I have noticed that my The Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian of 2015 was literally a confession, describing my overly inflated ambitions and incomplete projects. But the 2016 edition was more a reflection on my progress against those goals. It has been a 23 months since the 2016 edition and it is time to revisit. But I’m going to split the reflection aspect from the confessions bit. So this is my reflection on the 23 months from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017.
Summary of the Year (actually two years)
I have been all over the place in the last 23 months. You’ll find mention of 12 projects below. But really I concentrated on four: (1) Crossfire; (2) Ruins and Stalingrad; (3) Portuguese Colonial War; and (4) Operational Level Wargames.
Crossfire still dominates my gaming. Most of my games, most of my posts on Balagan, and most of my projects are related to Crossfire.
Part of the reason for having a blog is to share my thinking on game systems. Crossfire is no exception. So I have shared:
- Balagan Point System for Crossfire
- Balagan Data Sheets for Crossfire – Tank, APC, and Anti-tank Gun Stats
- How many figures will I need to start playing Crossfire?
- Crossfire Clarifications by Arty Confliffe from 2001
- Who has the Bazooka? IDs for Infantry Anti-tank Weapons in Crossfire
- Custom Fire Mission (FM) Markers for Crossfire
- Dick Bryant’s Fire Mission (FM) Cards for Crossfire
- Interpreting the Protective Cover of Walls in Crossfire
- Possible Crossfire House Rule to Block LOS over 2 low terrain features
I’ve been using my Balagan Point System for Crossfire for years, but it took a nudge from Dick Bryant for me to realise other folk would benefit from seeing it. Of course the Balagan Data Sheets for Crossfire – Tank, APC, and Anti-tank Gun Stats is related to this and I saw this as an opportunity to bring it up to date.
I have got some more kit. In particular, after reading a good book on the subject, I got a SU-122 Battery – 3rd Battery of the 1454th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment. This is for a scenario at Kursk / Ponyri.
Mac, a member of the Crossfire-WWII Yahoo Forum, came up with a novel system for Pick up games for Crossfire now called “Mac’s Missions”. I revised this into a Mac’s Missions v2 and made up Cards to aid using the system. And I ran a Play Test. The system works surprisingly well I still have some thoughts for how this might evolve.
But mostly my interest in Crossfire is about playing the game. I’d had a few games although, in hindsight, less than I would have liked:
- Crossfiregrad – A Battle Report of the Crossfire Scenario by Doctor Phalanx
- StuG Smuggling – A Crossfire Battle Report for a Lloydian Scenario
- Small Threat to the Flank – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report
- The “Monster” – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report
- SU-152s Up Close and Personal – A Crossfire Battle Report 4
- Moroccan Knives – A Crossfire Battle Report 2
Doctor Phalanx’s Crossfiregrad definitely provided the most exciting games. We’ll be revisiting this soon.
I encouraged Chris and Jamie to Play the Krasny Bor Crossfire Campaign with two players with myself as host. They have played, and I have written up, Paper Factory and Advance from Ian Ishora. They have also played The Embankment but this has yet to appear on my site.
I am always interested in how my material impacts other people. My Eye of the Tiger Scenario inspired Barrie Lovell to do a Big Eye of the Tiger, which is also has a more historical map and order of battle. I’m very keen to play Barrie’s version.
Speaking of Barrie Lovell, I’ve been republishing his material when I find it.
- Map for The Fight for National Route One – An Incoming Scenario by Barrie Lovell
- Jungle Hell – An Incoming Scenario by Barrie Lovell
- Crossfire with the South Vietnamese Marine Corps – Barrie Lovell
Barrie’s material provides a kind of Vietnam theme to the last couple of years, which others have contributed to as well. In terms of Crossfire for Vietnam we have:
- Julian Davies Fincher’s Initiative – A Crossfire Scenario for Vietnam
- Matt Spooner The Battle of Long Tan – An Incoming Scenario by Matt Spooner
[It isn’t Crossfire but Julian has also provide Platoon – Squad Level Rules for Vietnam Era Skirmish Games and Night Ambush – A Vietnam Scenario for Platoon.]
The biggest contributor in the last couple of years has been Brett Simpson. Brett has sent through a few scenarios and battle reports:
- Operation Whitehall / Assault on Chez Patrick – A Crossfire Battle Report
- Holding the Fort – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report
- Bloody Weekend at Villiers – A Crossfire Mini-Campaign
- La Rochelle – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report
- Where is the Fuel – A Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report
- StuG Smuggling Through Chevalier – A Crossfire Battle Report
Brett has also been experimenting with Crossfire in North Africa and the Pacific.
Anders Christian Böss contributed his The Pontville Bridge / Race for the Last Bridge Crossfire Scenario and Battle Report. Anders provides a useful contrast to my own material; I play as Crossfire’s normal scale (one stand = one squad) but Anders plays at 1:1 scale so a one stand = one team. Anders has given me some more material to share and you’ll see this in the new year.
The last of my contributors was Mark Bretherton who shared his thoughts on Scratch Building Ruins, Urban Boards and a SU-152 Game.
