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Monday, 5 February 2018

Vapnatark 2018

As most followers will be aware yesterday was the official start of the wargaming show season with the Vapnatark show at the York racecourse.It is probably the show I most look forward to simply because it will have been a couple of quiet months prior to the event.
This year I was even more determined to attend after missing last years due to unforeseen circumstances. So I tipped up early to the start of the season and 'suffered' for the privilege of being through the doors first. Well actually that isn't correct as although John, Neil and I were officially the head of the long queue, three lovely 'mature'  [as in over 50 ] people decided to somehow crowd themselves into pole position by engaging in a very lengthy conversation with the guy on the door. In the end I couldn't help myself and interrupted their in depth conversation about some crucial 40k matter and explained to the woman? or was it a transgender that if she/he was that keen to be in first they could have my place in the queue. Unfortunately my wit didnt register and he/her carried on wittering to her dwarf like partner about his shop. Okay,I admit it, I am Victor Meldrew.
 And sadly that is how I will remember the show.
 The event has become a victim of its own success and like Salute several years ago has simply outgrown its venue.The show to put it bluntly was mobbed. Now this should be a good thing but it wasnt to be honest, well not for me.
 So how was the show overall.
The positives first; Well the trade was very good and very varied with several new companies popping up for the first time.The building which normally is light and airy except on race days or wargame show days is a good venue with easy access normally to all three floors.
 There is a decent amount of parking and the food is of a decent standard if a little pricey. It is a very good wargames show and for me better than last years Salute by a country mile.

 Usually as most bloggers do I take a fair amount of images of the games but I will be brutally honest and state that you can refer to last years or the years before to check on the standard of the games on the ground floor given that they are derivatives of the same games.
 Absolutely nothing wrong with them, they are very good examples and of a high standard, but they are simply the same games repeated.
 The second floor had some very nice smaller games and I only wish I had taken some photographs of them because the wargamers had clearly put some effort into them. As for the competition games, no doubt they were very exciting for the competitors.

 And then we had the Table Top Sale. This has definitely outgrown the venue with long queues to not only book in for the 45 minute spots, but even longer queues for the actual buyers. Mix in two false fire/bomb alarms that caused the place to be evacuated and any residual pleasure simply slips away.
 I enjoy table top sales, and for me they are the way forward to offload surplus stuff but if one more rotund smelly troll decides to squeeze into the heaving mass carrying an overly large rucksack on his back and think its okay then I forsee some bother in future.
 What is in their rucksacks? A change of clothes? Soap and aftershave? A photograph of their mother?  Just think of other people for a change eh? especially the poor bugger who kept getting twatted in the face every time they swung around.
It was great to see wargamers that I hadnt seen for a while and its always nice to do some retail therapy albeit on a smaller scale this show.As for the demographics as our American cousins would say, I think the age of the crowds was dropping by a good 20 years or so.

Now the negatives for me anyway: If the York club cannot find a bigger venue then I think they should consider selling limited tickets certainly for the morning with a return to pay at the door after 1pm. The venue was uncomfortably mobbed until about 1.30pm.
The table top area needs to be expanded which would no doubt be at the expense of some other thing, but it was very very successful.
 Finally the organisers should re consider what they are attempting to achieve with the demonstration? games on the ground floor. If they are to showcase the hobby great, but you cannot keep recycling the same periods ad infinitum. Big games yes, different periods /scale yes, but they really need to think about what for me is a big part of a show.
 My abiding memories of yesterday were John Treadaway locked out of the show and banging on the windows of the first floor viewing gallery before forlornly walking away to look for a new way into the event and Charles Stewart Grant who I literally bumped into four or five times muttering, 'this is madness.'
 Sorry for the negativity and truthfulness. 




 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Dave Clemmet and Tom Davidson.


