22nd May, Newark Showground

Partizan 2016

Partizan's new venue at the showground - but very much the familiar formula and a hall full of old friends and a great atmosphere.  It seems they were queueing round the block to welcome a reconfigured favourite.

As an innovation, Partizan had zoned the space notionally into demo-style and participation games ... with a history zone in the middle (an island of tables with the Pike and Shot, SOTCW, GCN etc. and ourselves all clustered around and, as it were, mutually supportive) ...

A special zone for the societies - what a great idea.

By 'ourselves', for this one I mean Lance & Longbow, the Northampton Battlefields Society and the Society of Ancients.

We supported 2 battles from Northamptonshire ... the 1460 battle of Edgcote (directly on the L&L and SoA remit) and the county's most famous battle, Naseby from the Civil War.

(looking across Edgcote and in the distance, Naseby, Northamptonshire's battlefields)

I'll include a separate feature on our ADLG trial game of Edgcote as a follow up to this report, but meanwhile here are some pictures from the show ...

(Edgcote 1469: start positions looking roughly South West)

And the Battle of Naseby (Northampton Battlefields Society/Naseby Battlefield Project) ... Naseby, of course, have recently begun a start up project in the next stage of their bid for a 21st century Visitor Centre.

(Naseby battlefield from behind the Parliamentarian left flank)

(1645 Naseby: smoke from the volleys of Okey's dragoons engulf's the King's right wing)

And we were promoting Northampton's new book on the 1460 battle ...

(arms and armour from the NBS shows collection - photo by Chris A)

Having an aisle between the Society stands and our games (rather than the way we usually abut them) stretched us too thin and we were not able to man the stand talk about the historical battlefields and play the development game of Edgcote.

We simply did not have enough bodies to stretch over the gap.

So apologies to anyone who went unattended or who thought they were ignored.  Actually we were simply caught out by the layout (which was new to us).

Not a whinge though - the societies did perfectly well out of the arrangements and so thank you to the organisers for a productive layout - just now we have seen  how it works, we need to recruit an extra volunteer or two.

(the battle of Circensium)

Successful also seemed to be ...  the game based on a book with the author of the books next to the game signing books ... Mssrs Miller, Hendry and Sidebottom to be precise and Ben Kane in costume too ...

The battle was based on an episode in one of Harry's books ...

(collaborators ... figures by - game by - book by ... courtesy of the BigRedBatcave)

For more on the project, please have a look at Simon's blog.

Not that many anc/med games other than that ... there was a nice Eleanor Cross (based on the Northampton one) in the St Albans game ...

... and WD were running their Cursus Honorum game of Roman career advancement ...

(Wargame Developments: Jerry all set for the next set of Roman aristocrats)

The other participation games looked good too ...

(collage: some of the impressive participation games running at Partizan 2016)

... and there seemed to be a lot of lace (one of 2016's signatures?) ...

I rather liked this nice WWII game ...

But most innovative has to be this toy town game where the figures have all been made out of clothes pegs!!!

(click on the pictures to bring up a larger image)

Follow up links should you need them:-

Our next show will be Phalanx next month ...

... and finally, how about this for photographing 15mm from Chris A?  These are some of my Welsh from the Edgcote game ...


A big welcome to Great Battles of History

Congratulations to Joe Collins and the team for getting the Great Battles of History for DBA 3 completed and published.   What a massive effort.

It includes 2 chapter from the Shows North stable, Yarmuk and Bouvines ... both games we developed and played as participation projects at various shows over the last couple of seasons (so they are genuinely projects to which everyone has made an input) ...

(left: Yarmuk played with classic 30mm flats; right: Bouvines played with more modern 15mm solids)

See our threads on them here (Yarmuk, Bouvines) ...

You can buy a hardcopy version of the book in all its splendour from direct from Lulu now, or if you just want to down load the files and don't mind waiting, they will be available for free (there is a delay while file sizes are reduced from the print version so the download is manageable) ...

