Octagons are not Hexagons or my DIY Games Workshop Lost Patrol tiles

Alan Tradgardland Gruber’s post on Skirmish Kokoda Trail rules from Lone Warrior magazine reminded me of a failed experiment of mine last summer.

Maths was never one of my strongpoints.

I have often found that drawing hexagons that interlink well is not easy either.

I found this out about twenty years ago trying to plan some hexes to make a D & D style random terrain jungle path to suit Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars forest skirmish rules in the Appendix to his first War Games book (1962).

These simple rules call for impenetrable forests and dead ends to paths etc. as Natives track down Troops in the cluttered terrain on the tabletop terrain, mostly collected from the garden.

My 2020 card and 2000 paper versions of hex lost patrol type tiles, these 2000 paper hex and square ones survived tucked inside the card ticket holder of my old branch library copy of War Games by Donald Featherstone.

Template tin lid, Sharpie pen for doodling jungle plants, ridged garden wire for stranglewort weeds
My DIY cardboard version of Lost Patrol hexes with green paint & Black Sharpie pen doodle forest

I discovered some interesting things.

Hexagons are not Octagons.

One of them has six sides.

I noticed too late that the toffee tin castle lid that I found at home, my sure-fire way to mark out rough draft cardboard hexagons, had on closer examination eight sides.

I was happily looking through the photo archive of original and DIY versions of Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol minigame (2000) on Board Games Geek. The game was reissued in a different form in 2016 and here is also a useful Skip the Rule book on YouTube video on the rules and tile placing in the 2016 re-release.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2268/lost-patrol

This difference between hexagons and octagons eventually explained why, as I tried to produce rough cardboard copy DIY version of the original tiles for Lost Patrol, that some curved path tiles and the ‘start’ clearing tile of six paths did not work for me. They did not copy across for some reason. It was admittedly quite late in the evening that I was roughing this out.

I wondered why it didn’t work.

One of my family pointed out that my cardboard tiles did not tessellate properly without square inserts. Hexagons should fit snugly together without gaps.

Featherstone’s Close Wars Appendix to his 1962 War Games that inspired my first hex attempts on tiny paper c. 1999 / 2000.

Maybe I would find the answer looking at my tiny flimsy paper hex versions from the year 2000?

Putting numbers on the paper hex tile edges meant that using a d6 dice roll could help to place the tiles for solo play at random. Throw one d6 for the connecting tile edge, another d6 for which of the newest tile sides is connected. And so your path randomly grows before the game or as you travel … d6 dice roll by d6 dice roll.

Fast forward to 2020: Late one evening a few weeks ago I decided to have another go at a random forest path of larger hex tiles.

I had been looking at the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group on Facebook post on this attractive 3D DIY terrain hexes for Lost Patrol by Raymond Usher.

Raymond Usher’s solo 3D version of Lost Patrol

Obviously the attractive 3D terrain modelling would be more difficult to store than the original design of flat tiles but they looked very impressive.

Raymond Usher’s solo play ideas are very interesting including the random tile choosing tokens.

The interesting concealed enemy (originally ‘lurkers’) have the advantage that they can cross the jungle across country from tile to tile whereas troops need to stay on the paths, which are surrounded by impenetrable jungle forest.

The jungle grows around the troops and can even encircle them. Apparently it is very hard to survive and win in the original Lost Patrol game as the Marines.

Available secondhand online, Airfix Gurkhas along with the Australians, useful as jungle fighters?

The Lost Patrol type hex or octagon path could be easily adapted back from fantasy and futuristic sci-fi of “aliens and lurkers” back to other jungle encounters in colonial times, ImagiNations, Victorian and Interwar explorers or modern / WW2 jungle forces. This malicious forest has a strong fairy or folk tale feel to it.

The Original Lost Patrol rules by Jake Thornton 2000

Hulkskulker has posted the older unavailable Games Workshop rules for Lost Patrol (2000 version) online at the Trove.net – Copyright still belongs to Games Workshop https://thetrove.net/Books/Warhammer/40000/Tabletop/Dataslates%20&%20Supplements/Lost%20Patrol.pdf

Useful starter rules from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol 2000 version game design / rules by Jake Thornton – reprinted by Hulkskulker on Trove.net

Looking at Board Game Geek, now that the GW 2000 Lost Patrol original is no longer available at sensible prices, there are lots of interesting DIY variations that people have posted including using hex tiles from other games like this urban warfare futuristic game.

