Wednesday, October 24, 2012

21st October, Portsmouth

2012 English DBA Open

A week after SELWG  sees us on the road again, this time to Portsmouth, home of the Royal Navy.    

Congratulations to Tony and Max, whose wedding we had attended the previous evening.   I'm confident we made the trip from Norfolk to Portsmouth faster than even Nelson would have envisaged.

(my Gepids ... mostly Lurkio figures with some Gladiator, Chariot and Old Glory)

I had originally intended to debut a Kushite Egyptian army this year (as I was working on some special decorative features) ... but decided to recycle some of the Eastern Front armies as a way or promoting the 2013 running of the event.    Taking all four - I opted for Gepids and Chris, who has a vast collection had no time to prepare, took the Sub Roman British.

It worked out fine as Richard Pulley had brought Kushites anyway (and I always prefer avoiding duplications) and my Ostrogoths also ended up going out on loan for some friendlies.

('home clash' ... an Eastern Front encounter between Arthur and the Gepids)

As has become normal, the 28mm event was cancelled due to lack of interest, and the 15mm were split into pools of 5 players for a series of 'round robin' matches before the winners of each would progress to a semi-final phase.

Lo and behold, the draw gave us a home match to kick off with ... me vs Chris in the early medieval pool.   A good draw actually, as both of us were a bit rusty and it gave us a warm up round to get our acts together.

In the pool matches my Gepids fought against Sub Roman British, Tuareg, Rajputs, Anglo Irish, and Teutonic Order.    I managed a couple of rounds in the 'un-pooled' Plate ... and encountering Early Burgundian and Marian Roman.

There were a number of great looking armies in use on the day and some attractive encounters:

(Colin's Arabs a caught on camera by Martin Smith.  Click on the pictures)

(this wave of Tuareg camel warriors crashed over my Gepid army which they had lured into the desert)

(Chris getting stuck in on the adjacent table)

(another desert clash amongst the sand dunes)

(a great close up shot from the ancients pool courtesy of Martin Smith)

So, a very enjoyable series of games in good company with a number of stylish armies on display.

I did not accumulate sufficient points to be any where near the finals, but got a flukey win over junior Findlay to progress a round in the plate!    A full breakdown of results will follow in due course on Society of Ancients News, but suffice to say that Scott Russell won the Senior final and Findlay Schofield the Junior final:

In addition to their trophies, they won gift prizes kindly donated by Magister Militum.

The Plate competition was won by Richard Pulley's Kushite Egyptians who gave us all a demonstration of how the littoral landing rules work.

The 2012 English DBA Open was also the final round of the SoA UK DBA League, and after some crunching of the numbers, the top positions went to Scott Russell, and, retaining his junior title, Patrick Myers.   Again, a full breakdown will follow on the Society's news page.

Congratulations to all the winners, and many thanks to PAWS for organising and to Magister Militum (DBA Open) and Monarch Books (UK DBA League) for joining in as sponsors ...

(Scott Russell's Open winning Ptolelmaic army - Museum figures painted by Arnaud Marmier)

You can catch up with the Society of Ancients next at Warfare on the 17th and 18th of November.

Society of Ancients UK DBA League

*24/10 edit ... caption on the Arab picture corrected per reader feed back ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

14th October, Crystal Palace

SELWG 2012

Although I had actually booked myself in to help on the Pike & Shot Society stand, a last minute change saw me taking the Shows North stand to Crystal Palace to support the Society of Ancients.

Thanks to Steve and Neil for managing most of the day without me.

(click on the images for a bigger picture)

Although the big southern shows are not my explicit brief, as I often get asked to pick up the pieces, perhaps I can appeal for volunteers to contact the secretary?   Meeting the public on the Society's behalf is a great pleasure and an easy way to make new friends and contribute something to the organisation ...

The game we featured was Phil Sabin's treatment of Trebia ... a fascinating battle from the first phase of Hannibal's invasion of Italy (and the last trumpeting of the Elephant corps he had famously brought over the Alps).

This is the one where Sempronius has his men wade the freezing river before breakfast in order to get double enveloped by Hannibal and Mago's Carthaginian army on the other side.  Thanks, Semps! ....

The Legionaries cannot be destroyed and manage to break their way through the entire Carthaginian centre and march off the battlefield.

(Italians and Numidians in Hannibal's army)

For me, Trebia is the battle that shows that Hannibal's great victory at Cannae was unlikely a freak combination of circumstances (as some will always argue) but a deliberately orchestrated battleplan: all the features of Cannae arise at Trebia except that the Romans are able to fight their way out of the potential encirclement.

The next time Hannibal gets the opportunity to surround and annihilate a Roman in the field, his army would be deployed in such a way as to ensure the centre remain trapped in the pocket.

Of course, that's just my take on the significance of the battle, and you can find an authoritative account of the engagement and Sabin's methodology in reconstructing it in Lost Battles.

(Southend's Battle of Benfleet)

I like SELWG, and enjoyed a leisurely wander around as it got quieter in the afternoon.

(GLG Games Group's Battle of Sagrajas)

There were some excellent ancients games on display (actually a little less unhistorical gaming, this year I thought - which might have suited others a little less than it suited me) ...

(splendid Gravesend/War & Conquest Kadesh game)

Prettiest game of the Show surely went to the battle of Kadesh demo by, I believe, the Gravesend club, hosted by Rob Broom's War & Conquest/Scarab Miniatures.

(Hittite chariotry lie in waiting)

Nothing that flashy, of course ... just everything exactly right - terrain, figures, space, layout ...

('Shepway's Germans Go Home')

I also liked the Germania tree-fest  ... I got a real sense of the Romans being stranded in the forest ...

There were some good displays and games out of our period, as ever ... some that have done the round of other shows, some new.

(Atlanta by the Essex Warriors)

For nice clear presentation, I particularly liked the ACW Atlanta game and and the (loaded with figures) Aspern-Essling.   The former was being played during the show (which is always good to see) - the later just looked too crowded (but what do I know?) ...

(Loughton Strike Force: Aspern-Essling)

Great show.  Horrible journey home.

Don't forget the DBA English Open in Portsmouth on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

6th - 7th October, Donnington Park

Derby World Wargames 2012

New venue this year, of course, and like everyone, the Society of Ancients Shows North team has opinions.

I have been doing Society stands and participation games at Derby shows for years, and fondly remember those truly international events back in the Assembly Rooms.   Of course, I also remember the £20 per day parking fees (back in the days when £20 was a lot of money ...)..

I had no problem finding the new venue - I have used the Motor Racing circuit, watched bikes there, parked in 'Airparks' when flying out of East Midlands etc. so I'm afraid I have no idea about signage.   

We downloaded some instructions in case it wasn't really in the Donnington Park circuit compound (but it was, just as I'd assumed, so no problem ...)..

(Ambush!: Call it Qids by the Society of Ancients)

This year we were running the little 6mm Participation version of the Society's Call it Qids: we played a lot of games over the weekend and had no problem getting players once the venue had started to fill in the mornings.  I'll include a few photos as the game does not involve big figures or sprawl over several tables and so doesn't feature on many a bland photo report.

(the game uses 6mm figures by Baccus)

The game is a quick but highly variable rendition of the Battle of Kadesh ... broadly as depicted in Egyptian monumental records.

The movement system is designed to reduce the Hittite player's control of the treasure hunting chariot waves, whilst the game's built in sequence clicks through the battle's key phases.

(a quick but unpredictable game)

We continue to be surprised at how variable such a simple system can be and every game is different.

I think one of two of the shows team have stumbled upon a winning formula - but I'll not share it and anyway, the dice need to support the play solution (so it doesn't really break the game) ...

(Pharaoh Ramesses towers over the Hittites sacking his camp)

Some of the players had come particularly to try out the game, whilst others were looking for a game to play as they enjoyed the game - and picked up a copy (which we like to think meant the game had worked for them).

Then again, SoA games don't exactly break the bank  (Society of Ancients Games).

Nevertheless we appreciate player feedback: 'excellent - it works really well' ... 'yes - I like it' ... 'very good, thanks' ... and 'awesome little game' ...  Thanks to everyone who played and thanks for the kind comments.

Many thanks to Baccus and Warbases who supported the Call it Qids project.

In terms of games played, members recruited and Slingshot issues handed out, it is worth saying that the Society stand was 'up' about 15% on the last couple of years at the Derby University venue (not a patch on the old days, of course - but this is the age of the internet and historical wargaming subsists in a much watered-down version and so positive trends are nothing if not good).

(Splendid 6mm game)

(Sudan: one of the better 28mm games on display) 

Whether the good turn out and positive response is a result of people trying the new venue rather than approving it will show up in future years, but it was certainly a good trade show with lots of depth and variety.   I topped up with gear (2, 6 and 54mm) from Irregular Miniatures and was delighted with the 15mm geese I found at Museum.

(excellent RAF club night bomber game - great searchlights ...) 

(another good 28mm game I saw ...)

There were some good games on display elsewhere in the hall: though disappointingly not too much for the ancients enthusiast (big money has moved on from our turf lately and wants you to buy 28mm WW2 etc these days).   Scales and styles were well represented, from 6mm to 54mm and there was a huge battleship.

(some flavours of Derby 2012)

For people are less interested in wargaming I understand there was also quite a lot of fantasy, Sci-Fi and Zombie games.   There were also some nice tables of period equipment laid out by the various heritage societies (though not very much 'walking around in costume').

Out and about, I got a look at some of those new Adler 10mm Celts and had a very informative chat with the designer.   These are very fine little figures and I am now awaiting with enthusiasm a range of Macedonians (one day, maybe ...) ...

(really good 10mm Celts photographed on the Adler stand)

And it was great to see the Glasgow lads who were down for the Armati competition.

In all, a good and productive weekend, and 'activity' up compared to the last couple of years.  On the plus side, the venue is really easy to find and accommodated a lot of variety in single hall.  I didn't have any of the A38 grief that often accompanies a Sunday evening trip back from Derby .

Most of us did not really take to the venue - dark, soulless, seen better days etc. being the common comments.   With the uncarpeted concrete floor and no big windows, I expected the venue to be cold ... but it wasn't (unless, I guess, you were near an open door - it is October, after all), and I didn't find the noise as bad as some of our team.  I was disappointed with the muddy access and parking.

The venue is currently poorly managed.  The toilets were not presentable, the venue was tawdry and the food, despite its top price, was not up to the appropriate quality standard.   Anyone who knows the back story of Donnington Park will not be surprised.

However, there is nothing to say the facilities won't be better run in future.   There could be quite a good venue currently being hidden by the poor management and poor maintenance.

That said, it will always have a Motor racing Circuit and Airport adjacent, so it will never be quiet.   It is not Kedleston's beautiful atrium, nor is it Newbury or York Racecourse (today's best wargames venues, to my mind).

Next outing for our Shows Team will be SELWG ... and fantastic venue but a terrible drive (for me at least) - and although Phil Sabin will be doing his Lost Battles as the ancients game, manning issues mean it will be my shows North stand that will be there for membership support.

But I always like SELWG ... great show - come and join in!