Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Past, present, future

"Oh, the more it changes, the more it stays the same
And the hand just re-arranges the players in the game"
Al Stewart

A familiar feeling. So here I am like Nostradamus trying to predict the future although in my case I need to analyse the past and present rather than relying on visions. Looking back over the last 2 years has showed some interesting trends. Disregarding games played with other player's figures, and setting aside some "1 of" stragglers, there is a solid majority of 40mm Horse & Musket HofT games split into various periods & styles of figure but only due to experimentation and trying to match other people's projects. After that, it is fairly evenly split between 25mm Ancients, 40mm Dark Age skirmish, and 40mm 16thC with  various 1/72nd 20th century games starting to creep in.   There are also respectable bursts of 40mm semi-flat Charge! games but while I love the figures and the rules, these cluster around planned convention games and rarely emerge else-wise. Even more interesting, it seems that a solid majority of games played in the last few years, have been played on a table 5' x 6' or smaller. Interesting fodder for thought. On to the present.

Its just as well I didn't play last Friday's game earlier or I might have forgotten that Hearts of Tin was written primarily for my 19thC 40mm troops. A slightly simpler game based around 1/72nd stands of troops and centimeters might have been the result. However, I'm happy with the rules and I'm happy with my toy soldiers and luckily neither needs to change with the results of my thinking. 

I have long accepted that I no longer have a desire to play big, day long battles with lots of figures on the table, at least not as a regular thing. Neither do I have the desire to do typical skirmish games as a main stay and when it come to competition style games, been there, done that applies. This leaves me with the in between, tabletop teaser type game and I'm ok with that but I thought it meant that refighting battles wasn't of interest anymore. And, in a way, that's true, at least I'm not interested in serious precise recreations but they still make an interesting basis for scenarios. The question is how to translate them without doing a big battle. 

One solution has been presented by the Grants over the years and its a practical one, but requiring a fine judgement (essentially fitting the key terrain elements onto the table, filling the appropriate areas with troops and proceeding  using one's regular tactical rules and units). 

It occurred to me this weekend that using the cm option with Hearts of Tin, two of my 4 cm wide bases (whether full of 1/72nd or 40mm figures) is about the right frontage for a 600-800 man battalion and that most Sikh and Mexican-American War battles would fit on my table at that scale. Now I don't really want to trade in my 40mm Toy Soldiers and while a 2 stand, 8 man battalion would have the same frontage of its 1/7nd counterpart, having pushed some about, I don't really want to use the big figures with the cm scale. I also don't really want to deal with a dozen 2 stand battalions either. However, each of my regiments using the normal scale, occupies about a brigade frontage if using the cm scale. 

If I combine that observation with the Grant approach, I can lay out battlefields using the cm scale as a guide and field a regiment for each brigade then carry on as if playing any other teaser. (Luckily I kept artillery ranges on the short side with something of this sort in mind.)    The only issue for Indian campaigns will be deciding whether to field composite battalions with 2 stands of Europeans and 4 of Sepoys to keep the ratios correct or whether to field "brigades" (divisions actually)   with 1 European and 1 Sepoy unit. I'll probably go the latter route so that I have the option of doing extra Sepoy battalions and doing smaller actions with the proper units as well as staging a mutiny some day.

What does this mean for my table? Well it strongly favours the 5'x7' option as being big enough to handle the battles of interest as well as the most teasers and any skirmishes I choose to play. It will even handle my not yet formulated 1/72nd early 20thC game which may be of the 1 stand per battalion sort. 

Scale-wise, I still own painted wargame figures in at least 5 scales 15mm, 1/72nd, OS 25mm, 30mm, 40mm & 54mm but considering 1/72nd and OS 25mm as one since they are close enough to share scenery and even a table if they were of similar periods, I am down to 2 active scales and look likely to be able to hold that even if I occasionally paint a bit of this or that for variety.

Period-wise, there are still too many, at least 10 which have been added to and played this year or last (more on that another day) but the good news for me is that only 1 of these is new last year, most are between 10 and 35 years old even if reborn again and again, and I don't foresee any new urges. More than that,  toys that get played with are doing what they were meant to do.    


  1. A great album from the 70s. Thank god there was more than just disco. I played an old S&T folio game last night (Battle for Germany) for the first time in years with a felloe Montreal boardgamer I just met. I think it was released about the same tme as Al Stewart's record.

    I have the same problem as you do. Too many interests, oh so many scales and periods. No I am not getting into 15mm WW2!!! I think I must have a ton of unpainted lead.

    Living in a shared apt I just don't get to sit up the gaming table as often as I'd like to. Oh to be young and living at Fort Robie once more.

  2. Hi Ross,
    So go induce some visions...