Sunday, December 15, 2013

7th December, Pudsey, Leeds

Recon 2013

So, that was the 2013 shows season ... a blink and it rattled past.   

The reception by the wargame audience has been great, the shows have been well organised and the weather has been pretty favourable all through (so relatively free of dramas getting there and getting back) ...

(Recon ... upstairs-downstairs: downstairs, behind the baubles and tinsel is the trade and societies; upstairs there are more games plus the Bring & Buy ... something for everyone)

I put on Bosworth for what is its last scheduled show outing - it may well reappear in a DBA context, and the Battlefields Trust have asked me to do it at the Bosworth Festival next year - but from a Society perspective it has now had its year in the limelight.

(Bosworth - I'm very pleased with how these 54mm soldiers have shaped up in 2013)

We were fortunate to be adjacent to our friends at the Lance & Longbow Society and made some good new contacts too.

Anyway, let's have a look round ...

(Deepdale from the Lance & Longbow Society)

Steve, Will, David and Bob were back at Deepdale (1315) in a revised and very good looking version.   I recommend Will's and David's accounts of the action (and some excellent photo sets): a feast for the medievalist, as you would expect ...

Bosworth and Deepdale were the main interest within the SoA remit, but we also liked ...

(Clockwise from top left: Stingray; LRDG sub Adhoc game; Napoleonic smalls; Bolt Action 'somewhere')

I liked the Stingray toys, but the game itself looked very wooden (note I didn't say 'fishy' - it's Christmas, after all) ...

(DBN Battle of Albuhera ... nicely explained and supported by leaflets)

(More 15mm DBN detail)

(more non-historical fun stuff ... don't say I'm not in festive mood)

Yes - that was Star Wars and Stingray in the same blog ... but it gives you a flavour of the variety of participation games you can try at Recon ...

(Wings of Glory carrier game)

... and finally, this WoG Pacific game: I'm no fan of Wings of Whatever, but the ocean did look splendidly wet and the little ships drew my attention.

So a good selection of nicely turned out games I thought - and some that had not been seen before (by me, at least)

It was a little quieter for us in the afternoon, so having spoken negatively about Glen Foard's ambivalent interpretation of the deployments at Bosworth (he's great at the at the archaeology but neither clear nor convincing when it comes to reconstructing the lines of battle) ... I decided to try out a Foard interpretation ...
(Foard's Bosworth: the 'North of the Road' array)

Foard has two possible arrays on the correctly identified field ... both of which differ from Ingram's 'line astern'   ... one has the King's army in line, roughly perpendicular to the road, and straddling it.  The other has the army as in my photo, broadly North of the Roman road.

Both assume Henry approaches from the West and swings North of Fenn Hole to make his attack - avoiding the marsh and leaving it to his flank.

The guns are spread out in the line, not concentrated as Mike Ingram argues.

(Foard's Bosworth: Richard's army arrayed line abreast North of the Roman road)

Line abreast does not embrace Norfolk's battle engaging first, which is how the sources appear to have it, and requires Northumberland to be where he will be unlikely to be engaged (he isn't simply 'at the back' as he is in Ingram's interpretation) - I got that bit wrong, and putting Northumberland in the natural position, got him unavoidably engaged in the early phases (which is historically inaccurate)* ...

(Foard's Bosworth: Oxford attacks Norfolk)

The marsh does skew the attack, however, leaving Henry and his kin dropped behind, and plausibly opposite Richard's cavalry (so that bit works well enough) ...

With both armies arrayed in line, the natural first contact was not Oxford vs Norfolk but the Mercenary French and Scots against Northumberland ... an unequal fight in which the continental pikes quickly did for Percy's mix of retinue and levies.

(Foard's Bosworth: Oxford attacks in the centre and suffers some losses)

In the centre Oxford lacks the firepower at Norfolk's disposal (this part follows the orthodox narrative) ... but the King's line is overwhelmed without need of either commander or the Stanleys ...

(Foard's Bosworth: detail)

(Foard's Bosworth: end game)

I was surprised that this array actually performed worse than the Ingram array - I also need to resolve some of the inherent problems before being convinced it is likely.

The scenario notes will follow in a separate post.

Farewell 2013 ...

*assuming Norfolk's Vanguard takes the middle of the line, Richard therefore the left wing with the main battle (stationing him on the same wing as the marsh where his final melee occurs) and Northumberland the right.   Foard must have the Van on the right wing, Richard in the centre, and Northumberland on the left, hidden and behind the marsh (so not in a position to engage) ... But that would then not put Norfolk in front of Oxford's attack - so remains problematic.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1st December, Birmingham

Just a few turns from the M6 (if you take the advice), Wargamer is a friendly local show in a sports hall that marks the end of the Midlands shows season.

It is less well supported that the range of attractions would merit and I can only assume that as the Midlands is so well connected to the rest of the UK, catchment enthusiasts can attend all the other shows anyway (so are just about 'showed- out' by December)

Although the Society stand was relatively quiet, it gave me the opportunity to talk through next year's plans - and begin to develop an idea where Montaperti might fit in (to a year where I may scale back still further due to costs escalating and volunteering being out of fashion - but where I had hoped to look again at Chariot Racing) ...

(Reivers show team checking out the Society of Ancients Bosworth game: 54mm)

(my longshot of their Al Qadisha game: 10mm)

Beautiful sculpted terrain, I guess the 10mm Al Qadisha game was the Alpha to my big figure Bosworth's Omega.   It is difficult to do small scales well at shows as they tend to get 'shouted over' by bigger scales (especially the 28mm sprawls that are de rigeur for public events these days) - but terrain and basing are crucial (whereas, with the big stuff, the figures dominate, with smaller scales people see the whole world you are creating ... so if it is to work, it has to be good) ...

(Al Qadisha AD636 ... Arabs and Sassanian Persians in splendid 10mm)

Exhibits at the show covered most popular periods and a range of scales, rules and approaches were represented (something for everyone) by friendly teams who had time to chat and explain their take on wargaming.   Most of the games were historical, and most were clearly captioned - but it always pays to ask.

(clockwise from top left: 28mm Alamo; WWII Pacific; Isandlwana; 28mm ACW)

I particularly liked ...

(vast phalanxes of Napoleonic Russians)

(more 28mm Nappies, this time a beautiful layout on which to play some Sharpe Practice)

But my favourite was the Wyrley Retinue's Kirkburn Bridge game.   Oddly enough, 28mm again ... and not actually a historical battle (kirk-burn-bridge ... think about it ...) but and amalgamation of features from several prominent events in the Anglo-Scottish wars.

Some further details (click on the images for the bigger picture) ...

And of course there's always Dave's bookshop (without which no wargames show is complete these days) .. I took some nice stuff home (if there is ever anything you need - especially those wargames classics you forgot to buy 30 years ago - ask Dave Lanchester ... he'll track a copy down for you).

Very nice little show.  Nice to meet people ... and home in time for tea!   As a Midlander from the other side of the M1 like me, anyway ...

(more scenes from the Society of Ancients Bosworth game, created by Phil Steele, flags by Fluttering Flags)

Friday, November 29, 2013

23rd/24th November, Glasgow ...


Unfortunately I didn't manage to get up to Glasgow til later than planned, and missed Caliban's big Friday night tactica game - I bought into that idea where you get your car serviced before a long trip ... and trust them to finish it on time ...

The good news is that the Glasgow collective have found a new venue ... and it is ideal (adequate free parking, decent rooms and breakfast, a spacious conference suite for our games with modern coffee facilities - and a bar that stays open at night til the last man drops*): good find - Glasgow Campanile** at the SECC.

I only drove round the block 3 times to get the last bit right (which solo driving in Glasgow also isn't too bad).

(scenes from the 2013 Armati Calcutta Cup ...) ..

So after a Friday night that just consisted of beers and snacks with the usual suspects, it was into the Armati fest and Round One: the Calcutta Cup ...

Like many events, you can't play your clubmates/home nation in the first round - this has been achieved for the Glasgow event by configuring the first round as, more or less, Scotland and chums vs England and chums (the chumming being decided by the organisers to get broadly balanced teams) - it counts for the weekend but has its own little trophy, too ...

And here we all are celebrating our victory in bouncing footballer style, teasing tartan and pirate bandanna***

David H joined the English to make us Anglo/Irish (but needs must) and he ended up on the winning side :) ... I contributed a lucky win to the cause so everyone can smile.  In the early years they used to call this the Bannockburn round ... but we scotched that years ago so now it is the Calcutta Cup.

The format is preset (loosely) historical scenarios all provided by the hosts (who also provide implements, markers, dice etc.****) ... preset tables diced for before each round, then the players dice for which army.

There is an army list/scenario notes for both players, plus a deployment screen, and, love it or loath it, each 'board' is a game mat with deployment zones marked out.

I played Crusader vs Mamluk (Crusader), Roman vs Pontic (Roman), Burgundian vs French (Burgundian), Late Roman vs Hun (Roman) and Saitic Egyptian vs Achaemenid Persian (Egyptian).  

That's a fantastic mix of what ancient and medieval wargaming has to offer, so well done to the organisers.

Here are some pics:

(Late Roman)

(a 'Bennett Box' marshaling up against a Pontic battleline mostly of Imitation Legionaries)

(Burgundian Ordonnance)

(Egyptian chariots bundling over a gentle hill to take on the Persians)

Splendid figures all round as I'm sure you will agree.

