Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Backsight Forethought

So how did 2017 go ... and what do I want to achieve in 2018?

In the last paragraph of my January 2017 summary about 2016 I wrote:
'So where did my PORTABLE WARGAME book fit into all this? Well it has been gradually coming together over the months, and as I write this, it is approaching the stage where it is almost ready to be proof-read before publication. With luck it will be published early in 2017, and then I can begin work on my next book ... which will be the centenary history of an important Masonic Lodge.'
Well things did not turn out quite as I expected! My PORTABLE WARGAME book was published in early 2017 ... and has since been followed by a second book – DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME – and the latest edition of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA. As to 'the centenary history of an important Masonic Lodge' ... well I have finally started work on it (the research took a lot longer than expected), and with luck the bulk of it will be written by the middle of January.

A large chunk of January 2016 seemed to be devoted to sorting out the publication of my book, but in February I did manage a trip to the CAVALIER wargames show in Tunbridge Wells and to do some work on my 25mm/28mm Napoleonic project. March saw Sue and I on a cruise that took us to mainland Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, and Madeira, and in April I began work on DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME and attended SALUTE2017. The month was also marked by a number of terrorist attacks in Russia, France, and Sweden.

May saw a further terrorist attack – this time in Manchester – and on the wargaming front I continued work on DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME and my Napoleonic project. Regrettably June was marked by yet more acts of terrorism, this time in the London Bridge area and Finsbury Park. Sue and I were out of the UK for a large part of the month as we were on our second cruise of the year, this time to Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Estonia, but I was in the UK for the publication of DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME.

July saw one of the high points of my year take place ... the Conference of Wargamers! I had a great weekend at Knuston Hall, renewing old friendships and making new ones ... and taking part a great number of very different types of wargame. During the following month I began work on what became the third edition of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA, and in September I attended CONNECTIONS UK 2017.

Work on LA ULTIMA CRUZADA continued during October, but it was slow as Sue and I were on our third cruise of the year, during which we visited Portugal, Spain, and Gibraltar ... again! November was dominated by work LA ULTIMA CRUZADA, but I did manage to put the Heroscape terrain I had been painting on and off over the preceding months to use in a couple of tabletop battles. I was also visited by Arthur Harman, and we were able to take some photographs that we hope will be featured in a forthcoming magazine article.

Despite a few hiccoughs, LA ULTIMA CRUZADA was finally published in early December ... just before Sue and I went on our fourth cruise of the year! This was a short one, and took us to Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands (almost!), and Belgium.

So what are my plans for 2018?

Firstly, to complete as much of the work as I can on 'the centenary history of an important Masonic Lodge'. The centenary is not until 2020, but I have already written the history of the Lodge up until 1999, and only have 2000 to 2019 to do (which I cannot do until the relevant files are released to me) and some potted biographies of the most important Worshipful Masters to write.

Secondly I'd like to complete work on my Napoleonic project ... and then write a PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book! I'd also like to publish a PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME book if I have the time.

Finally I will definitely be booking places for COW2018 and CONNECTION UK 2018, and plan to go to more wargame shows than I managed in 2017.

As to cruises ... well Sue and I already have several lined up that will be taking us back to the Mediterranean, and some of the ports-of-call we will be visiting are ones that we have not been to before or that I definitely want to re-visit (i.e. La Spezia, as I understand that the remodelling and rebuilding of the Italian Naval Museum has now been completed).

This review of 2017 and objectives I am setting for 2018 is named after Lieutenant N. Backsight Forethought. He is the narrator of Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton's excellent short book, THE DEFENCE OF DUFFER'S DRIFT.

THE DEFENCE OF DUFFER'S DRIFT was published in 1904 and is divided into a series of six 'dreams'. During each 'dream' Lieutenant Backsight Forethought tries out a number of different ways to deploy his troops to defend a river crossing. At first his attempts meet with failure, but as he 'learns' lesson from each 'dream', his choice of tactics improves until he is successful.

I thought that it was a rather appropriate title for my annual end-of-year/beginning of the year review.


  1. One of my 2018 goals is to get enough Ancients figures painted so that I can try out your rules for that period. Has anyone reported using your Portable Wargame rules for games with more than two players yet?

    1. David Cuatt,

      Good luck with painting your Ancients figures!

      All the PW battle reports I have read have been solo or two-player affairs. That said, it should be quite simple to use the rules with several players on each side.

      All the best,


  2. Hi Bob,
    We played our first game of your ancients rules today and were impressed.
    I have a question re Barbarian Tribesmen; Are they 3 SP or 4 SP?
    We played that they were 4 SP to (buy) and 3 SP to kill. If this is correct, then which value is used to calculate exhaustion point?


    1. Steve,

      I'm very pleased to read that you enjoyed using my rules.

      Barbarian Tribesnen should 'cost' 3 SPs, both to buy and in calculating the Exhaustion Point.

      All the best,



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