20/09/2021 at 20:18 #162081
I’ve been wondering about tracking forces on a campaign map and though about using paper and pen as I used to or even a plastic folder and dry wipe markers but then wondered about using a box for each area and shuffling the actual records between boxes as troops move. I’m only looking at a few moves per week at max (possibly one or two per month in practise) as I hope each move leads to a battle or two.
This then led to this type of storage:
and putting the area name on the front.
Each drawer could contain resource details, terrain info, defences, recruitment options, even specialist scenery (if I continue using felt).
Gut feel is that it would be expensive to set up and a bit of a fuss to use BUT it would be easy to surprise myself with the contents after awhile – a big advantage as a solo gamer. To help with this, some of the contents (esp defences) could be randomly put in a box and then put in the holder by a family member!
Has anyone ever tried this or do you think it’s (not) worth the cost???20/09/2021 at 21:18 #162084
I think Tony Bath, Charles S. Grant or one of the other grand luminaries of wargaming mentions a similar set-up in one of their books, but using a ‘grid’ of matchboxes glued together rather than plastic storage units. As you mentioned, each matchbox was an area on the campaign map. Players would place the info about their forces in the matchboxes and hidden movement would be maintained. Given how hard it must be to remember what is in each box, players must have kept a personal record of what was where, but not doing so could certainly aid you in removing godlike knowledge of what is where.20/09/2021 at 21:59 #162087Guy FarrishParticipant
Featherstone ‘War Games Campaigns’ – in the days everybody smoked – I spent weeks scrounging matchboxes off people – don’t think we ever actually used the resulting infernal machine but it kept us busy scrounging and gluing the thing together.
I think the modern version looks as if it might work more smoothly than the Swan Vesta version.20/09/2021 at 22:06 #162088
When I was young, my friend and I tried using the Matchbox method, except that we had no idea where to get matchboxes. So we used envelopes. A lot more awkward, but it worked well enough.
Many decades later, someone at the club actually made an real matchbox grid. It was used once for simple pre-battle maneuvering to determine the battlefield and the forces on it. Then every ten turns on the table (or something like that) we would go to the matchbox and move our forces towards the sounds of the guns.
Quite a lot of fun, and very simple to make and use. And a lot cheaper than buying those organization drawers. But same idea as you’ve come up with.21/09/2021 at 07:45 #162091
The matchbox grid is indeed described in one of Featherstone’s books, although it was mainly proposed for hidden troop movement when playing a campaign with 2 or more sides. When your troops are in a specific gridcell on the map, you put a marker or note or whatever in the corresponding matchbox. If there is a marker present for the enemy’s troops, you know that contact has been made and a battle can be fought.
IIRC some variations have been described over the years, such that you can look into more than one (adjacent) matchbox, simulating lone of sight on the map. E.g. you can ‘see’ 2 matchboxes ahead, but mountains in a gridcell might prevent you from looking in adjacent matchboxes etc.21/09/2021 at 09:06 #162106
Featherstone ‘War Games Campaigns’ – in the days everybody smoked – I spent weeks scrounging matchboxes off people – don’t think we ever actually used the resulting infernal machine but it kept us busy scrounging and gluing the thing together. I think the modern version looks as if it might work more smoothly than the Swan Vesta version.<noscript></noscript>
Thanks, Guy. I knew it was one of that mob but could not remember where I had seen it. Maybe try it with Cook’s Matches instead of Swan Vesta? The boxes are bigger and less fiddly! 🙂21/09/2021 at 10:40 #162107John D SaltParticipant
When I was young, my friend and I tried using the Matchbox method, except that we had no idea where to get matchboxes.
Nowadays hardly anyone smokes, and it’s hard to make a search grid out of disposable lighters, but craft shops seem to supply plain matchboxes, less matches and sandpaper. The two suppliers here — others are available — seem to price them about 15p apiece.
All the best,
John.21/09/2021 at 10:52 #162108Geof DowntonParticipant
…price them about 15p apiece.
Three shillings for an empty matchbox! [Followed by various noises of disapproval]
One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:1121/09/2021 at 16:47 #162111
…price them about 15p apiece.
Three shillings for an empty matchbox! [Followed by various noises of disapproval]
Have to agree – used to be able to get 1 and a 1/2 Minifigs figure for that!!!
The advantage of the boxes is that I can use it to store troops and scenery BUT it would take up a full IKEA cube compared to the matchboxes. I think it could be worth trying the idea with matchboxes / envelopes though and decide if it ‘adds value’ to a campaign. Wonder if I can still get the book (and at a reasonable price) or find some articles? DuckDuckGo here I come.21/09/2021 at 17:17 #162112Guy FarrishParticipant
There’s a modern reprinting (Lulu) put out by John Curry’s History of Wargaming Project here
He’s changed the name for some reason, but it purports to be the same book.21/09/2021 at 17:21 #162113
I think Phil is right; it was an idea from Featherstone. I seem to recall it was in his Solo Wargaming book, but might have also been in his Campaigns book.
But both books are still available as print-on-demand from the History of Wargaming project from John Curry. Even better, the books usually have added materials that were left out in the original print run.
Edit – Ooops! Guy beat me to it!21/09/2021 at 18:41 #162124Fred BParticipant
This seems like a really cool idea (especially like the idea of a third party going in and moving some cards around), but it could get pricey. They want like $50 here in US for one of those plastic storage organizers 😮 Even the craft matchboxes are not that cheap.
I am wondering if something similar couldn’t be done with just index cards organized into stacks? As long as you have somewhere they can just sit undisturbed it could work. It won’t be as neat as a nice organizer, but should be functional. Or maybe make a kind of longbox for those cards that works like a card catalog with tabs for each region? You can make a box to size with something a single piece of foamcore, or even reuse some cardboard you already have.
No matter what, I would love to hear how it goes Andrew. Really interested in this procedure and how it can be used in a longer form campaign 🙂21/09/2021 at 19:13 #162125
The matchboxes or the plastic organizers are of course only there to provide an opaque ‘mailbox’ for every gridcell on the map. You could as well use a stack of envelopes marked with coordinates, or anything else that doesn’t allow you to peek inside if you don’t put something in.21/09/2021 at 21:46 #162132Mike HeaddenParticipant
We used a matchbox grid for an umpireless Hunt The Bismark game many, many years ago now. It worked really well, as I remember it. The matchboxes had a grid reference written on the front. You noted the box your force was in … or we’d have spent more time looking for our own ships than the enemy!
Basically a sort of analogue spreadsheet.
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data22/09/2021 at 00:38 #162136
Wow – thank you all for the responses. I’ll talk to the family over the book (birthday in less than 3 weeks).
I like the sound of the the naval game – submarine wolfpack hunting convoys comes to mind and turning the boxes around to your opponent after your move. The back of the stack would need to be covered so they cannot see the boxes being open but that would help reinforce the stack.
I also wondered about using a normal notebook – allowing two or three leaves per area and have the area map on the front and a track of the information on the back. If I use a drawing pad or scrap book (assuming the old crap paper style are still made) than the map could be ‘game size’ for my block game (here) Hmm thinking about it a better structure would be to have the info on the left page and the map on the right of a double spread (or the other way around – depending on how easy the book lays open).
As for using a spreadsheet – I did think about this for a few minutes and using white text on a white background and each cell being an area and then remembered how much of a pain text is in cells so I think Word and a table would work better (as would a database but not going there).
The file cards or envelopes could have a sketch of the area on the front – in fact I could lay them out in a grid and draw the roads etc actually joining up. It would be a lot easier to plan the overall map this way rather than transcribe a small version on to the big sheets. Not sure if I can get square index cards but I know square envelopes are easy to find so the map would be easier to translate to my board though as that’s only a sheet of cloth cutting a rectangular one would not be an issue TBH
Plenty to think about over the next week or so but I think the plastic boxes are out of the running. I need to be careful and avoid analysis paralysis – a problem I suffer from with my mind as it is.22/09/2021 at 01:51 #162137
Drawing the appropriate section of the map on the envelope is a great idea! We just used x,y coordinates written on the front. Hmmm…maybe print out some of the maps from some of the Perfect Captain campaign rules and glue them on. This is starting to get interesting for me!
By the way, when I got home from work, I dug out some of my wargaming books. Turns out Featherstone first mentioned the matchbox system for campaigns in his very first book, “War Games” in 1962. And he attributed the idea to two other gentlemen who actually invented it. (Warwick Hale and Peter Pringle of Chatham for the record).
