Friday 28 June 2024

The Stockholm Rendezvous

No, I've not started writing spy thrillers. My wife and I have been on holiday in Scandinavia since early May, and just recently we were having a couple of days in Stockholm when I lost my phone. Some nice person handed it in at the Nobel Prize Museum (as it was found nearby). 

So what has that to do with this blog? Well, a member of staff at the museum made it his personal quest to contact the owner of the phone and return it to him. By searching for my name online he found I had this blog, and left a comment which was flagged up to me by a regular reader, my old friend Steve Johnson. Being on holiday, I hadn't checked this blog in weeks, so thank goodness for helpful and quick thinking buddies!

Everything came together yesterday whilst Jane and I were travelling on the Stockholm metro. We managed to contact Jakob (the museum employee), and being about to finish work he was kind enough to meet us at a mutually convenient Metro station. And so I had my phone back.

Ah, Mr Bond, I've been expecting you...

So, this post is to thank Jakob formally for being such a terrific person. If he had just done nothing, or forwarded the phone to the police, I would never have seen it again. What a great guy - thank you!

The Second Best Thing
The second best thing about this experience is something Jakob said to me regarding Googling my name. Of course, most of the hits referred to the guy (now sadly deceased) who used to front up The Prodigy. But apparently, if you are determined and search cleverly, mine is the next most common hit. So it seems I'm the second best known Keith Flint on the internet. Maybe. I guess it's about time I decided to be an Influencer, or something like that. Hmmm - maybe not.

Some Military Stuff
We have visited a number of lovely castles, and a couple of actual military museums, on our travels, so below are few photos that might be of interest to my usual readers. 

The Front Museum, near Hanko, Finland. I'd forgotten what a big gun the Pak40 is.
Manhandling this beast must have been a real bugger.

As a comparison, the Russian 45mm anti-tank gun seems much more manageable.

Outside the museum is another 45mm, mounted in a replica bunker.

The enemy's view of the same weapon.
Properly camouflaged, this position would have been hard to identify.

Captured Soviet T-26 at the same museum.

Gripsholm Castle, Sweden. These two magnificant Russian cannons came to the castle from Russia as war trophies in 1623. They were cast in the late 16th century. One was captured at Narva in 1581, the other at Ivangorod in 1612. Extraordinary weapons with wolf's heads cast into the muzzles. Whether the carriages are original I don't know.

Forgive my grim countenance in the Finnish photos - the details of Finland's experiences in WW2 are not likely to engender happy feelings. Anyway, that'll do for now. I'm back in a couple of weeks and hope to resume some wargaming. With luck, battle reports will follow. 'Til then!

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Loving the Process

I continue to read the odd wargames magazine, mostly WSS. Issue 129 (the most recent) was pretty good, themed around Bronze Age warfare, but with some interesting non-theme articles as well. But it was the full-page advert on the back that caught my attention initially. There was a new WW2 game in town, apparently - Achtung Panzer! (I'm not much of a one for exclamation marks, but that's what it's called). It's from Warlord Games, as I'm sure you know.

Now, the wargaming internet is currently riddled with ads for the latest Flames of War/Gale Force 9 effort Trash of Steel (oops, I mean Clash of Steel), so my first thought was - what, another tank-only WW2 game? And then I remembered What A Tanker! (yes, it's exclamation mark time again), from 2018. So that's 3 such games now, all from prominent 'historical' gaming companies. 

I was surprised when What A Tanker! came out, as the Too Fat Lardies always made a fair bit about having a lot of historical flavour in their rules ('playing the period, not the rules', as their advertising says). A game like What A Tanker! is clearly one where you play the rules, not the period. But Richard and Nick have never been short of a sense of fun (as their company name confirms), so what the heck. But then there was Clash of Steel (shouldn't that be Clash of Steel!), and now there's Achtung Panzer!. 

It's worth hearing what Richard and Nick
have to say about their game HERE.

It's not hard to see the attraction here - lots of WW2 wargamers find messing around with tanks the most enjoyable part of their gaming. Those infantry and artillery thingies just keep getting in the way and slowing down the game, for heaven's sake. Which is essentially true. So there was bound to be a market for tank-only games. Plus there's all the interest in online tank-only games like World of Tanks, which holds out the promise of a truly vast number of potential customers. So why aren't I interested?

