I think I used to have a very bad case of wargamer ADHD. Looking back, I seemed to catch this dread disease from the other wargamers I played with. They seemed to have a rule attention span of less than a year. We would start playing something, which required the purchase and painting of figures, only to have a majority of the players wanting to move on to something else. This has left me with a lot of half finished wargame figure collections.
After reading The Miniatures Page for about a decade now, I have seen that wargamer ADHD is a common psychological problem. I am not 100% sure of the cause of this problem, but I think it is a result of players not fully loving the rules they play. Maybe they expect too much from rules or maybe the rules themselves are never quite good enough. I used to suffer from the desire to find the “perfect” set of rules. Well no rules are perfect. Instead my goal is to find rules to use that do what I want them to.
The very first period I have played was the American Civil War. Back in 1982 in the back room of Things For Thinkers game store in Tucson, Arizona, Bill Winski introduced me to historical miniature wargaming. We started out with a very old set called Rally Round the Flag. These were not the greatest rules, so we moved on to a toned down version of Stars and Bars, which worked fine once we ignored most of the command and control rules. I also worked for Bill at Things for Thinkers, and we spent our slower customer periods talking about wargaming, which also made me a better employee as I knew more about what Bill was selling.
One thing that Bill told me about that seemed very interesting was wargame campaigns. I thought this was a cool idea as most of my historical gaming had been board gaming. The idea that you could transform the board game combat die roll into a separate battle was very interesting for me. Bill thought we could transform A House Divided game (GDW) into a wargame campaign engine. Bill had all the figures we needed (I painted more as fast as I could). Over the next six months we played at least two campaigns using A House Divided as the campaign engine and Stars and Bars as the tabletop rules. These were some of the best wargames I have ever played.
I took the ideas from those campaigns and later used them in A House Divided driven campaigns with Johnny Reb I and II and Fire and Fury as the tabletop rules. The Johnny Reb games worked fine, but the group that I was playing with didn’t have enough figures once the battles got too big. We translated each game counter as a brigade. When we finally had enough figures, the second campaign collapsed due to a player’s continual cheating (he wasn’t a regular, but instead the cousin of one of the regular players). A few years late we restarted the campaign with Fire and Fury. This time we translated each A House Divided counter as a division. This worked well as a campaign and we played the campaign to some sort of a conclusion at least twice. In the end, half the players (including myself) came to hate Fire and Fury, but the A House Divided campaign engine worked well.
I got married and moved to Mexico City and London as my wife and I researched our dissertations. That put an end to my gaming with the group that played these campaigns. Later work and children also reduced my wargaming time. Now that life has sorted itself out a bit, I have decided to select one period and focus on it for a year; thus breaking the wargamer ADHD mentality.
My choice for my 2013 project is to revive the A House Divided campaign engine with Volley & Bayonet – Road to Glory. For the rest of this year, I will focus on getting the figures I need painted and eventually starting the campaign. Mark’s weekly wargame group played the A House Divided campaign with Volley & Bayonet rule system, so he has expressed interest in this campaign. I think the best bet is for me or us to simply play the first year scenario from the second edition of the A House Divided rules as a way to get used to the campaign system. Also the first year campaign will allow me to start quickly as I will only need about half the figures that the full campaign requires. We have played a lot of Volley & Bayonet rules and both of us like them. As Mark noted, “they always give a good result”.
I have figures for the American Civil war in 6mm (Adler), 15mm, and a few 25mms. I had originally thought about using the 15mm figures (which we did for our First Bull Run game with Volley & Bayonet), I have instead decided to use my fairly good sized collection of Adler miniatures. The reason for this is I wanted to use my 15mm figures for a more tactical game (probably Guns at Gettysburg or the original Piquet rules). I also wanted to play the games on a smaller table. As my February 2013 games played report will show, Mark and I played an English Civil War game with Field of Glory Renaissance on a 3′ x 3′ table and that was very enjoyable, almost like a board game with miniatures. While my wargame room will hold a table as big as 6′ x 10′, I find that with only two players, bigger tables get to be more of a bane than a boon.
Therefore, I have opted to base my Adlers on 1 1/4″ square bases for massed infantry and cavalry units. I have put 8 infantry and 4 cavalry per base. Linear infantry (dismounted cavalry) are on 1 1/4″ wide by 5/8″ deep based with 4 figures. Artillery are on 3/4″ square bases with 1 cannon and 2 gunners. That is a bit wider than normal for artillery stands, but I have always thought that the Volley & Bayonet artillery bases were too narrow. We will use a ruler that is scaled down to 5/12 normal size. That means that 12″ on a full scale Volley & Bayonet table would be only 5″ on our table. That means a full scale 6′ x 9′ table would translate to 30″ x 45″, which is a very comfortable table to use for two players. I could have used larger bases with more figures (which does look better), but as I’ll need to paint as many as 100 massed infantry bases, 30 massed cavalry bases, 30 linear infantry bases (dismounted cavalry), 50 artillery bases, and many generals for the full campaign, the smaller number of figures per base makes the project manageable (@1200-1300 figures) and allows us to play on a smaller and more civilized table size. I was afraid that I would not like to paint the Adler figures after so long a break from painting them, but I’ve been painting more stands as I rebase and I’ve found them very easy to paint (and fairly enjoyable).
Right now I have enough figures painted (and mostly rebased) for four Confederate Infantry corps, five Union infantry corps, and one or two Union cavalry corps. I have most of the rest of the figures I will need, and once my order from Adler comes I’ll have everything to play the campaign with. I think I can start the first year campaign with what I have painted (plus a few more stands of artillery, which are on the way).
I should add that Adler Miniatures is an excellent company to deal with. I had purchased most of my Adler figures from either Stone Mountain (which no longer produces them) or from Adler directly at game conventions when I lived in England. I was a bit leery about purchasing them direct as they don’t have a shopping cart option on their webpage. Yesterday (on a Saturday) I emailed an order to Adler and much to my surprise they responded in a few hours (on a Saturday!) and told me they would prepare my order and send me the total cost (actual shipping rather than some inflated rate), which I could pay by PayPal. So my fears about dealing with Adler directly are gone and I am impressed with their initial customer service.
I have downloaded the campaign rules that Greg Novak came up with as well as a modified version by a group in New Zealand. I also have the version that came in the Battles of the American Civil War Volley & Bayonet supplement as well as the first and second editions of the A House Divided game. I have sorted through all of these, as well as done some additional research to come up with my first draft of the campaign rules I’ll use. The basic changes from the Greg Novak version are to make it a bit more in line with the A House Divided original rules, make the campaign rules more in synch with Volley & Bayonet – Road to Glory, and toned down the amount of artillery (which was overwhelming in the Greg Novak version). Having played both A House Divided and Volley & Bayonet many, many times, I have full confidence that this system will work well. Additionally, having used A House Divided as a campaign engine for 5+ fully successful campaigns with other rules, I know that the campaign will keep my interest and produce a good wargame campaign.
So stay tuned for more on this project!
To avoid American Civil War burn out, I’ll also be painting figures for a second tier project. This will probably be a skirmish scale game as that will require fewer figures. My two options are either Two Hour Wargames’ Nuts! World War Two, mostly Americans and Germans (15mm) for another campaign or 25mm Napoleonic skirmish (set in Spain) with Two Hour Wargames’ Long Rifle rules.
Here are the first draft of my American Civil War campaign rules using A House Divided and Volley & Bayonet – Road to Glory. They will probably change a bit with later drafts, especially as I play the first year campaign.