23rd and 24th January, Usk


Back on the road for the new year and our first stop was for a weekend of tournament gaming at Usk in South Wales and this year we decided to give a go at l'Art de la Guerre ...

We chose to go with Maurikian Byzantines and a horse archer ally (and the best in period option was Khazar) ... we were beginners and it seemed to suit us very well.

The format was 400 points configured as two 200 point allied armies with the two players commanding the 3 adjacent command on their side of the table.

OK.   We won three out of our four games (though 'on points' rather than by destroying the enemy outright) and lost the fourth by a small margin.  We ended up mid-table.

(our four games at Godendag)

In truth we a tad overmatched in terms of power and protection, most of the entrants in a fairly open field were medieval knight/longbow/chopper types so we had to whittle and dodge to get any favours out of the exchange and that makes for a 'long game' strategy.

L'Art de la Guerre is an odd hybrid which feel like a mix of FoG, Armati and DBM and it takes a bit of getting used to (what with 'units' being able to about face and charge (things you are comfortable with the DB element game but which seem clunky in a unit based game) ...

(some scenes from our games)

Like FoG the movement is in units (in this case UDs), like DBA3, the UD is a 40mm (i.e. a BW) ..

The opposed die rolls and and variable levels of cohesion (2 to eliminate light troops, 4 cavalry, 4 for Heavt Foot etc.) work very well and feel a lot like Intro Scale Armati ...

(a rare 'in-period' battle against Armenians and Arabs)

The command and control uses Pips (CPs) much in the style of DBM ...

(more knights)

... and the basing is WRG standard ...

(the hurly-burly of ancient battle) 

The rules are poorly written (probably in the main poorly translated although some of the queries and anomalies are not just down to playing the English version) and that is disappointing given this is the third edition.

I suspect I will play some more of this but it is difficult to see it as anything other than an extra option compared to say Basic Impetus or DBA V3.

What we really need is BBDBA Doubles ...

(the various winners at Godendag 2016 ... )

Thanks a lot to the organisers and list checkers ... great Welsh hospitality and our generous and good spirited opponents ...


Winter Quarters ... 2015 in review ...

2015 was a massive year for me in which a number of key projects came to fruition, in which I lost another close friend and in which I ended the year moving house (almost) ...

The bare bones as far as the Shows North blog is concerned ... 22 posts tracking a year in which we attended 12 wargame shows, 6 tournaments (although 2 of these in 2015 were FoG-R, so didn't appear here), 4 Ancient/Medieval heritage events and a couple of related features ...

(each picture is a link to the show report so click the pics to find out more)

The Shows ...

At the shows for which I did the games and presentations I did the Battle of Yarmuk four times, Bouvines and Northampton three times each, David and Goliath twice ... and we did my recent Society game Greyhounds in the Slips once (Salute) and a Tony Bath's Hyboria retake at Warfare.


The sad event in the middle of the year was the passing of my great friend and collaborator Andy Gittins ... founder of the Slough Barbarians, Society President and designer of the seminal Society game Gladiolus amongst many other award winning participation games and Conference projects.

Here are some of us old guys at Andy's funeral ...

And here are some of us 30 years or so earlier in a pub in Dorset ...

Such a loss - we gave the original shows copy of David and Goliath some commemorative outings.

On the tournament side, I mainly played DBA or FoG-R ... with random scenarios at Triples/Northern Cup, Sub Romans at Mercia, Spartacus' Slaves at Tarrington, and their Roman enemies at the DBA Open ...

Mercian DBA Open

The Society of Ancients BattleDay

The English DBA Open

The Tarrington Scramble

Through our links with The Northampton Battlefields Society we promoted heritage protection and historic battlefields at Towton, Naseby's spectacular 370th anniversar event, at Northampton and at Bosworth ...

In addition to helping organise the 370th at Naseby, it is a year in which we have secured genuine moves towards a permanent exhibition at Northampton and start-up Lottery Funding for the Naseby Project.

Nevertheless it was a year of losses as well as triumphs ...

RIP Andy Gittins

21st November, Tarrington

OK ... off to deepest Herefordshire for another round of the Society of Ancients UK DBA League - now in the 2015/16 season.

