Thursday 1 December 2016

The IWG Christmas Annual 2016 Issue One.

 As a child I always looked forward to receiving a couple of annuals of my favourite comics from Santa Claus, usually it was the Topper and Beano. Well in an effort to reintroduce what was a great tradition, I have produced my own little annual, perhaps not up to the standard of the Beano, but hey ho..............

                                                      RULES I HAVE USED IN 2016.
As I have previously posted and commented upon, this year saw a copious amount of wargames rules released, some good some just a re hash of older rules. I cant comment on them all, simply because there were so many.
 However I was impressed by the following, and in no particular order,

 I was very impressed by their original Impetus rules, and in my opinion Dadi and Plombo have developed an even better set of rules for the late renaissance early lace war period. These rules have some interesting ideas, which keep you on your toes as a wargames general. Deploy wrongly and you will suffer, be impetuous in your movement and again one can suffer. They offer a very intense game which requires a lot of thought. The best idea is to stick to historical tactics and you may actually become a Conde. Well recommended. The rules contain a few quirky ideas typical of the original Impetus rules.

Glory Hallelujah.

As I have previously posted that after travelling to the Gettysberg battlefield, and then re reading the Bernard Cornwell Starbuck series I was inspired to paint up a few ACW figures, however when Warlord released their ACW rules, it became a perfect storm for me because I really enjoy playing with these rules.
 There is an awful lot of content in this book, the rules naturally, some very decent scenarios, eye candy obviously and lists. All for £20.00, but one can normally get a set for £18.00. Cheap by current standards.
 A lot of wargamers dislike Blackpowder for many reasons, and some are probably relevant, but they were meant to be the skeleton on which to hang more detailed supplements. Glory Hallelujah are just such a set because the game captures the period really well. The rules provide a decent amount of detail for all those ACW buffs who love the minutiae of the different weapons used during the conflict without slowing the game down. The troop classifications are also worthy of mention, ' seen the elephant' being a great example of a battle hardened unit that feels it has done enough. Dont expect them to sweep the field, but then they will be hard to drive out of a wood.
 Well worth a try and definitely recommended.

Honours of War.

Until these rules were released I was using Black Powder, Argument of Kings supplement, and whilst they gave a good game, they just didnt have that extra I was looking for. These rules seemed to offer that extra something and to be honest apart from the artillery ranges I thought these were the 'one'. As a consequence we played them to death throughout the summer. However we had a game after a lay off of several months and frankly I hated them? On reflection they provide a fast moving game, but having to rally all the time, kills a lot of my enjoyment. Woe be tide if you face Austrian heavy artillery, which is what I normally field. Some good ideas, but they need some tweaking, well they do for me.

 So after a lot of thinking, Baroque is my rule set of 2016, simply because they give you more than a fun game. One really needs to put some thought into what you want your troops to do, and if you make an error it takes some rectifying. That is if you are allowed. Recommended. Get Santa to deliver you a set.

                                SHOWS THAT I HAVE ATTENDED IN 2016.

 I like Wargames Shows, I always have. From my early attendances at Northern Militaire and Sheffield Triples, I just like walking around looking at wargaming goodies.
 This year was no different, but somehow I only managed eight shows? York, Salute, Middlesbrough, twice, Gateshead, Fiasco and Partizan twice.
 All had their good points, and most fed my need to be at a wargames show.
 The best by a long way was the Vapnartak show at York racecourse. It is a signal that the new wargaming season has started, the venue is very good being well laid out with okay food and decent parking.
 The last few years there is a definite buzz about the whole event, and it was nice to meet up with wargamers I only see now and again.
 Salute 2016 on the other seemed somehow very flat for me, whether it was the dearth of quality wargames and a marked increase in very small skirmish type games or just the sheer immensity of the whole event, I dont know. One thing I didnt appreciate was the fact that all seating inside the hall was taken out? stopping one from having a sit down in the main hall and just getting your second wind. I managed to blag a chair in the hall, but when I went to sit down near a large roller shutter door I was informed I couldn't, for Health and Safety reasons? I suppose had there been a fire the 24' wide space would have been jammed with zimmer frames. This is something that will need to be considered at all wargames shows, in that there are a lot of old farts like me who, well get tired and need a pit stop, so get a few seats in the halls where the action is please.
 Getting back to Salute, I just felt the show had dipped from its usual high standard, Steam Punk? not really a wargames theme for me.
  Of course my other gripe was the painting competition which was wargames lite, and led to some strange decisions. [my personal view]
 So I think Salute in 2017 stands at a bit of a crossroads, will it continue in its current vein, or will it return to mainstream wargaming? I will give it one more go, then rethink my views.
   So the show of 2016 for me was Vapnartak.

