Saturday, 15 September 2018

Colours 2018 - A Day at the Races

Colours has, for a long time, been my favourite wargaming show; it is not too far, it is very easy to get to and has a good mix of traders and demo/participation games in a very nice venue. It also happens to occur at that time of year when my thoughts really turn back to all things wargaming related.

So after a pleasant drive down to Newbury racecourse, I joined the small queue, only for the organisers to walk down the line allowing us to pre-pay to get in, which was great. They also happened to open the doors about 10 minutes early, which was even better.

My first port of call was the Pendraken stand to collect a pre-order of SYW British and '45 Jacobites. After a quick chat with Dave and Leon, I dropped my package off a the car and then headed back in for a first quick wander around. There I met my good friends Craig, who was putting on a demo game and Keith, who like myself, was just a visitor.

I took plenty of pics of the games that interested me and I will try and add comments as I attempt to remember what the games were, as the layout bore little resemblance to that in the printed show guide. No big deal but it did confuse quite a few visitors. So without further ado...

A lovely little late medieval game, put on by Penarth Wargames Society.

The figures were very well painted with some lovely flags on display.

The table looked pretty good to me, with some nice details like the cattle in the foreground.

A lovely looking table with a great ship in the harbour, including an AA gun by the funnel.

I'm not sure if this was Vietnam or modern East Africa. either way it was a great looking game.

Simon Millar and Andrew Brentnall's 'To the Strongest' game which, as always, looked fantastic.

Simon's figures are really a joy to behold.

The village of Soggy Bottom?

Also on display were some of Andrew's wonderful 10mm figures.

The retreat from Moscow in 40mm.

I'm not a big fan of winter based games (it's a visual thing I think) but this looked pretty good.

I didn't get chance to check all of the details on the table, but the sled on the bridge caught my eye.

The Zeebruge raid, 1918 IIRC.

Not sure what scale was being played, but the ships were very, very nice.

1st Chechen War game put on by my fried Craig, using his Beta version rules and his superb Chechen War range of figures.

The table was not complete, but will be for Fiasco in Leeds. However, details such as the teddy bear on the roundabout caught my eye.

All of the terrain was scratch built by Craig and his friend John.

A simply wonderful WWI game. I think they put on a game last year. 

The table was full of nice details, such as this archaeological excavation.

The fort and German base at the far end of the table.

I just loved the plane being towed away.

A view from the Turkish/German lines.

British armoured cars ready to go into action.

A Napoleonic General d'Armee game.

There was lots of action going on spread right across the table.

Fighting erupts around the church.

Operation Goodwood using Rapid Fire rules. A simple but visually pleasing table nonetheless.

The British try to push past a town...

... but brew up in rapid succession.

A Cold War game based upon a board game but using figures rather than counters.

Arnhem 1944. I really wanted to see more of this game but it was rather popular, so was hard to get a good view.

The planes and village looked great.

The table was very long and certainly gave the feel or trying to advance up a single road.

A Society of Ancients game.

A visitor looks less than impressed with another 'line 'em up' Ancients bash;)

A very, very nice Sharpe Practice II game set in Japan towards the end of the 19thC by the look of it.

The buildings and details were wonderful

Samurai and soldiers together. What's not to like?

The enemy the other side of the bridge.

An Ancients game using Swordpoint.

Every self respecting Ancients gamer wants elephants on the table.

Leman from the Pendraken forum and a game of 'Daisho' I believe.

The small table looked great...

... as did the figures.

Post Show Thoughts
Well I hope the pics gave an impression of what was on offer this year. I thought I'd jot down some thoughts on the show in general, so in no particular order:

