Saturday, March 26, 2016

19th March, Sheffield

Sheffield Triples and the DBA Northern Cup

Another excellent day out at the English Institute for Sport in the company of the Sheffield Wargames Society.  

A little less well attended this year, perhaps, as a result of being the third weekend in a row of wargame shows within 50 miles or so of Middle England - but very friendly and well supported by the trade.

The Lance & Longbow Society were there with an updated version of their Deepdale game ...

Wargame Developments were there with busy participation game of Roman Careers

There was a good selection of nicely presented display games ...

And we were there with a modest presence on the Saturday supporting the DBA Northern Cup sponsored by The Society of Ancients (and with the prize fund generously boosted by Magister Militum)

More on the DBA Cup below.

Here are a few pictures from the show - some of you missed it I know but a big advantage of a quieter show is that you get a chance to have a good look round, chat to the game presenters, shop without queuing etc.

I particularly liked the mix this year ...

A pity I didn't have more time to have a go at some of them ... 

DBA Northern Cup

This year there was a 'Rise of Rome' theme ... the organisers provided the boards, armies etc. and the players draw the scenario for their game at the start of each round.

This year's list comprised:
I/59 Tullian Roman 
I/57a Etruscan League 
II/10 Camillan Roman 
II/11 Gallic 
II/32a Later Carthaginian 
II/33 Polybian Roman 
II/51 Later Judean 
II/49 Marian Roman 
I/58 Meriotic Kushite 
II/56 Early Imperial Roman 
II/68a Pictish 
II/64a Middle Imperial Roman 
II/69b Sassanid Persian 
II/78b Late Imperial Roman 
II/82a Patrician Roman 
II/80 Hunnic 

The games turned out to be quite challenging and different ... I mostly drew the Roman side (which is not 'the usual' for me, so a good bit of variety) ...

My games were with ...

Early Imperial Romans

Later Carthaginian

Tullian Roman

Middle Imperial Roman

Patrician Roman

So that's a pretty good flavour of the ancient world ... and a good chunk of Romans (Tullian, early Imperial, Middle Imperial and Patrician) ...

Some nice terrain bits too ...

(A Roman watchtower camp - from The Baggage Train)

Congratulations to Martin, Phil and Scott, and to Tamara, our youngest player. ... This was the 11th year and the 11th winner - a testimony to the Cup's open and accessible style.  I slipped quietly into mid-table obscurity.

Apologies for the grainy picture - the light was in the wrong place ... but thanks to all the players for standing in line.  Hope to see you all next year.

Thanks to the Society for their support ... thanks to Paul, Tony and the Lincoln team for all the effort that goes into working out the scenarios and providing the boards and armies.

Thanks to Triples for hosting the event.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

13th March, Wolverhampton

These days our first proper show of the Shows North year is Alumwell's WMMS in Wolverhampton.

Always friendly, always well-attended - and with a good trade presence (well I can usually get the stuff I need) .. This year we shared a birth with the Northampton Battlefields Society. ...

NBS have been doing sterling work defending the battlefields of Northamptonshire against developers, especially the 1460 site at Delapre Abbey.  As part of the campaign they have self-published a new book on the battle and we will have some available at shows this year ...

That's the Amazon link but if you get it through the Society at a show, all the cash goes to the Battlefield Society and everything over the basic cost then helps defend our heritage.

If you are interested in the Wars of the Roses, you need this book.

Plugging nearby Northampton aside, we used our time at the WMMS to get out the nostalgia collection of flats originally owned by Tony Bath, Deryck Guyler, Phil Barker and others and put on a 60's style game ...

(1960s style ancients ... the Bath/Guyler/Barker flats at WMMS 2016)

Although it isn't necessarily the definitive version (I'm working on narrowing that down), we played to the version of the Bath wargame included in Donald Featherstone's seminal War Games (first published 1962) ...

(the rules were Tony Bath per Featherstone's War Games ... here, the John Curry reprint)

When I booked the game in with the show organisers I had no idea that veteran Midlands wargamer, Society LVP and original painter of the majority of the figures on display, Phil Barker, would be able to attend ...

Re-united, as it were, with some old friends ...

(Phil Barker settles in behind one army in the Bath/Guyler/Barker flats battle)

As is often the case these days, Phil preferred to share his recollections of those early games (the development of the basing system, his victorious cataphracts, Tony's infernal layering of rule upon rule etc. etc.) than push the tin around (he is thinking entirely about HFG these days) but it was great to see him in good health and a pleasure to welcome him to the Society stand (where would the ancient wargame be without Phil and those early pioneers, most of whom, sadly, are no longer with us?) ...

(the very same cataphracts Phil used to defeat Tony Bath all those years ago)

As I hope the pictures show, the style of the game was how I fancy things would have looked.  I came into wargaming at the end of the 1960s, and some of the terrain I have had since then - but I have to admit I don't think things ever looked quite so complete as they do these days (in the modern game's infancy, really, anything you had would do ... at least for us youngsters).

(1960s style terrain ... original Bellona bridge and Merit Poplar trees)

Elsewhere we saw quite a good mix of games and displays, plus military vehicles, reenactment and the modelling exhibition which is part of the flavour of the show.

Painted backdrops seemed to be popular this year ... an interesting development.

(the Battle of Edgehill 1642 complete with landscape and skyline)

(Swiss and Burgundians)

Indeed there were one or two English Civil War games - I believe Helion have some rules coming out (I wonder if this is also on the up again) although perhaps fewer ancients ... nevertheless these Romans were out ...

