16th-17th August, Bosworth Visitor Centre, Sutton Cheney


Over the weekend I helped out on the Battlefields Trust stand at the Bosworth Festival.   This was a great opportunity for me to take my DBA V3 configured model soldier 'Bosworth' home, as it were (albeit that the battlefield is really some 2 miles from the centre on Ambion Hill).

The event itself is one of the larger reenactment type heritage festivals, with Living History encampments, heritage market stalls and jousting and battle arenas.   Many visitors, of course, are able to take advantage of the Centre's permanent exhibition, and some stop off at the battlefield itself, down on Fenn Lane.

Each day's schedule finishes with the events of the battle recreated.

(2014: the Battle of Bosworth 1485 reenacted)

Inevitably I have come back with relatively few pictures of the reenacted battle - as I spent most of my time on the stand, explaining the miniature version of the battle to enthusiasts of all types and ages.

(2014: my smaller recreation of the battle fascinating a family group)

We had neither the space (nor the option, really) to invite people to play the game (as we would do at a wargames show), but got a very good response using the layout to explain what we think happened during the actual battle - and why the fragmentary contemporary accounts help us construct a plausible narrative.

Many of them not from a wargame background, my associates in the Trust remain pleasantly surprised at the power of toy soldiers to attract attention to our projects and explain the conduct of events of the past.

It helps people make sense of the new archaeological evidence and gives a context for the man-to-man bashing of weapons on armour that takes place in the main arena.

(Reenactment: storm-clouds gather over Richard's command post at Bosworth)

Wargaming the Battle:

The first thing to say is that there was no battle on Ambion Hill: the Battlefield Trust's long overdue archaeological project to find the battlefield proves this conclusively (so any of the reconstructions based on outdated locations are not just misleading or hypothetical, they are just plain wrong*) ... hills and rises play no part in the action.

Although precise orientation is contentious, references to Henry's men attacking with the sun on their backs gives their advance a broadly South-to-North axis.

Historians, particularly those not familiar with the important role of artillery in late medieval battle, have traditionally been sceptical of the seven score Serpentines Richard took to the battle.

However, the archaeology confirms extensive gunfire, and gives a shot dispersal along Fenn Lane that allows us to place Richard's guns batteried together (maybe even chained together) at the East end of the battlefield protected by the mire of Fenn hole and close to the roads.

(the model battlefield looking roughly North from behind Henry Tudor's position)

Molinet tells us that Henry's mercenaries ... densely formed pikemen, mostly ... deployed at the other end of the field to avoid the King's guns.  
Between these two end points, Richard's van under the Duke of Norfolk, arrayed like a rampart, opposed the Earl of Oxford's slender line.  

Behind these, we know Richard commanded the Yorkist Main Battle and that Henry commanded a reserve of household troops, loyalists and Welsh.

(in the centre, along Fenn Lane, Oxford's slender line engages the Duke of Norfolk)

Absent from the Order of Battle was Henry's Vanward, Sir William Stanley ... certainly committed to the rebels but probably coerced out of the battle by his nephew, Lord Strange, being held hostage in Richard's camp.

Ordered into line by both commanders on the morning of the battle, the Stanleys remain where they camped overnight, around Dadlington - on Henry's right flank.

(54mm figures by Irregular Miniatures and various other manufacturers, flags by 'Fluttering Flags')

Absent on Richard's side - at the back on my model - Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, commanded the Rearward.  

Crucially, Northumberland plays no part in the battle, and I follow the interpretation put forward by Mike Ingram that this shows us Richard's army was deploying late, in line astern and that the rearward was too far back to intervene without more commitment to the cause than Percy showed**

Northumberland's absence seems to leave Norfolk's flank hanging, and it down this end of the battle that Henry's lethal mercenaries began to engage.   It may well have been because this fatally compromised his centre that Richard took events into his own hands.

(with gaps appearing in Oxford's slender line, Richard sees Henry's standard fluttering behind the lines)

With Oxford strung out to oppose the larger body under the Duke of Norfolk, Richard took the opportunity to charge past main engagement ... between Oxford's flank and the mire at Fenn Hole ... and attempt to engage Henry in personal combat.

This would certainly settle the issue.   

However, Henry seems to have had no appetite for the fight and it is his bodyguards and standard bearer who are cut down in Richard's attack.   The attack does, however, expose the flanks of Richard's party to the Stanleys (still mustered around the villages on that side of the battlefield).

Perhaps honouring their bond to Henry, perhaps in retaliation for the threat to Lord Strange's life, the Stanleys engage ...

Richard is engulfed, driven back into the mire and hacked down.

Explored as a wargame, this narrative fits naturally to the new battlefield and simplifies the convolutions of the obsolete interpretation.

Elsewhere around the site ...

