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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, 84, May 2016

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, 84, May 2016

The Normans across Europe

Column: Rick Priestley, "This Gaming Life - Whoever thought that was a good idea?"

I was leafing through the latest WS&S the other day when it struck me. Every article and pretty much every page revealed to us vistas of battle, battalions of recruits, the latest creations of our most talented sculptors, … and every model of every warrior was what we would call 28mm scale.

Feature: Eoghan Kelly, "The Battle of Fairfax Courthouse - Crucial Skirmish"

When the first shots of the Civil War were fired in April of 1861, Virginia’s secession was all but achieved, though the popular vote to ratify this did not take place until 23 May. In the meantime, Robert E. Lee had been appointed commander of its armed forces.

Feature: Tim Whitworth, "Cross-overs and an unusual army for Hail Caesar - Choose your poison"

Towards the end of 2014, I found myself facing early retirement and a fair amount of time on my hands. My new local gaming store catered largely to card games and a few sci-fi and fantasy tabletop gamers. I volunteered to run a series of historical games at the venue to determine the appetite for crossing over into historical wargaming. The Hail Caesar rules set with its fantasy pedigree was the ideal choice and the owner duly agreed to stock some rule books and figure sets.

‘We saw it first!’ Fighting over salvage.

Feature: Jamie Gordon, "It's the end of the world as we know it - Gamin after the fall out"

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

This insightful quote by Albert Einstein suggests that the sheer potency of weapons that would be deployed in a potential Third World War would be so colossal that they would reduce the survivors to an almost Stone Age level of technology for subsequent conflicts. Whilst this quotation is most likely an accurate representation of the inevitable result of a nuclear armageddon, there are those wargamers among us who believe that we know better.

Feature: Warwick Kinrade, "What really makes a good game - The four pillars of wargaming"

This article deals with a simple but sometimes perplexing question. What makes a good wargame? It’s a subject that concerns me, because ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted my wargames to be better – and by that, I really mean more enjoyable for me. Most players end each game with an exchange of handshakes and a polite “Good game!” But what do those two words actually mean?

Feature: David R. Clemmet & Thomas Davidson, "The future of the wargames show - A sunny outlook"

We have all read – via all the usual outlets – a variety of views and ideas about the future of the hobby, and in particular, the future of the small to medium-sized wargames shows, given that the internet has had a dramatic impact on the spending pattern of wargamers.

Feature: Phil Mansfield, "Building a Normandy invasion layout - Project Sword Beach"

My interest in D-Day stems from the epic war movie The Longest Day and playing with the Airfix kits that I regularly used to assault the defences of occupied Europe. This passion has remained strong throughout my gaming years. I visited the beaches ten years ago and my family will be holidaying in Normandy this summer. My wargaming interest has developed from my love of history and I’ve always been inspired by photos of beautifully painted figures on equally well-presented terrain.

Aggressive armies and strong fortifications were hallmarks of the Norman way of war.

Theme: Michael Hoddinott, "From Ireland to the Holy Land - Dynasty:Norman-style"

If you wandered down any local high street and grabbed a passer-by to answer the query, “Who were the Normans?”, they would most likely reply that they were something to do with 1066 and all that. A few may mention that the Normans were involved with the earlier crusades in some way, but fewer still would be able to remark upon any of the other realms of conflict that featured the Normans.

Theme: Mike Hoddinott, "The founding of the Kingdom of Sicily - The Norman godfather"

The region of Sicily and southern Italy marked a boundary between Latin Europe and Greek (or Orthodox) culture. It was an important area for both cultures in terms of pilgrimage, primarily because of the shrine dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel at Apulia, in south-east Italy. As Saint Michael, in the New Testament of the Bible, fought a ferocious battle with Satan, he was celebrated as a military figure by many emperors, kings, and soldiers, particularly in southern Italy.

Theme: Mark Backhouse, "A campaign system for the 1075 rebellion - Revolting earls"

Nine years after the Norman Conquest of England, all seemed quiet. The initial wave of revolts had been crushed by William and his ruthless supporters. Peace seemed to have been established. The north of England was still reeling from the ‘Harrying’, and thoughts of further rebellion there were folly. An expedition against the Scots had led King Malcolm to seek terms, and even Edgar the Aetheling, the last remaining English noble with even a distant claim to the throne, seemed to have found a place within William’s court, where he no longer posed a threat. The widespread building of castles along the marches and overseeing the locations of previous rebellions like Exeter meant any further Saxon rebellion was unlikely.

