Sunday, April 29, 2012

21st April, London, ExCel

Salute 2012

Salute seems finally to have grown into its relatively new home at ExCel in London's redeveloped Royal Docks.  Yes, the venue is huge, so the acoustics are not great, and flash photography can be tricky ... But it pays to  walk every aisle, and stop periodically to take another look around (there is often something you have missed - sometimes the very small games are excellent and the very big ones just very big) ...

The Society's contribution was a participation game of the First Battle of Chaeronea ...

(The Society of Ancients at Salute 2012: the 'lost battle' of Chaeronea, 338BC) 

... the Macedonian defeat of the Greek Coalition, reconstructed by Philip Sabin's team of Eric Cruttenden and Alan Waller, and run by Phil using his Lost Battles system.  It was, of course, Alexander's first appearance on the world stage, leading the noble cavalry in his father's army.

We know quite a lot about this battle - but by no means everything ... so it is an ideal battle to set up historically and explore the what ifs.

(click on the pictures for a bigger view)

(Chaeronea: detail: the Macedonian phalanx)

(Chaeronea: detail: Alexander leads the charging Companions)

The battle ran through quite smoothly, and as is usual with Lost Battles, was able to be played several times during the day.   Alexander rode to glory at the head of the Companion cavalry but the Theban Sacred Band proved very tough opponents and drove their way across the table.  And by no means a one-sided encounter if you take account of the handicap the Macedonians enjoy as the more powerful of the armies.

This year was a good year for ancients enthusiasts with a wide range of games across both the more popular scales.  I can well remember some years back at Olympia when the SoA game was the only pukka ancients game in the building.  Not so today.

How about this as a little trip round ...

Hail Caesar, HOTT, Field of Glory, Warlord, War & Conquest, as well as Lost Battles: there's diversity as well as quantity, these days.

(Hail Caesar - Uxbridge Gamers, Border Incursion)

(Border Incursion: detail)

Some nice 'massed' 28mm, and quite an effective use of 'cloth + scatter' type terrain.

(Field of Glory: Agincourt)

I was very pleased to see Donnington/Ancient and Modern's 100 Years War FoG game: this is a very popular, almost ubiquitous, tournament game - but rarely does it get demonstrated and profiled at shows.  For good or ill, games should always meet the wider audience.

(Deus Vult - Fireforge Games)

(W.A.R.  Warlord: Battle for Homs 1620BC)

(Lance & Longbow Society: Grandson)

Another splendid Lance & Longbow Society game (remember Verneuil?) - with an emphasis on the figures rather than the simple layout.  

There were also a number of Japanese games at Salute this year ...

I really liked the townscape in the Oshiro offering 

(Medieval Japan: Oshiro's Battle of Komagane)

Although there are some oddities in the cast, South East Essex's HOTT Kingdoms in the Dust is basically an ancients game, and I have seen it giving a lot of pleasure across a number of southern shows.  I hope they had a good day at Salute.
(SEEMS - Biblical HOTT - Kingdoms in the Dust)

Society member Rob Broom and his Bristol chums were also there with the Peloponessian War battle at Amphipolis (422BC), notable for the mortal wounding of the much-quoted commander Brasidas.
(War & Conquest: Battle of Amphipolis)

A great collection of games.

If there is anything less than positive to say it might be that although there were a number of imaginative and innovative approaches to the wargame on show at Salute, mostly these were in the non-historical genres ... pulp, VSF, that sort of thing

(Salute 2012: a great Variety of Wargames)

Some very clever stuff going on ... and again, a great variety of games and ways to wargame on offer out there.  I very much liked 7TV's take on  classic adventure TV (the Avengers, Dr Who, that sort of thing ..).. presented with enthusiasm and confidence ...

Aside from the very big Corunna Napoleonics display (much too much to take in, and clearly there to be admired and photographed - an installation  more than an exhibit, to borrow terms from the art world), there were some excellent and accessible games in other periods ...

(Black Powder ECW: Pike & Shotte)

The Pike & Shotte game going with the Warlord Games rules had a very clever flashing lights effect in the volleys markers which worked quite well - and they tell me the game has got better too.

And, having clambered around those impossible Confederate positions, I never like to miss picturing Burnside's bridge when Antietam is reconstructed ..

(Evesham Wargames Club: Battle of Antietam)

... this time in a very pleasing arrangement using Kallistra's terrain tiling system and (12mm) figures range.

There were more than 25 modern games excluding VBCW, Sci-Fi and similar non-historical genres, and the best I can do is to direct you to a brief summary I have put on my 20th Century blog (P.B.Eye-Candy)

(Some wonderful 20th Century games at Salute 2012: click for more)

... and there were some other gems.

I really do like the use of aerial/satellite photos as a table/background for aerial games ... here with 'clouds' terrain (I have some ideas about clouds ...) ....

(HMS Aeronautica REX)

And who could not like the wonderful miniature architecture of imaginary Venetian horror/adventure ... I've no idea whether Carnevale is a good game, but it must have been fun building the sets ...

(fantasy Venice: Carnevale streetscape)

A great deal to look at, then, even if like me, shopping is not a big part of your agenda and, being a historical player, a big chunk of the exhibits are of not of interest.   Very well done, Warlords.

(fearsome Viking warriors share a biscuit at the end of a long tiring day)

An excellent day out, and a pleasure to meet and greet and chat to people.

Thanks to those of you who called by the Society stand to say hello.  Thanks to the Warlords for making us welcome.

(twilight descends over the Royal Victoria Dock)

Next outing for the shows team: Campaign in Milton Keynes - it's in a shopping centre, so you can bring the whole family.  

We will have a participation version of the new game 'Call it Qids' and another chance to try DBA V3 with my classic flats collection.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

14th - 15th April, Witney

Society of Ancients Doubles Masters 2012

Again a one-off event, this years Doubles Masters went to the Oxfordshire market town of Witney ... very smart, in these days where the local MP is Prime Minister of the country (it was a little less polished in the early 60's when I was a village boy just down the road).   

There are very few vacant units in the prosperous town centre and more antique shops than pound shops ...

As last year, the masters was contested in Field of Glory and DBMM, and some spare space was allocated to an associated FoG-R event.   The DBMM was 500 points, themed 500BC to 476ADThe FoG was 900 points themed 450BC to 200BC.

10 FoG teams and 8 DBMM teams played for the Alexander trophy (in addition to which there was a FoG-R event) ... 34 Ancients players (after the host team had to split owing to a 'no show')

(our Parthian/Median 900 point FoG army)

Chris and I had struggled to find a suitable (easy to use and reasonably authentic) army within the highly restrictive period theme - in the end we realised that we could put out a reasonably attractive Parthian army which complied with the time thread.

 (Field of Glory)

We had a very pleasant weekend - although it started fairly slowly with a bye in the first round (despite the organisers' best efforts to get an evened-up entry) .  Our second game was against a Warring States Han Chinese army, and on Sunday morning we faced eventual winners Nik and Dave who also had Parthians.

(Parthian heavy metal ... in round 3 we came up against this lot, ably played by Nik and Dave ...)

It isn't unusual for we four to meet up on a Sunday morning - indeed we faced Nik with the same army but a different partner at Burton with out Libyans (we won that one) -  but over the years they have had the edge on us ... they often go on to do well in the final placing and we generally achieve an undemonstrative mid-table.

This event was not unusual and after what felt like a fairly even game in which we one or two weaknesses the attrition points escalated in the last couple of turns (our army broke on the last phase of the last turn).

(several teams conspired to ensure this wasn't a 'pikefest')

The final game was no more than a skirmish against a Seleucid which put all its eggs into a flank march that took all game to turn up, meanwhile packed itself in behind a wall of bronze which we could not dent.

The presence of an IC meant our shooting never built into decisive collapses, and our reserve prefered to wait for the flankers rather than impale itself on a wall of undisrupted pikes.

We took no casualties and in so far as there was a result it was decided by a unit of stragglers lost on the march.

(some games were dominated by the infantry however)

David Fairhurst presented the prizes.  We had a small membership stand at the event and took some renewals - and, no Committee members being present, I was pleased thanked the organisers on behalf of the Society (as I would have done in former times).

Lawrence Greaves and Oren Taylor won the DBMM, and Dave Handley and Nik Sharp the FoG. With the higher overall score, Greaves and Taylor were made the new
Society of Ancients Doubles Champions

(DBMM winners Greaves and Taylor - right - alongside FoG winners Sharp and Handley - with the higher overall score, Greaves and Taylor were awarded the Alexander trophy)

There is talk of changes to the formula here - possibly pairing armies in the original Doubles way ... variations to the points or table arrangement etc.   

Hopefully, the event will become 'open' again (or at least inclusive, like say Burton or Usk), rather than the recent trend towards highly restrictive periods which may not be of interest to members and enthusiasts.

Still, a lovely venue in a pretty town, good company plus two good games and a stalemate.  And the Alexander trophy goes to new winners.

Many thanks to the BHGS and Oxford club for organising and hosting the 2012 Doubles Masters.  I'm looking forward to next year - and if you have any great ideas for enhancing and improving the event, please feel free to air them (the forum is open) ...

Full scores and finishing positions can be found on the BHGS website in due course.

The Society of Ancients will be at Salute on saturday 21st April.

See you there, perhaps ..

Saturday, April 7, 2012

31st March, Bletchley

2012 Society of Ancients BattleDay - Plataea 479 BC

This year's BattleDay featured the epic clash between the Persian army of occupation under Mardonius and the Greek alliance forces laed by the Spartan Pausanias.

The day started with a comprehensive introductory guide to the battle and t
he sources by Philip Sabin and a quick note by myself on the nature of the sacrifices which immediately preceeded the battle.

These will be available to Slingshot readers in due course together with views on the how the battle was fought under the variety of rules enthusiasts contributed to the event.

Here's a quick tour ...
(Lost Battles)

(Warmaster Ancients)

(Command & Colours)

(modified AMW)

(Armati II)

(War & Conquest)

(Warlord II)


(Peltast & Pila)


(Command & Colours)

Lunchtime then accomodated a forum with Duncan Head on matters arising, weapons and equipment etc. ... and more on sources and interpretation.

A second session of wargaming was followed by organiser Richard Lockwood's customary awards and debriefs ...

(President Boss and host Richard Lockwood distribute largesse)

Best game: Command & Colours;
Best Terrain: Warmaster;
Most Hoplites: DBMM;
Plus awards for the notable deeds of commanders and players.

('Most Hoplites' featuring in the DBMM game)

(Award winning Warmaster terrain)

(an unexpected contingent: Eric's Hoplites for the Lost Battles game were half the height he expected them to be!)

(30mm flats: the commanders from my AMW interpretation)

(another interpretation: Rob's diviner from the War & Conquest game)

More on all these games and talks in Slingshot (non-members will find a welcome on the Society of Ancients website) ... and chat on the forums (guests welcome) ...

Keep an eye out for an announcement of next year's battle.

A wonderful and illuminating day out. What wargames events should be.

Well done, Richard.