Thursday, 25 May 2017

Wargames Foundry - Devon Wargames Group Day

Last weekend the Devon Wargames Group and friends, Panjo and Andy, went on tour with a trip up to Nottinghamshire to take in the delights of Wargames Foundry on the Saturday and Partizan on Sunday interspersed with a bit of merriment and battlefield sight seeing.

Lots of eye-candy at Patizan last weekend in the link below
Partizan 2017

The trip up to Foundry based in Newark took just under four hours, so setting out at about 07.00 we were up to their show-room/shop/games-room for about 11.00 in time to get started on our game before lunch, provided by our hosts mixed in with a bit of occasional retail therapy.

When Tom, Vince, Steve M and I arrived the other guys were already there, so once the table was set up and the respective forces laid out, Mr Steve M our Gamemeister for the day briefed the players on their objectives.

The cat herding begins
Our game was a French Indian War 'big bash' using Muskets & Tomahawks, with Steve overseeing the card deck to herd the cats that playing a big game in our club can sometimes feel like, especially with the added distraction of all those lovely Foundry figures in close proximity just asking to be given a new home.

We were looked after during the day by Diane Ansell and her team who kept our strengths up with liberal lashings of tea and coffee together with other sustenance as well as dealing with our purchases.

French Coureur de Bois lead the advance across the river
British Rangers move forward to contest the French advance
The premise of our game was a fairly straight forward encounter mission between the two opposing armies with each player commanding a different mix of three or four units of Indians, Regulars, Militia and Ranger/Coureur de Bois types but with each player also having an individual task to perform during the play.

This mechanism meant that as well as dealing with the threat posed by the enemy opposite each player had an eye on an objective close by that had to be kept in mind as the forces tried to grab control of various parts of the table.

My motley force are led across the river by a screen of Indians
The early moves were a rush to get forward and grab the terrain
As an example I ended up commanding a group of ten Militia, eight locally raised Irregulars and eight Indians, with the task of securing a wagon in the opposite half of the table and dragging it back into French lines.

British Regulars and Colonial Militia could chuck out the fire
Tom's regulars and light infantry on the advance
My particular task was made extremely difficult as the open space between my occupied barn opposite my objective was covered by Tom's British light infantry and regulars tasked with searching the buildings around to safely escort a party of officers ladies to the rear.

No matter how much fire I laid down on the cover close by the wagon, his light infantry held firm and I ended up taking my frustration out on "Mr Steve" in the sector next door by continually showering his Rangers with a barrage of arrows that took out four of their number over the course of the game.

As the two lines closed on each other as each side sought to grab the best terrain from which to run their battle, the game settled into a struggle to wear down the enemy opposite to allow more freedom of movement to do the tasks each of us had been set.

Bob manoeuvres his regulars down to the river 
A pause in proceedings, perhaps due to a shopping foray
Some rules are not particularly suitable for these kind of large friendly games, but Muskets & Tomahawks were a perfect accompaniment and kept the play flowing very well as the variation in card draw made sure that play from one turn to another was never in the same sequence.

Dress those lines
Search everything and then burn it!

My militia can only observe the wagon, my objective, over in the copse of trees opposite as Tom's light infantry and regulars refuse to budge

Indians hugging the terrain and sniping at favourable targets
My Indians, probably my best performing unit on the day, 'darkening the sky' with their arrows
British fire-power was a constant threat to troops in the open

I get some much needed support but that wagon in the trees opposite still looks a long way away
 As our game progressed some player objectives began to be achieved as the battle started to swing in different directions across the front.

The ladies are found and Tom's regulars provide a close escort as they make their way to the rear
Virginia Militia and regulars hold the cover
Another British objective achieved as French property goes up in smoke
With two British and one French objective achieved and with the day drawing to a close we called the game a British victory.

The game was a triumph of organisation and thanks go to the DWG members who provided figures and terrain to populate the Foundry provided tables, but principally to Steve M who pulled the game together and provided the bulk of figures from his very fine collection.

Thanks also to Diane and Wargames Foundry for hosting our day out. We were all made very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Oh and not forgetting my retail therapy, aided and abetted by Mr Steve who kept thrusting packs under my nose all day, I picked up enough figures to build a Roman citizen legion together with some fine German ladies exhorting their men folk to kill lots of Romans and spare them from a fate worse than death.

Rangers cover the open ground
Before heading off to our hotel in Lincoln about forty minutes up the road, we decided to check out the battlefield of Stoke Field which is situated right next door to the Foundry workshops.

Unfortunately during our game the day had developed into perfect wargaming weather with a torrential downpour by the time we stepped out into daylight.

Thus we contented ourselves with a visit to the church next door and a drive around the back of the battle field to see the area of the "Red Gutter"where some of the fleeing rebel soldiers met their end during the rout towards the River Trent and in which several grave pits were discovered.

If you are interested, Wargames Foundry are promoting activities in support of the 530th commemoration of the battle next month and I have attached the link to their site for booking tickets.

Battlefields Trust- Battle of Stoke Field

The two World Wars are commemorated in East Stoke Church with this plaque to
the fallen, noticeably Gunner Price aboard HMS Queen Mary, the loss of which was covered
in my post on Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the WWI exhibition.
That is an extremely large Union flag, we thought probably from a ship
The memorial stone to the Battle of Stoke in the local church close to where
most of the burial pits were discovered
The following pictures show the steep escarpment at the back of Stoke Field down which the rebel troops sought to escape at the close of the battle.

You can always tell when I have gone the extra mile for this blog when you can detect rain drops on the lens in the lower right corner of these pictures.

For a fuller understanding of the location of the "Red Gutter" area seen here, follow the link above to the Battlefields Trust site for a fuller explanation of the action together with a range of superb maps illustrating the possible positions of the two forces.

With the weather as bad as it was we contented ourselves to plan another visit to do this site justice on a future visit.

Next up the Queen's Sconce Newark and that Book Review.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Partizan 2017

Warning - This post does not contain nuts or flash photography but it may seriously overwork your eyes and leave you in a state of euphoria.

This weekend Tom and I and a group of friends travelled up to Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire to spend two days indulging ourselves with good banter, loads of laughs, wargaming and a bit of military history.

As part of our trip up north we planned in a visit to Partizan in Newark, one of two shows held under this banner each year and a show I first saw years ago when it was held at Kelham Hall.

To day Partizan has a new shiny home, only in its second year, on the outskirts of Newark and is in my opinion one of the nicest venues for a show I have attended in years, with acres of space, parking and very good catering facilities.

With eleven of us travelling up and down from Wales, Devon and Yorkshire, a bit of organisation was required for our expedition, with an afternoon of wargaming and shopping at Wargames Foundry on the Saturday followed by a hotel stay in Lincoln on the Saturday night, followed in turn by our trip to the show on the Sunday and then back home that afternoon. All this with visits to Stoke Field, the last battle of the Wars of the Roses and the Queen's Sconce at Newark, an English Civil War Star Fort on the outskirts of the town.

I will post on our other activities over the whole weekend but I thought you would be most interested in enjoying the 'eye candy' that is Partizan. I have been to a lot of wargame shows in my time and have been looking for a show to compete with the splendour of Salute as I have grown tired of the venue and the costs of travelling to it over the years and after dropping it from my regular calendar now feel I have a superb alternative.

Lawrence Baldwin and Richard Tyndall, together with their team are to be congratulated in producing an excellent show not once but twice a year and on this weekend's experience will now be a regular must visit venue for me in the foreseeable.

So as always I have pulled together a photo report to give you an impression of the day together with pictures from games and displays that really caught my attention.

We were really fortunate on the day as, when we arrived at about 10.45, there was a long queue of happy wargamers enjoying the sunny weather and an aerobatic display provided by what looked like a Pit's Special stunt biplane performing stall turns overhead. I say fortunate as the day before, it had been raining 'cats and dogs'.

A view of the display hall and the ample parking 
We were not standing outside for very long and on entry were greeted with a large display space filled with lots of traders and gamers and yet not elbow to elbow as experienced at other similar events.

This is how I remember shows used to be when Salute was at Kensington Hall and Armageddon was at the Hexagon and there were no such things as smart phones.

After setting a time and place to meet up with our friends for lunch, Tom and I turned right and started to work our way among the traders and display games enjoying the serendipity that is just finding something without deliberately looking for it.

Interestingly that approach to walking around a show led me to the the Lardies/Reisswitz Press display featuring Dave Brown's new Napoleonic rules, 'General d'Armee' which I was interested in picking up a copy of and a chat with Richard Clarke and his daughter who were busy selling copies of the game.

As you know I have a passing interest in the period and always like to take time to see ideas about how to play and recreate the battles. The display was in full swing when we arrived with lots of toys arrayed on a very nice table using 'God's Own Scale'.

The General d'Armee game in full swing, showing what you can do with 15/18mm figures en masse
Battle of Ettersburg 1704 - An imaginary War of Spanish Succession game by the League of Gentlemen Anti Alchemists (Where do they get these names from?)

Close to the Lardies stand I came across a nice WSS display game by the League of Gentlemen Anti Alchemists.

I love the Lace Wars and always take time to look at these kind of games. Not sure about the teddy bear fur but an eye-catching game never the less.

WWII Large Scale Late War Skirmish - Nottingham Wargames Club

There is a modern trend to wargame WWII and indeed Cold War in scales that would seem to be a bit to big when you consider the range potential of the weapons involved. That said you can't deny the attractiveness of these large models and so they deserve to be included as the great painting immediately drew my attention as I passed by.

Cambrai 1917 - Great War Miniatures

I have very little interest in wargaming the First World War, certainly when it comes to the land conflict, but a game like the one put on by Great War Miniatures would tempt me to alter that opinion.

I love great painted miniatures and terrain to match and games don't come any better than this one and was in Tom and my top three games of the show.

See if you can spot the 'Tommy' releasing his carrier pigeon.

You really have to take the time to take in a game like this as the eyes are overworked with this amount of detail - absolutely superb and a great advert for our hobby at its mind blowing best.

Mainstream media and its definition of high art seems to miss out on what the best our great hobby has to offer. Games like this really underpin that the mainstream don't know what they are talking about.

The Naval Battle for Port Arthur 1904 - Derby Wargames Society

I love naval wargaming of almost any period and this Russo-Japanese game grabbed the camera lens with a very nice display of modelling.

Oppy Wood May 1917 - Mr James Morris/Lenton Gamers

Another lovely WWI game using 12mm figures and Peter Pig's 'Square Bashing' rules

The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775 - Mr Steve Jones

I love the American War of Independence and since selling my 15mm collection to Steve M have plans at some stage to replace that collection with a 28mm one.

This game by Steve Jones was pure inspiration and was voted by Tom and me into our top three. I think the pictures will speak for themselves.

What was I saying about high art. Games like this bring history to life. Simply stunning.

Battle of the Bulge, St Vith, US 117th Infantry Regiment v German 5th Panzer Army - Blitzkrieg Miniatures

Another large scale WWII participation game with some lovely models and terrain on display. I am a confirmed 15mm man for this type of game but my camera seems to have a mind of its own when I see well painted models.

Next door to the snow clad St Vith, the temperature changed dramatically with this Alamein era desert scrap, if the Churchill tank is an indication, similarly themed with big tanks and figures.

National Civil War Centre Newark Museum

As well as plenty of great looking games and traders stands, Partizan plays host to some excellent displays in their 'History Zone' where along with the Battlefield Trust Tom and I got to chat with Mr Kevin Winter from the National Civil War Centre which was very interesting especially after our morning visit to the Newark Queen's Sconce.

Being much more familiar with the Civil War activities in the south and south west we were keen to learn more about the actions played out around Newark and the items on display from the museum.

This very fine looking cuirass and lobster helmet is a new acquisition by the museum and is thought to date back to about 1630 with the 'A' surmounted by a crown and the letters RB identifying the armoury and the maker's initials.

As well as this they now have a lobster helmet with an articulated neck guard, something that would have cost a fortune and would have been of much higher status than the more functional one seen above.

Not only that but we got to see the two cannon balls on display, with the larger of the two weighing in at thirty-two pounds and to have been fired by a mighty piece of ordnance for the time quaintly known as 'sweet-lips'

Alongside the smaller ball below can be seen Newark Siege Currency produced in silver which both Tom and I got to handle. The value of each piece was not just based on the size but also the weight of silver with the smaller six-penny piece on the left being much lighter the the shilling next to it. I of course of an age that is familiar with imperial currency had to explain what a shilling was to Tom!

Above the silver coins are two gold pieces known as 'Unites' in recognition of the coat of arms of the United Kingdom born on their face. These would have been valued at a pound in their time, one from King James I and the other Charles I. These two coins were very thin and light in the hand, and by their yellow colour of very high carat gold.

It was a real thrill to handle these objects and imagine the stories they might tell if able to share their long history.

Sudan in 28mm - Old Guard Wargames Club

We have quite a collection of 28mm Sudan in the Devon club and I always enjoy playing this period of British colonial history.

This particular game was stunning with Imperial troops in square ready to beat off the Fuzzies with well delivered volley fire, beautifully captured with the use of LED flashing lights placed under the smoke from the crashing fire delivered by all those Martini Henry rifles.

I liked the printed desert mats used in this display and I think they really worked as well as the more traditional boards seen on other desert themed games. Notice the ripple effects of the wind blown sand, very cool.

Great Northern War in 28mm - League of Augsburg

Barry Hilton and the chaps at the League of Augsburg are old hands at turning out a gloriously looking game and we also have a large collection of 28mm figures for this period in the club which we play using the 'Under the Lilly Banner' rule set.

As mentioned above there is something really eye-catching about the lace war period and the range of colours and banners rivals the Napoleonic period for sheer presence especially in 28mm.

Inverlochy 1645 - Warlord Games & The Friends of General Haig

Not surprisingly with Warlord having recently released their ECW themed book for Pike and Shotte rules 'To Kill a King' we found this very nice ECW game with castles, boats and tartan mixed in with the pikes and lobster tail helmets.

The Battle of Alexandria 1801 in 28mm - The Perry Twins

I am sure this game is going to feature quite a bit in the forthcoming months in the hobby news and forums and rightly so. This game also made it into the top three and I think you will see why.

As you would expect the painting and terrain was simply stunning and a real pleasure for me to photograph as I sought out different parts of the table to get those filmic view points.

As a confirmed 18mm Napoleonic player I think these smaller campaign settings such as Egypt and Canada really lend themselves much better to 28mm when portraying much smaller battles.

Hats off - an absolutely gorgeous looking game.

18th Century Horse & Musket - Crann Tara Miniatures

Last but by no means least I took time to check out the game by Crann Tara.

At some stage I would love to build a collection of  'Jacobite Rebellion - 45' figures and Crann Tara had caught my eye with their range of figures looking very much like the illustrations in Her Majesty the Queen's collection of British regiments from the era.

They are very pretty when painted up as you can see, but perhaps a little old school for me as I think I prefer a bit more variety of look and pose in my units.

Again, you can't beat that lace.

So there you have it with my best of Partizan, a very subjective selection, but then it is my blog.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day with good company and a great show. If you haven't yet been then I would recommend you do at some time and there are two opportunities each year.

I can't wait to go again.

Next up - more from out trip up to Newark with our day at Wargames Foundry, battlefields and forts plus Mr Steve's book review and the Spanish are nearing completion.