Sunday, 30 September 2012

Using My Head on the Block

The final design of the vehicles for the block armies - I have orientated them lengthways so that that they will give the impression of travelling when deployed on the playing surface - a neat touch, if I say so myself!

I have been pondering the style of the labels to be used for the 20th century part of my block armies for some time and have swung between stylised images of generic looking vehicles or using proper military map symbols. It has caused me several sessions of head scratching I can tell you! On the one hand using purely military symbols serves to give the impression of, in effect, a 3D map but on the other, is it not better to represent the more obvious 'modern' unit types with more readily recognisable imagery?

I bounced an email off Bob Cordery mentioning this dilemma and his thoughts have proven to be most useful in respect of my final decision. I shall use stylised images for vehicles and artillery (both conventional and anti tank) simply because they are instantly recognisable but will stick with the conventional map symbol for infantry and cavalry. Command units are based on that found in David Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon whilst MG and Mortar symbols are based on those in use with the modern US army. So the final set up of the block armies will be a mixture of the old and the new, the symbolic and the stylised.

There are not many trucks and half tracks in evidence simply because I plan to use them with conventional infantry units by merely replacing an infantry block with the appropriate vehicle type. This will serve as a reminder of what the unit is - either motorised (with a truck) or mechanised (with a half track) infantry.

These have been printed off in the sic colours I am using and so should be completed and ready for action very soon.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Chickamauga, 19th - 20th September, 1863....Game Number 17

Chickamauga 1863 - one of those wonderfully evocative ACW lithographs produced by Kurz and Allison - Kurz and Allison . Now an army painted in this style would be something to see and using Spencer Smith miniatures may be just the way to  do it.

After two ACW games on the smaller Heroscape tiles and with single block units I decided that the next two would be fought on the full sized Hexon terrain. This will make a batch of four games using Battle Cry (the first edition of the game but with second edition command cards) in its original form, command cards and all. A brief description of the actual battle can be found here: Chickamauga and again, it is a battle that I need to research further - in fact along with most of the ACW. As an aside I would like to get hold of a good single volume history of the war and luckily there seems to be no shortage of choices available.

The forces comprise the following units:

Confederate (4 command cards, move first, Braxton Bragg commanding)

2 x General - Longstreet (left) and Polk (right)
8 x Infantry units (4 blocks each)
1 x Cavalry unit (3 blocks)
2 x Artillery unit (2 blocks each)

Union (4 command cards, move second, William S. Rosecrans commanding)

2 x General - McCook (left) and Thomas (right)
8 x Infantry units (4 blocks each)
1 x Cavalry unit (3 blocks)
2 x Artillery unit (2 blocks each)

The initial set up with the Confederates at the bottom of the picture and the Union at the top.

Turn 1. The Confederates advance on the right flank, led by the splendidly named Leonidas Polk. The Union  infantry take casualties (indicated by the blocks standing upright) but the marauding Confederate cavalry, caught between two fires, is defeated.

Turn 2. The Confederate right flank attack continues with Union casualties mounting although not without loss in return. A dangerous gap appears in the Union line.

Turn 3. As the battle on the right continues the Confederates come under Union artillery fire whilst General Thomas joins a unit in the rear of their position.

Turn 4. Meanwhile on the left flank the Confederates under Longstreet commence their advance against the Union troops under McCook.

Turn 5. The fight on the right continues with the Confederate attack stalling but not without inflicting damage on the thinly stretched Union. Note the Union artillery has been pushed back under pressure from the lead Confederate unit but not without a deadly retaliation.

Turn 6. By mutual consent a lull falls over the battlefield as both sides prepare to make the next supreme effort.

Turn 7.  After the briefest of rallies the Union infantry on the right under Thomas advance and, together with their artillery, inflict telling casualties on the Confederate troops under Polk.

Turn 8. The Confederate attack under Longstreet on the left makes heavy weather of attacking the opposing Union troops under McCook.

Turn 9. In the centre an under-strength Confederate attack commences and makes some headway initially but with irreplaceable casualties. 

Turn 10. Meanwhile on the right the Union counterattack under Thomas continues leaving the Confederates under Polk in disarray.

Turn 11. The Confederate attack on the left is content to merely trade long range shots with the Union and begins to prevail.

Turn 12. Despite destroying the Union artillery the Confederate attack in the centre falters under heavy casualties. However, is it too little, too late?

