Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Miniature Wargames and Project Waterloo

Well I said I would do it, so with not a little difficulty I finally got a copy of this months Miniature wargames and I got more out of it than just a read of Tasmin's article. Actually my wife Cath also had a read of that article. As she said, when you know someone it makes it all the more interesting a read. Er, yes dear, but you don't know her. I will not continue revealing THAT conversation as it ended as you may expect ;-)

Back to the point, well kind of. I can't really comment on how much of an improvement Henry has made to the mag as it's been years since I bought a copy but others have been rather forward in their praise. Well my reason for buying it was two fold, first to check out Tasmin's article but also I have been hanging my nose over subbing to a mag and I have to be honest that whilst I have enjoyed the Wargames Illustrated I have read this last year the whole house mag of Flames of War leaves me cold. Secondly the subscription offer of free FoW stuff er well I think you get it. Worryingly when I asked Matt for guidance he took the wind out of my sails with "When the local newsagent closed I did not bother getting either mag from another shop" This is the man who ALWAYS gets those two. So with that I just kind of mulched about for another couple of months (I have tried to get MW but failed) until I got this issue.

Not that I have read all of it, nor will I read all of it, no sir. That's kind of the problem, I have the same issues with the radio, I don't tend to listen to the radio much, instead I play music I know I want to hear. But I did read some articles for periods I don't want to play which is what a mag is all about. 

Problem is that for me it's still about worth. I just have not personally had £4 worth out of it. The money would have been better spent on a book and I think that is the answer. Every month I put £5 to one side as my book fund and when I see a book I want, I just get it, not that I am short of books to read but you get the idea.

But before anyone draws conclusions from this that are slightly left of what I mean, it's just me. I have a narrow interest at the moment and don't plan on making it wider so it suits me to turn away. However I think MW is a good read and indeed consider it a good choice for many a gamer, WI is snazzy and would probably be the better mag for me though I like the style of MW more.

I did find two articles that really ticked a few boxes. The ECW campaign, a few good idea's came from that and more importantly the Think Tank article on why so much lead remains unpainted.  In honesty I was about 1/3rd the way through and thinking it was rather scripted nothing new kind of article but as I read on it started to make more sense. 

Problem is that according to this article our Project Waterloo is doomed to failure. Several failure boxes are ticked by us. Lots of high detail painting that often means figures just don't get painted fast enough to satisfy the get them to the table urge. It's big and it's going to take years, though we get a bit of relief in that we will get games in with parts of the force as we build up for the big one. The most damning though is the lack of planning, or rather the lack of CORRECT planning. You see we (well that is to say ME) are focusing on the figures, according to Tim Beresford I have it the wrong way round. The terrain should be the thing that is looked at first. How big is the battlefield and then how do we fill it with terrain both natural and man made. Once this is sorted then and only then should you make plans on how many units you need to paint up. Indeed it's possible at that point to realise that the area you planned to fight over may have to be increased if you are not prepared to cut down the number of units.

Of course it is easy to shrug one's shoulders and consider that you have it right and that you don't need to see it his way. I kind of think that way as well. We have a set number of units planned, though it can be decreased if this will make the game flow better. But I can't help but think he has a point. After all the truth is that Lee and me have not yet agreed on the number of units needed. I still favour the 72 Battalions of Prussians even though about half of that will probably get to fight, the rest will simply look great in the background and besides we will use them at some point!

However it did give me enough food for thought to try and get Lee thinking about terrain. Problem is that before we do indeed actually start work on Waterloo's battlefield we need to have built Quatre Bras. Waterloo is expected to be 16 foot by 6 foot, QB will be probably 5x6 and at some point in the next few months we need to set out a table of that size with bits of paper representing each of the key terrain features then lay out spare bases representing the troops and simply see if the space will hold the troops. Then we can make any changes, be that to numbers of Battalions in the game, size of playing area or even change movement distances or ranges in the rules just to make it all right on the night. Top down thinking according to Tim and I think he on to something.

