Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Not with a Bang . . ."   --    

". . . but a wimper." . . . well I'm afraid that I'm ending the year with plenty of wimpers.  Yes, it is the kidney gravel moving through my system again.  So here I sit at the keyboard, zonked on my pain meds constantly correcting my fumbling fingers.

Now I don't like feeling zonked; but it is better than the pain.  Anyway before this hit I'd started a blog about my Colonial gaming.  And my most recent post there quoted from something from the "Major General's" terrain philosophy.

Now I do wish to make it perfectly clear that the concepts which follow were written by David Helber of the Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial-era Wargames Page and not me . . . although I heartily agree with Mr. Helber's comments and feel that they deserve to be repeated.

I will note that the photo is from an early game of mine and that I built the buildings ala the Major General's philosophy and the techniques from his Building Construction page.  (As usual, click on photo for larger image).

-- Jeff

Small is Beautiful

Contrary to what your significant other might tell you, size matters -- especially in tabletop gaming. 

Specifically: small is beautiful. Because table space is always so limited, everything used in a game must be as small as it can be and still do its job.

The Ouargistan group uses a 5/8"/15mm (David's preference) or 3/4"/19mm (everybody else's) base size for 25mm military figures where possible, with the occasional base cut larger to accomodate the odd figure that needs it. 

Even a 1" base means that a unit of men will take up over 30% more linear space on the table and 90% more area than those on a 3/4" base. A 2-rank unit of 20 men will be 10" wide, rather than than 7.5". Ten inches is a lot on a table which is only 48" across. 

When the gaming includes buildings, boats, or vehicles, base size is even more important. Even though we allow bases to overlap when figures are in a boat or structure, a base which is even slightly larger will substantially reduce the number of men which can fit in the same space. 

A rooftop which is 2.25" square will take nine men with 3/4" bases, but only four men with 1" bases.

Buildings and vehicles themselves should be as small as they can be without looking completely ridiculous. 

In Ouargistan, a small, flat-roofed native building will be as small as 2.25" square with a roof 1.5" off the ground. The difference between a 2.5" and a 3.5" building doesn't sound like much, but it will allow you to put a 5-building town in about the same space as a 3 building town with the larger size.

When building structures and vehicles it is very easy to let size get out of hand. You must exercise ruthless care to keep things to a minimum, or else you wind up with forts or villages that take up half the table, and boats which require so much river to maneuver that there is no room for land. 

Generally our native buildings run from about 2.25" square to about 3"x 5", forts are about 12" square, and the largest boats/ships are no more than 9" long.

-- Copyright©1998 David Helber

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Gaming (Redux) --

Just over a year ago, I wrote a bit of a summary about my table top gaming interests over the years. After re-reading it today, I felt that it was worthy of another post . . . primarily because of my comments as to why I prefer 18th century Imagi-Nations (posted in blue below).

By the way, the photo to the left is from early action in the Battle of Wollmitz from last year. It was a refight of Mollwitz using my own house rules. Ross Macfarlane was visiting and he and his friend whupped Murdock and myself rather soundly. (As usual, click on the photo for a larger version.)


I was thinking today about how my wargaming interests have changed over the decades.

My introduction to tabletop gaming was with WRG's 7th Edition Ancients. For years, even with changes of rule systems, all that I played was Ancients. Even when our club briefly diverted to periods, we always came back to Ancients.

But I tired of them and my many Ancient armies (in both 15mm and 25mm) have languished in boxes for many years. The truth is that I really tired of the constant search by others for the "killer army".

Have you noticed that most of the "armies" that win tournaments nowadays are ones that never made much of a mark historically? Far too many Ancients players play the rules and not the history.

So, I'm sure that you're thinking, "Am I playing the history when I use an Imagi-Nation?".

Well I feel that I am. I'm not re-creating the exact 18th century history. No, I'm playing at being a minor monarch in the spirit of the period. Furthermore there isn't a search for a "killer army" since we all have access to the same troop types . . . so the
spirit of our battles is different.

So, yes, the Eighteenth Century is my primary period for gaming . . . but it isn't my only one. I'm also interested in the "Colonial" conflicts of the last third of the 19th Century.

The Northwest Frontier (okay, I'll admit to reading a lot of Kipling in my youth), the Sudan and to a lesser extent, South Africa. And the American "Wild West".

The major difference that all of the above share is a focus on smaller conflicts. Essentially these are primarily "skirmish" periods. The style of the games are different -- and more cinematic. In addition, they're lots of fun.

Are there other periods that interest me? Of course. Among them is the English Civil War for which I've been collecting books and rules. It is a period which I really don't know all that much about . . . so research is the first and most important step. It may be a few years before I feel that I'm ready to start painting troops.

And getting back to the 18th century for a moment. I plan on building a number of "historic" (as opposed to imaginary) units in 15mm . . . but again more research is needed first.

Finally, damnit, I am increasingly drawn to those 28mm "Big Battalion" battles. And I have copies of "Charge", "The War Game" and "BAR" on my shelf . . . and I know that "The War Game Companion" is under the tree . . . so THAT is another temptation.

I think that all of those Ancients armies will just have to wait a lot longer before they regain the table top.

-- Jeff

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our First Real Snow of the Season --

Yes, we had a brief dusting of snow last week . . . but it barely lasted an hour on the ground.

The prediction for today was for 4" of snow . . . well we've already cleared 7" from our driveway and the snow hasn't let up at all . . . and we still have most of the night to go (currently about 9:30 pm here).

Yes, the photo to the left is of me . . . taken today shortly after the snow started to fall. (As usual, if you should want to see a larger image, click on the photo.)

-- Jeff

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Tree is Decked --

Yes, we have another "Frasier Fir" this year . . . and please note the "nutcracker" style toy soldiers that grace some of it's boughs. (click on photo for larger image.)

In addition, to initiate the holiday season, we had our first dusting of snow today at about 4:20 pm . . . just enough to turn the roads white and to give spotty coverage on the lawn . . . although many blades of green emerged from the snow.

May all of your holidays be full of warmth and good cheer.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

YIKES! Where did the time go? ---

It is almost two months since I last posted anything here.

*sigh* . . . There hasn't been much to report on the gaming front, I'm afraid. We've been very busy with "real life" issues . . . nothing particularly noteworthy, but time-consuming nevertheless.

As my dear lady wife says, "Getting old isn't for wimps." . . . and I fear that we are getting on in years, with all of the assorted aches and pains that that entails. For example my hands didn't start to ache every time the weather changed . . . but they do now.

My dear lady has been having some nasty difficulties with her hip for the past several months . . . and lots of time is spent going to physiotherapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists as well as her doctor . . . and then we've been through the crazy go-round to get H1N1 shots.

Nothing earthshattering, but time consuming. Hopefully the new year will bring more gaming back into my life.

-- Jeff