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!


Steve J. said...

Well Keith, where has the time gone? I remember having a very enjoyable game with you in what seems only a few years ago of your 'home made' rules. Then one day post game you announced that Osprey had accepted them and you had to work on them in earnest.

I think the finished article will worth all the effort and I'm sure they will become my default rules for the SYW. Great to hear that the book is more wordy and with illustrations for the rules, which is what I personally prefer. Still a bit of eye candy is always nice. Lovely to hear that it contains scenarios as well.

So publication is around my birthday so I know what I will be asking the family for:)

Jim Walkley said...

As Steve said - where has the time gone? But isn't that cover great? It must make people want to pick up the book - even if inclined to the Austrians :-)
Best wishes

Stryker said...

I'm very impressed - well done!



Great news. I hope one of the shots I sent made it into the book but, no problem if not . I'm sure it's going to be an excellent publication. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Best Regards,


Keith Flint said...

James, I am pleased to say that a number of your shots made it into the book. In fact, yours are the only photos by what I might term an 'amateur' wargamer that made the final cut. All others that were submitted (including my own) were of insufficient quality.

As far as I can tell, although the actual size of the photos in the book is fairly small, Osprey like to have the photo show good close-up detail. A general view of a wargaming situation would lose its impact when reduced to a 2" square picture. So bits of a larger photo get selected and blown up, which really searches out faults in quality.

Apart from yours. the other photos in the book are generic shots of SYW figures taken by manufacturers like Front Rank. These guys are all nice people and the photos are lovely. but I can't hide a little disappointment that there are no RSM95s in the book, or that there seems to be no room for photos of real wargames. These days, it seems, only professional quality will do - which clearly reflects on the high level of skill you yourself have acquired in wargames photography.

There seems little chance of publishers sending out photographers to gather shots of wargaming in action. So probably the only option is for people like me to up their skills. But taking things to the next level with lighting, camera equipment and photographic training may be too much to ask of the average wargamer.

Scheck said...

I also followed the yahoo-group and the discussions, but could´t give good advices. I like the rules very much and will ordre your book in any case.
Have a look on my blog, if you are interested in war-games photography - I am always experimenting the visual effects - like James on his blog.

All the best and my great respect for all your efforts!

snowcat said...

Congratulations Keith. I'll be getting one. :)


Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Many congrats, Keith, and good luck with the selling.
I'm looking forward to seeing the book since SYW is a project definitely on my list...



Huh, Huh, Huh. Sorry, having done a little jig I'm now completely out of breath.

My little Canon Ixus 30 does it again. I love that bloody thing to bits.

Peter, you are most certainly a man who knows what he's doing. Given the professionalism of your photography I imagine your camera is a wonderful piece of kit. Give it to me and I'd look at it and think I was about to fly the space shuttle: It took me a week to work out what the macro setting was for. [Grin]

I'm gonna be in an Osprey! I'm gonna be in an Osprey! I'm gonna be in an Osprey! I'm gonna be in an............

Time to jig again...........

Keith Flint said...

... and one of your photos is the illustration for the title page. Total of 7 of your photos used - all properly attributed of course.

Thanks for making this contribution to the book. Keith.