Monday, April 29, 2013

20th April, London, Docklands


There was an ancients theme to Salute this year ... well sort of: Jason and the Argonauts - but very much the Ray Harryhausen approach as you would expect from the Warlords.

For actual historical ancients games I think there were fewer this year.   I think I may have said that last year ... but of 85 (yes, 85) games I can see listed, 14 purport to be Ancient, Dark Age or Medieval.   Some of those turn out to be fantasy - and some are purely commercial tasters.

(President and Secretary reflect during a quieter moment at Salute)

That leaves a handful of games being used to present ancient and medieval battles to a wider audience.   The Society of Ancients did an Ilipa Lost Battle, The Lance & Longbow a dramatic Impetus battle of Cravant, and the Oxford Wargames Club an innovative grid-based Heraclea.

(Eric Cruttenden and Alan Waller presented this 28mm battle for the Society of Ancients)

(the river crossing at Cravant ... from an original photo by Simon Chick)

(a panoramic battle of Heraclea)

Beautiful figures in the Cravant game from Simon Chick, and spectacular hand-finished terrain boards - a great advert for medieval battle, and not a bad demonstration of how good modern 28mm figures can look.

Full marks to the Oxford club for taking a home-grown historical game - which they had devised because they were interested in bringing out what they thought were the essentials of battle in the period. - I wish I had had longer to spend with it ...

Amongst the commercial generic games, Rob Broom's Dark Age game stood out, along with some Saga and Dux Bellorum demos ...

(Rob explains the set up over his War and Conquest game)

... and in the fantasy ancients theme, a mythical spin on that old favourite 'Escape from Atlantis' at least seemed to capture the younger minds ...

(participants attempting to Escape from Zeus ...) 

The commercial games are, of course, there to demo the mechanisms and sell copies of the games - so they pick lyouts that will be full of engaging eye candy and bring out challenges, fun and mayhem in the game.   

For now, that always seems to mean a generic rather than historical episode - which contrasts with club and society games - which generally have nothing to sell and which almost universally recreate historical events.

(15mm eye candy from the Heraclea game)

(28mm eye candy from the War & Conquest game)

In that respect, there may be less difference between this post and the BattleDay post than I'd first have thought.   It will be good to see 28mm ancients getting to grips with the challenges of depicting real historical battles.  And, yes, I know there are exceptions - I feature them here every time I see them.

The full size spectacular this year was the reconstructed beam sling featured in the reenactment zone.   Making the 'for and against ExCel' propositions, I wonder how many venues could accommodate that indoors?

I enjoyed the display, and every time I walked past, the people in the stand seemed fully engaged talking to visitors and demonstrating weapons and equipment - they were making very good use of their space I think.  Thumbs up for that!

I was very busy helping out the Pike & Shot Society this year .. But, at the show, I also managed to see ...

(Mexican American war)

(World War Two)

There were lots of plastic 28mm figures, masses of WWII and cabinets full of MDF buildings.   Even Magister Militum had a commercial spin off table (complete with players in livery tee shirts) and Kallistra had 3 tables of hexon terrain ... so, if there was a theme to the Jason & the Argonauts Salute, what would it be?   Probably playing an imaginary Bolt Action WWII scenario with plastic 28mm figures hiding in MDF ruins on a hexagon tablescape.

If that wasn't your ideal wargame, there was always Slingshot ...

Me?   Well amongst a lot of predictable stuff I managed to get a look at Peter Pig's new Vikings.   OK, I had seen them on the website and in announcements on TMP etc. but they had looked a little ... er ... 'unspectacular' in Martin Goddard's customary flat grey primer.  

In fact, the figures are little beauties ...

(a handful of my new Peter Pig Vikings)

I know the picture just makes the point that most figures do look unspectacular in raw metal - but bear with me time you see them they will be painted and you will get it!    

Unashamedly hollywood, they have big beards, big axes, broken shields, spears through their chests ...

With so many 54mm and flats incoming, I had pretty much decided not to do another 15mm project in the near future - but as soon as I saw them I knew that my Dark Age DBA options would need a Viking army adding!   I'll do a proper job, mind.

