Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Off our beaten track, again, and a long trip from central England ... the usual Lost Battles crew were unavailable this year so Shows North 'nipped' down, across London to the National Arena Sports Centre ...
Of course, I over-dramatise ... I lived in London for a while, did the SELWG show for the Society back to well ... before it moved to Crystal Palace ... and it's only half the Edinburgh trip (that said, such is London traffic these days on the way back, it feels as far ...)... It's a trek, none the less.
So no Lost Battle this year (no Cruttenden/Waller display armies) ... indeed we went bigger, and repeated this year's Shows North game Greyhounds in the Slips with its 90mm toy figures ... The scene is Harfleur ... Henry leaps out of the siege works and allies his men for another assault ..
'I see you stand like Greyhounds in the Slips,
Straining upon the start; the games afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'
He rolls a die, and that number of soldiers join the assault party ...
(And, yes, we worked on the script at some length, it has a pretty turn of phrase ...)..
The cluster of men then rush forward to break through the French defences, moving and fighting by drawing dominoes at random; the leaders, Henry and the Captain of the Harfleur Guard (usually the presenter) using the Anno Domino battle boards and systems included in the Society publication 'Let the Dominoes Decide' ...
Many thanks to the SELWG team, who welcomed us and sorted things out despite our being behind schedule (guess who got lost weaving his way through south London's continuous road works and diversions?). And we were pretty quickly set up and running.
Greyhounds in the Slips comes in one of my pasting table fold outs, these days, so goes up sharpish. Good job, too, as it was proving pretty popular, and we had waiting players for a lot of the middle part of the show. Usually, I have visitors play Harry and his band of brothers (yes that bit, too ...), whilst Will or I play the French ... Here we had two boards up for the English at times, plus a third playing the French with me just directing. That's good.
Sometimes, of course, you can't coach the players, however hard you try ... For the first time, we had Harry shot dead by the sniping crossbowman ... now this is willful - I do explain to the players that there are risks in putting a low value domino in a defence zone ... and tell them too that the game works best if - like the script - the king leads the charge himself ... and that you can't be shot at if adjacent to the enemy ... (so he loiters at the back, letting the minions do the work, and with a low value defence in readiness: he gets shot down by the sniper) ...
Well, I'm not sure that's a game issue .. it could have happened, a crossbow shot, at a siege - and, indeed, it did ... to good king Richard down south at Chaluz in 1199. We also had the game where everyone was killed bar the two player characters who slugged it til just the victor was standing ... But mostly Harry led them forward and carried the day.
It went down well, and once again we were nominated for the Best Participation Game, and were happy to be awarded a runners up prize. Good to see SELWG making a big effort to acknowledge and reward the display and game crews that fill out the show (maybe that's why there are so many of them, and the standards are high ...)..
The other pictures from the show were a bit of a rush I'm afraid: I was busy on the game for most of the day. For a great selection of picture from SELWG, have a look at Big Lee's collection (on Big Lee's Miniature Adventures)
That said, I try to document the shows we do, and there was plenty to catch everyone's attention ... some good looking ancient and medieval games (Crawley were there with the Tanneberg game I last saw at Salute) ...
There was a very good DBA campaign set up (visually making quite a lot of a game that is in its essence very modest)...
I thought the BMSS 'old school' presentation of a biblical game (25mm figures on a pale sandy cloth) worked particularly well.
A nice mix of what wargaming once looked like, but with modern quality figures - hey, and some captions, too.
Amongst the more modern stuff, the thunderbolts on a stick game was there, and some brilliantly realistic forest terrain and wintry European landscape in the Hochwald Gap game (Shepway Wargames Club - I think they deservedly got the Best Terrain prize).
A very good and rewarding day out, and loads more copies of Let the Dominoes Decide in circulation.
The trip home offered its usual delights - one more photo then ... a mix of what Chris had to look at in the back of the car ... Glad he had something to do.
Me? I was just driving (well, not, actually ... sitting behind the wheel in charge of motor vehicle ... but going nowhere). Cities are such fun when nobody can go anywhere. Look on the bright side ...the tunnel was shut, the M25 was clogged, but my jammed-up 1980's going nowhere route actually got us back to Northamptonshire in just over two and a half hours. A result, I'm given to understand.
Thanks for a great show SELWG ..
Next outing for us? Fiasco, back up north again. A first look at the Royal Armouries's new Saviles exhibition suite.
Why not drop by and have a look - it'll be new for us as well. We'll have Greyhounds in the Slips again, but I think the tower just got bigger ...
Friday, October 22, 2010
An Aragonese Command from Las Navas de Tolosa
Following up on a couple of requests, here are some more pictures of my 15mm Feudal Spanish DBA Aragonese army. The figures are mostly conversions originally done 20 years ago and recently refurbished. There are Essex and Black Hat (Gladiator) figures, mixed and matched with TableTop, Museum, Peter Pig and Outpost. The characteristic Spanish shields are actually Chariot (NKE) Egyptian ones upside down. Flags and banners are hand made ... all the artwork is hand done, mostly inspired by the illustrations in Ian Heath's 'Armies of Feudal Europe', and the famous Cantigas de Santa Maria of the mid 13th Century. Nimble but packing a punch, the army wins more games than it loses. The year is notionally 1212.
THE ARMY ARRAYED 1x3Kn (Gen), 3x3Kn, 2x2LH, 1x3Cb, 2x4Sp, 3x2Ps.
(carrying my interpretation of the banner of St. James, two views)
HEAVY CAVALRY (3x3Kn)
THE INFANTRY CONTINGENTS
CATALAN SPEARMEN (2x4Sp)
MUDEJARS AND PEASANT SLINGERS (3x2Ps)
WHAT THE ARMY DOES BEST .... ADVANCE!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The second major DBA event the Society sponsors is the English DBA Open, held every October in Portsmouth (Southsea Community Centre) ...
With no show attached, this is a nice opportunity for me to join in as well as present trophies, and I usually make the effort to turn up with something interesting (so, Christian Nubian, last year...).
This year, my choice was Feudal Spanish - the later (c) option ... a fine and colourful army, of course, but interesting? Well, I'll own up ... the Spaniards were part of my very first 15mm ancients army, built for 7th edition games 20 years ago. They have been undergoing some repairs and renovations recently, and configuring them into a DBA outfit would give them a proud day out.
(author's 15mm Feudal Spanish DBA army)
They are an Aragonese command from the famous campaign of Las Navas de Tolosa, led by the Master of the Order of Santiago.
Although the event is an 'open' competition, the organisers dropped us into period pools, and these early 13th century knights found themselves up against Medieval Portuguese, Medieval French, two Early Burgundians and a Ghaznavid ... not contemporary/historical opponents (Andalucians/Berbers) of course, but not too far a stretch bar those Ghaznavids (unless you count them as something rather like Berbers with elephants ... ?) ... Five games roughly in a period pool, then semis and a final with themed armies supplied by the organisers (if we made it).
(click on the image to get a bigger version)
There were 18 entrants in the Open, so we played off in three pools of six. And the round robin games are played to the customary Portsmouth 30 minute blitz format (5 points for an outright win, 2 for a winning draw etc. So you had better get on with it as there isn't much time) ... OK - I could have done with a bit more time (mostly because I am too chatty - and too rusty - at the start of these things), then again, I do like the time pressure (negative play will get you nowhere).
(Steve Etheridge's Ghaznavids)
Of course, under time pressure, an army half comprised of Knights and Light Horse is not a bad formula, and these veterans served me well (they have played 7th Edition, DBM and Armati as well as DBA under my command, so they are used to the occasional 'uphill' mission ...). They pulled sufficient irons from the fire to earn 2 outright wins, a winning draw, a losing draw and a defeat - so an entire win to the good over the five games. Not quite enough to get into a semi, but certainly troubling the scorers.
(from the Society of Ancients stand)
We had a leisurely break for lunch, during which I was able to do some promoting on behalf of the Society, hand out some sample issues of Slingshot, and demonstrate some of the ideas I have been working on in the DBA Zama game (which - a different way to approach history with DBA - had been displayed on the SoA membership stand throughout the day ...)..
(goodies up for grabs)
The Juniors, who had played in the open pools, then had a semi-final and final using a Medieval Indian theme, while the pools winners (plus top scoring runner-up) went forward into a 'Pyrrhus in Italy' theme for their semis. From my pool, Lindon Paxton swapped his knights for Syracusans. In one semi, he faced Scott Russell with Early Carthaginians. In the other, Arnaud Marmier played Mark Schofield (Pyrrhic vs Camillan Romans).
(scenes from the later stages)
James May won the Junior final, and Scott Russell went through against Arnaud Marmier, and came out a 4-1 winner.
(left to right: James May - Junior winner - Scott Russell - Open Champion - Arnaud Marmier - runner up)
Meanwhile, those of us not needed for all that had a plate competition. I got knocked out straight away, and Richard Pulley won it.
As ever, a very good day out, lots of games, a few tactical conundrums and a roller coaster run-in with the dice gods ... Blunt and to the point though it may be, the Portsmouth quick-fire formula works and allows a reasonable run to the players. Well worth the trip down - all you DBA fans, watch out for the details ... there will be an English Open in 2011 if you missed this one
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
OLD GLORY WORLD WARGAMES
The Shows North year returns to the East Midlands for the first weekend in October every year, and the Old Glory World Wargames in the bright and airy spaces of Derby University's Kedleston Road complex.
(a busy weekend for the Society's Shows North team)
For the last few years, Graham D Evans has joined us for this one, usually reprising his project game from Campaign, earlier in the year (see our previous entries). So this year we offered visitors to the Derby show a choice of two games based on Ad Hoc's Annon Domino ... the Shows North regular, Greyhounds in the Slips, and Graham's The Elephant in the Room.
The Elephant in the Room is a multi-player participation game in which (usually) 3 players play up to 6 Velites whose aim is to kill or deter the card controlled elephant before it reaches the Roman battle lines. The 54mm elephant stands in the middle of a circular array, and the battlefield moves around it as it bears down on the Hastati - or not, of course, if harassment from the Velites manages to shoo it away.
(The Elephant in the Room - run by the designer for an enthusiastic crowd)
The Old Glory show is quite a bit bigger than you can see, of course - as well as the exhibition and trade show, the back halls are used to house a wargames tournament (the aforementioned 'world championships') ... perennially the host of Mansfield's random armies Armati event, and, this year, undergoing something of a resurgence of interest amongst the FoG/DBM crowd.
(Derby 2010 - scenes from a lively show)
The show itself has the usual mix of trade, societies, fantasy, participation games and colossal 'statics' - I guess it is the 'Old Glory' show, so that big 25mm Napoleonic game has to be expected. Nappies tend to outnumber ancients at this event.
A new feature for certain this year was live blogging from the Society of Ancients zone during the show. Despite the high turnover on TEITR, Graham managed to update his blog audience on his experience of the weekend and the progress of his game in several episodes over the course of the event. For Graham's weekend, and some more reflections on running the elephant game, Wargaming 4 Grown Ups is Graham's busy personal blog. Try the Derby label for this year's live updates ...
(Graham uses a lull to blog another update)
Both games were busy throughout the weekend, and, just as at Colours, at times both games were running in tandem (and sometimes, I'm afraid - space an manpower being at a premium, it seems - browsers on the stand had to wait a few moments ...), though, it has to be said, over at Harfleur, Henry got himself killed in the breach a couple of times (usually the result of not leading from the front).
We got a good mix of established wargamers, intrigued visitors and plenty of youngsters - in fact, by the end of the weekend, I think we had put most of the organisers through the Anno Domino experience too. Indeed, I am pleased to be able to report that the Society of Ancients came a worthy third in the Participation Game awards - narrowly pipped by the painting class and a fantasy game .... so top historical contribution, then ... just where the Society of Ancients should be, of course.
(Henry leads the charge at Harfleur)
Over the weekend, we talked to lots of people, distributed numerous complimentary copies of Slingshot, and many visitors left with their own copies of Anno Domino and other Society publications. Late year subscriptions were thin on the ground, however - one can only hope that the 'feed through' is coming via Internet subscriptions, therefore. Everything you can possibly want is available through the website www.soa.org.uk.
Although packaged with Crosby group's Gladiator game from a few years back (rather than TEITR or GitS, the show games at Derby), basic Anno Domino is included as an appendix in 'Let The Dominoes Decide' (available from the games page of the website) ... or you can join the Society using paypal by clicking on the Join Now For 2010 banner (or following this link) ...
We didn't see much of the competition wargamers over the weekend - except the ever sociable Armati players, of course ... maybe next year the Foggies'll come visit ...