Actually, Tarrington is really quite accessible, being some 12 miles or so from the motorway (so just about dual carriageway/motorway all the way from my door) - so don't imagine it is the middle of nowhere when you see this event advertised next time: it is easy to get to and a great format.  Highly recommended - don't miss it.

The format is an open 'scramble' - you donate an army (any) to the pool.   You get to play against it in round 1 and with it in the final round.  In between, you play with and against a random army supplied by one of the other players.

I took Slave Revolt/Spartacus ...

(DBA Slave Revolt/Spartacus ... 15mm figures/mixed manufacturers)

Followers of this blog might recall I took a Marian Roman army to the English Open a few weeks back - with the back story that it was half of a pair that I had built for the Alton Pairs but then not been able to attend.

This is the other half of the pair ... the revolting slaves.   Bottled up in southern Italy with their camp in the fastness of Mount Vesuvius ...

... with Jean Simmons skinny dipping in a secluded pool ... (or so Stanley Kubrick would imagine it) ..

The army has 4 (fast) hordes, and I was interested to see how they would do over a sequence of games.

There were plenty of hordes in the army mix - and 2 cases (Aztec and Early Libyan) where they made up half the army ...

So ... The mix:  I/7a Early Libyan;  I/60b Early Achaemenid Persian (Cyrus);  I/60c Early Achaemenid Persian;  II/7 Later Achaemenid Persian;  II/40 Numidian;  II/45c Slave Revolt (Spartacus);  II/79 Early Russian;  II/34b Andalusian;  IV/55 Ottoman;  IV/63 Aztec;  IV/62 Northern Sung;  IV/80 Hussite  ...

My games ...

(Ottoman vs Slave Revolt)

(Andalusian vs Early Libyan)

(Later Achaemenid Persian vs Early Russian)

(Aztec vs Numidian)

(Early Libyan vs Early Achaemenid Persian)

(Slave Revolt vs Northern Sung)

A lot of generic/what ifs there ... not really hisotrical (nearest was probably Libyans vs Persians although wrong sort of Libyans perhaps .. ) but all of them intriguing challenges and plenty of opportunities for me to learn more about hordes!!!

Players supplied the terrain with the armies (and players drawing the army had to use the terrain - only and all - as provided) ... there was an option to provide larger boards but all I saw were standard 24" battlefields.

I quite liked ...

(those Aztecs and their pyramid ... ) ...

(the later Persians mostly made with the recently issued Westwind figures)

(didn't get to use these Hussites but thought they looked very good)

Well, I really enjoyed such a diverse series of games and with all that experience of hordes it was very pleasing to win my final game using my own army (and mostly employing the offensive power of the revolting slaves whilst the gladiators covered their flanks) ...

(victory to Spartacus and the revolting slaves)

Well done to the top three ... a good test and an enjoyable day ...

I won 2 of my 6 games and I think got one draw  ... so finished lower middle (slightly less successful than my army) ...  Then again, I did use both of the horde armies and the Aztecs, indeed, won the most challenging award (for the lowest scores) ... and I think I want one!

Thanks to Martin Myers for organising the event and thanks to all the players for a splendid set of nicely presented and interesting armies.

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14th and 15th November, Reading


For Warfare this year I booked in with John Curry to do a History of Wargaming Project recreation of  a Tony Bath wargame from the 1960s ... it is the 50th anniversary of his founding of the Society of Ancients, so it seemed appropriate ...

However I appreciate that Phil Sabin usually does a lost battle on the Saturday of this show and that visitors like it (so I booked my game in as an extra on its own merit)

As it happened, the Society was unable to get a team out for the Sunday so we were asked to rejig ourselves as part of the Society of Ancients pitch for the Sunday.  Plus ca change, you might wryly observe.

(so here we are on the Saturday doing our own thing)

(meanwhile here is the Society of Ancients lost battle)

... and here are some pictures of our 50th anniversary game ...

(John Curry engagingly explains the origins of the ancient wargame to a happy crowd)

We were fully occupied all morning explaining the game, the flat figures, the history of wargaming etc. so it wasn't until the afternoon that we got to play properly ...

(the Tony Bath wargame ... figures by Phil Barker and Tony Bath, boards and staging by Phil Steele)

(the original ancients game with the original figures: the battle lines close, John redeploys his cavalry)

(a Roman battle line: figures by Phil Barker)

(wargaming with flats: Roman commanders)

Meanwhile, back at the Society stand, Cunaxa was refought 3 times ...

(the lost battle of Cunaxa ... Phil Sabin notes down the scores)

(Cunaxa: local light horse cover the Greek flank)

Courtesy of subbing in the Society zone, we had a little more space for our flats display on Sunday ...

(Saturday's display)

(Sunday's display)

But lets have a look round the rest of the show ...

There were a number of eye-catching ancient and medieval games:

(Staines were there with there excellent Agincourt participation game)

(and this Dark Age gridded wargame was busy all day) 

(Wars of the Roses from the Lance & Longbow Society)

... and in other periods and genres ...

(excellent and eccentric participation game from the RAF club about making the Sharp TV series)

(splendid Fornovo game by Malvern using Advanced Armati Renaissance rules)

(Fornovo: worth a closer look)

Plus something more modern and something not too serious ..

All in all a very good mix ...

Elsewhere there was plenty of trade and lots of competitions.  Something for everyone at warfare 2015 ...

I will make some observations on the Tony Bath wargame and our miniature battle with flats in a subsequent blog.

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25th October, Portsmouth ...

The Society of Ancients sponsored English DBA Open 2015

Many thanks to the Portsmouth and Allied Wargames Society for organising and hosting the English DBA Open and running the UK DBA League which has the event as its final 2014/2015 round.

The Society of Ancients sponsors both these events and I was pleased to go down both to represent the Society and to play in the event ... unfortunately just my 3rd DBA of what has turned out to be an unusually busy year ...

Although DBA armies are pretty small, my boot was pretty full with the latest Slingshots and games as well as an armful of prizes and a box of widgets that had (phew) turned up just the day before ...

The widgets are a gift from the sponsor to the players supporting the UK League and will be distributed one-per-player while stocks last (my thanks to the Society for supporting this) ...

(the brand new SoA DBA measurement/deployment widget)

Made for us in acrylic by Warbases, the tool dual functions for measurements (1/2, 1, 2, 3 and 4 basewidths) and for marking the edge of the deployment zone (2 BWs in, and, aligned to the back edge on a 24" board, 3 BWs back from the centre) ...

I think it's turned out well, and certainly seemed popular with the players on Sunday ...

(SoA DBA widget in action)

Anyway ... I took along a Marian Roman army ... I had created it as part of a pair with Slave Revolt (yes - I might have been Spartacus) for Martin's Alton DBA Pairs event ... then wasn't able to go.  So the Open gave the army an opportunity to strut its debut stuff ...

(English Open 2015: Phil's 15mm DBA Marian Roman Army)

For the Spartacus Scenario, I had opted for a very basic 'blade heavy' army with legionary general etc. But as this was an open competition I thought a cavalry commander and the optional elephant might be a more entertaining configuration ...

So .. 1 x General (Cv), 1 x auxiliary cavalry (Cv), 7 x legionaries (4Bd), 1 x javelinmen (Ps), 1 x archers (Ps) and 1 x Numidian elephant (El) ...

The army is almost entirely Chariot Miniatures (from Magister Militum) and looking for that 'hastily raised' impression for the Spartacus scenario, I went for de-plumed Republicans ... 

(Chariot Miniatures Romans lining up as the army of Crassus) 

I confess the army lost more than it won but we all had an enjoyable day ... being an Open event, it got to fight an outlandish array of opponents ... from Hittites and Koreans to Renaissance Italians ... standing up now to chariots, now to bombards and eventually been skewered by plate armoured horsemen with heavy jousting lances.  Mules indeed!

(English DBA Open 2015: Marian Romans vs Hittite Empire)

(English DBA Open 2015: Marian Romans vs Serbian Empire)

(English DBA Open 2015: Marian Romans vs Koguryo Koreans)

Colin the Korean had brought along and played a very nice waterway which was a good match to my basing - and I have used a beached bireme as my camp for the Romans (not because the Romans can do littoral landings - though if they couldn't then who on earth could? - but because if you recall that bit in the Kubric film, Crassus bought all the ships so Spartacus couldn't sail away to Thrace ... or something like that) ... so I trust you'll indulge an extra picture or two.

