2021 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

My Confessions of a Megalomaniac were my 2021 aspirations. How did I do? I started the year with huge ambitions, and didn’t achieve them all, but it wasn’t a bad run.


Summary of the Year

Well, my 2021 got blind sided by my hosting company deciding I was too expensive to host on a standard plan and trying to triple my hosting costs. I didn’t like that. So I spent months dealing with the issue and not doing actual wargaming stuff. That was annoying, but at least I’ve got the costs back down to a manageable level.

In terms of actual wargaming, I mostly focussed on Crossfire and Tilly’s Very Bad Day. For Crossfire, I kept working on my projects for the Italian and Burma Campaigns, plus continuing my normal Eastern Front interests. For Tilly’s Very Bad Day, I did a bit on the Thirty Years War but also managed to get my new Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army on table. Both rules got new campaign systems. I also quite quite a bunch of other things. As always there were some projects that I thought I’d d something on but didn’t.

So here is a summary of my megalomaniac aspirations from the start of 2019 and how I did on each:

  1. Crossfire in Italy
    1. WW2 >> Kiwis in Italy – Steven’s Wargaming Project >> Crossfire [Done]
    2. WW2 >> Goumier in Italy >> Crossfire [Done]
    3. WW2 >> USA in Italy >> Crossfire [Done]
    4. WW2 >> Hilly Terrain for Italian Campaign & Burma >> Crossfire [Cliffs and Ravines are Done; some bigger hills but not Contour Lines]
    5. WW2 >> Scenarios for the Italian Campaign >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  2. Crossfire in Burma
    1. WW2 >> Anglo-Indian Armour for Burma >> Crossfire [Done]
    2. WW2 >> Japanese for Burma >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
    3. WW2 >> Japanese for Burma >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
    4. WW2 >> Gurkhas, 14th Army for Burma >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
    5. WW2 >> Welsh, 14th Army for Burma >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
    6. WW2 >> Scenarios for the Burma >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  3. Other WW2
    1. WW2 >> Cool Ruins for the Eastern Front >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
    2. WW2 >> Operational / 2nd Kharkov >> Deep Battle [Oh no!]
  4. Tilly’s Very Bad Day
    1. TYW >> Saxon Army >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Done]
    2. TYW >> Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Done]
    3. TYW >> Scenarios >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Some progress]
    4. ECW >> Populous, Rich, and Rebellious – English Civil War Campaign >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Oh no!]

As you can see I had a mixed bag in terms of completion rate. And, as you will see, there were some unexpected detours as well.

Megalomaniac 2021
Megalomaniac 2021

#1 Cost of hosting

Back in June/July I discovered my hosting company was unhappy with me. They wanted to triple my hosting fees and I couldn’t afford to host Balagan.Info any more.

The main problem was my images were too big. And I have thousands of images. That ate up my storage allowance and also increased download weight of every page – at least every page since I moved to WordPress. So I fixed that, shrunk the images, and got back within the contractual boundaries. That wasn’t a perfect process and I’ve broken some image links in the process, which I’m fixing as I find them. I explained How I am reducing the cost of hosting balagan.info.

Balagan Image Shrinking Example
Balagan Image Shrinking Example

But during that process quite a few people suggested that I give a way for you folk to contribute to my costs. So, if you want, you can Support Balagan.info through Patreon.


#2 Crossfire

During 2021 some in the Crossfire community declared Crossfire dead and, more less, tried to steal it. At least that is what it seemed like to a fair number of the rest of the community.

The debate caused the official Crossfire organisation to get into gear and demonstrate some signs of life. You can now buy Crossfire and Hit the Dirt as a PDF.

Crossfire and Hit the Dirt Covers
Crossfire and Hit the Dirt Covers

Dick Bryant and I also published an official Crossfire Freebie 1: Mini-Scenarios (there are plans for others).

Crossfire Freebie 1 - Mini-Scenarios - Download

And while that conversation was going on, Arty Confliffe shared some Crossfire photos.

