Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Great Game: Waterloo Revisited.

The Great Game: Waterloo Replayed
Setting a World Record for the biggest 28mm table-top historical wargame ever played
(c. 22,000 28mm figures in play)*
In Association with Waterloo Uncovered, the ground breaking charity that combines world class archaeology with veteran care and recovery (
A charity event with sponsorship raised supporting the valuable work of Waterloo Uncovered
The Great Game will be hosted by the University of Glasgow on weekend of June-15-16, 2019.

I originally read about this event in the Wargames Illustrated a few months ago and was immediately interested in the concept. I mean what was not to like. A chance to meet a large number of wargamers from around the UK for a weekend of wargaming. A load of toy soldier eye candy to be ogled at and all in the name of a good cause. I became even more interested when I saw they were looking for volunteers to help stage the event and being an impulsive type of chap I jumped at the chance.

 Anyway I have now joined up for the whole weekend enterprise and after paying the fee [£40.00] the price of a cheap night out, I have selected my command which has been accepted by the organisers.
I thought the French side would need the dice throwing skills of moi and have opted to lead the Young Garde against the reactionary powers of the allies.
 Of course there was a slight issue and that is the fact that I no longer possess ANY 25/28mm Napoleonic figures which means I need to furnish about 280 figures painted to a decent standard. I had considered blagging the lovely units owned by the Wargames Holiday Centre [ just joking] or the wonderful collection of Bill Gaskin who I barely know. But to be realistic I know I will have to devote a bit of effort to putting together this division myself. A little bit daunting but all in the name of a good cause.
Luckily the game is to be played using the Blackpowder rules which are perfect for such a large affair so at least I know the rules and also the size of bases required. So check out the site and sign yourself up to a great weekend and the chance to re fight Waterloo. The whole event takes place over the weekend of June 15/16 2019.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Durham Wargames Club open day.

Well I said I would report back on the effects of some of the bigger and favourite traders cutting the number of shows that they attend. On Saturday John and I took the short trip to the Durham Open Day, The friendliest Club in the north?
 Durham wargames club have been around a  longtime now a bit like yours truly. I can certainly remember letters from one of the founder members Derek Sharman in the Wargamers Newsletters dating to about 1968/69. I think they have held wargames shows since the late 1970's although that might be doing them a disservice, anyway I digress. Basically the show has been around a long time.
 Gone are the days when the group staged very large events at the castle, university buildings and the like. Derek Sharman who has long gone from the area attempted to make the event a family day out with re enactment societies, competitions and the like, he took great personal financial risks and sadly failed somewhat. Still he gave it a go.
 When John and I used to put games on at the show there would be four rooms of games and traders and one room which held  bring and buy event. Like other shows it grew steadily and used to get a few hundred through its doors.The last few years the number of games shrank and the number of traders increased. The event held at their HQ in the old DLI barracks is a great setting but not ideal for  large numbers of punters. When they introduced the 'policy' of more traders than games it became very very crowded. This year Dave Thomas has started his wind down and no longer attended carrying his range of Perry, Victrix and the like. He was a popular go to trader. Similarly Pendraken have pulled the plug. A  shame really because this company has grown a great deal and provides a lot of great figures and the other great stuff. Ian from Eagle Miniatures a former Durham member also couldnt attend. I dont know if this will be permanent but his expanding 28mm ranges were top quality. So of the old faithfuls Ian Kay and his dad were holding the fort with their lovely Irregular miniatures.
So did the changes affect the open day?
 Well I thought things were quiet the short time I was there but I understand the club claim numbers remained steady. I can confirm that the bring and buy was very very quiet which I normally tend to use as an indicator of footfall. John and I sold a minimal amount of stuff and it wasn't because of the price.
 The games on show were pretty decent and I particularly liked the group's Star Wars set up which had some great terrain and models. Conrad another member of the group staged a lovely 54mm Turk/ Russian renaissance game which was up to his usual high standards.God knows where he stores the figures and terrain but it was a nice looking game with some lovely personalised figures.
  As for the trade, it was okay with a new trader, Lasercut Architect  selling some first class and very clever mdf pieces. I really like the steam punkish? turn counter and causality markers they were really eye catching. Alan from Hokka Hey had expanded his terrain stock which is a great value range.
 Amongst my purchases, yes I know, I bought three books and when I got home discovered that I already owned two of them...! This is becoming more common when I attend shows, and probably explains why I have two draws full of paint I thought I didnt own and a large box of books that I need to sell. I did manage to get my grubby hands on the new musketeer vignette and a couple of samples of the SYW musketeer range from Graham of Crann Tara who was attending as a punter. I cannot recommend these enough. Graham has somehow  linked up with the son of Charles Stadden who is a brilliant sculptor. The horses in particular show all the Stadden brilliance. I cant wait to finally buy the two regiments. Needless to say the stock was sold out before it was even advertised.
 It was good to chat with Graham and blag a tea off him.
 So did the non attendance of the bigger trade names affect the footfall. Personally I thought it did but then I didn't hang around after 12.30 so there could have been a rush later in the day. Will it impact on the survival of the Durham show, somehow I doubt it simply because the event has been low key for a number of years and doesnt seem to rely on numbers as much as other events. Given that the club will need to consider which traders to encourage to attend to fill the empty spaces if they want to sustain the open day as a wargaming event and not just a club day.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Adapt or Die?

