Monday, 21 January 2019

O'er the Hills is Published!

There is nothing quite like taking delivery of a brand new book that has your name on the cover, and on Saturday I had the pleasure of opening up my parcel from Stand to Games to find my brand spanking new copy of O'er the Hills, Early Peninsular War Scenarios written by yours truly.

Of course the book, the culmination of few years gaming, is not just down to one person, as friends I know personally and others I have met through this daft hobby across the globe via the net, have all contributed in enabling a collection of twelve separate scenarios form the core of the work alongside some other goodies that were contributed by Adrian McWalter and Quinton Dalton, the chaps from Stand to Games to be brought together under one title.

I have also had feedback from friends who have just received their copy together with comments on Facebook from others who have similarly just received copies all saying how pleased they are with the look and first read through of the content so I thought, bearing in mind that I have also received and seen comments of disappointment from those about not getting in on the Kickstarter in time, it would be helpful to show what the end product looks like and to invite those interested in getting a copy to get in touch and I will see where we are in arranging things.

The cover of O'er the Hills was a deliberate choice showing as it does the 3rd Guards in action at Talavera as depicted by C.C.P. Lawson and courtesy of the Regimental HQ Scots Guards.

I first saw this picture on the cover of 'Talavera, Wellington's First Victory in Spain' by Andrew W. Field which formed a significant reference in my work reconstructing the five scenarios that cover this very important battle and really does mark the end of this first phase of the Peninsular War.

The picture captures the intense fighting that typified Talavera and with the mountains of the Sierra de Segurilla shown in the extreme background seemed to echo the title of the book itself.

I had the pleasure of discussing the cover of O'er the Hills and the battle with Andrew and I am really looking forward to walking the battlefield later this year about which I am planning to share my thoughts here on JJ's.

For those that have purchased copies of other recent titles from Stand to Games, the production quality is sound and nicely produced, following a similar pattern to the other books, composed of  heavy glossy pages and with the type setting set against a period map backing.

The one-hundred and one pages consist of the following sections;

Background - British Involvement in the Peninsular War
Timeline of Events in 1808-09

The Twelve Scenarios
1. The Leopard's Debut, The Battle of Rolica 17th August 1808
2. Vimeiro Hill, The Battle of Vimeiro 21st August 1808
3. Flank Attack at Ventosa, The Battle of Vimeiro 21st August 1808
4. Elvina Ridge, The Battle of Corunna 16th January 1809
5. The March to Oporto, 10th - 11th May 1809, Retreat from Albergaria
6. The March to Oporto, 10th - 11th May 1809, Rearguard at Grijo
7. Assualt River Crossing - Second Battle of Oporto 12th May 1809
8. Casa de Salinas - Battle of Talavera 27th July 1809
9. Night Attack - Battle of Talavera 27th July 1809
10. Dawn Attack - Battle of Talavera 28th July 1809
11. The Pajar Vergara Redoubt - Battle of Talavera 28th July 1809
12. The Afternoon Attack - Battle of Talavera 28th July 1809

Army Lists 1808-09
The Peninsular British
The Peninsular French
The Peninsular Spanish

The text is accompanied by colour photographs of battle sites and figures from my own collection, Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures and Stand to Games and each scenario comes with a colour map illustrating the set up positions of the forces involved together with a picture of the table during one of our many play-tests to help give an even clearer idea of the look of the table envisaged.

Along with the pictures and artwork each scenario is structured in the same format with;

The Background account to the battle and why the forces were there to help give players that all important context.

The Scenario, laying out the forces involved and their set up positions ordered by the respective commanders, together with a description of the table, its size, key terrain features and a detailed order of battle giving the recommended specifics for using Over the Hills (OTH) to play the game.

The Battle Notes then looks at why specific formations were deployed as they were and what the respective commanders had in mind on how they were going to fight the battle, again designed to give the players as much background as possible to help them get into the minds of the commanders they are representing and the range of likely options they faced.

The Terrain section then describes the impact of key terrain features on the battlefield and translates them into the types identified in OTH.

Then The Objectives for each side are summarised together with which side takes the first turn as Player A as detailed in OTH and the number of turns allowed for the completion of the scenario before an assessment is made of who won or lost and the method described to determine that.

An example of the orders of battle laid out for a particular scenario with the respective sides colour coded and units grouped with their respective commanders

As well as the twelve scenarios the book comes with three new troop listings for OTH, British, French and Spanish specific to this period of the Peninsular War and offering some really interesting new Army Special Rules for depicting the Spanish on your tabletop.

Three new Army Lists for the Peninsular War in 1808-09

For those that have now got their copy of O'er the Hills, I really hope you like the end product and will see that I have attempted to put in this book aspects that I wanted to see included, to allow gamers to play, as close as is possible with a set of wargame rules, an historical scenario.

The scenarios are designed to present the players with the forces that each commander had on the day, the terrain they were either forced or chose to fight over and the background situation that drove them to make the choices they did.

How you decide to meet the same objectives they chose or were forced to meet is up to you but you will be constrained by the factors described and in some situations you will find it difficult to win the battle but if played thoughtfully still win the scenario by outperforming your historical counterpart and making better choices than they did, not to mention perhaps a little bit of fortune thrown in for good measure.

