Friday 31 May 2019

A portable Portable Wargame board?

Way back, when I first began to play around with the ideas that evolved into the PORTABLE WARGAME, I used a chessboard as my playing surface. In fact, it was rescuing the chessboard from being thrown away that first gave me the idea for using an 8 x 8 squared grid as the basis of a portable wargame.

Since then I have used all sorts of different grids for my PORTABLE WARGAMES, including vinyl plastic chessboards, squared grids marked on green and beige felt cloths, and hexed grids that used Heroscape and Hexion II hexes. I've enjoyed using all of them ... but I still hanker after the simplicity of my earliest 8 x 8 squared grid. The only problem is that a chessboard large enough to use for a portable edition of my PORTABLE WARGAME really isn't portable!

However, I may have found an answer!

Looking through the online Warbases catalogue for some suitable pieces of laser cut MDF for use as a city baseboard for my recent 'Carry On up the Nile!' project, I came across a four-part MDF board that they manufacture for use with JUGULA, a game of gladiatorial combat.

The actual description on the website is as follows:
This arena measures approximately 380mm square. The individual squares etched on the board are 40mm square. ... The board will break down to four parts each measuring approximately 230mm x 150mm for ease of transportation and storage.
I ordered one, and it arrived (along with my potential city baseboards) within a matter of a few days. I was so impressed that I contacted Warbases to see if they could make me something similar but with 50mm squares ... and they say that they can! They have quoted me a very reasonable price for this 'one-off', and are in the process of manufacturing it for me. (The service from Warbases has been second to none, and I thoroughly recommend them.)

With luck, the board they are making will be delivered within the week, and when it is, I'll do all that I can to see if I can stage a quick game on it to assess its potential to be a proper portable board for my PORTABLE WARGAME.

Please note that the photograph featured above is © Warbases, and the game named JUGULA is © Gripping Beast.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Making the terrain boards for 'Carry On up the Nile!' (6)

Once the buildings and city baseboard were complete, all that remained was for everything (including the city's wall sections) to be given two coats of PVA glue to seal the surface of the wood ... and then they could be painted.

I chose to paint the buildings and the walls white, the doors Humbrol Matt Earth Brown, and the windows Payne's Grey. (I chose Payne's Grey, which is a very, very dark grey because when seen from a distance, windows look dark grey rather than black or blue.)

The city baseboard was painted Yellow Ochre to match the terrain boards, as was the parade ground area inside Fort Omdurman and the bases of the walls.

Fort Omdurman

Khartoum's defensive wall

The city's defensive wall is made from three separate sections that are connected by simple dovetail joints.

The city of Khartoum

The painted individual buildings.
The painted city baseboard.
The city, with the buildings kept in place by their locating lugs.

The completed terrain for 'Carry On up the Nile!'

The terrain is by no means perfect, but as the saying goes 'it will do for government work'. If I was going to reuse it many times, I would replace the terrain boards with something more substantial, but as I suspect that the game will only have one outing, I see no point in doing so. As to the city ... well I have already had a couple of ideas as to how that might be reused ...

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Two-dimensional buildings for wargames

Recently, one of my regular blog readers – Mike Hall – made the following comment with regard to my MAKING THE TERRAIN BOARDS FOR 'CARRY ON UP THE NILE!' (5) blog post:
You may recall that I was looking for another picture of the Great Wall of Morobad. So far, I've had no success but did find some pictures of a Joe Morschauser gridded wargame battle which looks like it would fit right into your 'Carry On Up the Nile!' scenario. What intrigued me were the flat buildings which, since they stood on the grid lines, took no space away from the figures. Quite different from your new structures but I wonder whether you have ever considered or indeed tried Joe's approach?
In fact, some years ago (2014 to be exact) I did conduct some experiments with constructing some semi-two-dimensional buildings for use in wargame.

The first looked like this*:

I was quite satisfied with this 'proof of concept', and added another building to see how several semi-two-dimensional buildings would look when used in conjunction.

I then tried building a much more imposing structure that could serve as a more important building, such as a town hall, hotel, or government building.

At this point, Sue and I went on a cruise, and when I came back, I moved onto another project and never took this idea to fruition.

Chris Kemp – who writes the NOT QUITE MECHANISED blog – did pick the idea up, and used it to create cities for his ongoing Eastern Front campaign.

Chris Kemp's model of Moscow, which used a combination of two- and three-dimensional buildings. This photograph is © Chris Kemp.
Having looked afresh at the semi-two-dimensional buildings that I build five years ago, it seems to me to be a concept that I really need to revisit.

* The 20mm and 15mm-scale figures shown in the images have been included to give some idea of the size of the buildings.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Nugget 318

Somewhat belatedly, I will be posting THE NUGGET (N318) to UK, EU, and Overseas members later today. It has already been uploaded to the website so that it can be read online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. Renewal forms for 2019-2020 will be sent out with this issue to members who are not attending COW2019. The latter have automatically renewed their membership as part of the cost of attending COW.

Monday 27 May 2019

COW2019 Sessions

The following sessions are on the timetable for COW2019:

Ian Drury et al

With resignations announced and impeachment threatened, the White House is embroiled in scandal; the hard left is taking over the British Labour Party; Russian aid to Syria is causing international concern; and a crisis looms in the Middle East. Yes, it's the early 1970s. This year's plenary game is centred on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but will include teams from many nations, with roles from frontline tank combat to shuttle diplomacy, cold war naval action, to internal politics within the Knesset, the Kremlin and the Ba'ath Party. Roles to suit all tastes, but early booking advised to play Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

John Bassett

A black game about the birth of the Baader Meinhof group and what made students in 1960s West Berlin became terrorists. A precursor to 2017's "Rote Armee Fraktion".

John Bassett

A Cold War career game about Soviet FROGFOOT pilots in Afghanistan. Will your Grach get you through to the end of the rotation or will you too fall victim to a CIA-supplied Stinger over the Panjshir? And remember, there are no Soviet Air Force operations in Pakistani airspace.

Sue Laflin

Once again, the Gauls, Romans and Pirates meet in the Forest of Broceliande. The Pirates are looking for treasure, reputedly buried by Redbeard, father to their current captain. The Romans have orders to build a road through the forest, but would much rather hunt for treasure. The Gauls wish to continue in their normal way of life, hunting wild boar, feasting and fighting anyone (especially Romans) who gets in the way.

Sue Laflin

A very fast simple naval game. A fleet of merchant traders is trying to reach the harbour and sell their cargo. A hoard of pirate ships is trying to intercept the merchants and collect loot.

Tim Gow & WD Display Team North

Basically, a ghastly 1950s B-Movie as a game. A meteorite turns out to be a giant spider egg. So obviously the army – that’s you – is deployed to try and kill it. Can you save the Earth? Or at least convince the scary space spider of the benefits of American-style liberal democracy? Features 1/32 scale toy soldiers – and of course a giant space spider!

Wayne Thomas, David Brock and Colin Maby

A hypothetical Divisional level action somewhere in Spain during the Peninsular War – to demonstrate Wayne’s rules for the period 1790 – 1840 which use the basic mechanisms of Far Away Wars, but emphasising Napoleonic tactics and, in particular, the role of Skirmishers.

Tim Gow & WD Display Team North

Following on from the questionable success of 2016’s ‘SUITCASE SAGGER’ game, a lower tech anti-tank solution is being tested to reflect the poor-quality recruits sourced from the Knustongrad Military District. The device in question was originally purchased by Mrs Gow to entertain the dog….
A lawn game which may involve lying down and wearing a silly hat.
And of course, ‘RPG’ in this case stands for ‘really pathetic game.’

Tim Gow

Another COW, another lawn game with 54mm toy soldiers. This year we’re off to Spain in 1938, where we’ll experience the full range of cutting-edge military technology. So expect tankettes, long range artillery and of course tri-motor bombers! Players should feel free to supply their own silly hats and political extremism.

Graham Evans

A fast play 28mm medieval skirmish game featuring Crusaders, Turks, and oasis, donkeys and all sorts of other paraphernalia. The mechanisms are based on an old card driven system with some new bits and pieces added. A not overlay taxing way of whiling away an hour or two on a Knuston evening.

Phil Steele with Graham Evans

After the talk last year Phil Steele returns with the official Northamptonshire Battlefields Society game and model of the Battle of Edgcote. This epic confrontation fought on the Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire border was the high point of the “Robin of Redesdale” rebellion that delivered Edward IV into the hands of Warwick the Kingmaker. Much misunderstood the battle caused a cataclysm in South Wales with the destruction of the Earl of Pembroke’s affinity. The game will enable the players to explore the various interpretations of the sources and no doubt will lead to a lively discussion. The game, featuring some really nice looking 28mm Wargames Foundry classic era figures, will use an adaptation of the popular “Hail Caesar” rules.

