Thursday, 2 May 2013

Playing Favourites

Way back in January 2012, Steve from Steve's Random Musings, posted a list of his favourite Wargame facts. He invited other gamers to post their favourites. I never got around to it at the time, but now's as good a time as any.

Wargames Period

A difficult one for all of us, I think. My favourite periods are the Wars of the Roses, Dark Ages, Ancient Rome and near-future Science Fiction. Assuming you can legitimately call that last one a "period" rather than a genre.


28mm was my favorite scale for more than twenty years, mostly because I got into the hobby via the Games Workshop route, who have always favoured 28mm scale. For some odd reason I can't fathom, I always thought 15mm was too small, despite the fact I enjoyed playing Space Marine and Adeptus Titanicus, a 6mm game.

 I suspect that the real reason was that I've always preferred the 1 figure:1 man ratio in my games, and in all the 15mm systems I knew of in my youth (with the exception of Laserburn) 1 figure used to represent a lot more than one man. It wasn't until Flames of War came out that I really noticed how much the quality of 15mm miniatures had improved. True, FoW operates on a 1:1 figure scale as well, but once I'd started in 15mm and saw how much cheaper it was, my snobbish attitude to figure ratios went out the window and I was hooked.

Now I far prefer 15mm scale to 28mm. I only really use 28mm in skirmish gaming these days. That, and playing games of 40K. I've even begun the process of replacing my 28mm role playing miniatures with 15mm miniatures instead. Much cheaper, much easier to store and a joy to paint. 15 minutes to paint a model with three layers of shading? Yes please.


Ironically, Laserburn has always been one of my favorite rules systems - I just used to play it in 28mm rather than 15mm. It's a very clunky system these days, but it's roots as the Precursor of Warhammer 40K are clear. The first edition of W40K (Rogue Trader) also remains a firm favorite of mine. It's such a wonderful, versatile narrative system. I've used the rules for everything from Post Apocalyptic gaming, to games inspired by movies such as Aliens, Predator, Terminator and even Star Trek. Even 25 years on from their first writing, I still think they're the most versatile sci-fi rules out there.

Sticking with sci-fi, Blasters and Bulkheads has become a firm favorite of mine, a very excellent heir to Laserburn and also a far better Star Wars skirmish game that the cumbersome system West End Games produced in the late eighties/early nineties. It's versatile enough to be used in just about any space opera setting though. It even works well for skirmishes in the Fading Sun's universe.

For 20th-21st century gaming, I'm a huge fan of Ambush Alley games. Although I'm repelled by the thought of wargaming ultra-modern, real-world conflicts (especially those that are ongoing) Force on Force works well for platoon level WWII and Vietnam games. I'm not sure it will ever displace co-operative play Vietnam games such as as Bodycount and Charlie Company, mind, but it's a good system nonetheless.

Also for modern zombie gaming, you can't beat the All Things Zombie rules from Two Hour Wargames. Go read the actual play reports on Vampifans World of the Undead if you want to see why.

Finally, for Ancients and Medieval gaming I love Retinue, the 28mm Skirmish rules. It's even clunkier than Laserburn and showing it's age, but it still has a special place in my heart. Especially for War of the Roses era gaming. For Dark Ages I use the Warhammer Ancient Battle rules and for Ancients, I'm intrigued by Fields of Glory. I'll need to pick up a couple of 15mm armies for that very soon.


I'm really not much of a boardgamer. Truth be told, most of them bore the hell out of me. There are only so many strategies you can use in a typical board game, after all. The three exceptions are Munchkin (which I still find hilarious after all these years), Space Hulk and Battletech. A lot of folks will tell you that Battletech is a miniatures game, not a boardgame. Mostly because it uses miniatures which can be purchased separately, but that doesn't make it a tabletop wargame any more than using miniatures in Zombicide or Risk makes these  systems tabletop wargames. Battletech can be played as a  table-top wargame mind you, as tabletop rules variants have been issued a good few times over the years, but at the end of the day it's designed to played on a gaming board with hexes.