Following a conversation the other day with Dave Jarvis, painter extraordinaire he recommended that I check out a post that Barry Hilton had written about wargames shows. He had been impressed by the argument put forward by Barry.
  Intrigued I visited the League of Ausberg blog and found the post, titled  'Outgrowing their Clothes'. The post was dated 21st March which explained why I had missed it. I was out of the country. But I digress.
 Barry had two observations, one was the fact that several of the big shows, ie York and Tactica had basically reached saturation point regarding capacity of both punters and traders.I had already given my views regarding this year's show at York.

 The second observation was the one that interested me in particular. This concerned smaller club shows that in the past had relied on certain traders who were guaranteed to draw in punters simply because they were attending and how some of these traders intended to become more selective in which shows they attended, thus causing these club events to probably falter and fail completely.
Now I love attending wargames shows. Years ago I couldn't sleep the night before I was attending such events. Obviously as one grows older the excitement like Christmas dims somewhat, but I still like to attend any show I can.

 Nowadays I attend to see the games, and bump into wargamers that I only see at these events. Buying is a secondary issue, although I always end up buying something even if I don't need the damned stuff. Wargamers love retail therapy.
 So Barry's observation doesnt affect me as regards the paucity of traders that are popular.
I think like a lot of things I am in the minority. Most wargamers attend shows to buy from their favourite company. Which probably explains how most shows empty out by early afternoon. So losing certain well known and popular traders will probably cause these club shows to have considerably fewer punters through their doors, and invariably lead to some of them closing all together....
A good thing?
Barry thought it was and normally he is on the money with his wargaming views.
 Me, well yes and no. Like wargames magazines I view shows as the lifeblood of the hobby. Yes I know the internet has probably made magazines redundant, and of course one can buy from anywhere in the world and have the figures land on your doorstep within days or sometimes weeks.
 Over the next couple of weeks I will see what effect some of the bigger names withdrawing from small club shows has on the footfall as I attend the Durham and Penrith shows. One is a long established club event whilst Penrith has been going for only a couple of years. So certainly with the Durham event I should be able to gauge the effect quite easily.

   With globalisation, one can drink that goop from Starbucks anywhere in the world, and I view the bigger wargaming traders as similar.
  I would still buy from them, but invariably at the shows you will see several traders all selling the same products to the detriment of the smaller businesses. I understand why this happens, but to survive club shows are going to have to work harder if footfall drops.
 Personally I think it would pay for club organisers to seek out the new small wargaming traders and figure producers in an effort to encourage them to attend such events, and make it worth their while, ie cheap stalls..
 So quality games will be required. A return to trophies for the best games perhaps. No club night games. A greater variety of traders with little or no overlap between what they sell. [Probably difficult, I know] A return of well run bring and buys, or tabletop sales. So effectively a return to basics but with a 21st century twist. Better advertising via the internet.
Smaller but smarter. There's a bit of 21st century gobbledygook bollocks for you.

                                                One from the IWG archives....
How it all started. The Independent Wargames Group hosting a renaissance game circa the early 1980's at the Durham Wargames Show.  Here John has cornered a young Rahul Sarnak and refuses to let him leave until he has explained how the WRG rules work and would he like to try the deerstalker that he is wearing in a jaunty fashion........


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

For King and Parliament.

 Its been a bit of a struggle to paint lately. Family visits, a few minor health problems and the relatively good weather all gave me reasons to not pick up a brush. Anyway I think I'm back on the straight and narrow again and managed to finish these two Parliamentarian units.
 As I explained my forces will not be historical in the sense that I wont concentrate on say the Oxford army and ignore what I see as attractive units from other theatres of war.
 And so we have Brooks regiment which is a given for most ECW wargamers. Whats not to like, with purple coats etc. John reliably informed me that they weren't the best trained unit, but so they will run away, whats new there.
 The second is my Hollywood version of Essex's Lifeguard which I have elevated from a troop to a full regiment. Again like a magpie the colour attracted me to paint them. Probably not my best painted unit but it will pas muster in my eyes simply because they are orange.

 Although I am in my third age[ ridiculous term] don't think I'm not open to new ideas. Well not where wargaming is concerned. I am lucky that John has always been fascinated by wargames rules and is always looking for the 'perfect' set for each of our chosen periods. Me well I would still be using George Gush's WRG renaissance rules if it hadn't been for John prodding me towards more innovative rules.His latest 'find' is Simon Miller's FOR KING AND PARLIAMENT.
We have now had two battles with these rules. Both were largish affairs with 12 regiments or so of cavalry and a similar number of infantry. How did they play? Well I am very very impressed once I got my head around how important it is to choose the right unit to command and move first. Pick the wrong unit and then fail the command throw and you are in deep, deep, do do. I love the mechanism used to show how cavalry become blown. Similarly with artillery, don't expect to be able to bombard all game. It cant happen and is frankly pretty ineffective, and rightly so. Simon should be applauded for the work that has been put into these rules. They capture the period for me, have a good representation of friction and provide a really enjoyable game. Will I be buying a set? Probably if just for the eye candy and inspirational photographs. A very very good set of ECW wargames rules.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Where have all the bloggers gone?

About a year or so ago I posted that there seemed to be less activity in the world of wargames blogs and after taking some advice I linked my blog to Facebook in an effort to generate more interest Whilst I can understand why Facebook is a handy tool to expand readership and followers it is also a double edged sword. To be honest I really don't like the medium and find it increasingly unnerving as I invariably read the views of some people who frankly may have serious mental issues. Unfortunately I don't help because if I have a view I seem to have to express it. This would be fine if one was dealing with sensible people but nowadays they seem to be in the minority. It is many years since I was called a warmonger for playing with toy soldiers and I honestly found myself glowing with nostalgia when one woman became very irate at my love of all things military and a lover of war to boot.
 Anyway I have noticed that less and less wargamers are continuing with their blogs or are posting very intermittently. Now I appreciate that real life, families, jobs etc interferes with hobbies but I think that somehow blogs are losing their appeal.  
 I can understand to a certain extent why people decide to stop posting to what appears to be a silent audience if there is even an audience at all.But I find it really sad that some of my favourite wargaming blogs have fallen silent because they have always been a source of inspiration for me and in a lot of cases a source of information and military knowledge. This is not an announcement that I am chucking in the blogging towel because I'm not. Its just an observation.
  Mind I may free myself of Facebook simply because some of the ire I have received recently is a tad close to home and I  also seem to have pissed off a wargames magazine editor when they took issue with my alternative political view regarding certain UK policies. I must have pressed his buttons quite a bit because he sent me a few messages off line.
  It used to be never discuss football and politics when in a pub, now it seems never offer a different viewpoint in politics and wargaming when on the internet. So it looks like I'll never get another article printed in one of the wargames magazines. Shame that.
Anyway onto brighter things. I have finally based up my first Parliamentarian foot regiment after it has been sat forlornly for a couple of weeks. I purposefully reverted to gloss varnishing as I sought to replicate the wonderful armies John possessed in the 1980's. Gloss varnish does make certain figures and colours sing and I really like how Hampden's Greencoats have turned out. They'll never win any painting competitions but they do look, well, bright.
I also finished two Royalist cavalry regiments, one is a repaint job from figures I bought on E Bay and the second is the Queens regiment which contained French mercenaries and the like. Again the gloss varnish has made their colours jump out. So to the hysterical lady who screamed warmonger all I would like to say is 'yah sucks and boo!... If this is warmongering then I want more.
Naturally all the figures are Hinchliffe. Yes some of Gilders horses suffer from wonky legs but for me that is part of the charm. I did say that I was building a Hollywood version of the English Civil War so expect more of the same.