Turn 13. With a degree of desperation a scratch force of Confederate infantry is assembled by Leonidas Polk and administers the coup de grace to the last Union counterattack. The Confederates have won but at a  significant cost and are no position to exploit their victory. 

The final count. Turn 13 could have gone either way and had the Union gone first in the turn the result could have been different - they needed two more hits but the Rebels needed but a single one. 

It was a very tight game right to the finish and the pattern of the action seemed to be very much 'attack-counterattack-pause to regroup-move to another sector-repeat'. The whole thing felt very 'ACW-ish' but I was not happy with the Battle Cry victory conditions. Basically it was the first to six units (flags in the game) which kept the action firmly to my mind in the 'game' category rather than the 'wargame' one. It is a personal thing I know but my fondness for scenario driven games with varying victory conditions is well known - at least it should be as I have banged on about it often enough! Certainly using a variable exhaustion level (similar to that I used in conjunction with Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle) may be a viable short term solution but I will need to give this some further thought.

It was good fun overall, played well and it looked fine with the blocks and augurs well for the future.

Lawrence and the Alien(s) - the only way to be sure....

....Mmmm, epic Blue Ray....

In space, no-one can hear you watch the six discs of slavering and chittering Blue Ray-ness....

Well the birthday prezzies were welcome, unexpected and wholly appreciated and the main highlights of interest were the two items you see above. Lawrence of Arabia of course needs no introduction - neither does my long time interest in the man and his times. This will be a pleasure to be savoured when the house is empty and I have a guaranteed slot of four hours undisturbed with the TV.

The Alien Anthology (all four films and two discs of extras) again needs no introduction and so owning the whole set will give me plenty of action and suspense-filled viewing - again, when the house is empty and the beers are in the fridge.

I am also waiting on delivery of a book which I did not expect and once it arrives I will of course post the details.

All in all then, I can safely say that the birthday was a good one and all I now need to do is to book the TV in the lounge (usually by the simple expedient of waiting until SWMBO is out for the evening!) for some serious viewing pleasure.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Went the day well....

An ordinary deck of cards....

....and a typical calendar....

Bear with me on this - a typical deck of cards contains 52 excluding the jokers. A typical calendar has 52 weeks in it. There is a theme here.

The theme is 52.

That coincides with my age as today is my 52nd birthday.

'Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
I'm singing about myself....

....Cos today I'm 52!'

I probably say this every year but I still feel like an 18 year old but sadly SWMBO won't let me have one (not that I could catch one in any event!). Prezzie details to follow when I have them and I have a sneaking suspicion that my old friend Lawrence will feature in some form or another....;-)

Oh, and the traditional birthday Indian meal - Lamb Jalfrezi here I come!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ideas from Sea Battles in Miniature....Part 3

HMS King George V - note the secondary turrets

I have spent further time during the dreadful weather we having, to drill down further into the Dreadnought rules from Paul Hague's book. It has been a very inspirational experience for sure and the funny thing is that a lot of what he had written actually seems to read a whole lot clearer this time around! I can only put this down to my knowledge of naval warfare during the period having increased over the years and so I feel better equipped to take a more detached view of things.

I mentioned in my previous post that the rules as written could be used for the entire dreadnought period and indeed, the author fully intended this. Obviously the aerial dimension for WW2 actions is an additional complication and I believe his follow up title covered this. The one thing that crossed my mind though was when using the critical hit method for damage how would you factor in turret mounted secondary weapons? This was a big WW2 design feature for sure as most modern battleships has turret mounted secondary weapons rather than in the hull. The answer is simple - and I can't believe I missed it - and really quite logical. The author states on page 116: "Turret guns are reduced by critical hits but secondary guns on the maindeck are reduced proportionally with standard hits."

The first dreadnoughts tended to have the secondary guns hull mounted and so the only turrets were for the big guns. So as written the above sentence makes perfect sense for early period fleets. All I would do then would be to include secondary turrets where applicable meaning they would need to be destroyed by critical hits rather than progressively. I have no problem with this in terms of how the rules work and so will happily use this for WW2 or indeed any other warships with turreted secondary guns.

The other thing I will need to tackle is servicing the needs of the hex. The gun ranges translate very handily into hexes but, as ever, move distances are a little more problematic and additionally have an impact on the ship charts for progressive damage purposes. I will need to give this some thought but at the moment I am considering something rather radical to resolve the issue.

