2016 wrap Part Two - Review of the Year

The 2017 season is up and running ... the Southern Shows team will be at Cavalier next weekend (I am hoping to give them a hand), there is a Society sponsored DBA Pairs event at Alton the day before (SoA UK DBA League) and Shows North will be part of the DBA Northern Cup at Hammerhead the week after.

Out and About in 2016

(a cheerful Henry Tudor rides through the camp at Bosworth - we were there with the wargame)

In 2016 we did 22 formal outings as SoA Shows North or in combination with our regular partners, Northampton Battlefields Society, the Lance & Longbow Society (plus we did games at a couple of Battlefields Trust events) - so pretty much twice a month (and to think some people think we wargame enthusiasts should get out more!)

12 were public wargame shows, the others Society events, reenactments, tournaments etc.

Here are the SHOWS ...

Clicking on the pictures takes you direct to the report.









By special request, we took the Tony Bath game to Reveille with the History of Wargaming Project ..


... and we helped out the Southern Shows team at a few big events ...




EVENTS and COMPETITIONS









Despite its ups and downs, 2016 was an excellent year for the Society's Northern Shows team.  It was brilliant to be putting on wargames in the Royal Armouries, Leeds, again.  We had some new DBA events ... and new players ... and a return of the much missed Society of Ancients Conference.

High spots other than the Conference?  For me the success of the Tony Bath wargame, and allied to many of our combined events, the onward march of Northampton Battlefields Society: with some new awards, and a new game developed from the particiaption game we ran at several of the 2016 joint SoA/NBS show stands.   I'll add more on the NBS wargame in a separate post as I know many members have asked for info.

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2016 wrap Part One - Wargamer in Halesowen

Assembling my review of the year in advance of 2017s first shows at Hammerhead and Alumwell, I stumbled on a 'lost wargames show' - a fully edited album of pictures from Wargamer in Halesowen that never made it to the blog.

Apologies to the organisers - it was a great day out and continues to be an excellent local show:


Plenty to do as you can see ...


I gave the Tony Bath Hyboria game a final outing ... it stimulated quite a lot of interest so thanks to everyone who came over and shared in the nostalgia ...


TONY BATH'S ANCIENT WARGAME AT HALESOWEN

(Society of Ancients nostalgia: 1960s flats originally by Phil Barker and Tony Bath)

(Hyboria at Wargamer 2016)



(Phil Steele's Tony Bath game for the Society of Ancients)



(the Tony Bath Hyboria wargame)

There was also a very nice ancients game put on in the modern idiom by slingshot Stalwart Ade G - in glorious 6mm (well worth some pictures):





Excellent ... beautiful massed effects ...

Elsewhere at Wargamer 2016 (yes there was more):





... and the December weather was good too - cold but not wintry ... such a gem of a show I assume it is weather worries that explain its relatively low turn out.

See you there next year, though ... hey, showgoers?
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27th November, Bristol (Lincombe Barn)


I hadn't been to the Reveille show in Bristol for something like 20 years ... Long before they moved to the current venue (I took over the Shows North patch when I moved to the East Midlands so the focus had to shift) ...

But John Curry (History of Wargaming) asked me to take the Tony Bath game to what is his home club's show.

(the Tony Bath game at Reveille with the History of Wargaming project)

The set up was pretty much as in previous outings although we changed the deployments somewhat.   And we played to the version included in Featherstone's War Games.


The two opposing armies drawn up for battle:



Plenty of elephants ...  actually I took some more along as examples of collector standard (ex Guyler) rather than the wargame standard Phil and Tony used ...

(you can click on the pictures for larger versions)

Flanks and reinforcements ...


(proper 1960s Bellona bridge and Merit/Minitanks trees)

Playing the game 

(1960's style ... with Wayne Thomas ... ) ..

The cataphracts double moved and charged into an unequal melee which seesawed as both sides lost men ...


My elephants took multiple hits from massed archery as they tried to dominate the centre of the table ... They survived but were unable to move ... then one of them went berserk - right at my lone stone-throwers.


Wayne's, however, ploughed through several as I did hits but they didn't fail to save.  One of my units, indeed, failed to stand (and got trampled).

(to resist elephants you really need to form up in deep ranks - even then they may charge home)

Although we had some flights and breakthroughs on both sides, the elephants decided the day however (well, that Wayne did well with his saves and I didn't meant I could not stop the rampaging beasts) ... Very much the flavour of the Bath ancients game.


Well I confess I am a bit rusty so the game needed a lot of looking up (and there were some bits we didn't do quite right) - but it was quite a good run through and fascinating to see the progenitor of so many ancients sets.

The rules are a bit clunky by today's standards but you can see the start of so many of the debates around how the battle game plays (all new problems back then) ...


Many thanks to the Lincombe Barn club ... to JC for setting it up ... Wayne for volunteering to help me play the game ... and all those fellow enthusiasts who share my nostalgia for this traditional soldier and for Tony's original ancients game.
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19th November, Reading


For our next Society outing we popped down to Reading on the Saturday to lend a hand and have a look round.  

Richard was doing the stand and presenting a 'Lap of the Gods' treatment of the Battle of Tewkesbury which seemed to go down very well.

(Society of Ancients: The Battle of Tewkesbury)

The competitions were obviously dominated by Ancient and Medieval wargames ... but elsewhere not so much ... 1066 was still prominent and I really liked the Dark Age game ...



... and I got to play a bit of the Staines group's Schweinfurt game ... some good ideas, there ...

The Pick of the Non-Anc/Med games:


(Chain of Command: Foy)

(Schweinfurt Raid)

I had a bit of time to play but there weren't as many Participation Games as you would have liked.

The Bring & Buy was excellent ... very well supported and continuously busy all day.  Almost too much stuff to browse it all but I got a couple of out-of-print books in mint condition for a good price so worth the effort.

Parking was free but you had to be early I've heard ... Good on Warfare.
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30th October, Portsmouth


ENGLISH  DBA Open

The final round of this year's DBA tour was, once again, in sunny Portsmouth, and many of the contenders were present with some placings still to be decided.

I went along for the games and to help with the presentations (I was, of course, not in contention - it is a long season and I can get to very few of the rounds).

I took along the Nobades (or, at least, prototype Nobades)


... and here are pictures of the games I got ...

(English DBA Open ... vs Chinese)

(English DBA Open vs Lombards)

(English DBA Open vs Rajputs)

(English DBA Open vs Assyrians)

(English DBA Open vs Arabs)

We played off in groups of 6 (playing 5 games) to generate 2 semi finals and an optional plate competition (for which, one day, I will donate an actual plate as I make such regular appearances) ...

At one point I was indeed riding but my 2 wins out of 3 rapidly became 2 out of 5 (and didn't get any better in the plate) ... I did, however, kill a general (which is always a tick in a box for me) ...

The semis and finals were played with themed armies which allegedly tests the players better (though I am not so sure about that) - here's the list:


Players get to pick in order of qualifying, and select their option for the 2 remaining games.




They finished 1st: Colin O'Shea, 2nd: Lindon Paxton, 3rd: Peter Ellis, 4th:Richard Pulley

That left the overal standings: 1st and UK DBA League Champion: Martin Myers, League Runner Up: Colin O'Shea, 3rd: Bill MacGillivray, 4th: Richard Pulley, 5th: Arnaud Marmier, 6th Lindon Paxton followed by Pete Duckworth, Neil Mason, Martin Smith and Mark Johnson down to a total of 57 players altogether ... Tamara Fordham was 28th and won the Junior trophy.

There were 14 tournaments altogether ... Premier events, The Welsh Open, English Open and Northern Cup plus qualifying events at Great Bowden, Tarrington (both the Scramble and the Midland Open), Coventry, Alton, Bakewell, Manchester (Britcon) and the 4 seasonal events at Portsmouth, 

And then we lined up for the photos ...


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DBA Special: II/55b Nobades


DBA3: II/55b Nobades


This is the army I selected for the 2016 English Open ...  part of the 'work in progress' project for armies on Rome's desert frontier (Axumite Abyssinian, Nomad Pre-Islamic Arab etc.) ...

For the event I have recycled some Abyssinian foot from my old DBM army but having played 6 games on the day, I'm happy this is a good addition to my collection of bespoke armies and will tailor make the requisite troops.   Look out for a future post.

Here's the army as it played at Portsmouth ...


The general is a Cv element but I have put him on a camel to stand out.


The cavalry are an imaginative mix of various components to give that desert frontier feel.  



I have a large resource of African and Arab infantry and cavalry from that very large DBM army and should be able to populate all these armies with characteristic figures.

I favour taking the 2 camel mounted spearmen as the 'quick kill' against knights does give the army some deadly tricks.


For the camp and table ornaments I assumed the Nobades had struck deep into the heartlands of the older Egyptian civilisations ...  it's a nice setting.


The Obelisk is the top half of a Hirst Arts model (I just found the full model too tall to be useful on the table) ... 

The lovely water carriers are Chariot.  Otherwise it's a healthy mix of Museum, Essex, Falcon, Donnington, Gladiator, Chariot etc. I'm sure you can spot the various examples.

A report on the Open will follow shortly.
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Kenilworth, 14-16th October


The Society of Ancients Conference

Hopefully the first of a new run - the first of many.

Very pleasing to me to see the return of the Conference ... part of the lively SoA mix in the 1990s I was, unfortunately, the Committee member back then who had to cancel the last of them (SoAC VII, I think ... maybe VIII) due to price hikes at our traditional venue.

