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.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10th November, Manchester


Early November saw us back on the road to Manchester for the final round of the one-day Northern Doubles - probably my last FoG ancients outing* ...

We took my Later Sicilian ... probably the most flexible and rewarding army to use in open competition, if not a big points scorer.   Although almost all the figures are more recent, this army dates back to the days of 7th edition and the original Society of Ancients series.

(Manchester Doubles: the Later Sicilians drawn up against Hungarians)

We were very fortunate to get two pretty plausible 'historical' opponents ... Later Hungarian and a less contemporary but very similar Later Castillian.   Both essentially cavalry armies, both with plenty of knights to fight.

The first game was a close draw, cut a bit short due to the tight schedule of the day.   The second game swung against us in the last turn or two and would have seen us defeated had another half hour been available to complete the game.

Despite the changes, I still like these cavalry fights and we can usually get a result somewhere along the line:   two keenly fought games that combined a good attitude with a will to outmatch the enemy and a proper understanding of the rules.    

Good tournament play.

(The Glittering Prizes: lots of trinkets for players of DBMM, FoG-R and FoG Ancients)

I thought we would beat the Castillians by overwhelming their knights ... my worry was that our light troops might be driven off and the Sicilian Medium Foot would not be able to hold the line while the knights did their usual work.

Actually, the medium spear fighters repelled 3 knightly charges and the archers 2.  This enabled all the knights to get committed ... and on my side of the battle, at least ... get killed.   The Saracens finally succumbed to lost bases (auto-break in FoG) but by this stage they had been deserted by their noble compatriots ...

(the Duke of Bavaria leads his formidable Swabian and Ghibelline cavalry)

So a mid-table finish for the year - but we did get to pick up our second place trophies from the Derby round (so we didn't go home empty-handed).

The Castillians were commanded by Peter and Richard Butler who finished top of the Fog League, so we can perhaps pat ourselves on the back that we kept the game and the League in the balance for as long as we did.  Well done to them.

This was the last year of the current organising team, so many thanks need to go to Colin Betts, Geoff Pearson, Mike Goss and Dave Ruddock ... I think Geoff and Dave will be part of the new team, Colin and Mike are taking a break.    

All the great wargames events we enjoy depend on the time and forbearance of volunteer organisers (and they are always outnumbered by players who don't get their lists in on time, roll up late, leave armies at home, don't know the rules etc. etc. i.e. the rest of us ...).  

Take a bow, all you volunteers.

Also in November, we had a big AMW Raphia refight in Northamptonshire ...

Here are the pictures:

(yellow tokens denote average units, red raw)

(down the lines from the Ptolemaic left wing)

(1/72 scale heavy infantry action: stylish old school soldiers from Trebian's expanding collection)

It looked splendid but was by turns engaging and clunky.   AMW has some limitations 'straight from the box' and we haven't got all the tweaks refined for a big Hellenistic battle like this.

Work in Progress.

See the Society of Ancients next at Warfare.   Lost Battles (Sat. only) and the Crusades.

*I enjoy all these wargaming gatherings, and look forward to meeting up with friends at Usk and Burton next year ... I just think I have got what I want out of FoG-AM, now it is in its second version - so I am hoping to try FoG-R for these upcoming events.   I will still take some photos of the ancients games, of course.