Sunday, March 25, 2018

18th March, Wolverhampton

The West Midlands Military Show 

The worst of the snow was really on the Sunday and we were all set for Alumwell.  A few early phonecalls, and a little depleted, and thanks to a great effort from Chris, who volunteered, we gritted our teeth and set off ...

 (the NBS medieval kit on our shared stand at Alumwell)

This was our now standard shared enterprise - The Society of Ancients and Northampton Battlefields Society ... who, this time, chose to support the stand with the Naseby Project's 15mm 1645 game.

(Phil's Naseby 1645 game displayed by the Naseby Battlefield Project at WMMS 2018)

This game is mainly used as an aid to explaining the deployments and tactics at Naseby, Parliament's key victory and arguably the most important battle in English history.  It was originally configured to play as a wargame using Advanced Armati and was most recently played as a Matrix Game (free kriegspiel) at the Banqueting House for a Historic Royal Palaces event.

(Naseby at WMMS: classic Minifig ECWs line the ridge on Broadmoor)

(P&SS: Petard Party at WMMS 2018)

A thumbs up to Gary who brought the Pike & Shot's game only to have car trouble - and to discover that the rest of the show team had been detered by the weather (so he was all game and no stand): he game made the best of it ... set up and ran his game whenever there were takers.  Top man!  Keep calm and carry on.

(WMMS 2018)

I enjoyed the day out.  There's no concealing that the weather shattered attendance - trade, games and visitors alike - and 2 of my favourites were not there.  But conditions around the country were such that some who set out had to turn back - others were well advised not to try.  I am sure, especially after the postponement of Hammerhead, that everyone did their best.

Other than ours, here's a couple of games that caught my eye ...

Will has a good selection on his blog

Check out:

And maybe we'll see you at the BattleDay in a couple of weeks time.
Join the Society of Ancients here.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

16th and 17th March, Northampton

DELAPRE ABBEY ... the Opening Weekend

Some of you will recall that Northampton Battlefields Society has had a major hand in the development of Battlefield Rooms as part of the multi-million Heritage Lottery Funded refurbishment of Delapre Abbey - on the South side of the town and part of the site of the famous Battle of Northampton in 1460.

Well, last weekend, the Abbey finally, formally, reopened.  And we got our first sight of those visitor centre's rooms into which we had put so much effort.

The weekend was incredibly cold, of course ... and snow kept a lot of visitors back - especially on the Sunday ...

(Beautiful Delapre Park on the Sunday ... this is the site of the Battle of Northampton)

The first part was the formal opening and weekend of entertainment.  Such is the quirkiness of Northampton that there were actually two openings - and we were only invited to the less posh one.  It was all very jolly nonetheless ...

(Delapre Abbey's opening festivities)

There was jousting, men dressed as bears (or were they dancing bears?), falconry, hand guns and muskets, and, of course, a guided tour around the house and rooms.

The house is quite nicely done, though the medieval rooms are a little sparse on exhibits - and throughout, there are some design decisions that are - shall we say - likely to be unique to Delapre.  But I am sure those looking for the history of the house will find it all captivating.

The Battlefield.

Don't believe what the old books tell you.  It is pretty certain that the battle was not fought adjacent to the River Nene (and now under an industrial estate).  That tradition was based on a mis-translation of a passage in Wavrin and a garbled understanding of the Battle of Castillon on which the Lancastrian tactics are though to have been based.

The battle was fought in Hardingstone Field, which is now Delapre Park ... and in view of the Eleanor Cross (which looks down on the park and Abbey).  In the snowy picture above, you can still see the vestigial striations of the ridge and furrow which covered what was then the open common field of the village of Hardingstone.

(Historian Mike Ingram gives interpretation on the battlefield at Northampton 1460)

We were able to do two short interpretative walks on the Saturday - and one on the Sunday before the hostile climate brought things to an early close.

(the Fullbrook that runs through Hardingstone field - probably the small stream that was the front edge of the Lancastrian fieldworks)

The battlefield is now much altered as a result of the creation of the golf course - but the medieval details, including the watercourses and ploughing are fully detailed in medieval documents.  And, of course, cannonballs - almost certainly fired during the battle - have been found behind what we must assume was the Lancastrian position (overshots, we can suggest, from the Yorkist guns).