I guess most importantly, these games seem like a different hobby to the one I got interested in in the 60s, and am still interested in now. The historical element was always given a fair bit of importance. When gaming a particular period, it was taken for granted that, as far as armies went, one wanted the whole thing. That was the point of all that research and reading. The idea of playing Napoleonics with just the cavalry, or ancients with just the pike phalanxes, never occurred - except maybe for one-off games to test out the rules. Or perhaps just for the hell of it once or twice. But a whole set of rules just for that type of game? The clue is in that strap line from the What A Tanker! cover - 'challenging and fun'. Of course, the hobby is about fun - I've labelled it 'whimsical' in past posts on this blog, and I stand by that characterisation. But in a nutshell, a game of WW2 with just the tanks seems like half the fun.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, combined arms. Much of the fascination of historical wargaming comes from that. My serious interest in Napoleonics is relatively recent, but once I got some games in I found (of course) that the 'paper, scissors, stone' of Napoleonic warfare was truly fascinating. And the same goes for WW2. Have you ever read a tactical history of WW2 where combined arms wasn't considered vital? I don't think I have. To me at least, these tank-only games are a step back, and look a lot less fun than the ones I'm used to playing.

There is also the 'barrier to entry' argument, I suppose. These games, it is hoped, will get Warhammer gamers into historical (well, sort of historical) gaming. And Napoleonic gamers can get into WW2 just by buying a handful of tanks (plus an expensive rule book). The 'barrier to entry' thing is an interesting concept, one which we will all have experienced. The thought that it might take many months, even years, to get into that new period, to get to play the games you want to, is sometimes not very encouraging. But here we get to the reason behind the title to this post.

Yes, that's right. All that effort, researching, buying (when you can afford it), painting, writing rules or choosing and learning commercial ones, and playing games that might last more than 45 minutes  - it's what the hobby is. These things shouldn't be viewed as barriers to entry. The idea is that you're supposed to enjoy that shit. I think that's something that saddens me these days - those things that I learnt were part of our pastime are now 'barriers to entry'. As mindfulness tells us, the key to success is loving the process. Finding joy in the process. Not discarding the process for a quick fix. Which is why I find these three games not worth my time.

In my case, there's also the point that I'm not really bothered about encouraging young Games Workshop enthusiasts, or any other young people for that matter, into the hobby. I'd prefer them to get into a proper hobby, like football, or kayaking, or restoring old cars, or photography. Wargaming? That's for old tossers like me, you young fools.

Well, I think that's about it. I guess I wrote this because finding an ad for a third, high-profile tanks-only game kind of depressed me, and I wanted to explain to myself why. I've never been interested in World of Tanks, and I'm not interested in these new tabletop games either. It's like life really - I'd quite like to have a go at the whole thing, not just a bit of it. But that's just me. As an ex-editor of Minaiture Wargames once wrote - "it's all fantasy anyway". He's basically right, of course. We're just playing with our toys. So if you like and enjoy these games, good luck to you. I just don't think I'll be joining you.

Over and out. 'Til next time. (No exclamation mark this time around).

EDIT: I just noticed on the CoS packaging the phrase 'Complete WW2 Starter Set'. What is that supposed to mean? A starter set for the whole of WW2? I'm reminded of the description of the Games Workshop 'Lord of the Rings Strategy Game', which was of course a skirmish game. All a bit meaningless, and a bit misleading, IMHO.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

A 'Startline' Wargame - Poland 1939

It was good over a recent weekend to have the opportunity to set up a Startline scenario and play the game through, first solo, then with a live opponent in the shape of my long-time friend and wargaming opponent Paul. I only have the one WW2 collection, so as usual this fictional engagement was set during the 1939 Polish campaign. 

To create a suitable scenario, I turned to a resource I have been using for a few months now, the latest list of Flames of War missions. These are available for free download online (you can also get a printer-friendly version without the fancy background). Thanks to FoW for making this available. The scenarios suit Startline very well, as my rules are set at exactly the same company level as FoW, and the basing is pretty much identical as well. 

As you will see if you check the link, the scenarios don't give specific terrain, but do give everything else you need - type of scenario (i.e. attack-defence, encounter), the details of deployment, victory conditions, and any special rules needed. So it's easy to replay any scenario several times by just changing the terrain, the period, or the forces used. Each scenario uses equal points forces on both sides - attack-defence set-ups work by having only around half the defenders on table to start with and the rest arriving as reserves. This gives the attackers a decent chance to win. Many of the scenario deployments are quite unusual and original, and give an excellent alternative to just setting up on opposite sides of the table.

