The Wargaming Compendium has just celebrated ten years since publication and I am delighted that it has proved to be so successful. Nobody could have predicted that thousands of wargamers around the world would end up considering it to be the ‘bible’ for the hobby, and I am extremely proud to have authored a book that so many consider to be authoritative and informative. You can read a host of reviews and comments on Amazon, where it has had well over 200 ratings and achieved an amazing average of 4.6 out of 5.
But, as anyone who has ever had anything to do with publishing knows, even such a mighty tome, when launched into a niche like (especially historical) miniature wargaming, does not make its author rich, and I have been funding the hosting of thewargamingcompendiium.com out of my own pocket for a decade. The time has come to cut costs and bring the content of that site here, where it can still be accessed by anyone who has purchased the book.
All the content is now free for everyone to access.
Wargaming is a fascinating, engrossing and exciting pastime that encompasses a wide range of different talents. In the course of pursuing his hobby, the average wargamer uses the skills of artist, designer, sculptor, illustrator, historian, librarian, researcher, mathematician and creative writer, as well as the more obvious ones of general, admiral or air marshal for large games, or perhaps lieutenant, commodore or squadron leader for skirmishes.
Not only is wargaming a pursuit which calls upon many skills, but it also covers many aspects of combat, spanning the history of our planet. With science fiction gaming, we plunge into imagined worlds many thousands of years into the future and a fantasy gamer, of course, deals with eons of imagined history, as anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings will know.
A wargamer may find himself recreating an encounter between a handful of adversaries one day, or a massed battle involving perhaps hundreds of miniature troops the next. Moreover, it is possible to play wargames that recreate warfare on land, on sea, in the air or, in the case of science fiction, even in outer space.
This book aims to demonstrate the wonderfully varied hobby of wargaming with miniatures, looking at the broad scope of what it has to offer as well as detailed explanations of how to get involved, including comprehensive rules for gladiator combat, Wild West skirmishes and the horse and musket era, as well as lots of advice for anyone new to wargaming.
Whether you’re a complete newcomer to the hobby, or a veteran of many years, you’ll find plenty in The Wargaming Compendium to entertain and inspire you.
1. Basic Concepts of Wargaming
– Understanding how wargames work
2. A History of Wargaming
– A brief overview of how the hobby has evolved
3. Choosing a Period
– A gallop through military history and beyond
4. Something to Fight For
– Creating battlefields for your miniature armies
5. Assembling Your Forces
– Planning, purchasing, painting and organising your forces
6. From Small to Large
– Duels, skirmishes, large battles and campaigns – with rules!
7. Shot, Steel & Stone
– A complete set of horse and musket era rules
8. Learn by Playing
– A small battle explained, and how it links to a campaign
9. Other Aspects of Wargaming
– Naval games, air wargames, roleplaying and more
10. Advice for the Digital Age
– Digital photography and blogging
– Books, museums, manufacturers, wargame shows and more
The Wargaming Compendium is published by Pen & Sword and is still available direct from their site in ebook format, on Amazon and other leading online and bricks-and-mortar retailers. You can still pick up hardback and paperback copies on sites like eBay.
The book is 520pp hardback and full colour throughout – there are more than 500 photographs and illustrations!
NEW! Playsheets for Shot, Steel & Stone. Really, this file is just a highly condensed form of the rules – I will be grateful for feedback and suggestions for true ‘Quick Reference Sheets’ containing the minimum required to play the game. As the author, I’ve realised that I’m rather too close to the rules to know what you, the readers, might be happy to leave off, which would normally be the stuff that you hardly ever use. My problem is that I’ve been playtesting using scenarios that deliberately throw up all sorts of odd situations, whereas your own games might be much more straightforward.
From footnote on p.69 – John Sandars Sandskrieg rules from Lone Warrior magazine.
From page 166 – elevation views for the sides of a stone bridge. Simply resize as necessary for your own games.
From page 173 – a generic European cottage in PDF format
From page 252 – colours for the British 9th Foot and French 34th Ligne
From page 258 – the gladiatorial arena
From pages 260-262 – the cards for Arthur Harman’s Habet, hoc habet!
