Sunday, August 21, 2022

You wait for one and 5 come along at once...

 Having not played a game for several weeks due to illness and being too busy, last week Monday and Tuesday gave me the opportunity to play 5 games over the two days...

Field of Chivalry

On Monday I went to Anthony's and we played a game of Field of Chivalry rules using his 40mm Dark Age figures from Expeditionary Force.  We have played medieval games using Flower of Chivalry a couple of times before and enjoyed the experience.

Flower of Chivalry are from the Canadian Wargames Group who have always produced slightly different, interesting rules.  In FoC you have three battles of units and each battle has a leader.   You start each turn by deciding what you want each battle to do - this can be things like charge, move, etc.  You then roll percentage dice to see if the battle does that or something slightly different. So, on Charge there is a small chance they will simply manouevre, for Manouevre they might stand there or charge and so on.

Each order increases or decreases the battles Battlelust rating by a certain amount and when you reach 5+ your troops become tired and if you reach -5 they become demoralised.  It is a balancing act of getting your troops into action and not wearing them out or defending but not lowering your troops morale.

Each Army leader has a rating and this determines the make up of the order deck they have which consists of cards between 1-3 and a joker.  A better leader will have more 3 cards.  Each turn you draw a card and this is the number of actions your units can EACH perform.

So with 3 actions you can sometimes end up meleeing 3 times.

The balance of juggling battlelust and deciding when to risk closing with an enemy (you decide on orders before you find out how many actions you have) make the game inteesting and a challenge.

I was playing Vikings against Saxons and rolled really badly for morale at the start of the game, with units running back and I had soon lost 10 out of my 12 army morale.  I retreated, regrouped and managed to force the Saxons to within one point of their army morale as their units died across the line.

In the end it came down to who could manage to knock off one more army moral and the Saxons managed it first giving Anthony the win.

It was a very close and exciting game.

Pikeman's Lament

The Osprey Blue Book rules are quite popular at the Guildford Club and on Monday evening I played in a 4 player Italian Wars game.  We were the Florentines attempting to attack and take (or burn) a venetian held village.

There are various house rules that we use for the games (such as only Shooting, Charging and Skirmishing stopping your turn if you fail an order) that have impoved the flow of the game , and improved them for multiplayer games.

It was misty/dark so you could only shoot at 12 range and we quickly advanced across the table towards the village.  Unfortunately, my initial die roll was as poor as it had been that afternoon and I failed to hit anything with my skirmishers or win the initial fight across a stream with pikemen.

Things improved as the game went on and my dice warmed up and I was soon getting 7 hits out of 8 dice while needing to roll a 5-6!

Eventually we beat the Venetians back and forced them out of the village.

Pikeman's Lament always gives a fun, enjoyable game especially with multiple players a side and plenty of opportunity for laughter and socialising. 

Battle of Little Big Horn

My friend Ian Marsh (of Fighting15s) who I first met at the school Napoleonic Wargames Club was staying over night on Tuesday and we managed a few games while chating and drinking wine.

The first of these was a version of the old Waddington's game Battle of Little Big Horn.  Anthony had the board scanned and printed on a mat by Deep Cut Studios and having played the game I also bought a mat.  The figures are Britain's Deetail plastics which come painted on metal bases.

The rules are quite simple (as you would expect from a children's game from 1964) but give a few challenging decisions on when to move and how to exploit strengths.

In the end, we played two games swapping sides and the Indians won both times.  it is a hard ask for the US Cavalry to win.  Which is, I guess, fairly historical.

Colt Express

Colt Express is a boardgame where you play bandits on a train trying to rob the passengers and fight off other bandits while avoiding the marshall.

It has a number of neat features such as the cardboard 3d train, a system where you play up to 5 actions in a turn into a deck which is then played through.  This means you can end up in the wrong place and your subsequent actions go wrong as your preprogrammed turn is played through.

This is similar to Robo-Rally with a preprogrammed turn and has a neat twist of the fact that every time you are shot you gain a bullet card in your deck.  You draw 6 cards from your deck at the start of each turn and the bullet cards are effectively dead cards that you can't use.

We played two games and I won the first, with Ian winning the second.  I feel it is a better game with more players as there is moreinteraction and a longer train but it worked okay for 2 players.

Flying Goblin

This is a game for 8+ and I bought it because I didn't have a dexterity game.  Basically, the box is a castle with different rooms in it and you flip goblins into the castle to try and land in certain rooms to get coins or diamonds.  The flipping is a free for all and when one person has finished you only have one shot each left which means some goblins can be left unflipped.

Other rooms can left you spin the castle, steal diamonds, lose a goblin, etc

With the money you can buy more goblins, a really big goblin or thieves or parts of a totem which is placed on roof in the castle.

You win if you have built 4 parts of your totem and it remains standing at the end of the turn or if you have 20 diamonds.

Ian won the one game we played in which neither of us managed to knock down the other player's totems, we both had 4 levels but Ian had the most diamonds.

It is a fun, very silly and quite racous party game that you gradually get worse at the more you drink!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Putting Away Childish Things...

 I know people who have never sold a single wargaming figure and who swear that they never will.

I also know people, like my opponent Anthony, who has bought and sold collections with such blinding speed that I have managed just one game with him before they are gone again.

I fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. 

Until I bought Gladiator Miniatures and had to make changes to how the house was organised, and gave up my games room to become a workshop,  I had never sold or given away a book.  But I didn't have the space any more and 800 SF and Fantasy books went to an SF dealer.  Three crates of non-SF went to charity shops and I then had the space to store my military history and uniform books.

When I bought Gladiator, I downsized my income fairly considerably (I used to work in IT) and joined the local Woking Linrary (which is excellent) and hardly ever buy books any more except wargames, uniforms and occasional history.

Over the years I have sold a fair few wargames collections though, as I realised I wasn't playing games with them or I would never get round to painting them - the "ooh shiney" phase had passed I was no longer passionate about the period.

So, over the years I have sold the following painted armies:

15mm ECW
A mix of old Minifigs Strip figures (bought when I was 16) and Mikes Models 15mm bought from Essex in about 1988.  This was part of my clear out of 15mm and I had duplicated the period in 54mm so they had to go.  They sold in Ebay for a reasonable amount and the buyer was very happy with them and the unpainted units I also included.

15mm Napoleonic
Again, I decided to clear out my 15mm and I had duplicated the period in 54mm.  These were a mix of Essex painted by Mili-Art (I bought two painted starter armies when I restarted wargaming at Salute 1995), some AB and some Old Glory.  Most went to fellow members of Guild Wargames Club.

15mm NKE and Hittites
Two fairly large armies - I never really found ancient rules I liked that much for big games - these went to a fellow club member.

15mm Swiss army for Maximillian! Rules
15mm Gladiator figures - these went to Chris at the Guildford Club.

15mm Classical Indian and Arab Conquest
I bought the Arab Conquest painted but never used them - they went to Hinds figures as part of large partial swap for a painted 20mm ACW collection.  The Classical Indian were sold on Ebay.

10mm Warmaster High Elf Army
I hadn't used these in a long time - bought and painted when Warmaster first came out. I had no local opponents and couldn't face painting another army in 10mm.  These were sold to somene in Australia for a fair price.

54mm Vietnam
1/35th scale - bought a long time ago, played a couple of games but never really found rules I liked.  In the end I decided they were too big for the table and I sold them in lots on ebay.  The Dragon kits and the Huey I bought had all at least doubled in price.

32mm DUST Weird War
Got into playing this with Anthony and when he decided to move it on I bought it. Played about 1 game in 5 years and did think of converting it to Konflikt '47 but in the end decided it duplicated my WW2 gaming experience so sold most of  it on facebook.

15mm Marlburian + DBA armies
Gladiator Miniatures - these all went to Ian Hinds as part of the great 20mm ACW swap.

25mm Darkest Africa
I bought these in 2000/2001 and we played a lot of games using GASLIGHT or Chris Peer's rules.  But eventually I realised I hadn't used them for 5 years and that a lot of the games were very similar. Sold off in job lots on ebay.

25mm VSF
Played a lot of GASLIGHT with these but eventually sold them for space as I was concentrating on my 18mm Martian Empires range.

25mm Pirates
I never had any ships for this and eventually decided it really just duplictaed my Three Musketeers collection as they were both stabby/shooty skirmish games.

 Unpainted collections sold off:

28mm WW1
28mm French Indian Wars
10mm Warmaster
10mm Battle of the Five Armies (GW)
Space Hulk 3rd Edition
54mm ECW (25 boxes of them - Anthony has a complete collection so I decided not to duplicate it in the end).

I can't say that I really regret any of the sales. Perhaps if I still had the Darkest Africa stuff I could play Men Who Would be KIngs with it, but I have the 54mm NWF collection for that period.  I have mostly used the money raised by selling off painted figures to buy other figures or some painted figures to extend collections.

