Wednesday, November 30, 2016

27th November, Bristol (Lincombe Barn)


I hadn't been to the Reveille show in Bristol for something like 20 years ... Long before they moved to the current venue (I took over the Shows North patch when I moved to the East Midlands so the focus had to shift) ...

But John Curry (History of Wargaming) asked me to take the Tony Bath game to what is his home club's show.

(the Tony Bath game at Reveille with the History of Wargaming project)

The set up was pretty much as in previous outings although we changed the deployments somewhat.   And we played to the version included in Featherstone's War Games.


The two opposing armies drawn up for battle:



Plenty of elephants ...  actually I took some more along as examples of collector standard (ex Guyler) rather than the wargame standard Phil and Tony used ...

(you can click on the pictures for larger versions)

Flanks and reinforcements ...


(proper 1960s Bellona bridge and Merit/Minitanks trees)

Playing the game 

(1960's style ... with Wayne Thomas ... ) ..

The cataphracts double moved and charged into an unequal melee which seesawed as both sides lost men ...


My elephants took multiple hits from massed archery as they tried to dominate the centre of the table ... They survived but were unable to move ... then one of them went berserk - right at my lone stone-throwers.


Wayne's, however, ploughed through several as I did hits but they didn't fail to save.  One of my units, indeed, failed to stand (and got trampled).

(to resist elephants you really need to form up in deep ranks - even then they may charge home)

Although we had some flights and breakthroughs on both sides, the elephants decided the day however (well, that Wayne did well with his saves and I didn't meant I could not stop the rampaging beasts) ... Very much the flavour of the Bath ancients game.


Well I confess I am a bit rusty so the game needed a lot of looking up (and there were some bits we didn't do quite right) - but it was quite a good run through and fascinating to see the progenitor of so many ancients sets.

The rules are a bit clunky by today's standards but you can see the start of so many of the debates around how the battle game plays (all new problems back then) ...


Many thanks to the Lincombe Barn club ... to JC for setting it up ... Wayne for volunteering to help me play the game ... and all those fellow enthusiasts who share my nostalgia for this traditional soldier and for Tony's original ancients game.

Monday, November 28, 2016

19th November, Reading


For our next Society outing we popped down to Reading on the Saturday to lend a hand and have a look round.  

Richard was doing the stand and presenting a 'Lap of the Gods' treatment of the Battle of Tewkesbury which seemed to go down very well.

(Society of Ancients: The Battle of Tewkesbury)

The competitions were obviously dominated by Ancient and Medieval wargames ... but elsewhere not so much ... 1066 was still prominent and I really liked the Dark Age game ...



... and I got to play a bit of the Staines group's Schweinfurt game ... some good ideas, there ...

The Pick of the Non-Anc/Med games:


(Chain of Command: Foy)

(Schweinfurt Raid)

I had a bit of time to play but there weren't as many Participation Games as you would have liked.

The Bring & Buy was excellent ... very well supported and continuously busy all day.  Almost too much stuff to browse it all but I got a couple of out-of-print books in mint condition for a good price so worth the effort.

Parking was free but you had to be early I've heard ... Good on Warfare.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

30th October, Portsmouth


ENGLISH  DBA Open

The final round of this year's DBA tour was, once again, in sunny Portsmouth, and many of the contenders were present with some placings still to be decided.

I went along for the games and to help with the presentations (I was, of course, not in contention - it is a long season and I can get to very few of the rounds).

I took along the Nobades (or, at least, prototype Nobades)


... and here are pictures of the games I got ...

(English DBA Open ... vs Chinese)

(English DBA Open vs Lombards)

(English DBA Open vs Rajputs)

(English DBA Open vs Assyrians)

(English DBA Open vs Arabs)

We played off in groups of 6 (playing 5 games) to generate 2 semi finals and an optional plate competition (for which, one day, I will donate an actual plate as I make such regular appearances) ...