I got 3 wins out of the 5 games, which is enough to keep me happy - and finished just in the top half.  Mostly my win/loss went with the normal outcome of the scenario I played (yes they are balanced ... and yes, the outcomes do show a pattern) ...

On the other hand, I was disappointed to become embroiled in a rules dispute in game 4 and left not happy about either the issue or the outcome.   Hopefully the host club will be prompted to look at how they play the game and fix some problems.  Most of the 'new' formation arrangements are 'gamey' in their intent: they are also illegal, so it is down to the umpires to know the rules and fix it: and frankly, if they don't know the rules, they should rule _against innovations that are not 'clearly' permitted.  It was like being beamed back into the bad old 80s for a while.

Enough of that.

The weekend finished in good spirit with Meth picking up the trophies and the rest of us various 'gifts' that made us feel silly but welcome.  I will edit in some more detail when it becomes available.

There followed some Armati-moot chat about next year (which will follow the same pattern as this year) ... Bournemouth - London - Paris - Derby - Glasgow (with the usual chat about Britcon - maybe/maybe not).

Suffice to say, the next event is in Bournemouth (March 1st/2nd 2014; Venue: Hotel Royale, Bournemouth): it also follows the 'all provided' formula and has an airport so international visitors would be really welcome.   Email me.

Happy Christmas from the Armati League ... Wargamer and Recon still to come for SoA Shows North!

*which isn't that late these days, but that's a different blog I think! 
** not my first Campanile hotel but easily the best so far ...
***that's a bandanna Bruce is brandishing, not a trophy from Friday night (whatever they tell you!!)
****so players only need bring themselves, plus a set of rules if they intend to refer to them - which, with Armati, isn't usually necessary ...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

16th/17th November, Reading

Warfare 2013

Warfare is the last outing for the Society of Ancients main UK show team for 2013.   The 'Shows North' team still has Recon and Wargamer to come, but for the big show we were as usual helping as day 2 volunteers.

Saturday saw Phil Sabin recreate the Battle of Carrhae, which I understand went well ... On Sunday, Secretary David Edwards provided a taster Crusades game loosely based on some 13th Century sources as a tryout for Field of Glory.   The Kingdom of Heaven look proved attractive ...

The way Field of Glory handles the interaction of charging Knights with lighter shooting cavalry is both plausible and entertaining and shows the game off to its best.   It has enough fun in it to be a good introduction to the Crusades period and is simple enough to explain in a show environment.

(a closeup of some of those splendid 28mm knights from David's collection)

Elsewhere around the Societies zone, John Curry's History of Wargaming Project had a memorial exhibit remembering Donald Featherstone including books and trophies from his estate ...

(Donald F. Featherstone 1918 - 2013)

Many thanks to Chris Scott who explained the significance of some of the memorabilia to me.

Don Featherstone made a massive contribution to turning an almost invisible fringe activity into the recognisable leisure activity I could get captivated by in the late 1960s.   He was a key contributor of the books I could find in the library as a lad.   Without him, Tony Bath, Charles Grant and Peter Young things might have been very different.   We miss them all.

The Lance & Longbow Society also attended with a display of publications and a WotR skirmish game ..

(Rollo guards the L&L Soc treasures)

In the rest of the show:

Overall it did seem to me a bit quieter than previous years (we usually get asked to help on the Sunday, so that is the day I am most familiar with) ... and some traders thought so too - OK takings but not particularly busy.   There was plenty of good stuff to look at, of course ...

(Celtic village terrain by Kallistra)

(Elephant action from the Old Malvern 28mm Armati game)

(54mm cattle from the Skirmish Wargames Society)

(this chap will pass for a soldier, perhaps ...) ...

(sticking with 54s, here's some ECW chaps from the Rearguard at Rowdeford game last seen at Colours)

(splendid Napoleonic Egyptian campaign game - these always look great)


(beautiful Sengoku period Samurai game with home grown rules)


Well, those some of my favourites, and there was alos the 1/35 scale Stalingrad game (seen at Campaign) and Peter Pig's Longships in the main trader hall.

John Curry and Chris Scott were good neighbours on the Don Featherstone stand, and Ian Lowell was a welcome guest for the Society of Ancients.  Roy Boss dropped by, too, although he was playing in one of the events.   And Richard Jeffrey-Cook.   

Notable too, Colin Froud stayed for a chat.   He was the outgoing Committee member from whom I took over sales and Back Issues in 1987.  1987!  I had to hire a van and collect the stock from Colin's attic and - another 100 miles away - Bill Thurlow's garage.   Not a home owner all those years back, I was able to store the stock together at the vicarage in Wellingborough courtesy of Ian (who became President in 1993) ... Some of us are still around, but it isn't often we meet for a chat.