Wednesday 28 June 2023

Based on Bismarck ‘62

The 1962 edition of Bismarck published by Avalon Hill

Way back in 1962, Avalon hill released the board game Bismarck, the components of which you see in the picture above. I have neither owned nor played this version, only the late 1970s edition which was altogether far more detailed. It was a lot of fun although the rule book was rather confusing! Fast forward to the present and elements of the original 1962 edition of Bismarck have found themselves being used in the Panzerschiffe series of rules published by Minden Games and available, you’ve guessed it, from the Wargames Vault as a PDF which you see is currently packaged with an expansion or two.

Panzerschiff from Minden Games

I was rather taken with the idea behind this set of rules which the author freely admits are designed with the novice gamer in mind. Having said that there are some add ins that make for a meatier game that would be more likely to satisfy the veteran naval gamer.

The big attraction for me, aside from the whole raft of ship counters you get in the PDF, is the fact that the rules use an 8 by 8 square grid with a square equalling some 8,000 yards. The downside from the naval gamer perspective is that the system only goes down to cruiser level - no destroyers - and air attacks are limited to torpedo bombers. It would not take much to factor in destroyers and dive bombers methinks although carrier operations are not really the aim of the game - it is primarily gun action focused. 

As is my usual wont I have acquired these for the ideas value (along with Great War Salvo - I have not gotten the WW2 variant….yet!) as there is the making of something rather useful in there.

My naval boundaries seem to have no, well, boundaries!

Tuesday 27 June 2023

The Last Voyage of the Emden

The gripping account of the last voyage of the German cruiser Emden

The German cruiser S.M.S Emden, for three brief months during the first year of the Great War, terrorised the Indian Ocean and took some sixteen British ships (usually by boarding) and sank two warships - one Russians and one French - before being finally brought to heel by the guns of H.M.A.S. Sydney. Her story captured the imagination of friend and foe alike and so whilst I am familiar with her story when the opportunity came along to pick up the book you see above for the princely sum of a couple of pounds the decision was an obvious one!

The book itself is full of pictures of the Emden and many of her victims but best of all the main bulk of the text was written by her second torpedo officer - Prinz Franz Joseph Von Hohenzollern (a relative of the Kaiser and distantly related to George V). The original version was published in 1925 and this updated edition includes a useful outline on the development of German cruisers and compiled by Prinz Franz Joseph’s naval officer son.

The story outlines the last voyage of the Emden and her destruction and the fate of the crew that were captured and sent to Malta but that is not the full story. The party that went ashore before her final battle subsequently escaped by sea in a leaky schooner and made their way back to Germany via the Arabian peninsula and Turkey - a story which I will need to research further for sure!

From a gaming perspective the story of the Emden falls squarely in the ‘hunt the raider’ category and is eminently suitable for a campaign. This is very much in keeping with the thought process behind my planned expansion of the Madasahatta campaign. The island itself is within easy reach of the key Indian Ocean shipping lanes leading up into the Red Sea and ultimately the Suez Canal. A powerful Axis naval force placed there could make life very difficult for the Allies in the area and so would present a challenge that must inevitably be faced by them.

Methinks that the whole Madasahatta idea has just gone up a notch in the project list….

Monday 26 June 2023

Firing Salvoes in the Great War

Something that has been on my radar for sometime. I rather like the range band system in which ships relative positions are recorded and whether they are closing, withdrawing or maintaining their relative station. 

I really should stay away from the Wargames Vault!  It is a veritable treasure trove of gaming bits and pieces and all manner of stuff you never knew you needed. So it was that I was idly browsing their website when I came across the rules set you see above. I have a says on these since the first edition but for one reason or another I never managed to get around to ‘pulling the trigger’ so to speak. That has now been rectified and I am pleased that I did not leave it any longer!

The rules themselves are designed for solo play and on a ship to ship basis. Multiple ships can be used and whilst at first glance the system would struggle to fight something Jutland scaled for much smaller actions - cruisers etc or just the odd battleship - they seem ideal. There are counters included to print off and use (scaled at 1:6000th) for a substantial range of ship types from various nationalities. Ships do ‘move’ a such, they merely adjust their facing and range as required. Models can be readily used although the author suggests that you would need the ship specs handy as all the information required is contained on the counters. Perhaps a spreadsheet exists somewhere for this - I will have a look and see if that is the case.

