Last week I have been mostly – drawing maps

I have recently revised my approach to the Peninsular War e-mail campaign to try to engage the players a bit more.

Rather than insist they sit in their HQs awaiting reports of engagements they never saw, now whenever there is a contact on the master map between any more than scouts and messengers I will prepare a detailed game map of the 10 mile x 10 mile map square.

My copy is gridded in hexagons so that any part may be quickly copied to a wargame table or the Commands & Colors board as required.  The player in residence or who has scouted the area will receive a tracing, gridded in 1 mile squares.  The player entering the area will receive a tracing of the main roads and rivers, town and hilly areas.  The players are then demoted to the position of the senior man on the spot and asked for orders.

Results of any ensuing conflict will not be known to the player until he receives the local commander’s report or reads about it in the newspapers.

Sample map for the occupying player
Sample map for the occupying player
Sample map for invading player
Sample map for invading player

Added to this activity I have (some might say foolishly) started up another campaign to umpire.  Trying to get away from always playing Napoleonic games I resurrected my Operation Sealion campaign.  I started to play this solo some time ago, but thought an opponent would be a good idea.  Then I realised that there could be no secrecy, so I found a second player and I am now the umpire.

This campaign is run using a linked area system with 65 defined 6ft x 4ft tabletops.  I have a campaign book with the orders of battle and small maps of the areas.  I have started to create the maps for the game using the drawing tools in Microsoft Excel.  I use this tool because it enables me to add positions of troops later and to annotate the map using the “comments” function. Also I can keep all the maps, orders of battle, timelines and notes in one editable file.

Here is a sample map, gridded in 1 foot squares for the players and hexagons for me.

A wargaming map created in Excel
A wargaming map created in Excel

Blücher plays Commands & Colors

I have owned a copy of Sam Mustafa’s “Blücher” rules for five days and already started to bugger about with them.  Not because there is anything wrong with the rules, but I wanted to see if I could adapt them to my normal hexagon-based playing tables in 2mm and 6mm.

I am pleased to say that very little adaptation is needed.  As a first test I tried the rules with a scenario from Commands & Colors Napoleonics and the here is the result.

I made a few cock-ups in interpreting the rules, but I have to say that was my own fault.  These are probably the clearest, best laid out set of rules that I have ever read.

Blücher plays Commands & Colors

Poland – 3rd September 1939

The third day of my World War Two campaign.  This one pitched two Infantry armies against each other on the Polish-Czech border.  I randomised the battlefield using the Memoir 44 board and a pack of playing cards to determine terrain placement and then transferred it to the wargame table.

Forces and objectives were generated as described in the attached report using the Memoir 44 dice.  It turned out to be a very short, sharp battle with – to my mind – an unrealistic ending as most of the German forces were still intact, but they set the Polish objective and then failed to adequately defend it!

So here is the game report.

1939 09 03 Poland

The German strategic turn is ended. Poland now takes the initiative.

“Colours” Wargame show at Newbury

This year the “Colours” show was a single day format rather than the previous weekend. The three floors of the Dubai stand at Newbury Racecourse (my local racing haunt) were full of traders, demonstration and competition games.

It is noticeable that the vague scent of resin at trading shows has now been replaced by the smell of laser cut MDF. MDF was everywhere on sale, which will become appealing when someone begins producing models at smaller than 1:120 scale. The exception is Connoisseur Figurines who are turning out MDF armies in 6mm/1:300. The samples I bought look excellent for my “in period” demonstration battles.

Games that caught my eye at Newbury were the 54mm English Civil War Battle of Newbury ( the historical battlefield being within sight of the show location), Aruare 1813 – a different scenario for Napoleonics, the Society of Gentlemen Wargamers’ Bir El Abd and the stunning reduced scale scenery of Lisagne 1871(?) in 6mm by Grand Tactical Games

Taken at Colours show, Newbury.
Taken at Colours show, Newbury.

Continue reading “Colours” Wargame show at Newbury

A day at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Last week Lady Whiskers and I took the caravan for our annual chill-out at an equestrian three day event.  For the past three years we have visited Blenheim Palace but this year we chose Burghley House.  The camping was pleasant, although with different amenities and possibilities to those we have previously enjoyed.  For example, if you wanted 240v power you had to bring your own rather than paying an arm and a leg for the convenience.  On the other hand, the Golf Club restaurant was open to us for the duration.

Our holiday normally goes something like this:  Day 1. Arrive and set up caravan, check out what is happening. Day 2. Shopping. Day 3. Dressage, shopping, walk the cross-country course.  Day 4. Walk the course again watching the competition. Day 5. Show Jumping and more shopping. Day 6. Pack up, drive home, unpack, discover there is nowhere to put the shopping.

Saturday 5th September was the Cross-Country day, which is my favourite bit.  Dressage is interesting enough until I have seen three horses do the same dance, and Show Jumping is fun when they reach the finalists.  I managed to capture some video at each obstacle on the course over the five or six hours we were walking around (having already walked the 6.5 Km course the previous day to examine all the jumping routes and options).

Getting my excuses in early:  The video was shot with an unsupported hand-held camera  – a Fujifilm Finepix S1 – set on “auto”, amongst a crowd.  I had to grab the shots as and when I could get a view, often without knowing the rider’s chosen route.  This is my second attempt at video with this machine, and I had problems with the two zoom buttons, occasionally hitting one while trying to use the other.  It’s also my first ever use of video-editing software, which I used to trim the absolute worst and to put the jumping efforts in the correct sequence around the course. There’s still some fairly dodgy stuff there but mainly where it was all I had of a specific obstacle.

I beg your forgiveness.  I will invest in a monopod for future events.