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"Why does the 18th Century attract "Imaginations" ?" Topic

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clibinarium11 Jan 2010 5:45 a.m. PST

There are quite a few people into 18th Century imaginary armies. For a while I didn't get it; I used to think it was a waste of effort on perfectly good Prussians, Russians etc. After a while I caught myself on, and saw the fun in it. Not my cup of tea, but I can see the freedom in making up your own world and uniforms must be liberating.

It struck me as odd though that you don't see it in other periods much. I'm not old enough to remember, but I get the impression that it started off with Grant's "The Wargame" and the current trend is a return, perhaps as a part of the "old school" trend, to that initial (very inspiring) book.
The 1700s offer a good template of small states, a particular mode of warfare that allows for their existence (and avoids anihilation by powerful neighbours), and relatively generic uniform styles, in which a small "imagi-nation" can comfortably exist with credibility.

But its rare to see a Napoleonic "Imagi-nation", or an ancients one etc (or maybe I'm missing them). Why is this? Would an imagi-nation be swallowed whole by Napoleon? (Though it could be one of his small allies easily). Are there so many ancient armies to choose from that no one need imaginary ones?
I suppose the question could be better put not as "why does the 18th Century attract them", but rather "why have imagi-nations not been used in other periods?"

NoLongerAMember11 Jan 2010 5:50 a.m. PST

In the 1700's there were still a lot of small states, petty Dukedoms etc left in what is now Germany, so plenty of room to shownorn extras in. By the end of Napoleon the world was a much more sensible, ordered and dull place…

I suspect the lack of them in Ancients was when the Army List/Competition Rules idea took over, before that there were plenty, look at Tony Baths Hyborea etc…

Porkmann11 Jan 2010 6:09 a.m. PST

I knew a rather accomplished water colour artist who had done precisely the above.

He had designed all civic buildings, terrain, social structure and military for a fictional 18th/19th Century country. This was done when he was a young man just after WW1.

Must have been 30 years since I saw the fruits of his labours but the impression has stayed with me.

Not my cup of tea but when done well it is quite something.

Plynkes11 Jan 2010 6:16 a.m. PST

One would have thought that the 19th Century would be ripe for it too, in a Ruritanian sort of way. That could be continued into the early 20th with Tintin-style imaginary Balkan states.

That's what I'd probably do if this bug caught me, rather than going with the three-cornered hat brigade.

Sloppypainter11 Jan 2010 6:31 a.m. PST

There are many imaginations in modern African gaming. The 17th and 18th centuries were still times of exploration and new islands and even chunks of mainland were there to be discovered…perfect places for small nations to grow. IIRC, the first imaginations I read about in gaming were done with Prussian/Russian/British/French 7yw armies just given different names but in the proper uniforms. It was an excuse to create a new campaign with funny names and interesting battles after the true period had been played to death. Kinda like a bit of hot sauce on an otherwise plain meal.

Grizwald11 Jan 2010 6:47 a.m. PST

The Colonial period is also a good one for imaginations.


The Gray Ghost11 Jan 2010 7:02 a.m. PST

Foe Me it's being able to paint the uniforms how I want them to look and to mix units from different armies together.

Dale Hurtt11 Jan 2010 7:03 a.m. PST

There are a number of reasons it does not work as well in other periods – and you site them yourself. It seems like the criterion for success are:

1. Combat cannot be deadly/produce a lot of casualties. Early horse and musket does that well. Leaves out Age of Rifle.

2. It cannot be set when devastation was thought of a weapon. This period was about logistics, supply wagons, etc. Napoleonics was foraging, ancients were scorched earth (many times).

3. There cannot be any big fish in the pond. That leaves out the Napoleonic Wars as a backdrop.

There are others campaign periods out there, as others have pointed out. AK47 is built around this idea. (I think it meets the "not deadly" criteria by making everyone shoot poorly and run quickly.) Tony Bath's Hyborian campaign was one of the first and that was Ancients and Medieval.

I have considered some of the other periods, but brought it down a notch, i.e. instead of nations, make it towns, tribes, etc. A frontier campaign in North American 1700's where large skirmishes occurred, that sort of thing.

Lentulus11 Jan 2010 7:14 a.m. PST

I have been considering it for 'WWII' in order to have campaigns where brigade-sized formations are not just a drop in the bucket.

Keraunos11 Jan 2010 7:21 a.m. PST

I would also add that the 7YW era unifoirms are pretty similar, so there is much more acceptance of changing the facing colours.

the armies were largely seen as the same, and they are much smaller than Napoleonic, but more professional looking than WSS and Malburian, with all those long fronted waistcoats and lace getting in the way.

And the Ruritania prisoner of Zelda thing is ripe for reimagining

Stavka11 Jan 2010 7:24 a.m. PST

It can be done in Napoleonic times, with a bit of- well, imagination!

I'm now in the process of painting figures for a Freikorps bent on liberating the hereditary lands of the Duke of Avenberg-Pfaffenhofen from Boney's clutches. Set in the "War of Liberation" in 1813, and inspired by the Duke of Brunswick and his "Black Brunswickers" .



