EXCERPT 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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dubbiya Dubbiya Oh-oh

Have you ever had one of those flashes of insight and realization where you suddenly see the solution to a nagging question and then wish fervently that you hadn't?

Marx 30mm soft plastic, factory painted Japanese and British infantry, most touched up by me during my adolescence. Note the stereotyped fat officer with Samurai sword.

The 20thC isn't really my "thing" but I have dabbled in WWII and occasionally WWI off and on since I was about 5 years old. "Grown up" armies have included Canadians and their arch-enemy, the German Paratroops,  in 6mm, 1/72nd and 54mm. I even built a 1:200 Afrika Corps battle group in 1990. (I blame THAT one on the Admiral, I wanted to do 20mm but said I'd play any scale if he provided the troops, then he showed me his Wargames South 8th army......).  WWI also in 3 scales but substituted 15mm Arabs and Turks for the 6mm. All gone now, or nearly so. I depend on various friends for the occasional WWII fix, usually using Blitzkrieg Commander these days, or occasionally Command Decision.   

More Marx soft plastic 30mm figs. The US as they came in the window box, the Germans repainted in my Military Models not Toy Soldiers phase just before I found Battles with Model Soldiers. Pity these were never widely released or ever released as recasts.

Last month after an enjoyable game that maybe wasn't quite as enjoyable as an ideal game in an ideal world might be, I found myself discussing and pondering WWII rules philosophy and possibilities. It was a short step to review my old WRG rules, Battle and 2 sets of Featherstone's rules.  I even blogged some early thoughts since I was drifting down a  different road from Lentulus with whom I was doing the discussing. However, I was still thinking along the lines of 1/72nd plastic troops for my own armies with each 40mm stand being a platoon or similar.
Heil! It was probably inevitable that figures produced so soon after the end of the war should reflect certain stereotypes. More Marx30mm soft plastic in what's left of their original factory paint. 

 I've always had a hard time getting into studies of division, corps or larger WWII battles but  memoirs, movies and documentaries can get me itching to push toys around on the table. The movie and memoir side should indicate that skirmish games are indicated but they just don't do it for me.  The BKC level games generally work ok to give me my WWII fix but they don't completely scratch the itch to move a file of riflemen warily down a hedge and building lined road.

If you accept that wargames should have a constant scale and preferably, a single viewpoint, it becomes very hard to design a game where you're playing a battalion attack but it feels like a tank on tank, man to man game and can be fought to a conclusion in 2-3 hours with a handful of miniatures. I'm not sure why I was even thinking about it today but the thought popped up that abandoning these concepts  is basically what Charge! and other OSW rules used to do for Horse & Musket games, The Sword and The Flame for Colonials  and I suppose what the Warhammer Ancients stable does. Its worked for me in Horse & Musket so why not for WWI or II which is even closer to "playing army men" for me?  

Corgi 1:50 Yanks dismount from an old plastic 1/2 track, probably made by Marx who used to include undersized vehicles in their play sets but I picked it up at flea market a few years back . 

So there I was, pondering what it might be like to move a bunch of single 1/72nd figures mounted on pennies around the battlefield when I started to think about how much 20mm terrain I was going to have to build to get the right affect, at least for Europe. Pity I couldn't just use the 40mm scenery I have or am already planning to build. At this point I thought about the Corgi 1:50mm figures I picked up a few years ago when, at a time I was contemplating restricting all of my gaming to 40mm, I saw them in a local hobby store. These are the best painted commercial figures I have ever come across and were quite affordable (or would be if I was still working). No wonder the range has been cancelled. I should have sold them off ages ago to avoid temptation but they are just too pretty. My my, imagine, non-based 40mm or 1/48th troops organized in 10 or 12 man "companies" but fighting as if 1:1,  using existing scenery and just a handful of vehicles. Wouldn't that be about right? I wonder if WWI using my Zinnbrigade molds for Germans would scratch the itch?  Oh dear.

So here am I wondering if I can fight a 20thC  test battle using Oberhilse troops in peaked caps and  pickelhaubes backed by that Crescent 18 pdr? How to finance the acquisition of 1/48th scale armour (I hear Solido may be coming back) and are there any $ Store toys I can make use of?  Not to mention,  what to do with all these 1/72nd WWI troops I've acquired? (A Portable RCW Game-in-a-Box springs to mind.)

Hopefully if I  lie down a while, it'll pass.  


  1. Hi Ross,

    Don't you just hate it when you get an itch that just HAS to be scratched....;-)

    It does sound suspiciously like a plan!

    All the best,


  2. Sometimes the cure is worse than the itch. Keep scratching.

  3. When I started, WW2 and Ancients were the only options using Airfix plastic - probably why they are still the only 2 I come back to. Result is that, over the years I've had 20mm, 15mm and 1/300th scale armies - never used 54s.

    Gets quite irritating really, 'having' to do each period in several scales!

  4. WW2 is where is started with Wargames, and I've regularly come back to it. Almost 20 years ago I gave in and admitted that 20th C was my main focus, although I often stray into other periods. At least with the WW2 kit I've managed to limit myself to two scales (6mm & 20mm)...
    Anyway, back to your dilemma. You want to do it and you have the toys, so go for it. And buy more toys, obviously.

  5. DC, feels more like several plans. There'd better be lots of years ahead!

    Adelaide, I'm scratching like I've got fleas.

  6. Rob, No Airfix ACW? It is annoying at times in retrospect, especially coming back to something after a detour to another scale.

  7. Tim, such focus! Yeah got toys, too many and mostly the wrong ones for the mad vision of 40mm 1914. Think I may have it licked again though, for now, briefly. Just need to avoid Western Europe.

  8. As I have been plodding down this road, I've realized that there are two very different sorts of WWII military history, and there should be two different sorts of rules to get at them.

    The sort of histories I've most often read about the west often try to link together personal experience -- at its best, from both sides -- with the larger context; Cornelius Ryan, Mark Zuehlke or Stephen Ambrose write that sort of history. For a game that reflects what you read about on that level you need a tactical game -- stand=platoon is probably (IMHO, YMMV) as "high" a level as you can go to and still get that individual feel.

    If you want to get at larger battles at the level documented in, say, Glantz's books on the GPW, you need a set of rules that gets above the level at which the personal view is visible. A very different set of rules.