Sorting through boxes on Lockdown Day #whateveritis, I came across this 1987 Military Modelling A5 supplement on wargaming written by the late and sadly missed Stuart Asquith.
The colour front cover shows an enviable set up of a wargames room with shelves full of figures, a fine games table and some impressive pointing out of stuff by Stuart to the “younger generation”, youngsters who need such a free supplement explaining wargames. One day hopefully I will achieve this adult stage.
Being on furlough, I don’t have my usual office access to scanners so some rough photos will have to surfice for now.
One reason this booklet survived in my collection through my non-gaming busy years is the Peter Laing “Eye Candy” photographs.
These are presumably of Stuart’s collection of Laing, as it features the Boadicca figure that Peter made or converted especially for Stuart. This figure is mentioned in Stuart’s excellent Comfortable Wargaming article.
More Marlburians, the unusual period figures with which Peter Laing launched his 15mm range in the early 1970s.
Jacklex figures and gun conversions, including traction engine models and river launches built by Stuart Asquith.
Gramodels are still operating https://www.gramodels.co.uk. I wonder if these “Jacklex EFSI” vehicles will one day be available again or if they are conversions?
Finally, some of those range of scale pictures.
Part of my unpainted Peter Laing ECW / 1745 collection was preserved for decades of house moves by the sort of plastic box that I received as a present around this time – inspired no doubt by the photo in this supplement?
This box is still a time capsule or touchstone of my gaming activities c. 1986/7 with hair roller armies, Heroics and Ros / Skytrex 1:300, Platoon 20 and Peter Laing figures amongst the oddments. Worth an emptying out for a blog post one day as another fun “Unboxing” post?
Peter Laing 15mm collectors and fans can find those with similar interests on the MeWe Peter Laing site set up by Ian Dury when Google+ pages closed.
Aerial view of the skirmish area set out as in the Solo Wargaming book. Turn 1
My tribute to Stuart, using some of his former 15mm Peter Laing troops, is a small Ancient skirmish.
It is based on the ‘Wheel Meet Again’ scenario in his Guide To Solo Wargaming. The rules are based on his simple rules in his Guide to Wargaming.
Scenario 8 – Wheel Meet Again
“A lightly guarded convoy of wagons has run into a spot of bother. One of the wagons has suffered a broken wheel and had to be left behind with a guard by the rest of the convoy. On reaching their destination the scouts pass on their news about the disabled wagon. At once a relief column is organised, complete with spare wheel to put the wagon back in service and sets off.
Meanwhile the enemy is also interested in the immobile wagon and its small escort and decide to investigate. The wagon guard, on the alert for just such an event, open fire on the inquisitive enemy, hoping that relief is at hand.
This scenario is fought in three stages. Firstly the wagon guards attempt to keep their attackers at bay. Next reinforcements arrive and deploy to allow the wagon to be repaired. Finally the wagon and its new escort have to gain the safety of the eastern edge of the table once more. A moderately complex, three-part engagement follows and offers numerous permutations for the solo player …”
Stuart Asquith, p.74 Solo Wargaming (1989)
I am not normally an Ancients player but having picked up several years ago a 15mm Pict / Celtic and Roman army from Stuart Asquith and also other figures from online sellers, I have enough scraps of Egyptians, Greeks, Assyrians etc to field several different national skirmish forces.
The setting: Roman Britain – the Pictish wilds
A Roman supply column has left behind a broken down wagon with a few escorts, promising to send a relief force.
A small shadowing hunting party of Pictish scouts lurk to the Northwest.
The broken wagon is a fire cart, a blacksmiths cart, belonging to the Roman Army.
Stuart recommends a small ‘Wagon Guard’ force for part one, such as 6 archers (or musketeers in later periods).
A d6 is thrown to find out when reinforcements on both sides will arrive. In this game they would appear on Turn 5, Romans to the East and Picts to the West.
