Category Archives: Wargames Rules

A Song of Heat and Sand

The British Command Decks

To follow up from the Dervisher command decks I derived the British command decks. I am in the process of creating the Egytian command deck as I appreciate that Baker should probably be considered as an Egyptian general. I’m also short the most obvious candidate;- Gordon.

There is one sheet for the base command deck, this will need to be printed twice for the required 14 cards. Then the other commanders need only be printed once to add their 6 cards to make the necessary deck of 20.

British base Command Deck – needs to be printed twice
Graham General Command Deck – print once
Stewart General Command Cards – print once

A Song of Heat and Sand

The Dervisher Command Decks

I took a first stab at the Dervisher Command Cards, so generated the general set along with a few specific commanders which tie to the Dervisher units I currently have available. As I manage to muster new units (or my friends raise new units to throw into the fray) I anticipate the cards evolving to accommodate them.

I’ve started with three generals as options, which should give enough variation for the early part of the war. Just print these off onto A4 paper – they should all scale to the same sized cards.

Base Dervisher command deck – just print off two copies to have 14 cards
Abdulla Ibn Ahmed General Command Cards – just print off once
Osman Digna General Command Cards – just print off once
The Mahdi General Command Cards – just print off once

A Song of Heat and Sand

The Sudan Intrigue Board

As the start of the Sudan ASOIAF project I created a variant to the politics board. Since the Sudan is hardly a hotbed of politics, the board needed to be revised and so became the ‘Intrigue Board‘. No doubt it will go through additional changes to further fit the theme.

A slight change to the icons, with a more appropriate background.

A Song of Sand and Heat

I’ve recently been playing the Game of Thrones miniatures game called “A Song of Ice and Fire” from CMON with various members of the Swindon And District War-games Club (strangely enough based in Swindon). It is an excellent fantasy miniatures war-game based around the George RR Martin A Song of Ice and Fire books (if you’re a fan of the TV series, then you’ll know what’s going on). I fell in love with the rules after a few games, it enthused me like no other rules system has done for a long time, and it’s currently my preferred set of fantasy war-games rules at the moment.

OK, so like most warmers I started to tinker. Not so much with the ASOIAF game, since I’m enjoying everything that game is currently throwing my way, but rather to see where else I can apply the mechanisms. To this end I looked at whether it would be a nice fit for my recent Sudan excursion. My figures have been deliberately based to support a variety of existing popular rule sets, including ‘The Sword and the Flame, ‘The Men Who Would be Kings’, and ‘Sharpe Practice’. To use the miniatures for these rules would simply mean creating unit movement trays to take the figures. To this end I discussed my ideas with the vary accommodating Simon and Sue at Blotz and in a very short order had bases suitable for my Dervisher infantry and cavalry, as well as more tailored bases for the regular Egyptian and British infantry.

You’ll have seen my progress in getting these units rebased and ready for the table in previous posts. For the Dervishers I’ve now managed to have 6 units of Beja tribesmen (the classic ‘Fuzzy Wuzzies’). as well as 2 units of Beja camel riders, and 2 units of Baggara cavalry. My Brits are somewhat smaller with only 6 units of infantry now complete. I’m in the progress of sorting out the Gardner and Gatling guns, then will need to order some more bases from Blotz for the guns. Next up will be rebasing more of the Brits, as well as organising the Mahdist Ansar infantry. At some point I’ll need to sort out things for British cavalry, along with the Egyptian infantry (and the Naval Brigade, the Indian troops, the Nile Arabs etc. and of course the steam ships…)

Well, back to the rules. I’ve managed to redo the rules for the Sudan, keeping many of the core mechanics, and introducing things which are key features of 19th century colonial wargames. I have a revised intrigue board, and even a series of different sets of generals cards for the two sides. I’m still working on the various unit stats so that I can get the forces to the table. I’ve had to change some of the core principles of the game though due to the asymmetric nature of the two principle protagonists; we have fast moving irregular troops who are primarily vicious close combat types fighting against formed regular troops who rely upon long range shooting to try and keep the enemy at bay. To this end I’ve introduced some longer ranges for shooting, going beyond the 6″ short and 12″ long in the original rules. I’ve also introduced some basic formations for the formed troops (line, march column, and of course square), as well as new unit types such as different river craft, with trains to eventually make their appearance for later period events.

Certain elements of the original rules aren’t really pertinent to the Sudan (or even historical games in general), so those aspects have been dropped. The game modes were dropped in favour of scenarios, but I have attempted to keep these non-specific to allow for the casual pick-up and play games. There are however some specific scenarios to cover some of the more pertinent battles in the campaigns.

