Time for a Wargame Reformatio

I’ve finally got a house with a real wargame room (see my last post). Almost all of the furniture has been moved it and most of the boxes have been unpacked. The useable space (excluding the space taken up by furniture) is 14′ x 16′. Given that I’d like to have 3-4′ on the sides of the table for players to sit, stand, and move around, that leaves a space for a table that is 6′ x 8-10′. In terms of a table there are a few requirements. First it has to be able to fold up and stored as the room will be used for other things as well (ping-pong, my daughter’s sleep overs, a giant guest room, etc.). I also want to be able to have different table sizes, anything from around 4′ x 6′ to as big as 6′ x 10′. The best option at this point seems to be folding tables like those Greg Novak used (see http://home.comcast.net/~greg_novak_670/site/?/page/Extra_Space_for_Game_Clutter/). I like the six foot long tables as two of them will make a 6′ x 5′ table, which is great for a smaller game like Nuts! or a 2/3rds sized based Volley and Bayonet game. Four of them will make a great 6′ x 10′ table. I can fold them up and store them in the game room or if they need to really be stored away, they can go down to our garage, which is a three car garage and we only have two cars so there is lots of space (plus an additional storage room off the garage. I need to start looking at the local office supply and department stores to see which tables have them.

And now for the Reformatio part. Reformatio means change and improvement. For so long I had been limited by space and finances in terms of wargaming. That tended to limit my wargaming to smaller figures that needed a smaller table as that is all I had access to. Those factors are no longer an issue and I’d like to go bigger within some limits. For any period before the 20th Century, the smallest figures I would like to use are 15mm, but I’d like to get more into 25/28mm figures for some periods. I’ve played some games with Mark’s 25mm figures as well as some 25mm colonial and War of Spanish Succession games at Ian Croxall’s house (see http://www.warflag.com/blenheim2004/ and http://www.warflag.com/shadow/index.html). I really liked how Mark’s 25mm skirmish and Ian’s games looked. Also my eyes are getting older and painting 6mm figures just isn’t that enjoyable any more. With the advent of cheaper 25mm plastic figures, assembling a decent sized army for rules like Piquet Field of Battle isn’t that expensive or hard to paint. I tried some of the Perry Miniatures 25mm American Civil War figures and I really enjoyed painting them.

Also I tended to play the rules that local wargamers were playing, especially when I lived in Arizona. Honestly, I hated some of these rules, most notably Napoleon’s Battles (which turned me off of Napoleonics for about a decade). Now I can play the rules I like, which works well as Mark and I seem to enjoy a fair number of common rule sets: the Two Hour Wargame rules, Volley and Bayonet, Piquet Field of Battle, and Field of Glory ancients. I expect these and a few other rule sets to be my core rules for the near future. I’d also like to play the Sword and the Flame for colonial actions larger than true skirmish rules as I enjoyed Ian’s games with these rules. I played a lot of Command Decision games between 1989 and 1996, but I’m not sure if these are still the rules for me. I plan on trying them again, but if I go back to them, I plan on restarting in 10mm as Pendraken makes a great line of figures and the vehicles are fairly reasonably priced. What I don’t want to do is to go back to playing the “flavor of the month” rules like so many of the people I played with in the past seemed to want to do. There is nothing worse than the endless rebasing of figures.

What to do first? I have realized the painting some of this and some of that leaves me without enough for anything, so I’m going to pick two or three periods for which I have a fair amount of figures painted and expand from there. There are several periods and rule sets I have been thinking about doing first. I really like Volley and Bayonet for larger scale battles. Before I moved I started rebasing my 15mm American Civil War figures for Volley and Bayonet and I think that will clearly be one of the top projects. I plan on sticking with 15mm figures as I already have a lot of them and I can’t imagine painting enough 25mm figures, especially cannnons, for the VnB American Civil War Campaign developed by Greg Novak (see http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mcnelly/vb/campaigns/acw_campaign.htm). Mark has already played some of the campaign with his weekly group and has expressed an interest in playing this campaign or at least a shorter version (like a year or two of the campaign). I also have a lot of 6mm GHQ and H&R figures painted and even more unpainted. I used to play Command Decision with these figures, but I think I’d rather play Piquet Field of Battle WWII with them. Right now the figures are based on 1.25″ wide bases with 1 vehicle or 4 infantry per base. If I go with this, I plan on using 2″ wide bases and putting 2 tanks, 1 gun with crew and transport vehicle , or 6 or so infantry per base. I still need to figure out how to play a campaign game with the PK FOB WWII rules, but it is clearly a possibility for the future, probably starting with North Africa. My favorite period is the American Revolution and I have a fair number of 15mm figures painted and more unpainted. I am torn on which rules to use. Volley and Bayonet is a great set of rules and excellent for historical battles and campaigns. Through the various VnB supplements, there is a complete set of campaign rules I can use, and best of all it would a literal campaign rather than an impressionistic compaign (like Piquet’s Theatre of War). On the other hand, I think Piquet Field of Battle is a great game; it’s only drawbacks are that I have to work out rules for a historical campaign and it has a hard time representing small units, like all those 50 man cavalry units that dominated the 1781 Campaign in the South.  Another clear go for something to expand is Two Hour Wargames Nuts! rules. I’ve played a fair number of games and I really like these rules. They also have a campaign framework that can be modified to my tastes. I’ve got a number of 15mm figuress for the rules and I plan to continue with them as I have a fair number of them painted and even the more expensive Flames of War vehicles won’t break my bank. Once I get a couple of these periods really going, I plan on expanding into some new periods.

