Monday, January 21, 2019

2018 - Review of the Year


It's that time again. 

Although I remain essentially an ancient/medievalist who collects toy soldiers, plays wargames and explores historical battles, much has changed over the years, and my commitments have evolved away from what many consider 'mainstream' hobby games towards battlefield heritage and historical reconstructions.   Likewise, the Society of Ancients has become far less concerned with public engagement (as in promoting through 'shows' - my forte, perhaps) and more uses online resources to support its worldwide (but these days, smaller) membership.

So I suspect, year on year, the this, the Shows North blog, will have fewer specifically anc-med outings and wargames to report on.  Although tallying 2018, it turns out that I am wrong.

2018 delivered 28 actual outings (so still in the region of 2 a month):  6 tournaments (all, this year, from the Society sponsored UK DBA League); 4 conferences; 8 heritage type events and 10 traditional wargame shows.  All of those are up on last year except tournaments (which lacks the Mercia DBA event, Alton pairs - and any ADLG as there was no Derby show in 2018).

Unlike a decade ago, all these events are in Britain - indeed, England.  That's a pity but also a fact of life*.

Here are the postcards ... click on them and you will be taken to the report:

6 Tournaments (9 in 2017)

4 Conferences (3 in 2018)

An East of England Battlefields Trust study day plus:

Which included a visit to the battlefield at Otterburn, and ...

8 heritage and/or battle events (Conferences and Events combined: 8 in 2017)

... and BBC Radio's Northamptonshire day (this year on our battlefield at Delapre Park)

(we put on wargames at nearly all these events)

and 10 wargames shows (9 in 2017)

These days the Shows North stand is as much about Northampton Battlefields Society as The Society of Ancients and, for manpower reasons, we are often in concert with the Lance and Longbow Society and/or the Battlefields Trust.  So no longer purely a society and/or wargames presence but a healthy symbiosis with like-minded military enthusiasts.

So ... in addition to Hammerhead and Britcon (which I primarily attended for the DBA League events):

If you like the tallies, then, out of the ancient/medieval period, I did 4 further events,.  I was out battlefield guiding 8 times and I gave 4 talks on military history/battlefields (at Towton, Kettering, Northampton and Naseby).  I walked the battlefields of Bosworth, Edgcote, Naseby, Northampton and Otterburn and visited Fotheringhay and Barnard Castle.

In all, that's involved me in 97 games.  Mostly ancient and medieval ... DBA being the most common (with all those League events plus several runs through the Double scenarios for Zama and Pharsalus).  That compares with 76 in 2017 (so is up from 3 a fortnight to nearly 2 a week**) ...

The earliest (I think) was Middle Kingdom Egyptians and the most modern game was a multi-centred game about the Yom Kippur War.  Plus most things in between but no Fantasy or Science Fiction, of course.

I didn't use my 6mm figures or larger sized Medievals or Gladiators, but made extensive use of 10mm and 15mm, put a lot of work into the 28mm Medieval collection for Edgcote and, as usual, used 54mm figures for Bosworth.

Projects-wise, I have mostly been working on DBA refurbs and on the Edgcote project which will go live in 2019 for the 550th anniversary and a big 28mm game touring the shows.

My thanks to Graham, Chris, Matthew, the other Graham, Paul and other volunteers for their help at various shows over the year.  It is impossible to do these things solo (even though I got away with it a few times in days past - that was 30 years ago and things were different).  

Indeed, it is increasingly hard for any one organisation to manage to keep a show on the road - so thanks are evenly apportioned to the Battlefield Society, SoA and L&L - plus recognition is also due to the Naseby Project and Battlefields Trust.

As for the blog ...

I updated 30 times this year - which is the most since 2013, and a big increase on last year.  I added 8 more DBA army specials, and created a new page where they can be browsed at the click of a picture.

* family, cost of travel, value of £ and the current dominance of 'big brands' wargaming all being factors that can discourage self-design historical enthusiasts from grand ventures these days.
** we wargame locally most weeks so the games played at the roughly '2 weekends a month' fill in the gaps and adds another 4 or so per month).

Friday, January 18, 2019

1st December, Pudsey

Our last show of 2018 meant an early morning trip up to Leeds.  It was remarkably clear and simple given the time of year.  Weather and manning have been issues for us before, but this year it all fell into place nicely.  And it was Northampton 1460's first outing in Yorkshire.

(Northampton Battlefields Society's display at Recon)

Time was, of course, when Yorkshire was the bedrock of the Shows North patch ... Triples in Sheffield, Vapnartak ... at least 2 shows in Leeds plus an event at the Armouries (indeed, 2 years, the Society held its much missed AGM at the Armouries) ... Palm Sunday at Towton ... and some Northern Doubles League games at Halifax (have to slip that in as the round Chris and I won was at Halifax!) ...  Much has changed - even, so it seems, the weather.

