Sunday, 10 December 2017

La Ultima Cruzada has been released for publication!

The printed proof copies have arrived, and after checking I have been able to release my latest book – the third edition of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA – for publication.

It is now available in hardback format for £24.99 (plus postage) from, and should be on sale with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers within a matter of weeks.

To quote from the blurb on the cover of the book:
This book has been written in direct response to the numerous requests for a revised and improved version of the previous – and now long out-of-print – second edition. Unlike the previous book, this edition presents the data it contains thematically in the hope that it will enable readers to quickly find the information they are looking for.

LA ULTIMA CRUZADA is intended to be a sourcebook of information that will be useful to military historians and wargamers with an interest in the Spanish Civil War.

The book comprises six parts:
Part 1: The major political parties and main events of the Spanish Civil War
Part 2: The Armies of the Spanish Civil War
Part 3: The Navies of the Spanish Civil War
Part 4: The Air Forces of the Spanish Civil War
Part 5: The Spanish Police and Security Forces
Part 6: Uniforms of the Spanish Civil War

There is also a bibliography.
The book is 296 pages long, and contains numerous black and white photographs and line drawings.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Napoleon and Roustam

During his recent visit, Arthur Harman presented me with two 25mm figures painted by the late Bill Brewer. They are of Napoleon ...

...and his mameluke bodyguard and secondary vale, Roustan Raza.

Roustam Raza was an Armenian and born in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Armenian parents. He was kidnapped when he was thirteen, renamed Idzhahia, and sold as a slave in Cairo. He was presented to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 by the Sheik of Cairo, and served as Napoleon's bodyguard and secondary valet until 1814, when he settled down after the Bourbon Restoration and married Mademoiselle Alexandrine Douville in Dourdan, France.

Roustam did not follow Napoleon into exile in Elba, and although he offered to serve the Emperor on the latter's return to France, Napoleon refused to see him and he was replaced by Louis √Čtienne Saint-Denis.

Friday, 8 December 2017

8 x 15 hex grid for Hexblitz

My wargame table is 3' x 4' (90cm x 120cm), and I can just about fit an 8 x 15 grid of Hexon II hexes on it without any problem. As a result this was the size of grid that I used in my HEXBLITZ play-test, the Battle of Alderstadt.

As I am thinking about revisiting and possibly re-writing these rules, I decided that I ought to produce a suitable 8 x 15 blank hex grid with co-ordinates ... so I did.

The illustration shown immediately above is in .gif format. It can be downloaded into a program like MS Paint and used 'as is' or saved into .bmp format, and then used.

Although I retain the copyright on this particular grid, I give permission for users to download it for their own personal use. If it is used in any publication (printed, electronic, or in any other format), I expect my copyright to be acknowledged.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Battle of Abu Klea ... by William McGonagall

For a somewhat less well-written (in truth, appallingly written!) description of the Battle of Abu Klea and the death of Colonel Burnaby, one can always rely on Scotland's (in-)famous poet, William McGonagall, to come up to the mark.
Ye sons of Mars, come join with me,
And sing in praise of Sir Herbert Stewart's little army,
That made ten thousand Arabs flee
At the charge of the bayonet at Abu Klea.

General Stewart's force was about fifteen hundred all told,
A brave little band, but, like lions bold,
They fought under their brave and heroic commander,
As gallant and as skillful as the great Alexander.

And the nation has every reason to be proud,
And in praise of his little band we cannot speak too loud,
Because that gallant fifteen hundred soon put to flight
Ten thousand Arabs, which was a most beautiful sight.

The enemy kept up a harmless fire all night,
And threw up works on General Stewart's right;
Therefore he tried to draw the enemy on to attack,
But they hesitated, and through fear drew back.

But General Stewart ordered his men forward in square,
All of them on foot, ready to die and to dare;
And he forced the enemy to engage in the fray,
But in a short time they were glad to run away.

But not before they penetrated through the British square,
Which was a critical Moment to the British, I declare,
Owing to the great number of the Arabs,
Who rushed against their bayonets and received fearful stabs.

Then all was quiet again until after breakfast,
And when the brave little band had finished their repast,
Then the firing began from the heights on the right,
From the breastworks they had constructed during the night.

