Friday, 30 March 2007

Website Update 80% Complete

Work continues on the design of the new website. The hard core scripting is more or less finished and I'm at the tedious side of converting the current site data into the new format.

The new format keeps the wiki layout but greatly speeds up access (especially for dial up owners).

You can watch the development here.

The recent completions are:

  • The Whats New page now an imports my newsfeed. This reduces the duplication of writing the newsfeed and the Whats New section.
  • Designed the favicon for the final version incorporating the new white dice logo (although not implemented on the beta site yet).
  • From beta testers it became apparent that users what the same functionality as the present site. So when clicking on a rule name it now opens as a new page in the browser.
  • The Broken Link footer to each rules has now been reduced to an "!" at the end of the rule description thus reducing the clutter on the page
  • Likewise I have dropped the format type the rules are in as this has become superfluous to what users require now.
  • Looked at implementing forums but at present time this has been shelved as other sites like The Miniatures Page suffices for the hobby and is well established.

Still to do:

  • The RSS newsfeed details will have to be redesigned slightly when the new site is implemented so that the Whats New section reads properly
  • The Links section needs converting to the new format.
  • Still have to convert data for the 2 largest sections yet: World War 2 and Sci Fi
  • Decide on any further features to the site. Should I have a guestbook; bring and buy section; rule writing area. This will probably be left to a later implementation if there is need for it.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Triples 2007 - Report

Last weekend was the Triples show and as usual I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I didn't spend as much as expected. The show seemed the same as usual plenty of traders and a disorganised Bring & Buy. Why they don't use a bigger room I'll never understand. I think ebay is killing off the good items at Bring & Buys these days.

On speaking to some traders they seemed to be slightly down on last years takings. A few of them did say that most of their trade is Internet based now so they have cut down on the shows.

My purchases this year were:

  • 2 League of Augsburgs armies in 10mm from Pendraken. Plenty of painting there.
  • 1 6mm ECW dragoon booster pack. I bought the ECW Polemos pack from Peter at Baccus 2 years ago and have painted up one army so far. The only thing the army was lacking was some dragoons.
  • HaT Napoleonic plastics - Austrian infantry and cavalry to finish of my Austrian army
  • Stretlets*R plastics - Napoleon's General Staff(2). These are mounted generals for use with my on going plastics project. I figure I can alter these for mounted generals for my Bavarians and Austrians.
  • Ga Pa rulebook for the Age of Marlborough by Thomas Arnfelt. These seem to be a very popular set of rules for the period. They have a limited army list in the back but cover the period I want.
  • Disposable Heroes Rules - only bought these because they were half price and might convert them for my planned modern game (US v Insurgents)
  • Quick Play Napoleonic Rules by Barry Edwards - again they were cheap and a couple of people in the club play them.
  • Robogear vehicles for the Airfix Robogear game. These were only £2.80 each instead of £7.99. I already have 2 sets of the full Robogear (yes still unpainted)so this was a good purchase adding moer vehicles to both sides.
  • Mall of Horror boardgame. This was in impulse buy as you can never have enough Zombie games! I play lots of boardgames and a future blog will feature my thought on boardgames.
  • 100 small steel bases. These are to glue on to my 54mm plastic figures bases to give them some weight.
  • Some "Jaffar" type figures from the Stargate film made by MJ Figures. I already have a resin stargate which I bought off ebay some years ago. I've used it in all sorts of games. You can have whatever you want coming out of the stargate from Aliens, Predators to Daleks.
  • Battle Master game by MB games. This was a present for my son as I always get him a present while I'm away. He's six and a half now and desperate to wargame. We've already had one game on the lounge floor (not wargames on the floor since I was about 14 and my 42 year old limbs were aching). Worst of all I lost to him, what is it with kids rolling better dice than adults.
  • Finally bought a pewter dragon for the wife as she collects them. (This will allow me to go again next year).

My next outing will be Beer and Pretzels at Burton-on-Trent. Again it will be a stay over.

Another idea we had at the show was doing a wargame weekend at The Bunker Wargames Holiday Centre. It's £150 for a weekend wargaming with all the figures supplied bed and board. All you have to supply is beer.......very tempting.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Ammunition Supply

I was recently running a 20mm boxer game at my club. Three players between them ran the legations while I ran all the boxer mobs.

I wanted to simulate the legations thinking about their ammunition or running out of it so I came up with the following idea. I used poker chips and each legation was given 3 red poker chips (fire chips). Each time the legation wanted to fire they handed in one of their fire chips which were placed into a bag. Inside the bag at the start of the game was a number of black chips equal to the green chips on the table.

At the start of each turn each legation returned their black chips into the bag and drew back up to 3 chips again. So if they no fire chips they would draw 3 if they already had two fire chips they could only draw 1 chip.

The system worked well with legations running out of ammunition and unable to fire, or holding fire when they only red chip left to save for emergencies.

Another alternative to make it even harder for the legations would be that each legation can only draw 1 chip per turn. I may try this another time.

The rules I used were my LOTR Strategy Battle Game variant found at the LOTR Variant yahoo group.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Triples Wargames Show

This Saturday and Sunday is the Triples show in Sheffield. Myself and some friends make the yearly pilgrimage to this show travelling up on Friday morning and returning Sunday afternoon.

The schedule of events on the Friday means arriving midday, playing some board games with a beer or two. Then off to get some lunch and maybe another beer. We return to the hotel mid afternoon to book in, play some more boardgames and maybe another little drink. This carries into evening time when we go out for a Balti return to the hotel suitably refreshed more boardgames and Homer Simpson says "Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

Essential Items for the show are: purchase list (if left behind this is a disaster); comfy shoes (to walk around each hall several times); bag (to carry all the ill gotten gains in); bottle of water (to re-hydrate oneself); air-freshener (to deal with those people who have body odour problems - especially in the cramped Bring and Buy area).

Prior to returning home ensure you have gifts for the other half and kids so that they allow you to go again next year.

Upon arrival home the main decision to make is:
a) Do you take in all the purchases straight into the house
b) Drop them off at a friends house
c) Take some items in but leave the majority in the car boot to sneak into the house over the next several days

The other main event worthy of a yearly pilgrimage is the Spiele boardgame show, Essen in October. This nicely splits the year into two halves and has greatly improved my packing skills trying to lug back boxes of games in a suitcase.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Website Design

1st Generation
In 1997 I decided to write a webpage for my local club Wrexham and District Wargames Club. In those days I knew nothing about writing webpages and used a WYSIWYG editor. It was a simple site with a link to a few rules I had written.

2nd Generation
Soon it began to grow and I added further rulesets. I then learnt about frames so my site had the index down the left side and the main page on the right. I know began to learn to edit my site using a text editor so I could code it manually.

3rd Generation
The site was getting a bit too heavy to edit all the html pages. I know had to have different pages for each era. I wanted a database but my ISP did not support it. A solution then was to save the rulesets as a database on my computer using Microsoft Access. I only updated the site once a month as the next process was very laborious. I exported the database into DBF format and used another piece of software to generate the HTML pages from that.

4th Generation
I found a lovely website called Tiddlywiki. This made an entire website into a single HTML page. The site had a fresh new look and the updates were a breeze to do. Now I could do updates on an almost daily basis. However, as the site has continued to grow so has the size of the single webpage. It's now over 600k. This slows it down when people visit it if they don;t have broadband. I recently changed to a webhost that supports version 4.01 of PHP so now the time is ripe to migrate to a PHP server.

5th Generation
Several days of hunting around has taken place trying to find wikis or content management systems that work on PHP 4.1. Most of them require version 5. However, I think I've found what I'm looking for in pmwiki. I uploaded the templates to my site and within 24 hours I have a working beta.

