Friday, October 30, 2020

Comparison of Game Period and Figure Size

In the last installment of The Great Wargaming Survey (GWS), analysis focused upon the relationship between favorite game period and game type (see Looking at Game Period by Type).  Today's installment retains focus upon favorite game period but substitutes figure size for game type in the analysis.  Assumptions present in the earlier Game Period by Type analysis hold for this analysis as well.

Figure Size
The 2020 survey includes a dozen choices for figure size (or scale).  The units of measure vary with most choices presented in millimeters.  Some are presented as a model classification such Ships, Space, or Aircraft.

Favorite period by figure size and period
Given the first choice of gaming period for each respondent, the counts of scale and favorite period were tabulated. The chart below illustrates the cross-tabulation of Game Period by Figure Scale.
What do these tabulations show?

By now, it should be no surprise to see that 25-28mm figure size dominates the first choice.  28mm Heroic comes in a distant second.  After these two figure sizes, popularity drops off precipitously with 15-18mm coming in at a very distant third.  

For the first place 25-28mm size, WWII is decisively, most popular game period with Fantasy and Napoleonics rounding out the top three.  For 28mm Heroics, Warhammer40k leads this category decisively with WWII and Fantasy trailing in second and third.  In third place, the 15-18mm figure size is led by WWII.  Napoleonics and Ancients round out the top three.  15-18mm appears to be the domain of historical miniatures wargaming.  After the top three figure classifications, first choice of figure size diminishes rapidly.  The market dominance of the top three figure sizes is striking.

Favorite period by period by figure size
Transposing the data by putting Era (Favorite period) on the y-axis and Scale as a stacked bar within Era, provides a different perspective.  As expected, WWII takes top honors with Warhammer40k, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Napoleonics, and Ancients making up the top five favorite periods.    
In the favorite gaming period of WWII, 25-28mm figure size dwarfs the other categories with 28mm Heroic and 15-18mm coming in at second and third places.  Notice that 20mm or 1/76 takes up the fourth place.  Are the older generations of wargamers, who came of age in the 1970s, continuing with 1/72 or 1/76 WWII wargaming or is a new age cohort picking up the reins?  A question for another time, I suppose.

For the second most popular period, Warhammer40k, 28mm Heroics crushes the competition.  25-28mm comes in at a very distant second. Sci-fi and Fantasy are about evenly split between 28mm Heroics and 25-28mm.  Rounding out the top five gaming periods, Napoleonics and Ancients hold 25-28mm and 15-18mm as the two most popular choices in figure sizes.

Are there surprises in these results?  One observation is that while 25-28mm is popular among all of the top gaming periods, 28mm Heroics is really the realm of the Fantasy/Sci-fi gamer.  Any others observations of note?

Having laid the groundwork showing the relationship between game period and game type in the previous analysis and the relationship between game period and figure size in this analysis, next time, I combine these two analyses to present a three-attribute assessment of the relationships between game period, game type, and figure size.  Perhaps, age group will be added into the mix as well?

As always, comments welcome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

WoFun Alamo’de

The Alamo lined with defenders
Kevin enjoys terrain projects.  The latest project tackled is a reproduction of the Alamo in about 1/100.  The modeled detail of the mission complex is impressive.  This custom fortification was built to accommodate WoFun's 18mm flat, plexiglass figures.  Having built the defenses up over time, the famous structure was put down onto the gaming table for a trial game over the weekend.
Santa Anna's Army arrayed for the assault
Mexican Army arrayed for battle
Although I was not present at the game, Kevin sent along some photos of the initial dispositions of the battle.  The Alamo, itself, is a splendid structure.  With defenders guarding every nook and cranny of the mission and the colorful Mexican Army surrounding the complex, the project comes to life.

The plexiglass figures come pre-painted and look amazing en masse.  At a reasonable cost, armies can be fielded almost instantly.  Played upon a grid, rules used for the battle are a version of Commands & Colors.  With a bit of luck, I may get to give the battle a try in two weeks' time in a one-on-one game during our socially distancing times.

