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Regrettably SL evolved in depth rather than breadth, and became perhaps the greatest folly of overcomplication in the history of wargaming, ASL.
I guess it is quite surprising, put like that. All predates me a little, but I also wonder why the fan base wanted more complicated rather than more complete.
I disagree quite strongly with Mr Picky here. ASL is not a complicated system per se, even if it is not to everyone’s tastes. It resolved the bloat of the various Squad Leader supplements, and at its core is a solid and fairly simple game. The issue lies with the chrome that allows you to field demoralised, conscript Romanian infantry on aerosans at night in a blizzard, but you will not use most of that chrome in a single game. There are also sufficient scenarios published (literally thousands) that you can find and play scenarios with just the infantry rules and still have a lifetime’s gaming ahead of you. On top of that, the official scenarios cover from the Chaco War to the Korean War, so there is both breadth and depth available, and campaign game options.
I’m not sure ASL fits the remit of the original question, unless the Korean War is your thing, though, or unless you are interested in third party products which take the system up to the Vietnam War, but it might be worth looking into. The only thing to be aware of is that it is likely to be a hefty commitment because it is not a game in a single box.
What Norm said. I’ve bought games on pre-order from the US in the past and wound up paying more than it would have cost from a retailer in the UK thanks to shipping, customs charges and the Post Office’s handling charge. With increasing postage costs, it’s just not worth ordering from the US any more, which is a shame because I would really like a couple more Titan gunships from Rebel Minis, but the final cost is just way too expensive these days.
I third Second Chance Games. I would also recommend Leisure Games in Finchley, who are great to visit if you are in the area and also offer quick mail order. A third option with quick delivery and good prices is Zatu Games. I have had excellent service from all of these, and have found that if one does not have the game I am looking for, one of the others often does have it.
Thank you for the suggestions. It is just at almost $70 for PWS I am going to have to pass, unless I see a copy cheap at the next few convention swap shops.
$70? Yikes! Sorry, I did not realise it was that expensive. That’s heading towards academic book prices!
Given the issues that madman highlighted, I thought that other approaches might offer a useful solution. In particular, the scenarios in Programmed Wargames Scenarios could offer ways to avoid the insurgents grouping and never attacking, by using tables of possible actions that also offer some unpredictability. They would also allow you to play against enemy regular forces as a game-controlled opponent. I’ve played Tomorrow’s War but not FoF or AA, so I cannot comment on the latter two, but it would certainly work with TW.
They’re not specific to Force on Force, but have you considered Platoon Forward from Too Fat Lardies or Programmed Wargames Scenarios by Charles S. Grant? Platoon Forward is designed for WW2 but I think it works well enough for modern and scifi too. It uses a hidden enemy system that should offer a decent game, as it randomises the enemy, thus limiting your knowledge. Programmed Wargames Scenarios probably requires more adaptation because it feels like it was written with horse and musket in mind, but the systems of dicing for the enemy’s deployment and responses to your actions are eminently adaptable to most games. You might also look at the enemy AI in Five Parsecs from Home. Enemies are classified according to various types and then have a list of action priorities that you read down until your reach the first one applicable to the current situation.
Interesting to see different people’s takes on this. I recognise myself in some of them. Like Andrew, I am starting to think about dödsstädning, in part because my Unpainted Lead Pile increases my anxiety these days and in part because I need to clear up my storage space a bit. I also have a sense that I might find gaming more satisfying if I could focus on no more than two or three periods that I play in depth, instead of being a wargaming butterfly. The difficulty is deciding which to focus on.
I’ve never started completely from scratch again, but I have certainly restarted individual projects/periods from scratch. The only figures I still have from my earliest gaming days are my 15mm Laserburn figures from the eighties. Since then, I have painted many armies and then sold them to fund the next project. Money has historically been in short supply, so I needed to prioritise, and my priority was having figures I could use with the people I was gaming with.
Like Steve Johnson, the main attraction of shows for me is to see what games are there that might inspire me, and to meet up with friends. I would not pay to get into a show that was only traders and no games for the same reason I would not pay to enter a shop to buy things.
6mm UK and Commonwealth, Italians and Germans for the Western Desert.
15mm Norwegians, French and UK for skirmish games in the Norwegian campaign.
I need to get some Germans for the Norwegian campaign. A friend was collecting them but we now live in different countries. I should have learnt my lesson ages ago that I move too often and should have at least one army ready for each side at all times so that I can always play a game regardless of opponents. I’m half tempted to just substitute some sci-fi figures I already have in place of the Germans. It would save on painting and increasing the size of the lead mountain.
