Sunday 7 October 2012

More thoughts on Blocks

I have gone through a lot of soul searching during the evolution of the block armies in respect of how the labels should look. Initially it was quite a straightforward decision - especially when I was merely looking at the horse and musket era. The standard military map symbols for horse, foot and guns are familiar to anybody with an interest in military history or board wargames and so naturally these form the main bulk of what I have prepared so far. The artillery label I prepared originally was based upon the symbol used in David Chandler's famous book The Campaigns of Napoleon but this then evolved into a stylised top down view of a field gun. My problems began when I wanted to expand the coverage to include 20th century types - specifically vehicles and lower level tactical weaponry e.g. machine guns, mortars and anti tank guns.

To begin with I produced stylised top down views of a selection of vehicles and the weapons types mentioned but was not entirely satisfied with the end result. I felt that they seemed to be neither fish nor fowl to an extent, simply because the images I designed do not seem to look right alongside the conventional symbols. Certainly having stylised images does make for easier identification on the tabletop and so when using blocks this is a compelling argument for retaining them. However, I have decided that I am going to go all out with conventional military map symbols for all the labels but with a subtle twist inspired by a technique employed in Memoir 44.

I was concerned about the absolute plethora of unit types I would need to produce labels for in the 'modern era' for example, mechanised and motorised infantry, armoured anti tank or artillery units to name but a few. The plan I have adopted to get around this is quite simple. I shall be using blocks with the standard military symbol for armoured units or wheeled transport as not only units in their own but will also use individual blocks to indicate the status of another unit. For example, a four block infantry formation would replace one of their blocks with either an armour or a truck block in order to represent either a mechanised or motorised formation. Similarly adding an armour block to either an artillery or anti tank unit turns it into an armoured self-propelled unit. I need to define the specifics for unit types within the context of my block set up but I reckon this idea has some mileage and will keep the variety of unit symbols on display to a minimum - which is an important consideration for table top identification purposes.

As soon as I have some examples of what I mean I will show you - I am hoping to print off the armoured and motorised labels later today.


Sean said...

That's the way to go. As I was reading my mind leaped ahead to that very idea. I played Battle Cry for the first time last night and I think it was the 3 infantry rifleman and one standard bearer make up the unit that made this idea stand out. Interested to see what it looks like in action.

David Crook said...

Hi Sean,

The idea I have 'borrowed' is simply that in another shape! The Winter Wars expansion for Memoir 44 uses a similar approach for designating units with anti tank, machine gun or mortar capability. I have just printed off the labels and should get them finished this evening all being well.

Hoe did you get on with Battle Cry?

All the best,


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


A very simple and elegant solution!

Good luck with your forthcoming play-tests using your 'new' block units.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

All I have left to do is to label the armour and wheeled vehicles (30 blocks for each of 6 colours - 180 in all)and I shall be ready to go.

I am already looking through Memoir 44 for inspiration.

All the best,