From page 304 – hex paper for campaigns
From page 393 – extra army lists for the AWI (Loyalist/German and French)
If you have any questions about the book and its contents, by all means use the comments area below to ask them. I’ll do my best to answer as soon as I can, within the constraints of a very busy life as a magazine editor.
Please note that I am unable to answer questions about the availability or price of the book, nor can I comment on individual suppliers, manufacturers and so on – please direct such questions direct to my publishers, Pen & Sword, or to the relevant companies listed in the Resources section of the book, or the bookseller in question.
If you have questions about the rules contained in the book, first of all, please re-read the relevant section because in my own experience, I find I’ve often overlooked an answer that has already been given, but I’ve misunderstood it at first reading. If you still find that something isn’t clear, then please give as full an explanation as possible of the situation causing confusion. If necessary, a link to a photo can help me interpret your problem. I cannot, however, arbitrate disputes: just flip a coin or roll a dice and accept the outcome in the spirit of the game. If your query relates to the gladiatorial rules written by Arthur Harman, I shall endeavour to get him along to answer!
If you have general comments about the book, then the place for those is, naturally enough, on the “Comments” page.
The following questions came from Alan Butler in Tunbridge Wells:
Q: P377 Weapon ranges: What is the range of a battalion gun?
A: Well spotted – a footnote is missing which explains that battalion guns have the same range as Light artillery.
Q: P358 Armour classes: What is the point of Extra Heavy? It does does not (apparently) appear anywhere else except to slow them down. I would have thought it would give them a better save if shot at or in melee or in morale?
A: Extra heavy cavalry should move as heavy cavalry (5BW standard move) but I would suggest restricting extra-heavies to one charge in six moves, which may be just once per game depending on the scale of the encounter. Such cavalry would certainly not be able to gallop about willy-nilly. In the Shooting Modifiers table on p.378, add “Target unit wearing extra heavy armour -2” (pistol, bow or thrown only, otherwise -1 as for heavy armour, including not applicable to artillery). For Close combat procedure on pages 382-383, extra heavy cavalry throw 5/4/3 dice for impact/melee/halted or pursued, the same as heavy cavalry. In the Close combat modifiers table on p.383, add “Any troops fighting extra heavy cavalry -1”. This counts in addition to “Cavalry fighting cuirassiers”, since the extra leg armour worn by extra-heavies reduced vulnerable points even further.
[Note: the extra heavy cavalry category actually appears more or less by mistake – I had introduced them into the rules used for the second big game held in East Ayton, but forgot to delete the entry when finishing the book! “B-Day in Byzarbia” featured some units resembling Arabic cavalry with three-quarter mail armour, but of course there are other examples from the late 17th century to which the category could equally apply, such as the Austrian cuirassiers that fought against the Turks wearing long, buff leather coats, very thick tall leather boots and an open-faced helmet with nasal bar. The Polish winged hussars are an interesting case, because they wore steel vambraces and spaulders to protect the arms and shoulders, as well as a helmet and cuirass, but clearly moved at a faster pace, often used lances and fought in a looser order. As always in such situations, I recommend adapting the rules to suit these special cases and by all means report back to tell us how you got on!]
Q: P360 Unit sizes: Are you saying that you double the number of artillery models for ‘Old School’ size? If so, that is a lot of cannon models! Also, ‘Old School’ artillery would knock down BUA twice as fast, since you count models firing, which seems odd.
A: No. As stated in the text following that table and running onto p.361, the numbers of gun models given are the ‘old school’ variant, representing roughly one model gun for every two real ones in the battery. The ‘standard’ version is the more difficult: I would allow a single gun model for roughly every three or four real ones – the player can decide. See also “Troublesome artillery” on pages 26-27.
When using the ‘smaller but more’ units option, I recommend doubling the poundage of the model guns for the purposes of calculating the damage done to BUAs (see p.380).
Q: P378 Shooting at targets in BUA: I assume that you mean you target either the buildings at +1 to hit, or the troops inside at -2, but it does not say so. Clearly, adding 1 and then -2 would be silly.
A: Correct. If you’re targeting the troops inside, you suffer a -2 penalty because they’re tricky to hit. If you’re just blasting at the buildings, such as attempting to knock them down or lobbing howitzer shells into the general area of a town to set it on fire, then you get a +1 bonus.
