SMOGGYCON 28th November 2009

Today saw a trip down to Middlesbrough (my first!) for SMOGGYCON – the show that is replacing the Stockton Parade Ground shows. So, new show, new venue. The guys from my local boardgaming club (and some of my ASL opponents when I was playing the game) were putting on an ASL demo with a large scenario from the Stalingrad module, Valor of the Guards, another East front scenario and a small ‘pick-up’ game for passers by to try their hand. As I had a few things to do at the show and was expecting a summons home after lunch, I wasn’t partaking of the ASL but I travelled down early with Andy, getting there for 8.30!

The new venue, the Southlands Leisure Center, was a bit hard to find (especially as we had no map and were asking for the Lakelands Leisure Center!) but was a modern, airy venue, with a smaller hall next to the bar and the main sports hall hosting the show, a decent size room for the Bring and Buy and a small ‘cafe’ area. The latter was for me a point of contention as the ‘caterers’ operating out of the small kitchen were way over priced for what was effectively a captive audience. Coffee was £1.60, bacon butties £3, sandwiches £3. Although the food was OK it was not really worth the money and someone had commented that you could see on the price board where they had rubbed out the old prices and written in the new (double) ones! In a proper cafe I’d have paid it, but for a couple of people with a table operating out of a kitchen it was taking the piss! Rant over…

I’ll apologise in advance for the photos as even by my phone’s standards they are crap!

The main hall:

ACW game by Steve Ord:

The Old School Wargames 30mm SYW game by the Independent Wargames Groups (I think!):

Tyneside Wargames Club Battle of Neville’s Cross in 15mm using Great Captain rules:

A rather nice WW1 Trench game:

This looked nice and I eventually sussed that it was associated with a nearby stall but the whole time I was there I never saw anyone actually AT the table! Was apparently by Game of War.

And finally, the ASL guys, Neil, Andy, Brian and Tim:

Bring and Buy

This was located next to the ‘cafe’ off the smaller hall and was rather disappointing. The space was good but I don’t think the tables were ever more than two thirds full. And there was nothing there to take my fancy. Again, maybe first show and uncertainty of turnout so why bring stuff that maybe won’t sell? Hope it is better next year.

And I also met up with Peeler having missed him at the last couple of shows!

Purchases: the important stuff!

This was less than planned. I’d been hoping to pick up the river sections from Brian at Mutineer Miniatures but he still had another coat of varnish to apply so they will be arriving by post next week. I did buy some short grass tufts though. And was very tempted by their new 28mm Indian Mutiny range. From Dave at Caliver I picked up a copy of Lasalle. This is very nicely produced and I’m looking at how to do some figures to fit with this as it’s unlikely anyone at the club will follow as there is a firm Empire V group and the growing Grande Armee team. I’m vaguely tempted to try something in 6mm that I can adapt to use in Grande Armee as well. We shall see.

I did a search for a suitable Demon type figure for my AWI Witch Scenario but nothing suitable could be summoned forth. I was tempted by Sommerfields books on the Prussian Army but at £30 each they may have to wait! Maybe a suggestion for Santa?

I managed to resist the Pendraken 10mm – at least for the moment – and the only lead purchases were some Irregular 6mm Prussian generals, some guns and some casualty bases. With the latter, such is my deteriorating eyesight, that I had to take his word that there were actually some dad figures on the base! I was very tempted by a Baccus Napoleonic Starter pack that Gateshead Gaming were selling. Originally c.£90, it was going for £40 with only a few figures painted/undercoated. Although I’d probably not have used all the bases or the rules it would still have been a good price. And here lies the moral. Buy it when you see it! Went back 10 minutes later and it had gone! Fate…

Apart from a pot of Humbrol Prussian Blue and some dice and markers for Grande Armee, that was the lot! I’m sure my wife will be grateful for that with Christmas approaching!

It was, all in all, a good little show. Close to Christmas with the current economy there was always the potential for a slow day, but I felt the turnout was good. A couple of traders/demo games failed to show but generally the turnout was good. The Middlesbrough club staff were enthusiastic and helpful and also seemed to think it went well. For a first show it was good and deserves to do well next year. Given the number of other shows on at the moment I wonder whether they’d be better taking the old Spring Parade Ground date? Either way, congrats to them and good luck with the next one!

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Off to SMOGGYCON tomorrow…

In the early hours of tomorrow I’ll be heading to Middlesbrough for SMOGGYCON, the show that is effectively replacing the Stockton Parade Ground show. I’ll be helping out with an Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) demo which hopefully will remind people what a great boardgame system this is and that it is still alive and kicking! The plan is to have one of the big Stalingrad scenarios playing and maybe a another as with the big maps and a lot of counters they look quite impressive. I know they’re not quite as photogenic as a figures game but they have their own appeal and it is a great system. And a lot of people who bought and played it in the 80’s and early 90’s often don’t realise the system is still going and being added to. Hopefully this will draw in new blood!

I’m also hoping to pick up a copy of Lasalle as well as my rivers from Mutineer Miniatures – assuming Brian is recovered from his virus and has finished them! 🙂

Other than that it wil be the usual cae of wandering around and looking for new toys! Hopefully the bring and buy will be good but to be honest I need to be sensible what with my daughters 4th birthday, next week followed by Christmas and then my wife’s 40th on New Years Eve!

I’ll also hopefully get to say high to Peeler as we’ve managed to miss each other at the last couple of shows! I’ll try and take some pics and post a report over the weekend.

See you there!