By eight o'clock the enemy was of considerable strength,
With their banners waving beautifully and of great length,
And creeping steadily up the grassy road direct to the wells,
But the British soon checked their advance by shot and shells.

At ten o'clock brave General Stewart made a counter-attack,
Resolved to turn the enemy on a different track;
And he ordered his men to form a hollow square,
Placing the Guards in the front, and telling them to prepare.

And on the left was the Mounted Infantry,
Which truly was a magnificent sight to see;
Then the Sussex Regiment was on the right,
And the Heavy Cavalry and Naval Brigade all ready to fight.

Then General Stewart took up a good position on a slope,
Where he guessed the enemy could not with him cope,
Where he knew the rebels must advance,
All up hill and upon open ground, which was his only chance,

Then Captain Norton's battery planted shells amongst the densest mass,
Determined with shot and shell the enemy to harass;
Then came the shock of the rebels against the British square,
While the fiendish shouts of the Arabs did rend the air.

But the steadiness of the Guards, Marines, and Infantry prevailed,
And for the loss of their brother officers they sadly bewailed,
Who fell mortally wounded in the bloody fray,
Which they will remember for many a long day.

For ten minutes a desperate struggle raged from left to rear,
While Gunner Smith saved Lieutenant Guthrie's life without dread or fear,
When all the other gunners had been borne back,
He took up a handspike, and the Arabs he did whack.

The noble hero hard blows did strike,
As he swung round his head the handspike;
He seemed like a destroying angel in the midst of the fight,
The way he scattered the Arabs left and right.

Oh! it was an exciting and terrible sight,
To see Colonel Burnaby engaged in the fight:
With sword in hand, fighting with might and main,
Until killed by a spear-thrust in the jugular vein.

A braver soldier ne'er fought on a battle-field,
Death or glory was his motto, rather than yield;
A man of noble stature and manly to behold,
And an honour to his country be it told,

It was not long before every Arab in the square was killed,
And with a dense smoke and dust the air was filled;
General Stewart's horse was shot, and he fell to the ground,
In the midst of shot and shell on every side around.

And when the victory was won they gave three British cheers,
While adown their cheeks flowed many tears
For their fallen comrades that lay weltering in their gore;
Then the square was re-formed and the battle was o'er.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

More poetry

Over the years certain bits of poetry seem to have been absorbed into normal usage. For example I have heard people say things like 'The boy stood on the burning deck' and 'The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel's dead' without knowing which poems they are quoting (or sometimes misquoting) from or which poets wrote them.

In the latter case the misquote is not from the first line of the poem VITAI LAMPADA (The Torch of Life) by Sir Henry Newbolt, but from the first line of the second stanza.

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night -
Ten to make and the match to win -
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red, -
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year
While in her place the School is set
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"
The title is taken from a quotation by Lucretius and refers to how a future soldier learns selfless commitment to duty whilst playing cricket on Clifton College's famous Close. The poem uses the events of the Battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan in January 1885 as a backdrop for the second stanza. The Colonel referred to is Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (one of my heroes!), who was killed during the battle when a Gardner Machine Gun (not a Gatling as stated in the poem) jammed, and almost caused the Mahdists to penetrate the British square.

'The boy stood on the burning deck' is the first line of Felicia Dorothea Hemans's poem CASABIANCA, which tells the story of Giocante de Casabianca. He stayed on the deck of the French warship Orient (his father's ship) during the Battle of the Nile despite the fact that the ship was burning and later exploded when the fire reached the powder magazine.

Unfortunately I've never been able to take the poem seriously since I read Spike Milligan's parody:
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled –

Tuesday, 5 December 2017


I originally designed HEXBLITZ back in 2007. Since then I have looked at it several times with the intention of reviving and possibly revising the rules, but have never quite got around to it.

Recently Archduke Piccolo has been using the rules, and his battle reports (and some very probing questions) have made me think again about revisiting this project.