I might revert to naval gaming on a normal table top using rulers for distances and turning circles for changes of course. Now there is an idea - I wonder if it will ever catch on?

Puttin' on the Tile

Another example of just what can be done with Heroscape tiles

This morning saw the arrival of the second set of blue Heroscape tiles to go with the collections I already own. I now have 62 blue tiles and need to get another three sets worth to cover the desired 13 x 9 playing area  although for plan B an alternative is available from the US which would be ideal for purely naval games.

If you look on ebay at the following Heroscape Blue Base Level Mat you will see just what I mean - and many thanks to one of my regular blog readers,  SAROE  for the heads up on this.

My only problem with using the above mat is that I am thinking with the postage from the US it will make it quite an expensive purchase. I am waiting for an answer from the seller so will take a view on it then. The Heroscape blue tiles will be used in support of the land based collection and are intended for 1/2400th ironclads and the ancient and 16th century galleys in due course. As much of what I envisage will fall in the combined arms/near coastline this is absolutely fine for what I want.

In the meantime the larger hexed Hexon collection will be supporting the 1/4800th scale WW2 collection and possibly the same for WW1 in due course.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ideas from Sea Battles in Miniature....Part 2

2nd Battle Squadron at Jutland

I can safely say that whatever Paul Hague was on when he wrote Sea Battles in Miniature back in the late 1970's I only wish it was bottled and available to buy!

The ideas contained within the dreadnought section have completely changed my outlook on how I should be approaching my naval games for the the period of the all big gun battleship. By using a combination of progressive and critical hit damage the gunnery system works a treat and more importantly, using the ship cards as designed enables the all important modelling of different ship types so beloved of naval wargamers (myself included!) to be undertaken in a speedy and efficient fashion - and also very easily to boot.

The rules are designed with big fleets in mind but the option exists for using the detailed damage system with smaller types so this means that cruiser level fights will not be merely just dice rolling exercises. I especially like the idea of rolling a dice per two guns for hits as in my experience, most gamers enjoy rolling great fistfuls  of dice, it all adds to the fun!

One of the great things about the PC age we find ourselves in is the fact that producing ship charts is now a whole lot easier than it was in 1980. I use Excel for spreadsheets etc and so setting up the required ship cards up will be a walk in the part by comparison with the old days of calculators, scrap paper and late night long multiplication (especially for Fletcher Pratt ship cards!).

I know I have posted on numerous occasions that I have been trying for ages to design a set of rules for naval combat that did away with ship charts and used markers as the sole means of recording damage. I have finally decided that I cannot fight a naval wargame without using a ship charts of some kind and so, in bowing to the inevitable, I may as well use a set of rules that have been of almost universal acclaim in wargaming circles as any others!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Wargaming the Arab Revolt

A thousand Arabs means a thousand knives, delivered anywhere day or night. It means a thousand camels. That means a thousand packs of high explosives and a thousand crack rifles. We can cross Arabia while Johnny Turk is still turning round, and smash his railways. And while he's mending them, I'll smash them somewhere else. In thirteen weeks, I can have Arabia in chaos. 

With the recent release of Lawrence of Arabia on Blue Ray (and with the not-so-secret news that I have a feeling it may well be featuring on my Birthday list) I have been unashamedly reviewing the Lawrence section of my library. It is no secret that the whole Middle East WW1 thing - especially the exploits of T.E.Lawrence - is of great interest to me. I have been pondering ways of gaming this for many years now and came to the conclusion that the best way of gaming this would be using a mini campaign type of approach. I am convinced that using Memoir of Battle by Bob Cordery would be the most suitable system to employ but some tweaks would certainly be needed in respect of how the Arab tribesmen should function.

Without a doubt the Arabs could be by turns, fanatically brave, ruthlessly bloodthirsty, child-like cowards or  else supremely indifferent. They also came and went as they pleased and usually always stopped to loot a defeated enemy. This randomness of behavior would need to be replicated in some fashion but at this stage I am not entirely sure how. I did wonder if perhaps treating them in a similar fashion to ancient warband types (as in Command and Colours Ancients warrior infantry) would be an answer and up to a point it would be. The only problem is that whilst they start strong and go downhill rapidly in terms of effectiveness after casualties they can at least start strongly. I would prefer to have the tribesmen operating in a more random fashion - perhaps with variable combat dice or something similar but I will need to give this some thought and perhaps run a few tests.