After playing the game I noticed that Stuart Asquith suggested that one d6 is thrown to work out which turn for the arrival of the enemy, two d6 for the arrival of the supply column.
There are several areas of uncrossable forest to the Southeast and Southwest and a passable rocky forest outcrop to the North East.
It takes two turns to fix the wagon once the Roman forces reach this waggon with the repair tools and a spare wheel. Repairs take the help of four men.
Phase 1 – Holding the Pictish Scouting Party at Bay
Turn 1 sees the Roman armoured archers spread out into a defensive circle, the Pictish scouting party spread out to the Northwest. The Roman archers land two successful hits at mid range and hit the two Pictish archers.
Without distance or range weapons, the Picts charge into melee – one Roman archer is killed and two more Pictish spearman.
In some melee situations, the +1 advantage of the armour of a Roman archers is cancelled out by being confronted by two Pictish spearmen +1.
Roman archers fought the melee with their swords, so are unable to fire this round.
With few Pict scouts left, we take a morale test to work out what the Picts will do. Roll d6 – 1,3, 5 continue for melee and 2,4,6 outnumbered, retreat. The Picts move into melee and being within firing range, the last Picts are quickly wiped out.
Turn 4 sees the Roman Archers regroup.
Phase 2 the Relief Column Arrives
The Pictish War Band and Roman relief column arrived on the scene at opposite ends. The Light Cavalry and Light Infantry head out ahead of the others. Roman archers take out a Pictish light cavalryman and archer. The Pictish archers miss their targets.
The Roman light infantry and cavalry ride up with the mounted office of the relief column to join the Roman archer Wagon Guards who fall back behind the wagon to join them.
In the ensuing movement / melee and fire turns, 2 more Pictish archers are successfully targeted by the Roman archers but the Roman mounted officer is killed by a Pictish archer.
Romans move first and the legionaries in the relief column reach the stranded waggon – the light infantry and cavalry on both sides clash in melee. Two Roman cavalry and two auxiliaries are quickly killed.
At this stage the Picts have a series of lucky dice throws, spelling disaster for the Romans. They slam into the Roman ranks, killing the last 4 Roman archers of the Wagon Guard.
The Romans are unable to fire their pilum short spears as their own men are out in front. Fortunately the Pictish archers are equally blockedfrom firing by the presence of their own men.
In the melee the Roman Eagle standard bearer and another infantry officer is killed. However the Eagle is quickly grabbed by another legionary.
As soon as the Romans can throw their pilums, six Pictish warriors are brought down.
Rule – only the first two rows can throw pilums.
In turn 8 the two front Roman ranks who have thrown pilums spread out to counter the Picts to their right. 6 more legionaries are lost in melee before the remaining pilums are thrown taking out three more Pictish archers and spearmen.
As the Picts move into further melee, 2 more legionaries fall – the Eagle is again grabbed to safety by the Roman officer – and 4 Picts are killed. Only one of the Pictish archers is left.
On the Pictish side, only one archer, a spearman and the mounted Pictish officer and one of foot remain.
On the Roman side, 4 legionaries, the trumpeter and officer with the Eagle remain.
The morale test – throw d6 1,3,5 to retire and 2,4,6 to fight on.
The Picts choose to retire, the Romans to fight on.
Phase 3 – The Wagon repairedand rescued
The Picts retreat and the Roman legionaries repair and recover the wagon, heading off to the East, wary of further Pictish attack.
A beer tribute to Stuart Asquith who watched over the whole proceedings.
Once the game was over, I raised a glass of WW1 anniversary beer to Stuart in thanks for all he had done for my hobby.
Sadly my last bottle of this 2014 WW1 anniversary Cornish vintage beer picked up on my travels hadn’t aged well in the bottle. I had picked up a couple of beer mats for figure basing from the pub after Sunday lunch after an earlier walk – appropriately drinking some Tribute beer.
Rest In Peace, Stuart Asquith – hope you enjoyed the game.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 17 / 18 November 2019.
