Monday, 6 February 2023

Wargamer’s Block(s)

The block types as they stand. Those nine on the left with number ten at the head are the traditional horse and musket types - infantry, cavalry and artillery with black bands for heavy and white for light types - whilst the five on the right are machine guns, mortars, anti tank artillery, wheeled vehicles and armour.

I slowly seem to be emerging from the cold induced lethargy of recent weeks and so one of the projects that is on the ‘to do’ list appears to be nagging me for some attention! I am of course referring to the planned repurposing/refurbishing of my block armies - an example of which you see in the picture above.

I am more than happy with these - at least for the classic ‘horse and musket’ period - and as you may recall I have sets available in red, blue, green, light grey and brown as well as those above. As well as these seven colours I also have a mixed set that I use primarily for tribal types for Colonial era games.

The full ‘Army Khaki’ set. Each section contains six blocks except for the two sections by the handle (on the right) which contain three apiece. The red, green and blue set have machine guns but no other ‘modern’ types. They also have more standard infantry and cavalry blocks.

I am keen to upgrade the ‘modern types’ in some way and thinking about this led me to consider how I use the entire collection. The units you see are effectively a ‘Jenga’ style block cut in two and with a self adhesive label designating the type stuck on the top. Originally my plan was to use them for Command and Colours/Portable Wargame style games on either square or hexed grids. One block would represent a strength point and so a combat loss meant the removal of a block from the unit. It worked ridiculously well and I have fought a substantial number of games using them.

Sometime ago I had the beginnings of an idea to use a selection of MDF shapes to designate units that were equipped with a specific weapon type. For example, a unit of infantry archers would have a bow and arrow token placed on the unit somehow. On the face of it the idea was a sound one but hen I had visions of vast numbers of tokens falling off units and confusion on the tabletop abounding. I have not binned the idea but I have been rethinking it. 

For both the pre gunpowder and mechanised periods I need to be able to more effectively represent specific troop/weapon types and the idea I ask pursuing will free up a number of blocks that can be repurposed into another set. It is quite radical and will involve copious amounts of MDF but I think I am onto something. No details for now but I shall be positing the designs in due course so you can see where my head is at.


Steve J. said...

Good to see these again David. For me they are perfect for the H&M era, but I can't imagine using them for 'modern' nor 'ancients', but never say never and all that!

Ray Rousell said...

There was a game at Partizan last year useing these kinda blocks on a giant map. I think is was Napoleonic. Gotta admit it looked pretty cool.

Donnie McGibbon said...

Good to see some of your block collection, a real source of inspiration and I am very interested in seeing where you will go with your MDF idea.

David Crook said...

Hi Steve J,

I must admit that I never cease to be pleased at how these came out! I am really keen to get some more use out of them but want to take them to the next level - especially for the pre gunpowder and mechanised periods. There are a few ideas kicking around so watch this space!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Raymondo,

There is something about gaming using troop blocks on a map that taps into the ‘inner general’ that many gamers aspire to. I would love to have seen that game so will have a look on the net to see if there any protrudes lurking about. I remember Andy Callan fighting a Marlburian action using whole Jenga blocks and it was really evocative looking.

Whilst the devoted figure gamer might sniff disdainfully at using blocks and maps I am firmly of the opinion that if it was good enough for the Prussian general staff then who am I to argue!

All the best and I am very much enjoying your 2mm adventures and with Volley and Bayonet!


David Crook said...

Hi Donnie,

Thank you kindly sir! I am messing about with sketches at present for the MDF ‘tokens’ and the idea will make use of the existing block collection without having to change much.

Having said that the ideas I have for the ‘modern’ version are rather more radical. More to follow once I have my head around it!

All the best,


Elliesdad said...

Your blocks look great.
By coincidence I have been mulling over the need for some plastic storage boxes - well, one at least - for a load of MDF and plastic bases (I’m fed up of having to search through small packets trying to find the exact size I need). Do you recall where you got your plastic storage box from? I have seen some on eBay but they were rather expensive and the individual compartments weren’t quite the size I wanted - around 2”/50mm.

David Crook said...

Hello there Elliesdad (aka Geoff),

Thank you kindly old chap! The boxes I used originally came from Home Bargains and were £2.49 each although this was around five years ago! I remember at the time that they had the same boxes in Hobbycraft - from the same manufacturer as well - priced at £6.99!

The partitions are removable and I have a couple of spare boxes if you need them - email me and we can sort something out.

All the best,