Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Farnborough, 20th September

Society of Ancients Games Day
Sunday saw the first Society of Ancients gathering without an AGM - just a Games Day ... and an opportunity to meet the Committee. There weren't that many of us there, but this was a first toe in the water - and I guess it meant less hosting and more games playing for the Committee.

We had a 2000 anniversary game of Teutoburger Wald ... a long sorry march through the forests for Varus and his men. This was an impressive scenario modified Armati presentation in 15mm
In addition, there were try out games and Championship games. As well as spectating the occasional progress of Varus and his men, I got to try out Empire ... which I can highly recommend (it genuinely is quick to learn and seems to harness some of the global dynamics of the BC Imperial periods quite cleverly ... anyway, thumbs up to that ...) ... and I had a Championship game against Daivid Barnsdale (my Romans v his Carthaginians) ...

This was the Society of Ancients Championship 'reborn', of course - so I couldn't do anything quite so churlish as use the right Romans to face the threat from Africa - so, in fact, 2nd Edition Armati, Carthage Resurgent (WF)* fought Aurelianic Roman (A2)*

It proved a tightly fought affair ... Daivid learning Armati as he went, me paying insufficient attention to my own army as I explained to him the nuances of his! I had the legionaries deployed wide (their more vulnerable formation confronted by Hannibal's warbands ..) .. and only just survived the onslaught (with the lost of one eagle ...)... The game turned on a cavalry melee area.Armati cognoscenti may recognise three mounted units here, all one BP off being broken (that means whoever loses next time is removed ... draws will not count as mutual destruction does not happen. The Spanish must fight each Roman unit individually - and have not been 'spooked' by the camels ...) .. And yes, if the Carthaginian breaks both Roman units Hannibal wins .. if the Spanish break, Hannibal loses. Ignore the little dice (they mark three fatigues per unit .. so everyone is tired!). The big blue die is the Carthaginians rolling a very powerful 5! The Roman Auxiliary cavalry fight first .. a 6 wins the game, a 5 squares the melee, a 4 sees them break and leaves the Spanish odds on to see off the Camels next turn to win the game. They roll a 5! The Camels fight next and must roll a 6 to square the melee and survive another turn - they are 1 FV down, so are in a 'no win situation' against a 5.

OK, I'll move on - the Camels roll a 6, so the whole melee goes another round ... and the Auxiliaries rout the Spanish and the Romans win the battle. Meanwhile, events elsewhere really did mean the Carthaginians did have to break both units in this melee to win the game (and didn't have much time to do it, either) ...

Excellent game, and a Championship win for the Romans. Ken Cooper took over my Romans for another bash, and deployed the Roman infantry deep to resist warband... a much more productive arrangement, even though (another newcomer to the rules) he did it without understanding the full implications... Fortuitously the (now overmatched) Celts were deployed directly to the Legionaries' front and got some very nasty treatment. The Romans dealt with their foes more methodically this time.

That said, I thought Carthage resurgent a better treatment of Hannibal's army than the A2 list (but that's a digression I hope the general reader will forgive) ...

Elsewhere I saw games of Field of Glory, Command and Colours and Maximilian, I think .. as well as Phil's Empire participation table which ran pretty much all day. Please give me a shout if there is something played this year which I have missed off.

As I said above, this is 'year one' for SoA moving on from an AGM based event to a general member invitational event or events, and was quite low key. It is a good base from which to start, and I hope more will come of this in future years. we are by no means restricted to a single event nor to the South of England ... so if you want a Society of Ancients member event in your region/country, think about how you would go about organising one and get in touch with the Committee.

Oh! ... and don't forget those Society of Ancients Championship games ... 3 more months to go, so get some games played and send results in to Bill - he's dying to hear from you!

* ... in parentheses, 'WF' signifies the list drawn upon one available free from Warflute, 'A2' signifies one printed in Armati 2nd edition lists section.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Newbury Racecourse, 12-13th September

Early September traditionally means Colours, and - for the main Society of Ancients Shows Team - the start of the Autumn events season. This is usually the point where the Summer projects reach completion. As often as not it is also a chance to visit trade stands for the first time in a while too.

Colours is a two day show, and the Society of Ancients usually gets the most out of the opportunity by changing presentations over the weekend. I guess you win some and you lose some: if you attend both days you get to see both attractions (sadly, one dayers will inevitably miss something).... But you can catch up here.

(click on the image to see a bigger version)

Also on this busy weekend, some visitors got their fist view (and try out) of the Society's new game 'Empire' .. a strategic game by Philip ('lost Battles') Sabin. Subtitled 'The Macedonian & Punic Wars, 350 - 150 BC', it is an easy play game for one to four players, simulating the struggle for imperial dominance between Carthaginians, Romans, Macedonians and Persians/Parthians from the 4th to the 2nd centuries BC. The game was distributed as a special bonus to all those 2009 Society of Ancients members who had subscribed for this year by the 31st of January.
(new SoA game 'Empire' by Philip Sabin)

It is now generally available to those who missed the cut (here ...).. On Saturday, David was able to run through a few turns with people and it seemed very appealing.

Saturday's big game was a full size Lost Battles encounter from the Persian Wars enabling visitors to play through the decisive events at Plataea in BC479, and the death knell of the Persian occupation of Greece. It looked excellent as ever.
Phil Sabin ran the games, with (Mardonius and Pausanias?) Eric Cruttenden and Alan Waller assisting the players on either side (and providing the splendid figures). The game ran all day attracting considerable interest both from intrigued newcomers to the increasing number of followers of Phil's Lost Battles project.
(Greeks on the move in the 'Lost Battles' Plataea game)

John curry and his team took over the display space on the Sunday for a participation game based on his innovative Medieval Siege rules (and indeed, as Slingshot readers may recall, his strange medieval wargame ...)... The strangeness in much of this is that John organises siege reenactments, role playing and combat games, and has put the experience from these into the wargames (rather than built them upon a long tradition of miniatures gaming, as is usually the case) with the result that there are many fresh ideas in the games which make more sense the more you think about them.

(John Curry's Medieval Siege Game)

That said, there is also a lot of fun to be had playing with the big toys, rolling the towers up to the walls, and moving in old school style from the table top to the interior areas as you clear the towers of their defenders. A lot of good ideas. Watch Slingshot for some follow ups ...

(once you get inside the towers, you transfer your figures to the (floor upon floor) interior layouts) ...

We can add John to the list of game designers who have run their own game on the Society display tables.

Elsewhere, of course, there was a wide variety of wargaming presentations on offer - perhaps the least usual of which was the regular author of this column taking time off from the Society of Ancients (and moving next door!). In co-operation with the Pike & Shot Society and the Battlefields Trust, I was presenting my 15mm Naseby game. You can find out more about the game and the project on my ecwbattles blog (here ...) ... but please give a thought to the work of the Battlefields Trust who are dedicated to preserving our historic battlefield from development and deterioration. There is still masses to do, and all forms of help and support count.
(renegades from the ancients display? Will Whyler commands the Parliamentary forces at Naseby)

The battlefield was a 'fold away' type built inside a pasting table - as first shown in trial form on this blog at Partizan last year. This attracted quite a lot of interest and will be fully explained on the other blog. The game was played to Armati ECW rules (a hybrid of Arty Conliffe's Advanced Armati and Armati 2nd edition).

... which permits the slick link to other stuff going on at the show, staying with Arty Conliffe games but moving to Crossfire. Look at all that terrain. Easy.
For more pictures of Colours, and some lovely ones of this, try here ...

I only got a quick chance to wander round - with my own game, the Society of Ancients stuff and that big desert game all together on the top floor (next to the Bring & Buy), I was clearly in the best bit already- but here's a few more snaps ...

I thought this current Middle Eastern City fight worth a click (there's something about flat roofed sun-baked buildings and shiny civilian cars that makes you know there's an Abrams or a Challenger on its way ...)... And there was a very big LRDG game ...

This was very impressive, but looked a little like Ad Hoc's Salute winning Benghazi game with the jokes taken out ... Seriously though this gateway looks pretty much like the Two Fat Lardies one, which looked a lot like the Ager/Hockley one (honest, it was them, guv - I only painted the insignia on the vehicles ..).. Did the desert airfields really look like this - or have participation game designers started perpetuating their own mythologies? Great game though, guys. Lots of nice models, and plenty of interest throughout the weekend. Did anyone knock over the boiling pasta in this game? Or is that an 'in joke'?

