Tuesday 1 January 2019

Big Ideas and Small Steps

First of all, a very happy new year to one and all! Ours was a quiet one spent listening to a classic 70s/80s soul/jazz and funk playlist on YouTube whilst waiting for the midnight hour and the fireworks accompanied by a couple of very nice Gin and Tonics. It has been a number of years since we went out to see in the New Year but it does not matter as we still ritually link arms and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the appointed time - this year with our 8 year old grandson as well which he enjoyed immensely.

My main gaming effort for the coming year is of course my book. I am really excited about this (naturally!) and will be providing regular-ish updates as it progresses. I have the framework pretty much nailed down and without giving too much away it is devoted to fighting a variety of battles using block armies rather than figures. It is very early days and so I am not expecting it to be viable for publication until the latter part of the year. There will be play testing to be undertaken, photoshoots to be organised, not to mention proof reading of the initial draft - or in other words plenty to be getting on with.

Without going into finite detail I intend having three sets of rules and example games for each level of battle - from army sized engagements through divisional level down to battalion/brigade sized actions. There is a lot of other stuff that will be included and it is worth pointing out that the rules contained therein would be equally at home using figures so for non block gamers try not to be put off by the fact that the title will include the word BLOCKS!

I am starting at the top with the rules in that the army level game will be the first set that I tackle. The rationale for this is simple because when I first devised my block armies they were intended for use on a large scale. I allowed myself to get distracted in a way by the use of Command and Colours type rules culminating in Bob Cordery’s excellent Portable Wargame series. I have no regrets about following this tangent but it was never what the block armies were all about. Without a doubt Bob’s rules have given me much pleasure and indeed, they have established themselves as my ‘go to’ system for lower level games but recent events (mainly Andy Callan’s outstanding War of the Spanish Succession game using full sized Jenga blocks - the rules for this set up are superb) have served to remind me of what I had originally intended gaming with the blocks.

My plan was to be able to fight large scale Napoleonic battles - both historical and fictional - involving multiple corps on a 6ft by 4ft table. The forces used would follow historically accurate orders of battle where applicable and the basic half block would represent a brigade sized formation. A roster system would be used for recording combat losses as well enabling the all important order of battle to assume its rightful place in the order of things.

The rules I am working on for this project have received inspiration from various sources but, and this is the key point, they are intended to fight an army level GAME rather than be an uber-detailed simulation. They will be stylised and with a degree of abstraction but they will (hopefully) capture the all-important ‘feel’ of the period in question. My aim originally was to be able to fight Waterloo on a 6ft by 4ft table and so it will be no surprise that this particular battle will feature as part of the play testing, possibly even in the book itself.

There are a few other bits and pieces that will feature in the book and indeed, in many ways it would be very easy for a further volume to follow as the ideas I have would certainly be sufficient to write one!

With matters block-related being very much ‘front and centre’ it means that everything else will need to be self contained and modest in scope. Cruel Seas will feature (assuming it ever arrives that is...) and also some other WW1 and WW2 naval stuff but in a manner that may surprise you. Aside from these there is of course the Spencer Smith Kurz and Allison ACW project. I now have everything I need for this in terms of figures but, inevitably there is a curve ball in the shape of Rebels and Patriots - the forthcoming ‘Lion Rampant’ style rules due out later this month. Individual or multi-bases? That is the question!

Well that is me, so I hope that your own project list for this year works out - probably better than mine if truth be told if past experience is anything to go by!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Good luck with your project. The act of writing can be very therapeutic, as can the fighting and recording of the battle reports you include in the book. One word of caution; if my experience is anything to go by, it will take twice as long as you expect!

All the best,


Charles Litka said...

Judging from your blog writing, it will be a very entertaining and well thought out book and set of gaming rules. Looking forward to it.

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for the good luck - I suspect it will come in very handy! I have purposely not set a deadline for the book as life and the day job will impact on what I can do and when I can do it. In my minds eye I see it almost as a collection of mini projects so hopefully this bite sized chunk approach will help to maintain momentum as the work progresses.

Caution duly noted!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Charles,

Thank you for your very kind comments - they are much appreciated. There is a lot of work to do before I get to the publishing stage but I am looking forward to it. The rules for the army level game in particular are something I have aspired to for many years.

My progress (or lack of!) will feature in the blog alongside my usual bits and pieces so watch this space as they say!

All the best,


Captain Steve said...

Looking forward to the launch of your book!! Will there be a PDF version for sale as well?

David Crook said...

Hi Captain Steve,

I am knee deep in scribbled notes at the moment but they are starting to take some kind of coherent shape.

I am sure if there is sufficient demand it should be available as a PDF but we will have to wait and see.

All the best,