Wednesday, October 26, 2011

23rd October, Portsmouth

English DBA Open

Presented by PAWS, the Society of Ancients and Magister Militum

Two days after Trafalgar Day, we are on the road again and taking the Society of Ancients to the home of the Royal Navy.

(the Society of Ancients goes to Portsmouth)
And to the annual English DBA Open competition - a celebration of things ancient and medieval, and of warfare on land, mostly in far off places. Still, we should doff our caps to history, and to that decisive battle where one of England's most celebrated national heroes met his fate*.

(Later Pre-Islamic Arab Nomads vs Bosporan)

(Minoans vs Thracians)

(Muslim Indian vs Ghaznavid)

Even with a couple of parties dropping out for various unfortunate reasons just before the event, the 25mm category did not go ahead, and 18 players went into the pool stages of the 15mm Open.

(a little more of historic Portsmouth)

The armies chosen were (I know you all like to know this ...): Shang Chinese; Trojan; Kushite; Thracian; Bosporan; Later Carthaginian; Early Imperial Roman; Ostrogothic; Late Roman (Eastern); Later Pre-Islamic Arab (me); Tibetan; Late Tang; Ghaznavid; Ghaznavid; Western Franks; Later Muslim Indian; Leidang and Medieval French.(Later Pre-Islamic Arab ... my scruffy nomads posed next to the sand dunes and oasis terrain which they never got to fight in!)

(Early Imperial Romans face off the Chinese)

These were organised into period appropriate pools (as far as possible) ...
(semi final armies: Muslim and Tamil elephants ...)

The event was also the final round of the 2011 Society of Ancients UK DBA League, with a number of the leading players managing the trip down.

The League has seen 64 players take part (53 Seniors and a useful 11 Juniors).

So we had trophies, freebies and heaps of army prizes to dish out as well as some game to play.
I will issue the full results on a Society of Ancients News Bulletin when I have them in (and link it here) ... for now, I will report on our day out and post some photos.

My last couple of competition outings involved winning a Championship game of Armati, and picking up the NDBML win at Halifax ... so would my improbable run of luck sustain me through a few rounds of DBA? Well I won't tease you on that one ... I had to struggle through three defeats to get a sniff of victory (and even in that game I think I was being outplayed until the dice were rolled!)

(Bosprans push on into the Plate competition)

One by one, these UK DBA players have learned not to respect my apparently experienced status ... my game is pretty dumb and you can play without fear (once your opponent knows this it is a much easier game, and all this lot have found me out!) ...

(more semi final action)

Actually that is a pretty good situation as it leaves me free to lay for fun, meet people and take photos ... I didn't make it from the pool stage into the knock out. We had a plate competition (I didn't get into the semis for that either ...)..

For the Open and the Junior knock outs, players surrendered their chosen armies for ones drawn from one of DBA's campaign set ups as last year.

(James, Mark and Martin ... triumphant in the Open)
In a tight final, Mark Skelton pipped Martin Smith for the title, and James May won the Junior title. Martin Myers won the plate competition. They all got
Magister Militum DBA armies to go with their trophies. Many thanks to MM for their continued support (please give them a visit).

Colin O'Shea's lead in the League survived, and Patrick Myers won the Junior League crown. Colin gets a book prize from Monarch Military Books who have sponsored the League. Patrick gets a Xyston army box of his choice.

Additionally, there were some Confused Generals from Bend Sinister and some additional complimentary booklets from the Society of Ancients stable going to appropriate players. For those who like the maths, £200 or so in goodies to back up the trophies (so thanks again to our sponsors).
(Phil presents the prizes at the English DBA Open)
Of course the camaraderie and the great spirit of all those games counts for much more and I hope everyone had as rewarding a day out as I did. I also learned a few more nuances of the game (there's a string of victories bursting to get out, somewhere in there) ...

Many thanks to the PAWS stalwarts who are managing the League tables and numbers as well as hosting their seasonal events and the Open.

