Gamers are pretty imaginative lot and there are lots of things and people that inspire our gaming lives. It is one of the genuine pleasures of our hobby. Other gamers inspire us at clubs, conventions or tournaments. A metric-butt load of inspiration appears online, on facebook and blogs and beyond. Gaming companies produce more cool new toys and supplements than any budget can deal with. And there are books.
I love books, both novels and non-fiction and find gaming inspiration in both, in sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, my Cassino themed 28mm Bolt Action Germans came about because I was reading about Tobruk for some 15mm Flames of War Australians (a whole other post)! Having read a bunch of stuff on the Western Dessert campaign, including a nice volume from the Australian War Memorial (a series well worth checking out – the Vietnam is a corker), I wanted to understand a bit more the wider situation of the fighting in North Africa.
I found this one in a second-hand shop: Hitler’s Mediterranean Gamble It is quite long, so unless you are right into WWII strategy I suggest it may not be your (well researched) cup of tea, but it led me across the Mediterranean and up the Italian peninsula to the Gustav Line. I had heard of Monte Cassino but I didn’t realise just what a convoluted, drawn out basket case of an affair it was. I already had some straight up German Army dudes and a Stug III, so while the most famous of the German defenders were the elite Fallschirmjager, I went for a Heer regiment. A bit of google-fu and the 94th Infantry Division emerged as my Landser PBI.
But I haven’t finished with Monte Cassino and at 750 points, I haven’t finished with these Germans either. Two things happened over the summer, Black Tree Design had a sale and I did some more reading. To extend the army and to dial-up the Monte Cassino flavour I bought some Fallschirmjager (plus some A/T and some snipers). For reading I borrowed these two books (I love libraries): Monte Cassino Ten Armies in Hell and The Battle for Monte Cassio The first one is a better history for a wargamer with more information on the many battles around Cassino and the armies that participated. The second book follows several themes that provides some interesting depth but makes the book less useful if you don’t already know the story.
The upshot of this is that out of reading about Tobruk, I have ended gaining a deeper knowledge of Monte Cassino and created a strongly themed Bolt Action list (winning a Hanoswag prize for theme at both tournaments I have attended!) As I add to the points I want to keep the theme going, hence the paratroopers with the ultimate goal of building a competitive list even as I retain a strong theme.
All this reading has led to another project, of course. Opposite the Germans was a large coalition of nations. And I don’t have any WWII US forces yet. Do you see where this is going?