Monday, 29 June 2009

Blog Review 12


Jan and I have been in UK for 10 days, the longest I have gone without putting anything on the blog since I started it! Sorry to anyone who might have been calling by to see what is happening.

I had my laptop with me, but for most of the time was not able to log on. When I could it was in circumstances where I could not concentrate sufficiently to get anything down. I had taken some notes with me to update the "Wargames in Spain" blog, but only put one on - and that was my cat Buster helping us play a game!

On the other hand I did have the opportunity to reflect on things, which is not always a good idea. Too often it results in me going off at a wargame tangent.

I was particularly interested in reading about two new wargame rules, and their reception on TMP. The first is "Napoleon" by Foundry. The reception has been pretty poor, with some correspondents apparently happy to have a go without even reading the rules. Indeed it seemed that no one had actually played the rules. Now I am sure that some people can judge a set of rules on a quick read, but I am not amongst them. It usually takes us 5 or 6 games just to get a feel for the rules, and as many again to realise that we don't actually like them.

The second set is "Honour" by Sam Mustafa. This was better received, though nothing has actually been published yet. And I must admit that they sound very interesting. I considered using his Grand Armee at one time, but discovered LFS at the same time and would not attempt to learn two sets of rules at the same time. I particularly like the idea that you can fight different size battles with the same base stands. As I understand it they could represent a battalion in a divisional size game or a brigade in a corps sized one. I doubt that I would stick with the rules, but they might well give me some ideas to amend my own house rules.

I have really decided that "house" rules are the answer for Jan and I. Neither of us like learning new rules, and play so much that we always find fault with them sooner or later. And once you start to amend them you create more problems than you solve. I always felt that it was necessary to have a "professional set of rules" when we ran club games, as I would always feel that I had to defend a "house set". However if just Jan and I are playing we can always compromise and end up with a good game.

The thing that struck me most reading TMP is what a terrible impression it must give to newcomers to the hobby when they read the things printed there. I am sure that the vast majority are like me, just keep our heads down and let them get on with it. But if a wargamer with 40 years experience like myself is put off, how must a novice feel.

I have also been meddling with Battle Chronicler, which I also found on TMP. It is a computer assisted method of doing battle reports. The example looked easy, so I downloaded it, plus something else which you need to play, which took nearly an hour. I hate to think how much space I have taken up on my hard drive. You will appreciate that I am a computer novice and just cross my fingers when I do these things. Once downloaded I then found it was much more complicated than I had imagined, and there are no rivers or hills available. To be fair, it is at the test stage and is free, so I am not really complaining. And the whole reason for doing my own campaign on an A4 sheet of paper is to avoid having to struggle with the computer. So you might well ask why I attempted it in the first place!!

I have also been looking for a new camera. My present one is about 10 years old, and I am sure is well outdated. Looking for a new one proved a big headache. We were travelling around UK and looked in Newcastle, Salisbury and Weston super Mare. In each shop I explained what I wanted. This was a camera (like my present one) that you can point and press for when we are walking. I would like a simple (as opposed to my present complicated) way of taking close ups of wargame figures. And I would like a wide angle lens to take the whole 6x6 foot table - even if balancing on a step ladder. And I wanted all of this in a middle priced camera, say not more than £150. Each shop convinced me that their camera, and all were different makes and models, was the right one. By the end of this exercise I was completely confused. Not a single camera could do all three functions, and I could not agree which was the nearest. In despair we visited a small, family run shop in Morpeth. The owner produced a camera which met all of my list, and at a price of £139. I would have bought it on the spot, but it was to be a Christmas present to us both from my son and family. So I noted the details and gave them to him. Within minutes he had found the same camera, online, at £89 post free. Personally I would be tempted to go back to the shop and see if they would match, or at last come near, the online price. But I suspect that my son will just buy it online and the shop will lose a sale. It seems very unfair, but then again a saving of £50 is not easily ignored.

Whilst struggling with my decision I came across the word "stitching". In photograph circles it apparently refers to taking a number of photos and then joining them together. I was assured this was simple to do, and that downloads were available online. Again I downloaded one, and again it is proving much harder to do than promised. Once more I would have to confess that this is probably more my fault than the designer. However when I went on their forum (there never seems to be a human you can contact) there were pages and pages of similar requests. And the answers seemed much more complicated than the questions. Ah well, at Christmas I will have my new camera, and the nice man told me that this feature is included on the camera and even I can do it. We will see.

So much for excuses and what I have been doing for the past 10 days. You would be more interested in what I hope to do in the next 10 days.

