A Brilliant Weekend In Essex (yes, really)

I can’t believe it’s over 3 weeks ago already, and I’m only just posting now! LAW forum member Essex Boy finally had a few of us down for a first game in ‘The Shed’. This snazzy new venue has reached almost mythical status, due to the length of time it’s taken him to get it ready. But, it was most certainly worth the wait.

The Shed has very good lighting and heating, and a decent amount of space for 6 people to play a decent-sized game. Every wargamer’s deam πŸ™‚

Essex flag bunting greeted us on our arrival! You can’t have everything I suppose.

Inside was an excellent custom-prepared battlefield, assembled that very morning (with the help of a just-woken Andy apparently!)

We were using Iain and Gary’s 20mm WSS armies, plus a brigade of Andy’s Savage Swans and Altfritzenbergers that he’d painted for the occasion. The troops all looked superb, and together with the terrain, presented a real spectacle and were a pleasure to play with.

Iain had devised a cunning scenario which called for both sides to fight for control of the numerous road junctions. Andy and I played as the defending Franco-Bavarian (and Alfritzenberg) commanders, with Gary, Tim and Simon controlling the allies. Iain ran the game, umpired and took control of the odd unit of locals who popped up to surprise the allied attackers.

The rules used were Rank & File and they gave a decent period feel, were easy to learn/remember, and allowed the game to move along at a good pace. There were close-fought actions all over the battlefield, with attritional losses building up steadily (and often worryingly) during the day. By the end Andy and I had just about held on, and controlled enough of the roads to be declared the victors. It was getting very close though!

Once the game had been wrapped up, we had a good evening filled with Mexican food and plenty of beer, and all promised to come again when The Shed doors are open again to the LAW mob.

Big thanks to Iain for all the effort he put in, and for the others for their contributions and great company. This type of weekend is always an excellent way to spend hobby and social time, and this was no exception.

Honours of War – A LAW Forum Get-together

In early October a group of us from the forum were cordially invited to come for a game in Gary’s very impressive Wargames room. As they go, it must be one of the best around, and comfortably accommodated 9 players and a good-sized table. It was a good opportunity to catch up with the guys, who came from far and wide as always, and meet one of Gary’s very friendly local club members, Ian, who joined us.

We would be using the Honours of War rules and most of us had brought a contingent of our own historical or imagi-nations troops.Β Gary had prepared the table, scenario, some of the forces, and all of the catering for the day – what a decent bloke! It was an attack/defend game, with a central bridge as the key, and 2 built up areas on the flanks also counting as objectives.

My Medetians took the right flank for the defenders, with reinforcements to come on later, and faced Iain and Simon who arrived en mass in the opening few turns.

The fighting was pretty intense, and the rules held up pretty well, considering we had a lot of troops on the table by the end. I didn’t quite manage to hold onto my village, with a last-ditch counter attack failing in the final turn. However, the bridge and farm were competently defended by Jeremy and Purps on my left, so overall we just about won.

All in all it was a lot of fun playing such a good-looking wargame with old mates and new acquaintances. There was good banter and everyone was on good form, which was great to see.

After the game we had a very nice dinner and a few beers in one of the local pubs, rounding off an excellent weekend. Hopefully we’ll be invited back next year!

 

 

A Big Battle in the Midlands

A few weekends ago a group of 8 members of the Loose Association of Wargamers got together near Grantham for an 18th century wargame. We all contributed some troops, both historical and imagi-nation, and used the Honours of War rules. It was nice to meet Jeremy and his family for the first time, and we didn’t seem to put him off coming to future LAW events!

Purps made the arrangements at a village hall, and also made half the terrain with some very impressive sculpted boards. The other half was LT’s excellent teddy bear fur. Once some buildings, hedges, trees and other scenery was in place, we had a very nice looking long battlefield of about 30′ by 5′.