I received the following e mail from Dave Clemmet and Tom Davidson this morning announcing their retirement from organising wargames shows in the North East of England. Both men took on the dubious pleasure of organising wargames shows in the North East of England from the early 1980's and through their hard work built up their Stockton shows into a must go to event. 
  Tom and Dave were always looking for new ways to sell wargaming. They provided a top quality painting competition, and excellent tombola with all the funds going to their local disabled persons organisations, they introduced low entry fees [ other shows take note ] and were always keen to invite groups who wanted to stage a new way to publicise wargaming. One of my favourites which I will always remember was the wonderful 54mm Historex Napoleonic wargame with hundreds of figures.
 Dave and Tom very kindly allowed two keen wargamers to stage games at their show, and their kindness helped create the Independent Wargames Group.
  These two men never spoke of or complained about their own personal battles and always were keen to be involved in growing the hobby. Wargaming is lucky to have individuals like Dave and Tom and again I would like to thank them for all their enthusiasm and hard work in promoting our hobby and also raising a lot of money for less fortunate individuals. Well done. 


'It is with a tinge of regret that Tom Davidson and I have decided to end our wargame show organising career and are thus closing our website – www.teesshows.co.uk – in the very near future.

We began our wargame show organising career with what we thought at the time (1981) would be a one off event. Models, Wargames and Boardgames 1981 was our way of celebrating the International Year of the Disabled Person but we were persuaded by a range of people to organise another show – and what followed is history.

Between 1981 and 2016 we organised 41 wargames shows staged in four different venues (3 in Stockton on Tees and 1 in Middlesbrough) – and between 1997 and 2006 we organised two shows per year. The proceeds of all 41 shows was donated to charity (the amount being in excess of £15,000) and while that was an important reason why we staged the shows it was not the only one – we wanted to promote the hobby that has given us so much pleasure over the years.

Our proudest moment came at our 2007 show – Parade Ground 2007 – when we were each presented with an engraved silver salver by the Durham Wargames Group and we have always been very grateful for this public recognition of our efforts. Photos of the presentation and of my salver are attached below.

We still intend to support the hobby that has given us so much pleasure – by attending as many shows as possible in our region for as long as we are able and supporting our favourite traders with our purchases.

Finally we would like to record our thanks to everyone who helped us to make our shows such an enjoyable experience for us over the years.

David & Tom'

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Back in the saddle.

 Well I'm back from my sabbatical in the Big Apple, jet lagged and knackered, but still a very enjoyable experience as always.So it was back to the brushes, or in this case the tufts and some pva.
 This unit of Eureka Saxons has been waiting to be painted since April 2017, but I'm pleased they are finally painted and based.I do have an affinity for the poor SYW Saxons, probably due to the regular bullying by Frederick. No doubt they will do what Saxons do best, which is just average.Still, they did know how to dress.   





Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Bloody Lane, Battle of Antietam 1862.

The following game was scheduled for early January but due to a few personal issues John and I managed to fight this game today, and what a struggle it turned out to be.
For our first game of 2018 I decided to refight The Bloody Lane at Antietam using the scenario that is in the Picketts Charge rule book.It is an interesting scenario that has tactical problems for both sides.
I managed to find a photograph obtained from a rebel dirigible taken in 1862 showing the lane
     [okay I may have lied.] The modern image does give a good idea of what the position was like though.


