Wednesday, August 31, 2011

21st August, Norwich

Apologies to those of you who got the garbled first version of the Britcon update (no idea why Blogger doesn't work properly in Firefox at this time of year - but I had the same problems in 2010, that's for sure). There was quite a lengthy excursus advising Nobby how best to develop Britcon, too ... very useful, but not necessarily 'core' interest :)

So to bring Ancients on the Move fully up-to-date, this entry will show you what Eastern Front was like ... a great little show in East Anglia.

You really ought to mark it in your diaries for next year. Excellent venue, friendly people ... even a sunny day! And nowhere near as far as internet routeplanners would have you believe (they allow for the traffic problems you are unlikely to encounter on a Sunday morning): ignore the timing, look more to the mileage as your guide.

Lenghty intro? OK - I'll load up the pictures ....
(not your average village hall ... 'well lit, with a big window' ...)

(a choice of games on the stand with a DBA theme)

(some punters playing 'Britannia's Eastern Front': DBA Sub Roman British block a English raid in East Anglia)

(Tony and Phil man the stand while I go off on my photo break)

(that boat load of English ... 'Saxons' in DBA speak, but out East here, they would be Angles - 'Aengelfolk')

(the Romano-British foot making up the bulk of Arthur's army)

(this tank game looked great fun and kept loads of youngsters entertained)

(I was really impressed with this huge 10mm Bull Run ACW game: a bit big for my tastes, but a great sense of place)

(Yep: seriously, those are 10mm figures - click on the picture for a proper sized image and enjoy the craftsmanship)

Great, wasn't it?

Thanks to Kim at Monarch Books for hosting the event, and thanks for those of you who stopped by to make us feel welcome.

Thanks to Tony and Phil for helping with the stand (really valued as I would have been on my own for this one otherwise). Canvassing for views at the show, several locals indicated that they would be interested in the DBA mini-event we didn't quite get off the ground this year ...

Watch this space.

Come see us at Partizan and the SoA Doubles over the weekend ...

12th to 14th August, Manchester

After 15 years, this was McNeil's last Britcon.

(Britcon 2011: everything stops for the fire alarm!)
Well it's been quite a journey ...

When they ask iconic questions like
where were you when Diana died, I will always know I was a Britcon ... (Aston University): it has become part of who we are and what we do.

I was there when the old nationals crashed into a wall in
Harrow, I was there when they tried to manage a public meeting to launch a national wargames federation (or to strangle it at birth depending on what you though they were all up to ...), and I was there when the new model Nationals, Britcon, burst into life.
Like tournaments or not, this one has been made to work, and has been made the premier National Wargaming event.

Yes, JD, you succeeded. Congratulations on the job well done
Britcon this year was therefore a swansong ... lots of players there as guests of the management, there were presentations and there was polishing of helmets. There was a film crew and there was the search for a successor ...

(upstairs with the Armati players: a game you will struggle to see in play at Britcon ...)
Frustrated by last year's inability to make the vestigial wargames show presence work, this year I let Steve and Martin S from Lance and Longbow mind the pitch for me while I played Armati.
I enjoyed the games and banter a lot, but was really playing amongst friends as a shelter from the cheesier tournament play of FoG (which seems to play less gamily as a Doubles game with more points on the table) and in order to have some control over the amount of time I spend playing soldiers (8am to 8pm on the Saturday - and that for just 3 games! - is too much of a good thing ... even if it is a good thing!) ...

Struggling to get something I could cobble together from the over-restrictive theme (
goodness! This is the year of themes alright ... why to people organise events then rule half the possible players out by insisting on banning most of the armies people have got? Doh! No wonder some events struggle for support ...)..

I ended up with 'The Goths of Totilla' ... Yes, you know him ... the man who charged into Narses at Tadinae. Well, the eunuch general was scarred of them so I thought they might do me some warlike service, too.

(Glorious Goths at Britcon: some of mine and some of Carl's)
It's a very nice army actually, and spurred me into a bit of painting and tidying.

With the travelling Armati players only playing warm up games on the Friday, we had five scored games over the weekend, and I came out about square (actually a very strong performance for me: I might have won a couple of
'scenario based' Armati events over the years, but these Old School 'bring your own' events often see me at the bottom of the table with no wins at all!).

(the ferocious Moors join in the killing)
My favourite unit of the weekend? Certainly the Moorish Light Cavalry I was almost obliged to take (the only LC available, and necessary to get the benefit of all the light units).

Armati players will tell you that 'key' javelin armed LC are a liability, and hardly worth the price ... well I christened these the 'ferocious Moors' after the Late Roman unit on the Notitia ('Equites Mauri Feroces') from whom it seemed like they must have been recruited ... They had a very high kill ratio, mostly against HC ... sometimes, yes, with their missiles, sometimes charging into the flank.

However, they did not let me down when I trusted them with a game turning frontal charge.
OK, the HC were exhausted from defeating some of my own HC but it isn't a move you see that often in Armati.

I like it when the armies start driving their own narratives ...

(as tough as they come ... FV3 and out of command - but scary enough if you are a Hun!)

Wimps of the weekend must surely go to
Craig's Hunnic Heavy Cavalry who pussyfooted around with the Gothic Slave HI ...

FV3 against Craig's FV4 with impetus (who would sweep them away if he won) - so he nurdled up to them just behind their flank to charge them from round the corner in a future turn: not brave enough to charge with the odds all in favour.
Not very Hunnic at all ...

