Ken Marshall had organised a very challenging SYW Imagi-Nations game for us in my little Cotswold retreat the Friday evening beforehand and so we were able to make an early start on Saturday morning and do the 1.5 hour run to Kenilworth by 0900.
|Setting up at the start of WGWG18|
After setting up my painting stall I was a bit tardy from the starting blocks and so, Tony Dillon, remembering he owed me for his participation in the West Country Quatre Bras (2nd day's play report in process) graciously gave me his best troops in Willz Harley's fantastically nostalgic Spencer Smith Miniatures 18th Century Imagi-Nations game. I can't praise these armies too highly. Will has brought painting the simple SS figures to a peak of beauty I could never have imagined when I had my armies as a teenager. Sadly my photos don't do them justice so look around the blogosphere for more pics of them.
|From left: Tony, Alan, Willz, Steve and Martin|
|My Cuirassiers and Grenadiers|
|Enemy commander in the centre|
|Artillery support on our side|
|Discretion is the better part of valour for my remaining Cuirassiers|
|Alan enjoys Tony's sense of humour (don't we all?)|
|A life in the fashion industry obviously informs Martin's camera friendly|
|Cavalry on the Alan-Steve front|
|Near the end game on my flank|
|The final positions: remaining grenadiers break from the building and the opposition infantry merely retreat|
Straight after lunch it was on to the Great Northern War. I was determined to play in one of Paul Robinson's big games this year as I had missed out both the previous two years by giving priority to Colin's SYW games, which is my favoured period. One is always spoiled for choice at these events - Four great games and only time slots for three. However, to me, Paul is one of the gurus of our hobby who runs one of the best clubs in the UK, at Grimsby, and seems to have developed a knack of managing his time to fit in working for a living, regular gaming, building up armies, developing his own rules and generously supporting blogs like my humble effort with his thoughts. So a real privilege for me, and I wanted to see how he masterminds a game with 6 players and 1000+ figures in just 2.5 hours.
|Paul gives us the situation briefing. From left Graham, Martin, Michael and Paul. My force is in the foreground|
- Designing your own rules so you know them back to front without reference to notes
- Practising your game so you can bring in nuances and objectives you know will work in the time
- Not burdening the players with even a Quick Ref Sheet but giving them a quick verbal briefing on the essential points at the start and then being prepared to help them through all situations all over the table (exhausting!!!)
- Slick rules mechanisms - but the clever bit is that you get meaningful results quickly but not necessarily at the expense of units collapsing straight away. In this case situational pros and cons worked through a sliding scale of dice used - D6, D8, D10 and D12. I don't normally like this, believing that two different dice are enough in any game, however with Paul guiding everyone, and using his complete knowledge we didn't have to think much about mechanisms, just the tactics. This was what he told me was his aim at the start, and it was achieved.
|Doug contemplates the Swedish defence of the town|
|Cavalry move forward in the centre|
|My infantry approach Michael's Russian line|
|Extreme right flank - the first of many clashes......|
|....and facing up for another nearer the centre|
|Swedish cavalry near the river|
|Swedish cavalry always seemed to be outnumbered|
|Facing up across that beautifully modelled marsh|
|Our success partially depended on these hairy fellows in the town|
|My infantry get to grips with Michael's and neither of us came away intact......|
|.....Leaving the Russians more than a little worried as I make some room to spare two regiments to march off after the wagons and bring up reinforcements|
|A general view around the middle of our battle. See those cavalry blocking the road?|
|Russian cavalry take flight......|
|.....but the Swedish cavalry have to reform, and the wagon train comes to a halt!|
|Michael has reformed and managed to make his|
infantry line look formidable again
|Winged Hussars were much in evidence, sadly I only got one useable photo|
|Russians cross the marsh and attack|
|Doug makes a solid defence|
|The cavalry clash again in the centre and at last frees up the road for|
my wagon train
|More Russian cavalry head rearwards|
|Two Russians had routed now this big one to deal with.......|
|.........who make a rapid exit.......|
|.....and even a wargaming Legend can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear|
Looking to my left Gavin had rallied and counter attacked and the Russian cavalry in the centre was diminishing in front of him. My wagons could get past him and on towards the town, where, despite the pressure and difficulties facing his irregular troops, Doug was holding out.
|More or less the final situation|
Thank you Paul for a great game and an education in how it's done.
Well, it seems it's now becoming traditional to sit in a big circle in the sunshine of the hotel garden drinking beer, followed by an evening meal, and then more socialising as a big group on the hotel terrace till very late into the evening. I got to know a few new people, caught up with some who by now seemed old friends (though before 2014 I knew no one in this gathering) and generally enjoyed the atmosphere. I anticipated Sunday would bring "something completely different" in the form of the Zulu game, and hope that Gary did not assume my Boddington's-induced hangover was any reflection on his umpiring style!
|Gary checks the rule book, but very rarely needed to do so|
I'm joking of course because this was to be a highlight for me. Gary Phillips is another under estimated wargaming power house who organises mega games with his very active club mates in Norfolk and I have admired his efficient style close up at the two previous Kenilworth events. I was really looking forward to his game and was not to be disappointed. Gary was very well organised and worked out a super 1879 Zulu War scenario using the "Men Who Would Be Kings" rule set. Martin (again) together with Des Darkin and Steve Metheringham and me were each commanders of a group of British or allied companies together tasked with burning a Zulu kraal and then getting away safely (in fact we had to get 6 out of the 12 units off the table). Gary supervised the random Zulu appearances using the "Mr Babbage" mechanisms in the rule book and Tony Dillon was his highly amusing dogsbody handling the bands of not-always-so-ferocious Zulus accompanied by chanting and shield bashing sound effects.
|Steve, Des and Martin|
|Tony psychs himself up before adopting the frenzied Zulu war chant pose|
|Some of the beautifully painted troops we were able to use|
|General view of our opening dispositions|
|Infantry now inside the kraal support the cavalry under pressure|
|My engineers about to burn the first hut. Steve's cavalry head to the far hut......|
|......Fight hard and burn it then get hit on the way back|
|Engineers burn the third hut after the Zulus had been pinned by rifle fire|
|General view of our retreat near the end. All the remaining Zulu units are now pinned|
|Heroes of the day - the engineers retreat without having lost a man|
|2nd Company reduced to 5 figures beats a hasty retreat. In the foreground 1st|
company in open order can fire 360 degrees and so succeeds in holding off
the last Zulu threat
And so now it was time for Sunday Lunch, awarding of prizes (I got one but modesty forbids me saying what for) and a final catch up before things wound down for a group photo and watching England in the World Cup for those who could not wait for the TV highlights programme. I also got some presents from Will Harley and a souvenir mug from Colin, so quite a nice haul....and I also sold a few paintings to existing clients who I'd like to think are now "fans":-). Another bonus was to see a mock up of Stuart Insch's forthcoming book on the 1759 Sugar Islands Campaign in which I have two full-page illustrations. Stuart expects it to be published soon and be sensibly priced, so a must-have for anyone who likes small scale actions in exotic locations (and I don't mean Madame DuCharmey's bodice!). More info in due course.
|Above and below: - my painting display|
Talking of Colin I can't finish this without saying that he put on a splendid looking late 17th Century game with bands of cavalrymen gathering mistresses along the way to compete against each other - Versailles: The Wargame. It's a period I know nothing about but it looked great with lots of humorous vignettes, and justly won the prize for "Best Looking Game". Here are some photos:
|Guy, Ken and Colin about to start a game of Versailles: The Wargame|
|Above: Colin had gone to a lot of trouble with vignettes and special terrain |
features such as vineyards