Sitting in my car in today’s snow-bound traffic jam gave me time to think about this situation. Over the past few years I have designed a series of rules for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I have been influenced by the work of:
- Richard Brooks and Ian Drury (the developers of the RED SQUARE games, which led to REDCOATS AND NATIVES and RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES);
- Mike and Joyce Smith (who wrote an published TABLE TOP BATTLES – TABLE TOP WARGAMING WITH MINIATURES, which led to WHEN EMPIRES CLASH!);
- Donald Featherstone and Lionel Tarr (whose modern wargames rules influenced the development of RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES – TARRED AND FEATERSTONED);
- Joseph Morschauser (author of HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE, which led to several un-named sets of rules for fighting wargames set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as influencing certain very important aspects of MEMOIR OF BATTLE and MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA); and
- Richard Borg (whose BATTLE CRY and MEMOIR ’44 have led in part to the development of MEMOIR OF BATTLE and MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA);
There are certain common ‘strands’ to these ‘influences’; these may be summarised as being:
- The use of terrain that is divided into squares or hexes (and, as a consequence, the measurement of movement and weapon ranges in squares or hexes);
- The use of simple combat resolution systems that either use normal D6s (with a minimal number modifiers) or specially marked D6; and
- Some form of card-based activation system.
On reflection, I have actually taken the design of some wargames rules just about as far as I could have, and in many cases the new set has not replaced the previous ones … they have been the springboard from which the new ones have taken off. Furthermore, I now feel that I am almost at the stage where I have a set of wargames rules that work for me, and which I foresee using for some time to come. These are MEMOIR OF BATTLE and MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA. They are not yet perfected, but I don’t think that they are that far from being so. When that has happened, the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ of ‘old’ rules versus ‘new’ rules will have gone … or will they?
Only time will tell.
When I finally managed to get to work this morning (I was delayed by the fact that the gritter lorry that was trying to clear the road outside my house got tangled up with a bus coming the other way, with the result that nobody went anywhere for over thirty minutes … and no further buses will run on the route until the snow clears), I had missed the weekly staff briefing … but I was informed that the much awaited ‘phone call from Ofsted had not taken place. This means that the earliest they can come in is Friday … but as inspections take two days, it means that they will not be arriving until Monday next at the earliest!
I do not intend to spend my weekend writing more lesson plans that might not be needed; instead, I intend to do some wargaming and/or modelling … I hope!
… the meeting was cancelled at just a couple of hours notice!
Why? Because the dreaded ‘phone call from Ofsted to tell us that they would be arriving in forty-eight hours time was not received this morning. If they call tomorrow, the earliest they will arrive is Thursday morning … and so the meeting has now been re-arranged for Wednesday evening, on the off-chance that Ofsted will call tomorrow.
Snow is scheduled for tonight, so there is a reasonable chance that transport in London will be disrupted tomorrow morning … which will mean that the school will be in a state of even greater chaos than normal. It may well be that if Ofsted does telephone, there will be no one senior enough on site to receive the call.
Am I bothered?
Not really. I have been mucked about so much lately that I am beginning to cease to care. If it wasn’t for the students who want to learn and the colleagues I would be letting down if I did not turn up, I doubt if I could even be bothered to get out of bed if there is snow on the ground in the morning … but then I would not be able to play in the snow in my 4 x 4!
Things are beginning to look better already!
Since then I have been on the lookout for further books about this was, and when the latest catalogue arrived in the post from Caliver Books I discovered that they had a stock of William F Sater’s ANDEAN TRAGEDY: FIGHTING THE WAR OF THE PACIFIC, 1879 – 1884 (University of Nebraska Press  ISBN 978 0 8032 2799 6) …
… and the newly published English-language edition of UNIFORMES DE LA GUERRA DEL PACIFICO 1879 – 1884. This book is called UNIFORMS OF THE PACIFIC WAR 1879 – 1884: THE LAND CAMPAIGN and has been translated and edited by Anne Farnsworth, Ron Poulter, Doriam Montana, and Henry Hyde. It is published by Partizan Press (the imprint of Caliver Books  ISBN 978 1 85818 612 2).