Using the mini campaign approach would enable me to represent the hit and run nature of the war in the Hejaz - especially if I adopt the expanded Heroscape 9 x 13 x 9 playing area idea. Producing some desert terrain is now assuming a degree of urgency.

Ideas from Sea Battles in Miniature

Very inspiring - even the second time around!

Since my last post I have been quite busy with a number of pressing domestic issues, not least of which has been trying to get a new job. I have however, been able to spend a little time dipping into the above book and I am so pleased I persevered with getting a copy.

I have been spending a lot of time reading and rereading the section on WW1 era battles, culminating in the fictional Battle of the Texel, 1916, and have decided that the rules themselves could easily be tweaked into a hex based set if required and would be equally valid for WW2 surface battles - in fact the author suggests doing just that. 

This has, as ever, given me a minor dilemma in that I had already earmarked the rules I wanted to use for my 1/4800th WW2 collection (Across Four Oceans - a set derived from Axis and Allies: War at Sea). The simplicity and flavour of Paul Hague's rules make for a compelling argument with the added incentives in that the system is both tried and tested (I fought countless actions with these rules back in the 80s) and also plays as sweetly as you like.

I need to read this book in further detail but I am thinking that I could do a lot worse than just adopting the rules wholesale, converting them into hexes and be done with it.

I suppose really that the old adage of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' applies very nicely here so I shall have a pleasant time avoiding doing either!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Welcome back to an old friend (and hello to some new ones)

Ooh, shiny! I am very pleased with each of these new additions to the collection.

During the early to mid 1980s one of my favourite wargames books was Sea Battles in Miniature by Paul Hague (ISBN 0 85059 414 6), published by Patrick Stephens Ltd. I borrowed this on numerous occasions from the local library but for some reason never got around to owning a copy. That depressing state of affairs has now been rectified with he recent acquisition of a copy of the same courtesy of Ebay. In truth, I had forgotten just how good this book is. Not only does cover naval wargames from the ancient era up to WW1, complete with suggested rules for ancients, Napoleonics, 1880 era ironclads and WW1 but also some ideas for campaigns and even how to scratch build models. In short, it is a great 'one stop' title and I am so pleased to have this once again - especially as the eBook version that was able to be downloaded for free from the net has disappeared. I am certainly hoping to get lots of ideas from this book for rules for my own naval adventures.

The other piece of welcome news was that my first set of the base version of Heroscape (well the tiles anyway) has arrived and so I can now start to plan the desert terrain I have been wittering on about.

I should point out that both of these arrived on the day that my current contract of employment ended and so served in a very timely fashion to raise a smile against the backdrop of my unemployment.

Still, Prorsum et Sursum as they say.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Homage to Riskovia

Ok, ok, ignore the unpainted and garish looking figures and just think about the potential....with grateful thanks in advance to the good Kaptain for using one of his pictures

It never ceases to amaze me how ideas that crop up on other peoples blogs really give you a light bulb moment; a moment of 'why didn't I think of that?' style clarity. So it was with a post a short while ago by one of m blog readers, Kaptain Kobold of Hordes of the Things fame. In a nutshell, he had acquired a quantity of Risk plastic figures and had used them to great effect to fight a wargame using a set of Marlburian era rules. The figures were blue-tacked to card bases of the appropriate sizes and the action was fought as follows: More Maurice.

I have acquired three sets worth of the figures from this version of Risk and this post proves to me quite happily that I was wise to do so. The potential for 18th century imagi-nations is huge and I have absolutely no excuse (other than sheer slothfulness) for not doing something of my own accord.

Of course painting something like a thousand figures may have something to do with it not having happened thus far but perhaps I really should bite the bullet and just get on with it!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

More on Heroscape Terrain

A typical Biblical era Middle Eastern building - the basic style is still in use today in certain quarters

The ease of playing Command and Colours/Memoir of Battle style games on a Heroscape battle board has made me more determined than ever to produce a desert style set up and to acquire some representative terrain for use with the whole thing. I am committed to using 1/300th scale trees but buildings are proving to be a slight headache. Originally I was looking to use 1/300th buildings – at least the smallest examples thereof – but I am uncertain about the size element of even the smallest examples. Instead I am now looking at using Monopoly sized houses/hotels as these are simple enough to both acquire and paint up and have the big advantage of having a small footprint.

