Thanks to Ken Marshall I get a lift up from Gloucestershire each time, and it's not far so we arrived about 0845 on the Saturday morning, though everyone else had made a Friday night of it and were eager for the "off".
Here's a quick tour of the room near the start:
|Will Harley's 1750's Imagi-Nations game|
|Michael Perry's AWI game before the appearance of troops|
|Steve Metheringham explains his unique mid 18th century "shiny soldiers" game with wonderful 40mm miniatures|
|Tony Dillon's humorous take on a Peninsular War hunt/forage/clash of arms|
|Paul Robinson's large Danish and Swedish armies had yet to appear on the table at this early hour|
After the handshakes and quick hellos to old friends and "catchyoulaters" to newcomers my priority was to set up my military and hussarette paintings display in the adjoining breakout room.
|Pleased to say seven of these did not come home with me - thank you chaps|
I'd barely done that when Will Harley was thrusting his annual gift into my hand - a lovely standard bearer from his classic collection, and saying "If you fancy my game the Prussians await you". How could one refuse?!!
Willz Harley - 1750 Imagi-Nations seize the wagons extravaganza
I found myself commanding the allied army of Savoy and Prussia along with Martin Binks against the Tiberian forces of Paul Spence and Gary Phillips - two formidable opponents. I'll let the briefs do the talking:
The Tiberians had troops and sundry wagons spread all over the crowded terrain between us and the river and Willz had deployed our army roughly along our baseline. He gave us limited scope to rearrange the starting positions so, without much hope in the face of all those hedges and buildings, I gave Martin two powerful looking cuirassier regiments with the suggestion they led a thrust on the left centre while I held and refused the right flank mostly with infantry. Our task was to capture wagons and get our troops over the river, although, as you can see, the latter was guarded by two powerful batteries in redoubts, so I felt it was going to be a case of enjoy pushing the classic Spencer Smith toys but don't expect much chance of winning! However, the game to was to prove to have hidden depths not evident to my Prussians at the start!
|Savoy and Prussia on left baseline, Tiberians over most of the battlefield. Battle opened on the left with Martin advancing his Hussars but they were facing Gary's Cuirassiers|
|Gary and Paul had wagons and troops constantly on the move in both directions - what were they up to? On the near left Martin is advancing his whole wing as fast as possible. My guns and cuirassiers top a hill in the foreground.......|
|.........where it was evident they would be met by lance-armed enemies|
|Paul made orderly progress towards me on his left flank|
|A closer view of Martin's Savoy Army on our left flank.....|
|.....and the formidable cuirassiers opposite them|
|A nice overall view at this stage - note the bright red wagon in the centre with all those shiny chests in, wonder what they are?|
|Martin now had his hands full on the extreme left......|
|In addition it was very difficult to make any progress past the walls and|
hedges with those guns opposite
|A single Tiberian battalion was to hold that brown-roof house and courtyard against all|
comers throughout the game
|Paul was amassing a sinister amount of troops against my refused flank -|
but he was about to overreach himself
|Our cavalry finally clashed in the centre. My downhill charge seemed to be |
negated by those lances
|On our left Gary had managed to amass strong forces to match Martin's cuirassiers |
and the latter were not getting the best of it
|Here they are discussing a complex 3-way attack on the brown roof house.......|
|Never mind the ignominy of the push back Martin, this photo just allows us to drink in the wonderful classic Spencer Smith figures so beautifully painted by Willz|
|Subtly our opponents were beginning to get their wagons across the river|
"Every wargame battlefield needs a pontoon bridge" (Will Harley 2019)
|"View of the Weser Valley with coffee mug" by Sir Joshua Gregg RA. |
Er, not quite, but in the foreground those Tiberian cavalry are about to regret coming within
musket range of more Grenadiers
|Martin has been repelled from both the brown-roof house and across the whole flank, oh dear!|
|The initiative dice gods have been helpful, and together with Riesling on hand|
to organise things I am protecting my right while forging ahead with a
Grenadier brigade to get that treasure wagon
|Above and below: The indomitable Gary now was determined to thwart me with flanking fire|
but the Morale of those Grenadiers held (Riesling's reroll again!) and they were able to deliver
the death blow to Paul's now very weak wagon guards
|Above and below: Encouraged as I was by my success the sight of our opponents|
inexorably edging their wagons towards the river made me assume all was lost.
|.....especially as poor Martin seems to have been repulsed on all fronts (those are his dead lining the baseline!)|
|End of game and my right flank is pushing back the enemy with a wall of grenadier musketry|
backed up by Hussar support
|In the centre I'm undisputed master of the red wagon of treasure at last.......but it was the only one we captured!|
It was time for lunch and both sides agreed we had played long enough. For our part on the Savoy/Prussian side doing any better now seemed a forlorn hope but little did we know that our opponents also felt they might have lost! As Willz totted up the points he gave us 10 for the pretty wagon and 10 for completely destroying one of the enemy units, and he did a quick count of the enemy wagons which would get away - that came to 40 points, so why the long faces? Well....it appeared that a significant objective for the Tiberians was to get units to safety across the Weser River and all our zealous efforts had:
a. pinned them sufficiently that they'd sacrificed troops for wagons
b. cut off nearly half their army from successful retreat even though we hadn't realised!
