Friday, September 30, 2011

18th September, Halifax

Round 4 of the NDBML (Northern Doubles League)

Did I finish the Stoke Challenge report on a winning note? What a good link to the Halifax round of the Northern League.

Halifax is northern cloth town of imposing stone buildings set dramatically in West Yorkshire's rugged Pennines.
Surprisingly, I had never been to Halifax before. Less surprisingly, perhaps, we saw rather more of Halifax than we had intended as we navigated our way somewhat circuitously to the venue.
We got to Halifax on schedule but were grateful to our opponents in the Field of Glory event for indulging us not getting to the Belgrave Social Club on quite the same timing :) We had entered the Feudal Spanish army which had last seen action at Burton last year (and had had to scratch after 2 wins on the Saturday due to our cars getting iced in).

(DBMM action from the Halifax Doubles)

(Japanese and Chinese armies clash in the FoG event)
Fortunately, our closely fought and engaging game turned decisive within the allotted time frame, so nothing was lost by a late start. Our opponents had one of those mornings, so we ended up with a very big score.

(Aragonese crossbowmen tough it out against disrupted cataphract cavalry)
In the afternoon, our superior armoured knights came up against Central Asian average Lancer Cavalry. Just about their ideal opponents. I had a sense that we ought to be able to win the game, but again, some bad dice runs meant we did so by a big margin.

The implications hadn't occurred to me until our opponents graciously offered a handshake with the comment 'and you take our camp, which wins
you the game and probably first place'. Hmmm ...
They were right, and although there is a handicapping system which might have boosted some of the other contenders, our 48 points out of 50 proved unassailable.

Back-to-back wins - with a good army - always ought to be within our reach, but, frankly, die rolls were what determined they should be such big wins.
As I said at the time, it just goes to prove that old saying about a monkey randomly being able to type the complete works of Shakespeare given an infinite amount of time.
It also just goes to show what a great series the Northern Doubles is.
Thanks, Colin and Geoff ...
And what a nice town Halifax is. If you are not convinced, I might add that beer was £1.65 a pint. Yes - you may like to read that again. It goes some way to explain why local wargamers moan about the price of a coffee at the Royal Armouries!
(waterways and sprawling BUAs: some attractive features from the DBMM tables I now miss)

I'll provide a link to the NDBML information page (MAWS/NDBML), but as you may be lazy, I'll download the picture you are bound to be after.
I usually get a snap of the winners at these events, but I was busy this time.
LinkI very rarely publish my lists, but this one must be good as it has won its last 4 games and with commanders who are not atop those ranking thingies.

The list is actually Feudal Aragonese from Oath of Fealty, and we selected ...
TC Commander + 2 sub TCs and 1 French allied TC;
2BGs of 6 ave unprotected LF with javelin/Light Spear; 1 BG of 6 ave unprotected LF with slings and an allied French BG of 4 ave unprotected LF with bows; 3 BGs of ave unprotected LH with javelin/Light Spear;
1 BG of undrilled, protected, ave HF defensive spearmen; 1 BG of drilled, prote
cted, ave HF defensive spearmen and 1 BG of drilled, protected, ave MF with crossbow (both Military Orders).
3 BGs of undrilled, armoured, superior Knights; 1 BG of drilled, armoured, superior Knights (Military Orders); and 2 BGs of allied French undrilled, armoured, superior Knights. (16 Battle Groups, exactly 900 points)
There are many, many reasons why this might not be the perfect army, but it plays very well when it goes into action.
Followers of this blog will know we go to lots of places on our Shows North travels. Halifax is one of those places I think I rather like.

Next up? See you in Derby over the weekend.

(looking forward to Derby with the Society of Ancients)

In amongst the other events, there is a random armies Armati event (good luck, Will), but I will be forgoing that to run the Society stand whilst Graham entertains you with The Elephant In The Room.

We will also have the September issue of Slingshot, hot off the press (arrived here yesterday).
Those FoG Generals you all like

Thursday, September 29, 2011

17th September, Stoke on Trent

THE 2011 Stoke Challenge

The Stoke Challenge is an annual wargames event which raises money for Services charities (and so is a good thing). Originally just a one-day tournament, it has grown into a viable regional show.

One of the features over recent years has been an Armati Doubles competition, but this year, due to date juggling, not everyone could attend.

(adjacent to the Society stand: the Armati tables)

Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead and run a couple of Armati tables for those who could make it, a Hellenistic table by the locals, and a Romans v Goths table that I would provide.

(Red hit markers pile up behind the Romans as the Gothic cavalry pile in)

I was pleased to do this as I find commitments help get projects finished. I had 'cobbled together' some Goths for Britcon - but the army played quite well and looked like that long sought viable opponent for the Romans (who can be 'all conquering' in Armati)
(trayed up and ready to play: Phil's finished 'Goths of Totilla' armati army)

Inspired by this, I placed a small order of those new Lurkio figures to see what they were like. I suspect that without the commitment to field the troops for the Stoke Challenge, the new figures might still be on the work table ... experimented with ... based, even ... but not finished.