Meanwhile, sample chapters are being made available individually - and I am very pleased Yarmuk has been chosen as the second offering (PDF here)

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Yarmuk and Bouvines project ... and I hope the GBoH book goes down well with you all (I know many contributors are already assembling material for the next volume) ...

NB any profits from the hardcopy version (the one you have to pay for) go to the Society of Ancients as a mark of how important the Society has been to Phil and Sue over the years and how highly regarded they are within the Society.

Click here for Keith McNelly's synopsis of what's in the book.
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7th and 8th May, The Centre, Milton Keynes

Campaign 2016

Next stop, 2016, was Campaign in MK's Central shopping zone.   This is another of our few opportunities to meet the general public and try to engage them with wargames and military history.

Again, the Society of Ancients teamed up with Northampton Battlefields Society and we had a display of replica weapons and equipment around the 1460 battle layout, the two society pitches plus a DBA table.

(weapons and equipment from the NBS collection and the battle of Northampton display)

(DBA Lords of the Nile: a modern game with ancient armies using antique figures)

(the game table, this time featuring 'Axum's invasion of Arabia)

(the Arabian and Axumite armies)

(Have a go pairs at Campaign: 'Spartacus against the Romans')

We had copies of the new book published by the battlefield society on Northampton 1460, and on Sunday the author was with us to sign copies.

(author Mike Ingram introduces a Saints supporter to some local history)

You can get the book from Amazon on the link above but if you buy it from us at a show (and I generally have some), the battlefield society gets a bigger share of the price - and any proceeds go directly to protecting and interpreting the battlefield.  Recommended.

We got in 4 or 5 runs of each of the DBA scenarios ... they started out pretty even until my goddaughter joined us and proceeded to defeat all comers through her mastery of the rolling a 6 tactic.  OK - she's learning the came and coming on fairly well but utterly thrashed me in the dice department as kids and females generally do.

(flats DBA at Campaign: the Pharaoh goes into action)

The Northampton 1460 display is always popular at this event as the battlefield is only some 20 miles or so up the M1 from Milton Keynes (and a lot of the shoppers come from much close to Delapre than that) ... we often meet current of former resident of the areas around the battlefield with anecdotes to share and fragments of community knowledge that would otherwise remain buried.

Same time, there are still plenty of people who just don't know what is on their doorstep.

If wargames can help people be better informed that is all to the good.

(Campaign - the 1460 display: a dad explains to a youngster how the armies fought at Northampton)

(Northampton 1460: looking through the Lancastrian camp at the approaching army of Warwick and the Earl of March)

Elsewhere there was quite a good mix of games of all sorts and the big competition which the show annually hosts.

If you didn't know, at Campaign, the red zone tables are a national competition, the blue zoned tables (like ours) are the public show.   Together with a fair cross-section of traders and a lively Bring & Buy, it seems like a good mix. 

So here's a look round ...

Some great stuff there ...

On Sunday Peter, from the battlefield society joined us, and brought some of his equipment and demonstrated some of the secrets of the longbow archer.

It is very handy to have these sorts of exhibits around, especially with the general public (many wargamers know this stuff already).  They are fascinated and amazed by the sophistication of the military equipment of days gone.  The sheer variety and quality.

The show itself seemed a little less busy than in previous years - perhaps it was the first hot weekend of the Summer.

Nevertheless a very useful outing and a lot of publicity goals achieved.

Thanks to everyone who did a stint on the stand or just stopped by for a chat.

Next stop Partizan.


23rd - 24th April, Leeds, Royal Armouries

RAGE: Royal Armouries 100 Years War Event

This event at the Royal Armouries was organised to mark the arrival of the Armouries' Agincourt diorama in Leeds (formerly the centrepiece of the Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London) ..

Most wargamers and military enthusiasts will be familiar with it ...

(Agincourt at the Royal Armouries)

Will has some better pictures than I got on his blog ...

We had a steady throughput of general visitors over the Saturday and Sunday and a range of wargames to help them explore the 100 Years War and try out wargaming.

I was there with the Northampton Battlefields Society, promoting our project and running a participation game of Greyhounds in the Slips, the Anno Domino game of Henry V at Harfleur which we published through the Society of Ancients a few years back ...

(Northampton Battlefield Society)

This was the first time I've been back to the armouries in a while (well, for a proper look around - which I was able to get on Saturday lunch time - at least) ...  What a splendid Museum and activity centre it is.  Really interesting, achieved with absolute quality - and a national asset we can all be proud of.  World class.

(The Royal Armouries, Leeds: world class)

We played GitS a total of 16 times (OK: I may have missed one or two) and, with differing degrees of success, Henry took Harfleur 12 times.  The other four times, his heroic story ended early, killed in the storming of the town (usually by an unexpected counter-attack after a failed hack at someone) ..

Here's his story ...

Game by me, script by W. Shakespeare ...

And what a joy it was to have (mostly young) players playing Henry V, on St George's Day, quoting their Shakespeare, on the 400th anniversary of the bard's last gasp, and in the Royal armouries.

That ticks a lot of my boxes.  No finer venue.  No better day.

I also took along some of the smaller figures from the Northampton display to showcase our work protecting and interpreting the battlefield ...

(Yorkists from the Northampton display)

(Lancastrians from the Northampton display)

(Warwick's cavalry from the Northampton display: picture by Alma Traska)

You can see the Battle of Northampton at Campaign in the Centre MK on 7th and 8th May.

Here's a look at some of the other games ...

(Simon Chick's Agincourt)

The Lance and Longbow Society had a Lion Rampant game of Bauge 1421 and the Simon Chick Agincourt that won all those awards at Salute last year (which uses Basic Impetus) ...

(Bauge 1461)

Also ...

(Sheffield Wargames Society: Castillon)

(Wargames Illustrated and the Perrys)

(The Peterborough Club revived the Donald Featherstone skirmish game with old Britains soldiers)

(Derby's Combat of The Thirty)

As diverse a mix as a BattleDay ... There's more ...

(St Crispin's Day)

(Doncaster's Sluys game)

(Wakefield and Osset's mini 1415 campaign)

... and a different take on the storming of Harfleur ...

There were some changes for the Sunday ...

The lance & Longbow, Chick, Perrys and Sheffield were not available both days ... and were replaced by 

(More 28mm skirmishing)

(... and a very pretty DBMM game by the Headingly wargamers)

Meanwhile ...

... Harry led assault after assault ...

Most ended like this:

(Harry triumphant)

But the French cut him down in around a quarter of the games:

What a great weekend - and hopefully some new recruits for our shared interests ... well some seeds sown.

Greyhounds in the Slips is part of a two game pack A Domino Double Header published by the Society of Ancients ... get one while stocks last!

See us next at Milton Keynes ... we will have The battle of Northampton 1460, supplies of the 1460 book and some pick up ancient and medieval games for you to try out ... DBA, ADLG etc.

I hope to see you there ...


16th April, London, ExCel


Salute 2016 was its usual grand day out: though slim pickings for the Ancient and Medieval enthusiast - the theme was Steam Punk although you wouldn't know it from all the Science Fiction which seemed the dominant genre.

Although I know they turned some others away, the only big ancients game I could see was our own 28mm Magnesia played as a Lost Battle.  That's quite an amazing degree of under-representation given how many enthusiasts tick 'ancients' on surveys and how big the ExCell hall is.

(Salute 2016: the Society of Ancients stand and - behind - Magnesia game)

So this won't be the same as the other Salute reports from this year - and half a dozen different views of the Star Trek bridge ... I'll showcase the few historical games from before 1500AD ...

Without the Society of Ancients and Lance & Longbow there would have been fewer.  Always worth remembering if you were under the impression that the Society's mission in championing the historical wargame was done already.

(Championing the historical wargame ... without these volunteers, what next?)

