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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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May 13, 2021

Books that make me play games – Part 2 Historical Fiction

carrying on from yesterdays post where I shamelessly ripped off an idea from Jay Arnold’s Veteran Wargamer podcast  when I listed the top 5 Sci-fi and fantasy books that made me want to play games, here is part 2 Historical Fiction

as before this is not a list of my favourite books its just a list of books I’ve read that made me want to start collecting armies or playing games. also sticking to Jay’s remit these are all fiction and just are based in historical context.

so here’s the top 5

5 – George MacDonald Fraser – Royal Flash

I was a late convert to the Flashman novels but I’ve read a few of them and love the idea of this anti-hero who goes through life stumbling into various places and ending up coming up smelling of roses. Royal Flash was the first one I read and it’s stuck with me the longest.

For games I think we have to go with Sharp Practice by Too Fat Lardies as the narrative structure of the game just lends itself to Flashman in battle

4 – Stephen R. Lawhead – Byzantium

I’ve long been a fan of Lawheads work ever since I read The Pendragon Cycle in the 90’s, in fact those books almost made it into the last list except I wasn’t sure if they counted as fantasy novels or not (maybe I need another category for stuff like that) anyway Byzantium was listed as Historical Fiction and thats good enough for me. the book centers on a journey made by a 9th century monk to Byzantium and it really captured my imagination.

For games I would use Saga by Studio Tomahawk as it allows players to try out the different nations listed in the book and play some great games

 3 – Donald Bodey – F.N.G.

I read this book years ago and to be honest I don’t think any other Vietnam book comes close to it. The journey taken by the main character is sometimes hard to read and the emotional strain is understandable but its a great book and one I really recommend

For games there is only one candidate and thats Charlie Don’t Surf by Too Fat Lardies as thats the only game that gets onto the political situation of Vietnam (in my view)

2 – Homer – The Iliad

OK this was another book that I wasn’t sure fitted in this category as it is sort of fantastical in it’s form, but in my defense its based on a battle that might have happened at a site that we know does exist so I’m going to include it. plus its nearly 3000 years old and deserves a mention. I remember reading it about 15 years ago and I just wanted to recreate the battle on the tabletop, and even now that idea is still there.

For games I would use Sword and Spear by Mark Lewis for the big battle and maybe Of Gods And Mortals by Osprey (although I haven’t played that game but it might be a good fit)

1- Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Enemy

Come on did you really think I would go through a list without mentioning the Sharpe novels, they are a staple of any wargaming list and rightly so in my view. ok some of the ideas in the books are similar to earlier books and the hero always wins in the end, but for light fun reading in the Napoleonic period they cant be beaten.

For rules I would go for Sharp Practice by Too Fat Lardies its a no-brainer really

Honorable mentions

the only one I wanted to include in this list but didn’t was Conn Iggulden – Lords of the Bow which covers the life of Genghis Khan and was almost responsible for me starting a Mongol army.

tune in tomorrow list fan’s for part 3 where we chat about Comic Books and Graphic Novels

3 Responses “Books that make me play games – Part 2 Historical Fiction”

  1. Avatar June 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Another great list. I’m looking forward to the comics and graphic novel list.

  2. Avatar June 19, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    “Shogun” ==> Samurai DBA..

    Tend to find it’s films that kick off my projects more than anything else…

    Good thread(s)!

  3. Avatar
    John Michael
    June 19, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I was curious what you would come up today as your fantasy list yesterday had little meaning to me.

    But of course Flashman should be there, I was always surprised that RC did not call SP2 Flashman.

    Certainly hard to leave off the Sharp novels, as for me they were the impetus for me to start wargaming.

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