One such is 'Hold the Pocket', which was the scenario I chose to play. You can check the details of this scenario on the download, but essentially the attacker deploys down each short table edge, whilst the defender holds a box centred on one of the long table edges. The defender is thus being attacked from both sides. The photos below show the terrain and forces for the second game, with the deployment areas outlined with green dice.

As you can see, the terrain was flat, with a settlement and crossroads within the defender's box, or 'pocket'. On one flank, a stream ran between the pocket and the attacker's deployment area. This was crossable, but a bridge was also available. I chose the simplest possible victory conditions - one objective marker was placed on the crossroads, and the attacker had to claim this to win. If he did so in 6 moves, that was that. If not, an extra two moves were allowed. If the defender still retained the objective, the defender had won.

Naturally the Germans were attacking. The forces were:

Battlegroup HQ.
Panzer company with CO:
Medium platoon: 2 x PzIV, 2 x PzII. Medium platoon: 2 x PzIII, 3 x PzII. Light platoon: 1 x PzII, 4 PzI.
Infantry company with CO:
3 x infantry platoons. One platoon is motorised with a Pak 36 attached.
AA section: 2 x 2cm Flak 30.
Off-table artillery: 2 x 10.5cm batteries, each 4 guns.
AFO, and an airborne AOP (Hs-126) also available.

Polish - on table
Force HQ.
2 x infantry platoons, each with 1 x MMG and 1 x Bofors 37mm attached. 
1 x 75mm wz.1897 (attached to one of the infantry platoons).
AA section: 1 x 40mm Bofors, 1 x AAMG.
6 x 4" square minefields (to be combined as required).

Polish - off table
Recce platoon: 3 x Wz.34 armoured cars
Tank platoon: 3 x Renault FT-17.
Off-table mortar section: 2 x 8cm mortars.
Off-table artillery: 2 x 75mm wz.1897 batteries, each 4 guns.

I had decided to keep the Poles as a basically infantry force. To make up the points against all those German tanks, the minefields were just the thing. As the Polish commander, I marked their location on a map, leaving Paul to guess their location until one of his elements entered and had to roll for destruction. This makes for a nice bit of gameplay, and is simple to set up. Paul had the advantage of an AOP to spot for his artillery, and the use of a pre-game barrage, which also added a bit of extra flavour to the game. I used the normal FoW reserves rules for the entry of the Polish recce and tank platoons.

In the first game, other commitments meant I only had time to play out 4 moves. In the second game, Paul failed to gain the objective in 6 moves. We had to call the game there, but it looked like playing an extra 2 moves would have put victory in his grasp.

So, nothing remains but to show a few photos of the games in progress. I would strongly recommend any WW2 gamer to check out those FoW missions, if you aren't already aware of them. Very useful.

Solo Game:

The settlement after the pre-game barrage.
The Polish AFO copped it, a serious set-back.

German motorised infantry cross the bridge.

The brown counters mark a minefield.
Note the two Panzer Is overunning a Polish trench.

The motorised infantry make progress.

Heavy pressure on the Polish right flank -
but the Poles are fighting back.

A punishing airstrike by German Hs-123s.

German tanks are at the gates of the village near the Polish baseline.
But the red marker shows they have been forced to retreat following
the destruction of the acompanying Company Command tank.

Game with Paul:

One of the Polish platoons is falling back following artillery and airstrikes.
Note the orange marker and the Stuka over the table.

The main German attack makes progress...

...but the German diversionary attack is easily halted. 
The yellow markers show morale is wavering.

Close, but not close enough.
The village is still in Polish hands (just) after 6 moves

Movement Rates
One issue I've been dealing with in Startline is movement distances. How to get the game moving faster without making move distances unrealistically large? I've already been using my usual solution - allow for increased moves (and sometime decreased moves) on a die roll related to unit quality, with the presence of company commanders making larger moves more likely. Following these two games, I've also added what I call 'march moves', which add 50% to movement when out of contact with your opponent. Most of you will be familiar with the concept - increased moves as long are you are not too close to the enemy, sometimes called 'reserve moves'. I use this kind of thing in Shadow of the Eagles. In FoW, Battlefront introduced what they call 'dash moves' in version 4 to achieve the same thing. I guess we'll see how things go.