What do you think of Kevin's mission complex and WoFun's pre-painted flats?  Both look terrific to me.  Arrayed for battle, this collection offers a magnificent sight. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Pummelling Pompey, Pharsalus 48BCE

Pompeian troops stand at the ready
As alluded to in the previous post, I refought the Battle of Pharsalus as a solo exercise using Commands & Colors: Ancients (CCA) and my 6mm ancients.  In an earlier, F2F battle, Pompey pulled out an upset victory with a 7-6 win.  This time, it will be ego in ego.  The Julian Legions Rule is in effect for both armies as is the Julius Caesar Rule.  The Julius Caesar Rule is especially powerful since it allows a unit led by Caesar to move two hexes and still battle and battles with one additional die.  For solo play, I play the two hands of cards with an unbiased and optimal card selection.  When I draw a card from the deck for each player, I never look at the new card until it is that player's turn.  Cards that can be played to interrupt the opposing player are removed from the hand and turned face up as a reminder that these cards can be played at the optimal time.

For this replay, I try something different.  Rather than having dialog of the play-by-play separate from the relevant game photo, dialog has been embedded within the photo, itself.  For this situation, embedded description seems a good idea since one can sequence through the photos and read the dialog without referring back to the separate text.  I am curious to read opinions on this technique rather than my normal battle report format.  White arrows denote moves, yellow arrows denote retreats, and red arrows denote combats.  Anyway, on to battle.

This was a convincing win for Caesar.  I figured Pompey's early massive cavalry attack, under the leadership of Labienus, upon the Caesarian right would be a successful gambit.  If successful, the attack would open up the game before Caesar's preponderance of heavy infantry could close with the Pompeian battle line.  With Caesar's light troops evading and Caesar, himself, repulsing an attack, Labienus was stopped short of his objective.  Caesar then turned the tables and launched a series of attacks against Labienus.  After a few turns, the Pompeian left was in tatters.  It was Pompey's flank that had been compromised, not Caesar’s!  Great fun and an eye-opener to the power of Caesar when leading troops into battle.

Perhaps, I ought to give Pompey another chance?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hittite Bowmen and the End in Sight?

Two more stands toward the six unit Hittite Augmentation task muster off the painting desk.  With five of six units now in the finished side of the ledger, only one remains before declaring success on this mini-project.  When the final unit is ready for duty, 18 units will have been completed in 2020.  What remains to finish is one more chariot and crew.  It will be off the table soon.  With more than two months left in 2020, the Hittite Augmentation project may see a second round of augmentation.  Maybe a total of 20 units is possible in 2020?  20 in 2020 has a nice ring to it.   
All of these bowmen are Wargames Foundry and primarily represent Neo-Hittites.  Of course, besides being included in a Hittite Army, these bowmen will see service under Assyrian or Babylonian rule.  These sculpts were more rough than past Foundry bowmen.  These lads seemed to carry a bit more flash that usual.  Still they will serve me well and likely see action in several armies.  A number of these same figures were mustered into the Assyrian Army during the Assyrian build-up a few years' ago.  Once the final chariot is fielded, I will pull the Hittites out for a parade review.
On the gaming front (yes! gaming front), I got in two solo battles of Pharsalus using Commands & Colors and look forward to an upcoming remote session using a new set up rules.

At least one of the Pharsalus battle reports is in work.  The first battle will witness the power of a legion led by Caesar, himself.  I ought to entitle the BatRep, Pummelling Pompey.  The game result was much different from my earlier two-player game of the same scenario (see: Pharsalus: CCA in 6mm).

On the remote gaming front, Matt over at Wargames in the Dungeon, offered up a chance to try a remote gaming session with him behind the controls.  I jumped at the opportunity to participate in one of Matt's spectacular looking games.  On tap is an AWI action using troops drawn from Matt's 28mm collection and the rules, Rebels and Patriots.  Luckily, I have a copy of the rules but have never read them.  A quick read suggests a ruleset on the less complex end of the gaming spectrum.  It should be perfect for a small introductory game over a new media for me.  I expect a schooling in the first game on both the use of technology and the rules' mechanisms and tactics. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Looking at Game Period by Type

Following up from the previous GWS2020 post on favorite game periods (see Favorite Gaming Periods?), attention turns to the relationship between game type and game period choice.  In the survey, the questions of Preferred Game Period and Preferred Game Type ask for responses in ranked choice order.  The assumption made in the following analysis is that the respondent's first choice of gaming period corresponds to the respondent's first choice of gaming type.  For example, if I select Napoleonics as my first choice for game period and Big-Battle for first choice of game type then the assumption is that Big-Battle Napoleonics is my preferred choice.  Of course, favorite game period may not use the favorite game type but that is the assumption made and seems a reasonable starting point.  All of the following analyses will be grounded on this principle.  Only respondents' first choice of game period with be considered in the analysis.

