Saturday 30 May 2015

Walled Towns

 Walled city of Almarez

One of the main objectives of creating our PBEM campaign was to ensure that we used all of our figures, buildings and scenery.   Over the years I had bought, or made, a lot of scenery which never made an appearance in a single wargame.   We had stone walls, hedges, marsh and broken ground plus a lot of buildings which never managed to get used in actual wargaming.

To overcome this problem I made sure that each campaign map would include at least one of every single scenery item we had on the shelves.   This did not mean that they would necessarily appear on the table, but made it very likely that they would. 

We have no control over where the battles/wargames will be fought, that is up to the campaign commanders.   But with an average of four battles being fought on each campaign map, there was a good chance that everything would be used at least once during each campaign phase.

Some months I replaced our city walls.  They are hand built, and pretty basic.   But I wanted to have the ability to fight sieges in the campaign, so I needed town walls.   Each map will have at least three walled towns out of a maximum of nine towns.  So the walls are designed to be either towns or cities.   Towns are two scenic squares, cities are four scenic squares.

The battle of Almarez, our latest wargame, was to be the first walled city to appear on the wargames table.   The photo above shows what it looks like.   There are four scenic sections, each with free standing buildings.   Each section can hold one infantry brigade.   So it would take a full corps to fully garrison a city.

It’s important that everything on the campaign map can be reproduced on the wargames table.  It’s also important that everything on the wargames table can take part in the wargame.   However walled cities/towns do present a problem.   The walls prevent hand to hand combat, except after a prolonged siege.  I do not want to have to wargame a siege.  It would take too long in real time, and would be very boring.

All of our rules, both campaign and wargame, are designed to be simple and fun.   No complicated charts or lengthy explanations covering all possibilities.    I will now have to write some rules for sieges which reflect this.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Wargames Communication and Discussion

First, thanks very much to those of you who commented on last week’s blog.   I have never had so many comments, and I almost blush that some of them were so complimentary.

Each comment has caused me to consider the lack of response to bloggers, and to consider the wealth of information available today compared with my early days in wargaming.

I was introduced to wargaming by “Charge, or how to play Wargames”, an excellent and very readable book which I borrowed from my local public library in 1969.   At the back of the book was a reference to Donald Featherstone’s “Wargamers Newsletter”.   This was a very amateur monthly publication which looked like he had printed it himself at home and stapled the pages together.   But I remember well the anticipation of the arrival of each issue, and reading it cover to cover.     And I remember an article called “At the Colonel’s Table” particularly well.  This was a fictional story about a newcomer to wargaming invited to take part in a game by a retired army colonel, who kept his glass full during dinner and then cheated during the game which followed.  

I also bought most of the many wargaming books written by Don, though I must confess that they were very heavy reading.   Not nearly as entertaining as “Charge”.  But the Newsletter was far more influential, and even now brings back fond memories.

However it was the fact that I never wrote to Don throughout the whole time that I received the Newsletter, not even in response to the “At the Colonel’s Table” article.   I did meet him quite a few times many years later when I moved to Salisbury, and joined his monthly meetings in nearby Southampton.

I am sure that in later life he must have been well aware how much he had influenced wargaming, but I wonder whether that was the case in those early years of the 1960s and 1970s?

I was also influenced by Peter Guilder, and particularly those wonderful photographs of his Wargames Holiday Centre which used to grace Wargames Illustrated.   Again I never wrote to him.  Though I did tell him how much he had influenced me when I visited his Wargames Centre in the late 1980s.

How different things are today.   The web is full of advice, information and endless photographs of the most fantastic wargames tables – and all for free.   And all of us can produce the modern version of “Wargames Newsletter”, our very own Blog.   We can publish our own rules, show countless photographs of our own collections and even publish a daily update of our own campaign.   We can take exchange views with people from all over the world, and even take part in their wargame campaigns.

The only downside to this New World is the lack of communication between fellow wargamers.   It is really sad that such great communication vehicles as TMP only seem to thrive on disagreement and exchanging insults.   Many of those who dominate the forum seem to be more interested in attacking anyone who offers a point of view not in aggreement with their own, than in entering a genuine exchange of views.

