Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Book review - "Battle! Practical Wargaming" - Charles Grant

If I had a pound for every day I had this out of the village library when I was a teenager, I'd probably have had enough for a pretty decent metal Napoleonic army.

It is, unquestionably, a classic among wargaming books. For all that Grant's forces are the neutrally named RED and BLACK (always in caps, too!), and he's doing a heroic job with what's available to him in terms of 20mm figures and vehicles, it manages to capture the atmosphere of WW2. The rules are, I'd strongly suspect, the foundation for any number of descendants ... in fact, I often wonder what a family tree of wargames rules would look like in terms of what borrowed concepts from what. Certainly the rules my school club used for almost all my time there were clearly a linear descendant of Grant's, and when I later grafted infantry and air rules on top, they fitted the mould.

The three game recaps are classics, too: "Action at Twin Farms" has long been a particular favourite of mine, and the other two don't fall that far behind.

I finally bought my own copy two weeks ago - there's a decent second hand market in them, if you look around. It's one of those books that, somehow, it's better to own than just read, but if you're short on book budget, the whole book is available as a legal download from the NZ Meccano Magazine site, via here. Seriously though? It should be in every wargamer's collection if they have even a passing interest in WW2.

6 comments:

  1. How useful is it for scenarios and at what scale (squad/platoon/company/battalion...)?

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  2. Not to confused with Charlie Wesencraft's Practical Wargaming (available from the History of Warganing Project), which cover periods up to the C19.

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  3. Thanks Mike; I love free stuff... and Charles Grant is a calssic well known beyond the UK borders. The library of my local club (yes, we have a library too) has many of his original books

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  4. "somehow, it's better to own than just read"
    I couldn't agree more mate. It is one of the favourites of my collection of "wargames classics".

    The download version from NZ Meccano includes some previously unpublished material (i.e. not in the book) so worth chasing even if you DO happen to have a copy...

    Cheers,
    Millsy

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  5. Like most of the 'classics' this was from a time when resources for war gamers were a deal thinner on the ground. It has to be read as such, I think. There is much a modern war gamer would take issue with (he includes, by the look, just one type of MG and 1 type of martar), but that's fine, Mr Grant himself would not have claimed to have written one of the gospels. One can always adapt around what he does include.

    I like the book as much for its pictures as for the manner in which it builds up a game system for WW2.It was the pic of his battery (company) of SP medium artillery that was the inspiration behind my own scratchbuilds a year ago (see my blog: Archduke Piccolo).
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  6. Mike, thanks for sharing this. One of my favourite starting Wargaming books as well. I can remember, in the great age of UK public libraries, books like this, Charlie Wesencraft's and Donald Featherstone's Wargaming books being one of the main ways in finding out about the hobby. Great memories!

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