Tuesday 21 August 2018

Charging into Battle via The Wargame

From the Spencer Smith Miniatures website. 

My previous post generated a some very thought provoking comments for which I am, as ever, very appreciative of. Those stalwarts of the wargaming blogosphere Archduke Piccolo and Ross Macfarlane and several others have given me much food for thought over both Charge! and The Wargame and the impact both have had (and continue to do so) on the wargames world in general.

The idea of fighting battles using the rules from either Charge! or The Wargame with 1/600th scale figures on the face of it seems slightly left field for sure but I believe it is doable. Whether or not I do it is another matter entirely but the idea has certainly put a 'burr under my saddle' so to speak! I think that the biggest challenge is representing a unit by a single base of figures rather than by using individual models. A roster would seem to be essential for this but there is also the thorny question of representing various formations on the table top - the inevitable column, line and square etc. One could produce bases for each unit in the required formation but this would add to the amount required and the time to paint, not to  mention storage and cost. Like I say though, it is doable and I am sure that someone will find a way!

On a more practical level I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts that I am shall be embarking upon a modest old toy soldier Spencer Smith based set up. It will be quite low key and the unit organisations will be modelled on Charge/The Wargame and so each side will consist of an infantry regiment of 48 rank and file plus officers etc, a cavalry squadron of 8 troopers and an officer and an artillery battery of two guns and crews plus command. I will also furnish a commander for the force with perhaps and ADC and an escort. the figures will be individually based (I suspect that movement trays will make an appearance though!).

The figures I will be working with initially will probably be for the ACW although the thought of imagi-nationing them is a very tempting one - originally this was the plan for the Western Balkans project with ACW kepi wearing infantry doubling as 1870's Russians. As it stands at present the ACW troops will probably be used as is and so my fondness for Kurz and Allison prints may at last find a 3D outlet!

Mention of imagi-nations (and let's face it, I have done so on more than one occasion!) reminded me of a pair of protagonists I came up with many years ago inspired (unsurprisingly) by the two combatants that Charles Grant used to maintain. My two forces went under the names of the Electorate of Kronenbourg (spelt Kronenberg as this was more 'Germanic' looking) and the Grand Duchy of Artois. As you will have guessed these are German and French based. I also stipulated that all of the Artois units were named after wines whilst the Kronenberg versions used beer as their inspiration. I still have the unit names for both sides in a notebook.

I actually did a lot of other work for this in that I drew up a map with the principal cities and forts (not to mention ports and harbours) for both sides and had even started on the dramatis personae to add to the background. I even got as far as looking at both protagonists at different times so the potential for a Napoleonic version and a late 19th century (well pre 1870 in any event) set was also considered. If you recall I also planned the same for Fezia and Rusland. There was also going to be a naval dimension.

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of both Charge! and The Wargame (and also Battle: Practical Wargaming) and so revisiting them as often as I have has given me not only a huge amount of satisfaction and pleasure but has also made me realise an inescapable truth. I am still thrilled and inspired by their writing and the imagery they conjure up. So why shouldn’t I use them for my wargames?

Seriously though, it may be thought by some that I am stuck in some kind of wargaming time warp and so have ignored the last forty odd years of wargames developments. In response to this I can only offer the following. I have used many different sets over the years for many different periods of military history – some good, great even – some bad and some truly dreadful. With a couple of honourable exceptions most of these have disappeared ignominiously back onto the book shelf or, more usually, have been sold or given away. As I keep coming back to certain periods of military history so I keep coming back to certain rules sets. If I am honest the catalyst for this line of thinking probably goes back to when I took part in the refight of Leipzig 1813 using Little Wars (complete with firing cannon and party poppers) last year. A set of wargames rules over a hundred years old gave me one of the greatest days of wargaming I have ever had the good fortune to take part in.

Charge! and The Wargame are not perfect by any means (show me a set of rules that is!) but for entertainment value they are a hard act to follow – so why should I try to? 

Whether I opt for historical or imagi-nation forces for my Spencer Smith project has yet to be finalised but I take comfort in knowing that whatever path I decide to follow for this particular endeavour it will be fun. Surely that is the whole point of it?


David Crook said...

Hi StuRat,

I can see exactly where you are coming from and if I honest that is certainly not a bad plan to work to. Ultimately this would work well for me but in the early stages my numbers will suffice - especially as I plan to use the Portable Wargame so the 48 figure infantry regiment splits nicely into 6 units of 8 figures.

Should i get to the 18th century (which is certainly in mind) then for sure there will be more troops - if only for colour and variety.

All the best,


Maudlin Jack Tar said...

I am very keen to see how a project involving Spencer Smith miniatures works out. I often visit the website to make dream armies. Personally I think I would go with an Imagi-nation project, set in the 18th Century.
Best of luck with your endeavours.

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

As for the initial subject, if you based teeny troops on 2 1/2 bases rather than 1 big one, you could easily show any formation, line: side by side, column: one behind the other facing the same way, square: back to back facing the opposite way. A roster does the rest.

The SpSmith idea is an excellent one. Since I use 40mm troops for Charge! I often have to deal with fitting games on a small table. Using companies as units is very fragile so I tend to use at least 2 or use 1/2 size companies as Stuart Asquith once recommended. If all else fails I skip battalion morale and go with the solution for Blasthof Bridge of a 50% army morale rule. (that scenario is an excellent starting point btw, just about the right size.)

Just a suggest though, Keith Flint had an interesting post about a game he had with Stuart featuring a reduced form of Napoleonic Charge! on a dining room table including the one page summary Stuart had written up. keefsblog.blogspot.com/2018/04/old-school-napoleonics-2.html

david in suffolk said...

I have to say, thanks for a good idea. I too have been mulling over buying a small number of the 'classic' Spencer Smiths, but not sure how they might be used. But of course, The Portable Wargame! Ideal 'toy soldier' style, should have thought of that before..

David Crook said...

Hi Maudlin Jack Tar,

For sure the 18th century would be almost the default choice for some imagi-nation armies but for a variety of reasons I am grappling with the prospect of something from the third quarter of the 19th century. The figures are ACW (more of which in a later post) and the debate I am having is whether to use them as they are or go down the imagi-nation route.

I have around a month to decide.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Ross,

I did wonder about using a base per company/squadron which, given that the infantry are in strips of 8 figures, would seem to make sense. One could have three bases of rank and file and a command base.

Many thanks the link - I shall savour this later today!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi david in suffolk,

I fully intend using the models with the portable wargame and indeed for other sets as well.

Spencer Smith figures may be crude compared to the offerings of today but they have a charm all of their own and if it means I can start painting figures again in a style that suits me then I will be happy.

Good luck with your own ideas in this respect - take a look at the unit packs Spencer Smith offer - they are a good way to start.

All the best,