We loved Traveller and I still have most of the LBBs. Yes, you could die in character creation, but we house-ruled that to a horrific injury that forced you to muster out instead, and I don’t recognise the description of character creation taking ages.
Like a lot of games of the era, it was clunky in places though, and the joke about ‘Do maths for fun, play Traveller’ certainly held true in some parts of the game. Ship design is one area that springs gazelle-like to mind. Despite that, I have a lot of fond memories of the game and love the Third Imperium as a background.
I agree that the tray you show looks like a Figures in Comfort one. I have loads like that and was disappointed to realise they had gone out of business when looking for more recently.
I store mine in RUBs and they fit well. I use 55l and 64l which fit two stacks of foam trays, and will stack on each other for ease of storage at home. If I ever need to take figures anywhere, I have a couple of soft cases that hold four trays each that I got from Figures in Comfort.
Feldherr might have something suitable, although I have not tried their cases. I got some from KR Cases ages ago but did not like them because the foam was too soft for my tastes, but maybe that might suit you. KR might be what you saw with the cardboard boxes. They do a range of other cases too though.
Running a display game can be hard work if you do it right, and thankless at times as wargamers come up and tell you how your lovingly researched and modelled game is wrong in some ‘vital’ detail. I would not pay to do it. I could imagine paying standard or reduced entry fee to a show, if I had enough support on the game that I would have free time to do the rounds though.
Excellent report. I was just thinking that I need to dig out Maurice again and work on the armies for it, so this si the sort of encouragement I need. Well, it will be when I am back in the same country as those armies!
Like Jonathan, I put steel paper on the bottom of the base and magnetic sheet in the storage box. My 6mm figures are all stored in VHS video cases with the magnetic sheet on the bottom and a layer of foam glued to the lid. This has the advantage of making it easy to print out a cover for the case that tells me what is in it. They look very neat stored on a book shelf, in my opinion.
Crikey, finishing a project in 10 years! That’s lightning speed!
I recognise myself in many of the answers here. The oldest figures I have are a Laserburn Imperial Assault Group bought from TTG in the days when small orders came lovingly packaged in an old fag packet (mid-80s ish). I finished those in 2016.
I have many projects that are just resting in boxes in various places round the house so that my wife does not swoon when overwhelmed by the true horror of my unpainted lead pile. Some of these will be completed eventually, or they will be passed on to friends in the hope that they get better use of the figures than I have.
I rarely sell on eBay because it is just too much hassle for too little reward these days, and I don’t get to shows any more so bring and buy is not an option.
One day I am going to treat myself and buy an actual gaming mat. I have only been saying this for 10 years
You and me both, Shaun! 😀
I am not a fan of the visual aspect of hexes myself,
This however has lots of scenery so that for me hides the hexyness, which I do like. Though I suspect a green bit of cloth will be closer to the cheap bit of the brief?
A green cloth would certainly be cheaper and quicker to get started, but there is joy to be had in making hexes! 🙂
I have just discovered this website. He has a Youtube channel with some videos. Have you ever heard of this system? Have you tried it? What do you think? https://www.hexterraintoolkit.com/
That is the system I used to make the desert hexes in my picture. It works well. I use XPS (not EPS as I wrote before) sheets from Panelsystems in Sheffield. This is the blue foam that many people use, although the Panelsystems people sell it in grey now. I don’t think the colour matters at all. I’m not sure who in France would sell it, but building supplies and insulation companies might have it. My hot wire cutter is from Woodland Scenics, because it was easy to get hold of at a local hobby shop.
In terms of getting started, I think that a simple green cloth, as Mike suggests, would be a good start. That will let you get playing immediately, which I find important for keeping going with projects. You can then start building the really good terrain and start using that when it is ready. The hexes I made myself took quite a while to do, so being able to play keeps my enthusiasm up while I am working on them.
I really like hexes for the flexibility they offer at some cost in set-up time. This is a WW2 Western Desert game I played recently. The hexes got a bit knocked about because I did not have my usual frame to hold them and they are on a slightly uneven surface, but you can still see the effect. I cut all these hexes myself using a hot wire cutter and EPS.
There are more pics on my blog.
I also have a European terrain set using the GHQ Terrainmaker hexes. I have a love/hate relationship with those because they are not uniform and that leads to gaps where there should be no gaps.
Again, there are more pics on the blog. A lot of these hexes still need fettling and tarting up to bring them up to the standard I finally decided on, but I do like the overall effect, and find that the gaps tend to disappear visually when you are focused on playing.11/11/2021 at 13:42 in reply to: New book: Myths and Realities of the Viking Berserkr #16454610/11/2021 at 07:44 in reply to: New book: Myths and Realities of the Viking Berserkr #164483
Thank you, chaps.