My Solo Opponent for the weekend? Stuart Asquith in his 1988 Guide to Solo Gaming.
I was saddened by the news about Stuart Asquith’s death, whose funeral is on Monday the 18th of November. It has been good to read the many tributes to him by his gaming friends and readers, as his family have also publicly said.
One of these excellent books mentioned by Stuart is literally top of my list of Ancients research, Nils Saxtorph’s Warriors and Weapons of Early Times (Blandford Colour). Many of my childhood drawings were based on this book. Like the Asquith titles, my copy of this wonderful colour book came from my local childhood branch library when they started inexplicably selling off ‘old’ books in the 1990s (!) That was back in the days of reading Stuart Asquith in Military Modelling.
Choosing just one suitable small scale Skirmish scenario has been a challenge from the many ones in his Solo Wargaming book. One that I have looked forward to playing again is the ‘Stranded Wagon’ scenario 8, Wheel Meet Again, adaptable to almost any period from stranded oxcart of early times and Wild West waggon to broken down supply lorry or futuristic (but broken) cargo speeder.
When is the rescue party going to arrive?
Will the escort hold out long enough?
Can wheel repairs be done in time under the threat of attack?
Stuart’s stranded waggon scenario in his Guide to Solo Wargaming
Before I play out this Solo scenario at the weekend or on the evening of the day that he is put to rest on the 18th November, I need to slightly undo some of Stuart’s handiwork to turn these figures back to single basing.
I’m sure Stuart would be pragmatic about my adapting his multi figure basing to single figures. Stuart’s basing tips from his Guide to Wargaming are shown above, including beer mats that Stuart has used here.
Beer mats aside, some Beer may need to be opened and drunk in Stuart’s memory as well, on or close to the 18th November in spirit alongside my fellow gamers and admirers of Stuart’s many books.
I also want to fit in a 54mm game skirmish in Stuart’s memory soon, an unfashionable scale that he supported.
I shall post pictures afterwards.
The Click2Comic treatment of Stuart Asquith, Solo gamer!
And finally … my Peter Laing 15mm Ancient British Chariot Squadron which will probably not be appearing in this “Wheel Meet Again” Stuart Asquith Solo Scenario.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 15 November 2019
Preparing for an Ancients Solo Skirmish this weekend, a tribute game in Stuart Asquith’s memory, using Stuart’s very own old 15mm Peter Laing Roman and Pictish Army.
I bought these figures, which were painted and based by Stuart, from him via an online dealer about two years ago. I have yet to split or alter the beermat bases into individually based skirmish figures.
Before I do this rebasing (which mostly involves simply cutting the multiple figure beermat bases like the archers into two individual bases), I wanted to photograph them all together, under the watchful eye of their old commander for the last time.
The Picts have some attractive swirly body tattoo or body paint, along with some great command figures.
Elsewhere if I want to transform these into Ancient Britons, I have some old Peter Laing 15mm British chariots somewhere and some Assyrian and Egyptian ones – good for chariot racing games.
There are some attractive 15mm Peter Laing Pictish and Roman / German Auxiliary Cavalry and Mounted Archers. There is also a non-Laing Pictish C in C on Horseback
The Roman and Pictish foot soldiers are backed up by these colourful Peter Laing Pictish and Roman Cavalry.
Many of the figures have Stuart’s unit ID notes on the bases, which I will do my best to photograph and preserve as I split up the bases to individual figures bases.
The Peter Laing Romans are superb little figures.
There are also what I take to be auxiliary troops and some great Roman artillery.
I’m sure my fellow Peter Laing collector colleagues will help me ID with catalogue numbers some of these Ancients figures over the next few months.
I have other Peter Laing 15mm Ancient figures acquired over many years or dual use items from my teenage Middle and Dark Ages Peter Laing figures. Stuart’s Romans can take on (in Ancient future) my Egyptians, Greeks, Sea Peoples and others, even my Zulus. I even have a Peter Laing elephant with howdah somewhere!