Minden Games produce a whole range of bits and pieces in terms of rules etc so I dare say that I shall be dipping into their offerings again at some point.

I can’t believe it has taken me so long!

Thursday 22 June 2023

Taking the Plunge

S.M.S Scharnhorst in her colonial, pre war colour scheme.

I have previously waxed lyrical about the famous Madasahatta Campaign devised by the late Eric Knowles way back in the late 1970’s in which myself, a mere callow youth still in his teens, took part along with such luminaries as Bob Cordery, Messrs. Fox and Hardman and various others. The campaign on the fictional Indian Ocean island of Madasahatta at the outbreak of the Great War featured a degree of naval activity which at the time was fought using 1:1200th scale models from Eric’s collection (still with his son, Bill, I believe) and the rules of choice were those of Fletcher Pratt. It was all great fun - mainly as the number of models in use was fairly modest - unlike the fleet scale actions fought in the later South East Asia naval campaign. 

Anyways, fast forward to more recent times and I have previously mentioned about a rather roundabout idea I had to revisit the island but with an expanded theatre of operations. This would include the East coast of Africa and the Red Sea along with the Arabian Peninsula. The basic idea is that both the British and the Germans have a presence on the island and that the events in East Africa and the Arab Revolt have a bearing on the overall scheme of things. 

To make this work I have allowed the German Pacific Squadron to have sailed West rather than East and that the Goeben and Breslau were able to escape down the Suez Canal to join them, based on Madasahatta. Obviously the Konigsberg in East Africa and the Royal Navy Red Sea squadron would feature along with such assets as can be spared from the Mediterranean and North Sea. The Turks would be present in the shape of the two ex German pre-dreadnoughts and a handful of torpedo boats.

The focus will be very much on a kind of ‘fleet-in-being-whilst-commerce-raiding’ type of set up with the Royal Navy in their best ‘hunting-the raider-and-bringing-the-enemy-fleet-to-battle’ guise. In other words a kind of diluted North Sea scenario.

The forces deployed will be largely League One or Championship level rather than Premier League although alongside all the second and third line scrap metal there will be a smattering of more modern stuff available. There will be no dreadnought battleships although battlecruisers will feature. 

What I have not mentioned about this is the l-o-n-g drawn out decision making that needed to be made in respect of the models. My plan originally was to build them myself but after a lot of soul searching I have reluctantly abandoned the idea. The insurmountable obstacles presented - time taken as well as the design of the relevant parts - meant that it really would have been a project that would have taken a long time to come fruition. On the back of a few selected disposals I decided instead to buy the models in 1:2400th from Tumbling Dice from their Age of Battleships range. The rationale behind this decision is speed of execution as all that will be required is the painting and I have a speedy technique for this.

This is not the first time I have been down this path but the critical advantage now is that Tumbling Dice have added to their range to capture some of the early war vessels so the collection can be better rounded out. There is nothing worse than a range that has some key elements missing - be it model ships or figures!

To give you a taste of the forces for this the models I have acquired are as follows:

MSP 9 British China/Pacific

ABB1a Centurion (rebuilt)
ABB 5 Canopus
ABB 12 Monmouth
ABB 15 Drake
ABB 20 Arrogant
ABB 22 Pelorus

MSP 11 German Pacific

ABG 12 (x2) Scharnhorst
ABG 14 (x2) Bremen
ABG 16 (x2) Emden
ABM 2 Tramp Steamer

MSP 12 British Falkland Islands

ABB 42 (x2) Indefatigable
ABB 12 Monmouth
ABB 13 Devonshire
ABB 38 Bristol
ABM 10 Otranto

Aside from these battle packs I also ordered the following:

ABB 9 (x2) Swiftsure
ABB 14 Cressy
ABB 38 Bristol

ABG 2 (x2) Brandenburg
ABG 24 Moltke
ABG 30 Magdeburg

The nautically inclined amongst you will have noticed that there are no torpedo boats present. I shall be adding a smattering of these in due course but to be honest I have not decided on the types or the numbers involved - they will however be older and fewer than for, say main fleet formations. This is after all primarily a reinforced cruiser style conflict.


Initially the Admiralty were satisfied that the forces on station, old and arthritic though they were, would be more than sufficient for patrol and containment purposes. The arrival of the German Pacific squadron was in turn countered by the assigning the two Swiftsure class battleships to the region but the stakes were raised again when the Goeben and her escort arrived. A pair of Indefatigable class battlecruisers were then ordered on station. The pieces were in place.


