Monday, 23 May 2016

Spending some time in the lead belt

I haven’t done a show for a while. I missed Campaign in early May and what with my next usual show being Derby in October I was in the market for a visit. The next show due in the calendar was Partizan in Newark, so that looked promising, despite its reputation for favouring the larger sized figure.

Phil was registered in as a stand for the Society of Ancients and also the Northampton Battlefields Society, so as a committee member of the latter I offered my services. Even though it meant an early start on a Sunday morning.

This is the first show at the new venue. It is sad to be leaving Kelham Hall which had a lot of character. There were lots of nooks and crannies and you never knew what you were going to stumble on next. I suspect this was not to a lot of people’s taste. Plus the lighting was always awful and the parking could be a bit dodgy. And it could be a long trek into the display halls.

The show is now at the Newark Showground, a converted RAF base. It’s easier to get to off the A1 and it’s also in a purpose built show venue. Basically a big warehouse like the one at Donnington where they do the Derby show. It means it is light and well laid out, with good big doors you can reverse your car/van up to when loading or unloading. Parking is better as well, apart from the mindless jerks who insist on parking in Disabled Spaces when they don’t have a blue badge.

After a couple of slight issues Phil & I got there a little later than expected. This meant that our other helpers were already on site to carry in the display materials.

For this show Phil had put together a couple of display tables in addition to the magazines and games we also sell for the SoA. The Northampton Battlefield Society has a collection of weaponry and the new book on the Battle of Northampton to sell as well, so we take up some space.

The two display tables were the static display of Naseby (yes, we cover the Naseby Battlefield Trust as well) and a new table that Phil has done for the Battle of Edgecote. This latter was played as a game, with Phil & Chris running the scenario with “L’Arte de La Guerre”, a rule set with which I am not familiar. Both pronounced they were pleased with the outcome, so that was one good thing out of the day.

Edgecote Field

The Yorkists

The Rebels

We had a steady flow of people past the stand but it was never really busy. The layout didn’t do us any favours as we like to put the society stands next to the games. That increases the stop-and-chat flow, increasing our chances of signing up new members and also meaning we don’t need to be in two places at once.

Me, getting excited about Naseby

I had a few good conversations about Naseby and the joy of battlefield visits in Northamptonshire and also spread the word about the threat to the battlefield in Northampton. We sold out of our book, so that was also good news.

My agenda for the day was to pick up some toys from Mr Baccus, some books from Dave Lanchester, a board game or two and play in Simon Miller’s “To the Strongest” with a view to purchasing the rules.

As it turned out I managed two out of the four.

My first call of the day was to Pete Berry at Baccus. Pete is an old friend (like 30+ years old friend) and one of the most interesting thinkers in the hobby. He is always working on something new. On this occasion I wanted to pick up some 1914 period figures for a new project. I’ve been humming and hawing about this for months if not over a year and have finally taken the plunge. I hope I’ve got this one right. I’d hate it to end up in the pile of “Uninspiring Stories” as I couldn’t face telling Pete both that I didn’t really love what I’d got and also that I couldn’t make the project work. Pete was really pleased to see someone buy a 1914 French Army, seeing as they did most of the fighting, so that's a further incentive to make a go of the project.

And they have red trousers. The French, that is.

With the speed I paint I might have something for Pete’s “Joy of 6” show next year.

Dave’s bookstall is always a terrific browse. You never know what you are going to find and he’s another genuinely nice bloke. On this occasion I found a book on the Alsace/Lorraine campaign. Perfect for my newly acquired 1914 armies. I searched in vain for the Osprey on the WW1 French Army and thought I’d leave empty handed on that front only for Dave to turn up with it right at the end of the day. That’s customer service.

Alas my quest for boardgames was still born due to the complete lack of any board game vendors, which was a bit of a surprise.

 Simon  Miller's game was in full swing by the time I got to it. Lots of toy soldiers and a table with one of the most discretely marked grids you could imagine.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to spare enough time to follow the game completely although it seemed to move quickly and the players looked engrossed in it. Using playing cards means there's clutter on the table, and there seemed to be a need for a few too many markers. I'm no stranger to either of these in game design, but I couldn't square their use with the otherwise really pleasant aesthetic of the game.

A quick flick through the rules didn't help me; too many pictures and glossiness to pick up quickly from a casual read. I need to seek this out again at some point before I dismiss it completely.

Elsewhere there was a lot of 28mm stuff all done to the same standard and the same style. A few games stood out to me as being a bit more original.

I loved the look of this enormous age of sail naval game, which seemed to have got most of what you'd want in a game of this type right.

I liked the ships too.

The biggest surprise of the day was a game put on by two old Brixcon AK47 Republic friends, Pauls Hooper & Mileham from Great Yarmouth. Every so often you see something striking and unique. this is one of those.

Armies made out of clothes pegs.

It was all semi-flat, down to the slotted pine trees.

Lots of different troop types, including these Kilties.

Liked the look of the cavalry too.

 And don't forget the native auxiliaries.

Finally my chums from WD's Display Group North were doing their Roman Senator game, which I hope to catch up with a CoW. Not much to look at, but a jolly good time seemed to be being had by all.

All in all a most enjoyable day, even with the disappointments.


  1. Thanks for posting that. The clothes peg models were quite remarkable.
    For the French for 1914 I'd recommend for a clear uniform guide. Another volume covers the rest of the war. H&C also do three excellent volumes on French WW1 artillery.

    1. Thanks for the link. I'm not to bad on uniforms as I've got Mollo's Blandford and also WW1 Unikforms in colour photos from the Europa Militaria series.

      But those clothes pegs are rather good. I think they missed a trick not shooting at them with catapults or similar.

  2. You can reduce the card 'footprint' with Simon's rules by using his card chits. They are discreet and useful to have on hand for other rules as well.

    1. Sorry, that link again:

  3. I have some card-chits I got from a game called Poker-5, a cross between poker and scrabble. they will certainly tidy the table up. I have used them for Op14 and other games. They work just fine but they aren't as quick as having a deck in your hand and flipping the cards.

    For 20mm/28mm figures you could probably just use a patience deck. They are less obtrusive.