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Bucasso, 6mm Grande Armee Rules: 14th November 2009

The Tyneside Wargames Club meeting on 14th November saw one of my rare all day visits to the club. I’d arranged to take part in a first full game using Grande Armee rules organised by Stephen who took the British with me, and facing Stu, Michael and Dave with French hordes! The chosen battle was Bucasso, 27th November 1810.

A British Army of seven divisions under command of Wellington were facing an assault by three corps under Reynier, Ney and Junot. Historical deployment was used with the British deployed along the ridge and two French Columns approaching:

The British had a minimum of four turns to hold out, but with the variable turn lengths and the sheer number of French approaching it would be a hard fight. Seizing the initiative the British advanced brigades to occupy the two villages to their front in an attempt to slow down the advance:

As the French columns approached they began to deploy to engage the advanced British brigades:

As the British were driven from the village to their left the first French columns began the steep climb to the ridge:

As the British right began to redeploy to face the coming threat the left began a vigorous counterattack to drive back the French from the village:

But the attack fails and the British are driven from the right flank village and begin their own counterattack:

After a valiant defence on the left Ney’s Corps was broken and Junot’s Corps moved forward to renew the attack before the British could reorganise their defence:

As Reynier finally engaged the British threw forward all they could to try and hold the line:

Around this time Wellington was wounded, with command moving to Hill on the far right, but soon he too was wounded and command fell to Picton. This change of command made it difficult for the British to coordinate their defence. The battle for the ridge on the left became a fragmented struggle as the British threw back most of the French but their lines were pierced and they had little to combat this:

Finally, the brigades from the right moved across in support, driving back the French cavalry and threatening the flank of Reynier’s now scattered corps:

At this point the current turn ended and time ran out. The French were close to breaking, but the British not far behind. They could claim a victory as they still help the ridge and had destroyed a French corps and mauled two others, but at heavy cost to themselves.

It was a great game and the rules worked really well. They give a good feel and a good flow to the game. We had one or two minor issues with the scenario, in that a couple of the French units were 11SPs and this came as a big surprise to the battered British brigade who engaged them in the rough ground!

The plan is to run a campaign in the New Year, probably set in 1815, so I will be painting up some Prussians, Bulow’s IV Corps to be precise. But until then I’ve a few 6mm Early Byzantines to finish and some odds and ends to add to my 15mm Punic Armies.

Next post will be a return to the 18th Century but not as you’d expect!

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A blast from the past! Part 2

The latest search through the attic space turned up a stack of old Wargames Illustrated (from issue 1 to…well lots of them!). I thought I’d got rid of these years ago. So some nice reading ahead. But what I also found were some of the photos I took from my visit to the Wargames Holiday Center in…well it had to be ’79 or ’80 as I’d been working in my school holidays to get the cash and I’m sure it was an article in Battle/Military Modelling that advertised it.

Now for some reason I took a black and white film! No idea why 🙂 Maybe the concept of eyecandy hadn’t sunk in then! Now I know I also have a box of slides (colour this time!) from the same trip. The B/W record a large Late Roman/Sassanid game. I remember we had a playtest version of WRG 5th Edition. Can’t remember anything about the game or even what order the photos should be in. So here are a few picks:

And the rest if you’re interested:

I can’t remember who else was on that holiday. I remember Peter Gilder picking me and another up at York station, I remember the collection of war related videos available to view and I’m pretty sure the other game we played was a Napoleonic (and I’m hoping this is what the slides show) as I bought a copy of Peter’s In the Grand Manner, which I still have. At the time I had a 25mm Russian Napoleonic army and bought several units of Peter’s own designed figures which I never got round to painting (some things never change!).

Peter was an excellent host. The food was good and the gaming was excellent and played in the best manner possible. It was probably the most concentrated period of wargaming I’ve ever done (excluding ASL tournaments) and I would love to do similar again but with two kids now I can’t see that happening for a good few years! Hopefully the slide will turn up soon and I can shed some colour on the event!

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A blast from the past!

Many moons ago when I first started wargaming (late 70’s) I began with 25mm Russian Napoleonics. As I started to attend Shrewsbury Wargames Club I obviously got interested in other periods. One that had a good run at the club was Medieval. At that time I wasn’t too up on the whole historical accuracy and medieval was medieval – 11th Century or 15th Century! 🙂

A few people at the club used God’s Acre rules but for a while we ran a little campaign using the Lamming Medieval rules and their campaign rules. This, from what I recall, had each player landing on an island and then randomly generating terrain until you met the other players who were doing the same. Units were usually ten strong with a sergeant and basically you did your own thing regarding troop types. So I put together a few figures, painted very badly and with even more dubious heraldry! As it was basically 1:1 scale each ‘knight’ had a mounted and dismounted version.

So what’s this about then. Well, at the weekend I bravely entered the small attic space above the bathroom where the boxes have never been touched for 10 years or more and came from the clearout of my parents house. And in one box there were all my medieval figures.

They’re a mix of Lamming, Hinchcliffe and a few Minifigs. The painting is bloody awful! And those that look OK have a nice shiny gloss varnish. So I thought I’d post a couple of quick pictures as I intend to dispose of these as there is no way I’ll return to the period and I thought the Lamming figures may be of interest to someone.

In the same box was a small tub with what I think are mostly Garrison figures. There’s a decent elephant and few odds and ends (single figures) of Carthaginian types. I have vague memories of having bought an army off someone and only ever painting one unit of scutarii! Some things never change!

The other elephant is a Hinchcliffe one I think.

It was nice to find them and think back to simpler days (and simpler paint jobs!). The Shrewsbury Club is still very active and I often bump in to some of them at shows throughout the year when I venture south!

I’m still searching for my Wargames Holiday Center pictures but the number of possible places is rapidly diminishing!

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