Wednesday 21 February 2024

The Portable Ironclads Wargame….A Self Critique

C.S.S. Tennessee heading into the fray

I was, and still am, very proud of The Portable Ironclads Wargame. It was my first venture into the world of book writing and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. The book was always intended to be the first step in a grid based ironclad era gaming system that would combine the flavour of Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargame rules with the detail of David Manley’s Dahlgren and Colombiad set. Ideally I wanted to use squares but settled on hexagons because at the time I was not able to get squares to work in the way I wanted to. 

The format of the book - with grateful thanks to Bob Cordery for his editing and publishing skills, not to mention his contributions to the book itself - I am particularly pleased with as I wanted an ‘old school’ vibe in terms of content and so the end result ticked that particular box quite comfortably in my opinion.

It is not without its faults.

There are a a couple of known typos and some errors in a few of the combat examples - nothing major but irritating all the same. The wording of the rules in places suffers from the occasional lapse into what can best be described as ‘political bloviation’ - when the author himself has to reread sections to be sure of the meaning then you know there is a problem!

I am happy with the combat/damage system overall, but there are a couple of niggles that will be addressed in the revised edition - mainly around tidying up the text to make things clearer.

As mentioned previously, the existing firing arcs will be tweaked slightly and there will be the option to use a square grid as well as the original hexagonal version. Then of course there will be a suite of optional/advanced rules to use as required.

The revised edition will not be reinventing the wheel and so owners of the original edition will certainly not have any concerns about wholesale changes to rules etc. Inevitably with any set of rules, gremlins of one kind or another usually surface and the Portable Ironclads Wargame is no exception.

If I were marking this book as a school report I would be happy to give it a B+/A- with the following commentary:

“David has grasped the essence of his chosen subject well but his natural exuberance and enthusiasm has sometimes overshadowed his grasp of the detail. With greater application and forethought I am sure he will, in time, be better placed to grasp the nuances of the subject in hand.”

The above was taken from one of my actual school reports from 1972 - oh well, 52 years later and I suppose that seems like a good idea, perhaps I should try it…. :-)


Charles Litka said...

Hi David,
Typos can easily be fixed in the ebook version by simply uploading a corrected version. That should also work for the print version as well if it is a print on demand book. More extensive revisions, especially with photos and a complex layout would likely involve a new version, but for typos and very minor tweaks, you, or your publisher, need not wait for the second version to correct the text. Alas, over the years I've had to correct too many typos in my books, so I'm quite familiar with how it works.

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Your old school report is better than one of mine, which read ‘Tends to lose consciousness too easily.’

You fall asleep once …

All the best,


nobby said...

Will you be doing an errata sheet for the first book?

David Crook said...

Hi Charles,

I always intended writing a follow on book which would include any errata etc from the first. I would have to check with my editor about amending the existing text - certainly it would e easy enough on the WV version but I am less sure about the printed versions.

I will investigate further!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Fell asleep? I am surprised that you were not woken up by hurled blackboard rubber or a piece of chalk!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Nobby,

I hadn’t thought about that - but I will now!

All the best,