A slightly more palatial abode

Building for the Middle East will be easy enough to knock up for the smaller scale terrain – I am thinking using the small, two stud Lego style MegaBlok suitably tweaked and painted – as they are essentially just a rectangular block in design. Even I would struggle to make a mess of such a building....;-)

A typical Middle Eastern town - certainly too large for what I want but the effect is very pleasing to look at all the same

I am thinking that I may well need to acquire another base set of Heroscape in order to provide additional blank tiles for conversion into a desert set in order to be able to run with the 9 x 13 x 9 idea I have been messing about with. The jury is still out at the moment in connection with acquiring the desert version of Hexon simply because the cost is not one I want to be meeting at the present. An entry level set up will set me back the best part of £150 which is by no means a fortune but is more than the budget can currently absorb.

Monopoly houses and a hotel (note the reversed colours!) which may well provide the basis for western style buildings. The two stud Lego style MegaBloks will probably suffice for the Middle Eastern versions

The armies to go with this collection are moving along nicely – I have but two sets of modern weapons to finish labelling, red and blue – and so the vehicle labels will be undertaken very soon. One thing I will need to do now though, is to decommission some of the existing blocks in order to have them available for the additional units. I went rather over the top originally in terms of units available, far more than I would be likely to use on a standard 13 x 9 hex battlefield and so at least 40 blocks from each set (times six colours remember!) will be stripped in readiness for their new roles. I will have a surplus of blocks left over after this which will be handy as I have an idea for their used in conjunction the six additional boxes I recently acquired and that merely need chopping up. In fact, if I opted to go with the 1/4 and 3/4 cut for the blocks the 1/4 section is the ideal shape and size for use as the basis of a simple Middle Eastern building so this may well prove to be a good alternative to the plastic bricks mentioned.

Much to ponder methinks.

Chancellorsville, May 1863....Game Number 16

The following action was again fought using my block armies and the Heroscape tiles. The trees are slightly modified and based versions of those available in the Town in a bag set. Sadly I used 2p pieces as the bases which are slightly on the large side for the size of hex although not as large as those I have for the normal trees in my collection. Once I have my new 1/300th scale trees on smaller bases this should no longer be a problem.

The action I have chosen to fight is that of Chancellorsville, 1863. I was intrigued by the notion of Lee's decision to split his forces in the face of the enemy in order to attack - usually a move destined to end messily. The game was played as a normal Battle Cry affair, complete with command cards.

The starting positions - note Lee on the right and Stuart on the left with Hooker in the centre massed around Chancellorsville and Fairview Heights

Turn 1 sees Lee advancing into cautiously into the woods whilst the Union mass forward to engage him, courtesy of the card below and inflicting telling damage on the first Confederate infantry formation.

This is a very good card to start an attack with!

Turn 2 sees Lee's command stalled in the woods as the Union press forward. Meanwhile the Rebel artillery atop the Hazel Grove opens fire at extreme range.

Turn 3 and Lee's command attempts to disengage from the Union by pulling back deeper into the woods

Turn 4 and Stuart moves off to attack the Union central position (actually using the same card as the Union did on turn one!).Note the additional Union artillery deployed in Chancellorsville itself, the result of a 'Send for Reinforcements' card. It was not around for long....

Turn 5 and Stuart's advance continues with the Union being pushed back from the Fairview Heights whilst hanging on to Chancellorsville itself

Turn 6 and the battle for the centre swings in the Rebel's favour

Turn 7 and the Confederates have taken the Fairview Heights with the Union forces being pushed away and down the hill although Hooker still holds Chancellorsville

Turn 8 and Stuart's weakened Confederates fall back from Fairview Heights under Union artillery fire whilst the fight for Chancellorsville continues. Note the sole Rebel unit pushing forward to aid Lee's force at the bottom of the picture.

Turn 9 sees Lee's force further whittled down and the Rebel attack on Chancellorsville is finally repulsed - tellingly the Confederate casualties, until now relatively light, begin to mount ominously. 

Turn 10 and the end is in sight. Lee's flanking attack has been defeated and the remnants of Stuart's force is now too weak to hold the heights so gallantly stormed. Meanwhile, the Union forces attempt to regroup and reinforce the centre.