New York Club - Crossfire in Stalingrad 2
New York Club – Crossfire in Stalingrad 2

But back in balagan land I’ve also been busy on Crossfire . Encouraged by Dick Bryant and tiberius I made up some Crossfire Terrain Cards, perfect for use with Mac’s Missions v3 – Revised Pick Up Games for Crossfire.

Crossfire Terrain Cards
Crossfire Terrain Cards

Covid-19 had an impact on my Crossfire thinking during 2021. I’ve been exploring ways to play while in lock down. For a start I’ve been Musing on Crossfire as a board game.

Crossfire as a board game - Line of Sight - Two Nearest Hex Points
Crossfire as a board game – Line of Sight – Two Nearest Hex Points

And that sparked a bit of an interest in Crossfire using Blocks (nods to Markus Bruckhardt). In fact I made two sets of blocks, 3cm and 1cm-magnetised. Only the 3cm blocks appeared on my site.

Crossfire Blocks 096 Blue Force for Mini-Scenarios
Crossfire Blocks 096 Blue Force for Mini-Scenarios

I haven’t pursued the board game or blocks ideas further because we are back to table top gaming.

I read a brilliant book about Soviet cavalry operations on the Eastern Front – “Soviet Cavalry Operations During the Second World War and the Genesis of the Operational Manoeuvre Group” by John S Harrel (2019) – that got got my inner megalomanic into full gear. I have some Soviet cavalry painted and based, but my ambitions soared. However, before I invested further money and effort, I did some Musing on Cavalry Base Sizes in Crossfire. I have based my existing cavalry figures on 30x30mm squares, like my infantry, and I wanted to advice on whether that was too cramped.

Stevens Soviet Cavalry 2
Stevens Soviet Cavalry 2

I have a very, very slow project on Cool Ruins. So early in 2021 I did some Planning my Cool Ruins for Crossfiregrad and Ponyri Station. Unfortunately, the project didn’t progress further.

Warbases Stalingrad Building A-150-B2
Warbases Stalingrad Building A-150-B2

And continuing my interest in simple campaigns I wrote up a Snakes and Ladders Campaign for Crossfire. Thanks to Peter of Grid Based Wargaming for the inspiration.

Crossfire - WW2 - Snakes And Ladders Campaign
Crossfire – WW2 – Snakes And Ladders Campaign

I also had a slight detour to NW Europe with my Battle Stations BS7810 US Infantry Action – A Crossfire Scenario. This was a thought exercise to convert one of Gene McCoy series of articles called “Battle Stations: Small Unit Actions” which he published in his magazine the “Wargamer’s Digest”. I haven’t played it yet, but I think it would give a good game.

Handout BS7810 US Infantry Action
Handout BS7810 US Infantry Action

#3 Italian Campaign (Crossfire)

My Kiwis in Italy – Steven’s Wargaming Project has done well. Not everything has appeared on the website but I’m very happy with progress.

Simon Field painted up my Kiwi Armour in Italy. This is for 2 (NZ) Division in Italy. Shermans (III, IB, VC), Stuarts (V), Stuart Recces, Staghound Armoured Cars (I, II), M10 Tank Destroyers, and universal carriers. Most in the unique Mud-grey with Blue-black disruptive pattern. Yay!!

nz11 - Sherman IIIs, 2 Troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment
nz11 – Sherman IIIs, 2 Troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment

But some of the Kiwi armour are in the generic British late war colour – plain dark green.

nz02 - Shermans, Squadron HQ and 1 Troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment plus M10s, A Troop, 31st Battery, 7 Anti-Tank Regiment
nz02 – Shermans, Squadron HQ and 1 Troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment plus M10s, A Troop, 31st Battery, 7 Anti-Tank Regiment

Martin Boulter has been busy painting my infantry for the Italian Campaign. First up were my Goumiers for Crossfire – A Moroccan Tabor in Italy. I have a long running interest in Moroccan auxiliary troops because of my interest in Rif Wars and the Spanish Civil War. And now I have them for WW2 as well.

