Saturday, 1 December 2012

Project Status

It is a truism, but a correct one, that all projects are eighty per cent finished, eighty per cent of the time. Of those that are not, some have just started, while the rest are ninety per cent complete, ninety per cent of the time.

And so it is with wargame projects. There are possibly some of you out there who are waiting with bated breath for the next update of the Fuzigore saga. There may even be some who are waiting for the news of the ‘doubling project’, my scheme to provide two Polemos sized armies for each force in the rule book.

It is also possible that some of you might be waiting to see what terrain I have conjured up in response to the ‘Terrain Troubles’ posts, or (and I know that this is an extreme possibility) some who want to know when Polemos: Polemos, the Greek, Persian and Macedonian wars rule set will be published.

I concede that the last group will be minuscule.

I am pleased to say, however, that all of the above are, in fact, about eighty per cent finished. Well, except the doubling project, of course. And the rules.

The Fuzigore project has, however, proved to be much larger than I expected. The reason for this is slightly interesting (to me, anyway, and I'm the one that writes this stuff). In CS Grants book ‘Wargame Campaigns’ (1995, CSG Publications: Pewsey) he has a bit on the forces which are needed for campaign games. Now, obviously, this includes the normal army forces of infantry, cavalry, artillery and so on. But then he lists the “less exciting but equally essential” (p 24) extras that are needed to make an army function on campaign.

These extras include such items as generals and couriers, pioneers, supply convoys, artillery train, medical support units, river transport, local defence forces and so on. These are the things that we can safely ignore on the single battlefield, but are necessary to enable an army to take to the field at all.

So, I have now completed another 20 base Gallic army, for use in the Fuzigore battle that has been sitting on my shelf for the last several weeks or, possibly months. I have also completed the terrain items that go with the battle: some road sections, some woods, a couple of small settlements. I would be posting a picture, but I thought I had charged the battery on my digital camera, but the battery and the camera both disagreed. Some other time, perhaps.

But now, here comes the rub: if you read the accounts of battles during the periods with ‘barbarians’, you will notice that they had a tendency to take their whole families along. Indeed, these families were those support units which I have just outlined above – the medical support, the supply convoys, and the resources for cooking and so on. They had a tendency to come out of their camps to watch the battle as well, and, for example at the defeat of Boudicca’s tribes, formed a distinct barrier to anyone trying to escape the carnage, as well as being involved in it themselves.

This is not purely an ancient thing, either. We read of Irish (or, more likely, Welsh speaking) women being massacred in the Royalist camp after the battle of Naseby. Spike Milligan refers to Goums bringing their wives along in ‘Rommel? Gunner who?’. Milligan is surprised, but it is an ancient and well known practice. I suppose it is only with the professionalization of armies that this practice stopped.

Baggage, in its widest form, is not well served by wargames. Occasionally you might get a scenario which involves the convoying in of relief supplies to an isolated fort, but other than that the train gets rather short shrift. You do get odd bits and pieces about how many carts and pack animals an army of a certain size might need, but that is usually as far as it goes. The DB* rules, as I recall, do have provision for having camps or baggage, but they do seem, to me at least, a bit small.

So this is where the Fuzigore, and indeed, the doubling project is stalled at the moment. I have all the wargame figures, in terms of units and bases that I need. But I do not have the ox carts, civilians, pack mules and assorted detritus goes along with the army.

Now, you might say that I am overly picky, and you may well be right, but I am trying to do this battle in a way that is satisfying to me. The armies, on the grand tactical map, have baggage units, and so some of them at least should be deployed on the table.  The point is that if an army is separated from its baggage, that army is going to struggle to function. While this has not happened during the map moves, it is a distinct possibility that it will occur during a battle.

Losing the baggage train is a more serious occurrence for a campaign game, I think, than for a one off battle. In a one off battle rules have to be invented as to why the baggage should not be used as a lure, abandoned, allowed to be over run and so on. In a campaign, when you think of all the goods and services the train supplies, the protection of it should be an obvious necessity of the army commanders, and the loss of it a near total disaster.

So here I am again, banging the drum for campaign games and, having done so, stalled my own wargaming until the point that I have appropriate baggage elements for both sides. In mitigation I can only say that the baggage will, at least, be transferable between different armies; a Roman pack mule is similar enough to a German or Gallic one not to be a problem.

So, there you are, my Fuzigore battle project is, erm, about 80% complete….


  1. I'd be interested to know what proportion of wargames campaigns are actually brought to a conclusion.

    Solo campaigns seem to fare better, but in my experience at least as many club campaigns fizzle out beforehand as run to a satisfactory finish.

  2. I suspect that a lot of campaign games end because they simply become too 'unfair' - if you read Featherstone's WG Campaigns then several ended because one side had lost too many men to proceed.

    Careful balance is even more necessary in a campaign than a scenario - and it also needs logistics, which is boring but critical.

    So few campaign games happen, I think.

  3. Hi,

    I was very happy to take part in 2 campaign games in the last 3-4 years. Both were brought to satisfactory "conclusion moment". In fact, "real life" campaigns would not end at those moments, but these were clear cut situations for us as wargamers, so we discontinued further actions.

    Yet I remember campaign games which ended somewhere "in transit". I suppose this is the situation you are talking about, Chris.

    As far as I rememeber, such situations occur when gamers of one side lose heart. It may result from some minor defeats or personal quarrels or being drawn away from game by mundane world affairs. I suppose the last cause is most popular. It is hard enough to get several people to conduct a major "stand-alone" game during several weekends, and gaming for, say, 2-3 months is much harder. When a break happens it is extremely hard to continue such a game in the future. This explains why solo campaigns have greater chances of success - there is only one gamer to coordinate and he may more easily continue the game after some unavoidable interruption.

    Best regards,