Some £500 from the DUST/54mm Vietnam sales paid for some raised beds, soil and other bits for my new vegetable garden but most has gone back into the hands of wargaming traders or fellow wargamers...

Monday, August 8, 2022

The North West Frontier in 54mm


A NWF game in progress using the Portable Wargame

The North West Frontier has always appealed as a period ever since reading Donald Featherstone's Solo Wargaming book which has a number of atmospheric black and white photographs of NWF games in progress.

The collection started as a joint one between myself and my regular opponent Anthony Morton.  Anthony took the British (which he has a tendency to do!) and I collected the Pathan opposition.

We chose Armies in Plastic 54mm figures as they covered all the figures we needed, were fairly cheap and were in the 54mm scale we had decided the fight the period in.  The original idea was to use The Sword and the Flame rules.

                                                A Sword and the Flame game in progress

Anthony doesn't paint his own figures and I painted the British for him, using an undercoat of PVA, a mix of Coat D'arms paints and Coat D'arms Dark Brown Super shader to shade the figures which were then sealed with Matt Varnish.  The Pathans were painted in a similar way.

Anthony used the British army for the 2013 Little Wars Centenary games held at Sandhurst and added a general in a car as the leader.

We fought a number of games with The Sword and the Flame and then tried out the original Portable Wargame Colonial rules when I first became interested in grid based games and started experimenting with them.


Since then we have also used The Men Who Would Be Kings from Osprey with 1/2 size units which works well on a 6' x 4' table and which give a balanced game. 

The terrain was made from broken up polystyrene packacing stuck on irregular shaped MDF bases and then painted various shades of grey.  The rocks were arranged so that there are plenty of standing places for the figures to occupy.  The game mats are from an Irish company (who's name escapes me) who supplied mats made from the material use for sound deadening in cars and caravans.  It is a thick, robust material and I have 2 6' x 4' desert mats from them meaning I can make up an 8' x 6' table when I need to.

I have the Airfix Desert Outpost which serves as a small ruined fort and I also have the AIP Fort Kandahar building which I am part way through painting with textured paint and finishing off.  That should provide some good siege games.

Eventually Anthony decided he wanted to sell on the British (rather than duplicate his Little Legion 1879 army in 54mm) and so I bought them from him to keep the collection together and to make sure I had two opposing forces.

The current forces are:


102 British and Indian Infantry
25 British and Indian Cavalry
1 Gun and Crew
1 Gatling Gun and Crew
1 general in car
4 x elephants with loads

60 x tribesman infantry
5 x Cavalry
1 x Gun and 3 Crew

5 Pathan Cavalry
2 boxes of Pathan infantry

As you can see, there is a disparity in the sizes of the two forces as I tended to paint more for Anthony than for myself as it was paid work!  I need to paint more cavalry (at least) to even the sides up and to balance the forces.

We very rarely use anywhere near the total number of British in a tabletop game but they are useful as forces for Funny Little Wars.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Evolution of Rules (or rather, my thinking about Rules)

 I was finally tipped over the edge on starting a new blog by Norm Smith and the post on his Battlefields and Warriors Blog here:

which posed the question - are we using simpler rule because we now collect so many periods we don't have time to absorb complex rules?  I made a few replies in the comments and then realised that I was interested in the discussion and it raised some other questions about decisions I had made over the years about the way I now wargame.

I originally started out in 1974 with H G Wells Little Wars rules as they were the only book on wargaming that my local library had.  For two years I happily fired matchsticks at plastic Airfix 54mm Napoleonics and played on a carpet or a patio.  This is simple wargaming, easy to remember rules, plenty of excitement as you fire matchsticks at long range at the advancing enemy and a melee system where every man kills another man until they are outnumbered 2 to 1.

Then we discovered Practical Wargaming by Charles Wesencraft in the library which revolutionised my wargaming and I used a table and dice.  We still played Napoleonics with 1/72nd scale Airfix and were soon rolling for movement and morale and working out firing ranges, etc.

After that, we wanted to play bigger battles so I bought 5mm Heroics and Ros Napoleonics and we fought larger games using G W Jefferies rules which I seem to remember were fairly complex.

I changed schools and moved into 25mm Minifigs with Bruce Quarrie rules and soon adapted to dividing by 33 for casualties and working out exactly how far a French Guard Grenadier could move.  We never managed to finish a game in the after school wargames club as there simply wasn't time to setup and play more than a few moves before everything had to be packed up again. But we enjoyed ourselves (I think).