I am spoilt for choice here as there are many commercially available sets I could call upon but my first thoughts are looking at the rules in Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames and seeing where that takes me.

In any event it is a while away yet as firstly the models need assembling and painting.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

The Late Arrival

Definitely an area of interest and something I have had an eye on for ages!

The final part of my Father’s Day haul from my son arrived yesterday and it is a cracker! I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get a copy of the above but I am glad that I have at long last. The book includes eight scenarios - hex grid based - as well as the rules and is of course designed to be fought solo. There are a large number of these solo game books doing the rounds at present and somewhat surprisingly, given that most of my gaming tends to be solo these days, I am rather late arriving at the party!

Naturally my plan would be to game these using my models - luckily I have a hexed cloth that would be just about large enough to deploy the models within a single hex rather than the two I am used to - and after having run through them using the rules from the book it would be interesting to replicate them using my own Portable Ironclads Wargame.

I am looking forward to seeing how this system works out and will report back in due course - with pictures as well!

Monday 19 June 2023

Waterloo, The First World War and Father’s Day

Gotta love a full colour uniform guide! I know this series can be a little variable in terms of the level of detail but I have a soft spot for them all the same. Certainly for my purposes they are more than adequate so this is a welcome addition to the uniforms section of my library.

As ever it was a busy weekend with a full day of domestic chores on Saturday and half a day on Sunday! 

Yesterday was of course the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and as is my custom I usually manage to do something to mark the occasion. In this case it was revisiting the section on the campaign of 1815 in David Chandler’s Campaigns of Napoleon. Stirring stuff for sure! I have not gotten to the battle itself just yet - we are just leading up to Quartre Bras but I aim to finish it this week. This is the Kindle version although I do own a hardback copy of the book as well.

Amazon gift card and a rather splendid crystal encrusted rendering of Chewbacca with his lunch, sorry the Porgs, Fruit Pastilles and a welcome bottle of Bombay Sapphire for good measure!

Father’s Day crept up on us once again and the children’s, as ever, did their old dad proud! My son asked me on Saturday if I had an Amazon list - which I did not - so I quickly added half a dozen items and sent him the link. For some odd reason only the first two items appeared on it - one of which you see above and with the second arriving today.

My son made a Herculean breakfast - sausage, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and tea - for us and we then had a quite superb leg of lamb for dinner followed by melon and mango. In short, by the end of the day I could barely squeeze in a packet of fruit pastilles so Laurel very kindly helped me out which proved to be mixed blessing as the packet contained an unusually large number of yellow pastilles which are her favourite, naturally….

I prefer the ‘red’ fruits myself….

All in all then it was a great day and so to all the Fathers out there I hope you had as much fun as I did!

Thursday 15 June 2023

A Time Life Bonanza

A magnificent collection to add to the ACW and 19th Century American West section of my library.  This acquisition has certainly solved one problem but has raised a couple of others chief of which is my gaming Schwerpunkt going forwards….

Huzzah! I have finally managed to get my hands on a complete 28 volume set of the Time Life series on the American Civil War! These are not usually that difficult to come by but given the overall weight of the collection are quite often listed as buyer collects only - not really very useful if located hundreds of miles away! Luckily on this occasion it was a swift twenty minute car drive and so I set off after dinner yesterday evening to collect it. Once again it came about as the result of the owner passing away (in this case a year or so ago) which did give me pause for thought about the arrangements for my own collection when I eventually go to that great wargaming convention in the sky - the wargamer’s Valhalla if you like. At the risk of being morbid I have made provision in this respect via my will which I would strongly recommend doing if you haven’t already.

Anyways, the collection comprises 28 volumes as mentioned and these are as follows:

Forward To Richmond - McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign
The Shenandoah in Flames - The Valley Campaign of 1864
Rebels Resurgent - Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville
The Blockade - Runners and Raiders
Brother Against Brother - The War Begins
War On The Frontier - The Trans-Mississippi West
Pursuit To Appomattox - The Last Battles
First Blood - Fort Sumter to Bull Run
War On The Mississippi - Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign
The Fight For Chattanooga - Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge
Spies, Scouts And Raiders - Irregular Operations
Death In The Trenches - Grant at Petersburg
Battle For Atlanta - Sherman Moves East
The Coastal War - Chesapeake Bay to Rio Grande
Confederate Ordeal - The Southern Home Front
Decoying The Yanks - Jackson’s Valley Campaign
Gettysburg - Confederate High Tide
The Bloodiest Day - The Battle of Antietam
Tenting Tonight - The Soldier’s Life
The Road To Shiloh - Early Battles in the West
Twenty Million Yankees - The Northern Home Front
The Killing Ground - Wilderness to Cold Harbour
Lee Takes Command - From Seven Days to Second Bull Run
Shermans’s March - Atlanta to the Sea
The Struggle For Tennessee - Tupelo to Stones River
The Assassination - Death of a President
The Nation Reunited - War’s Aftermath
Master Index - An Illustrated Guide

I shall organise these volumes on a historical basis as far as possible - the list above is how they came out of the three boxes they were packed in. Of particular interest are the naval volumes (naturally!) but also anything Western theatre related. The writing style is easy to read and of course there are copious illustrations in support. Despite the overall size I would say this falls very much into the overview/general history category which suits my attention span for sure! One can always ‘drill down’ into a particular area of interest by the acquisition of more specialist material - as I have done with the naval side which is the largest section of my modest ACW library.

I am truly delighted to have acquired this set once again (a long and depressing story the first time around) and shall use to it extensively to reinforce my interest in the epic war between the states.

Monday 12 June 2023

The North Atlantic: 1939 to 1942

The front of the box….

….and the back.

The counters and the ‘track’ markers used to plot the trajectories and stations of the forces involved.

The five booklets that come with the game - this is not for the faint hearted but the tutorial is very helpful and there are some You Tube videos in support as well. As you can see it is very solitaire friendly and mention should also be made of the high quality of the game components  - top class from GMT.

My first ever foray into the North Atlantic in 1941 came about using 1:3000th models and the original General Quarters rules. I had carefully painted a selection of ships - the leading characters naturally - and fought a number of actions with the models in the cellar of Eric Knowles’s shop New Model Army Limited in Manor Park, East London that served as the clubhouse for the Newham Wargames Club. For the record I always enjoyed General Quarters part 1 and 2 and have used both extensively although I have not tried part 3.

Time marched and so a couple of decades later I built up a collection of ships from the Axis and Allies: War at Sea range and even managed to fight a mini version of the campaign at SEEMS (South East Essex Military Society) using them (scaled at 1:1800th) on a large offset square gridded sheet. It was enormous fun and the end result rather mirrored history although as I recall the Bismarck took more of the Royal Navy with her rather than just HMS Hood.

I have also played the Avalon Hill game of Bismarck (2nd edition) extensively although have yet to see the newer version recently produced by Vuca Simulations. 

It is fair to say then that I have a degree of history with gaming the naval war in the North Atlantic during the early years of the war and before the U Boats came to the fore. 

With all this in mind you will probably not be in the least bit surprised to see the latest acquisition to my collection, following on from a couple of disposals (my personal commitment to recycling…).

Atlantic Chase covers the Royal Navy struggle against the Kriegsmarine during the first half of the Second World War. Units or Task forces move along trajectories until found when they are in effect on station (or dialled in for attack if you prefer - in short the opposition has much more information about what is there) and then the action ensues. Essentially one has an idea of where a force is heading but not what or where it is along the trajectory. You have to find the enemy to take the appropriate action and the North Atlantic is a big place!

Given the lowish number of ships involved my thoughts have turned naturally to models for the tactical actions. I am thinking that revisiting 1:3000th scale may be a good idea but first I will need to grapple with the strategic side first of all.

So there you go, another side hustle to fill in the gaps between ironclads, aircraft, fantasy figures, Wofun, Samurai and a cast of thousands….

Ho hum…. :-)

Sunday 11 June 2023

The Soul of the Scratchbuilding Naval Wargaming Butterfly….

Next on the production line for the ACW. I shall be building two models using the above template and I am also looking at making this standard for other models due to the better ‘lines’. For the record it does NOT mean I shall be rebuilding the ACW collection!

Phew! What a blisteringly hot weekend it has been! Firstly I was not able to visit the Broadside in Gillingham, Kent - really sorry to have missed it but I have good excuse - as Laurel and I were at an all day soul concert in Maldon. This was very much her day as she is a great fan of soul music from the 60s through to the 90s and it was the first time she had ventured out for such an occasion - previously most of our trips were fairly localised so for her, spending some ten hours in her wheelchair was a big deal (as it was for me as the ‘pilot’! Laurel is a committed soul and Motown fan - my own tastes in that direction tend to be jazz/funk (1970s vintage) and anything Stax/Philadelphia - so it was great for her and I to get out in the sunshine for some ‘tunes’ on what proved to be a long day. I won’t go into details but it was a good, albeit exhausting experience. 

