A Bit of Figure Painting

It has been a good two or three, maybe even four weeks since I last picked up the paintbrush. I had a wee bit of time on Sunday, so I tried to knock out a few more (30mm) Zulu. These last few are, what I’m calling rescue figures; I started these a very long time ago using a very bad technique (wanting something to get figures done quickly – it didn’t work so well).

The three Zulu in the foreground were originally spray painted leather brown. Not a horrible choice, but they were too shiny and I just didn’t like the feel/look. As such they just kinda stayed in my box of partly painted figures. I decided to rescue some of the figures. I didn’t do anything with the base coat, but did try to make the figure serviceable. Final result; I can put these on the table now.

I also got in a bit of work on my first US unit for the Mexican American War. Game will be based on The Portable Wargame. Units will be four (4) figures strong for Infantry. Not much progress, but a start.

Lastly. I need more sailing ships! Here is a quick picture of the beginnings of three more Joe Morschauser sailing ships. I just about have this batch completed, only a it of detail to complete (more pictures in another post).

My other game related work this past weekend included some play-testing of my Gridded Age of Sail game. More about this later, or you can hop over to Facebook, and read the most recent postings in the Table Top Talk group – request group membership if you are not yet a member.

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Morschauser on Air War Games

Being a summary of Joseph Morshauser’s letter/article found in Donald Feathertone’s, 1966, book: Air War Games pages 100 to 101.

Lacking war game opponents, Joe spent some time building model airplane kits (WWI aircraft) while watching TV. Finally, while on vacation was able to get together with some opponents and play out an air combat game. Apparently, the game worked out quite well, and in fact he claimed it was, in some ways more fun than land combat games.

His game involved quarter-scale aircraft; (he says ‘larger than Airfix’; while I wonder if he really meant ¼ scale – meaning 25% the size of the real airplane? This seems mighty large for his war game table), a bombing run as well as dogfights. The situation was that three bombers had to run across the table and return a number of turns later. All the while fighter planes were attempting to shoot them down. Of course the bombers had fighter escort, some dogfights were in the mix as well. The game used a ‘Roster System’ to track hits (no knocking planes out of the air with a single hit!). He describes the games as ‘… a hell of a lot of fun’. His rules kept in a bit of detail, as he felt that otherwise the game would be too simple and too short.

The game was evenly matched, points-wise, but with the Germans having fewer fighters, given the inclusion of bombers. The side with the most remaining points at the end of the game was the winner. Points were scored, by the Germans, for bombing run results. In the end the Germans lost; the bombing run didn’t go really well and they lost two bombers on the return. The Allies scored more kills, thus end the game with more points.

The next game described was an air race game. This was modeled after the Thompson Trophy races. Three planes raced around a course marked by checkered pylons. The (huge scale) planes were quite colorful and built by Joe himself. The setup event included stands and spectators. The rules covered all the crazy maneuvering required by the real planes in real races. I the end Joe won the race, beating out Hank in the end. Joe had plans to use more and smaller aircraft in hopes of making a wildly fun game for 6 players.

Notes concerning Joe’s war game setup:

We know that, at least in mid-1963, Joe’s table was 17 feet x 6 feet. If we assume he didn’t have the room for or did not build a larger, the table referred to in this piece is the same (Joe’s address remained the same through the 1960s, again safe to assume same location). Given the assumed size of his war game table, I wonder what scale aircraft were used in the games described? Quarter-scale seems too large for the the size of his table. They would be impressive in that scale, but it seems an unlikely size.

As for rules, to date I’ve not been able to track down, even a summary of his air rules (combat or racing). The search continues…

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Morschauser on Sea War Games

Being a summary of Joseph Morschauser’s Sea War Rules 1759 as presented in Donald Featherstone’s 1965 book: Naval War Games pages 84 – 86. Full rules not provided here, as they are currently available in the John Curry reprint edition of Featherstone’s book.

We know that Joe played sea war games and that some of his games were set in the age of sail. More on how we know this at the end of this summary.

As the book does, we too shall jump right into the rules…

The rules specify four types of ships: Sloop of war, Frigate, Ship of the line and Transport/Supply ship. Ship powers are codified in a set of four numbers/values: Fore, Aft and each Broadside (port & starboard). The total of these values is the Ship’s Power (SP). Each time the ship take a hit to the hull SP value is reduced by the number of hits. A ship may fire a Broadside or either Fore or Aft guns.

Movement rates (MR) (Ship speed) are by ship type and are reduced by Sail hits. Once hits have reduced MR to zero (0) ships may only turn in place.