Turn 11 and Hooker's command attempts to clear the area from which Stuart launched his attack, safe in the knowledge that his other flank is secure despite having suffered telling casualties.

Turn 12 and the end. The final Confederate infantry unit from Stuart's command is destroyed (the unit was last seen near the Rebel artillery in the bottom left of the picture) leaving the General and his staff as the sole holder of Fairview Heights in the centre.

The final score - 6 to 4 in the Union favour. At one point the Confederates were leading 4 to 1.

I really enjoyed this game and at one point I thought the Confederates were going to walk it! Without a doubt the Union using the 'Forced March' card on the first turn was ultimately what gave them the victory as they were able to deploy the main bulk of their army into a position where Lee's army was covered most effectively by superior numbers. Lee's attempt to engage through the woods was initially successful but soon petered out in the face of Union spoiling attacks. Stuart's force was also initially successful and came very close to driving the Union out of Chancellorsville but eventually they simply ran out of troops. In effect Hooker was able to alternatively feint with either flank whilst punching with the other.

Within the context of the game itself I am forced to wonder how on earth the Confederates are supposed to win this scenario as in my opinion either force is too weak to force the issue entirely on their own and the potential for a quick Union victory against either flank is a very real one. I will have to play  this against a live opponent at some point on a double-header basis!

The only practical points arising were that I now desperately need to source some smaller trees and buildings and so that will be my next order of business. That, and making a determined effort to read up on the actual land battles of the ACW rather than just the naval side. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lawrence of (Heroscape) Arabia

My lord, I think...I think your book is right. The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped and on this ocean the Bedu go where they please and strike where they please. This is the way the Bedu have always fought. You're famed throughout the world for fighting in this way and this is the way you should fight now! 

I have spent a couple of days considering the thorny subject of terrain for use with my Heroscape set up. If you recall my sole source of terrain at present consists of a large number of Town in a Bag Buildings and N gauge trees; together with a pile of Greek ceramic souvenir buildings. For use with Hexon these are absolutely fine and look bang on when used with the block armies. Unfortunately, a lot of the collection is too large for use with the smaller Heroscape tiles. This presented me with a dilemma and a difficult decision. I really did not want to have terrain in two scales but now see this as being inevitable as one of my standard blocks takes up rather a lot of a standard Heroscape tile.

My first thought was to look at 2mm terrain but despite being very nice (and certainly extensive in terms of coverage) it is in fact too small for what I want - the blocks tower over the buildings and woods etc. My thoughts are leaning towards using 1/300th terrain as the footprint of the models I shall be using is smaller. For example, trees could be based on 1p pieces which would enable me to use a couple per hex without impeding the block too much. Similarly, by using small versions of buildings (I am even considering painted Monopoly houses and hotels for this) I can deploy within the house without too much hassle.

My first port of call in this respect will probably be Heroics and Ros as I know their trees of old and they are pretty reasonably priced to boot. Unsurprisingly I will also be raiding Irregular Miniatures as they have a very nice range of Middle Eastern buildings and some Palm trees.

Once my set of Heroscape tiles that is going to be used for my desert games arrives I will of course post the progress on the blog - especially as the siren lure of the Arab Revolt is becoming more and more insistent. The fact that Lawrence of Arabia has just come out on Blue Ray AND it is on my birthday list for next week is of course, entirely coincidental....;-)

The dreamers of the day are dangerous men....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hexon and Heroscape - Same train, different carriages

The above picture is courtesy of Google Images and came originally from Bob Cordery to whom grateful thanks are extended

Now this is going to sound slightly off the wall, even by my somewhat unusual standards. Whilst pottering about with various gaming related tasks over the weekend (the results of which featured in my earlier post) I was suddenly struck by a Hexon/Heroscape brainwave. The idea is not a new one by any means but the execution of the same certainly is.

One of the things I really want to use my Command and Colours set up and the block armies with is for the purposes of running mini campaigns. As originally conceived the plan was to map an area equal to nine standard 13 x 9 hexed playing areas in three rows of three. The rules would be Memoir of Battle or a derivative thereof and movement and combat would be adjudicated normally. The basic idea is still a live one but I had not gotten around to drafting up a blank map on which to draw the terrain and plot deployments etc.