We even managed to have a dance - the first since 2020 which was pretty special given her circumstances. 

By mutual agreement Sunday was going to be a very easy day and so I was able to get a few bits and pieces attended to. My Warbases order arrived on Saturday and as expected a few minor tweaks were needed to some of the items I had designed. I will not go into too much detail at this stage but some of the bits and pieces will be of profound interest - at least to the die hard naval wargamer!

Bear in mind that my models tend to dance ‘fast and loose’ with finite detail - as long as it looks close enough to the original that will do!

I was also able to make a start on another couple of models for the ACW collection which was a little naughty really as I still have three models still on the go. The design you see above is for the C.S.S. Tennessee of Mobile Bay fame - my hull template is a little curvier than the original but is in keeping with the overall style of my largely ‘cartoon’ models. She was a casemate ironclad and the only difficulty will be the pilot house incorporated in the casemate. Then of course there are the corners of the casemate - why does have to be corners? (He says in his best ‘why does it have to be snakes?’ Indiana Jones voice) - which I will need to think about.

There are a couple of other things that fall into the ‘Scatchbuilding Naval Wargaming butterfly’ category along with something else that should be with me on Monday and so guess what? That will be the subject of the next post….

Thursday 8 June 2023

Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame….Part 6

An early square based action featuring the C.S.S. Arkansas (left) facing off against the U.S.S. Carondelet (top) and the U.S.S. Essex (right)

It is remarkable just how valuable taking time away from a project can be when one is feeling jaded by the whole thing in respect of recharging the creative batteries. To be honest I had not really abandoned the whole ironclads project totally since the Portable Ironclads Wargame was published but it is fair to say that my efforts since have been distinctly League One rather than the Premiership! In a way the continuing ironclad saga was ticking over, idling if you prefer, until I had built up a sufficient head of steam to resume it in earnest so to speak. With the conclusion of my recent Royal Navy versus the Turks action and with the resulting injection of enthusiasm I can safely say that the mojo has returned! It is now time to start pulling all the threads together to make the whole thing viable.

I have been nibbling away at a few ideas for the next volume and am satisfied that I am on the right track but the best news of all is that I have finally settled the whole square grid situation to my liking. The main issue concerned operations conducted using diagonals but I am confident I now have this mastered to my satisfaction. All it needed was some clear-headed thought - obvious really but it was not something I was able to achieve whilst the original book was being written!

Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame will contain rules for using squares so that players will be able to make use of both hexes or squares as they wish. To facilitate this there will be plenty of examples of movement and firing along with pictures showing the firing arcs etc - obviously there will be two sets of these for squares - orthogonal and diagonal. There are also going to be pictures of the recommended hexagonal fire arcs which are much clearer than in the first volume. 

I have said before and will do so again, Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame will certainly not be a second edition - rather it is a series of optional or alternative rules that players can make use of or not as desired.

Also scheduled for inclusion is a greatly expanded selection of ships for the ACW and I am also looking to include the War of the Pacific for some South American naval action.

Best I get busy then!

Wednesday 7 June 2023

300: Earth and Water

The box lid….

….and the rear

Lurking away in the dim and dusty recesses of my mental project list is an urge to fight the Greek and Persian Wars in some way. The way I had in mind was very much inspired by the campaign set up in Richard Nelson’s book on the battle of Salamis - obviously I was looking at the naval angle. A short while ago I was ready to abandon this project, despite having acquired a pile of 3D printed galleys, as for some reason I could not get the idea properly formed. I put this down to focussing on the ACW ships and the book! Anyways, now that the latter is out in the real world and the former is very close to having this phase completed, I have had rather more thinking space to look at a few things with a clearer head.

Two rather good resources for the naval side of the campaign

Suffice it to say that there are moves afoot to tackle something Greek and Persian war related but I am waiting on something to arrive first of all.

