Thursday, 2 December 2021

All directions, and none..

After 'Salute' I was quite inspired and motivated,  but 'time and space, dear boy...'  Not a lot of time has been available for hobby activities, but with a true wargamer's butterfly mind I have tried to do several different things at once.  Most practical was at least getting the paintbrushes out :

1760 meets 1943 on the painting table..

On the bottletops we have 16 Prussian  Seven Years War line infantry who will represent the 9th 'Jung Kleist' regiment, when they finally get their  Prussian Blue coats.  Then some  additional artillery of various types for the 'D-Day Dodgers' - German Wespe and 20mm AA gun, British  M7 Priest and  40mm Bofors AA. That Priest was more of a Devil when it came to building - far too many parts and I couldn't get it to fit together!  The Germans also get the mandatory Puma armoured car, much more common on wargames tables than in reality, it seems - but they do look so good...

The plan, in a wave of Salute-based optimism, was to have a 'hobby hour' most days and paint 'little and often',  That hasn't quite taken, I'll admit, but tomorrow is another day.. 

something of a literary warm bath

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the late Charles Grant's 'Wargame Tactics' , which I caught up with at SELWG - a mere 42 years since publication ( sadly it seems he very sadly  passed away just before it was published, so very much his last work ).  His style is complete comfort reading for me, and this is really just a series of reports of games, with a little light military history  ( I hadn't thought about Cataphracts and the Kontos in many a long year ).  The stated aim was to show that usng correct historical tactics should result in better wargames -  and, hopefully,  more victories.   I'm not sure that prinicple was rigorously  followed, but the eight lovely battle reports and introductory chapters on the relevant periods were just a pleasure to read.  No less than three battles were set in the 'Ancients' period, and doubtless would have been played under a version of the  WRG  rules which dominated the period at the time. I was struck by how important morale, and the trademark 'reaction test' was for them - quite often the rout of one unit suffering in combat would have quite a large 'ripple' effect on friendly nearby  units, and that seems quite astute. The rules are regarded today as rather too complicated, with all that  counting of individual casualties and massive lists of plus/minus factors, but I wonder if we are missing something if we overlook that emphasis on morale?   After all, 'the moral is to the physical as ten is to one' - as a prominent wargamer ( 1:1 scale ) once said..   My favourite battle report, however, was the Seven Years War game - which Charles grant named 'The Battle of  Langensalza'.   One aspect of Grant's games that I like is the use of map movement to facilitate the initial setup of the battle, giving the chance of some concealment and surprise in the deployments - and that feature was quite important for this game.  By pure chance, the 'real' Langensalza is the subject of a series of blog posts on  'Not Just Old School Wargaming'  blog  - which are rather spectacular! 

As you may have noted, my reading has now moved on to Stuart Asquith's 'Wargaming 18th Century Battles'  which I picked up at Salute, and I am enjoying - more about that in a later post, perhaps.

'From Our Own Correspondent'

More reading matter which I am rather pleased with is the three issues of 'The Foreign Correspondent' , the newsletter of the Continental Wars Society,  which I am now pleased to be a member of. The magazine is a rather lovely production, with a great 'period-appropriate' style and illustrations, and of course interesting articles too. Twenty pages four times per year, for a subscription of £8 - great value, too! Many thanks to Ralph Weaver for his prompt and friendly service too - I can't resist quoting from his email to me, after I said that my interest in the period sprang from reading G.M. Trevelyan's ‘Garibaldi and the Thousand’ many years ago, and  more recently, Neil Thomas’ ‘Wargaming 19th Century Europe’ . Ralph replied  "We cannot claim Trevelyan as a member, but Neil Thomas certainly is" .

Finally, and just to confuse matters even more, I have ordered a copy of the 'Twilight of the Divine Right'  wargames rules for ECW/30YW period from The Pike and Shot Society, of which I am also a member. I've been meaning to get them for ages, and the final nudge was provided by chatting with the P&SS chaps at Salute where they put on their fine Poltava game.  I await delivery and will be very interested to read, and eventually play, the rules.  

So, we have covered the Seven Years War,  World War 2,  19th Century, and Pike and Shot periods - which of those to spend time on next?  And there's the rub - finding the time. Well, given 'the current situaton'  and word of the week 'Omicron' , it's not looking like I'll be going out to many parties in the near future, and there may be plenty of time at home this winter... 

Thanks for your patience if you have read this far; admittedly this post has been something of a wool-gathering exercise, but it has at least got the writing mojo working after a slightly longer than planned pause. Next on the agenda, I hope, is a visit to Gillingham in Kent this Saturday for the 'Broadside' show - I'll take my camera,  notebook and pencil, and hope to report back after the event. Meanwhile keep well, and safe, everyone.



  1. Good to see activity on the blogging front. Writing about wargaming is a good motivation to painting and gaming. Painting "a little, often" is definitely the way forward for me.

    SYW, WWII, 19th C, P&S are all among my favorites and I will be happy to see activity on any of these projects.

    1. thanks Jon, blogging is motivational for gaming/painting - and vice-versa. 'Little and often' is the way forward, I am going to try to stick with it!

  2. I enjoyed this post very much, just like meeting a fellow gamer over a cup of coffee. Glad you enjoyed your reading and you are moving things forward, fret not and enjoy. Perhaps set up a wee game…
    P.s I did like wrg ancient rules. I still like a good morale test with lots of factors to add up , exciting

    1. thank you so much Alan, I like your analogy, it is really just like chatting, isn't it? I am a bit more motivated now, too - and a game really does need to be done.
      I knew there'd be fans of WRG reaction tests out there!

  3. The Charles Grant book is a great read and I agree about his writing style.

    1. Thanks MJT, yes it was thoroughly enjoyable - must dig out a few old magazines I have which have columns by Chrales Grant - 'Battle' from about 1978, I think!

  4. Charles Grant habitually used 4th edition WRG ancient rules, with his "Dover" amendments; this was when they had moved to 5th edition. That was the edition I started with, quickly replaced by 6th edition. 6th were a vast improvement but contained significant flaws. I abandoned ancients after this and when invited to try 7th was completely turned off (horrible rules!).
    I came back to ancients with DBA and am toying with Commands & Colors and To the Strongest as these take a different approach.
    Wargames Tactics is a strange book; I don't think it really meets its declared aim (IIRC one of the battles is won using unhistorical tactics). For that all that it's a good read, just not as strong as his other two books.
    Dilution of effort is something common to all butterflies I'm afraid. Coupled with lack of enthusiasm leads to paralysis. It's where I find myself at present.
    I'm hoping to force myself into doing something at the weekend.

    1. thanks Neil,yes I remember he would mention his 'Dover Coven' and their amendments, fair enough if they were happy with them. The curse of 'you must buy the new edition' goes back a long way.. I think I had 5th and 6th Editions too, and I remember cutting and pasting in (literally!) the endless amendments. But probaly had no more than a couple of boxes of Airfix Romans and Britons - which I still have somewhere.
      I think you're right about 'Wargame Tactics' in that it's really just a series of nice game reports and not rigourous at all, but I still rather enjoyed it. My very first wargames experience was with his WW2 book 'Battle', so I owe it all to him.
      Finally as Jon F says, 'little and often' is probably the best way to overcome paralysis. Get those brushes ( of dice ) out! I'd love to see some of your 'Soldier King' Spencer Smith forces on the table..