Mr Featherstone also mentioned the system again in both his Solo Wargames and Wargame Campaigns books.22/09/2021 at 08:06 #162142
Drawing the appropriate section of the map on the envelope is a great idea! We just used x,y coordinates written on the front. Hmmm…maybe print out some of the maps from some of the Perfect Captain campaign rules and glue them on. This is starting to get interesting for me! By the way, when I got home from work, I dug out some of my wargaming books. Turns out Featherstone first mentioned the matchbox system for campaigns in his very first book, “War Games” in 1962. And he attributed the idea to two other gentlemen who actually invented it. (Warwick Hale and Peter Pringle of Chatham for the record). Mr Featherstone also mentioned the system again in both his Solo Wargames and Wargame Campaigns books.
The Perfect Captain campaign cards are brilliant for setting up a randomised campaign map. We had a great Red Actions campaign using them. They are no longer available from the Perfect Captain site, but I think most of them are archived on the Wayback Machine. I found the Battlefinder campaign system here: https://web.archive.org/web/20200928121321/http://perfectcaptain.50megs.com/bfinder.zip
I went back and checked, and Tony Bath also mentions the matchbox system in his campaigns book. I guess it was a popular idea! 🙂 Many of these are available on Kindle if the physical books are too expensive.22/09/2021 at 09:46 #162146
Just a vote for the matchbox system, we put one together many years ago and it worked really well.
There were moments of embarrassment when your recce units discovered formations left over from a previous campaign, so remember to empty the matchboxes after the game
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/22/09/2021 at 12:42 #162153
Some links regarding the matchbox-grid-o-rama-device:22/09/2021 at 16:24 #162171John D SaltParticipant
Turns out Featherstone first mentioned the matchbox system for campaigns in his very first book, “War Games” in 1962. And he attributed the idea to two other gentlemen who actually invented it. (Warwick Hale and Peter Pringle of Chatham for the record).
I hope we shall all now refer to it as the Hale-Pringle Search System, or Chatham Boxes.
All the best,
John.22/09/2021 at 17:59 #162172
I hope we shall all now refer to it as the Hale-Pringle Search System, or Chatham Boxes.
I think if one is using it for a colonial or VSF campaign, it should be mandatory! Great suggestion John!22/09/2021 at 18:41 #162174hammurabi70Participant
Ooh, gosh! Takes me back fifty years to teenage years and using tobacco tins for the naval campaign we played. Never used it subsequently as we found alternative solutions.
These days do people use Berthier?30/01/2022 at 17:42 #167814
As I’m currently struggling to get anything mildly complex done, I decided to hold off planning a campaign with supplies, map movement etc till I settle but still fancied a story rather than a set of games just for the sake of them so came up with this fluff:
Red has launched a sneak attack up the Humber from their base in South Lincolnshire and landed outside Barton-upon-Humber (map of area to follow but a Google of Brigg / Barton area gives you a rough idea). This lets me stage five games as Red works south to Brigg in a surprise attack using the scenarios from the One Hour Wargames book (numbers are the scenario number in the book):
1 Arrival -> Shambolic Command (29)
Red only has landed a few units but the Blue forces are scrambling to get their leaders north due to delays on the A15 from Lincoln (a classic bottleneck of a road here)
2 The Ferriby Road -> Late Arrivals (10)
Red has broken through the defences in Barton by a flank attack via the Humber. The race is now on to take the low villages. These (Worlaby to South Ferriby) get their name from the fact they are at the base of the main north south hill in the area and sit just above sea level. To the west of them is the drained land known locally as The Carrs that are below sea level.
3 The Low Villages -> Control the River Avon (3)
Red needs to secure both sides on the River before pushing on into Brigg. A lot of the land is still crisscrossed by drainage dikes and a fair number of bridges for the farmers to get across. The nicest in the area (excluding The Humber Bridge) is Horkstow Bridge that’s locked off to vehicles except for farmers use only now.
4 The Avon -> An Unfortunate Oversight (12)
Blue sneaks over the farm land avoiding the main bridge on the A18. The A18 runs through Brigg but now bypasses the County Bridge due to the amount of traffic. This was the major crossing (and toll rates are still shown but not charged) in the area but rafts and boats where also used through (pre)history.
