Saturday, 14 January 2023

ACW: The Battle of the Great Berries

Yesterday we played a game with our homebrewn ACW rules. I based the scenario on the battle of Grossbeeren (inspired by an article in Miniature Wargames 473).

I set up the scenario as a 4 player game (with me being the umpire), but Bart had to cancel at the last minute. So I took over as plumpire (player umpire). 4 people also meant my dedicated wargames room would be a bit cramped, so I managed to get permission from the Commander in Chief to host the game in the kitchen at our large dining table...

Here are the pictures, with some commentary.

The lay out of the battlefield. Troops have to enter the tables at various entry points as marching columns.

The players (Jean-Pierre, Eddy, Wim), engaged in some pre-battle socializing. Yes, we are all middle-aged men and it shows ;-)

The opening shots. A Confederate column is marching towards a Union camp, which has trouble waking up. The prepared artillery position is still unmanned.

Napoleon (a small statuette I bought in the gift shop of the real battlefield) is our lucky general token. If you have it, you can reroll any composite die roll, but then the lucky general switches to the other side.

An overview of the Union left flank.

Another overview of the Union left flank.

Wim and Eddy discussing tactics.

The Confederacy left flank, commanded by Wim, is advancing rapidly.

The Union right flank fails to make progress. Really unlucky command rolls ...

Eddy has possession of the luck general. Surely victory must be ours! NOT!!!

Fierce battles on the Union left flank.

General overview.

The control board. We sort of decided in the post-game briefing that the weather conditions (drove by drawing a card each turn) were too harsh.

Jean-Pierre pondering his next move.

General overview.

Centre of the battlefield.

Wim looking at his marching columns.

The Union left flank again. I was commanding this position, so plenty of pictures from this side of the table.

The Union left flank again.

General overview near the end of the game.

Overall, a fun game, but as always, there was some discussion about the scenario setup and the luck (or absence of luck) of good die rolls. But the important part was that we had game among friends, some chatting, some beers. That's what wargaming is all about, after all.

Monday, 9 January 2023

New 54mm recruits

A package arrived today, with some new 54mm toy soldiers for the display cabinets in my wargaming room. I ordered them from The Tin Soldier / De Tinsoldaat, a Belgian company based in Antwerp that produces toy soldier sets in a classic style. 

So here are my 2 sets, a group of WW1 Belgian Grenadiers (my old regiment), and a trooper of the Royal Escort (Rijkswacht Koninklijk Escorte).

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Warhammer Quest

One of the advantages of having a gaming group that goes back to the 80s, is that one of the gaming pals sometimes clears out his storage space, and gives away some old junk to make room.

My old gaming buddy Dirk recently gave me some original Warhammer Quest stuff.


Before anyone shouts "Gimme!", the content of the boxes is incomplete and pieces are missing. They probably got mixed up with the original game, which was apparently already given away. Cardboard templates are also warped. So no real collectible value. Except of course for some typical 90s Citadel miniatures, which are always useful for my fantasy games.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Saturday, 17 December 2022

More work on the Wargames Magazine Index!

A few years ago I started to index all my articles in my magazine collection. Then the magazine collection started to grow through many donations, and now I have a backlog of magazines I still need to enter into the database. Perhaps this Christmas break will allow me to catch on.

I have used my index quite extensively over the years, often to relocate some article I vaguely remember, or to hunt for a good scenario. Sometimes, I help out other bloggers when they are in search of a specific article. Every time this happens, I reread that particular magazine issue and update its entries a little bit in the database. So the database is a "living thing".

Nevertheless, the database remains far from complete. I don't have subscriptions to all current magazines, and certainly have not acquired all copies of extinct magazines. But I see this as a lifelong project. There's no rush.

A new problem has arisen though, and that is that British magazines have more difficulties making it across the channel. Blame you-know-what. Each time a magazine doesn't arrive I contact the relevant subscription services and a replacement copy often arrives a few days later. So those issues (usually in an ordinary non-transparant envelope) do arrive. Perhaps someone in my local post office is snatching all those magazines, but on the other hand, a friend says she has the same problems with a British gardening magazine she's subscribed to. Issues fail to arrive, ever since the you-know-what-agreement kicked in. All those benefits!

Saturday, 10 December 2022

Original Manuscript of "A History of Hyboria (Vol 1)" by Tony Bath


Over the years, I have developed an interest in the work of pioneering wargamer Tony Bath, and more specifically, his famous Hyboria campaign.

It was well-known that Rudi Geudens, who passed away last year, was the proud owner of part of the original Hyboria documents, as written up by Tony Bath himself. Rudi had long intended to make the manuscript fully available on his website, but for some reason, never came around scanning in all the pages.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a mail earlier today from Frederik Geudens, Rudi's son, asking whether I could help in distributing the scanned pages of "A History of Hyboria (Vol 1)", in honour of both Tony and Rudi, who have inspired so many wargamers over the years.

As far as I know, this is the first time this document in its original form is now again available for all wargamers to enjoy.

So, without much further ado, here's an important piece of wargaming history:

A History of Hyboria (Vol 1), by Tony Bath

Monday, 5 December 2022

Chain of Command revisited

A few years ago we tried our first Chain of Command game. As some of you know, Chain of Command is a WW2 ruleset published by Too Fat Lardies. Our findings from last time:

What was our impression of the rules?