(Northampton 1460 at Recon 2018)

After a slow start, we actually got in quite a few games of Northampton 1460, opene a few eyes and even sold some copies (all the proceeds go to the interpretation and protection of Northamptonshire's historic fields of conflict so do purchase a copy when you see one - it's a great game and a good cause).

(Battle of Northampton heraldic wall charts)

If you were looking for something notionally new then we have found some plastic tubing for our heraldic wall charts, so these are now ready-rolled and a bit better protected.  There's a Lancastrian one and a Yorkist ... and a pound off if you take both.   They are a great source of heraldic information (we have worked with the same team that do the Bosworth ones that are popular souvenirs in the Visitor Centre) and great wall art for your games room.

Elsewhere at the show, our friends from the Lance and Longbow Society (Gentlemen Pensioners indeed) had a version  of the battle of Lewes that you could join in ...

(The Lance and Longbow Society at Recon 2019)

(Lewes 1264 from the Lance and Longbow Society)

Trade-wise, West Wind/Forged in Battle were there with their now extensive range of highly regarded 15mm ancients ... they had a Christmas show discount on which very nearly seduced me.  It would have been a lovely idea but ultimately sense prevailed when I mapped out mentally when I'd be able to paint it and how long it would take.  I'll still get one - but it doesn't need to be quite now as it'll be a long time before it's slot comes up.

... they also had an ancients demo table close by the stand which was a nice counter-balance to the 28mm WW2 stuff that sloshes around the shows at the moment.

Other than that, there really wasn't much for the 15mm scale enthusiast.   And not much below that either.  I got a couple of items from the bring and buy but most of my Christmas money went home with me and was spent online.   My 2018 was much like that ... in the real world as well as shows.  Retailers complain about poor sales but I can't really help them: they don't sell what I want to buy so although I would prefer to shop the traditional way, I have to go online.

Grumpy old g*t?  No - not a bit of it - just look at these lovely Dark Age helmets the reenactors brought ...

Great stuff.   Quick trip home too in ideal driving conditions - so a painless end to the 2018 season and off to Winter Quarters, refurbishing soldiers, catching up blogging and writing reports.  And tallying up what we did and where we went last year.  Which hopefully will be my next post and follow shortly.   January follows shortly.  And a belated Happy New Year!

(close up of the action at Northampton 1460 - Fauconberg gets stuck in)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

DBA Special: II/49 Marian Roman (15mm)

This is the other half of the Slave Revolt scenario and loosely represents the army of Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier in the classic movie version).

The army is almost entirely composed of Magister Militum Chariot figures.

This version of the army takes all the legionaries ... both more plausible and more balanced for the Spartacus scenario (although you might take advantage of some of the options in other circumstances) ...

8 elements of Blades in all, including the commander.  Crassus' mules, perhaps.

I used earlier Republican style figures with the big plumes taken off to get what felt like the right appearance for these home legions at around 73-71 BC (Third Servile War) ... Brutal and business-like.

Camp and Camp Followers

The Kubrick film's plot has Spartacus's plan to escape by sea foiled by Crassus blocking his access to the ships - probably bribing the pirates or buying up the ships.  It was a good opportunity to make a camp model around one of the old Revell warships.

The removable CF element stays is usefully held down with a piece of magnetic strip (and a metal shim) ...

Some further options

The Marian army has a number of uses, so although I generally don't worry about 'all options', for this army I indulged a few extras ...

A splendid solid army.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

DBA Special: II/45c Slave Revolt - Spartacus in Southern Italy

This is the first part of a historical pair depicting the battles of the Spartacus revolt.  It has a shamelessly 'Hollywood' flavour ... more full of gladiators in tournament armour than would have been likely in the field.  

This was a deliberate choice ... although less plausible, it tags the army as including a fair number of professional fighters - and gives the army a pleasing style and colour.

Similarly, the general's figure is loosely based on Kirk Douglas in the celebrated Stanley Kubrick movie ...

... in so far as you can do that in 15mm!   Nevertheless, I picked the most dimpled chin I could find!

The gladiators are mostly Museum Miniatures and Outpost.  They would probably have discarded much of that costume armour in favour of Roman battlefield equipment.

The horde elements are slaves and Celts stiffened with more gladiators ...

Also ...

CAMP and Camp Followers

In the final phase of the campaign, Spartacus made his camp in the caldera of Mount Vesuvius, accessing it by vines and ladders ...   I have tried to give some sense of this ...

(typical volcanic landscape) ...

So something like this, maybe?

The swimming figure recalls that memorable scene from Kubrick's film where Kirk Douglas watches Jean Simmons bathing ...

(the Spartacus camp: details and inspiration)

Barker Marker

A Roman magistrate looks on, adjudicating threat zones and recoils ...

The whole base checks 40x40, the detachable (magnetic) column does 40x20.

This army pairs against Marian Roman.