Colonial Wargaming website update

For the first time in two months I managed to update my Colonial Wargaming website.

I added information about four books that I have bought and read over the past few months to the relevant Sources of Inspiration – Books section on the website. The books are:

  • THE ARAB REVOLT 1916 – 18: written by David Murphy and published by Osprey Publishing
  • FRONT-LINE ESSEX: written by Michael Foley and published by Sutton Publishing
  • FRONT-LINE KENT: written by Michael Foley and published by Sutton Publishing
  • RUSSIAN BATTLESHIP VS JAPANESE BATTLESHIP – YELLOW SEA 1904 – 05: written by Robert Forczyk and published by Osprey Publishing

Preparing for Salute 2009

This afternoon I managed to do some preparatory work for the game Richard Brooks and I will be putting on at Salute 2009 on behalf of Wargame Developments. The game is called SOLFERINO IN TWENTY MINUTES, and uses a stylised map of the battlefield and large playing pieces that represent Commanders-in-Chief (and their subordinate Army/Corps commanders), Corps/Divisions of Guards, Infantry, and Cavalry, and Army/Corps Artillery.

Thanks to some excellent illustrations sent to me on a CD-ROM by Richard, I have been able to design both the playing pieces and the command activation cards. Assuming that they meet with Richard’s approval, I can print them off next week.

Preparing for Cruiser 2009

I have spent this morning making the final preparations for the two naval war games I will be putting on at Cruiser 2009 on HMS Belfast on Saturday 28th February.

I have well over 50 ‘targets’ for each of the ships that can take part in the Jane’s Naval War Game, and this should be enough for at least two games. The major innovation I have made to the way I shall run the game involves the purchase of a small light table of the type used to transfer designs from printed paper to plain paper. The light shines through an opaque surface onto which you put the print and the plain paper; this makes it possible to see the design on the print clearly through the plain paper without casting shadows onto what you are copying.

I saw one of these light tables in the local craft shop and realised that if I put a ‘target’ onto the light table it would make the pinhole ‘hits’ much easier to see; furthermore, once the ‘hits’ are marked onto the ‘target’ I can put the ‘scorer’ over the ‘target’ and transfer the effects of the hits onto the ‘scorer’. This will hopefully save some time, as the firing phase of a Jane’s Naval War Game can be quite long and tedious if the umpire – me – has to take a long time to adjudicate ‘hits’ and their effects.

Nugget 224

I hope to take the latest issue of THE NUGGET to the printers tomorrow and I should be able to pick it up on Friday. With any luck I hope to get it out in the post by Tuesday next week, and it should be with members later that week.

I hope to upload the PDF versions of the latest issues of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website on Tuesday next week so that members (including e-members) can read it before the printed version arrives in the post.

Cavalier 2009

This morning I went to Cavalier 2009. This is a small wargames show run by the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society, and it was held in the Angel Centre, Tonbridge.

This is a nice location with a large cark that is free on Sundays – an excellent selling point for a wargames show! There were 39 traders and 12 participation/demonstration games as well as the obligatory ‘bring-and-buy’.

I spent a very pleasant couple of hors at the show, and managed to speak to several people I know, including Dave Ryan (of Caliver Books), Martin Goddard (of Peter Pig), Phil Steele (of the Society of Ancients), and the boys (that should really be men) of SEEMS. The latter were putting on a very interesting and enjoyable World War I air combat game (with the engaging title of ‘WOT? NO PARACHUTE’), where two British heavy bombers were attempting to ‘get through’ against a number of German fighters. The British also had some escort fighters and the ‘skies’ seemed to be full of planes!

There were some other noteworthy games, including Loughton Strike Force’s WINTER WAR’ (it had some very nicely presented winter terrain and the game did not seem to be dominated by tanks), Crawley Wargames Club’s THE BATTLE OF THE ALMA 1854 (lovely figures on a very realistic representation of the battlefield), and the Society of Ancients ROMA INVICTA, which was being run almost single-handed when I was there by Professor Philip Sabin.

Despite being very busy Dave Ryan told me that sales of TABLE TOP BATTLES have been good since January (I wonder why?) and that he hopes to get some more stock soon. He also managed to sell me the newly published Osprey book RUSSIAN BATTLESHIP VS JAPANESE BATTLESHIP – YELLOW SEA 1904 – 05.

A very nice show and an enjoyable end to my half-term holiday!

How I design caricature model ships

In an earlier post I referred to the model ships I made for the Jane’s Naval War Game as ‘cartoonish’. A better way to describe them would have been to say that they are caricatures. In other words, they emphasise the main features of the original ship but are not scale models.

When designing my model ships I usually begin with a side view of the ship I am going to model. The following is an image of a Spanish battleship that I plan to build of at some time in the future.

Having scanned the image into my computer I then begin the process of producing a caricature. I do this be distorting the image so that the ratio of height to length is changed from 1:1 to 2:1.

The design is then simplified, and most of the extraneous detail is removed. This forms the basis of my working drawing for my model.

In this case I also pondered on what might have happened if the original design had been modernised in a similar way to the Light Cruiser Navarra, which the Nationalists rebuilt in the late 1930s. Here a tower bridge has replaced the original bridge structure and forward mast, and anti-aircraft guns have been added onto new deckhouses next to the funnel and rear superstructure. The funnel has also been given a raked cap.

Battle Cry

Yesterday the Post Office finally managed to unite me with the second-hand copy of BATTLE CRY that I bought from eBay. It had been sitting in the local collection depot for nearly a week because it was too large for the postman to deliver it. Unfortunately when I went to collect it earlier in the week they could not find it, but yesterday they searched for a bit longer and found it.

As far as I can see the game is complete, and I look forward to trying it out in due course. I already own MEMOIR ’44, the game mechanisms for which were based on those developed by Richard Borg for BATTLE CRY. As a result it should not take me too long to get the hang of the rules for BATTLE CRY and to start playing games.

Preparing for Cruiser 2009 – Jane’s Naval War Game – The model ships

I will be using the Greek and Turkish fleets of 1913/14 for the Jane’s Naval War Game session that I will be running at Cruiser 2009.

The model ships are all home-made 1:3000th scale models. They are built from balsa wood, thin plywood, wooden cocktail sticks, and bamboo cane. Like the originals Jane used, the models are not 100% accurate in every detail; they are more cartoonish in style, with the main recognition features over emphasised to make the ships easy to recognise.

The Greek Fleet:

The Greek fleet consists of the Light Cruiser Helle (on the left), the Armoured Cruiser Georgios Averoff (on the right) …

… the ex-American Battleships Kilkis and Lemnos

… and the Coastal Defence Battleships Hydra, Spetsai, and Psara.

The Turkish Fleet:

The Turkish fleet consists of the Light Cruisers Medjideh and Hamidieh

… the Coastal Defence Battleship Messudieh

… and the ex-German Battleships Heireddin Barbarossa and Torgud Reis.

The gridded 1.2″ x 1.2″ squares on the ‘Sea Squares’ give some indication of the relative size of each model.

Preparing for Cruiser 2009 – Jane’s Naval War Game

Fred Jane is – amongst other things – famous for designing his naval war game.

Some years ago, after buying a reprint of the 1905/06 edition of Jane’s Fighting Ship that contained the complete text of his Naval War Game rules, I decided to recreate – as best I could – a set of models and playing equipment for the game. I then demonstrated the game at a COW (Conference of Wargamers) where it was well received.

As a result of that demonstration Bill Leeson, who had previously published various editions of the Kriegsspiel rules, published a copy of the 1912 version of the rules. Until recently this – and the version published in Donald Featherstone’s NAVAL WAR GAMES – were the only copies of the Jane’s Naval War Game rules in circulation, and they were not easy to find. The latter has now been re-published by John Curry, who has also re-published the 1905/06 rules as part of a larger volume that contains details of the Royal Navy’s 1921 Naval War Game rules.

I have agreed to run a pre-dinner session of the 1905/06 Jane’s Naval War Game at Cruiser 2009, and have spent some time today making sure that all the equipment I need is ready.

This picture shows a ‘Sea Square’ (these are the playing surface; up to eight are used during a game), a ‘Target’ (what you hit with a ‘Striker’ – the holes caused by the ‘Striker’ show when the shot and shell have landed), a ‘Striker’, several model ships, and a copy of my fast-play version of Jane’s rules.

I have enough ‘Targets’ …

… but I am missing some ‘Scorers’ …

… so it is off to the printers in the morning to get some more photocopied.

I will be using my fast-play version of Jane’s rules. These retain the flavour of the original rules – most importantly including the original firing system – but have much easier to understand (and use) manoeuvring rules.

I will be using my own home-made models of the Turkish and Greek Fleets of 1913/14.

Preparing for Cruiser 2009 – The Game of Naval Blockade

On 28th February Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group and Wargame Developments will be co-hosting a public wargames event on HMS Belfast. The event is called Cruiser 2009 and the main driving forces behind it are John Curry and Jim Wallman.

There will be several participation games going on throughout the day, one of which is a The Game of Naval Blockade. This was originally developed by Lieutenant H Chamberlain RN, and was first published in the Royal United Services Institute Journal Vol. XXXVII (1888-89). Richard Brook rediscovered it in the early 1990s, and it was demonstrated at The Victorian Military Society Fair in March 1994.

Richard and I will be running this game at Cruiser 2009, and today I have been making sure that all the components are undamaged after being stored for 15 years in the loft. All the models are in perfect order but the board the game is played on was not. A quick trip to my local craft store, and an hour with a pencil and long ruler, soon cured this problem and the game is ready to go.