Friday, 27 January 2012

Book review: Charles S Grant, "Scenarios For Wargames"

As promised, the even more awesome Amazon find.

One of the books I never managed to pick up when I was younger, but have kept seen being mentioned since I came back to the hobby - Charles S Grant's "Scenarios for Wargames". The major problem with getting a hold of a copy of this book is every one you see on Amazon seems to start at around the £40 mark (think that's bad, try finding a copy of WAB Age of Arthur - there's one going on Amazon for over £100!!) - I assume because it's rare, and out of print, and not yet being reprinted by John Curry or Henry Hyde (just kidding, guys!). While there are a scant few books I'd be prepared to pay £40, let alone £100, for, we're not talking wargames books, we're talking things like copies of Apollo astronaut biographies signed by the subject (which I did, for Charlie Duke's).

Hence, you can imagine my considerable delight, and rather rapid 1-click purchase finger, when a copy of "Scenarios for Wargamers" turned up on Amazon for £20.

If you're at all familiar with the original or the new Table-Top Teasers (I thoroughly recommend the Battlegames magazine collection of the latter, by the way, just as soon as Atlantic Publishing get them up on their site), you should know what to expect from this book. 52 carefully, in fact meticulously, planned scenarios (one for every week of the year), designed for (in most cases) as generic a pair of forces as possible, well balanced, with clear instructions. Most, if not all, presume on the services of an umpire. In short, they're set at a point between tournament battles and mini-campaigns.

Most of the scenarios are double page spreads, and I guess my one beef is that it's quite a stiff-spined paperback, I suspect exacerbated in my case by it being ex-library (are ALL second-hand wargames books ex-library?) and covered in plastic film. For a book like this, where being able to refer to it constantly helps, I wonder if publishers should take a leaf out of some music publishers book (as it were) and add a stiff spiral binding.

That aside, it's inspirational. I spent a long time flicking through it and going 'ooo, I could use that with...' (fill in as appropriate), and, in a way, it's like "War Game Campaigns": it's a book to get you thinking as well as to use. It's also a good testament to the fact that proper scenarios need preparation, and that the preparation pays off in an increased enjoyment, because you're now not just fighting the army that turned up across the table, but for an objective. If you want the things a campaign gives you (the 'why' behind your battles), but don't have the time, the space or the players, then well-written, properly plotted scenarios are for you.

Of which more, later.


  1. Are the scenarios for any period or specifically for a particular period?

  2. In most cases, they're as generic as it's possible to make them. A few (such as the airport and a helicopter assault) are obviously restricted, but generally, it just requires a bit of intelligence to work out some suitably balanced period forces. Things are generally expressed in horse and musket terms, but nothing too difficult to tweak.


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