At one point I was indeed riding but my 2 wins out of 3 rapidly became 2 out of 5 (and didn't get any better in the plate) ... I did, however, kill a general (which is always a tick in a box for me) ...

The semis and finals were played with themed armies which allegedly tests the players better (though I am not so sure about that) - here's the list:


Players get to pick in order of qualifying, and select their option for the 2 remaining games.




They finished 1st: Colin O'Shea, 2nd: Lindon Paxton, 3rd: Peter Ellis, 4th:Richard Pulley

That left the overal standings: 1st and UK DBA League Champion: Martin Myers, League Runner Up: Colin O'Shea, 3rd: Bill MacGillivray, 4th: Richard Pulley, 5th: Arnaud Marmier, 6th Lindon Paxton followed by Pete Duckworth, Neil Mason, Martin Smith and Mark Johnson down to a total of 57 players altogether ... Tamara Fordham was 28th and won the Junior trophy.

There were 14 tournaments altogether ... Premier events, The Welsh Open, English Open and Northern Cup plus qualifying events at Great Bowden, Tarrington (both the Scramble and the Midland Open), Coventry, Alton, Bakewell, Manchester (Britcon) and the 4 seasonal events at Portsmouth, 

And then we lined up for the photos ...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DBA Special: II/55b Nobades


DBA3: II/55b Nobades


This is the army I selected for the 2016 English Open ...  part of the 'work in progress' project for armies on Rome's desert frontier (Axumite Abyssinian, Nomad Pre-Islamic Arab etc.) ...

For the event I have recycled some Abyssinian foot from my old DBM army but having played 6 games on the day, I'm happy this is a good addition to my collection of bespoke armies and will tailor make the requisite troops.   Look out for a future post.

Here's the army as it played at Portsmouth ...


The general is a Cv element but I have put him on a camel to stand out.


The cavalry are an imaginative mix of various components to give that desert frontier feel.  



I have a large resource of African and Arab infantry and cavalry from that very large DBM army and should be able to populate all these armies with characteristic figures.

I favour taking the 2 camel mounted spearmen as the 'quick kill' against knights does give the army some deadly tricks.


For the camp and table ornaments I assumed the Nobades had struck deep into the heartlands of the older Egyptian civilisations ...  it's a nice setting.


The Obelisk is the top half of a Hirst Arts model (I just found the full model too tall to be useful on the table) ... 

The lovely water carriers are Chariot.  Otherwise it's a healthy mix of Museum, Essex, Falcon, Donnington, Gladiator, Chariot etc. I'm sure you can spot the various examples.

A report on the Open will follow shortly.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Kenilworth, 14-16th October


The Society of Ancients Conference

Hopefully the first of a new run - the first of many.

Very pleasing to me to see the return of the Conference ... part of the lively SoA mix in the 1990s I was, unfortunately, the Committee member back then who had to cancel the last of them (SoAC VII, I think ... maybe VIII) due to price hikes at our traditional venue.

The cancellation was only ever meant to be temporary but the old style Committee was always reluctant to underwrite what it thought was a minority interest, so getting it back up and running was daunting.

So a big thank you to Richard L for getting it to happen.

I'll doubtless do some features, and Slingshot will, I am sure, have some games, articles and scenarios - so this will just be a round-up that doesn't steal all the thunder.

What happened?

Around 4 talks and 8 or so games sessions (usually with 3 or 4 games to choose from in each slot), an annual dinner and lots of social mingling/bar time.

Few ADGs, very little workshopping ... nothing outdoors ... a big Tactica session that ran all weekend.   So somewhere between a 'wargames holiday' weekend and CoW.


Some sessions dovetailed with plenary talks and current topics (above, Matt Bennett on 1066 and a Hastings game using Armati II)

(detail from Matthew and Roy's Hastings game - because in the end I know you want pictures)


Some were stand alone

(Simon MacDowall's lavish Commitatus game) ...

The dinner was excellent - nice to sit down together at the end of a full Saturday ... the food was very good and the speech by SoA veteran Will Whyler reflecting on the last 50 years was bearable (actually very good ;) but Will is a long-standing friend and you wouldn't want me to go over the top).


