Tuesday, 11 July 2017

HE TRAVELS FASTEST WHO TRAVELS ALONE

The Solo Gamer sits cogitating his next "in game" turn.


Applied here the title of this post really means (for solo wargaming at least) when you get it right, `going it alone` is the quickest way of achieving total success and utter blissful fulfilment within the hobby... which in turn leads to a sort of deep inner emotional high, which only comes on after a really good game or two, as that satisfaction seeps though our pleasure senses like a wave of euphoria (which takes a hold when something is very right in what we are doing).


For me this happened when I first knew I wanted Alan and Michael Perry`s (of Perry Miniatures) Travel Battle - complete game in a box. An interesting choice of title "Travel" battle, apt of course... but I think it falls far short of what this lovely little game is really all about. Its little yes .. so hence is ideal to carry with you anywhere, even while you travel. But its oh so much more than that. It`s actually got all the hallmarks of being a complete hobby in a small, slim, very light carry case. Just with the components of one boxed set, I was not slow to realise this `diamond in the rough*` for what it really is.. i.e. a whole host of gaming potential. And seeing this I`m afraid I went and blew a bit more money on the thing, because I knew what I had my hands on, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, this was something I wanted to pursue to its full and logical conclusion ... solo gaming bliss for myself. Yes I play  and enjoy the hobby mostly with the good wife, family and dear friends, and very good friends down at the local club. But many, many, many years ago, when I started in the hobby, I started as a soloist. Even during my youth and my college years, it never took much for me to closet myself away.. alone... to enjoy a good game of Micro Armour (1/300th scale/6mm) tank battles, or a good old solitaire game of Thane Tostig (prize for anyone who knows or can even remember that one). I long ago learned the elusive secret to playing Dungeons and Dragons RPG games alone (thank you Mythic), and... well yeah, you get the picture. I`m a bit of an old die hard solo nut on the quiet: a state of affairs, I notice, many bloggers also are in nowadays, whether by choice, situation, or family and work restrictions on their spare available time. For me, playing solo is a choice and a passion, and very much a self indulgence I don`t get nearly enough time to enjoy anymore... not on the scale I used to do it anyway; as I`m usually sharing the hobby with other people, of course.


* why diamond in the rough? Because upon opening the box up for the first time you could easily be forgiven for thinking: "hmmmm not much in here is there?"

Can't sleep... in my pajamas, I come down stairs and play a move or two of an ongoing battle, while I sip a cup of tea. Takes so little space, you can quite easily leave a game in situ for days and days.


BUT, then along came this new game. It doesn't even matter if you`re not a Napoleonics person (maybe time you were then? After all, its never too late to take up a new interest). As it happens, as I have mentioned before, I always had an interest in this subject, but somehow I allowed it to slip away from me. This Travel Battle game, end of the day,  doesn't really matter if you are primarily a fantasy gamer, or you naturally prefer another genre to game in. The point here is that this game is deeply and deceivingly immersive, and I would strongly recommend to anyone out there who likes to play alone, don't hesitate, don't stop, don't think, just BUY IT, do yourself a huge big favour. I don`t think you will ever regret. Not if you approach this one in the right spirit of integrity and dedication.

A French Division desperately tries to punch through the British centre. But Maitland`s boys are prepared and stubbornly refuse their enemy the farm and outhouses. 


How many times have you, for instance, joined a club, and found they play a subject you don't follow. "Drat!" you think to yourself,  "These guys play Warammer and I like Malifaux." or "I play American Civil War and these guys only seem to do World War Two."  But the club looks good, the guys who attend seem like a decent bunch, so what do you do? Like so many others before you, you attend a few nights, watch them play, join in their laughter and excitement, and before you know it you`re going: "Hmmmmm I think I could get into this after all.

The French Young Guard push forward, valiantly, despite losses, but they are being surrounded by overwhelming firepower and flanking cavalry support from the British Union Brigade.




