Still preparing for COW

In the midst of trying to sort out the last minute problems that always arise during the week before COW (e.g. ‘Why do I have to share a room?’; ‘Can I have my session moved from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon so that I can go to Fred’s session about …’), the two conference organisers – Tim Gow and myself – are also trying to prepare everything that we need to get ready for the sessions we will be putting on.

In Tim‘s case this has involved helping to plan the new Plenary Game (and making a large number of cardboard rifles with fixed baynots [so called because they are not bayonets!]) as well as the three other session he is putting on. For once I have confined myself to a single session about Joseph Morschauser’s life and wargames, and by now I should have nothing left to prepare … but I still do!

The problem is that I keep remembering things that are not on my ‘to do for COW‘ list. For example this morning I was checking that I had all the bits and pieces I need so that session attendees will have the opportunity to try out Morschauser’s ‘Frontier‘ rules. I seemed to have everything in place … but then realised that I had no hills! I could not do anything about it at the time as I had to go to work, but this has now been added to my ‘to do’ list for tomorrow.

I also noticed that the Chessex Battlemats that I had so lovingly stored in an A1-size art folder so that they could be kept flat were now at the bottom of the folder in a sort of folded, crumpled heap. The art folder kept them flat as long as it was kept flat, but as soon as I stood it upright the weight of the Battlemats was too much for the thin plastic the folder was made from and they folded in upon themselves. The only solution was to roll them round a large diameter tube … but I did not have one, so it was off to Staples after work to buy one!

With a bit of luck I should be able to get everything left on my ‘to do’ list done tomorrow … but as I was leaving work I got the news that we are going to have a visit from Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) tomorrow … so everything might just have to be put back until Thursday, after which it will be too late to do anything about it.

C’est la vie!

Paddy Griffith: Keeping his memory alive

Paddy’s death has had a very profound effect on many people. I have had numerous emails and comments from people who had never met him but knew of his work as a writer and wargame designer. In addition, as of today there have been eighty eight posts on The Miniatures Page.

Within Wargame Developments there are quite a few members who knew him well – some very well indeed – and we hope to set aside some time at COW next weekend to discuss how we can keep his memory alive and to move his work forward if that is possible. One decision has already been made; the next issue of THE NUGGET will be devoted to Paddy. It is hoped to publish a sample of some of the articles he wrote for the journal as well as a collection of reminiscences and thoughts about him.

There is, however, a feeling that some form of longer-lasting memorial could and should be created to mark his impact on both the world of military history and wargaming. The nature of that memorial is currently up for discussion, but if anyone has any thoughts on what form it could take, please could you communicate them to me so that they can be included in any discussions that I am privy to.

Paddy Griffith: Comments

I always try to reply to comments made about my blog entries … but over the past few days I have broken this self-imposed ‘rule’.

There have been many people who have wanted to make comments about Paddy in reply to my blog and the various other places on the Internet where tributes are being made. I decided that such comments should be left as they are because they needed no reply from me. Eventually I hope to pass them on to his family so that they read them and gain strength from the deep regard that so many wargamers had for him.

I knew Paddy quite well, but many people only knew him through his writings. I understand that the Vintage Wargaming website has made several of his articles from the WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER and MINIATURE WARFARE available, and I will be discussing with my colleagues in Wargame Developments whether or not it will be possible to do the same for his articles in THE NUGGET.

Paddy Griffith: An addendum

I realised this morning that I had not done full justice to Paddy both as a writer and as a publisher in my most recent blog entry.

The list of works that he wrote should have also included the following:

  • ‘The Ultimate Weaponry’ (1991)
  • ‘Forward into Battle: Fighting Tactics from Waterloo to the near Future’ (1992)
  • ‘The Viking Art of War’ (1995)
  • ‘British Fighting Methods in the Great War’ (1998)
  • ‘The Peninsular War: Aspects of the Struggle for the Iberian Peninsula’ (1998)
  • ‘Battle Tactics of the American Civil War’ (2001)
  • ‘Fortifications of the Western Front 1914 – 18’ (2004)
  • ‘The Vauban Fortifications of France’ (2006)
  • ‘French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792 – 1815’ (2007)
  • ‘World War II Desert Tactics’ (2008)
  • ‘The Great War on the Western Front: A Short History’ (2008)
  • ‘Sprawling Wargames Multiplayer Wargaming’ (2009)

In addition I should have mentioned that he set up two small publishing ventures, Fieldbooks and Paddy Griffith Associates.

