Showing posts with label Grid wargaming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grid wargaming. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 June 2019

An 18th Century Expansion

Yes, I have to admit this was a digression on my part. It was not meant to happen. The 18th century has been a major interest to me for the last 20 or so years. However I had previously concentrated on the wars surrounding Frederick the Great. I got this insane idea on collecting " a few" figures for the The Great Northern War ( does the first part of this sentence ring any warning bells to you?).

Back in 2005 I ran the second of two postal campaigns based on the 7 Years War. The previous one used the conditions of the War of the Austrian Succession as its background. At this time the armies I had were quite large ( each army was of 84 stands!!,

 Don't ask me how I managed to paint them all and hold down a regular job !!). There were six players representing Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Hanover and Piedmont in the first. The 2nd being Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Hanover and the British Colonies in America.

For most of the 18th century the British Army played an auxilliary role to the Hanovarian forces. I also had armies representing Spain and the Italian City States, Genoa, Modena and Naples.

Basically armies moved from state to state ( the map is available in my book Table Top Battles ) . When two opposing armies moved into the same area I fought out the battle, solo, and sent the results to each player.

To set up the battle I would briefly research the ground using mainly modern maps and old ones if I could find any online to view. I would look at the numbers on each side then throw dice to decide who wanted to attack or defend. I then set up suitable terrain based on the maps I had seen.

There were a few surprises. In one game I set up, the Prussian camp was attacked by the Austrians.  I gave the battle a name based on the nearest town only to find out later that Frederick had actually camped near that town on one of his Campaigns!.

On another occasion the Prussian player used a strategic move which came to grief  over several campaign turns. Again I later found out through reading that Frederick has discounted this strategy because the supply lines were to vulnerable. I had taken this into account while umpiring!!

After these campaigns finished  I sold a large amount of the collection. This was in part due to outside influences but I still maintained a dozen or so bases of each nation. I just could not bring myself to let go of all of them.

A few years later. I found myself at a loose end one evening when my Wife was on a night shift. ( I very rarely had these as a working person at that time!!) and I realised  that I had never in my Wargaming Life attempted a historical game.

By now my available table space being 3 feet by 2 feet and my collection being a lot smaller,how was I to do this??. I started by picking a battle, in this case Lobositz.I then looked at the terrain. I knew I could not build the battlefield in its true features so I picked out the parts that influenced the battle. The armies were scaled at 1point for 500 men ( this Procedure is also shown in Table Top Battles ).

Not having large armies I "allied" certain figures together, in this case Prussia, Brunswick and Wurttemberg on one side, Austria,  Saxony, and Riechsarmee on the other. All the scenery was set up on the grid in a rough approximation of the battlefield and I set up the scaled down version of each army using the smaller squares to ascertain positions. It worked! Much to my surprise!.

I used the solo rules ( updated in the 2nd edition) and the result was a hard fought victory for the Prussians. We now come full circle to the reason as to why I am collecting another Swedish and Russian Army ( yes they went with the previous lot!. Why do we do it!!???). I want to to do as many historical battles as I can and write about them. I  retired from work at 65 ( I consider myself very fortunate) and this is a task I've set myself. I want to start in some sort of chronological order, so I,m starting with the Northern and Mulburian era. I,ve also dicovered that having painted the armies, I have to collect and paint dismount markers!. This is because the Russians, and in some cases the Swedes used their Cavalry in a dismounted roll.Hence the reasoning behind painting up the figures. In turn I haven't had much time for blogging.  Now I just need to paint up some Xhosa------------

This rather bad photo was taken from my old mobile to give you some idea of my methods.

These next pics are of the dismount markers prepped. The horse's are from The PeterPig AWI RANGE with the heads changed from the casque to tricorns from the HEAD range. The dismounted cavalrymen are PeterPig Jaegers, again from the AWI range. For the dismounted Poles, Cossacks and Militia I used figures from the Miniature Figurines Great Northern War with PeterPig Command. The flags are masking tape and roughly painted ( or will be) by me.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Genesis of a ruleset

It sounds a bit grand doesn't it?. It's been a long road. I started war gaming in 1968. I had a game called " Battle of the Bighorn produced by a company called Waddingtons. For those of a much younger age, the game provided plastic figures of the U.S. Cavalry on foot and American Indians.

The soldiers were set up in the middle of the board and the Indians were set up around the edges. The idea of the game was to try and get the standard off the table with as many soldiers as possible ( I think!). The main thing about this game was that it was played on squares.

That set me thinking. At that time Airfix were producing plastic figures of Romans and Gaullic tribesmen. I made up my own board of 1 inch squares and started using a modified rule set from the game to fight the battles.

Moving on to 1970 and Don Featherstones book : Battles with Model Soldiers made its appearance. For me it was a revelation!. Proper Wargaming. All through the 70,s and 80,s this book was the bedrock of all subsequent gaming activities with my mates. Other inventions and systems were used and or amended as required.

Through all this time there were  good and not so good games. I was the one entrusted to write the rules and on occasion, especially when things were not going to well for one side or the other the inevitable arguments would rise to the surface.

" that unit is out of range because the distant is short by 1/8th of an inch"!
" that's not a melee  because you moved them, and even right at the end of the move distance they are still 1/8th of an inch short so you cannot use your melee bonus to decimate my unit!
And so on.

I wanted to use squares but my mates didn't like them so you go with the majority vote. As one of them said " you cannot cheat with squares!
Indeed at one point I was so depressed with the constant wrangling I actually binned an entire  group  of 150 figures that I had only just converted and painted!!.