Game Type
The survey includes ten choices for game type ranging from games using one figure or vehicle per player up to big battle games with thousands of figures on the table.  The game genre covers sports, tournament, survival, and others.  Some may be more familiar to historical wargaming while other genres may be more familiar to fantasy and sci-fi wargaming.  Sports, survival, and cooperative games may not lend themselves to easy classification between historical or fantasy/sci-fi.

Whatever a gamer's preferred game type among the listed choices, I found this question posed a difficult choice. Most of my miniatures' wargaming battle are historical, scenario-based, big-battle gaming.  With the choices provided, what do I select as my preferred game style?  For me, I faced a conundrum.  Do I choose Big-Battles or Scenario-Driven as my first choice?  To me, these two choices go hand-in-hand.  I do not recall a Big Battle game that was not driven by a historical scenario.  Given the situation that all Big Battles are scenario-driven but not all scenarios are Big Battles, I likely picked scenario-driven as my first choice.  Or, did I?  Perhaps, I needed a bit more guidance when answering this question?  Was I alone in facing indecision in the choices offered? 

Favorite period by game type and period
Given each respondent's first choice of game period, each first choice of game type is tabulated.  The graphic below illustrates these aggregated results by Game Type and Game Period.
What insights can be gleaned from this exercise?

First, Skirmish, Big-Battle, Scenario-Driven, and Campaign-Driven game types comprise the top four choices when responses to all first choice periods are aggregated.  Second, Skirmish gaming is the top choice by a large margin.  Third, while WWII is the most frequent top choice for skirmish gaming, Warhammer 40k, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy are well represented.  In addition to being the top choice for skirmish gaming, WWII represents the top game period in three of the top four game types.  Only Napoleonics edges out WWII in the Big-Battle game type.  Finally, sports and monster/survival gaming seem to hold little traction as a first choice.  Even single figure or one-on-one gaming shows little, primary interest.  

Favorite period by game period and type
When the data are transposed showing Favorite Period by Game Type, WWII gaming rises to the top of the charts.  With the addition of the second place game period choice of Warhammer 40k, these two game periods garner much of the gaming attention. 
What other insights emerge from this slice of the data?

First, when reviewing the top five game periods, skirmish gaming is the most popular game type excluding Napoleonics.  As noted earlier, Napoleonics holds Big-Battle as its first choice of game type.  Second, in addition to Napoleonics, Big-Battle gaming is the top choice for Ancients, 18th Century, and Pike & Shotte gaming.  If WWII gaming is excluded, Big-Battle gaming seems to be the choice for historical wargaming periods.  Finally, once the top six or seven game periods are accounted for, primary interest in the remaining game periods falls away quickly.

What these results demonstrate is the popularity of WWII gaming as a favorite period and skirmish gaming as a favorite game type.  The combination of WWII and skirmish gaming is very popular.  Perhaps not surprising results but interesting, nonetheless.

Does this analysis hold any surprises or simply confirm conventual wisdom with respect to the combination of game period and game type?  One assumption of this analysis is that top choice of game period corresponds to the top choice of game type.  If this does not hold in your situation, I would enjoying seeing that justification. 

For the next survey installment, I stick with analyzing game period.  Expect an examination of favorite game period by figure size.  Anyone willing to hazard a guess and go on the record as what those results might suggest?

