Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rules and Rules

Okay, I'll admit it, I am more interested in playing a cinematic set of Colonial rules than a realistic set of rules.

I have played a couple of versions of "The Sword and the Flame" (generally abreviated as TSATF) and "G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.", both of which I enjoyed.  But I also found things with each that I wanted to change.

So, to make a long story short, I've been sort of combining these two with many thoughts of my own to create my own "house rules", which I, in the tradition of Larry Brom, have named for a phrase from a Rudyard Kipling poem . . . in this case, "The Ballad of East and West":

"They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the
Khyber knife
, and the Wondrous Names of God." 

From this poem I have chosen to call my rules, Khyber Knife.

These will not be a commercial set since they will certainly contain some aspects of the two rule sets mentioned above.  They will be my "house rules" for use dealing with a mini-continent in the Indian Ocean . . . which will be populated with Pathans, Zulus, Ansar and others.

-- Jeff

Friday, December 25, 2009

Small Is Beautiful

The bulk of this post is not my writing, but that of David Helber of the Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial-era Wargames Page; which a great many of us feel is perhaps the single best table top gaming site for Colonial gaming.

I freely admit that I am stealing his text about "size" because I think that it is a very important concept.  I hope that he understands that I make no claim that the following comments are mine, they are not . . . but I fully endorse what he wrote over a decade ago.

The photo to the left, by the way, is from one of my very first Colonial games.  We were using "The Sword and the Flame" rules and all figures are "true 25mm" Ral Parthas.  (as always, click on photos for much larger image.)

 The Governor General's daughter, Pauline (in blue) has once again wandered off and managed to get herself into "a spot of bother".  Troops were sent out to rescue her.  They failed, as I recall.

Playing surface is ordinary brown wrapping paper, crinkled up, then smoothed out, palm trees in the background were from a "cake decoration supply company" and the white blocks are mah jong tiles.

The photo below shows some of my simple "Arab Buildings" (built according to the excellent instructions on the Major General's Building Construction Page) . . . and as the figures are mounted on pennies (about 19mm), you can see some of the "Small is Beautiful" philosophy at work.

-- Jeff
Small is Beautiful

Contrary to what your significant other might tell you, size matters -- especially in tabletop gaming. 

Specifically: small is beautiful. Because table space is always so limited, everything used in a game must be as small as it can be and still do its job.

The Ouargistan group uses a 5/8"=15mm (David's preference) or 3/4"=19mm (everybody else's) base size for 25mm military figures where possible, with the occasional base cut larger to accomodate the odd figure that needs it. 

Even a 1" base means that a unit of men will take up over 30% more linear space on the table and 90% more area than those on a 3/4" base. A 2-rank unit of 20 men will be 10" wide, rather than than 7.5". Ten inches is a lot on a table which is only 48" across. 

When the gaming includes buildings, boats, or vehicles, base size is even more important. Even though we allow bases to overlap when figures are in a boat or structure, a base which is even slightly larger will substantially reduce the number of men which can fit in the same space. 

A rooftop which is 2.25" square will take nine men with 3/4" bases, but only four men with 1" bases.

Buildings and vehicles themselves should be as small as they can be without looking completely ridiculous. 

In Ouargistan, a small, flat-roofed native building will be as small as 2.25" square with a roof 1.5" off the ground. The difference between a 2.5" and a 3.5" building doesn't sound like much, but it will allow you to put a 5-building town in about the same space as a 3 building town with the larger size.

When building structures and vehicles it is very easy to let size get out of hand. You must exercise ruthless care to keep things to a minimum, or else you wind up with forts or villages that take up half the table, and boats which require so much river to maneuver that there is no room for land. 

Generally our native buildings run from about 2.25" square to about 3"x 5", forts are about 12" square, and the largest boats/ships are no more than 9" long.

-- Copyright©1998 David Helber

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Starting My Colonial Blog

I have lately been thinking more and more about doing some Colonial gaming. So it behooves me to start a blog for it.

Also I needed a place to list just those blogs and websites that are primarily Colonially oriented. Thus, this site will serve that purpose.

As for the title, one of the nicknames that I acquired in college was "Col. Hud" . . . so I decided to revive that non de plume for this blog.

While I sadly had to leave the "mountains" shown in the photo when we left California, I do still have the buildings and palm trees . . . and, of course, the soldiers. (by the way, click on the photo to see a larger version of it.)

The playing surface is covered with crumpled-up ordinary brown wrapping paper . . . which is quite effective. I scratch built the fort and all of the buildings by the way.

Anyhow, while there probably won't be much here for a while, I've now at least got a start.

-- Jeff