Tabletop Gaming Live Show.

We were invited as a club to take a couple of games to the new Tabletop Gaming Live Show at the lovely Alexandria Palace last weekend. Alongside John Treadaway and team’s great UFO themed game I was part of the mob putting on Martin’s absolutely spiffing ‘Sands of the Sudan’ game. So Friday saw Des, myself, Martin and Paul finally ensconced in perhaps the weirdest located Premier Inn in the country ready to get along to the Ally Pally early Saturday to finish off setting up. Even though he was travelling up from South London on the train Ian managed to get there before us and pretty soon we were all ready for the first punters of the day.

We had a cracking day, with the two games we ran having both lots of interest and, even better, participating players. What was particularly nice was one young chap called Christopher, that played in both the morning and afternoon sessions as he enjoyed the game so much! Special mention goes to the chaps from Sudbury & District Wargames club, and also Ed and Neil who also loved playing and apologies to all that I didn’t get the names of, we were very busy running the game and taking people through it as well as talking to others. One of the things that I found pleasing was that people who might not have seen a historical wargame before seemed very interested and we might have got a few converts so all in all a great result. Mind you it did help that the game looks like this:

 

We were all absolutely knackered by the end of the day and after an early night got to it again on the Sunday which was a bit of a washout to be honest with not that many people around although having said that we did manage to get a few people round the table by the end of the day. As for the show itself, it was a cracking venue but I’m not sure that it was really for miniature wargamers. After speaking from some of the wargame traders we found out that the organisers had difficulty filling the vending spots, indeed they reduced the prices twice which meant that some vendors were being charged different prices to others which didn’t go down well. Also, there was a feeling from the figure sellers that they had been sold a lemon, promises of more punters and no advertising about the show in any wargames media or sites, indeed one of them telling us that they had lost a lot of money by attending. All doesn’t bode well for the future of the show.

Anyway, I didn’t have much time to worry about such things as the next day I was off to France to visit one of my South London Warlords chums as he had a new wargames room to christen with a couple of games…..

Colours 2018 – Show Report

As the game write up was a bit long and I didn’t get much time to get round the show I’ve decided to do another quick post.

I thought the show was a bit better this year from a game point of view, we seemed to have more space around the table this year although it did get a bit cramped when the B&B was in full flow. Apart from being down in the programme as SELWG (have I mentioned that already?) I thought that the organisers might have had a tad more interaction with those putting on the games. Apart from getting our badges and them making sure the table was ok we never had a thing for the rest of the day, it would have been nice if someone had popped by to ask how it was going. Even at the end of the day no-one asked us if it went well, indeed as soon as we took the cloths off the table they were whipped away, and I mean as soon as! That aside it is a nice venue and from reading some other blogs the traders had a good time and the games seemed to have gone down well.

As for the rest of the games, I personally didn’t think that they were better than last years ones. There were a few crackers but not as many that made you go ‘wow’ as before with too many ‘line ’em up and have a go’ type games on pretty basic terrain for my liking. Having said that though the modelling and painting standards were very high, I just think that the old foam square approach has had its day what with all the great mats and cloths available today, and the basic terrain spoils things somewhat.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost my notes about what was what but here are the photos that came out ok, I was rushing a bit and the light was a bit crap in places hence no pics of the lovely looking Bosin Wars game which is really annoying as it was very cool!!

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General d’Armee – Loughton Club
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Cracking WW1 game…
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.. lost who by…
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… but was splendid..
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.. with added Rollers!
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6mm Zeebrugge raid, saw this at Salute. Lovely.
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Too the Strongest game I think. Beautiful figures.
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20mm WW2 Goodwood with Rapid Fire rules…

 

bit too ‘cramped’ for me but splendid models
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10mm Cold War…
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.. seen in this parish before…
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..converted from a board game..
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..dig this terrain!

Colours 2018 – game report

Right, now I’ve sorted out some technical issues I can get this post done!

Saturday saw me up and at ’em at 5 o’clock so I could get the first train to meet Daren at Tulse Hill so we could get on the road to Newbury Racecourse to attend Colours. We were putting on Daren’s cracking game centred around the fighting for Son Bridge during the Market-Garden operation in WW2 (the Arnhem campaign if anyone doesn’t know). Unusually for us we hadn’t had a chance to do a full run-through as both Dan and I were on two different Mediterranean islands when the club was last open for an all day game but we had discussed solutions to some issues in the few partial games that we had so were confident things would run smoothly.

