday 13 March 2012

Big Wars Battle

The following is a report on my first battle for many years, and was fought with the excellent aid of an umpire over a number of weeks using e-mail. The battle report was penned by Hagen Von Tronek (my alter ego) as commander of a small Russian force.


Having been kicking my heels around Odessa I was sent for by the Count Gueule De Bois, to be informed that there had been a Turkish incursion and I was being sent to take command of a small force that was to restore order and destroy the enemy forces. Iwas led to understand that there was a possibility of agents from a foreign power with the enemy, hoping to buy support for an insurrection.

I was given an Army Corps that was undergoing training in the area, along with with a number of displaced units known as the 'Legion of the Damned', as well as a few units of regular cavalry and artillery.Also, the Tsars cousin, Grand Duke Michael, would accompany me.

When my staff reached our forces I saw that the enemy and I occupied parrallel ridges, with that of the enemy crowned by a ruined Abbey. Most of their forces were hiding behind the hill tops. There was a small village on my left, skirted by a river. Iimmediately sent some units to check the village while forming the rest of my forces into line and moving forward. The cavalry were sent out to locate and report on the enemy positions.

As the units cleared the village they crossed the river to join my left flank, my Cuirassiers with Hussars in support, charged the enemy cavalry, driving them back, but a counter charge by their irregular cavalry forced us to retire. Meanwhile our infantry continueed to move forward.

During the general advance my right flank was held up by rough ground, but reformed and moved on. The line infantry were attacked by enemy forces pouring over the hill from the vicinity of the Abbey, and hard fighting took place. On our left we began to push back the enemy, and our infantry began a long slog along the ridge line. Our cavalry made a charge in support on the enemy centre, but were decimated by enemy fire.

The fight became a general slogging match along the whole front and it was debatable which side held the upper hand. Iwas confident that, should the light hold, we would be the victors. Unfortunately darkness descended quickly and it was impossible to continue. Both sides disengaged as best they could, and by morning the enemy forces had retired, soundly thrashed. Unfortunately we were unable to find the foreign agent or cammandeer his warchest.

During the night, it appears that Grand Duke Michael and his entourage left our camp heading back to Odessa. No doubt your honours have received his report in person. I shall return to Odessa as soon as the army is stabilised, fed and re-munitioned, in case of any further incursion.


As I said, my first battle for a long time, and using the Big Wars rules of Stuart Asquith and Jack Alexander, specially formulated for 54mm figures. I found the rules easy to follow, not too complicated by modifiers, and quick to reference if neccessary. I do find the four figure cavalry unit a little small for my taste, and will probably double this for my own use. As it was a 'postal' game I didn't have the actual set-up to work from, but did draw out a scale size table and used Monopoly houses and hotels as unit counters. Even so, I still managed to lose track of one unit for a couple of moves (it wasn't where I thought it was). I am grateful to Alan for being my oponent, and Brian for setting up the game, using his figures, following our moves, working out the results and forwarding photos of the action (the two accompanying this post are just a couple of many sent).

When the weather improves I intend to use these rules out in the garden with the small forces currently at my disposa, and no dobt the go General will be sending furthe action reports. In the meantime, I believe that Jeff Chorney is preparing a review of the rules to appear shortly in the Lone Warrior Blog.

Anyone wanting the full story can read a blow by blow description, along with many more pictures and umpires comments, on Brian's own blog  'Collecting Toy Soldiers'. (follow link on my 'blogs followed' list.


  1. Excellent report Joppy. It will give me some good reference material for my article on 'Big Wars' for Lone Warrior magazine. I love the Header 'simply smashing' well done!

  2. Hi Joppy,

    Excellent report and I loved the eye candy! Do you have any more information on the rules at all as I would be very interested in seeing them?

    All the best,


  3. A bit 'moreish' on the picture front, Joppy! The two excellent pix you have here is like two salt & vinegar potato chips: very tasty, but you want more.

    I like the narrative delivery of the report. Is there anything behind the departure of the Grand Duke Michael? A palace intrigue maybe? Possibly a little professional jealousy seeking to undermine the great and good Marshal von Tronek, his tenure of command...?

    I guess this was just a one-off, but there seems to be potential for a much broader campaign, of which this encounter was merely the prequel.

  4. Replies to a couple of points raised in the comments. As I mentioned, the photos were a couple of the many taken by Brian and sent to us by him to show his table. We usually only had views from 'our' side, showing what our commander could see. Brian would send three or photos per move.

    Grand Duke Michael has gone to get his version in first. Part of Brian's scenario to me was that GDM would be subordinate, but as a relative of the Tsar he would take any credit due. Needless to say, any failure would be all mine.

    This was a one off fight, but I enjoyed it. Perhaps it might happen again sometime.

  5. I really would forget my head if it was loose! I meant to add,-
    The rules are no longer readily available, I understand that even the authors don't have a copy. Perhaps the revived interest may lead to a republishing of them.
    Anyone wanting to read the full story and see more pictures should go to Brian's blog 'Collecting Toy Soldiers' at blogspot, where he is serialising it in depth.

  6. Would it be possible to EMail me a copy of 'Big Wars' ? my EMail is legio.xx@virgin.net Cheers Tony

  7. I, too, would love to get a copy of these rules if they are for sale anywhere. Any chance I might be able to pay for a PDF?