Fast and Furious – Quick Play Rules for the Victorian Era

I’ve just found an old set of 5 page rules which I used many years ago as a quick pick up for Indian Mutiny games.  I’ve tidied them up slightly over the last day or so and made a few amendments to address some issues which had arisen in the past.

These aren’t overly sophisticated, and rely upon a scenario to drive the objectives and force lists.  As such as they stand there are no points for units.  My basic premise was for units of around 20 to 24 infantry figures, 10 to 12 cavalry figures, and 1 to 3 artillery pieces with crew.  Brigades are generally 2 to 6 units led by a Brigade Commander.

I have assumed that the games are asymmetric in nature with objectives specific to each side.  Games should be able to cater for around 12 units a side split into 2 or 3 Brigades and finish in around 3 hours.

By all means play around with them and let me know how you get on with them and whether you have any issues.  They are only 4 pages long and follow many conventions already familiar to most wargamers.  this probably means that there are some fundamental assumptions which I’ve made and might not be immediately apparent from the way the rules are written. If you come across one of those issues just let me know as I’m always open to constructive feedback and will continually be tweaking them anyway.  these should also be compatible with my scenarios for the period.

On another not I have revisited my For Queen and Company Rules and will continue to work them into a coherent set of rules.  Once these are complete I’ll post the draft up  here as well.

To download the file just click below.  To avoid any compatibility issues the file is a simple text so should be readable by most systems.  I’ll revisit them and format the data tables so that they are in proper tables, and perhaps even give it some styling… (god forbid).  I may even graduate to pdfs!

Fast and Furious

Wargames Illustrated February 2015

I’ve just finished reading through this months Wargames Illustrated and thought I’d offer a quick synopses of the articles included.

Second Ypres – 6 page article with three pages of history and three pages of wargaming interspersed with glorious maps, interesting short history sidebars, and related war-games photos.

Defending the Reich – 2 page overview of the new Flames of War Nachtjaeger supplement.

A Largely Unknown Corner of a Foreign Field – 6 page WW1 article about German South West Africa. 3 pages of historical overview leading to a scenario I believe based around Sandfontein using the Setting the East Ablaze rules from Partizan Press.

The Disinherited – 6 page article about assembling and painting a retinue for the Lion Rampant rules from Osprey.

Greyhounds Against Wolves – 6 page article about the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24th January 1915. A nice historical overview with notes about wargaming the action.

Infra-Red Night Hunters – Another 4 page article covering the Flames of War Nachjaeger supplement – this time addressing the night fighting rules

Painting 1915 – a great 8 page reference article about painting most of the major infantry types from 1915 with lots of step by step painting notes.

They Don’t Like it Up ‘Em – 4 page interview commentary with the authors of the Blood on the Nile supplement for Black Powder.

But Not a Man Was Lost – 8 page article about the Allied evacuation from Gallipoli in 2015.

Americas First Vietnam – substantial 12 page article about the American wars in the Philippines 1899 to 1913.  A lot of history with relevant photos as well as wargames scenarios.

The Battle of Long Tan – 6 page article about the Vietnam Battle of Long Tan between the 1st Australian Task Force and the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.

Prowling Panthers – a 2 page modelling info-advert for the Battlefront Panther/Jagdpanther models for the Nachtjaeger supplement…

The Battle of Dresden 1813 – 2 page intro with 8 page photo spread of a massive game hosted at Fall-In 2014.  Full of lots of glorious pictures.

How to Make Wagon from Lolly Sticks – 2 page modelling article about making wooden wagons.

Warfare 2014 – 6 page coverage of the 2014 Warfare show with many photos of the games on display. (Includes our SAD Battle of Cremona though with the wrong date – ah well)

Introducing Bluecher – 4 page introduction to Sam Mustafas new Napoleonic rules in his Honour series called Bluecher. (Once I work out how to type in umlauts I’ll fix the spelling correctly).

A Celtic Tragedy – A 2 page chatty article by Barry Hilton about improbability within war-games.

All in all a fairly broad range of articles although I could help but notice the push on the Nachtjaeger supplement, though this wasn’t as blatant and heavy-handed as previous editions have been in pushing their sponsors products.




Rules Preferences and Bias

I’ve been reading through a series of ‘reviews’ of war-games rules recently and I find it actually difficult to actually establish whether the review actually helps me or not.  If I regularly listen to a film critic I establish a relative position to that reviewer which enables me to understand how the film will be for me.  If they hate romcoms but I love them, then I can always take their negative reviews about the latest romcom with a pinch of salt.  Unfortunately for rules reviews I haven’t been able to find a person who reviews regularly and  consistently applies a coherent review.

This isn’t to say that there are not well written reviews or overviews out there, but that I’m not able to understand the personal prejudices that the reviewer is bringing to their review.  Since most people seem to only write a few reviews, and those are so infrequent it isn’t really possible to establish a comparative position.

