Sunday, December 29, 2013

Philosophical musings...

Some of my recently bought Wargames Factory War of the Spanish Succession
Cavalry, assembled as Imperialist cuirassiers.   This 18-figure unit has since been
expanded into a 24-figure regiment.
  Over on 'Glorious Little Soldiers', Big Andy posed some interesting questions ('Your point is...?') concerning the appeal - or lack thereof - of war games magazines.  Having a bit of a think about this, I came to the following conclusions, and commented thus (with some editing for this posting, and bits in italics since added):
Some of the poses the horses can be made up into out of  the
right and left halves.  Of these there are just 3 'poses' - 3 'standing',
2  'foot forward', and 3 'rearing'.  By mixing these 'semi-poses' you can get more variety...
"I find it difficult to answer your question as put, and it seems to me these days wargames mags less appealing than once they were. Painting guides can be useful in magazines, as they are often more accessible than books (which are either expensive, or simply unavailable in this country). It occurred to me that the following narrative might supply the answer.  Sometimes the pictures give me idea for terrain pieces, though these days I'm running out of storage space for this sort of thing.
Two 'rearing' poses conjoined gives you a rearing horse - one doesn't want many of those-
and two 'standing' gives a standing horse.  You won't ever want to conjoin the two 'foot forward' semi-poses!
But other combinations give walking, slow gallop, and an odd pose standing with one foot 
forward; beginning to move from a standing start, perhaps?

Having discovered 'Battle' magazine in the late 1970s, I started buying it, whereat, of course, it promptly morphed into 'Military Modelling'.  I was mainly following C.S. Grant's 'Table Top Teasers' and Tony Bath's 'Hyboria' series, but there were quite a few other articles of interest.

I continued buying Mil Mod for a few years, but its appeal faded as it concentrated more on the modelling side. I've never been all that much of a modeller and painter (though I seem to be doing a lot of it lately!). Just as I was about to quit buying the thing, suddenly there appeared a series of articles on the 7YW - really good ones, with some awesome pics of town walls and army encampments, and descriptions of some of the more obscure actions on the periphery of the main campaigns. One I organised as a scenario 'The Olmutz Convoy' - a rather unusual 'wagon train' scenario (LOTS of wagons).  This one got written up in the local Southern Sortie magazine (long since defunct).
60 out of 72 horses done: 2x24-horse Regiments of Cuirassiers,
1x24-horse Regiment of Dragoons.  I'm think of giving each unit 2 flags,
with the idea of splitting units in two for larger-scale actions. 
Just as this set of articles came to an end another by one Robin Hunt appeared on the Spanish Civil War. I don't know much about that conflict, and don't wargame it, but the series was so interesting, by one whose enthusiasm for the subject seemed to indicate an interest deeply personal, that I continued until its end.. 

For mine, that series would have been nicely rounded off with a rule set (or ideas for one) and a sample game using them. Even without them, that series of articles - along with the 7YW - rates as one of the best I've ever read.
Four horses awaiting mounting on 1" x 2" bases.  The rear horse 'works' better
with just the hind hoofs glued onto the base, but I vary that with
a few that have the lower front hoof glued as well.  For this kind of job, you really do need the wire cutters!
Later I got hold of some PW mags, which, not long on good illustrations, at least had reasonable content. I particularly liked to collect the 7YW battle series. These featured battles organised for wargames. Although they didn't translate to my own organisations, they were clear enough for modification to be a simple matter.

Wargames Factory artillery - a battery of 2x8pr cannon.

Wargames Factory artillery - a battery of 12 pr cannon.
The daubs of paint you see were intended as a teat run.
 Flash figures and flash terrain, at first very tasty, cloy after a while. I will be more attracted to a game with rough-as-guts or even unpainted figures and extemporised terrain pieces, but which shows imagination or presents something new, than to a game in which everything is presented in pristine perfection. The latter just doesn't look that much like a game - in fact it looks like hard work, to me....
Wargames Factory Command.  The horse poses are the same -
a nice martial pose, but you do get a selection of ofiicers' heads
and sword or hat-waving arms.

It is possible that there really isn't all that much to be said in this hobby of hours. We can be presented with all sorts of different ways of saying the same thing, or a variety of rule sets for the same war, until we get to the point of thinking 'enough already!' That is why I prefer 'Old School' rule sets of my own devising. I know pretty much what I want. have some knowledge of history (even if less complete than some) and have my own interpretations of it (even though these might vary from established wisdom). To change my view, the argument would have to be interesting, enlightening and compelling. A tall order!"

Bombards from the Tower of London, bought whejn my in-laws visited there several zillion years ago.
  These will be pressed into service as Wars of the Roses field pieces, or later siege guns.
Very versatile pieces of ordnance, these!
Until recently I was a member of the Wargames  Rules design Yahoo group (may still be if it is still going).  This was I believe intended as a forum for discussing rule sets, their design and philosophy, and ideas for game mechanics and so forth.   The problem with it seemed to be that it tended towards discussing design philosophy in respect of simulation vs game, and its associated duality, realism vs playability.  Now, I appreciate that in many respects as game designers and players we are attempting to simulate or represent dynamic 'systems' (politics, warfare, campaigns and battles) by what amounts to 'comparative statics', but there is just a finite and small number of ways this can be said without the argument becoming tiresome.  At some point we have to sit down and design our games.

Of course our design implies compromises.  Where war gamers are apt to differ in their approach to the game is in the compromises they are prepared to make or to accept.

Close-up of a Tower of London bombard...
The accompanying pictures, which have little to do with the main body of this article, are of my soon-to-be Imperialist Army of c.1700. Organised as follows, figure scale 1:20; guns, 1:4:

General Officer C-in-C Prinz Kazu von Toscana (or possibly Archduke Piccolo the Elder),
Infantry Brigade: 3x36-figure Regiments
Infantry Brigade: 3x36-figure Regiments
Cavalry Brigade: 2x24-figure Cavalry Regiments
Army Troops: 1x36-figure Grenadier Regiment; 1x24-figure Dragoon Regiment,
                          1x8pr Battery, 1x12pr Battery.
A total of 252 Foot (5,040); 72 Horse (1,440); 16 gunners (320, 16 guns); 4 Generals (80 generals and staffs):  Total 344 figures (6,880 officers and men).


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Colin. I read your comment re WI369, and can appreciate your sense of disappointment. I've never actually taken out a magazine sub, and on balance never regretted not doing so even though I bought Mil Mod every month for four or five years.

      As a war gamer, I've generally been drawn more towards articles related to war gaming, or that had something to tell me that I could adapt to my main interest. Mil Mod was always aimed more towards the modeller, even after it absorbed 'Battle' but for a long time contained at least a couple of articles per issue that engaged my interest.

      I think now that even though my war games interests vary widely, there's no longer much being written that hasn't been said before. And yet I find myself following with keen interest what you and several others are doing and thinking on the war games front.

      Why? I'm not really sure, now that I put my mind to the question. I guess that's another posting!

  2. Hi Ion, I was reading though your comments concerning MM magazine. You are dead right about the content percentage, but as more of a bodger that was where I found it strengths.

    My father received Scale Modelling magazine and I think I can say that this was a poor cousin to what I was after in infomation

    However I think there was just enough wargame content to please the masses at the time. I was only able to pick up a few second hand copies at the time (1970's) but they formed the backbone of my interest and early gaming rules.

    And when I found complete volumes of MM on the net a few years ago I scooped them up and have used them quite often or not in bodge research.

    As for wargame design I tend to think a lot but thats about it. I am happy enough with CD3 as long as I am not stuck with anal players who seem to spend more time commenting on rules rather than intent and enjoyment of the game.

    But thats just me...More bodger than gamer.

    1. For WW2 I'll stay with CD though I prefer 2 rather than 3. And I play Panzer Marsch now and then as well. They are good enough for most of my 20th century games, except that I have bodged together some one-brain-cell Panzer Marsch lite rules for my Army Men (Jono's World) project.