A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 29 October 2013



Those familiar with Swedish geography will know that this is a place in Borgholm, while IKEA regulars may know that it is also the name of a very small, simple digital clock, suitable for kitchens, kids’ bedrooms or for use as a travel alarm.

We bought one – I think it might have been about £3 – and then we left it in its box for a while, we were so underwhelmed by the thing. Eventually, in a slack moment, I unpacked it, put in a battery and checked it out.

Useful, inexpensive little gizmo for my wargames
Hey! – what a find. As it happens, I have occasional need of a timer for Commands & Colors games, not because I wish to introduce an element of stress into them but because one of the great attractions of C&C is that it can be relied upon to finish in a couple of hours, but I have one or two occasional visiting players who like to have a lengthy think while they work out how to play their cards, and sometimes the games become overlong and lose a little as a result – rapid play is one of the strengths of the C&C system, after all. It has occurred to me that setting a gentle time limit for choosing and playing a Command Card – maybe 3 minutes – would keep us all focused and keep things moving along without hassling anyone.

So for this reason I’ve been keeping an eye open for secondhand chess clocks – haven’t found one, and to be honest I don’t think a chess clock is what is needed – too formal, and too fiddly.

Well, the little IKEA clock solves the problem very nicely. It is a cunning design – as you rotate it and sit it on the different sides, it switches to 4 separate functions – clock, thermometer, alarm clock and countdown timer (putting the hourglass symbol at the top switches in the timer). The way this works is ideal. If you set the countdown timer to your regulation 3 minutes (or whatever), then every time you turn the device so that the hourglass is uppermost it starts to countdown from the 3 minutes. If you invert it, it switches back to the clock function, and next time you turn it over to the hourglass the timer will start counting down from the full 3 minutes again. Magic – it’s simple, non-threatening and no sort of extra hassle to use – when you’ve played your card, turn the clock over. Easy.

You can even keep an eye on the temperature in the wargames room. What more could you want?

I hasten to add that I am sure that similar devices can be bought (I am not a complete IKEA enthusiast) from other stores, but this one is a little winner – great. Ours is green, by the way, but – as you see – you can get any colour you want. 


  1. Wow, 3 minutes to play a card in C&C. I'm usually done in about 10 seconds!

    1. Yes, me too - especially if the cards are useless! If 3 minutes is a bit gentle, could always go for a one minute time-out, but it depends on the players!

    2. Sometimes, if the speed of play gets slow enough, it is not unknown for discussions of next year's holidays and all sorts to sneak in - then 1 minute becomes ten very easily.

  2. Leave it to the Swedes. . . a wild and zany people where clock innovation is concerned!

    Best Regards,