Society of Ancients UK DBA League page

*By the time of Trafalgar, Nelson had near rock star status. The nation and his officers were dumbstruck at the loss. The State Funeral took 5 days, with the river unable to cope with the size of the regatta, St. Paul's too small for the mourners. The procession was so long that by the time the head of the column arrived at the Cathedral the funeral car had still not left Whitehall.
see The State Funeral of Lord Nelson for more remarkable info.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

16th October, Crystal Palace

SELWG 2011
It's good that SELWG now seems back in its accustomed spot and its accustomed venue. Good, this year, too, we had a quick trip down (I followed the AA route this time, and for once, it was good*). Also, this year the stand was being done by the A team - so all we (middling) Northerners had to do was turn up as the relief column and bring some current issues of

(Lost Battles masterclass: always a crowd in attendance while the game was being run)

The display part of the pitch was the Battle of Bibracte (Caesar against the Helvetii) done on the Professor's compact battlefield (though with 28mm figures, not 15s as I had originally suspected ... )

(Phil and Eric's layout for the compact battle of Bibracte)
Bibracte was a brutal affair with a lot of grim face-to-face combat as Caesar's legions punched through the centre of an initially aggressive barbarian army. There was little in the way of manoeuvre in the original battle, and the armies seem to have comprised mostly of 'heavy' infantry battleline troops. A good choice to try out the Lost Battles combat mechanisms!

The Society was very fortunate also to be allocated a pitch next to the Tunbridge Wells club's Hail Caesar Outremer game (set around in the period of the Third Crusade).

(Hail Caesar on the parched plains of the Holy Land)

I hope the pictures capture the easy eye-appeal of this game. I thought the sandy terrain tiles set off the figures (15s, mostly Essex that I saw) very nicely.

I'll indulge a few more shots ...

I have seen Hail Caesar games at many of this year's shows since it's launch at the Society of Ancients BattleDay earlier in the year (and subsequently at Salute, of course) ... but mostly they have been with 28mm Romans and Brits on improbably large (often mostly empty) tables - so this was a refreshing change to the formula and really caught people's attention.

Still sprawling, of course (such is the Black Powder ethic), but much more manageable ... Bless 'em, the chaps also played quite a lot of the game during the course of the day, and it was possible to watch and see the mechanisms in action. OK - I give in ... it was 15mm crusades game with nice figures and simple but effective terrain (and regulars will know that ticks a good number of my boxes). Great stuff.

Otherwise, SELWG is the victim of its own success in a way. The show's team t
ry to collect the best of everything, and although they usually succeed, it can mean that a lot of the wargames on show have been seen before.

Some things, of course, do merit a good look. Herne Bay's 'Crush the Kaiser' was a bit swamped in the huge (and artificially lit) cavern of Salute, but was a lot more engaging (for me at least) in Crystal Palace's more intimate and bright surrou
ndings - well that and SELWG allowed me to pay more attention to fewer games.

(Herne Bay's crush the Kaiser fascinates a youngster)

The other nice thing with SELWG is they make a bit of a fuss with their awards, and usually make some good choices. Well, they gave my 'Greyhounds in the Slips' a runners up prize last year, so they can't always be relied upon ... And there were some spectacular winners.

(SELWG: the Prize Givers' progress)

(Budapest again - but looking a little snowier this time)

(the Hun but not yet in the sun)

But I can't fail to mention Arbuthnot's whatnots ... A truly spectacular table meshing the war in the Pacific with aeronef nonsense (is that what it is?) ...

Now I'm sure it won't upset anyone if I come over a little confused (I've never been shy about being a historical wargamer who simply does not get the joys of made up stuff) ...

Give or take more transparent acrylic cluttering the table than a picnic Pimms party, the scenery was truly spectacular and drew attention away from many a nearby table. I'm sure there was a fantastic historical game in there somewhere, struggling
to get out.

If this sort of stuff does float your boat (no pun intended) there's loads of pictures all over the net after SELWG. But here's some from source (close ups)

Ah well. I would really love to see these guys tackle something like Salamis. With Triremes.

(some nice post war 20th century stuff)

A really good day out. We tried the Sat Nav thing on the way home ... it promised to avoid the traffic and wove us into West London seeking the North Circular - a truly bizarre route to the East Midlands that actually did get us to the M1 within an hour (way quicker than my previous trips home from Crystal Palace) ... Hmmm ... does this indicate that the technology works?

Next time out will be the UK DBA League's final round ...
The DBA English Open in Portsmouth.

Yes, you can come. See you there!

*I'll put it in small writing as a footnote, but in this instance, I may have been wrong about the AA's route, and it's not far off what Chris C used to recommend. Hmmm.

(flashback! Welcome to Jerusalem from 2008 ... those were the days!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

1st-2nd October, Derby


Phew what a scorcher.