Here is a quick set of pictures to give you some flavour of the event.

.. and I enjoyed browsing the artwork in Graham Turner's exhibition tent ...

All in all, a tiring but very rewarding two days in Leicestershire.  The battlefield display seem much appreciated and regularly gathered crowds.

Inevitably, the biggest crowd was when England Cricket legend, Freddie Flintoff, stopped by with his camera crew.  They were making a film about English summer events and took an interest in the battlefield display and the potted talks I was giving.

(Phil Steele explains the battle to celebrity visitor Freddie Flintoff at the Bosworth Festival)

We had a lengthy chat about the battle and the weapons of the day, much of it filmed for possible inclusion in a forthcoming TV show.   Well, wouldn't that be good ... a wargame interpretation of one of our most important battles on a celebrity TV show.

Well, stranger things have happened.   And the offer is there, if they want to sit down and play the game.

I hope something will come of it.  

Either way, it was great to meet a sporting hero.  Great to be able to share my enthusiasm for the history with him - and it kind of gave us all a little boost to be the centre of attention for a few minutes.

*e.g. what is still up on Wikipedia, what is shown in the Osprey book on the battle ...
** there may be self-interest, even treason, in this: after the battle, Percy was arrested and imprisoned, but after a few months was released ans allowed to keep his lands and titles.   Failing to come to Richard's aid  - deliberate or unavoidable - seems to have been to his long term advantage.

19th-20th July, Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire


History Live! is massive ... it is also a lot of fun.   There is a great emphasis on youngsters actively enjoying history, whether it is taking part in impromptu theatrical shows, clambering into reproduction aeroplanes or trying on weapons and equipment.   

Anyone who tells you that kids aren't interested in history is just wrong.

(participation theatre at History live!)

(youngsters were encouraged to try out the reproduction biplane)

I was there with the Battlefields Trust using the Northampton 1460 model to illustrate the work of battlefield preservation and interpretation ...

(Northampton 1460 showing the action moved on to the assault phase)

This is a wargame model although it was used as a moving tableau for the purposes of History Live! moving the contingents as we believed happened on July 10th 1460 and explaining the course of events.

The presentations seemed extremely successful and by late Sunday, I had handed out all the leaflets I'd taken along to support the exhibit.

If you wanted playable wargames, the Phoenix Club had, as usual, a range of wargames to join in ... ancient, Napoleonic, WWI (of course) and WWII ...

(Romans and Celts in the History Live! wargames tent)

Mostly youngsters and all historical.  Again, anyone who tells you that kids aren't interested in history is just wrong.   Anyone who tells you you need to glam it up with fantasy monsters is just wrong.  

 If wargaming is a greying hobby (and what an 'if' that is ...) then it can only be because greying wargamers aren't giving youngsters a chance to join in (or are abandoning them to commercial fantasy stuff).

(The Battlefields Trust at History Live! 2014)

Northampton is, of course, just a few miles down the road from Kelmarsh Hall and there was a lot of interest in the project to protect and explain the battlefield at Delapre Abbey.  

After much campaigning, Northampton Borough Council has recently accepted a Conservation Management Plan specifically for the battlefield area, so it does look like people power works.   There is much still to do, so enthusiasts can show their support by liking the project's Facebook page, and/or joining the Northampton Battlefield Society.

(Northampton 1460: in the heat of the action)

The battlefield model is constructed inside a rearranged pasting table (construction) and uses 15mm figures with oversized banners by Fluttering Flags ...

(Northampton 1460: the archbishop of Canterbury and Papal Legate Francesco Coppini watched the battle from the Eleanor Cross at Hardingstone)

Mounted figures are mostly Mirliton, foot are a broader mixture including Peter Pig, New Era Donnington and Corvus Belli as well as Essex and Tabletop (15mm.co.uk)

(Northampton 1460: decision - lord Grey of Ruthin's men help the Earl of March's troops into the position)

Outside, of course, the main arenas are given over to military displays by reenactment societies from all periods of military history and living history camps ... 

(full size Wars of the Roses artillery on show in the living history encampment)

We had about an inch of rain dumped on the site overnight and on Saturday morning but otherwise the weather was splendid, at times becoming sweltering.   

The whole event was well-managed and it took some persuading for people to leave the site on Sunday evening so we could all pack up and go home.

(Zulu wars period soldiers on their way to the arena at History Live!)


11-13 July, Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire

The 2014 Conference of Wargamers

There are so many good things to say about CoW that it is hard to know where to start.  Let's just say that the mix of people is excellent, the attitude convivial throughout ... the accommodation is ever improving and, to my taste, the catering (which barely stops all weekend) is a good 8/10 (for reference: no other wargame venue I have been anywhere in the world has topped 7, and I can't afford 10).  

The bar stays open till you go to bed and seems normally priced.  

