Friday 16 August 2019

An 18th Century Interlude

The Worthington Games/PSC version of Hold the Line and not that by Toto or Maximus Decimus Meridius....

Now that I am coming to the end of the great 'Late 17th and 18th century unpainted figures disposal' I have, rather unsurprisingly perhaps, been thinking about wargames set in the period. I suppose that seeing all the models Eric had amassed brought back some very happy memories of games large and small (mostly the former if truth be told!) and I would be less than honest if said that the process of sorting all these goodies out had been less than inspiring.

There is something about fighting tabletop battles set in the 18th century. I suppose for me it was cumulative effects of cutting my wargaming teeth on Charge! or The Wargame back in the early 1970s and of taking part in a number of Eric-inspired epic games when I first moved to London. With its penchant for colourful and outlandish uniforms and modest sized armies it seemed like the perfect choice for gaming on the tabletop and a good subject for study. The study portion I have enjoyed immensely but being a slightly less than enthusiastic painter I have always ducked raising model armies in the period – the effort required being far beyond my usual attention span! Many years ago I did start painting a 25mm Swedish force for the Seven Years War using Minifigs but, like far too many of my bright ideas, it fell rather ignominiously by the wayside.

Fast forward from those early days and I am still a reluctant figure painter but the hankering for something 18th century is still there. For sure I flirted with tackling something from the figures available from Eric’s collection but the stamina required evaporated quickly. For a variety of reasons my interests tend to veer away from the mainstream European wars so things like the ’45, the French and Indian War, the War in India or the American Revolution have circled my consciousness in a kind of ‘wargaming holding pattern’.

Of the conflicts mentioned the two that would be most gameable for me are both of the American Wars which is strange given that I had made a conscious decision some years ago to leave this particular theatre behind! In a roundabout way my ACW project has given the inspiration and impetus to work backwards to the Revolution and the earlier French and Indian War. Strangely enough the war of 1812 – with the exception of the naval dimension – has never really ‘done it’ for me which is rather ironic when you consider the size of the forces involved!

The latest acquisition to the Crook collection is a copy of the Worthington Games/PSC game Hold the Line which covers the American Revolution – 34 battles from it in fact. There is a supplement which covers the French and Indian War which I currently have on order.

The French and Indian War Expansion - ideal for those Last of the Mohican moments.

For the uninitiated the Hold the Line series of games are very similar to Command and Colours but do not use command cards or special dice. This version of Hold the Line includes 20mm scaled plastic figures, rather like Battle Cry or Memoir ’44. For all intents and purposes the rules are very similar to those that I routinely used with the block armies and that were developed by Bob Cordery before the Portable Wargame – MoB or Memoir of Battle.

Some of the figures from the base game

The game contains a goodly number of 20mm plastic figures moulded in red for the British and Blue for the Americans. The French and Indian expansion includes white moulded French and green moulded woodland Indians and Roger's Rangers. There are also optional Hessian grenadiers and Highlanders. The figures are what I call 'board game based upon' rather than uber detailed and historically accurate miniatures but they are absolutely fine. There is a degree of plastic warping but nothing that the old hot and cold water trick could not put right.

Note the woodland Indian figure and the kneeling Ranger. The other figures are the same as for the Americans from the base game.

One would only need to add some command figures and gun crews and one would the basis for a pretty good set up for the period. For my own part I would not bother differentiating between the earlier and later period as far as uniforms are concerned - in fact the French figures are the same as that used for the Americans only moulded in white.

As a long term plan it would be a fun idea to replace the plastic figures with Spencer Smith 30mm figures from there 18th century range. They produce all the types I would be likely to need and with some appropriate paint conversions all the forces could be replicated in my 'based upon' style. In the meantime though I shall look forward to trying the game out.


William Stewart said...

In the dark, dim past, weren't Spencer Smith figures originally marketed as AWI?

David Crook said...

Hello there William,

They may well have been but I only ever knew them as 18th Century generic types.

They would certainly fit the billl though and would have the advantage of meaning that my ACW terrain could do service for not one but three periods!

All the best,


Jim Jackaman said...

Sounds like a plan. As a fellow reluctant figure painter I can see your logic.

David Crook said...

Hi Jim,

It would be really nice to own painted armies for the period but the likelihood of me painting them is remote. I would love to use Spencer Smith 30mm figures as they are the same for my soon to be revealed toy soldier style ACW set up.

In both cases the forces are based on what figures are available in the board games they originated from with the ACW set up of course being based on Battle Cry.

We shall see what happens!

All the best,