Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hark! A questioning Scotsman.

Proud son of the glens, Mel Gibson, photographed singing "Scotland the Brave"

Scotland has given the world many great men.  Thinkers, scientists, theologicans, philosophers and engineers. They have brought forth ideas and words that will be remembered for centuries and that have shaped the lives of millions. They are a proud, curious people, given to questioning and inquiry.

Lord Kelvin asked "Jus' how culd is that anae wae?"

Adam Smith asked "What sort of price is tha'? Ar' you fer real mate?"

Thomas Carlyle asked "So you ken yer a big mawn, de ye?" 

But none of these no doubt very important questions, concern us today. 

Nor does the eternal Scottish question, posed by the warrior-philosopher "Franco" Begbie

"Ar' yo' lookin' a' me pal?"

Some frankly gratuitous eye candy from Phil's War Cabinet
Head over there for more. 

 The question that concerns us today was posed by that august son of Scotland, my esteemed colleague, friend and former editor, Mr. Phil Olley of Phil's War Cabinet* posed the question. 

"Do other wargamers and collectors set out a planned order of battle [...] to follow, or is it a case of simply picking whichever unit you fancy painting next?"

I was thinking about Phil's question and pondering how I go about collecting an army.  I think in some ways, I start backwards.  I think about the game or games I want to play and what troops I would need to complete those. I count up the troops needed to play all of those games and make a master list.

That's assuming that I haven't either somehow come into part of a collection or bought a box of plastic soldiers on a whim or because they were cheap. Actually now that I think of it, a number of these incidents have involved OldJohn and a small pile of used readies.

My good pal General Du Gourmand always maintained that the most dangerous box of figures was the first box of a new period. Collect one box of 1879 British infantry and suddenly you're committed to another 300 Zulus. Buy one squadron of 17th lancers because they look nice and before too long you'll be adding your ninth battalion of Russian infantry and worrying about the uniforms of Caucasian Riflemen.

But in a perfect world, where I'm starting from scratch, I tend to make a list based on the scenarios I want to play.

Once that's done, I pick the smallest scenario and aim to collect for that, the idea being to get troops onto the table in as few steps as possible.

Some of Michael's work
(which you can find here) 

I don't have enough projects on the go at present and between maintaining my marriage, work and studying at night, my copious free time is a burden to me.

I've been fighting a losing battle with Michael Dippel's Second Afghan War scenarios on the Battlecry website for a little while now and I think Phil has provided the last shove I needed to finally crack. I've been collecting colonials for The Sword and the Flame for a while now and this would appear to be a good opportunity to use those figures in a larger engagement.  Of course, TSATF is a skirmish game and the larger battles portrayed in Battlecry will require more troops, most notably cavalry, but I should be able to get a workable force relatively quickly.  It's just a matter of working out which of the six scenarios requires the smallest number of new troops.

Looking at the scenarios written so far, the troops required are as follows.

Rifles 5
Melee (swords) 12
Cavalry 6
Artillery 3
Leader 3

British Infantry 7
Indian Infantry 9
Highlanders 2
Sappers 1
Ghurkas 1
Royal Artillery 3
Royal Horse Artillery 2
British Cavalry 1
Indian Cavalry 3

I'll have to post a progress report in the New Year.

*Who I profoundly hope is actually Scottish, rather than just living there, otherwise this joke will have well and truly gone for it's tea. 


  1. Speaking of 'questioning Scotsmen' and Sir Mel Wallace... this you might find ... erm ... interesting.

    1. Oh dear Lord.

      That was brilliant. I will have to watch the lot. Thank you very much.

  2. The Olleymeister's question interests me, because my own approach has changed over the years - I'm not sure how (a)typical I am now, and I think my change in strategy has been influenced by growing anxiety to get my armies finished before I snuff it.

    I certainly used to buy figures that I fancied and paint them up, pretty much ad hoc, and spent quite a lot of years wishing I hadn't done that - the games were distorted because of insufficient unglamorous line units and too many unlikely elites. My last two wargaming ventures have both been planned (both sides, since I am Maximilien Sans-Amis Foy) as an OOB, though obviously with due regard to availability of figures. I also have pressed on with organising figures and painting up the OOBs with much more singlemindedness than I used to employ, but this may well be connected with having less to divert me than formerly...

    1. I tend to veer wildly between the two approaches, which probably explains why I have a lot of rather boring French line infantry and also some very dodgy Neapolitans.

      Along with an elephant drawn 32lber for reasons that are frankly obscure even to me.

  3. You have forgotten the Scotsman who - faced with some lead soldiers and a toy cannon - thought, "Could I play a bonny game with my stepson with these wee fellows?" and invented a 'Little Wars' style game long before HG Wells: Robert Louis Stevenson!

    1. Arthur, you are absolutely correct. I shall go commit Scottish hari kari immediately.

      The Scots being a tougher, more stoic people than the more emotional and flightly Japanese commit ritual suicide with a battered Mars Bar; an agonising ordeal that takes approximately thirty to forty years to do the job.

      Stout fellows the Scots.

    2. Also brings to mind the ancient Scottish tradition of corporal retribution, colloquially known as The Heedrum-Hodrum, as in "you get hodderum, and I'll heederum!"

  4. *Who I profoundly hope is actually Scottish, rather than just living there, otherwise this joke will have well and truly gone for it's tea.

    It looks like Phil keeps his nationality on the internet quite private. I'm meeting with C S Grant at the weekend, maybe he knows the answer.

    1. Jim, give CSG my best and my apologies, I haven't sent him anything for the annual in a while, something I really must attend to.

  5. De Gourmond's First New Box theory is ringing a few bells. I take it you've recovered from your recent attack?

    1. I am a fully functioning Kinch.

      Du Gourmands theory is both dangerous and true.

  6. Kinch, you bounder! I'm neither Scots, nor living there!!
    I used to love there, but it's been over 4 years since I moved south of The Wall.
    Apart from that, like your post. Interesting approach, and akin to my own.

  7. Lord Kelvin was from Ireland... though as a Belfast man he may have spoken like a Scot!