Empty and full pics of the table:

The various collections were combined to create 2 large armies, with 4 players a side. There was a background scenario which led nicely to a big set-to, with me part of the attacking side. I took control of the left centre and had to capture the bridge. I deployed 2 columns of battalions, with artillery and cavalry in support.

Action in the centre, where the forces of Medetia fought for the bridge:

Action on the flanks:

The game was played in great spirit and we had a very enjoyable day. By the end we had been victorious pretty much all along the line, although the enemy had fought hard and we were up against it in a number of places. General E. Pickled led another utter collapse of what seemed to be a strong flank – it’s his special gift!

Purps: “well, that’s the left flank gone!”Pickled: “there were more troops here a minute ago”

Naturally, an evening of good food a drink followed. Some of the guys played a second game the on the Sunday, which I couldn’t stay for unfortunately.

Big thanks to everyone for their great company and friendly participation as always, and in particular to Purps for doing so much prep which made a big difference to how smoothly everything ran.

Ayton 2017

Well, that was another brilliant weekend with the LAW guys up near Scarborough. Lots of beer, banter, hobby chat and gaming – the best type of weekend πŸ™‚

Some Game 1 pics:

 

We had 2 days of multi-player Lion Rampant games, all excellently planned and umpired by Gary who had done a lot of prep to ensure everything went smoothly. Big thanks to him for that.

 

There were over a dozen factions, with players bringing everything from Normans to Mongols, Arabs and Burgundians. Under a straight-forward and fun system like Lion Rampant things like this work, so you can just concentrate on enjoying yourself. There were 3 rounds of games, building in size from 3-4 player on Saturday morning to a big all-player bash on Sunday, with a castle thrown in as a centre piece.

 

Gary had designed a clever background whereby an island near the Holy Land was targeted by invaders and raiders of all descriptions, each with their own agenda for mayhem. Allies and enemies shifted a bit here and there and overall there was an on-going Glory Points tally to track everyone’s campaign success – or failure.

Some Game 2 pics:

 

 

 

I did pretty poorly in the points scoring, but was a few places off the bottom I think. Anyway, Andy managed minus 4 points after 2 games, and no-one could compete with that level of incompetence. I tried though – managing to get my General killed in a duel I instigated, which wasn’t an ideal result to say the least! Still, even without his presence the Medetians and their Saracen allies were the first to assault the castle walls on Sunday. Naturally, despite beating the defenders from the parapets, they also failed their courage test and were dumped back to the bottom again..twice πŸ™

Some Game 3 pics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

My fatal duel:

 

 

 

With large numbers of players and some slightly oversized retinues, we decided to ease the unit activation failure pain a bit on day 2 by allowing all players a single re-roll for their first failed activation if their General was within 12″. As this is an existing rule (it’s one of the commander traits) it didn’t introduce anything new or unbalance the game, it just made things flow a bit more evenly and allowed the attackers to move across the table with some consistency to ensure people made it into action.

We also fudged the rule for keeping 3″ gaps between friendly units, just to make things a little easier for a big game with lots of troops.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we also had the visual delight of another of Tim and Tim’s 54mm extravaganzas – a fictitious modern game set in Africa with lots of excellent scenery and stunning paint jobs on the figures:

 

 

As always, big thanks to Mark for organising the venue and supplies, and making dinner arrangements. Looking forward to 2018’s event already – a return to the 18th century with Henry’s campaign taking us to the sub-continent!

 

Bit of a Catch Up

Although there’s been no blog activity for a while, there have at least been some hobby goings on.
Not much was actually getting finished so I wasn’t taking many pics, but there has been some gaming, and progress on a number of projects

The best of the gaming was a weekend in Newcastle with Andy hosting an excellent ACW game using his newly re-based collection and Fire & Fury rules. He’d devised a scenario and set up the terrain too. The game took place in meeting room upstairs at a commercial stables, which added to ambience!

It was an encounter battle which 5 of us played to an entertaining draw. Plenty of flank attacks, charges and counter-charges as the advantage swung back and forth. Plenty of beer was had on the 2 evenings as well, which with the excellent company made it a very good time all-round.