The contents of the box - wooden tokens for the armies and fleets and the Persian pontoon bridge

I saw mention of the game you see above on one of the board game facebook groups I belong to and it is a little belter! Essentially it is a two player refight of the Persian invasion of the 5th century BC - the period that captures Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea - that is card driven and takes around 45 minutes to play! The game is produced by Nuts! Publishing and the components are top quality. Wooden game tokens, sixteen cards to drive the game (each with a Greek and a Persian section) and an A3 sized mounted map board complete the package (along with the D6 required).

The A3 sized map board. My wargaming gene for the land side is thinking “DBA, DBA, Portable Wargame, Portable Wargame!” At this stage I will not divulge my naval thoughts…. 

I can say little more about other than to quote the blurb on the back of the box:

“300: Earth and Water is a strategy game for two players, lasting 30 to 40 minutes. Take the side of the Greeks with Athens and Sparta at their head, or play the Persian Empire led by the King of Kings to see who will control the Eastern Mediterranean. Over the course of five expeditions each player must try to control more cities than their opponent.

Every decision is crucially important, from the choice of the right card to play to the moves you make with your troops on the map.

Be the master of land and sea!”

I have a plan for this game in that given that it is in a small box, takes a short time to play and touches on a subject that I know is dear to at least one of my immediate circle, means that it can travel easily and be played with a beer or two to hand.

He knows who is is….

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Thoughts on Turkish Ironclads

The original configuration of the two Feth-i-Bulend class ironclads….

….and how they now look post the minor, ahem, adjustment!

This was a very quick and easy job to tackle - all I did was to move the funnels back a little and touch up the paint job. In all I reckon no more than an hour with the appropriate gaps for drying time.Whilst working on these I had a quick look at the rest of the Turkish navy of the period and the ships I will be looking to build. Originally I was looking at another four ships making eight in total but this has now increased to eight - simply because I had forgotten about the two you see and also a couple of other types below that are being extensively rebuilt. When I say extensively what I actually mean is starting them again from scratch as there were too many things that needed adjusting to make refurbishment worthwhile. This will give the Turks a strength of a dozen ships which will be more than sufficient for my needs. 

A pair of Luft-u Celil class ironclad sea-going monitors. Whilst nice looking models there are a number of inaccuracies that have been niggling away and much of the building technique was not of my later standard so they will be rebuilt from scratch.

Reviewing some of the ships the Turks had in service during the period there are a few that will require some bespoke hull pieces from Warbases - the same applies to some of those from the Royal Navy - so I am thinking that spending some time finalising the make up of the fleets would be a good idea. In doing so I get everything I need in one fell swoop which I have learned from past experience makes the final construction a whole lot easier having everything to hand!

Monday 5 June 2023

Square Dancing and Turkish Titivating

One of my earlier square based actions - the C.S.S. Manassas escorted by the C.S.S. Little Rebel taking on a pair of Union rams

A whole lot of the early testing of what eventually morphed into the hex based Portable Ironclads Wargame was done on a square grid. Moving over to hexes was a relatively late decision, in part due to numerous design difficulties I had trying to get squares to work as I wanted. In retrospect I think it was a combination of trying to fit a square peg into a hexagonal hole as well as getting other elements of the rules bedded down. At the time moving to hexes made a lot of practical sense and I do not for one moment regret making the decision.

Now that I have the book out in the real world in many ways it has taken a lot of the developmental pressure off  and so I am better able to look at what will be additional content - optional rules and things that were left out originally. In true Portable Wargame style these are very much suggestions and so players can use the existing rules as they stand and cherry pick whatever else takes their fancy. Or not, as the case may be. The point is that players can use the rules however they see fit - if something does not sit well then by all means change it for something that will! The Portable Ironclads Wargame was always intended to be the starting point for a naval wargames journey that would finish with the Great War

One of the largest sections in the forthcoming book will be using squares as an alternative to hexes. This will mean a new set of firing arcs and updating the text of the rules where necessary to reflect squares as well as hexes. I am still thinking about this and to be honest am leaning more towards having the use of squares as a self contained add on to the main rules but we will see - I need to get them finalised first of all! 

I am quite excited about this particular variant and if I am honest I seem to have made a lot more progress getting it to work this time around than previously. Having eight directions for movement rather than six is a significant improvement in my opinion and I know from past experience playing the late Craig Taylor’s Ship ‘O The Line rules for the age of sail that manoeuvring using squares is straightforward enough in practise.

The two ships of the Feth-i-Bulend class as built. Why oh why I put the funnels that far forwards I have no idea - I am sure I did it for a good reason but for the life of me I cannot recall what that reason was! Anyways, they are in the process of being, ahem, corrected….