Just as importantly, we had a lot of fun testing these games to destruction, and the book is not an academic exercise in asset management but hopefully a series of games designed to allow the players to explore the history and have fun at the same time.

Two of the scenarios have been designed to link up as a mini-campaign, and I could see all five of the Talavera scenarios being fought in the same way to recreate the battle as a whole, but in more manageable bite sized chunks for those with a small collection and/or limited table space.

If you want to delve deeper into how we played these scenarios during the design and testing I can suggest no better place to start than referring back to the series of posts here on JJ's that were running at the end of 2017 and early 2018 and can be found by clicking the tab at the top of the page.

In addition you can find other stuff relating to Over the Hills in that tab that might be useful including a description of the materials we developed during play-testing to aid our games and the link to the folder where you can download them; or just use the link in the right hand column under 'My Resources and Downloads' and click on 'Over the Hills Resources' which will take you straight to the file.

The Over the Hills tab can be found at the top of the page

If you are looking for painting and modelling inspiration then click on the respective nation tabs for the Napoleonic forces I have modelled where I also give a bit of history together with ideas on how to create the look of the unit.

In addition to that you can check out my YouTube channel, that still sounds a bit weird every time I say or write that! But yes JJ's Wargames has a YouTube Channel, where I take a bit of time to talk about modelling specifics when creating units, such as paints, the colours I have chosen and the references I have used.

Finally for those who feel they need to contact me about a specific point then there is a contact form to be found on the blog which will allow us to correspond via email, and I try to respond promptly, and all email addresses are confidential to me.

You will have to bear with me if I am oversubscribed and I would ask everyone to take the time to scour this blog for the relevant information where it is very likely to be found before dropping me a question.

And for those interested in getting a copy of O'er the Hills who missed out for some reason, then feel free to drop me a line via the Contact Form stating your name and address details together with how many copies you might be interested in and I will look into getting that sorted and get back to you accordingly.

Thanks to all those who supported this, my first venture into publishing, and I hope you enjoy the book and let me know your thoughts, your first impressions and the games you have a go at playing.



  1. Congratulations JJ and the publication looks great.

    1. Thank you Carlo, very much appreciated.
      All the best

  2. Very exciting I will look forward to receiving the book and I have signed up for your youtube channel.


  3. Very impressive, Sir! Congratulations on a fine looking book, with lovely illustrations to boot.

  4. Many congratulations to you & the guys. These things are so much harder to write than people think!
    Very best wishes for 2019,

    1. Thanks Jeremy, and the very best to you.

  5. Yep got mine the other day, should prove very useful. Nice one Jonathan

    1. Hi Tony, great, I hope you have fun with it.

  6. Hi JJ received my copy and I'm going to have my first run through of the Rolica scenario tomorrow :-) The book looks great and I can't wait to play all the scenarios :-) I have to confess I'm a bit confused regarding the Rolica scenario I was under the impression the North (using your key on the map) slope of Rolica hill was the one assaulted and thus was the slope with 3-4 defiles 1 unit at a time could attack up? In the scenario notes it states the southern ridge has these defiles?
    This is dredging up from my memory from what I've read and other Rolica scenarios Ive played so I may well be wrong! Or should the gullies be on the northern slope of Rolica hill? Thankyou in advance Rob :-)

  7. Hi Rob, Great and I hope you have a lot of fun with it.

    Ok so, Rolica hill was the first hold point taken by Delaborde and his rearguard and is the hill that he is set up on at the start of the scenario.

    There was only a bit of a skirmish here as the French only made a show of holding it and were not assaulted on it, as he pulled back in good time well aware of Wellesley's flank columns moving to cut off his retreat.

    The southern ridge defines that large slope on the south edge of the table and is where he decided to make his stand to buy time for Junot back in Lisbon and where the defiles are that the British had to fight their way up after Colonel Lake was killed pushing too far up one of them and was ambushed.

    The photograph of that ridge is on the second page at the top and you can see the defiles leading up it from the plain and our game picture on the first page shows the troops set up with Delaborde on Rolica hill, the British in their long company columns about to advance and the ridge where he made his final stand behind with rocky outcrops indicating the defiles between them.

    I hope that helps

  8. Hi JJ thankyou for that! Lol I was wondering why the board was so big!!!!?!? Lol :-) cool that makes a much better Rolica scenario more like a fighting retreat rather than other scenarios I've played where you sit on a hill and defend it :-) thanks for clarifying Rob :-)

  9. I can't believe that I missed out completely in the creation of this, JJ. Congratulations!
    I just purchased a copy of Over the Hills which is en route as we speak to Canada. I would love to get a copy of your scenario book - how can I make that happen?

    1. Hi Bill,
      Thanks mate, leave it with me and I'll see what I can do.

  10. How do you get hold of a copy? Would really like to get one.
    Cheers, Richard P

    1. Hi Richard,
      If you drop me a message via the contact form app in the right column, below the Tiny Wargames banner and include you email address I will get things sorted.