                                     RULES OF WARGAMING. [ Advice from an old fart]

 1]  Wargamers will always occupy every wood or town within march distance of them, and then refuse to come out of the other side. Even if there is no point in being in there to start with.

2] Wargamers will occupy every hill, and put their only artillery on them, even if it is out of range of the enemy.

3]  Never think, I don't want a one or a six, because that is a guarantee to get them.

4] Always tell your opponent that he needs a one or a six when he doesn't want one.

5] Never stop your opponent from making a really daft move by rolling your eyes, sneering or any other tell. In fact attempt to look or act worried.

6] Be magnanimous in defeat, and modest in victory, [until you get home]

7] Throw a dice if no one can agree, it shuts up most arguments. [ But not at your opponent, well only as a last resort]

8] Admire an opponent's newly painted unit, and then concentrate all fire upon it, morale is everything and losing a new unit is a killer.

9] If your opponent has a guard unit, shoot it at any opportunity, again morale is everything.

10] Enjoy the spectacle of lots of soldiers on a wargames table. A lot of effort will have gone into the set up.

                GREATEST CONTRIBUTORS TO WARGAMING. [My personal view]

 10]  Charles Grant Jr.

  9]  Stuart Asquith.

 8]  Hal Thinglum.

7]  Terry Wise.

6]  Harry Pearson.

5]  Duncan Macfarlane.

4]  Peter Gilder.

3]  Charlie Wesencraft.

2]  Donald Featherstone

1]  Charles Grant Senior.

As one will see it is quite an eclectic list with a number of wargaming personalities missed off. Because The Wargame had such a profound effect on my wargaming Charles Grant had to be number one. I regularly return to the book for inspiration, and probably to reminisce about how it all started for me. Harry Pearson's inclusion was also a given, because his wonderful book Achtung Schweinhund is another book I continually return to.
 I did consider creating a top 20 of influences and contributors, to include Rick Priestley and co, simply because of the way they have transformed the whole wargaming ethos as regards rulebooks, rules, presentation etc. Perhaps that could be a future more cogent post.
 Anyway if any would be wargamer is looking for a late Christmas present then I would suggest any of the books authored by most of the above. But definitely buy this, and give it to your partner in an effort to explain why.

                                          Predictions, Guesses, and wild supposition.

Following the trends used in the media in general I thought I should include an opinion [ opinionated] piece of what I see in my crystal ball for wargaming over the next year or so.

  Well I am definitely getting no younger, so its a given that I will become more of a moany pain in the backside, but that aside, Wargaming in general seems to be pretty healthy in a lot of respects.
 Granted the days of wargamers buying and then collecting very large historical armies is in a decline, if simply because the veterans are getting no younger and probably have got everything they actually need to fight that one big battle.
 It is pretty clear that wargamers want to be able to play a game that is easy to set up and fight in a couple of hours, so games based on Dragon Rampant, Lion Rampant, Saga, Bolt Action, etc, etc will continue to thrive. I think I understand why they are popular, but it would never have satisfied my urge to play on a beautifully set up large table with loads of figures moving around the place. Its like a Chinese meal, fine for a short time, but you soon become hungry again [ well I do ]
My ideal was a Peter Gilder type layout, which clearly reinforces how old I am.
   I can see issues with companies that only sell their figures in regiments simply because a lot of newer wargamers want less figures for their games, I hope I'm wrong in this.
  I fully expect the release of even more rule books aimed at this market as witnessed by the new Osprey, Rogue Stars rule book released this month.
   Certainly there will be an increase in more detailed figures and models,ie Warlords new Konflikt 47 ranges to cater for this trend. Looking for a positive spin, at least it means that the hobby should catch a few wargamers who progress onto other types of gaming.
 On the historical figure front things are much harder to predict. I would love to see Warlord finally release their plastic Landsknects and Gendarme ranges that they purchased from Pro Gloria, having watched that small company develop these figures it would be wonderful if they actually hit the market.
 Clearly Colonial figures are showing some signs of becoming fairly popular, but then that has happened before and then they have disappeared from sight. But certainly the Sudan campaigns offer a fairly evenly matched pair of combatants.So perhaps more figures will be released.
  I hope Graham of Crann Tara fame succeeds in releasing his Saxons Seven Years War range, but that's a purely selfish wish, and of course is quite a niche market.
 It always struck me as incomprehensible why the Seven Years War era never became a major wargames period, strange that.
 So the trend for me personally is hopefully more painting, playing and buying, which shows how much I am off message, [ which is a satisfying thing really]
 But from a general wargaming point of view there needs to be a concerted push to capture more bored people looking for good company, laughs and a bit of competition.