So, what else?

The Apres Ski was excellent and tiring in equal measure ...

(convivial scenes from the Britcon Bar)
The usual suspects won, of course ... the other events, as well as the Armati, or so it seemed ... the 'show' was poor - and boring for the people doing it (except those traders who still cater directly for the tournament audience - otherwise the 'show' is really a whopping great Slitherine banner in the shadow of which everyone else - and so that means fewer and fewer - get to lurk if they are lucky enough to be allowed in) ...

(Meth the Merciful's splendid Sarmatian army)

(Patrick's Carthaginians battling away in the FoG 15mm events)

(Graham's English fluttering in the FoG 25mm)
The Flames of War terrain was great, and favoured to front - the FoG terrain was rubbish as you'd expect from a game that doesn't value it ...

(some splendidly plausible Flames of War terrain)
You wouldn't know about any of the other games as FoW and FoG are the favoured children of the event and take centre stage (anyone not dancing to that choice of BHGS tunes is tucked away somewhere in the building) ... then again, I did get to present the Society of Ancients Sportsmanship award (the Persian Helmet) so, OK, there was some role in the event for those of us who have supported it since the very beginning.

Nobby from Flames of War takes over from now.

So having congratulated JD on all he has achieved, what are the notes for Nobby?

Well (a) it isn't a
Flames of War tournament and it is a 'fix' that FoW has the best placed tables (try shifting the layout around so that the show gives equal prominence to the other games that are in the mix) ...
(b) when JD talked to me about his big project years ago it was to create a sort of UK Historicon (with all that entails) ... he created a tournament games feast, but not the diverse 'convention and show' the Historicon analogy might suggest. There is much more that can be done - so much more.
(c) the game all day format is far less popular than the BHGS insiders think: more people would come of the game pressure (indeed all the regulation) was more relaxed ...

(d) you inherit the project at the point where the wargames show side of Britcon has almost been killed off. It can be resuscitated, but only by a massive change of attitude (you might be just the guy to do that!): see Roll Call (
the BHGS are great at competition events that don't host shows ... but their events often clash with 'regular' wargames shows, so you can tell they don't go to them or maybe even understand what makes them tick) ...

Good luck!

Amongst the tanks, Ironsides and Goblins there are still quite a few Ancients events hosted at Britcon ...
(Britcon awards ceremony in full swing)
Ian Stewart, Shaun Drummond and Neil Howard won the various FoG 15mm categories;
Dave Handley won the FoG 25mm;

Jan Van Embden
won the DBMM;

Wayne Richards
won the WAB event, and ...
Bill Wilson won the Armati.

Paul Crozier
won the best painted army (ancient/medieval) for his Seljuks.

Ian Speed
won the Society of Ancients Sportsmanship award

God bless the good ship Britcon and all who sail in her ...

Good luck, Nobby ... (
just ask ...)

6th August, Edinburgh


The annual race to the north saw us get to Scotland in daylight for a cha
nge ... and staying over in Linlithgow (birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots ... which it regularly reminds you, but which I shall remember) strategically a few miles short of Edinburgh.
A very friendly town and somewhere worth paying more attention (it has a palace and a loch though not open as darkness was falling ...)...

After our usual scenic trip into Edinburgh, we met up with Paul
and the Glasgow team with half an hour or so in which to set up.
(Claymore 2011 ... click on the pictures for a larger image)
The Phoenix team were doin
g a vast 28mm demonstration game of Magnesia using Tactica II, a big table and a good number of players. I hope I can convey properly the size of this game
(Awesome: the Battle of Magnesia by the Society of Ancients and Glasgow Phoenix Club)
Elsewhere, the show was not quit
e as thrilling as last year.
Our Hall was pretty good and had the great value 'RAF' Leuchars team doing a Great Escape game, some good looking naval stuff and a genuinely remarkable Chinese battle and terrain display in 15mm.

(more of that Great Escape game)

(ancient China brought alive in every detail)
The Atri
um was not the spectacle I was eagerly anticipating after last year. A mix of corporate 28mm and really quite poor Sci Fi. Or was it fantasy? Anyway the part-painted black plastic 28mm stuff on bases that don't match the crude terrain. That's usually Sci Fi, I think ...

Though there were some historical tables that didn't do much better (to think this was home last year to that magnificent Napoleon in the Desert and to an Old School demo!).

It means I'll be giving the photo space to Magnesia which drew a lot of attention and had some exciting moments.

Here is some more of the big picture ...

(engagements all along the line)
(the elephants pushed ahead of the phalanx in this reconstruction)
And here are some close ups ...
(the celebrated confrontation between the Cataphracts and Legions)
(the Argyraspides push ahead and to maintain contact with the Cataphract assault ...)
(Dahae allies skirmish on the river flank)
Many thanks to SESWC for another great show.

Yes we will certainly be back.

It was a pity some of the Atrium exhibitors let the show down ... maybe the Warhammer stuff needs hiving o
ff somewhere so there's plenty for youngsters to join in but it doesn't get too central an exposure - in a play space rather than a showcase ...

Nice chatting to old friends and new ones, too

Friday, August 5, 2011

Norwich, August: coming attractions


East of England DBA Challenge (a Society of Ancients UK DBA League event)