I originally came up with it as a good way to make use of some "odds 'n ends" Napoleonic figures I had lying around, and the idea had a lot of appeal the more and more I thought about it.

Major William Martin RM11 Jan 2010 8:05 a.m. PST


First, long time no talk, how is your 28mm LoA range coming and the potential replacement of the Pendraken 10mm LoA?

Second, while it is certainly possible to create Imagi-Nations in other time periods and settings, there just hasn't been much of it except for the examples cited. Much of the current interest in 18th century Imagi-Nations came from both Grant's "The Wargame" and Young and Lawford's "Charge". The combination of an interest in "Old School Wargaming" and several individuals with large existing 18th century collections fed the idea. You can credit much of the current interest to gentlemen like Henry Hyde, Phil Olley, C.S. Grant, Stuart Asquith, Der Alte Fritz, Bill Protz, Stokes Schwartz, Ross McFarland and others. I think the internet has played a large part in this growth as well, as all of these gentlemen either host blogs or participate in community boards and blogs. Where 10 years ago or more, anyone interested in battles or campaigns with imaginary countries was just "the odd fellow in town", today he is just a few mouse clicks away from like-minded individuals with lovely eye candy for you to see and compare your own output and ideas to.

Also, at least in the Ancients and Renaissance arenas, the former prevalent tournament system using WRG burned many people out on imaginary campaigns and encounters. When every tourney you attended gave you the opportunity to see New Kingdom Egyptians facing Early Imperial Romans, or Vikings facing Hundred Years War English, or (pick a dynasty) Chinese facing Greek Hoplites, or my personal favorite (really happened to me), my 10th century Ghaznavids facing Aztecs (who didn't appear shocked at all to see elephants in their midst!).

One period/arena that I would think would create some interest would be the post-TYW period when the early nation-states were forming and breaking alliances and there were still many unemployed mercenaries to be had. Using the 2nd battle of the Dunes in 1658 as an example (I always seem to, don't I?), you had German mercenary regiments and Cromwell's 6000 New Model troops fighting under Turenne's French against a "Spanish" army that included Royalist English, Irish and Scots, German and Walloon mercenaries, and even Frondé Revolutionary French under the Prince of Condé. You can find much the same thing during the "Turkenkreig" of the same time frame when many of the Christian powers formed temporary alliances to defeat the heathen horde's, which themselves included many client states and allies.

Another arena, crossing into multiple time periods, would be Afghanistan/NW Frontier in the 18th and 19th centuries. You not only had the various small armies of the Prince's and Mahratta's, some with prominent European mercenary support, but the East India Company, the Dutch East Indies Company for a brief time, The French, "proper" English, Sepoys (loyal and otherwise), and the always hypothetical 800-pound gorilla, Imperial Russia. In the 19th century you can even add some hypothetical Prussian intrigue to the mix. You can even go pure Romanticism if you wish and base campaigns around Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" or "Kim", both of which are supported by great movies for inspiration.

Just my two cents worth, stretched to a dollar as usual ;-) Drop me an e-mail offline if you get a chance so we can catch up.

Sir William the Aged

cfielitz11 Jan 2010 8:10 a.m. PST

Back in the 1970s, I remember that I would see a lot of articles in the magazine Wargamers Digest that had Napoleonic campaigns whose armies were of fictional nations.

abdul666lw11 Jan 2010 9:05 a.m. PST

The fact is that 18th C. is the period par excellence of wargaming Imagi-Nations. TMP link
The 'Emperor vs Elector' collective blog bow has 80 contributors: many of them, being solo players, had to devise at least a pair of warring states, thus the 'EvE' League of Lace Wars Imagi-Nations gathers at least 120 different countries. On my own blog I have at least 40 other links to blogs at least partly devoted to at least one 18th C. imaginary country. By contrast, other periods seem less propitious: TMP link
TMP link
TMP link
TMP link

Why so? Of course one has to mention the two seminal books, Young's "Charge!" and Grant's "The War Game", where 18th C. wargaming is presented through the struggle of imaginary countries. But to stop here would be evading the question: why did these two authors choose the mid-18th C.? And thus, why do not a few 'hardboiled' 18th C. *historical* gamers embark on a 'Charge' project?

An obvious factor is the historical existence of 300+ states and statelets in the Empire: one doesn't feel 'sacrilegious' to add a pair of minor ones to that crowd. So much the more as many were actually involved in wars, e.g. by sending contingents (with a bewildering diversity of uniforms) to the Reich Army, or later by loaning mercenaries to the British for the AWI.

Miniatures-wise a point favoring the 18th C. with regard to imaginary uniforms is that the historical uniforms were (at least for the tolerant observer, and when viewed en masse from a distance) rather *generic*: tricorn, coat, gaiters for the infantry.. Thus an original combination of colors on a given 'historical' mini doesn't immediatly strikes as 'an historical mini painted in inaccurate colors'. Less so in later times, when the nationality of a soldier 'labelled' by his hat: flowerpot, frying pan or stovepipe.

Wargaming-wise, many Lace Wars rules sets spare us with 'national characteristics', and thus arguments about the characteristics of an imaginary army (more generally, Lace Wars gamers appear as a specially agreeable, polite and tolerant bunch).

