WAR-CHESS or The Game of Battle

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to read WAR-CHESS by Colonel Charles Richardson; thanks to Bob Cordery for the kick in the pants! His mention of this book in The Portable Wargame pushed me to look into the book a bit more.

War-Chess Cover

I am now in the process of reading the book, and will be trying out the game as well. This will be a slow read, as I try to fully grok the work and work out how the game might be played today. I expect that I will be posting a series of articles concerning this book and my efforts to play the game.

For an opening post, lets start with the beginning of the book, the first section is presented here as it gives a excellent overview of the coming games of battle…

Composition of the Game of Battle

The Game of Battle represents two antagonistic armies, one of which, the Attacking (or Invading) Army, is compose! of four figures, each representing a regiment of Light Infantry; five figures, each representing a regiment of Infantry of the Line; two figures, each representing a regiment of Cavalry; two figures, each representing a battery of Artillery; and one figure (a wagon), representing the ” Supply Train,”’ in which it is to be supposed is carried all of the subsistence, ordnance stores, etc., necessary for the maintenance and effectiveness of the army.

The object of the Attacking Army will be to capture the Citadel.

The other army, called the Defending Army, is composed of four figures, each representing a regiment of Light Infantry; five figures, each representing a regiment of Infantry of the Line; two figures, each representing a regiment of Cavalry; two figures, each representing a battery of Artillery; and one figure, the Citadel, representing a city in which are arms, ammunition, foundries, subsistence supplies, and all kinds of government property, which it is of vital importance to hold.

The object, therefore, of the Defending Army will be to secure the Citadel against capture.

Now that we have a picture of the opposing armies, we need to take a look at the battlefield.

The War-Chess Game Board:

War-Chess Game Board

And now, a bit of descriptive text, again directly from the book:

The board has one hundred and thirty nine (139) squares that can be occupied.

It represents a comparatively level field, traversed by a river impassable except at the fords and bridge.

In crossing the fords and bridge the figures move one, two, or three squares, according to their power, as elsewhere on the board. The short black lines indicate the entrances to the fords and bridge.

A figure cannot take, or check, another across the river, except at the fords and bridge.

In our next article we will look at: Rules of the Game of Battle

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The Portable Wargame

Bob Cordery, 2017
102 pages

This book presents Bob’s rules for fast-play war-game rules; where battles are played out on a gridded table-top. The rules are designed for a small footprint game; not everyone has the space for a large table, free time to paint large numbers of miniature figures or room enough to store it all…

In the first 11 pages we learn a bit about how the game rules came about as well as some history of grid based wargames.

The next 16 page cover; some basic rules and description of grids, lines-of-sight, arcs-of-fire and so forth. All well presented, perhaps a bit too much detail for the experienced gamer, but very helpful (well illustrated) for anyone new to wargames.

Next on to units and how to represent them on the table-top. This section is five (5) pages long with some good photographs. Not too detailed for the old guard and instructive for the new gamer. The one thing I do find lacking is a selection of recommendations for beginning army composition. I realize that there are any possibilities here, but new gamers may have a hard time deciding what forces they may need. Perhaps an added appendix, in a future editor, could help address this.

Before moving into actual game rules, there is a short (four page) section covering Bob’s design notes. This is a nice addition; something of the design philosophy is always nice to have.

From there we proceed with rules for the late nineteenth century, including colonial, battles. This section is well organized and should serve a beginning warmer well. Following the rules is an illustrated (includes numerous photographs) battle report.

Next up are rules for an early to mid twentieth century wargame. Again, well organized and followed by another (equally illustrative) battle report.

Sample from battle report

A bit about game play; This is an IGOUGO sequence game. Units are assigned strength points and each side has an Exhaustion Point (1/3 total strength rounded up) when reached will cause the army to cease offensive action. Turns start with an Artillery Fire Phase, followed by alternating unit activations (each unit may: move, move & fire or initiate close combat). Artillery fire is simultaneous; roll a die, apply modifies to obtain results. Movement, as iis all distances measured by grid spaces. For Fire Combat, attacker rolls a die and applies modifiers to obtain results. In Close Combat both players roll a die, applying modifiers to determine the result. Special rules for various types of terrain and transport are provided.

The battle reports are good and they are useful; a bit too long (nearly 20 pages fro 19th century and about 15 pages for 20th century) for my taste, but very informative for the new wargamer. I would think the space could be better used for example army lists or the like; much like the Army Lists section in the book: When Empires Clash.