The Normans are trapped.

Theme: Michael Leck, "From rune stones to the plains of Italy - Ragnvald and the Battle of Cannae, 1018"

Scandinavians didn’t only travel westwards. A great deal of voyages were made to the east. Naturally enough, it was mainly people from Sweden who were travelling in that direction. It was the eastern voyages and the influences of the countries there that gave the Swedish Viking Age its special colour and flavour.

Theme: Guy Bowers, "Gathering your Norman host - Conquest of the tabletop"

The Normans were a force to be reckoned with, and still are, on the tabletop. Most rules sets treat them generously, with special rules and such. As an army collection, they tend to be smaller than their contemporaries, as they are a cavalry-based force and typically expensive per model. There are no ‘hordes of the unwashed’ to paint. Just clean-shaven monastic-looking Normans.

Theme: Ruben Torregrosa, "On the cover - Sons of Normandy"

Norse blood flowed in the Normans’ veins and their cravings for conquest pushed them from Normandy to the Italian peninsula and Sicily. The campaign was not easy and decades of innumerable skirmishes and battles were needed to achieve the final conquest. When Guy asked me to prepare a cover scene using Italo-Normans, I immediately visualized knights on patrol crossing a meadow, ever watchful for enemies. As you will see, this is the scene I tried to create for this diorama.

Column: Gordon Lawrence, "The irregular - The Painting police"

Is it just me, or are there more of you out there who feel that your efforts don’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to the views of other people in the hobby? Perhaps it’s just my religious upbringing that makes me feel guilty all the time. But it seems that we are judged and found wanting.

Hobby: Piers Brand, "Painting an Opel Blitz - Diesel und Benzin"

The Opel company (a subsidiary of General Motors) started to produce the Blitz truck in the 1930s, originally as a light and medium-weight civilian truck. When Germany started to rearm, a special purpose factory, the Opelwerk Brandenberg, was built to mass produce the truck. Some 130,000 Blitz trucks were built before 1944. The Blitz was truly the workhorse of the German Wehrmacht.

Hobby: Tony Harwood, "The church of St Laurence, Bradford on Avon - Building a Saxon church"

This article follows on from my earlier article, ‘Building an MDF Farm Outbuilding or making MDF look real’, which featured in WS&S 83. The challenge of making laser-cut MDF buildings look realistic once again led me to search through various catalogues for something to stretch my modelling skills. This 28mm Anglo-Saxon church from Timeline Miniatures was just the temptation I needed.

Let's play: Ken Baker, "Let's play - Sharp Practice v2"

It must have been eight years ago when I got to play my first game of Sharp Practice. I remember that we had been looking for some time for a set of rules that would allow us to scratch the Napoleonic itch, without a colossal investment in either time or cash, so a game that allowed us to put 40 or so figures a-side on the table and have a great game was exactly what we needed. And to be honest, we never looked back – the rules became a staple part of the club diet.

Cops raid a suspected still and shoot it out with moonshiners. Miniatures by Great Escape Games. Buildings by 4Ground.Let's play: Paul Burkin, "A game offering you can't refuse - Let's play The Chicago Way"

I’d heard a rumour last year that Great Escape Games was working on a new game set in the 1920s Prohibition period, using the same game mechanics as Dead Man’s Hand (DMH), their popular Wild West game, and I couldn’t wait to get a look at it. At my local club, we are massive fans of DMH and I was quite interested to see how it would transfer to another period.

Review: Jamie Gordon and Rossco Watkins, "Game Reviews"

In this edition of the game reviews section, Jamie Gordon and Rossco Watkins take a look at Terminator Genisys and Open Combat.

Column: Richard Clarke, "Up front - The politics of wargaming"

“Up Front. That’s a funny name” said the chap “you’re always tucked away at the back”. And indeed I am, although I have never knowingly been tucked away anywhere in my life. However, the name of this column does not refer to its physical position in this august publication, but rather the fact that in 25 years scribbling articles for the hobby, I have a reputation for being somewhat “up front” with my opinions.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy