Wednesday, 22 May 2019

A Roman & Germanic Armati Parti

We all love a bit of Armati. Well, Phil & I do. And Steve suggested we should have a look at Teutonberg Wald. So why not combine them?

Sort of.

We had a full turnout for the evening, pretty much, with Richard & Dave taking the Germans, and Steve and Tim the Romans. Phil acted as adviser to the Romans, mostly, and I helped out the Germans with hints & tips and did some umpiring (obviously my help is of considerably less value than Phil's, as he was once Armati Derby World Champion).

In the army selections (which I did for both sides) I gave the Germans an extra wooded area. I put up the deployment curtain whilst both armies set up. When pulled back it revealed the armies were both deployed mostly centrally. They're quite big armies by Armati standards. Well, the Germans are any way.

No hanging back for the Germans, so off they trundle towards the Roman army. They have a preponderance of cavalry, so their flanks are secure. The Romans have set up in more of a box formation, using cohorts in depth as flank guards.

Steve and Tim debate tactics. There sure are a lot of Germans.

The Germans immediately reckon they can get an advantage out on their right as they have more and better cavalry, and also light infantry, which is good for mushing up cavalry too. The only thing to fear is that column of legionnaries with red shields.

They're doing a good job of going out wide. Those lance armed cavalry are Sarmations, so a bit tastier than the other horse.

Finally the German infantry line makes it to edge of the wood. Poised to charge out and stick it to the Romans.

Out on the left, Dave has some cavalry faced by a lot of skirmish infantry. He can disperse it if he makes contact without being shot to pieces on the way in. So far he's taken one hit.

I just like this shot of the Germans lurking in the wood.

The cavalry engage. The Sarmations in the centre should have the upper hand, but the unit fighting the Auxilia LHI face a potentially tough fight. The cohort in the background disperses one of the Light Infantry units. Meanwhile the German infantry division start to wheel inwards. It is a slow and ponderous process.

Does look quite threatening for the Romans, however. They could easily become engulfed.

Steve had been hiding some cavalry behind a hill crest. Dave sent skirmishers to flush them out and maybe stick them with a javelin or two.

The Sarmations start to gain the upper hand.

Impatiently the Romans rush to contact. This is probably a mistake as it makes it easier for the German cavalry to get round the flanks. And also the end of the German line can wheel in earlier than expected. They take the first opportunity to split a division and then immediately perform a complex manoeuvre, - a triple wheel - to line up the Roman flank.

The resultant contact causes the Romans to lose the fight to their front. Alas this means no routed into test. NB There's a big difference in the Initiative Values of these two armies in the Roman's favour (7:4) so the Germans almost never win the initiative or chose melee direction.

With the Roman line pinned in combat the German flanking force crashes in again.

Despite good dice rolls for the Romans the Germans prevail.

Meanwhile out on the right flank both of the German cavalry units have broken free and are circling the Roman line to attack its rear. The Romans seem to be in a bad place.

However, that cohort column is now swinging into action, and heading into the rear of those Germans. Alas they'll need to fight them in the woods, but a win will break them and cause routed into tests.

Is the tide turning? The other column bursts through the other end of the German line. It's going to be a long struggle, however, as the German army is big and it has a high breakpoint.

All hands to the pumps at the other end. The Roman Light Horse hits the flank of the German infantry, only to be hunted down by the Sarmations.

Bang! Another warband gone as the Romans turn the screw. Alas they can only afford to lose one more unit and need to kill two or three more of the German key units.

Another warband broken at the other end, and another successful pass of a routed into test that would have cost the game (that's a unit with a General in the rout path, so two army breakpoints going begging).

And the Samations deliver the "coup de grace" by clattering a cohort in the rear and breaking it. Win for the Germans.

Well, it ended up being very close, and either side could have won it in that last turn. Everyone enjoyed the game a lot and felt that they'd want to try some more Armati in the not too distant future.

I felt it was a classic early-player game of Armati, when all the clever tricks have yet to be learned and it is all about getting the big picture right. The Trajanic Roman army is small but is very forgiving for the  inexperienced commander. It has a good initiative level, a good number of divisions and infantry that can wheel and move, and have good melee factors. All it really lacks is killer cavalry (I gave their Sarmation mercenaries to the Germans for this game) and a bit more archery wouldn't go amiss, but mostly it will get you out of jail and avoid you being humiliated.

The Germans are a mass and are a large army with limited options (and I don't have all of them in my box anyway). The Romans made one tactical error, which was fighting too far forwards. They nearly got away with it, but ultimately it probably cost them the game.

A good evening's entertainment that kept all the players hooked until we had a win just on the stroke of midnight. Hopefully everyone slept well once they were home.

Monday, 20 May 2019

First Partizan of the Year

Well, Phil & I made it to Partizan with a couple of hiccups. It was just the two of us, and we had a lot of table space to cover. It was also the first trial of loading the stand with the new Edgcote game into the boot of my car.

Well, it pretty much all goes in, except for my 1460 Game board, which went on the back seat. In fact, I could probably have put that in the back without obscuring the view too much, and I have a dog grill that would stop it all from catapulting into the car should I brake heavily. So result.

We were a little late on the off, as Phil had been working round the clock on the model and the change in the weather the day before had affected the drying time for the hills he had just made. They were laid out on the drive in the early morning sunshine when I pulled up in a desperate, but successful, attempt to get them dry enough to use. More of that later.

All of this meant we got there as the doors were being opened up to the public, so we were setting up as people were coming in. It was a bit of a slog too, as unlike previous years there was no one from our local wargaming group on hand to help out. We really need to get a foldable sack barrow or equivalent to help us with the lift & shift.

What this slightly tardy late arrival also meant was that someone also seemed to have lifted our free coffee vouchers and figures from our location, so we set up in a rush and devoid of caffeine (said the man who only drinks tea).

We had a long run of tables to cover, which had been set up so that the people running the stand couldn't get behind them easily. Dave L, who was next to us commented that he had already moved his tables several times. So I was even less enamoured of the "History Zone" than I usually am, as having just carried in a load of kit I then had to move all the tables around too. We had two locations to set up - the show stand above, and then the game board, which you can see below. I had the show stand and Phil had the game board.

Any how, we did finally get everything in place, and were able to start meeting our public.

Phil has made a lot of progress on the game board and set up, but still has things to do before the conference in July. We now have explanatory boards, and hills that aren't my foam rubber. And the river is now incised into the polystyrene base. There are also a few trees dotted about. There's work to be done on the corners and the edge of the polystyrene base. The edge is going to be the wheel of fortune in the final version, I think.

The game board and figures attracted a goodly amount of attention. We have some challenges with lining the board up to orientate it with the map on the banner, especially in this set up, where we're sort of in a main thoroughfare (you'll see in the picture of our stand above we have the banners there behind us, to stop people tripping over them).

Phil has done some work on placing the model in the context of the modern maps of the area.

We also have an explanatory board behind the game, and a promotional board in front.

The promotional board gives us space to display the book as well.

We had a busy day. I didn't really get away from the stand to spend any time on the model, and I was only able to do one quick circuit of the hall (although I did manage to pick up some boxes of figures to make up some Jacobite period cavalry and artillery, once they've had some surgery, which is a result). All of which accounts for why there are no photographs of any other stands or games in this report.

We had a reasonable number of takers for the Edgcote book, and quite a few expressed some interest in the conference, which hopefully we'll see convert into sales over the next few days.

And as it was all winding down Phil discovered he'd won the raffle and had to rush off to spend his £75 worth of vouchers.

And then it was time to take it all down and repack. Strangely enough it wouldn't all fit in exactly as it had done on the way there, despite us clearly having lightened the load by selling some books.

On the way back Phil & I discussed whether we should start to take the NBS stand further south. Historically we've been linked to the SOA pitches that Phil arranged as Shows Coordinator North or whatever his role was, so we've never done Colours or SELWG, for example. As the SOA isn't doing these shows so much now, perhaps there's an opening for us, as going to Reading makes as much sense as going to Newark. Something to ponder for another day. Like Chillcon in Derby this year. Hmm.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Edgcote 550th Anniversary Conference

In addition to publishing a book on Edgcote, which I discussed here, the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society  is also organising a full day conference on the subject, in association with the Battlefields Trust.

The Conference is taking place on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of the battle itself, so that's the 27th July 2019.

It is being held in the rather magnificent Abington Park Museum, in Northampton. The APM was once a 15th century manor house, updated in the 17th & 18th centuries and constructed in Northamptonshire ironstone. It houses Northamptonshire's military museum, so it's a perfect venue for a Wars of the Roses Conference.

This Conference is a first for the Society, so we're hoping it will be a success as we'd like to follow up with further events to enable us to explore Northamptonshire's military history further. We've also assembled what we think will be an interesting array of speakers and topics on what is a not particularly well known battle despite its importance to the final outcome of the Wars of the Roses. The Speakers will include:

Harvey Watson: “The Battle of Edgcote – an Introduction”
Harvey is a Trustee of the Battlefields Trust and editor of Battlefield Magazine. He will discuss the battle in general and provide a background to the rest of the day’s talks, highlighting what the Battlefields Trust has done to rescue the Battle of Edgcote from obscurity.

