Friday, 24 August 2018


Over the decades, as a boardgamer/roleplayer/wargamer ... you tend to amass a lot of dice. Dice come out of nowhere, from gaming boxes long forgotten, from special sets bought at conventions, from games plundered for components.

I have a drawer in my wargaming room that contains only dice and coloured markers. Some years ago, I also invested in same-coloured dice for each of the major die types. Miniature wargaming is a visual hobby, and I think the visual appeal should show in the peripheral tools as well. I abhor a rag-tag collection of dice on the battlefield. Your dice should be visually coherent and pleasing to the eye!

So, here's a picture of the drawer containing the dice. The top row contains all sorts of specialty dice. The middle row lots of coloured markers, and also 30+ black D6's. The bottom row has polyhedral dice - not all in the same colour - but enough of the same colour to use in games that need it: green for D12, orange or red for D10, yellow for D8, blue for D4. This colour coding is also important for our skirmish games in which we use opposed die rolling and shifting die types, as explained in this post on our Wargaming Mechanics blog.

So, what happens to all other dice that I also still have (mostly D6's, I admit)? I keep them in an old-fashioned candy jar. The jar itself is a nice object to decorate the wargaming room with, and whenever a nephew comes over for a game, he can choose a die from the jar to take home. Sometimes they "steal" a second one, but who's counting?

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

3 books added

I added 3 Featherstone books to the index: Battle Notes, Wargaming Ancient and Medieval Periods, Wargaming Pike-and-Shot. These are books that describe a specific historic scenario in each chapter, so I felt it useful to include them.

 I also keep adding old issues of Miniature Wargaming. Currently there are more than 4400 entries.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Hundred Years War vignettes (2)

All flocked. The green flocked base is a tradition I started over 30 years ago when I did my fantasy miniatures that way. I still do it for fantasy/medievals. I feel that now I cannot revert to another basing scheme ;-)

Computer-assisted Miniature Wargaming?

The latest issue of Miniature Wargames (issue 425, September 2018) has an article on Computer-Assisted Wargaming, as an interview with Arofan Gregory (check out his website Wargaming Machines). Computer-Assisted Wargaming (or CAW) provides tools to help the miniature wargaming go more smoothly, by outsourcing a number of procedures (combat resolution, hidden troops, obfuscating information, campaign management, ...) to the software.

Although I fully understand the desires and motivation of some wargamers to do so, and although I also agree that smartphones and tablets are easy to use around the wargaming the table as opposed to a laptop or an old-fashioned desktop, I think that using digital technology *during* the game misses the point of what miniature wargaming is about. Of course, we all use computers for peripheral wargaming activities outside the actual games: writing blogs, purchasing wares, reading rules, keeping track of our collections, writing campaign diaries ... all of these activities have been digitized. But using a computer during the game? I'm not so sure ...

One of the functions that is often digitized is combat resolution. Instead of rolling dice, looking up results in tables etc., the computer can do that work for us. That is a true statement. But why would we want the computer to do that for us? There is a joy in rolling the dice and reading the results. Why use a sterile digital mechanism instead? One of the reasons often mentioned is that combat resolution - or other mechanisms - are too complex. They involve rolling too many dice, looking up too many modifiers, looking up results in too many tables. That is certainly a problem in some rulesets. But the answer is not too digitize those procedures, but rather make them simpler and easier to use. In other words, make them more elegant and design them better. A badly designed procedure remains a badly procedure when digitized. The bad design is simply hidden from the user, but the design still sucks.

For me, miniature wargaming is foremost an analogue and tactile experience. The quintessential element of the medium is handling and moving toy soldiers, and should be preserved at all times. Moreover, I also think that the "helper" devices such as dice, rulers, cards, ... should be analogue as well. I am not saying a wargaming should always use dice or rulers - there are good designs that do without those - but whatever you use to play the game, should be in line with the tactile activity of handling the toy soldiers themselves. At least for me, all these elements should form a coherent whole. No hybrid game formats in *my* wargaming! But of course, you can do in your wargaming whatever you want :-)

In the past, I have compared using computers in miniature wargaming as using advanced technology in other analogue hobbies such as painting landscapes. Why not use a digital camera instead, or even 3-D print your painting as is possible these days? That will surely give you a much more accurate rendition of the landscape ... ? Because the point is not to recreate the visual image of the landscape, but creating an image using paints and brushes ...

Now, I am not a luddite opposed to anything digital. I am a computer scientist, teach computer science, and do research in computer graphics. But perhaps that's another reason I want to keep digital devices out of my wargaming. Having to work with computers and staring at screens all day, I want my hobby to be clear from bits and bytes.

So, instead of putting my creativity into writing programs for wargaming, I will keep them focused on designing better analogue gaming mechanics. Because I believe that's where the soul of miniature wargaming really is.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Hundred Years War vignettes

Today I worked on some figures I bought 18 years ago. The "Tax collector" and "Knight Arming" from Wargames Foundry, still available in their HYW range. I used their painted examples as an inspiration for my own colour scheme.

I steel need to work on the base, but that should be relatively easy.

Another thing I noticed is that I might need new glasses. Focusing my eyesight on 25mm figures is less easy than it used to be.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Grenadier Music Band (5)

Finally, all Charbens finished. Simple block colour scheme, matt varnish, then gloss varnish. The blend in nicely with the other toy soldiers in the wargaming room.