The wargaming is 9:00 am to, say, midnight and just stops 4 times for main meals or tea/coffee (with home-made biscuits and cakes - indeed, a cream tea, this year).

Anyone can come so book yourself a wargame holiday.   If there is a problem, it is that the event is just the two days and most sessions only run once - so there are always great sessions you miss (especially if you are putting stuff on yourself) ...

For me, the weekend started with an outing to Cropredy Bridge to look at the ECW (1644) battlefield, and finished with re-running my 20th Cent. Naval 'pop up' game for an old friend ...

In between, I put on two main sessions and aided in an ADG (all ancient/medieval), played landsknecht cards, drove a T55 tank and commanded a detachment of French regulars in Canada ... I joined in on some innovative games, ancient, renaissance, Lace Wars and both World Wars, there was a morale boosting sing along (seriously ...) and a crisis game in a time shift ...

Gladiolus ...

For late night entertainment on the Friday, Will revived Gladiolus and I took along a set - at one stage we had 4 boards in play with several players being introduced to the Society of Ancients classic combat game.

(Gladiolus at CoW: you can teach old dogs new tricks - or should that be the other way round?)

I understand that the game is now out of print and is one the Committee is considering reprinting: so it was great to see players taking to it instinctively, getting good games and entertainment to start their weekend

(a 'made-over' Gladiolus set featuring hexes rather than offset squares, and some nicely laminated cards)

(15mm Gladiolus from Outpost ... 20mm Gladiolus from the old Atlantic plastics set)

Before retiring, I got in a game of Doodlebuggers with WD Display Team North, and set up Montaperti for the morning ...

(Doodlebuggers: normally I would edit out the beer bottle, but a 'London Pride' beside a defeat the doodlebugs game seems fortuitously appropriate)

Montaperti 1260

This was a shameless plug for the Society of Ancients BattleDay.   It is Hydaspes next year, and this year my take on Montaperti using Basic Impetus (plus) was flagged as *Best Game* (so has become my advert for the event).

(Montaperti at CoW: the players announce their intentions)

We had 2 players a side plus some non-playing participants, and in the 2 hour session, managed an intro to the BattleDay, briefing on the battle, guide to the rules, plus completed the game (the Florentine army broke at 10:50 with the session due to end at 11:00)

(Montaperti at CoW: the disarrayed units are broken; the numbers behind units show their current VBU)

The Florentine cavalry wing severely battered the Sienese army's tough German contingent driving them back to the Arbia but failing to break them, meanwhile their pavisier/crossbow units were unable to hold in the infantry line.

(Montaperti at CoW: a closer look at the combat)

(Montaperti at CoW: knights from the Sienese rearward reinforce Lancia's Germans on the banks of the Arbia)

... and the flanking force under the Duke of Arras arrived in good time behind the Florentine left.

In fact, it was neither the Sienese reserves nor the flank march that settled the day - the Florentine knights finally ran out of steam - and then their losses combined with the infantry casualties across the ridge were just too much.   In the basic game, this 50% value would mean the loss of the army but in historical games, I replace it with an ever worsening die roll - in the first instance the army must roll at least a 2.   

In fact, the test resulted in a 1 and meant we could wrap up without running over into the coffee break or needing an artificial solution.

The players seemed to have enjoyed all this  - as a recreation of Montaperti and as a run through of Basic Impetus.


Here's a quick look round at some of what else CoW had to offer on Saturday ...

(a 15mm German Apokalypse occuring at the main railway station)

(anti-tank missile debris on the lawn following a massed tank attack)

(the French marching on Quebec)

(another lawn, another battle: Little Cold War action)

(German Peasants War ... cardboard Landsknechts)

And for my main evening entertainment, I played the French regulars in a huge game of Muskets and Tomahawks ... 

Commercial games - especially of the glossy sort are a rarity at CoW and only get brought along if people really think you ought to know about them, so I was pleased for the chance to get an objective look at this much hyped product.

(Muskets and Tomahawks: scenes from our raid on the village)

Ancients games ...

... and in addition, Trebian ran a multi-player version of 'To Ur is Human' - an excellent treatment of the earliest period of warfare which we have been helping him test and perfect on a Wednesday night ...

(To Ur is Human ... battling for the fields and gardens of ancient Mesopotamia)

Former SoA President Ian Russell Lowell contributed sessions on German soldiers, cardgames and Hittite raiders ...

(IRL is the only person I know who sports an 'I love Luwian' tee shirt ...)

... in addition, Treb came up with a last minute 'pop-up' - Rapid Raphia, an attempt to make a quick-fire but satisfying game out of the massive Hellenistic pike and elephant clash ...

(Rapid Raphia: two boards going side-by-side)

This looked like an innovative success which I think I am destined to play in our weekly local get together this week (and we might try it out at a show, I'm told ...) ...

Before turning in on Saturday, I set up my Northampton session for the morning.

Northampton 1460

Whereas my Saturday session was more of a game with attenuated presentations, 1460 focussed more on the discussion of the battle, location and reconstruction, and on the work of the Northampton Battlefield Society.

(Northampton 1460: me behind the camera, Mike Elliot talking about the battle)

It was great to have a good number of participants, and in the second half of the session, I presented my ideas for wargaming the battle, we worked through the game ideas I have developed and came up with some really good period enhancements ...

(Northampton 1460: the final stages of the Yorkist attack)

(Northampton 1460: Lancastrians man the barricades at Delapre)

(Northampton 1460: the battlefield viewed from the North - NNW)

This session went really well and I am looking forward to modifying some of the attendant mechanisms for the outing at Kelmarsh Hall (History Live!) with the Battlefields Trust next weekend.

Of course, I was helping a session on Friday night, the presenting both mornings, so other people's weekends would have far more diverse than the weekend I managed to cram in.

So maybe we will see you next year?

More on Cropredy (ECW Battles/Cropredy); more on 20th Century CoW (P.B.Eye-Candy)

(Montaperti at CoW: battlefield panorama)

(End-piece: this engraving of the Eleanor Cross at Hardingstone hangs in the Hall at Knuston - it is the landmark from which Archbishop Bourchier and Legate Coppini watched the battle of Northampton)

5th July, Northampton (Delapre Abbey)

Northampton Battlefield Open Day 
(with the Friends of Delapre Abbey and the Medieval Siege Society)

So this was the first Open Day for the recently formed Battlefield Society, and as a result of the date of the battle (10th July) competes with the British Grand Prix, Wimbledon, the World Cup and the inevitable British Summer threat of rain (which goes with all those).

The latter is, of course, a teasing irony ... it rained on the morning of the battle, just as it did on the morning of the Open Day.  We can hardly complain about that!    All in all, we were very pleased with the results, and our thanks go to the Battlefields Trust, the Medieval Siege Society and the Friends of Delapre for their support.

The event was also the debut of my new battlefield wargame display.

(Northampton 1460: a Society of Ancients/Northampton Battlefields Society game featuring Mirliton figures and Fluttering Flags)

For more on the build, please have a look at Northampton Battlefield Reconstructed ...

(Northampton 1460: Edward Earl of March attacks the Lancastrian position)

(putting the historical battle into context ... details and narratives)

(Northampton 1460: Fauconberg's attack on Talbot's sector)

Used as a moving tableau in this instance, the layout proved a good adjunct to the mix of reenactment, talks and walks on the battlefield and will benefit from further enhancements and landscaping before its next outing at CoW in a week's time ...

Upstairs, Mike Ingram gave a well received and detailed account of the battle, while outside, men in armour demonstrated  combat and archery from the period ...

(members of the Medieval Siege Society running a tournament)

Downstairs, in addition to the battlefield display, we had activities for youngsters, mostly engaging them with Medieval heraldry, badges and symbolism.

(Northampton 1460 - a battlefield Open Day at Delapre abbey)

The Battle of Northampton represented a turning point in the Wars of the Roses ... perhaps for the first time, artillery was massed on an English battlefield; as a result of Lord Grey's treachery, King Henry VI was captured and Warwick (the Kingmaker) was granted the highest office.   In the aftermath, Richard Duke of York made formal his claim to the throne, and Margaret of Anjou (Henry's Queen) plotted her opposition.

Events were now on the road to Towton, and the next two Kings would be Richard's sons, Edward IV and Richard III.

Northampton battlefield has long been under threat of partial development and lacks an established walking trail, guide and interpretation boards: the Northampton Battlefields Society is trying to move forward on these issues whilst engaging the public with their heritage and publicising the potential.

You can find out more about NBS on Wordpress/NBS or on Facebook ...

(Northampton 1460: despite the many Summer attractions, many gathered to enjoy the period entertainments)


Northamptonshire, June/July

Northampton 1460 Project update

On 5th July I will be demonstrating the battle using a wargame model at the Battlefield Open Day at Delapre.

This week's work will be on the custom battlefield.  

The project will recycle quite a number of 15th Century figures I already have but feature a new set of command bases and personality vignettes ...

Here is a test shot of the general layout ...

The wattle fencing will be incorporated into the earthworks protecting the Lancastrian position.   And yes, there were a few silver men around when I tried out the basic arrangement.

I have tried to capture some of the character of Northampton's open fields in July in this Impetus Style group of Yorkist prickers ...

(Yorkist cavalry at Northampton: figures from Mirliton's Burgundian range)

The insets show the preliminary groundwork in process ...

There are six of these command bases to complete ...

