Sunday, 8 November 2009

Random musings

I think I have mentioned before that my first book on wargaming was from the old 'Know the Game' series, with input from WRG. I must have been around 10-11 years when my dad bought it for me and one section in particular fascinated me endlessly. Half way through the book is a battle report between Sassanids and Romans I think. All black and white and the pictures are quite small. There is only the briefest of summaries of what was going on with no real mention of rules mechanics but I studied those pictures over and over again to imagine what it was like to play a real wargame.
Having picked it up again at Alumwell back in March, it was definitely a case of 'rose tinted spectacles' as the book now is obviously dated and I doubt would be of much help to anyone looking at getting into the hobby. But I'm glad its back in my collection
I have a small collection of 'classic' wargaming books, including Featherstone, Wesencraft, Sanders and Quarrie titles. My absolute favourite though is 'Wargames Tactics' by Charles Grant. I first came across this book at the local library in my early teens and picked it up at a show several years ago. Unlike the 'Know the Game' book, this one does stand the test of time. Despite a lack of photographs the book conveys a great sense of what the hobby is all about. It describes battle reports from various periods of history beginning with an early Ancients clash upto the American Civil War with the fictional battle of Seminole Ridge. The Napoleonic report of French versus Prussians at the (ficitonal) Battle of Edelweiss was a firm favourite as was the Seven Years Wars clash with I think Croats carrying out a flanking manoeuvre to fall upon the Prussian guns. Amongst the 'Old School' types this title is considered a classic and is a constant bedside companion for me.
Which brings me to Neil Thomas' Ancient an Medieval Wargaming. Now I haven't had a chance to play using the rules therein as yet, but I did spend last night reading through it and taking a look at the battle reports. I have to say I am a tad disappointed with what I have seen so far. The rules themselves seem only a small step away from those Featherstone wrote 40 years ago. Nothing particularly innovative or exciting. Figure recommendations for the army lists seem to fall into two camps either 'no plastics yet but some ranges in metal' or else 'plastics available as well as metal'. Some pointers to manufacturers (other than the odd one or two you get) would have been nice.
Also, as a book seemingly intended to be available in the high street for casual browsers to have their attention grabbed, the book assumes some prior knowledge of the hobby and in a couple of cases refers back to Neils first book on the hobby 'Wargaming an Introduction' again seeming to assume some familiarity with that title. Not at all a particularly bad thing, but if it is intended to grab newcomers and show them the joys of this hobby I feel too many assumptions are made.
I am not condemning the book just yet and will certainly give the rules a go (particularly if I can find that article in Slingshot by Graham Evans). The battle reports are ok, but in todays day and age, photographic representations of the battles at various stages would have been nice rather than the maps provided. Cost of course may have been a factor, but I could certainly have done without so many pictures of ancient figures that are in the main old ones from Miniature Wargaming magazine.
6/10 from me.

1 comment:

Trebian said...

Just try the rules. Like the original AK47 you can't work out why they work, but they do. Most games 2 hours max, all smash and crash, loads of dice rolled and simple rules for who wins.

I disagree about needing prior knowledge of wargaming. The book is ideal for introducing youngsters to the hobby, and the historical stuff is just enough.

Clearly "Grown Ups" will quickly move on to more complicated things, but as a game you can pick up and play in 10 minutes it takes some beating.