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 ūüôā

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 ūüôĀ

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!

 

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 –¬†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.

 

Ayton Day 2

Clear-headed and mentally razor-sharp military geniuses prepare the table and their respective battle plans for the big ‘off’ on the Sunday; it was to be a mighty clash:

 

Below – our glorious campaign organiser (and all credit to him for that, because it was excellent). However… to think that we put this man in charge of our vulnerable left flank after its initial commander had to depart.. Well, we got what we deserved.

It may look impregnable, but Iain found it’s weaknesses. Unfortunately he was in charge:

Paul deployed a colourful array of troops:

Simon’s massed Sepoys got to build a nice long wall to defend:

Meanwhile, at the other end of the 30 foot table, the Medetian army (and navy) deployed to defend the 3rd key position.

 

Our side’s collective failure on Saturday meant that we had to hold all 3 key locations throughout the Sunday battle. The loss of any of them would mean defeat. From left to right our line was; Pete, Paul, Simon and me. We set out our defences and loaded them with men. Our combined reserves were to be a shared resource. After a quick rendition of ‘Men of Harlech’ we folded our arms and waited.
It was time for the enemy to arrive..
Andy setting up the Savage Swans and their colleagues for another long march. He had a hell of a battle with Paul’s lot and neither side seemed to yield an inch all day (apart from when Andy’ units fled).

To borrow from old Nosey, trying to tell the story of a wargame with thousands of figures and 180 square feet of table is like trying to tell the story of a ball. It can’t be done. So, some general snippets and pics..

Medetian light troops deploy to strengthen the extreme right flank as Bob’s forces appear in the distance.

Paul’s (the other Paul) asiatic hordes drove a wedge between Simon and me, so we tried to plug the gap with reserve cavalry.

General shot of the battlefield after an hour or two.

Buff somehow steered his unsteerable giant nellies right across the table and through my decoy Chasseurs. We killed 2 out of 3, but were swept away. Heroic stuff but bloody.

Al Cekic killed men in pith helmets and then targeted the behemoths, before all its crew were shot down:

The Medetian Navy says ‘none shall pass’, although in an Italian accent:

The Medetian Army says ‘watsa matta you, hey, gotta no respect?’ Or something similarly argumentative:

Our light cavalry arrive to save the day and close the gap:

 

Mehicans swarm forward, the only manoeuvre they’re taught:

 

Zap guns zap Andy’s troops. Hopefully they got the Oompah band.

Allies discuss battle plans. Long story..

The light cavalry rescue goes wrong, a lot:

Fortunately the Medetians were blazing away and seeing off their attackers:

Although the Grenadier Guard was called on to fill a dangerous gap at one point:

With the Medetians holding firm and dealing with all-comers on the right, and events too painful and inexplicable to photograph taking place on the right, Simon had to hold in the centre against enormous odds as Paul’s masses closed in:

I believe he did so by the thickness of a cartridge case, but boy was it close:

 

In the end, we’d lost one and held two positions, so our evil plan was undone and we’d have to make peace or slink off to plot a dastardly return. One day, Phetaea will be ours, all ours!

Great fun.

Ayton Day 1 – The Other Game

There were farsands of ’em, but they still couldn’t win.

The other table on Saturday saw a massive clash as the Phetreaen rebels attacked at the Pass of Ishta, and the Convent defended by the savage nuns of the local order (don’t ask). Technically these rebels were my allies (although I doubt they’d have approved of our plans for a general take-over and massive canal project) so I was wishing them well, but a victory with heavy casualties wouldn’t go amiss..

Mwahahaha, etc.

Simon and Pete took charge of a LOT of natives, everything from Arabs to Zulus, and, well, charged forward – as you do. They even got to recycle dead units I think, and you’d think that would be enough. But no, they couldn’t quite break their opponents, or capture their objective buildings either. There was no shortage of effort though.

I didn’t spot the Lucozade bottle when I took the pics, sorry.

Gary provided a Zulu horde to bulk up the rebels:

Simon tried repeatedly to capture the convent, scaling the walls each time and duking it out with the tough old dears inside, only to be chucked back out each time. Every time I wandered past looking for a cup of tea or a bit of cake, there they were, clinging to the outside of the building like a zombie horde, but the defences were just too tough.

It was a tremendous looking battle though..

Many Mexicans fought, and quite a lot died. But there was no huge massacre to repeat the scenes of two years ago. I guess the rebs didn’t have enough artillery for that!

Mexican horse artillery – are they leaving their mates to get slaughtered??

The Mexican lancers even reached the enemy this time – nice one Ken!

So, on two battlefields the combined forces of rebellion and capitalist imperialist oppression (that’s us) had failed. Oh well, it would all be settled at the capital on Sunday.

The ACW – In a BIG Way

Alongside the two campaign-related games, there was also a fantastic 54mm ‘toy soldier’ ACW game put on by Tim H and Tim W. I popped over as often as I could to keep up with progress, but am ashamed to find I only took one picture, early on the first day. Sorry guys, it wasn’t through lack of appreciation.

The figure collections only came together this year I believe, yet there were very large Union and Confederate armies marching towards each other for a big clash. The variety of poses, and the overall sense of motion and activity in the figures, made it a wonderful spectacle and the players seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

Day 2 report to follow..

Ayton 2015 – Another Superb Wargaming Weekend

The May Bank Holiday weekend has, for the last 4 years, meant a game and beer-fest get-together of LAW forum members at Ayton in Yorkshire. This year’s event was a morphing of some of the events and forces from previous years, resulting in a fictitious late 19th century colonial clash in the deserts of Phetraea (next door to Byzarbia for those who’ve heard of it!)

Most people arrived on the Friday for what was to be a couple of day’s battle, following a lead-up of a couple of months of pre-game campaigning, mis-communication and dastardly deeds between the players, all very well run by Iain.

It was a brilliant weekend, with excellent gaming and great company as always. The result never really matters (good job too this time!), just the taking part and contributing to the culmination-of-the-campaign narrative. Thanks to everyone for making it such a good time, and it was nice to see a couple of unexpected faces who made last minute efforts to get there.

Even more importantly – get well soon Peeler, you were very much missed over the weekend.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, and the one after that which we’ve laid tentative plans for too.

I’ll post pictures of day 1 here, and of the other tables, and day 2, on a couple of other posts to keep things manageable.

Day 1 – The Battle of Leptis

We shouldn’t have fought a battle here at all, but I’ll not knock a man when he’s down. Too much. Let’s just say that Lord Peeler must have been several sheets to the wind when he dillied and dallied and thought this was the capital, forcing Iain to divert some of my force to Leptis to help bail him out. Still, we had to fight somewhere. ūüôā

Here, then, is the Saturday table. My Medetians attacked alongside Peeler’s troops (ably handled by Phil as an emergency stand-in). Our objectives were the two buildings beside the harbour and the railway respectively, although the enemy (Andy and Gary) began mostly deployed in the town of Leptis which they’d fortified before our arrival.

 

Phil and I agreed a plan, which Peeler and I had discussed the day before, and set out to keep the enemy busy on the left and in the centre with light troops and the odd probing attack, while Phil assaulted at full strength along the railway on the right. We managed to draw out most of the enemy reserves by the end, and I had some sneakiness planned for the left flank for late in the game, by which time hopefully Andy would not be expecting anything…

Needless to say my ‘surprise’ dawn attack was anticipated and interrupted by Andy’s American Indian natives who popped up as we approached the first bit of high ground! At least they didn’t all drop out of a single tree this time.. Undaunted, we charged in, had an inconclusive melee where both sides fell back, and managed to snatch the position when Andy failed the Indian’s control roll.

 

 

The Cossack skirmishers snuck about and hid a lot, but did some fighting before the end.

Al Cekic (‘The Hammer’) lined up on the harbour building and did a bit of damage to the Altfritzenbergers, but it was a tough nut to crack.

After some delay while we sorted ourselves out, the first attack went in, but although the Sepoys did their job and soaked up enemy firepower, they couldn’t break into the building and both they and the regular unit in support were forced to withdraw to avoid being wiped out. This upset timings for a later co-ordinated attack somewhat but at least we were keeping Andy occupied while Phil tried (repeatedly) to storm the railway station and the train parked inconveniently in front of it.

My Jezzails spent the bulk of the day sniping at Andy’s guys, mostly ineffectually at the harbour garrison (although we did whittle them down a bit), but also had some fun winning a long range duel with some artillery and forcing them to re-deploy out of sight.

Finally, with only a couple of turns remaining and completely out of the blue (for Andy, at least) my floating reserve arrived and charged into the harbour. There must have been a haze on the river or no lookout, or perhaps it was just Iain’s sense of mischief! My naval battalion leapt from the boats and assaulted the building while the Byzarbian Queen pounded and gatlinged the nearby enemy artillery.

It was a lot of fun, but despite the worried looks on the defenders’ faces, it was not to be. We couldn’t force our way in and took a lot of casualties charging back in again a second time, and that was that. Unfortunately Phil had been unable to take the train station either, despite many assaults, so the attacks came to nothing in the end.

 

 

 

Fortunately we’d already arranged (in the campaign phase) for both the road and rail bridges to the north to be blown by saboteurs on the enemy’s arrival (although we’d hope it would be after we’d already passed) so we still made it to the capital first, taking the scenic route by boat – although presumably it took a few trips!

This meant we’d at least be defending in the big battle on day 2, but what of our allies on the other table…?

 

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..