5 Safety to the south -> Escape (13)
Can the remains of the Blue force get clear of Brigg?
Before anyone who has been to Lincolnshire says we are flat – I know we do not have as many hills as needed in the games but as I live on the side of the main hill of Lincolnshire I reserve the right to dig it up and move bits 🙂
I did think of a setting up ladder campaign or a ‘snakes and ladders’ map but both are more than I want to bite at the moment while this should give me a grin or two while playing the simplest sequence.
Technically this means Red gains a foothold in the north of Lincolnshire even if they loose every game but I do not care as its my world and who knows what comes next – I know I don’t 🙂
For those without the book / PDF, here is a quick summary of the games coming up:
29 – Blue out numbers Red while defending a hill with 4 units and 2 coming north but are limited in actions due the the lack of commanders. Can they hold the hill?
10 – Blue have two units on the board at the start but heavily outnumbered by the 6 Red who are after the town. Can the troops hold off Red till the rest of the units arrive and hold the town?
3 – One river, two crossings and who knows what troops are going to arrive at the start of the game. Both crossing need to be held at the end of the game.
12 – Red now hold Brigg but Blue can sneak units over the river. Who can hold the strategic hill to the North of the town?
13 – Blue needs to exit 3 units off the board to the south but Red forces arrive in different places at different times.
The other quirk is that the troop selection is random – this may mean a walk over for one side or another but if that happens I may well play the game again with a different random troop selection…
As for period – no idea, it’s a bit Horse and Musket / Napoleonic but that’s only due to the rules I’ve been using. Think Steam Punk without the steam so far 🙂30/01/2022 at 22:19 #167819ian pillayParticipant
As I’m currently struggling to get anything mildly complex done, I decided to hold off planning a campaign with supplies, map movement etc till I settle but still fancied a story rather than a set of games just for the sake of them so came up with this fluff: Red has launched a sneak attack up the Humber from their base in South Lincolnshire and landed outside Barton-upon-Humber (map of area to follow but a Google of Brigg / Barton area gives you a rough idea). This lets me stage five games as Red works south to Brigg in a surprise attack using the scenarios from the One Hour Wargames book (numbers are the scenario number in the book)
Just done something similar, based loosely on our county using OHW and my dark age collection. I didn’t bother with a map but built the narrative as the games progressed. I even ended up with named characters and an ending which leaves it open for another mini campaign. It’s on my blog pages, please feel free to take a look.
Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..
http://steelcitywargaming.wordpress.com/31/01/2022 at 07:32 #167823
For solo play I do like the technique of looking at the map and working out sensible options for both sides.
Then giving each side a die roll to decide which sensible option they chose.
Then add in a third die roll, so for example, there might be a week of driving rain, so everybody is slowed down and off road movement effectively stops.
See what that does to their ‘oh so clever’ plans 🙂
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/31/01/2022 at 10:33 #167845
I like the third dice ‘twist’ but find best laid plans can go so wrong without any outside interference 🙂 it’s taken me three weeks to flip through the 30 scenarios and fix on these TBH as I drifted and waffled so much I emulated an Oozlum bird more than once. It would be great to be able to have options at each stage but I would just go into brain melt…
I really need a set of scenarios laid out like a flow chart where the next game options depend on the result of the previous battles. GW used to publish them for 40K but it would take the rest of the year to plan it I think.
The scenarios reasonably match the countryside around here but lacks the flow and troop management that a map campaign gives. It’s a good compromise for me at the moment as it’s a bit more structured than one off games and who knows Red may actually win all the games!
forcesencourages me to sort out a couple of boxes messing up a shelf and make a bit more felt terrain and that’s a great win even if the games are pants.31/01/2022 at 11:40 #167848
Onwards and upwards 🙂
It’s whatever works for you that counts
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/31/01/2022 at 15:13 #167853willzParticipant
15p for an empty matchbox, hrummpphhhh in my day we would have a hand full of hot gravel for breakfast and walk twenty miles to pit for work😁.
Excellent ideas, bargain for all those match boxes, I remember trying to build one in the 70’s but never got enough matchboxes.31/01/2022 at 18:07 #167861
HOT gravel – you lucky person! We where grateful if we got that on Sunday and than that was only because the lord of the manors horse had left a steaming pile of you know what warming the gravel up!
