Ayton 2014

Ayton 2014 – What a way to fight a war!

What can I say? Once you’ve spent 12 months anticipating an Ayton wargaming weekend; planning, collecting and painting your forces, and looking forward to meeting up with good friends again, expectations are pretty high. Fortunately this year’s event, as with all the previous ones, hugely exceeded those expectations.

Although I’d promised myself there wouldn’t be a frantic rush at the end this year I was still finishing off the last of my new hussar unit, St Angelo’s Ghosts, on the Friday morning – just as I knew deep down I would be. Those Perry plastic French hussars do take some painting..! Fortunately I’d packed all the rest of the army a day or so before, so once the paint on the bases was dry I was ready to set off.

My journeys there and back were very easy, considering the first one was on a Friday afternoon before a bank holiday. I stayed at the Lodge which was very comfortable, and for some reason I had a suite including a full kitchen and four poster bed. Not bad for the standard room rate! Most people gathered at the hall from about 5pm onwards, which allowed time for the tables and scenery to be set up for the 2 opening battles that would be fought on the Saturday. It was also a great opportunity to say hi to everyone again, catch up generally and of course admire each other’s newly painted figures. To say there were some stunning units present would be an understatement – the photos of the event will do them better justice.

Everyone took pictures during the weekend and many have been posted on the LAW forum. They’re well worth a look. Mine are here for day 1 and here for day 2
Henry’s YouTube videos are excellent too, giving an overview of the final battle and capturing the atmosphere very well.

Here are a couple of tasters from the final battle just to add some colour to this post:

 

In brief then, our team of Simon, Paul, Ken and Dave M (and Peter on day 1 as the Duke) were invading Granprix to recover it for Duke Zigor. We even had a plan, worked up over the preceeding weeks under Henry’s umpireship. Opposing us were Mark, Iain, Richie, Mike, Andy (and Peter on day 2 as the King of Grenouisse). Due to the way the campaign progressed, we pretty much achieved our aim of approaching the capital, Pescadrix, from east and west simultaneously and this resulted in the 2 battles on day 1. There were also naval actions taking place off the coast and these has some impact on the success and timing of our amphibious landings. A final show-down between the 2 main fleets is to be played out by Henry who will hopefully let us know how things panned out. Hopefully we will be victorious!

On day 1 we clearly outnumbered our enemies in the east (things appeared more even in the west) but that didn’t prevent Iain and Andy fighting a tough defensive battle for the coastal village, inland hills and the plain between them. We prevailed however and pushed them back on the capital, following up for the big denouement before the city walls on day 2 (actually set 2 days later after some R&R and a brief march). Here, after a much harder battle, we were again victorious and captured the King to round off the liberation of Granprix in glorious style. I’ve written up an account of the campaign from the Medetian perspective for Henry and am happy to see what use he makes of it before posting anything in more detail here.

Despite winning the war however, the true highlight of the event was the social side with its cameraderie, fun and wargaming in the best possible spirit. Everyone was clearly there to ensure that their opponents got as much enjoyment from the games as they did themselves. I played against Andy and Iain on the 2 days and more pleasant, good natured, company you could not hope for. My allies, Paul and Simon, were equally enthusiastic and fun to play alongside.

There were also a few other games staged by members of the group who wanted to attend, but had plans of their own that they’d been working towards. Tim and Tim have got seriously into the world of proper toy soliders (54mm etc) and put on a couple of stunning games over the 2 days. Albions vs Europans in the age of empire was superb, as was Aussies vs Japanese in the Pacific. The scenery on both ocassions was excellent, fittingly so for the sumptious armies on display. Bob and Heather played a couple of good looking VBCW games too, with the usual interesting forces being deployed (it appeared to be police vs ladies). They were clearly enjoying themselves and everyone was welcome for a natter.

Of course no Ayton weekend would be complete without copious food (courtesy of the Dennison Arms) and copious beer (the social club next door to the hall this time), which was all consumed against the backdrop of very enjoyable wargaming conversation. Naturally next year’s game was a hot topic and I’m pleased to say that we’re returning to the 19th century for this one, and in rather hotter climes..

Thanks again to everyone for attending and putting in the effort and creativity, in particular Peeler for organising things again, and Henry for his fantastic umpiring and background work. All in all a superb weekend with a great bunch of guys. Roll on 2015!

Ayton Event 2014 – Grenouisse Ascendant

Now that we’re into April, the preparations are gathering pace for the multi-player 18th century game at Ayton at the start of May. There are 3 and a bit weeks to go, and painting still to be completed (and not just by me – I’m sure most of the other participants are feeling the pressure too). A little bit of time most evenings seems to be moving things on fairly well, but no doubt the final push will be just as frantic as last year!

Over the last week the momentum, and excitement, has started to build. Although local arrangements are mostly in the hands of Peeler (as he’s widely known), the game and background are the work of Henry Hyde, who is currently working feverishly at the multitude of tasks and communications a full-on unpire needs to look after. The volume of messages and intelligence reports that 12 players can generate is clearly enormous, but Henry is handling it with style and creativity, and there’s always a period flavour to what you receive back, and a sense that we’re involved in great events and embarked on a course that will re-shape history. Some of the general information/news items are being reported by Henry himself at Henry’s Blog but naturally most exchanges are private and bilateral with the unpire, unless players’ characters are understood to be face to face with each other in which case we can contact each other directly.

At the moment the 2 sides, one nobly seeking to recover the Duchy of Granprix which was lost to the dastardly invaders from Grenouisse in the 2011 game, the other seeking to hold onto these ill-gotten gains (you can guess which side I might be on!) are beginning to assemble and manouevre. Plans are being made, well sort of (due to the challenges of differing opinions and troubled communications), and there will be some pre-weekend campaign moves by land and sea which will hopefully set everything up nicely for some dramatic on-table action as the culmination of the story.

Orders of battle are of course secret too, and that’s where the painting pressure really comes in. No-one will want to take the field with fewer troops than they’ve previously committed to, as the only one to suffer will be themselves. I will of course post pictures of my recent additions soon, but have to be careful not to give too much away to any enemies that may be watching..