Andy's first foray into wargaming!

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Andy's first foray into wargaming!

Post by Andy » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:02 am

Hello there! As I posted in the Intros section, I'm Andy and I've never wargamed before! No figures, no experience, but a strong desire to socialise, have fun, and do something historically-themed. I'll try to pop along to an event when I can (curse you, weekend shifts!) and get some hands-on experience with whatever's going on the day, but I thought I'd just make a post about a couple of projects I'd like to have a shot at. If anyone's interested in joining me in this, it would be great to have someone who knows what they're doing! Both projects seem like they would be best suited to skirmish-size games, with maybe 5-10 models apiece, with a characterful element and perhaps a linked campaign to tie it all together.

First project: 1860s Japan. The heyday of the Industrial Revolution collides with civil war in the Land of the Rising Sun. As Westerners flock to Japan's shores, seeking a quick buck and/or national glory, the great clans of the samurai align themselves for or against the crumbling Tokugawa Shogunate...

The setting lends itself to a huge variety of possiblities for scenarios. From history alone, there's things like the 1861 attack on the British Legation in Edo (think murderous samurai on the loose at night, hunting down startled diplomats), the numerous western military actions such as the British bombarding Kagoshima and the multi-national attack on Shimonoseki in 1864, not to mention home-grown affairs like the Ikedaya Incident (Shinsengumi, bodies crashing through paper walls, general bloodbath) and the Boshin war (Battle of Miyako Bay: Shinsengumi trying a boarding action on the Imperial iron-clad warship Kotetsu...can you say Gatling Gun?)
I won't weary you with the products of my fertile imagination, but it does seem to me like this period has much to recommend it and seems to be suited to skirmish wargaming, with a nice range of diversity in combatants and technology employed.

Second project: 1930s Manchuria and China.With the Empire of Japan positioning herself to dominate East Asia, the Communists and Nationalists make common cause to defend China - or do they? To the North, the Soviet Union watches the chaos unfold and waits to seize any opportunity that presents itself. The old colonial powers cling tenaciously to their fragments of China, and America keeps a wary eye on her potential foe, Japan. Within Japan herself, factionalism is rampant, with troops on the streets of Tokyo and political assassinations common. The Army and Navy are at each others' throats, and fierce disputes rage between those who think the Empire is overreaching herself on the continent - or not expanding fast enough...

Similar to the Bakumatsu period above, this is rife with historical stories that lend themselves to skirmish wargaming. There's both espionage and full-blown warfare raging across East Asia, and almost a sort of wild-west frontier feel to Manchuria at the time. I'm imagining Chinese bandits clashing with Japanese railway patrols in the rural heartland of Manchuria, NKVD agents assassinating White Russian leaders in snowy Harbin, shoot-outs on the dockside in Shanghai...I have too vivid an imagination, perhaps! I think the whole thing came from a piece in a book I read, pointing out how schizophrenic the Japanese Empire-building project in Manchuria was: there were agrarians who saw the vast steppe as the perfect place for their socialist-agrarian philosophies to be tested, zaibatsu executives who set up huge steel- and coal-works to pillage the resources of Manchuria, town planners who dreamed of opulent new cities modelled on Haussman's Paris, Communists exiled from Japan itself who found a degree of political freedom in Manchuria, the Kwantung Army garrison and its radical militarists, and over all the wings of war sweeping down on Asia...there was something in this crazy picture of empire that grabbed my imagination, and I'm hoping that it will translate to a fun, atmospheric tabletop game!

Anyway, thanks for reading. If anyone else is feeling they'd like to help me with either (or both) of these, do drop me a line - I have only my imagination and enthusiasm at the moment, and I would love a fellow enthusiast with knowledge to make this a reality that we can all enjoy. And I do look forward to meeting people in person when I can!

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Re: Andy's first foray into wargaming!

Post by Primarch » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:19 pm

Well, it certainly sounds like you know what you want.
I've been scratching my head trying to come up with rules that will fit the type of game you want. My main interest is in Colonial Era British battles, particularly the Zulu War and the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War. The rules I use for these two periods would certainly adapt well to your chosen theatres, but aren't really what you're after I'm afraid. My Zulu army currently runs to about 200 figures and I'm still just getting started.

So some suggestions for you to look for online to see what you think.

The Men Who Would Be Kings (named after the Michael Caine/Sean Connery movie). Colonial era skirmish gaming of about 50-60 models a side.
A World Aflame. Written for the Spanish Civil War and the fictional Very British Civil War. Again, a little on the large side at 30-40 models a side.
Pulp Alley. A skirmish game for about 5-6 models a side, probably more in line with what you are after. Originally designed with Indiana Jones and other pulp era action in mind. It seems quite popular for small games of a variety of genres.
Congo. Obviously based around the exploration of Africa. With a little work it could probably be adapted to Manchuria. 25 or so models per player.

There are plenty of other wargames, but the sizes of units go up from there.

I'd suggest having a browse through this forum for ideas and inspiration:

As far as gaming goes, it's certainly something I'd be interested in trying and I don't mind giving you a hand getting things going. You're going to need quite a lot of stuff as well as a handful of models. Depending on the game chosen, you're also going to require a lot of terrain (the amount of terrain works inversely to the number of models on the table, skirmish games need more, big battles need less), a green cloth to put over the tabletop, dice, tape measures and probably other bits and pieces as well. I can provide some of the above if need be, and help you source what I don't have.

Have you ever assembled/painted models before? That is another thing to consider. There are professionals you can pay to get minis painted to a high standard, and some of the local players sometimes take commissions. Of course, there is something special about playing with minis that you have painted yourself. :D

Best of luck. If you have any questions, post them up here and either myself or one of our other members will be happy to answer them.
Painted Minis in 2014: 510, in 2015: 300,
in 2016 :369, in 2019: 417.

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Re: Andy's first foray into wargaming!

Post by Andy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:06 am

Thank you again for your helpful advice! This sounds encouraging and I will start trying to get a ruleset (Pulp Alley seems to be a good option) and some miniatures together. I'm not a painter so I will try sourcing second-hand 28mm models from various sources- the leadadventureforum seems an excellent place to start. I am popping back to the UK over golden week so I can try to get stuff delivered there and take it back with me. As for terrain, I do have visions of models of treaty port Yokohama or the Asia Express, but I think until I get a handle on the rules and assemble a decent collection of models, I might have to make do with whatever comes to hand. Thanks again for the help!

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