Looks like the eBay craft ones would be the way to go as I could not see any of the old square (ish) ones in the big four supermarkets online. They all have the Swan flat packs but I bet they would smell…
A neater way would be this set of wooden drawers from The Works:
Currently £15 so a bit costly (more than my army was) and can only be opened from the front but it’s something I could get away with on the sideboard rather than a pile of cardboard 🙂 or the IKEA Moppe style.01/02/2022 at 01:45 #167864Benjamin CatoParticipant
Hi Andrew, that last photo reminded me of an Advent calendar decoration we have with draws for each day. If you have one of those in the back cupboard you might be able to use it instead? Save a bit and get to leave it out 🙂01/02/2022 at 12:14 #167898
Hi Andrew, that last photo reminded me of an Advent calendar decoration we have with draws for each day. If you have one of those in the back cupboard you might be able to use it instead? Save a bit and get to leave it out 🙂
Never thought of the Advent sets TBH. The white chocolate one I had this year tasted like it was plywood / cardboard and if the chunks get any smaller then my tweezers will be needed!
Maybe I could leave the frame dark varnish and paint one end of the drawers red / green and leave the other plain then turn it around as needed. Not worried about there being 9 missing as I eat WAY too much chocolate anyway 🙂
I’m a bit baffled by one of them on eBay – as it looks a very odd layout though the snowman ones could be good for a winter war!!!
Another map based solution I’ve been dreaming about is from ‘The Crooked Staff‘ blog and his Tiny Terrain kits. I know I do not have enough patients at the moment to tackle this and get the feeling I would want to leave it flat and game on it rather than use it as a map…
Of course, there is also the great hex map by Thomaston here in the air combat forum (one post is this one) – this is more reachable with my skill level but I would love to be able to lift the hexes and have the hidden forces under then somehow. Maybe for that one I just build it and go VSF / Steampunk / Germy 2mm SciFi and be happy with that??01/02/2022 at 13:06 #167900
I’m with you on this one. If I could make hex terrain like that, I’d be wargaming on it 🙂
Thanks for the link, it is beautiful
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/02/02/2022 at 03:10 #167932
Forgot to steal a picture from ‘The Crooked Staff’ blog to show his work:
Whats even more impressive (than the sheep) is that lots of his work is free or pay-what-you-want on DriveThruRPG…13/02/2022 at 03:17 #168402
Well game one goes to Blue though I though they may have lost the hill more than once during the game.
Though it’s tempting to reflect the result in the next game, I’ll play it out as per the game as I still have no army level rules and not sure they will help with this low number of games.
I did come across my old DBA rules with the ‘spiders web’ campaign game – anyone tried this style solo?13/02/2022 at 08:59 #168420
I remember somebody talking about it years ago. Apparently they just drew up a table for each faction and rolled a d6 to see what they’d do.
Apparently the dice were smarter than him and he had to struggle to keep up 🙂
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/19/04/2022 at 11:53 #171664
Finally spent a little time mapping the game so far (all ONE turn):
Need to sort out a better way for next time as it took:
- Screen shot from the OS Maps site
- Import into PowerPoint to add the blue circle and red arrow
- Export and import into Pictures to crop the sides out
- Export and import into Imgur to resize and show here 🙂
You need to ignore the A15 and the M/A180 – they d0 not exist in this game.
Feels very wrong to create this for a game given what is happening in the Ukraine and the maps we see from there.
I’ll see if I can get turn two played this afternoon (well its that or change the bathroom light out)!19/04/2022 at 18:00 #171686
I did come across my old DBA rules with the ‘spiders web’ campaign game – anyone tried this style solo?
Years ago someone wrote some rules to automate the enemy nations. You could play it solo, or just use the rules for dummy players if you had less than six people.
I’ll try and dig them up.24/04/2022 at 11:28 #171911
… I’ll try and dig them up.
Most kind – I am thinking about joining the Solo Wargamers Association and see what they have for maps and movement. I am increasingly uncomfortable using a real map for imagination with the current on-going fighting in the Ukraine and TBH this may be the last one that goes up before I abstract it (though I will keep the place names for now to tie into the games list).24/04/2022 at 22:41 #171952
Just popped you a PM. Found them, but need your email.
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