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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Oh Dear, ohdearohdearohdear

I'm about halfway through reorganizing my room but had to pause to try to assess whether or not the proposed 3x4ish permanent mini wargame table will prove acceptable in the long run. (Actually 10x14 9cm squares to match the 5x7 layout used in many of the Asquith and Grant scenarios at 1 sq=6" on a full size table or 1cm on the map.
Scenario 1 from CS Grant's Scenarios for Wargames
aka Not Fontenoy. 
I wasn't expecting anthing negative since I have fond memories of past card table games but at the same time I didn't anticipate the intense feeling of pleasure, anticipation and of "coming home" or meeting a long absent friend when I sat down and started to lay out troops on the small board.

Perhaps I've been affected by all the enthusiastic endorsements for Thomas's One Hour Wargames or am just getting lazy but I think there are 3 threads coming together, threads that I have previously noted individually but not fully tied together. 

One obvious one is the benefit of having a game that is quick and easy to set up and play, especially if long chunks of personal free time are scarce. Recently I have found myself setting up a game one weekend to be played the next and sometimes playing several games on the same terrain to avoid the full takedown and set up. There is some advantage in set up time with any small board where you don't have to circle the board with handfuls of trees and so on as well as having a grid so you can translate a map easily, but its easy to imagine having terrain tiles, woods, towns etc, based to fit the grid and accomodate troops. I suspect that it is no coincidence that the frequency of games decreased after I put away my portable game.

The second one is a more recent thing first noticed  two or three years ago. It is the growing desire to have a solo game which is a game, me vs the system and able to win or lose rather than left hand vs right. Its possible to do this on a larger nongridded game (like the last one) but its somehow easier on a small gridded board, perhaps because options are more clearly defined or that it is more obviously a game.

Lastly there is some sort of emotional connection with the cardtable games that I still haven't completely identified. Perhaps its the resemblance of a game like this to those childhood Marx Miniature Masterpiece play sets with their play mat, terrain and painted figures?

In any event, this week, I have been getting as much or more  pleasure contemplating a future where I have a score of  "playsets" with shiny toy soldiers and matching terrain which can be selected according to my mood and quickly deployed onto the table when the mood strikes or for a mini campaign on a holiday weekend, as I ever did over the last 45 years imagining a day when I would have a big table with ample 1st class terrain  and huge forces of well detailed, historically correct miniatures.  

Of course what I have at the moment  is an unholy mess and a lot of work to do but tomorrow is forecast to be rainy and  I suspect I'll get a chance to play a quick game. After all, a gamesroom set up is never tested until a game has been played!


  1. Think some of the best games I've played have been on a small table , Tony

    1. Yes its not the size, its what you do with it, for games..

  2. I found the above post uplifting and encouraging, as I've struggled to maintain a bigger table in situ with any kind of consistency or stability, all the while holding on to it as a beau ideal or even a necessity.

    So it's good to hear the changes are positive and good luck with sorting everything out.

    1. Thanks Steve, if nothing else I hope to get more of those small side excursions tackled.

  3. The one I've got is a 6x4, but really I generally only use 4x4 - just as much fun. Especially solo, bigger games tend to bog down a bit.

  4. Ross Mac,

    I am currently thinking about where to go with my wargaming ... and your blog entry has helped to me to assess my options.

    As I am getting older (I am now 65) and my knees and back are giving me trouble, I am having to be more realistic about what I can and cannot do. Sue and I are already thinking about moving to a bungalow so that we won't have to contend with stairs (we currently live in a house that has three floors, and my toy/wargames room is on the top floor) and it may well be that I will have to downsize my wargames collection. Some parts of it have seen lots of action over the years ... and some have never seen action at all. It would make sense to get rid of what I am not likely to need or use in future, and to concentrate my efforts on building upon what I do use.

    It is likely that the amount of space that I will have to wargame will also be restricted, and I am thinking about concentrating of fighting battles on a table that is no more than 4' x 4' ... and likely to be even smaller. This would enable me to have lots of small armies rather than a few large ones, and to fight mini-campaigns rather than one-off battles.

    I hope to be in Halifax later this year (Sue and I are coming over on another cruise) and if you are available we might be able to meet up for lunch and discuss our wargaming futures.

    All the best,


    1. That sounds familiar. I look forward to that chat. Drop me an email when you have a rough idea of possible date ranges and I'll be there. There's a good chance Kathy will be able to join us but that offer to bring a portable game along hokds.

  5. " as I ever did over the last 45 years imagining a day when I would have a big table with ample 1st class terrain and huge forces of well detailed, historically correct miniatures. "
    Wanting something like this, and dealing with the impracticality of finally attaining it, or some version of it ... I can relate. One can acquire tables, scenery, figures, models, rules .... one can never acquire enough time. Learning to use what we have, and learning that time is more precious than space, is a useful lesson.

    1. Actually I have had a 6x10 permanent table and been able to fill it with troops and terrain and enjoyed it with friends and hauled games off to HMGS cons and won awards so there may be a bit of been there at play.