Look what Hils and I have just done? We both knew nothing about Doctor Who, had absolutely no interest in the genre (Hils actually had less than no interest to start with), and yet through reading endless posts from you guys, your enthusiasm, the obvious fun you are all having, in the end it got our own gaming juices working, and look at the end result.... we`re now avid Doctor Who nuts, just like everyone else hahaha. So yeah I`m saying, don't dismiss this Perry Miniatures game just because it's a genre you don't currently follow. The game itself is superb. I was highly dubious of the rules that come with it at first. Five pages long, and seemed almost - abstract to my thinking, as I read them through. But The Perry Brothers really are hardcore gamers and know e-x-a-c-t-l-y what they are doing. The game is brilliant and  inspiringly simple, but BOY does it give surprisingly realistically thematic results. Yes the game is crying out for house-ruling here and there, whatever fits your own ideas psyche, but even without, played as is out of the box, it plays very well. For me, its opened up a whole world of enjoyment, and has got me back into reading books on the era (and Osprey books for uniform guides), had got me back into "Sharpe" hahaha... and "Hornblower" on DVD, and a whole host of other similar period costume dramas from that same era, and documentaries too of course (I`ve not ruled out the possibility of adding in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" either, at some point). But the point  I`m making is, this game can become as immersive as you want to make it. As I said, I realised early on this was exactly what I wanted, and first of all, I ordered some more sprues of figures (Perry Miniatures also sell the box game components separately you see) so I had more options for larger games. But then it wasn't long before I realised to see the full vision for this game completed  I thus went and bought a second (duplicate) boxed game as well: more boards,. which comes with more houses and more trees: two additional full armies of course, and all the potential in the world now to play truly epic scale games - all on the size of a small coffee table! Not bad huh?

My interest in this era is Napoleon`s last campaign, his last desperate attempt to make a comeback: "The Hundred Days War" culminating in "The Battle of Waterloo."


With two games and the spare sprues I ordered direct from Perry, I can now field many factions, Austrians, Russians, Belgians, Netherlanders, Prussians, Brunswickers, Kings German Legion.. not to mention vast armies of French and British. Dead easy to paint too, due to being so small, and painted they do look rather WOW, especially en masse on the boards. 

Casualties feel realistic too. A whole game played to conclusion, and these were the losses on both sides... from a total of six whole divisions  (about 200 miniatures).


Imagine having everything at your finger tips to play Zombiecide in miniature - in 8mm? This game is like that. Why so many solo gamers fail to play many games is, it's a lot easier to sit and talk about games than it is to pull everything out and actually do it. BUT with a game of this diminutive size: waking up and going "I want to play a game today"  then setting up and beginning play is DEAD EASY, and quick too. You can have the idea to play, and be set up and rolling for who gets to move first on turn one, all in less than five minutes.


No, what I have here is a game which I can study, read lots of books about. Watch TV and enjoy war films, to get myself in the mood, enthused and motivated. And best of all, I can immerse deeper and deeper into this; adding in supply lines, ammunition depletion and quartermaster rules for shot and shell. Weather rules, and adverse conditions of smoke, rain, wind, and freezing cold nights. Different effects of brigade commanders on morale.... and best of all, hunt down all those sundry things which brings a board to life: from ancillary staff, civilians, farm wagons, priest attending church and refusing to leave the village hahaha (like happened at Waterloo... and a farmer`s wife too, who refused to leave the animals), all this can be factored in, to make this a game you can enjoy for an entire lifetime.


I can`t recommend it highly enough.


What`s really cool is that right now (all this month I presume) if you buy the game from Warlord Games, they are giving away a free copy of "Wargames Illustrated" magazine with it  (Issue 355), which has a delightful article about this game, and a few really cool articles on "Test of Honour" as well. So wow, what a nice bonus treat.


I could really wax lyrical about this game, and go into the true merits of solo gaming with it. But that can wait for another post :)



Article by Steve.