Luckily we had no problem on the journey to the show and were in and ready to set up by half 8, even though we were down as being from SELWG (oh, the horror!!) on the organisers sheets and in the programme which caused a touch of confusion when signing in, and pretty soon the table was ready to rock and Dan and Bart arrived pretty soon after too. After Daren had finished setting the forces on the table it was time for a quick tea/coffee and obligatory bacon roll and a quick spin round the traders before the public were let in. I had a quick chat with Ian at the H&R stand about some of the planned Swedes in the pipeline (no plans for the BILL atgm but I’ve been in contact with Andy since and it might be a goer, fingers crossed for that!!) and checked out the models for the up-coming releases, there’s some very nice trucks coming soon that’ll make Warsaw Pact and ‘non-aligned’ players very happy! Then a quick visit to Pete at Baccus to get a few bits and to have a quick chat about next years Joy of 6 as there’s been talk of more than one Warlords game being taken and I wanted to check it’d be ok – apparently the more the merrier so all good there.

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So with everyone back from the traders we were ready to go and started the game just before the doors were open. Dan and I were in charge of both the Irish Guards advancing along the road and the US Paras dug in around the bridge, Bart was trying to stop us with Kampfgruppe Walther and was expecting some reinforcements later. Our plan was quite simple – barrel up the road as quickly as possible and by pass any tough pockets of resistance. Before we get stuck into the action though some shots of the battlefield before all the nasty shooting and stuff started! (as usual you can click on pics to make them bigger)

Dan had developed a fire plan for the first 5 moves which we thought would allow us to get past the PAK-40’s lurking in the first wood and maybe neutralise the second line of defence. We were also allowed to deploy the ‘Purple Smoke’ from the off to bring in a Tiffy strike too. Unfortunately things started to go wrong from the off. First of all the Typhoons didn’t make any impact on the waiting anti-tank gunners and neither did the application of HE from the 25pdrs, and soon a couple of armoured cars were brewed up whilst the long line of traffic behind them slowly started inching their way forwards. We decided to push the recce types forward hell for leather and they fell prey to, as Dan said, ‘A filthy Hun trick’ of being ambushed by Panzerschrecks. Bart also started calling in artillery onto the head of the column behind the Armoured cars and unfortunately for us his shooting was very precise causing the lead vehicles to become disorganised and supressed which slowed things down for the following units.

We did mange to knock one of the Pak 40’s out with an artillery strike but the other one led a charmed life and started taking out the lead Shermans. Our problems then went up a notch when we realised that we had miscalculated just how fast the Armoured Cars would be able to move and they were hit by our own guns when they lifted forward from the wood, a situation that was exacerbated when some RAF type missed his target and dropped his bombs smack on the survivors! Just to make things even nicer for the Irish Guards Bart’s artillery had a particularly effective couple of stonks in which he took out the majority of one of the infantry platoons when their carriers were knocked out. So a sticky start to say the least, so we decided it was time to get off the road.

We managed to eliminate the pesky infantry and their nasty anti-tank weapons and the last surviving PAK-40 finally succumbed but only after being shot at by a whole troop of Cromwells! However it had taken about 4 moves to get past the wood along the road and the Cromwells that were now free to go round the other side were having problems with the boggy ground (we had to dice for each model more than 4″ off the road and not in fields to see if the bogged down for a move) which slowed them down somewhat. Once past the wood however meant that we were now in range of the 2 Panthers deployed along the left hand road and they soon started taking out vehicles with gay abandon. So, we got the Purple smoke out again and trusted in the RAF to sort them out. Unfortunately we didn’t account for the German ack-ack boys who were on fine form, the first mission saw the Tiffy’s manage to miss both of the Panthers albeit unscathed but the second pair off the cab-rank weren’t as lucky, one copping a hit from an 88 that caused it to explode whilst the other was badly damaged by the Quad 20mm that was accompanying the Panthers. The Yanks by the bridge did have some success though with their mortars and artillery making short work of the quad 20mm halftrack and 88 that were posted on the other side of the river. The only other notable success was the taking out of a Marder around the hamlet but at the cost of a couple of Shermans.