My representation of the Bloody Lane. The table for this game is 10 feet by 6 feet as it was a fairly concentrated affair.
 I won the dice roll and opted to be Confederate. The rebels only have four brigades of various sizes. The scenario does allow three of the brigades to be classed as regulars and one Veteran Brigade.My plan was to line the lane with three brigades whilst using my veteran brigade to potentially turn the Union's right flank.
John as Union commander had five brigades of much larger size but the biggest two were all green troops. In the scenario the Union had two rifled gun batteries whilst the Rebels had two mixed batteries. The scenario didnt allow these to be deployed in the lane, which was fair enough given the actual terrain. John's plan was a bit unusual for him as he decided to attack my left wing with two brigades whilst attempting to concentrate on the elbow in the lane with two more brigades. The final brigade covered his right flank, but was tasked with a more passive role.
 Any rebel units behind the walls in the sunken lane were allowed an additional causality dice if they fired which allowed me the chance of killing some Union troops.
 Unfortunately to start with I kept throwing dice which made my three central brigades become 'hesitant', as a consequence these troops could only fire at short range which allowed the Union to close without causalities. I did however manage to get Rhodes, Veteran brigade to quickly march onto the right flank of the union.
 Unfortunately for the Union by some lucky throwing I finally was able to unleash hell in the centre where one of the Green brigades of the Union wilted back towards their starting line.Having a rush of blood I threw the biggest of Anderson's regiments out of the lane to charge the struggling Union. After some initial success John was able to bring close range artillery, skirmishers and and a line regiment to fire on these poor troops. They were subsequently wiped out. A fine lesson there. 
 On my right John had been able to get a brigade to charge range. Three times he attempted to breach the lane but each time I was able to hold and drive him back with minimal casualities.




Using a flash of tactical brilliance? I maneuvered one of Wrights brigade onto the flank of the Union attacking lines intending to hit them in the flank, only to watch as John got the initiative on me and charge the isolated regiment with two regiments of his dreaded Irish. So outnumbered and without supports my one small regiment was facing extinction.
Only for me to throw this in the charge roll. Even though John had an opportunity due to his one support to re roll one dice he failed and his Irish were forced to run. So the main attack seemed stymied.
In the left centre I was happily chipping away at the Union skirmish line which were very active.John's artillery battery was particularly effective at hammering my static left wing.

 On the left, my veteran brigade were making a dog's breakfast of turning the Union flank with regular 'hesitant' throws to stop their forced marches.Eventually I was able to send one of the veteran regiments against John's flank only to watch as they ran away in double quick time. The scenario allowed for 16 moves but by move 9 it was clear that the Union attacks had failed and three of the five Union brigades were no longer battle worthy. John kindly gave me the victory.

                              A view from the Union centre. As their final attack stalled.
 Picketts Charge rules had once again shown why they are not only enjoyable but give a nice historic 'feel' to the games. The scenario isnt a big one, well okay, its quite large, but the rules allow the game to move along fairly quickly and nothing is for certain so there is always a chance of the unexpected but still historical result to a move.
                        A view from the Union side prior to the start of the deployment.






                                                                The Aftermath.



Monday, 15 January 2018

A Compendium of Rebels.

 Over Christmas I was given four unusual figures by Colin of Carry on up the Dale blog fame. The figures were unusual as they were ACW figures with some metal fencing included. Anyway I decided to paint up a random unit of rebels using these four figures as the core of the regiment this last week.
 I had various spare ACW figures and cobbled together this unit.The other figures are Redoubt, Perry, Foundry and a couple of Steve Barber figures. So quite a cross section of manufacturers. Unfortunately there was no details regarding the odd four, just that they were engaged in climbing over the fence provided.
 Anyway I knocked this odd unit off , in between paining up Bronzino's Guns. I also used larger bases to make a sort of diorama effect for the unit.I didnt want to chop the metal fencing around too much, they were already quite vulnerable to bending etc.
                      So there you have it. A proverbial Foreign Legion of ACW figures.






Sunday, 7 January 2018

Ardhammer 2018.

Well today I took myself off to the Ardhammer annual tabletop sale which I have never been to before and had never heard of either. Luckily it was only a shortish drive up to Gateshead and should have been easy to find with my sat nav. Au contraire.... The sale was in Bensham which is technically still part of Gateshead but is a bugger to navigate through given all the closed off streets.
 Anyway what started inauspiciously turned into a nice way to spend a few quid in the month that isn't usually known for wargaming events.
 I would reckon there was about two dozen tables booked. Granted most were selling off Games Workshop stuff and the like at what seemed reasonable prices, but there were also a few enterprising wargamers attempting to shrink their wargames mountains.
  I can see the potential of this event which has been running for three years and I will attend next year everything being well.To be honest it would be a good event for historical wargamers to attend and expand the whole idea.The parking was free. The food and drink cheap, so what was not to like on a cold Sunday morning in January.
  So did I buy anything. Well yes. A book I subsequently found I already owned. Just how many times have I done this in the past!
 Some really nice buildings at discount prices.
 And the full battery from the GW Dogs of War series, Boronzios? Guns. I actually had some of this many years ago, but sold them. This time I managed to pick up the whole five gun battery with the five limbers and crew. I couldnt help myself because it is perfect for the renaissance and isn't too fantasy like at all. I wont boast about the price I paid, but it was very reasonable....
 A tabletop sale that I would recommend wargamers consider next year. Great idea, so well done to the 'lads' who organised it.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

The IWG Christmas Annual 2017 Issue Two

                                                           
                                                               ..... Introduction....

     Welcome to issue Two of the Independent Wargames Group Christmas Annual. I started this idea last New Year and feel its a good way to cast a look over the year's wargaming. There is only one full day left of 2017 and to be honest I will be glad to see the back of it in some respects and yet whilst there were a few personal issues I did manage to complete my ACW project with only a couple of  small units left to paint. 
   Normally I dont ever finish a project and invariably return to it and add something new. With the ACW project I feel there is no need to add to it. I have sufficient units to fight decent sized battles. Granted I dont have enough to refight Gettysburg but then not many wargamers do. Saying that I have a couple of ideas about tackling one of the big battles of the war and would like to carry through these ideas in the New Year.
 I thought it appropriate to finish 2017 with a newly painted unit of figures. I purchased these six heavy cavalryman from Dave Thomas, nearly two years ago when I was scratching through his spares boxes at Claymore. The horses are from my spares box. I think the figures may have been some of Chris Gilder's first attempts at sculpting. I particularly liked the sallet and details on the armour.
 One normally does a quick review of the year and then creates a list of wishes for the New Year that are never achieved. I wont be doing that because there would be no point.I will however attempt to keep the text up beat if possible.
 Last year I wanted to increase the wargamers who visit my three blogs. It seemed to me that wargamers were moving away from blogger and posting their information on alternative digital vehicles.In an effort to locate these itinerant wargamers I entered the world of Facebook reluctantly.In some respects it has paid off and my followers and casual viewers has increased by quite a number. Somehow I am not certain it was a good idea in other respects.
 Its very clear that 'friends' on Facebook is a very loose term and to quote Frederick the Great;
                                         ''The more I see of men. The better I like my dog.''

Unfortunately I have an annoying trait that if I feel something is wrong I will actually say so which is not a great idea if one wants to keep their sanity in this digital age where any attempt at reasoned comment is greeted with either hysteria or threats. Its almost like being back at work, except at least the person who was making the threats was able to be physically chastised. So I'm afraid any 'friends' I have inherited on Facebook will be de friended next year and I will instead concentrate on only wargaming sites in order to spread the word.

Rules;....
 Anyway on to more relevant issues. Wargames rules. In the main John and I re visited some old friends, ie Volley and Bayonet, Black Powder, and Hail Caesar and very enjoyable it was to especially rediscovering the simplicity of Volley and Bayonet which supplied us with some great games. We didn't completely regress and bought and used the excellent Picketts Charge by Dave Brown.We have mastered the nuances of these wonderful rules and can appreciate their play-ability. Dave Brown has done a cracking job of creating a set of rules that capture for me a period feel whilst being fun to play.Well recommended and definitely my wargames rules of the year.

Out of favour for me are Honours of War which I feel need some 'work' to make them more playable.For me, and this is a personal thing, I feel the artillery rules need a lot of work because they seem to dominate a battle well in excess of their historical abilities. I also find the constant rallying a distraction, although it does make one think about the state of your units. So Honour's is a 'nearly'  set of rules which is a shame.

Wargames Shows;....
I enjoy attending wargames shows and 2017 was no different except I missed my favourite show this year through unforseen circumstances. I understand York was extremely busy but that the games were not up to their usual standard. Hopefully I will be able to decide for myself next year.
 Salute 2017 was its usual expensive experience and didn't live up to its hype.Having sat down with a couple of the Warlords committee I fully appreciate their problems.They are victims of their own success and are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the shows standards due to several reasons including a shortage of volunteers to help run the show.It is a massive undertaking and I don't envy them their stress.
 Unfortunately Salute tends to showcase all the current wargames trends which are for smaller skirmish type games, fantasy and sci fi. There have been arguments about whether wargaming actually includes fantasy and the like. Personally I am usually impressed by the beautifully sculpted figures and scenery but wouldnt want to game with them. Its a step too far.But it is very popular and hopefully will allow a crossover of some younger gamers.
  I dont enjoy the spectacle of rows of small games at a show. By small I mean a couple of dozen figures.Big is definitely beautiful and somehow the current trend for tabletop games just doesn't inspire me to take up a brush. They are probably fun but then so is Pictionary. 

I did attend Partizan, twice, Leeds, Gateshead and Battleground which are all medium to large events. Less shows than I intended to go to, but sometimes real life intrudes.
 I think my favourite was Partizan where there were some fine looking games to stand and drool over although I thought Leon who runs Battleground did a cracking job........

Ranges of Figures;...
Well Warlord finally released their plastic landsknects they obtained from Pro Gloria. I was very impressed with them especially the facial detail.Yes they are a little static, but it is a very practical pose. I look forward to the release of their plastic gendarmes sometime soon. Although I dont collect the scale, I was very impressed by Pendrakens ranges which are really well sculpted and great value for money. 
 I think 10mm are the 'new' 15mm phenomena that began in the mid 1980's.Perhaps if I was twenty years younger I would use this scale.
My favourite figures of 2017 are probably the 'new' French SYW by Black Hussar of Germany and the small ACW ranges from FG miniz from France. Both are beautiful sculpts at a reasonable price for 28mm.
 I have yet to see the figures created for Game of Thrones in the flesh, but the images make them look something to consider in the new year. That is, after I finally watch the whole series.

 The New Campaigning Year;.......
  Next year is already penciled in to be a busy year for me with various trips and other little projects including a volunteering job. I am determined to fight even more wargames although John and I have fought quite a number of encounters this year. All have been tense but fun affairs. What more can a wargamer ask for really. Dependent on my stretched finances I have a hankering to start a new project and return to an older one, but that's in the pipeline and may never be started, we will have to see.One thing is certain, my wargaming continues apace.

Trends;....
 I like to record what I see happening in the New Year as regards wargaming, if only to prove just what I dont know.
 Given the constant comments about certain of the wargaming magazines I can see at least one magazine disappearing. This would be sad for wargamers in general, but for me its just not value for money. As regards the next big thing. Certain manufacturers are again pushing The West and Pirates. Again.... And now we are enjoying the delights of a Zombie West! Somehow I dont think these will 'do the business' for them. Hopefully the whole Zombie trend will simply disappear.
 My moneys on the continued resurgence of Games Workshop who clearly have got their act together and will once more dominate things, so I fully expect some 'new' fantasy ranges that will be compatible with the GW new ranges. I wouldnt be surprised if Brettonian like ranges appear alongside other old GW favourites except with new names.
 But for me personally I think ACW and Napoleonics will feature strongly in the New Year with a similar showing from WW2 in all its forms.I expect an increased interest in the Pennisular War which is perfect for smaller historical games. Not exactly a groundbreaking prediction really, but probably a safe bet for figure producers. Anyway enjoy the New Year festivities and always roll high........ 
                               
The two images are how I see wargaming at its best.Probably not very practical nowadays but what can be more inspiring than hundreds of painted toys marching across a nice terrain.For me this is what I want to see at a show, the bigger the better.

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