I wish I’d asked Stuart for a bit of ‘commander in chief’ advice, as Ancients are a relatively new period for me, aside from playing rough games with my Airfix Romans and Britons many years ago.
However there are his many books to give me some strategy advice.
As well as Stuart’s very simple rules in his books (pictured), there are also simple Ancients rules in Donald Featherstone’s War Games (1962), which also has as an appendix my favourite ‘Close Wars’ Skirmish rules.
So still a little work to do to get my Skirmish game ready for Sunday / Monday in Stuart’s memory.
I have chosen a scenario from the Stuart Asquith book of Solo Wargaming.
The WW1 centenary (2014) ‘soldier’ beer is ready.
Preparation of the game blog post to follow.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 15 November 2019
It is often said that a man dies two deaths, once when he physically dies and second when he is past living memory and his name and works are forgotten.
Someone like Stuart Asquith with his magazine columns and books, along with the many figures he painted, will not be forgotten, at least not by a small band of wargamers of a certain age and hopefully younger people who discover his simple approach in his accessible wargaming books.
Beginners will not forget borrowing from branch libraries or now tracking down online his Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming, which had lots of entry level plastic figures and simple rules. I still have and use the local branch library copy that I borrowed as child, picked up cheaply when it was sold off by the library service.
Solo Wargamers will not forget his interesting book on the topic with some innovative solo games mechanisms.
Siege Wargamers will not forget his book on this unusual subject.
I really like his ComfortableWargaming articles with their laid back, enjoy your games approach with No Units. No Morale Tests: “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”
I never met Stuart in person but you feel like you sort of know somebody when you have read and reread their books and magazines for 30 to 40 years.
However in the last couple of years I was fortunate enough to be able to say a small thank you for all that he had done for my hobby.
I heard from Stuart after reprinting some sections of the Brian Carrick article Big Wars on 54mm gaming sections from the Battle For Wargamers Military Modelling Wargames Manual on my blog(s) as part of a discussion on 54mm garden gaming.
Stuart asked if anyone had a spare copy of this Manual magazine / annual as he could not find his own copy. He wanted to see a copy again but there were no second hand copies around. Not wishing to part with the original (a treasured gift from my Dad), I managed to photocopy it all and send it in a presentation folder to him.
It was my small way of saying thanks for all he had done for simplifying and inspiring my hobby over many years. I was happy to have given him a weekend of comfortable wargames nostalgia.
I was trying not to be a total fanboy but Stuart Asquith – the Stuart Asquith – had read my blogs. He left a comment on them and then I had a few emails from him.
Could I have imagined that as an 1970s 1980s Airfix kid pushing my plastic armies around a felt cloth on the dining room table?
The editor of the wargames bits and books from Military Modelling Magazine, Stuart Asquith was a giant in my Airfix boy eyes, along with Donald Featherstone. More important to me than any 1970s or 80s popstar, TV celebrity or footballer. (No, you’re right, that is a bit total fanboy but still …)
I was delighted and not a little surprised to hear that he was still enthusiastic and active in our wonderful hobby, cropping up on some of his regular gaming partners’ blogs. Hope for us all yet …
I received an appreciative email or two back from Stuart, who was also pleased when I let him know that his 15mm Peter Laing Roman Army and Ancient British Celtic armies were in good hands, mine, and still in use. Painted and used by Stuart, they now take pride of place amongst many treasured objects in my games room, still looking good after many years but awaiting rebasing.
They receive a passing mention of these very troops in his Comfortable Wargaming article in the form of Boadicea in her chariot that Peter Laing had specially made for Stuart, one figure that he had not parted with when he started downsizing his figure collection.
Amidst our email conversations, I mentioned the Wargames Manual’s general unavailability secondhand to John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, who started talking to Stuart about possibly reprinting the Wargames Manual as part of his long to-do list of reprints. John has already reprinted several Stuart Asquith titles. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/asquithandwise.htm
Thinking back to my first Osprey book written by him to help paint my Pater Laing ECW armies, Stuart’s 2019 reprinted ECW rules book ought to be on my Christmas list.