  • I thought the show was very good this year, with a good mix of demo and participation games on display. Some were of no interest to me at all, such as the Star Wars and What a Tanker games, but they looked to be popular. It was nice to see a mix of scales on show which, being a fan of 10mm, was good as in the past at has been a bit too much 28mm centric.
  • In previous years there hasn't seemed to be much actual playing of the games, but this year I'm pleased to say there was. Lets hope this carries on in future years.
  • As always the social side of a show is important and it was good to meet up with friends, fellow forum members and old club mates. This year I seemed to bump into quite a few, which was a nice bonus.
  • Walking the show with Keith I think gave me a different perspective on things, as he is a dyed in the wool 28mm gamers these days. It certainly made it more enjoyable that's for sure. We were both very impressed by the sheer amount of stuff on offer and, in particular, the quality of laser cut mdf products that has really come on in the past year. Thank God I'm no longer into 28mm games as otherwise the temptation to buy lots of stuff may have been too hard to resist!
  • I did notice that Timecast were not at the show this year and Foundry were noticeable by their absence. I know there has been a trend of some traders of not attending some or all shows over the past few years due to the time and costs involved.
  • The show was very busy for the first few hours, in fact making it quite hard to see some of the tables or traders, but come lunchtime it quietened down quite a lot which made it much easier to have a good look at all that was on offer.
  • The demographic of Colours was noticeably different to that of Salute. The greying of the hobby was very noticeable today but, despite that, the hobby looks to be in remarkable good health, which was very satisfying to see.
  • Both Keith and I enjoyed perusing the bookstalls, with Anita's Books proving to be extremely good value. On the book front it must be 'hats off' to Helion & co for the sheer range of material that they are bringing out, most of it extremely high quality. 

My haul proved to be relatively small, with only an Osprey book on the Jacobite Army for the '45 and some miscast 15mm gabions, which look to be perfect for my 10mm forces, actually bought at the show.

So all-in-all a very pleasant few hours were spent at the show. I always come away enthused to get back to the gaming, modelling or painting table and this year was no exception. I'm not sure what my next show will be, most likely Reveille II in Bristol in early December.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A Chance Encounter - An Honours of War AAR

Following the recent Cotswold Wargaming Day, my mind has been somewhat focused on the 18thC when it comes to wargaming. Having seen Karl's wonderful British troops at the show, I decided to treat myself to a small force from Pendraken. Now they could fight my Austrians, but with our daughter in Edinburgh at Uni and our foray into the '45 a year or so ago, a Jacobite force was an obvious choice, figures again from Pendraken. 

So whilst in the 18thC groove and with some time on my hands, I thought it time to dig out my wooden blocks and get a game of HoW in. Now I have plenty of scenario books kicking around, so I dug out my copy of 'Scenarios For All ages' by Grant & Asquith and decided upon 'Scenario 25: Chance Encounters.' The broad details are that both sides are advancing either side of a river, unaware of each others presence due to early morning mist. Once the mist burns off, the are suddenly aware of each other. I thought this would make for something a bit different. More information can be found below:

Scenario Details
Both sides organise there forces into a line-of-march as they see fit. This is how they will enter via their respective table edges. How far in they are when the mist lifts is determined by the roll of a D6, the number relating to how close they are to one of the 3 bridges over the small stream. The stream is fordable, but it is vital to take control of the bridges to allow artillery and supply wagons to cross the stream

Order of Battle for Prussia & Austria
Both sides have identical troops, but the quality of their commanders is determined after they have been placed (Note that the Prussians use the post 1760 table). Both sides ended up with Dithering Cavalry Brigade commanders, whilst the Austrians managed to get a Dashing Infantry Brigade commander

1 x Cavalry Brigade with 2 units of Dragoons.
1 x Infantry Brigade with 2 units of Line infantry
1 x Infantry Brigade with 1 unit of Grenadiers (Superior), 1 unit of Line infantry and 1 Light Artillery piece (rated as Superior for the Austrians)
1 x Light Infantry unit (Independent)

For ease of set up, both sides deployed in the same line-of-march, with the Prussians having the head of their column in the middle of the table, whilst the Austrians only managed to be opposite the first bridge crossing. So with both sides deployed, it was time to get on with the game. I've annotated the images to hopefully give you an idea of how the game went.

The Austrians (Red) have just become aware of the Prussians (Blue) over the other side of the river.

The Austrian line-of-march, with the Light Infantry in the lead and the Dragoons at the rear helping to protect the Light Artillery.

The Prussians in the same formation.

The Prussians got to move first, but their lead infantry rolled a Poor result, leaving them to move into line only. On the other hand, the Austrians rolled Admirable & Inspiring, allowing their troops to quickly advance towards the centre of the table.