#2 Ruins and Stalingrad (1942)
My Ruins project is for a planned, big, multiplayer Crossfire game set in Stalingrad (an idea from 2014). The idea is to a large (8’x4′) table with urban stuff: houses, ruins, rubble, railway lines, at least one factory.
After many years of collecting and painting I thought I’d take stock of my ruins situation. As it happens, I recently discovered I can fill a 8’x4′ table, and more. So I posed the question Do I have enough Ruins?
You haven’t seen much of the actively but trust me, there has been a lot going on. I mentioned the Lonely 15mm Chimneys from Ironclad Miniatures but what you didn’t see was that I’d finished painting a lot more ruins and repainting my generic building features.
Aside from the Ruins I have also continued my practice games, for example Crossfiregrad and SU-152s Up Close and Personal.
The project isn’t complete. I am still lacking some large identifiable features. I think I need more buildings for a factory complex. Perhaps the Grain Silo or Railway Station 1. However, I do have the Barmaley Fountain.
Perhaps the big Stalingrad game will happen in 2018. Of course as soon as that monster is out of the way it will be replaced by an equally insane idea … hmmm, how about Berlin 1945!
#3 Portuguese Colonial War
My Portuguese Colonial War (1961-73) project has been ticking along. I’ve posted a few things about the war in general:
- Flight Plan Africa – Portuguese Airpower in Counterinsurgency, 1961-1974
- The Flechas – Insurgent Hunting in Eastern Angola 1965-1974
Given the focus on airpower I have dream up some house rules to deal with aircraft in Africa:
- Helicopter Landing Zone Requirements and Crossfire
- Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and Helicopters for Fogo Cruzado / Crossfire
And I have based, or rebased, the majority of my figures on Flames of War bases for my 1-to-1 version of Crossfire called Fogo Cruzado. I’ve even got photos of the Portuguese on my site:
- Steven’s Caçadores for the Portuguese Colonial War
- Steven’s Special Group for the Portuguese Colonial War
- Steven’s Commandos for the Portuguese Colonial War
I painted the Portuguese but didn’t paint the majority of insurgents. I guess that is why they haven’t appeared on my blog.
I’ve also found some interesting resources in the form of 3D Printed 1-144th Scale Vehicles for the Portuguese Colonial War. Fantastic if you are happy with 1/144th scale (which, unfortunately, I’m not).
But the most important thing is … with the help of Jamie I got the troops on table. We played a couple of games by way of experimentation:
- African Ambush – Scenario Design Experiment for Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado
- Water Party – Scenario Design Experiment for Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado
The ambush scenario was much better. More experimentation to do.
So, if I’m lucky, 2018 will see some more games in Portuguese Africa. And some more figures painted … Portuguese MG42/59 teams are on the painting blocks.
#4 Operational Level Wargames
Unexpectedly, my interest in Operational Warfare has really kicked in.
I’ve been dabbling with Megablitz for a while so I documented How to use Crossfire Armies for Megablitz and had another got at A Dot in Russia. But something was missing for me. Megablitz relies on honestly for combat, which is kind of cool, but open to abuse. And, somehow, it isn’t grand enough. I have big aspirations. Battalions, and even regiments, are too small for me. I knew I wanted something else. I want to move divisions around.
I posed the question to myself, What Wargaming Rules to use for the Operational Level of War? Then, of course, I set out to answer the question. So far I have looked at 22 game systems including two that I wrote specifically for this exercise:
- Tabletop Operational Wargame inspired by Hell’s Gate
- Tabletop Operational Wargame Inspired by Drive on Moscow
The Hell’s Gate variant is alright, but it needs more flavour e.g. prepared offensives, armoured break throughs, campaigns in all seasons, and strategic movement. The Drive on Moscow variant has these things, but the combat system might take too much time. Despite the limitations I think I’m close to something worth play testing. Meanwhile I’m buying hex mats and trying to convince a company to make hex side river sections.
Why? Because I have a long standing ambition to play the 2nd Battle of Kharkov (12–28 May 1942) as an operational tabletop game – like I said above, I want to move divisions around. With that in mind I have got:
- Kharkov 1942 – German Order of Battle
- Kharkov 1942 – the Soviet Order of Battle
- Kharkov 1942 Map for PanzerGruppe with 10km Hexes
That last thing, the Kharkov 1942 Map for PanzerGruppe with 10km Hexes, reflects a relatively recent obsession with hexes. Chris is very happy. Other hex stuff:
- Ross Kearns: Why hexes are awesome and why you should make your own
- Experimenting with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes
- SixMillBuilders Interlocking MDF Roads for 100mm Hexes
I suspect my interest into Operational Level Wargame will run into 2018. I’ve very keen to get something on table. All I need is that hex mat.
#5 Minor projects
I’ve been tinkering with a few other projects. Nothing large scale so I’ll lump them all together.