Whatever the actual calculation Willz declared it a draw! What a brilliant game it had turned out to be.
We were using once again the one page SYW rules made available free by Jim Purky and this year I got a really good run with them. Gary, as ever, proved a real asset as he masters rule sets very quickly and was always on hand to make sure of a sensible interpretation when we were in doubt - thanks Gary. Although there were a few points we did not necessarily agree with I would recommend these for anyone who wants a reasonably fast game that is rich in nuanced period tactical elements but free of any command and control restrictions. Both Gary and I suggested that it would have been a better game still for both sides' objectives if there had been more clear areas on the table. So for subsequent sessions Willz took out quite a few surplus terrain features and reported later that the game was indeed better for it. Thanks Willz for a very entertaining time.
Perry Twins - AWI: Destroy the rebel arsenal
I secured my place in this one before we had lunch as the terrain was just "to die for", and the armies were the Perry's own from their, mostly plastic, AWI range. Rules were Black Powder, which they knew backwards of course, so there was no rule-book scanning or consultation delays. Alan said it was Michael's game but both of them kept things moving well for the next 2.5 hours or so.
Our opponents were Douglas Thomson, Steve Pearse and Stuart Insch
|Michael and Alan Perry explain the forces to us|
I volunteered to be "proper British" as Michael put it, rather than rebel British, but as the commands got handed out I was nominated to command the Hessian Brigade, Tim Whitworth got the British Line Brigade and Dave Andrews the Elite Brigade (Grenadiers, Light infantry, Scots etc). Our aim was to march across a river onto the table then get most of the way up it to take control of a rebel arsenal where we could capture the arms and ammo stores and destroy the buildings - well that was the theory!
Our opponents were Douglas Thomson, Steve Pearse and Stuart Insch
|Start of the game: Michael and I are standing near where my Hessians are beginning their march on. Doug is about to roll successful initiative for the first rebel brigade. (Photo - kind permission of Stuart Insch)|
|Hessians march on the field......|
|.....but American riflemen are lurking|
|At the bridge on my right Dave got a poor initiative roll to start|
|Hessian Jagers suffer casualties and a shaken marker (puff of smoke) from the marksmen ahead|
|The Jagers fall back but their accompanying amusette gun was allowed to lurk under a beautiful Pear (Perry!) tree|
|Meanwhile a rebel brigade marched up to man the arsenal.......|
|........and those pesky riflemen took up a new position to my front and inflicted more "shaken" which halted the column|
|Opposite my Hessians those skirmishers were now being backed up by a line of, I think, militia along the fence|
|Tim was trying to find a way past my stalled Hessians with his British brigade|
and my Jagers returned to the fray along the road
|Here's Tim moving his men up watched by Steve and Alan|
|Dave had unfortunately been forced back to take refuge around the church.........|
|...but Tim had found that to be an avenue of approach free of enemy fire on him|
|Dave's retreat had enabled the rebels to try to form another defensive line, |
but in doing so one battalion offered a tempting flank
|Above and below: for the moment it looked like the Americans had the|
|To my right Tim had formed a beautiful two battalion deep attacking column|
| My Hessian line battalions had been able to charge and see off the |
marksmen but suffered fire from the fenceline as a result - more shaken
|Dave seemed to having some luck reforming his Elite brigade......|
|Just as well that Tim's troops were doing so well.|
|Above and below: Dave was managing to bring some of his units back into action, |
although those hit markers suggest they are fragile.
|This overall photo gives a good indication of the temporary lull that had occurred as the Allies tried to recover from losses and the Americans were forced back in defence of the arsenal|
|Tim's brigade goes on the attack and receives incoming fire|
|A successful attack - the fence line breached and the American brigade crumbling|
|This was the last photo I took and with my brigade out of it I wasn't paying close attention, but given this Move was followed by handshakes all round I conclude the American defence had collapsed and the Arsenal was to fall into British hands|
So, not my finest hour, and I'm no more an enthusiast for Blackpowder rules than I was before. My Hessians had been used as good mercenaries - take the flak, absorb the opposition effort and let the big boys move in to take the victory. But hey! I got to game with the Perry's with their toys on their terrain, how much better can your wargaming get? (rhetorical question!)
Michael very kindly answered all my questions about the lovely terrain. The setup normally lives in his home and doesn't travel, so we were doubly privileged. I gather it was originally made by Dave Andrews then has gone through several conversions since, finally ending up being coated over most of the surface by a specially made sheet that includes all the grass tufts ready in place, then cut up as necessary and blended in. No, they are not Warlord commercial tufts all stuck down by hand! Another advantage of this is that cut pieces can be placed at the base of hills to blend them in, as well as to conceal the joins between baseboards. Here are some close-up photos for fans of terrain and Perry Miniatures.........