Thanks for visiting. 'Til next time!

Tuesday 26 March 2024

In Which I Try Out Valour & Fortitude

The Perry Twin's Valour & Fortitude rules are a set I have been interested in since they first came out about 18 months ago. The basic idea is excellent, and impressed me straight away - a set of Napoleonic rules created by some very well known wargamers (mainly Jervis Johnson), designed to be short and relatively simple, available for entirely free download and supported by regular updates as they improve and develop. I think that's what is sometimes called 'the spirit of wargaming'. The shame is, it has taken me so long to get around to a playtest. I finally got around to it recently following an invitation from a friend at the Cirencester Wargames Club (many thanks Nigel). 

For our game, Nigel set up a fictional Prussians vs. French battle from 1806. Each side had 3 infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade, plus an artillery battery in each brigade - around 20 units a side. Nigel has a wonderful collection of 20mm plastic figures, including Airfix figures going back to when he was a teenager, and we were using a 6' x 4' table, with the ranges and distances in the rules reduced by one third. Here was my first lesson in V&F - as with Black Powder, the big games and large units they were apparently designed for can easily be reduced for the collections and tables of mere mortals.

The French 'come on in the same old way...'

After the game, both of us had some comments about the detail of the rules, but the overall conclusion was straightforward enough - we had both enjoyed ourselves, and we were keen to play the rules again and further our understanding of how they worked. Simply writing a decent set of Napoleonic rules within a limit of 4 pages is a remarkable achievement in itself, and this is certainly a very decent set of rules. Any modest criticisms given below should be seen in this light.

Just a few words about the game. Firstly, both of us were new to V&F. The version we were using was v.2.3. In order to give the rules a good wring out, Nigel flung his French forces into a headlong attack against my Prussians, who adopted a defensive posture. Under these circumstances, the Prussians managed to see off the French assaulting columns relatively easily, and the battle ended (if I remember correctly) with 2 French brigades destroyed and a third approaching destruction, whilst all Prussian brigades were still functioning. A few photos are given below, mainly to enable readers to admire Nigel's lovely figures.

Impressions of the Rules
Most people interested in V&F have had plenty of time to check them out and will be familiar with their basics - so this post won't attempt any summary or overall description of the rules. I just wanted to record the thoughts of a couple of experienced wargamers following their first game.

One interesting thing I've never seen mentioned is that the rules don't actually say what period they are for. "Designed for fighting battles using the Perry Miniatures range of figures" is the nearest the rules get, but as Perry Miniatures cover periods from Medieval to WW2 this isn't much help. It's the kind of thing one expects on a title page - but there we are, everyone seems to know they are primarily for Napoleonics but can be adapted for other Horse and Musket periods, so let's leave it at that.

Now then - the Fate Cards. Personally I could do without them. Their presence was one reason I left the rules alone for a while. The idea of such cards is as old as the hills (as I'm sure Jervis would admit), being something I remember reading about in Donald Featherstone's earliest books. In V&F you draw a card at the beginning of each turn and add it to your store of surprises (i.e. previously drawn Fate Cards) which you can spring whenever you want. You know the kind of thing - that unit that's about to be destroyed or retreat can re-roll its last dice throw and be saved. For me, this just adds an extra layer that detracts from the game - the rules themselves, especially with the special rules for particular nations, provide all the period character you might need. The rest is just fluff, IMHO. Yes, you guessed it, I don't like cards in wargames. I'm pleased to see that V&F isn't one of those 'card driven systems' that are all the rage these days.

A particular mechanism I retain some doubts about is the use of supporting units for both fire and melee - only one unit attacks in both these processes, whilst others offer support. This seemed to be one reason that the Prussians saw off the French so well in our game - perhaps rather too well, as the rules seemed to prevent the French columns from developing their full potential. However, more games are needed to see the rule in action before I get too dismissive!

The various army lists currently offered are a fundamental part of playing a 'proper' Napoleonic game, and a solid attempt has been made to give each nation a bit of historical character. The 'stat line' system defining the characteristics of each type of unit is carried over from Black Powder, and is very useful in creating period flavour whilst keeping the core rules simple. The 'elan' rule for the French is a good example of a national special rule that seems to work well, but the 'drilled' special rule for the Prussians had both Nigel and I scratching our heads over whether it was really justified, particularly in 1806. 

