Wednesday, January 30, 2008

...book review - Airfix Guide to the English Civil War..

..just a short update by way of a review of one of the recent purchases..

This book is number 28 (the last one) in the Airfix Magazine Guides series edited by Bruce Quarrie. The book was written by George Gush (author of "Rennaisance Armies 1480 - 1650" and who also wrote the WRG "English Civil War Rules")and Martin Windrow (who is better known for his books on more modern periods of warfare - especially WWII and Vietnam), and is 64 pages long...

The first four chapters take up 40 pages and offer a potted history of the war (cause, and timeline), and a summarised overview of the three main troop types infantry, cavalry, and artillery divided up into weapon and equipment types, and organisation and tactics. The section is pretty brief, as despite the fact that it is 40 pages long there are a large number of illustrations from drill books etc. some of which cover double pages... from my perspective, there wasn't a lot of information here that hasn't been written elsewhere and in more detail, but then that isn't the puprose of the book so is probably a little harsh - I did think that they could have cut back on some of the pictures.. for example, there is a two page spread from one of the 17th century drill manuals showing the sequance of movements for a musketeer to reload, but given the level of detail in the book, then a one page spread might have been better, with a concomitant increase in information??

Chapter five has hints and tips on wargaming the period so is the key chapter for me - it covers off

~ the manufacturers,
~ the required numbers of figures for a typical game (using the WRG 1:20 scale),
~ idea's for converting other Airfix figures (WWI Americans are best apparently as you can paint the puttee's to look like civil war era loose stockings, and they also have a wide brim hat...!)
~ quickly touches on campaigning - deals with march distances in a short paragraph
~ availability of rules

..before finishing off with a game report using the aforementioned WRG rules, with rules clarification throughout. I thought this was the nest part of the book, to be honest - it's always good to see events described, and the rules that caused the action. He finishes off this section with the army lists from the game, and some other sample army lists for the period (being WRG these are pretty heavyily comprised of "EHC, 'C class', pistol, close order" type comments!)

Chapter six was written by Martin and covers off the possible conversion options offered by the Airfix 54mm Collectors Series kits on musketeer, pikeman & cavalryman. Hints and tips on making the models, and two conversions - this section is more for the modellers than the wargamers..

Last of all there is a reasonably comprehensive appendix covering rules, books, societies, and other sources of information for the period... a lot of it now out of date unfortunately but the book list is good.

In summary; a handy little introduction that I'll keep in my book collection, but only because of it's classic hobby associations... very top level, little detail, but a nice little game description.

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