  Anyway, I think this post is long enough for the moment. I hope someone likes at least a part of this Annual, so a Happy Christmas to all, and remember a 28mm Garde Grenadier is not just for Christmas.


  1. Enjoyable post, I remember reading the Beano and Dandy annuals.

    I think the upsurge in smaller style skirmish games are due to many people having limited resources, be it a combination of finance, space and time. It is certainly the case for me.

  2. One of the reasons for smaller games is the size of modern houses (homes as they are advertised) , recently visited a friend who games and who has moved his family into a very nice newly built house/home and I was surprised how small the rooms were and the lack of storage space . My friend if he is going to play at home is going to have to use a 2x2 board or the 3x4 kitchen table , not everybody has a gaming room and if you visit a club your game is against the clock , Tony

    1. Iam very lucky, and I appreciate it. My first 'table' was a sheet of hardboard laid over my sisters bed, definitely not ideal but it got me a wargame.Ive never been a member of a wargames club although it has crossed my mind a couple of times.

  3. A very enjoyable Annual, Robbie thank you. I suppose this comment area is now your "Readers letters" page?
    Dear Editor
    I thoroughly enjoyed your round up of 2016, please allow me to comment on one or two things. I'm sorry you have fallen out of love with Honours of War, the clue is in the words "played them to death". Maybe you should be like me and play fewer games, that way the pleasure is a lot in the build up and lasts longer (a bit like one of life's other pleasurable activities). I know what you mean as I too have come to dislike certain rules system after a few years (not months) of love. It's probably what keeps wargaming fresh and our minds keener.

    I do like your Rules. They seem well balanced between competitive and gentlemanly; our hobby should have both in equal measure.

    Nice list of wargaming greats. If personally being influenced is a factor then Don is my Nr 1 with the Grants behind ,but it is a very Anglophile list so your American readers might miss Jack Scruby and a couple of others. And in the modern era how about Henry Hyde?

    Don't keep apologising for being an old fart, rejoice in it (well, you do anyway!). If wargaming had more characters like you who are intelligent, articulate, well read, creative, opinionated yet tolerant and very friendly the (big battle aspect of our) hobby would be in fine shape. And actually I think it still is since you don't have to have the very finest figures money can buy to have an impressive game.

    Finally, this was the year you met little old eco-liberal me, and you also got your wish on the referendum, so with that combination things are bound to look up for you :-)
    Yours sincerely
    Satisfied of Gloucestershire

    1. Happy Christmas Reader,
      Colin and I refought Leuthen again [5] after these comments and HOW worked pretty well, although I think if he had been able to deploy his Prussian Brumbars quickly I would have really been ticked off with the rules.
      It was great to meet you this year, and hopefully it will continue at the next AMG. I would really like a wargame every week if I could, simply because that was always what I aimed for when I dreamed of retirement. Hence the frequency of units I am managing to paint and complete.
      Re my choices,I did include Hal Thinglum, who edited the excellent MWAN magazine. I have always enjoyed our American cousins approach to wargaming in that they are very enthusiastic. I never managed to obtain any Scruby figures, and unfortunately the Wargamers Digest was way before my time, although I have attempted to obtain some before, and failed.
      I daren't mention the referendum, if the daily attacks in the comments on the Guardian are anything to go by. I am surprised just how badly educated and old and uniformed I must have been, still judging from the daily rants, the 17+ million will all be very dead soon, so things will not change, once we are gone.An interesting viewpoint from the so called liberal elite.

  4. Robbie,
    Very enjoyable read. We are what we are and I think Harry Pearson's book sums up very well how we've got to this point. Our following generation view things differently and want to game differently and so be it.
    Don't worry those early Saxons will be coming en masse in 2017

    1. Happy Christmas Graham,
      Harry Pearson is a great writer. I have all his books, but AS. is the best, he captured so much of how 'we' started and the reasons why, a wonderful read. Its a shame he has dropped out of wargaming, as I loved his blog.

  5. Now then Robbie, all good stuff, do like a good list. Harry Smoggie Pearson has to be a top read re the wargamer. I note you almost moan when i follow your wargame rule 1 - if someoone had gone to the trouble of making and placing such a beautiful piece of scenery, it would be rude not to ensure it gets involved in the game by occupying it. Merry Xmas and see you at York

    1. Now John, I thought I was positive, and kept away from any negativity. It is merely an observation backed up by many wargames, sometimes its necessary to occupy a town etc, but by God do wargamers love filling buildings with units. Anyway Happy Christmas, and yes see you at York.

  6. Hello Robbie - Imagine my surprise when I noted my name amongst the list of my heros! You are most kind and I appreciate the mention very much. Thank you kindly. Hal


My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating