Miniature wargame sculptors Alan and Michael Perry are about as close to tabletop royalty as you can get. Formerly designers for both Games Workshop (as in Warhammer) and Wargames Foundry miniatures, they even snagged a cameo role as Rohirim at the battle of the Pelenor Fields in Peter Jackson’s (himself an avid historical tabletopper) Return of the King. They now run the relatively new company Perry Miniatures where they have designed and sold several exceptional lines of 28 mm miniatures such as Napoleonic or American Civil War. While most are in lead/pewter, the company is mostly famous for popularizing wargaming figures using plastic, a much cheaper alternative.
Bottom line is that Perry Miniatures are BIG business… Until now.
Yes, you can take it with you
Following on the heels of a successful American Civil War army pack, the Perry twins have gone small and at the UKs recent Salute 2017 convention introduced Travel Battle to the gaming world. In a nutshell, Travel Battle is a portable, 8 mm all-in-one Napoleonic wargame. The operative term here is portable, so don’t forget that. Everything is in plastic, which drops the price down to £50.00 (about $65.10 US).
Worth it? Oh Hell yes.
The box with handle and foam packaging are sturdy enough to be the container you carry your game in when you travel, and upon opening presents a plethora of maps, rules and a large number of plastic sprues from which you cut out all the pieces. Specifically, the game contains the following:
- 160 x Infantry Figures
- 24 x Cavalry Figures
- 4 x Guns and 12 Crew
- 6 x Brigadiers
- 2 x 10 inch by 10 inch 3D Terrain boards
- 6 x Buildings
- 2 x Forests with Removable Canopies
- 4 x Dice
- 1 x Set of Rules and Painting Instructions
The two maps themselves are segregated into 1-inch squares, molded in green plastic and have etched into the surface things like roads, fields and convenient little pegs by which you can drop a building or forest or two. The two maps are geomorphic in that no matter how you connect them the various terrain features will always line up. The forest models are particularly interesting in that they seem to be able to hide figures within, exposing them only if the canopy is listed. Personally, that’s not a bad way to go for my own projects.
The actual soldier figures come in two sprues of red and two of blue, the infantry molding several figures together as a single piece. The infantry all have shakos and assume a rest or march-attack pose, and a standard bearer is present. Cavalry comes as individual figures in two styles, the first being a heavy unit with crested helmet standing at the ready. The other is a chasseur or hussar type figure galloping. Artillery is single trail and comes in two pieces, the first being the wheels and axel with a gunner at the ready on each side, the second the actual barrel with carriage and a servicing gunner. Brigadiers are mounted on a rearing horse.
The rules are quite simple, based on a set produced by Mike Perry back in the 90s and are only eight pages long to including a painting guile. The contents include:
- The six troop types used
- Assembling and organizing your army
- Sequence of Play, to include Movement, Artillery Fire, Melee, Rally and Squares
- The Victory Conditions
- Painting Guide
There is a definite expectation that the owner will accurately paint both terrain and figures, and with this I must admit I am puzzled. The scale is 8 mm, and that kind of baffles me. In miniature wargaming the smaller scales are usually 15 mm, 10 mm and finally 6 mm for those folks who enjoy the challenge of gaming in Braille. This is pretty much a universal standard. But 8 mm? Why 8 mm? First, this does make them a little more difficult to paint. Oh sure, I know some bards who paint regimental button numbers in Fraktur script on Prussian 6 mm fusiliers, but I’m talking about humans here. Likewise, the removable terrain and the armies themselves could be used in other systems, but at 8 mm they are going to seem vertically challenged for 10 mm, but still massive for 6 mm.
Obviously this is a personal preference, but regardless and outside the fact the terrain is bound to only certain sections of the board, I’m pretty impressed.
A destination worth the trip.
Obviously the BIG selling point of this product will be its portability. You can take it practically anywhere, and while I wouldn’t suggest it be on your cargo manifest for a Bahamas cruise with the spouse (assuming you value your life of course), it’s a great way to get your tabletop fix when you’re away from home station.
But perhaps there is another, more important perspective that makes Travel Battle an absolute must buy for clubs if not for individuals. Consider what an absolutely marvelous way this could be to introduce newcomers into a hobby that continues to grey. For not too many shekels nearly every aspect of the hobby, from rules to terrain to figures to maps, are right in a person’s hands in a simple, compact and easy to use package. There will be no searching for map material or Styrofoam for hills. No need for every uniform book under the sun to paint uniforms. No need to buy forests and villages as separate packages from the company that produced the armies on hand. And the rules? They are only eight pages long to include a painting guide. Trust me on this one. If you are trying to introduce a brand new gamer to your tabletop kingdom with something like EMPIRE XXXIV Napoleonics, you might as well set the lad up with a shrink and prescription meds.
If I had any recommendation for the Perry’s for improvement, it would be to drop a few bottles of paint and some brushes into the box as well. That would really make this game newbie centric, and that’s a VERY good thing. Grognards like myself aren’t getting any younger, so it’s time for the Velites of the Guard to step up and step forward, hopefully with Travel Battle in their knapsack vice a marshal’s baton.
Suffice it to say, this is an excellent concept with even better potential.