Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Now there was a painter... two coats, one afternoon!

Having acquired a copy of Bob Cordery's 'Portable Wargame Compendium', I thought I might try out the '3 by 3 Fast Play' game setup that features heavily in the book. This  would  require a suitable gaming board/table, and I happened to have a cork noticeboard, originally bought for possible boardgame use. Assuming a grid of 6-inch squares with 'reserve' areas at each end, I needed an area of 30 inches by 18 inches, and the corkboard was amply sufficient.   So, taking advantage of a sunny Saturday:

Take a cork pinboard..

prime with diluted PVA glue..

apply green paint ( two coats )..

Mark the grid corners

Ready for battle!

All done in an afternoon, and I think it will be fine! The green paint is artfully the same shade as I use for figure bases  ( from B&Q, it glories in the name 'Ribbit' ), and the grid was marked with a permanant marker pen.  The grid squares will easily take two units as specified in the rules - or even two for each side at a pinch, I hope.  Bob's book has a section with many suggested terrain setups, so I borrowed one of them for the trial layout above - the board easily accomodates six units per side.  I am thinking of maybe painting the other side too, in some sort of sand shade,  for possible Ancients or Western Desert type games.   

Next, I'd better try actually playing a game..


p.s. need I explain the title?  ( though I admit I only knew it from Peter Sellars on Parkinson - I didn't realise he'd nicked it.. )   




Friday, 13 May 2022

Perks of the 'Job'

This is by way of a thank-you  note to Bob Cordery  of Wargaming Miscellany and The Portable Wargame renown :  last week I received a copy of his latest publication, The Portable Wargame Compendium.  And a splendid work it is, too,

100 pages of fun..

This is a softback, about 100 pages, in 'American Letter' format ( 8.5. x 10.5 inches ) which is new to me, but nice and roomy, and pleasant to handle.  It's a collection of pieces exploring variations on Bob's  Portable Wargame format,  dominated by the 'Fast Play 3 x 3'  variant suggested by Mark Cordone, which is of course included here.  There is an array of 'FP3x3' variants:  Colonial , WW2 (both small infantry actions and Operational level), a Punic War campaign, ECW, 'Little Wars'  H.G. Wells style ( with a 3 x 3 Hooks Farm Scenario ), and Sci-Fi - and then ideas on Generalship and Army Composition, Flank Marches, and a Terrain Generation system.  I can't fault Bob's work rate ( and the other gamers and bloggers involved ), given that I gather Mark C only put his '3x3' idea onto social media in about January of this year!  There are also three chapters not related to '3x3',  including   one very useful one describing the  Snakes and Ladders Campaign System devised by Peter from Grid based wargaming - but not always  blog,  and one giving a Fantasy rules variation on The Portable Wargame (step  forward, Maudlin Jack Tar and  Tradgardmastare ). Finally, The Portable Eighteenth Century : Horse and Musket Wargame Rules, by - well, modesty forbids.. 

There are battle reports for three of the 'FP3x3' rulesets, and nice colour pictures of  the resulting quick and simple games. Here is Bob's WW2 Infantry Combat game,

   and one of Martin Rapier's 1st Punic War battles, using 20mm figures originally based for DBA. 

I could be tempted by the Ancients version - there's a 'Command and Colours Ancients' set around here somewhere, which would provide instant armies.

I can see that the Fast Play 3x3 versions could be great for those times when you just fancy a game to 'scratch the itch',  but haven't got a lot of time, or as an introduction for gaming beginners, or for smaller actions in a campaign that maybe don't warrant a large setup, so I'm sure it will interest a plenty of people ( it already has, of course!).  One of the most interesting ones for me is Arthur Harman's ECW variant - Arthur has sagely spotted that a frontage of three grid areas is highly appropriate for armies which had a quite rigid order of battle consisting of an infantry centre, and two wings of cavalry. His set looks to be among the most detailed, and may thus be a bit more than a quick and dirty game - intriguing. 