 Finally an image of the three Royalist cavalry regiments I now have. A long way to go me thinks.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Hammerhead 2018.

 Well today was a first for me as I took the trip south to Hammerhead at the Newark showground. Normally I would give this show a miss and wait for Partizan in a couple of weeks time, but family commitments meant I was missing Partizan. Needing a show wargames fix I opted to visit Hammerhead.
 Hammerhead is clearly a different beast from 'normal' wargames shows in that all the games are participation games, which means smaller games with fewer figures. However there was a lot of trade expected at the show and the added bonus of a table top sale so I bit the bullet and tested the waters of a  participation games show. I was very pleasantly surprised with the quantity of well produced and quality games spread over two halls.

 One of my personal favourites even though I know nothing about fantasy stuff. A beautifully crafted temple and cellars produced by Mierce Figures [ I think] called Darklands. I do know this company sculpt wonderful figures and this game showed them off really well.

 The recapture of Umbar by Sally 4th Wargamers. A Lord of the Rings scenario with top quality terrain and ships. The game used the GW rules and looked a great scenario.Really nice.

 I caught this game between participation's. The whole terrain was of the highest quality and I particularly liked the wall decorations. A brilliant piece of modelling.

           There were several western tables on show and two of them had steam trains.
        I do like a good steam train and both tables that exhibited them were of the highest quality.

 Dave Docherty exhibited a great looking western game with a very large number of cattle on show waiting to board a great looking train. The whole game was a terrific advert for the hobby in general.

 I enjoyed the fact that there was a high percentage of historically based games on show and I was very impressed by this Napoleonic one based in Spain and using the brilliant Eagle Miniatures range. Ian from Eagle Miniatures should be applauded for producing some top quality figures. A really lovely game. I think it was a Sharp Practice one, but I am usually wrong on these things.

                         A large Sudan game , again with well painted and exhibited terrain.

           Finally my personal favourite, The Dambuster Challenge, a simple idea which required skill from the public who had a go. I chickened out.The whole game was very well thought out and was not only fun but also very informative. I could see this being a great way to educate some children in a history project about just how brave and skilled our pilots were.
  The actual controls to be used by the participant in conjunction with a great model of the original Dam Buster bomb sight.It really added to the whole game.
                                               The bomber with great engine sound effects
 The target with removalable dam sections should you actually hit the damn [see what I did there] thing.
 So what was my verdict. Well I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It seemed to busy all the time I was there. There was a higher percentage of people under the age of 50 and also a large number of women who actually didnt look like they were glazing over with the boredom. Apart from the usual stalwarts from the wargaming trading fraternity there were several different traders which was nice to see. The food and parking are totally acceptable and of course the venue is easy to find.
 I can only apologise for not mentioning more games that were there. What I can say is that there wasnt a duff game on show in the two halls. Did I mention the fact there was two halls?
 One observation that I think Kallistra who organise the fine event should perhaps reconsider and amend was the tabletop sale.
 One could book before hand in order to guarantee a table to sell your stuff but I found that the people who had booked the first spots managed to remain in position for more than the one hour slots and were still selling two hours+ later. So really like a cut price trader. Apart from the fact that once you had checked what they were selling, there didn't seem much point in returning if the same people were still there two hours later. I also noticed that some were in fact traders in all but name. I dont think I would be very pleased if I was a trader who had booked as such and then found that a so called wargamer was selling the same products. So I would suggest cutting the time slots to a maximum of 45 minutes and a clause where the same person couldnt return for say two hours or so. Just a suggestion.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating