they've provided countless other gaming enthusiasts. I'm happy
that their page is still up and running but would be thrilled to see
their adventures continue!
Philosophy and Gaming Style
of the Ouargistan Group
Here are some posts to the REC.GAMES.MINIATURES.HISTORICAL newsgroup and other writings that explain a bit about the group's philosophy and gaming style.
Colonial Gaming with the Ouargistan Group
Original Newsgroup Topic was
'Re: The Sword and the Flame? (longish)'
Our grouplet has played The Sword and the Flame since about 1981, and still enjoys it. Since we play with more figures than the game was designed for, we use a simplified faster version that eliminates some of the individual-soldier features of the game (though one figure still is one man).
We got more grandiose as we went along. First just buildings, then a fort. Then vehicles: Kiel-Kraft 1/76 steam lorries, horsedrawn and early gasoline vehicles (Lledo and Matchbox diecasts), as the period expanded. Native-bashing began to pall, so we started playing Brits vs German vs. American colonial troops, with their native allies. Then came small steam launches and native dhows. Then early aircraft to fling hand-bombs at them with appalling inaccuracy. The period stretched from about 1859 to the eve of WWI, all occuring at once -- Gatling guns bringing down DH-1 biplanes. River steamers next; a big amphibious landing to rescue the Colonel Bunthorne's daughter from being sacrificed to appease the volcano god (Paper-mache volcano spewing dry-ice vapor). Then a detour into HG Wells' War of the Worlds -- Martian tripods battling it out with field batteries and ironclads in darkest Whosistan. Then steam-powered Landships ramming and firing high-wheeled bicycle torpedoes at one another. Though the group games rather seldom nowadays, the German player still occasionally threatens to build a zeppelin from 1-liter drink bottles.
Obviously all this baroque stuff is not in the S&F rules; we just kept adding our own house rules. I know nothing of the new ten-men-per-figure edition of S&F, but the original and second edition game has provided the framework for a lot of fun over the years, and has outlasted any other miniatures ruleset for us (though what we now play bears little resemblance to the original).
Alf, a kneeling Stadden rifleman, firing a single thundering round from his Martini-Henry and keeping a complete unit of Fuzzies pinned down prone with bad morale rolls for 3 turns "And if any of you bounding beggars so much as moves a muscle, why, I'll fire again, I will."
Steve's new unit of Highlanders, exterminated to a man on their first outing by the single Arab horseman to survive volley fire and make it into contact.
Two Martian tripods, holding the ends of the ironclad (which had foolishly ventured up the river) in their tentacles, and shaking the crew loose while they played heat-rays across the decks.
Charles' native elephants, reworked from some Ancients army and sporting paper drink-parasols, engaging the Queen's troops at the riverbank, the combat being accompanied by flatulent squashing sounds whenever an elephant won a melee roll.
The Mad Mullah, guiding his dhow through the shellfire to the ironclad, surviving 8 dice from the Nordenfeldt, and levitating himself (through mystical Eastern arts) onto the bridge to challenge the Captain in melee.
I apologize to the sticklers for waxing frivolous in a historical gaming newsgroup. We started out historical, honest. Someone earlier in this thread remarked that the game owed more to Hollywood than to historical realism. Well ... yeah. Turn a card.
Subject: Re: Computers and Gaming
Show me a computer
-- that will say, "Really beautiful paint job on those Pathans."
-- that will pull its hair and make gargling sounds when its crack unit fires a volley and gets zero hits.
-- that will stop at a Middle Eastern food store to get snacks for the Colonials game
-- that will supply everybody with funky hats appropriate to the game's period
-- that will stay up all night painting weird figures and making props for some scenario inspired by a Monty Python skit
-- that will say, "remember that game where Lord Gordon charged the baggage train and got pulled off his horse and strangled with a bowstring by some nameless archer in pajamas?"
-- that will shoot your hotshot gunfighter off the roof of the saloon, and insist that you replay the fall in slow motion, Sam Peckinpaugh-style.
-- that will take a pottery course with his wife and come back with a kiln-fired ceramic Foreign Legion outpost
-- that refers to your Dixon samurai as "the Elmer Fudd ronin"
-- that will pass out broomhandle-Mauser water pistols to the German players
-- that will humor your fetishes by building a cardboard steam-tank for the great landships game because he knows you will humor his with a cardboard native sailboat for the giant Nile battle.
-- that will notice that inverted Yoplait containers would make perfect towers for that native hill-fort
-- that will cry out in despair, "They're all dead, and I only painted them last night!"
Small is Beautiful
Contrary to what your significant other might tell you, size matters -- especially in tabletop gaming. Specifically: small is beautiful. Because table space is always so limited, everything used in a game must be as small as it can be and still do its job.
The Ouargistan group uses a 5/8"/15mm (David's preference) or 3/4"/19mm (everybody else's) base size for 25mm military figures where possible, with the occasional base cut larger to accomodate the odd figure that needs it. Even a 1" base means that a unit of men will take up over 30% more linear space on the table and 90% more area than those on a 3/4" base. A 2-rank unit of 20 men will be 10" wide, rather than than 7.5". Ten inches is a lot on a table which is only 48" across. When the gaming includes buildings, boats, or vehicles, base size is even more important. Even though we allow bases to overlap when figures are in a boat or structure, a base which is even slightly larger will substantially reduce the number of men which can fit in the same space. A rooftop which is 2.25" square will take nine men with 3/4" bases, but only four men with 1" bases.
Buildings and vehicles themselves should be as small as they can be without looking completely ridiculous. In Ouargistan, a small, flat-roofed native building will be as small as 2.25" square with a roof 1.5" off the ground. The difference between a 2.5" and a 3.5" building doesn't sound like much, but it will allow you to put a 5-building town in about the same space as a 3 building town with the larger size.
When building structures and vehicles it is very easy to let size get out of hand. You must exercise ruthless care to keep things to a minimum, or else you wind up with forts or villages that take up half the table, and boats which require so much river to maneuver that there is no room for land. Generally our native buildings run from about 2.25" square to about 3"x 5", forts are about 12" square, and the largest boats/ships are no more than 9" long.--David