Friday, October 16, 2020

Celtic Chariot from Newline Designs

Distractions.  Next off the painting desk was a planned addition to the dozen unit Hittite army which is seeing a year-end attempt at a six-unit expansion.  A chariot for the Hittite Army was that planned addition.  Well, I received a recent order from Newline Designs containing more Hittites with a few Celtic chariots for the Punic Wars project.  The Celtic chariots are destined, foremost, for a recreation of Telamon postponed from earlier in the year.  Seeing the Celtic chariot and crew, I swapped out the Hittite chariot for the Celtic chariot and set to work.  
Off the painting table today is a Newline Designs' Celtic chariot and crew in 28mm.  Fine sculpting. The more I paint and field Newline Designs' figures, the more I appreciate their somewhat rounded sculpting style.  Style is different from either Black Tree Designs or Crusader figures which dominates the Celtic forces in my army.  Different in style, for sure, but a style very pleasing and full of character.  I like them.
While no gaming (F2F or solo) has occurred for several weeks, time to pull Commands & Colors Ancients off the shelf for a solo game or two.  Perhaps a reset of Pharsalus in 6mm is in order?  Last time Kevin and I played Pharsalus on the miniatures' gameboard, Pompey beat Caesar.  In solo play will Caesar even the score?  We will see.  I ought to have time this weekend to give the battle a run-out on the table.

The painting desk remains full of figures and projects in work but this week saw only sporadic painting sessions.  Besides the Celts and the Lally battalion, no other units mustered out from the workbench.  Several units are getting close, though.  Hittite bowmen will be next with two stands nearing completion.

Analysis of the data from the Great Wargaming Survey 2020 continues.  In work now is an expansion of the recent Favorite Periods article.  The expanded Favorite Periods analysis will include a look at cross tabulations of period with figure size, gaming style, and primary interest.  Hopefully, some interesting and meaningful insights will emerge.  Notice that these posts are also being published on the Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy website.  Discussion on these topics have shown much more activity on the Palouse Wargaming Journal post for which I am pleased and appreciative.  Thank you!        

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Irish Regiment Lally

Having been following many of the War of Austrian Succession scenarios and battle reports on the Honours or War forum and watching David create a series of handsome flags for the Swiss, Irish, and French battalions for the SYW/WAS at Not by Appointment blog, my willpower finally broke.

While I fielded three battalions of Swiss line infantry regiments as a "test" of 18mm Blue Moon SYW figures a number of years ago (eight years from looking at the painting log!), I never expanded the project to include the French.  I was content with primarily fielding Prussian and Austrian armies.  Until recently, that is.
Swiss battalions in French service
Off the painting desk today is a battalion from Irish Infantry Regiment Lally.  While the regiment saw service in India during the SYW, it was active in Flanders during the WAS.  Infantry figures are Blue Moon French led by a Eureka mounted officer.  Flags are Not by Appointment designs. 
With an Old Glory Army card in hand, expect an expansion of the French army to get underway using Blue Moon figures.  I have not decided if I prefer the Blue Moon figures over the "old" Old Glory 15mm SYW figures.  The Old Glory Russian infantry are superb.  I expect the French to be equally nice.  I should order a few Old Glory packs (from 19th Century Miniatures) to confirm.  Until then, I have an Old Glory Army card burning a hole in my pocket.  Two more Irish regiments are in work.  After those muster out, my attention will turn to fielding French infantry, proper.  I imagine thoughts of Hanoverians will be materializing before long.  As with the Prussian and Austrian armies, expect cavalry to be sourced from Eureka Miniatures.  Just what I need, an expansion to an existing project.  With my Hittite expansion nearing completion, a new project seems reasonable.  Right?

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Taking Command at Bassignana, 1745

Battle of Bassignana. Photo courtesy Andrè Hanselmann
After having participated in Andrè's Battle of Quistello game earlier in 2020, I accepted the commander's role of Spanish General de Gages when he slated the Battle of Bassignana for his gaming table.

Like Quistello, Bassignana was not a remote participation game in the sense that I would be commanding my troops throughout the battle.  My role, as commander of the Spanish wing under de Gages, was to write initial orders to my commands, communicate with the French Marechal Maillebois, and attempt to influence nearby formations toward my plan of battle.  Each commander was allowed a specific number of communications before the battle began.  After that, no more communications.  The players would use these pre-battle instructions to guide battle flow toward victory.  Game participants would attempt to carry out my orders as they deemed appropriate.  The possibility of orders falling into enemy hands was a risk.  In Bassignana, a number of orders fell into enemy hands or became lost in transit.   