And viable they were ... winning both their games. In the afternoon 'Fire at Will' joined us for a sample game of Armati (and was one of the Gothic winners). He liked to think it was luck and some guidance from me (here) ... but in truth he advanced on the Romans with preparatory skirmishing, then put his faith in the cavalry, launching impetus charges with Totilla showing the way.

(splendid Lurkio Goths - mixed in with Gladiator and Chariot figures ... finished and in play)

Now I wouldn't say it will always work, but as a Gothic tactic it is fine. At Tadinae, Narses was so fearful of this tactic he dismounted the bulk of his army and 'dug in' (which suggest there was a real prospect it would work). The rest is history.

And the Lurkio figures are great. Just what I wanted.

(the Hellenistic table: Alexander against the Persians)

On the other table a Macedonian army took on a Later Achaemenid Persian force in an impressive encounter that eventually went the historical way.

As well as Dave Lanchester Books, Stafford Games and an interesting selection of smaller traders, there were a number of display tables and non-tournament games in progress ...

(a very inspiring 10mm WSS game at Stoke Challenge)

The main competitions this year were Flames of War and a well attended DBMM ...

(scenes from the Stoke DBMM Challenge)

It is also worth noting that in addition to the sponsored head shaving and other fund raising stunts, there was a raffle in which both I and Lance & Longbow stalwart Steve were winners. Yes, winners (and not the opposite of that, as some allege ...)

I passed the Victorian Sci Fi loot I won into Chris's eager hands (a generous bag of 28mm hokum ...) not my thing at all but its the thought that counts - and like all wargamers, I'm happy to be a winner.

I hope the Army Benevolent Fund did well - they deserve our support.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

midweek, September, Northamptonshire


The UK League (and original plan for Eastern Front) had generated some interest in DBA so we set up some local evenings around a Society Championship theme ...
(Society of Ancients UK DBA League)
(The Society of Ancients Championship)
Graham has shared some of his thinking with his blog readers (Graham's DBA thread) ... so I thought I add some pictures to flesh the topic out a little ...

(Graham's Normans and Saxons on his custom DBA board)

(My Sub Romans take the field - Graham's Normans stacked up off table in the background)

We played some games around a Saxon theme ... Graham's Saxons and Normans, my Old Saxons and Sub Romans.

I occasionally add the odd grumpy comment on this blog, so can I do so now? Given that the Angles that invaded Eastern England in the Sub Roman period gave us our name and language and survives in the regional name of part of Eastern England (England, English, East Anglia etc.), couldn't DBA use that name on one of the lists?

As 'Old English' doesn't really mean 'Anglo-Saxon English', and 'Early English' is a term for post-Romanesque architecture, I've coined the term 'Invasion English'. But I don't mind how it is framed. 'Angelfolc' ... ? Tribal Anglian?

Second, given that the thing the Angles, Saxons, Friesians et al did in this period was turn up in boats (up the rivers of Eastern England for example - but back home in South Denmark, they are islanders and estuary people I think), shouldn't there be a Littoral option?

Either way, my 'Invasion English' have a boat for a camp.

Back to the pictures ...

(a complete change from England's South East: the Axumite war in Arabia)

I also threw my Axumites and Arabs into the mix. They look so completely different. Elephants, Camels, Sand Dunes and Oases ... a fair number of the rules the Normans and Saxons never use (so a good extra for some of our beginners ...)

(a Sabaean princess leads the Axumite army)

I have to say these two armies are not that great on their own (being respectively useless against infantry or cavalry heavy armies if the enemy is random/open). Against each other they have given us a number of exciting and unpredictable games ...

We also had some Romans and Carthaginians from Chris and Patrick (I was so engrossed in an Arabian encounter I didn't pause to get any pictures of them - which leaves scope for future coverage) ...

The Invasion English ('Old Saxon') were originally morphed from some Goths and Varangians, but I recently bought some new figures to replace the morphed-in 'ringers'. Shopping around, I have to say 'New Era' Donnington's latest Norman and Saxon figures really do fit the bill.

(Old Saxon by name, East Anglian by nature: the Saxon shore is raided)

(Saxon general's element with windsock wyvern - fabulous New Era Donningtons)

I don't think I need pen a review of the Saxon command pack figures: the picture came out well and speaks for itself. Separate shields and weapons in 'drill your own' fists (the way I like it, but, nevertheless, they are 'some assembly required' figures) they are nicely-sized modern collector 15s.

For all that, they don't beat the Sub Romans. Well, not so far.

I notice the Sub Romans are losing a mounted element in the latest proposed (V3) army lists ... (Book II V3 list proposals) ... is this just a move to tone them down? Or has the thinking changed significantly?

