Monday, September 30, 2013

14th - 15th September, Newbury Racecourse

Colours 2013

There will be a number of catch up entries in quick succession as my timing get back on schedule.   The Alfred East Art Gallery has just celebrated its Centenary and some of my attention has gone that way over the last few weeks.   Congratulations and happy anniversary! ... meanwhile the Autumn shows season has clicked into gear with its usual bustling frequency.

Newbury Racecourse provided the customary good, bright and efficient facilities for Colours.   

The Society of Ancients had a triple feature: on Saturday Philip Sabin hosted games of Gaugamela (331) using his Lost Battles formula; on Sunday, inheriting lots of space from the big game, I took over the display space and put on Bosworth together with a display of the latest addition to the nostalgia collection: Phil Barker's 1960s flats army.


(Gaugamela reconstructed as a Lost Battle)

(Gaugamela: the spectacular Persian host)


(click on the pictures for a bigger image)


(Phil Barker's original Roman Army set up for Tony Bath's rules)

(closer in: splendid veterans of wargames 50 years ago)

Saturday got off to a somewhat grudging start ... I was doing the membership stand for Day One of the show and we are situated next to the Bring & Buy.   This queued past us all morning (yep ... all morning ): a phalanx several deep and right down the main avenue for the best part of 3 hours.  It has been like this in previous years but not quite as bad I think.   I commented wryly that it would wash out the first hour or so for us - I was optimistic, it wiped out the whole morning (nobody can really get at the stand because of all the bodies in the queue ... now that might give us a captive audience, but they aren't there for us, they want to deposit their wares on the B&B): to give everyone something to look at, I switched on my laptop and set it to slideshow pictures from the Chalons BattleDay.   Much though I like Colours, there has to be a better way to book in for the Bring & Buy.

Colours is a big show with plenty to look at and loads of good shopping opportunities.   During my breaks over the weekend, I particularly enjoyed ...

(John Curry's demo of the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame)

(Crawley's wintery Battle of Fraustadt, 1706 table)

(15mm World War II from Loughton Strike Force)

(Dux Bellorum presented with - inset - some splendid new 10mm figures from Pendraken)

(a ravaging 15mm contingent in Peter Pig's Vikings demo game)

Plenty of good things for the ancient and medieval enthusiast.   Had I had time I would have delighted in taking a seat for the Vikings game and for Dux Bellorum - both look great and I fear I'm falling behind the pack. 

We had a number of tight reruns of Bosworth on the Sunday ... I still find Mike Ingram's interpretation convincing, but Richard can overcome the handicaps of a poor deployment and Percy's reluctance if he can grab opportunities with both hands.   He nearly did so on the day, of course,  but was edged out of history by the slenderest of margins.

(Bosworth at Colours: Richard prevails)

It was also a good show for 54mm enthusiasts ... in addition to the Society game we were next to the Skirmish Wargames Society who this year put on a sprawling snapshot from Leipzig  

NB those are 54s, so that's quite a big table. ... and across in the annex, there were some 54mm ECWs ...

(The Rearguard at Rowdeford, 1643 by Devizes and District Wargames Group)

(Hastings & St Leonards ... also in the Annex)

Back up on the top floor, the nearby Pike & Shot Society had support from the Liverpool Wargames Society and their Battle of Bicocca, 1522 - a good looking 10mm Field of Glory Renaissance game ...

... and the Sheffield Wargames Society had a huge 25mm Crusades game ...

This is certainly one of those shows where it would take you two days to do justice to all the good things on display.  Hopefully the photographs give some flavour.   Backing all that up, of course, is an extensive trade fair and a range of competitions as well ... 

Great show, free parking, wonderful light from the big Racecourse windows, but they need to sort out the Bring & Buy queue ...

1st September, Kelham Hall

The Other Partizan

Many thanks to everyone who helped on our visit to The Other Partizan ... I neglected to take my camera so am grateful to Chris who took his.  I think he deleted the ones I took of him playing the Bosworth game and substituted some of me running the game ...

this was another Lance & Longbow/Society of Ancients shared zone, and another outing for the 2013 Show Game, Bosworth.

(Bosworth DBA presentation in progress)

I found the layout of the show problematic this time.  We were right next to a 10mm demo game of Bosworth based on the now obsolete reconstruction in the 'current' Osprey title.

I have to own up that as a fellow wargamer who is, in part, at least, a military historian, this compromises me: I have no wish or intention to criticise someone-else's effort: everyone has an equal right to pitch their games at a level they feel is appropriate.  Then again, everything I have to say about my game, the Battle of Bosworth, and the archaeological work done at the site is a direct criticism of any game based on the Osprey book which is now, to the satisfaction of even casual student of the subject, proved to be wrong: what is depicted is not the battle of Bosworth.

Given that the obsolete interpretation has Richard III's army holding the slopes of a significant elevation, and the battle was fought on the flat, it does make a difference.

(Bosworth: Norfolk takes the battle to the rebels)

Elsewhere there were plenty of good things at what felt like quite a quiet Kelham event.   I borrowed the camera to get a couple of pictures of BRB Simon's splendid Thapsus game - a very eye-catching ancients slog ...

(scenes of Thapsus from the Big Red Bat's cave)

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and thanks to the players who tried out the V3 DBA Bosworth game.