And then, we often have an 'idyllic' vision of the Lace Wars, of a chivalrous, gentlemanly, hatred-free warfare: since we already are in a fantasy version of historical reality…

Then, Imagi-Nations are of course no restricted to the 10th C.: several creators of Lace Wars imaginary countries extend later their history to the 19th C. if not later. Then, a few wargamers create "directly' a 19th C. – 20th C. Imagi-Nation: link
As for Ancients, Tony Bath's 'Hyboria' is the best demonstration of a campaign involving fictitious countries: the setting of Howard's 'Conan', with Ancient / medieval countries picked from 20 centuries of history worldwide and appearing under an assumed name, is really an incitation to such endeavour.
TMP link

More generally, what combination of factors is propitious to Imagi-Nations?
- an area with a mosaic of numerous, not too well known countries,
- with a reputation of political unrest and latent or overt hostilities,
- where armies follow the military fashion of major powers, or use second-hand uniforms and material of major armies.

Thus among favorable settings, immediatly come to mind:
- South America, from the wars of independance to the present -Tintin's Nuevo Rico and San Theodoro, Spirou's Palombia…
- the Balkans and South-Eastern Europe, specially between the independance from the Ottomans and WWI (Ruritania…), then after the fall of Soviet Union (in our 'Real World'several minorities claimed the independance of their countries; recognized only by Russia),
- the Caucasus at the time of the Russian conquest or since the fall of Soviet Union,
- Sub-saharian Africa since the independance (Bongolesia often mentioned on TMP, also Khalisee: TMP link ; those countrie sfeatured in the 'Wild Geese' / 'Dogs of War' "mercenaries" movies…)

Yet the 'romantic' perception of the Lace Wars
TMP link
TMP link
makes them specially propitious to an evasion from strict 'historicity'. Wargamers in other periods seem to prefer 'What if?' / 'Alternate History' campaigns involving only 'historical' countries.

Musketier11 Jan 2010 9:17 a.m. PST

The greatest Ancients imagi-nations campaign of them LL actually predates modern wargaming: Tolkien's "The Lord of Rings"…

abdul666lw11 Jan 2010 10:07 a.m. PST

Howard's design 'Pre-Historical' Earth predates Tolkien's writings, and by the Hyborian Age was torn by war: Conan was succesively a barbarian warrior, a mercenary and a warrior king.
Occasional debates on (non-wargaming) Conan / Howard / sword & Sorcery forums on how to depict Hyborian armies with historical minis are as argumented, research-based and sometimes passionate as any Napoleonic thread here.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 10:17 a.m. PST

Jean (Abdul) has it right – the idealized vision of the 18th Century makes it a perfect place for imagiNations – plus, everyone had a pretty good idea of what a Nappy infantryman or an ACW infantryman looks like, but a Prussian fusilier painted with a black coat, red facings and white smallclothes looks just fine

Also, as noted by many, the armies were small in relative terms – as well, the fact that there were no "national uniforms" gives you a pretty wide range, even in your own little army

I have toyed with the idea of a 19th century ImagiNation using ACW Union uniforms in black with white or red or yellow facing, but I have yet to get off my duff and paint them

Jeremy Sutcliffe11 Jan 2010 10:27 a.m. PST

Why 18th C and not Napoleonic?

In a way Napoleonic is too well known whether because it figures more in History curricula or because of cultural exposure (film. fiction, TV) It's therfore harder to make an imaginaryconflict real in our heads.

18th C is more "mysterious". We know less about it but we have an awareness that wars happened and there were lots of small states so it's not too difficult to create some.

19th C does have a similar potential but is not quite as pretty. When I nosed into FPW I had an "Industrial Wars" thing in mind but it hasn't progressed yet.

Now what were those uniforms in "The Prisoner of Zenda"?

And besides Grant et alii have done 18thC to death.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 10:31 a.m. PST

One problem with imaginary armies in any era is "what do I do with them when I no longer want them?" Good luck with trying to sell French Napoleonic line infantry wearing green coats with pink facings. There won't be a market for those.

My solution was to paint my 18th century armies as actual Prussian and Austrian regiments and then give myself a fictional country for them to defend, in my own case, my Prussians are actually the army of Hesse Seewald, located somewhere in central Germany.

I could foresee extending this concept into the Napoleonic era with my 1806 Project. Does Hesse Seewald submit to Napoleon and become a reluctant ally, or does it fight the Corsican Ogre with the help of Prussia and Britain (good luck with that one too)?

I might eventually extend Hesse Seewald history into the mid 19th Century circa 1840 to 1871 and paint armies for the Schleswig-Holstein war, but have them represent Hesse Seewald and its implaccable foe, Saxe-Raschstein.

Another idea that I had was to go backwards in time to the 30 Years War and have the Duke of Hesse Seewald, Henry the Lion, fighting it out against one of the powers in that war. It would provide the "back story" for the development of the Hesse Seewald state in Germany.

Anything is possible, but keeping the actual armies historical is the way to go, at least for me.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 10:35 a.m. PST

And besides Grant et al(sic) have done 18thC to death.