(last men standing .... Arthur's cavalry eliminating a line of Saxon warbands)

It should be added the we are not particularly 'scientific' or practiced players, and everone has had a mix of victories and defeats (that doesn't happen with all ancients games when we play): DBA can be quite a leveller.

So far, 30 or so members have entered the Championship this year (mostly a game or two into their campaign). We are just coming to the last quarter of the season and there is till time for a significant cluster of games with everything to play for (no player is way out in front) ...

So far just over half the games have been FoG, the rest mostly DBA.

Members can join in by sending the results of their games with other members (max 2 games between any 2 members) through the website.

Participating is that easy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

10th - 11th September, Newbury


After a busy weekend managing the overlapping events at Newark and Abingdon, it was back down the A34 for Colours at Newbury Racecourse - a more relaxed schedule meeting the public and playing participation games in the airy sunlight that modern racecourse stands seem to offer (beautiful as long as you're not right next to the window on a hot day!)

We had our usual slot on the 2nd floor, next to the busy Bring & Buy*
and plenty of space ...

On Saturday, Philip Sabin, Eric Cruttenden and Alan Waller put on a reprise of the Kadesh game they did for
this year's BattleDay. Lost Battles in the Late Bronze Age. A sprawling 28mm game with over 100 chariots. A very popular game.

Phil also had samples from the brand new 'delux' boxed game version of Lost Battles. I must get one - it is bound to be a classic, the quality is remarkable. Here's a look at the game by Aaron from the
Planet Ancients blog list ('Lost Battles Arrives' link)

On Sunday I took over the Society pitch offering a choice of quicker Participation Games, Henry V's assault at Harfleur ('Greyhounds in the Slips') or my Britannia's Eastern Front DBA set up (Arthur vs the English invaders) ...

(once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more)

(The Sub Roman British win again: DBA in the age of Arthur)

Indeed, Colours sees a good turn out by the Society teams ... the Lance & Longbow Society downstairs were supported by a Wars of the Roses game ... while next to us upstairs, the Pike & Shot Society had a busy weekend too.

(RFCM's Bloody Barons with the Lance & Longbow Society)
(S.E.B. signing up members for the Pike & Shot Society)

Next door to us both, the Skirmish Wargames folk had one of their 54mm scale wargames. These are a regular feature at Colours .... But, well, maybe it's me .... I thought this one was the best ... Perfectly on theme to run next to our displays ...

(54mm Crusades wargame)

(a closer look at some of those 54mm Moslems)

(a closer look at some of those 54mm Crusaders ...)

It was the kind of game that makes you start planning and rummaging through all those 1:32 plastics boxes ...
We ran several assaults on Harfleur until the show slackened off in the middle of Sunday afternoon. Henry should carry the breach - the challenge is how many speeches he needs to deploy to motivate his hard-pressed soldiers (and the more he uses at Harfleur, the less easy it will be to stir up the lads when they find themselves cornered at Agincourt ...) ...

(Game 6: Harry has another crack at Harfleur)

Nevertheless, the action can be very bloody as the non-player characters fall victim ...

(A victorious Henry V cuts down the Captain of the Guard in the breach at Harfleur)

If you want your own copy of the game (plus Graham's Romans against the Elephant skirmish) you can order the Domino Double Header from the website store (Society of Ancients Games) - you will just need to have some sets of dominoes handy and some dice (everything else is in the pack including paper soldiers and a fold up tower ...)...

There were plenty of other ancients games on display

(Rob Broom's War & Conquest demo)

... and a massive Roman battle against the Sassanian Persians ...

(the Roman war for the east)

The Society stand was reasonably well manned throughout the weekend (thanks, all), so I was able to get out with my camera and capture a few more highlights ....

(Isandlwana - a massive diorama of this chilling episode in the history of South Africa)

(an eye-catching game of the air war in Vietnam)

(World War II in a box - followers of my ECW blog will know why I was intrigued ...)

(another of those really effective ACW layouts ... )

I'm not sure how well attended Colours was ... whilst the sunlight was blocked-out by the Bring & Buy queue, it seemed impossibly busy ... as the weekend progressed visitors did seem thinner on the ground (and there were one or two trade stands absent from the usual line up I thought) ... I was able to thank both Black Hat and Lurkio for their super-prompt mail order service, and got some excellent new Saxons from Donnington ('New Era' ... you must have a look at these ...)..

Big tables again (bar Rob Broom's, which was exemplary in its compactness) ... but, like Partizan, mostly worth the space they took up.

Endless free parking at Colours, of course - plus a massive trade presence ... lots to see and a great day out. Great show. Make a date for next year ....

(which sort of wiped out the first hour or so on Saturday - Colours now has one of those fiendish systems that causes massive queues as people check their items in: literally, from the SoA stand you could see nothing but backpacks and carry cases for most of the morning - I'm surprised there weren't more complaints) ...