Wednesday, 16 May 2018

MK Campaign - 12th/13th May 2018

And so May rolls around and it is time for Campaign in the shopping centre at Milton Keynes.

I love this show. I have written before as to why I think it is such an important show for the hobby. To put it simply, - it is free to get in and it is run in a shopping mall. Members of the public who know nothing about wargaming can, and do, just chance upon it and learn about our wonderful hobby. There isn't another show like it, and it really deserves our support.

Our local group (well, mostly me and Phil) wear many hats at this show, - Northamptonshire Battlefields Society, Naseby Project, Battlefields Trust and the Society of Ancients.

This is me, running the Battle of Northampton game on the Sunday. The young lad playing the game and his mother were just there for a bit of shopping in John Lewis'. The young lad got really into this, and badgered his Mum to buy a copy. Who knows, - perhaps he'll go on to become a "proper wargamer". The older couple in the background  live around Northampton, and knew nothing about the battle. You can see from this picture exactly why I think this show is important. (If you look closely you can see they also got medals for bombing the dam.....of which more later).

On the Sunday we were joined by some other NBS committee members, notably Peter, who is a medieval re-enactor, and a fletcher. We had quite a big stand this year, as you can see, so it is good to have a few more bodies to caver the floor space.

Our display of armour and equipment always garners attention, and we had a good selection of young people having their photos taken in one or other of the helmets. Someone even insisted on trying on the mail coif.

This gentleman summed up some of the reasons why we go to these things. He had hundreds of questions about bows, longbows, arrows, armour and anything to do with medieval warfare. He spent at least an hour talking to Peter, and then another 20 minutes talking to me. Hopefully he has gone away much better informed and will spread his enthusiasm to others.

For the Battlefields Trust & the Naseby Project we had Phil's Naseby model in 15mm. The model uses an array of older figures, but they still look good. The flags are by "Fluttering Flags"

Here are some eye-candy shots of the figures, starting with Cromwell's Ironsides.

This picture, and the next one, are taken of the Parliamentarian Battle line.

The model always provokes interest, and provides a talking point. Always a pleasure to work with it at a show.

For the Society of Ancients display Phil brought along his flat collection. Or should that be "collection of flats"?

The flats are from the collections of Tony Bath, Phil Barker and Deryck Guyler. They are the ones used in the ancient game in Don Featherstone's book "Wargames". Phil has gone for a retro look, with the table being simple boards with emulsion paint, and block hills.

As these were Tony Bath's there's lots of elephants. Phil Barker's figures were mounted on multi figure bases made of corrugated cardboard. Tony B's were originally individual figures, pushed into ad hoc sabots. Phil S has rebased them onto corrugated card.

I'm not a fan of flats, but these are a piece of history and do look great. From side on.

There's even a catapult and some general figures.

The number of traders isn't anything like Partizan or Salute, but you can get a good range of wargaming/gaming products.

For a show with allegedly few trade stands I spent a lot of money. Mostly with Dave Lanchester.

There was an interesting array of demo/participation games. Some were eye catching, some were interesting and some were just lots of figures with people playing commercial rules. The latter aren't my favourites.

The Peterborough boys' Dambusters game is a peach.

Apparently it was difficult to sight the towers at times because the light was so bright. No problems on this bombing run.

This game postulated the idea that the Fellowship of the Ring flew to Mordor on eagles and encountered Ringwraiths in aerial battles as they tried to destroy the Ring.

Interestingly Tolkien rejected the first film treatment sent to him  partly because the Fellowship use eagles to fly everywhere. Draw your own conclusions from that.

The Dastardly and Muttley "Stop the Pigeon" game was there.

It seemed to be busy most of the weekend. I have no idea if the subject is a complete mystery to young people, or if the cartoons are on repeat on some digital channel.

Kids seemed to be having a good time at the Monsters-Smash-Up-A-City game. Good to get people involved.

Near to us were a couple of tables using "CONGO" and some nice figures. I'm not sure what this was about, as it looked to  to just be a lot of club members having a good time. Didn't see a lot of the public involved, which if it is true is a shame.

So a good weekend all round, although it is hard on the feet. Off to Partizan next weekend. Maybe see you there?

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Marlburian Ups and Downs

Early May Bank Holiday Monday. It's nice and sunny, a beautiful warm evening. What better way to spend it than shut up in a shed with no air-conditioning.

A few things different for this game, other than the traditional rules re-write. Firstly I had a new guinea pig, as Chris A was available and had missed all previous playtests, secondly I wanted to spice the terrain  up a bit and put out a bit of rolling countryside. I also went back to a bit less of a stage-managed set up, - meaning I had most units enter the table in march column.

Up until now I have mostly been putting the cavalry friendly terrain in the centre of the table. This time I had an elevated plateau (bottom left of picture) suitable for horse, and then  a river valley in the centre of the table, and another plateau with a village on it. The plateaus are made of a combination of polystyrene shaped contours and foam rubber, covered by my faithful green curtain.

The French are to the right. Their cavalry is entering from the centre bottom, and they have two infantry brigades, one centre right, the other top right. The Anglo-Dutch have their British cavalry cresting the rise to the left, the British infantry entering centre left, and a mixed Dutch brigade heading for the village.

The cavalry soon scented their opposite numbers and started to line up for some action. Although the French (with me commanding them) are overall outnumbered in horse, they have a local superiority here. The British, however, show no fear. Elsewhere I have seized the bridge, and raised my standard in the village.

Chris was a bit nervous about what to do about the village, - his force had no artillery - and he moved forwards stealthily, remaining in column.

I got my horse into battle formation first, but was unable to catch the British before they deployed.

From this position, however, I was able to close up and give him a good round of pistol fire. Mostly to no effect.

Meanwhile, over by the village Chris has deployed his infantry, and is closing in.

In the cavalry action I mixed it up a bit. The two units with dice behind them are standing their ground to deliver another pistol volley, whilst the other two are counter charging.

Fortunes are mixed. My left hand unit delivers a miracle, inflicting several hits from shooting, and then holding its own in the melee. Next to them, not so good. The pistols fail to hit their targets, and the unit breaks whilst trying to perform a break off move. The British do not pursue, due to my reserve line. Moving along again my fellows do remarkably well, and hold their ground too. On their right their compatriots win the melee and the British perform a successful retirement, which I decide not to pursue.

It's been a long hard road but the French artillery is finally being hauled into position to defend the river crossing.

It's all looking rather good on the left, relatively speaking. Okay, so I've lost a unit (off picture, being pursued) but I've broken two British units, on the left and on the right. First time for the French in any of these games, I think. And, well, that inner right melee isn't going my way, but I've got a fresh unit lined up to take on those British cavalry centre left.

A wider view shows the overall position. The Anglo Dutch have finally got their battle line sorted, and I've got the French set up to defend the objectives.

The cavalry melee develops further. The sharper eyed of you will note that the British cavalry that was routed have now lost a base each. The rules move both of the units in the routers' Cavalry Action Phase, and take off a base in the pursuer's. On the inner right I won the melee and pushed the British back. The other fight was a draw, and both units had to drop back. This was a disappointment as it was my best chance to defeat the British, as my unit was completely fresh and the British had fought already.

Next turn was a mixed bag. I lost the re-engaged combat that was drawn last turn, but beat back the other cavalry. Alas they now had infantry supports to rally behind.

The Dutch finally get it together and storm into the town. Might need to increase the factors for defending buildings.

Yes. One volley and a steady advance to contact and my guys are running for the base line. Hmmm.

The interesting point in this picture is the Dutch cavalry, still in column, being rapidly moved to the Anglo Dutch right flank where my cavalry are gaining the upper hand.

The action round the village is hotting up. Luckily on the right I have a unit in reserve. Unluckily I make a complete mess of deploying it.

You see, one turn too late, allowing Phil to break the infantry in front with a cavalry charge, and then retire before I could swap them out for a fresh unit.

And it's getting late, so we finish there. Another Anglo-Dutch win, but I take comfort from the much better French performance in the face of greater odds. Got some good ideas for the command rules, too, which are rudimentary at best at the moment.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Emerging from the Marlburian fog

Monday Night's Game was back to Flanders and the Duke. We were at minimal levels for the game, it being just me and Phil. Phil took the Anglo-Dutch.

I'd finished a few more units so these made their debut. Here are some new Frenchies, which are virtually indistinguishable from all my old Frenchies, except for the flag. I'd also done quite  bit of tidying up of the rules, and thought we were in a good place with these.

Slightly fuzzy picture, here, but you can see the set up. Anglo-Dutch are on the right, French, top left. The French are deliberately stacked with a strong cavalry centre. The Anglo-Dutch have a more mixed set up, with horse and foot intermixed.

Phil advanced all of his cavalry quickly, as in previous games the Anglo-Dutch cavalry has been devastating. For this game I have tweaked the factors a bit, to make them strong in the first round, evening out in subsequent combats. I've also done more to favour units that are in Good Order and fresh.

This is what we want. Lots of cavalry, lining each other up.

I'm missing a picture or two here, as mostly it looks like my cavalry are running away after one round of fighting. In fact it was quite tense at first, as I was able to inflict hits with my pistols and carbines ahead of the melee in quite a few instances. Alas after the second round of combat my luck ran out, mostly, and the English Heavies were marauding into my rear areas.

The left wasn't going too well, either,as I was forced into square as my flank seemed to be up in the air a bit. One of my Generals got himself isolated as well.

It's not all bad. Up in the top centre to the right of the regiment with the pink standard, my Guard cavalry have busted through their opponents. Okay, so they've ended up stranded in front of an infantry unit in line and will likely get shot up, but it's progress. However I really do need to get some favourable resolutions in the centre before Phil's pursuing cavalry return so that I've got some units to cover them. Most of my reserves, - actually, all of my reserves, - are firefighting like mad.

The battle for the village commences. Phil has put in his elite unit of Grenadiers. Outside the village the new "First Fire" rules are about to be tested.

I'm not making a lot of progress. My Guard Cavalry has been quite badly shot up, which is a nuisance.

It's looking grim. I have failed to see off any of Phil's attacking units, and two of his cavalry units are back.

My centre is a bit open now. I think the end may be nigh. However, do note that in the top of the picture one of my infantry units is giving Orkney's Scots a good seeing to.

In the centre Phil has been able to withdraw some of his horse behind supporting infantry to reform. There are specific rules for this, so it is good to see them used.

Well, my infantry in the town have been well and truly spanked by the Grenadiers, as have my other infantry on that flank, leaving the defeat of the Scots my only bright spot. In the centre Phil's foot is hemming me in, forcing me back onto his cavalry in my rear.

And to make it worse, just lost another cavalry melee on the right of the picture. My Guards, over top left, are currently being roughly handled by a fairly fresh English Dragoon unit.

Look, look! This is me routing that infantry unit. This heroism will not go unreported.

Yeah. That's about it. Don't be deceived. That cavalry unit supporting the Burgundians is actually a Dutch cavalry unit, waiting to cut them up when they get forced back by the infantry in front of them.

All in all it was a fairly ignominious defeat. I also lost a couple of guns. The causes of my defeat were many; the French generally fight on weaker factors than the Anglo-Dutch; my army was not set up with appropriate support lines (which is sort of what happened in the centre at Blenheim); Phil made a much better use of his Commanders to rally off disorder.

On the plus side the major changes to the rules functioned as required. More changes were identified (who'd have thought this game had the first tied melees in it?), but the core factors for Firing and Fighting are pretty much sorted, so I am happy with them. The morale system is solid, too. It's just how some of the moving parts fit together that need some work doing.

Right. Back to the painting desk now to do some work on some much needed cavalry.