The Society of Ancients Doubles Masters 2010
Originally set up as a 'series' of Doubles events around the country - indeed, Britain, by the time a Scottish round was added - the Doubles Masters been through a few years where some of the venues struggled to get a good turn out.
While lack of local organisers, lack of publicity, clashing with an increasingly busy programme of other events have all played their part, the solution applied this year was to focus the competition on a core, mid-year, event that has always worked and proved popular - the Oxford round (and 'home' venue for organiser David Fairhurst).
Although it is admittedly disappointing to lose the ambition of a nationwide series (and which thereby means everyone - UK at least - should have a Society sponsored event fairly near to them), this new strategy is, at least, reinforcing success - and Oxford is also a reasonably accessible venue (yes, it is south of Birmingham, but it does have good Motorway connections).
The Society of Ancients therefore actively sponsors the English DBA Open held in Portsmouth, the Northern DBA Cup held in Sheffield, Armati by the Sea (Bournemouth), Anderida Doubles (for which, after cancellation in Pevensey, there is, this year, a stand in event in Farnborough) which is FoG and DBM - and we award the 'sportsmanship' trophy at Britcon in Manchester. Adding Oxford for the Doubles Masters (also FoG) to that, we could get the net thrown wider ... but the spread of events and rules choices is not too bad. Of course there are numerous 'one off' donations we have made around the world, and the Championship is there for everyone to join in anywhere in the world (and we have entrants from as far from the Society's English HQ as New Zealand ...)..
Hopefully, this spread of events, rules choices, and locations will enable fellow members who enjoy wargames a fair chance of finding a Society of Ancients event they can enter, whilst enabling us to reach out to non-members and hopefully encourage them to join up.
(Hurly-burly ... how a typical Field of Glory game is resolved ...)
The event itself was an obvious success. We were at a new venue - the Wheatley campus of Oxford Brooke's University (about 5 minutes off the M40). Having just about squeezed everybody into Wolvercote Village Hall last year, the move to a bigger venue merited a full turn out.
To a FoG 900 point 15mm Doubles event (our bit) was added a Flames of War (Axis/Allied pairs) and FoG R singles options. Ancient and Modern Army Supplies/Donnington Miniatures joined us in sponsorship (See their website, here ...) and added some spending vouchers to the trophies and SoA goodie bags.
70 odd players entered, about half in the Doubles Masters. That was a good result, I thought: the venue was fully utilised but without the unpleasant intimacy we sometimes have 'enjoyed'. Chris joined me in the SoA team. We had a mixed bag of results but 4 very good games. I continue to enjoy Doubles as the more satisfying tournament format (whatever the rules) ... sociability clearly wins over competitiveness in a 'four hander' (and although FoG has its intricate corners, it is less fiddly and provocative than some of its predecessors).
Everyone seemed to be smiling, and the Umpires were seldom called (actually, I was sufficiently absorbed in my own games I'm not sure who the umpires were or if they were needed at all. I had a query about how disordering terrain applies ... so just asked a player on another table - and my opponent was happy with that 'second' opinion. That's Doubles, really).
(detail from the Ordonnance French army)
We could hardly have asked for more as opponents. We took Later Sicilian (an old favourite). Game one was against Ian Stewart and Jim Gibson with their French Ordonnance. Game two was also against French Ordonnance (doesn't matter how many times you throw Charles of Anjou out of Italy, his descendants will come back to haunt you I guess), this time Richard Bodley Scott and (Ancient and Modern proprietor) Damien Ranasinghe. Game three, happily still medieval, was against 100 Years War Continental (Kieth Pullen and Mike Urich) ... they would have needed to bring their stakes to fight against us. And our last game was against veteran Doubles combo Kieth Martin Smith and Wayne Dare. They had a Hellenistic army, so this was our only seriously out of period encounter.
We had losing draws in the first and last of those games; we got stuffed by Richard and Damien's pike-heavy Ordonnance in the second game (but we did sack their camp - that'll learn them!), and we returned that compliment to the English (who did not have any stakes) on the Sunday morning (except we didn't let them near our camp). All the games were closely fought and great fun - even when we were wiped out by the French it was through losing initially even combats, then failing more cohesion tests (said the steamrollered victim as he disappeared under the big wheel!).
We ticked all our player satisfaction boxes ... most of our games were in period, we sacked a camp (in fact, 2), killed a general and won a decisive victory (and, as it happens, not all in the same game!). We can't have been too far off a par result of course ... but both the score draws were against us.
(red markers mean routed, yellow fragmented, green disrupted - all the English units have one, and the Sicilian knights are pursuing long and hitting fresh troops)
In addition to the main results, we awarded a new prize - the Founders Prize - in recognition of the success of this long running event ... set up by Ian McNeil in 1992 (before the days of the BHGS) with support coming from Slingshot editor Paul Szusikiewicz (Paul and I played in that first year as 'team 14') ... with the event becoming the Society of Ancients Doubles Masters in 1993. By that token, next year will be the 20th campaign season.
Simon LeRay Meyer and Dave Saunders won the Founders Prize as comparative newcomers with a good approach to the game and a good looking Latin Greek army which fought bravely rather than grudgingly and provided plenty of entertainment.
Simon Hall and Terry Shaw won the Doubles Masters and the Alexander Trophy, Alastair Harley won the FoGR. Full details of the results will be posted on the BHGS 'Doubles' page shortly (here ... then follow the buttons) ...
Sadly, for Doubles, that's it til next year (but judging by this event, make sure you don't miss it in 2011) ... I'll have to see if I can get another game in the Northern Doubles before the year is out.
Tough call because of timetable clashes. I still have some further Championship games to play ... I am sitting out the competitions at Britcon this year (so, hopefully, no grumpy posts this year about wargaming at 8.15 am or missing out on that first glass of Rioja because someone insisted on playing the evening game at snail's pace ...) but have a Championship Challenge scheduled for the Friday. And there might be another slot, say 4 til 7 (plenty of time for Armati, or even DBA 'both ways') on the Saturday if anyone wants it ...
Claymore next, for shows, of course ... then Britcon, then a breather before The Other Partizan (5th September) and the Autumn schedule ...
Make the most of the summer ...