Sunday, 16 December 2018

Flags for the Memory

One of the key areas in respect of using the block armies on a non-grid basis is the question of unit identification and facing. Neither of these ever seemed particularly important when using a grid but on a free table are a significant factor. I have experimented with a number of options as to how best I can tackle this including using miniature flag poles in some fashion but for a number of reasons this has not really worked the way I would like. I had a brainwave though, in part inspired by Andy Callan’s Spanish Succession set up. By placing a flag on a block you have an easy way of identifying a particular unit. That is all well and good but sadly for my set up it only works up to a point.

Ignore the green label although the position will be the same for the flag in due course. The top half of the label will be the flag itself whilst the bottom will be white with an identifying number or letter

The single drawback concerns the thorny question of whether or not to use regimental colours or national standards. Regimental colours would be fine is one was representing a specific unit but given that my collection is used for multiple periods the use of such distinctions would mean producing numbers of blocks for various periods as unit flags evolved and presumably added various battle honours. By far and away the simplest method would be to use a national flag with some kind of identifying feature which in turn would be referenced back to the army roster. That was my line of reasoning in any event and so that is what I am going to do.

When I was making the block armies I has a number of sets cut not only in half but also into a quarter and three quarters. The three quarter blocks I intended to use for naval forces whilst the quarter size - ended up being used for various status markers. They appeared in one of my Rogan Valley battles as markers for hidden units. I have decided though that these are far more useful being turned into in effect command groups. By placing a national flag and a reference number or letter on one of these small blocks I will be able to kill several birds with one stone.

A unit deployed in line with the command in the van

A column of march - once again with the command in the van

A column of attack with the command in the van spurring on their troops.

A square with the colours in the centre.
To begin with the unit will have an identity of sorts. I realise that it would only be from a national perspective but this will suffice for the time being. The reference number or letter will help with the use of the roster as well as drawing deployment maps. Finally, the position of the command block will be able to show the facing of the unit depending on where it is placed in relation to the blocks forming the body of troops being represented. The pictures below will show what I mean.

For the record the blocks I use are 60mm by 20mm and are 12mm deep. For comparison purposes one could say they are 10/12mm which helps as a useful guide for making or buying terrain. The quarter size block mentioned is 15mm wide or half the size of one my usual half blocks.

I am currently working out how many flags I will need for the most common armies and once I have done that I will get them ordered. Once the blocks have been labelled with their flags I believe it will really enhance their appearance and so I am looking forward to doing this and getting them into action.


Charles Litka said...

Hi Dave,
I think a command block works better than a flag, though I think I would make the command block the same size of the others in the unit, just for uniformity. And it might work best if placed behind the unit in line or attack column rather than before it since it would be in the way for melees and close firing. And also in the way when measuring distances. Just a thought.

David Crook said...

Hi Chuck,

For sure there will a flag on them and I take your point re using a normal sized block. The only reason I opted not to was simply because I have got a lot of these smaller blocks sitting largely idle at present! Seriously though, I wanted them to be less intrusive than their full (half) sized brethren as the larger command blocks I use are the same size as the normal version.

The positioning of the block was mainly for the benefit of the pictures but when they are ready to use the facing of the unit will be determined by the command block although where this is in relation to the unit is not really critical as long as it is clear. I fully expect these to be moved around to suit the needs of the moment.

All the best,


'Lee. said...

Hi David,

I have enjoying your recent posts as you continue to develop ideas around using blocks. The flag block is a good idea and I look forward to seeing one fully finished. That Kriegsspiel image is great, I have always liked those blocks played on the map. Back in my printing days I worked for a company that still used a bit of hand compositing so all the racks of lead blocks in all sizes were still there. Inspired by a picture very much like this one I bagged a hundred or so small blocks (there were many thousands there), took them home and painted them to match the original blocks, would not want to do it now days of course, but handling lead blocks was commonplace back then! They turned out rather well although I don't recall what became of them. Come to think of it I also grabbed loads of the wooden strips that sat between the lines of type and they made excellent bases for fences. It was all largely redundant by then and everything went to scrap in the end including all the apprentices hand carved wooden blocks, shame really. Anyway, I digress, keep it up and in the New Year we can sort out getting my C&C blocks over to you by which time I should have completed replacing the British and French at least with figures so would rather they be put to some good use :)

All the best and a Merry Christmas to you and yours,


David Crook said...

Hi 'Lee,

Conceptually the 'flag block' as I envisage it should look pretty good and so I hope to have these ready for early in the new year. I have pretty much finalised the design so my printing chap will be able to start work on it soon.

Most wargamers are adept at making use of all manner of odd bits and pieces so I have to tip my hat to you for your inventiveness!

Many thanks re the blocks - I have a cunning plan with them which will be revealed in due course.

In the meantime though have a great Christmas and we can catch up in the new year!

All the best,