Friday, 28 April 2017

Back to square one?

Following on from my last post here a week ago much has happened with regards to my approach to my hobby. Having set up the table for a solo game of FoW I found that I simply did not have the enthusiasm to play it. The table looked great, it fulfilled all of my expectations, I was happy with the figures and the terrain but just did not know to get underway. To be honest, as anyone who has followed my blog/s over the last ten years will understand, this is nothing new, a look back through the pages of this blog reveals endless projects enthusiastically started but subsequently abandoned. I must have painted and sold thousands of figures over the years, in addition to those painted on commission, there is no doubt that this is where my pleasure lies, I still get a huge buzz from completing a well painted unit but put them on the table and it fizzles out! Lack of a regular opponent could be a contributory factor, it was not always this way, I have enjoyed many multi player games over the years, but somewhere along the line I know that I lost interest in the gaming side. I do have a solid group of old (non wargaming) friends, all now in their fifties or pushing sixty from the festival and party days of 30 odd years ago, but they have no interest in my hobby at all.

So, together with our intended move to Spain this year and the general scaling down of stuff for the move I have decided that I need to focus on something small scale and portable for the future. If I am to play the occasional solo wargame then it needs to be something I can quickly set up, plays quickly using rules that I have memorised on the whole with minimum need to check tables etc and can be played to a finish in around an hour or so.

As soon as I read Bob Cordery's 'The Portable Wargame' something clicked, I saw immediately how well these rules could work for me on a solo basis and provide a game sufficiently interesting and challenging to satisfy my needs. This was buzzing around my head for days, and I took the decision to give it a go. My starting point was going to be a fully portable one piece board just 90cm x 120cm, dotted out in 100mm squares, so 9 x 12 squares. As I had a few extra TSS space saver boards I used these for the basic boards, these will be fixed down onto a thin lightweight ply base and neatly edged with wood. I have play tested the rules and enjoyed myself immensely doing so, going forward from here I'm going to outline the construction of the board, terrain features and organising the armies for the rules, together with a description of how the rules work and general review of 'The Portable Wargame' book itself. I'm currently using the 'E' version but have the hardback on order and due any day now.

For now a few pics showing the current state of the board and terrain, also how the figures are based to work with the rules. Each 1p base (2 figures) represents 1 Strength Point as per the rules, what struck me in play testing was just how realistic the ragged lines of men look as they advance across the table. I'm working on new roads (MDF from Tony at ERM), and other scenic items. I discovered that my TSS hills are all in 100mm measurements so it's possible to overlay the grid with conventional contoured hills as you can see. I think that overall the table looks pretty conventional for a gridded game? More to follow.

Scaling down, board size 3 ' x 4'.

US infantry advancing. 2 figures per base gives me squads of 8 figures for these 'average' troops. This can be varied with Veteran squads starting at 5 SP's - 10 figures.

Shermans facing a solitary Tiger out of sight behind the cornfield. Micro dice will record hits as they reduce Strength Points.

Terrain so far, note the TSS hills marked with the grid.

German Panzer Grenadiers attack with StuG's in classic support role.

Board will be fixed and edged.

German infantry with MG42 (MMG) and Mortar section support.

My 4Ground buildings fit the grid, troops can be placed inside them or behind them, even my wall sections are 100mm lengths!

So far so good, the ruler has been put away and this is working for me, first time I have ever used a square grid in over 30 years of wargaming and I'm liking it a lot.


  1. Hi Lee - I think a lot of wargamers spend far more time planning, collecting and painting than they ever do gaming, I know I certainly do. I guess it doesn't matter as long as you're enjoying it. I look forward to seeing how the portable wargame works for you.

    1. Stryker... hear hear... it's a hobby not a profession or vocation... we do it as we like... that's old school.. :o)

    2. I'm certainly enjoying myself with this Ian, the rules are already more or less committed to memory and I simply intend to have fun with the set up.

  2. I sort of know what you mean. I go through a similar process at times, especially with board games. I still have certain games that I always want to play though, even solo, so I guess I'm lucky in that respect. Hope that you are able to find a game that you will always want to come back to.

    Beautiful figures, models, and terrain, by the way. Really lovely.

    Best wishes,

    1. Many thanks Aaron. I'm a big fan of Commands & Colors Napoleonics and continue to enjoy playing it using the blocks, I have all the expansions so there are endless scenarios to play. I hope this small set up will give me as much pleasure.

  3. Good post, there is a growing band of gamers that appreciate the grid. I have just bougt the Perry Miniatures TravelBattle game and I have re-started a page on square grid gaming (as opposed to hex gaming which I almost exclusively do). There are a few photo's on my page which may interest you, my link is below. Good luck with the new project, you are travelling close to full circle with your initial Commands and Colours boards, but I sense that here you have found something that is much nearer what you ultimately seek. Norm.

    LINK -

    1. Hi Norm - that's a great site, thanks for the link, I'll keep an eye on it.

      I do sometimes regret selling off the original C&C hex set up and the figures, but I still enjoy the board game. I think I'm close to my ultimate goal here, and it could be adapted for other periods quite easily. I'm thinking about The Wars of The Roses in 15mm, Peter Pig do a lovely range and it's something I have never done before.

  4. Welcome to the world of gridded wargames ... and thanks for mentioning my book!

    I love the look of your gridded tabletop, and I hope that you get lots of enjoyment from your new-found interest in gridded wargaming.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks for the comment Bob. I'm finding the rules elegantly simple to play, the game really moves at a pace. My hardback copy is out for delivery today (Bank Holiday Monday!), I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it.


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