The cancellation was only ever meant to be temporary but the old style Committee was always reluctant to underwrite what it thought was a minority interest, so getting it back up and running was daunting.

So a big thank you to Richard L for getting it to happen.

I'll doubtless do some features, and Slingshot will, I am sure, have some games, articles and scenarios - so this will just be a round-up that doesn't steal all the thunder.

What happened?

Around 4 talks and 8 or so games sessions (usually with 3 or 4 games to choose from in each slot), an annual dinner and lots of social mingling/bar time.

Few ADGs, very little workshopping ... nothing outdoors ... a big Tactica session that ran all weekend.   So somewhere between a 'wargames holiday' weekend and CoW.


Some sessions dovetailed with plenary talks and current topics (above, Matt Bennett on 1066 and a Hastings game using Armati II)

(detail from Matthew and Roy's Hastings game - because in the end I know you want pictures)


Some were stand alone

(Simon MacDowall's lavish Commitatus game) ...

The dinner was excellent - nice to sit down together at the end of a full Saturday ... the food was very good and the speech by SoA veteran Will Whyler reflecting on the last 50 years was bearable (actually very good ;) but Will is a long-standing friend and you wouldn't want me to go over the top).


After the dinner we did manage to get a few games of David and Goliath played in memory of the late Andy Gittins ... former President and a Conference regular ...


... and, yes, that is the originl D&G set (with one or two loving repairs by me to make it Conference ready) ...

(1980s classic ... David and Goliath show game ... as we did back then with hand written rules)

I had volunteered to provide Richard with a backbone of games sessions on the theme of wargaming historical battles so here's a summary of what I got up to over the two days ...

Saturday: Bosworth and Bouvines - 2 medieval battle compared; Sunday: Yarmuk - a DBA GBOH scenario explained and run.

(Bouvines ... a full 6-player BBDBA treatment of the epoch defining 1214 battle) 


In this play through, Ferdinand count of Flanders very nearly pushed up to the bridge but ran out of supporting troops - eventually succumbing (captured on the field of battle as his historical antecedent) ... Elsewhere it was an attritional battle in which the allies could make little headway.

(Bouvines - from the North before the lines clash)

Bosworth, of course, was fought on very different lines to Bouvines ... the combat being more deadly and the traditions of chivalry being no barrier to the political benefits of killing your enemies on the battlefield.


This was also a different style of game: 54mm figures and just the conventional 12 elements per side (well 12 for Richard, 11 plus the hope of Stanley for the Earl of Richmond) ...

(DBA V3: Richard III on the field of Bosworth at SoAC 2016)

Richard narrowly lost this battle having dashed amongst the vanguards on a 'death ride' that took him from the marshy end of Fenn Lane and the likely Stanley trap.  It gave us food for thought.

I think it vindicates the modern interpretation, however.

I played all these battles with DBA despite having run Bouvines with Armati and Basic Impetus previously.  I decided that my theme of translating long-lost batles into playable wargames was best illustrated by using a common platform, rather than asking players to switch horses game-to-game.

(SoAC 2016: the Battle of Yarmuk)

The third battle I looked at was Yarmuk ... this was my main contribution to The Great Battles of History project by the DBA contributor group.  It features original flats from the collection of DBA author Phil Barker - the ancients collection he once used with Tony Bath and friends in the 'pee-history' of the modern game.

(30mm flats)

I have to say I still think they look splendid.  Of course, today's wargame plays using the base as the component - the figures sit on top and tell you what the base is and what it does.  30mm flats (or indeed, in the case of the Bosworth game, 54mm solids) do just as good a job and have a unique, timeless, charm.

(Byzantine cavalry - originally by Phil Barker, refurbished and based for DBA by Phil Steele)

... and then the players proceeded to destroy each other in the most monumental battle of attrition this scenario has yet produced.  Actually not unlike the original battle as afra s we can reconstruct it with confidence.

Sunday Afternoon

Richard wanted to schedule a look at reviving the old SoA incentive games so as a light-ish end to the Conference I ran the show version of Greyhounds in the Slips ...


Although we were tight on time, we ran through twice, as, for the first time in hundreds of games (and not without a little player hubris), Henry got himself killed in the very first action of the game: jumping out of the trenches to deliver his Greyhounds speech and immediately shot dead by a crossbowman on the battlements.

I guess the last thing he heard was my cautioning: don't assume you won't immediately be shot at ... (tailing off ... ) ...  We reset the game.

(Greyhounds in the Slips: Henry V in the rubble of Harfleur)

It wasn't to be his day, however ... and he was last seen battling into the town at the head of his men - as they fell around him, the Captain of the French garrison administered the coup de grace.


... and then we were all packing up and the event was over ...

What a splendid event.  See Slingshot for details and don't forget to book for next year.