I respectfully beg to differ with that statement. A whole new generation of wargamers are discovering Grant's "The Wargame" and Peter Young's "Charge" books for the first time, thereby creating a lot of interest in the 18th century. For those who are new to this genre, it is only the beginning and is being well fed by more and more publications from the pen of Charles Grant Jr and Phil Olley.

RockyRusso11 Jan 2010 11:14 a.m. PST


I have done imagineation campaigns with Hyboria as the excuse, with a 1889 variant and "counter earth"…and a friend has done a WW2 as well.

The question is more why now this "fad"?


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 11:31 a.m. PST

Having read all this, I really think that the only thing preventing 19th C Imaginations is the willingness to sit down and do the work.
In the case of my GASLIGHT 1885 "campaign", it is nothing more than painting up "armies" and making up a scenario. Some might want to put a leetle more effort into it, though. grin

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 12:39 p.m. PST

Part of the WWII reasons not to do 'imaginations' is the sense of 'size'. If one backs up a couple of years to the middle/late 1930s one can then find a smaller scale sense of weapons and such (like the recent and appears to be successful UK civil war set in the 1930s).

All the odd aircraft and vehicles that did not survive 1939/40, plus the non-motorized infantry of the period (including colonial troops), set in a miniature area of the a Balkan or China/Far East like area…


Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 2:45 p.m. PST

I think the charm of the 18th century, in addition to those factors listed above, is the simplicity of forces; horse, foot and guns. With some minor variations, most armies were of similarly organized. Add to that, centuries of royal match making that would guarantee support from a wide host of principalities or a major power with more horse, foot and guns.

The 19th century and the Industrial Revolution changed the balance quickly and simplicity changed to complex, local issues became secondary to global expansion. Couple that to the displacement of monarchies for the parliamentary process I would find it very difficult to become creative in world that became so well documented.

The 18th century offers enough "blanks" to let a fertile imagination run riot.


CorporalTrim11 Jan 2010 5:52 p.m. PST

Although very fond of painting 18th Century troops, I've steered clear of imagi-nations for reasons such as Alte Fritz's observation concerning the ahistorical units. Not to mention some of it crosses the line into silliness, "I'll see your petty duchy and raise you a "Margravate of Gross Bierfahrt". You'd think these tiny kingdoms would have trouble funding anything more than a handful of battalions.

But like you, clibinarium, I'm becoming reconciled to the concept, indeed I'm leaning towards creating an imaginary nation or two, but set in the WSS era, not the 7YW.

As to why it seems primarily an 18th Century thing, the question has been well answered above. I might add that aside from the issue of getting stuck with oddly painted units that can't be sold on eBay once you move on, depicting eras of entire nation states or civilizations at war probably requires a larger creative investment in a credible continent or world at war.

Not that this can't be done, witness the popularity of fantasy novels. But it's either adapt some existing framework such as Tony Bath did so skillfully, or create a new world from scratch: a more massive undertaking than say, inserting a small state next to Saxony. And without a growning network such as exists with the 18th Century imagi-nation blogs (or modern Africa), a creation outside the mainstream is more likely doomed to being an eccentric solo enterprise.


Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2010 9:01 p.m. PST

I've made a whole bloody world

Musketier..still interested in the Bear flags?…drop me a line for a chin wag or two..

Flat Beer and Cold Pizza11 Jan 2010 11:56 p.m. PST

No reason why one couldn't do this with, say, Classical Greece or the Successors. These two periods would be ideal for "Imagi-Nations". Thirty Years War should work a treat as well.

abdul666lw12 Jan 2010 2:32 a.m. PST

Now what were those uniforms in "The Prisoner of Zenda"?
A member of the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group
posted in the 'Files' of the group an *outstanding* 'History of Ruritania from the Late Roman times to collapse of the Warsaw Pact': "A 'personal' chronology of Ruritanian history (each to their own Ruritania …), with a bibliography noting uniform details".
A paper that, by its quality and 'seriousness', would not be out of place in an academic Journal -the author is indeed a professional university historian.

Probably relevant to this thread, when the author indulged in designing Ruritanian uniforms of his own, he choose to depict a Freikorps during the WAS / SYW period… :

PS: Timurilank is right to mention the simplicity of forces and similarity of armies during the Lace Wars. Indeed one can play good battles, and refight large historical batles (as C. Grant did for Mollwitz and Fontenoy) with only 3 troop types and no 'national characteristics'; in their composition, armies were almost mirror images of each other clothed in different colors. I did not mention it since it's for me a major appeal of mid-18th C. wargaming in general, but it indeed makes so much easier to design an imaginary army, you have only to chose the uniforms and flags. And it avoids any temptation / argument with regard to "Anglo-Russo-Prussian" 'supersoldiers' and gimmick combinations of troop types

Jeremy Sutcliffe12 Jan 2010 2:48 a.m. PST

Re "Now what were those uniforms in "The Prisoner of Zenda"?"