Q: P379 Counter battery fire: If a model gun is hit by a shell and rolls a 6, so blows up, it says a unit within 1BW tests as if hit by another Hwz shell. But if the adjacent unit is infantry, none of the result like wheel broken, can apply, so what happens?
A: The infantry suffer casualties as if hit by a shell directly aimed at them at close range by one gun model. So the attacking player uses three dice (you don’t get an extra dice for canister) but you would get an extra two dice if the troops near the gun were in an enclosed space, such as inside a small for or walled enclosure. The attacking player then needs to roll 4s, 5s or 6s on those dice, plus or minus the standard modifiers, and the defender has the chance to roll 5s or 6s to save against howitzer shell as normal.
Q: Another point has come up, which looks like a possible typo, is the printed ranges for Medium artillery. (Chart P377) I was looking at the numbers and thinking that with a close range of 4BW, canister range was shorter than muskets, which might not be right, but then I noticed that the other artillery ranges, light and heavy, bands go ‘R’ then 2R then 4R. However the medium does not fit this pattern but has 4 then 12 then 24. I looks to me as if the short range should be 6, to fit the pattern (and also would give the right sort of canister effect v musket ranges).
A: Well spotted, you are absolutely correct: medium artillery should have a short range of 6BW.
Question from Iain Burt: should melees be fought to a conclusion in a single turn?
A: No. A round of melee is fought in the attacking player’s turn, but the melee might be drawn, or even if lost, the losers might pass a reaction test so the combat can continue next turn. Otherwise it would be impossible for fresh troops to reinforce a melee! As it happens, most melees, especially involving cavalry, are over quickly, but not always.
These have been spotted by me!
- There appears to be a bullet point missing on page 376 about shooting and woods. Insert: “Troops outside woods can neither see, nor shoot at, any troops more than 1BW inside the perimeter. Troops inside woods cannot see, nor shoot at, anything more than 2BW distant.”
- In “Shooting at a charge” on pages 378-379, a bullet point is missing: “A unit that shoots at a charge during the enemy’s movement phase cannot then shoot again during its own shooting phase next turn”.
- In the “Disruption” table on page 387, add “Unit retreated this turn”. (In other words, a full move retreating incurs 1DP, so the longer a unit retreats, the longer it must spend reforming or fight at a disadvantage.)
- In “When to test reaction” on page 387, the fourth bullet point should read, “it wishes to rally from retreat, rout or pursuit”.
- In the “reaction test results definitions” on page 391, at the end of the “Retire” definition, add: “Rallying from a “retire” result is automatic at the end of the move unless the unit is forced to take a further reaction test due to other causes”.
- In the Reaction Test Modifiers table on page 389, in the -1 column, the second row “Unit is…” table cell should read “Retiring, retreating or pushed back”.
- In the same table, in the +1 column, the third row “Cover” table cell should read “Soft or hard”. Whilst the actual protection afforded by soft cover is obviously less, it is still reassuring to be hiding behind the merest bush or fence as far as the defenders are concerned, because they know they can’t be seen as easily as if they were in the open.
The following observations come from Andrew McGuire:
p 38: You allude to Frederick the Great’s victories over “Austrian forces at Rossbach and Leuthen”. Frederick’s enemy at Rossbach was actually a combined French and Reichsarmee force.
A: Quite right, Andrew, a slip of the pen – I should have simply changed the word “Austrian” to “superior” or somesuch.
p 50: The paper figures and wooden blocks are attributed in the main text to “a man called West”, but in the caption the name is given as Webb.
A: Four people proof-read the book, but with 520 pages , it’s amazing what still slipped through the net! The wooden blocks one has really surprised me – of course his name was West! It even says WEST’S at the top of the box! [Shakes head in bewilderment…]
p 112 (middle caption): Focke-Wulf 190s are referred to in the context of the Battle of Britain, but did not come into service until a year later, in August 1941.
A: Quite correct.
p 121: ‘Spiderman’ should be Spider-Man, and not all the characters mentioned are Marvel creations, though it is not 100% clear whether this was your meaning.
A: Your correction is correct. Thank you!
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