After the dinner we did manage to get a few games of David and Goliath played in memory of the late Andy Gittins ... former President and a Conference regular ...


... and, yes, that is the originl D&G set (with one or two loving repairs by me to make it Conference ready) ...

(1980s classic ... David and Goliath show game ... as we did back then with hand written rules)

I had volunteered to provide Richard with a backbone of games sessions on the theme of wargaming historical battles so here's a summary of what I got up to over the two days ...

Saturday: Bosworth and Bouvines - 2 medieval battle compared; Sunday: Yarmuk - a DBA GBOH scenario explained and run.

(Bouvines ... a full 6-player BBDBA treatment of the epoch defining 1214 battle) 


In this play through, Ferdinand count of Flanders very nearly pushed up to the bridge but ran out of supporting troops - eventually succumbing (captured on the field of battle as his historical antecedent) ... Elsewhere it was an attritional battle in which the allies could make little headway.

(Bouvines - from the North before the lines clash)

Bosworth, of course, was fought on very different lines to Bouvines ... the combat being more deadly and the traditions of chivalry being no barrier to the political benefits of killing your enemies on the battlefield.


This was also a different style of game: 54mm figures and just the conventional 12 elements per side (well 12 for Richard, 11 plus the hope of Stanley for the Earl of Richmond) ...

(DBA V3: Richard III on the field of Bosworth at SoAC 2016)

Richard narrowly lost this battle having dashed amongst the vanguards on a 'death ride' that took him from the marshy end of Fenn Lane and the likely Stanley trap.  It gave us food for thought.

I think it vindicates the modern interpretation, however.

I played all these battles with DBA despite having run Bouvines with Armati and Basic Impetus previously.  I decided that my theme of translating long-lost batles into playable wargames was best illustrated by using a common platform, rather than asking players to switch horses game-to-game.

(SoAC 2016: the Battle of Yarmuk)

The third battle I looked at was Yarmuk ... this was my main contribution to The Great Battles of History project by the DBA contributor group.  It features original flats from the collection of DBA author Phil Barker - the ancients collection he once used with Tony Bath and friends in the 'pee-history' of the modern game.

(30mm flats)

I have to say I still think they look splendid.  Of course, today's wargame plays using the base as the component - the figures sit on top and tell you what the base is and what it does.  30mm flats (or indeed, in the case of the Bosworth game, 54mm solids) do just as good a job and have a unique, timeless, charm.

(Byzantine cavalry - originally by Phil Barker, refurbished and based for DBA by Phil Steele)

... and then the players proceeded to destroy each other in the most monumental battle of attrition this scenario has yet produced.  Actually not unlike the original battle as afra s we can reconstruct it with confidence.

Sunday Afternoon

Richard wanted to schedule a look at reviving the old SoA incentive games so as a light-ish end to the Conference I ran the show version of Greyhounds in the Slips ...


Although we were tight on time, we ran through twice, as, for the first time in hundreds of games (and not without a little player hubris), Henry got himself killed in the very first action of the game: jumping out of the trenches to deliver his Greyhounds speech and immediately shot dead by a crossbowman on the battlements.

I guess the last thing he heard was my cautioning: don't assume you won't immediately be shot at ... (tailing off ... ) ...  We reset the game.

(Greyhounds in the Slips: Henry V in the rubble of Harfleur)

It wasn't to be his day, however ... and he was last seen battling into the town at the head of his men - as they fell around him, the Captain of the French garrison administered the coup de grace.


... and then we were all packing up and the event was over ...

What a splendid event.  See Slingshot for details and don't forget to book for next year.

Great mix of old friends and new faces ... thanks to all the players ... thanks to Paul for an inspiring talk on Shakespeare's treatment of Roman politics, and to Matt for getting the Arsuf agenda up and running.

- BattleDay 2017 - Arsuf 1191 - it starts now - watch this space