So, thanks very much indeed Bob, for the excellent book and for including me in - in reality, Bob did all the work, I just agreed that I'd be honoured if he put my 18th Century amendments to his rules in his book!  The whole thing has a rather nice feel  of variations on a theme, which reminds me of some of Donald Featherstone's collections such as Advanced War Games , War Game Campaigns and Solo Wargaming, bringing together a pot-pourri of ideas around a central concept - there's bound to be something that gives you some inspiration. Given that Bob has  been having some health issues recently too,  I reckon he's done a great job! Well worth a look. 

Now I am casting around for a '3x3'  grid, and have just noticed an unused cork pinboard . width 22 inches, so should easily fit a grid of 6-inch squares.. now where's that green paint I use for basing? Watch this space..

Thanks again, Bob!   Meanwhile Keep well, and safe, everyone.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Prussian Blue - 40 Years On

 A sort of historic day, albeit very personal, today. I'll explain.  Well over 40 years ago, the childhood me discovered wargaming, and subsequently spent all my 'holiday money' one summer on a copy of Charles Grant's 'The War Game', from a little bookshop in Looe, Cornwall.  Thoroughly enthused by the world of the VFS and Duchy of Lorraine, I dreamed of my own imagi-nations, while also becoming aware that 'proper'  wargaming figures were available, beyond the Airfix plastics in the local toy shops.  Further pocket-money was duly saved up, and a mail order placed with Miniature Figurines in far-off Southampton - for a whole 'Grant-size regiment' of about 50 figures. These would have cost about £5 to £6, and may have represented most of the 'defence budget' at the time. Hence an  obvious flaw in my childhood strategy is apparent - how did I imagine I would ever get a whole army? 

Anyway, it was a Prussian Line Musketeer regiment, and in my enthusiasm for fictional nations, and having no idea how to paint such figures,  I haphazardly slapped on some mid-blue ( rather Bavarian-looking, but I think it was 'Prussian Dragoon Blue' ) Humbrol enamel paint. Done! They were able to take the field, the only metal figures among a rainbow collective of mixed Airfix Napoleonics and  AWI, all painted in equally slapdash and equally non-historical colours.   Of course they were terrible paint-jobs, but the games were fun, and at least the advent of WRG 1685-1845 rules eventually allowed smaller and more economical units! And then my enthusiams moved on, and the imagi-nations ( and really, wargaming as a whole ) were forgotten, and the lone 'Grant regiment' sat in a box, in my parents' loft, equally forgotten and neglected. 


1970s paint job ( MC12, Prussian Dragoon Blue? )

These  unloved figures probably spent over 30 years in more than one loft - at least my folks were kind enough not to throw them out when moving house - until finally, and by chance largely thanks to another 'imagi-nations'  enthusiast, Henry Hyde and his 'Battlegames' magazine, my interest was revived. The opportunity duly appeared to buy some of the late Eric Knowles' Seven Years War figures, and  that led to the blog you are reading now.  And of course, now I have the chance to use my long-neglected Prussians. So, a year or so ago they went into a bath of 'Clean Spirit', and away went the Humbrol enamel.

back to bare metal - more or less

Finally, I'm very pleased to say that  yesterday afternoon  I sat in my partner's sunny garden, with 16 of these under-employed veterans, and finally bestowed on them their rightful reward - smart new coats of ( acrylic ) Prussian Blue.

Early days yet, but it's a step 'vorwarts!'

Now I'm the first to admit my painting skills have not necessarily improved in the intervening decades (and my eyesight, certainly not!) , but I think I have a bit more patience, better information and better equipment.  I will certainly be taking more care, and  I hope for a decent enough result, which will allow them to finally take their place on the battlefield once again, as the Prussian 9th Line Infantry ('Jung Kleist' ), and try conclusions with the dastardly Austrians. It feels somehow very 'right' to do this, and there's a strong sense of connection with my younger self across the decades,  and of course an awareness of the passing of time - where did those decades go?  If the little metal men have feelings, I hope I am making amends for all those lost years, and I hope to give them back their pride. Let's hope they fight like good Prussians!   I hope to show these again once they are finished - meanwhile, keep well, and safe, everyone.