I would love to have been able to discuss aspects of running a campaign, but have found a distinct lack of response to my many posts on the subject.   The usual response to such a post has been no comment at all.  Yet the following post resulted in 302 comments:

lie 1
this topic is about both ,like just eble saved the grande armee at the berezina.
My info states a dutch general benthiem died in hamburg 1814 by scicknes,
helped him acording to the story the pontoons left there to be distroyed on napoleons order but he refused! This info i have got from the bridge building compagnies today.
the bridges were made by two contries. not just frogs myth 1one lakes at austerlitz alone!
there must be more grts serg joe”

Anyway, enough of this pondering and reflection. 

Next week will be back to what is happening in my own little wargaming world.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Reflections on Blogging

We finished the campaign, which has run from June 2013.   It was a great success in that it provided us with 95 battles to wargame, which was the main objective of the campaign.   It also took up a considerable part of my time throughout the two years that it ran.

However it is the response, or rather lack of response, to the end of the campaign which has caused me to reflect on its impact.   In particular on the 37 players who took part as army commanders.

I posted a short summary of the campaign on my PBEM Napoleonic Campaign forum.   This is the notice board of the campaign which I use to keep players, and any other interested parties, up to date on any changed to the campaign.   I also use it to answer any questions about either the campaign or wargame rules.   I was quite pleased that it has attracted 142 members, including the 37 who took part in the 1814 campaign.   But I was rather disappointed that only one member posted a comment on the two year long campaign.

I also posted a summary on TMP, Lead Adventure Forum, Old School Wargaming and WD3 Wargames Directory.   Not a single comment on any of them.

I have posted on these fora in the past, with the aim of finding players to fill the command posts.   I have always filled the posts, but there has only been a handful of replies to all the posts.

The obvious conclusion is that there is no interest in the campaign.   I am not sure that is really true, because why would 142 people take the trouble to join the campaign forum.

This prompted me to consider the lack of response to the various blogs I write.   At present there are three.   This blog, one about the campaign and another about living in Spain.   The response to all three is minimal, yet the number of hits is quite good.

The first blog was my Living in Spain one.   I started it as a record of the walking we do with our local group, and to keep friends and family in UK up to date with what we are doing. I post one entry each week, often two.   It has had 19,901 individual hits, but not a single comment.   I have had lots of feedback by email and been told how much friends and family look forward to reading it.   But not one comment on the blog.

I started the campaign diary blog about five years ago.  I have posted at least once each week since then, often four or five times.   It has received 46363 individual hits, but (as far as I can remember) not a single comment.  

I started this blog in May 2009.   Since then I have posted at least one entry each week, often more.   In total I have posted 515 posts.  There are 88 members.   The blog has had 116007 individual hits.   There have been 435 comments, including my own replies.

I am one of those strange people who like to record what they are doing.  I have kept a diary for most of my life, and make an entry each day.   So keeping the various blogs is not a problem, indeed I enjoy doing it.   It adds a structure to what I do, and adds an element of discipline to keeping the campaign diary blog.   I run the campaign, and keep the blogs, for my own enjoyment.   But it would be nice to have a little more reaction.

Perhaps its part and parcel of the internet.    I follow a number of blogs, and find that most of them have very few, if any, comments.    There are one or two exceptions, but they are very rare.

Saturday 9 May 2015

Wargames Building Project

Step 1 – building, tower, windows and doors

Jan has completed stage one and two of the replacement building project.   The aim is to supplement our bought buildings with scratch built ones.   We have a range of Northern European and Spanish buildings, mostly Hovels.   All are 20mm, and many are too large for our redesigned cities, towns and villages.

Step 2 – small church assembled

There are four basic types of buildings.   Town houses and village houses for Northern Europe and for Spain.  We need a large church and 12 town houses for a city, a small church and 6 houses for a town and four houses for a village.

Step 3 – covered in pollyfilla and ready to paint

We have all the town and villages houses we need for both Northern Europe and Spain.   We also have two walled farms for each area.   Now Jan has started work on the “one off” type buildings.   We use a large Hovels church for the two cities, but we need d smaller church for towns both north and south.   This is the small church for towns in Northern Europe.