As far as new periods go, I’d love to do the Sword and the Flame in either 15mm or 25mm (lots of people make great figures for this era). I like the later Sudan campaign, but the Northwest Frontier in India might also be a lot of fun. Another idea is a mythical campaign such as Greg Novak’s Isle de de dos Amazons campaign (see  http://home.comcast.net/~greg_novak_670/site/?/blog/category/2/). Another planned expansion is into more of the Two Hour Wargame periods. I have their gladiator rules and I plan on trying them out (they come with counters to do this). If that works I think I’ll use Old Glory’s 25mm gladiator figures (see http://oldglory25s.com/index.php?page=1&cat_id=571) as they include a variety of figures, including animals. I already have a number of the Blue Moon 15/18mm Old West figures and I liked painting them. Also 15mm Old West Buildings are a lot cheaper than their 25mm counterparts. I like the Seven Years’ War and a great entry point into this period would be Two Hour Wargames’ Long Rifle rules (see http://www.twohourwargames.com/longrifle.html). Mark and I have used these rules for the French and Indian War and enjoyed them. My goal is to set up a campaign with a platoon or smaller sized element of jaegers or frei korps troops and the little war focus. I’m still looking at 25/28mm figures. As I would not need a ton of figures, 25mm would work well. Another possibility for the Seven Years’ War would be Volley and Bayonet. Mark alreadys has a large collection of Hanoverian and French figures (15mm on full size bases) so maybe Prussians and Austrians would be my focus. Mark and I haven’t played SYW with VnB for sometime so I’ll have to see if he is still interested in this period and rules (I’m still hoping he will run his Minden game!). And then there are ancients, maybe 15mm or 25mm and for rules Field of Glory or the new Piquet Field of Battle ancient rules.  Finally, my first real interest in wargaming was the Napoleonic era and I plan to do the Waterloo campaign with either Volley and Bayonet or Sam Mustafa’s Grande Armee in 15mm.

Of course there are still the things that get in the way of wargaming, like work and family and mowing the lawn, but my new wargaming room has really inspired me to get back into wargaming in a major way. As things develop, I’ll post more on what I’m doing on this blog. Now I just need a new painting desk so I can get going, but that will have to wait until I get back from my professional trip to an academic History conference in Las Vegas (maybe I’ll win enough money to pay to have all the figures I dream of having painted!). So the rest of September will be taken up with finishing unpacking and thinking about rules. Come October, I’ll have the furniture I need and I’ll be painting again.

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3 Responses to Time for a Wargame Reformatio

  1. jdglasco says:

    Mark, yes the ECW is in the works, but it will have to be in 15mm or 25/28mm. I just don’t do 10mm or smaller any more (unless I already have a mountain of them).

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  2. Bill Owen says:

    John Holtz had done a 2/3rds scale ACW V&B army in 15mm and they looked impressive. Mark Whitehead had been interested in doing V&B in GHQ’s 10mm scale. So if you can fill the gaps of others’ collections, that’s the ideal over having to be a one-man-band (like too many of us have) and build everything (room, armies, rules, terrain, scenarios and snacks). And if you aren’t sure of your own priority, so the first step is to find out what others want to play most: wargamer diplomacy.

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  3. Mark says:

    Yay! Congratulations on your war gaming independence. I look forward to playing games in the new room—any or all of the above.

    FYI, the folding tables are made in two versions: at a fixed height, and the 4′ and 6′ have a version with adjustable legs. It’s a crap shoot which types the big box stores have at any given moment, but I recommend seeking out the adjustable ones. They are also a bit sturdier.

    I am indeed still interested in 7 Years War for VnB, though I need to paint the Saxons before being able to do Minden. I’ll move them up on my painting list–to #4 or #5, after some ‘pressing’ projects.

    I didn’t see mention of your planned English Civil War project. I hope that you still have it in mind.

    An academic conference in Las Vegas sounds dangerous… I don’t recall my professor father attending one, but maybe he just didn’t mention it : )

    Have a great trip!

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