EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Theory & Practical

Its one of the oldest chestnuts that has needed solving ever since Wargaming turned into Historical Wargaming.  Some battles are very big and some are very small. Without straining I can think of 3 common approaches to handle this dilemma.

a) The constant scale or building block approach. If one designs a game that allows a small affair like Chippewa to be fought out with 50 miniatures on a 2'x2' battlefield in an hour, then one just scales up until you find your self staging Chillianwallah on a 6'x10' table with 3,000 miniatures in a 10 hour game and work upwards from there. Not practical for many of us but within limits it can work well.

b) The "Let the game fit the battle approach". Here one designs a new game for each battle or series of battles. When done as a "game in box" this had certain advantages or if care is taken to allow multiple use of game concepts and physical resources then it can be quite practical and is the easiest way to get a good simulation of the key factors of any given battle, but if allowed to stray into  4 or 5 scales for troops and terrain and different organizations and basing systems with completely different rule systems for each game, it can become a resource hog and a brain drain while lacking any sense of continuity.

c) The "Fudge the battle to fit the game approach".This is the classic approach where one finds a set of rules that one likes and then fudges battles on to the table top by boiling down their essential elements and ignoring such distractions as constant scale and details historical orders of battle.  Rather annoyingly, this seems, in a purely subjective manner based on personal experience, to provide the most enjoyable games. Annoying because it isn't "right". Its basically asking the players to imagine "true things by what their mockeries be". Yes, we're cramming the vasty fields into a  cockpit again.

So what?   Well, sometimes, when I'm working on a set of rules, I forget that I'm not really serious about refighting Chillianwallah or Ferozepore with over a 1,000 40mm figures on a 20 foot table, and it confuses my thinking.  Ok back to my summary of gridded horse and musket rules.


  1. I'm looking forward to Chillianwallah. Do you have a Sikh army?

  2. My Sikhs are a mere twinkle in my eye. I plan to have the 1st Gwalior troops sculpted and cast this year. Sikhs will follow eventually.