The Portable Wargame revisited

I have been trying to free up some space on my computer hard drive, and during the course of this weeding-out process I came across an unfinished – and heavily modified – version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. I began working on them back in March, but for reasons that I cannot now remember, I never finished them. (This was during the run-up to the fitting of the new glass roof on our conservatory, and Sue and I were spending a lot of time sorting and clearing out its contents at the time.)

The rules seem to have been designed to match the following design specification:

  • The tabletop is a grid that is at least 8 x 8 if a squared grid or 9 x 8 if a hexed grid.
  • The basic units will have the following strength points:
    • Infantry = 4 strength points
    • Cavalry = 3 strength points
    • Artillery = 2 strength points
  • Figures can be individually based or fixed on multi-figure unit bases.
  • The rules can be used for solo and face-to-face wargames.
  • The rules use a single combat system for fire and close combat.
  • The rules use standard D6 dice.
  • The turn sequence limits the number of units a commander can activate at any one time.

Having re-discovered these draft rules I think that I should finish them … so I hope to do so over the next few weeks.


16 Comments on “The Portable Wargame revisited”

  1. nobby says:

    I hope you do find the time to finish them and make them available.
    I haven't played any yet but I have been an avid reader of your other rules.

    Chuckled at your bit about the lad you taught organising the wargames day. I went to the doctor's the other day and was ushered in to see the locum. It was a young chap I'd taught! Could of been embarrassing :0)

  2. arthur1815 says:

    I too look forward to seeing the completed rules.
    One trick Neil Thomas missed in his latest One Hour Wargames was to adopt squares or hexes to reduce time spent measuring moves.
    Instead, he has imposed artificial limits on the number of units and different troop types that can participate in a battle, with some strange effects: ECW armies, for example, would not be allowed any artillery!
    He really should follow your blog, ase seems to be trying to achieve the same thing!

  3. Nobby,

    For the first time in long time it looks as if I might actually have some time to sit down and complete these rules. My intention is to create a basic framework of rules that can be adapted for a number of different historical periods. This might sound a bit ambitious … but I won't know if it is possible or not until I try.

    Over recent years I have met quite a few of my former pupils … and have been pleasantly surprised at way I have been greeted by them. It means that I must have done something right along the line!

    All the best,


  4. Arthur1815,

    I have Neil Thomas's latest book on order, and I must admit I had wondered if he had moved down the gridded wargame route for his one-hour wargames. If he has not, then I agree with you that it is something that he could/should have done to speed up gameplay.

    I am surprised that his rules don't include artillery units in his ECW armies. I don't know much about the period, but seem to remember that during the ECW artillery was used during the opening moves of a battle to soften-up the enemy's infantry before the main attack was made. It seems odd to have missed that out.

    Should he be following my blog? I would like to think that he might … but I have no idea if he even knows that it exists.

    All the best,


  5. nobby says:

    Try to make one of the periods Medieval please Bob.

    If you must include gunpowder I am even willing to compromise and start putting my Perry figures together :0)

  6. nobby says:

    If Neil Thomas doesn't know about your blog he ought to.

    I've put a link in at 'his' Yahoo Group.

  7. Nobby,

    I'll do my best … but it is not a period that I know much about.

    All the best,


  8. Nobby,

    Thanks for doing that. I'll see if he gets in contact.

    All the best,


  9. nic101 says:

    Hi Bob

    As you know I'm a great fan of the portable wargame being very time limited. I can't wait to see the revised version. It's quite serendipitous as I'm just repainting my 1916 Peter Laing figures to have a go at “portable trenches”.

    I just got a copy of Neil's book and confess to being slightly disappointed, having been spoilt by the elegance and simplicity of the Portable Wargame.



  10. Prufrock says:

    I think Neil Thomas actively avoids the internet, and also telling people how to interpret his rules. He sent a couple of articles into Slingshot (the Society of Ancients mag) with some clarifications and suggestions for his Ancient and Medieval Wargaming book, but no more than that.


  11. barry carter says:

    It will be interesting to see your new thoughts and development of the PW.
    I must have a look at One Hour Wargames – Lion Rampant also sounds interesting.

  12. Nic101 (Nick),

    I hope that I don't disappoint you!

    The rules are an amalgam of latest versions of THE PORTABLE WARGAME, MEMOIR OF BATTLE (MOB), MEMOIR OF MODERN BATTLE (MOMBAT), and the ITCHY & SCRATCHY rules, and should be recognisable as coming from the same design stable.

    All the best,


  13. Prufrock (Aaron),

    I cannot understand why a wargame designer would actively avoid the Internet (there is so much useful stuff out there!) but I can understand why he does not want to end up constantly explaining the rules to players. (I have had to do the latter myself, and it is very soul-destroying trying to say to people 'read the rules; the answer is in there' without sounding rude.)

    All the best,


  14. Barry Carter,

    How much of the original PORTABLE WARGAME rules remain is not yet clear. What I am trying to do is to bring together the lessons I have learned writing wargame rules over the past ten years or so. It may work … but it may also be an impossible task. Only time will tell.

    I do now have a copy of Neil Thomas's latest book, and will be writing a review of it in the very near future. As to LION RAMPANT … well this is not a period I have gamed before, but the rules do look and sound interesting.

    All the best,


  15. Looking forward to seeing The Portable Wargame in finished form completed!

  16. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

    I must admit that getting the rules finished and into a form in which they can be published will be a daunting task … but one that I hope will be rewarding.

    All the best,


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