Book Review: Crecy 1346 – A Tourists’ Guide

Crecy 1346: A Tourists' Guide
Publisher's Site: Pen and Sword

Crecy 1346: A Tourists' Guide is a neat concept. It looks exactly like a traditional tourist guidebook, such as those published for Disney World, or various cities and attractions around the world. Inside are photos, maps and directions guiding the reader on their travels.

The difference is that this guidebook focuses not on restaurants and the birthplaces of dead poets but on the route of the English army across northern France, and the environs of the battlefield at Crecy. Instead of advice for the best place to stand while watching the light parade, it offers advice on where to go to see the places important to the campaign.

The book offers five "tours":

  • St-Vaast-la-Hougue to Caen
  • Caen to Elbeuf
  • Elbeuf to Poissy
  • Poissy to Abberville
  • Abbeville to Calais via Crecy-en-Ponthieu
  • The Battlefield

Each tour comes with an historical introduction, a map identifying significant points, and detailed information and photos on the stops. There is also advice on how to travel (including bicycle guides) and places to stay and eat.

Even if you are not headed to Crecy for a vacation, but still have an interest in the battle, I think this would be of interest. There is plenty of history in the book, and the modern photos are more useful than the typical period illustrations

You can also get the book in Kindle format, which would be great, since you could have it on your phone and reference it while travelling.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for providing a review copy.

The Complete Conan Collection – Free!

The complete set of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories now are available for free in Amazon Kindle format. You can read this 800+ page book on your phone, tablet or computer with the free Kindle app, or with one of Amazon's standalone Kindle readers. I have a Kindle reader and really like it. While not as nice as a book with actual pages, it is a much better experience than a phone or tablet. I've recovered the cost of the Kindle many times over with the free books I can find on Amazon.

This Conan book, for example, is $61 in hardcover, while the Kindle I own was $120. With one reading experience, I'm halfway to making it pay for itself.

The Napoleonic Source Book by Philip Haythornthwaite

Philip Haythornthwaite's The Napoleonic Sourcebook is a good place to start for a basic understanding of the Napoleonic Wars. The volume is divided into six major sections: The Campaigns, Weapons and the Practice of War, The Nations Involved in the Wars, Biographies, Sources, Miscellaea and a useful glossary. There are more than 200 black and white illustrations, maps and charts. For the painter, the book has descriptions of various uniforms and lists of uniform, facing, hat and button colors.

The Napoleonic Source Book

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Book Review: Wargame 1066 and Wargame Wars of the Roses

books-together

Casemate Publishers recently sent two of their books of paper soldiers for review: Wargame: 1066 and Wargame: The Wars of the Roses. They are part of a Battle for Britain series, which also includes books for the Roman Invasion of AD 43 - 84, the English Civil War, and the Spanish Armada.

The books each contain around thirty pages of beautifully illustrated, full-color paper models representing all of the troop types necessary to recreate battles of the period on the tabletop. The figures are approximately 30mm from top of helmet to base. Paper models of buildings, trees and other battlefield accessories are included. Finally, the books contain instructions for assembly, as well as simple sets of rules by Andy Callan.

To build your armies, first photocopy the pages with the desired troop types. Then simply cut and paste. In this fashion, you can create as many stands of figures as desired. Don't need Flemish spearmen? Don't copy them. Want extra billmen in livery? Copy away.

In the example below, I made a copy of a page of cavalry on plain paper with my printer at regular resolution. The copy came out looking pretty good, but if I were doing this to build an army, I'd use heavier inkjet paper and a higher print resolution.

pages-inside

After printing, I followed the instructions in the book: scoring the line, gluing, then cutting. I did a quick job with a lousy pair of school scissors, but I still like the overall effect. With the investment of a little more time and some decent scissors, the paper models would look just first rate -- especially in ranks, as designed.

cutouts-small

The figures have paper bases for mounting, but I'd suggest gluing those bases to thicker pieces of wood or plastic for easy movement. I also wonder if there isn't some sort of sealer that would stiffen the figures without making the colors run. Mod Podge, for example, or an artist's spray sealer.

The Battle For Britain series looks like a great way to quickly build playable, good looking armies for the tabletop. Priced between $20 and $30 on Amazon, they are reasonably affordable, even when taking into account the price of the paper and ink. And based on my experience in quickly cutting out a stand of cavalry, I think you could build an impressive army very quickly.

I am definitely going to build a War of the Roses army. I may even get the English Civil War book. I have long wanted to have armies for both those conflicts.

 

Book Review — Tabletop Wargames: A Designer’s & Writer’s Handbook

tabletop-wargames

Tabletop Wargames: A Designer's & Writer's Handbook

by Rick Priestley and John Lambshead

On Amazon: Tabletop Wargames: A Designer's and Writer's Handbook
Publisher's Website: Pen and Sword

Every wargamer I know has at one time written a set of rules, to varying degrees of success. Some produced polished, well-thought out systems worthy of publication (and some I have tested did indeed make it to print). Far too many, however, have been awkward efforts lacking in one or more key elements, such as balance between simulation and game, logic, cohesion, workable probabilities, playable scaling,

For those with the latter sort of rules, Rick Priestly and John Lambshead have written Tabletop Wargames: A Designer's & Writer's Handbook. Priestly is the legendary Games Workshop designer. Lambshead is a computer game designer, editor and author for Games Workshop and Osprey and novelist.

Tabletop Wargames lays out issues that designers must resolve, and offer examples of different mechanisms.  The book begins with a discussion on the line between a simulation and a game, then covers gaming scales, probabilities, turn sequences, combat resolution, presentation, how skirmish games differ from larger scale games, point values, campaigns and scenarios. There is even a section with advice on how to keep the gaming language neat and tidy so that the rules lawyers do not have a field day.

The tone of Tabletop Wargames is conversational, and the book is laden with exemplars from rules sets that most gamers will recognize. It is a quick read, but has enough material to make it worth going back to for reconsideration when making critical decisions about your rules set.

One thing that I wish the authors had included is a checklist, or outline of things for rules authors to consider when moving through the design process. The elements for such a list are all there in the book, but because it is conversational, explicit points are often difficult to discern.