(William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, commanding the Yorkist left: Donnington, Mirliton and Irregular figures, banner and standard by Fluttering Flags)

... and vignettes for the King, Queen Margaret and the observing group of Archbishop Bourchier and Francesco Coppini ...

(Henry VI at Northampton: more Mirliton with Fluttering Flags, kneeling figures by Essex and Corvus Belli)

... base texturing still to do ...

So apologies for light blogging of late - it's flat out to get this lot completed (then, I hope, we can enjoy some special features on the finished projects) ...

In addition to the Open Day this weekend, Northampton 1460 will go to CoW the week after, History Live! at Kelmarsh Hall (with the Battlefields Trust) and the Derby show in October 

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14th June, St Helens

Phalanx 2014 ...

(young enthusiasts cluster around the Society of Ancients stand)

Phalanx seemed very busy this year and had its usual successful mix of things to do, things to buy and things to look at.  

(DBA challenge, bombers, WWI, Society stands ... and shopping too ...) 

The Bring & Buy continues to offer traditional bargains and to be well supported (maybe that helps ... in a late run, even I found a couple of book bargains) ...

(the Phalanx Bring & Buy tables - quiet enough for me to get near but still heaving)

But my first break was not until after lunch, such were the number of people to talk to on the Society stand and Martin's popular DBA game.

The Society of Ancients followed the now time honoured formula of me and Chris up with the stand and Slingshots supporting a quick and dirty (armies provided) DBA participation game (can you beat the Society team - and it was close!) ...

(Martin in DBA action with a keen audience)

(DBA challenge ... 'tatty' Romans about to go in ... )

(DBA challenge ... decisions! decisions! ... )

(DBA challenge ... Persians vs Greeks)

This is a simple formula but continues to attract players for a dozen or so games ... easily over half the games involved teenagers or younger which may be of interest to the habitual hand wringers (historical games always go down well with youngsters*)

There were plenty of historical games to enjoy, many of them in our periods - though in keeping with the 2014 trend, much more Medieval than ancient (our DBA games were the main ancient offering)

Wyrley Retinue had their beautiful Scottish Wars battle ... always one to photograph

(worth clicking the image to enjoy a bigger picture)

And this year, the Liverpool club chose a medieval Impetus game from the Barons War and loaded the table with figures ...

(Extra Impetus Barons War open battle)

Just to keep the variety coming, the Lance & Longbow Society were putting Poleaxed through its paces in a version of the small Wars of the Roses battle at Hedgeley Moor (1464).

(Lance & Longbow Society/Poleaxed II ... Hedgeley Moor)

Wow!  What a great selection of games.

And of course, that was just the ancient and medieval fare ... 

I didn't really get too much time for the rest of it but here's a superficial summary ...

I have to include this Pacific Island hop ...

Because it included some big photogenic ships (1/72 planes, you know ...)

(click the picture for the full image)

Gary brought along a little tabletop teaser for the Pike & Shot Society

But it wasn't the biggest ECW game on show

(massive Pike and Shotte Marston Moor game)

('Where Eagles Dare' sequel participation game ... not so icy as the original ;) )

So a great show and a great day out for the many enthusiasts that turned out.

Plenty of youngsters of course, but nice to meet Society veterans Taylor, Tofalos, Webster and Hughes (and former President Phil Halewood, of course) amongst many welcome visitors.

Great show, Spartans Club ... thanks for hosting us.

Speaking of veterans, the Gentlemen Pensioners (veteran Societies show teamers all) stayed up for Sunday (see the Sudan game)

But I think ancient and Medieval enthusiasts will see me next demonstrating the Battle of Northampton at the open day on July 5th.

*  and even better with their parents who clearly see the value of finding out about the Greeks and Romans ..
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1st June, Kelham Hall, Newark

PARTIZAN 2014 (in the Park)

Shifted from the main house to three connected marquees, Partizan last weekend felt more like an EH event than a wargames event.

Well done all concerned ... this was much better than a cancellation, and thankfully the rain held off, so it worked.   

The pros ... much better lighting than inside the Hall - and, I gather, a nice barbecue setting for lunch by the Cricket pavillion.  The cons ... it got a bit warm and humid at times, and there was a disastrous shortage of chairs (which is a serious matter for an ageing and infirm team like SoA).

So my thanks to the team for putting in a good shift ... 

(Society stalwart Graham H snapped selling a copy of the latest issue of Slingshot)

In addition to the Society stand, we were giving another run out to the Basic Impetus Montaperti game which I had prepared for 2014 BattleDay ... (now, of course, drawing your attention to next year's battle: the Hydaspes).

The main ancient and medieval games were Simon M's huge Bloody Cremona, our own Montaperti and Lincoln's medieval Big Battle DBA.

(Roman pontoon bridge ... the latest addition to the spectacular Cremona game)

Simon has a host more pictures on his Big Red Bat Cave  blog.

(Big Battle in progress - Reconquista DBA from the Lincoln Miniature Warfare Society)

It was good to see the Wings of War game keeping a good and boisterous crowd entertained ...

That's what caught my eye on a relatively short break, shopping and looking for new things between two full games of Montaperti ... games which again demonstrated how variable the scenario can be …

(for a full look at the rest of the display games, I recommend Grigork's blog from which I have used a couple of images with permission)

Montaperti, Tuscany, 1260

(initial success for the Sienese as Florentine spearmen are driven out of the line)

The first game had a strong home team involvement, engaging members of the SoA team as well as friends who were visiting the show.   We demonstrated the full effects of fortune in battle (the dice outcomes being all over the place) and, despite a plucky opening, the battle tipped further and further against the Sienese.  

(Siena's Imperial cavalry contingent drives the Florentines back on their Carroccio)

The Ghibelline sympathisers in the enemy reserve did not defect and threw themselves into the defence of the Carroccio, the count of Arras’s flank force did not arrive during the decisive phase of the engagement, and the infantry assault on the immobile wall of Florentines failed. 

(the Florentine Carroccio barely hanging on as the Sienese attack stalls)

When the Sienese army reached its breaking point, we accepted that the Florentines had prevailed.

In the second game the count of Arras's flank march turned up mid game and was able to exploit an already collapsing flank.   

(Montaperti: an Italian medieval panorama)

The German knights charged home decisively, driving the Florentines back onto and through the Carroccio.  Consequently the Florentine commander felt compelled to mobilise the Ghibelline sympathisers who immediately defected and charged into the Carroccio melee.

The Carroccio held out for several rounds of combat, and a series of reverses along the infantry battleline actually meant the Sienese hit their demoralisation threshold first.   

(Francesco Troghisio* urges the Sienese centre forward: my thanks to Grigork for permission to use this picture)

In this closer game, we played the variable game end and, with an easy pass achieved, played another turn.
In the following turn, another Sienese unit broke, as did the remaining Florentine knights and the Carroccio, making both armies test.   

This was the first time the Carroccio has fallen.

Both armies failed, but the Florentines failed by more and had had their Carroccio taken, bell flag and regalia, arguably giving the day to Siena (certainly the Communal bragging rights). 


*or it might, of course, be one of his Sicilian lieutenants (the heraldry is inconclusive ....

Next outing will be Phalanx in a fortnight (supporting Martin C's annual Dirty DBA participation game) ... See the Spartans on Facebook too

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17th May, Sheffield


Triples this year was something of a landmark ... as it hosted the 10th annual DBA Northern Cup sponsored by the Society of Ancients.   Just a couple of us Shows North types were available (and only for the Saturday) ... so we went along to play DBA, have a look at the show and then present some prizes on the Society's behalf.

Do volunteer to help - or it may go out of fashion before you get your chance ...

Playing made for a busy schedule so my trip around was relatively brief and mostly involved giving some money to the traders and exchanging brief updates with old friends.

(Lance & Longbow Society ... the battle of Bauge 1421)

A weaker show for historical societies that rely on volunteers - but nevertheless a great Medieval game from the Lance & Longbow Society ... and some deathly doodlebuggering from WD ...

Have a look at Will's Blog for more on Bauge and some excellent pictures ..

(a proper homegrown Participation Game from Wargame Developments)

(First Battle of St Albans)

... and there was a very colourful Wars of the Roses game from Mosborough Old Boys - the First Battle of St Albans - the big flags made it clear who was who and gave that extra height that helps games get noticed.


So plenty of good Medieval content, lots of lace and some costume society displays to boot ... only a semi-historical pre-Classical game for pukka ancients of course (and I believe a small commercial pop-up game appeared on Sunday)

(Ilkley Lads - Zorndorf 1758)

(Like a Stone Wall - Alamanza 1707)

(Sealed Knot - English Civil War costume)

(detail from: Derby - Relief of Fort St John)

More Lace .. Some things are certain: set up a FIW period game with canoes on a river - and I will photograph it.   I will do a splendid Rogers Rangers game one day ...

For ancients, you needed to go out back where we were staging the 2014 DBA Northern Cup


This was the tenth running so great thanks are due to Lincoln duo Murgatroyd and Morley who put it together every year.

(2014 DBA Northern Cup Postcard ...) ...

If you aren't familiar with this event, the organisers provide all the armies boards and equipment organised into 8 preset scenarios drawn at random each round.   The terrain, armies and attack/defend are already defined, the players take over with defender camp deployment.

So this means lots of novelty and variety fro the players resulting from lots of work by the organisers.

