Sunday, 24 July 2016

Wargames Nostalgia – Moving to Spain

Our first wargame in Spain

In 2005 we decided to move to Spain on retirement.   We bought out house “off plan” so we had a year to plan whilst it was being built.   We were also able to have the utilities room expanded to be our wargames room.

For the previous 20 years we had used a 12x6 foot table to wargame, and our collection of model soldiers was designed to provide that size of game.   With our move we would have to make do with a 6x6 foot table.   This was not a problem, as we did not plan to start a club, but would just wargame together.

I had just completed updating our model soldier collection.   The 28mm were mostly Front Rank, the 18mm AB Figures and the 6mm Heroic and Ros.   With our smaller table our wargames would have to be half the size.  Consequently I would only require half of the figures.   Throughout 2005 I put figures on EBay and managed to sell them all.

Our converted garage would have to be returned to its original use.    Our much loved wargames table would have to go, as would the shelves for storing the figures and scenery.   I could not find a new home for the table, so it was dismantled and my son took it off to Newcastle where it was used to convert his garage into a home cinema room.

Packing and moving the figures and scenery was a major job.   All had to be removed from their bases and packed in ice cream boxes, which were in turn packed in crates.   It took weeks, but was well worth the effort.   Not a single figure or building was damaged in the move.

Preparation for the move meant that we could not do much, if any, wargaming during 2005.   So I carried out a major review of my wargaming objectives.  It is ironic that after about 30 years of painting figures almost every day, I now found that I did not wish to continue to do so in retirement.   Instead I was determined that I would wargame with the figures I already had.
 Wargames Room


Starting with the wargame table I created army lists which would allow me to play with all of my figures and all of my scenery.   I wanted to be able to fight multi corps battles, but given the size of the table each corps would have to be pretty small.   My reduced collection consisted of national armies of 128 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 artillery crews.   This would provide four corps of 32 infantry, 4 cavalry and 1 gun each.   There would be Austrian, British, Prussian, Russian and Spanish armies.  There would also be 7 French corps (including a Garde corps) and 3 Bavarian corps.  Plus one Baden, Italian, Westphalian and Polish.

To ensure that I would use all of the figures I created a fictional 1813 campaign.  It would cover Germany and Spain and there would be five allied and five French armies.

Next came the wargame rules.   All of the rules available at that time were designed to fight battles with 12, 24 or 36 figure battalions or brigades.   I needed a set of rules to cover 8 figure infantry brigades, 4 figure cavalry brigades and 1 gun and crew per corps.   I was currently using LFS rules, and they became the framework of my new Napoleonic Wargaming rules.   By the time I had finished there was not much in common with LFS, but they do deserve a mention as being the inspiration for my own rules. 

Then came the campaign.   It would be a fictional campaign designed only to provide interesting battles for us to wargame.   They started life as a list of guidelines, but gradually became formalised.   When I converted the campaign from solo to PBEM I put them on a blog so that they would be available to all taking part.
About half of the figures and scenery


It has all worked much better than I could have hoped.   The campaign is the framework for all of our wargame and model activities.   I have not bought or painted a single figure in the past ten years.  Running the campaign has expanded to fill the time I want to devote to wargaming.   Jan has produced a mass of scratch built model buildings to meet the ever changing requirements to transfer the campaign to the wargames table.   There is always a wargame on the table, and we usually manage an hour of play most days.

The future I imagine will be more of the same.   It suits us so well that I can see no point in changing it.   The advantage of it all being my own design is that I can easily amend either the wargame or campaign rules to overcome any failings we encounter.

It would be hard to imagine life without wargaming.   We do have other interests and hobbies, but our wargames table plays a very important part in our pleasant retirement.




8 comments:

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

I really enjoyed readingt this blog entry.

You seem to have managed to do something most wargamers aspire to achieve but never get close to, namely to have a wargames collection that fulfils all your requirements and that is in use on a daily basis.

At some time I will have to downsize, and I only hope that I manage to do as well as you have.

All the best,

Bob

PS. It is interesting to note that I am not the only person who has been inspired by your blog. The feedback I had to my recent blog entries about the way I am organising my Napoleonic collection certainly indicated that I am not alone in holding you blog in high esteem.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Bob

Thanks for your comments, and in particular the nice things you have said about my blog.

To be honest my wargame collection changed over the years, and my present one was designed to fit a completely different rule set. In fact the infantry were bought to form battalions of 24 figures. When I designed my present organisation each 24 figure battalion became three 8 figure brigades.

I think the most important thing is to start with the playing area available. Then decide what size battles you want to wargame. Last, but not least, consider how your current collection can be reorganised to produce the formations required.

I started with a 6x6 foot table. I have never liked crowded wargames, so I decided that the maximum number of figures per side would be about 150 to 200. I wanted to be able to use 28mm, 18mm and 6mm figures, so that applied to the larger figures. I wanted to be able to game multi corps battles, so each corps would have to be about 40 to 50 figures.

I was lucky that my armies were already organised in national groups which fit these numbers. This saved me having to collect and paint any additional figures.

Finally I designed a fictional campaign to allow me to use all of my figures in some sort of rotation.

However I am lucky that I have a wife who not only enjoys wargaming, but also scratch building. So we each have our own responsibilities and interests, but they combine on the wargames table.

I will follow your own reorganisation with great interest

Best regards

Paul



Robbie Rodiss said...

Paul,
I suggest that you try either the old, Volley and Bayonet wargames rules, or the new Blucher wargames rules for your Napoleonic games. They are both brigade level rules, and work really well.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Robbie

Thanks for your comment.

I confess that I considered looking at Blucher when it came out, particularly as it has a campaign extension. But I am really not good with new rules. A few years ago we bought The Age of Eagles, which seemed to suit the type of wargaming we enjoy. But after a couple of months we gave up. My general experience of new rules has been a frustrating period when I try to master the rules, followed by a honeymoon period when I enjoy them and the another frustrating period when I find the flaws and try to overcome them.

The advantage of using my own wargame rules is that they provide exactly the type of game we enjoy playing. If we find a problem, and we have found many, it is easy to fix because I understand the balance between the rules.

But thanks for your suggestion.

regards

Paul

Chasseur said...

Very interesting post and nice to see some thoughts on deciding clearly what objectives are to be aimed for with one's gaming.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Chasseur

Thanks for your comment. It took me a long time to realise what I wanted to do. On the way I learned expensive lessons, both in time and money. I would like to think that my blog might help someone else avoid some of those errors

regards

Paul

Sun of York said...

Wargaming is a wonderful hobby. Its strength is flexibility - researching, collecting, painting, organising, gaming across the breadth of history and on into the imagination. While no where near as organised as you, my retirement has given me plenty of opportunities, perhaps too many, to enjoy the hobby. Perhaps one of the best things, and certainly unexpected, has been maintaining a blog about my wargaming activities.

Cheers

Mark

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Mark

Thanks for your comments.

I would agree that wargaming can be an all absorbing hobby. Not only the aspects you mention, but also how it influences other aspects of your life. For example we like hill walking, so exploring battlefields combined both of our interests. And when visiting new cities or areas we are always on the outlook for anything of Napoleonic interest, plus of course museums.

I would also very much agree about blogging. Since we have retired it has taken up a considerable part of my free time. In fact I am going to relect on its influence on my retirement in my next blog.

Hope you have many years to enjoy your retirement to the full

best regards

Paul