Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The possibilities of an imaginary world...

It has been a long time since my last posting: we've had another pretty hefty earthquake, which once more sent some of my wargames stuff hurtling floorwards, but fortunately casualties remain pretty light. Last week we had a pretty decent sort of snowfall - a bagatelle for Northern Hemisphere types - but rare enough in Christchurch to be interesting to us. Here's the view of our front yard....

Meanwhile, work is still being done on Jono's World. The thing with an imaginary world developed to the extent Jono has, it allows for all sorts of ways one might handle the campaigns and wars. The 'big figure' forces are being painted and organised; but we have also looked into the campaign as a whole as a board game. Sort of like Axis and Allies, or SPI's Global War of the 1970s.

I am reminded, however, of a delightful invention by a bunch of students in Auckland in about 1972. The 5ft by 5ft playing board was made from a soft wood-based product called Pinex, painted blue, and divided into 1-inch squares. Upon this, a couple of continental land masses and a couple of large islands formed the world. The whole thing was so large it had to be transported by trailer.

This world was the political arena for the aggrandizement of 6 warring nations: America (White), Britain (Blue), Germany (Grey), Japan (Yellow), Russia (Red) and New Zealand (Green). The colours were those of the playing pieces for each nation. These were not bits of card, but representations of each item: an Army, Naval and Air Base for the three services; aircraft (bombers, fighters and air transport); warships (Battleships, carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines); army units (Tanks, infantry, AA). You also had a merchant marine, which served a special function.

The appearance of this thing, called by its makers simply The War Game in midgame had to be seen to be appreciated. The units were made from wood, cardboard, matchstick, wire - whatever was easy to work with. For instance, bombers were all 4-engined, the fuselage being an unignited matchstick (the bulbous head, painted a contrasting colour looked like the perspex front turret/cockpit arrangement; a wing with two match heads (painted black) on each side; and the twin rudder tailplane, like that of a Lancaster bomber, finished the thing off. The whole was pierced with a pin with the appropriate coloured bead, which could be poked into the pinex board by way of a stand.

For all its magnificent appearance, though, at the time I played the game (once or twice) the thing did need a fair bit of development work. The sole provision for growth lay in the merchant marine, but lack of reciprocity tended to stymie their real potential. The handling of aircraft needed a look as well. All the same, it was a mighty conception, and even 40 years later, I recall it with a certain wistfulness.

It with the view that the game was viable that set me to thinking of creating my own, a project that proceeded very slowly until brought to a halt, pretty much, by Axis and Allies. But the advent of Jono's world has revived the whole project. As were were building land forces already, I bethought me of some toys I bought 'on spec' several zillion years ago. Under the brand name 'Mighty Armada' there were several battleships, aircraft carriers and submarines, along with merchant vessels as well. But what made these things so interesting was the addition of seaport facilities, with docks, cargo sheds, fuel storage tanks and cargo-handling cranes; breakwaters and moles to create a snug harbour; and tugboats to bring vessels safely to their moorings. An example of one of the battleships - recognisable as Bismarck - heads this posting. I've added the white paint here and there, as well as the masts.

But I also wanted playing pieces for a board game. These were to be slightly more elaborate than the ones I had had in mind for my version of The War Game, and the result (unpainted), is what you see here.
More than somewhat 'cartooned', what you see is a battleship: 6cm long by 1.5 wide. Cruisers will be 5cm; destroyers 4cm.

To be continued...


  1. Vexing to hear of the earthquake...
    Thanks for posting snow pic and I look forward to hearing more of your interesting gaming project...

  2. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back and we'll talk about it.


    Joel Houston

  3. (I seize shamelessly the excuses of 'imaginary world' and the image of a warship)

    Lacepunk skyships
    (The Three Musketeers - 2011).

    One of the multiple facets of 'weirdness in the Tricornes era'

    'Pirates' are certainly the most popular of 'swashbuckling' games, and it's not uncommon for Pirates to encounter undeads of various types, King Kong-sized Godzilla type monsters...
    So it's only a matter of 'taking the plunge' and having the same 'liberty' on dry (main)land.

    Then, by the mid 18th C. vast parts of the Pacific Ocean were still to be explored, thus odd human races and cultures can be waiting for your daring adventurers in tricornes on a 'New Continent'. Or, alternatively, in an underground 'Lost Wold at the Earth Core', Pellucidar -fashion...

    Developed in a TMP post..

  4. Awesome stuff! I used to play a game with my Nephew based on Barry J Carter's rules from the book "Naval Wargames". We used 1/700th US and Japanese aircraft and ships from various sources - games mostly and a few launches from larger ship models as well as some balsa ones. We fought Guadalcanal several times that summer.