Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Cotswold Wargaming Day: a growing phenomenon

Last year I was invited by Keith Flint to the first Cotswold Wargaming Day and although "only" 18 people attended it was agreed to be a great idea and so Keith has organised an expanded version in 2019. This year's saw an increase of 60-70% in both attendees and the number of participation games to choose from.  The event took place on 1st September in a very spacious community hall in the ancient Cotswold village of Northleach, where Keith, and Stuart Asquith, both live.  As far as I am aware it wasn't so much about home grown Cotswold games but also by the generosity of some very enthusiastic gamers who were willing to travel far to show us a good time. I'm aware of game organisers coming from Ivybridge, and Exmouth, in Devon, Basingstoke in Hampshire and Coventry in Warwickshire; Roy and Shaun are local though, not sure about the others, but thank you all from wherever.

First a tour of the games then I will dwell on Phil Olley's 1704 game in which I was privileged to control the Astrovian army.

SYW Imagi-Nations with Spencer-Smith classic miniatures
William Harley and Steve Pearse came all the way up from Plymouth once again to put on a lovely looking game with Willz's mid 18th Century 30mm classic Spencer Smiths which have had well deserved airings on this blog before.  Willz is still using Jim Purky's two-page rules which give a very good game

Who can resist Hussars in Light Blue? Not me!
Oops! Where did this gratuitous painting of Natalie spring from?!!!
Oh well, I'm sure Willz won't mind........

Always drawing spectators for what must be one of the nicest looking SSM collections in England
left to right: Steve Pearse. unknown (sorry), Willz Harley, Dillon Browne. Dillon told me he was impressed with the rules and is likely to give them a tryout in his new project - Jacobites from Crann Tara Miniatures (see my sidebar for CT blog link)

Haitian Revolution in 28mm using Sharp Practice rules
Another lovely looking game with plenty of Caribbean character for this unusual subject from 1791. The armies were very mixed containing lots of regulars and irregulars including armed females, always a weak spot with me.

Those musket-armed women crossing a bridge

"The other Stuart" won the Stuart Asquith Trophy for this one
 - overall Best Game

Wars of the Vaubarian Succession by Phil Olley and Steve Gill

The main attraction for me, and more on this game later. This is Phil's latest project using mainly Front Rank Marlburian period figures for his two Imagi-Nation states of Vaubaria and Astrovia. This was the first game he and Steve had ever played with the rules and it was a kind of "live" playtest before they took it on the road to Shows. As Phil's classic approach and superbly presented games were among my chief inspirations about 10 years ago for my own armies this was like being a "roadie" helping your favourite group prepare for a world tour! How special does that make my day?!
I had plenty of time to talk to my hero and it may surprise some to learn that, despite our friendship going back to 2010 when Phil welcomed me to be part of the "team" contributing to his Classic Wargamers Journal, we had never rolled dice across the same table before. I hope it won't be so long before the next time! For now - a selection of photos I took before the pair had fortified themselves with a bacon roll breakfast.

Phil gives me an initial briefing on the game

Well equipped with posters and notices for the tour

Yes this is the famous Phil Olley windmill with battery operated sails
that twirled silently all day

Phil has provided the following: "Apart from the windmill, all the buildings were made by Brian Rigelsford, painted by me.
The close up detail is quite astonishing on many of them (swallows nests under the eaves, broken down chimney pots, and so on). I'm lucky to have them as Brian no longer produces such works of art, having stopped making buildings a few years ago, as far as I know."
The statue in the town square is a fantastic detail

Western Gunfight by Shaun Mutton
I did not see this in action but suffice to say Shaun of Dreamholme Scenics, who is fairly local to me, won the prize for best terrain, and I hope you will see from the fantastic vignettes and buildings in my photos that it was a worthy choice

Mexican Adventure by Matt Bennett and Roy Boss
Roy and Matt entertained me in spectacular fashion this time last year with "Talavera" using "20mm" Hinton Hunt figures. This year Matt had brought along more classics in 25mm and a scenario from the relatively little known French excursion in Mexico in 1862. I think they were once again using the Napoleonic-themed "Muskets and Marshals" rules. Terrain was by Roy and certainly looked the part. From what I saw in gaps in my own action this was pretty fast moving with some sweeping flank moves.

Bombing run over Berlin by Bruce McCallum
I'm afraid I know nothing about this game but if you are an aircraft fan I imagine you would be well impressed. Even I can appreciate the effort that must go into presentation and execution of a game like this.

Crimean period in 6mm by Dave Fielder

Not really sure if "Crimean" is right but you can see for yourselves from the description handily on display by Dave and his mates from Exmouth. Nicely presented 6mm figures from Bacchus and Adler I believe. We discussed "big heads" versus Heroics and Ros human proportions and an event like this does give you a chance to see another perspective. Personally I prefer proper proportions every time and paint your figures accordingly.

They won the prize for "Most Gentlemanly Wargamers"
Battle of the Elbaubach
Time now for a deeper look into Phil and Steve's lovely (and lively) game.  My opponent, Martin, and I found ourselves with a fait accompli on opening dispositions so we both had to decide how to manoeuvre from there to complete the mission to "command the crossing" of the Elbaubach river.
Martin had the beautiful Vaubarians, in their Bavarian style light blue uniforms, and I had the white coated, but equally splendid, Astrovians.  I'll let the photos tell the story.