Goumier-410 Goum 1
Goumier-410 Goum 1

Martin also painted the New Zealand infantry for my Kiwis in Italy Project. I don’t have a feature page for them but they appeared in the Dung Farm Crossfire Battle Report. Although in this game they were masquerading as Irish and Scots.

DungFarm-1836 Irish Deployment
DungFarm-1836 Irish Deployment

The scenario is quite interesting itself and I wrote up a Balagan Version of Dung Farm – A HTD Crossfire Scenario. This has a revised map and highlights some of the unusual features of the scenario.

Table - Crossfire - Dung Farm - Balagan Version
Table – Crossfire – Dung Farm – Balagan Version

Martin Boulter also painted Americans and and Germans, but they haven’t appeared on screen yet.

So all in all a good year for the Italian Campaign. I got a battalion for each of: New Zealand (Kiwi), USA, France, and Germany. And I’ve got tons of Kiwi Armour. That should enable quite a bit of gaming in 2022.


#4 Burma Campaign (Crossfire)

I didn’t make as much progress on the Burma Campaign as I would have liked. But there was some activity.

I made some ravines and depressions for Crossfire.

Depression 819 All the depressions and ravine sections
Depression 819 All the depressions and ravine sections

And then got them on the table so I could ask How does my Burmese battlefield look?

Burma 2798 Ravine - Palms - Bamboo - Rice Paddies - Houses - Rocky Hill - Watch Tower
Burma 2798 Ravine – Palms – Bamboo – Rice Paddies – Houses – Rocky Hill – Watch Tower

In standard Crossfire being in a wood, being entrenched, and ground hugging all provide the same level of cover. Usually that is fine, but I expect the jungle fighting in Burma will require more nuance. So I’ve been Musing on cover, entrenchments and ground hugging in Crossfire.

Entrenched in Woods and Ground hugging 1
Entrenched in Woods and Ground hugging

I had heard a little bit about “Human bullet” assaults (nikuhaku kōgeki) – Japanese Suicide Anti-tank Teams but didn’t know much and did my own research.

Shitotsubakurai Lunge mine
Shitotsubakurai Lunge mine
(Source: United States. War Department. Military Intelligence Service – Intelligence Bulletin Vol.03, N°07, march, 1945, page 64)

Of course, that research was to inform Japanese Tank Hunter Teams in Crossfire.

Tank Hunter Platoon

  • 1 x PC(+1)
  • 3-4 Squads chosen from:
    • 0-1 x “Covering Squad”: Tank Hunter Rifle Squad1
    • 1 x “Reserve Squad”: Tank Hunter Engineer Squad2
    • 1-2 x “Land-mine Squads”: Tank Hunter Engineer Squads2
    • 1-2 x “Destruction Squads”: Tank Hunter Engineer Assault Squad3

Lastly, I put some thinking into a Painting Guide for the 14th Army in Burma. Applies to British, Indians, Gurkhas, Africans and Chindits. The only trouble is I don’t have the painted armies yet. Something for 2022.

14th Army in Burma Painting Guide
14th Army in Burma Painting Guide

#5 Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day had a good year. Martin Boulter painted up both Saxons and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for me.

The Saxons featured in the two games we had o S140 Dominant Hill – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario: Battle Report 1, Battle Report 2.

Tilly-35 The battlefield
Game 1: The battlefield at the start of Game Turn 5
Tilly-66 Saxon movement
Game 2: Saxon movement Game Turn 3

The Poles appears three times, each time against their historical foe, the Swedes.

The first Polish-Swedish match up was a pick up game: Swedish versus Polish – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Battle Report.

PLC20 Polish right wing
PLC20 Polish right wing

The other two games were both for Small Kircholm: Battle Report 1, Battle Report 2.

Kircholm-1477 Armies facing each other
Kircholm 1 – Armies facing each other
Kircholm-2658 Polish left wing advances
Kircholm 2 – Game Turn 1 – Polish left wing advances

Malcolm Dove kindly shared a couple of battle reports: Battle of Schlossmuele and Battle of Grantham.

Battle of Schlossmuele - Map
Battle of Schlossmuele – Map
Grantham-1 Map
Grantham-1 Map

Inspired by Peter from Grid Based Wargaming I did a Snakes and Ladders Campaign for Tilly’s Very Bad Day.

Tilly's Very Bad Day - 30 Years War - Snakes And Ladders Campaign
Tilly’s Very Bad Day – 30 Years War – Snakes And Ladders Campaign

And I finished the year Musing on Commander Ability in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.


#6 Liberators

John Smith asked about errata for Liberators QPR on the Liberators Facebook page. So I reconstructed the Semi-Official errata for Liberators QPR based on the handwritten edits to my copy of the rules.

That, combined with Jamie asking about the War of the Pacific, ignited my dormant interest in the South American Wars of Liberation. So I tried out three sets of rules.

First up was Liberators. We played Alternative Chacabuco – A Liberators HoTT Mass Battle Scenario and had an okay game – see the attle Battle Report. It was a good game and the infantry slog felt like an Napoleonic style infantry fight. But the extended battle cavalry fight, although brutal and heroic, was more Lord of the Rings than South America.

Chacabuco-513 Argentine infantry trudge across the fields towards the Royalist grand battery
Chacabuco-513 Argentine infantry trudge across the fields towards the Royalist grand battery

Andres Ferrari suggested I have a look at Live Free or Die. I did some Live Free or Die House Rules for Big Base Liberators and adapted the Alternative Chacabuco – Scenario. But the resulting game was quite disappointing – see Alternative Chacabuco – A Live Free or Die Battle Report. The game system defeated us. After hours of play we were no where near a conclusion so we gave up.

Chacabuco-612 Patriot mixed Grenadiers and Cazadore battalion does seem a bit out numbered
Chacabuco-612 Patriot mixed Grenadiers and Cazadore battalion does seem a bit out numbered

Finally I knocked together a variant of Alternative Chacabuco – A Bolivar’s Very Bad Day Battle Report 1. Despite being raw they gave a good fast game. We both enjoyed it.


#7 DBA and Arthurian DBA Campaigns

Dark Age Britain, specifically the Arthurian Age, really appeals to me. So I did some thing about campaigns in this period. I asked myself, DBA Arthurian Campaign – What are my options?. There were quite a few options.

Arthurian Maps
Arthurian Maps

Then I wrote two DBA Arthurian Campaigns based on Martin Smith’s “Arthurian campaign” article in Slingshot (Smith, 2021), itself based on Kaptain Kobold’s solo HoTT campaign. The first, The Legions have Gone (420-439 AD) – A DBA Arthurian Campaign, assumes Arthur existed, was early 5th century, and led Roman troops.

The Legions Have Gone (420-439 AD) - DBA Arthurian Campaign
The Legions Have Gone (420-439 AD) – DBA Arthurian Campaign

The second campaign, The Bear Exalted (518-537 AD) – DBA Arthurian Campaign, is set in 518-537 AD, the most likely time period for a historical Arthur. The campaign name, “The Bear Exalted”, is based on the title Arthwyr, a possible, if dubious, old Welsh origin of the name Arthur.

The Bear Exalted (518-537 AD) - DBA Arthurian Campaign
The Bear Exalted (518-537 AD) – DBA Arthurian Campaign

Next up was a Simple knock-out Arthurian DBA campaign (518-537 AD). This was based on IanH’s Simple knock-out DBA campaign (Skodbac) and offers a really simple way to run a DBA campaign that will reach a conclusion really, really quickly. Like The Bear Exalted, this campaign is set in 518-537 AD, the most likely time period for a historical Arthur.

Simple Knock Out DBA Arthurian Campaign (518-537 AD)
Simple Knock Out DBA Arthurian Campaign (518-537 AD)

Finally I wrote some notes on running these solo – see Solo DBA Arthurian Campaigns.

The only actual DBA game I played was actually in the Reconquista: El Cid crushes the Caliph – A Big Base DBA Battle Report. Fun game. The action was all cavalry with the infantry hardly involved. Ed Cid and his Hidalgos (Knights) triumphed after a long and fierce struggle. The Caliph died at the head of his army.

El Cid 76 Al Murabitun swarm forward

#8 Other WW2 Games

Adam is keen on ‘O’ Group so we’ve played a couple of games of Assault on Kristov: Battle Report 1, Battle Report 2. Opinions differ on how these games played out.

ogroup-114 Germans advance on right
ogroup-114 Germans advance on right

Personally I’m interested in exploring Martin Rapier’s One Hour WW2 (6 hit). See my Review and musing on Base Width measurements in One Hour Wargames WW2. Hopefully you’ll see a play test in the new year.


#9 Rif War

Finally Jesús Dapenas painted a Spanish FT-17 for service in the Rif. Beautiful.

FT-17 Tank Number 8 - Cipris Turtle Mascot - 26
FT-17 Tank Number 8 – Cipris Turtle Mascot – 26

Low priority projects

And just for the record, these are all the projects I haven’t worked on.

  1. Biblical >> Battle of Kadesh >> Big Base DBA [Oh no!]
  2. 264-27 BC Rise of Rome >> Finish Rebasing, get command stands and camps, and find/write specialist rules >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  3. 406-476 Fall of Rome >> Fall of Hispania Campaign, finish rebasing, get command stands >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  4. 476 – 1492 Medieval >> English 100 Years War, Catalan Company, Granadine >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  5. 1494-1559 Italian Wars >> Find/write specialist rules >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  6. 1494-1700 New World >> Big Base Portuguese, Aztecs, Maya, Sinhalese and Malay,Portuguese Explorers >> New World DBA [Oh no!]
  7. 1618-48 Thirty Years War >> Zaporozhian Cossacks, Transylvanian, Tatars of the Crimean Khanate >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Oh no!]
  8. 1808-1814 Peninsular War >> Flags, Albuera (1811) >> Volley & Bayonet [Oh no!]
  9. 1810-1824 South American Wars of Liberation aka Liberators >> Find/write specialist rules, get skirmishers, Sipe Sipe (1815), Simón Bolívar and the Northern War >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  10. 1833-40 First Carlist War >> Find/write specialist rules, rebase so I have to get reinforcements >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  11. 1845-72 New Zealand Wars >> Find/write specialist rules, rebase so I have to get reinforcements >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  12. 1893-1926 Rif Wars >> Finish converting Ansar figures to Riffi, Middle Eastern Houses, Grand Tactical Rif Wars >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  13. >> Grand Tactical Spanish Civil War >> Dunno [Oh no!]
  14. 1941-45 Eastern Front >> Kamenets-Podosk, Ponyri railway station, 3rd Battery of the 1454th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment, Operation Artic Fox, Berlin (1945) >> Crossfire and others [Oh no!]
  15. 1943-45 Italian Campaign >> French/Moroccan/Spanish battalion from French Expeditionary Corps (FEC) >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  16. 1948-now Arab-Israeli Wars >> Israelis >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  17. 1955-75 Vietnam War >> ANZACs, ANZAC Armour, PAVN, PAVN Sappers, Viet Cong Main Force, Viet Cong Local Force >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  18. 1963-73 Portuguese Colonial War >> African Huts, Portuguese Paratroopsers, More Portuguese Light Infantry (Caçadores) >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  19. Modelling >> Storage labels, Rivers >> N/A [Oh no!]

4 thoughts on “2021 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian”

  1. Thanks for posting every week and doing this summary. Love your posts, VERY USEFUL. I enjoy seeing how you change your focus over time.

    Reply

Leave a Reply