Thursday, 8 September 2016

Is Nostalgia what it used to be?

I got given a copy of this recently. An interesting choice. I know both Peter and Andy through Wargame Developments. Andy Callan is an inventive and imaginative writer of wargame rules. Peter Dennis is one of the best illustrators of his type working today.

I'm not sure who the book is aimed at. Peter's pictures are beautiful and he has really thought through how you would go about making everything in paper, -all the troop types, trees, buildings and so on. Modern printers and scanners mean that you can run these things off in your own home at a reasonable cost.

Of course, if you already have a large collection of 15mm ECW figures (as I do) it begs the question of why you would replace them with paper. These are 28mm in size so they'll take up storage space although they won't weigh very much. Just don't use them in a high wind.

Their construction is a bit fiddly and you need small dress making scissors to cut them out but it's probably still quicker than painting the figures. Anyhow, for me as they have no other resonances such as making paper soldiers as a child, I think I would file them under curiosities and move on.

Which brings us to the Andy Callan fast play ECW rules, the other part of the publication

I have a suspicion that I have played these before at a COW, back in the 1980s or 90s. As my figures are based up in a way that is easily transferable to the rule set it seemed like a good idea to try them out. Phil was about so he came over and commanded the Parliamentarians.


The rules do allow you to handle a lot of troops on a big table in a reasonable period of time. My recollection is that they were a breath of fresh air when first introduced. Protracted melees were a thing of the past. Meticulous record keeping was gone. Armies mostly did what armies did and it was all clear and unambiguous.

The rules are simple, so there is a need to fill in a few of the blanks when odd things happen in the game. Disappointingly the layout in the book isn't brilliant and the formatting seems to have some random carriage returns in there in places. There's also a difference between artillery range for medium guns in the rules and on the QRS.

The game clipped along at a fair old rate. There's quite a few dice to roll at times so extreme results can and did happen. Jaw droppingly so. Somethings aren't clear (multi unit combat, for example) but nothing that you couldn't deal with if running an umpired game or there's give and take between the players.

In truth, however, I can't see why I would use them more often. They really aren't doing anything new and they do feel like a set of rules from 20 years ago or more. I've got rules that do this sort of thing better and in some cases even quicker.

Which is a shame really, although it did pass an evening  quite pleasantly.

21 comments:

  1. Many thanks for that - it saved me a purchase as I was considering them.. let me turn it round - what set of ECW rules would you recommend (and more importantly I'd be interested in why)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah. Good question. I forgot to say in respect of Andy's rules that the other revolutionary concept was that regiments of foot fought as regiments. You couldn't split them up or just target the musketeers, for example. I liked that a lot.

      Obviously I would recommend "Victory Without Squares" which you can find up top right of the blog amongst the free downloads.

      My other favourites, for smaller actions, are Pete Berry's "File Leader", which still strike me as stunningly original even all these years later.

      I'm quite partial to the ECW rules in Advanced Armati, although I guess you'd find them hard to get now.

      If you like detailed rules that cover everything and reward repeated playing but are complicated the "Forlorn Hope" are good.

      RFCM's "Regiment of Foote" are fun, although I haven't played them since publication (I did some play tests with Martin Goddard).

      FOG-R are better than you might expect.

      What I would avoid at all costs are "Pike and Shotte" which have nothing to do with ECW conflict but are just an excuse to push figures around and roll dice.

      Oh, and although I'm a Neil Thomas fan his P&S rules aren't very good.

      Delete
  2. Two honest reviews in one post. Very good!

    I would be very interested in reading what the shortfalls you found in Thomas' Pike and Shot rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I played three games with them back in June/July 2012:
      http://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/blowing-dust-off.html

      http://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/with-bit-of-pike-and-bit-of-shot.html

      http://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/more-p-with-nt.html

      They were quick and bloody but showed evidence of incomplete playtesting. They also suffer from the whoever-moves-first loses syndrome with infantry as firepower is effective and you can't move and shoot.

      Delete
  3. I second the appreciation for the review. I was mildly curious about the rules, but not the rest.

    I wonder if the paper figure approach of this (and other) systems isn't actually a failure of the imagination in some way.

    Once you determine that you are going to go with desktop publishing (and all that means), there are so many other options for producing counters that would deliver the best of both worlds (the mechanics of miniatures and the utility of counters, which could still be quite attractive).

    But, I reckon that to some that would be the worst of both worlds...each to his own.