Needless to say, I bought both, and they arrived in the post yesterday. Thanks to pressure of work I only managed to have a quick flick through them when they arrived, and I hope to set aside some time later this week to give them both a long and lingering perusal.
I did ask what will happen if:
1. We don’t get the ‘phone call at all next week or
2. They tell us they are coming in on Wednesday, when heavy snowfall has been forecast. (When we had heavy snow last year, we had to shut the school because we did not have enough staff … or students.)
I got no answer. Such ‘strategic’ thinking only takes place at a much higher pay grade than mine … either that, or they had not thought that far ahead and worked out an answer yet.
The staff are already under considerable pressure as a result of all the additional work that they have had to do since last year’s inspection … and now they are expected to do even more. To my knowledge, there are at least four staff off work due to illness, and that several of these are stress related illnesses.
So how does all this affect me? Well, for a start, I doubt if I will be doing much in the way of wargaming over the next few days, as I will be writing lesson plans that no one is likely to look at except the Head of Faculty, and which will not actually help me to plan my lessons … and keeping my blog up-to-date may also be very difficult.
I was looking forward to the weekend, but now …
In my opinion, the book still holds up well when compared to other wargames books, although it is only fair to point out that my own prejudices mean that I probably tend to follow a similar approach to wargames design to that used by Morschauser.
As I was re-reading my ‘Modern’ period wargames rules, I was struck by the thought that there are elements from Richard Borg’s BATTLE CRY/MEMOIR ’44 rules that could be incorporated into a developed version of my Morschauser-derived ‘Modern’ period wargames rules. This hybrid would be similar to – but not quite the same as – MEMOIR OF BATTLE. The latter is very firmly set in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century whereas the ‘Modern’ period wargames rules are set in the 1930s to early 1950s.
With my current MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA model Ironclad building programme on temporary ‘hold’ for the moment, thinking about the possible development of this hybrid set of wargames rules might just keep me occupied for the next few evenings.
I have had lots of useful suggestions as to how to overcome the problems I am having, and I hope to give one or two of them a try over the coming weekend. In the meantime, I have put that particular project on ‘hold’ whilst I do something else … but more of that later …
I was trying to use a section of 1-inch diameter wooden dowel as the basis for the turret. The first problem I tried to overcome was drilling two holes in the dowel so that the smaller diameter wooden dowel that I was going to use to represent the turret’s armament could fit into them. I just could not get the holes drilled so that they were level … and when I did finally manage it, the gun barrels were not parallel!
The second problem was trying to saw the wooden dowel into the correct lengths for the turrets. This sounds easy … but for some reason none of the tops and bottoms of the ‘turrets’ were parallel with each other after I had cut them off the dowel … and this was in spite of me using a proper cutting block with a fixed saw that is supposed to cut wood at an angle of ninety degrees!
I have now given up for the evening. Perhaps I will have more luck tomorrow, when I am not quite so tired. If I cannot solve the problem, however, I will have to find another solution.
- We shall use 54mm plastic figures, with basic details painted onto them (e.g. faces, hands, boots, weapons, distinguishing facings).
- We shall use spring-powered cannons, firing wooden or plastic ‘rounds’, to simulate gun and rifle fire.
- We shall use simple representative terrain features (e.g. cardboard buildings, possibly weighed down with wooden blocks or bricks).
The rules will be based on the more complex ones featured in the Appendix to LITTLE WARS, which H G Wells proposed should become the basis for a more realistic Kriegsspiel.
We have yet to decide on the size of units that participants will use, but it is likely that artillery batteries will have one gun and at least four gunners, whilst infantry battalions will have twenty to twenty five men, and cavalry twelve to fifteen men.