Well, you know how it is. Once war gaming is in the blood you cannot give it up, and I started back in 6mm. I bought a load of Heroics and Ros English civil War figures. The main reasons for this is because, ( a) they were cheap and (b) they were quick to paint.
 I wrote some rules for using them and  the same group used them. This was one of the the best situations we ever did.

A mate of mine came up with a campaign and he also did an area campaign map of Britain. There were 6 of us, three Royalist and three Parliamentarians. ( Yes, I was Charles the 1st which gives you some idea of what happened to me!!).

However, the campaign went really well. We fought small actions using my mates 28mm figures and the larger actions using my 6mm stuff. Even without doing anything totally historical the campaign culminated in the siege of Oxford. We actually recreated roughly the city of Oxford and it's defences on a 6' by 4' table using all my 6mm figures and buildings.

The city fell and ended the campaign. The rules that I used seem to work well and  were accepted by the group.  I wrote them up ,and entitled " Matchlock " I submitted the set to Partizan Press who published them in 1988.

Situations never stay the same, and thus it was for our group. Everyone went their separate ways as life guided each individual on their separate path to follow  their own destiny ( profound philosophy here!!).

I was having the odd game on remote occasions but more often solo. I met Joyce and after a time together she asked about war gaming. Well, she had a go, but it was obvious that that the historical complexities were going over her head.

However I did not want to dent her enthusiasm so, that's when I decided to ditch the historical stuff and go right back to basics. With squares. Once again I had to start from scratch having had to sell most of my figures to cover debts. This time I started again with 15mm.

I wrote up a rule set using the squares and Joyce picked up on it really quickly. In time I also met other blokes who were interested in Wargaming and also had a go at the game using the squares. One in particular (sadly deceased) wanted to try Fantasy gaming but could not get his head around  the rules printed by the Nottingham Empire. After playing the grid game I had set up, he was hooked. Joyce was instrumental in the way the game was structured in order that It could be picked up quickly and easily.

I married Joyce.

With extensive  help of my Brother- in- Law Des, who had a computer and  Jill, one of Joyce's friends, who typed up the original manuscript, the first attempt at publishing came about.

" Wavey Bayonets And Spaghetti  Spears" was the first attempt at this. It got a small write up in Miniature Wargames , the title came from an article I had read. Needless to say it got a few sells but died quietly!!

By this time I had realised that the hobby was moving upmarket with some big hitters making their presence known. The rule system worked so ,with some add- ons and a colour cover, Table Top Armies made its appearance. Once again with my brother- in -laws help plus a review in Wargames Soldiers and Strategy we tried to get it out there. Another quiet death!!

I must admit I was ready to give up, but something kept driving me. I knew the rule system was good. People who had never wargamed had tried it and enjoyed playing. Those that had time were coming back. At this time my financial situation was picking up a bit but I realised  I had to present something a bit more " professional ".

So, once again with a great deal of help from my Brother in Law with his computer skills plus a ISBN NUMBER, TABLE TOP BATTLES. came out. At this time I was also running a postal campaign based on the War of the Austrian Succession. I did a later one based on the Seven years War. Both went very well.

 There was a good review in Battlegames, and Patizan Press were doing the distribution. This time there was some movement and I was told that small numbers were selling world  wide . Since 2007 it has been selling in small numbers.

Fast forward to 2018. During that year a review suddenly appears in Miniature Wargames. I was a bit surprised. The basic premise was that the rule set was ok but a bit history-lite and not for serious gamers.
Well, mentally I agreed with this in principle, however I still felt that they could still hold an historical game together.

A time later I received a letter from a friend telling me that a member of the Solo Wargames Association ( now online and called Lone Warrior. Editor is Richard Barbuto.) had reviewed them and played an historical game. The reviewer found that although Table Top Battles was not historical the rule set still gave a historical result!

My morale was restored by reading of this.  I still felt that the rule system rocked!!
In the last few years the Wargames Association of Reading has allowed me to present  a Participation Game at their annual Warfare event in Reading. This has also been well received by those members of the public who tried a game.

Now here we are in 2019 with  digital technology well and truly wrapped around humanity. One of my Stepsons suggested putting the book on-line. I also thought about going the whole distance by updating the book with a new cover etc.
After 46 years of work I had also been lucky to reach retirement!

So it was that Table Top Battles version 2 appeared both as a paperback and pdf file. It has been selling slowly but steady. On a personal level I felt vindicated. It won't be everybody's "cup of tea" but judging by the success of  Richard Borgs Command and Colours system using hexes. Peter Pigs rules, some of which use squares ( and pre-date my efforts). The release of " To the Strongest " by Simon Miller and " Tin Soldiers in Action by Rudiger and Klaus Hofrichter more recently, show that the use of the square grid in war gaming has found its place in the hobby.

Joe Morschauser started using squares back in the 60s and Charles Sweet continued in the70s but very few people ( including myself) knew of them until recently.

 I feel proud that I have helped kickstart this particular form of wargaming back in to the mainstream. As stated in previous blog posts, using a grid makes a lot  of movement rules redundant. There is no argument about whether a target is in or out of range and  close combat is unequivocal. I will continue using squares and my one regret is not sticking to this system in the first place. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

Hopefully you, dear reader have managed to stay awake through all the above! Next time I will be writing about scratchbuilding ships.