Another gripe is that quite often reviews are book reviews as opposed to actual rule reviews.  I’m happy for a book review but I wish people would reserve actual judgement to write it as a rules review until they have a few games under their belts.  If there are rules issues or confusions please get resolution before putting the comments to print, as sometimes it’s just the reader who’s being a plank, and not the rules writer.

So what are my preferences and personal dislikes.  I might as well try and identify what I like and look for within a set of rules as well as what rules frustrate the hell out of me.

I like dice.  I’m quite happy to throw a lot of dice.  I like the tactile feel of them and enjoy the sound of dice being rolled.  I enjoy the variability which they bring to a game to remove the absolutes.  I’ve worked for much of my adult life in statistics and prefer throwing more dice than seeking to simmer it down to less dice thrown less often.

I like big units.  Even that I appreciate is subjective.  I would love to get as close to a 1:1 realisation as possible but have lots of units on the table as possible to achieve large scale actions.  I acknowledge that these are two arguments which are contrary to each other.  So I seek a compromise.  At present I’m happy to work between 1:10 and 1:20 figure ratios, so that I can get Napoleonic battalions to around 32 to 48 figures and possibly achieve a Divisional level game.  The alternative is to go down the DBA/Black Powder/Sword and Spear/Armarti non-defined unit sizes and stuff as many figures as I like to a base.  I do get disappointed by the 12 figure battalions in 1:50 Napoleonic games since the Old Guard just looks wrong.

I like some friction.  By this I want there to be turns when I can’t get to move everything in my army.  I’m always interested in seeing new mechanisms to attempt to introduce this into the game.  This can be introduced through a variety of means such as  in the form of cards (Commands and Colors, Maurice, Longstreet), or through dice activation (Republic to Empire, Chain of Command, Sword and Spear, Black Powder and its derivatives).  I find it odd that there is an expectation that everything in an army will move every turn, even if it is the most inept, poorly trained, poorly motivated force known to man (even more so if I’m the one leading it).

I like at least a passing nod to history in the mechanics and lists.  I’m happy with a certain level of abstraction to keep the game moving but when the game becomes more about playing the mechanics as opposed to using mechanics to drive a battle I think that we’ve left the war-game bit behind.  Unfortunately it’s often the odd micro rules which get abused which destroy any sympathy I have for the rules since I know that as soon as I step outside my warm comfortable zone of players I’ll meet some of those who play the rules and not the game and use every mechanism without any consideration or sympathy to the history which it is attempting to represent.  These players exist in every wargaming group I’ve had the pleasure to be a member of but their tendencies are better contained by some rule systems compared to others.

I like appendices and indexes.  After I’ve read the rules and started playing I want to be able to find the appropriate rules again without having to hunt through the book.  I consider this a complete waste of time and leads to lots of frustration by myself (and I’ve witnessed in others) especially when we’re trying to learn a new set of rules. Given todays technology creating indexes is so easy that there cannot be any excuse for not including them.  Their need is all the more critical in those poorly structured rulebooks where rules for given circumstances are distributed in a seemingly random manner throughout the book.

If I ever hear a games designer (posh name for rules writer) again telling me to Read the Bloody Rules (RTBR) after I’ve sent a question through to one of their forums when their rules don’t contain an index I’d like to stuff their rules somewhere indecent.  Rules writers and their publishers owe it to the players to try and make the learning of their rules as painless as possible.

I also like quick reference sheets for many of the same reasons.  For the facilitation they bring to a game why not include them except out of complacency? To suggest that players won’t need them can only suggest that the rules are so ridiculously simple that we probably don’t even need the rules to start with, or that we’re unlikely to ever play the game again after the first catastrophic attempt to play them.

I like good illustrated examples.  Where a rule is likely to cause confusion I like to see a clear and well illustrated example.  I’m happy to pay extra for the page count if it removes confusion and ambiguity.  If possible why not include the premise behind the rule to illustrate what it is attempting to achieve? This would help in those moments of ambiguity where the rule doesn’t cover the players can attempt to interpret the intent to resolve their confusion. (This can always be followed up with other players or the writer on the appropriate forums later).

I like good ‘after care’ support.  Some writers are fantastic at supporting their rules where as others seem to need the aid of an ouija board to communicate with them.  The Too Fat Lardies provide excellent support and quickly respond to questions posted on their forums.  Sam Mustafa has an excellent website providing support to all of his Honour rules in the form of extra lists, scenarios, calculators etc.  Great Escape are always quick to respond via their forums.  We are fortunate that where there is a gap enthusiastic players often step into the void but this is a dangerous path as it is entirely dependant upon the good endeavours which can quickly fall apart when those individuals head off to pursue other interests.