A poster going by the name of ‘Little Keithy’ expressed surprise at hitting the thread on the riots, when he came here looking for stuff about the War of Spanish Succession.  He was obviously not expecting the somewhat eclectic nature of my blog (read ‘any old rubbish that comes to mind’, refered to by my wife as spending half the night on the internet ranting at people).  Unlike many wargamers this isn’t a wargame only thing. (It originally started as I wanted to share some fiction I had written with bloggers from other sites I frequent, for their opinion).

He wrote

Anyway what I was going to ask: what’s the allure of the WSS? I like the SYW as there is a variety of troop types plus nice uniforms to paint (not that I ever get round to painting them).

The WSS appears to the uninitiated limited in troop types (in western europe), tactics and pretty uniforms (nice whigs though). Is it more a test of skill having limited opportunities for a coup de grace or clever manoeuvre?

Well, to tell the truth, I chose the period based on hats… (more after the break)

My mate (going by the internet name of ‘Sunjester’) and I have a regular once a month game at his house, out side the confines of our normal club (Tring in Hertfordshire).  This gives us the chance to do other stuff, often a campaign.  Campaigns we have done over the past few years (usually for 6 months a time) have been Zombies, War of the Roses, ACW and Alien invasion.  Currently we are doing a WW2 one with “Troops, Weapons and Tactics”, with the “Platoon Forward” add on (both from Too Fat Lardies).

However, early 2010, he said “Do you fancy doing a new period”?  He won’t do Napoleonics due to a bad experience as a new wargamer, and I had ‘Black Powder’ rules.  Straight away I said “Something with Tricornes”, for has there ever been a finer military uniform than the hats and coats of the 18th century? (“I say, warfare is a messy business – lets dress the chaps as London dandies!”)  That decided upon we were going to do SYW.  I said I would do Russians (a nation who’s method of fighting battles seems to be assume the enemy will run out of bullets before you run out of men to be shot), and started researching them.  I’d even bought green paint (Games Workshop “Foundation” Green, though it probably has a name like Zombie Snot)(OK Knarloc Green… What’s a knarlock?).

THEN, at the Milton Keynes show in May 2010 a friend of his is getting rid of some old stock, and has 3 Pendraken army packs going cheap – Prussia, French and English/British (depending on which side of 1707 you are on).  We decided we wouldn’t do British – every one does British – so we bought the other two, and I chose one at random.  Turned out to be the Prussians.  We then conviced another club member to buy the English.

Bear in mind at that point my knowledge of WSS at this point was Blenheim-Slow lines-No columns.

So I started to research (and argue) online. And write, and playtest, and rewrite, and argue again.  With “& Blenheim Palace” we’ve got something we are happy with.  With 10mm Pendraken we have armies we are happy with, and the Black Powder rules work fine for us – I know purist argue, but my view is as a general when I give an order to a brigade (or equivalent), I don’t care how the individual battalions maneouver. 

The thing about 10mm is that if you reduce the ranges it doesn’t feel silly.  We use cms instead of inches – a straight swap, so no maths on the QR sheet needed.  Thus a 6ft x4ft table, which is approx 180cm by 120cm, is equivalent to a 15 x 10 table.  You could play with 25/28mm figures but the units would be 6 men, and shooting ranges would be only 5x the height of a man.  My dream is to use 10mm figures but on the inch scale as written.  The only problem is that I would need 4 times as many figures!

I have 6 men in two ranks to a 20mm base, where as ‘Sunjester’ has 4 in 2×2.  I’ve followed the rules closely and scaled the cavalry down to 25mm, where he has 20mm bases for these as well.  So, a year and a bit later I have 18 infantry battalions (6 Prussian, 12 Imperial), each of 36 men, plus 8 regiment of horse (12 to a regiment), with another 6 to paint, and 3 cannon, plus one unpainted, as well as various generals and markers. I am particularly pleased with my Commander in Chief.

I reckon over the last year I have spent about £120 on metal, plus painting time, plus storage, on a period I knew little of at the time, all because we were offered a £5 discount per pack.