John Bassett

Pyrrhus tries a surprise attack with elephants along narrow side streets at midnight – Ptolemaic hard men hunt high value targets in downtown Babylon – a Spartan king has a nasty run-in with a chariot during a coup in Alexandria – angry Greek women pelt everyone with tiles and expletives...
A presentation and workshop on a neglected aspect of the Macedonian art of war: urban operations in the great years of Alexander's Successors, with not a sarissa in sight...
John will start by describing three Hellenistic city fights, using some recently recovered records. We will then look at ways of gaming Macedonian urban operations.

John Armatys & WD Display Team North

This is game you will tell your grandchildren about – and mightily bored they’ll be! WD Display Team (North)’s game for 2019/2020 celebrating the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, A Bridge Too Far is a 10-minute participation game for one player about the advance of XXX Corps.

Graham Evans

A modification of last year's "Va t'en guerre", which enables the rules to be used for both the '15 &' 45 Jacobite rebellions. The much beloved Airfix Washington's Army Marlburians will be back with new Post-Union flags, to be faced by hordes of more modern plastic Highlanders. Depending on how the painting schedule goes there's no knowing how big the battle might be.

Jim Roche

A new singalong based on years ending in 19. We will include the first Europeans to taste chocolate in 1519 and my grandfather-in-law’s time in 1919 with the HLI in Russia fighting the Bolsheviks. The first of these will be marked by a full communal rendition of ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nut Case’.
The Spanish invasion of 1719 will also feature.

Bob Cordery

An opportunity to try out Chris Engle's battle rules, POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS/SIMPLE STUPID RULES.
A none to serious sequel to last year's SAVE GORDON! game. Can a second British relief force (led by Sir Sydney Ruff-Diamond) break the siege of Khartoum and relieve Gordon and Sir Garnet Wolseley? Will the 3rd Foot and Mouth (the famous 'Devils in Skirts') give the Dervishes a whirl they'll never forget? Not so much Khartoum as Khartoon ... and more Charlton Trotter than Charlton Heston!
(Carlton is Rodney Trotters middle name. Not a lot of people know that.)

Tim Price

This is a role-playing game for 8 people, playing a dismounted infantry section in Afghanistan. It was designed because I was asked to come up with a training aid for some reservists in central London, who have very little opportunity to train outside (as their barracks is overlooked by blocks of flats) and they only get real-world training about twice a year. The game has similarities with the “Footfall” games, but with added features.

Michael Young

In this session players will take on the roles of Brexiteers, Remainers and supporters of Teresa May in a re-enactment of the debates and dilemmas that will enliven our country just before the 31st October. The game will work best with “True believers” taking on their appropriate roles, so if you firmly support or oppose Brexit this is the game for you. Expert knowledge or supporting material will be valuable so feel free to bring any along. The aim of the game is to see if we can make a realistic forecast of how the politics will unfold, using the tools of role-playing and confrontation analysis.

Mike Elliott

This is a rerun of my game Red Team/Blue Team from COW 2018. The rules have been slightly modified and streamlined and hopefully I will have some snazzy professionally printed cards! An opportunity for those of you who played last year to have a go at playing the other side or for those who haven't played before to give it a go. The game structure is defined as an asymmetric double-blind system (!!!).

Mike Elliott

The first of Montrose's six classic victories in Scotland during the English Civil War. The rules are an updated version of "By the Sword Divided". Some of the figures were purchased on the Bring and Buy last year!

Tim Price

This is a one-sided game played against a pre-planned opposition. The players are Nation-State hackers seeking to deny, degrade, humiliate, destroy, and otherwise mess up the main military port of their hated rival. Based on a game designed by DSTL for teaching purposes and hopefully modified by me to make the game more accessible!

Mark Flanagan

A game of Space Information Gathering and Threat Assessment. A double-blind "information seeking" game (think battleships in space). Players represent national actors deploying resources to gather intelligence about the "the other side" while at the same time trying to hide their "secrets" from "the other side".

John Curry

Confrontation analysis breaks down complex multi stakeholder situations into dilemmas. These can then be analysed to identify optimum paths such as win-win. The standard method is perhaps easiest to use as an operational analysis exercise. This version of the method turns it into a game, where players generate cards to play. The sample game is based on the forthcoming confrontation in the South China Sea between China, the USA, Japan, Philippines etc.