The compressed nature of the rules does make for the occasional difficulty in understanding what is intended, and overlooking a short sentence buried in a particular section can make a big difference in a game - so if you're new to the rules, some careful reading is advised. I was unsure what the 'reform' action was all about until I read the Designer's Comments and twigged that it was all about formation changes - but the phrase 'formation change' is entirely absent in the main rules. A minor point, but the sort of thing you need to look out for.

The rules for skirmishers (i.e. skirmish screens in front of a formed unit) are commendably simple, but I'm not sure if they really provide the flavour of the real thing - in particular the unit deploying them doesn't seem to get any protection from their presence. Rule 8.1.2 gives line a significant advantage vs. column in melee (as far as I can tell after one game). This was great for me in this battle, but whether it is justified? Who knows. Maybe more experienced players can put me straight.

Finally, as the reviewers on Little Wars TV have noted, the QRS has the look of a sheet of A4 where the rules were fitted on...well, where they would fit on, rather than in any particular order. The LWTV QRS is much better, but note it is a bit out of date now and will need amending for the latest rule changes.

Nigel was fully in favour of the Fate Cards idea, maintaining that they added some colour to the game without adversely affecting play. Overall, he reckoned (as I did) that the rules gave a game that flowed well without getting bogged down in too much detail. He also liked the system for working out who had won, based on the accumulation of Defeat Tokens, again something I liked as well. It is a nifty and easy to use mechanic. Nigel also liked the command and control system - perhaps 'system' is too strong a word, but the rules are simple and have the required effect.

On the down side he noted that you need to have decent sized armies for the system to work well - even using smaller units and smaller size figures, you still need a handful of brigades to get a worthwhile game. This is fine, and it is what the rules are written for, but players of Sharpe Practice and Dan Mersey-style rules should beware. Nigel also thought the sudden death of units (the Valour Test), reliant on a 50/50 dice roll when they reached the appropriate level of damage, was a bit too harsh and too dependent on a single D6. I could certainly see what he meant, although at this level of game I do tend to like a set of rules that are reasonably bloody. 

Over and Out
And that's just about that. If you're holding back from giving these rules a run out, wait no longer. I seem to have concentrated in my comments on things I had some doubts about - but overall I found the rules interesting and original, and fun to play. They're well worth trying and have much to recommend them. For myself, I need to look in particular at the special rules for each nation and see how they fit in with my own thoughts. But that's just me.

'Til next time!

Saturday 16 March 2024

The Attack On Wurstburg 1758

It's well past time that I recorded some plain, old-fashioned wargaming on this blog, if only for my own benefit.  So to start with, this is a report on a game from just a few days ago, played with some old friends and using a scenario from one of the stalwarts of the now-defunct Honours of War website. Thanks then to Konstantinos Antoniadis for this scenario and the many others he has posted over the years. Some of them (including this one) can now be sampled by joining the Facebook Group. Just go to the Files section.

Konstantinos' map is shown above. His forces were French vs. Prussians - in my game the Austrians replace the French. The Austrians are defending the town of Wurstburg and the countryside to the west. They appear to be a little unprepared as the vital bridge is only lightly defended by inferior Bavarian troops, and the outlying units to the west are also weak. In addition to the bridge, there are alleged to be two viable fords across the river, one east of the bridge and one to the west. In the original scenario a pontoon bridge is to be built west of the bridge ('d'), but as I have no suitable troops I went for the ford option. The Prussian attacking force outnumbers the defenders by about 30%. The map shows the opening dispositions.

The great attraction of the scenario is the steady arrival of reinforcements for both sides, in particular the strong corps of von Kleist which arrives from the west ('h' on the map). This gives a game full of action, manoeuvre and choices. It also turned out to be very well balanced. The scenario was written for Honours of War, but I played it using my Post of Honour rules (also available for free download on the Facebook Group). The maximum turn allowance was reduced to 10 moves, which turned out to be fine, and I simplified the victory conditions by using objectives. These are shown by red dots on the map. Four of the six objectives would need to be claimed by the Prussians in 10 moves to win. Of course, if either side reached its breakpoint before then (9 units for the Austrians, 12 for the Prussians), they would automatically lose.

