Monday, 11 April 2016

Bloody Big Battles Bash

Sunday saw an early start as I headed down to Oxford to take part in the inaugural Bloody Big Battles Bash. En route I picked up Mike Embree and we had a good chat about military history, wargaming and life in general. Time flew by and we soon found ourselves at the village hall in Wolvercote where the show was being held. Everything was pretty much ready by the time we had arrived, so we made ourselves known and had a quick look around before getting down to the main business of the day. Some of the games on show can be seen below:

The Wilderness, American Civil War 1864

Laing's Neck, First Boer War 1881

First Bull Run, American Civil War 1861

Balaclava, Crimean War 1854

Dybbol & Als,  Second Schleswig War 1864

First El Teb, British Sudan Campaign 1884

Loire Campaign, Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871

Koniggratz, Austro-Prussian War 1866

Solferino 1859
This was to be the first game of the day and one that I was looking forward to a lot. For once I had managed to remember to read up on the scenario the night before and come up with a plan. This was to sacrifice San Martino and defend the crossing of the river Redone with a small force, with the main units of VIII Corps helping to defend the central ridge and the two towns which were objectives. My fellow players agreed and so we had a plan. Would it work or not?


The table with the Sardinian General indicating where he would like his troops to go to. However they did not always follow his commands!

The French Guard Corps push forward through some rather tricky terrain.

The Austrian left flank in a strong position as more French troops arrive.

Elements of Benedek's VIII Corps arrive to support the Austrian centre as the French attempt to outflank Castello town.

Battle is well and truly joined.

The French and Austrians face each other on the plain as the fighting grows fierce around Castello. Benedek's VIII Corps troops arrive in the nick of time to re-inforce Castello.

The French struggle to close with the Austrians.

The Austrian flanks are well and truly secure, with the centre breaking the French attack.

With the French centre gone, they begin to withdraw and the start Austrians celebrate their win!

Well what a great game. Well done to my fellow players who did a sterling job in the centre and on the left flank, which won us the game. The Allied players were all true gentlemen and the game was played in the right spirit and with lots of fun and laughter. Our plan worked and we stuck to it, which I think really helped our cause.

So we then had a brief pause for lunch and a bit of a chat, as well as the opportunity to have a better look at the table we had glimped on arrival.

The Boer War table with the topographic approach which, to my mind, worked a treat. The brown edges to the levels delineated steep hills and were very easy to see during the game. Something to bear in mind for future games.

Troops with rockets which looked brilliant.

A ship on the Dybbol & Als table. Certainly not something you see everyday on a wargames table.

The Danish entrenchments.

The Konniggratz table which was certainly eye catching.

Views of the hilly terrain.

Up hill and down dale.

With lunch finished it was on to the final game of the day. For this game I had not done my research and frankly did not have a plan, other than to defend the Austrian right flank as best I could! Whilst the table was certainly wonderful to look at, it was quite hard to figure out where different level hills stopped and started. It was also absolutely chock full of troops, which made sure we concentrated through out. So without a plan how would things go?


The Austrian left flank with the Saxons on the far left. austrina reserves start to move forward to re-inforce a seemingly sparsely defended centre.

The Prussians advance towards the wood, which would see some fierce fighting.

The Prussians suddenly appear on the Austrian right flank.

Fierce hand-to-hand fighting takes place in the wood.

The Saxons more than holding their own against relentless Prussian attacks.

The Prussians mass for their planned assaults.

The Austrians outflanked and under pressure in the wood...

... and break as a result.

The Saxons continue to hold off the Prussians.

Sadly we had to leave before the end of the game, but it ended up in a draw, due entirely to the brilliant Saxon defense conducted by Rodge, my fellow gamer. Thanks to his efforts the Austrian Empire lived to fight another day! Tired but happy we made our way back home

Thoughts on the Day
First of all a big thankyou to Chris and the Oxford Wargames Club for putting on such a wonderful days gaming. One must not forget the other gamers who took the time and effort to put on such a great variety of games and in different scales. If it is on next year I will certainly try to attend. So to end with a few thoughts on the day.
  • It was great to see such a variety of different table on show. The Koniggratz one was certainly stunning to behold. Personally my favourites were the First Boer War and Solferino ones, as for these rules I was able to clearly make out where hills were, which ones were steep etc. I was particularly taken with Chris' approach, which was one of the map drawn on to a sheet of thick paper/cloth, with trees and buildings then added on. Not only did it look good, but was easy to make and more importantly store. This is something that I need to have a go at in the future.
  • Have a plan. This worked with Montebello but I did feel a bit at sea with Koniggratz as I didn't have one. So some homework certainly pays dividends.
  • Play to have fun. This was evident across all of the games as far as I could see. Playing with like minded gamers was a pleasure as frankly most of us did not care if we won or lost, as long as we enjoyed ourselves.  

Hopefully this has given you a good overview of the day and hopefully piqued your interest in these rules.  Maybe you will even be able to attend another Bash if there is one...



  1. Good report - I love the picture of Rodge asleep at Bull Run

  2. Brilliant photos and report! Thanks for posting. I really must get to the next one...

    1. If you can make it, you will certainly enjoy yourself.

  3. I am not asleep. I am consulting Casey's 'Tactics' ('The System of Infantry Tactics', prepared by Brigadier General Silas Casey, USA, 1962) under the table. That it was upside down creates the impression I'm asleep. Anyway, no chance of a kip with Scott (my Reb partner) rollin' 10s, 11s and 12s which resulted in much Rebel Yelling from us both.
    Steve was a fine partner and CinC in the Konniggratz game and he hid the fact that he had no plan with great aplomb.

    1. Blimey, that was some damned fine die rolling!!! It was great to cobble together a plan with Rodge, and a shame my Austrians did not perform as well as your Saxons.

  4. Great AAR, Steve, thank you. Really good to meet you and I'm glad you had such a good time. I enjoyed our tussle in the Swiepwald!

    1. And to meet you too Chris. Good to play two games with you and a shame we had to leave before the end. looking forward to a possible Bash next year and let's hope Dave is not called away if it happens.

  5. Nice looking games, splendid tables...