The Society of Ancients presented the great Roman triumph of Magnesia ...

(Salute 2016: the Lost Battle of Magnesia)

Presented by Prof. Phil Sabin and the shows team.

(Salute 2016: Magnesia 190BC by The Society of Ancients - detail)

This was an live game played 3 time with visitors to the show joining in.

The Lance & Longbow Society had Rob Broom presenting an anniversary refight of Hastings using his popular War and Conquest rules ... again played with show goers throughout the day ...

(Salute 2016: details from the battle of Hastings by The Lance & Longbow Society)

Not quite historical ... the Skirmish Wargames folk put on this attractive myth game in 54mm ..

... and reprising last year's theme, there was an impressive battle of Agincourt ...

I also liked this 28mm medieval encounter in Eastern Europe ...

Snow just works so well for games at shows ...

More Dark Age/Medieval from Dalauppror ...

... and some Saga ...

So, actually not too bad if you are at the Dark Age/Medieval part of the spectrum but just the one historical ancient battle.  Hmmm ...

Very little also for the naval enthusiast - and this year was the 100th anniversary of the battle of Jutland.   A surprising absence, perhaps?

Elsewhere ...

... there was lots of everything else ...

Especially, I liked ...

... the train ... and I liked ...

... the ships in the docks ... This was a huge decorative side table to the historical 'what if' ECW Bristol scenario - actually a rather splendid game ...

(Redoubt (sconce) in the ECW game 'What if Essex had gone to Bristol')

And I always like the Continental Wars Society and their mix of wargaming presentations prints and flats ...

(Salute 2016: the Continental Wars Society display)

(more Salute 2016)

... and there was some splendid miniature architecture on show ...

(overlooking the battle of Moncontour, 1569)

(Wilhelmstadt, beside the battle by Bill Gaskin and friends) 

Of course these, like the port at Bristol, are not really part of the battle, just decorative add-ons.  Now, as a modeller, I love to see them and they help make my Salute - but I do understand why some question their relevance (especially when the organisers are turning away core subject historical wargames) ...

So ... I really enjoyed Salute 2016 - I always do: a special blend of wargame magic with shopping, meeting old friends and enjoying the spectacle.  This year, the dearth of historical games was a disappointment, especially to the ancients enthusiast.

It was a grand day out but a missed opportunity.  I hope next year's show has a better balance of wargame types and interests.

Come see us at Campaign, by the way ...
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Double DBA Pharsalus at the BattleDay

My contribution at the BattleDay was to stage Pharsalus using some DBA options including the Double DBA format I proposed for Zama back in 2011.

The scenario needs to compel the players to fight in depth ... giving them 2 DBA armies, one behind the other.  The first two should fight themselves to a standstill before being withdrawn.  The clash of the main/reserve armies that follows should be the one that counts.

I needed some more 10mm Romans for this, of course ...

(Pompey's cavalry ... some of the older Chariot Spanish, some Newline Hellenistics)

Many thanks to Newline Designs for excellent service (and some very nice 10mm figures)

(Newline Designs 10mm Marian/Caesarian Roman legionaries )

The figures, built on the Zama collection, are mounted on standard 40mm basewidths (just extra figures): I like the look - each base being a more convincing 'unit' in the smaller scale.

(the personalities ... drop in pieces to go on the command stands)

to cover the Big Battle options, I made up 8 commanders, each an individual to fill a magnetised gap on a general's element ...

(Mark Antony leading a cavalry envelopment ... a new command piece)

(Metellus Scipio commanded Pompey's centre at Pharsalus ... he was a great descendent of Scipio Africanus so I was able to recycle an existing figure for him)

Pompey in overall command of his army with Afranius, Ahenobarbus, Scipio and Labienus as generals ... Caesar commanding his army and taking charge of the Reserve and Right Wing ... with Calvinus and Mark Antony controlling the centre and left respectively ...

(following the traditional interpretation, I put a large camp behind Pompey's army,  but left Caesar's off table)

Although I had intended to play both the BB and Double DBA options, we focused attention solely on the latter - so while it was nice to see all the personalities and note their positions in the order of battle, we only needed 4: Calvinus commanding Caesar's opening phases, Labienus the Pompeians ... and Caesar and Pompey to command the decisive phase.

I used 72 elements, but due to the numerical disparities, split them 34 to Caesar, 38 to Pompey.  It would give Pompey a break point 2 higher.  One of the challenges of the day would be to see if this asymmetry would unduly distort DBA's underlying balance.

(Battle on the plains beside the river Enipeus at Pharsalus)

Actually we played the Double game twice with a win each to Pompey and Caesar ... not enough games to be remotely scientific but certainly a veneer of balance.

The basic idea with Double DBA is that the two armies deploy 2 commands each, one in front of the other, and rolling a pip die for each.  The front commands wear each other down hoping to break through and do some damage to the enemy's main force.  Both opening phase commands are withdrawn when exhausted (i.e. when their DBA battle ends in the usual way).   The scoring between them is irrelevant but the winner gets to retain his winning elements (so if the winner was 2 elements off breaking, he can retain 2 elements from the opening phases force) ...

The decisive phase battle plays normally, one die per player, normal breakpoints and victory conditions.

Players are so used to simultaneous battle with command one beside the other that fighting in the Roman style, commands in depth, seems almost heretical.  But it does work surprisingly smoothly.

(Pharsalus: opening phases .. Labienus attempts to turn in on and outflank Caesar's right)

Both armies rested one flank on the river.  Caesar was woefully short of cavalry and his ploy of thinning his centre in order to deploy legionaries to shore the open flank was essential in the game.  

Caesar just does not have enough muscle or guile to hold off Labienus without the heavy infantry.

Caesar intervenes personally.

Caesar's intervention stabilises the flank and neutralises Labienus's numerical advantage.  

That said, Labienus has successfully drawn Caesar's reserves into the early phase of battle and these losses will be permanent.

Of course, the effect of the Double format is that the decision will always be elsewhere, and with Pharsalus, it will rest with the infantry (although without flanks, the centre might well be doomed) ...

And the final infantry slog went one-apiece ...

(a decisive Caesar win: the blade/legion on the right has just pursued a base depth after destroying the enemy legion to front - which broke Pompey's centre) 

Pharsalus today ...

I usually like to visit the battlefields of history before trying to recreate them ... in this case there was no time in preparing for BattleDay 2016.  I did, however do some virtual tourism courtesy of Google Maps ...

(the river Enipeus near the town of Farsala today)

(the flat plain at Farsala looking towards the town)

(the prominent high ground which narrows the plain near to where the battle may have been fought)

Obviously while without archaeology these images don't help identify the exact location or orientation of the battle, they perhaps do help give us a clue to look and character of the battlefield.

Like many an ancient battle, it is essentially a flat open field with an 'edge of the world' on one side (at least) ... some scope for cavalry on the other ....

To add interest I made a boat for the river.


2nd April, Bletchley MK (overview)


This year's SoA Battleday was a well attended full house - a sunny day in the now well-established Sycamore Hall venue.  There were a lot of legionaries ...

(the Pharsalus BattleDay ... just out of shot, C&C, To the Strongest and Piquet)

The day started with an informative introduction by Lost Battles author Prof. Phil Sabin of Kings College and a lively Q&A.

There were 13 games being run on the day with some overlaps within 12 basic ancient wargame systems.  I'll give you snapshots of them in alphabetical order ...

You will see a couple of overlaps there: two DBA variants - a Big Battles variant focusing on part of the battleline, and my own 'Double' battle configured in depth similar to my treatment of Zama some years back ...

And Lost Battles appears twice ... once in the familiar Sabin/Cruttenden/Waller presentation, and then in a dual focus game which used Lost Battles for the big picture and Hail Caesar for the closer view.