Firing is by guns that bear; part of target ship/base must be within a straight line from end or side of firing ship. Target must be a single ship. Shots may be fired at hull or sails. Roll a number of dice equaling the number of guns firing. Determine hits and apply the result. Guns have a maximum and a minimum range.

Ships move in any direction or combination of directions; except at an angle 45 degrees either side of direction from which the wind is blowing. Measure movement and turns from center point of the ship/stand.

Wind direction (may) change every six (6) turns. Wind direction is determined by roll of a single die. Wind will blow from: north, south, east or west Only.

Enemy Ships may be boarded; maneuver ships to be side-by-side (base to base, broadside to broadside). To board, a ship must have a higher SP rating. Roll a die and on (Joe’s standard) an even roll (2, 4, or 6) the boarding is successful. Failing this roll and the attackers ship is taken instead.

Track ship’s current state with a Ship’s Card – Roster Sheet if you will.

Lastly Joe describes three (3) types of games/scenarios: Destroy enemies Supply ships, Immobilize all enemy ships, and get Supply ships through enemy blockade. Defender earns a point for each (enemy) ship disabled; aggressor earns a point for each Supply ship that gets through.

All-in-all a very nice, simple game in six (6) easy to digest rules; eight (8) if you wish to count sections on Ship Cards and Scenarios.

It has been many years since I last gave this game a go. Since then I have built and sold (or given away) several fleets and played many other sets of rules. Upon re-reading Joe’s rules I have determined that this will be my sailing war game going forward. The rules are clean and simple. Games play fairly quickly and are fun (if my memory serves me correctly). My next war game, set in the age of sail, will not only use these rules; it will use the same ships Joe would have been using in 1965 (perhaps even some of the ships that Joe actually used with his war game setup).

How do we know that Joe played (age of sail) sea war games? Two things are dead giveaways: 1) Jack Scruby mentions – in The Miniature Parade, Winter 1967 issue – that the flip (or lower) side of Joe’s board for his Roster System Ancient War Game is used for naval battles. 2) Joe designed (circa 1962) and Jack Scruby produced a set of four (4) sailing ships (as used in Joe’s age of sail sea war games).
Some additional closing thoughts: I’ve been wanting an Age of Sail war game something along the lines of Bob Cordery’s Portable Wargame. After re-reading Joe Morschauser’s rules, I’m fairly certain that I have hit upon just what I need! A few tweaks here and there to make the game work with a square grid and small footprint. Yes. I did say a square grid; the square grid is really the only grid for sailing games… More on this as soon as I lay down (actually commit to writing) the basics and fire a few broadsides…

From advertisement appearing in Table Top Talk September 1962; a transcribed version, showing only the Sailing Ships (the other ships included in the original advertisement are the Civil War Ships designed by Jack Scruby.


For the Naval War Game Admiral we now have some nice little ship models … In SAIL SHIP MODELS, the size runs from about 1 ¼ inches (Sloop) to 2 ¾ inches (Ship of the Line). The Sail Ship Models were designed by Joe Morschauser.

Lest the buyer be confused, we state that these models are built for war gaming and are scaled to each other. These are not exquisite miniature ships with all the scaled parts, but are designed only for war gaming and to stand abuse. All models are three dimensional and are sold only as unpainted castings

SAILING SHIP MODELS – 1800 (designed by Joe Morschauser)

J-5 … Sloop (or Brig)

J-6 … Merchantman or small Transport

J-7 … Ship of the Line (3 decker)

J-8 … Large Frigate

* The Sailing Ships have three dimensional hulls and “silhouette” sails

Pictures Added 13 February 2018

Pictures of unpainted ships freshly cast in 2018…


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Morschauser Bibilography

A short post today.
More of a minor update on progress towards the new Morschauser Files website…

Current activity on Project Morschauser includes filling out a Bibliography of his published works (articles, books, letters, etc.). I know I’ll miss some but will get as many as I can confirm. My focus is on his works that are related to war gaming or of interest to war gamers. Currently the count stands at 42 (cataloged). I have a few more not cataloged yet and several that might not quite fit my criteria.

Last night’s reading included Joe’s article from February 1965 (Look Magazine) titled The Billion Dollar Rifle. I hope to complete my write up (review/summary) of the article by the end of the week.

Prep & Shop Work

Over on the HistoriFigs site; some more pictures and commentary from the shop…

Some 25mm Crimean War figures from Sunday’s casting session.
These are from a new-ish mold (only 4 years old).
These figures come off the sprue with no need to grind/file the base
and as can be seen, just a few spider vents (stuff on the end of the bayonets) to remove.
We hope to finish re-molding the Crimean War figures later this year.