The inevitable result of exposure to many different games, not to mention the result of playing 6 games of Charge! and lots of time to think on the less busy stretches of highway, is an evaluation of plans and possibilities. Luckily, this year, there was nothing to upset any apple carts, just food for thought. In no particular order:
1. Terrain. Once again, I came across a realistic terrain layout that impressed me. By realistic, I don't mean heavily dry brushed with oversized, over detailed buildings but a layout that reminded me of what I see when I climb the hill across the road and turn around. Naturally rolling hills, fields marked out, subdued greens and browns in many hues, trees and houses looking in scale nestled beside the inevitable too small figures. As often, this was a terrain board. I did a series of these in the 80's and was happy with them till I got tired of the limited arrangements and difficulty of storage that discouraged me from doing more and finally resulted in their damage. An alternative that I have used with success in the past is a cloth laid over hills but this is not friendly to singly mounted 40mm figures. I still think my planned 3/4" pine boards cut into step hills, painted to match may give a suitable basis for an acceptably pleasing rolling toyish country to play over with just a touch of a Wellsian or Grantian air. If not, there is always the 1/72nd ACW armies which will stand well on a rolling cloth.
2. Toy Soldiers vs Elements. I'm not talking basing here but of the general thrust of the toy soldier style of treating a figure as a figure (whether based singly or on multi-figure basing) vs treating a unit as a unit. I find merit in both approaches and some projects will be one and some the other but my main 40mm project has hung in the balance for several years now as I flip flop between the two. Last year it tilted again towards the old approach and last week's Charge! games and contemplations about big battles vs small actions has only strengthened that.
3. Scalability and Historicity. These are two completely separate issues that just happen to come together. The two opposite ends of the pole are what I have called "the universal soldier" like Charge! or TSATF where the same figures and rules are used for skirmishes and battles but neither are quite right or at least not consistent in detail and scale, as opposed to a series of separate projects, different rules, different organizations, often different figures sizes, all for the same campaigns (eg 28mm skirmishes, 10mm big battles etc). I like the idea of the universal soldier concept for my current main project (Mid-19thC Not Too Historical Toy Soldiers) but it inevitably bumps into the question of historical "accuracy" and "scale". When I wander about and look at games where consistent scale and historical accuracy of organisation etc are paramount, (usually big or medium sized battles) and compare them to other games, including Sci Fi games, where things are subordinated to the story, the game experience, the look of the thing, and "feel" (usually semi-skirmish games) then I invariably prefer the latter. When I get home, I find myself starting to obsess again about consistent scale and big battles. I think I need some kind of 7 step program to cure me.
Big Games with Small Figures vs Small Games with Big Figures. This is closely related. (Small games with small figures and big games with big figures are quite different topics.) It seems to me that "serious" historical wargaming cries out for large armies of small figures deployed on big tables. I saw several such games at Historicon, some very impressive looking and once upon a time I might have been inspired but I didn't feel the slightest regret at not being signed up to play. Part of me mourns this lack of desire but mostly I wonder why that lack should bother to me. Looking back over 40 odd years, the vast majority of games that bring the fondest memories have been of the toy soldier, off scale, high-imagination, low recreation, story heavy games. So why am I finding my self stuck in between these days, not quite doing either? There is some internal source of confusion that I am missing.
So? There we are, added together, I think it means that in theory, I am on the right over all track for me but that I need to reverse last year's decision to drop the fictional Oberhilse & Faraway setting in favour of alternate history. Some how a completely fictional setting is more liberating, at very least reading history won't conflict with what I'm doing. It also means that I'm glad I have side projects, perhaps one of these could be more historical? Mind you another conclusion reached is that I need to focus a little more........ plus ça change......
One from the archives. A game that never actually was.
Quick Fall Plan. Here's what I see myself doing in the near future:
1) 16thC. Time to break out the Rough Wooing lads, play some games, paint a few figures, (not many) Cast more, and try out some scenarios.
2) Portable Wargames. Finish up my 18thC Turks and get some games in with Ron
3) 1/72nd ACW. Kidnap Jerry and force him to play a game.
4) 22mm Ancients. I don't know. Ron is working on a hex based new 25mm Romans vs Gauls game and I think rather than worry about it, I'll just show up and play (I've painted 1/2 or more of the Gauls anyway). Some of the other guys have been poking at Basic Impetus for big 25mm or 15mm and if I feel ok Sunday I'll drive out and play but I have no desire to get back into face to face games. I may just putter away in the background doing my own solo campaign in old 25mm.
5} The Main Event. I think I'll let it slide for a few weeks then kick into gear as we get into fall. Winter of 2011/2012 HAS to see armies, terrain and rules including some VSF aspects to ensure no one takes it seriously, all starting to flow and be presentable. Mini-con ready if you will if not con ready.
I have decided to resurrect Faraway for the 3rd time. The question remains do I push on to India? Its almost too late if I want to consolidate. In an imaginary setting, masses of Mexican like lancers and white clad infantry in shakos or sombreros manning hill forts with geurillas hiding in the mountains along with tribes of spear and shield wielding natives and irregular mounted Boer or Metis style hunters would seem to tick enough of the boxes. Needs thought, fictional background and sample figures. This is the as yet undrawn land south of the mountains, who knows what really lies there?