Variable resolution might be one of the features of the day, as the Piquet game also sought to change focus (you might notice, on the general picture of the game above, a couple of magnification zones that up the scale) ...

(Pharsalus ... smaller scale figures: Civitates Bellantes)

... and smaller scale figures ... Pharsalus was a colossal battle and many presenters seem to have felt that smaller scales captured it battle (or games that mixed sharper focus with the big picture) ... 15mm predominated as usual but 10, 6 and 2 had a lot to say.

(Pharsalus ... smaller scale figures: Double DBA) 

I will put a report on my own game in separate blog (to follow) and wrap up the overview here.

It seemed a great success with some new approaches, some big games and lots of legionaries ...

(Pharsalus ... lots of legionaries: Armati)

Well done the Society of Ancients ... another great battle recreated!
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19th March, Sheffield

Sheffield Triples and the DBA Northern Cup

Another excellent day out at the English Institute for Sport in the company of the Sheffield Wargames Society.  

A little less well attended this year, perhaps, as a result of being the third weekend in a row of wargame shows within 50 miles or so of Middle England - but very friendly and well supported by the trade.

The Lance & Longbow Society were there with an updated version of their Deepdale game ...

Wargame Developments were there with busy participation game of Roman Careers

There was a good selection of nicely presented display games ...

And we were there with a modest presence on the Saturday supporting the DBA Northern Cup sponsored by The Society of Ancients (and with the prize fund generously boosted by Magister Militum)

More on the DBA Cup below.

Here are a few pictures from the show - some of you missed it I know but a big advantage of a quieter show is that you get a chance to have a good look round, chat to the game presenters, shop without queuing etc.

I particularly liked the mix this year ...

A pity I didn't have more time to have a go at some of them ... 

DBA Northern Cup

This year there was a 'Rise of Rome' theme ... the organisers provided the boards, armies etc. and the players draw the scenario for their game at the start of each round.

This year's list comprised:
I/59 Tullian Roman 
I/57a Etruscan League 
II/10 Camillan Roman 
II/11 Gallic 
II/32a Later Carthaginian 
II/33 Polybian Roman 
II/51 Later Judean 
II/49 Marian Roman 
I/58 Meriotic Kushite 
II/56 Early Imperial Roman 
II/68a Pictish 
II/64a Middle Imperial Roman 
II/69b Sassanid Persian 
II/78b Late Imperial Roman 
II/82a Patrician Roman 
II/80 Hunnic 

The games turned out to be quite challenging and different ... I mostly drew the Roman side (which is not 'the usual' for me, so a good bit of variety) ...

My games were with ...

Early Imperial Romans

Later Carthaginian

Tullian Roman

Middle Imperial Roman

Patrician Roman

So that's a pretty good flavour of the ancient world ... and a good chunk of Romans (Tullian, early Imperial, Middle Imperial and Patrician) ...

Some nice terrain bits too ...

(A Roman watchtower camp - from The Baggage Train)

Congratulations to Martin, Phil and Scott, and to Tamara, our youngest player. ... This was the 11th year and the 11th winner - a testimony to the Cup's open and accessible style.  I slipped quietly into mid-table obscurity.

Apologies for the grainy picture - the light was in the wrong place ... but thanks to all the players for standing in line.  Hope to see you all next year.

Thanks to the Society for their support ... thanks to Paul, Tony and the Lincoln team for all the effort that goes into working out the scenarios and providing the boards and armies.

Thanks to Triples for hosting the event.


13th March, Wolverhampton

These days our first proper show of the Shows North year is Alumwell's WMMS in Wolverhampton.

Always friendly, always well-attended - and with a good trade presence (well I can usually get the stuff I need) .. This year we shared a birth with the Northampton Battlefields Society. ...

NBS have been doing sterling work defending the battlefields of Northamptonshire against developers, especially the 1460 site at Delapre Abbey.  As part of the campaign they have self-published a new book on the battle and we will have some available at shows this year ...