Lovely show as ever at Colours. Still attracting one of the best selections of traders, and one of these pleasant 'light and airy' racecourse venues. If you missed it this year ....

If you are a Society of Ancients member in the (southern, I guess) UK, don't forget we have an open invitation for you to a Games Day in Farnborough (Elles Hall) on Sunday (details in Slingshot). All welcome. I'm going to get a game of Armati with my Romans ....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Newark - 6th September

The Other Partizan

The Newark Irregulars host Partizan a second time each year at Kelham Hall, this time early September.

Thanks to Dave Lanchester of the Lance & Longbow Society for the admin at this show (we corner a little shared zone between SoA, L&L, DL books and a game which we hope suits both Lance and Longbow and ourselves). It seems to work.

Chris put together a little FoG number - a 'quick to contact' action from the Norman conquest of Sicily (maybe he'll post in with a little extra info on the historical background to this engagement): caught near a river, the Moors have little choice but to fight it out, and hope their numbers will count. I believe the forces were about 400 FoG points per side.

(Chris sacrifices his Moors to the greater good)

The action only takes about 45 mins. The Moors don't really have room to exploit their better manoeuvrability, the Normans steam in. The gamette quickly shows how FoG's combat and morale systems work (especially how to do the dice allocations and combat poas) ... the visitor, as the Normans, wins ... and enjoys having stopped off with the Society of Ancients. Everyone's a winner. Actually, that was pretty much how it turned out. Although the game was necessarily one-sided, what it did well was to show the mechanisms by which quality will overcome quantity in this game system (provided the quality - which in this case was close combat quality - can get to grips with the more numerous enemy ... which catching them against the river ensured).
(15mm Essex Arabs from Chris Ager's Moorish Army)

There were a lot of Ancient and Medieval games at Partizan again. Many Warhammer/Warmaster in flavour. In the same room as us, the Forest Outlaw wargamers from Mansfield were playing a Hastings scenario using a tweaked version of Neil Thomas's rules. As the SoA team also uses AMW, I thought I'd explain the little difference here. Looking to add in few more variables to an encounter where one side pretty much stays still, the game featured a card based activation sequence.

(units of 28mm figures based WAB-style in the Outlaws' AMW Hastings game)

Instead of each side taking a turn, then all that side's units shoot, then everyone melees ... each unit had a card, and when that card came out, the unit took a turn, did its shooting or melee etc. Obviously if two consecutive cards were the opposing units in a combat, you would end up with two turns of melee happening before anything else around them. And so forth - I'm sure you get the picture. It did seem to inject a fair amount of unpredictability without changing any of the elegant basics in the game. I don't know if they had a 'Turn End' card in the deck (the way Graham Evans usually would with a card activation deck) ... An intriguing and simple method, I think this is an idea worth having a look at.

I also enjoyed the Ottoman siege of Belgrade hex-based game (I'm tempted to say 'featuring a cast of thousands' see photos) .. so many figures I thought it must be Warmaster ... Actually it was based on the fantasy set Hordes and Heroes, which you can get for free from the Kallistra website (rules page here ...)

(Ottoman assault towers threaten the walls of Belgrade)


All show games can be made more eye catching by the addition of something big. Partizan can do big and eye catching. We always like architecture

(city scapes from the 28mm Pavia game at the other Partizan)

And even if the period isn't quite right for the Society of Ancients Shows North blog, we like armoured trains ....
(Russian Armoured Train deploying troops at Kelham Hall)

And, of course, like everyone, we like Elephants.

(1st Corps game of Magnesia, captured at The Other Partizan)

So, quite a lot of things to see and do at Partizan - and some interesting ideas on show even for regulars like me. Lots of trade, of course, and a rewarding show to browse. Shhh! ... Don't tell anyone, but this is in the East Midlands, too (so you can add free parking, friendly people and 'simple but affordable' catering into the mix as well ...)...

No need to wait til next Partizan to see us of course ...

Next outings are Colours at Newbury Racecourse
Saturday will feature a Lost battle hosted by Philip Sabin ...
Sunday a Medieval Siege hosted by John Curry ...

The Society of Ancients Open day will be at Elles Hall, Farnborough on the 20th ...

And the next Shows North outing will be Derby, where Graham D. Evans will be inviting visitors to have a go at Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Warfare (AMW) as Alexander the Great.