Tuesday, October 28, 2014

19th October, Portsmouth

The 2014 English DBA Open

I very nearly had to open this post with one of those 'the monkey writes Shakespeare intros'.   You know ... you go on bashing away randomly for long enough  ... More anon ...

The Open is a one-day DBA event ... take any army you like but the players will then be arbitrarily pooled by date.  After a round robin of pool games, the winners and runners up go forward to a knock out scramble for the trophies.

In addition, the Open was the last round of the Society of Ancients UK DBA League - with some positions still in doubt on the day pending the open scores.

So two sets of trophies come day's end.

(front - alongside the latest Slingshot: plaques for the DBA Open; behind: shields for the DBA League)

I do hope you like the shields ... these are hand cast and embellished in Northamptonshire and are unique to the Society.    In this case a number of ugly old figures, miscasts and off cuts were melted down and recycled.     As many of you know, I have a soft spot for old figures so rest assured no classics are being lost to posterity in this process - indeed I hope it is a sort of Valhalla for yesterday's misshapen and abandoned warriors.

DBA Open

I took along some generally unfancied Pre Feudal Scottish (III/45b)

Malcolm Canmore's Scots

3Kn Gen, 1 x 2LH, 1 x 4Wb, 6 x 3Sp, 1 x 3Wb, 2 x 2ps.

These are the rest of some bags of  Peter Pig Vikings and samples from other manufacturers which I put together for a Slingshot review.   I had them just about ready for Portsmouth - they will have a few clumps of heather added to their bases when I find where I have put the little bag.

The only fiddling - other than mixing in the different makes - was lengthening a few of the spears: this army will become '3Pk' under V3 (and lose a Ps for a Sp or Wb) and I wanted it ready for the new version.

(the AD Pool: portrait shot of Tim's splendid Mongols about to sally forth)

In my 'AD' pool I got Mongols, Samanids, French Ordonnance, Magyar and a cross-over tussle with Babylonians ... a challenging series of opponents but not bad for an Open competition.

With all those LH my main plan was to channel the enemy with woods, back up my flanks and close the enemy down as rapidly as I could.  Attack rather than defend if there was any choice at all.

(closing down the Mongols: if they roll a 1 now, I am in business - my Zocs are coming)

(Channeling the French ... in fact the flank skirmish in the woods - and its implications - decided this one)

(Samanids: I was very wary of that elephant but managed to get onto its flank and turn the game)

I failed to get to grips with the Magyars (hard to pin them down with infantry and there's not much time to faff about with Portsmouth's sudden death timings), and, against the Babylonians, (put simply) I failed to find an answer to the disruptive effect of that wooded blob in the middle of the table (especially after an enemy Ax had jumped into it at an incompatible angle!) ...

(crossovers ... this terrain was too complicated for me and it blunted my attacking intentions)

Even so, the plucky Scots topped the pool and thrust me into the semis.

Knock out ... Roses civil wars ...

So choices over ... the format for the final phase of the Open is for all 4 players to take the same army (in this case Wars of the Roses, although options could be chosen).

(semi-final: a favourable Wars of the Roses engagement)

I have to say I don't really find WotR in DBA 2.2 a test of much other than die rolling - but I got lucky and proceeded to the final ...

(Final: no gifts in this game ... more WotR ... an unfavourable engagement - I couldn't kill anything)

Then I got unlucky and came Second - Game over.

(2014 English Open: Babylonians vs Chinese; Kushite Egyptians; more knock out WotR; Samanids vs Mongols) 

So in the end not the complete works ... maybe an accumulation of errors ...

Winner: Martin Smith; Runner up: Phil Steele; 3rd Martin Myers; 4th Duncan McCoshan

Society of Ancients UK DBA League 2014

All this was sorting out the finishing positions for the national DBA League as well - although in the end Martin Myers did not manage to overhaul Richard Pulley's 3rd place score (so, by day's end, things looked similar to how they had started)

(Martin and Colin collecting their shields - Richard and Findlay were not able to play the final round so will receive their trophies at the next event)

Many thanks to Bill, Lindon and the Portsmouth club for their customary first class organisation (and a new venue that was easy to find) and to Martin for the extra photographs.

The Society of Ancients and Magister Militum sponsor the English Open

The Society of Ancients and Monarch Books sponsor the UK DBA League

More details, standings and results on the Paws DBA page

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

13th October, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre

SELWG 2014

So, in all the years I've been going to SELWG*, I've never said anything about the Crystal Palace, after which the park in which the SELWG venue stands, takes its name.

The Crystal Palace, of course, was the poetic name given to the truly vast glass and metal pavilion built in Hyde Park to hold the Great Exhibition of 1851.   At the time it was the biggest glass building ever erected and was a wonder of the industrial world.    Just look at the size of it.

After the exhibition, it was disassembled and moved 8 miles away, south of the river, to a specially terraced hilltop in leafy Sydenham.   Piece by piece.  What a triumph.  

And there it stood from 1854 until it was completely destroyed by fire in 1936.   Completely destroyed.   I found this photo:

Click on it.  Astonishing.   Today all that remains is the stonework of the terracing - epic, like the ruined centre of an ancient city - and the name, a permanent fact of London's geography.

It is a fantastic venue for a wargames show and has free parking.  There was even a funfair on the old exhibition site but I did need to get home after the show.

I was down to help out on the Society of Ancients stand, and to collect trophies to take along to the next weekend's national DBA event (just gone, by the time you will read this).

(the Lost Battle of 2nd Mantinea with the Society of Ancients)

After the distinctly medieval feel of ancients at recent shows, SELWG had a more ancient ancients feel ... up on the balcony, SoA (Phil Sabin/Eric C and Alan W) were putting on a participation version of the 2nd Battle of Mantinea (that's the famous victory of Epaminondas one) ...

(scenes from the Mantinea game)

Downstairs, there were permanent clusters around the chariot race and Simon Miller's (To the Strongest) Romans in Britain game.

(the Crawley club's AD SPATIUM ACCEDIS)

(To the Strongest, this time featuring British resistance to the might of Rome)

But what I noticed in particular was a naval theme ...

(SEEMS presented Hotham's First action, March 1795)

(Tonbridge Wargames Club's refight of the Battle of Cape St Vincent - 1797) 

Also I was pleased to see ...

(Peter Pig's latest version of PBI ... PBI Company Commander ... available soon)

(a simple but attractive SYW display from the Essex Warriors - if 28mm always looked like this it might even catch on!!  Give or take the casualty rings)

The biggest plane award probably went to the B52 over Vietnam ... hmmm

(Deal Wargames Society's Mayhem on the Mekong - nice brown river too ...)

But I think easiest on the eye must have been the sprawling 15mm Marlburian game ...

And the splendidly stylistic First Battle of Ypres 20th October 1914 ....

Another good show - thanks to all those contributors whose work is featured above and to everyone who supported the show.    By and large an entirely different selection of games and themes to Derby - so certainly worth the trip.

Thanks to SELWG for inviting us and whoever organised the weather so it didn't rain all day.

And an engaging variety of visitors chatting to us on the Society stand - thanks for stopping by.  

Also apologies to anyone we failed to notice or who we thought was happy browsing but actually wanted to talk to us.   I know this does happen despite our best efforts to pay attention.    It isn't intentional so do feel invited to give us a nudge.  

*which actually dates back to Catford, but that's another story ...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Donnington Park Exhibition Centre, 4th - 5th October

The Northampton Battlefields Society and WD at Derby World Wargames 2014

This outing, we took the Northampton battlefield presentation along to Derby's annual event as a Participation Game for up to 4 players based on the Society of Ancients classic De Matrica Bellae.

In this variant of Politics by Other Means,  players are given cards which they can use in building their narrative into what starts as a very basic figure wargame.   This means really quite sophisticated ideas can be woven into the game if that is how the players see it developing.   It is your game ... you decide what happens.

By an odd coincidence, the Border Reivers game on the next table to us was using a similar, if simplified, matrix game approach inspired by the same SoA Publication to run their cattle raiding game.

As well as the rules and cards for DMB, the games pack also contains a full multi-player map game, Londinium's Burning.    If you are lucky, there may be some stocks left at the Society webstore otherwise catch up with us at a show (we should be able to find a copy).

So ... The Northampton Battlefields Society was formed to research, explain and protect Northampton's battlefields - principally the 1460 site at Delapre Abbey, but also the other military history of the town and the further off Wars of the Roses battlefield at Edgecote

Neither battlefield has been archaeologically surveyed so there is much more to do to understand them.   

