The Soldier

During a short visit to a local discount bookshop, I bought a copy of Chris McNab’s book entitled THE SOLDIER for £5.00. The book was published in 2016 by Parragon, and was originally priced at £16.00.

The book is split into three sections, and each section is divided into three chapters.

  • Section One: Global Conflict and Revolution
    • The Seven Year’s War
    • The American Revolution
    • The Napoleonic Wars
  • Section Two: The Age of Empire and Statehood
    • The American Civil War
    • Colonial Wars
    • Wars of Empire and Unification
  • Section Three: The World Wars and Modern Conflict
    • World War I
    • World War II
    • The Modern Era

Whilst this might not be the most definitive study of what it was like to be a soldier over the past two hundred and sixty years, it has some interesting illustrations. It is certainly worth £5.00 of anyone’s money … although personally I wouldn’t have paid full price for it.

Other people’s Portable Wargame battle reports: Seven Years War

Ross Macfarlane and his friend Ron have been at it again. This time they have been using an adapted version of the Ancient rules from DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME to fight a Seven Years War battle!

The battle report makes for interesting reading, and has given me several ideas regarding the possibility of writing a Seven Years War version of my own NAPOLEONIC PORTABLE WARGAME rules. These are currently in the very early stages of development, and I hope to publish them at some time in the future. In the meantime I recommend that anyone interested in using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules for other periods should read Ross Mac’s excellent battle report.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ross Macfarlane.

The War Game … edited by Peter Young

A recent comment that the terrain created by the late Peter Gilder for the film CALLAN was also photographed and used in the book edited by Peter Young and entitled THE WAR GAME made me look out my copy of the book … and reminded me how much it had inspired me when I first saw a copy.

The book was divided into ten chapters (each of which covered a major battle and was written by a different author) and two appendices:

  • THERMOPYLAE BC480 by Charles Grant
  • AGINCOURT 1415 by Philip Warner
  • EDGEHILL 1642 by Peter Young
  • BLENHEIM 1704 by David Chandler
  • LOBOSITZ 1756 by Charles Grant
  • SARATOGA 1777 by Aram Bakshian Jr
  • AUSTERLITZ 1805 by David Chandler
  • WATERLOO 1815 by James Lawford
  • GETTYSBURG 1863 by Clifford C Johnson

  • EL ALAMEIN 1942 by Donald Featherstone

  • Appendix 1: The Principles of War Gaming
  • Appendix 2: Model Soldier Suppliers

THE WAR GAME was edited by Brigadier Peter Young and illustrated with photographs taken by Philip O Stearns. It was published by Cassell & Company Ltd in 1972 (ISBN 0 304 29074 2).

In the acknowledgements at the back of the book it states that the figures came from the collections of David Chandler, Peter Gilder, Charles Grant, Lieutenant Commander John Sandars, Ed Smith, John Tunstill, and Brigadier Peter Young, and that the terrain was specially made for the book by Hinchliffe Models of Huddersfield.

My Portable Wargame book: A further update

During the recent break from my Napoleonic project I have been working on my PORTABLE WARGAME book. This has involved taking numerous photographs, searching the Internet for illustrations of some of the earlier gridded wargames, and redrafting some of the text.

Amongst the images I found were two of Johann Hellwig’s late eighteenth century wargame:

The gridded playing surface used in Johan Hellwig’s wargame.

A close-up of one section of the image of Johan Hellwig’s wargame.

The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

As a child I was lucky enough to have THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS read to me. (When I was a child in Junior school, teachers used to read stories to their class at the end of every day, and one year I had a teacher who read us THE HOBBIT followed by the recently-published LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.)

This early exposure to fantasy fiction rather soured my view of other books in the genre, especially after I re-read Tolkein’s books when I was at college in the early 1970s. I suppose it was a case of ‘I’ve read the best, why bother with the rest?’ I have tried reading other fantasy novels – including EMPIRE OF FEAR by Brian Stableford, which features Edmund Cordery as one of its main protagonists – but until recently most seemed to be pale imitations of Tolkein’s books.

(One book that did stand out as being an exception to this was JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke. It is set in an alternative/fantasy version of England during the Napoleonic era.)

My attitude to fantasy fiction changed when I chanced upon the short story THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler.

It was the first of his series of books that form THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. (I understand that they classed as being ‘Musket and Magic’ fantasy books.) Since then I have read each of books in the series as they have been published:


The stories are set in a time somewhat akin to the end of the eighteenth/beginning on the nineteenth century, and other than the magic element (and some more adult themes that probably make them unsuitable for younger readers) they can be read as the ‘histories’ of a number of imagi-nations. There are some obvious parallels with European history at that time (e.g. a revolution against a repressive regime; the invasion of a Russia-like country and the impact of fighting during its winter) and from slightly later (e.g. a colonial campaign in an Egypt-like colony). I understand that the writer – Django Wexler – has used European history to inspire elements of the plots in his books and that he is also a wargamer … which might account for the way in which the battles that are featured in the stories are described.

Horse, Foot and Guns: Version 1.1

The replacement copy of HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS arrived in the post from Lulu yesterday.

The front cover has been slightly changed, and the back cover has been revamped. This new edition has also been allocated a different ISBN (ISBN 978 1 325 57118 4). The new edition is longer (72 pages as opposed to 64), and this has enable the army lists to be laid out in a much less cluttered way.

I have not undertaken a complete word-by-word analysis of the new edition, but there do appear to be some minor change to the Combat Outcomes which seem to make them clearer to understand.

Horse, Foot and Guns: Latest news!

Back in February I mentioned that I had bought a copy of Phil Barker’s HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS rules. It later transpired that the wrong edition of the text had been published, and the version that I bought was withdrawn from sale.

Yesterday evening I received the following email from Lulu:


You are receiving this message today because we show that you purchased a copy of the book “Horse, Foot and Guns.”

We were notified by the author that the version you received was not the one she intended to be available. The author has asked Lulu to help notify her customers of the error and to inform each customer that she will be replacing it with a complimentary copy of the new version of the book.

We are writing to you today from Lulu to let you know that we will be placing these new orders within the next couple of days. If you ordered with a registered Lulu account, the new order will be placed in your Lulu account and you will be able to track its progress from your Order History page. As this is a complimentary reorder, the payment method will say Invoice, Billed to Lulu.

If you did not order with a registered Lulu account and placed your order as a guest, a reorder will be placed for you; however, you will not be able to track your order. If you wish to inquire about the status of your reorder, please contact Lulu through the Support link on the top right side of the page. Select My Orders, I purchased a book or calendar, Something else, then click the “I still need help” button. Please be sure to include the previous order number and the email address that was used to place the order so that we can better assist you.

We appreciate your patience as we get these orders placed and the new book printed for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to respond to this message or contact us through the Support link on

Thank you for shopping with Lulu. Have a great weekend!

Kind regards,

Thomas B
Lulu Press, Inc.

I should therefore be receiving a replacement copy of the latest edition of the HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS rules in the very near future … and I think that in doing this Phil Barker and Sue Laflin-Barker have more than made up for the understandable mistake that occurred.

Those of you who have not used Lulu to self-publish your work may not realise that when you do so, you have to upload a copy of the text to your account so that the publication can be allocated an ISBN and pre-publication proof copies can be printed. If you select the wrong option – as I did when I first used Lulu – it is very easy to publish your book before the proofs have been checked and any errors corrected. Luckily for me I realised what I had done before any purchases had taken place, and I was able to upload the corrected text for publication before any copies were sold.