As usual for a COW, there is a mixture of serious and not so serious wargames, discussions, and presentations. No doubt additional sessions will be added as the date of the conference draws closer.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Making the terrain boards for 'Carry On up the Nile!' (5)

The last piece of terrain that I needed to make was the city of Khartoum. To be roughly in scale with the rest of the terrain, this had to occupy an area that was approximately 9-inches/222.5cm long x 6-inches/15cm at its widest point, and needed to include the Governor's Residence or Palace, a wharf, at least one warehouse, an several smaller buildings. They had to be robust, simple to build, and easy to transport.

I started with the outline of the city, which I created by taping several lengths of thin plywood together. (I did not have a single piece large enough in my small wood store.) I did not glue them together at this stage, as I hoped that when the buildings etc. were in place, that would not be necessary.

I then added the wharf. This was made from a piece of thin plywood (approximately 9-inches/22.5cm long and 1-inch/2.5cm wide) which was glued to a thicker piece of balsa wood.

When the glue had dried, balsa wood was trimmed to size, and the wharf was glued in place along the riverside edge of the city.

Whilst the glue that was holding the wharf in place was drying, I set to work on building the Governor's residence and a warehouse. These were made using the as-yet-unused bottom half of one of my cheap £1.00 wooden boxes I bought from THE WORKS. (The lid had already been used to create two of the gateways in the defensive wall.)

The lower of the two was used to for the basis of the warehouse whilst the taller became the basis of the Governor's Residence. A suitably sized piece of thin plywood was glued to each of the two pieces of the box to form the building's fourth wall.

In the case of the warehouse, all I added was a door and small window to each of the long sides.

The door on the side of the building that was going to face the wharf had to be higher up the building so that its bottom was level with the wharf.

The completion of the Governor's Residence involved adding a narrow extension to the front of the building using a piece of balsa wood and one of thin plywood (the latter having an arch cut in its middle) as well as a main door and several windows to the front and rear.

I decided that these building would not be permanently fixed to the city baseboard, and trimmed blocks of balsa wood to size to act as locating lugs for the buildings. These lugs were then glued onto the city baseboard, along with several short lengths of wood that were to represent walls around and inside the city.

Above: The city baseboard with the locating blocks (and some short sections of wall) in place.
Below: The city baseboard showing the warehouse and the Governor's Residence in situ.

I then built two small small box-like structures from pieces of balsa wood ...

... to which I added roofs of thin plywood.

The square building was then given a single door, a dome (a small, cut-down wooden draw knob), and a couple of minarets (actually wooden lighthouses from a set of wooden ships bought some years ago!) so that it could be used as a mosque ...

... and the other was given a door and a couple of windows and became a single-storey dwelling.

For the next two buildings, I reverted to cutting the bottom half of one of my cheap £1.00 wooden boxes from THE WORKS into two slightly different sized parts, to which I added a piece of thin plywood to create my basic building 'block'.

Using various pieces of balsa wood, plywood, and basswood that I had to hand, I added a roof extension to each as well as a slightly projecting frontage on half of each 'block' ...

... after which I added a number of doors and windows to create the impression that each 'block' was made up from several different dwellings.

As I had done earlier, I trimmed blocks of balsa wood to size to act as locating lugs for these buildings. These lugs were then glued onto the city baseboard in appropriate locations.

I left everything to dry overnight ... and then discovered that the city baseboard had warped quite badly. I tried to rectify the problem by gluing further strips of thin ply at right angles to the existing baseboard, but although this went some way to curing the problem, I thought that the baseboard was still too warped to be acceptable.

In the end I decided that the best (and quickest) way to resolve the situation was to completely start afresh, and to make a new city baseboard. Two layers of thin plywood were glued so that the grain on the top and bottom pieces were at right angles to each other ... but when the glue had dried overnight, the new city baseboard had as much (if not more) warpage than the original!

I therefore decided to use my original (and slightly warped) city baseboard rather than the new one. All that remained was to give the completed models two coats of PVA to seal the surface of the wood before they were painted.

I am giving serious thought to replacing the baseboard with one made from MDF. For the moment, however, I'm going to stick with original one whilst I source a suitable piece of MDF.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Into the Sudan

A couple of days ago, Martin Smith (a member of the Portable Wargame Facebook Group) posted some photographs of a recent battle he fought using the Late Nineteenth Century (including Colonials) rules from THE PORTABLE WARGAME.

Here are a selection of his photographs:

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Martin Smith.