Thus ends the main portion of the book. The appendix presents Some thoughts on war-game design and this is followed by a short bibliography and footnotes section.

I have enjoyed reading this book, I purchased the paperback and ebook (Kindle) versions. The book is also available in a hardback edition. The book is well illustrated, drawings and photos. I found the photos appear best when viewing the Kindle edition, on a color screen (Kindle Fire or Desktop computer readers). The printed versions is best for players, since the charts & tables are more accessible (as to be expected, give the limits of ebook viewers).

I recommend this book to anyone intruded in small wargames or in grid based miniature wargames. I would say that is is a ‘must have’ for the war-game student.

You can purchase a copy from either:

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/bob-cordery/the-portable-wargame/paperback/product-23048800.html


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1326904582/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_GI1KybVMDX5GG

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When Empires Clash

Bob Cordery, 2014
72 pages

This book presents rules for fighting small battles between European Colonial armies and their opponents during the period 1875 and 1910.

Game uses a gridded field (squares or hexagons) and small armies (typically 12 units per side); a points system is provided to facilitate creation of balanced armies. All measurements are in grid spaces. With games lasting a maximum of 12 turns.

In the opening of the book we learn of the authors motives for this set of war-game rules: a small game, fitting in a small space with a need to support solo play. The next 15 pages cover standard definitions and provides various explanatory diagrams and illustrations.

The general rules, designed with 15mm figures in mind, are presented over the next 10 pages. Here subjects such as points value, terrain, army composition and dice are covered. These are followed by the battle rules; how to fight a battle. These battle rules are covered in 16 pages; complete with examples.

A bit on game play; all measurements, movement and range are by grid spaces – no rulers required. Units are activated one at a time, alternating players until all units on both sides have been activated. Combat is stand vs. stand. for fire combat both players roll, applying factors and compare scores; attackers score must be higher than defenders or combat is ineffective. Resolving close combat also requires both player to roll, again adding/subtracting factors. Attackers score must beat defenders score to be successful; attacker will recoil if not successful.

The last section of the book, Army Lists gives examples of various armies. This is perhaps one of the most valuable parts of the book; points values are fine, but seeing some actual army list examples really helps.

Experienced wargamers wanting to get right into the game will likely skip many parts of the book while the beginning gamer will want to read the entire book. This is a good book for anyone wanting a small Colonial themed wargame, well worth your time and money!

Available from Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/…/when-…/paperback/product-21958958.html

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And now for something completely different…

OK, maybe not completely different, but ch-ch-changes none the less. The first thing you may have noticed is our new Header image and tag line

Table Top Talk
concerning war games and toy soldiers

Our new direction, perhaps not all that new, but a new [primary] focus at the very least will be a return to our roots; war gaming and toy soldiers. It has been far too long since I’ve been able to spend any real time on the hobby aspects of war gaming and soldier collecting. Starting now (OK, well maybe closer to early November) our primary focus here on Table Top Talk will be war games and toy soldiers. Our war games will be rather old school, or at least smaller in format (we still like big games with lots of figures, but finding the time for these becomes harder every day). Our war games are primarily miniatures games, but we also like board games, so we will also report on board war games as well as miniature based war games.

Our first task will be to archive all of our current content, and then trim down to articles that are still relevant. At which point we will begin adding new content and the shaping of Table Top Talk version 3.

You will be seeing changes on the HistoriFigs front in the near future.

classic war game miniatures and more

Look for an all new website with downloadable figure listings and content. Our full figure lists will be available for download. However, we will be trimming down the number of classic figures available for purchase. More on this as we move forward, our goal is to return to a more speedy production process, and we just cannot do that with the extensive number of figures we produce.

We were not gone, but we are back. Look for more updates in the coming days and weeks.

Rules Changes for Avalon Hill’s Civil War

Reproduced here is (the text of) a difficult to find and rarely seen errata card for rules updates to the Civil War game published by Avalon Hill in 1961.


A. PREPARE FOR PLAY: Both Union and Confederate players begin with 6 Pawns each – Confederate, only, may place his pawns adjacent to the North/South border line.

B. RIVER MOVEMENT: Neither player is allowed the additional movement ALONG river lines.

C. HOW TO WIN: Confederate player wins if he: (1) Avoids the Union condition of victory, or (2) Captures any TWO Union replacement centers and retains OCCUPANCY (undisputed control NOT necessary) simultaneously for the two following consecutive months.


While not an accurate simulation, this game provides a nice distraction now and again and frequently finds itself on our game table.