#5.1 One Hour Wargames
I’m on the hunt for a good ancients and medieval set of wargaming rules. DBA and HOTT are my mainstay here but they are deeply flawed. The only reason I play them is that they are not (quite) fatally flawed like the other options I’ve looked at.
I had heard good things of Neil Thomas’s One-Hour Wargames so, after I figured out how to use my Big Bases, Chris and I gave them a go.
- 448 AD Roman versus Visigoth – A One Hour Wargames Battle Report
- 454 AD Roman versus Suevi – A One Hour Wargames Battle Report
- WW2 using One Hour Wargames
Not my thing. Say no more.
#5.2 Rif Wars
I haven’t done much on my Rif Wars (1909-25) project for years. However, Jesús Dapena asked me to republish some of his material:
- Renault FT-17 Tanks in the Rif War
- Renault FT-17 and Schneider M16 CA1 Tanks in the Rif War
- Map of Key Locations during the Rif War by Jesús Dapena
#5.3 Liberators / Battle of Sipe Sipe / Viluma (1815)
My Liberators project saw a burst of energy in 2014-15 but, after I posted Steven’s 1815 Argentine Army on Big Bases, then fell by the wayside.
I still haven’t actually played Sipe Sipe because I’m still musing on what tactical rules to use. There are oh so many options:
- Napoleon at War
- Field of Battle
- Snappy Nappy
I’m still undecided. But, in the meantime, I had a look at Lasalle with Big Bases – Introducing Combat Value.
So close, yet so far. Will I play Sipe Sipe in 2018 and get this project “Done”?
#5.4 Italian Wars
I predict the Italian Wars (1494–1559) will feature in 2018. So, with that in mind, I looked at How the Spanish colunela deploy in battle.
#5.5 Italian Campaign (1943-45)
The Italian Campaign (1944-45) might appear in 2018 as well. So I refreshed my WW2 Painting Guide: Kiwi and British in the Mediterranean.
#5.6 Carlist Wars
The Carlist Wars haven’t seen much action in recent years. But given Capitan Games re-released their 15/18mm 1st Carlist War Range, I purchased a bunch of figures. And I also drafted a Oriamendi Matrix: An Engle Matrix Game set in the First Carlist War.
#5.7 Steven’s Rules
I republished a set of rules my father wrote … Steven’s Rules 1971 – Wargaming Rules for a Seven Year Old.
#5.8 Moving House
And lets not forget I moved house and moved into my Man Cave.
Neglected projects with beautifully painted figures in boxes:
- Biblical / Sea Peoples Wargaming Project
- Rise of Rome (264-19 BC) to Circle the Mediterranean for DBA
- New World DBA (1492-1700)
- Thirty Years War and the Battle of Nordlingen (1634)
- New Zealand Wars (1845-72)
And I’m still tempted by Berlin featuring the Spanish SS “Unit Ezquerra” (1945).
6 thoughts on “2017 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian”
Thanks for the mention again of Crossfiregrad, especially as I’m finding it difficult to find the time, energy or inclination to play Crossfire or anything much else just at the moment. I remain amazed at your prolific output. I have a number of theories. (1) You don’t sleep. (2) You have cloned yourself. (3) This is your day job. (4) You have a huge staff. Come on, which is it?
Didn’t you know? My day job is Santa Clause. There are two advantages of being Santa: (1) I have a lot of spare time during the year and it is pretty slow going at the north pole; (2) I have an army of Elves (and/or Yeti depending on your belief system) to assist with my hobby. 😉
Actually, although it might not look like it, the last two years have been relatively unproductive for me. I used to manage to squeeze an hour or two every evening for my obsession. Since we moved to the new house I discovered television so my one or two hours are largely devoted to catching up on 20 years of missed movies. However, given I’m approaching my new obsession rather obsessively, I’m sure I’ll have closed the gap in 2018. That will leave me free again to concentrate my full attention back on wargaming. Given my vast array of projects I need that focus to return fairly quickly. 😉
Crossfiregrad is brilliant. We have tweaked it a bit for our recent replay but you’ll recognise it as yours when we post the photos.
Steven thanks for a year of interesting Saturday posts. A highlight to my Saturday morning seeing what you have been up to. The last year I have focused on BBB and Fireball Forward, but always kept an eye on doing some more Xfire. My New Years resolution is to actually do some Xfire in 2018.
Have a Great Christmas and I hope a great year of gaming in 2018.
Glad you enjoy the Saturday posts MJ. I’m already having a great Xmas (two weeks off work). Hope you have a great one. And good luck for Crossfire in 2018. You’ll certainly see some more inspiration from me. 🙂
It is a great synopsis! It made me go back and re-read a lot of the original postings. It seems to me that if one could live forever, a wargamer would use the time to research, collect and play every possible period that ever existed in depth. I know I would. Merry Christmas
I agree Dick, if given enough time I would cover all periods of history and all theatres. With books and wargaming figures. But, luckily I guess, I realised when I was about 20 that I would go mad if I tried to do that. Hence my focus on Spain and Portugal. A focus I’ve pretty much kept to with only minor deviations. Even that is more than enough for one life time.