(my Game One: Ottomans take on the Knights of St John)

I got to play Ottomans vs Knights of St John; Early Crusaders vs Fatimids; Christian Nubian vs Arab Conquest; Knights of St John vs Ottomans and Feudal Spanish vs Fanatic Berber ...

(the tables and terrain maps courtesy PM)

As usual for English DBA rounds, we played 45 minute games within a 1 hour window and scarcely any were drawn.   All mine were concluded decisively.

(Early Crusaders held off by Fatimids)

So, five excellent and good natured games that saw me running in the podium places til Eliseo called time on my lucky streak in the last game.  Good job ... as I was presenting the prizes.

Once again, this unpredictable event produced a new winner (that's 10 in 10)

1st - Tom Whitehead
2nd - Martin Smith
3rd - Eliseo Vilalta-Perdomo

Congratulations to them and thanks to all the other participants.   

And thanks, of course, to SoA for sponsoring, Triples for hosting and Paul and Tony for putting it together.

(Eliseo, Tom amd Martin assume the positions)

Next outing for Shows North: Partizan
The Northern Cup counts towards the SoA UK DBA League

For more about this and other DBA events, try Fanaticus and the DBA Yahoo group.
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27th April Central London

The Last Emperors ...

My final ancient/medieval outing for April was a rare opportunity to join the Jockey's crowd for a multiplayer game set in the last age of Crusading.

As JB's preamble put it 1453: Constantinople has fallen.  Now the Sultan turns his eye to the Peloponnese, where the last Byzantine princelings and the final generation of Frankish lords cling to power behind great fortresses such as the Acrocorinth and Mistra while the Pope, the greatest erotic poet of the age, attempts to rally support for a new crusade.

I joined a smaller but more tightly motivated Ottoman team upstairs in Constantinople (or Istanbul as many Turks were already calling it) while the many Christian petty princes and would be Emperors pored over the big map on the common area.

(The Last Emperors ... political/deployment at start)

You can get an impression of this from the genral map at the start of the game ... a little green toe-hold at the top of the board (our Ottoman jumping off point for the campaign) and the rest of it covered in a near incoherent patchwork of colour coded factions and families.  Could we conquer Greece before they could unite and throw us back ...

Given our massive stack of resources, could they confront us at all?

Well, the answer to that would be found upstairs in beyond our sublime porte, where there was an Empire to run which would continually sap resources from our Greek enterprise.

We began the game with a convincing blitzkrieg through Northern Greece, installing unpleasant governors  (according to how compliant had been the province) and subsequently shipping in good moslem settlers ... but problems built up and we could not sustain the aggression of that first season at war.

(The Last Emperors ... game end)

The Christians had been able to launch a Crusade, the seas were running with pirates, and I was killed in a great (land) battle at Lepanto.   We had achieved our initial objectives ... taken Athens, established a puppet Duke, pushed the Venetians out of Eastern waters, but it would take a new campaign to unlock the Peloponnese.   

The game freely mixed role play with boardgame and Committee game and enjoyed a quick and dirty buckets of dice battle resolution.   It smoothly ran through a number of seasons over a working lunch and afternoon.  There was a neat spying sub-game in operation which has inspired a lot of follow up traffic (and which I can see porting nicely into Wars of the Roses scenarios) ...

No toy soldiers were harmed or endangered in this map-based game.   Nevertheless, it was nice to be able to play a Medieval/Renaissance game at the operational level for a change - and I think it brought attention to this quirky twilight period of Western history ...

DBA Northern Cup at Triples next!
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12th April, London, ExCel


I should subtitle this 'An Ancient and Medieval Salute' or some such: there are endless blogs with photo collections from Salute, but none quite like this.   Most bloggers seem to focus on shopping or goblins or power armour and panzers.  Scarcely one gives you any sort of coverage of the early historical content.

But to kick off, the Society of Ancients presented another Lost Battle, this time Macedonians and Romans contesting the Dogs' Heads hills in Thessaly ...

(Salute 2014: BC197 - Cynoscephalae ... a Lost Battle from the Society of Ancients)

This is the battle that evolves from a reinforced encounter in the fog ... and the one where Roman legionaries are able to beat the Macedonian phalanx because, in part, they can cope better with the rolling terrain ...

Professor Sabin is away broadening the world's understanding of warfare at the moment so the game was run by Eric et al ( ;) ...) ...

(Cynoscephalae: the Macedonian phalanx in the hills)

(Cynoscephalae: the Roman battle line ...)

This was run twice (with a break for lunch) and involved a number of visitors and plentiful break for explanation and demos.  Sometime players get engrossed in the game, but always remember, the Society welcomes interruptions if you have any questions (and, occasionally, we might not have spotted that).

Ancient and Medieval Salute ...