Scroll down to second picture

abdul666lw13 Jan 2010 1:18 p.m. PST

Why does the 18th Century attract "Imaginations"? Maybe it also owes something to the mentality of the 18th C. players themselves.
In other periods, the wargaming community is dominated by hyper-competitive players and rules lawyers; or is torn by feverish arguments, which sometimes escalade to flame wars, about essential subjects such as the color and use of bricoles, the pattern of the shako plates actually worn by the Nth Legere during the winter 1808-1809, or wether the fly buttons of the Mamelukes bored the eagle of the Imperial Guard.
Not so among mid-18th C. wargamers.
Maybe the simple and elegant warfare, the pageantry, of the reputedly chivalrous, hatred-free, secular, apolitical, non-nationalist Lace Wars specially attract kind, genial, gentlemanly, imaginative, open-minded, *tolerant* people?
TMP link

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2010 1:38 p.m. PST

abdul666lw wrote…Maybe the simple and elegant warfare, the pageantry, of the reputedly chivalrous, hatred-free, secular, apolitical, non-nationalist Lace Wars specially attract kind, genial, gentlemanly, imaginative, open-minded, *tolerant* people?

I was just going to ask if anyone knew of a ruleset to cover duels (sword or pistols).


French Wargame Holidays14 Jan 2010 2:48 p.m. PST

I have a 18th cent imagi-nation army using left over figs mostly, and bits and pieces that I buy from the brin and buy stalls.

If the day comes and I wish to sell the miniatures it will be as an imagination army along with the principality and all of its Hereditary titles!

I think the attraction is because so many minor states were in existance and relativly small armies were in the feild compared to the napoleonic period.

I have also seen 1970s african imagi-nations (several good ones on "The Guild")and ancient ones (one of the guys in the club has a Amazon army using Shadowforge females and has based them on a Spartan army list)and a dark ages army also.


I know of a ruleset "Where's my Second", I think I may have a copy somewhere, One of our Club members ran it at convention in Sydney a number of years ago now, it was card based with a D 10 dice, two decks were used action and result, very funny and not to serious though, and was more like a bar brall. Chris used 40mm Musketeers and Cradinals men from Eureka, is a lovely looking game to boot.


Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2010 6:28 a.m. PST


That sounds like the ticket I need. Are these of local make?


Supercilius Maximus15 Jan 2010 6:52 a.m. PST

Surprised that Renaissance Italy doesn't figure more in this genre of wargaming. Quite apart from the potential for pasta puns, there are landskencht/Swiss mercenaries, maritime forces, N African pirates….etc.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2010 3:19 p.m. PST

Actually, my Audencia de Caracas is modelled after, for the lack of historical detail, Renaissance Italy. Provinces north of the Orinoco are divided much like an Italian city and held by the various houses.

To keep the commercial rivalry in balance, alliances can be made between houses in the traditional manner (marriage). These can prosper or be shortlived when someone's honour (youngblood) demands a satisfaction. Hence the search for an easy set of rules for duels.

abdul666lw17 Jan 2010 5:06 a.m. PST

Rather inspirational, as 'unhistoricity' may go:
YouTube link
YouTube link

abdul666lw27 Jan 2010 2:42 a.m. PST

Recent threads here suggest indeed that Lace Wars are specially propitious to Imagi-Nations for a part because of the personality of the players.
(Some anti-correlation with the amount of lace? Even among 18th C. players, as one comes closer and closer to Napoleonic times, 18th C. wargamers seem more and more concerned (and sometimes argumentative) about the perfect historicity of uniforms and flags.)

When a Lace Wars player:
- fields Grenadiers Royaux with bearskins (without any supporting evidence, and against any likelihood) "because they look better",
- gives a flag to his converged grenadiers (against all evidence; but, being 'reasonable', a battalion flag from one of the parent regiment -from a 1st batallion actually, since this last still has the Leibfhane as alignement mark and rallying focus) "because an unit looks poor without a flag",
he gains mainly tolerant smiles and understanding nods.
The less and less so as the period played comes closer to the end of the century.
A possible 'harmony' between a wargamer's light-hearted approach of the hobby / global mental attitude / general tolerance and the nature of warfare during his favorite period: the (supposedly) dispassionate / gentlemanly Lace Wars contrasted with the cruel Wars of Religion before and Revolutionary / Patriotic Wars after?

Neither it is coincidental, I think, that 'hypercompetivity', while dominating Ancient-Medieval and (at least in France) Napoleonic wargamings, spared the Lace Wars…

Napoleons Marshal17 Apr 2010 3:54 p.m. PST

Ok, so I'm just learning about this ImagiNations thing and it's sounds like my thing. My question is: what rules do you use when fighting battles and is there anybody who plays in the DFW area? (I would hate to buy and paint guys knowing they would never be used!)
Oh yeah, and what scale/manufacturers do most use?