Archduke Piccolo's battle reports include:

Please note that all the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Even better hexed grids with co-ordinates

After some further thought, I decided that the small numbers in each hex were too small ... especially if - like me - your eyesight is not as good as it used to be. I have therefore increased the size of the numbers, and the results are shown below:

The two illustrations shown above are both in .gif format. These can be downloaded into a program like MS Paint and used 'as is' or saved into .bmp format, and then used.

Although I retain the copyright on these particular grids, I give permission for users to download them for their own personal use. If they are used in any publication (printed, electronic, or in any other format), I expect my copyright to be acknowledged.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mr Kipling ... writes exceedingly good poetry

On 28th November I delivered a lecture to the Hertfordshire Masters Lodge (No.4090). The title of the lecture was MASONIC REFERENCES IN THE WORKS OF KIPLING, and I was assisted by a fellow wargamer who is also a member of the Lodge.

Amongst the poetry that I referenced was one that happens to be amongst my favourite poems, THE WIDOW AT WINDSOR. Not only does it sum up the part played by Britain's armed forces during Queen Victoria's reign, it also gave us the name of what is probably the most well-known set of Colonial wargame rules.

'Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?
She 'as ships on the foam – she 'as millions at 'ome,
An' she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)

There's 'er nick on the cavalry 'orses,
There's 'er mark on the medical stores –
An' 'er troopers you'll find with a fair wind be'ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars! – barbarous wars!)

Then 'ere's to the Widow at Windsor,
An' 'ere's to the stores an' the guns,
The men an' the 'orses what makes up the forces
O' Missis Victorier's sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier's sons!)
Walk wide o' the Widow at Windsor,
For 'alf o' Creation she owns:
We 'ave bought 'er the same with the sword an' the flame,
An' we've salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars! – it's blue with our bones!)

Hands off o' the sons o' the Widow,
Hands off o' the goods in 'er shop,
For the Kings must come down an' the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says "Stop"!
(Poor beggars! – we're sent to say "Stop"!)

Then 'ere's to the Lodge o' the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs –
To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an' the file,
An' open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars! – it's always they guns!)
We 'ave 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor,
It's safest to let 'er alone:
For 'er sentries we stand by the sea an' the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars! – an' don't we get blown!)

Take 'old o' the Wings o' the Mornin',
An' flop round the earth till you're dead;
But you won't get away from the tune that they play
To the bloomin' old rag over'ead.
(Poor beggars! – it's 'ot over'ead!)

Then 'ere's to the sons o' the Widow,
Wherever, 'owever they roam.
'Ere's all they desire, an' if they require
A speedy return to their 'ome.
(Poor beggars! – they'll never see 'ome!)

The last verse has a particular significance to Freemasons, and those of you who are in The Craft will have noticed it. To those of you who aren't ... well it's still a great poem, isn't it?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Improved hex grids with co-ordinates

I've now had another look at the basic hex grid with co-ordinates and have added very small individual numbers to each hex to ensure that their numerical co-ordinates are clearer:

During his recent visit, Arthur Harman pointed out to me if the rules were being used by two players who might wish to orientate the map to show their points-of-view (i.e. from opposing sides of the map), it might be helpful to have a mirror image for the second player. After some thought I did as he asked, and the result looks like this:

The two illustrations shown above are both in .gif format. These can be downloaded into a program like MS Paint and used 'as is' or saved into .bmp format, and then used.

Although I retain the copyright on these particular grids, I give permission for users to download them for their own personal use. If they are used in any publication (printed, electronic, or in any other format), I expect my copyright to be acknowledged.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Nugget 304

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N304) from the printer this morning, and I will be posting it out to members of Wargame Developments as soon as I can.

I have already uploaded the PDF version of THE NUGGET to the Wargame Developments website to read online or to download and print.

I have also uploaded a special Matrix Game supplement. It is a complete game from the pen of Chris Engle, and is entitled PAINTING THE WHITE HOUSE RED.

It is described as being 'A narrative game about the first year of the Trump Era'. The subject will been seen as being somewhat controversial by quite a few people, but it does illustrate how far this type of game design has progressed over the past fifteen years.

(Please note that this PDF is NOT password protected in order to allow non-members to read and download this particular supplement. Chris Engle asserts his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work, and by publishing it Wargame Developments in no way intends to endorse or denigrate any particular politician, political party, or point-of-view. It has been published purely as an example of a narrative style of Matrix Game.)

