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Subject: LOST BATTLES - Making a Good Game Better rss

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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Gentlefolk,

So I don’t waste your time in case you were looking for some serious philosophical insights from the CoffinDodger’s fertile brain, this is more a review of what I did to Lost Battles to make it look even better.

I enjoy Lost Battles immensely and have given it a 10 in my ratings. Why? I am a miniature player and this is basically a miniatures game with cardboard instead of metal figures. I had first purchased and read the book Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World before I had any knowledge of the game coming out and admired Professor Sabin’s style and his approach to using his wargame system as a study tool as well as for enjoyment. You could therefore say that I was already biased towards purchasing this and, as soon as it was announced, I put myself down for a pre-order. I then read up as much as I could on the form the game would eventually take and increased my pre-order quantity to two. Why? I shall endeavour to answer this in due course but first, a few thoughts about the game:


No game can purport to be a realistic reflection of ancient warfare. Any game is of necessity an interpretation of what may or may not have happened. Lost Battles is no exception but, to me, it comes closer to giving the feel of command than any other system I have played. And this is what Lost Battles is all about, commanding a force and taking responsibility for your decisions. It does not go into the minutiae of combat but rather simulates warfare at the grand tactical level. Now, I don’t intend to give an in-depth look at the mechanisms of the game in detail as this has already been done both positively and negatively by two reviewers for whom I have the greatest respect:

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What I do wish to do is take a look at the sumptuous components and what I did to make them look a bit more like a miniatures game. For this I needed two copies.

Three sizes of counter are supplied with this game and they are:


Large: 50mm x 20mm
Medium: 25mm x 15mm
Square: 20mm x 20mm


and therefore you only need to obtain copious amounts of bases in these three sizes.

I sometimes have trouble picking up cardboard chits (been biting the old fingernails ever since I had teeth, you know), so I wanted the pieces to have a bit more bulk and since there is no stacking in the game this is not a problem. I decided to make a sandwich with two identical pieces on either side of a piece of 3mm MDF. The wooden bases were cut for me by Martin Murray of Warbases.co.uk who is a true scholar and gentleman. He supplies me with all my bases for my miniature wargaming and did not bat an eyelid when I put the following order through:

20mm x 20mm x 3mm - 90 each
50mm x 20mm x 3mm - 72 each
25mm x 15mm x 3mm - 324 each


He must however have wondered what the hell I was up to.



Now, I have two complete counter sets that I intend to make into one so, when taking the counters from the sprue, I had to take the same one from each sprue and had to do it one-at-a-time; otherwise I could have finished up with the wrong top glued to the wrong bottom and for an expensive purchase, that would have stuffed up two sets.



I then glued the base and not the counters as the top of the bottom counter is stuck to the bottom of the base and the bottom of the top counter is stuck to the top of the base. Don't worry - it made sense to me and I was the one doing the glueing.

For the purists and pedants amongst you, it can be spelled glueing or gluing. I personally prefer the former. Especially from my point of view and station in life, it's a bit like ageing is aging... but with more dignity and aplomb.


An example of a glued base:


As you can see from the above, the same (one from each set) counter is glued to the top and bottom of the base so that you end up with what is in effect a single big fat counter that you could stand up if you so desired.


Above are the three sizes of counter with the wooden sandwich glued in place but not as yet painted. Did I say painted? That’s what’s coming up next.

The sides of the wooden insert and the cardboard edges of the counter were painted with two coats of Games Workshop Gretchen Green from the Citadel Foundation range and one coat of Acrylic Gloss Varnish from the Citadel Colour range.

It took a wee while to work it out but, Gretchen Green is the nearest match to the counter and tile colour. If you're daft enough to be planning this yourself, you'll need four pots of the green and two of the varnish.


You can see from the image below why two coats of the base colour are required. The first coat is almost absorbed by the wood. The final coat of varnish protects all the work.


I had no intention of leaving out the markers so the bases below were given two coats of black, red, white and/or Gretchen green and then one coat of acrylic gloss varnish along the sides. They now have a presence and a sense of heft. I particularly like the "Favour of the Gods" token so much so that I'd be loathe using it and so having to surrender it to the other side. All paints from Games Workshop.


Right enough, a true Geek would not be content with using just markers in Empire, he would use a combination of markers and pieces from Risk: Godstorm.


Well, one thing leads to another so I decided to give the tiles the same treatment:


The end result is shown below. Since the tiles have a decent depth, they can also be stacked to give a reasonable representation of 3D hills.