This was followed by the habitual pint in the sunshine in the hotel garden chatting away merrily with whoever.....in my case catching up with Martin Gane, now sporting a lovely beard since his Antipodean and Southeast Asian tour, and his friend Paul Spence. Coincidentally Paul had purchased all my ex-Quatre Bras Hanoverian Landwehr on eBay only a month before, so this was a great opportunity to get to know one another and see a video of his lovely villa in France complete with two storey wargames barn.
In the evening we had a brilliant curry dinner and more games for those who weren't suffering (yet) from excess of food and drink. I had a pleasant hour rolling some dice in a game of "Blood and Plunder" put on by Gavin and Leigh. This is a commercial Pirate game they sell in the shop in Redcar as well as online. Looks good to me if you are into small area, but intense and challenging, skirmish games. Here are some photos of the beautiful figures and ships:
Sunday morning came around and I needed to get my own back on Tony as he's attended a few games at my house and now here was my chance to play one of his. Besides that he had intrigued me a couple of months earlier by sending me a copy of his "Napoker" rules which he had used at a participation game at a show. Very simple to pick up but harder to master. Unfortunately my opponents here were Tony's friend, Phil Walters, who was very familiar with Napoker, and Aly Morrison, who can be guaranteed to thwart an opponent with a combination of devil-may-care attitude, an "I'm always unlucky"modesty, and broad Scottish humour. I had to handle 11 British and Spanish units on my own, taking on the guises of both Richard Sharpe and Prince "Sweet" William of Orange, so I had very little time to relax and even less to take photos. Happily all the ones I took turned out well.
|Phil and Aly in a rare moment of seriousness|
The photos can't tell a proper story as I didn't really know what was going on! My units had to find Richard Sharpe's wife Teresa - here's a photo "anyone seen this woman?"
And here is the beautiful Spanish village tabletop on which she may be found. Also it was part of the victory points to gain food, drink or gold in the form of game tokens. The French characters spent a lot of the game (and movement points) in conveying couriers, wagons, supplies, a pontoon bridge, ladies of ill repute, a French Lieutenant's woman and goodness knows what else. Boy, did they appear busy and diverted! But they still found time and energy to send many squads against my men.
|Above and below: Sharpe's and Billy's Rifles kick in doors and explore|
the houses for loot and Teresa
|Above and below: All a mystery to me - skinny dipping French |
engineers with a pontoon bridge to build, and various ADCs delivering letters
The next pictures show that some kinetic action was taking place between the protagonists and I was getting the worst of it.
|Wagons come into town carrying who knows what?|
|Tony takes a well earned drink (of fizzy water!). He was working hard to keep it all on track|
|No, Aly's not bowing to my camera - he's taking a picture with his own while |
Phil directs Aly's attack on a house where they think Riflemen are lurking
|The pontoon bridge takes shape while the workers display their torsos as if starring in "Poldark"|
|I had found Teresa fairly early but had a hairy time getting her back to my baseline. Here I'm using Spanish groups to fend off Aly's voltigeurs while she escaped|
|The French had engineers to help them bash in the doors|
|Tortured bodies of Frenchmen are discovered|
After I got Teresa away and just kept on trying to find the provisions and gold the game seemed to be getting tedious. This was because of the way the playing cards were allocated, and we were both generally firing from cover, no casualties were being lost......until the French discovered one of their objectives. These were the bodies of comrades tortured by the Spanish and it so incensed Phil's forces that a dice roll indicated three of his units had to rush into the open and charge the nearest enemies to get revenge. Unfortunately for him I had a really nice hand that turn with an Ace and a King for Firing and Melee - practically unassailable and Phil and Aly lost about 8 figures in one turn.
that greatly evened up the body count with me still at a deficit of 2. We both achieved maximum points for objectives but I had a 2 point advantage on goods found. So honours were exactly even and it was a draw. A brilliantly devised scenario that kept us guessing all the way to the glass of "looted" wine served to me by Tony just in time for another big lunch and the prize giving!
Tony won the popular votes for both "Best Looking Game" and "Best in Show", so his head was soon too big for his chapeau - well deserved though and he had worked hard to entertain all weekend from the Friday night Quiz onwards.
The other games
There is just not enough time to try everything and it's inevitable that I neglect the games I did not participate in. Here are a few pics of Steve M's and Paul R's games and you can find more on other blogs - especially Aly's (link below).
The WG weekend is always a nice chance to exchange presents or get new stuff without postage. Willz always gives everyone a hand painted classic figure - he is very generous, thank you. Colin had organised souvenir mugs and at his suggestion I used my painting of the Wild Geese Clare Regiment 1743 to digitise a new design for WGWG19 for us to use on it. Although Graham Cummings couldn't make it we all received our orders of Crann Tara figures via Gavin. In my case it was a load of the new 18th Century sailors and some armed civilians. And to give them something to sail in I got two of the Blood and Plunder longboats from Gavin's store Gaming Figures
I mentioned the other blogs so here are links to the ones I can find that record this wonderful weekend