... and there was a very large Hastings game using Gripping Beast figures (or so the captions implied)

A Roman Battle for Hyboria

Unusually for me I pitched this as an imaginations encounter because it was a celebration of Tony Bath's legacy and also, the Bath rules being as they are, I wanted to incorporate elephants, cataphracts, Gallic cavalry etc. into the game (to bring out the variety in the rules) ... 

It seemed to work nicely although those elephants are tough beasties.

The Eastern army, with reinforcements suggested on its flank, seemed to have the advantage (more elephants, Phil's fully armoured cataphracts, and a couple of those pilum-chucking cohorts) ... they went on the attack ...

(the Eastern army as it took the field replete with elephants, cataphracts, and legionaries)

This elephant stampeded under missile fire, however - and stormed off the table (narrowly missing those Gallic horsemen who were frantically - and it turned out wisely - running away from the cataphracts)

The Western elephants had already been lost to missile exchanges between the crewmen.

The rules are very bloody by modern standards ... high hit ratios and low chances to save ... whole swathes cut down by missiles or melee - but morale rules which give a fair chance to small surviving groups to press on.

(light troops tussle on the Southern edge of the battlefield)

(elephants and archers battle for the gentle slopes in the middle of the battlefield)

(Eastern high point ... 2 elephants survive the battle for the hill, cataphracts bear down on the Gauls and, foreground 2 cohorts will take on some archers) 

... actually, the cohort nearest the hill has already lost figures to the bowmen and will get cut down further before combat, while its supports will engaged by cavalry returning from a fight on the flank.

(the endgame)

Hit with more missiles, another elephant stampeded, in this case charging straight forward into the auxiliary cohort which had done the damage.  The foot broke and ran - but subsequently rallied.  The elephant headed off the battlefield.

The last elephant finally succumbed to hails of pila.  The archers who had torn shreds out of the enemy cohort then trounced them in melee - leaving the Western army, somewhat improbably, commanding the centre of the battlefield.

The cataphracts destroyed the lightly armed Gauls but both players agreed that they would then have ridden off rather than tried their luck against the overwhelming numbers now behind them.

Actually the game had worked very well and played quite quickly ... although there might be a catalogue of nuances one would look again at with 50 years more wargame design under our belts, it was fun, and victory progressed in a series of logical steps from player decisions and bouts of die rolling.

You can see why it would have caught on.


More Barker wargaming next week - the very latest style, though ... DBA 3 for the Society sponsored Northern Cup at Triples (but I'll take some SoA goods with me and the promised copies of Northampton 1460).

Friday, March 4, 2016

28th February, Keresley Library, Coventry


I wasn't able to attend Patrick's new event in Market Harborough so this was only my second outing with the 2015/16 DBA League.

The theme was armies from the history of Mercia so I opted to dust down my Anglo-Saxons and take King Penda'a Dark Age Mercians, famous as you will all know for his battles at Maserfield and Winwaed.   A hundred years before his relative Offa built a dyke.

I took along the longship baggage element with its improbable lateen rig.   The Angles and Saxons were great sailors, of course, and first arrived in these islands which they made their own by boat.

The army's DBA terrain is arable, of course, and the boat must be presumed pulled up on an inlet from a river just off the board.

(Mercian supplies beached by a waterway - click on the pictures for a larger image)

I also refurbished an old earthwork to provide a fort ... Mercians seem to have been good a digging earthworks so I thought I'd throw one into a game.

With an aggression of 2, I didn't get that many chances (but it did get into play) ...

The interior is actually a 10mm Roman watchtower supplied for review a while back by The Baggage Train.  I've always been pleased with the look of this resin piece on the 15mm battlefield.

I suppose I should complete the round up by mentioning the ploughman figure I built to enhance DBA V3's iconic 'plough' terrain type.

This army adds a cavalryman, a skirmisher and a pair of 'hird' warbands (the general and his personal retainers) to an 8 element shieldwall.  It doesn't do much singing and dancing but it sure is good at fighting enemy infantry.  

I was hoping to hold the line while breaking through with commander's (supported general warband) deadly fighting power.   Toughing it out against knights would likely be less productive.

The games ...

Game One: vs Sub Roman British ... cavalry and auxilia with some vulnerable blades ...

Game Two: vs North Welsh ... and a clump of knights to fear (it turned out with good reason) ...

Game Three: vs Feudal English ... could the spearwall get stuck into the archers (before the knights prevail) ...

At this, the half way stage, the set up switched and all games were with your opponent's army against your own ...

Game Four: with Anglo-Normans ... Charge!

There was now an interval for displaying the various armies before a 'best in theme' vote:-

Excellent ... my vote went to the colourful Anglo-Danish army (3 up, above)

... and then the wargames resumed for the final two rounds ...

Game Five: with Graham Fordham's Anglo-Norman ... Charge!... and ...

Game Six: with Martin Smith's Pre Feudal Scottish

This reverse phase went very well and I won all the games ... making 5 wins and a defeat (propelling me to a countback second place) ... and my cup oveflowed when the player vote picked my Mercians as the best of the bunch.

These were English style quick fire games and all mine were decisive (despite the preponderance of footsloggers) ... We had plenty of potential manoeuvre but everyone gamely got on with it.

Moments ...

(outflanked!  The Saxon commander leads from the centre of the line but the warrior on the right flank seems to be trying to draw attention to the enemy about to roll up the line !!) 

(from the rear - with the gear - a view of the shieldwall from the supply ships)

A great day out ... and a surprisingly elevated result.  Well done everyone!

WMMS next ... then more DBA at Triples