After that I discovered Roleplaying games and fell out of wargaming until 1995 when I restarted with 15mm Essex Miniatures Napoleonics and Bruce Quarrie again (as those were the rules my opponent and I had used at school).  This time we had longer to play games and actually finished them - helped by scenarios and a fixed number of turns.

Since then I have played probably over 100 different rule sets across all sorts of periods; either with my own collections or at Guildford Wargames Club.  I have enjoyed some of them, hated others and adopted a few as ones that I return to again and again.

The two big influences on my gaming in recent years have been Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame and the books by Neil Thomas starting with his Wargaming and Introduction book.

It is only in recent years that I have started to realise what it is that I enjoy about wargaming and what I want from a set of rules.  I am not someone who is ultra-competitive. I was never like that at school sports and my second Grammar school ruined sports for me as they were extremely competitive to the extent of teaching the first XV to foul on the blind side of the referee.

I like to win but it doesn't matter to me if I don't.  So, working out how rules work in depth, how to break them or get the best from rule mechanisms isn't something that appeals to me.  I just want to play the game and enjoy it.

To me, wargaming is an opportunity to put painted toy soldiers on a table and push them around while enjoying the company of friends. It is, above all, a social experience rather than a competition.

And this is also why I enjoy "simpler" rules such as Neil Thomas's which are elegant in design and are straightforward.  I don't want to have the game mechanisms intrude on the game in such as way that I feel I am playing the rules rather than playing the game of Toy Soldiers.

This is why I have never really got on with Too Fat Lardies rules, I think, though I know many love them and I have tried several sets.  The mechanisms in games like Chain of Command simply make me feel I am playing a dice game rather than pushing figures around a table.

I think perhaps one reason that I am happy with simpler rules is that I have no pretensions to recreating history. I very rarely play refights of historical battles.  I prefer balanced scenarios that give both sides a chance (rare in actual battles) and that produce an interesting challenge.

I sometimes feel that perhaps I am little old fashioned but I am happy with rules that use Charge/Move/Fire/Melee/Morale and UgoIgo turn sequences.  I struggle with games that have interruptions of the other player's turn as I never know when to interrupt. I do play games that use cards for commands or dice for order checks such as Command and Colours or Black Powder but I don't feel that these intrude on the game as much as other ideas can do.

I am still playing new rule sets at the Guildford club - I played Soldiers of Napoleon the other day and thought that it had some interesting ideas but I am not going to spend £30 on a new ruleset which I will play very occasionally when I am happy with a variation of Neil Thomas.

So, I have come to a point in my wargaming that I have a set of rules I am happy with, which work for me and the people I play with and I really can't see me buying any more "shiny" new rules to replace them.

And I am back playing Little Wars again with my own metal 54mm figures and matchstick firing cannon out on the lawn and occasionally on the table and still enjoying it as much as I did for the first time over 40 years ago in a friend's lounge with the furniture pushed back.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Start of a New Blog

 I ran my previous blog - Little Wars Revisited for 12 years, starting in 2010, and documented my exploration of the world of 54mm wargaming and Toy Soldiers.  This lead me to create the Little Wars Revisited Forum for 54mm wargaming and this is mostly where I document 54mm games.

With the sale of my Toy Soldier business and the reduction in business to just Black Hat Miniatures and Coat D'arms paints I decided to drop my rather expensive hosting package that also hosted a number of friends' emails, etc.  The Little Wars Revisited blog went with it.

I was starting to feel slightly restricted by it as I game in a lot of scales other than 54mm and have decided to create a new blog to post some thoughts and a general track of my progress on various projects.

This is as much for me as anyone who is reading (which at this time is currently no one!).

For the first few posts I will detail the various collections and projects I am working on, how far advanced they are, which rules I use (or plan to use) and why and what the plan is for them.  As I have around 25 collections for various periods and scales this could take some time!

The collections currently are (in no particular order):

15mm Pony Wars
18mm Martian Empires
20mm ACW
20mm Sudan
20mm WW2
28mm Romans and Celts
28mm Dark Ages
28mm Wars of the Roses
28mm FPW
25mm Lord of the Rings
40mm AWI
54mm Napoleonics
54mm North West Frontier
54mm Punic Wars (for Command and Colours)
Federation Commander Star Trek ships
1/1800 WW2 Naval
25mm Fantasy Dungeoncrawl
25mm Three Musketeers
25mm Gangsters (and 4' x 4' cork city!)
25mm Gladiators
Ogre Miniatures SF
25mm Superhero (mostly Heroclix with Batman the Miniatures Game as well)
Gaslands cars and scenery
54mm SF for Galactic Heroes games

and I am sure I have forgotten something....