Not happy to sit in the edge of the field that he was in waiting for more attention from the Brylcream Boys, Bart decided to attack the head of the column with his Panthers and they set off for the junction merrily dispatching more British tanks whilst laughing off all attempts to take them out. We did manage to supress them and their accompanying AA  once but that was as close as we got to a victory all day where they were concerned, even repeated strafes from the RAF didn’t work, and pretty soon the area around the road junction was a terrible scene littered with burning vehicles. The right hook around the wood by the Cromwells didn’t fare any better with a StuG and a Marder soon taking out half their number for the loss of the Marder. Luckily for us time was running out at this point and we decided to call it a day, with Daren declaring a victory for the Germans. For the loss of 2 Marders, 2 PAK-40’s, an ’88’, a Halftrack mounted quad 20mm and a few infantry teams Bart had destroyed: 6 Armoured Cars, a Platoon of half tracks plus their infantry, a Typhoon (and badly damaged another), and 20 odd tanks – we were running very short of knocked out markers by the end!

 

To be fair the dice gods were with Bart for most of the day but it did show just how difficult it must have been in real life, once the road was blocked it slowed the advance to a crawl not to mention ‘suppressed’ and ‘disorganised’ vehicles also slowing things down. It was lucky for us that the Germans were limited to only 4 rounds of artillery fire as it would have been so much worse for us if they had more. We spent some time discussing ways that we could improve things and are all keen to get the game on at a club Big Game Saturday to really get stuck into it and are thinking of maybe taking it up to Joy of 6 next year.

Apart from the playing of the game it was really cool to see the interest in the game, we had people around the table nearly all day long and some were coming back throughout the day to check on the progress of the advance (or lack thereof!). It was also great that we solicited as many quotes from ‘A Bridge Too Far’ from people, racking up 8 ‘this is the wide bit’ during the course of the day, it was a major inspiration obviously. It was genuinely nice to engage with everyone, (thanks for introducing yourself Greg by the way!), with people saying nice things about the game, models and terrain and thankfully we didn’t have any rivet counting annoyances this year!

Of course big thanks go out to the chaps who made it a great day out as usual and a good humoured game played in the right spirit, although Dan did look a bit twitchy at one point after yet another of Barts dead eye dice rolls! Special thanks must go to Daren for all his brilliant work in making the terrain and for coming up with the scenario as well as letting us use his terrific models. Mind you I did the Purple Smoke so, you know….

 

Son Bridge ’44 at Colours – Preview

Just like last year an intrepid band from the South London Warlords are heading off to put on a display game at Colours tomorrow (we when I say intrepid I mean me, Dan, Daren and Bart). Again like last year we will be using Daren’s lovely 6mm kit and his spiffing terrain to try and recreate the action around Son bridge during Operation Market-Garden.

Unfortunately I was away on hols for the final dress rehearsal so haven’t got my usual teaser photo’s but will post what I do have, rest assured Daren has come up trumps again with the terrain. Both the village of Son and its bridge are brilliant and done with the usual level of meticulous detail we’ve come to expect from the good Bombardier (he’s just a massive show off really!!). Anyway, as usual, please stop by and say hello if you are around – the organisers have put us down in the programme as being from SELWG (oh the sacrilege!!) but we’ll be sporting our spiffing new club attire and should have a ruddy great big SLW banner up as well so it’ll be hard to miss us.

Again apologies for the lack of numbers but here are the teasers, full report and pics Sunday or Monday.

Preparations for Colours 2018

Once again Daren, Dan and myself will be flying the flag for the South London Warlords at Colours this year. As is our wont we will be putting on a 6mm game, this time set in WW2 and in particular the action around the Son bridge during Operation Market garden. As this one is going to be a large one we will be assisted by a few other clubmates we already have Bart on board but have realised that the 15′ length of the table means that we are going to have to rope in a few more!

Also as usual Daren has pulled out all the stops to model the terrain and we will be using his lovely collection of GHQ kit to try and make sure that XXX Corp can push through the ad hoc German defenders and link up with the American Para’s holding onto the bridge. Although everything isn’t quite ready yet we have done a couple of quick playthroughs of the rules (Micro Armour from GHQ) to acquaint ourselves with them again and to hash out any scenario specific bits that we want to bolt on to add a bit of flavour to proceedings.

