WD's Conference of Wargamers
The event of the year traditionally starts with a plenary 'ice breaker' game to get everyone into game playing mode at the start of the weekend. This year it was former SoA Treasurer Chris Ager's horribly named 'I thought I saw a Putty Cat' which had the assembly communicating covert operations by means of modelling the information in playdough and cut up paper. So it was mercifully quick and got everyone milling about and chattering. And a riveting weekend of wargames was underway again ...
There wasn't quite so much Ancients stuff this year. John Bassett did a very popular Roman politics game, Graham Evans ran the latest version of his Wars of the Roses game 'Trial by Battle' - and Ian Drury and Richard Brooks a combined session, also late Medieval, each presenting a battle (Faughart and Flodden) with Richard's rules (with the much imitated squared array and card activation).
I hope in both (all three) cases we can persuade the authors to share their different insights with Slingshot readers in the fullness of time.
Whilst all this was going on, I have to admit that I had slid out of period slightly and was playtesting a new version of my English Civil War Armati adaptations for the Naseby game I am due to run for the Pike and Shot Society at Colours this year. Naseby is my local battlefield, and 2009 is its appeal year (so I'm sure all of you will support me trying to do my bit for our constantly threatened heritage). You can find out all about my ECW project by visiting some new pages I am setting up for it (English Civil War Battles in Miniature) ... or if you want to go direct to the Naseby appeal, click this link ... You might even like to make a donation ...
Well, nearly all of this features unique rules mechanisms (Wargame Developments still proudly badges itself 'we write our own rules'), and the freedom that gives allows the event to offer (I'd argue) more games in more diverse periods than any other event in the world.
That said, it is also one of the few events where one can relax over a cup tea with our Life Vice President Phil Barker - whom, I'm sure you will be pleased to know, I can report is still lively and jovial (enjoying his wargaming and tinkering with mechanisms, as ever ...)...
My own weekend also included trying out Peter Pig's trial American War of Independence game - a variation on their very popular Civil War Battles system (all of which evolved from the innovative 'Bloody Barons' with which the other Medievalists amongst us are, I'm sure, very familiar ..) -
... an extremely absorbing battle on WWI's Eastern Front - not far off Tannenburg, it is fair to say ... (all players SoA members to boot!) and a map-based Napoleonic Operational game with Megagame Makers' Jim Wallman ... and also a couple of ACW games ... a Gettysburg boardgame and a skirmish/roleplay of the Great Locomotive Chase (surely you all know about that ...)..
This year, of course, the weather was good, and an event like COW allows some constructive use of the great outdoors. John Curry's Recce Game out on the lawn was an excellent example of something simple done well. We were using binoculars to spot (1/32 scale) model figures and vehicles over scaled distances as they lay in wait camouflaged in the undulations and scrapes of an apparently flat terrain. It was very tricky (see the pictures) ...
Of course, this is much easier for us than scaled observers and scouts (who would be down at the level of the vehicles).
Yes, they are dug in somewhere out there.
Click on the photos to get a better image.
The concealment was all pretty innocent - all the kit was still in its plain green or grey dull plastic (and the figures were mounted on bare cardboard bases) ... nothing was actually camo'ed up or manipulated. Enjoyable and illuminating.
Here's more of the other stuff.
Bob Cordery has more COW reports and photos
on his Wargaming Miscellany blog.
Of course, I write up COW on the Shows North blog because we have a membership stand at the event. As usual, we took some memberships and distributed a few more games and publications (this is, in itself, something of an achievement ... so many members of WD are SoA members these days) ... not just because it is one my favourite wargames experiences in the year!
So a big thank you to WD and the organisers for extending us the space they do - and thanks to everyone who contributed their part to a great weekend. Well up to the standards it has set in recent years.