Friday, 8 February 2019

The Portable Wargame

I had planned on not really buying any rules this year, given that I have loads, very few of which I actually get to play. But a case of the flu last week saw me perusing several Blogs which resulted in some retail therapy in the form of the following books by Bob Cordery:

I had considered the first one a year or so ago, but it didn't seem to float my boat at the time, given that it involved the use of squares or hexes. Things have moved on since then with games of both 'To the Strongest' and 'For Kind & Parliament', all of which use a gridded table and which i have thoroughly enjoyed. The second one is Bob's latest offering, which looked good and was a reasonable price.

The books duly arrived a few days ago and I eagerly opened the packages. My first impression was that the books were rather smaller than I had expected, but appearances can be deceptive. Both were given a quick flick through and I must say I was very impressed with what I saw. I particularly liked the history part of gridded games but I was really taken with the rules themselves. They were well presented and explained, being simple to grasp but with enough detail to give a good game. So I was very happy with my purchases!

So some free time today saw me dig out my small gridded 2' x 2' board, some terrain and my trusty wooden blocks to give the rules a quick run through, which can be seen below:

Despite this being my first game, everything flowed really well and felt very intuitive and I picked up the basics almost straight away. Re-reading the rules after the game, I only made one mistake, which is not bad for a first game. Most importantly I enjoyed the game and the rules themselves. So below are some initial thoughts on the rules:

  • They do what they say on the tin. It would be very easy to make a truly portable game, similar in most respects to DBA boards that I've seen at competitons. The terrain can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make it, but something of the 'Old School' look attracts me for these rules.
  • The rules themselves are very good, with a nice combination of simplicity and detail. Bob sets his stall out early on and encourages you to tweak things to suit your style of play if you feel the need.
  • The rules work well for solo play and Bob gives some ideas of ways to help with this. I went for the simple DBA 'Pips' approach which worked well and was very easy to use. I may try the card system later on, but for now I'll stick with the 'Pips'.
  • I'm not sure whether to try the game using hexes, or to stick with squares. Both have their merits, but from my first game, the hexes give you a better firing arc, especially for units with muskets. However using squares does force a more regimented approach to your units given that you can only really shoot straight ahead.
  • One thing I like about these rules is that you can very easily set up pick up games with minimal effort and relatively few figures. Perfect for those times when you don't have the motivation or time to set up a more complex game, which seems to be the norm these days.
  • You can use pretty much any basing system you want, but most likely I will go down the 25mm or 30mm square route, so that the units can still be used for Bloody Big Battles, Black Powder etc.

Given the ease of setting up a game, my aim is to get some more games in this weekend. Then there is the small issue of making some bespoke terrain and a board, but that can wait for the moment. Easy to do but I really should focus on some figures first. Until next time.


  1. I have these books too, I've been following Bobs progress for a wee while now.

    I am currently painting up some 10mm Napoleonics which I intend to use Heroscape tiles plus a few tweaks of my own.

    Follow on my blog.

    1. Hi Jim,
      I look forward to seeing your 10mm Napoleonics and especially your heroscape tiles. As I work in the design business on the prototyping front, I hope to get some hexes knocked up next week for me to have a play with. Then I can decide which route to go down for these rules.

    2. Hi Steve

      I have both Hexon II tiles as well as Heroscape tiles.

      You will know that Hexon tiles are 100mm across and that Heroscape tiles are about 45mm across.

      I chose the Heroscape tiles because I can get a much bigger hex grid on a 4x4 or a 6x4 as I hope to play much larger games than Bob envisages.

      This choice also forces me to use 10mm figures, which are very nice anyway and easy to paint, as I'm starting from scratch.

      I am expecting to use a rough 40x40mm square within a Heroscape tile for figures leaving a little room for thin terrain and extra figures like commanders.

      I hope to blog this reasonably soon.

    3. Nice as the Kallistra tiles are, they are simply too big. 45mm - 50mm across the flats seems to be a perfect size. As I have to go into work today, I will knock some samples up to see if they float my boat.

  2. Steve, will be very interested to see how you progress in relation to the question of grids.

    1. A tricky choice as each has its own merits. Some sample hex tiles will be knocked up today whilst at work, ditto an offset grid.