I have played with toy soldiers since the age of five. It began with a Marx Fort Apache Set, evolved into HO scale Airfix Figures and then switched back to the 54mm. I find it particularly relaxing to play “historical” scenarios and a challenge to write fun to play rules. The pictures shown below represent a fictitious Civil War engagement which my friends and I played in my basement several months ago. My “pard” and fellow school teacher painted the figures because I cannot do so with my partially disabled right arm.
This aerial view of the battle shows the field from the Confederate lines with infantry advancing, followed by artillery (lower left). Though it is hard to see, the Rebels are advancing up hill on the right through a stump field and over fences, all of which slow down the speed of the advance. The hayfield on the left does not impede movement but the smoke and the movement affects the effectiveness of the fire.
Facing the Rebs, and advancing through a woodlot, Union Zouaves rush forward to stop the Confederate advance. They are in two ranks and their officer (the figure with the sword) is trying to urge them forward under a hail of small arms fire ( as indicated by the smoke in the distance).
Along the fence row at the upper edge of the grove, Confederate “Louisiana Tigers” (Zouaves) cannot see their opponents across from them because the sulfuric cloud caused by the small arms fire has obscured their line of sight. In a situation like this they will expend a great deal of ammunition with minimal effects upon the enemy.
Meanwhile, a Union artillery piece abandons its forward position to escape being overrun by Rebel infantry. Across the road, another guns provides cover fire.
As they strategically “redeploy”. A heavy concentration of rebel infantry and artillery advance, hoping to inflict the final blow upon their Yankee opponents. The outcome is in the air.
Games like these teach small unit tactics and the difficulties of trying to move large numbers of troops within the confines of a small field. It incorporates terrain and smoke to simulate their effects upon movement and fire. In addition, as casualties mount, units have to run morale checks which can turn the battle, unexpectedly, in the favor of one opponent or the other.
I used games like these in the classroom to teach gamesmanship and Civil War history to students who had never played with “army men” before and I discovered that they accidentally enjoyed learning history while having a lot of fun. Many times they had to write after-action reports to explain how they fought the battles. No matter what, they learned that no strategy survived the first shot and that officers sometimes had little control in what happened upon the field.