The Cavalry moved off to the left flank, whilst the Light Infantry occupied the village.

The Prussians had to move past the road block of infantry, but easily moved into the town, with their Grandiers in the lead.

The Prussians failed to make any real progress, just moving their Light infantry into the woods by one of the crossings over the stream. The Austrians lead formation failed to move, forcing their centre to move past them.

The Austrians manage to form what resembles a battle line.

The Prussians are all at 'sixes-and-sevens' at present.

Both sides suffered some Poor command rolls, which really hampered their planned deployments.

The austrian centre pushed towards the bridge, but their left flank is somewhat congested.

The Prussians left flank manages to clear the town.

Both sides managed some good command rolls, with the Austrians taking good positions by the left and central bridges.

The Austrian right flank and centre face the Prussian left. Both sides have deployed their Light Artillery.

The Austrian cavalry are ably supported by the Light Infantry.

Both sides begin to exchange fire, with the Prussians getting an early upper hand. The Austrian cavalry, poised to cross the stream, rolled a Feeble command and could only form into a two deep formation.

An Austrian unit has to retreat to reform, with the Austrians taking more hits than the Prussians.

The firefight continued, with both sides having units having to retreat to reform. Once again the Austrian cavalry rolled a Feeble, leaving the Prussian cavalry free to move up to the other side of the bridge.

Both sides have units reforming.

The Prussians suffer from canister fire from the Austrian light artillery.

A bit of a Mexican stand off develops as both sides face off across the bridge.

The Austrian Dashing commander rolls an Inspiring command roll and so must move towards the Prussians, bringing him into canister range. Neither sides shooting causes and reform moves this Turn.

The Austrian Light Infantry cross the stream to take the fight to their Prussian counterparts.

The Austrian left and centre take a bit of a hammering from the combined Prussian fire, causing them to fall back and reform. On the Austrian left, a cavalry charge sees both sides losing one unit of cavalry.

The Austrians under pressure from the Prussians.

The cavalry have a bout of mutually assured destruction.

The Austrians are under severe pressure, with their cavalry gone and being pressured in the centre and on the right.

The Austrians feeling the heat.

The Austrian left flank is wide open, with only the Light Infantry to try and hold it.

The view from the Prussian side shows how the net is closing in on the Austrians.

At this point I called it a day, with the Prussians in the slight ascendancy and with another round of good shooting, the distinct possibility that the Austrians would be blown away.

Post Game Thoughts.
After a drought on the gaming front over the Summer, it was nice to be able to get another game in so soon. Once again Honours of War failed to disappoint, with them being my 'go-to' rules for the SYW and 18thC.

  • The scenario worked well, despite it being quite different from the normal linear warfare of the period. It certainly made it quite hard to easily deploy both sides units in a way that they could support each other, but it was nice to have a different challenge for once. I think maybe a little more depth to the table would have helped.
  • I thought that the Prussians being that bit further onto the table would give them an early advantage, but this didn't prove to be the case. The varied command rolls from both sides made sure of this, with early good Austrian rolls off setting the Prussian advantage.
  • The Prussians managing to gain fire superiority at a crucial time proved to be the turning point in the game. However it could easily have gone the other way if the Austrian die rolling had been better.
  • It was good to get my wooden blocks back onto the table and it is something I should do more often. I know they don't look anywhere near as good as painted figures, but they are so versatile, it allows me to try so many different rulesets and periods with them. The only thing I need to do is make some smaller command stands, as the current ones are simply too big.
  • I'm slowly replacing a lot of my terrain that I originally made for use with 28mm and 15mm figures. When playing HoW most of it is simply too big. However when playing BKCII, a lot of it is still fine. Anything no longer of any use I will try and sell. I know I certainly need to make some rivers, streams and roads, some of which are already in progress.

This weekend is the Colours show, so I'm looking forward to going to see what's on offer this year and to meet up with some of my wargaming friends. To date there is no info on what games are being put on, which is a real shame as it is something that the organisers are always a bit tardy in doing. 

I'm not sure what my next game will be, maybe some BKCII to get my tanks on the table again and my stalled Normandy campaign going again, or maybe something at the show will inspire me. Watch this space...