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 30th November 1937

The Republican Government moved from Valencia to Barcelona.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Why didn't I think of creating one before? ... a hex grid with co-ordinates

During Arthur Harman's recent PORTABLE WARGAME-related visit it became apparent that it would be extremely useful for players to have a hex grid available to them that had co-ordinates so that they could plot the position of any hidden units etc. After a bit of trial and error I managed to create such a grid ... and here it is:

Due to the non-linear nature of the grid the horizontal rows of hexes go up and down slightly, and in the example shown above I have shaded in alternate rows of hexes to make it easier to understand.

When the co-ordinates are added to an existing map (in this case the Battle of Hook's Farm), the resulting map looks like this:

Using such a grid makes it possible for a player to make a note that – for example – a unit has been placed in hex D4, as shown below.

For the life of me I cannot understand why I haven't done this before, but now that I have, I can use it for any future battles that I fight on a 9 x 8 hex grid.

The two illustrations shown above are both in .jpg format, which not everyone can easily download and then use to draw their own maps on. I have therefore provided a .gif format version below. This can be downloaded into a program like MS Paint and used 'as is' or saved into .bmp format, and then used.

Although I retain the copyright on this particular grid, I give permission for users to download it for their own personal use. If it is used in any publication (printed, electronic, or in any other format), I expect my copyright to be acknowledged.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A problem with La Ultima Cruzada!

Last night I received the printed proof copies of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA ... and discovered to my horror that during the printing process some of the formatting has been removed or altered, with the effect that a number of blank spaces have appeared in the text where they should not be and the pagination has been altered, leaving the Contents page with incorrect page numbers for each section and chapter.

I compared the printed version of the book with my original .docx file, and I could find no reason for this to happen. I then contacted in the hope that they could sort the situation out, because until it is, I cannot release the book for publication.

Some time later ...

Amber, one of's online support workers, spent a hour helping me to solve the problem. It appears that if I upload the book as a .docx format file, the conversion process can alter the publication's formatting. She advised me that this can be avoided by uploading the book in PDF format. However, when I tried to do this there were problems with the upload, which kept telling me that there were errors relating to embedded fonts in the file. In the end I sent the file directly to Amber, who was able to upload it for me.

On her advice I downloaded and checked the PDF file that will be used to print the book, and I have ordered another printed proof copy to make doubly sure that it is exactly the way I want it to be before releasing it for publication. Hopefully this printed proof copy will arrive within a week or so, but if it doesn't I might miss the Christmas deadline I set for the book's publication.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Other people's Portable Wargames: Some of Stephen Briddon's battles

Stephen Briddon has been using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules since before they were published, and was one of the wargamers who gave me very useful feedback during their development. He has continued to use them, and what follows are some photographs of some of his battles.

The Battle of Hook's Farm ... using 54mm figures on a squared grid

The Battle of Hook's Farm ... using 54mm figures on a hexed grid

(The corners of each hex are marked with a dot, which makes them almost invisible in these photographs.)

A desert battle ... using 20mm figures on a hexed grid

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Stephen Briddon.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Nugget 304

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the magazine to me yesterday afternoon, and I hope take it to the printer on Monday morning. This should mean that it will be printed and posted out to members of Wargame Developments by next Friday or Saturday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Seven Years War

Ross Macfarlane and his friend Ron have been at it again. This time they have been using an adapted version of the Ancient rules from DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME to fight a Seven Years War battle!

The battle report makes for interesting reading, and has given me several ideas regarding the possibility of writing a Seven Years War version of my own NAPOLEONIC PORTABLE WARGAME rules. These are currently in the very early stages of development, and I hope to publish them at some time in the future. In the meantime I recommend that anyone interested in using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules for other periods should read Ross Mac's excellent battle report.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ross Macfarlane.

Friday, 24 November 2017

A visit from Arthur Harman

Yesterday Arthur Harman (a regular contributor to the pages of MINIATURE WARGAMES) paid Sue and I a visit, and this gave me the opportunity to get some toy soldiers onto my tabletop and for Sue to exercise her skills as a hostess.