Sparta vs. Macedon at Sellasia in 222BC

And a wee close up:


I was asked by a fellow Geek what the purpose was in doing the above and I had to answer honestly:

It adds no extra features to the game - such as Fog of War.
It adds no extra rules.
It does not balance out lop-sided scenarios.


In short, it's just because I like the look of it and it is pure Geekery to give the pieces a certain heft and form. One could almost say that it is a homage to the game or, if one is less than kind, that the CoffinDodger has finally lost the plot and patiently awaits the men in white coats...

I'll let you make up your own minds... whistle

With kindest regards,


Jim

Est. 1949


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Yoki Erdtman
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Jim O'Neill, professor Philip Sabin's favorite customer.

Great work Jim, it looks nice.
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Gordon Watson
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Pyuredeadbonkers shake

Actually they look pretty cool - could you play with them stood up, as per blocks?

I like the stacked tiles to show relief as well.


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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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domus_ludorum wrote:
...could you play with them stood up, as per blocks?

Gordon,

Thanks for the kind comments. You could but, bear in mind that they have a disrupted side so, there wouldn't be any advantage to it in that it wouldn't give you fog of war.

Regards,


Jim

Est. 1949

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Kent Reuber
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I don't see a reason for gluing two sets of the tiles together, but I do agree that the battlefield is improved by giving the hills a 3D elevation.
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Gordon Watson
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oneilljgf wrote:
domus_ludorum wrote:
...could you play with them stood up, as per blocks?

Gordon,

Thanks for the kind comments. You could but; bear in mind that they have a disrupted side so, there wouldnt be any advantage to it in that it wouldn't give you fog of war.

Regards,

Jim

Est. 1949



I wasn't really thinking of 'fog of war' more the aesthetic for your miniatures feel - I guess the disrupted side would make that somewhat confusing.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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kentreuber wrote:
I don't see a reason for gluing two sets of the tiles together...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for the kind comments. To answer your question, I'll quote you from the review: "I sometimes have trouble picking up cardboard chits (been biting the old fingernails ever since I had teeth, you know), so I wanted the pieces to have a bit more bulk..." If you look through some of my other reviews, you will also find that I'm always tinkering with games - keeps me sane.

Regards,


Jim

Est. 1949

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Jim F
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I was really expecting to see miniatures in this one...
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Ashiefan wrote:
I was really expecting to see miniatures in this one...


Pay attention at the back, Jim.

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Totally awesome visual improvement of a totally awesome game !
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I had already been struck by the pictures of your mods in the images section of this page, so thanks for highlighting and explaining these further. We did get costings for using painted wooden pieces for the Empire game, but this would have increased the price even further for what is already an inevitably expensive game, so we went with Mark's beautiful counters instead. Anyone who prefers wooden pieces should be able to scavenge them from a Euro game - I once bought a second used copy of Karl-Heinz Schmiel's 'Attila' just because it has such nice wooden counters for such purposes.

Of course, the Lost Battles/Strategos system has always been intended for use with miniatures as much as boardgame components, and a couple of days ago we refought 1st Chaeronea at the big 'Salute' show in the UK with hundreds of 28mm figures on a 9' x 7' board. Some pictures should appear shortly on the Society of Ancients shows blog, where you can already see pictures of previous such Lost Battles figure games:

http://soa.org.uk/showsblog/
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Jim F
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oneilljgf wrote:
Ashiefan wrote:
I was really expecting to see miniatures in this one...


Pay attention at the back, Jim.



Children's birthday party...thousands of 'em...the hospitals on fire...only just recovering...wont happen again.
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Shaun Mather
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I have been eagerly awaiting some crazy gamers to fight super-sized with miniatures...I can't wait to see the pictures!
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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PsychoZulu wrote:
I have been eagerly awaiting some crazy gamers to fight super-sized with miniatures...I can't wait to see the pictures!

Shaun,

Check out the Society of Ancients site at http://soa.org.uk/showsblog/ where Professor Sabin regularly plays with wee sodjers.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

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Shaun Mather
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Yep...This is what I want, where do I order?
(Just kidding...)

Anyway...back to topic: Jim, your set looks fantastic, the thicker pieces are definitely a plus!
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Robert Stuart
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Hi Jim,

Have you tried using these counters to play an actual miniatures game with them (such as DBA)?



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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
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bob_santafe wrote:
Hi Jim,

Have you tried using these counters to play an actual miniatures game with them (such as DBA)?




Hi Robert,

I haven't tried that. When I play miniatures, I tend to use 28mm figures and concentrate on Louis XIV, Napoleonic and WWII.

Regards,


Jim

Est. 1949

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