Saturday, 31 October 2009

The History of Wargaming Project – A plea for help

John Curry – who is single-handedly running The History of Wargaming Project to republish many of the early (and now out-of-print) wargames books and rules – has been in contact with me in the hope that one of my blog readers can help him track down the following authors:
  • S. Johnson
  • K. White
  • G. Highley
  • K. Minear
They wrote the MIDDLE EARTH WARGAMING RULES published by SELWG in 1976.

John also wants to contact the family of Bruce Quarrie, as he would like to reprint several of Bruce’s books and rules.

If you have the information John Curry needs, please contact me by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Alternately you can contact John Curry via his website John Curry Events.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Having a break from When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars

I am having few days break from WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS. I have already received more feedback from readers that will require my attention, and I have also had some thoughts about improving the look of the diagrams by reducing the thickness of the lines.

In the interim I have been re-reading Joseph Morschauser’s book as well as the articles he wrote about wargaming … again! I still cannot seem to a firm grip on how the ‘missing’ one-inch gridded version of his ‘Musket’ period rules should work … so I am thinking about having a go at using his ‘Modern’ period rules to see if fighting a battle with them will help me gain a better understanding.

I will report back on my progress as soon as I make some!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Latest draft of the Rules and Army Lists now available

After a few trials and tribulations with my Internet connection, I finally managed to upload the latest drafts of the newly separated WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS – RULES and WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS – ARMY LISTS to the Red Hex Wargames website.

To download either or both of these just visit the website and click on the appropriate link. The password to open both documents is the same as before: wec-cw.

Read and enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Latest news

I have finished revising the text of the rules in the light of the feedback I have already received. As part of the revision process I have split the Army Lists away from the Rules and will make them available as a separate entity.

The main reasons why I have done this are:
  • It will reduce the length of the Rules booklet
  • It will make it easier to add extra Army Lists as I develop them if they are separated from the Rules
  • I have had requests just for sets of the Army Lists from people who want to use them with other rules(!)
With a bit of luck both the Rules booklet and the Army Lists booklet should be available as downloads from the Rex Hex Wargames website sometime tomorrow.

PS. I have also designed a cover for both booklets. Here is the cover for the Army Lists:

Sir Charles Warren GCMG, KCB, FRS

I am presenting a lecture tomorrow about Sir Charles Warren, and I have spent the last hour or so going over my notes and making minor changes.

At this point I suspect that some of you are asking yourselves the following questions:
  • Who is Sir Charles Warren?
  • Why does he deserve a lecture to be given about him?
The answers are as follows:
  • He was the soldier who commanded the British troops at the battle of Spion Kop on 24th January 1900
  • He was the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the time of the hunt for the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper
  • He made the first detailed geological survey of the Rock of Gibraltar
  • He conducted a major archaeological excavation into (quite literally into) the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
  • He helped Robert Baden-Powell set up the Boy Scout movement having previously been involved in the Church Lad’s Brigade.
Sir Charles is one of those Victorians who seemed to be good at a lot of things, and despite his failure as a commander at Spion Kop and the inability of the Metropolitan Police during his time as Commissioner to catch Jack the Ripper, he deserves to be remembered.

PS. Sir Charles and I also share the same birthday … not that such a trifle would make me biased in his favour in any way!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Today's tribute is to ... George Formby!

I spent most of today doing chores around the house, including cleaning all the windows ... hence the title of this blog entry!

We have a lot on windows (our house has three floors and a large conservatory on the back) and I have ended the day with aching arms, a stiff back, and a strong desire to exercise my mind ... so despite my intention not to look at the feedback I have received about WHEN EMPIRES CLASH – COLONIAL WARS for at least a couple of days, I have succumbed.

The feedback I have had so far has been extremely helpful. Some of the typos that I fail to notice have been spotted (a fresh pair of eyes will always see something obvious that has been missed) and I have had some very, very useful ideas for re-wording some of the rules to make them clearer and more precise (a big thank you to Jim Wright in particular for his suggestions!).

I have begun the process of making the necessary changes to the current draft, and hopefully this should be completed either later today or sometime tomorrow.

Note: For those of you who are too young to have ever heard or heard of George Formby, besides being very lucky (and you don't know how lucky you are!) you will not know that one of the songs for which he is famous is entitled "When I'm Cleaning Windows".

The elusive Morschauser rules!

Having read – and re-read – everything I have about Joseph Morschauser’s rules, I keep getting the feeling that I could almost put down on paper something that would be very similar to his elusive gridded ‘Musket’ period rules … and then it all seems to slip from my grasp.

The problem is that although the game mechanisms are fairly similar regardless of the historical period they are used for, the distances stands can move and the ranges weapons can be fired at differ considerably. The rules I am looking to recreate us a one-inch gridded battlefield, but I only have a copy of the equivalent ‘Shock’ period rules. I have a copy of the ‘Musket’ period rules from his book, but they do not use a grid. Finally, I have a copy of the ‘Frontier’ rules; these do use a grid, but the squares are larger than one-inch in size. Trying to meld these three into one seems to produce more confusion rather than clarity.

I will persist, but it is obvious that it going to take much longer than I first surmised.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The hunt for Morschauser's Gridded 'Musket' Period War Games rules!

The onset of my half term holiday gave me a real adrenalin boost last night, with the result that I spent several hours reading and re-reading all the stuff I have about Joseph Morschauser's wargames rules.

This concentrated effort paid off. I soon realised that Joseph Morschauser used the same basic 'architecture' and mechanisms for his rules. In other words, they all seemed to be laid out in the same way, to follow the same logical sequence, and to use a few well-tried and trusted methods of achieving results. This morning I was able to put digital versions of two of his sets of rules alongside each other on my computer screen to compare them (his 'Frontier' rules and 'Shock' period rules) ... and they are very similar.

I am now like a man who is trying to put a jigsaw picture of a landscape back together. I have the corner pieces and some of the sky, a few bits of the foreground, and a couple of pieces that don't seem to quite fit yet. The box the jigsaw came in is now empty; I can see what the picture should look like (unfortunately there is no guide picture on the box lid!) ... but it is still too indistinct to be absolutely sure what I am looking at.

What I need to do is to try to 'draw in' the missing bits to see if I can finish the picture ... and that is going to be me project for the next few days (or weeks!).

Friday, 23 October 2009

I am all WEC’ed out!

This evening I put the final touches to the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS … ahead of schedule!

The start of my half term holiday gave me the impetus to get the last few bits done, and once I had the bit between my teeth it did not take as long as I had expected.

A proof copy (i.e. it has not yet been checked for any errors!) is now available as a download from the Red Hex Wargames website. Read and enjoy!

In the meantime I am going to have a short rest from WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS … now where did I put all that stuff about Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Musket’ period wargames rules?

PS. The password for the download is: wec-cw

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Half term is very much on the horizon!

This is the last week on the first half term of the academic year ... and boy, is everyone tired!

For some reason this half term has lasted eight weeks rather than the more usual seven ... and those few extra days have really taken a toll on both staff and students. The vast majority of the latter seem to have lost all motivation to work and the former are running on empty fuel tanks.

The icing on the cake this week for the staff was an hour-long staff meeting (held yesterday after a full teaching day of six hours!) where we had to listen to the new Principal's 'vision for the future'. Needless to say we all came away feeling that all we faced was the prospect of more work, fewer resources, and even more 'bean counting'.

By the time I got home last night I had little mental energy left but I still managed to do an hour's work on WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS. I have now completed the worked examples for the combat mechanisms, and all I have left to do is produce the same for the recoil rules. With a bit of luck I should be able to finish the whole thing on Saturday but …

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Some 36-point armies

This morning I managed to take some of the photographs I need for the new draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS, including a couple that show examples of 36 point armies.

So to whet your appetites, here they are:

A 36 point British Army (1884)
A 36 point Mahdist Army (1884)

SELWG Purchases

During the short time that I spent at SELWG show last Sunday I did manage to do some retail therapy in between chatting to other wargamers and taking photos of what was going on.

Besides buying the latest issue of Miniature Wargames (November 2009 – No. 319), I bought some magnetic sheets and steel papers from Magnetic Displays and a couple of Ospreys from Caliver Books.

