York, Vapnartak 2018

Last weekend saw myself, Des, Martin, Ian and Paul all travel up to York for the Vapnartak show as we were putting on a ‘Sands of Sudan’ participation game. Martin and I were travelling up in Martin’s car during the day on Friday carrying most of the kit for the game and on the way we stopped off at Caliver Books. I’ve never been before and what an experience it is, I was glad Daren wasn’t with us as his Health and Safety trained brain would’ve flipped out! Anyway in amongst the chaos I spotted ‘First Clash’ by Kenneth Macksey and duly picked it up as I lost my copy sometime in the 90’s and have wanted a new one for ages now – I can see some WW3 style Canadians getting bought very soon so we can fight through the actions described. Then I found something that must have been put there by the pixies as I never knew it existed and I must be one of only a few people who’d be interested in it (there were 2 copies on the shelves) – ‘Das deutsche Bundesheer’ a reprint (in German) of a book about the German Federal Army in the 1830’s containing everything you need to know and 421 beautiful colour plates covering everything from the Lichtenstein infantry to Austrian Lombard Gendarmes, and for only £20! I did haver about buying it at first but Martin persuaded me to get it, as he said I’d only regret it later if I didn’t buy it, and I’m so glad I did as it’s possibly the best book I’ve ever bought.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


We all made it to York without any mishaps and spent a pleasant evening supping a few beers and after a decent curry we all tried to get some rest. Saturday saw us all going our separate ways to spend some time mooching about York before we headed over to York Racecourse in the afternoon to set the game up for Sunday. Des and I decided to visit the York Army Museum, and we were both mighty glad we did too. For the paltry sum of just £5 (a ticket that you can use anytime in the next year by the way), we spent a couple of hours walking round this small but excellent museum dedicated to the Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal Dragoon Guards (and all of their predecessors). I’ll let the pics tell the story here, I really can’t recommend it enough, if you have a spare hour or so please support it by dropping by, you won’t be disappointed. (click on pics to view larger versions)

After a, thankfully, drama free set-up of the game we once again popped out to the excellent ‘Pheonix’ pub that is also well worth a visit – a cracking little establishment with good beers, a lovely atmosphere and even a bar billiards table, if I lived near it I’d be down there all the time! – and then on to an Italian before heading back to the hotel early as we were all a bit knackered and a long day loomed ahead. Sunday saw us up and at ’em early and after a lovely big brekkie we set off for the show.

L to R: Paul, Des, me, Ian and Martin.

We got there without any fuss and promptly got everything ready once we made some last minute purchases and awaited opening time and our first game (sorry for the lack of in-action pics but we were just too busy). Thankfully it didn’t take long for us to fill the spaces and pretty soon the game was well underway with all involved seemingly having a whale of a time trying to carry out their varying missions whilst being interrupted by dastardly Mahdist types. The first game lasted from about 10.30 to 13.00 and saw the British column thwarted by constant pressure from the Mahdists, suffering heavy casualties in the infantry and having the cavalry completely wiped out. The Egyptian force sent out from the camp to assist the British came completely unstuck as well and died to a man whilst the Royal Navy guarding the ladies in the camp came very close to being overwhelmed by waves of angry locals but just managed to hold out so we declared a win for the Mahdi this time.

During the break we all darted off round the show to have a quick look and make purchases, which only amounted to a pack of lovely 15mm Imitation Legionnaires from Empires at War to start off my Pontic army for the clubs Sword and Spear ‘League’, I’ll be buying some more from them very soon. Pretty soon we had donned our hats again and the afternoon game got underway, again the chaps involved had a good time all round with the Imperial troops doing tons better this time, by the end of play the Egyptians and Brits had very nearly met up and had crushed all attempts to stop them so a resounding victory was declared. I didn’t get much time to check out the show really and so won’t comment as I don’t think my rushed spins round gave me a good idea of it but it was nicely busy and even the weirdness with the emergency drill false alarms didn’t spoil it for us.

