Wednesday 27 June 2018

Wargames Morale versus personal morale. Discuss.

I have been off colour for a week now, perhaps a little longer. I'm not desperately ill but definitely not 100%. I seem to tire very easily and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, and don't get me started with the dizzy spells. Now that in itself is not really interesting and frankly isn't why I'm telling everyone. But what struck me the other morning, [04.30am] was that over the years, wargames rule writers and wargamers in general have agonised over the concept of morale and how to accurately portray the concept that Napoleon attached so much importance. 

 John, Steve and I were fighting a 400 point Blucher game last Thursday when to be honest I was first starting to feel not too good. Steve and John commanded the Austrians and I took the French. We were using my 1809 armies and I had fielded the excellent French 3rd Corps led by Davout.
 The Austrians were a mix of conscripts, quality cavalry and grenadiers. In fact I was a little too generous in the corps allocation and allowed? the Austrians the excellent Avant Garde corps of 1809, a good mix of light troops and light cavalry with the skirmish ability plus a hefty combat ability.
  For some inexplicable reason I deployed Davout's corps facing three Austrian corps that included the Avant Garde, Grenadiers,and the Cuirassiers. Whilst for some strange reason I deployed Lannes 2nd Corps and my Cuirassier corp facing Steve who had one large but inexperienced Austrian corps. Things went badly from the onset. I was indecisive, unlucky and then reckless in an attempt to rectify the situation. I was like a desperate gambler throwing good money after bad.
 Basically my own personal morale had collapsed within a matter of the first couple of hours.

 The image below shows my poor decision making which I blame on my personal morale. My corps cavalry of three brigades of Chasseurs unwisely attempted to cross swords with the Austrian Cuirassier brigades.
                                             Naturally they were swept aside.
If that wasn't bad enough I recklessly deployed my two reserve infantry brigades that were in square back into line and advanced? towards the triumphant Austrian cuirassiers!
Don't ask me why. Did I think they would be able to turn back the cavalry?  My volleys missed! and the heavies rode up and over the two brigades shattering the corps morale and more tellingly mine. I fully deserved the subsequent beating. I knew I was beaten. My dice throwing was diabolical. I would need sixes, I would throw ones. Eight dice in a melee, no problem, all misses. You get the picture. My personal morale had collapsed.

The result was one of the worst defeats I have ever had. The French were beaten everywhere.
 But what became very apparent was that there had been no need for morale rules as my own personal morale had allowed the crushing defeat of my army. So what have I learned from the experience. Stick to historical tactics, don't be generous to one's guests and definitely think about one's deployment when playing Blucher.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Onward and Upwards.

Picking up the brushes has been a bit problematical of late. The garden has needed a lot of attention given how the weather has set things back somewhat. My wife's fitness drive has also eaten into the time and finally we have the World Cup. I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with football
[ that's the REAL football] and once professed to follow my local side Sunderland, but we dont talk of that sad event too often. I really dont know how I managed to find time to actually go to work AND fit in everything else that takes up one's attention.
  Anyway I have managed to complete a couple of Parliamentarian units for my ECW 'old school' project. I have now accepted that it is definitely old school simply because of the style of painting I have used. Hinchliffe figures lend themselves to a certain style of painting and wouldn't look right with any other style, including the three layer, washes etc. Best of all they cry out for a good dollop of gloss varnish. Ah it takes one back to the early 1980's. The one thing I have held back from is black lining as I simply was never able to master the art, the lines I applied always looked like road markings and were just too clumsy.
 On to the Napoleonic challenge as I have now called my decision to attend the Waterloo event next year. I have bought myself a box of Victrix plastic Middle Guard and begun sticking them together. The smell of glue filled the wargames room as I managed to put more glue on my fingers than the actual figures. It did make for some pleasant dreams later when I was certain England finally played some exciting football and Sunderland signed Ronaldo. Sadly I then woke up to reality and the pile of plastic pieces stuck to my fingers. Anyway, onward and upwards.............

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........


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