Mind you, whilst we were discussing this single minded goal, I was admiring Lee's recently purchased Saxon's (at least they were the Napoleonic version and the correct scale) but correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think many Saxon's made it to the battle. Maybe the previous purchase then will help, you know the 20+ Battalions of Russians? Oh brother what have I let my self in for?

Lee is a wargaming butterfly, trying to keep him just on the one track is just a pointless exercise. At least he has bought the French Guard and already had plenty of normal French, shame most of these remain unpainted whilst he buys the ready painted Saxons and Russians (less the skirmishers he is currently painting), but at least I know Lee. He will get the Guard painted in time, though my money is on him buying the guard again painted by someone else) he will also build some great looking terrain and the buildings will look fantastic (his showing up the ones I paint) however getting him to work out a schedule never mind stick to it, well lets not go there.

So I will keep to my plans and watch Mr Chaos build up every nation over the next two years and watch him still flagging his units as they near the table edge for the big one.


  1. Im still laughing at this post as I write, I think anyone who has ever planned a demo game will fully understand what lays before you. Most will be waiting to see the inevitable last minute rush that always occurs with any project as the deadline draws nearer

  2. Hah, lots of food for thought!

    Have you considered Wargames Soldiers and Strategy? I'm subscribed and enjoy it despite being interested in a motley range of periods, even the other periods give eye-candy or interesting ideas (for future projects...or not!).

  3. Glad you and Cath appreciated my article.

    At the moment I subscribe to MW, WSS and WI. I'll be dropping my WI sub when it runs out.

    With your 1815 campaign project, you could do worse than take a leaf out of the books of The Rather Large Towton Project and keep a regularly updated progress chart on a blog.

    You can probably work out now whether the table sizes you are thinking of are feasible for the number of troops you envisage using. Just layout blank bases on the table and see what area they will work properly with.

  4. After the Broadside "Boyne" game I understand the pressure of projects but as I've said before about magazines it's a stupid addiction, no magazine will have enough articles of interest for everybody, I bought 2 magazines on Sunday and they're still unread and I'm unemployed!

  5. What a fabulous read! I'm afraid I let my WI sub lapse for the reasons that you have highlighted, although there was always something of interest hidden amongst the FoW stuff.

  6. Interesting insight into the Think Tank article on unpainted lead. I have my own theories but I guess I must purchase the MW mag to confirm how my thoughts fit into current theory. Wait! This brings me back to your first point regarding subscribing to wargaming mags. I pick up the occasional issue but subscribe to none.

    This is a type of posting I really enjoy reading!

  7. @ Andrew, well at the moment I am on target, Lee got in touch last night to say the Quatre Bras boards had been ordered and needs to meet up with me to discuss the terrain layout once thy arrive. so we will be able to get that sorted the sooner.

    @ Phyllion, I looked at this yesterday and I have bought the odd issue but this month is almost all ACW, could not have been a worse issue for me to take a look at.

    @ Tamsin, Indeed it was an epic endeavour of yours, I have a spreadsheet with all the Prussians on which I colour mark as units are painted up. As long as I get three Battalions of infantry painted a month and less than that of the Cavalry, guns and officers I will meet the requirement to have both Corps fully painted. But the French do not yet have such a chart though we need to set one up soon for the Quatre Bras OOB for both sides to make sure we get them all done in time though we have the majority of the French for this already.The idea of blank bases is most likely to be used but only after we have drawn the terrain on boards so we can see how much space is `Lost` to the clutter of the battlefield. I am keen to include the full OOB for the full impact but it has to fit as well.

    That Boyne game was great, loved reading both yours and Ray's takes on the day. As for mag's I am fortunate to have kicked the addiction years and years ago. But I did carry on getting the mags way after I stopped reading more than the odd article. Hope you find work soon as it really sucks being out of work for any length of time.

    @ Michael, funny enough of the three mags issues this month I think the WI was the better mag for me just not enough to get me to commit.

    @ Jonathan, Glad you liked the post, was thinking it was running on to me LOL. That article may be the best value read for me for some time as it has forced a more focused mind set which can't be bad given my need to do more than just look at the Prussians.