And the proof!

In other news I have taken two of my Turkish ironclads in hand for some minor refurbishment. Nothing major, just moving the funnels as they were too far forward and some further research has shown me the error of my ways. The change makes perfectly logical sense but I am still at a loss to know why I put them as far forwards as I did in the first place!

We live and learn eh?

Friday 2 June 2023

Wofun we had in the Wild, Wild West….

Mounted gunfighters….

….and their foot counterparts.

Native Americans on foot….

….and their mounted counterparts.

The all important bases. Although they are green on the top surface one could easily just flip them over and use the plan MDF side - a cheap way of representing arid, desert-like terrain.

Some time ago I was very very generously gifted an 18mm ACW Wofun collection by Bob Cordery. It was more or less complete and ready to go aside from some mounted command and dismounted cavalry which an acquired latterly from WoFun themselves. Fast forward to just before Salute this year I had the good fortune to acquire at no cost a complete set of the Time Life Books Old West collection and then of course at Salute itself I picked up the latest version of Pony Wars: ‘B’ Troop Ain’t Coming Back - the revised and hardback version of the 1980s classic rules. 

The Old West series published by Time Life

Pony Wars Redux acquired from Baccus, the 6mm people

I then had the idea of using the cavalry from the ACW collection for a Pony Wars style game but needed some opposition. Reasoning that it would be cheaper to get some WoFun Native American Tribesmen rather than two lots of figures that would also require painting, I placed an order for some foot and mounted types, along with, you’ve guessed it, some gunfighters also both on foot and mounted.

So, armed with this lot I will be able to game Pony Wars style as well as some western gunfights - along of course, with the ACW and all in 18mm WoFun. I even have a quick play set of western gunfight rules to use.

The important thing with this ‘distraction’ is that it will take very little work to set up and use. I would want to ‘edge’ the figures and would prefer to do something with the bases but other than that there would be little else to do other than acquire a few sticks of scenery. To be honest I have enough raw material in stock to knock up a few clapboard buildings or the odd ranch house so this could be quite a self contained and easy to bring to the table kind of project.

Something else to think about then….;-)

Thursday 1 June 2023

Developing The Portable Ironclads Wargame….Part 5

The last game I fought using squares - a Confederate raider is caught by a Union patrol

After the dust had settled and the models and terrain were packed away following my recent action, I was left pondering a number of points in connection with the Portable Ironclads Wargame. More than ever I am satisfied that the core mechanics are ‘bang on the money’ but there are a couple of things that will feature as an optional rule or alternative when the next volume is published. There will also be a small errata included - nothing major, a couple of typos and some correction of detail. It is really not a second edition - more like an expanded first if you prefer!

A substantially larger action fought using larger squares than in the first picture. This was before I moved to the ‘model on two squares and then hexes’ option

One area that will certainly feature as an alternative and is quite a sizeable undertaking due to the amount of ground it will cover is the use of squares. You may recall that in the early stages of the design of the rules I used squares a lot and indeed, the change over to hexes occurred at quite an advanced stage of the overall design. At the time I was struggling to get certain square based mechanics to work successfully but I now reckon I have it configured to my satisfaction. The main difficulties were around firing arcs and the thorny topic of using diagonals and their effect on movement and ranges. I spent a lot of time on this but only succeeded in tying myself up in knots (no pun intended) - probably as I was still working on the rest of the rules and was therefore unable to think it through with any degree of logic or clarity. Certainly being ‘away’ from the rules for a while has enabled me to think about this in a rather more ordered fashion!

In other news I shall be building more ships for the Royal Navy and the Turks - at this stage 7 for the former and 4 for the latter. This will enable me to endgame in a hypothetical ‘Anglo -Turkish War of 1880’ and yes, the land side will also feature, Portable Wargame style. I will use the figures from War in the Age of Imperialism for the British forces and will look to acquire some suitable Turkish types in plastic. The inspiration for this latest bout of insanity comes from the British 1882 campaign in Egypt and also from Bob Cordery’s various games involving Zubia. 

One of the 1:72nd scale generic infantrymen from the board game War in theAge of Imperialism

Africa as reimagined in Bob Cordery’s World of 1891

I am sure he wont mind me, ahem, borrowing a few ideas of his! Follow the link to see just what a fantastic resource his ‘world’ is.