​Mike Ingram: “The Woodvilles and the War”
Mike is Chair of the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society, author of books on the Battles of Northampton and Bosworth, frequent speaker on Northamptonshire’s history and regular contributor to local radio on our local history (he's done a bit of telly too) . He will cover the background to the Earl of Warwick’s rebellion and the tensions between him, as the most powerful noble in the realm, and Edward IV’s wife and family, that are commonly believed to have led to uprising.

Graham Evans: “The Source of the Problem”
This is me when I'm not being Trebian the wargamer. I will look at the evidence we have, and how it fits together, before challenging a number of long held views about what actually happened, to whom and where. This will draw upon my recent book, but there'll be some other interesting bits and pieces as well.

Professor Ann Parry Owen & Dr Jenny Day: “Words, weapons & warfare – the Welsh Bards and the Battle of Banbury”
Ann and Jenny will be joining us from the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies to discuss the often overlooked evidence for the battle contained in 15th century Welsh Poetry. This source is often not covered in depth by English studies of the battle, despite one of the armies being predominantly Welsh. Ann has completed entirely new translations of poems related to the battle not previously fully available in English especially for the anniversary. Jenny’s PhD thesis and subsequent publications have looked at weapons and warfare as perceived by the Welsh poets. This will be a unique opportunity to hear them speak at a battlefields event.

Phil Steele: “Edgcote and the Art of War”
Phil is a Trustee of the Battlefields Trust and long term member of the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society. He is a regular speaker on matters relating to battles in Northamptonshire. In this talk he will look at how the armies deployed and fought, going beyond the contemporary sources conventionally used, looking at what the chronicles and depictions in 15th century art and artefacts truly tell us about what was happening on the battlefield.

I think it's a really good programme, and I'm really looking forwards to what the other speakers have to say. If you have any interest in medieval history and warfare I think there'll be information here you won't easily find anywhere else (I've seen and heard an earlier version of Phil's talk, and it is really good, breaking new ground on our understanding of what is actually going on).

In addition to the speaker programme, conference delegates will be able to visit the Society information stand and see the brand new battlefield model, specially built for this year’s anniversary by Phil Steele. We will also be joined by re-enactors from Harrington’s Company who are also members of the Society.

Tickets are available exclusively from Abington Park Museum’s Eventbrite site through the links below (yes, - alas we can't sell tickets on our show stand due to the arrangements we have to have with the venue). Tickets are £30 for Society and Battlefield Trust members, or £35 for non-members, which is in-line with normal Battlefield Trust full day events. Ticket price includes parking, tea & coffee during the day and a full buffet lunch.

Member tickets:

Non member tickets:

Tickets have been selling steadily (we have enough attendees to ensure the event is viable), and we have a big article and notification going out in the next Battlefield Trust magazine, so hopefully we'll sell all the tickets. If you have half a mind to attend, then I shouldn't dilly-dally and get one now before they're gone.

And you can even meet me and get your copy of the book signed.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Up on the Altiplano

I thought we hadn't done the 10 Cent War for ages, but it turns out we did a game back in December. Steve was the only one who remembered.

Anyway, Tim hadn't seen the toys, so it was no loss getting them out. Plus I made a few changes after that last game, which had only seen solo play-testing, so we needed to have another go.

I spent most of the day painting half of the outside of Shedquarters. The weather hasn't been kind to it, and two of the sides get a lot of weathering, - they take the full force of the sun, and also seem to get the prevailing wind & rain, so some running repairs were required, together with several coats of shed paint. And more to follow.

Anyway, that's my excuse for not really doing any detailed scenario work. Again.

Richard and Steve had the Bolivian Division and Peruvians respectively. The Army Commander was President Diaz. Tim got the Chileans. For this game all units were the same quality, and everyone had rifles.

The defending Chileans were a bit spread out, but had two strongholds, one each in a hacienda.

The Alliance forces surged forwards. The  Bolivian cavalry decided to re-deploy, and so turned to their left, exposing their flank.The subsequent flanking fire from the Chilean battery on the hill crest (out of shot) was devastating.NB Photos for this game were taken with my phone, so are a bit iffy in places.

Tim moved a unit up to the bridge and secured it by deploying in a firing line. For this game the river was simply a stream and not much of an obstacle.

Richard is getting a bit intense at this point. He has everything zeroing on the bridge and yellow hacienda, but he is concerned about the artillery fire from the Chileans. And how he gets to use all of his stuff without masking his guns.

The lead Alliance unit nears the hacienda. The defenders inflict some damage and drive them back.

For their impudence Richard and Steve turn everything they've got on the building, inflicting multiple levels of disorder.

Tim has moved a battalion up to the river line (you can see their red kepis, bottom right), so Richard diverts a unit to deal with them. He has high hopes for his Gatling gun battery.

Skip forward a turn or two. The bridge defenders are under heavy fire, and the defenders of the yellow house have been evicted. This latter event was not completely satisfactory, and there needs to be a fresh look at the combat result rules, as I think the outcomes for those in buildings should probably be different from those in the open.

You can see at the bottom of the picture that the Chilean cavalry is rapidly moving over to their left flank to cope with a Peruvian flanking movement.

Not a moment too soon. Their timely intervention drives the Peruvians back in disorder.

The previously defeated defenders are caught in the flank by a Peruvian attack column wading up the river. They roll an impressive total of 16 on 4d4, and break the hapless Chileans. The bridge defenders are likewise being driven off their position, handing a victory to the Alliance.

To be fair the Chileans were up against it, outnumbered 2:1 with not that strong a defensive position. The presence of more command figures on the side of the Alliance also made a real difference.

I made some notes as we went along, and there are some more rule changes to be made, - aren't there always?

Monday, 13 May 2019

Carry on Campaign-ing (MK 2019)

So it is that time in May when we head off to Central MK Shopping Centre for the Campaign Wargaming Show. This is our most local show, and a bit special as it takes place in a shopping mall and is so free to enter. This means we get to meet real people, not just wargamers.

We were there with our Edgcote game. This is still in development, but we're making progress. It has moved on from Alumwell, and Phil has settled on a circular main area, built across three pasting tables. This enables it to be shrunk down and fitted into a car boot along with most of our crates of gear. Alas we will probably also now flow over onto the car back seat as well. That's the price of using 28mm figures.

So far Phil has only got the rough painted circle of polystyrene. Due to time constraints my foam hills were pressed into service (they look a bit ragged as they're supposed to go under a cloth). The corner areas will represent off table locations, like Banbury & Northampton. In the background it's good to see someone actually reading all of the banner text.

The figures are now pretty much all painted and properly based. Phil is still dry-brushing the bases in places.

Of course we have some lovely camp vignettes to round out the whole thing.

We did move the figures round, but we did a lot more talking to people than playing the game.

Here we see Phil in a classic "What's all this about" discussion. This bloke has come to MK with his chums to get some stuff. Had no idea we were there. Spent about half an hour with us. Knew nothing about wargaming, re-enactment or the Wars of the Roses. He now knows a bit about all three. Is he a convert? Probably not, but it isn't a closed book to him anymore.

In addition to our game we also had our regular show stand and stuff.

Here we are all ready for the off. We could probably have done with more space (and we did get an extra table on Sunday for our archery expert). We were busy most of the weekend.

We got quite a few people putting the helmets on and we are able to tell the potted history of the development of armour with those 4 helmets. Then we have a few musket balls to explain how it all ended.

Here's Peter talking about arrows and bows. Again, a group of people who didn't know the show was on and stayed for quite a while. The guy on the left was a big guy, and his partner had a penchant for archery.

To be honest we don't often get people who really look like they could actually wear a suit of armour. I think he was quite taken by the idea of doing a bit of re-enactment.

We sold a few of our new book on Edgcote, and we handed out a lot of flyers for the Conference. They seemed to excite some interest. We can only hope it turns into ticket sales.

And then there were some games to look at:

This was a "Saga at Sea" game. That's MNG irregular Graham S in red. He likes Saga, so he was well in there.

Nice ships, too.

This was a 6mm Gettysberg, or similar. Might have been at Alumwell.

The Peterborough boys always have something interesting. This was a Don Featherstone "Skirmish Wargames" game. We've signed up for their show in September again.

This was a very large Star Wars Armada game, although I think DS9 also turned up at some point. They had a lot of plastic on the table, so I don't think it was a game of manoeuvre.

This was a Mortal Gods skirmish game. I only took a picture as my brother is quite keen on it.

This was a game of the 1967 occupation of Jerusalem by the IDF. Nice model of the Dome of the Rock.

Tank hunting game called "Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright". I think the aim is for the four Shermans on the left to knock out the one Tiger on the right, before they all get brewed up.

Finally we had a Dux Bellorum beach landing, which seemed to be going okay.

We had a good weekend and did our bit spreading the word for the hobby. Footfall in the Centre was a bit slow at first, compared with when we first did this all those years ago. Trade stands were down in numbers too. Dave L did a fine old trade with his books, and I bought a couple of board games. However I was unable to pick up the paint I wanted, nor were there any packets of 20mm figures to buy. Bit thin all round, and the show deserves better than that. They need to look at their publicity a bit more, really, for the hardened wargamer, but for us, for passing traffic, it is hard to beat.