(a scenic match ... figures by Phil, terrain by Colin)

I didn't make the semi-final but made the plate semi-final where I got 3 Italians to the good before all the legionaries got impaled by the knights in one horrendous round of combat ...

OK ... the armies used (or, more properly as noted by Martin ... ) were: Feudal English; Early Neo-Babylonian; Hittite Empire; Alan; Koguryo Korean; Teutonic Order; Serbian Empire; Venetian Condotta + Genoese allies; Marian Roman; Early Imperial Roman; French Ordonnance; North Welsh + Feudal English ally. 

The Welsh, Imperial Romans, Alans and Neo-Babylonians got their commanders into the semi-finals where a themed choice beckoned for the last 2 games ...

(English DBA Open: armies for the finals and semi-finals)

Mark and Martin made it to the final and fought it out for the trophy ...

(English DBA Open 2015: the final ... concentration - and perhaps a touch of mischief?)

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed their day and Martin's success in the Open also assured him the League title ...  here are the happy winners ...

(English DBA Open ... winner, third place and runner up)

(Society of Ancients UK DBA League 2014-15 ... winner flanked by the runners up)

See more about the UK DBA League
Full 2015 English DBA Open results
Full 2014-15 UK DBA League results

Many thanks to everyone involved.  Thanks to the Society of Ancients for continuing to support the project and thanks to Paws for running it all.

A new League year starts in Market Harborough in 3 weeks time.

I will be back on the road with a 50th anniversary flats game at Warfare.
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11th Oct, Crystal Palace

Just catching a post up on my lovely late summer trip down to Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago helping out on the society stand and picking up some trophies for the English Open DBA ...

David did the stand for this one and Phil, Eric and Alan put on a Lost Battles Successors game on the big table to  entertain visitors.

Other ancients games on show included Simon Miller's To the Strongest ...

... and the Staines group's Agincourt participation game ...

It was a fairly brief visit but as ever an excellent show with plenty to look at - lots to see and lots to buy ..

The 2015 English DBA Open

The 2015 English DBA Open

England’s premiere DBA competition will be held on Sunday 25th October 2015 at Stacey Community Centre in Portsmouth.

This will be the final event of the 2014-15 year of the Society of Ancients UK DBA League.

Please could players arrive and book in between 9:30-10:00 am so we can start the games by about 10:30.

Trophies sponsored by the Society of Ancients.

Prize sponsored by Magister Militum.

There will be one competition only this year, in 15mm using version 3 of the DBA rules.
  • Numbers permitting, players will be organised into groups of five or six players, playing the others in their group.
  • Players may use any army they chose for their group games.
  • If there is more than one group, then all group winners and possibly the best of group runners—up will progress to a final and possibly semi—finals to determine the overall winners.
  • These finals and semi—finals will be played with themed armies provided by the organisers.

DBA Open 2015 Rules

  1. De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) version 3 will be used.
  2. A “World Cup” format will be used. Initially competitors will use their own armies and terrain. Each battle will be 35-45 minutes long (unlimited for any final).
  3. Scoring shall be as follows:
    1. 5 points for a complete victory (as defined in the rule book);
    2. 2 points for a draw (game incomplete when time is called), if the player has destroyed more enemy elements counting towards victory than he has himself lost;
    3. 1 point for any other draw;
    4. 0 points for a loss.
  4. In the event of a tie within a group the winner will be determined by:
    1. head-head record;
    2. most generals killed;
    3. most camps/BUA sacked;
    4. most elements killed (including Scythed Chariots and Hordes but not including the extra for occupying a camp/BUA).
  5. The winner of each group (plus the best of the rest if necessary), will then play a knock-out tournament (a final and possibly semi-finals) to determine the overall winner. During the knock-out stage, competitors will secretly choose an army from all those that will be made available.
  6. If there are insufficient players to form at least two even groups, then the event may be restructured as a single group, with each player playing all other opponents. In this case, a knock-out phase might not be played.
  7. Element selection and army aggression may not be changed between battles.