The Game in Pictures
The game opens with Prussian hussar detachments searching for the two fords, whilst the Prusian main forces either commence crossing via the bridge or wait impatiently for the hussars to be successful. Konstantinos had his own rules for the latter process - I produced what I called my 'Find The Fords Table'.
In the pre-game dice rolls for quality of brigade commanders, the Prussians had aquired a glittering array of 'dashing' commanders, and seemed full of confidence. The Austrian players (of which I was one) were rather more sober in outlook, hoping to hold on and praying for the reserves to arrive (or perhaps the other way round).

I'm afraid the opening moves remained unphotographed as I led the other 3 gamers through the rules, but the images below should give an idea of how things progressed post-lunch.

We join the game as von Kleist's Prussians arrive via the western table edge (foreground).
To the left two regiments of Austrian dragoons throw themselves into the fray to buy time.
Adam appears well satisfied by Prussian progress.
Or perhaps finishing the last of the Custard Creams accounts for his expression.

The Prussians have crossed the river in force and are building the pressure against Wurstburg.
Austrian reserve infantry are arriving on the left of the photo.

The Bavarian battalion in Dumhof was quickly smashed by Prussian artillery.
Now the remainder of the brigade is in trouble as the position on Windmill Hill is unhinged.
They have turned to their rear, but are still being connonaded from across the river.

A bettter view of the Austrain infantry reserves arriving in Wurstburg.

The Austrain reserve cuirassiers hover behind Trommler Farm waiting for a suitable
time and place to intervene (bottom right), as von Kleist's advance continues.

Now the Prussians have broken into Wurstburg. At top left the Austrain grenadier reserves are arriving, whilst at top right the Prussian grenadier brigade has crossed the bridge and are about to enter the fray.

Overview during the end game. The Prussians have claimed 3 objectives (bridge, Windmill Hill, and Wusrtburg north), and are disputing 2 others (Trommler Farm and Wurstburg south). But the Kaiserlichs have sacrificed too many units whilst holding back the Prussian tide, and have reached their breakpoint. Reserve biscuits have arrived at top left.

The Austrian Grenadier detachment bravely continue to dispute control of Trommler Farm,
but have been bypassed by the Prussian cavalry on their right, and Freikorps on their left.

The concluding positions around Wurstburg.

The north of the town is lost to the Austrians, whilst the Austrian grenadiers have their bases
firmly planted on the southern town objective marker. But the game is up.

So, a Prussian victory in the final turn. Their set of dashing commanders had produced a run of double moves which had greatly aided their triumph. On the other hand, von Kleist had arrived later than hoped, and the Austrian dragoon brigade had done wonders against the Prussian cavalry on the Austrian western flank, before being finally crushed. So Austrian hopes of victory had not been dashed too early.

This was a fine game, and all four of us enjoyed ourselves immensely. This is a scenario I would recommend for any Horse and Musket gamer, regardless of the actual period.

The Post of Honour rules worked very well, I thought. In essence, they are Shadow of the Eagles for the 18th century, and are in fact the rules from which SotE were developed. Of course, Honours of War would have been just as good!

Thanks for visiting. 'Til next time!

Friday 23 February 2024

The Cotswold Wargaming Day 2024 - And Facebook

Well, it's that time of year again, and I'm planning my annual wargaming event. This year, I am having a change of venue from Northleach to Cirencester.

Sunday 20th October
09.30 - 17.00
Big Battles Ltd
Unit 3 
Cirencester Business Estate
Esland Place, off Love Lane
Cirencester GL7 1YG

Last year at the old venue.

There was of course nothing wrong with the old venue - I have been very happy with it. Except that there was one issue - the number of 6' x 2' folding tables I needed. About 40 or so were in fact required, and half of these had to come from the other community facility in Northleach, the Cotswold Hall. Apart from having to transport 20 tables from one end of the town to the other in my car, I had to get permission to store these overnight at the Westwoods Centre (permission was always freely given), and then hope to set everything up the night before, once again with permission. 

However, the real issue was, what would happen if those 20 tables were needed at the Cotswold Hall for an event on the same day? Well, what would happen is, is that I would be f*cked. A risk I was prepared to take (being on good terms with the supervisors of both venues), until I discovered the venue mentioned above in an industrial estate on the edge of Cirencester. Any miniature gamers in the Cirencester area not aware of these guys should check their website

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the Big Battles venue looks just about perfect for the CWD - they have the room, the flexibility to accomodate a number of games with different size tables, under-table storage, plenty of parking on a Sunday and free tea and coffee (!). Plus, I don't have to transport, set up and tidy away anything at all. I'm thinking that maybe (just maybe) I might have time to present a game myself.