Arthur is currently writing an article about adapting my PORTABLE WARGAME rules for use as a kreigsspeil, and one of the reasons for his visit was so that we could set up and go through a couple of scenarios that we could photograph and use to illustrate his article. The scenarios we chose were 'Forcing the defile' from my recent mini-campaign and 'The Battle of Hook's Farm' from H G Wells' LITTLE WARS.

The first was set up using the same figures and terrain as those featured on my recent blog entry, but using a more distinct colour scheme for the Heroscape terrain tiles in order to make the various contour level more obvious.

The second scenario was set up using my Hexon II hexed terrain and figures from my 25/29mm Napoleonic collection, and was the first time these particular figures have been used in a tabletop battle.

We had a great time, and I hope that Arthur's article will appear on the pages of the magazine in the near future. Even if it doesn't, we still had a great day pushing toy soldiers around on my wargame table, and I look forward to wargaming with Arthur again at some time in the New Year.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The periodic sort out ... is sort of finished ... for the moment

I have just finished the periodic sort out I began yesterday and I have finished ... for the time being. The toy/wargame room now looks like this:

During the process of sorting out the detritus that seems to have accumulated over the last couple of years, I have realised that I must seriously consider downsizing my current stock of figures etc. I have figures, buildings, and other wargaming bits-and-pieces that have not seen the light of day for years ... and are not likely to again in the foreseeable future.

So why keep them? If I can sell them or pass them on to someone who will use them, it will free up space in my toy/wargame room and generate a bit of cash to spend enhancing the collections that I do keep.

I am going to wait until after Christmas before I do anything further, but it is something that I now know that I have to do.

For those that are interested, the photograph above shows some (56 to be precise!) of my REALLY USEFUL BOXES in use. The majority are 4 litre boxes, with a few larger ones used where necessary.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A periodic sort out

Looking around my toy/wargame room on Sunday, I was stuck - for the umpteenth time - by how untidy it had become over recent months. After some further deliberation I decided that rather than put off sorting it out - again - I'd seize the nettle and actually have a go ... and that is what I have been doing today.

I suspect that I am not going to finish today, but I plan to do as much as I can and complete the job as soon as I can.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 416

The latest issue of this magazine arrived on Friday, and I have been reading it over the weekend.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: The Last Picture Show by Conrad Kinch
  • Reinventing an old friend: Part Four by Jon Sutherland
  • Who would live in a house like this?: A ruinous construction somewhere – somewhen – on the Eastern Front by Dave Tuck (who wrote the text) and Malc Johnston (who took the photographs)
  • Street fighting man: Down in the ghetto there's petrol bombs to be thrown Jim Webster (who wrote the text) and Malc Johnston (who took the photographs)
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Gaslands: Campaign rules for Osprey's new dystopian death sports game by Mike Hutchinson (who wrote the text and took some of the photographs) and John Treadaway (who also took some of the photographs)
    • Building Fenris Descending: Scratch building robots by Jeremey Claridge
  • Worlds apart: A show report about Derby Worlds 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Recce
  • Bridge over foaming water: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Up the palace: A show report about SELWG 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
So what did I enjoy in this issue?

There were no 'stand out' articles this month, but there was plenty of them that were worth reading. For example, Conrad Kinch's column pointed me towards several things on YouTube that look of as if they might be of interest to me, and Jim Webster's article and rules about street fighting made me realise that I really ought to consider trying to wargame urban fighting one day.

One feels that after a period of hiatus this magazine is beginning to find its feet. Its layout seems to have improved considerably over recent months and one pleasing development is the fact the the Club Directory has shrunk to just two pages.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

So just how portable is the Portable Wargame?

After the recent Colonial mini-campaign I fought, I received an email asking how portable the PORTABLE WARGAME was.

That isn't a simple question to answer, so I decided to see how much space the terrain, figures, and playing equipment I used to fight the mini-campaign. The results can be seen below:

The figures, dice, playing cards, casualty markers (in reality clear plastic Roman blind rings), and Exhaustion Point countdown recorders (in truth, knitting stitch counters!) can be stored in two REALLY USEFUL BOX trays that fit into a 4 litre box ...