Fieldbooks published only two books, but they were both extremely well received and set a style and standard that combined excellent text and illustrations that others would do well to copy:

  • ‘Battle in the Civil War: Generalship and Tactics in America 1861 – 65’ (1986) by Paddy Griffith and illustrated by Peter Dennis
  • ‘Battle in Africa 1879 – 1914’ (1987) by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennis

During its existence Paddy Griffith Associates published the following:

  • ‘How to Play Historical War Council Games’ (1991) by Paddy Griffith
  • ‘The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459’ (1995) edited by Paddy Griffith
  • ‘”A Widow-making War” – the life and death of a British officer in Zululand, 1879’ (1995) edited by Howard Whitehouse
  • ‘”Buckle for your Dust” – Vietnam Wargame Rules, 1965-73’ (1995) by Greg McCauley
  • ‘With the Rank and Pay of a Sapper – a history of the Nuneaton 216th (Army Troops) Company, Royal Engineers’ (1998) by Professor James Sambrook
  • ‘The Battle of Worcester 1651’ (2002) by Tony Spicer

Paddy Griffith

Paddy Griffith is dead.

The news of his untimely death so soon after his recovery from bowel cancer reached me this afternoon … and stunned me. It stunned me for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, next weekend Wargame Developments will be hosting the 30th COW (Conference of Wargamers) and Paddy was going to both attend for the first time in many years and he was going to run the Plenary Game. This always sets the ‘tone’ for the Conference, and by all accounts it was going to be a good one. The fact that Paddy was going to attend was one of the reasons why places at the Conference were almost all gone by early this year.

Secondly because it made me realise how much I owed him both directly and indirectly. When he organised the NEW DIRECTIONS IN WAR GAMING conference that took place at Moor Park College from 23rd to 25th May, 1980, I had no idea quite how much it was going to influence my life. I was very much a solo wargamer and went not quite knowing what to expect. What I ended up with was a whole new view on what I could get out of wargaming and – ultimately – a whole new group of friends and wargaming companions.

At the final session of the conference it was decided to set up an organisation that would ‘spread the philosophy of realistic wargaming through the hobby (“better realism and better game structures”) and … put like-minded ‘realistic’ wargamers in touch with each other, so that they can more easily exchange ideas and rules. … We will hold a conference similar to Moor Park, every year.’

Forgetting all that I had ever been told about volunteering, I was elected Treasurer and Membership Secretary of Wargame Developments … and I have remained in that post ever since.

Paddy Griffith was the ‘father’ of Wargame Developments, and like all fathers he saw his ‘child’ grow and develop over the years. Eventually he left it to its own devices, but I know that he liked to keep in touch with what it was doing and how it was developing. In many ways his ideas about how Wargame Developments should develop were ahead of their time, and in retrospect one can see that he was right more often than he was wrong … and that many of those who were loudest in condemning his ideas have eventually has to agree that they were in error and that he was not.

The continued existence of Wargame Developments and the Conference of Wargamers are testimony to the fact that Paddy had recognised thirty years ago that there was a need for a group of people within the world of wargaming who could work together to develop and improve wargaming. Contrary to popular belief anyone could (and can) join Wargame Developments; you did not nor do not have to be invited to join … and it has always been thus. It has always been a self-selecting group. Some people have been members for many years; some join for a year and then leave because they find that it is not for them. What can be said is that its membership has and does include people from many different backgrounds and whose wargaming interests are eclectic. This was something Paddy wanted to encourage as he saw the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience as vital to the continued development of wargaming.

But Paddy was not just a wargamer; he was a gifted and insightful military historian, a consummate writer, TV presenter (albeit for a relatively short time), and an educator. He was born in Liverpool in 1947 and attended Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1973 he became a lecturer in the Department of War Studies at RMA Sandhurst, where he remained until 1989. It was during his first year at Sandhurst that he organised a large-scale kriegsspiel of ‘Operation Sealion’ for the DAILY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE. This brought together senior officers who had served on both sides during the Second World War, and showed that had the landings actually taken place the invasion would have been beaten during the following land battle. He followed this in 1979 with another large-scale kriegsspiel – ‘Operation Starcross’ – for Southern Television. This time the scenario looked at the possible course of a war between NATO and the WARPAC countries.

During his time at Sandhurst Paddy gained his Doctorate (1979) for his work on MILITARY THOUGHT IN THE FRENCH ARMY 1815 – 51 and also organised the NEW DIRECTIONS IN WAR GAMING conference.

On leaving Sandhurst he became a freelance write and publisher, and it was as a result of the reputation that he built up as a military historian and designer of wargames – along with his previous experience of working in television – that led to him being asked to become part of the team that worked on the TV series GAME OF WAR. Despite its poor reception at the time – partly due to it being scheduled very late at night – it was a bold if unsuccessful attempt to popularise wargaming.

