Demo Game Progress… The Battle of Murfreesboro at Warfare 2021 (Part 2)

As discussed last month, I’m booked in to put on a demo game at the Wargames Association of Reading’s ‘Warfare 2021’ show over the weekend of 27/28 November. 

At the last ‘Warfare’ in 2019 I won the trophy for the Best Demo Game with my Cassinga Raid game and this time I’m doing a refight of the American Civil War Battle of Murfreesboro (also known as Stones River), using Pendraken 10mm figures and Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules, with a slightly expanded version of Rich Hassenauer’s scenario from his Great Western Battles 2nd Edition scenario book for Fire & Fury. 

Here’s my version of the scenario map.  As I’m using 10mm figures with an increased ground-scale, I’m able to bring the small flanking action between Zahm’s Union cavalry and Wharton’s Confederate cavalry onto the table, as well as part of Breckenridge’s Confederate division that starts the game off-table in Rich’s original scenario.

To build the terrain, I’m using 2’x2′ high-density polystyrene boards (the product is called MD-FRA) which I get from a manufacturer in the UK by the name of Eccleston & Hart, who provide an excellent product, very cheaply and very quickly.  They also put a few extra boards in the pack to act as ‘buffers’ against damage in transit, which can also then be used to make scenery. 🙂

The boards arrived in the form of a ‘Black Monolith’…

I’m using two thicknesses of polystyrene board; the base-boards are 20mm thick and the top-layer is 10mm thick.  I cut the rivers out of the 10mm boards and then glue them onto the baseboards using PVA glue:

It needs to be emphasised at this point that this is a job that requires a lot of space and can get VERY messy!  Thankfully we’ve had a long period of unseasonably dry and warm weather here in normally-soggy Wales, so I was able to do it all in the garden.  Mrs Fawr very unkindly took some photos of me in action and clearly photoshopped out my hair (obviously)…

Oh and I had ‘help’…

After ungluing the dog, the next stage was to mark out the position of roads, railway and hills:

Then the messiest stage of all; cutting out the hills, smoothing them off with a sanding-block, gluing them on to the boards and then using the sanding-block to carve out the roads and fords:

The next stage will be some terrain-detailing in the form a rocky outcrop (the ‘Slaughter Pen’) in the centre of the table and some hasty Confederate breastworks.  Once those are done I’ll paint the whole board with PVA and coat it in fine sand for a bit of texture (I find that it also adds toughness and rigidity to the boards) before painting and flocking.

In the meantime I’ve also been making good progress on the figure-painting front, with three Union infantry brigades completed:

Lastly, I’ve painted a command base for Morton’s special Pioneer Brigade (posed here with some of the infantry from the last photo).  This brigade was formed from the massed regimental pioneers from all the regiments of the Army of the Cumberland.  The Pioneers didn’t carry regimental colours, but a flag (probably the brigade headquarters flag) is recorded for them later in the war and that’s good enough for me…

With the glorious weather now starting to break, I’m very pleased to report that the biggest terrain jobs are now complete.  As the weather gets colder and wetter I can do all the painting and flocking indoors, one board at a time.  However, the initial cutting, carving and gluing phase always needs a lot of space in order to lay out the full map and check the alignment of roads and rivers, but that’s now done! 🙂

This entry was posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games, Scenery, Warfare (Show). Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Demo Game Progress… The Battle of Murfreesboro at Warfare 2021 (Part 2)

  1. Dean Oliver says:

    Excellent report, and many thanks for including the terrain making bit.

  2. Edward Sturges says:

    Coming along nicely. I hope to make Warfare to see the game in person.

    Glad you had canine help!

    Edward

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Excellent! It’ll be good to see you again! 🙂

      Ah, yes… The dog’s been sneezing constantly ever since and it seems she has some polystyrene lodged up her sinuses… So we now have to get up early in the morning and travel two hours to see a specialist… And I’m sleeping in the dog-house… 🙁

  3. Jason says:

    Great work Mark!

    Brought back a lot of memories of the initial terrain building sessions.

    Looking forward to seeing the final product.

    J

  4. Paul Smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Interesting as always, I’m presuming that the boards do not warp? And do you use any type of ‘fixings’ to keep the boards together and lined up?

    I only have the 1st edition ‘Western Battles Scenario Book’ and was wondering if the new edition has the same ‘Surprise Attack Table’ included (i.e. rolling a die at the beginning of the game to see if any of the Union brigades are surprised). Regardless of this, having played the scenario at least 3 times the Confederates always struggled to do anything like as well as they did in the actual battle. Just food for thought.

    Cheers Paul

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Paul,

      It’s not exactly the same. The Union divisions at the southern end of the line are stuck on Disorder status for the first couple of turns and one battery is immobilised as the horses are out to pasture. The remaining Union and Confederate formations are progressively released as the game goes on. The Union brigades also mostly have slightly worse morale/fatigue than the Confederates.

      Re the polystyrene boards – as long as you leave them out for the glue/paint to dry on a flat surface and then store them on edge, they’ll stay flat. I use cocktail sticks stabbed in the edges to help stop them moving and then a length of masking tape completely around the perimeter of the assembled table.

  5. Paul Smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Thanks.
    Regarding the hills, my memory from visiting the battlefield sometime ago was that they were pretty insignificant, more like rises in the ground with crests blocking line of sight, certainly nothing like Little Round Top, Cemetery Hill etc. at Gettysburg. Whether they should count as ‘favourable ground’ for units defending them in Charge Combat (apart from Wayne’s Hill) is debatable, I’m not sure what the scenario says. That said Stones River itself does run in a significant ‘gully’ particularly where the fighting took place on 2 January 1863.
    I just had a quick run around via Google Earth to confirm my memories and was dismayed but the amount of urbanization covering the battlefield today; it was bad (compared to most other Civil War battlefields) when I first visited some twenty years ago but seems a lot worse now sadly.

    Cheers Paul

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Paul,

      Yeah, they’re just subtle folds in the ground and there’s no defensive benefit, aside from where they’ve been prepared for defence. All they do is block lines of sight. As always with such things though, if you make them too subtle it’s difficult to tell where they are, so I’m going to grind them down a bit, but not too much! 🙂

  6. David Weale says:

    Cannot wait to see the result of your hard work in the flesh, as it were, at the show.

  7. Pingback: Demo Game Progress… The Battle of Murfreesboro at Warfare 2021 (Part 3) | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

  8. steven says:

    This is a pretty impressive project. And you seem to be making rapid progress, which is even more impressive. Looking forward to see the end result.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Steven! Yeah, I’m surprised (and pleased) with progress! The boards are now all painted, the railway is weathered and stuck down and the 3rd coat of varnish is now on the rivers (at the rate it’s going, it’ll probably take at least ten coats!). I’m hoping to have it all flocked and finished by the end of next week! 🙂 Then all that will need doing is a division of Rebs, a load of Reb commanders and brigade command-bases, six objective markers, five ambulances and about 100 bare trees to impale onto needles.

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