... and the Heroscape hexes fit into a number of WESTON plastic boxes.

When the lot is stacked together, it looks like this:

From experience (I know, because I tried it!) I can carry this up and down two flights of stairs without any problems ... and it will fit into a normal-sized sports bag or holdall.

The 9 x 8 painted hex baseboard measures approximately 13.75" x 15" (35cms x 38cms).

For carrying about, this will easily fit into one of the 'bag-for-life' plastic carrier bags sold in most large supermarkets.

I could easily have made the game even more portable by using paper or cardboard figures, a cheap cardboard chess board, and cardboard terrain tiles, but I wanted to show a setup that I have used.

I did not point out in the above description that there was room enough in the REALLY USEFUL BOX trays to store another small army. The photographs show a small Egyptian army of the General Gordon era in one of the trays ... and there is still enough to store at least another one or possible more two small armies.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Grids and scales

David Crook – who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog – is designing a naval wargame set in the early twentieth century, and in an exchange of emails we have been discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using a grid of Hexon II hexes for naval wargames … something that I have done in the past but in an abstract rather than a realistically scaled way.

This set me thinking, and I sat down with a pencil and paper and started playing around with the numbers … and what follows are the results of my thinking.

Assuming that the distance from face-to-face on a Hexon II hex (which measures 10cms from face-to-face) represents a nautical mile, a ship travelling at a speed of one knot would take one hour to move from one hex to an adjacent hex.

This gives gun ranges of one hex representing 2,000 yards, two hexes representing 4,000 yards, three hexes representing 6,000 yards and so on.

If the ship were doing a speed of six knots, it would take ten minutes (i.e. one-sixth of an hour) to move from one hex to an adjacent hex. I chose six knots because during the period David is setting his rules in this seems to work as a common denominator for most major classes of warships; on average battleships do 18 knots (3 hexes), cruisers do 24 knots (4 hexes), and destroyers 30 knots (5 hexes). All the thoughts and ideas that follow are based upon this six knot common denominator assumption.

Now ten minutes can be a long time in a naval battle, with even slow-firing guns being able to get off two or three salvoes, so if we reduce the time scale to five minutes, this has consequences.

For example, if we change the ground scale to one hex representing half a nautical mile (i.e. 1,000 yards) from face-to-face, the move distances per turn will not alter but the gun ranges will, with one hex representing 1,000 yards, two hexes representing 2,000 yards, three hexes representing 3,000 yards and so on. As the Battle of Tsushima began with the ships firing at 10,000 yards and hitting each other at 7,000 yards, the tabletop distances would be between 100cms and 70cms.

As the average heavy gun salvo rate in 1905 at the Battle of Tsushima was about one salvo every three minutes, it would seem to make sense to use that as the basic element of the time scale. In this case the ground scale reduces to one hex representing 600 yards from face-to-face, the move distances will not alter, but the gun ranges do, with ten hexes (i.e. 100cms) representing 6,000 yards.

Now all of the above works well if one assumes that one wants to fight a salvo-by-salvo naval battle … but as naval gunnery was still relatively inaccurate (most sources seem to indicate that only about three to five percent of shells actually hit their target and did any damage) this might end up as being a rather tedious wargame to fight.

So if we return to the original timescale where one turn represents ten minutes of real time, our pre-dreadnought battleship will fire three – possibly four – salvoes per turn. Assuming the latter, the ship will therefore fire sixteen shells and possibly – if they are very accurate and achieve a percentage hit rate of 6.25% – score one hit. In reality they are more likely to score one hit every two turns.

This begs the question as to whether or not the time scale needs to be changed so that more firing can take place each turn … and this opens yet another can of worms.

I cannot for the life of me come up with a way of realistically balancing the constraints of ground scale, time scale, and realistic gunnery … which is why I have always tended towards designing naval wargames where these elements are abstract rather than definitive.

Does anyone out there have a solution to this … or is it one of those wargame design problems that is best just ignored?

The Battle of Tsushima as depicted in a painting ...

... and my attempt to model something similar to it!

It may not be art ... but I know what I like!