So, thanks all round to Martin, Des, Ian and Paul for a great weekend, completely knackering but well worth it. A truly fantastic game was played, great fun was had, brilliant conversation and company was enjoyed, a cracking museum was visited and I got to wear a Pith helmet! Happy days indeed – here’s hoping the next one is as good.


Off to York at the weekend….

I have been invited along with Des and Ian to help Martin put on his truly fantastic Sudan game at the Vapnartak show on Sunday. There have already been some pics of it on here before, and it will be featured in the February edition of Miniature Wargames.

It is a large participation game in full colour 28mm-o-rama so if anyone is around and fancies joining in we will be on the bottom floor over in the corner – there will be big SLW banners and we will be sporting Fez’s or Pith helmets so we should easy to spot. The rules are easy to grasp and a right blast and you will be asked to carry out jolly wheezes such as escorting gentlemen of the press or rescuing some ladies whilst dodging the attentions of Mahdist types and dirty post card sellers.

Anyway, to whet your appetites here’s some pics from recent practice games, (click on them to see bigger versions)

Berlin Birthday!

OK, again sorry for the lack of posts over the past month but things have been very rough financially over the past few weeks and I just haven’t had the money spare to upgrade the blog so I could carry on posting. I could have just done some articles without pictures but too much of that can get a bit boring and, to be honest, I really haven’t felt like it as I’ve been too worried about other stuff that has been going on. Hopefully that has all been dealt with now so onwards and upwards and I’ll be able to get cracking on this again.

At the beginning of the month me and the missus managed to get away to Berlin for a couple of days to attend a friends 50th birthday bash (it was also my birthday at the same time so going was a no brainer really). We were staying with some friends in the  Schoneberg district of town an area that has some great street names if you are a Napoleonic buff – our mates live on Bulowstrasse right next to Dennewitzplatz, indeed all of the streets in the neighbourhood are named after Prussian generals


Some bloke called Fred on a horse! Unter der Linden.

We went to visit the DDR museum on the first day and it’s well worth a visit if you get a chance, the way that they use what little space they have and the exhibits on display are great and there’s a few bits of militaria from the time that would be of interest. They even have a recreation of a typical DDR flat which I must say made me a tad jealous as the kids room had far more room than the poky one me and my brother had to share in our place on the estate we lived on as kids, not to mention the cool design of the furniture!


DDR toys, no decadent Western kit though.
DDR Camo blouse.

After the museum we were due to go to see a light installation art piece in a chapel in a cemetery and as we were walking to it through the cemetery we rounded a corner where there was a gap between a wall and a building and we came upon a crypt which had a commanding view of the obvious entry point to the rest of the cemetery. As you can see by the photo’s it looks as if a fierce fight ensued to evict whoever was defending this. It was actually quite a sobering sight as it showed just how savagely desperate and ultimately futile the fighting at the end was. I was sort of glad that it had not been ‘fixed’ though as such things are great reminders of what happened and are just as much part of the city’s history as the ‘grander’ monuments (the Neues Museum has also kept its ‘battle-scars’ for this very reason).

The next day saw me head off to the Deutsches Historisches Museum on my own as my Birthday treat to myself as Luce was away looking at a couple of galleries. Now I’ve been here before and was keen to come again as I think it is a cracking place to visit – actually every museum that I’ve been to in Germany has been a good one – and as I had time to look round properly I was looking forward to it. And enjoy it I did, the only small gripe I had was with the bloke doing the tour in English. I happened to be near them when I was in the Napoleonic part of the museum and some of the information he was giving out was totally rubbish. There was no mention of the German States fighting on the French side or that Britain, the Austrians and the Russians helped defeat Napoleon and when he said that Leipzig was the last battle of the wars I couldn’t help myself and said ‘oh no it wasn’t’! Still apart from that there’s a wealth of fantastic exhibits on show ranging from Napoleons hat and sword swiped by the Prussians on the field of Waterloo to an 88 in the WW2 section (although I ballsed up my photo’s from the later part of the museum, still getting used to my new phone!). Highly recommended.

Worth 50,000 men apparently.

While on the subject of hats, I just had to take these. A whole cabinet dedicated to possibly the daftest piece of military millinery ever made, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Picklehaubes!