Great mix of old friends and new faces ... thanks to all the players ... thanks to Paul for an inspiring talk on Shakespeare's treatment of Roman politics, and to Matt for getting the Arsuf agenda up and running.

- BattleDay 2017 - Arsuf 1191 - it starts now - watch this space

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9th October, Crystal Palace





SELWG 2016 at The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre 

Back to Crystal Palace for SELWG's annual October show ... plenty of trade, friendly faces and lots of great games to look at ...

We did a Lost Battle treatment of Ephesos ... not one in the book due to the lack of documentation but a worthy experiement and a good looking game.


(scenes from the Ephesos game ... click the images for a larger version)


Elsewhere there were the usual mix of games although Simon's grand manner Raphia (To The Strongest) was the outstanding ancients game ...



There were a lot of pikemen


There were also some Viking/Saxon games and Hastings of course ...



Some nice 10mm scale Italian Wars stuff ...


and more modern periods





Autumn is here.
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1st - 2nd October Castle Donnington


The Society of Ancients, Battlefields Trust and Northampton Battlefields Society


Another of our successful collaborations ... at Derby we had a couple of new things to share along with the popular weapons and equipment ...

The Battlefields Trust have just launched a new book of poetry following Clare Mulley's year in residency as the trust did its circuit of reenactment and historical shows ....

And Northampton Battlefields Society had the definitive Northampton 1460 game as trialed at The Other Partizan ...



Northampton 1460 is a quick playable 'historical narrative' game giving the players control of the options available to the commanders on July 10th 1460 ... It was up and running within the first half an hour and ran more-or-less continuously throughout the show.


There were few ancient games (Dark Age and Medieval being the preference within the Society's remit) but an excellent Hastings game by Like a Stonewall was an eye-catching neighbour to us.

(Like A Stonewall's Hastings 1066 game)

... a vast panorama of a wargame, I particularly liked the clever use of velcro boards and the whimsical inclusion of a group of needlecrafters recording the events in their now time-honoured medium.  Great effort.


The rules used were a less well-known set called Lionheart - again a refreshing choice.

There was also a very nice Viking skirmish game ... so here's a vignette ...


I found fewer stand out games in the rest of the show this year but liked the Rorkes Drift presentation ... 


... and I thought this 30 Years War display was splendid ...


A popular and well-supported show with a good mix of trade and games ... then down the other end of the hall, a big selection of tournaments (where many of the ancient and medieval games and players were to be found)

Nice to see Armati still ploughing its furrow ... Nice to see old friends splitting divisions with each other ... 


So a big thank you to the organisers and all of you who stopped by for a chat or played the game, flipped through the poetry.

A really enkoyable weekend.

See you next time.

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Looking Back ... August ... The Other Partizan, Newark

Continuing our little catch-up .... The Other Partizan has move forward in the calendar to August (so it doesn't really feel that long since Partizan in late May) ...


The event is now in the Exhibition Ground and features an extensive History area in the centre ... you'll find us there, sharing space and personnel with The Battlefields Trust, The Northampton Battlefields Society, The lance & Longbow Society, Naseby Battlefield Project etc. etc.

Just as it should be ...

OK, I know ... you can't hive off the history - wargaming is the history (excepting the other bits) ...

Well, I see it as the future ... the money that shapes wargaming (and the buyers who underpin it) have decided wargaming isn't necessarily historical and so if there is to be history within wargaming, it has to be history-lite or history-sceptic ...

And I think it is right that in that environment wargamers have somewhere to go where they can assume that the history is important - that the history is part of the core purpose of the activity.

Here's some eye candy from the show if you are still with me.

(Northampton Battlefields Society)

Scenes from the Battle of Northampton ...

(Northampton 1460: the Lancastrian position)

(King Henry VI's tent in the compound by Delapre Abbey)



In addition to supporting the good causes, promoting the Society, recruiting members and displaying the most plausible interpretation of Northampton, we were also hosting a new, quick-fire, historical game of the battle ...


The game is played with blocks on a board contoured from the OS map ... cards allow a historical range of options and timings but permit a wide range of plausible outcomes.

(Northampton in flames in the background)

This was the combat debut of the game and it went extremely well - I do hope NBS will be able to produce this game semi-commercially so those of you who aren't able to play it at a show can have a go at home (next outing: Derby) ...

There were one or two other ancient/medieval games notably a splendid 54mm Republican game ...


... and Simon Miller's eye catching 28mm TTS extravaganza ...


... and just a nod to some of the other stuff around ...



Too many 28mm skirmish games, maybe ... too commercialised, maybe - but I still have a soft spot for the Partizan shows and I like their initiatives with the History Zone and Participation Games.

Thanks to the organisers and thanks to the many fellow enthusiasts who stopped by - your support is really appreciated.
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