The Osprey books were:
  • THE CZECH LEGION 1914 – 20 by David Bullock and Ramiro Bujeiro (Men-at-Arms series No. 447)
I have the other Osprey books that cover the Russian Civil War, and this new book makes an excellent addition to my small but growing library of books about that period of history.

  • BLUE DIVISION SOLDIER 1941 – 45: SPANISH VOLUNTEER ON THE EASTERN FRONT by C Caballero Jurado and Ramiro Bujeiro (Warrior series No. 142)
I already have GERMANY’S SPANISH VOLUNTEERS 1941 – 45 by John Scurr and Richard Hook (Men-at-Arms series No. 103), and this new book looks like it will fill in some of the details that were unable to be covered in the earlier title.

Monday, 19 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: The Army Lists are complete … for the time being

I have now completed the Army Lists, and all that remains for me to do is to take the last few photographs that I need and to add the worked examples for Combat and Recoiling. Once that is done WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS will be ready for proof reading and play-testing.

An example of an Army List
The Army Lists include:
  • The Great Sioux War (1876 to 1877)
  • The Second Afghan War (1878 to 1881)
  • The North-West Frontier of India (1878 to 1890)
  • The Zulu War (1879)
  • The First Boer War (1880 to 1881)
  • The Gordon Relief Expedition (1184 to 1885)
  • The North-West Frontier of India (1890 to 1900)
  • The First Matabele War (1893)
  • The Cuban Rebellion (1895 to 1898)
  • The First Italo-Ethiopian War (1895 to 1896)
  • The Reconquest of the Sudan (1896 to 1898)
  • The Spanish-American War (1898)
  • The Second Boer War (1899 to 1902)
  • The Boxer Rebellion (1900 to 1901)
The list is by no means exhaustive, but I have tried to include some famous campaigns as well as some less well-known ones.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

SELWG 2009 – A short photo-report

After what seems like a very long time, the SELWG show has returned …and despite having a shed-load of work this to do today I managed to get there for a few hours and to make several purchases.

The queue outside the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace waits patiently in the Autumn sun for the doors to open at 10.00am.
The Main Hall. The demonstration and participation games were in the centre of the Hall, and trade stand lined the walls.
There were also trade stands on the balcony ...
... and lining the walkway from the entrance to the balcony.
The South East Essex Military Society (SEEMS) ran their popular 'Wot, no parachute?' game. Here it is just before the first game started ...
... and here it is in full swing.
The Shepway Gamers produced some impressive terrain for a FLAMES OF WAR battle.
A close-up of the terrain and models used in the Southend-on-Sea Wargamers (SSWG) game about the possible Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe in '1984'.
Another World War II battle, this time put on by Loughton Strike Force.
The Diamond Geezers put on a very attractive participation game called 'The Raid'. As can be seen, this attracted a lot of attention from young and old alike.
A section of 'Battle of Minden' wargame.
Deal Wargames Club were 'Crossing the Irrawaddy'. As usual, the standard of their modelling was superb.
Martin Goddard of PETER PIG was on hand to explain and demonstrate the latest version of AK47.

The AK47 demonstration/participation game allowed those that took part to experience the recent changes that have been made to the rules.

One of the best things about going to a wargamers show is meeting old friends, and today was no exception. Besides the chaps from SEEMS – most of whom I wargamed with back in the early 1980s at Eric Knowles’s shop NEW MODEL ARMY – I also had a chance to talk to Duncan Macfarlane (late of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED), Nigel Drury, Peter Grizzell, Nick Huband, Tony Hawkins (and the ‘Norfolk lads’), and Kenny Smith. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves … and so did I!

Let's hope that now the problems with the venue are sorted, the SELWG show will continue to thrive and grow.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: The Army Lists

I had hoped to do a lot of work today on the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS, but other demands on my time have seriously impinged upon what I was able to achieve. That said, I have now finished revising the bulk of the text, and have begun work on transcribing and updating the Army Lists.

So far I have added armies for the Great Sioux War – including Custer’s Column, a typical US Infantry Column, and Sitting Bull’s Alliance – and I have also been looking at several ‘Small Wars’ for which armies might be included.

Once the Army Lists are completed all I will have to do is to add some suitably illustrated worked examples of the combat and recoil mechanisms … and then WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS should be ready for final proof reading and play-testing.

Problems with links

Several readers have contacted me to point out that some of the links from yesterday's blog entry do not work.

I have had a look at the html that I wrote (I prefer to do it that way even though it is sometimes a bit long-winded to do so) and for some reason I cannot explain when I uploaded it some of the links were corrupted and would not work.

I have now corrected the mistakes and tested the links ... and they all now work.

Read and enjoy!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Joseph Morschauser’s grid-based wargames rules for the 'Musket' period – Some developments

After yesterday’s blog entry about Joseph Morschauser’s gridded wargames rules I got the following email from Ross Macfarlane, the creator of the WITH MACDUFF ON THE WEB website:

Hi Bob, can't leave comments on your blog so I thought I'd drop you a note. Mike Tabor's Historifig site has a copy of a set of gridded Ancients Rules by Joe Morschauser. The mechanisms are quite different (though still using his usual melee and missile fire concepts), but the board looks very similar. Here's the link:

http://www.tabletoptalk.com/?page_id=335

They also have an old Tabletalk bio at http://www.tabletoptalk.com/?page_id=322

cheers,

Ross
http://www.lochsloy.ca/macduff.htm
The entry on the Historifig website that Ross refers to has the transcribed text of the same article from MINIATURE PARADE that I mentioned yesterday.

Comparing that with the text of the ‘Frontier’ rules, it is possible to see that there are common elements and mechanisms used in both sets of rules. However the latter do read like they are the rules that were being used in wargames featured in the famous photographs in Joseph Morschauser's HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE and Donald Featherstone’s ADVANCED WAR GAMES (see my blog entry of 16th December 2008) and are not the elusive ‘Musket’ period rules that used a one-inch squared grid.

What I now have are:
  • A copy of the Ancient/’Shock’ period rules
  • A description of the ‘Musket’ period rules from an article featured on the VINTAGE WARGAMING blog
  • A copy of the ‘Frontier’ rules
  • A copy of Joseph Morschauser's book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE
Using these sources, a bit of luck, and my experience of game design I should be able to produce something akin to Joseph Morschauser’s grid-based wargames rules for the 'Musket' period.

Once I have done that … well, I can't not try them out, can I?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Joseph Morschauser’s grid-based wargames rules for the 'Musket' period – Does anyone have a copy?

I have recently written an article for a forthcoming issue of THE NUGGET about Joseph Morschauser’s grid-based wargames rules for the ‘Shock’ period (i.e. Ancients). Much of the information I used came from an article in MINIATURE PARADE that was published in the 1967 Winter issue. It included a synopsis of his ‘Shock’ period rules and some interesting – but somewhat grainy – pictures of an Ancients game in progress.

As I was writing the article it struck me that although I had a vague idea what his equivalent rules for the ‘Musket’ period were like – thanks to a couple of detailed entries on the Vintage Wargaming blog – I did not have a full understanding of how they worked.

So this is an appeal … of sorts.

If anyone has a copy of Joseph Morschauser’s gridded wargames rules for the ‘Musket’ period, please could they let me have a scan or a photocopy of them?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Examples of the photographs I am using

Just a little teaser today, as I have a lot of other work to do!

The following are a couple of the photographs I will be using to illustrate the latest draft of the rules.

The first shows how a large open tactical square looks on the tabletop.

The second shows a real Victorian infantry unit forming a small tactical square. Note the beards on some of the soldiers!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Another short progress report

As I don’t start work until midday on Tuesdays, I was able to spend some time this morning taking photographs to use in the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS.

After a bit of trial and error I managed to get the pictures I wanted; namely Colonial troops in three different sized ‘square’ formations. These will be used – along with some diagrams – to illustrate the various tactical square formations that European and European-style troops will be able to use, and to point out the advantages and disadvantages of such formations.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: A short progress report

I actually managed to spend a couple of hours today working on WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS.

Most of the work was devoted to producing explanatory diagrams that should make it much easier for people to understand the rules. Here is an example of the sort of thing I have produced:

It shows how movement (left-hand side of the diagram) and weapon ranges (right-hand side of the diagram) are measured orthogonally.

More news as and when it happens!

Something new to read

Feeling desperate for a breath of fresh air – well to get out of the house for a short time anyway – I did not take much persuading when my wife suggested a short trip to the local shopping centre.

Besides giving my time to stock up on the stuff I need to keep the worst aspects of my cold under control – Aspirin and decongestants – it also gave me the opportunity to visit a bookshop for a browse … and a possible purchase (or two).

I eventually came out with two books by Osprey:

  • T-62 MAIN BATTLE TANK 1965 – 2005 by Steven J Zaloga and Tony Bryan (New Vanguard series No. 158)
  • ARMIES OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY 1750 – 1850 by Stuart Reid and Gerry Embleton (Men-at-Arms series No. 453)
I am looking forward to reading both these books … and the thought of doing so is helping me to feel better already!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Wargames, Soldiers, & Strategy (Number 48: October 2009) – A review of the Spanish Civil War edition

Some of you might know that several years ago I wrote a wargamers guide to the Spanish Civil War entitled LA ULTIMA CRUZADA (The Last Crusade). It was 80 pages long and was published by Partizan Press, which is owned by Caliver Books.

I wrote the book because – at the time – there was very little general information available about the Spanish Civil War that would be on interest to wargamers. The book enjoyed some degree of success, and I know that it introduced quite a few people to what was a well known but little wargamed ‘modern’ war.

It was therefore with considerable interest that I saw – and bought – the latest issue of WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY. The cover stated ‘All the history of the Spanish Civil War inside’, and now that I have had time to read it I can write a short review.

Other than the regular features that the magazine contains (News, Miniatures Review, and the second part of an article about the life of Pyrhuss the Epirote) this edition is completely made over to coverage of the Spanish Civil War. The ‘dossier’ section includes:
  • Basic dictionary of the Spanish Civil War – This covers the main political parties, the nicknames of some of the aircraft used, and some Spanish military terms
  • Chronology – This is a two-coloured timeline (salmon pink for the Republicans and mid-blue for the Nationalists) on which the major events affecting either side are recoded; it also includes some small maps that show the progress of the war
  • A country on the brink of an abyss – This section explains the events leading up to outbreak of the Civil War as well as covering the fighting that took place up to the end of 1936
  • Fighting in the areas of Madrid, the Jarama, Guadalajara and Brunete – This covers the attempts by the Nationalists to capture Madrid by cutting it off from the rest of Republican Spain and their offensive to secure the South of Spain
  • The campaign in the North – This section deals with the Nationalist offensive against the Basque area of Northern Spain and the ‘civil war within a civil war’ in Barcelona that assured the ascendancy of the Communists within the Republic
  • The Republican offensives in Aragon and the campaign of the Levante – These Republican offensives were initially successful, but this section explains how they ran out of steam in the face of relentless Nationalist counter-attacks
  • The Republic’s last hope – The Ebro – This was the Republic’s final throw of the dice … that failed; this covers the reasons behind the offensive and the reasons why it failed
  • The Catalonia campaign and the end of the War – This section covers the gradual disintegration of the Republican Army in the face of the slow and unremitting Nationalist offensive to capture what remained of the Republic as well as the internal struggles within the Republic that ultimately led to its collapse
  • Tanks and Armoured Vehicles in the Spanish Civil War – This section looks at the development of armoured forces during the Spanish Civil War, and includes some very useful ORBATs (Orders of Battle)
The whole dossier is well illustrated with relevant, easy-to-understand maps, some excellent photographs of Spanish Civil War wargames figures – mainly 28mm but also a few 15mm – and examples of contemporary posters from both sides of the conflict.

This is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to know about why the Spanish Civil War broke out and the main military events of the War, and is well worth the price of £4.20. It does not cover uniform details, technical details of weapons, general ORBATs, the air war, or the naval conflict; for that information the reader will have to look elsewhere.

"What a mistake-a to make-a!"

