A Crazy Idea.
I first discovered the world of miniature wargaming back in the 1980's (when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), and by the following decade, I'd decided what would be my ultimate experience in the hobby: a grand strategic, multi-player campaign featuring diplomacy, economics, and battles on land and sea fought in miniature.
Easier said than done.
I'm one of those gamers who likes organizing, and running games even more than playing in them. Why? I have no idea.
Anyway, the obvious direction in which to pursue my dream seemed to be the classic Napoleonic board game "Empires in Arms". I'd played it a bit in the late eighties, and early nineties, but it soon became clear there'd be problems going that route.
One, is that the Napoleonic period features truly vast armies. To recreate every army, at a scale that would be meaningful historically, and visually, was an almost unimaginable task. Second, "Empires in Arms" tends to be a terrific game in theory, but less so once you let a bunch of gamers loose on it. It doesn't do a very good job of keeping players focussed on their nations' historical concerns and objectives. As a result, some very weird stuff tends to happen.
Stymied, I put the project on hold, and got on with the business of living.
Then, around 2005, I discovered the work of Sam Mustafa. I loved his first set of rules, a grand tactical Napoleonic set called "Grande Armee" and briefly considered resurrecting the idea of a Napoleonic grand campaign, but I still didn't have a workable board game to cover the strategic end of things, and found the prospect of designing a system to convert one into tabletop battles, daunting.
Then, Sam published a set of rules for the Age of Enlightenment called "Might and Reason", and, lo and behold, he'd included a system for plugging it into a board game, called "Soldier Kings", so as to enable players to run just the kind of grand campaign I'd been scheming to create for a couple of decades.
I bought a copy of "Soldier Kings" from Avalanche Press, loved it, loved it even more when I bought the expansion "Enlightened Warlords", and in 2008 I took a deep breath and started building the forces to bring my crazy idea (TM) to life.
I went through all Sam's army lists, and one-by-one, starting with (for reasons long forgotten) the Russians, began buying and painting 15mm miniatures (overwhelmingly from Essex Miniatures in the UK). In "Might and Reason" armies have a minimum number of basic units (usually your standard line infantry), and a maximum for other types.
I opted to build double the minimum for the basic units, and the maximum for everything else.
Regular Infantry units have 24 figures, Irregular Infantry 12, Regular Cavalry 8, and Irregular Cavalry 6. Artillery batteries have 1 gun, and 4 crew.
For the fleets, I discovered an excellent, highly playable set of rules called "Grand Fleet Action in The Age of Sail" by Alan Butler, and started investing in 1/2400th ships. I assembled about 100 vessels and then, as the ships are fairly generic at that scale, came up with the idea of transferring them to different magnetic bases each with labels to represent various navies, depending on the situation.
By the time I was finished, after various breaks to work on other projects (and thereby prevent myself from seeing tricornes in my sleep) I had not only about 100 ships, but a little bit under 8,000 pieces of painted Seven Years War figures.
If you've ever wondered what the latter look like on the table, here you go:
In mid-2017, a project that had lasted longer than the actual war itself was ready to get underway.
This blog will chronicle the recreation of what historians sometimes call "The real First World War".
I hope you enjoy.
GAJO Games (hosts of the campaign)
Avalanche Press (publishers of Soldier Kings)