  • The pre-game deployment (patrol markers, drop-off points) was fun, but we kept wondering why we should go through all these motions simply to get our troops into action? Shouldn't a good scenario setup be able to do same?
  • Combat resolution was rather convoluted to our taste. Over they years, we have come to favour "lean and mean" rules. Keep the number of procedures and mechanics as simple, but as elegant as possible, while focusing on the important decisions a player has to make. We felt that the resolution mechanics of Chain of Command were a bit too "fiddly": too many dice, too many statuses to keep track of, a bit too confusing.

Granted, it has been a while - our previous game was played in December 2018, 4 years ago. But is funny to say that during our post-briefing we came to exactly the same conclusions.

This led to a discussion about why some rules have an elegant design and some ruleset feel like a mish-mash of different mechanics cobbled together. For me, the essential guiding principle in a ruleset is that you have to pick 1 or 2 core mechanics, and all other procedures should derive from those core mechanics. E.g. a core mechanic could be unit activation; or could be in which manner combat is resolved. But many game designers (amateur or professional) then have the tendency to pile up new mechanics to resolve new situations, without thinking how such  situation could be resolved by using or adapting the core mechanic. And if that's not possible, then perhaps the core mechanic isn't that well designed to start with. 

But anyway, back to Chain of Command: one of the other aspects of the rules that ruffled our feathers was that some mechanics were designed at the level of 'sections' (e.g. activation of units), others at the level of 'teams' (e.g. distributing shock results) and still others at the level of individual soldiers/models (e.g. casualties). That doesn't feel like all these procedures are elegantly designed. When the plumpire (playe-umpire) announced that there were also rules for individuals to hang out of windows to shoot to whatever is below them, it was a bit too much ;-)

But anyway, that doesn't mean we had a good time and had a fun game. We are simply over-critical, that's all ;-)

And now some photographs. The game is is 20mm, pre-Arnhem.

Bart as plumpire explaining the scenario.

The wall with decorations, most notably the secret plans of Belgium's defence in May 1940.

Jockeying for jump-off points.

Deploying some of the German troops.

Overview of the table.

Another overview.

Germans crossing the fields, British were hiding n the building.

Some more action along the road.

3D-printed Hotel Hartenstein.

Another overview.

Eddy, Ruben as interested son, and Bart.

Eddy trying to micromanage his Brits.

A Jagdpanther arrives!

Eddy and Jean-Pierre, British commanders.

Plumpire Bart.

Bart, Ruben, Jean-Pierre, Eddy and myself in a selfie.

The infamous pigsty, a mainstay of Bart's wargaming table.

Monday, 28 November 2022

History of Games Workshop

It finally arrived ...

I already browsed through the book, lots of interesting pictures.

Now to see how many games I recognize and how many events I have a vague awareness of ... ;-)

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Lardwerp (Lard in Antwerp)

I went t Lardwerp today - a gaming event were the Too Fat Lardies showed and set up some games in the Tin Soldiers Antwerp clubhouse.

I arrived around 11.00, and had to leave again around 12.30. Some work in the garden was waiting for me!

Although I was only there for a short while, and the event was smallish compared to the yearly CRISIS convention (more about that later), it was a lot of fun. I bumped the many friends from the "old Belgian wargaming guard" (also more about that later) and had lovely chats with fellow wargamers I hadn't seen for almost 3 years (we all know why ...).

So, what was some of the wargaming news I picked up?

  • Crisis most likely will never happen again, or at least not in the format we were used to. There are several reasons for this: the "organisational flow" was interrupted for 2 years, but there also is a lack of volunteers for people willing to help to put the thing together (this seems to be a common problem in many hobby organisations). People want to attend, but people don't want to help, or at least not in a structured manner ...
    A second big reason is Brexit. Many of the traders are UK-based, and Brexit has made it very hard for small businesses such as wargaming traders to cross the channel and set up shop in Antwerp for a day.
  • A similar sentiment was aired w.r.t. Warcon, the yearly event that was scheduled in February or March and was organized near Ghent. Probably over as we know it.
  • So, there were some chats with the "old Belgian wargaming guard" and some vague plan was uttered to organize a smallish gaming day (no traders, just games), in an effort to have at least one national wargaming event where the Belgian wargaming could meet and see each other. After all, although wargaming is a hobby that takes place in small unconnected gaming groups (apart from some larger clubs), it stil is important to have some sort of community feeling. We'll see how things will evolve ...
  • Brexit again: rumour has it that some traders have lost upto 70% of their customer base. European gamers don;t want to go through the hassle of ordering from the UK anymore. It's back to the pre-EU early nineties ... I still remember fondly trips to London to stock up on gaming stuff, exactly to circumvent high P&P and import taxes. Perhaps the gaming trips will come back?

Overall, it was a pleasant visit, and great to egt the wargaming mojo back!

So, any loot?

Not so much. There was one trader present (, so of course I had to buy something, even though I don't need anything. But still, supporting the hobby and all that ... so I got a few explosion and smoke markers.

One of the TSA members also sold of some old wargaming books, so I got a couple for 5 euro each. The Featherstone title was still missing in my extensive collection of old wagaming books.The Terry Wise I have as a reprint from the History of Wargaming Project , but now I have the original. And I had the 1st Fred Perry book, but not the 2nd one ;-)

And here are some photos from the games, in no particular order. All quite spectacular, specially the last few photos, which are from a 54mm Arnhem game.