The portable wargame: Adding a label

Because a large number of my recent blog entries have related to the ongoing development of my portable wargame, I have decided to add ‘The Portable Wargame‘ to the list of labels in the right-hand sidebar of this blog. This will enable me – and any interested blog readers – to find any particular blog entry or entries about the portable wargame that they may wish to look for.

I have been to … Cavalier 2011

I have not been able to get to many wargames shows over the past year or so, and it was therefore a great pleasure to be able to find time to go to Cavalier 2011. It was organised by the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society, and was held at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge.

Besides a sizeable trader presence, there were quite a few demonstration and participation games being staged, and the following photo-essay should give you an idea of the range and scope of what was on show.

Sentium 295BC (Society of Ancients)

This participation game was run by the usual stalwarts of the SOA, including Phil Steele and Professor Phil Sabin.

Operation Bodenplatte 1945 (North London Wargames Group)

‘Shot, Shell and Steam’ American Civil War Naval Battle (Mid Anglia Wargamers)

The Descent of Chivalry (Lance and Longbow Society)

Washington’s Army (Peter Pig)

Bronze Age World Cup 1200BC (SEEMS)

This was another of SEEMS’s innovative ideas; an all-day ‘knock out’ competition between various Bronze Age armies.

Grunwald 1410 (Crawley Wargames Club)

Budapest 1945 (Loughton Strike Force)

West Side Story 2000 (Deal Wargames Group)

‘Paths of Glory’ World War I Battle (The Big Push Group)

Skirmish at Ngoway’s Kraal 1879 (Maidstone Wargames Society)

‘Die to make men free’ American Civil War Battle (Southend Wargames Club)

Taranto 1940 (Staines Wargamers)

Cavalier has always very pleasant show to attend, and this year was no exception. I was able to chat to several people that I know, to pick up quite a few catalogues, and to buy a copy of Mike Snook’s GO STRONG INTO THE DESERT (Published by Perry Miniatures [2010] ISBN 978 0 9561842 1 4). This looks like a real ‘cracker’ of a book, and I look forward to reading it over the next few weeks.

The portable wargame: Another ‘country’ to fight over

I have spent a bit of time today experimenting with different methods of representing roads and rivers on my vinyl chessboard. As I did not have the time to go to the local craft shop or branch of the John Lewis Partnership, I had to rely on what I had to hand.

In the end I used grey card for the roads and light blue (probably too light blue)card for the rivers. I experimented with the repositionable glue dots, but at a cost of £1.29 for a pack of 64, they seemed like they could end up being quite pricey to use in the long run. I then had a brainwave … and dug out my trusty tube of Copydex.

Because it is a latex-based rubber cement, it will not stick permanently to vinyl. In fact, any residue is removable with a wipe of a damp cloth. It will, however, hold things in place until they need to be removed.

It only needed a few small ‘dots’ of Copydex to ‘glue’ the roads and rivers in place … and the end result (with other terrain items added as well) looked like this:

I hope to use this terrain to fight a battle over later tonight or tomorrow.

Nugget 242

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET (No. 242) from the printers today, and I will post it out tomorrow morning. It should, therefore, be with full members of Wargame Developments before the end of next week.

I have also uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and these are now available for full members and e-members of Wargame Developments to download and read.

The portable wargame: How to represent roads?

My recent blog entry about the terrain I hope to use with my portable wargame generated quite a few comments … and several ideas as to how to represent roads. My existing solution – to use cream masking tape – meant that roads were not easy to see on the vinyl chessboard, and the very helpful suggestions that have been made have given me much food for thought.

The suggestions include:

  • Identi-tape – This was suggested by Ross Mac. It is a form of gaffer tape that comes in different colours and widths. It is sold in the UK under the trade name of Pro-Gaff gaffer tape.
  • Double thicknesses of masking tape – This was suggested by Bluebear Jeff and means that I can use my existing stock of masking tape.
  • Coloured masking tape (also known a Washi tape) – This was suggested by Chris and jfidz, and it is readily available from the John Lewis Partnership.

In addition to these suggested solutions, arthur1815 proposed that I use lengths of coloured paper/card to represent rivers, and that they could be stuck to the vinyl chessboard with double-sided sticky tape. This has the major advantage of making it possible to make rivers that are not straight, thus improving the ‘look’ of the whole thing.