The Battlefield Rooms

The story of the battle is now the subject of a dedicated room and lobby installation over the visitor centre shop.   There is a plaque acknowledging the input of the Battlefields Society (though perhaps not the pain and persistence that 'helping' entailed) ...

(The Battlefields Rooms at Delapre Abbey)

Although there is no timeline ... and there are some inconsistencies in the diagrams ... the story is, thankfully, mostly right.  And, instead of the usual electronic 'push button' interpretations, the designers went for a tradition 'wooden toys and games' styling (which by-and-large works and certainly gets the messages across): visitors seem to be enjoying the content and understanding aspects of the battle.

The main narrative is presented in an engaging mechanical mini-theatre ... part mystery play, part puppet show.  Innovative and effective.  It was well liked.

(the battle narrative)

(interpretation panel)

(a small armour display)

It is marvellous to have interpretation rooms dedicated to a medieval English battle.  This is very rare and worthy.  

The down side is that there is much more that could have been done (all good, there just isn't quite enough of it) and what has been done has been squeezed into quite a small space.  At the moment you need to buy a ticket to visit the main house to access the rooms and many battlefield visitors may feel that is a high price if they have a limited interest in the rest of the attraction.

That remains to be seen.

This is a great step forward for Northampton and I hope many enthusiasts will visit it and review it.

All you need to know is in our book on the battle, of course ... get it from us at a show or on Amazon (it isn't in the gift shop as, well, it's one of those odd gift shoppe type things that refuses to stock anything serious visitors would be likely to buy - but that's another story)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

DBA Special ... II/33 Polybian Roman

This army is drawn from Scipio's legions from the Zama game ...

The 10mm figures are mostly the Armies in Miniature figures that used to be sold by Chariot Miniatures.   I still think they are some of the best, despite their slightly flimsy weapons shafts.

They are on 40mm frontages with 3 to 6 mounted figures ... the foot I tried to give a more Roman flavour  so are in 4 figure clumps: 1 clump for the Triarii, 2 for the Principes - and for the Hastati, a figure in the gap between 2 clumps (intending the indicate maniples spreading out or contracting down in the line relief system) ...

(arrangement of the 10mm figures on Phil's Polybian Roman DBA bases)

The generals are individually based and detachable purely for flexibility.

Here's the army:

Cv Gen plus 1 Cv  

(Scipio Africanus)

2 x Sp (Triarii)

4 x 4Bd (Principes and Hastati)

2 x 4Bd (Hastati)

2 x Ps (Velites)

stockade Camp with bolt shooter CF element

For Zama, of course, the allies would be Numidians

Numidian ally Cv and 2 x LH

So (the basic army) Cv gen; 1 Cv, 2 x Sp; 6 x 4Bd, 2 x Ps.

Very simple but hard to beat.

This army 'pairs' with Later Carthaginian

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Newark Showground - but not yet!

SoA DBA Northern Cup at Newark returns next month ...

Yes ... the snow got the better of Hammerhead which means the first show for us this year will be Alumwell WMMS next week.

Here's a view from our 4x4 the evening before the show.  It got worse overnight.

I was going to be playing DBA and supporting the tournament with a DBA display battle.  I had decided to go with the 10mm Pharsalus Double DBA from the 2016 Battleday.

I ticks a number of boxes ... it promotes the BattleDay as well as the Northern Cup - it also shows a slightly different take on DBA to the 'book' version used in the games.   And it shows an alternative to the standard scale convention.

The set up features 10mm figures on the standard 40mm frontage ... generally 8 to 10 Heavy Infantry per base, 5 or 6 cavalry or 3 skirmishers ... so a slightly more 'massed' look than bigger figures.  

I had some running repairs and some finishing enhancements overdue, and was engaged with these during the week (and intending to write it up) ... well here are some pictures of the preparations although you'll have to wait a few weeks for the main report.

... so a little work on the terrain board ... and some varnishing of armies ...

(DBA ... 10mm Marian Romans from Phil Steele's Pharsalus game)

(10mm Romans on 40mm wide bases)

About 400 pieces will feature in the game ...

(10mm Roman Civil War forces for DBA) 

The wargame uses Polybian figures for Pompey's army and these make a nice DBA army (originally assembled for the battle of Zama BattleDay)

See you at WMMS