Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Weekly Update For May 3rd, 2015 - Lurching Unsteadily Forward

The invaluable reference. Get it.


I am back on my foot, sort of, and lurching forward - and around the house. I still can't get a shoe on the left foot, but the orthopedic boot does allow me to get things done. Slowly, but at least I'm not on pain-killers and can think without having to stop and consider what I'm thinking about.

The good news is that this week will see the first notes going out to everyone who asked about the play-by-email campaign, and we'll get the thing started next week. I'm sorry for the delay -  wanted to be into the game by now - but unpacking from Gary Con has taken a lot longer then I anticipated, and losing the use of a foot for the better part of two weeks just hasn't helped.

The most-asked question about the campaign I'm getting from just about all the players is "Do I need to have any experience with miniatures to play?" The immediate answer is a resounding "No!"; all you need is what they used to call 'pluck' and a good dose of enthusiasm. Keep in mind that back in the day, we had no idea what we were doing, or how we were supposed to do it. We also had no idea that there was any difference between what's referred to these days as 'role playing games' and 'miniatures games / wargames". For us, these genres lay on a spectrum of play that went from individual adventures to large mass actions; we used little lead people, coins, dice, and cardboard game counters to represent what we were doing on the table. Jon Peterson quotes Dave Arneson: "We made stuff up, and we had fun!" That's what this campaign will be - my telling stories to you, and you reacting and adding to the narrative with your actions.

One thing we did do, back in the day, was read as much as we could about what we were doing. The single best reference book we had was "The Defence Of Duffer's Drift", by E. D. Swinton. (I still have my copy, and I still read it.) My advice to people is that, instead of worrying about rules on movement rates and arcs of fire, get a copy of this book and settle down for a pleasant afternoon of reading.

The book is still available, and even available for free. Check the Web, of course, but here are two URLs for you:




Take a moment, and look at that second URL, if you would. "benning" is Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the U. S. Army's Infantry Branch. (The Armor School is there too, having been moved from Ft. Knox; somebody thought that it might be a good idea for the treadheads and footsloggers to get to know each other.) This little book is still in use today, over a century after it was first published as a magazine article, to teach new officers their trade.

Yes, this book was written after the Boer War in South Africa; substitute 'crossbows' for 'rifles', if you wouldn't mind, and 'ballista' for 'gun'. I think you'll find you can get a lot of very useful information on what to expect from my campaign in this book, and you'll find it well worth your reading time.

I know I did.

11 comments:

  1. Love these sort of insights and suggestions.

    Should be a worth while quick read.

    Thanks

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    1. Thank you! What I'm trying to do is give folks a little look into my world, and into the early days of our shared hobby - we all read this.

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  2. I enjoyed reading Duffer's Drift; thanks for the link. Looking forward to participating in this campaign.

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  3. I have the same copy from my time in the infantry. Fun little read.

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    1. Wonderful! I was a treadhead, myself... :)

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  4. Very much looking forward to participating in the campaign!

    Sorry to hear about your foot, hope you're on the way to a speedy recovery.

    Will check out the book in the next week, thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. Thank you! I am back into shoes, and enjoying it. I think you'll enjoy the book, too! :)

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  5. Duffer's Drift is interesting, and a lovely way of thinking about problems in general. I think one of the things that's fascinating about it though is that it's a tactical manual for a special time and place. One may of course give one's fantasy weapons whatever characteristics one wants - crossbows may have the same mechanical properties as Mausers, and an Onger can fire like a pompom gun in a fantasy world. Yet there's also something really interesting about earlier tactics - the shield wall, the pike square, the pavise and the caracole. As weird as any of these seem they must have worked in thier time and place, because after all people have been developing better ways of doing each other in throughout history, and those in earlier times weren't any less smart then we are today.

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  6. Very, very good comment!!! I agree with you - our ancestors were a lot smarter then we seem to give them credit for, and managed to do quite well for themselves. Phil used to run into this issue quite a lot in his wargames at the Little Tin Soldier Shoppe, and often had to 'prove' his points with references - see also Payne-Gallway's "The Crossbow", for another one of his favorite books...

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  7. The Defense of Duffer's Drift was a great read. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    -Ed

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