Friday, January 24, 2014

18th - 19th January, Usk, Sth Wales

Godendag FoG/FoG-R/DBMM Doubles ... 

My year of ancients on the road traditionally starts with the annual doubles event in the wetlands of South Wales ....

This year I think I can still include a report ... I went along, but (no need to reiterate) opting not to play FoG-AM version 2, I decided to give FoG Renaissance a try.  The period was chosen as a George Gush tribute, and featured the Age of Lance and Pike - starting in 1420 ... so easily within the Society's remit.   And easy for me to choose ... a pike and Roman dull thud which V2 does badly, or an Italian Wars outing (which FoG-AM did reasonably well, so why not FoG-R?)

Here's a pukka ancients scene from the AM competition ...

(Patrick's splendidly elephant heavy Carthaginians take a wall of pikes)

And here's a reminder of the Italians to which I would need to add some Swiss and Landsknecht pikemen to make a late 15th Century incarnation ...

(Phil's flamboyant Florentines ... they would leave all those clumsy pavises behind and pretend to be Milanese for Usk in 2014)

We got quite a good tour of what the age of Pike and Lance might have to offer ... world tour, that is ... and took on Ottoman Turk, Ming Chinese, the Knights of St John and a Japanese Samurai army ...  Well, I guess this was the age of exploration, and Italians were at the forefront of opening it up.   

Anyway, before we get started ... just a polite word ... A very significant formation in this period, and a specified formation in the rules, is the keil.  Keil is a German word (meaning e.g. wedge) and as such (ei, always) is pronounced kyle (rhymes with pile, style, Nile etc.) ... it does not (and never did) sound like the 'keel' on a ship (which in German would have the e and i the other way round, as in the German port city Kiel ...) ...

OK, OK ... I know ... wasted words ...

(Lost against Ottomans)

So, this was our first game as a team and my first game of FoG-R ... consequently my expectations were not that high but I did get to destroy a couple of groups of Ottoman cavalry.   My Italians have done a lot of these over the years, but on balance we have never killed enough of them - and likewise in this game which was mostly decided by the Turks' more numerous and better managed artillery ...

(Battle against the Ottomans: seen from the Turkish side, all guns blazing)

Siting and directing your guns is clearly one of the key skills in FoG-R ... Something which wasn't such a challenge for the Ming Chinese ... they had 16 of them (yep, 16 ... 10 mixed weight field guns and 6 'Regimental' guns) all across the front, as some kind of oriental firework display gone mad.

(Lost against Ming Chinese)

In a thoroughly enjoyable game, we just about survived the gunnery, got right the way across the table to that far distant and fairly low rated infantry line ... then stuttered ... fortune favouring the Chinamen ... Full Plate Gendarmes - who had shrugged the gunnery aside - disintegrated in the face of average bow and crossbow storms, while our superior armoured Swiss pikemen lost melee rounds to unarmoured archers.  The former is actually quite likely in FoG, though I dismiss it from my mind when I need to make an attack ... the latter is not remotely meant to happen - but I guess sometimes you just don't get what you paid for.

(Won against the Knights of St John)

Well, they call it winning ... a draw in our favour but not by much.   Ignoring the advice of Marco Polo, in round 3 we returned to the Mediterranean and found an inland heath to battle with some Maltesers.   I say inland in reference to those splendid DBM games of yesteryear when the Knights of St John would come replete with a waterway, BUA and fleet ...

More lessons in artillery management (ours changed hands ... twice!) but the Maltesers did have a plucky cavalry wing for my Condottieri to mix it with ... Despite the Knights being Elite, my Italians are very good at cavalry fights (whatever nonsense you might read in Machiavelli) and we won the right wing by enough to carry the game.

One of the more splendid sights was a tercio the Knights had brought along to hold their centre

(this is how FoG-R does tercios ... quite a daunting prospect)

I was happy to keep my horsemen away from that ... We peppered it with gunfire and arquebus shot, but to little effect.

The it was back to Pikes & Paddyfields ...

(won against Japanese)

FoG seems to do a reasonable job of representing Japanese (being more hardwarist than DB, so less dependent on interpretation of the tactical role of the soldiers involved) ... and it was good to feel that we would have the edge in firearms - I remembered that bit from Shogun ...

We had got much better control by now and I had confidence the Swiss would hold as we stripped away units from the fringes ...

(no difficulty finding the enemy on this battlefield)

OK ... Italians vs Japanese is a ridiculous battle and who on earth could speculate on how it would be resolved.   That said, this was keenly fought and good fun.  The Samurai were a spectacular army to fight against and we managed only to lose 1 attrition point.

So, 2 timed out wins out of 4 games ... (one rout and one timed out defeat complete the stats) ... not too bad for a first outing.

I think I prefer FoG-R ... certainly for medieval games ... What, say, Mike Ingram speculates about Bosworth ... the way pike fights, the influence artillery has on deployment etc. all comes out in this game in a way it doesn't in AM or, say, DBx.   That gave me food for thought.

Cavalry manoeuvre very quickly in FoG-R and, although you need lots of figures for it, there is something quite plausible in the way some of the formations work.

There are good reasons why I would not favour these rules by the time you get mixed units in the English Civil War, but the Keils and Columns seem to work well and the Tercio has the right look.

Rules for the Wars of the Roses?  FoG-R, I think.

Look out for the Society of Ancients at Cavalier next month ...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 retrospective Pt 2 ... Kulmbach - the best event of my year on the road ...

