Wednesday 13 December 2017

A Chip off the Old Block

A long time ago in a man cave far, far away....

One of my ongoing projects is making use of my block armies. These have been used for a wide variety periods ranging from the 18th to the 20th century. Invariably the games have been Command and Colours derived or else from the Portable Wargame stable and in the case of the latter very much during the earlier phase of its development. As an aside I am embarrassed to say that I have yet to tackle a Portable Wargame since the books came out although I am naturally familiar with the system.

All of these games have one thing in common in that 'units' are made up of (usually) 4, 3 or 2 blocks. This has worked well where removal of blocks as a result of combat is the norm. It is well known that the Command and Colours system has a fairly elastic scaling criteria as far as units are concerned and so it depends on the historical scenario being fought to define what the notional scale is. I have no problem with this as I have long since abandoned using any definitive scales for my games.

So far so good but the system falls down when you are using Heroscape tiles rather than Hexon. The blocks I use are basically unmarked Jenga blocks cut in two. They are roughly 3cm by 2cm x 1cm and so fitting four of them (a typical infantry unit) on a Heroscape tile is nigh on impossible. I had no such problems using Hexon so perhaps my disposal of the same was a little on the rash side...The only way you could comfortably fit a unit on a Heroscape tile would be to use single block units and mark them in some fashion when they take hits. I have a number of options as to how I can do this so I am not overly concerned at present. I have some very nice two coloured counters (black and white) from a travel version of the game Othello which I will use. The black can represent two hits whilst the white will do for one. Using one block per hex will have the advantage of meaning that having terrain features in the hex will not cause too many issues with a single block unit also deployed therein.

The blocks of the good doctorphalanx made from a set of Mah Jong tiles acquired from a charity shop.

On the subject of blocks and using them for wargames I came across a series of block related posts over at doctorphalanx. For his blocks the good doctor made use of Mah Jong tiles with basic home made labels. I must confess to not having thought of this but the tiles are a useful alternative source.
Whilst I am happy with the standard horse and musket blocks I have I am less enthusiastic with the 20th century equipment - vehicles etc. I have used standard NATO type symbols which are OK but, to be honest, are a little soulless when used in a 3D setting. I have produced too may of them to redo the collection so will make do with them as they are. I will be doing something a little different with them though as I plan to use models for vehicles and artillery for the 20th century. These will be the Tumbling Dice 1/600th types. This will mean wooden blocks for the infantry and models for everything else - with the infantry blocks being replaced with figures in due course. This is the plan for the new year and I will need to get some extra bits and pieces to realise this part of the project.
I have a few other ideas rolling around for use with the block armies which will feature in later posts but for the meantime I shall be using them as they are on my Heroscape terrain tiles with a single block representing a unit and travel Othello counters for hit markers.
Best get some games organised then.


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Do blocks mean "faster play"?

William Stewart said...

I've been mulling over using figures for Memoir 44 and other C&C games. We lost the use of our large gaming space, at least for a while, and are reduced to a small or very small arena. Using single stand units with some sort of hit markers was a way to use existing collections of smaller figures.