Commanders, a wargame digest

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Collecting -  time and space!

Introduction

Wargaming is a niche hobby, but even within that niche, there are many aspects that make what we do a ‘best fit’ to meet our own personal interests and circumstances. 

Whether our limits concern budget, free time, playing / storage space, whether we solo game or group game and what periods and level within those periods (i.e. skirmish) take our fancy, we in essence self define the hobby to meet our individual situations and interests.

This page highlights my gaming perspective in 2019 and the sentiments go some way to explain the character of this ‘Commanders’ site and the ‘Battlefield and Warriors’ Blog.

Getting to this point

Suddenly finding myself with over four Decades of wargaming behind me, I can see some of my interests having gone full circle and others that just continue to evolve. As a signed up member of the Airfix and Squad Leader generation, I still Get excited pulling a plastic sprue from a new box of figures and have an unfailing passion for tactical WWII wargaming.

What has changed is that I no longer feel inclined to explore every new release, to read a ton of different rulesets, to stand for long hours over a wargames table or to be using overly complicated rulesets, that require constant playing or re-reading to remain usable and fun.

There is so much choice

The product range these days is diverse enough that the gamer mostly has the good fortune for their spectrum of interest to be met.

The three main influences over my current gaming are; Wanting less rule reading in most of my gaming, restrictions of activity due to a persistent bad back and collecting within the limits of my gaming and storage space.

It is probably the convergence of these three things, more than anything else, that set the tone and pace of the  Commanders / Battlefield and Warriors sites.

Most of the topics covered here can conveniently be described as belonging to ‘kitchen table’ type gaming.

Boardgaming

I have spent the last two years selling and buying to get my boardgame collection to cover three specific areas of need and this is still an ongoing process..

Firstly - I am preferring series games in which a common rule book services the system, so that additional modules can be bought and played pretty much straight away, with a good familiarisation of the rules and appreciation of the nuances already learned. Repeat playing with a reduced number of rule systems can off-set any perceived complexity or initial learning curve and so some of the richer systems actually become easier to get into. 

Secondly - There are obviously one off titles that still interest me, Red Typhoon by Revolution Games being a typical example. I have endeavoured to keep the number of such games limited, so that each does stand a chance of repeated play, so gaining some familiarity in similar fashion to what the series games give.

Thirdly - Some fast play and entertaining games. These have their place for a quick mid-week throw down game, but importantly it helps service my regular face-to-face sessions with Mike, so that we can be fairly sure that we can reach a proper gaming conclusion by the end of the evening. These are games that are typically coming in at around two to three hours.

So really, anything in the collection now has to meet at least one of these goals and further weeding is part of the cycle as new titles inevitably take my fancy.

These days, I am much much less inclined to make a speculative purchase. Rather, everything has to earn a place to justify storage and my investment in rules learning.

Figures

For some time, I have been torn between a love for the aesthetic of the larger figure and the practicality of the smaller figure, but as with the boardgame collection, the figures side of things has needed a focus to bring painting effort and storage under control.

Accepting that terrain is the main space hogger, a problem multiplied if several scales are used, then for this reason alone, going with a single building scale makes the most sense. 

Buildings in the 10mm / 12mm scales are a good collecting option, with ‘N’ Gauge railway accessories being around the right scale and nice resins coming from the Baggage Train, Hovels, Timescale and Battlescale bringing a good aesthetic to the battlefield. These are small enough that a varied collection can be held, covering several periods, without becoming a significant storage problem. 

Figures with both a smaller footprint and height profile also become easier to store and stack in shallow trays or boxes. A typical unit on a single base, double ranked with 16 - 18 figures can sit fine on an 80mm frontage. Doing something similar in 28mm needs a 150mm frontage and that doubling effect has an impact on playing space, impacting on the kind of game that can be played and how weapon ranges and movement rates look to the eye.

The smaller scale is also more sympathetic to gaming with 4” hexes, as it is easier to fit both troops and terrain into the same hex. Visually I prefer the open table, but the hexes significantly help with back ache by reducing bending and stretching at the table as there is no need to precisely measure for firing or movement and units can just be plonked down in their destination hex that they are moving to, while unit facing is instantly recognisable by the positioning within the hex.

Having spent too many hours with my attention divided between different scales, taking a deliberate decision to pick one, has immediately at least halved my storage dilemma and more effectively concentrates painting and modelling time.

For rules, it is only recently that commercially sustainable rules are starting to make an appearance for grid based games and that a wider audience is accepting them. So this remains an area that begs for the gamer to write their own rules and this is what I have done for the periods that I am collecting in, though they are best viewed as works in progress and I also have commercial sets that work for gaming on an open table.