At the moment I am feeling a bit like Capitano Alberto Bertorelli (seen below with Private Helga Geerhart, Lieutenant Hubert Gruber, and General Leopold von Flockenstuffen in an episode of 'ALLO 'ALLO).

A member of Wargame Developments contacted me for the password so that he could read the online PDF versions of the 2009 – 2010 issues of THE NUGGET ... and I managed to send it out to everyone on the Wargame Developments Discussion Group (WDDG) by mistake.

An eagle-eyed member of Wargame Developments spotted my gaff … and told me straight away. As a result I have had to change the password for the forthcoming year.

This would – in itself – not have been a problem except that about three hours ago – before the mistake was spotted – I posted the now defunct password to all the full and e-members of Wargame Developments.

As Capitano Alberto Bertorelli would have said “What a mistake-a to make-a!.”

Friday, 9 October 2009

A boost to my flagging morale!

Having collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printers on my way to work today, I decided to make a short detour to buy the postage stamps I needed from the local post office. This was a big mistake!

Not feeling very well, the sight of the very long queue of people waiting to be served made me feel decidedly worse, so I sent off for the local branch of WHSmith where I knew that I could buy all the stamps that I needed … but with a somewhat shorter wait!

Standing in the inevitable queue waiting to be served (queuing is bad at the best of times but when you have a heavy cold, every minute standing there seems like an hour) I happened to glance over at the magazine rack … and saw the October issue of WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY on sale. Furthermore, it is a special issue about the Spanish Civil War, which is one of my favourite periods of military history.

My morale soared … and the queue suddenly did not seem to be so long.

Of course, dear reader, I bought it (and the postage stamps) … and I will write a short review of this latest issue of WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY as soon as I feel well enough to do so.

Nugget 229

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET (NUGGET 229) from the printers today, and it is now in envelopes waiting to go into the post tomorrow. With any luck all the currently paid-up full members of Wargame Developments should receive their copy sometime in the next week or so.

In the meantime, the PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT are available for full and e-members to read online via the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Too much work!

Yesterday I hardly had time to read my emails let alone do any serious work on WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS.

Last night, after teaching for three hours and attending a compulsory training session about Health and Safety in the workplace (rather a waste of time as I teach Health and Safety to the students!), I helped my colleagues prepare for the college’s Open Evening. This gives prospective students the opportunity to see what is on offer and to meet some of the staff involved in delivering the curriculum.

Because I was involved in the preparations for the event, I did not have to attend the Open Evening; nevertheless, the preparations took some considerable time and I did not get home until later than normal. My working day was not, however, over. I am a tutor to fifteen students who are preparing their applications to go to university, and I spent several hours reading through the drafts of their Personal Statements.

If you have never been involved in the processes used in the UK to apply for a university place, you will be unaware of the importance placed by the universities on each student’s Personal Statement. It can make or break their application. My tutor group have done their best … but their best is just not good enough. As a result I had to spend a considerable amount of time both adding notes to each Statement and preparing what we in education call a ‘writing frame’. This is a template for the students to follow and it took me the best part of two hours to produce a computerised one that they will be able to download and use.

Despite all of this I did manage to read through what I have so far written in the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS, and I have identified several things that need greater clarification or explanation. Hopefully I will be able to do some work on the rules tonight or tomorrow … but the way things are at the moment I cannot be sure!

PS. My cold is slowly getting better … but my wife now has it as well. C’est la vie!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Some progress is being made … but not a lot!

My cold is not getting any better, although it has not yet stopped me going to work. When I got home tonight after the usual drive through rush-hour traffic, I crashed out for over an hour in my armchair. When I woke up my head felt a bit clearer, and after having a meal I managed to spend an hour working on the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS.

I have finished work on the General Rules section, and have included relevant notes in the text … and as a result I have managed to avoid using footnotes, which I know annoy a lot of people! I have also included a couple of photographs and a diagram to illustrate particular points in the rules regarding the placement of two stands in a single grid square and the measurement of movement and ranges orthogonally.