Guy, if you get it for Christmas, I hope you enjoy it.
Usagitsuki, I’m glad you enjoyed the Gone Medieval podcast. Cat is brilliant and the interview with her was a real pleasure.18/10/2021 at 07:39 in reply to: Who do you think you are kidding? A solo scenario. #163430
If you’re looking for period maps and buying physical copies is not really an option, the National Library of Scotland has OS maps online, including WW2 era. They sell digital copies that you could print out, but you can view any of them on screen in full.
Why does it matter what the counters we play with are made from? I don’t care if they are made of pixels, cardboard or toys, they are still all abstract representations of military units. So in what possible way does replacing a set of painted models of Napoleonic troops with counters or computer graphics suddenly turn the thing from a toy soldier into a serious military simulation? They are all just counters, and you can run kriegspiels, cpx etc just as well with toys as counters.
I’m going to say emotional attachment to the figures we have spent ages painting and preparing for the game, and our preconceptions about what constitutes a simulation versus a game. I agree that it does not matter what you use as counters, yet I still find myself drawn to figures over kriegspiel blocks or cardboard counters for tabletop games, despite my liking for hex-and-counter games where I am perfectly happy to push cardboard all day long. There is probably also an element of fulfilling our expectations too. Do we expect simulations to be dryer? Maybe.
We went over some definitions of ‘fantasy’ earlier in the thread and whilst some suggested, like you, that any concept of pretence is fantasy I find that unconvincing. Online Oxford languages defines ‘fantasy’ thus: ‘the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things.’ My 1975 printing of the Concise Oxford says: ‘Image making faculty, esp. when extravagant or visionary.’
The OED offers ‘A product of imagination, fiction, figment’ which was the basis of my original comment about definitions. By this definition, all wargames must be fantasy, if not Fantasy. I agree with you that most gamers, if asked, would think Elves and Dragons and Orks and Whatnots if asked what they mean by fantasy, but that is not an exclusive definition. I also agree with you that wargames can be used to model conflicts and to try to understand what happened or might happen and why. Your average game of DBA is not that though, and I generally do not believe that the average historical game that you might see at a show is that either, and in that I am in agreement with Paint it Pink. This is a direct result of limited knowledge, and perhaps choice of sources, when setting up a historical game and the compromises that get made to make a game fun to play. In the end though, it’s all about pushing lead, rolling dice and talking shite with your mates, and it is not important whether the game is fantasy or Fantasy, as long as you are having fun. Well, unless you intend to use your game to make a serious point about a historical battle in an academic journal, I guess. 🙂
Interesting comments here. I’ve played WW1 and WW2 hex campaigns before and thoroughly enjoyed them. As an umpire, though, I found it occasionally problematic determining where the games table should be. I did love the freedom of manoeuvre though, and the opportunity for small forces to nip through gaps and hit the supply chain. This is not something I have seen in the PtP campaigns I have done. They make determining what is on table easier but at some loss in granularity. PtP maps also allow you to highlight the important features that might have been fought over historically rather than having the troops wandering all over the place, and may reflect the realities of a particular campaign better than a hex map would. These days, despite the loss of granularity, I think I prefer PtP games for the simplicity of organising the tabletop game, but I would not refuse to play a hex campaign.15/10/2021 at 09:31 in reply to: Fantasy harder than History? (alt title: “Fantasy harder than you think?”) #163270
It’s worth looking at Role Playing Games and the 10 commandments for new Dungeonmasters. Somewhere around number 4 is “Nobody cares about your worldbuilding (beyond the surface it provides to play upon)”. I’d happily settle for a page or two of background (Who is fighting, and where do they live). I really do not wish to know about their foundation rituals, pantheon of derivative deities, or the eternal war in the nine planes which means that the owlfolk and kangaroo men can never be at peace. Those pages will be the first ones sacrificed in the coming toilet roll crisis. But, I’ll forgive a bit of self indulgence if you have tight rules and good miniatures.
I’m with you on this one. I am rarely interested in background or fluff, except insofar as it sets out the basic assumptions behind the rules. I really like rules that include a section on why the authors have made the design choices they have made, so that I can understand the intent behind them. This makes interpreting unexpected events in the game easier.
I understand what he is saying too. I just don’t agree that it is fantasy. When did fantasy become something that didn’t happen as opposed to something that couldn’t happen? Are we just making up our own definitions now?
Fantasy has always been about things that did not happen. This includes things that could not happen. The problem is that the fantasy genre of wizards and dragons now dominates people’s understanding of what fantasy is. The dictionary definitions of fantasy relate to the use of the imagination and to fictional things. In this respect, all wargames are fantasy to some extent, because we have to use our imaginations to fill in details that are not in our sources, and we allow for possibilities that did not actually happen, but could have, even when gaming historical battles. That doesn’t make our detailed historical research any less worthy, or our games less valid. It’s just an effect of needing more certainty than the historical record provides.