So to whet anyone’s appetite that might be interested here’s a few pics of the practice games (as usual click on them to see larger). I’ll be adding another post once we have the full dress rehearsal in September with more details and pics.

 

Salute 2018

So Salute has been done and dusted again for another year and I’ve finally recovered. This year I have been on the committee of the South London Warlords and can tell you that the work done by people in their spare time to put this show on is quite fantastic, the planning taking all year and a hell of a lot of effort. If you add to this the efforts of all the members of the club, and the chaps from the Reading club who help too, that pitch in on the day and the day before (most taking time off work to do so) to get the traders and games in and set up on time, running the doors and info stand etc. I think we as a club can be very proud of our efforts.

So this year I was helping Phil judge the games and making sure that all the gamers had everything they needed before we started. This was great to do, as someone who has put games on at other shows I enjoyed going round speaking to the gamers and checking out the games (well 95% of them anyway, there’s always one or two) but it did mean that I was constantly walking round the show – I had done 26,748 steps by the end of the day! – and didn’t take too many photos.

Judging the games was a great thing to do, especially when we went round to hand out the prizes as it was fantastic seeing peoples reactions to receiving them. I won’t put a list up yet of who won what as I don’t think the club has posted it yet but will add a link once it has happened, there will be a shedload of pictures too so will make up for my paltry efforts. I can absolutely scotch one of the common misconceptions of the show as well after judging the games – 95% of all games put on by clubs or individuals are NOT sci-fi/fantasy, indeed we found it hard to come up with more than 4 for that category. Most of those types of games are the small demo games from the larger traders, it might just seem like there are more of them but, sorry, not true.

As for the standard of games this year, we thought (and it is a sentiment seemingly shared by a lot of people going by the blogosphere) that it was very good with a couple of real stand out, show-stoppers – Bill Gaskin’s AWI game and Ian Smith’s ACW fort game in particular – and some nice innovative ones – the RAF lads Toy Box fight, and the Salute Zombie ones for example – and on the whole you could tell that a lot of time and effort had been invested in putting the games on and we thank all involved for their work as frankly it wouldn’t be a wargames show without you! The spread of periods was nice too with everything from Ancients to Cold War on display, although strangely the WWI games were outnumbered by the Pirate themed games which was weird given the theme of this years show.

Before the pics a quick couple of things to answer comments on other posts.

Lighting: Yes it is murky, we all agree but it is beyond the control of the club and to try and put a stop to a growing internet rumour there is definitely no different lighting brightness depending on what you pay, if there was we’d pay for it to be brighter.

Why can’t it be 2 days?: I’ll refer you to the first paragraph for one. Also I think people forget that we are just a Wargames Club. The show is a mammoth task for a bunch of blokes that play with toy soldiers, none of us are professional events organisers and it is absolutely knackering and time consuming putting it on for one day let alone two. Add to that the costs to hire the venue for another day, and probably more importantly the costs for the traders and those putting on the games for a 2 day show and it is just not viable.

Anyway some pics of my favourite games at the show – sorry that I didn’t take pics of all of the I was completely done in and was finding it hard to concentrate on taking photos and some of the ones I took of the others were rubbish, as indeed were some of these ones!

First of all the venue on Friday afternoon, if you think it is big with everyone in it you should be there when it’s empty!

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Next up, ‘Twisting the Dragon’s Tail’ by Maidstone Wargames Society. Raid on Zeebrugge, 1918. Just cracking and a participation game to boot.

The Battle of Kawanakajima 1561 – Loughton Strike Force. For that miniature Kurosawa fix.

Berks and Bucks Occasionals – ‘Blood and Bridges’, brilliantly executed transference of the Cold War gone Hot boardgame ‘Eisenbach Gap’ board game to the tabletop in 1/200th-o-rama.

And last, but definitely not least, Ian Smith & Friends truly fantastic ‘Glory! from the Halls of Montezuma’. The details in the fort was remarkable and the rest of the table wasn’t shoddy either. Oh, and in 40mm too. There were people taking pics of this all day.

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.

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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.