One of the things I really enjoy about blogging (and have missed due to the paucity of posts I have written over the last year or so) is that often one is lucky enough to get a comment or comments that really strike a chord - the kind of thing that really makes you think about what it is you are doing and how you are doing it. I had such a comment in my last post from Steve-the-Wargamer and it is to him that this post is dedicated, ably supported by Arthur Harman - and this is no way a criticism of these two worthies. Originally I was going to merely answer the comment but my thoughts took it into a post so I thought, why not?
I have been a wargamer for some forty odd years yet I do not possess a single painted army. I have owned numerous over the years but am blessed/cursed with a very short attention span so many ideas tend to come ago - usually with the amassed material being offloaded at a discount to either the club, my circle of wargaming friends or, more usually, eBay. More recently I have been working in a job that, to be frank, leaves me little time to consider anything gaming related - especially in respect of the work needed to get armies assembled for use on the tabletop. The problem is that I am generally guaranteed to run out of steam with a particular project long before it is ready to be used and the lack of time available tends to make this worse. It was for this reason I made such an effort with my huge collection of block armies - I can game with them in pretty much any period I fancy with the block colours being the sole difference between the two forces. This worked really well as the Games folder on the blog will testify. The blocks however, are not figures.
I have always liked using figures but I am very particular about the type I use. I do not like 28mm as I believe that for armies the figures require too much in the way of work to get ready as well as more space than I have readily available - not to mention terrain and practical considerations like storage. I take my hat off to those who choose this scale and can produce large and fantastic looking collections - it simply is not me. The closest I would get to using this scale would be for skirmish level games - but these are not 'war' or even 'battle' games. I suppose I am a little old fashioned in that I like my armies to look like armies which means a lot of figures. Messrs. Young, Grant and Lawford were able to do this using 30mm figures and large tables - neither of which I have access to nor the inclination to replicate. At a smaller figure scale though that is a different story.
I like figures that are simple in terms of details simply because they are easier to paint and are more forgiving of a basic painting style. I really like the flat colours and gloss varnish approach but most modern figures simply do not look right with such an approach and it is also difficult to find professional painters that want to 'dumb down' their painting skill (and the cost). Detailed figures need a detailed paint job which takes time or money so you can see the problem I have - no time to paint detailed figures and no interest in doing so, nor the finances to consider the professional approach. I am kidding myself if I think otherwise. Smaller scale figures are a different kettle of fish though.
These days even 6mm is fast becoming more detailed and needful of a modicum of effort. It is a scale I could be comfortable with - the same applies also to 10/12mm although they are also becoming more and more detailed with the corresponding increase in time and effort. The downside of course is that there is nothing available hat could be described as suitably generic in a chocolate box kind of way. One could dive into a number of ranges if one wished but, as a crude example, a Napoleonic 1815 British infantryman will always look like one (unless one used them 1812 Americans of course....).
The figures contained in the Perry set have struck a chord with me for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are very generic. They are loosely based on a homogeneous composite of Napoleonic uniforms so the difference between armies can be limited to the uniform colours used. As they are so generic there would be no twinges of conscience when painting up, for example, a French Fusilier figure with a green jacket for an imagi-nation type army. Using a generic troop type in this case is a positive advantage with the useful feature of doubling up as a proto-historical type when needed. If the scenario being fought represents, for example, a battle from the Peninsula War between Wellington and Soult (or whoever) then as long as the two forces can be told apart (mainly red or blue) then who cares? I certainly do not - which means I will probably be burnt at the stake for heresy. The fact that the Perry figures are completely generic is for me a positive boon. I will paint them and will differentiate nations by the uniform colour - possibly even a standard or two - because that is basically what I have been doing with my block armies. The figures themselves will cover a time span or around forty years if you are not too fussy - and believe me I am not!
I could have used historical figure ranges but that would defeat the purpose of what I am trying to achieve.
As far as the terrain in concerned I am really pleased with what is available. For sure one could make or buy something similar but again, that would take time and to be frank I could not do it as well as the Perry twins have done. The permutations of board set up are not endless but should serve to give sufficient variety for all but the most pedantic gamer, especially when one is using scenarios to define victory conditions - terrain will assume much more importance. My thoughts at present run to using a 6 board set or 30 by 20 squares as this will give the army feel I am looking for. this is a personal choice as I believe I could have endless fun merely using one base set.
For the 20th century I shall be using Tumbling Dice 3mm figures and the vehicles available from Magister Militia. Interestingly enough the buildings look fine with these figures so straight away the base set of terrain will be usable for both early years of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The rules are actually not bad within the context of what the Perry twins sought to achieve - I would have no problem using them as they are written. I may add a couple of house rules to go with them but then to be fair what wargamer worth their subscription to whatever society/magazine they take has not 'tweaked' a set of rules in some way?
From my point of view the Perry set has an awful lot to commend it and in many ways is ideally suited to my present circumstances. I appreciate that it may not be all things to all people but then within the diversity of our hobby it certainly serves a need. I also acknowledge that the sum of the parts could be acquired more cheaply but in many ways this would defeat the object of the set.
I would like to end this ramble by thanking both Steve-the-Wargamer and Arthur Harman for giving me pause for thought - which is something I do not get much time to do these days!
Just got my box excellent package , rules are just the right level for quick games , looking forward to playing it , Tony
David, I know your wargaming / blogging was taking a bit of a back seat due to other commitments, but it looks like the TravelBattle package has re-ignited a passion / interest in getting some figures moving across your table and if the package can do that, then hoorah for the Perry's and their little box of tricks.
I am enjoying my set and have started painting the figures. like you, my mind wanders to the various directions that I would like to take this gaming ethos. As much as anything else, for me it is simply a nice thing to own, presses some buttons and excites the imagination. It is not for everyone, then neither is Marmite!
Thank the Lord that someone else is considering a six board set up. I thought I might be alone in my wargaming insanity!
I quite agree with your thoughts about the figures although I will probably be using the boards mostly for a projected VBCW campaign in 6mm.
I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy... :o) Well written explanation - thanks...
PS. Three games - £150 - give me £100 and I'll sort you out with the equivalent?? :o))
As far as I am concerned one can play with any figures he/she chooses as long as it and the base it is mounted to are painted! Personally for this genre I would go with Bob Cordery's Portable wargame where I can make my own terrain and scenarios.
I agree with Dick: each to his/her own and as long as the wargame is enjoyable the physical artefacts with which it is played really don't matter. If you feel Travel Battle meets your needs, David, that's great and I hope you enjoy many a battle with it.
But I do feel the Perry game is a rather expensive - and somewhat limiting - solution to producing a simple, playable portable game, which Bob has largely done already. Like Steve, I can't see why people are so excited by it.
I think the Perry's have pitched the price just about right, especially given the high cost of plastic tooling, Travel Battle sits comfortably alongside many popular boardgames such as Commands & Colors Napoleonics (Expansion 6 £57.00 and I've collected the lot!). It's clearly incredibly popular with many ordering multiple sets, I have an initial 2 sets on order. I'm not made of money, I'm actually selling off some figures to finance this, but I do believe this will become extremely collectable as the range expands.
Good post David.
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