At first I thought of using a cloth, but I have found from bitter experience that trying to draw a grid on a cloth is not the easiest of things to do. I then looked around for some suitable wood, but a trip to my local DIY store soon showed me that:
- This was an expensive option
- It would produce a heavy playing board
- The resultant playing board would be difficult to store in what my wife calls my ‘toy room’ (i.e. my wargames room)
In the end I remembered that some years ago I bought some of the last remaining stock of Jigwar terrain boards from Essex Miniatures. These are 30cm x 30cm squares of 5mm thick plastic that were cut so that they clipped together (like a jigsaw puzzle). I still have a enough unpainted squares to make both a land and sea ‘Table Top’.
The plastic is thick enough to be rigid, and light enough (and thin enough) to store easily. It will also ‘take’ acrylic paint very well. All I need to do is remove the protective film covering from the squares, clean them, give them a couple of coats of paint, make out the grid and … voila … I can try the rules in earnest.
I am a great lover of small, simple games – particularly if they can be played solo – and this has all these qualities. The rules are very flexible and can be adapted for a variety of different periods, and can allow a series of battles to be fought in a matter of a few hours. They have also been developed over a long period of time, and although they are not ‘rules lawyer’ proof (no wargames rules ever are!), they do cover almost everything that one needs (including naval warfare, air warfare, and campaigns).
Having read these rules I can see me using them – with minor alterations – for all sorts of small wargames projects … including my 1930s Lauranian campaign.
There were lots of traders, and I could have spent a lot on money … but I was sensible and mostly bought what I planned or had thought about buying:
- A box of Hexon II Desert terrain and related terrain features
- Some vehicles from Minimi Miniatures
- C S Grant’s THE WAR GAME COMPANION (it has had some good reviews, and having seen it in on the Caliver Books stand I decided to buy it)
- Stuart Asquith’s WAR IN THE SUDAN 1884-1898 A CAMPAIGN GUIDE
The only impulse buy was TABLE TOP BATTLES – TABLE TOP WARGAMING WITH MINIATURES by Mike and Joyce Smith. This was also on the Caliver Books stand, and when I realised that it used a gridded playing surface I just had to have it.
This time I used a spray can of acrylic undercoat from a manufacturer whose products I have used before. I cleaned the models by washing them in a mild solution of soapy water to make sure there was no oil or other residue on the surface, and when they were thoroughly dry I sprayed the top of the models. I then left the paint to dry before turning them over.
This time the plastic did not react with the paint … but the paint that was already on the models had begun to crackle and bubble during the drying process. This suggests that the original paint is probably cellulose-based. It should not have reacted to the acrylic paint – which is fairly inert – but has done.
So it is back to the drawing board for a third attempt!
I think that they are of a reasonable wargames standard, and I will persist with this ‘new’ method for the time being. The next figures will be 20mm and the undercoat will be light grey and not white as I think that this will work better with the slightly larger figures.