Saturday, July 14, 2012

Not Quite Portable Wargame

 After my last post and some thinking on how to use a pile of bases for a new and inexpensive summer project. I realized that I had forgot about a batch of Jacklex and Ral Partha (20/25mm figures) colonial (NW Frontier) figures I had worked on last year. I had intended to base them individually and use TSATF skirmish rules with them, but never really got the urge to complete the stuff. So I thought they might work well with the "bases without an army" problem mentioned in my last post. So after a week of basing and painting a few more to fill out the collection I managed to put together two armies for use with Bob Cordery's "Portable Wargame Rules."

I now have a British vs Pathans collection and the project has turned out quickly and I managed to get in some unexpected gaming this Saturday due to some timely babysitting on the part of my wonderful father-in-law.
British punitive column deploys to teach the Pathans the inevitability of civilized might! Sikhs on the left, Ghurkas on the right and the 72nd Highlanders in reserve. (3 stands is a typical colonial battalion)
I based the Brits 6 to a 40x40mm base and the Pathans 4-5 to a base and used the old Peter Gilder trick of leaving off a few figures and filling in with terrain on the bases. I got a few more bases out of the project using this method and the Pathans look appropriately irregular. The armies are a bit larger than the 12 units recommended in Bob's early version of "TPW" so my Brits have 12 bases and the Pathan army is a bit larger at 16 bases/units. But my table is larger as well (18x18 grid squares each 2 1/2" square)...all in all enough room for everything but still fits on the dining table.

I mixed in the Ral Parthas with the Jacklex Pathans to minimize the discrepancy in the sizes of the figures (the Rals are just a bit bigger but the overall effect works fine with an abstract game like "Portable Wargame"). One trick I found was to put the larger figures towards the center of each base and the smaller Jacklex to the outside so the scale difference is less noticeable.
Jacklex 20mm 72nd Highlanders and Ral Partha Sikhs in the background. The field gun and crew is Jacklex.
 One of the challenges was that I wanted to keep the old school shiny look with unflocked bases so adding rocky terrain to fill the Pathan bases posed a bit of a problem. I decided to paint the bases an olive green and simply glue the rocky terrain right on the base...thus keeping the overall abstract quality of the armies consistent with both the rules and the old school figures. It seems to work (at least to my eyes)...
Pathans lie in wait
 Some of the glue is still drying in these pics so you can see how straightforward the basing scheme is...(we don't need no stinkin' flock!  ;)
 I used 15mm desert buildings from Battlefront for the village. They are small and fit the 2 1/2" square grid nicely. I decided to go with a square grid rather than hexagons since I use hexes with my 6mm Naps and needed something simple and even more "classic".
 Cork tiles were pressed into service to make hill contours.

 I also am working on some additional rules to add period chrome to the basic rules. I have added a "Heroic Action" rule that I think adds some interesting color to the game: Each army can have a number of individually based leader figures that represent company/regimental officers in addition to the CinC. These figures move with the "company" (I assume stands are company sized) and when in close combat can be risked for a re-roll of a Close Combat die. Regardless of the second roll the leader figure rolls to "risk himself" in the action 4,5,6 resulting in the leader being lost...and or "mentioned in dispatches"... The rule adds a bit of color to an otherwise abstract army level game, but I think gives a good reason to paint up some cool leader figures! I made the grid squares large enough to fit both an infantry base and a leader 2 1/2" squares seems to do the job nicely.
The Sikhs assault a wooded spur with an officer in the combat and the Ghurkas in support

Close Combat!
I'm now painting another unit of Jacklex Punjabis. The basic stand will represent a company and three companies plus one or two leaders will form a British "battalion"

It all seems to work and is ripe for further tinkering with additional period "chrome". I'm also seriously thinking to try this same approach with Spanish Civil War so...when my next check comes in....


Fitz-Badger said...

Looks good and sounds like fun.

Bluebear Jeff said...

A very good use for those bases, sir. I think that they look great.

-- Jeff

tradgardmastare said...

Excellent idea for the bases- great looking game .I have a load of laser cut ones of a variety of sizes .I really need to sort and use them...

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I simply LOVED your battle report! It is exactly the sort of battle that PW was designed for ... and I think that the additional rules add considerable period flavour.

I think the the basing looks great. After a lot of experiments, I had tended to go for simpler basing methods for my figures. I don't want 'moving dioramas'; I want figures I can play with.

All the best,


Ross Mac said...

An excellent solution to both bases and unused Colonials. I don't know why but colonial games was also one area where I was looking at the PW rather than TS&TF type games.

I have found that flock doesn't look as out of place with glossy toy soldiers as one would think but the plain painted bases look good.

Actually, your whole ensemble looks good and seems to invite playing a game!

Pat G said...

I followed the link from Bob's page. Great report!

Peter Douglas said...

Nice looking table and good report.



Archduke Piccolo said...

A fine army and set up, formal looking, but no less attractive for that. It looks like an accessible sort of game system you're using too.