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3rd and 4th October, Donington Park


As a one time petrol-head I'll happily put up with chilly feet and a concrete floor for the sweet music of the racing engines screaming around the circuit outside in free practice.  Yes, it's the first weekend in October and we're back at Donington for the Derby Worlds event. 

The Society of Ancients combined this time with the Northampton Battlefields Society for another presentation of my DBA V3 treatment of the 7th century Battle of Yarmuk.

(catastrophe on the plateau beyond Damascus ... the era defining battle of Yarmuk from The Society of Ancients)

Most of the voluntary groups and learned societies were present at the event including the Lance & Longbow Society, The Pike and Short Society and various charities ...


.. the usual suspects perhaps but it is good to see all these organisation still going strong, getting out on the road and supporting historical wargaming and wargames shows and events in the manner they have for decades now.   

 (Yarmuk 636 ... armoured cavalry of the Byzantine centre - figures by Phil Barker refurbished by Phil Steele)
(scenes from the Battle of Yarmuk refought at Derby 2015 by the Society of Ancients)

We refought the battle twice on the Saturday of Derby - in both cases to a plausible Arab win as the Roman commanders fought to break through from their outflanked position ....

The battle was fought using traditional flat tin soldiers from the 1960s collections of Phil Barker, Tony Bath and Deryck Guyler ... staged and added to by Phil Steele to reconfigure the armies to the Yarmuk scenario.

The battle was refought using DBA version 3 and the figures were based on a standard 60m frontage.  The battlefield was approximately 3'x4' but the wargame begins with the armies pre-deployed as at the start of the critical phase of the battle.

 (Yarmuk: the Byzantine C-in-C, Vahan, drives forward relentlessly in an attempt to force the Arabs from the field)

Yarmuk was one of a number of splendid *ancients* games ... of particular note, the Battle of Bosworth (Graham Fordham and Paul Tysoe of Phoenix Gaming Club for the Lance & Longbow Society) picked up an award in the Best Participation Game category (well done them) ...

(Jed D, formerly Mr Chariot Miniatures, has a crack at Paul and Graham's Bosworth game)

The game was based on the latest evidence from the battlefield, successfully played out to a home variant of Warlord's Pike and Shotte rules. 

(scenes from Bosworth)

Also nice to see Rob Broom's Greeks out again 

... and plenty of other good ancients fare ...

Looking around the show I enjoyed some of the 20th century content as usual  ...

 ... and that splendid 'light horsemen' game showed a lot of potential though I didn't see it getting played much over the weekend ...

... actually, these days it is a very big show with most popular historical period represented ...

(Other periods wargamed at Derby 2015)
(a closer look at that splendid 10mm ACW terrain)

... and of course, Derby owes its name and legacy to competition wargames - especially ancient and medieval periods and this year along with reliable stalwarts like Armati, there was strong support for the Saga tournament ...

(tournament wargames at Derby World Wargames)

All in all, another splendid and well organised event ... thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk about old flat tin soldiers, 50 years of the Society of Ancients ... the manifold merits of DBA V3 and chew the wargame fat for a while.

Its never too late to join in The Championship ... play DBA V3 in The English Open ... or sign up for The Society of Ancients.  

See you in Portsmouth for the Open maybe ...

12th September Newbury Racecourse


So, after a year off, Colours returned ... still at fabulous Newbury Racecourse (loads of light, loads of space, loads of free parking ... ) ... but now a more 'trader friendly' one day format.

And I thought it was very good ... good big crowds, plenty of good games, most of the usual traders ...
(contemplating victory or defeat with the Society of Ancients at Zama )

... rather light perhaps on the fashionably sprawling 28mm games (maybe more to play rather than to ogle and that's no bad thing in my book ... ) ..

The Society of Ancients was on the same floor as the Bring & Buy but less affected by the long barrier queues that have hit us in the past.  Indeed it was a good experience throughout and our Lost Battle, Zama, was a winner.

This is the Society's 50th year and it was a great pleasure to be visited by one of the early activists, Neville Dickinson (he of Minifgs) ... Not everyone agreed about strategies and directions in those days ...

(Neville Dickinson chats with Eric on the Society stand at Colours)

Elsewhere the ancient/medieval enthusiast had plenty to enjoy especially he excellent Agincourt game from the Staines design stable which we enjoyed playing at Campaign earlier in the year ...

(Staines Agincourt game)

also around the show my eye was caught by some nice participations games and splendid larger scale ECW ...

... and I really like the way the biplane enthusiasts had tried to do their clouds ... I have tried my hand a rule devising for this period and 'terrain' and visibility is important up there (but not always well managed) - thumbs up to them: my own solution is still under wraps for now ...

... and I can't resist including a couple of vehicle shots from the desert in glorious 15mm ...

So, a great show (as I hope the pictures suggest) with lots to see and do - much of the regular trade fair and a good 'traditional' Bring & Buy with (I thought) a range of stuff for sale and bargains to be had.

It also seemed to me that people pretty much stayed for a full value afternoon (no 3pm pack up) - I presume down to the combination of just being one day, the Bring & Buy and the number of things to do ...

I hope that means Colours is back on the regular schedule and, yes, the one day format seemed to have worked.

For us the highlight was probably meeting Neville Dickinson (he founded the company that made my first metal figures, of course ...) ...

See you all at Derby where we will be combining with the Northampton Battlefields Society and doing Yarmuk ...


6th September Kelham Hall

The Autumn shows season kicked off on the first Sunday of September at 'The Other Partizan' - and as far as I'm aware this was the last of the long-running Partizan shows to be hosted at the beautiful if problematic Kelham Hall.

The Society of Ancients joined regular collaborators, the Lance & Longbow Society and the Northampton Battlefields Society and put on a participation game of Bouvines using, for the first time, DBA V3 ...

Regular readers will be familiar with the look of this game - I was asked to have a look at this battle for the forthcoming Great Battles of History scenarios volume being prepared by the DBA test group so as a starting point recycled a lot of my Basic Impetus project.

It was very successful.  One of the features of the battle is the forced march of Ferdinand Count of Flanders up a short cut to Bouvines via Cysoing.  The forced marchers ran into the French rearguard under the Duke of Burgundy in what became the opening phase of the battle.  DBA deals with this deployment from a road particularly well.

(photo by Chris)

We ran the battle through twice, in the morning amongst the usual suspects, in the afternoon as a full 6 command 6 player participation game.  The French narrowly won both games, but as in the historical battle, the outcome was far from certain for some time.

(Emperor Otto IV and his CWg battle standard)

Some elements were somewhat improvised, of course ... the German army standard/Command Waggon was just an appropriate blank with Otto's figure and his banner cart on it ...

(Philip II king of France) 

Elsewhere personality figures were placed behind the elements that represented those specific generals ...

(the Count of Flanders column passes Cysoing)

... and there were plenty of captions to give an indication of which prominent figures were in which contingents ...

(the French left wing under the count of Dreux)

Although the deployments followed what we know of the historical battle (so were  mandatory) the scenario clearly allowed quite a lot of flexibility as the two games developed along differing lines - the second game, producing a generalised melee right across the battlefield probably taking a more historical shape.

(Bouvines 1214: the heat of the action)

The second battle ended spectacularly on the destruction of Otto's 'general's' element  (and therefore, as in 1214, his Imperial Eagle battle standard) ...

I probably do need to look more closely at some of the troop type translations but, by and large, DBA V3 applied out of the box to historical deployments gives a pretty convincing game of the battle.

Some of the other games ...

Simon Chick and associates presented a splendid big medieval wargame, Berne Baby, Berne, featuring massive Swiss pike formations ... 

Wargame Developments entertained numerous volunteers with their Coastal Command participation game ..

(Jerry puts another set of players through their paces ... ) 

And even more sprawling, Simon M hosted a larger than large Dark Age 'To The Strongest' fight

Being The Other Partizan, there was much more still, but commitments on the stand meant I barely got pictures of all the ancient and medieval stuff ... (well mostly medieval it seems) ... 

Wonderful show as always and many thanks to the Newark Irregulars who've been making this show work at Kelham for years and years - we can only hope they enjoy the same success in their new venue next year and enjoy similar, possibly even better, support from exhibitors and enthusiasts - goog luck Partizan!!
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