Friday, 8 March 2019

Paper Highlanders on the march

So all my efforts with scissors and glue have finally resulted in a game!  My Paper Soldiers had their first run out in a proper game this week after a lot of cutting and sticking.

Although the book comes with a set of rules by Andy Callan,  I decided to stick to something I know...Black Powder, using some of the amendments in the Glory of Kings 18th Century supplement.   The main changes are that troops can't make multiple moves and fire in the same turn and some restrictions to deploying out of column into line...neither of which had any bearing on our game.

I'd decided to go for a historical scenario and picked the Battle of Falkirk Muir.  It was a Jacobite victory but didn't feel as one sided as either Prestonpans or Culloden.  My opponent Anthony kindly hosted and took on the Government forces.  Both sides started deployed facing each other: I had considered having the Government arrive in column but skipped this phase and went straight for the opening of the battle as a starting point.  The Government's artillery begins the game bogged down in a marsh and needs to roll each turn to free itself. In the event we forgot about it after a couple of turns as events had overtaken us by that point.

The Government army

...and the view from the Jacobite lines

I decided to head straight for the enemy lines, not wanting to get drawn into a firefight against better troops.  Despite the popular image the Jacobites weren't averse to using their muskets effectively but their strength lies in the charge so this seemed the best tactic.  In typical Black Powder fashion the command dice caught me this case my entire army steamed straight into the enemy lines in one turn!  Good for the Jacobites but it did catch me a little by surprise: I'd kind of hoped to have a little time to manoeuvre.

At this point Anthony and I both had visions of the game being over in about 30 minutes.  My left flank hit the Government lines and went into melee.  On my right the 'Terrifying Charge' bonus for the Highlanders meant that the opposing infantry didn't stay around to fight and pulled back in disorder

The Jacobites charge home

Unfortunately the Highlanders failed to break their opponents in the first round and settled down to slugging it  out with the bayonet armed line infantry.  On my right the better Government line troops had pulled back leaving the Glasgow Militia and Argyll Militia to face the Highlanders.  Despite being second rate troops they very effectively poured musket fire in and forced their opponents to stall and then halt.  On my extreme right the Government cavalry moved onto the flank of my line and, after dispatching the rather weedy Jacobite horse, ganged up on the Highlanders.

This clan's days are numbered...

In a couple of turns the battle had turned and the Jacobites broke.  In the photo below the black counters mark Shaken you can see there are quite a lot of them!

...and it's all over

So, despite re-writing history and losing the Battle of Falkirk Muir the game was great fun.  I hadn't taken account of the speed of movement in Black Powder and really the Jacobites shouldn't have been able to contact the enemy in a single turn but luckily my inept dice throwing and some skilful flanking moves on Anthony's part meant the game definitely wasn't one sided.  On a normal 6' x 4' table  I'd maybe do something with the movements rates to slow things down a little.

The Paper Soldiers themselves looked great en masse.  I still have some more to make up and add some extras to existing units to build the armies up.  It's been an interesting project...I've enjoyed making the paper soldiers but for other periods I'd probably stick with actual figures.  The Jacobite period was one I'd always wanted to do and the Paper Soldier concept made it very do-able and has certainly let me scratch that itch.  As a way of fairly quickly putting together armies it's been very cost effective and looks great,


  1. great stuff - and looks fantastic

  2. Looks great Alastair, also the added bonus that you didn't have to paint up all that tartan!

  3. It was a great game Alastair and your paper armies really do look the part even if I'm not sure whether I have the patience or skill to do that myself. I've always assumed that the rules included with these paper army books would be elegant, streamlined 'back of a postcard' style but those Andy Callan rules did look daunting! Black Powder did produce a good-and surprising!-game after all. Many thanks, Anthony.

  4. You must be easily daunted, Anthony... I provided a one page rule set for Absolute Beginners at the back of the book. The Black Powder rulebook runs to 184 pages! Andy Callan

  5. Heh, well said Andy! I was quite taken with your one page beginners rules but Alastair wanted something a bit meatier. I'm not really a fan of Black Powder but Alastair knew the relevant special rules well and ran the game very smoothly. I suppose when I skimmed your main rules in the Jacobite book (without really reading them in depth) there seemed to be a lot of detail. However we did both talk about trying them out sometime. Cheers, Anthony.

  6. Maybe we'll have to give them a try out at some point :)

  7. The full rules are admittedly rather quirky, but this is a quirky period! I throw in a bit of "design philosophy" on page 36, so do bear that in mind... Good luck!

  8. Nice looking game. Those paper warriors are very compelling.