Glenn Foard and Anne Curry's 'definitive' volume on the lost battlefield of Bosworth has now been published and I will add some further texture (and possibly a Slingshot article) when I have had a chance to go through the material.  The location on Fenn Lane is certain, but there remains some scholarly debate on the orientation of the engagement.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

8th September, British Legion Club, Derby

Northern Doubles (Field of Glory)

A slightly delayed report pending the scores in this friendly Sunday series.   The scores took a while to come up as the SoA team in the FoG-AM (that'd be me, then ...) messed up their score sheet in the first round.

We used my still quite successful Feudal Aragonese, and, after sorting things out, we came 2nd with a decisive win inside the time limit and a score draw (marginally against us).

This is the same army we won the Halifax round with in 2011, so it certainly seems to suit us, it wins over half its games and doesn't seem too badly affected by V2 syndrome.

Javelin armed skirmishers still seem hard done by (but they are cheap, which means an army without any 'poor' and with plenty of knights still tallies up with 16 units) ... but are not affected by the reduction of ranges - so they are relatively better off, now, compared with bows or slings.

The knights are armoured, not heavily armoured and benefit from a (V2) bonus of +1 MU, so move like cavalry.  This is a real improvement and makes the feel much better (these are Spanish Caballeros, not clumsy French tin cans*) ...

(Game One: vs Carthaginians)

Of course, who you play against will make a big difference ... against the popular big infantry hulks you are probably heading for a draw ... but at Derby - which is an open event - we got drawn, out of period, against a Carthaginian with plenty of horse and medium foot ... and, in period, against Italo-Norman.

(Game Two: vs Italo Norman)

We got lucky against a very game Carthaginian (getting lucky is a familiar theme amongst my tales of victory).   And it was a joy to to get a historical match against the Normans ... though the luck bug bit us back in the last turn there.   

The heavy cavalry are pretty much the same ... the Normans had more spearmen, whereas we had the advantage in javelin skirmishers.   As the spearmen come in big lumps, we also had a couple more units.

A very friendly 2 game/one day competition.   Might be our last year as i still don't expect to play much FoG next year ...

Thom Richardson won the DBMM, Chris Thorn from the Amey/Thorn Impalers, won the FoG Ancients.

More Spanish v Norman eye candy...

(skirmishers go before the King of Aragon and his feudal host)

(Spanish reserves)

(Norman knights holding the left wing)

(densely-packed Norman spearmen)

(the Spanish attack)

(combat all down the line)

*not that French tin cans were clumsy, of course ... I was using the term for effect!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Coming soon: the Battle of Montaperti (1260)

(my 13th Cent. Italians lined up and picking sides)

This is just by way of getting the topic started.    As you may have read elsewhere, the SoA BattleDay for next year is the 1260 Guelph/Ghibelline (in this case Florentine/Siennese-Imperial) battle of Montaperti.

It has got to be one of the most colourful options available to the ancient/medieval enthusiast (I confess, I wasn't carried away at the time because I've done most of the figures already so it would be one of those 'not completely new' projects).

I have a late 14th Cent. Florentine Condotta army ... plate armoured knights and a big force of infantry liveried up based on the banners and costume at Montaperti.

(Imperial and Siennese cavalry lined up)

... And I have a mid 13th Cent. Sicilian (Imperial) army where the cavalry force is based on the Siennese and Imperial knights from Montaperti ... so around 500 pieces pretty much ready to go plus a couple of the characteristic ceremonial wagons.

The Guelph infantry from one of my armies, the Ghibelline cavalry from another.

I have a few other armies for the period which can be raided - and I will enjoy making up new command stands and other battle specific special pieces.

The original source is the Libro di Montaperti based on a collection of contemporary papers and giving a remarkably detailed account of the enterprise.   For toy soldier enthusiasts, much of this is accessible, distilled in Montaperti - La battaglia nel diorama (ed Mario Venturi) upon which I have based most of my figures.

('Montaperti' open at a page of heraldry; inset - the cover to look for)

I'll not give the entire story away at this stage save to say there were about 50,000 engaged including the Florentine Carroccio and War Bell,  there were civic militia, knights, famous dignitaries in a tale of pride heroism and treachery ... challenging to model in all its aspects in a wargame (which may make it an fascinating project) ...

The big question for me at this stage is which rules to use.   Obvious for me would be Armati ... it is my default option for historical battles and works very well in historical formats.   On the other hand, Armati is usually well-represented at the BattleDay (2013, both in optimal and epic scales).

Last time I presented a game at the BattleDay I did Plataea using Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Wargaming.   AMW?   I think I would stretch it a lot to cover the human factors of this battle.    DBA is the system in which I am most interested these days - but that, too, would duplicate other projects (_and might be a bit too 'broad brush') ...

(Closing in  on some of those central Italian infantry)

Ignoring the less historically focused GW derivatives, two options that do beg for attention might be Impetus (popular, but not normally showing at Bletchley) and Poleaxed (these days, Poleaxed II) from the Lance & Longbow Society ...  The former tends to get talked up a lot - I have played it in a couple of tryout games, and quite enjoyed it ... the latter I thought very complex last time I gave it a go - but some Medieval enthusiasts swear by it ...

Hmmm ...  We need a test game or two I think.

(next SoA outing will be Colours - a big Phil Sabin Gaugamela battle on the Saturday, my 54mm Bosworth participation game on the Sunday ... plus would you like to see Phil Barker's 1960s flats collection?: taking over the big Lost Battles space with DBA I will have extra tables left _and would be able to bring these historic soldiers along if anyone is interested Phil Barker's flats)