thehawk17 Apr 2010 5:24 p.m. PST

There are several well-known old school gamers that regard the Imaginations variant of the fictitious wargaming concept as something for the boys from Nancy (as Rene in Allo Allo would put it). Imaginations is a modern corruption of the fictitious or classic wargaming of the old days. These players definitely do not see themselves as part of the Imaginations camp. They have no interest in, as has been observed above, the silliness that seems to be a major part.
The original British authors were mostly ex-military. I can't see them spending much time giggling about the nonsense that Imaginations seem to go in for. It was essentially a man's game, something that seems lost on many of the Imaginations blogs. Very few of these blogs have any actual wargaming going on. They are all about what the ladies are wearing blah-blah-blah.
The main benefit of fictitious campaigns is the ability to set up problems that players are unfamiliar with and so increase the mental exercise. Players can try new tactics, organise armies with different horse:foot force ratios etc. New maps don't restrict the player to replaying historical strategies. Having one's own country increases the player buy-in. These fictitious campaigns are about applying military principles to new problem situations. And the humour is genuine wit, something like Jeeves and Wooster. Whereas Imaginations seems to be closer to script development for a Carry On Lace Wars movie than the fictitious wargaming that has existed in wargaming from day one. It was not done to play real world nations in the early and mid 20th century because events like WW1 were recent memories.

Dave Crowell18 Apr 2010 6:46 a.m. PST

Rules for Imaginations Battles: Any C18 battle rules that strike your fancy. There is no "official" rule set.

If we blog about matters other than battle reports, it is because few things are more boring to read than an account of someone elses game. We are instead developing the background and history, much of which is based on real world history cleverly disguised.

The whole process becomes an exercise in creativity.

Lace Wars and the accompanying "chess board of Europe" is a period particularly suited to this.

I have extended my own Imagi-nation foprward in time to the present day as a breakaway former Soviet Republic, used it for VSF, and primarily for GNW.

The chief requirement of period for Imaginations to work is a political map composed of numerous small states, with a fair slice of diplomacy and shifting alliences.

Sumerian city-states, modern Africa, 18th Century Europe, Renaissance Italy, Arthurian Britain, Heroic Ireland, and the Viking sagas all are good fits.

Periods in which there are large empires or unifying threats do not work as well. Thus Romans, Napoleonics and the World Wars are not good fits. It is harder to find room to stick in a fictional nation. Civil Wars, such as the ACW, ECW, RCW, AWI, or Roman Civil wars are also difficult.

That is not to say that periods which do not lend them selves well to Imagi-nations are barren of opportunities for creativity. Fictional commanders, campaigns, and fronts can easilly be added.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Apr 2010 10:17 a.m. PST

Another reason for Imaginations is that you have no preconceived ideas as to which country has the better army. This enables both sides to start on an equal footing. From there, let the battles and the campaigns decide which country has better soldiers and generals.

Personal logo andygamer Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2010 10:34 a.m. PST

Figure size is up to you, Napoleons Marshal, although most of the Emperor vs Elector crowd use either 1/72 plastic or metal "modern" 28mm figures or "old fashioned" 30mm figures like the RSM ones. And several cast their own figures with the Prince August moulds. A few use 15s or 6s although they aren't as well represented. (And there's nothing stopping you from using these sizes yourself.)

Rules vary between using commercial 18th Century rule-sets, maybe making allowances for any national characteristics, according to the player's or players' preferences (like Volley & Bayonet or Might & Reason for grand tactical games; WRG or the like for "Divisional" level games; and skirmish level rules).

There are also alot of Old Style Gamers featuring very large units of around 50 figures to an infantry battalion with (generally) singly-mounted figures using 1970's or earlier rule-sets like Charge! where units deploy, change formation etc. using individual figure movement.

And many use their own, homemade rule-sets.

BTW, doesn't Hyboria count as "the old days" for completely fictional campaigns?

abdul666lw18 Apr 2010 2:21 p.m. PST

Thanks to thehawk for his stimulating comments!

A minor point first,

The original British authors were mostly ex-military. I can't see them spending much time giggling about the nonsense that Imaginations seem to go in for. It was essentially a man's game, something that seems lost on many of the Imaginations blogs
an occasional 'tongue-in-cheek' tone is indeed present in the 'Founding Books' of 18th C. "fictional gaming" -and rather common in C. Grant's contributions to Tony Bath's 'Hyboria' campaign- but such a light talk is no way a characteristic -nor an exclusivity- of Imagi-Nation players.
And, btw, while 'Old School 18th C.' authors played with Imagi-Nations, not all Imagi-Nation players of to-day use 'Old School' rules or would define themselves as 'Old School' wargamers. Simply, Imagi-Nations are a facet of 18th C. gaming since 'the Old Days'.

With regard to the 18th C. Imagi-nations blogs, if you browse the 80-some ones associated with 'Emperor vs Elector', the diversity of approaches is extreme: from some contributors playing campaigns of continental scale, to some playing individual adventures of RPG / skirmish ('Gloire') level (and 'novelize' the AAR). Some post mainly painting and modelling reports, some the history of their imaginary country since the Middle-Ages. You are really outstandingly perceptive to be able to summarize in so few words such a diversity.