One of the many variants using other game tiles – Board Game Geek is a great visual resource for games design.

Very helpful Board Game Geek photos showing original and DIY versions of Lost Patrol.

The Octagon and Hexagon thing aside, these tiles were ‘doodle relaxing’ to draw up as rough tile copies. They could hopefully pass for alien forests or earth jungles.

The original Lost Patrol had ensnaring Tangleweed tiles that you had to dice to escape from. I used ridged garden wire to create my own renamed ‘Snarewort’ tiles.

In the original 2000 Lost Patrol, lurking forces of spirits of the forest were represented by card markers, an idea which could be cheaply and easily adapted such as card markers for the forest Natives in Close Wars / French Indian Wars. Forest spirits? Spirit warriors or ghost soldiers (Thanks, Wargaming Pastor / Death Zapp! ) are another possibility. That’s why your troops should never camp on the old Indian burial ground …

The route out or victory and end condition for the troops is to make it to the crashed dropship and retrieve documents. They do not have to fight their way back anywhere in the original. Presumably they get zoomed somehow out of the situation.

Again the lure or target such as the ‘drop ship’ plans could be adapted to period – a rescue mission, rescuing plans or vital maps and secret documents from a lost wagon or appropriate era vehicle. Explorer figures would have to find the Jungle Temple artefact Indiana Jones style etc.

Like the random path, where will this idea go?

Who knows? I could add or insert 3D jungle elements to the square spacer tiles but again this is a challenge for storage.

First off, I will explore Raymond Usher’s solo wrgaming ideas, read through the original and simplify it to my level.

If it doesn’t work it has cost only cardboard, paint, some ink and some time. I will have relearnt again some basic geometry. Hexagons. octagons. One of these has six sides.

Hex-ctagons anyone?

Watch this space.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN August 2020 / 12 February 2021

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

The Lost Patrol is also a 1934 film which looks promising for games scenarios https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Patrol_(1934_film)

Quick plot summary from IMDB, which also has some dramatic and stylish film posters for The Lost Patrol: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025423/

A World War I British Army patrol is crossing the Mesopotomian desert when their commanding officer, the only one who knows their destination [and mission] is killed by the bullet of unseen bandits. The patrol’s sergeant keeps them heading north on the assumption that they will hit their brigade. They stop for the night at an oasis and awake the next morning to find their horses stolen, their sentry dead, the oasis surrounded and survival difficult.

Alfred Lubran’s “Action” DIY wartime chess game rules

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Bright and colourful cover to this 1940s DIY toys and games

‘Action’ according to its creator or author Author Lubran  is a ‘thrilling’ war or chess variant game played on a draught board of 64 squares.

First make your own pieces; after all this is one of six games in his booklet, Let’s Make a Game!

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I can find no obvious publishing date on this booklet by Bairn’s Books, Imperial House, Dominion Street, London EC2 (B/300/16 68copyright printed in England) but the style suggests 1940s. The style of tanks suggests early British tanks, the Spitfire style monoplane and British soldier also suggest early 1940s.

The style of front cover is surprisingly bright but the children look 1940s enough.

The Do It Yourself scrap modelling “make your own games and toys” approach in the first place also suggests as war time shortages there were not many toy manufacturers in Britain left in production and obviously no  toy imports from Germany or the continent.

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Bretahless  prose in a jolly ‘Blyton’ style with a few wartime word clues.

In the introduction there are a couple of clues to its wartime origin – Lubran suggests that you: “Make the games … Share them with friends in shelters, billets, hostels, clubs, schools, hospitals, at home or wherever else they may be.”

Shelters and billets sound very wartime. He also suggests that “when the games become worn out or broken, save them for the salvage collector“, another wartime clue.

Pen knives, saws and hammers are required, so maybe this is something an older child or adult might make for younger children.  However in the 1940s no such health and safety culture existed and these would be within the capability of many a boy (or girl). When you see (below) where Lubran worked, it would be little problem for a boy to knock up these makeshift games with the right tools and materials.

Occasional copies of this 17 page booklet turn up on EBay. Most of this Educational and Instructional Series games in the booklet are quite mathematical and complex.

Players of Hex and Grid war games will find it an interesting version of what Donald Featherstone called Wargames as “Chess with a thousand pieces”

Behind this little booklet is an interesting story of Jewish emigration, wartime evacuation and a highly prolific author.

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Who was Alfred Lubran?

I can find no obituary or website for Alfred Lubran.