At the Battle of Bassignana, the Franco-Spanish armies deployed along the Tanaro River facing the combined Austro-Piedmontese armies as illustrated in the diagram below.  The Franco-Spanish army must take Pavone, Rivarone, and Bassignana for victory.  Either take those three objectives or destroy the opposing army.  Rules in play would be Honours of War.

For a full treatment of the battle with OBs and after action reports, please visit Andrè's blog at:
Initial dispositions, Bassignana.
Map by Andrè Hanselmann
For this post, I plan to simply provide some of the decision-making process behind the Spanish initial plans of battle.  Unfortunately, as will be seen for those venturing off to read Andrè's excellent accounts of the battle, my brilliant plans did not survive contact with the enemy.  Not only that, but de Gages, being a Dithering general, had great difficulty even getting his plan into motion.

De Gages' Spanish army is composed of columns A and B in the diagram above.  De Gages own force (A) consists of three small infantry battalions. Pignatelli's force (B) contains two cavalry regiments.  Arambou's column (C) of which I hope to convince to join my attack has three small infantry battalions, one small cavalry formation, and one light artillery battery.

With French Marechal Maillebois in overall command, I awaited instructions from French HQ.  After allowing for appropriate time in which to receive an ADC from Maillebois, I formulated my own plan of action.

With the village of Rivarone held by one militia, one grenadier, and one light battery, Arambou was ordered to demonstrate against this position with his artillery and one infantry battalion.  While the enemy commander, de la Chiesa was pinned in Rivarone, the remainder of Arambou's command would force the Tanaro and attack the Piedmontese outpost laying between Rivarone and Bassignana.  Pignatelli's cavalry would support Arambou's attack.  Once defeated, Pignatelli and Arambou would advance to secure the Po river bridge.  De Gages' three infantry battalions would force the Tanaro, screen the Austrians in Bassagnana without becoming heavily engaged, and press on to the bridge over the Po.

The initial objective of the Spanish army was to secure the Po bridge before Austrian reinforcements could cross over in support of their scattered forces on the south bank of the Po.  Only when the Po bridge was secure would Spanish forces turn toward reducing the defenders of Rivarone and Bassignana.  De Gages' hope was that the French could handle the enemy in the south and then drive to take Pavone.  See planning map below: 
Franco-Spanish plans of attack.
Map by Andrè Hanselmann
At the last moment before setting his plan into motion, de Gages received an ADC from Maillebois into his HQ.  Opening the package, de Gages saw the following letter from the French Marechal:
Courtesy Andrè Hanselmann
This missive translates to:

Please allow me to present to you my plans, which will most probably find the approval by his royal highness the infant of Spain. I have already some plans in my mind how you could act against the Piedmont position in front of Arambou. Arambou's infantry could form line against Rivarone and his cavalry could be so kind to support Pignatelli's horse. Three regiments will be sufficient to overwhelm the Piedmont cavalry between Bassignana and Rivarone.
I will personally assist your attack on the Piedmont center at Rivarone with my own cavalry under Danois.
Please be so kind to confirm the arrival of my message.
Your most obedient
Maréchal de Maillebois

After reading the instructions from Maillebois, de Gages quickly wrote a reply, handed it back to the Maillebois' ADC, and bid him adieu. De Gages' reply to Maillebois read,

My Dear General,

Your ADC has successfully delivered your instructions.  Arambou's cavalry will support Pignatelli in driving the Piedmontese from between Rivarone and Bassignana.  The primary mission of the Spanish on this day is to drive on the bridge on the Po to prevent the enemy from reinforcing its troops on the south bank.  After the bridge is seized and enemy reinforcements cut off, I will turn upon Bassignana and Rivarone to drive the enemy from the field.  Arambou's remaining command will observe and harass Rivarone until either your force comes up to attack or the bridge is secured.  In either event, Arambou will join in on an attack against Rivarone.

de Gages
Battle of Bassignana. Photo courtesy Andrè Hanselmann
To see how this battle played out, please visit Andrè's blog to read the two part battle account of Bassignana (links provided above).  Andrè presents a very engaging battle report presented in both German and English with lots of helpful in-battle photos.  The battle is fought in 1/72nd.  Great job, Andrè!