22 comments:

  1. You paint too fast. way - waaaaayy too fast young man: you put me to terrible shame. How do you DO it grrrr! You buy a new thing and its always as though, you open the box and just breathe on the miniatures, and next thing, they`re all painted and you`re playing games with them all. While the rest of us struggle just to stay focused on painting, and the sheer prospect of actually playing remains weeks, months away. Meanwhile the rest of us display one small batch of painted figures, weeks later and feel proud of even achieving this much LOL.

    Excellent Mate. You don`t need to sell me on this one. But it is nice to see some eye candy, and a game actually being played and in full flow. Like you, I went and bough two box sets. Best hobby decision of my whole bloody life. But I havent bought individual sprues like you. I must check that out.

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    1. {{you open the box and just breathe on the miniatures, and next thing, they`re all painted and you`re playing games with them all.}}

      hahaha, oh Dave.. Dave, don`t you have any idea just how much I HATE panting. That`s my secret you see. I loathe it so much, that I immediately get everything out of its box and undercoat: this ensures I will continue, as there is nothing more hideous in this whole wide world, than piles and piles of undercoated figured. So I have no choice but to paint them hahahaa (like eating your sprouts on the plate first). Second, I don't paint my wargame armies to a massively high modelling standard (whatever that is, or who sets that norm), but they are always painted to an aesthetic level I am happy to play at, ensuring many, many, MANY dozens... and first hundreds even, of games played with them. But what I DO do is, as I use my little guys in games, and as units distinguish themselves though play (like my French Young Guard under Général de corps d'armée honoré Charles Michel Joseph Reille), they they tend to be pulled off the pile and given a re-working, to add more detail and a touch of Joie de vivre ^ ^ So that eventually, all those little guys I am so keen to get playing with in the first place, get upgraded to a higher discipline of painted splendour.

      Plus, I was a pro painter for many years for Prince August (long long ago now though, in my youth). So I learned to be kinda fast.

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    2. The sprues that come in the box are blue (french) and red (English). But interestingly, the spare loose sprues bought from Perry come in grey, which means (as the games boasts that none of them need undercoating before paining) the grey ones make painting your Kings German Legion or Prussian Blacks that much easier to handle: because, like the red and blue sprues, they are already in a perfect bass colour.

      Incidentally, paint them on their sprues and only remove after painting, it greatly speeds up the process and makes them easier to handle.

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  2. I can see myself getting into this, but for me, I`d most likely turn it into Imagi-Nations, or at least something vaguely Ruritanian. Really nice to see pics of a game actually being played.. it looked quite exciting actually. I truly get the appeal of this one.

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    1. Ruritania would work absolutely splendidly for this Tar` hun. Hmmmm, I was sorely tempted at first by this myself. The sheer pageant and colour of the making up our own uniforms and quasi history was intoxicating to the extreme.. and more than a little appealing.

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  3. Its lovely to see you fun so having so much fun with this, love.

    Oh dear, I guess this means you will want me to paint the next two boards and the terrain to go on them as well hehe. Ah well, so be it. *grins**

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    1. yes pleeaseeeee

      >>>smiles wolfishly, and with oh such boyish charm<<<

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  4. I have to admit to being seriously tempted by this game - and that diesn't happen that often. Neither the size nor the subject matter, being a scale and genre I've no experience of, have put me off. Is it the price? The nice looking components? The fact that I've only read positive reviews of the game? That it doesn't take up much space? Who knows? Basically, it's on my list of games I WILL buy and WILL play.

    It might not end up being completely 'pure' once I'm done with it (I mean, if it's Waterloo you're doing, surely you need a teeny-tiny time-travelling Blackadder to interfere with the course of history?), but it WILL be mine.

    Thank you Stevie - if not for you posts on this, I wouldn't have even known about it.

