Jay's Wargaming Blog

August 31, 2018

HOTT Army Lists Completed!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 10:24 am

I’ve just finished uploading over a hundred HOTT army lists to the blog. Click here to access the lists, which are given in alphabetical order. This was going to be – as per my last post – a “long term” project; but it proved to be a fantastic alternative to doing the work I actually need to do, so I’ve completed it in double quick time. Procrastination is the mother of HOTT pages…

I’m planning to tidy the lists up a bit over time, improving the presentation and adding graphics/photos where possible.

If you have lists that you would like to add, or photographs of your HOTT elements/armies, please do get in touch by emailing me here – solowargamer@hotmail.com.

Once again, a big THANK YOU to Alan Saunders for giving permission to reproduce the lists here, and more generally for having done so much to ensure that HOTT didn’t just slip into the mists of time. Alan’s current website, which includes much HOTT material, can be found here – http://hordesofthethings.blogspot.com/

Lost World

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August 27, 2018

HOTT Army Lists Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 10:21 pm

HOTT2

Hordes Of The Things – HOTT for short – is a set of ‘fast play’ rules written by Phil Barker, Richard Bodley Scott and Sue Laflin-Barker. Currently out of print, HOTT still has an active community of players. Its longevity is down to the fact that it combines the brevity of the DBA stable with a flexibility which allows players to create army lists for whatever takes their fancy. Armies have been drawn from a huge range of books, films, history and mythology. The only limit is the imagination of the player!

Alan Saunders has rightly been called The Godfather of HOTT for his pioneering work in creating and compiling army lists, rule variants, tips, eye candy and a plethora of miscellaneous HOTT-related material on his classic website ‘The Stronghold’. Since moving to Australia Alan has broadened his gaming interests, but is still an active HOTT player, and there is a wealth of useful HOTT material on his current website ‘The Stronghold Rebuilt’ – click here to visit it.

Alan has kindly given permission for me to gradually upload some of the original army lists onto this blog. This is very much a work in progress, as there are lots of lists to be added, so do check back periodically to find the latest additions.

Click here to access the army lists page, or use the menu sidebar on the right to access individual army lists directly (under Pages –> HOTT Army Lists).

January 18, 2018

The Wargaming Compendium

Filed under: Reviews — Jay @ 1:42 pm

The Wargaming Compendium

Some wargames books are simply a pleasure to read.

Henry Hyde’s Wargaming Compendium falls into that category. I recently invested in a hardback copy of the book, after making do with the Kindle version for a year or so. Eventually the lure of the eye candy was just too much to resist!

Henry’s book is very much in the tradition of old school wargames writing – think of it as a modern take on Don Featherstone’s seminal volumes. It’s a debt that Henry pays in full, not least in the fascinating section on the growth of wargames literature in the chapter which details the hobby’s history.

This chapter – ‘A History Of Wargaming’ – is actually one of my favourite parts of the book. The author covers the ‘birth of the toy warrior’, the adoption of wargames by the military, the early years of amateur gaming, the post-war expansion, the emergence of affordable miniatures, and the golden years of wargames literature. The chapter continues by covering modern developments and one or two controversies, for example the role of Games Workshop and the ‘Black Powder controversy’. It’s a delightful and very thorough overview of the subject, and puts the current situation of the hobby into a clear context.

The chapter on ‘Basic Concepts Of Wargaming’ is helfpul for newcomers, and also acts as a useful reminder of  some of our basic assumptions as gamers regarding scales of figure, landscape, time and how the vagaries of chance can be translated onto the tabletop. The chapter on ‘Choosing A Period’ is brief but thorough.

Henry really drills down into the fine detail of the hobby in the chapters covering the production of terrain and the painting of miniatures. These contain everything the newcomer needs to get started, but also contains tips and ideas that this seasoned veteran for one certainly found useful – I’m currently consulting the excellent section on painting horses (always a bugbear for me!).

The chapter on different sizes of wargame – ‘From Small To Large’ – starts with gladiatorial combat, then moves through the skirmish (using a detailed Wild West shoot-out scenario as illustration) right the way through to pitched battles on the grand scale. As with every other section of the book, Henry combines a plethora of tools and tips with wonderful illustrations, and comprehensive resources that bring the ideas to life – for example a printable Roman arena, and highly detailed Wild West skirmish rules. Nor does the author neglect the campaigning aspect of the game; there are 24 pages on the subject including a ruleset!