As usual, invitations have gone out to my mailing list. The event is also highlighted on my Facebook group:

If you haven't been before and fancy pitching up, please be my guest on the day. I'm planning to charge £10 a head for players, assuming an attendance similar to last year's. Casual visitors not playing might get away with free entry - I'll see how I feel on the day! Ideally, contact me for a proper invite and maybe you can get a game, or even put one on. Do this via the Facebook group, or leave an email address in the comments here - I'll delete it once we've made contact in an attempt to protect your privacy (not that any of us has any privacy online these days).

Hope to see you there!

I'm pleased to say my Facebook group has taken off nicely, with over 60 members as I write this. Naturally, a number of members of the old websites were sad to see those sites go (as was I), but a lot of them seem to have bitten the bullet, joined Facebook, and then joined the group. If you have any interest at all in my rules, or just an interest in wargaming the SYW, Napoleonic Wars, or WW2, I invite you to head over and apply to join.

Just today, a member was kind enough to upload an Excel spreadsheet that gamers can use to create Honours of War armies with the correct points values. Naturally, I thanked him for taking the trouble to do so. In reply he said:

"Just happy to know that I can give back something for the joy that wargaming (and thus, whoever gave time to write rules, or explained them) gave to me."

Now, that was a very nice thing to say. It certainly made me glad I'd started the group. In fact, I will say that I hope the group will become a source of eclectic comment and discussion not just on my rules, but wargaming in general, in so far as that may be possible. I look forward to encouraging and receiving comments, discussion, photos and various uploads. A number of scenarios have already been generously provided to grace the Files area of the group.

And so, on that upbeat note, I will leave you - 'til next time!

Sunday 28 January 2024

Ah Yes...Facebook

I have never really thought Facebook was a good place for wargaming sites. The Facebook pages or groups I visited seemed to lack focus and looked to me like a jumble of messages and posts with little order or organisation. So I set up 'proper' websites for Honours of War and Shadow of the Eagles, with forums, download sections, author content etc. 

Well, the Honours of War site has worked pretty well for about 9 years, but activity is now limited to a few stalwart members. These guys post some great content, but for a set of rules published in 2015 a website was beginning to look like a luxury I couldn't afford.

The Shadow of the Eagles site had some interest at first, but this has faded recently and there is currently very little activity. The simple fact is that SotE sold less copies than HoW. This is pretty easy to explain - the Napoleonic rules market is much more competitive than the SYW one, and Osprey have a much higher profile than Partizan Press - particularly with their 'Blue Books'. With the annual renewal of the site coming up, at much increased cost, renewal just didn't seem worth it for a site generating almost zero posts on the forum. (As an aside, check out the Little Wars TV review of the Blue Book series HERE).

On the other hand, people kept telling me Facebook and Instagram were the places to be if one wanted to generate interest in your rules. Once you joined Facebook and your page or group got going, you became part of a significant online conversation, where people joined and posted on your little group, and you joined and posted on their groups. Interest might therefore flourish. This is the problem for small-time rules authors - once the initial publicity has faded, there is the danger that your rules will just sink without trace amongst all the other rule sets.

So there we are - I want to keep interest in my rules alive, and Facebook seems to be a good place to help that along. At least, that's the case according to my kids - and my wife. And a number of fellow gamers. And Dave Ryan at Partizan Press, who always wanted me to have a Facebook page. And recently, well-known military historian and Osprey author Angus Konstam also encouraged me along this route.

So, in a month or so, I will be saying goodbye to the HoW and SotE sites. To anyone who ever posted on those sites, or just joined to download free stuff, my sincere appreciation and thanks. I learned a lot from the questions asked and comments made, and this resulted in some rule amendments and errata corrections. All the errata and new or amended rules will continue to be available on Facebook, free to download. 

The Facebook group is set up, and you can apply to join via the group page:

As for Startline, the discussion group on will continue (see the Startline Discussion Group). After all, this group has only just started and I want to keep the momentum going. Anyone interested in Startline should keep an eye on both groups. 

For the record, where Startline is going remains uncertain, but I'm enjoying working on the rules immensely. I'll just keep plugging away and time will provide an answer as to what to do with them. The secret to success (as the Buddhists and mindfulness experts tell us) is to love the process, not crave an outcome. That works for me!

So, I hope to see you on the new platform. 'Til next time!