Push and pull … will I ever finish a set of wargames rules?

As regular blog readers will have noted, I seem to have real problems with keeping on track with regard to developing sets of wargames rules. I start to develop a set of rules, take them some way … and then get sidetracked. The ‘push’ to complete an existing set of rules vies with the ‘pull’ of writing a new set … and the new tends to supplant the old.

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:

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.

It snowed … but still no ‘phone call yet!

As predicted, it snowed last night. In fact it is still snowing now, and looks likely to carry on doing so for some time. Things at school seem to be somewhat confused (a euphemism for chaotic), with students and staff straggling in as and when they can. Classes appear to be taking place, but I doubt if much teaching and learning is.

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!

Ofsted are coming! Ofsted are coming! … but we don’t yet know when … so hurry up and stand still!

After spending quite a chunk of my weekend preparing lesson plans that my line manager had, absolutely had, to see tonight at the faculty meeting (a three-line whip was in force, and no exceptions for non-attendance were being given), you can guess what happened …

… 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!

The War of the Pacific

In February 2009 I bought a wonderful book from Caliver Books about the uniforms worn by the Bolivians, Peruvians, and Chileans during ‘The War of the Pacific’. The book was entitled UNIFORMES DE LA GUERRA DEL PACIFICO 1879 – 1884, and just looking at the marvellous colour pictures of the uniforms gave me great pleasure.

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 [2007] 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 [2010] 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.

No news is … no news!

The dreaded ‘phone call from Ofsted did not come today … so we know that they will not be in first thing on Monday morning. Unfortunately, this does not mean that I can re-think what I am going to do this weekend as the order to have everything ready for Monday still stands.

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.

Ofsted are coming! Ofsted are coming! … Well, they might be …

After a very full day of teaching, I attended the weekly faculty meeting this evening … and was told that the senior management ‘think’ (they do not KNOW, only THINK) that the inspectors from Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) we be making their long-awaited re-inspection of the school next week … sometime! This means that we all have to have our lesson plans ready to be checked by the Head of Faculty … on Monday.

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 …

Morschauser revisited

For reasons that will probably become apparent over the next few weeks, I have been re-reading Joseph Morschauser’s book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE and the ‘Modern’ period wargames rules that I developed using his ideas.

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.

Trying to make turrets … again!

I came home today feeling slightly less tired than yesterday, and tried to make another turret for my Turreted Ironclad … but with no better luck!

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 …

Trying to make turrets …

I have just spent a rather frustrating time trying to make a turret for my prototype Turreted Ironclad … and failing!

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.

‘Little Wars’: The current state of discussions

Having had some lengthy discussions with several interested parties, the conclusions we have come to with regard to the centenary game (or games) we will stage using H G Wells’ LITTLE WARS wargames rules are that:

  • 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.