Many thanks to Alumwell for finding space for us at their very friendly and enjoyable WMMS show.
Well worth attending if you can make it, WMMS has, for its size, a really impressive mix of games and displays and all the main traders ... but it retains a West Midlands family feel and you always seem to get talking to people.
(Montaperti 1260 by The Society of Ancients)
We took along the latest version of my BattleDay promo game, Montaperti, a Basic Impetus Plus participation game in 15mm, now on a browner Tuscan landscape (the battle was fought in early September), and we got a couple of really useful development games under our belt.
But more of that anon ...
(family show: SoA's Montaperti game being enthusiastically played by renegade youngsters from the Lance & Longbow Society entourage)
I was busy most of the day but managed a trip round at lunchtime ... quite a few eye-catching games in a variety of scales and idioms, although not so much in the ancient and medieval period:
(WWII vehicles, Norway 1940, Hougoumont, Lace Wars weapons)
Trends are seldom worth analysing as wargaming is a very personal interest - so 'trends' may just reflect what people are doing, and what is selling well, at a particular point in time (i.e. they are as much snapshots of random taste as indications of trends and patterns) ...
But the Ancient and Medieval content was ourselves (Basic Impetus/Montaperti) and Lance & Longbow (DBA/Wars of the Roses), plus Peter Pig (Longships/Viking raids), Crossed Lances (jousts and tourneys) and Saga. I may have missed something key, of course, but the ones I noticed set a tone that was predominantly Dark Age/Medieval.
(18th Cent. North America)
In addition to WWII perennials, there were any number of 17th and 18th Century games (plus the Lace Wars reenactors who are Alumwell regulars) ... and a couple of Zulu War games.
Everyone I spoke to was very happy to explain their games and seemed properly briefed to do so ... so thanks to them all for taking the time.
(Sprawling 28mm Rorke's Drift game)
(WWII weapons, Balaclava, ECW and some Lace people)
(British Civil Wars: Ireland)
There were quite a few participation games going on ... in addition to Montaperti and the WotR DBA games, Peter Pig's Longships game seemed busy, and plenty of players seemed engaged with the Wings of War table.
(some WMMS participation games: DBA, Longships, Wings of War and Crossed Lances)
There were plenty of young faces at this show and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The show also has quite a busy Bring & Buy which seems a popular and well supported feature (Chris picked up a splendid Ottoman army for FoG-R use, so I will have to figure out how to shelter Landsknechts from massed artillery ...) ...
(Wars of the Roses 28mm figures from the Lance & Longbow's DBA game)
Apologies to anyone whose game I have missed: I only had a brief window to get round and there was a lot to see.
Back with Montaperti, we played through a couple of times with very different results - both of which I think vindicate where the game is going.
In the first game, aided by some youthful extreme dice rolling, the inferior Florentines drove the Sienese off but ultimately collapsed as a result of rolling just so many 5s and 6s in cohesion tests. Nevertheless, it demonstrated that the underlying game is reasonably balanced.
(desperate Florentine spearmen attack the Sienese lines while the crossbow contingents continue shooting)
Apologies to purists for the numeric VBU* tags behind the units (casualties noting each level lost would be better, but I am still getting used to running the whole game, so find the positive numbers make it easier for me to manage).
The play was more canny in the afternoon game, but ran to script initially as the imperial and Sienese cavalry broke through the Florentine wing, causing a flurry of activity all along the line.
(Imperial and Sienese cavalry gain the advantage on the Florentine right)
The untrustworthy Ghibelline contingent were ordered up to plug the gap ... and rather surprisingly did so, keeping much of the Sienese wing at bay.
Nevertheless, after their compatriots had fled, it was impossible to block all of the enemy - and a victorious Imperial contingent broke through and attacked the Carroccio/Bell Tower. Although this is a reasonably fair fight, in one calamitous round, the Carroccio's VBU (basic strength) dropped to just 1, seeming to make a Sienese win inevitable.
(Montaperti: the battle for Martinella)
... or possibly not ... the combatants then failed to register any hits either way, buying time for some plucky Florentine crossbowmen to intervene from the flank, destroying the Knights (as the Knights lost the ensuing melee phase) ... rendering the battle unwinnable for either side (both armies falling below 50% of their total morale values in the following turn).
This game certainly did make it seem that the behaviour of the Florentine Ghibellines is key to the outcome of the battle: had they failed to respond to the Florentine flag, this game would have been over very quickly and with scarcely any impact on the Sienese.
The Society of Ancients BattleDay is on the 29th of March in Bletchley, MK ... There are still places available for visitors (priced £7 or free to youngsters ... see the BattleDay page on the website for more info) ...
*in Basic Impetus, units have a morale/strength value, a VBU which reduces with each hit/test failed ... when they get to 0, the unit is routed (so keeping track of the current values, which I'm sure becomes instinctive, is vital, especially when running the game for beginners)