My copy of the latest issue of Lone Warrior magazine arrived Friday. It’s another good one, packed full of interesting stuff.
Anybody have comments?
The Current Literature . . .
Issue 178 of LONE WARRIOR arrived the day after I read George’s e-mail “flash” about the April-June 2012 edition of the journal of the SWA.
It’s good to see some new names in the table of contents. It’s also good to see familiar names. (Mr. Morgan is proving particularly prolific!)
Accepting the contradiction (some would remark oxymoron) of being a solo wargamer and yet belonging to and writing for an association, I look forward to the arrival of LONE WARRIOR and appreciate the content provided by its regular and guest contributors. I never know when some article, report, or approach will pique my interest. It’s also nice to not be rushed or overwhelmed – as I sometimes feel on the Internet – when looking at the provided material.
At the risk of repeating myself, it was good to see pictures of games in progress and or staged scenes. The photos in Jonathan’s tournament report, Kevin’s colonial piece, and Jeffrey’s tribute to Little Wars and Mr. Wells, were colorful additions to the text.
Inspired by the efforts of George and Kevin, I am toying with – no, considering – getting back into colonials. And not just in a one-off-game kind of way. A campaign treatment appeals, though instead of adapting George’s imaginative “world,” I might attempt something smaller and simpler, like Pete Brown’s One Day Campaign, which was noticed in the February 2012 issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED.
Speaking of the massive monthly, the March issue contains three articles on “ginormous” wargames. First, there is Pete Brown (yes, the same as above) writing about Dettingen. The club effort was mounted on a table approximately 18 feet long by 6 feet wide. (Wider at one end, from the looks of the splendid photos.) Then comes Ron Ringrose’s piece about the “beginning” of the end of the Roman Empire. The “tabletop” for this engagement measured an astounding 22 feet by 8 feet! While spectacular in its own right, and even more so with miniatures marching/riding about on it, I wonder if there comes a point when a huge piece of fixed terrain becomes old? I also wonder about and admire the level of commitment and artistry that goes into project like this. Twenty-two feet by eight feet?! Wow. Just wow.
A variation on Chancellorsville was the next mega-game on display in the pages of the March issue. Here, a converted stable serves as a wargaming house – not just a room. Three tables were set up in two rooms, and from what I read, about 15 players were involved. One of the tables measured 24 feet by 6 feet. (Words fail me.) The combined but separate tables supported over 6,000 figures. (Mouth hangs open in stunned disbelief.)
Could not help but notice the adverts for FIELD OF GLORY NAPOLEONIC rules . . . Not sure if I’m going to make this additional rules purchase. I don’t have the exact number, but I think I have five or six Napoleonic rule books.
A report of Warfare 2011 closed the magazine. Lots of pictures of “steroid-free” wargames. Evidently, there was a 54mm treatment of Leipzig. The pictures look very nice. Some 400 figures were employed. The size of the table was not listed. At the end of the pictorial, Paul Davies wrote a brief overview or summary of his thoughts about the ending year.
I do not wish to take him out of context, so I’m going to transcribe about 5 or 6 sentences that I found especially interesting.
Moving on to the games themselves, what do visitors expect to see? Generally they want to be inspired by the standard of the games. They want to see what they can aspire to; what is possible, particularly when it comes to terrain. We all know that you don’t need amazing terrain to have an enjoyable game, but it certainly enhances the entire wargaming experience, doesn’t it? Maybe, as there already is, with some shows, there should be a minimum standard set for games? It’s important that newcomers to our hobby realise that the most important aspect of wargaming is getting down to playing and enjoying a game as soon as possible . . . but also make it clear that ‘a sheet on the table’ isn’t really acceptable for the main demonstration and participation games at any show that purports to present the very best of our hobby.
[from page 115 of WI, March 2012]
Being a solo wargamer and one who attends a single convention/show (LITTLE WARS) almost every year, I can identify with wanting to be inspired, or simply to see what’s going on. Being a solo wargamer, however, I don’t have a say in shows setting standards, but this seems like it would be “difficult ground” – if I may borrow a phrase used in some rules to describe terrain. And yes, ours is primarily – perhaps overwhelmingly – a visual hobby. So I won’t argue against the “enhancement” point. I guess that I would side with the “don’t need amazing terrain” camp. Dr. Barbuto was kind enough to publish an article of mine in Issue 178. Obviously, I don’t need amazing figures to have an enjoyable game. (Granted, the Dark Ages scenario did not turn out to be all that thrilling . . . it might have been “prettier” with painted troops, but probably as frustrating or dull.) Mr. Davies states that the most important aspect of wargaming “is getting down to playing and enjoying a game as soon as possible.” I do not disagree. It strikes me as a little ironic that these comments appear in an issue chock full of pictures of massive wargames. Play and enjoyment are dependent on the rules more than anything. The personalities of those involved comes into play as well. And then there is the scenario, objectives, etc.
