Friday, 10 February 2017

"Ops Normal"

Since I haven't surfaced on this blog for a while, I thought I'd just pop up and say "Ops Normal!" (with a nod and a wink to those servicemen who know the meaning of that term)... for the rest, suffice to say: all's well, and nothing really to report....
... or so I thought...

In fact, there's quite a lot been going on in my wargaming head.

Yesterday, I met up with Mark Allen, that well-known "sell-brush" (to adapt a Game of Thrones term). Packages were exchanged, needless to say, and I have further parcels to deliver to him over the next day or so!
All good news for the future!!

Butterflies abound
Whilst my 18th century Pils Holstein collection grows continually, my own flutterings have led elsewhere, but I don't feel so bad about that.
Because, I notice even the most ardent "one-period hobbyists" can butterfly occasionally.
For example, I was delighted to see that on his blog recenty John Ray, a man who would decry the merest sniff of anything outside a ten year focus, has announced he is making Polish Winged Hussars whose zenith (and Viennese swansong) was a century earlier than the rest of his collection. Fantastic news... seeing John get into the earlier (pike and shot) period is an enticing prospect, and I can't wait to see what transpires.

Rampant Lament.
I indicated previously that I was looking at the various Rampant rules.
I looked.
In fact, I like the rules.
And Dan Mersey has produced a neatly nuanced set of mechanisms.
On the fantasy front, I decided to stick with the ethos Dan suggests... namely to use existing figures. I have boxfuls of stuff from the 70s and 80s that will do just fine, if ever I fancy a game.

And now, the latest in this pantheon of rules, The Pikeman's Lament, has appeared.
I haven't bought, read, or played them...
But, somehow, from what I've read about them and gleaned elsewhere, the trick appears to have been missed.
There seems to be a leaning towards representing a sort of very scaled down version of the full armies of the period - so people are talking about forces comprising 12 pikemen, 2 sleeves of 12 shot, 6 cavalrymen and a gun etc, and that this is representative of forces of the period.
Surely, the sorts of 17th century ambuscades, ambushes, alarums, and general affairs of the size this particular suite of rules applies to would have focused on the role of small parties of musketeers, cavalry and Dragoons... so, for example, bodies of pikemen would seldom be involved in such affairs. Forces made up purely of a company of commanded shot, or a troop of dragoons would seem more in keeping.
In fact, why not call them "Dragoons Rampant" (or if you insist, "Dragoones Rampant"), and really capture that essence of the raids, skirmishes and small encounters of the period!!
I don't think these rules should be used for refighting Marston Moor, in the same way that Sharpe Practice is not a set fit to do Waterloo, or at least as I understand it. We all know what can go wrong when the words 'Sharpe' and 'Waterloo' are used together, as anyone who witnessed that particular episode of our favourite "Chosen Man's" TV exploits will attest!

As I say, I haven't bought, read, or played The Pikeman's Lament. I probably won't, I don't think.
So all of the above should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Anyway, just my tuppence.

Vapnartak, York
I was unable to attend this year, but scouring the net for show reports was very interesting. Most talked about the shopping experience, and very few focused on the games on show.
Over the years, many have been critical of those games that appear at shows; all shows, not just Vappa.
People either criticise them, on the one hand, for not engaging with the public, or, on the other hand, for not actually playing the games ( "it was just a static display, and there's no place for that at a wargaming show"!). In some cases, I'm sure there are grounds for these observations. But, the fact is, if you are short on manpower, both playing the game, and having enough people to chat to those who stop at the table can be a challenging juggling act. It's worth noting that many games are put on by one/ two/ three men bands, not by large clubs. I would go as far as to say that, over the years, the most impressive displays have been the results of small teams of chaps who put in many hours of labour to present their modelling, painting, and creative skills. These have been the candy between the pages of the wargames press for many years. Perhaps the real reason people criticise the efforts of others can be found in the Salvador Dali quote: "The temperature gauge of success is the jealousy of the malcontents!"
Personally, I applaud anyone who these days puts their head above the parapet to be "judged" by all-comers. For a race of "judges" is exactly what we have become. A look at the TV schedules will confirm that. Sad indeed.

Anyway, I won't be put off, and I still plan to take a display on the road to a show later this year. Not sure what game yet, but I'm working on it.


Willie Anderson said...

Hi Phil

Looking forward to seeing what period game you produce.


Conrad Kinch said...

Here, here. I think PL will fill a niche and the author freely admits that Pikemen are there because people would complain if they weren't.

Phil said...

Thanks Willie. I've got a few to choose from, and a possibility of something brand new ... though the prospect of that appearing this year seems a little ambitious.
Yes, Conrad. I agree, PL will find a following, and if it creates interest in the period, great! Sadly, I suspect people, having built their 24-figure "armies" and shoved them around a few times, will think they've "done" the pike and shot period, and will move onto the next "fad". Or am I getting too cynical?
Thx for your comments, guys.

Chris Gregg said...

Thanks Phil, for the varied tour round your current hobby thoughts, always interesting. I've just recently "looked" at (read) Sharp Practice and was unpleasantly surprised at how complex it seems for what i expected to be a fun small scale game that I might do with my excess Waterloo greencoats. Maybe i just need to see a game in process to get the confidence to try it myself, but I certainly agree that 24 figures is no way to think you are getting a feel for a period, reminds me of the fashion for minimalist art.