Talking of rules, the book includes Henry’s own rules for the Horse & Musket era – ‘Shot, Steel & Stone’. This is not really my wargames period, so I’ve only skimmed the rules, but they are as comprehensive as one might expect from what has gone before. He follows up this chapter with another that provides a detailed walkthrough of an encounter using the rules, which should help a newcomer put them into context.

Also included is a chapter on ‘Advice For The Digital Age’ – which includes some very sound tips on getting the most out of your digital camera when photographing miniatures – and a comprehensive section on resources.

Another of my favourite chapters is the one on ‘Other Aspects Of Wargaming’. This crams in short sections on naval, air and pirate wargames; role playing and pulp gaming; multiplayer gaming; and – last but certainly not least! – a few pages on solo wargaming that even includes a mention of this blog!

All in all it’s a great read, a beautifully produced book that’s copiously illustrated and well thought out. It’s destined for classic status in my humble opinion, and should take its place on every wargamer’s bookshelf next to volumes by Don Featherstone, Stuart Asquith, Charles Grant and Terence Wise.

January 11, 2018

God Cannot Abide Complexity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 11:55 am
Götz von Berlichingen

Götz ‘Er kann mich im Arsche lecken’ von Berlichingen.

 

I believe it was Götz von Berlichingen (pictured above) in John Arden’s play Ironhand (an adaptation of Goethe’s original drama about the man) who uttered the memorable line “God cannot abide complexity”.

Götz is an interesting if thoroughly obnoxious character whose history merits further study. I have to say though that I agree with him about the whole complexity thing. If he ever said that – which he probably didn’t. Although he is credited with inventing the insult “lick my arse” – and that’s not to be sniffed at.

Anyhow, as far as I’m concerned, Phil Barker and Richard Bodley Scott’s ruleset Hordes of the Things was a cracking example of rules that were relatively easy to master, but which delivered a game that rewarded skill and subtlety at the highest level (it also rewarded the throwing of lots of sixes, but most rulesets do that). I’ve never really seen the need for anything more complicated when it comes to tabletop battles.

Even Hordes could perplex the newcomer though. I fought my first ever game against a near-legendary Australian wargamer called Thomo the Lost, who almost certainly let me win. In the process though he gently pointed out that I might do better if I grouped my units together in future, rather than deploy and move each one separately – I’d need a lot less ‘pips’ per turn if I did that. A genuinely nice man, Thomo, and by easing me into the game he ensured that I’d come back for more rather than run screaming from the room!

 

YAKUMO DIGITAL STILL CAMERA

Iron prosthetic hand worn by Götz von Berlichingen.

 

Rules are truly a minefield for the newbie with little or no experience of gaming. Obvious points can be missed. Complexities are rarely grasped at first sight. Of course there are those players – we’ve all come across them – who have minds like finely tuned clockwork mechanisms, able to compute and model and project at a mere glance. Sadly my mind doesn’t work like that. It’s more like a wheezy old Atari that’s been left in the garage during a particularly damp winter. Hence the need to avoid unnecessary complexity wherever possible.

If simplicity is the keynote in cobbling together a basic ruleset for hex wargaming – my current project – then affordability is another important goal. Having invested in some Hexon scenery recently, I’ve discovered that they have a series of hex-based rulesets available for free on their website. While these rules look pretty good, they’re clearly the finished article rather than a starter set. I may ‘mine’ them for ideas, but I doubt I’ll adopt them.

One of the reasons for that is the affordability issue. I have lots of armies consisting of around twelve to fifteen bases or ‘elements’ – a legacy of my Hordes and DBA background. I don’t want to have to invest in lots more units for each army, simply so that I can mass them in groups as per the Kallistra rules. Those rules use several bases per hex in order to (a) produce a nice ‘mass battle’ look on the tabletop, and (b) to allow for logging of casualties by removal of bases.

Now the whole casualty-logging business is a topic in itself, but after a lot of faffing around my preferred solution is to attach a small D6 to each unit and use that to register current unit strength, to log losses caused by firing and melee, and so on. When the unit takes a hit, you flip the die accordingly. When you move the unit, you move the die with it. This approach is simple, it’s cheap, and it works a treat. And – most importantly – it enables me to continue using my favourite old armies without having to rebase or expand them in any way.

Doubtless it’s not the most elegant solution, and – like the use of a hex-based battlefield – it certainly won’t appeal to every wargamer. Personally though I don’t find it too obtrusive – it does the job with the minimum of fuss. And, of course, it avoids complexity. Götz von Berlichingen would almost certainly approve!

 

Bases with Dice

Using dice to show unit strength.

 

 

January 10, 2018

Hex Enduction Hour…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 2:39 pm

My Hexon Terrain

 

Meanwhile, back on the table top, I took delivery last week of a box of Hexon modular terrain from Kallistra.

The setup pictured above uses about two thirds of the tilesets from their basic starter box set. Currently we’re limited to using a medium size dining table for games. Plans are afoot for building an extension, which will allow us to install a nice big wargames table when it’s complete. Until then, small is beautiful…

The plan is to use this for working on my “beginner” level hex-based wargames rules, which I’ve been mulling over for a while now. I’ve opted for a hex tabletop because my gut feeling is that it’s easier for people new to wargaming to grasp rules wherein movement, firing, combat, facing etc. are addressed without the need for complicated measurements, wheeling and turning, and so on.

I’ve always been impressed by the rules used in Bill Banks’ 3W Ancients hex-and-counter game. I found it fiddly to use in practice – small hex sheets and even smaller punched counters – but the rules themselves were fun and seemed to give realistic results. My own rules will likely take a lot from the Bill Banks rule set.

Setting up the Hexon layout wasn’t too much of a chore, and I’ve already ordered a few additional pieces.

As you can see from the photo, I haven’t flocked the hexes yet, and the scenery is bog standard rather than specific to a hex tabletop. I’ll probably have a go at adapting and/or making suitable scenery, but if that proves to be less than successful I’ll no doubt end up buying even more bespoke stuff from Kallistra. Their products are not the cheapest, but I feel they’re worth the price.

When I’ve finally arrived at a workable rule set I’ll upload it to the blog to see what people think.

Incidentally – in case you didn’t know – Hex Enduction Hour was the fourth album released by The Fall back in 1982…

 

Hex

More Free Stuff!

Filed under: Computer Gaming — Jay @ 11:26 am

My favourite computer game, Field of Glory II, has consistently – like its sister games Pike & Shot and Sengoku Jidai – delivered wonderful free content in addition to the base game and ‘official’ expansions.

Latest in the list of freebies is Paul Adaway’s TT Mod. This addresses the tendency of the base game to re-use standard unit graphics – e.g. for Hellenic pikemen – in a number of different armies. Consequently, to expand this example, Alexander’s pikemen would look the same as those used in a Ptolemaic or Pyrrhic army. The result was a certain ‘sameness’ in the look of some of the armies.This wasn’t a huge problem as it was basically a cosmetic issue, but it was certainly one of the few underwhelming aspects of the game as originally published.

Paul has addressed this by replacing the ‘ubiquitous vanilla versions’ (as he puts it) of Pikemen and Cavalry units – among others – to ensure greater diversity and a more accurate reflection of historical differences.

In addition, Paul has created greater diversity in the army lists by splitting them to reflect the detailed granularity of the table top version of the game (hence ‘TT’ or ‘Table Top’ mod). So the Pyrrhic list has been split into a ‘Pyrrhus in Italy’ and a ‘Pyrrhus in Greece’ list; and the Gallic lists have been split into ‘Lowland’ and ‘Hill Tribe’ variants for each period. These are just a couple of examples from what is in actuality a huge list – click here to access the full list.

There are some excellent new unit types in the latest mod as well, such as the Tarantine Light Cavalry and the various new flavours of Phalanx and Hoplite units – Iphikratean Hoplites, Seleucid Argyraspides and Chalkaspides etc. etc.

I love the fact that FoG II and its sister games have such a fantastic community of gamers and modders. Finding this latest upgrade today is rather like waking up to find that the Wargames Fairy had delivered a hundred new miniatures armies to my doorstep overnight…

Big thanks to Paul for his sterling work!

Pyrrhic Army with Tarantine Light Cavalry

Pyrrhic Army with Tarantine Light Cavalry

 

 

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