Regular readers might recall my noting that there haven't been many ancients games at this year's shows (and a more Medieval theme to the early history games there have been) ... Well, Salute 2014 had a good number of core ancients exhibits.

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy were flagshipping with Simon Miller's 'C-Day' - a cross channel beach landing (but in this case from France and under the direction of Julius Caesar ...) ..

(C-Day: legionaries wade ashore under the hostile gaze of native British warriors)

You will know I love the detail that makes up these historical tableaux, so I'm sure you will indulge some extra shots ...

(C-Day: Roman warship ... elephant on tow ... wading legionaries)

(C-Day: British cavalry and chariots thunder to the cliffs - click on the picture to enlarge)

(C-Day: more Roman ships close up to the shore ...)

Gripping Beast seemed to be respinning my game 'Welcome to Jerusalem' with this Saga based display (it wasn't being played, so hard to work out how all the components meshed - but its looks drew a lot of attention ...)...

Committee member Rob Broom was there with his War & Conquest Thermopylae game ...

(Thermopylae: the pass is denied)

The game featured a number of splendidly turned out Greek battle groups (Rob really is getting the hang of this, you know ...) 

(Themopylae: some of the many Greek prepared to block the Persians' advance)

So, we've had Greeks, Macedonians, Romans and Crusaders ... there was jousting, Chariot racing and Viking raiders ... and it was a nice surprise to see Hannibal's army turn up for the Trebia ... and in glorious 54mm!  This was a splendid game from John (that's it apparently - but he did give a nice explanation of the game).

(John's impressive Trebia in 54m)

The game itself was DBA and John reckons he has a good 6 DBA armies in the big game (so they can play a 6 contingent campaign version)

(Hannibal at the Trebia: cavalry and elephants in 54mm!)

There was some talk about the elephants but these look good to me ... relatively small, big ears etc. etc. (the towers might be a bit hefty but, really, we don't know enough ...) ..

A great advert for the standard ancients game - and geared to play, not just for display ..

(HaT 54mm Romans ... working in this scale need not cost a fortune)

The Warlord team were also there with a game ...

And Best Participation Game went to Crawley for their well thought out Chariot Racing

(Salute 2014: Ad Spatium Accedis .. Best Participation Game)

This was a card driven multiplayer game with Ben Hur style hats and lots of crashes and deliberate interference.  Great choice ... a nice take on an ancients perennial.  Insiders will know I am looking at this theme myself ...

(Ad Spatium Accedis: the Chariots line up for the start )

Apologies to those ancients games I missed, this was my best of Salute.  Overall, I was pleased to see our part of the historical spectrum putting its best foot forward and good to see all the core ancients attractions on display.

Good also to see awards going to ancients games and to historical presentations.

Of course, there was much much more ... here is a quick guide to the Best of the Rest ...

(Salute 2014 ... a big space ship ... stuff for kids ... historical societies ... Most Innovative Game for Megagame Makers ...men with guns ...) ...

I also liked ...

(10mm ECW: Wow! a real feast for the eyes ... beautiful figures - from Pendraken I believe)

... and with the centenary coming up, there was plenty on the WWI theme ...

... and some Not Quite Napoleonics (doing what Napoleonics do best ...) ...

(Salute 2014: 1837 - the Battle of Barbastro)

... and uncharacteristically, I very much liked Duncan MacFarlane's chunky 28mm Battle of Arklow ... Not Quite Napoleonics - in this case the Irish Rebellion ..

(Salute 2014: 1798 - the Battle of Arklow)

There has been a bit of moaning on some chat pages about Salute this year ... I think mostly by people whose day got off on the wrong foot due to a long queue, some unfriendly managing of the queue by ExCel staff ... and some inconsistencies.

I don't want to argue with those people: I think every enthusiast wants everyone else to have a good day out and if it gets spoiled that is annoying for all of us.


For Salute, ExCel has a number of embedded problems ... fatiguing and visually ugly floor, poor lighting, weird acoustics etc. (and the room is so big you need to be clever with your camera).  Honestly (an ignoring the horrible year where it took half the morning to get in) I preferred Olympia ...

 ... but I thought this was a good Salute and I had a mix of meets and discussions that are unlikely to happen anywhere else.

A great selection of games and eye-candy ... and if anything, possibly less of a corporate feel this time around .. 

I think Salute is still a must, but I remind everyone of what I said before ... wear forgiving shoes, don't turn up before 11 as you will just get caught in a queue ... try to avoid big ruck sack syndrome and do games and Society stands first, shopping second (again avoiding scrums - few items will sell out and traders can be very generous in the afternoon, I find) ...

Terrible queue for coffee but not too expensive (and they do a very nice mocha ...) ...

Back to Montaperti galleries shortly and look out for Triples next month (and the DBA Northern Cup)
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