First I plan to do another in the "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" blog. Not sure which, but it might be Albuera. I think that was the next one we visited during our 1991 Holts Battlefield Tour.

I will definitely do one more of the "Wargames in Spain" reports. This time without support from the cat.

I will add more to "Jan and Paul in Spain 2007". When we were in UK I was really pleased to see that a lot of our friends had been visiting the Spain blogs. I had noticed that they had quite a few hits, but as no messages were left did not know who was coming by. It is the worse part of doing a blog, you never know how your work is being received. On the other hand you don't get lots of adverse comment either!

And finally we must get some wargaming in. This should not be too difficult. The summer has arrived here in Spain, and that means very hot afternoons. One of the coolest parts of the house is our wargames room, and there is a large ceiling fan to help keep us cool. The Spanish have their afternoon siesta, we have our afternoon wargame and swim. This looks like being the last battle of our "Magdeburg Campaign". I have already started work on the Spanish campaign which will follow. Maps and order of battle are already done, but I have to start the map movement. I don't like to do so before I finish "Magdeburg", as I would lose interest in that. Also before I start in Spain I want to tidy up "Magdeburg" so that it makes easier reading from start to finish.

So lots to do, and plenty of time to do it. Keep calling in to keep up with the latest.

14 comments:

Rafael Pardo said...

Hi
I also did purchase Napoleon's Foundry and did become disapointed. It is a very beutiful book full of nice pictures, but the rules are very basic. The Sam Mustafa's system will be surely better. I solo-play with Napoleon's Battles but I own Grande Armee (one of the Sam rule-sets) and it is a good system.
Regards
Rafa
www.rafaelpardoalmudi.com

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Rafael

I think I have seen your web site. Are you refighting the Peninsular War?

Sorry to hear tht you were disappointed with "Napoleon". It must be very difficult to come up with something new, and better, in Napoleonic Rules. And with a large manufacturer like Foundry there are always people waiting to have a go.

Like you I am expecting better things of Sam Mustafa. I only hope that they are not too good, I really really do not want to change my rules yet again!

regards

Paul

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Welcome back to "blog-land".. your absence had been noted.. :o))

I too have been playing with Battle Chronicler and would recommend sticking with it - it becomes much easier with use... if you go to my blog one of my recent posts has some updated terrain pieces that I have put together to download - including hills ...

Looking forward to Albuera..

Rafael Pardo said...

Hi Pual
No, I am not refighting the Peninsular War but the Leipzig Campaign... at least officially because I am easily distracted by other things! However, I have refought some battles of PW in my web page.
My Leipizg Project is run in
http://rafa-pardo-almudi.blogspot.com/
Regards
Rafa

The Old Metal Detector said...

Paul, how can you keep your desk so tidy? I wouldn't dare post a picture of mine.

Congratulations on some really first class blogging. I am two thirds of the way through painting a Hinton Hunt Prussian Infantry Division and Cavalry Brigade - at this rate I should be able to get some Napoleonic Wargaming in in about eight years' time...

Regards

Clive

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Clive

The desk is tidy because its only used for work on the computer. I have given up painting new figures and am determined to resist the tempatation to get back into painting. My time now is devoted to the campaign, wargaming and the blogs. I thought I would really miss the painting, but not so.

Hinton Hunt were my second set of wargame figures, the first was Airfix. I sold them off many years ago to replace them with Minifigs, which have since been replaced. But I still have a soft spot for them, particularly the French Guard Lancers with the seperate arms!

Good luck with your project, and hope you get back to wargaming with the "true period" sooner rather than later.

regards

Paul

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Rafael

Thanks for the link to your Leipzig blog. I have kept it as a favourite and will read it through shortly. Sorry I got you mixed up, but I knew the name sounded familiar.

I think being easily distracted is a symptom of being a wargamer - it seems to happen to us all. I am trying to keep really focused on my 1813 campaign. We have always fought battles within a campaign, but in the past the campaign has always run out of steam after 4 or 5 games. I am hoping that my latest one, which allows me to shift the area and armies by using a mini campaign within the main campaign, will solve the problem. We shall see.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Steve

Sorry its taken a couple of days to reply to your comments. We were only away for 10 days, but its amazing how much there is to do when you return. I thought being retired was supposed to be restful and carefree, but this blog business is more time consuming that real work was. A lot more enjoyable mind!