 

 

 

 

I’ve spent some more time evolving my 15mm fantasy dungeon game, which is pretty much sorted and has seen some solo and 2-player games recently. Now I’m just having fun adding the odd monster, character or dungeon feature, plus some background fluff and additional rules that come to mind.

 

 

This year’s Ayton weekend (coming up very soon) calls for Lion Rampant forces from anywhere between 1100-1500, so I’m taking a very early Medetian force from their Normans-in-Italy era. It will be supplemented by Saracen auxiliaries, together making a standard 24 point retinue.

I’ve painted 6 knights (Conquest plastics) and 30 Gripping Beast Arab foot, leaving 2 units left to finish before the end of the month. I’ll try to get the whole force together for a pic soon.

I’ve tried yet another method for making islands for my scratchbuilt naval games, this time it was 6mm blue foam (painted green and gridded to match the sea boards) on thin card (painted sandy for beaches). With the odd building, tree or airfield they should look OK.

Two prototypes:

Maybe they’ll be the start of an overhaul of my islands in general, or I’ll just add them to the pile!

I just need to get back into the routine of updating the blog now, so more soon hopefully!

The Battle of Mingen 1759

Last weekend four of us from the LAW forum, who all live reasonably close to Newark, got together for an eclectic 18th century bash. John (LT) very kindly offered to host us when our plans to play at Wargames Foundry fell through, and his custom-built gaming conservatory (with 12’x4′ table) was an excellent place to play a game. He kept us going with endless tea and coffee too!

As it was Purps’s idea in the first place, he did the planning. He collated a list of what units people could contribute and prepared an interesting scenario based on Minden, but suitably re-named. It was to be a first run out for all of us with the Honours of War rules from Osprey. They proved to be relatively simple to pick up and gave a good, fast-moving game that produced believable outcomes and events.

When the armies were placed on John’s teddy bear fur table covering, along with some suitable scenery, I think the overall effect was very good.

My troops, moving forward to take up defensive positions before the enemy got too close:

 

The overall table, defenders on the left:

Purps’ Prussians heading to defend the wall. They were to deliver a very un-Purps-like ‘none shall pass’ performance:

No detailed battle account, but in brief – Simon and John attacked with a variety of dodgy invading foreign-types, while Purps and I tried to hold on to the two villages. Somehow we managed this, although it was a very close run thing. We had cavalry charges (one of which was successful – unfortunately against me), heroic musketry, some BUA fighting, and some artillery barrages that did a bit of damage (well lots – to Purps).

Below, Purps’ Frei Korps looking good coming up the road, until all the enemy artillery targeted them and sent them packing on the first turn. Another new unit consigned back to the box before they’d got stuck in.

Something no commander ever wants to see. I underestimated how far Simon’s cavalry could move (damn those Dashing Generals, with their chance to roll those hoity toity double moves!) and was caught in column of march. Scratch one battalion:

At the same time Purps was about to be hit by this lot:

But he saw all the horsemen off in brave style, and was then hit by this lot who had benefited from a couple of double-moves to get round the flank:

Which he also, just about, held off to help us win the battle. πŸ™‚

Medetians and allies, standing their ground:

 

And dithering back and forth:

I was sending them to support Purps’s left flank, which failed to move for the first 5 turns (he rolled a 1 each time!). When he finally got going he flung his newly-painted hussars into range of 4 artillery batteries, and back in the box they went. Two months’ work followed by one blunder. Very funny, so I abandoned him and marched this battalion back to the ranks again.

The game, and the whole day, was great fun all-round, in excellent company.

We’ve got some other ideas for games we can play as an occasional local group, so hopefully there’ll be more to post soon.

Big Battle Weekend – Punic Wars with To the Strongest

On Saturday four of us (Goat major, Essex Boy, Count Belisarius and I) played a big 15mm Punic Wars game at Wargames Foundry’s premises near Newark.

We planned the weekend months ago, and more recently did the final prep to ensure we had everything we needed on the day – scenery, tokens, army rosters, and so on. As these things tend to, it came around very quickly at the end but fortunately there was little last minute panic painting to do (except for the Count of course!)

We chose the Punic period because 3 of us had suitable figures (most of which hadn’t seen the light for day for a lot of years), and To the Strongest because it offered a relatively quick-play experience and, being grid-based, wasn’t going to be fazed by mild variations in people’s unit basing.

 

We collated a list of available figures and drew up two armies, each about 550 points in game terms. As a first go with the rules (apart from a solo test game I played a while back) this was rather ambitious, but we wanted a bit of a spectacle and the look and feel of a big battle. Hopefully the pictures give the impression that we achieved this.

 

You do need quite a few bits and pieces to play TtS – playing cards, activation markers, ammo markers, as well as a gridded battlefield. We chatted through all this beforehand and were able to turn up with the right items on the day. We used two 6’x4′ Mat-o-War cloths, foliage clumps placed at 6″ intervals, and some other scenery, then deployed the armies and got stuck in.

Inevitably we were playing more slowly at the beginning than we were by the end, but we soon got the gist of things and enjoyed the way the rules worked.

EB and I drew the Carthaginians, with their various Spanish, Numidian and Italian allies (plus some elephants of course). GM and CB each had two Roman legions, plus hordes of Gauls and other allies.

 

 

Naturally everyone advanced and got stuck in, infantry in the middle and cavalry on the flanks. 4 or 5 hours of play later we hadn’t quite got a decisive result, but we had had a lot of fun. Elephants had rampaged back through friendly troops, generals had died and hat-tricks of aces had been drawn (an unlikely occurrence but repeated several times – mostly by the unlucky GM). By the time we had to stop and pack up I had a slight positional edge over GM’s Romans/Gauls, and hadn’t committed many of my doughty African Spearmen, while to my left EB and CB had fought out a fairly bloody draw. A close thing all-round then, and a very enjoyable day.

 

 

 

 

 

Great company as always and the game was played in a friendly spirit all-round. We had a good night out in Newark too, with a few ales and an excellent curry.

There are some tentative plans for games next year, which will hopefully happen. It’ll probably be mine and Simon’s turn to travel, if EB and the Count can get their gaming spaces sorted!

Big Weekend at Frammie

We (members of the Loose Association of Wargamers) returned to Tim H’s very pleasant home village of Framlingham this weekend. We were last there for a wargaming session in 2014, time has flown! Ten of us gathered on Friday evening, got quickly caught up and enjoyed a good curry and a decent amount of beer. The banter was lively and continued throughout the weekend.

There were some very good games put on, two on each day. I was crap with the camera and only managed a few pics (my apologies to Tim for not getting some of his excellent FIW and Sci-Fi – both in 54mm!), but others did a lot better and Andy’s blog is a good place to visit to see a lot more –Β here

When Alex and Peeler offered a big DBN game of Vittoria I volunteered like a shot. They made a custom battlefield in the last week or so, especially for the game – a brilliant effort. Alex was Wellington and Peeler took the part of the King Jerome. I took the part of ‘Daddy’ Hill and Gary got the late arrival columns under Graham and Dalhousie. On the other side of the table were Simon and Andy as the two French sub-commanders. The scenario was an interesting one, with the French deploying in their historical ‘caught on the hop’ positions and the allies piling on the pressure and trying to close in from various angles.

Alex setting up on Friday:

Saturday

The start of the battle, with my command aiming straight up the road and looking to get around the French flank on the slopes to the right.

The first of Andy’s rearguard are dead and we’re on our way, albeit a bit slowly due to being unable to make additional/march moves.

Mid-battle – Dalhousie has arrived on the other side of the river and Hill and Wellington are chasing the fleeing Frenchies up the valley:

 

Gary did very good work trying to storm over the bridges, taking big casualties but dealing the same out to the waiting French. The fighting intensified on the river line, but was petering out on the other flank as we failed to pursue as fast as Andy routed. The highlight was Alex canistering Andy’s command figure with a deft bit of horse artillery work – a quality moment (for us) and I was forced to drive my battery over the remains as we intensified the pursuit. In the end, we didn’t get as far up the table as we would have liked but we did bring the battle to a successful conclusion a couple of turns from the end by destroying the requisite number of French elements.

As always DBN provided an excellent big battle experience and the game was a pleasure to participate in. Thanks to Andy and Mark for the effort that went in, and for everyone for the great spirit in which the game was played.

Sunday

The second day’s gaming involved an excellent fictitious colonial game set in the pre-pith helmet era. This was all Paul’s creation – terrain, scenery, most the of the figures, the plot and even a full set of rules. Very very impressive stuff all-round. We were 3 a ‘side’ (there were some cunningly conflicting player objectives) and each of us had an interesting force with its own background and characteristics.

I got sailors (for which I got to provide most of the figures) and there were forces of sepoys, jungle-loving natives, semi-regulars and fanatics from various factions. None-the-wiser we all got stuck in and Paul ran the game from a nicely illustrated set of cards he’d made. The rules were simple to learn and we could focus on the action and the fun. There were events to keep us on our toes too, such as tiger, snake and monkey attacks!

As you’ll see from the pics it was a lavish affair, and kept us occupied, and laughing, well into the afternoon. By the end, Alex’s regulars had been wiped out in the jungle in their own special ‘Nam by the local savages, Andy had been wiped out by Simon’s accurate muskets and bayonets and I had been finished off by Simon’s backstabbing ambush. He declared innocence, it all being a big misunderstanding, and so on. Yeah, yeah. Simon and Gary were the ones to achieve their missions in a thoroughly entertaining game. Thanks again Paul – awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, a long drive back home on Sunday and now I’m already looking forward to the next get-together – November’s ancients bash in Newark.

 

Leipzig DBN Refight

A bit late in posting about this, but never mind…

Over the first weekend of October I was fortunate enough to take part in a multi-player refight of the Battle of Leipzig 1813. This was put on by Alex Testo, who is one of the original authors of the DBN rules and who runs a very nice hotel in Scarborough. October being closed season, Alex likes to arrange a big game for people to come and play, and to stay in residence over the weekend. I attended the Gettysburg game a couple of years ago and when I heard about this year’s subject battle, I signed up immediately as it’s one I’ve always been fascinated by.

 

In the end there were 10 players (some of whose names I’ve forgotten in the intervening weeks – sorry) who assembled on Friday evening to receive a warm welcome from Alex and his family, an introduction to the custom-built table, the rules and the background to the battle itself. Then off for an excellent fish and chip supper, followed by some social time over a beer or two, during which we divided into two sides/teams to look over the table and forces, and make some plans for the battle.

Some of the armies, laid out by Corps:

I fancied playing on the French side and duly became that dashing fop, Murat. Our leader was Phil, who made a fine Napoleon (or possibly Custer), and our plan was reasonably historical – to hold Blucher in the north and try to bash the Army of Bohemia among the high ground and villages in the south. I had the left flank, from Liebertwolkwitz onwards, to defend against hordes of Austrians, Russians and Cossacks.

We hid the whole army behind the high ground and villages, leaving only 2 artillery batteries in view. The enemy didn’t seem fazed, and deployed in strength pretty much everywhere.

 

 

Needless to say, a 2-day multi-player wargame is about as difficult to accurately recount in detail as a real battle, so I won’t be attempting this!

The gist is that there was hard fighting everywhere, with the allies trying to take Mockern in the north in the face of desperate defending by the French. There were cossack shenanigans all over, trying to get behind the French into the baggage and to occupy objectives (fortunately I dealt with the attempt on my flank).

 

Mockern as the storm approaches:

The big fight was around Liebertwolkwitz, stretching away to both to me on the left, and the Imperial Guard on the right flank. Everyone seemed to have good and bad turns, and the combat swayed back and forth around the villages and ridges. The Guard went in, and a lot of it went down, but not before taking a lot of Prussian and Russian Guard with it.

 

 

The Austrians under Simon tried to swoop on Lindenau to block the French escape route, but they seemed to be walking in treacle and took an age to deliver their assault. He took the gibes well though πŸ™‚

Leipzig and its garrison:

 

I got hold of the Reserve Heavy Cavalry Corps (lots of tough elite Saxons, etc) and managed to crush much of the enemy’s right flank, shoring up my own position at the same time. That was a lot of fun, and a highlight for me!

 

 

 

 

 

At the end there was a very fine line between winning and losing, and it came down to a couple of key combats to see which army would reach its break point first. The French just fell short, and Napoleon would once again have to retreat over the river to live to fight another day.

 

 

All in all it was a brilliant weekend, with very good company and an excellent game that played out so well. The social side was very good too, including some beer and curry on the second evening, and lots of banter throughout the two days. Thanks go to Alex and family for putting on such a great event, and I look forward to another one of these weekends next year hopefully.

Lion Rampant Game Day

Last weekend saw a dozen gamers gather together from far and wide (Scotland to Essex anyway) to celebrate Goat Major reaching extreme old age and to play some games of Lion Rampant.

The venue was Foundry’s premises at East Stoke Hall, and they generously laid on some superb terrain tables for us to use. Even if you don’t collect their figures it’s a great place to visit, as their ranges are extensive and go on for room after room. The recent addition of a huge display cabinet with thousands of beautifully painted figures is a real treat too. I have to admit that their old fantasy ranges got me interested, with a Frostgrave project to get back to sometime..

We had a great day, with 3 x 4 player games in the morning, using scenarios from the rulebook and card-driven random player activations. It worked very well and the guys on my table (Iain, Andy and Dave) had a lot of fun watching Iain hide (but win..) and Dave/Buff get massacred. The boasts element of the game is interesting and adds some characterisation and storyline to the on-table action, beyond just going for the objectives and killing the enemy. Not having painted my own retinue yet, I was very grateful for the loan of a lovely Wars of the Roses force from Gary. It was a small, tough, force of 4 x 6 point units and was interesting to use. That said, even a small force can be difficult to do anything with if you fail your first activation roll..

GM had worked up an interesting back-story and we were all fighting for either the King or the Usurper, as well as for ourselves. Scores were kept (I scored a net zero in the first game once I’d deducted unfulfilled boasts from the tax points I gathered!) and added to a scoreboard where both individual and team progress was recorded.

Some action from the morning game I played in:

 

 

After lunch we put all the tables together and set up for a big 6 v 6 bash, with players’ positions drawn randomly along their faction’s baseline. We had 3 objectives to fight for overall. There must have been over 500 figures in use, so it was a BIG skirmish game, but actually it played very smoothly and I think it demonstrated the flexibility of the rules. We reverted to IGO-UGO, with each side of the table taking its turn before swapping back to the other side.

Inevitably the game provided some excellent moments and a lot of entertainment, and after a couple of hours we had a result (by which time there were far fewer figures on the table). Scores were counted up (I scored about 8 this time, which at least contributed something to the Usurper’s side which I was on) and individual and team winners were declared.

Somehow Iain, who’s courage and parentage have since been extensively (and quite rightly) questioned on the LAW forum, won the Best General award amid great mirth and mockery. All’s fair in war and wargaming though, so well done Iain. The Usurpers won the overall campaign though, so a new and enlightened era was heralded.

 

Then we packed up and went off to warm ourselves up (it had been a cold day!) with a beer and curry night in Newark. All in all an excellent day with a lot of fun, good company and good gaming.

I like the Lion Rampant rules and the games they generate, and it’s very easy to pick up and get stuck in. I have the Normans in Italy retinue planned, and intend to switch my 15mm Dark Ages collection to this as well in the future.