Next outing Milton Keynes ... see the 54mm Bosworth game ..!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

13th April, Bletchley

The Society of Ancients BattleDay 2013
Chalons 451

This year's BattleDay was full to capacity ... I had hoped to put out some SoA gear while the talk was in progress but I listened to Simon instead - the room was full and over-spilled out into the lobby and I didn't want to disturb anybody.

That was all good as the introduction was very interesting, and people were not wanting to browse til lunch anyway.

There were 13 different rules represented, with two interpretations each of the ever popular DBMM, Armati and DBA (/Big Battle DBA etc.).   Wow!

Well I just about managed to capture all of them - and I just about managed to speak to every one about their games.   Apologies to the Shrewsbury DBA team:  I twice caught you between games.

Here they are ...

I hope the pictures speak for themselves: most of the games were presented in 15mm (C&C:A was done with 20mm plastics, HC and W&C with 28mm, Warmaster and The Die is Cast 6mm) - the presentation of many of the games was remarkable ... 6mm and 15mm in particular doing a wonderful job of capturing the rolling landscape of Chalons.

The prize for the best terrain went to Mark Craddock's hyper realistic foam mat (which uses an ingenious system of magnetic grips to hold the game surface to the landscape structure) for the Armati Epic game ... and the overall best game went to Simon MacDowall's Comitatus.

Both seemed to have a cast of thousands, all beautifully turned out.

Organiser Richard Lockwood had, as usual, prepared a set of souvenir figures to award to notable deeds and anecdotes ...

(you can click the image for bigger pictures)

It gives him a good excuse for circulating amongst the games collecting impressions and noting down the stories players always tell.   I was fortunate again: an ex President who commanded the Alans and defeated in personal combat the new President (who had taken Attila's contingent opposite).  It got noticed.

It was not enough to win us the day as no sooner was the great warlord killed than alarm spread across the battlefield at the death of Aetius too.   The Alans packed up and left (the Roman alliance proving more precarious than the Barbarian) ...

This was in the epic Armati.   It was not untypical.

Here are some close ups ...

(Field of Glory)

It was great to see FoG at the event (I think for the first time): another big game on a striking textile print.   Very effective.

(The Die is Cast)

I was impressed with the 6mm games and managed to get my camera close to Justin 'VVV' Taylor's forces (The Die is cast) ... The figures are by Baccus.

(Hail Caesar)

At the other extreme, and much easier to get at were these 28mm Germans in the Hail Caesar game.

(Command and Colours: Ancient)

... and how about these beautifully presented 20mm Romans ...

However, it may not surprise regular readers that my favourite figures were the 15mm collections on the epic DBMM, Armati (Epic) and Comitatus tables:

(that marvelous Armati Epic landscape)

(that's a proper body of cavalry ...) ...

(battle at close quarters in the Comitatus game)

(finely turned out 15mm figures)

I hope this whets your appetite for forthcoming articles and reports which, as well as on blogs and websites, will form a good chunk of Slingshot material over coming issues.

At the end of the afternoon, Richard did his debrief and introduced the awards and prizes presented by Society President, Roy Boss.

Missing from the mugshots is your humble blogger/photographer who received the Attila award for killing the Hunnic warlord in melee.   As I was the cameraman at the time, I have inserted a picture I took during the game recording the skills I used to take down the mighty warrior!

Sorry this blog entry has been delayed a while - it took a while to edit all these photos ...

Reports elsewhere ...

Hmmm ... I wonder what they will pick for next year ....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2013 BattleDay near Milton Keynes

The Society of Ancients Shows North stand will be at the BattleDay on Saturday ...

…the fight grew fierce, confused, monstrous, unrelenting...

The tenth annual Society of Ancients Battle Day, Saturday 13 April March 2013

Sycamore Hall, Drayton Road, Bletchley, Near Milton KeynesMK2 3RR

Chalons 451 AD
Looking forward to the tenth annual Battle Day this coming Saturday.
We have a record FIFTEEN games coming:
Armati 15mm - Armati 15mm - BBDBA 28mm - Comitatus 15mm - Command and Colors: Ancients 20mm - DBA 3 15mm - DBMM 15mm - FoG 15mm - Hail Caesar 28mm - Impetus 15mm - Piquet Archon 15mm - The Die is Cast 15mm - War and Conquest 28mm - Warlord 15mm - Warmaster Ancients  6mm
Plus we have refights also being played in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.