Figure Manufacturers

Ouch, that's a hard one. I'd have to say my favorites are Ground Zero Games, Splintered Light and Khurasan for 15mm. Perry Miniatures and Walord for 28mm. The Perry and Warlord plastic ranges are excellent value for money and a pleasure to both stick together and paint.


I was a member of Glasgow Gaming Group off and on for nearly fifteen years (off-an-on only because I spent most of the year in Aberdeen for much of that period). It's now the largest gaming group in the UK with over 150 members. We consider it a quiet night when only fifty or sixty people turn up.
However, since moving down to Folkestone I've joined Kentish Rogues, a local group that meets in the pub across my back yard. It's a small group, dominated by card players rather than wargamers. The card players are a cliquish set, but the wargamers are a friendly bunch. The tabletop element is dominated by Games Workshop gaming, but I hope to introduce a few other genres and periods to the group over the next couple of years.

Best of all, I've become an honorary member of Postie's Rejects after they invited me over for a game a month or two back. I hope to return the favour by hosting them over at my place soon. If I'm really honest, I also have to say I really hope I don't stay an "honourary" member forever.


I really don't have a favorite opponent. One of the great things about Glasgow Gaming Group was the sheer number of opponents available. Enough that I rarely found myself playing the same person more than a couple of times a year. Honestly though, for me this hobby is as much about meeting people as playing with toy soldiers, so I'd have to say my favorite opponent will always be the guy I meet through he hobby next.

That being said, both of the Andy's from G3 are amoung longest running gaming buddies (and two of best friends for that matter. One was the best man at my handfasting and the other was best man at my wedding. Mecha Ace from the Hanger Bay blog is the second of these two Andy's, by the way. first Andy is my longest running opponent (21 years), Kev (also from G3) comes a close second (just a month or two after Andy One) and I suppose that puts Mecha Ace in third.

Inspiration, Movies and Books

Movies and books. I love films and history as much as I love wargaming, and I invariably start up a new project every time I see a new movie, only to abandon it for a new idea when I see a movie from another genre. My biggest movie inspirations are the Aliens and Terminator movies, as well as the Falling Skies and Space Above and Beyond TV seriels.

Coleen McCullough's Masters of Rome books are easily my favorite historical novels.I tend to re-read them every couple of years or so. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that GRR Martin considered them a major source of inspiration for his Song of Ice and Fire novels. I also enjoy Steven Eriksons Book of the Fallen series as well as the Artesia comics. If there's a common theme running through those, it's that these books tell the story of a setting or a world, rather than just the story of a single person or family. The Master's of Rome series covers the entire Late Republic period of Roman history, from Marius and Sulla through to Ceaser and Pomperi all the way through to the rise of Octavian and the foundation of Imperial Rome. The Book's of the Fallen likewise tell the story of an entire world, much as the Game of Thrones books do. They're epic in their scope, and that's why I like them.


I'm not much of a art-lover, unless you count miniature painting and maps as art. Which I do. I have my favorite miniature painting artists, but I generally know them only by their blogger names, rather than their real ones.

As for traditional art, my favorites are Russel Howard (my wife used to life model for him in her student days. I bought one of his works a couple of years ago for her birthday), the landscape artist Dronma, fellow role-player  and gaming buddy Fiona Allsop and my old school friend Chris Paton. If there's a common theme here, it's that I know each of them personally., Otherwise I might never have been exposed to their work at all. We have plenty of other pieces of art at home, but only two other originals painted by someone other than these four artists and my wife. Truth to be told, I'm a map nut. We've got at least as many old maps hanging up on the walls at home as we do portraits and landscapes.


  1. Thought provoking. Many things I agree with. I may want to pick your brain on Stargrunt 2 is it OK to email you direct?

  2. Looking forward to hearing from you.