A UK Teachers’ Registration record exists for 1934-36 for his role as  his art and handicraft teaching at the Bayswater Jewish School  (now http://SinaiSchool.com ) and later Principal in The Jewish Orphanage in West Norwood, the building of which closed in 1963.

Part of its work merged with a Jewish organisation for learning difficulties, maybe reflected in some of his education / psychology titles https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwood_(charity)

During World War II, the children were evacuated to homes in Worthing and Hertford and the Jewish Orphanage building in Norwood was used by the London Fire Brigade as a training centre.

Alf Graham in his reminiscences recalls http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.movinghere.org.uk/stories/story249/story249.htm?identifier=stories/story249/story249.htm&ProjectNo=9

“In the winter months in the short evenings we had to pursue hobbies under supervision. There was a large choice like crafts, leatherwork, painting, drawing, and other things … It was compulsory to take up some activity. You were not allowed to opt out and had to stay with it once chosen. I must say that having a hobby of some sorts stayed with me for the rest of my life. I have never been without one.”

A photograph of the carpenters shop can be found at Jewish Museum of London Norwood files http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.movinghere.org.uk/stories/story249/story249.htm?identifier=stories/story249/story249.htm&ProjectNo=9

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.movinghere.org.uk/stories/story223/story223.htm?identifier=stories/story223/story223.htm

Alfred  Lubran, prolific author

As for Alfred Lubran (not to be confused with author Alfred Lubrano), apart from his  teaching role , appears to have been a highly prolific author and compiler of small press publications on an impressively wide and eclectic range of themes including words, the British Printing Society http://www.bpsnet.org.uk, Special Educational Needs, teaching, printing, world poetry, heraldry  and children’s poems and stories. He seemed very fond of the word ‘abecedeum’ in his many titles, maybe an alphabetical ABC compilation.

A family history search suggests he was born in 1913, possibly not in the U.K., married a Beatrice Bennister in 1949 and he died in Christchurch,  Dorset in May 2001. Lubran is quite an unusual name. Two other Lubran names crop up in recent times, the marriages of a Timothy Lubran and Robert Lubran. Possibly sons?

Assuming they are all the same man, there are currently around 108 Book listings for Alfred Lubran on worldcat.org

http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=au%3ALubran%2C+Alfred.&fq=&dblist=638&start=21&qt=next_page

Similarly he is well listed as out of print on Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alfred-Lubran/e/B001KCIHXE/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

and many limited edition copies on Abe Books.

Some of his illustrated early reading books for children such as I Can ‘Phone are published by Brimax in 1957. Many of these other prolific publication are short limited editions by his own private press Narbulla Press or Agency of London (anagram or spell Narbulla backwards and you get his name  ‘Al Lubran’) throughout the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s when Narbulla seems to have moved to 12 Fitzmary Avenue, Westbrook, Margate or Deal in Kent.

Margate incidentally was the holiday home area for the Jewish Orphanage in summer. He was then published by (his own?) Thimble Press of Christchurch, Dorset throughout the 1990s until 2001 where he lived until his death in 2001.

Lubran’/ prolific writing career seems to have taken off in the late 1960s, after his Jewish Orphanage school building closed or moved out into the community.

His 1980 book A List of Mini-Book printers in Herne Hill (London) is catalogued on world cat.org as “An advertisement for Lubran’s Narbulla Agency, which is the only firm in the list. Edition limited to 160 copies, “produced for distribution to members and guests at the Wynkyn de Worde Society’s luncheon.” This society http://www.wynkyndeworde.co.uk/# still exists, dedicated to the art and history of printing and typography. Other listings for Narbulla list it in the 1970s at 4 Stradella Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24, possibly where he lived.

Lubran has an impressive collection of letters after his name –  FRSA, Fellow of the RSA, M.B.Ps.S, Member of the British Psychological Society, M.R.S.T.  Member of the Royal Society of Teachers? and A.Coll.H ? Associate of the College of Handicraft  possibly?

Some of his ‘wordy’ books can be downloaded including this reprinted list (see link below) of the names for collectors of different things including the name for collections of ammunition, swords, bows, old guns, spears, muskets (Percussophily) and naval and military uniforms, Nautemephily and Sambatohphily.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/collectible-words/oclc/808392401&referer=brief_results

An impressively long and varied publishing career.

Who knows what Alfred Lubran would have done if he had survived into the Age of Blogging?

If anyone knows more about Alfred Lubran, I will be happy to add it as a postscript here.

More incidental hobby learning.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, October 2016.