That's the Amazon link but if you get it through the Society at a show, all the cash goes to the Battlefield Society and everything over the basic cost then helps defend our heritage.

If you are interested in the Wars of the Roses, you need this book.

Plugging nearby Northampton aside, we used our time at the WMMS to get out the nostalgia collection of flats originally owned by Tony Bath, Deryck Guyler, Phil Barker and others and put on a 60's style game ...

(1960s style ancients ... the Bath/Guyler/Barker flats at WMMS 2016)

Although it isn't necessarily the definitive version (I'm working on narrowing that down), we played to the version of the Bath wargame included in Donald Featherstone's seminal War Games (first published 1962) ...

(the rules were Tony Bath per Featherstone's War Games ... here, the John Curry reprint)

When I booked the game in with the show organisers I had no idea that veteran Midlands wargamer, Society LVP and original painter of the majority of the figures on display, Phil Barker, would be able to attend ...

Re-united, as it were, with some old friends ...

(Phil Barker settles in behind one army in the Bath/Guyler/Barker flats battle)

As is often the case these days, Phil preferred to share his recollections of those early games (the development of the basing system, his victorious cataphracts, Tony's infernal layering of rule upon rule etc. etc.) than push the tin around (he is thinking entirely about HFG these days) but it was great to see him in good health and a pleasure to welcome him to the Society stand (where would the ancient wargame be without Phil and those early pioneers, most of whom, sadly, are no longer with us?) ...

(the very same cataphracts Phil used to defeat Tony Bath all those years ago)

As I hope the pictures show, the style of the game was how I fancy things would have looked.  I came into wargaming at the end of the 1960s, and some of the terrain I have had since then - but I have to admit I don't think things ever looked quite so complete as they do these days (in the modern game's infancy, really, anything you had would do ... at least for us youngsters).

(1960s style terrain ... original Bellona bridge and Merit Poplar trees)

Elsewhere we saw quite a good mix of games and displays, plus military vehicles, reenactment and the modelling exhibition which is part of the flavour of the show.

Painted backdrops seemed to be popular this year ... an interesting development.

(the Battle of Edgehill 1642 complete with landscape and skyline)

(Swiss and Burgundians)

Indeed there were one or two English Civil War games - I believe Helion have some rules coming out (I wonder if this is also on the up again) although perhaps fewer ancients ... nevertheless these Romans were out ...

... and there was a very large Hastings game using Gripping Beast figures (or so the captions implied)

A Roman Battle for Hyboria

Unusually for me I pitched this as an imaginations encounter because it was a celebration of Tony Bath's legacy and also, the Bath rules being as they are, I wanted to incorporate elephants, cataphracts, Gallic cavalry etc. into the game (to bring out the variety in the rules) ... 

It seemed to work nicely although those elephants are tough beasties.

The Eastern army, with reinforcements suggested on its flank, seemed to have the advantage (more elephants, Phil's fully armoured cataphracts, and a couple of those pilum-chucking cohorts) ... they went on the attack ...

(the Eastern army as it took the field replete with elephants, cataphracts, and legionaries)

This elephant stampeded under missile fire, however - and stormed off the table (narrowly missing those Gallic horsemen who were frantically - and it turned out wisely - running away from the cataphracts)

The Western elephants had already been lost to missile exchanges between the crewmen.

The rules are very bloody by modern standards ... high hit ratios and low chances to save ... whole swathes cut down by missiles or melee - but morale rules which give a fair chance to small surviving groups to press on.

(light troops tussle on the Southern edge of the battlefield)

(elephants and archers battle for the gentle slopes in the middle of the battlefield)

(Eastern high point ... 2 elephants survive the battle for the hill, cataphracts bear down on the Gauls and, foreground 2 cohorts will take on some archers) 

... actually, the cohort nearest the hill has already lost figures to the bowmen and will get cut down further before combat, while its supports will engaged by cavalry returning from a fight on the flank.

(the endgame)

Hit with more missiles, another elephant stampeded, in this case charging straight forward into the auxiliary cohort which had done the damage.  The foot broke and ran - but subsequently rallied.  The elephant headed off the battlefield.

The last elephant finally succumbed to hails of pila.  The archers who had torn shreds out of the enemy cohort then trounced them in melee - leaving the Western army, somewhat improbably, commanding the centre of the battlefield.

The cataphracts destroyed the lightly armed Gauls but both players agreed that they would then have ridden off rather than tried their luck against the overwhelming numbers now behind them.

Actually the game had worked very well and played quite quickly ... although there might be a catalogue of nuances one would look again at with 50 years more wargame design under our belts, it was fun, and victory progressed in a series of logical steps from player decisions and bouts of die rolling.

You can see why it would have caught on.


More Barker wargaming next week - the very latest style, though ... DBA 3 for the Society sponsored Northern Cup at Triples (but I'll take some SoA goods with me and the promised copies of Northampton 1460).

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28th February, Keresley Library, Coventry


I wasn't able to attend Patrick's new event in Market Harborough so this was only my second outing with the 2015/16 DBA League.

The theme was armies from the history of Mercia so I opted to dust down my Anglo-Saxons and take King Penda'a Dark Age Mercians, famous as you will all know for his battles at Maserfield and Winwaed.   A hundred years before his relative Offa built a dyke.

I took along the longship baggage element with its improbable lateen rig.   The Angles and Saxons were great sailors, of course, and first arrived in these islands which they made their own by boat.

The army's DBA terrain is arable, of course, and the boat must be presumed pulled up on an inlet from a river just off the board.

(Mercian supplies beached by a waterway - click on the pictures for a larger image)

I also refurbished an old earthwork to provide a fort ... Mercians seem to have been good a digging earthworks so I thought I'd throw one into a game.

With an aggression of 2, I didn't get that many chances (but it did get into play) ...

The interior is actually a 10mm Roman watchtower supplied for review a while back by The Baggage Train.  I've always been pleased with the look of this resin piece on the 15mm battlefield.

I suppose I should complete the round up by mentioning the ploughman figure I built to enhance DBA V3's iconic 'plough' terrain type.

This army adds a cavalryman, a skirmisher and a pair of 'hird' warbands (the general and his personal retainers) to an 8 element shieldwall.  It doesn't do much singing and dancing but it sure is good at fighting enemy infantry.  

I was hoping to hold the line while breaking through with commander's (supported general warband) deadly fighting power.   Toughing it out against knights would likely be less productive.

The games ...

Game One: vs Sub Roman British ... cavalry and auxilia with some vulnerable blades ...

Game Two: vs North Welsh ... and a clump of knights to fear (it turned out with good reason) ...

Game Three: vs Feudal English ... could the spearwall get stuck into the archers (before the knights prevail) ...

At this, the half way stage, the set up switched and all games were with your opponent's army against your own ...

Game Four: with Anglo-Normans ... Charge!

There was now an interval for displaying the various armies before a 'best in theme' vote:-

Excellent ... my vote went to the colourful Anglo-Danish army (3 up, above)

... and then the wargames resumed for the final two rounds ...

Game Five: with Graham Fordham's Anglo-Norman ... Charge!... and ...

Game Six: with Martin Smith's Pre Feudal Scottish

This reverse phase went very well and I won all the games ... making 5 wins and a defeat (propelling me to a countback second place) ... and my cup oveflowed when the player vote picked my Mercians as the best of the bunch.

These were English style quick fire games and all mine were decisive (despite the preponderance of footsloggers) ... We had plenty of potential manoeuvre but everyone gamely got on with it.

Moments ...

(outflanked!  The Saxon commander leads from the centre of the line but the warrior on the right flank seems to be trying to draw attention to the enemy about to roll up the line !!) 

(from the rear - with the gear - a view of the shieldwall from the supply ships)

A great day out ... and a surprisingly elevated result.  Well done everyone!

WMMS next ... then more DBA at Triples

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