I have a permanent home office/hobby room in my house in the UK. It has space for a permanent 6’x4′ table plus my hobby stuff, my desk, several bookcases and half a dozen cat beds. I’ve cludged together some cheap IKEA tables in my attic in my flat here in Norway to make a gaming area, but it’s much less comfortable and I still need to find space for a painting station.
It used to be weekly with a friend at my house but life intervened and I moved to a different country, so now it’s solo, several times a week at my house. I may look for a gaming group to join in my area now that things are opening up, but I’m not sure I am up to being sociable after 18 months of avoiding people.
That is a long and honourable tradition of that sort of thing, stretching back at least to the Shadizar Herald in Tony Bath’s Hyborian campaign
Yes. A grand thing too was the Shadizar Herald. Of course, that kind of thing requires players willing to create the content. I’ve noticed that they can be in short supply and that only one or two players will contribute regularly.
This sounds like a fun way to build your gaming universe if you have a correspondent willing to put in the effort.
Most of our universe building has occurred as a result of reporting our games in a somewhat competitive and partisan manner that may or may not be only loosely connected to the facts. It’s definitely one of the benefits of writing the games up on a blog. We both have quite a strong sense of our two nations and how they relate to each other as a result.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
There are a few rules sets I would happily play to the exclusion of most others (Laserburn, Imperial Commander, Volley and Bayonet, Command Decision: Test of Battle, and a few others). The problem is finding other players who like those rules too. This has tended to mean that I switch rules sets according to whom I am playing, and I occasionally get caught up in the latest fads because there is a self-reinforcing enthusiasm when one club member starts waxing lyrical about the latest ‘DBA 35th edition’ rules or whatever, and suddenly everyone is enthusiastic about them. As someone who moves a lot, I need to compromise to some extent if I am to play others. Of course, I could always just play solo for the rest of my life …
I like those solo rules, Jim. I look forward to trying them out. I reckon they would be useful for more than just Hellfire, so that is a bonus.
I’m pondering some hippo mounted cavalry for one of my SF forces
Have you read American Hippo by Sarah Gailey? It has a very interesting premise based on a historical plan to introduce hippos into the Mississippi to deal with weed infestation while simultaneously supplying meat which was increasingly scarce at that point (https://www.wired.com/2013/12/hippopotamus-ranching/). Anyway, it has hippo-riding cowpokes, and I am all for that, so I love your idea of hippo cavalry for your SF forces.
That sort of level, a company at 1:1 isn’t really where Hellfire was at. But stopping to think about it, you’d just move the ‘unit’ down a level, so that the unit was now the ‘squad’ and the individual man/ figure was the base. But the firing system etc might not be individual enough for you as it would be squads firing at squads, not men at men. I’d be tempted to do a simple firing system, roll one dice per figure with pluses and minuses that are easy to remember. Because you could have 200 figures on the table and don’t want to get bogged down. cannot help you with the cat I’m afraid, I looked on the Irregular site but he doesn’t do one
I’m not fussed about individual firing. It’s more about maximising the number of toys on the table so I can use my full armoured infantry company. As you suggest, making each squad a group and each figure the base would work very well.
Oh, and 15mm cats? Pendraken do some. https://www.pendraken.co.uk/n15-nml6-ncats-5216-p.asp
Thank you. Going to need to design a cats with laser eyes army now too. 🙂
I agree. I think the Laserburn figures still stand up to scrutiny even now.
You’re right about the multi-basing. I did use multibased figures (3 figures on a 40mm x 30mm base) for our Tomorrow’s War games, which worked fine, but we abandoned those rules for various reasons. I’ve been looking at company level games where I could field a whole company at 1:1 together with their support because I went overboard buying figures for a couple of my armies. I’m not sure Hellfire would work within the constraints placed on my gaming, but seeing your work keeps me thinking about the options.
I must admit I do love a lot of what Impetus players have done with their bases. Very creative and often really evokes the period being modelled.
Figures are just colourful counters anyway! As long as you are happy with them and the games, then your stuff is not rubbish. 🙂
I now need something resembling that vignette of paramilitary police that you just described. I wonder if I can find a 15mm cat for them to be clustered around trying to pet it.
Looks like a fun game. The 15mm multibasing is an idea I have being toying with as an excuse to use my big toys more. I’m glad to see it worked for you, and it was fun seeing the old Laserburn figures in use there too. I love the Laserburn figures.