Yes, I managed to slip away to Germany for a week and ... I went to a toy soldier show!  

(Kulmbach seen from the Plassenburg)

Down there, ringed in yellow is the beer hall that houses the Zinnfigurenborse ... up here, in the castle from which I took the picture is the largest toy soldier Museum in the world (so they say, 350,000 figures, so they say) ...

The Museum is there the whole time, the toy soldier show (tin figure mart) just 3 days in August every 2 years.   I had waited for the opportunity to combine the visit.

I love flats, but find the choice, styles, prices, availability etc. all quite bewildering and impenetrable ... which is why, though still daunting, this is what you want ...

(one corner of the vast zinnfiguren trade hall)

That's probably about a quarter of it.   The vast majority of all those trade stands are selling 30mm flats ... and once you get your head round it all, it's easy enough to buy as much as you want at prices that seemed pretty good to me with no shipping to pay (and nearly everything in free plentiful supply - though I managed to find some reeds for my Egyptian project that needed to be sent on*).

If only we had one of these in England (say, a couple of times a year!)

My original report is here, and my look at the Plassenburg Museum is here.

Here are a few more pictures that failed to make the original cut ...

(some exhibits from the competition)

(a renaissance display from the trade fair)

(back in the Museum)

(a different shot crossing the Berezina)

(a rare Great War diorama)

(details of the New World diorama)

(some vintage boxed sets)

(detail from the Luethen battlescape)


... and finally the Museum's reconstructed workshop of legendary A Ochels (Kieler/Kilia)

For a change to finish, here are some Guyler/misc elephants tidied and restored by me ...

Back on the road soon ...

*concerning which I can also report that although they took a few weeks (I think the traders all go on holiday once the show is put to bed) everything I ordered turned up - as it happens before I had jad a chance to use any of it

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

From Headquarters, January ... retrospective (Pt. 1) ...

Happy New Year ... Here, somewhat belatedly is my 2013 overview.

We attended 15 wargame shows, 8 tournaments and 5 other events .. that's 20% down on 2012, in line with the plan ... and with a slight skew against shows in favour of 'events'.

Here's the list

(Godendag ... we played FoG Doubles)

(Hammerhead ... Bosworth game)

(Burton ... we played FoG Doubles)

(Armati/Bournemouth .. playing Armati)

(Alumwell ... Bosworth game)

(BFT Berkhamsted Castle visit)

(Alton DBA event ... playing paired DBA games)

(BattleDay ... refighting Chalons with Armati and many others)

(Salute ... for the Society Phil Sabin presented Ilipa )

(Campaign ... we presented Bosworth for the Society and Naseby for the Naseby Battlefield Project)

(Triples ... we played DBA on the Saturday and FoG Doubles on the Sunday)

(Partizan ... with the Bosworth game)

(Phalanx ... supporting Martin C's DBA Challenge)

(Conference of Wargamers ... as always, doing a bit of everything)

(Stoke Challenge ... doing a stand for the Society and Newbury 1644 for P&SS)

(English Heritage's History Live ... doing the Bosworth game but this time for the BFT)

(The Kulmbach Flats show - just visiting but my event of the year nevertheless) 

(The Other Partizan ... back to Bosworth)

(NDBML Derby ... playing FoG Doubles)

(Colours: the Shows North team added Bosworth and a flats display to the mix for Sunday)

(Derby WTC Show ... we did Bosworth for the society stand)

(SELWG ... Phil Sabin did Zama for the Society, I did Newbury for the P&SS)

(DBA English Open ... supporting the Society event and playing a bit of DBA)

(NDBML Manchester ... playing FoG Doubles)

(Warfare ... we manned the stand in support of David E's Crusades game)

(Glasgow Armati ... supporting the Society sponsored event and playing a bit of Armati)

(Wargamer in Birmingham ... with the Bosworth game)

(Recon in Pudsey ... with the Bosworth game)

4 of the 15 Shows were 'A list' Shows where we just provide the back up ... the others are my core Shows North patch.

Although most of our local wargaming (ancients-wise) is with Neil Thomas's AMW, at the events we played FoG, DBA and Armati ...  

Since you ask, I managed a second place in the Bournemouth Armati event, third in the Alton DBA, another second in the Derby FoG Doubles and a 'Best Baggage' win at Burton - so although we are haphazard and will play anything, we didn't come away empty-handed ...

For the FoG Doubles we played with Seleucids, Palmyrans, and for the Northern League, Condotta Italian, Feudal  Aragonese and Later Sicilian.   The Armati events were all random scenarios (so you'll need to read the reports to see what armies were drawn) as is the DBA Northern Cup.  For the pairs event I took an Ostrogoth and Gepid game, and for the Open I selected Italians again (and got them into the Plate final).

Wow! ... Well, for 2014 I'd aim to trim that back some more, dropping out of the Northern Doubles (so as to cut down the amount of FoG in the mix) ... then again, Eastern Front (Norwich) is back, and I have been invited to put on the Bosworth game at the Battlefield's Heritage event ... so we shall have to see - it is bound to be another busy year.

In Part II I'll look back at my event of the year, the Kulmbach flats show ...

Huge thanks are due to Chris, Will, Ian, Martin C, Graham E, Patrick, Mr & Mrs Sarge, Graham H, Graham F, Chris P, Dave R, Matthew H, et al without whom manning a stand would be impossible, to Dave L of the Lance & Longbow for booking our combined events and to all those show organisers for their forbearance and hospitality.