A beautiful weekend and the atrium of Derby University's Kedlestone campus lets you enjoy all that sunshine.

I really like these bright, open venues - though I understand some areas got a bit warm. The Bring & Buy was not pleasant during the quiet time when I popped up, and I have heard from more than one source of people just leaving it because the fragrance got eye-watering.

It's a bit sad when you consider that the people who clear up the facilities probably associate all of us with the hygiene problems of a determined minority.

(The Elephant In The Room: a lively bunch of youngsters take on the elephant)

The Society of Ancients stand was an oasis of freshness of course - even if we were reprising our successful The Elephant in the Room. New this year we had the deluxe (if that encompasses cutting up the cards yourself) published version of the game for people who liked it to take away. And many did.

Although the show seemed fairly quiet at times, the Participation game was busily played, off and on, throughout the weekend - and was still active by mid afternoon on Sunday (at a time when many a northern show is breaking up).

(TEITR: scenes from a Society Participation game)

Many thanks to Graham for steadfastly manning the game all weekend and entertaining so many participants young and old. I'm sure there were some seeds of inspiration sown amongst some of the younger participants.

There were quite a few other ancients games out at Derby.

(Yorkshire, Palm Sunday 1461: The Rather Large Towton Project)

I was pleased to get a good look at the tiny but massive Towton game. I understand some infilling has raised the figure count to 18,000 now. 18,000? Is that possible? They are very small.

(like someone said .... the faasands of 'em ...)

It is a great project - and they play it too (Poleaxed II) ...
(The Rather Large Towton blog)

I'll also include a couple of shots of the 6mm Trebbia game.
(The Battle of the Trebbia, 218 BC, Northern Italy)

(the game was being played using 'Impetus')

I thought this was a great example of what small scale wargames can do: visually much more manageable than many a sprawling 28mm monster. I think this ticks a lot of boxes.

Our level was (excepting our 54mm game) a mix of 6, 10 and 28mm (perhaps some of it due to the proximity of Pendraken and Baccus ...?), all of them good. Again, I like the way smaller scales can capture the whole battlefield ...
(10mm Operation Brevity)

A pity that that section of road was knocked out of line ...

(6mm Gettysburg participation game: no monuments, but you can still make out Cemetery Ridge)

And I know some of you wouldn't want me to miss the big Warlord Games/Hail Caesar Romans bash (so here's a picture) ...

The Sedgemoor game I featured in the The Other Partizan was on show again. I got to chat to the presenters about the battle, which is nicely presented and about as good as sprawling 28 gets. They were happy to explain things, so thumbs up for that, too.
(Vienna 1683)

Back to the small but spectacular, I thought this 6mm Vienna 1683 game again came out a winner. I love that painted background: I really must think in terms of getting round three sides allows some extra visual options on side 4 (I used a mirror behind the City in Welcome to Jerusalem all those years ago - but I can imagine doing it differently now ....) ...

(close look at some of the Ottoman forces)

It is a truly remarkable scale, these days ... just in the photos, I can clearly see the Turkish cavalry, the characteristic Janissary caps etc.

Of course, a lot of this is down to Derby's atrium letting all that sunlight in. I think some of these smaller sale games would suffer badly in the more muted light of, say, Kelham Hall's Dome (where the Sedgemoor game was a real eye catcher).

(another look at some of the soldiers at Sedgemoor)

The Society had a reasonable weekend, including recruiting that magic new member whose decision means - as Shows North - we have recruited more members this year than in the whole of 2010 (so a big thank you to all the Shows volunteers: not only have you made a great contribution to keeping ancient and medieval warfare alive in people's minds, you have also helped the Society of Ancients keep head up in this age of the Internet).

Add to that some very nice shopping and an evening out at a Jazz event to see a long-standing friend's daughter play trumpet and you are getting close to a perfect weekend.

That said, nobody gave us a prize for winning anything this week ... so I guess it's situation normal really.

Very good show, Derby. Lots of good traders. Plenty of new products and lots of deals on offer. Lots of games to join in or inspire (a great collection in my camera - and they were just the ones I liked ...) ...

Thanks. I'm now looking forward to SELWG and then the DBA English Open.

Join the Society of Ancients (here)
Get a copy of A Domino Double Header (here)
Look forward to SELWG (here)
Get details on the DBA English Open (here)

Plenty of scope to get involved there ...

Fancy helping out at Fiasco? Recon? Wargamer? Drop me a line ...