So another successful Society of Ancients Battle Day has been and gone. On Saturday 31 March over 50 wargamers met to refight the Battle of Plataea 479 BC in eleven different wargames at the usual venue of Sycamore Hall in Bletchley.

The day began with an introduction to the battle given by Professor Philip Sabin, author of the book (and game) Lost Battles. As well as setting the scene Phil discussed the sources for the battle, and then the various academic interpretations over the years finishing with his personal views as expressed in his Lost Battles set up. Phil Steele then stepped up to give us a brief summary of what taking the omens actually involved, passing round some pictures depicting various omen-taking scenes.

Armed with this excellent primer to the day, and ready to take our own omens, the players set to in their games. This year we had eleven games, using the following rule sets: Armati (15mm), AMW-modified (30mm Flats), Big Battle DBA (15mm), Command and Colours (two games – one in 20mm plastics and one in 28mm), DBMM (15mm), , Lost Battles (15mm), Peltasts and Pila (15mm), War and Conquest (28mm), Warlord (15mm), Warmaster Ancients (10mm).

There were too many notable points to list them all, but one of my personal highlights was seeing SoA founder Tony Bath’s 30mm German Flats collection being used in anger again on the wargames table by Phil Steele, and another was the Scimitar club’s 20mm plastics in their Command & Colours game. Yes, I am in a retro mood at the moment!

As usual, we awarded prizes (somewhat spuriously, also as usual!).

The Black Hat Miniatures Prize for Best Overall Game was awarded to the Huntingdon club’s Command & Colours game – this generated a lot of noise and excitement, attracted some of the juniors who attended the Battle Day, and looked good too with a lot of well-painted 28mm figures on a sympathetically-styled hexagon table cloth. Well done chaps – and your first time at Battle Day too!

The Magister Militum for Best Terrain was awarded to the terrain built by Ross for the Warmaster game. Viewed from the raised walkway around the edge of the hall, and combined with the massed 10mm figures, this terrain really did give you the feeling you were looking at a battlefield. Congratulations to Ross – this follows his splendid efforts for Kadesh last year.

Pausanias of the Day went to Carlo Anziano for leading his Spartans to glorious victory and managing to die gloriously at the same time. Mardonius of the Day was awarded to James Firminger, one of the younger gamers at Battle Day, for clever generalship in his first game using the Command & Colours rules. James won a prize last year too, so he’s on a roll. Spartan of the Day went to Vincent Auger. Vincent had travelled to the Battle Day from Paris to play in the Armati game, and was rewarded as he saw his Spartan command carry all before it. Immortals of the Day was won by Jeremy Giles in the Warmaster game for shooting the Spartans down in droves while they took the omens, and then driving them off with impunity when the Spartans finally charged in.

The last prize was for “most hoplites on the table”. The 28mm Command & Colours game run by the Huntingdon club had a startling 336 hoplites on the table. In the 15mm stakes, the Warlord game had 608. This was bettered by the 10mm Warmaster chaps, who had painted an eye-watering 720 hoplites especially for the Battle Day. But in the end the prize went to the DBMM game, accepted on the gamers behalf by Toby Partridge, as they had an enormous 768 15mm hoplites on the table! Phew, that’s a lot of lead! (Or should I say metal these days?)

Many thanks to all those who put on games and came along on the day – Battle Day only works because you make it so. Watch this space for impending news of the 2013 battle…