Tell it to the Bees …
Like bees, when their bee keepers die, I wonder if you have to break it to the tiny tin and lead men very gently that their painter and former (owner) Commander in Chief is no longer with us, gone to that Valhalla in the skies which is a bit like an eternal weekend of the Wargames Holiday Centre.
There, Stuart Asquith and Donald Featherstone, H.G. Wells and many of the wargames pioneers who are no longer with us are, I hope, having good natured arguments about wargaming in the afterlife and rolling the odd dice together …
Thank you Stuart Asquith, not forgotten, whenever and wherever a simple comfortable wargame is played and enjoyed.
Iremain proud to lead his tiny legions and tribes into battle with his blessing as their new Commander.
Blog posted by Asquith fanboy Mark Man of TIN, 4/5 November 2019
I noticed today a reference to these 1963 simple rules in Stuart Asquith’s interesting article in Lone Warrior’s free download articles. It has the wonderful article title of Comfortable Wargaming (now there’s a book I would buy if it had a title like that!):
It’s his Hook’s Farm / Little Wars style adaptation of Donald Featherstone’s 1963 Horse and Musket rules, adapted and made freely available with Featherstone’s permission. Well worth downloading and like the article, back to basics, simple stuff. Delightful!
As Asquith concludes, “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”
Today’s gaming inspiration: a vintage toy wooden wagon from our family collection.
It’s a bit bashed and bit delicate but crying out to be carefully used in a games scenario.
Will it be robbed by bandits?
What or who does it contain?
Does it need an armed escort?
Is it full of ammunition and supplies for a besieged garrison?
Will it explode if attacked with flaming arrows? (Too many western movies …)
Will it be used ‘fireship style’ to detonate next to a castle or town gateway or bridge?
Has it become detached from the baggage train?
Is it carrying prisoners or notorious villains to be rescued?
Has it cast or thrown a wheel and does it need to be rescued with a spare wheel and a wheelwright from the local town or castle?
There are two interesting scenarios – a medieval one, the Free Company and multi period Scenario 8 ‘Wheel Meet Again’ (excellent pun!) – involving wagons in Stuart Asquith’s excellent Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming published by Argus 1988/89, available online secondhand. A fresher, more recent revised edition by Partizan / Caliver:
This toy wooden waggon has a timeless look from medieval (Robin Hood) through Napoleonic to late Victorian and Wild West. It has charming moving wood ‘button’ sort of wheels and its driver is about 20 to 25 mm scale.
It complements well the old fashioned wooden toy soldiers packed in round boxes and straw, of which I only have one box currently all in red. A lopsided or one sided game!
Maybe I could buy or even make some more on a borrowed lathe!
Other superb waggons can be found in the ever useful Airfix Waggon Train OO/HO set from the 1960s, reissued a few years ago.
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I think Stuart Asquith (editor of a modelling or games magazines my Dad used to bring home for me in the 1980s) summed it up well when he finished his article part two:
“Note: There are no units, there are no morale rules.”
“If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”
Wise words indeed.
Stuart Asquith and Donald Featherstone both wrote short simple books on Solo Gaming. They have simple dice ideas setting up a quick solo game for random deployment of forces on both sides, delayed reinforcements etc which make solo games far more unpredictable … and more frustrating, fun or silly.
A growing vintage / nostalgia trend?
I’ve noticed whilst looking at games blogs and articles (in pursuit of vintage Peter Laing 15mm figures) that there is a growing vintage / nostalgia trend back to simple and silly enjoyable games including in the back garden, back to vintage airfix and http://vintagewargaming.blogspot.co.uk, back to my 1960s Featherstone books and 60s vintage plastic figures etc.
I think this is probably a reaction to the hobby games world getting too serious; After all it is “playing with toy soldiers” or the “tiny men” as they are known in my household.
