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Just what is it with some gamers? To some our hobby is a social thing, a chance to meet and swap ideas with like minded individuals. To others, it is a chance for sniping and talking under your breath. To an outsider, it must seem hilarious! But to the illuminati , the stakes are far too high for grudges not to be held and the atmosphere not to stink of last night’s fondue. I thought it was hilarious that Polish security guards had to be called to ETC Warhammer competition a few years ago. How I laughed when one of our own was involved what has been termed, “Concession-gate”

Note: this is not to be confused with dice-gate, List -gate, Commandpoint-gate and lift-gate😗. Three out of four also involving the same individual.

Third game of the Clevedon Clubs competition was the always genial Clarkey. Indonesian elephants and swordsmen were a tough opponent for Swiss pikes. The table was heavily covered with terrain in the centre. Mr Clarke put his allies on the coast and looked to be planning to attack on my left.

Now on previous occasions I have a tendency to be rash. If I attacked his left. Mark’s rough terrain troops could flank me. I decided on facing off the allies and centre, whilst looking for a weakness on his right.

Skirmishing continued for about an hour. The hand gunners proved to be a fantastic asset in the dual. Even naphtha throwers couldn’t deter the mountain heroes. Mark withdrew his skirmish screen.

The action in the centre was brief. I didn’t want to face medium spear in the rough terrain. Mark didn’t want to leave the jungle and face pikemen in the open.

Hint: a relatively new concept , in my wargaming at least, is that you do not always have to attack! Sometimes the defence is so strong that it would be foolhardy to advance. Clarkey doubted my negativity and we tried out the respective theories at the end of the game- Swiss pikes can’t cope with rainforest! 

Two draws and a victory put me in a good position at the end of the competition. My old friend Chris was being briefed by the refugee from Flames of War, Colin as I arrived at the table- what a treat awaited me! I knew Chris would be bringing a Free Company list. I knew that it was the product of much humbrol paint and plastercene.

Artists impression of Chris at work

And then it started. First, a refusal to move his troops to accommodate my waterway. Then an allegation of deliberately bending his pikes! Six calls to Mr Unwin for rules adjudication all went in my favour. Next an allegation that Unwin was being bribed, Big Don is called in to adjudicate for another three rulings.

Chris’ Knights skirted the forest but were met by pikes. The dismounted mercenaries came forward to be flanked by my right corps. The free company is an expensive choice and my target of levies and crossbow filler disappeared. The back of his side of the table was covered with troops, he conceded…….we packed up…….Don noticed that Chris wasn’t broken when we submitted the list- Chris claimed a draw, how I laughed!

Note to self- get the more “creative” player to write down his decision. 

It had been an excellent weekend. The standard of painting was a joy. My plan for the Swiss is to increase the number of halberdiers. Maybe a whole command of the Alp climbing Rambos. My thanks to all involved in the weekend. Fifth place out of twelve!😜

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L’art de la Guerre Tournament- The Don’s B.I.G. Bristol Bash

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Twelve uber competitive tournament gamers met, last weekend, in the confines of an industrial unit off the A4, to manfully wrestle with 28mm high metal heroes and a number of personal and psychological issues……

Don’t be fooled by Perkin Warbeck’s youthful features, just like Mark Fry, there is solid steel behind those watery blue eyes. See how the cad hides his deployment behind a horde of unnecessary boxes. Wince as the charlatan pretends not to understand the deployment rules- as if he hasn’t surveyed the field at Stoke and stumbled upon a route to the restoration of Yorkist fortunes. Mark is in fact much bigger than the photo suggests…

Amongst his scouring pad “brush” , the Pretender Fry hid an ambush. My guess was a large contingent of Irish but he also had spent his ill gotten gains on mercenary horse and noble Knights.

Warning- his joke about “brush” and “scrub” will not be published in consideration of my readership

Hint: Fry may not even have placed units with his marker. They still can slow and distract a nervous opponent!

In his centre, Mark placed his longbowmen and bills. If I was disrupted by his archery, hillmen would in all likelihood make short work of my brave pikemen. Using the old maxim, ” the best defence against pikemen, is pikemen”, Martin Schwartz commanded his own false- Swiss mercenaries.

But, Mark wasn’t facing any old Tuwdwr assemblage, I formed echelon and prepared to attack.

The losses to Marks missile fire were heavy. He urged his pikemen forward to flank my leading pikeblock. My brave halberdiers leaped into the woods in order to flank our false friends.

The kerns raced out of the “brush”( I did warn you). More Swiss halberdiers leaped to the defence. Neither Irish kern nor noble could get through the halberdiers. But, almost all of my central corps of pikes had at least two hits. It was time to retreat….