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    1. {{Thank you Stevie - if not for you posts on this, I wouldn't have even known about it.}}

      Then my job here is done WOOOhHAhaAhahahahahaa <-- evil laugh

      No, but... seriously, Black Adder? Drat, why didn't I think of that ^^

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    2. I think it's BECAUSE you've previously played and enjoyed the Napoleonic era, that your mind automatically wants to compare the rules to those yoy've played before and, when you found them good, you began to plan which of the various skirmishes and battles you could play. Knowing very little about the era, I hear talk of Waterloo, Wellington and Napolean and I think Blackadder, Time Bandits and Jonathan Strange. In a similar vein, I look at the boards for this game and imagine them with Martian tripods striding across them or note the squares and wonder if you could do a Looking-Glass army - red versus white, then wonder if anyone does 6mm UNIT proxies for a truly epic "The Dalek Invasion of Surrey".

      However, saying that, I do want to give them a go as the designers intended...

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    3. When I first met the guys, long back - back in 1485. I knew nothing about history. I was into warhammer and space hulk (no, not space hunk Jez **wink**), because that was that the lads I got to know were into. Later they introduced me to dungeons and dragons (and that was it, I was hooked). Another club played lots of "Indiana Jones" and 30`/40`s Pulp hero type adventures, and that put me on a different path again. But it was only when Stevie and Hil took the time to show me the joys of history, and showed me what a rich tapestry of imaginative wonder it all is, that I started to see a whole new world. My automatic reaction had always been (when confronted with history) "yeah but where are the monsters, where is the magic, and why aren`t there any vampires.. surely we could put a werewolf in here, or here maybe?" But they were patient: took me to castles and stately old houses, where Stevie would make history come alive before my very eyes. His eyes would shine and it was like...... it was like Tony Robinson talking on one of his tv programs. Oh how he make history talk, and breath and come to life so that as he spoke, it felt like I was there: and Hil would then take over, fill in the gaps, and when we went round the chambers, she would tell me about the cold, the drapes up over the windows, the women weaving and clothe making for endless hours, about kitchens and the different functions of a house and its servants, how many lived in a single place, and what they ate. She would even make traditional foods at home - often outdoors {{she`s a great cook}} the actual way they did back in those days, and she did this often, and got me to help make it too. Honey cakes from Elizabethan times, `dry bread` from the clay bake house fires of the Viking forge, mead and storm bake from the medieval castle; water steamed steak pie from the american colonies, and broiled water biscuits from the battle field camp fires of Napoleon`s Caribbean soldiers. In time I realised I didnt need magic, or add fantastical characters to make it interesting, it WAS interesting without it.

      Fantasy is great, but history is too, and history contains enough creepy mysteries without any need to invent additional factors. Like.. what did happen to an entire Legion of Roman soldiers and camp followers (thousands of men women and children) when they marched across Britain to meet Queen Boudicca and her terrible warrior hordes? They just vanished, and history says Boudicca must have annulated them, but why has no trace of them ever been found in nearly 2000 years of archaeological searches? Or why did Benjamin Franklin build and then rebuild his famous astrological Boston clock.. 27 times? Was he a Free Mason, and what was he so terribly afraid of, that drove him to do it? History is amazing, and that`s why when I see games like this Napoleonic Travel Battle thing, my eyes sparkle at the thought of all that history to unravel.

      But Black Adder added in, now alongside the TARDIS, mmmmm now that throws a whole new spin on things **wink**

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    4. oh man, Tar you hit the nail well and truly on the proverbial head there. History is FULL of wonder and often doesn't need tinkering with. Though it can be fun to do so sometimes, hence my love for Imagi-Nations and "what ifs," but I do admit, I prefer Imagi-world building extrapolation than history and fantasy combined. It just seems to fit better.

      As for Travel Battle, I was massively interested to read (in the free magazine issue of "Wargamers Illustrated" that came with my last WG order) that if this one sells as well as they hope, they will be expanding on their Napoleonic theme AND making another Travel version for World War Two and one for Victorian Colonial Sudan, so wooohooo!!! if that comes off.