Now that you could buy almost anything, any figures and rules etc for any period off the shelf, preassembled, painted if you have the cash (I think the same exists for model railways and scenery etc now too), maybe this is why there is this a “back to basics”.
Prince August and other home cast metal figures are fun to make in their easy to use moulds. Filing off metal flash has never been much fun.
However for simplicity I have been experimenting with some Silicon cake mould soldier figures using Fimo (safe, easy to use and sculpt / convert and paint) polymer clay (Sculpey in the USA) for a bit of fun. The mould was found online through Ebay and Etsy.
I’m sketching out how many variations of this basic cake decoration Fimo figure I can make with paint and a scalpel!
Having sketched out some different ideas in my notebook, inspired by different figures in toy soldier collecting and uniform books, I set out to mould and sculpt my first cake soldier miniatures for gaming.
Here are some rough toy soldier gloss paint early drafts.
Roughly about an inch high, they are incredibly lightweight and are painted quickly in suitably toy soldier gloss acrylic.
I still haven’t quite worked out what to do with the face finish. Simple eyes and heroic manly moustache are currently put on using illustrator’s fine point lightproof pigment pens. Not yet found the right gloss flesh acrylic.
With more practice the newest figures are getting thinner but if made too thin, I find that delicate items like rifles can fall off.
A little flock on damp gloss painted helmets and bases works well. A suggestion of camouflage! A little flock on bases also works wonders.
When the rifle fell off a green army soldier basic version, a conversion idea sprang to mind. This Ancient Warrior is equipped with a Fimo red cloak, a shiny thumbtack shield pushed through the arm gap. and the rifle carved away to be resolved by stout cocktail stick spear glued on.
Red Troops. Other variations include redcoats of different eras from tricornes to more 19th century field service helmets.
Blue Troops. As part of my wider imagi-nations games, the figures are not too specifically historically based. Some of these figures may suggest Union infantry of the American Civil War.
All ashore? Others with some hat remodelling and haversacks may suggest Victorian sailors or landing parties for colonial campaigns.
Using toy model boats (a junk shop find, handmade in Cornwall) works well for that toy soldier feel.
Backpacks or haversacks from coloured or painted Fimo easily get round the “flats” feel of these silicon mould figures, originally designed for sugar craft cake decoration or card making.
A variety of gloss paint or Fimo polymer clay base colour suggests modern infantry of different nations, habitats and camouflage.
Using different colour Fimo pressed into legs or head sections gives some interesting effects. Maybe a paratroop beret?
Troops For Lazy Painters
Another Fimo base colour, working with red Fimo or polymer clay, avoids the need to paint the whole figure and speeds up production ready for gaming. En masse they look like red guards, enemies guarding a secret base in some James Bond movie.
These were inspired by a rare red Dimestore lead “podfoot” figure from the USA of ‘enemy troops’ made during the Korean War period. Still need to finish painting flesh and faces on these faceless hordes.
The original enemy troop podfoot figure in James Opie’s Collecting Toy Soldiers book gave me a design idea, sketched out in my note book. Some of the designs are paint designs for the pirated copies of pound store party bag soldiers (based on pirated Matchbox American WW2 troops).
These Fimo home-made Warriors match in size some simple “party bag toy soldiers” at 6 for 20p (search online!) that I first spotted as freebies in “Combat Mission 8 vehicle kits” in a local garage’s party toy gift section! This gives some useful extra poses to paint or convert, once you’ve trimmed their cheap pound store plastic flash off.
I will post pictures of these polymer clay figures and others as they progress and go into action using my hex grid version of the very simplest Donald Featherstone “Close Wars” appendix two page rules from Wargames (1962).
I hope you have enjoyed the “work in progress” pictures and that you are tempted to pick up some polymer clay, a paintbrush or scalpel and boycraft or mancraft some of your own figures.
Watch this blog space for more “Cakes of Death” polymer clay warriors …