My standard playing area is 6ft x 4ft on which a 13 x 9 Hexon battlefield fits very nicely, with sufficient space around the action for rules, dice, hit markers etc. Obviously a 13 x 9 Heroscape battlefield fits equally well and so here is the idea. I am able to fit (and certainly have the raw material) nine such Heroscape battlefields on the same 6ft x 4ft area which could then serve as a 3d campaign map. By using single blocks on the Heroscape as unit markers and then replacing the same on a standard 13 x 9 Hexon table with the equivalent full sized units (4, 3 and blocks for infantry, cavalry and artillery) when a battle needs to be fought, I can in effect ‘telescope’ the action. Imagine a 13 x 9 clear plastic template roving above the campaign map. When the opposing forces have made contact (and should the size of the resultant action warrant it) the template could be orientated conveniently over the area to be fought over – a snapshot of the area if you like - and then the topographical set up can be transferred to the main Hexon table and the battle fought in the usual fashion. Small affairs of outposts would be fought on the campaign map in order to expedite the action.

The only problem I can foresee is deploying a second tabletop when a full scale action kicks off. It would be easy enough to place the Hexon table on a sheet of board that would sit on top of the campaign map by use of some carefully placed supports. Once the battle has been fought the results can then be transferred to the campaign map for the narrative to resume if applicable.

The alternative would be to use the Heroscape campaign map as the sole gaming surface and fight Memoir of Battle of actions using single blocks and hit markers – in effect a 3d old school board wargame. This is a nice idea but is not the main reason for persevering with the Heroscape although such a game may feature occasionally.

One other idea I experimented with concerned the Command and Colours Napoleonic and Ancient blocks. These will fit on a Heroscape hex in the usual units sizes (4, 3 and 2) although cavalry and artillery has to be deployed in a column one block wide. Again, this has much potential for mini campaigns and also in the case of some of the larger sized Command and Colours scenarios.

Certainly using the Heroscape terrain as the sole playing surface has some practical advantages when using the homemade block armies. A single block fills a hex nicely and by using the counters (as seen in the recent running of Brawner’s Farm) to mark hits works well enough. It would also serve to expand the number of units available for use dramatically within the context of a campaign.

I should point out at this juncture that I have absolutely no intention of using the Heroscape terrain to supplant the Hexon as I am convinced that the two systems can work together and besides, the Hexon battles look better with the larger units.

The only issue I have at present then concerns terrain for the smaller Heroscape. I will certainly need to acquire some smaller buildings and trees etc as my existing collection is larger and is far better suited to the bigger Hexon terrain.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ironclads, Boxes, Blocks and Tiles

The new game accessory box - containing everything I am currently using for my various gaming adventures in one convenient place.

It has been a rather busy weekend with much activity in the man cave and elsewhere. To begin with, I was able to finish sorting and punching the last of the counters from Ironclads. This confirmed that all the pieces were there and they are now in some sort of usable order. I also took the opportunity to place the rules book - and that from the expansion - in a plastic display folder for protection. I may well scan the ship cards so that I can get two of these on a single sheet of A4 which will also be easier to store. That is certainly one of those jobs for when I have nothing else to do!

I also managed to get the new artillery, machine gun, mortar and anti tank artillery labels applied to the blocks for the brown, olive and grey sets so I am halfway there (just the red, blue and green sets). There are 36 blocks for each colour in this batch so it 108 in all. They take longer to do than the Command and Colours blocks simply because they are not die cut and so much work with the scissors is the order of the day.

We had a run out shopping yesterday and so I was able to pick up some more storage boxes including a smaller version than the ones I currently use for the block armies. The box you see in the heading of this post was purposely acquired to store all my currently used dice and counters in one place. Prior to this I had them in several different places and was always scrambling around to get everything I needed for a game in one place. Not any longer. Note the fact that there is no ruler or tap measure present!

Another six boxes of blocks - just in case I need them!

I also took the opportunity to pick up a further half a dozen boxes of the wooden blocks I used as the basis for my home made block armies. I have no specific used for these just yet but figured that would probably change in time and so having them available seemed like a good idea. I will aim to have these sawn up next week at some point.

Finally, I have managed to acquire a couple of sets of the blue Heroscape tiles (42 in all) and a complete set of the tiles from the base game - meaning another 21 blue tiles making 63 in all. Ideally I would like to get a further three sets of these a this would give me sufficient to cover a 13 x 9 sized playing area so I will continue to haunt Ebay and see what else I can dig up.