At Delapre (a park just on the edge of the town if you are not familiar with it: it is a couple of minutes off the A45, and has plenty of free parking so is one of the easier battlefields to visit) there are plans to establish football pitches and club buildings on part of the English Heritage designated area so we must be vigilant.

(the other side of the board ... Wargame Developments and some information about CoW)

Edgecote is on the route of HS2, so we must do what we can to preserve as much of the elusive battlefield for posterity as we can.

Wargame Developments is, of course, the host organisation for the Conference of Wargamers.   By coincidence also in Northamptonshire, CoW can play an invaluable role in developing and testing wargames and approaches to historical battles.  

Ideas such as running the game to the canonical hours being rung in the abbey come straight from CoW and have been incorporated into the design of my sundial game clock.

(improvements for Derby: the model of the Eleanor Cross is almost finished - inset: the real one)

At CoW we also decided to use the furlongs of the open fields as the measurement for the game mechanism (and coincidentally, effective range for a longbow is a furlong, so using contemporary measurements does seem useful).

(improvements for Derby: the sundial game clock marked off with the canonical hours)

Nevertheless, it was quite ambitious running a matrix game at a busy and noisy show like Derby, so we had to learn as we went.

At times we may have got the balance of attention wrong - perhaps not giving enough to the casual browser ... then again getting distracted from the game which needs some thought and which needs to push along.

(listening to the punters ... there is quite some knowledge of medieval warfare arrayed around the Northampton table)

We got two multiplayer games played and a one player aside blitz version, and the possibilities developed as we warmed to the task.

A number of historical possibilities were explored - but in 2 of the 3 games the Yorkists got into the Lancastrian position, fulfilling the criteria for a historical result.

(panorama of the Lancastrian position ... standing to during what was, in 1460, a morning of rain)

In De Matrica Bellae, the final phase is that every player gets to make a case as to why the won i.e. bearing in mind their briefing and the events of the game, why they did the best.   So the loser of the on table battle may well be judged the player who did best if they can make a sufficiently powerful case.

(a couple of shots from Game 2: Fauconberg repelled, Warwick breaking the barricades)

(scenes from Game 3: Fauconberg finds a weak spot in the defences, breaks in and tackles Buckingham)

The choice of winner is, of course, resolved by the Matrix argument ... it will be adjudged 'your day' because (3 reasons supported by a randomly drawn card) ... judged on strength by the Umpire (equals a die score on D6 you need to make or exceed) ... The player who exceeds the target by the most is the winner (so an outstanding argument and a good die roll are required - wargaming at its purest perhaps).

In the meantime, of course, we were also trying to interest casual browsers in the issues of the battle, explain the history and possibly recruit new supporters.

If we missed you on the day, apologies ... perhaps you will give us another chance:

There is a Facebook Page here (... you ask can join the group)

There is a wordpress website here (... click on a topic that addresses your questions)

Other Ancient/Medieval tables at Derby ...

A couple of views of Graham Fordham's snowy Participation Game for the Lance & Longbow Society ... blending Saga with the activation mechanism from Bolt Action ...

(Northern Crusading from the man behind the Fluttering Flags)

A popular opportunity to play the Gladiator game Jugula ...

And that other matrix game raiding cattle ...

Here's a couple of selections of other stuff worth looking at around the show ...

(Both world wars and either side of the cattle raiders, Tamara poses with the WRG dinosaur and the L&L yellow banner)

(some big buildings from the FIW and Jugula tables; some tanks and a ship)

But I'll finish with some views of the super French and Indian War table ... very inspiring ...

Joint winner of the best display game I believe ... well, for once, I agree ...


All in all, a very rewarding outing ... it seemed to fly by and thankfully the shows are coming thick and fast as I already know there was plenty of shopping I needed to do but hadn't made a list.

Great chatting to Ron Kay at Irregular about when he was stationed at Hardingstone in the 1940s (walking back from a night on the town past the battlefield and up past the Eleanor Cross) ...

Great making some new plans with Warbases.    And great meeting up with the Armati players for the first time in a while.

Many thanks to players and supporters ... thanks to the organisers for allocating us plenty of space - and thanks to everyone who helped.

See you at the English DBA Open in a couple of weeks (you are going, aren't you?)