I have now begun work on the Battle Rules section. I have changed the turn sequence to incorporate the use of numbered activation counters for both solo and face-to-face battles. I am also changing the rules so that stands cannot move through grid squares that are already occupied by other stands, including friendly ones. These changes have meant quite a lot of re-writing and re-drafting of the existing wording, but I think that the resultant rules are much clearer and easier to understand.

Only time – and extensive play-testing – will prove whether or not I am right to make these changes … but I hope that it will be fun finding out!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Nugget 229

I hope to take the latest issue of THE NUGGET to the printers tomorrow morning and with a bit of luck I should be able to pick it up on Friday.

I hope to get it out in the post on Saturday, and it should be with members later next week. I hope to upload the PDF versions of the latest issues of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website on Thursday or Friday so that members (including e-members) can read it before the printed version arrives in the post.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: Latest update

Despite – or in spite – of my cold and sinusitis, I managed to finish tidying-up my wargames room this morning, which meant I had some time – and a slightly clearer head – when I sat down this afternoon to do some work on WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS.

I now have a layout that looks the way I want it to look, although my original choice of Lucida Sans for the font is – in retrospect – one that I will have to re-examine. It is clear and easy to read, but I want to use a compatible font for notes, worked examples, and image captions … and none of the other Lucida fonts seems to work.

As a foretaste of what the new draft of the rules will look like, here are some images of sample pages:

As you will see, I am using a mixture of photographs and diagrams to explain the mechanisms used in the rules, and I hope that by doing so I will make them as crystal clear as possible.

I have a heavy workload ahead of me this week and next, but I hope to be able to get this draft of the rules ready for proof reading within the next fortnight.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

When I woke up this morning ...

I went to bed last night full of good intentions. I had planned to do some serious work on the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL WARS today, but when I woke up this morning I had itchy eyes, a sore throat, and a runny nose; in other words, I was in the first stages of a dose of the common cold that is currently ‘doing the rounds’ where I work.

Now trying to write wargames rules that make sense when your head feels like it is full of cotton wool is not a good idea. I did try … but even in my current state I could see that what I had written did not make a lot of sense. So instead of persisting with doing something that was going wrong, I decided to have a tidy-up in my wargames room. Not only did I get up a bit of a sweat carrying the bags of rubbish downstairs (my wargames room is on the top floor of our three-storey house and the rubbish bins are outside on the ground floor level) but also I felt that I had achieved something that needed doing (and that I had been putting off!).

I don’t feel 100% better than I did this morning when I awoke, but doing something active and positive – rather than sitting watching television and feeling sorry for myself – has helped … and I have had one or two useful ideas about the rules whilst I was doing the tidying-up.

So in the end it has not been a totally unproductive day.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Just what I was looking for!

During a visit to the local branch of WHSmith (for the benefit of any non-UK readers, WHSmith is a nationwide chain of newsagents, booksellers, stationers, toy sellers, DVD/CD retailers etc.) I happened to be passing the games section and saw ...

... a pack of magnetic numbered counters.

Now I had been contemplating how I was going to make two sets of numbered 'chits' or counters for the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! - COLONIAL WARS … and when I saw these I realised my problems were over!

As they are magnetic it will be possible to store the numbered counters on a metal tin lid or piece of steel paper when they are not in use, thus reducing the possibility of them getting lost before, during or after a battle. Furthermore they are nearly 2mm thick and are fairly easy to pick up.

The counters are part of a range of similar products sold by Indigo Worldwide Ltd (33 – 35 Daws Lane, London, NW7 4SD [http://www.fridgemagic.com/]) that apparently includes (according to a list on the back of the package):
  • A – Z letters
  • Blank Tiles
  • Flags & Capital Cities – Europe
  • Flags & Capital Cities – Rest of the World
  • Small Magnetic Wipe Clean Boards (295mm x 245mm)
  • Large Magnetic Wipe Clean Boards (397mm x 322mm)
Some or all of these might be of use to wargamers, and I intend to visit this company’s website in the very near future in order to have a detailed look at their product range.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

New look for my blog

After having used the same design template for my blog for over a year, I decided to switch to the one I was using for my Colonial Wargaming blog.

I have done this for the sake of uniformity ... and because I wanted a change!

I hope that you like the 'new look'; I can assure you the change will not affect the content!