    Best,
    Ed M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Au contraire on the paper figures, - I think they are a triumph of the imagination. Alas in my imagination I can't see me making them.

      As for the rules, - they do have some things going for them, - the whole unit resolution and their speed of play. It's just that, like the paper soldiers, they don't fill a need that I have right now.

      Peter's inspiration is the paper soldiers that were produced in the 19th century. They also look like certain types of German flats, - which have a certain charm - and at a much more affordable price.

      Delete
  4. I had wondered whether if using kriegspiel style blocks these illustrations would be useful for putting on the fronts and backs of the blocks. I've seen paper covered wooden blocks for C19th units in a museum somewhere or possibly an NT house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They'd be big blocks. The "figures" are about 30mm tall and their in sets of 40mm frontage.

      Delete
    2. I thought the intention was to scan and print anyway so presumably you could print them at a reduced size.

      Delete
    3. My, my, you're a cunning fellow. That would indeed be possible.

      Delete
    4. The old wooden blocks I was thinking of were a bit like this approach http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=280358

      Delete
    5. Apart from no side on view they'd probably work, although you'd need to sort out how to do your pikes.

      Delete
    6. Coming back into the conversation about ways one might handle such things, here is my take for another era (scroll down to "Ready to Play Nine Yeas War Armies"). I've used these mainly for playtests, but in a past life when I didn't have space, money, or time for miniatures, I've made others that are more colorful and full sized:

      http://edmwargamemeanderings.blogspot.com/p/nine-years-war.html

      Best,
      Ed M

      Delete
  5. Looked at these as an ECW nutter. The paper figs are a faff but as a starting place perhaps useful - but since I have well over 1000 28mm ECW figures .....
    As for ECW rules- see my recent piece in MWBG Forlorn hope still my personal favourites- Pete Berry again. and File leader for small actions- but they suffer from the "trays" system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to see someone still loves Forlorn Hope although I regret to see that my acknowledgement in the introduction has disappeared from the latest version.

      Did I not mention that I worked on the first draft and came up with a number of the key concepts before moving on and my place being taken by Ben Wilkins?

      Delete
  6. Back in the mid '8os, when Andy produced his hair roller army ECW rules, I was impressed enough by them to rebase my 25mm Minifig ECW troops. The rules were very satisfying, particularly the idea that cavalry fought through each other and then reformed or ran away. The collection went to a WD'er during one of my many military moves and has since been broken up, but I remember the battles with fondness.

    Regards, Chris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are not those rules, - at least they don't have the "cavalry pass through" rule.

      Delete
  7. Thanks for the thoughtful and perceptive review. I'm glad you enjoyed the game, even though the rules are far from being the last and latest thing in ECW wargaming.The idea was to produce a simple dice-roller of a game with a bit of historical depth and flavour. The intention of the paperboys series is to break out of a traditional wargames market, although getting the books into museum/castle shops is proving a lot more dificult than we ever imagined... Since ECW we have published Wars of the Roses (all new rules - on a gridded battlefield), 1066 (a granchild of my Dark Age Infantry Slog), Armada (all new) and Roman Invasion (similar mechanics to ECW). AWI (probably a simplified re-working of my "Loose files and American scramble" and ACW (all new)are in the pipeline for later this year. We are hoping the American museum shop market will be more receptive! Andy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the thoughtful and perceptive review. I'm glad you enjoyed your experience with the rules. The intention was to produce a simple dice-roller of a game with a bit of historical flavour and depth. The idea of the paperboys series is to reach beyond a traditional wargames market - although getting them into museum/castle shops is proving more difficult than we thought. Since ECW we have published 1066, Wars of the Roses, Roman Invasion and Armada, with AWI and ACW in the pipeline. All the books have a Beginners set of rules and a meatier version for old hands - some are influnced by my earlier work (eg 1066 is a sort of grandson of my Dark Age Infantry Slog) some are entirely new (eg WOTR). They are certainly keeping me busy in retirement! Cheers, Andy Callan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Andy Callan found my blog and commented on it!! I shall go and have a look at the WotR rules and book to see where you have got to in game design. I don't really have a great set of WotR rules. Even my own have problems.

      I don't understand the problem with museum shops. I thought the product would be ideal. We're hoping to get the "Northampton 1460" game into the local museum, once they've finished redevelopment. If they don't take it, it'll be a long haul to recover the money.

      And if I haven't acknowledged it elsewhere, the paper soldiers books were the inspiration behind how I did N1460, so thanks to both of you there.

      Delete