Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review: The Wargaming Compendium

The Wargaming Compendium
by Henry Hyde
Pen and Sword 
RRP £35

Within the wargames hobby there are a number of publications that are a “must own” for any collection. Over the years this includes:

  • Little Wars by H.G. Wells
  • Wargames by Donald Featherstone
  • Charge! by Peter Young
  • Introduction to Battlegaming by Terry Wise
  • The War Game by Chares Grant
  • Achtung Schweinhund by Harry Pearson.

A recent release that certainly implies it may add to these titles is The Wargaming Compendium by Henry Hyde.

Henry is the Editor of Miniature Wargames and previous editor/founder of Battlegames Magazine which has now merged with Miniature Wargames.

The Wargaming Compendium is a hefty tome of 520 pages which is lavishly illustrated with colour photographs. The book contains 10 chapters which are colour coded so can be easily found on picking up. Lets have a look at what each chapter contains.

Foreward (1 page)
The book is introduced by veteran wargamer Charles S. Grant

Introduction (6 pages)
Henry gives us a brief overview of wargaming and his attraction to the hobby.

1. Basic Concepts of Wargaming (30 pages)
This chapter is designed for the novice to our hobby. It  explains the different scales available to wargamers for both miniatures and and on the tabletop. It is all explained in easy terms how wargames work from unit sizes, the element of chance, morale and everything else that describes to a newcomer what a wargame is. Its a great starter for newcomers but not so useful to veterans of the hobby.

2. A History of Wargaming (34 pages)
In this chapter it discusses how wargaming started  from Ancient times through to von Reisswitz kriegspiel for the training of Prussian officers. A look at important books for the hobby, which is a great bibliography for both newcomers and veterans alike. It moves on to some of the more influential games that have gripped the hobby.

3. Choosing a Period (42 pages)
Henry talks the reader through the different periods available to from Ancients to Modern, fantasy and science fiction. This is a brief introduction to each period but gives newcomers some good pointers as to where their interest may lie. Each period has photographs so that the gamer can see what a period looks like too.

4. Something to Fight For (60 pages)
An in depth look at the playing surface for miniature battles including terrain and scenery. It gives some ideas for all types of terrain and scenery with tips on what to use and how to make your own. Its like an encyclopedia within a compendium. The accompanying website also has downloadable paper terrain which you can print, construct and add to your games.

5. Assembling Your Forces (72 pages)
A guide to where to buy your miniatures from in the different scales and what sort of current prices you may expect. Plastic, metal and self casting is all discussed. There follows instructions on how to paint your miniatures with the tools required. There are tips on painting with some clear instructions and photographs guiding you through the process. The guide also describes basing and adding embellishment to your figures.

6. From Small to Large (64 pages)
This chapter discusses skirmish to mass battle games. A free set of Gladiator rules are included to introduce 1 on 1 gaming. It moves onto skirmish  gaming and includes rules for a Wild West skirmish game and they are quite comprehensive. It moves on to mass battle rules and campaigns. There are some campaign rules included together with information on map-making

7. Shot, Steel & Stone (72 pages)
The chapter is dedicated to a set of European Horse and Musket rules. These rules could have quite easily been released as a separate rulebook in their own right for about £12 - £15. They are very comprehensive and take inspiration from many other rulesets including Black Powder, Polemos and countless others. Everything is including some sample army lists.

8. Learn by Playing (26 pages)
A chapter giving an example how the Shot, Steel and Stone works using a scenario.

9. Other Aspects of Wargaming (26 pages)
Henry describes other aspects of the hobby including Naval gaming, air wargames role-playing, solo games and multi-player games. My own website freewargamesrules even gets a mention on page 423.

10. Advice for the Digital Age (14 pages)
The first part of the chapter discusses the best way to use digital photography within the hobby and how to take photographs of your miniatures. The second half discusses the power of the Internet for wargaming.
11. Resources (41 pages)
A treasure trove of information for all wargamers. Includes books, magazines, film, military history, museums, internet, manufacturers, suppliers, wargames shows.
Select Bibliography (2 pages)
Some core recommended reading material.

Index (14 pages)
A comprehensive index.

Afterword (1 page)
Final words from Henry

As you would expect from Henry it is very well written with a warm and friendly style which is easily accessible and the publication is lavishly interspersed with colour high quality photographs.

Pros: Very comprehensive, well written, colour photographs, supporting website with free downloads (password protected).

Cons: Its a heavy book, however, this is compensated for with the sheer quantity of content. The Compendium is going to date for certain aspects i.e. prices and web resources.

So the question is is this book a “must own” for wargamers like those mentioned at the beginning of the article. In my view it is an unequivocal yes.

Overall I cannot recommend this book enough for both newcomers to the hobby as well as “veteran” wargamers, there really is something here for everyone.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Lack of Website Updates

Astute followers of freewargamesrules may have noticed that there have been infrequent updates to the website over the last three months.

This has mainly been due to being extremely busy in work. Unfortunately this has meant all of my hobbies have been severely affected. I currently run 3 websites and 3 blogs and all have been in the same boat.

I have been running the website for 16 years now and it usually takes a considerable amount of time updating this website and the others which leaves me less time for hobbies and family.

There are other projects that I want to start and/or continue but am unable to do so at this time with all the demands on my time.

On top of this I have had some health issues and with retirement less than 13 months away from my current job it leaves me with some decisions to make on the future of the website. Currently there are several alternatives I am looking at:

  • Closure of the website altogether within the next 13 months.
  • Allowing the website to freeze in time and make no further updates.
  • Find someone else to take over the mantle who has the time, interest and expertise.
  • Reduce the amount of time I spend updating the site and not spend so much time looking for new content. (This would mean a freewargamesrules lite)
  • Find an alternative way to run the website which is community led and not dependant on one person.
All of this must be done cheaply as come retirement, although I will be looking for a new job, finances will more restricted.

None of these decisions have been made yet, so nothing will change short term.

I welcome any observations or suggestions from the hobby.