Tuesday, 16 November 2010

John Ruddle and the Garden Wargame

I was glancing through my collection of wargames 'cuttings' last night, and found some pictures and articles about John Ruddle's garden wargame ... and I remembered how envious I was when I first saw them.

I gather from the text that accompanied the pictures that John had been wargaming in his garden for many years, and that he used 54mm-scale figures, a permanent garden railway system, buildings made from cast concrete, and wooden home-made ship models. The 'war' was set in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, and was fought during all but the most extreme weather conditions.

I remember thinking at the time the articles were originally published that wargaming on this epic scale must be incredible, and how much I had wanted to emulate it. Unfortunately, wargaming in my garden was never, ever a possibility – unless one accepts that the world has a one-in-ten slope – so my thoughts turned to building a huge permanent layout somewhere where I could fight a never-ending war with my 20mm soldiers. Alas, that was also a pipedream that has yet to come to pass.

Looking again at the photographs that were specially taken for the articles, I was struck by the cartoonish nature of the ships that John Ruddle built for his wargames … and how similar they are to the style of models that I am currently building. It made me wonder … had I unconsciously remembered John’s models when I began to design mine? If so, am I still hankering after fighting wargames on an epic scale over a permanent terrain?

I suspect that the answer to both these question is ‘Yes’ … so all I have to do now is to win the National Lottery and make my pipedream come true!

Fat chance!

14 comments:

  1. I remember these articles Bob. Although my (small) garden is reasonably flat, I expect the chickens would see off any toy soldier army which tried to hold it!
    Tim

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  2. Just remember, Bob, that you need a ticket to win . . . but only one.


    -- Jeff

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  3. Tim Gow,

    Chickens ... the nuclear weapon of garden wargaming, destroying all in their path and impervious to even a Britain's 4.7" Gun!

    Yours in wonderment,

    Bob

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  4. Bluebear Jeff,

    I have bought five tickets every week since the National Lottery began ... and £10 is still the best win I have had!

    One day ... one day ...

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. For 2 decades, I used to walk some of our hounds along some paths behind our old place. The area was mostly scrub but with large areas of flat rocks connected by paths and I used to daydream about the massive 54mm Colonial campaign I could wage, where the Native kraal and British forts would go and so on. I never did get around to carting boxes of figures back there though.

    The best I have managed was a backyard AK47 game with 1/72nd toys. Got a picture around here somewhere...ah yes http://gameofmonth.blogspot.com/2010/01/do-you-remember.html

    -Ross

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  6. Bob
    I once won £40 on the Lottery, but I won't let it change my life.
    Tim

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  7. Ross Mac,

    There is something about garden wargaming that gets into one's blood. I can remember fighting several battles in the (thankfully) flat family garden when I was a child.

    My 'collection' of 54mm figures (Some old Britains, but mainly Timpo and Merit) fought each other over the flowerbeds and lawn, and my Hornby 0 scale railway provided both a supply route and objective. I even had some home-made wooden warships that 'sailed' along the concrete garden path. There were no rules beyond using guns that fired matchsticks.

    Sheer bliss!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Tim Gow,

    Further proof of the old saying that money always goes to money.

    Yours in envy,

    Bob

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  9. well this Xmas my son is old enough to get his own toy soldiers.

    I have 54mm Plastic Airfix in mind perfect for the garden

    What for me? No sir I assure you that they are all his ;)

    I have may rescue the odd one or two from Ben 10 monsters and naturally if he gets the "goodies", Daddy will have to get a box of "baddies" ;)

    OK for political correctness nations names are being left out, but I the DAK is an Airfix favourite of mine!

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  10. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    Buying toy soldiers for your son that are actually for you?

    Who would dare to make such a suggestion?

    You should call them out AT ONCE! I will be willing - nay honoured - to act as your Second in such a matter. ;)

    In the meantime, on to more important matters. Are you going to paint them or just leave them ‘as is’? Will you be using dice to determine the outcome of combats or will you risk firing miniature cannons at the figures? Whatever you chose, keep the rest of us informed, as I am sure that we will all want to follow what happens.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Paint them, hmm, no. Tempting but I have tons of other equally/more pressing tings in my toy box. And 54 mm takes a fair bit of painting.

    I would also cry buckets when he chips them and faint when my other (six month and "teething" son) starts chewing them, swallowing flakes of paint in the process!

    And more importantly "I" played with unpainted Airfix figures in the garden when I was a lad! Aha, damn I'm rumbled!

    I'll let you know if I need your services as a second, as the wife might also have me rumbled!

    Dice and combat outcomes. Hmm, I hadn't paid it much thought! I'' probably use the kriegspiel free form matrix system of "why I should die"? Yes I'll be dying in droves up until bedtime when I'll threaten to wipe him out unless he gets up the stairs quickly.

    Remember the DAK packet has a rather nasty MG gunner (laying down) in it! As well as the brilliant grenade thrower and officer.

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  12. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    I must admit, that would have been my answer as well!

    I played with all sorts of odds and ends of figures; Britain's lead figures (with heads kept on by lengths of matchstick!), Merit British Infantry, unpainted red Woolworths Guardsmen ... and many, many more, almost all of them unpainted.

    The rules sound very much like the ones my father liked to use on the rare occasions that he fought a ‘war’ with me … and I always lost!

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. I never owned any of the larger-sized Airfix figures, and did not know about the Afrika Korps machine gun. Sounds like a real battle winner if properly used.

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  13. The DAK MG is cool but as for "super weapons" the Brit Infantry (not 8th Army though) has a 2" mortar, the only box with an indirect weapon, ooooh!

    Hence this means my son will probably get the British or US Para's for a bit straight forward close combat! I'm not having him lobbing things at me and winning!

    Time for bed now :)

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  14. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    Years ago, Britains produced a mortar in their Deetail range. I remember reading an article where someone – it might have been Stuart Asquith, but I am not sure – who had swapped the original figures that were fixed to the base with suitable figures (possibly Japanese) for their garden wargames.

    All the best,

    Bob

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