A few minor command and control problems

Rumour soon spread that the Swiss were retreating…shameful I know!

My second draw with this army? Was I not being aggressive enough? Should I have invested in more rough terrain halberdiers in order to contest the forests and win the central struggle? My severest test was upon me, Big Don McHugh’s Scottish independence voters…..

Although nearly fifty, Don has been an inspiration to us “younger” gamers. He is a painter without peer and a rules guru. His Scots army had a flank of longbows and dismounted Knights beefed up his mediocre pikemen. On his left, Don posted his irregular feudal Knights. I expected his bows to be in the rough terrain so refused my right. Don however placed his longbows on the hill on the opposite flank, and they weren’t going to hang back……

 The longbows came forward and I risked three units to push them back against the flank. My God, it worked! Don threw in his pikemen and a strange thing happened- the causaulties markers blossomed on the Scots. 

I could have spent all afternoon looking at Don’s army but it disappeared back to Bonney Scotland! Mediocre pikes could not handle elite Swiss and victory on the flank allowed me to roll up Don’s line. What a memorable game!

Thanks for reading . More in the next post on game three, the tussle with Mark Clarke’s easterners, and the final most miserable game of toy soldiers in the world ever. The game that is already being called ” Concede-gate”😰😓😤😅😂😰

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Old Hammer? Let my people free?

Can there be any sadder programme than Hoarders? Unfortunately, I’m hooked. Could it be that I find a morbid fascination in those poor souls surrounded by their amassed squalor? Could it be that the programme has a certain resonance!? Aren’t we wargamers notorious for our ” collections”?

Well, I’m ploughing through the accumulated detritus. Eight parcels so far have been sent off and the post office worker is still suppressing his desire to laugh when I answer his query as to what’s in the boxes? ” Model soldiers” I sheepishly reply and shuffle out, sweating. The feelings so far have been mixed. The models below have been in boxes for best part of twenty five years. Most were bought with my student grant. I wish I can say that they were involved in a huge number of great games but thruth be told, my regular partner at the time never got round to painting any ( and he still hasn’t!😡). So the fantasy armies are rolling out on eBay and the pain isn’t too bad. I may feel different if my resolve holds and I start selling my Flames of War, Boltaction and Musket and Tomohawks. More photos on the “pages” under Warhammer. Thanks for your support in this difficult time for any gamer……

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Swiss Tease

Big Don ‘the Don’ McHugh has just posted the  runners and riders for next weekend. B.I.G  on Bath Road Bristol always gives us a warm welcome and I’m anticipating four tough games. I usually go for all-arms competition armies but this time I’m going one-dimensional, wall to wall pikes…….
Mark Mainwaring – HYW English

Mike Baldwin – Swiss

Richard Walker – HYW French

Mark Fry – Wars of Roses

Dino Monticoli – HYW French

Mark Clarke – Siam

Colin Cavanagh – Burgundian Ordnance

Steve Hacker – Condottieri Italian

Andrew Unwin – Burgundian Ordnance

Keith Mcglynn – Order of St John

Chris Jackson – Free Company

Don McHugh – Medieval Scots

Now before my regulars start questioning whether I have resumed spending, the answer is an emphatic no. Well, I did spend thirteen pounds on two Steel Fist minis as a general’s unit- expensive but amazing casts. Chris J is back on the scene and he is lending me the army.

In Tuesday’s game, my Lorrainer sub-commander, Jon ” the lady killer’ Gallacher affected a turning manouvre with his allied horse. You can see his evil gaze below…

The eagle prepares to pounce!

Uncharacteristically perhaps, Chris’ Free Company army turned away from my pikes and headed back to their now looted baggage. These mercenaries really do like to look after their ill-gotten gains.

So, first time out and it’s a draw for the Swiss. That’s probably the best result I’ve ever had in a test game. Not that I’m a great believer in test games. My final list has two large corps of pike and halberd , with the third corps of just pike. I’m hoping for a waterway or at least some terrain to close my flanks down. My biggest concern is that I resist the temptation to advance out of a good position. I’m not a defensively minded player but the steamroller is vulnerable to flank attacks.

So, here’s to next weekend and a chance to try out something a bit different.

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Proletarians to horse!

Take some time to scan the image of the red horseman. How the time flies. There was a time that tales of gallant revolutionaries charging across the steppes were my heroes too. Everything about this period seemed to be both heroic and tragic. You had the surrounded infant Soviet regime accomplishing great military feats. There was all the heroism of an earlier period but there, gnawing at the back of your mind, was the knowledge that it was all to end in the gulag and death. You must read the accounts of Trotsky’s new horsemen to believe their exploits ( and even when being captured they went into captivity singing the Internationale, in the Russo-Polish War at least!)

It’s funny how the gaze of wargamers, and wargames manufactures, seem to alight on the most unlikely of periods. The miniatures in this post were originally for the Back of Beyond campaign set in interwar Central Asia. Now there’s a diverse bunch- Japanese imperialists, Chinese warlords, Mongols and Tibetans and sadistic White and Red fanatics. Will I ever expand the collection? For now it’s a definate maybe but all I can say is, not this year……

I always love Mark Copplestone’s sculpts- so chunky and full of character. A joy to paint but I never did hit upon a set of rules. Yet another victim of my goldfish like attention span. Thanks for joining me again- ACW painting and that competition entry over the weekend.

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Budget cuts

A mere thirty years ago I collected Warhammer Fantasy. There I’ve said it! The miniatures were fifty pence each (ouch) and they were Citadel and not Games Workshop. I did splash out on the two pounds ninety nine needed to purchase just two( count them) just two Lord of the Rings miniatures. I can remember looking aghast at Southsea Models offer to paint these bad boys for two pounds each. If only…as it was my student grant only stretched to sixty or so miniatures a month. 

Well, thirty years have raced by and my eldest son has fallen for the new kid on the block, Warhammer 40k. Before you type, I know it’s been around for twenty five years! So stage two saw me offering my youngest son my Warhammer fantasy collection. No thanks Dad, I prefer 40k….how I laughed😢

As I bit back the tears, my last hope was eBay. Search Warhammer fantasy adventurers and help me refloat my finances. Nevermind the years, nevermind the work of my student days when I should have been studying. The collection is being sold and if you think the restraint will last then you will be very much mistaken. Posting tomorrow with my Swiss army for Domfest at Bristol in two weeks.

Now appearing on Warhammer fantasy ebay😜

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Easter “Progress”

My Easter holiday ends today and thought of the mind numbing monotony of Monday to Friday are approaching. But this Easter I can’t complain about gaming time. A whole weekend at Milton Keynes and no less than three other games over the holiday period. My current average is one win every three games but who’s counting 😫. With die Kaiser preparing for a North Korean invasion, in the woods to the north of Merthyr,  it was time to concentrate on proper wargames, involving toy soldiers and not the cold….nor the dark…..nor anything uncomfortable really.

Newbie Giac was eager to see what all the fuss was about with the L’art de la guerre ruleset. A new development championed by the Barkley Vale crew is LADG 100. You get a free general and a hundred points of troops. We halved the compulsories and the maxima. It does severely limit your choices but the armies are so cute.

It is also very quick! We both had Patrician Romans. My Gothic horse struck Giac’s cataphracts and gained the upper hand. Alongside these my barbarian foot bested the degenerate legionaries of Giacs force. But, and there is always a but, on the flanks my army was in trouble.

My Huns were struck by Roman equites. Giac was intent on completing a Gladiator style assault on the rear of my barbarian foot. To add insult to injury, on the other flank Giacs horse charged into the brush and slaughtered my regular horse archers. The boy is definately learning. Suffice to say that he will never be invited back to my house😡

Now my regular reader will recognise this fellah. He’s been a bit quiet recently but he made it to Firestorm Games last Tuesday. In order to continue with my theme of financial restraint in 2017 I was looking to see if my fanatic Berbers could brave Big Don ‘s Feudal and Medieval bash in Mid May?

The answer is a sort of qualified yes. I went for the Elite spearmen and held them back. The hills and brush on the flanks was full of javelinmen and medium swordsmen. Obligingly Chris sent his Free company foot into the terrain to root them out. Meanwhile my elite spearmen managed a short advance to skewer his mounted corps. A victory for the Berbers but I’m not convinced….I may have to borrow his Swiss for Bristol.

Last but not least I played that gentlemen of the green cloth, Mike Lane. I decided against my Huns and decided to raise Central Asian City state troops to best Mike’s Persians. The idea was one that I had seen many years ago when a Saladin player at Godendag had to face the DBM super troop of the Nineties, the shooty cavalry. I raised a whole corps of bowmen. They can shoot better and further than mounted horsemen. The mounted get “impact” in the open burst I get an advantage in the first round of melee too.

Mikes troops are always a joy to behold. Two elephants and cataphracts added to my joy!

Would the Sogdian bowmen hold. Being so cheap I could also afford elite cavalry of my own.


On my right wing my heavy horse managed to avoid Mikes elephants and unhorse a number of Persian invaders. My left wing light horse were driven off in short time exposing my levies.

The city state would be paying tribute to the Sassanids I’m afraid. It’s time to invest in Khurasan miniatures Late Romans I think…..

My thanks to all my opponents. It’s the return of Flames of War next week plus more Warhammer painting from my understudy son.

Happy Monday everyone!