I have done this migration thing twice with big consequences from html to access in the 3rd Generation took a long time and I only had several hundred rules to do then. When I created the 4th Generation site I had 1,000 entries to convert. This time it's even bigger and I daren't count how many entries will need to be converted.

Will the site migrate to the new version? I don't know yet. But take a look at it and tell me what you think, over the next couple of weeks I will convert more content to see if it is viable.

Freewargamesrules 5th Generation Beta.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Napoleonic Rules

Another project I have on the go at the moment is 20mm Napoleonics. I'm in the process of painting up two armies Bavarian and Austrian (Austrians as they're easy to paint and Bavarians as they can fight on both sides).

The problem with this period though is that no-one can agree on a good set of rules to play. My first set of rules were the good old Bruce Quarrie Napoloenic set which originally came out as an Airfix guide published by Patrick Stephens Limited back in 1974 (I have the 1977 edition bought when I was 13). Later on Bruce bought out an updated book, which I also have and have played.

In our local club Deeside Defenders there is no set of Napoloenic rules that dominate. Myself I'm still trying to find a set of playable rules that give a flavour of the period and that are easy to play (I'm getting too old for complicated sets with lots of tables). Also different national characteristics and unit quality is important.

I've narrowed it down to 2 free sets that I will test when the figures are finished:

Huzzah By oozlum games they have a unique mechanic I've not noticed until now. Instead of units firing at the enemy, the enemy takes a threat test when in range of enemy cavalry, infantry and artillery. Depending on the grade of the threatened unit they must make a successful test or if they fail they take staggers (which when accumulated can destroy a unit).

In The Name Of Glory These were recently only available to purchase but David Marks the author has now presented them free of charge. A lot of work has gone into the rules at 98 pages long. He goes into a lot of detail explaining small things which most gamers take for granted. Strip away all the explanations and the rules are quite simple and Stuart Asquith recommends them too. A nice little mechanism here is the command and control system. each army is given activation counters to assign to units of their choice. The number of counters depends on the quality of the general and the army in question.

So those are my two choices I will give a feedback at a later date on the two sets when playtested (and when the two armies are finally painted).

League Of Augsburg

I've been considering 18th Century gaming for a while now but have been struggling to decide what scale and what period to try out.

There are some lovely ranges and periods out there and the one that was a near miss was The Great Northern War. Stretlets*R have a lovely plastic range.

However, I finally settled on The League of Augsburg (also known as the 9 Year War). I was encouraged by The League of Augusburg website, they also provide a set of Wargames rules called Under The Lilly Banner.

The scale was something that I was unsure of. But I settled on 10mm after seeing some nicely painted 10mm ranges at my club from Pendraken. I've ordered 2 army packs from Dave which I will collect this weekend at Triples.

Being a rules fiddler I found a set of rules from Jackson Gamers which had potential as they are element based called Quick Tricorne which look good. I expanded the command and control system as the way I see it armies were very hard to command or control in this period. Generals didn't have all the staff they had in later years.

I also changed the morale tests from using a single D6 to 2D6. Class A troops have a morale of 10 down to Class D with a 7. Add or subtract modifiers to the morale number. Then roll equal or below the modified morale factor to see if the unit has passed.

News Feeds

I am a big fan of news feeds since discovering them last year. MY own homepage is set to yourminis which lets my see whats going on in the hobby. Also handy for my local weather and news too.

I have been running a news feed to freewargamesrules for about 12 months now and use a piece of freeware software called feedspring to create the xml file that is a newsfeed. It really is simple.

The latest edition to the newsfeed is that users can now ask for the newsfeed to be e-mailed to them directly via another free service called r-mail. Within 2 weeks of setting this up we became one of the top 100 feeds on the service.

Blog Creation

I finally decided to start my own blog which will be my ramblings on wargames rules and other aspects of our hobby.

This is a chance to get things off my chest and share my thoughts with my website readers.