I have checked your blog and love your rivers and hills. I have not had a chance to read it properly yet, but will do so in the next couple of days. I will take your advice and keep with the Battle Chronicler. You said you have made them available to download? How does that work?

regards

Paul

Greg Sapara said...

Great to see you back!

I've often had the same thoughts you expressed concerning TMP. Leave it to wargamers to make the worst out of a situation.

I mean, we have an embarassment of riches these days when it comes to rules sets - much different than when many of us started. I give credit to those who are brave enough to publish rules sets, given the amount of criticism they must endure. Some deserved, some not.

When I first visited TMP, I was quite put off by the rabid tone of some of the posters, along with some of the political rhetoric I found. Lately, things have seemed to have calmed down a bit and my visits are less stressful.

I also agree with your feeling on blogging - you never know how it's received. I've posted items and haven't heard a peep from anyone. Admittedly, this is a somewhat vain admission. But feedback is nice.

Glad to see you back at home, and I look forward to future postings.

GregS

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Greg

Thanks for the comments.

I am not sure whether it is just TMP, or wargamers, or internet forums.

Most wargamers that I have met are very nice people, and not at all like those on TMP, or rather some of those on TMP. But perhaps the ability to have instant response, whilst at the same time hiding behind a computer nickname, brings out the worse in people?

I had a similar experience on a forum (not TMP) some months ago. I posted regularly, and enjoyed the good natured exchange. Then one correspondent seemed determined to provoke a hot debate. Despite my best efforts I was drawn into an exchange which resulted in my leaving the forum. I would never have retreated from a face to face disagreement like that, but it just didn't seem worth the candle. And of course I am the only loser.

I agree with you about rule writing. I often wonder why people bother to put their rules on sale. It can't be for the money, for I am sure there is not much to be made. And as soon as they appear they seem to be thrashed, often by people who have not even played them.

Far safer to stick to a blog!

I must admit I really enjoy doing the blog. It has given me a whole new aspect of my wargaming, and encouraged me to work through problems with the campaign rather than just end it and start another one.

Thanks again for your comments, as you say its nice to get some feedback.

regards

Paul

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Hi Paul - apologies for the delay in responding...

You can download a zip file that contains all the components DG and I are using for Battle Chronicler from here...

http://www.box.net/shared/ucr38cldv5

Download the file, and then just unzip them into your Battle Chronicler "Component" directory... give me a 'shout' if it's not clear...

This the post where I gave my initial impressions on Chronicler - it may help.. :o)

http://steve-the-wargamer.blogspot.com/2009/05/battle-chronicler.html

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Steve

Thanks very much for your reply.

I am not sure that Battle Chronicler is the right answer for me. I use the computer a lot, but understand it very little! I understand that it is still at the testing stage, so perhaps I will wait until the finished product is available.

I do like the look of it, and the battle reports look much more professional.

I will have to leave it for a few weeks, because I am working on completing the Magdeburg campaign and getting the Spanish campaign ready.

Thanks again

regards

Paul

JAM said...

Hi Paul,

I have to agree with you about the impression that is left with readers of TMP in respect to the recent debate about the the Napoleon ruleset. I am a new wargamer and it is off- putting. I am especially puzzled as most of the writers have not even seen the ruleset and none have appeared to played it.

A lot of the members of TMP appear to be rabidly anti-Wargames Foundry.

The book on general inspection is of excellent quality and I wish it was available 3 years ago when I started my research in to Napoleonic wargaming as it appears to be an excellent modern introductory text to the subject.

Anyway keep up with your blog, I look forward to more on the battlefield visits.


John

http://fuentesdeonoro.blogspot.com/

thistlebarrow said...

Hi John

Thanks for your comments

Don't be tempted to think that TMP represents the average wargamer. I must confess that I have spent most of my life wargaming on my terms, which is to say providing a facility for others to come and enjoy - including table, terrain, figures and campaign.

At first I did this because Jan and I were always moving around, and could never seem to find other wargamers. Then I returned to UK and joined a club, but was disappointed at the standard accepted. A visit to Peter Guilders wargames centre proved to me that higher standards could, and should, be aimed at.

However I have never met a wargamer like those who frequent TMP. I am sure that the vast majority who visit TMP are just like you and I - reasonable people. But those who post on the Napoleonic Forum seem to come from a different world.

You should also realise that you live in a golden age of wargaming. There is a lot written about the golden age of the 60s and 70s. But I assure you that there has never been more "goodies" available than now. And given inflation they are cheaper in real terms than they have ever been.

Thanks again for your comments. Keep dropping by.

regards

Paul