It’s three o’clock in the morning … and I’m thinking about wargaming

As I have mentioned before on my blog, I suffer from periodic bouts of insomnia. Over recent days my inability to sleep has been increased by chronic indigestion … which I suspect may well have been brought on by my poor sleeping pattern.

A couple of nights ago I gave up the uneven struggle of lying in bed trying to sleep, and at just before three o’clock in the morning I got up, went downstairs to the living room, and sat in my chair … and hoped that the change of location and position might just help me to doze off. It didn’t … so I began to idly list on a notepad all the things I want the next set of wargame rules I write to include … and the reasons why.

Here is that list:

  • The tabletop will be gridded. (This is now a prerequisite of my figure wargame designs.)
  • The minimum size of grid should be 8 x 8 (if a squared grid) and 9 x 8 (if a hexed grid). (This is based on the experience I gained whilst designing the PORTABLE WAR GAME.)
  • The basic units will have four infantry figures or three cavalry figures or two artillery crew plus a gun. (This will make them compatible with my existing wargame rules as well as Richard Borg‘s BATTLE CRY, MEMOIR ’44, and COMMANDS & COLORS rules. It will also enable me to store an individual unit in a single compartment in one of the hobby trays manufactured by REALLY USEFUL BOXES.)
  • The rules should be able to be used solo and for face-to-face wargames. (Although most of my wargaming is done solo, I am not completely friendless and do like to fight against other wargamers occasionally!)
  • The combat system should be applicable to both fire combat and close combat. (A single system for resolving all types of combat keeps the design simple, easy to remember, and quick to use.)
  • The dice I use should be either standard D6 dice or D6 dice with symbols on each face. (The former are easy to use but the latter usually don’t require users to have to remember the outcomes of particular number or dice score combinations.)
  • There should be some form of limit placed on how many units a commander can activate each turn, and that the limit should reflect the commander’s underlying ability to command. (This should work for both solo and face-to-face wargames, and bring an element of ‘no commander can do everything’ into the rules.)
  • A battle fought using these rules should be quick to set up, fast to fight through, and easy to pack away afterwards … and should require a small (i.e. 4′ x 3′ or smaller) tabletop area. (I have to accept that in the modern age time – and space – are at a premium, and that I may have to choose between taking part in large but very infrequent wargames and smaller, more regular ones.)

So now that I have my design parameters – none of which are particularly new or revolutionary, and all of which have featured in one way or another in my earlier designs – all I need to do is to design my next set of wargame rules around them.

As Alexandr Orlov would say … ‘Simples!’


14 Comments on “It’s three o’clock in the morning … and I’m thinking about wargaming”

  1. I share your pain of sleep troubles. Usually stress related. A few nights ago, I mentally fought out a battle between a German tank force attacking a Canadian brigade. Somehow I managed to fall asleep.

  2. Irishhighlander,

    I had expected that when I retired my insomnia would gradually decline as my stress levels were reduced … but to date the decline has not been as great as I had hoped. I have discussed this with other people who have recently retired, and my experience seems to be quite common.

    I hope that your insomnia passes as your stress reduces.

    All the best,


    PS. Who won? The Germans or the Canadians?

  3. Gonsalvo says:

    I generally sleep fine, thankfully, but when I don't. that is often when I have my own wargaming “breakthroughs” in terms of new ideas or solutions to issues.

  4. Arquinsiel says:

    Perhaps you are stuck in a state of waiting for something to go wrong and bring all the stress right back? Might just take a while before it clicks that “Ofsted” is not a word you need to care about anymore.

  5. Gonsalvo,

    I envy your ability to sleep normally!

    That said, I am pleased that when you do suffer from insomnia it generally results in a positive outcome for you.

    All the best,


  6. Arquinsiel,

    I think that there is more than a little truth in what you write in your comment. Having spent the best part of forty years in a stressful job – waiting for an unexpected situation or problem to arise – it takes time to get out of that mindset.

    OFSTED inspections always seemed to be more about measuring outcomes rather than putting those outcomes in context … which is why I turned them down when they tried to headhunt me last year.

    All the best,


  7. Hope your sleeping pattern recovers very soon.

  8. Tradgardmastare,

    I hope so, I really hope so.

    All the best,


  9. Fitz-Badger says:

    My pattern seems to be similar to Gonsalvo's. I'm also usually “early to bed, early torise” (I don't know about “healthy, wealthy and wise”, though! ha ha)

    Your criteria seem pretty good. What era or war or type of actions are you thinking about doing?

  10. Fitz-Badger,

    I envy people who can sleep easily. My wife seems to have the ability to fall asleep almost anywhere … but I can't.

    The rules will initially be aimed at what is my favourite period, 1880 to 1910 … but with the possibility of being extended before and beyond those dates. The actions I aim to try to fight will be divisional-level ones, so there will be quite a lot of abstraction in the rules.

    All the best,


  11. I dont know as by that time I finally went to sleep, Ithink the
    canadians as they had a battery of 5.5 guns at their end

  12. I've long had the ability to fall asleep easily, especially if I'm not in bed. Lectures and meetings were especially good…… staying asleep became an occasional issue over the last decade.

    At 4 am this morning I found myself contemplating building ironclads to tryout the recent rules spinoff you posted and mountain profile terrain pieces. Not quite sure how they go together.

  13. Irishhighlander,

    A battery of 5.5-inch guns would ruin anybody's day!

    All the best,


  14. Ross Mac,

    I must admit that boring meetings and lectures – especially if they are held in hot and/or stuffy rooms – have always been a cure for my insomnia as well!

    I think that the profile mountains will fit in very well with your style of wargame … and the ironclads could serve to enhance your land campaigns, especially if they are built to fit your grid. I was thinking of something along the lines of a casemate ironclad like the one I built some time ago (see here). An alternative would be a single turret monitor, which would have lots of deck space to carry troops.

    I look forward to seeing what you end up building.

    All the best,


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