The March issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES did not contain any reports of huge battles, but did contain material worth my attention and the attention of other readers, I’m certain.
The reader survey results proved interesting, as always. It’s nice to know that I’m in good company with regard to table size. I might add that it’s nice to see that I’m interested in the popular periods (Ancients & Napoleonics). It was curious to read, however, that while a majority of respondents called themselves “active wargamers,” there has been a 20 percent decline in the number of wargamers who have a tabletop at home for the hobby. (In 2010, this stood at 86%. Now, it’s down to 66%.) As a contributor to the magazine, it’s nice to see that 98% of respondents find the quality of writing to be good or very good.
In a previous post, I made mention of Mr. Eardley’s discussion of solo wargaming. I believe Dr. Barbuto had something published in BATTLEGAMES, so it appears that solo wargaming is making its voice heard in the “mainstream media.”
The cover story, penned by the editor himself, concerns urban warfare, and by that, I mean civil unrest, riots, etc. Living not too far from the city of the big shoulders and wondering what’s going to happen this May with the Nato G8 summit, I’m not sure I would actively pursue this kind of game experience. (At LITTLE WARS, I steered clear of the tabletops where Iraq war actions were being gamed.) Then again, maybe I should try new things this year? I mean, change is good, right? While BLACK POWDER and HAIL CAESAR might represent a change – at least in rules, they do not represent a shift in terms of my “comfort zone.” I skim Mr. Mitchell’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy column in each issue. I confess that I don’t quite follow some of what he says. The humor seems very British, and well . . . while I have seen and enjoyed Mr. Jackson’s films, I don’t know if I would ever want to take command of a “brigade” of Orcs on the table.
I’ve heard it said that there is strength in diversity. I believe I’ve read this somewhere as well (cannot remember exactly where at this present time). Looking at the three publications on my desk, and looking again at the survey results in the issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES, the adage or cliche rings true. I wonder, though, if there is also acceptance in diversity, at least with respect to our chosen hobby?
“Editorial” finished on March 3, at 4:35 p.m.
I particularly enjoyed Kevin White’s excellent Dhunda Revisited. It provides all you need to get into campaign mode even providing me with moments of nostalgia. The tables and mechanics appear to be easily adapted and it came complete with photographs.
A minor point of clarification in Paul Le Long’s very good article. The reference to Richard’s original article appearing in LW141 and LW143 is correct in regard to the world-wide version but not the North American version. I am not certain but if i recollect correctly it did not appear in the NA version at all.
(Rob Morgan submits the comment below as a follow-up to his article in No. 178, ‘Come Wind! Come Weather!’)
The Christmas Convoy 1811
The note I recently wrote on weather and war at sea faded from my mind until recently, when laid up in bed with the flu.
During the wars against General Bonaparte who styled himself “emperor,” the French and their minions and vassals established an embargo on trade with Great Britain. However, the Baltic was essential to British interests, especially for Swedish timber — the slight unpleasantness between Nelson and the Danish fleet off Copenhagen being well recorded, of course, and Imperial Russia was a wild card. British convoys to and from the Baltic were large, well-armed and well-escorted.
So it was on December 17, 1811, that a convoy of some 170+ British merchantmen and a dozen men o’ war set sail from Sweden, having been delayed by storms of immense ferocity. After only two days at sea, another awesome gale struck, and the convoy was split. Some ships pressed on, the others with escorts turned back. The storms continued relentlessly, and when the remaining half of the great convoy attempted to get through the sounds and into the North Sea, disaster struck. Several merchants were lost, and, among the escort, the first-rate, 98-gun warship HMS St. George under Admiral Reynolds was driven ashore off Jutland and of the 870 or so men aboard only some eight hands survived. Her consort HMS Defence — 74 guns — also ran aground and lost all but half a dozen of her crew.
The struggle into the storm-swept North Sea didn’t end the convoy’s troubles. HMS Hero — 74 guns — was driven ashore off the Texel in Bonaparte’s Dutch territories, with the loss of all but seven or eight of her complement, and the little brig-sloop HMS Grasshopper going to Hero’s aid also grounded and the crew was captured. That vessel served as “Irene” in the remnant of the French navy for the remainder of the wars. The convoy losses were substantial.
An ideal solo wargame, if you count the sea and the storms as worthy opponents! Can I recommend C.S Forester’s magnificent novel “The Commodore” to anyone who might fancy the attempt? Of course, neither the French nor the Danes came out to meet the convoy.
— Rob Morgan
I received mine just the other day. I am enjoying all the excellent articles from all authors. I am currently writing a review on “Big Wars” by Stuart Asquith and Jack Alexander so I am partial to Kevin Whites article – Dhunda Revisited … Jeff
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