All of these suggested solutions are not only feasible; they are also very practical and relatively inexpensive. I discussed these alternatives with my wife, and she suggested that I consider using arthur1815’s basic idea for making rivers, but use repositionable Pritt Glue Dots to fix the paper/card to the vinyl chessboard rather than use double-sided sticky tape. As she has a supply of these Glue Dots that I can use, I am going to experiment with them as soon as I can. As to the roads, the Washi tape looks like it should be quite easy to obtain in appropriate colours as there is a branch of the John Lewis Partnership at the nearby regional shopping centre.

Thanks to some of my regular blog readers – and my wife – it looks as if the problem is solved.

I have been to … the ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Show

My wife is an amateur genealogist (amateur in the sense that she is not paid to do her family research; her actual research is of a very high and professional standard). As a result, every year we go to the ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Show at Olympia. This is the premier genealogical event in the UK, and there are literally hundreds of different organisations that have a presence at the show.

In previous years several military museums, publishers of military history books and publications, and military historical societies have had stands at the show, and this year I was able to spend some time wandering around what is termed ‘the Military Pavilion’ (actually part of the upper floor of the hall). I spent most of my time at two of the stands:

At the latter stand I was able to talk to Luke Bilton, and tried to persuade him to look seriously at including some wargaming content in future issues. I don’t know how successful I was … but he did not say ‘No’.

The portable wargame: A ‘country’ to fight over

As I had about half an hour to spare, I decided to see what the new cork hills would look like alongside some of the other terrain I intend to use with my vinyl chessboard.

The buildings are from my collection of ‘Town in a bag’ buildings, and the trees are from a range made by Essex Miniatures. I used blue masking tape to create a river, and cream masking tape for the roads. The latter does not show up very well on the tan and green vinyl chessboard, and I now realise that I will need to find an alternative method to show roads and tracks.

All-in-all I now feel that – with the exception of the roads – I have almost got the ‘look’ of the terrain right. As H G Wells would have termed it, I now have a ‘country’ over which to fight my battles.

The portable wargame: Rules clarification

I realised today that I had not made it clear which of the activation dice (the name I have used in the rules for the ‘Risk Express’ dice) activated Machine Gun Units.

After giving it some thought, I have added the following caveat to the current rules:

For the purposes of activation, Machine Gun Units whose weapons are mounted on wheeled carriages similar to those used by Artillery, count as Artillery; Machine Gun Units whose weapons are mounted on tripods, bipods, or small mountings that can be carried or dragged by hand, count as Infantry‘.

I have made this distinction because it seems to be the best way to reflect the different tactical use made of machine guns during the historical period covered by the rules. The larger, older machine guns that were mounted on wheeled carriages – such as the Gatling and Gardner – were more difficult to move and often appear to have been used as a short-range, fast-firing piece of Artillery whilst the smaller, newer models – such as the tripod-mounted Maxim Gun – could be moved quite rapidly around the battlefield as an adjunct to the Infantry.

A Gatling Machine Gun mounted on a wheeled carriage.

A prototype Maxim Machine Gun mounted on a tripod.

PS. I have uploaded the amended pdf version of the Frontier/Musket Wargames Rules so that blog readers can access it. I have also altered the links from the earlier blog entries so that they go to the latest version of the rules.

The portable wargame: What the cork hills look like on the vinyl chessboard

Today has been quite a busy day, but I finally managed to set up my new cork hills on my vinyl chessboard …

… and I think that they look rather good.

I have not done anything to them except to cut them out and shape them. I did consider flocking or painting the tops of each hill, but decided that – for the time being – they do not need that sort of embellishment.

All I need now is enough time to use them in a wargame!

More cork hills

I was so pleased with the way my first cork hills looked when they were finished that I have made some more today from a second IKEA cork mat that I found in my toy/wargames room.

I now have six hills that are the same size as a single grid square on my vinyl chessboard, and four that cover two grid squares. I have also used some of the odd-shaped off-cuts to make some smaller hills. These have at least one side that is the same length as the side of a grid square so that they can be used on their own or next to one of the regular-shaped hills.