Opening move and both sides get nearer the river. I decide to give overhead cover fire from my battery on the hill while limbering the other to command the bridge at close quarters
I formed my grenadiers into column to march behind the front line and hope to contest the bridge - that's what it was supposed to be about after all!

On my left both sides had light troops and I wanted to make use of those woods with mine

Martin was moving his guns up now and the infantry were in musket range.
 His three battalions to my two was beginning to tell
Stuart A came calling on his game judging round
Above and below: I had intended to make a fight of it at the river but the superior musketry  and some cannon fire made me realise pulling back and firing as I went was the only option for survival. My guns were beginning to cause morale checks on Martin's infantry too. On both flanks the cavalry were theoretically within charge range

Above and below: Martin had inflicted a couple of hits on my heavy cavalry with his artillery so he charged with his, and I countercharged. I was lucky to win and poor Martin did not survive the morale test so routed away. Mine were allowed by the rules a free move to "rally back"; that seemed very generous to me.

Above and below: Evidently an attack-minded wargamer Martin charged my Light cavalry with his. I was in a run of rolling a lot of good dice this day and so a similar result happened on this flank too! My die roll indicated that the Hussars followed up their success straight away and that finished off that lovely light blue unit (where was Natalie when they needed her powers of distraction!!!)
On the left I have calmly waited in the woods with my wild and woolly light troops and again Martin has decided to charge in with his smart dismounted Dragoons rather than stand off to fire
The dragoons suffered fire as they charged in and were repulsed.
Martin, not surprisingly somewhat miffed, and Phil suitably sympathetic
The windmill still twirled as Martin began a withdrawal from his riverside position which had suddenly become very vulnerable with cavalry on both flanks. My artillery and Grenadiers consolidated control of the Elbaubach bridge
Martin and his Vaubarians called it a day at that point, don't blame him.
Wargaming inevitable retreats is not much fun and lunchtime was beckoning......
We all spent an interesting time reflecting on the tactics, the rules,
 and giving hopefully constructive feedback
Phil won the prize for "Best painted figures", though Stuart A had to admit he was torn
over these or Willz' SSMs

Phil and Steve thanked us for being "guinea pigs"; well the trial was painless for me at least and extremely satisfying, I had good dice but I also think the more cautious tactics, hopefully reflecting this period of firefights over melee, paid off. Whatever the results had been the chance to have the "Phil Olley game experience" was an ambition I have held for 10 years and I was not disappointed. Thank you both.  So if you see "The War of the Vaubarian Succession" on tour at shows do have a go, you will enjoy it and find the game hosts very friendly and modest.

Being the perfect show host Keith had to have a go at this beautiful game in the afternoon......and beat Steve at his own new rules!

No Keith is not annoyed, just listening intently
Some smoke had appeared for the afternoon game - it would be a shame not to show it

Thanks Keith, you are putting the Cotswolds on the wargaming map. Hopefully just as good or even better next year. Readers - put Sunday 30th August 2020 in your diary.


  1. For the official account of CWD 19 please see Keith Flint's blog
    http://keefsblog.blogspot.com/2019/09/cotswold-wargaming-day-2019-post-match.html and there is a link in my right hand sidebar.

  2. Thanks Chris, great to have more photos to look at and to get a take on your own experience.

    I had a blast, a very busy but delightful day with lots of old and new friends to chat with.

    I hope to see you at the show next year.

  3. An excellent post Chris, thank you for all your praise and kind comments about my Spencer Smith's I am humbled. The other chap's name at my table was Neil (do not know his last name). I was we had got longer to have a chat but the fantastic day went by to fast.
    Thank you for displaying your art work it is always nice to see, we will have a good catch up at Kenilworth 2020.
    Steve and me had a fantastic day and I wish I could have played the other games, once again thank you for this wonderful post.
    I will link your blog on TWW and LAW forums if that's ok.

    Happy gaming,
    Will Harley.

    1. Thanks Willz happy for you to link my post anywhere you think folks will be interested

  4. Thanks for some wonderful pics of the day Chris, as I had little chance to take many given our Crimean game went to the wire. lovely to get your thoughts as well as some good detail shots of the various games.

    1. Thank you and Dave for your appreciation and for coming all that way to show your interesting armies

  5. Thanks Chris for your comments on my air game; you should have said hello! It was the battle of Tangerhuette (6 Mar 1944), a swarm attack by the Luftwaffe as the American bombers approached Berlin.
    I must give credit to my colleague, Colin Wilcox (in green in the photos, I'm in orange), since he painted all those excellent bombers.
    This is becoming my favourite show; everyone's friendly, and it's at just the right scale where you can have relaxed games without the distractions.

    1. Thanks Bruce. I'm afraid I'm a Horse and Musket and Terrain man (see elsewhere on this blog) and know nothing much about aircraft so I can appreciate the models but visually I'd have liked to see a 3D map of Berlin underneath them!!

  6. Great collection of photos for what looked like an excellent day!