Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A week is a long time in wargaming

Last week I was down and grumpy.  Last week I was in the belief that the hobby was in a state of flux where big was bad and good was poor if you believe what you read, or interpret what you see in a certain way.
How quickly that can change.  And how little it can take to make that change.
Sunday was a celebration of all that is good about the hobby.  A plethora of games big and small but all showing what can be done and the heights that can be achieved.  All of them presented with enthusiasm and enjoyment.  Standards ranged from the sublime to the average - and it made not the slightest bit of difference to those playing and enjoying the games.  Because ultimately it only mattered that the game was there and the game was fun.
That was lesson one.
Throw in something that I think I needed.  A damn good talking to by some people who are better placed than me to understand trends and concerns in the hobby.  We, meaning me, forget that when writing something on the internet we lose any inflection we might want.  A statement becomes sterile and easily misunderstood.  As such it easy to offend and upset without necessarily meaning to.  We might want to be provocative but we don't always want to hurt and wound.
That was lesson number two.
Today I feel enthused and cannot wait to get back to the paint desk once the results of the knee operation allows me.  I cannot wait for the AMG16 event in a few weeks.
And then.......drum roll please.....the Grimsby Wargames Society will be putting on a Ramillies game (yes Robbie you have a seat at the table) and I have the intention to make it the biggest and best game yet.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Partizan 2016

The Partizan Wargaming in History event this year was a cracker.  I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much at a show - and that's coming from someone who never left the games we were presenting other than to say a few quick hellos to some friends around the hall.
The new venue is bright, well lit and reasonably airy (a warm day outside meant it was hot inside with the sun shining through the windows).  The show was busy with what looked like lots of people attending and I was certainly kept busy talking to people all day from before doors open until after the official end of the show.  Terrific and very pleasing.

The Grimsby Wargames Society presented two games at the show.  The first was a refight of the four days naval battle during the Anglo-Dutch naval war with each and every ship involved in the action being represented.  Twenty feet of playing area with over a hundred and fifty models.
The second was a large 28mm War of the Spanish Succession game using the figures and collections from various members of the Society.

Both games attracted a lot of attention and interest.  So many people stopped to have a chat that the day went by in a flash.  Sorry I can't put up any photographs of other games but, as i said, we were so busy with visitors that there just wasn't the opportunity.
I'm sure other blogs and forums will have better write ups (I've promised Henry an article about the WSS game).

And as a result for the hard work and effort put in by the Society  (especially by Steve & Andy for the naval game) the three judges (editors for Miniature Wargames, Wargames Soldiers & Strategy and Wargames Illustrated) awarded us first place for best demo game with the Dutch Naval Wars.
 Best day at a show ever.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Turn on or turn off?

I am of a generation that did not have gadgets and gizmos to keep us entertained.  We had Scouts, sports and hobbies.  We read books and learnt and understood our history.  Schools taught us a subject and made sure we understood what we were learning rather than coaching us through the exam.
We were inspired by our peers and awed by those wargames we saw at shows where hundreds of toy soldiers marched across tables and polystyrene hills decorated with plastic trees.  The sheer spectacle of what we were looking at gave us incentive and inspiration.
However, if you read Miniature Wargames apparently these are now the very reasons why there is no new blood coming into the hobby.  
A recent "Forward Observer" article by Neil Shuck cites the presence of large numbers on a tabletop being a discouragement for a newcomer who apparently cannot have aspirations to own anything close to what he is seeing.  Neil reinforces it by appearing to say that we fight Napoleonic battle with forty or so figures a side and still get the spectacle, (and yet, bizarrely, in his Salute review he feels that without those "wow" games of scale and magnitude the show lacked something).  
There is, thankfully, an article from Andy Copestake on the ECW which encourages the use of large battalions and plenty of figures (huzzah!) but it feels like a token balancing act against the wave of "downsizing" (he also strongly argues that gamers should know and understand the period and not rely on the rules alone - again "huzzah!").

I have to admit that I don't see the rationale being used here.

When you go to a show which games grab your attention?  Do you head immediately for that 4'x4' skirmish game or do you stop at the 12'+ table littered with hundreds of figures?
When you went to your first show did you think that the standard of painting was beyond you but that you would give it a go and hopefully develop or did you think it was not for you?
Large figure collections displayed on a table inspire.  I understand it can be daunting to a newcomer to see such collections but then surely it is beholden on us to encourage and support new blood.

A further article in the current issue advocates a return to the 70's approach to the hobbies and to disavow the improvements in sculpting and encouragement to improve painting skills and hobby techniques.  Whilst I can see some of the arguments in the article by Arthur I'm also not sure that all the discussion is valid.
Newcomers may see hundreds of well painted figures on a tabletop.  They may feel it is beyond them to get to that standard.  However, to argue that it prevents them from taking up the hobby is, I think, a little flawed.
I would venture that many of the newer wargamers have grown up with, or are at least familiar with, Games Workshop to some degree.  Further I would offer that most of those would have purchased at least one copy of  "White Dwarf".  That magazine has always been full of pictures of superbly detailed models painted to exceedingly high standards.
Does that prevent the gamer from buying and playing with the models?  No of course not.  Indeed I suspect that it frequently acts as an incentive to get the paintbrush out.  as evidence I would suggest that you go along to Warhammer World on a Saturday and look at the hundreds of people playing and the standard of painting which varies from the poor to the outstanding - but all being used and enjoyed.
What we should do is again encourage the newcomer and support him in helping to improve and develop.

The hobby is ever developing and changing.  I may not like some of that change but I accept it.  What I cannot accept is that we should not encourage any wargamer to be the best that he can in whatever area of development they want.    We all need motivation, encouragement and support no matter how long we have been in the hobby, what we don't need are easy excuses and reasons not to develop and improve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Partizan - Sunday 22nd May

With just a few days to go now to the second great exodus out of the town (the first being the Black & White army descending on Wembley to see the Mariners for the second week in a row - let's hope the result is the same) as the Grimsby Wargames Society present two games at the show.

we have the largest two tables at the show and are demonstrating two very different games.  We have a large seventeenth century naval game (with more ships than were present at Trafalgar) and a 28mm War of the Spanish Succession game, as previewed in an earlier post.

If you're at the show please come along and say hello.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Partizan Preview

With under three weeks to go before the Partizan show and a public holiday here, we took the opportunity to have a large game using much of what we will be using.
 Just a small table.  The actual length of the stand at the show will be 24 feet but we only used 16 for our game.  Equally, we only played a small game with a little over 2,500 figures on the table top - a fraction of the combined collections but enough to keep us entertained for a day.
French, Spanish & Savoy forces are to the right of the above photograph and, the combined forces of Dutch, Imperial, Prussian, Danish and English troops to the right.
A new member took control of the right hand brigades of French(including the Maison du Roi) and Savoy.  Initially finding the going difficult and losing the entire front line, Johnathon soon recovered and used the Savoyard's to force the enemy back.
On the left Mark, normally playing Marlborough but today accepting a "lesser" command of the entire Franco-Spanish horse, also suffered an initial reverse before beginning to assert dominance over the enemy horse.  Unfortunately his Spanish foot were not a match for the Prussian brigade surging over the ridge to their fore.
 In the center my French swept away the Dutch opposition before becoming exposed to the flanking move of the Prussians.
A really enjoyable day and a lot of fun as always.
The game for the show is now almost set with some additional troops, equipment required but all within our collections.
Those collections consist of figures from Andy H, Andy S, Chris, Mark and myself.  Scenery and terrain from the Grimsby Wargames Society.

If you are at Partizan on Sunday May 22nd please come along and see us.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Grimsby Wargames Society

As a club I don't think we can be rivalled.  I know I'm biased but I do believe that for a group of individuals whose only purpose in being together is to play games we have something special.
We own our own building for a start.  Each member has a share in it and it is not the private property of one individual or the shared facility of a local council or community.
We have a very healthy bank balance that allows us to continually improve our facility.
We have nearly a hundred members playing games every night of the week.
The club has two main gaming rooms.  The photograph above is of the main room downstairs with the large 18x6 table.  There is an option to extend this by adding boards to attach the table to the far wall and the wall on the right if needed (21x9).  Just out of shot on the left is the storage for sufficient scenery to cover this table with custom made terrain boards.  The green cloth protects the varnished table top used for naval games.
Upstairs are three more tables.  The one at the far end is a 14x6, in the middle is an 8x5 and in the foreground 10x5.  By inserting some boards the two far tables can be joined together to form a large playing surface (Ramillies in August will one such game).
A small selection of the scenery options available.  There are far more under each of the tables and along the other wall.  Also under the other tables are terrain boards for deserts and trench warfare.
And if you get fed up with playing with figures there is a table downstairs for card games.  To the left out of shot is a soft drinks bar with a the facilities for hot and cold drinks, snacks and a microwave.

Just some of the reasons why I believe we are a very fortunate Society and the very best place to go for a game in the town.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Honours of War

Last night at the Grimsby Wargames Society we began the induction of yet another willing convert to the Honours of War rules.  Steve brought along his stunning Austrians and Prussians to join the ranks of those fielded by Andy & Tony to make the biggest game yet.
Some sixteen battalions on each side battled it out over a wooded valley.
 A preponderance of dithering commanders on both sides made it very hard to get any co-ordination going for the aggressive Austrians.  A similar number of dithering commanders for the Prussians had little impact as they decided to root themselves along one of the ridge lines.
What did make a difference was the dashing commander leading the Prussian right wing cavalry.  sweeping away all of the Austrian horse ion a series of brutal melees.
 On the other wing the cavalry fought themselves to a draw.  Just as well since the right wing grenadier brigade of the Austrians proved extremely reluctant to attack rolling a number of poor rolls for command.
In the center a lone Austrian brigade began their assault on the Prussian lines but were overturned in relatively short order.
As this brigade started to recoil the remaining Prussian cavalry rolled up the Austrian left wing leaving four battalions unsupported in the center of the valley facing eight Prussian battalions.

Another good game albeit a little too large for the time we had.  Nearly got a decisive result but the time had definitely turned in favour of the Prussians.
Niggles?  Steve was a little concerned over how brutal the cavalry melees were.  Questioning how does one side gain superiority with a cavalry wing after he lost his first regiment.  The answer came a few moves later when with initiative and a double move his dashing commander led his horse forward into a position where the Austrian cavalry could not counter charge nor gain any supports.  As a result the Prussians were in a position to remove all the Austrian horse with the loss of one of their regiments.
Another concern was the dashing commander.  Terrific in the open field and leading his men forward against other cavalry.  Not so good when he is forced to charge a steady line of infantry because he's rolled a six for command.  Would the horse have done this?  Not sure but it did make a great game.

I think we might have to revisit some of the national characteristics as there appears to be some anomalies amongst them.  But that doesn't stop the rules from playing well.

All figures from the collections of Steve, Andy & Tony.  Scenery from the Grimsby Wargames Society shelves.