      Now that just leaves me wondering if I might be able to make this into a 10mm ECW version. Failing that, there`s always Black Adder and War of the Worlds ^^

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    5. I agree with you completely, Tar. I came to gaming via 1st edition AD&D and wargaming via WH40K, so was never exposed to the historical side of the hobby. However, that doesn't mean I dismiss it out of hand. Playing CoC got me interested in the 1920's, Sherlock Holmes and period ghost stories got me intetested in the Victorian era and various pulp media gor me interested in the Aztecs, Egyptians and Indian sub-continent. Not sure where the love of the Far East came from, but I was told by a Japanese woek colleague of my father that my name translates into Japanese as "Man who crosses many rivers", which I thought was pretty cool.

      So, whilst I know very little about the Napoleonic era, I'm not one of those people who looks at shakos and musktes and goes "Not for me". I'm prepared to give anything a try and if I become enthused with the subject matyer or genre, I will endeavour to learn as much as I can about it, as this can only enhance my experience further.

      However, I DO know about a (potential) distant ancestor of mine, namely Henry Winstanley, who built the first Eddystone lighthouse between 1696 and 1698. During construction, a French privateer took Winstanley prisoner and destroyed the work done so far on the foundations, causing Louis XIV to order Winstanley's release with the words "France is at war with England, not with humanity". Which is also pretty damn cool.

      So, just because my mind immediately starts adding the fantastical to the games I play, doesn't mean I'm trying to 'improve' on history. I just like doing it because it's fun - and that's what the hobby is all about.

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    6. oh God, that true story of Henry Winstanley, omg what are you thinking. Most people have to invent this stuff for their games, and you have this stuff floating about in your real life family history.... this is crying OUT to be made into a mini campaign.

      hmmmm, use the Donnybrook rules (for sure), pick off the special personalities needed (I`d suggest Foundry Miniatures - link below).

      http://www.wargamesfoundry.com/our-ranges/pirates-and-swashbucklers

      ... and really make this into something special. There you go.... historical wargaming 101.

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    7. Does that mean I have to build a 28mm scale Edfystone lighthouse? Lol

      Guess I could build this too...?

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winstanley_Hall

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    8. Oooo now wouldn't THAT be something

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    9. So, here's the idea... as I recently discovered a box full of 'Pirates of the Spanish Main' ships (including the pirate ship 'Carrion Crow' - yes, really) I'm thinking that the capture of Henry Winstanley could be accomplished with these. All I need is a suitably scaled model of Eddystone lighthouse.

      As for Winstanley Hall, it might be more realistic to make this 8mm and add it as a structure to TravelBattle when I get it. Although, even with my limited knowledge of the Napoleonic era, I'm fairly certain the French didn't invade Wigan...lol

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    10. funny you should say that. But if you sneak a peek into the UNIT files of 1969 (pertaining to "The Great Crash" of 1762 and the subsequent discovery of the Dalek warp velocitator burried deep in the ground, where it crashed through the underground natural formed crystal cave, which acted like a time vault amplifier to the tetrion rays emmitted by the contanium melosifier) you would discover that The Doctor (and a strange assistant who only went by the name `the crow`) averted a French pirate/smuggler disaster, with the aid of local shore defences, when Dalek induced cyborg replicants invaded coastal villages all over the region during that summer of 62).

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    11. And the conversion is complete. My work here is done...

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    12. **Grins and smiles proudly - wiggling her feet happily as she hums dum-di-diddle di-dum-di-diddle. woooohoooooOOOO!!!**

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  5. I still recall the horror and spine-tingling terror I felt when you mentioned Perry's sold these units separately when we last spoke Steve. What an utterly fiendish laugh you gave afterwards as well. This all looks incredibly tempting, and fun, and... tempting. I think most gamers, when they reach a certain age, long for a painted napoleonic army or two, I know I do... and this one looks suitably affordable and doable.

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    1. {{{I still recall the horror and spine-tingling terror I felt when you mentioned Perry's sold these units separately when we last spoke Steve. What an utterly fiendish laugh you gave afterwards as well.}}}


      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA I did a bit, didnt I **grins wickedly**

      Oh Simon, it`s sooooo addictively amazing, and between play there is this voice whispers seductive things in your head, telling you of all the things you can doooo with this game, if you but love it and love it and love it some more.

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