Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Pocket Armies - the fight below Seminary Ridge 1863

Last week we played a face-to-face boardgame covering the first day of the Gettysburg battle. It uses a chit pull system to activate the various divisional sized commands and so there is the potential for this battle, that started as a meeting engagement, to open up new opportunities and situations each time it is played.

The boardgame is from Volume 1 of Battle Hymn by Compass Games and includes the battles of Gettysburg and Pea Ridge.

A few turns into the game, I took a photograph of a local situation occurring on the reverse slope of Seminary Ridge, with a view to playing it out as a figures game later, which is what this post will now concentrate on.

The first part of the action has now been played out as a Pocket Armies battle, using a 4’ x 3’ space, six or seven units per side with Black Powder rules and a dip into the Glory Hallelujah ACW supplement from Warlord Games.

Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Pocket Armies and 4’ x 3’ project going into 2020.

The Christmas Shenanigans post (see Resource Section below) slightly redefined the Pocket Armies Project by going to a smaller scale and looking to fit play into a 4’ x 3’ or smaller space.
a 10mm table

As a project concept, pretty much everything else is staying the same, with basic principles being;

1 - Play will fit into a 4’ x 3’ space or smaller. To that end I have taken a 6’ x 4’ ‘F.A.T. Mat’ which is in a sort of deep grass green and cut this down to give a 4’ x 3’ surface. There was enough off-cut to create a second mat of 3’ x 2½’, which is a useful size for even smaller games (and a bit bigger than the pinboard). There is still a 3’ x 17” strip left over to think about! 

The mats now instantly frame everything that I throw into that space while I make some deliberations on scales / look / bases / terrain / rules etc.

2 - The project was initially intended for the larger scales to be enjoyed, with a leaning towards plastics, but with my aversion to plastic weld glues and the smaller space being emphasised, it makes sense to go to one piece castings and to drop to the smaller scales.
10mm, 12mm, 15mm and 28mm

The original project plans had everything at 28mm except WWII being 1/72 and all terrain being 1/72. So my next lowest common denominator to match what I wanted the figures to do, would be to go 15mm for all periods except WWII and modern, which would perhaps be better at 10mm and for terrain to be collected in a single size of 10mm (or small footprint 15), so that there is a drop in terrain scale for the 15’s, but it stays ‘in scale’ for the more tactical WWII 10mm stuff. I am still thinking about this, but regardless, things will end up at the 10mm, 12mm and 15mm end of figure size.

On my painting sticks at the moment, I have 10mm Pendraken French Napoleonic artillery bases and a 15mm Peter Pig ACW infantry unit, both as testers for how they paint up and then to their overall look and practicality on the table.
The 12mm on the right is an interesting half way house between 15mm (left) and 10mm.

3 - The armies will still be built in pairs to give a core of around 12 units each. From this, a selection of 6 - 9 units can be drawn for each battle. There will ultimately be multiple periods being covered, so lots of smaller armies is the way to go. The initial army builds will be aiming for 6 units so that play can start quickly with Neil Thomas style scenarios and then newly painted units can just be rotated into the collection to get to the default 12 unit build as and when the fancy takes me.

4 - The scenarios / games rules will tend towards the fast set-up, short play and quick take down. I am looking to cover the mid-week game, the Friday night meet-up and the Saturday afternoon session, either way, just a few hours involvement, with all being easily manageable and for the family table to still be available for its other far less exciting function :-). 

5 - The scenarios will typically be a representative slice of action from larger battles or bath-tubbed actions themed on larger battles or just good old teaser type scenarios.

I like a throw down scenario, but also like the scenario to be formalised and recorded so that the better ones improve over time and can be relied upon to make good instant pull down games. I also want the games to be able to play to a conclusion within that ‘short’ time, I really don’t see the point or satisfaction in an unfinished game!

6 - The rules selection needs to settle down to some favourite rule sets that get the job done, rather than flitting from one system to another and buying the next shiny thing. Getting really familiar with rules to help play flow smoother and faster will be key.

To start off, different rule sets will be played, but only for the reasons of whittling things down to a few chosen sets. Milites Mundi (from Gripping Beast) has recently landed on my doormat, so that will be getting an early look-at for Ancients / Medieval ....... although with several other sets to also consider, looking at this next is rather defeating my ‘ignore the latest shiny thing’ resolve :-) 

7 - Terrain gathering will be fairly essential this year as I gear up my space to look / feel right. I quite like terrain building days, they are therapeutic in their own way and you feel you have ‘moved on’ for relatively few hours spent. For storage reasons, the terrain needs to be fairly functional and generic enough to be usable over several periods.

I have a few orders in with various manufacturers, just to try some things out and those that work will get mentioned in updates here.

8 - The ultimate goal is just to have some fun, to enjoy the aesthetic of figures and not for any of this at any time to feel like hard work or a chore or something with time scaled objectives, we are just looking for a bit of joy here! 
The 28's are on 50mm bases, the rest on 30mm, those
10mm bases look a tad too big!

As I write this, fellow blogger Lee G is embarking on his own 4’ x 3’ project, with the same ambition to get something very playable into a smaller space. A great start to his gaming plans for this year and an interesting deviation from his 40mm collection. Since he is starting from scratch, there should be plenty of interest for the reader to follow as his journey unfolds, giving inspiration and encouragement to anyone who fancies having a go. There is a link in the Resource Section below to his blog, which now has a ‘follower’ button.

The three forces that may see early action on this blog are the ACW armies, Mid-War WWII East Front and 1066, simply because there are some units in the smaller scale in the collection already, but Danube 1809, ECW, Wars of the Roses and AWI have also captured my imagination and want to take centre stage! - that of course is a huge unrealistic shopping / workload list, but in no small measure, it shows the excitement that this project has ignited ....... I have to hope for momentum now :-)   

Hopefully as these posts develop, there will be enough to grab the interest of anyone who is interested and perhaps not gaming at the moment, to have a little dabble.

Something tells me we will be returning to the Battle of Blogger’s Farm in the very near future with our ACW troops to get the ball rolling and to try some of these ideas out :-)

Collection Status - Pocket Armies for 4’ x 3’ games.

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is a bit more snippet based than here. Link.

Christmas Shenanigans post - a 36 page PDF on all aspects of wargaming. LINK

Lee’s 4’ x 3’ project for 6mm 18th Century new blog page. LINK

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Bumper issue of the Shenanigans Gazette

The Gazette has 36 crammed pages to help the day go smoothly with a merriment of wargaming distraction.

The opening pieces look back at 2019 and forwards into 2020, with some commentary
about a year of hobby changes.

There are articles on Boardgames, figures and general discussions on terrain and

There is even a mince pie quiz!, plus a little dose of Fake news.

Oh and of course some blogger action at ‘The Battle for Blogger’s Acre’.

Follow the link to my DropBox file (Thank you DropBox). 

An invite to join DropBox is the first thing you will see, but you can close that screen and
the download will be revealed. Or 'sign in' button, just ignore and press the download icon.

Thanks to everyone who supports the Battlefields & Warrior blog