As C. Grant stressed in 'The War Game', playing a campaign with Imagi-Nations allows to set the scale / size / scope of the campaign / map / armies to the wishes and possibilities of the players. Then, to have a campaign 'balanced' at the start -countries with roughly equivalent resources, geographical 'vulnerability', equally good armies (those opposed in 'Charge!' or 'The War Game' are practically mirror images in different colors)… An imaginary army *may* have original flags and uniforms, an imaginary country requires a geography but may also be given a detailed history, a complex political situation, court plots and schemes… yet according to personal taste these facets is an enjoyable part of the creative process -or a chore, easily dispensed with.
Indeed not all 'Imagi-Nations' are equally imaginary! Some are 100% historical -in their geography, political system, flags and uniforms…- except for their name. Such are Bill Protz' Gallia (France) and Jim Purky's (Gross) Hesse-Seewald (Prussia) in their 'campaigns in Germania': thus, if *this* Frederick is a regular loser, the memory of the 'real' one and the records of the Prussian army will not be defiled. At the other extreme, some imaginary countries are totally fictitious, but as a rule have a strong, self-consistent at all levels 'personality'.

Some 'historically-minded' wargamers wish to oppose "What-if?" Nations to ('totally fictitious') "Imagi"-Nations: for instance, an independent, free Catalonia after the WSS would be a "What-if?" country (and thus more 'serious', 'respectable' link ). But all Imagi-Nations are "What-if?" countries, their degree of "fictitiousness" varying with the 'weirdness' of the "What if?" -and, for a part, with the age of the divergence from 'our time line'. Bill Protz' Gallia is a "What if?" SYW France, the "What if?" being no more than "What if France is also known as Gallia?". His Britannia is the equivalent Great Britain, with the additional "What if the Young Pretender attempts a new landing in Scotland sometimes after Culloden?". At the other extreme Neues Sudland and the Holy Mormoan Kingdom link , both located in Australia, are of course totally fictitious, but are also "What if Australia has be discovered and colonized during the 17th C.?" countries. Most 'Emperor vs Elector' "Germanic" Imagi-Nations are of the "What if, two centuries ago, some Duke or Prince had one more heir than historically?" countries: the only consequence being that, still by Lace Wars times, the patchwork of 300+ states and statelets that is the Empire has one more small member….

You mentioned ('serious'?) fictional wargaming as opposed (I guess) to 'historical' wargaming. But each and every wargame is a fiction: everywhen re-fighting any historical battle, how 'historically accurate' the OOBs, 'national characteristics', major leaders' profiles, initial deployment… the possibilty of an 'unhistorical' outcome exists (otherwise, where would be the interest to 're-play' the battle, anyway?). Such is inconsequential if the re-enactment was an isolated game; but if the encounter was part of a campaign, you leave 'our' history for an 'alternate' one -you enter a 'parallel universe' created by a very modest Big Bang: the 'different' outcome of this battle. Then the campaign unfolds with literally a life of its own, and the longer the campaign, the more divergences with 'real history' accumulate in a snowball effect, the more this fiction becomes… fictitious. This is totally unavoidable, in the very nature of the 'simulation'. And, if the historical campaign involved some form of Independence War, or simply a minor country annexed by a major power for some time, then from the onset the campaign implies the possible appearance of a "What-if" country. Nothing weird, 'freaky' here, such possible outcome is to be expected from the start -even if few die-hard 'historical', Imagi-Nations despising, wargamers really envisage this possible outcome when launching such a campaign!
Btw, even purely 'historical' countries may need 'what-if?' uniforms, if a campaign lasts long enough: had the French Empire survived to, say, 1825, what the French uniforms would have looked like by then?

A patchwork of small states, many not well known by the general public, is specially propicious to Imagi-Nations: such often appears after the fall and dismemberment of an Empire:
-post-Spanish South America (from the wars of independence to…, well, nowadays),
-post-Ottoman Balkans during the Victorian / Belle epoque period,
-post-Russian Northern Europe after WW1,
-post-Austrian Balkans after WW1,
-'decolonized' subsaharian Africa after 1960 (AK47),
- post-USSR Caucasus…
TMP link
Regarding the Interwars (1920-1940) period, an 'Emperor vs Elector'-like collective blog was launched a few weeks ago: TMP link
Two more -one for the ('not VSF') Victorian / Belle epoque period (say, 1860-1910), the other for the 'modern' (post 1960 in Africa and South America, mainly post 1990 in Eurasia) one.

TMP link
TMP link

abdul666lw19 Apr 2010 1:32 a.m. PST

the silliness that seems to be a major part [of the nonsense that Imaginations seem to go in for].

I will not dwell on how arrogant, haughty and presumptuous it is to call 'silliness' what you personally don't like / don't understand. May I remind you that, for most people, adults playing with toy soldiers look totally silly?
Very few of these blogs have any actual wargaming going on

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, *so what*? Does it make them less interesting and enjoyable for their authors and the readers pf similar inclination?
But actually it depends on how you define 'wargaming'. If you restrict it to re-fighting historical battles, yes, there is little wargaming in the Imagi-Nations blogs. -though nothing prevents their creators to 'play' some historical scenario (Quatre Bras, e.g. link ) as part of their campaign. But for most of us, wargaming is indeed playing battles -not only 'historical' ones- and a lot more. Wargaming implies to build (and paint) armies, to begin with: this requires some personal research, even if limited to collecting Xth hand sources summarized in pre-digested digests. On the average, Imagi-Nation builders are as learned, readed as their 'historical' counterparts, but they use this 'background knowledge' to work out a 'realistic' OOB, to design credible yet original uniforms and flags.

Now, if we are to nitpick about the content and appropriateness of words, I'd maintain that none of us is wargaming -because none of us is actually playing a WAR. A military campaign at most, and a war implies a *lot* of non-military activities: diplomacy -to gain allies or prevent the enemy from gaining more, to keep some foreign exchange market, spying, seafaring (through neutrals for a landlocked countries: but some resources have to come from oversea), combining cuddles and fisticuffs to have the war taxes voted by the Parliament, pampering the Church to have the war effort supported in the Sunday preaches… Even in the most elaborated wargame campaigns all this it at best grossly summarized. And, even in the most elaborated wargame campaigns 'between battles' activities are never 'simulated' with the same degree of detail as the battles themselves. Thus we are basically BATTLEgamers, not 'war'gamers.
For the sake of 'political correctness' the French battlegaming community went a step further, generally claiming to be 'historygaming', a designation even more inappropriate and presumptuous than 'wargaming: in the same way as there is more than battles in a campaign and more than military activities in a war, there is more than wars in History.
But, since a war implies more than purely military activities, Imagi-Nation builders who play (± RPG fashion) the missions of their secret agents or the Court intrigues and plots, are still 'war'gaming.

Our hobby is richly diverse, but one in the end. The main division is probably between 'serious' simulationists and 'light-hearted' *players* -call them 'respectable' and 'childish', respectively, if you wish -but it always boils down to – sententiously or merrily -pushing toy soldiers.


[these blogs] are all about what the ladies are wearing blah-blah-blah.

I know -and for good reasons- a blog where the blah-blah-blah is about what women do NOT wear (the [in]famous Monte-Cristan trikini…).
And I fail to see how such a topic is less of "a man's game" than debating whether Napoleonic Mamelucks' flies buttons beared, or not, the eagle of the Imperial Guard…

Grenzer2119 Apr 2010 5:54 a.m. PST

A wonderful defence of the Imagi-Nations Abdul, not that they needed defending in the first place of course. Well said sir.

Stavka19 Apr 2010 7:00 a.m. PST

Well said, Abdul.

You devote much more time to refuting The Hawk's rather presumptuous comments than I feel they deserve, but your reply is much better reasoned- and restrained- than mine would have been.

It was essentially a man's game, something that seems lost on many of the Imaginations blogs.

That one made me laugh out loud. Most people I know would say that about ice hockey or rugby, not pushing model soldiers about the table.

My confidence in my own masculinity has never needed the reassurance of having to game wearing a cardigan with a pipe dangling from my lips, whilst all the time engaging in Wodehousian repartee. Good grief.

Maybe we should start a new thread; "Which miniature wargaming rules best enhances one's sense of rugged manhood?".

RudyNelson19 Apr 2010 7:40 a.m. PST

The era is easy to do alternative nation building. In regards to campaign building, the arms types are limited, naval ships can be limited as well. Thus it is easy to design operational aspects of mi8litary and political mechancis.

Easy to use already painted troops or to go wild with various colors which normally be used.

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2010 9:47 a.m. PST

By the end of Napoleon the world was a much more sensible, ordered and dull place

To be fair we did get a NEW imagi-nation out of it

Oldenbarnevelt13 Jun 2010 2:39 p.m. PST

As to why no imagi-nations during the Italian Wars of the renaissance, you have to look at why imagi-nations are begun. I think it is because one gets tired of Prussia vs Austria or British vs French. It would be a bit difficult to have Prussia vs British or French versus Austrians. So, you create imagi-nations for variety.

In the Italian wars it was the French vs Spanish vs HRE vs Venice vs Pope vs French. At one time or another each of these forces fought each other. So it doesn't matter what force you field you can always develop a scenario against any other force. Also, my landsknechts which fought for France one time can be used to fill out a Papal army. And when you're done with the figures you can sell them for what they are: landsknechts.

A period which certainly lends itself to imagi-nations is the early wars of Louis XIV. You have just as many independent nations as the SYW plus no national uniforms. If you get tired of painting battalions with red uniforms, you can paint blue ones or white ones or grey ones. You can then field all these differently colored battalions in the same army.

When Copplestone came out with his Wars of Louis XIV figures several of us ordered figures for the purpose of building imagi-nations. We had nearly finished the infantry and were waiting for the cavalry and artillery. We waited and waited and waited. We are still waiting. It has been a year now since Copplestone promised the cavalry. We have all wondered off to other projects. Perhaps next year when Front Rank produces cavalry for their new Grand Alliance figures the Duchy of Gelderpuff will march forth to smash the Duchy of Sans Soufflé (not that they will be much of a challenge).

Duc de Limbourg12 Sep 2010 11:38 a.m. PST

As I have read Tony Bath I wondered if anybody goes as far as he does, building a total state with taxes, logistics, industry etc etc. Or do people just make a map with roads an use that (maybe some history of the ruling house but nothing else)
jan, DdL

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