Tuesday 21 July 2015

3 pdr Battalion Gun: An Interactive Experience

This week, my wife and I are mostly on holiday in Norway. We started by flying into Bergen, and naturally Bergen Castle was top of the list for a tourist visit. Imagine my pleasure when, on visiting the Roesenkrantz Tower, I found it had a Cannon Loft (I want one of those when I win the lottery), and there, sitting in the centre of the floor,  was an 18th century 3 pdr battalion gun.

The barrel was made in the 1780s, whilst the carriage is a 19th century replica.
From the information panel: barrel weight 100kg, range with canister 350m, range with roundshot 1000m, crew 5.

Being in a Norwegian museum, I found I was free to handle the gun more or less as I wanted, so I had a go. I found the whole thing surprisingly light to handle. The carriage was well balanced and it was easy to lift and move the gun. Of course, things might have been different on rough ground, but it was interesting to see how I could manoeuvre the gun with one hand. The short video below illustrates the point.

The elevating screw mechanism was in excellent condition and showed just how precise and simple these mechanisms were - a great improvement over the sliding wedge of the early 18th century.

I was also able to find some authentic 18th century uniform items to demonstrate. Being a bit of an expert in this field, I thought readers would find the results valuable.

Or not. Anyway, having a lovely time. More wargaming posts to come once I'm back in good old Blighty.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Alea Iacta Est

Yes, the die is indeed cast and the point of no return for Honours of War has been reached. The final layout has been agreed between Osprey and myself and all the last minute amendments that could be fitted in have been included. Now the layout goes to the printers in China and we wait for the books to be (literally) shipped back to the UK.

The book has turned out to be quite tightly packed with text - I went a bit over the word count, and Phil Smith at Osprey has had to cut down on the eye candy a little to compensate. There are fewer large photos and illustrations than have been seen in some other books in the series. It was great that Osprey were prepared to show flexibility in this respect. But there are still some very nice photos and illustrations, as well as the 4 maps for the scenarios which look excellent to me. Sadly, despite my best efforts, the photos I took of my own collection in action were not of a good enough quality for publication, so no RSM95s grace the pages.

This is in fact a good example of the learning process I have gone through. I have in the past occasionally bemoaned the fact that photos in rule books were there just for show, rather than illustrating the rules. The fact is, getting photos of the required quality is an issue in itself, and the services of a professional or the abilities of a committed and well practised amateur are needed for this alone. Add in the setting up of a large number of shots with very specific layouts, and the problem gets even bigger. And in most cases, diagrams are as good or better at making the point, for a fraction of the effort. So the book has diagrams explaining the rules, and the photos are there for illustration and inspiration only.

I have also learnt that despite there being 4 months until publication date, the final layout is needed now to allow for printing in China and for the inevitable slow boat that will bring the books back.

It was on this blog that I first appealed for playtesters, and so I want to express my thanks here to all those that responded, mostly through the Yahoo Group. A large number of wargamers (around 30+) have sent in specific ideas and feedback, often of the highest standard. These were people who knew the rules only through downloading them off the group and making sense of them on their own gaming tables, with their own collections. That they were able to pick up the rules quickly and usually play enjoyable games straight away has been a great confidence booster for me. The criticisms and suggestions made (always politely expressed) have been fundamental in making the rules much, much better than they were 18 months ago. The rules have been playtested in Italy, the US and Canada as well as the UK. Guys, you know who you are - thank you so much.

In the end, the list of playtesters was of a length that precluded listing all the individual names, which was what I had hoped to do. As well as the length of the list, there was the nagging doubt that  I would leave someone out and thus cause offence. So the rules will have only a generic thank you. It is nonetheless heartfelt.

In true Amazon fashion, the rules are already available for pre-order on their website. At some stage I will probably close down the Yahoo group and arrange some other source for online support, but this is not yet finally decided. Any questions or comments on the rules are still most welcome, either here or on the Yahoo group.

And so I wait until November. Fingers crossed!