Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tin Soldiers In Action

David Crook (who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog) recently bought a copy of TIN SOLDIERS IN ACTION: FAIR AND SQUARE RULES FROM 1680 UNTIL ABOUT 1914 from Caliver Books, and knowing my great interest in wargames that use a gridded playing surface, he suggested that I should buy a copy. I did ... and it arrived a few days ago.


The book has been written by Rüdiger Hofrichter and Klaus Hofrichter. It is published by Partizan Press (ISBN 978 1 85818 721 1) and costs £27.50 plus postage. On the face of this the price seems to be rather steep, but the book is a hardback and has 272 pages. It is well illustrated, and has a section containing colour photographs in the middle.

In the Introduction the author writes that he began the process of designing the rules in 2010 because he wanted to create 'a more manageable system of war gaming for our tin soldier armies. The aim was to find a game, which would be quick and easy to play'. He sums his objectives as follows:
'The challenge was to design a game which is
  • action driven
  • quick and easy to play
  • historically accurate
  • realistic in its feel
  • easy to understand
  • smooth in its flow
  • simple to explain
  • while taking it easy on our hand-painted tin soldiers
I am currently still reading my way through the book. It is well laid out, and I am finding the rules easy to follow, although I do find the language a bit ponderous at times. I suspect that this is due to it being translated from German, the language the book was originally written in.

The book has its own Facebook page and section on BoardGameGeek, and I suspect that it will attract a small but enthusiastic following.

20 comments:

  1. Bob,
    I ordered a copy earlier today, after reading some favourable comments and viewing the facebook page. It will be interesting to compare notes when we have both had time to read it and play a few games.
    Maybe it's age, but I find myself increasingly drawn to the charm of a pure toy soldier game that can be enjoyed for itself, without pretensions to military historical 'realism' - whatever that is!
    You really should bring out a book of your various Portable Wargames.
    Best wishes,
    Arthur

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    1. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

      The language used is - in places - interesting, and I have the impression that the person who translated it might have only had limited experience of writing wargame rules.

      Like you, I find myself drawn more and more to simple, fun wargames that use glossy toy soldiers and terrain that does not look like a model railway layout. This book seems to be very much in that mould, and I am sure that you will enjoy readv it.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. According to the author, the translator was not a gamer at all. I am working out the kinks with the author and hopefully the changes will be in the second printing.

      If you have not gotten into a game yet, I have a bit of material on it at https://daleswargames.blogspot.com

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    3. Dale,

      I gathered from something that I read elsewhere that the translator was not a wargamer, and I am pleased to read that you are helping the author to iron out the problems with the text.

      I have yet to use the rules for a full-blown game (I'm currently spending the majority of my wargaming time on my Napoleonic project and my PORTABLE WARGAME book), but I have been following the course of other people's experience with the rules, and look forward to seeing how you have found them. Thanks very much for the link, which I will follow later today.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. It looks interesting. My first thought was that'll translate to close to $100 inc postage and exchange but that was last year...only $70 now if I was patient and ordered postage by slow boat.

    Should I come across a copy in person at Fall In, it may be hard to resist.

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    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      $70.00 sounds rather expensive, even allowing for the exhorbitant cost of postage to Canada. Perhaps someone will buy you a copy for your birthday.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I'm not expecting that but I'm a patient man when it comes to acquiring things. Bound to be used ones eventually but in any case its fun to have something particular to search for when browsing the bookseller stands at wargaming conventions.

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    3. Ross Mac,

      I am still working my way through the book, and find the writing style and language a bit ponderous. If I were you I'd do what you suggest and pick on up when you see it on sale.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. I have a copy as well and Anthony and I are hoping to try the rules out soon. On first read I am not completely convinced by them and, I agree, some of the language is a little odd.

    But the proof will be in the playing...

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    1. Mike Lewis,

      I am still ploughing through my copy of the book, and want to give the rules a run through once I have finished. I have a feeling that the rules will work better than the book gives the impression they will ... and part of that impression is down to the somewhat ponderous prose used. At times it make Phil Barker's writing seem crystal clear and brevity itself.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Bob,
      Just received my copy today. The translation into English leaves a lot to be desired - it reminds me of when I used a translation program on a set of Spanish Napoleonic wargame rules and was puzzled to find so many references to troops being 'persecuted' (I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition!) until I realised 'pursued' was the intended meaning - seeming to be a rather literal, word for word conversion of the original German, rather than into idiomatic English. I'm surprised the editorial team at Partizan Press didn't do something about it.
      I'm currently helping an Estonian gamer put his rules, which are similarly expressed, into more easily intelligible English. I'm not always one hundred per cent sure what he is trying to say, so it may take a while...
      Regards,
      Arthur

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    3. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

      As I said, the language is a bit ponderous in places and at times the translation seems to have been done by someone without much experience of writing wargame rules. A decent proof-reader who was a wargamer - such as yourself - would have helped to make this a much better book. My own favourite oddity was 'we suggest using just a shock of regular dice'.

      Good luck with your efforts; if translation was easy, nothing would ever get lost in it!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Hi Bob,
    Considering you already have the troops, terrain, and gridded surface for your portable wargames, we should see some battle reports using these rules in no time, eh? He said hopefully...

    I would second Arthur's request for a portable wargames rules compilation, but I'm pretty sure I have downloaded all of them as soon as you publish them. As an aside, it always amazes and delights me how dedicated wargamers like you and Ross and Tim and Ion and Tony and Peter and Steven and Martin and Norm and Shaun -- and so many others I can't count -- are willing to freely share the hard-earned fruits of their labors (or try to get other folks to play-test their rules, if you have a cynical bent). Considering the already-referenced steep prices for new rules sets, which are frequently replaced by new equally-expensive editions and often require additional supplements, this is to me one of the strongest draws to the hobby. I don't particularly miss the days when every wargame played at a convention used a locally-grown (or -modified) rules set which was handed out freely, but in ~50 years of wargaming I haven't detected that the professional rules sets give significantly better games; just slower ones, frequently, as you wait for someone to flip through the 20-plus-page rulebook. It's a great hobby and you are one of the folks who makes it even better. Thanks for that.
    Regards,
    John

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    Replies
    1. The Ferrymen (John),

      I want to finish reading the book, get a full understanding of the basic rules, and then I hope to play-test them.

      I have made a couple of attempts to write a proper PORTABLE WARGAME book, but to date I have not been satisfied with the results. (The same is true - by the way - of the short novel I have written about a terrorist attack on London; it also needs some more work to get it right.)

      I think of the Internet as a wargaming force multiplier, and sharing ideas and concepts benefits us all. I did stick my toe in the water when I published WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! but that was an experiment to see how easy self-publication was.

      That you for your very kind comments about my own contribution to wargaming. I just do my best and hope that it is good enough.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Fascinating post Bob, I shall visit their Facebook page and have a peruse. This is when blogging really enriches the hobby - spreading ideas and inspiration

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    1. Ken H,

      I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this blog entry, and I hope that the same is true of the book's Facebook page.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Bob,
    I'd just like to second John's comments; he put it better than I did!
    Arthur

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    1. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

      He was very complimentary, and I'm pleased to read that people have such a high regard for what and others do.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Thank you for the introduction to these rules. I saw them advertised on The Miniatures Page. I'm hoping you will have the time and inclination to give a run through of the rules or even a turn or two play test. Simple rules and maybe even a grid are more and more appealing as I age less and less gracefully :).

    I would also like to give a thumbs up to John's comments.

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    1. William Stewart,

      I'm still working my way through the book, and I hope to finish reading it very soon. Once I have - and once I take a break from my Napoleonic project - I hope to fight a battle or two with them. In essence they appear to be quite simple, and I think that they will meet your selection criteria.

      All the best,

      Bob

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