The list of publications with which he was involved as a writer, contributor, or editor is prolific and phenomenal:

  • ‘French Artillery 1800 – 1815’ (1976)
  • ‘Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun’ (1980; Revised 2008)
  • ‘A Book of Sandhurst Wargames’ (1982)
  • ‘Not Over by Christmas’ (1983)
  • ‘Wellington-Commander: the Iron Duke’s Generalship’ (1985)
  • ‘Rally Once Again’ (1986)
  • ‘Battle in the Civil War: Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-65’’ (1986)
  • ‘Military Thought in the French Army 1815 – 51’ (1989)
  • ‘Battle Tactics of the Civil War’ (1989) [an revised edition of ‘Rally Once Again’ that was published in America]
  • ‘Armoured Warfare’ (1990) – Chapter entitled ‘British Armoured Warfare in the Western Desert 1940 – 1943’
  • ‘America Invades’ (1991)
  • ‘How to Play Historical War Council Games’ (1991)
  • ‘Battle Tactics on the Western Front 1916 – 18’ (1994)
  • ‘The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459’ (1995)
  • ‘British Fighting Methods on the Western Front’ (1996)
  • ‘Verification 1995: Arms Control, Peacekeeping and the Environment’ (1995) – Chapter entitled ‘The Body Bag as Deterrent and Peace Dividend’
  • ‘Verification 1996: Arms Control, Peacekeeping and the Environment’ (1996) – Chapter entitled ‘The Military Need for Contact Mines’
  • ‘Passchendaele in Perspective: the Third Battle of Ypres’ (1997) – Chapter entitled ‘The tactical problem: infantry, artillery and the salient’
  • ‘The Art of War of Revolutionary France, 1789 – 1802’ (1998)
  • ‘A History of the Peninsular War, Vol.IX, Modern Studies of the war in Spain and Portugal, 1808 – 1814’ (1999)
  • ‘The Napoleon Options: Alternate decisions of the Napoleonic Wars’ (2000) – Chapter that describes the effect of a successful French invasion of Ireland

In recent years Paddy spent much of his time involved in projects such as THE BATTLEFIELDS TRUST and more recently the organisation and running of study days/wargames at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford site.

I suspect that it is only now that he has died that his true worth as a military historian and innovative wargames designer will be recognised. For my part, sitting at my computer writing this blog entry has made me realise how influential Paddy had been on my life without me realising it. Thanks to him I have a group of very good friends with whom I not only wargame but with whom I enjoy a rich and varied social life. I know that if I had not gone to that first conference in 1980, I would have had none of these things, and my life would have been poorer as a result.

Paddy Griffith (1947 – 2010): May you rest in peace.

Latest COW Timetable

It is only a week to go, and Tim Gow has now published a revised version of the COW2010 timetable that includes the additional sessions that will be on offer. A PDF version of this new timetable can be downloaded from the Wargame Developments website or by clicking here.

There are now at least four sessions taking place in each time slot on the timetable, and this should give the attendees plenty of choice as to which of them they wish to attend.

More COW sessions

Tim Gow, who is the co-organiser of COW, has just notified me that three more session have been added to the programme. They are:

Phil Steele

2 player Anno Domino combat game based upon Henry V’s assault on the breach at Harfleur as analysed by William Shakespeare.

Phil Steele

A product of the Society of Ancients 2010 Battle Day project, this is a conventional figure game in 10mm using well known mechanisms but with an unconventional spin.

Chris Hanley

A multi-player campaign game where players can take part in one or more missions, each of which will last about 45 minutes.

Chessex Battlemats

I am more than just pleased with the Chessex Battlemats that I have bought to use at COW. Now that they have had some time to lay flat for a few hours, all the creases have dropped out. In addition, the vinyl they are printed on is heavy enough to stay flat and to ‘stick’ to the cloth I lay on my wargames table to protect its surface whilst I am using it.

The Battlemats come in a pale stone colour and they are printed with 1-inch squares on one side and 1-inch hexes on the other.

The outside dimensions of the Battlemats are 23.5 inches x 26 inches; the grids are 22 squares x 25 squares/21 hexes x 28 hexes.

It is possible to draw on the Battlemats with water-based non-permanent OHP pens, which means that some terrain features (e.g. rivers, roads) can be drawn on and then wiped off after the battle has been fought.

I like these Battlemats, and I am sure that they will be of use to me for some time to come.

COW2010 Programme

I collected the COW2010 Programme from the printers this morning and it has been posted out to all attendees.

A copy of the Programme and the Timetable are available as PDF downloads from the Wargame Developments website.

The Chessex Battlemats have arrived!

At 7.30am the doorbell rang … and the postman delivered the Chessex Battlemats that I ordered at 6.30pm on Sunday evening!

Not only does this enable me to tick one more thing off my ‘Preparations for COW‘ list, it is also an example of the excellent service that some online retailers provide. In this case I bought the Battlemats from a UK-based supplier, RPG Miniatures (they also trade under other names, including Legend Games, The Games Place, and The Top Trumps Place).

Without the prompt and efficient service of online suppliers like this company I would have had to hunt round the small number of games shops in London and the South East of England to find these Battlemats. This would have taken me time that I do not have available at the moment as well as a considerable amount of money that I would have had to spend on the travel involved.