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.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Blog Review 11

1813 campaign
Nothing added to the campaign this week, as all of the background has now been done. The campaign rules, wargame rules, armies, order of battle and campaign history are now complete, except for updating and perhaps minor amendments.

Magdeburg campaign


Again the blog is up to date and the previous battle reports and campaign history are complete. Jan and I have been playing the battle of Magdeburg, which looks like being the biggest and last battle of the campaign. It is very hot in Spain now, and we usually only play one or two moves at a time. I am posting a battle report of each move on the blog and will do a summary of the battle, and the campaign, when we have finished.

Wargaming in Spain
This is the blog I have worked most on this week. It is the archive of the battle reports of the games we have played since we arrived in Spain in 2006. I have usually written a battle report, particularly if they were part of a campaign. So there are quite a few to enter. I usually type up two or three a week.

Walking Napoleonic Battlefields

The latest one is Badajoz. Writing the blog reminded me of what a strange town it is, and how the visit left me with memories of a sad and depressing place. Its also the only location that I have never had any inclination to revisit.

Plans for next week
As the Magdeburg campaign draws to a close, I have been very busy preparing for the next stage of the 1813 Campaign, which will be the Tarragona Campaign. Set in north west Spain it will deal with the Spanish attempts to prevent Marshal Suchet sending assistance to Marshal Soult in north east Spain where Wellington is preparing to drive the French out of Spain.

Saturday 6 June 2009

Blog Review 10

Wargame Rules

All of this week has been taken up with getting the wargame rules on blog. The blog contains all of the rules in full. There is also a demo game in words and photographs to illustrate how the rules work. There is a seperate page for each move. Current orders are shown, plus dice rolls for firing and morale.

The demo game is a real wargame, namely Helmstedt. It was not planned as a demo, but as it progressed I realised that showing so much details in each battle report would be boring.

Wargames in Spain
This blog is designed to show the wargames we have fought since we arrived in Spain. I had already taken photographs of each game, but not always described it as a battle report. They will appear in the order they were played.

These games are not part of the current 1813 Campaign.

Magdeburg Campaign
This blog covers the current mini campaign, within the context of the overall 1813 Campaign. It is designed to show all the current map moves and battle reports in one place. And when the mini campaign is resolved there will be a new blog for the next mini campaign

The battle of Helmstedt was the major battle so far in this campaign. However as I am using this battle as the Demo Game for the Wargame Rules blog, and as the battle report is too complicated, I will be altering the campaign slightly.

If you are following the blog, you will note that Helmstedt has been removed. In the next few days I will be doing updating this campaign, and its history will change slightly.

Walking Napoleonic Battlefields
Finally finished Waterloo, and have started on our first visit to Portugal and Spain with Holts Battlefield Tours.

Plans for the coming week
First I want to sort out the Magdeburg Campaign.

I am still not happy with the battle reports, and I will be experimenting with that.