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Virtus 2017- Older and Wiser

Well it finished in a blizzard, not of flashing cameras and police truncheons but in snow. The grizzled veterans returned to their respective homes and institutions, and forests, stronger and wiser men. Gone were the veiled threats of violence and demands for dice to be checked. Did a single player just sit in a corner, nursing his “rankings”? No, well only one……


Steve “self- styled, reigning champion” Price advances his troops over the centre line in game four( with five minutes left to play😡😖.

If any younger gamers are at all concerned that they would not find a place amongst these Titans, then reconsider. Ask Santa for some figures, put down your crack cocaine, and get ready for the West’s shortly to be announced 2018 programme. You will not be faced with warmth nor acceptance but you will have attained, momentarily, VIRTUS!

 Virtus will be held at the same venue, Cardiff’s Firestorm games next December. Godendag is in January ,followed by the first of our themed one-dayers in March. A great big thank you to all the team and players. What a brilliant start to the Christmas period. And thank you to you dear reader for taking the Tercio over twelve thousand views this year and four thousand visitors! 

Winner of the painting prize went to Mark Mainwaring and his Viking horde. Shame about the “accident”…….


Many thanks to Andy Tory Boy Unwin (umpire?) and arch- Corbinista and M.O.D. Carpark attendant Colin (Draw supervisor executive)

The wooden spoon was probably the most desired item and went to gentleman Phil Mackie…who has today a scented to the position of publicity officer (unremunerated) to the Tercio.


And lastly, and painfully, third place went to Chris ” don’t judge me, I’m special” Jackson.


Second place to the amiable Dave Allen who left quickly on hearing that he may have to take yet another trophy home. But the true winner was of course, the incomparable Steve Hacker of the Clevedon Mafia! They are all winners but he won!

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Virtus 2017- Dignitas et valour

Day one at Virtus and what a display of manly courage? Words fail me so I shall let high quality photography tell the tale…..


Andy Claxton set the scene with his Tuareg camel riders. The talking point of the weekend, where can I get more camels from?


Soft spoken Phil packs a punch with his Ghaznavids . Only three elephants but that’s enough to scare the be-Jesus out of any opponent. A high causaulties rate amongst these pacaderms but they have done their job before imploding. Has Don uncovered “Rout- gate”- should the Ghaznavid host have routed in game two?

Above- Chris reading “How to win friends and influence people’ whist the reigning champion is boxed into a corner and not for the first time!😁

Mr Fry has brought some amazing Knights this year. If only he would shut up about bloody camels!


Mark won the painting challenge last year and his Normans are none too shabby either.

You can’t please everyone!


These minis are magnificent and by any standard should set any figure collector drooling! From the McGlynn stable.


Oh how they laughed and chortled through two and a half hours of light hearted banter. ISIS have asked if they could film their next game as a training for conflict de-escalation.


Steve Price in a corner filled with three ranks of bows and Knights, an impassable water feature and a ridge complete this very exposed position. Luckily through aggressive play Steve was able to retain the Himalayan kingdom.

It’s all to play for tomorrow. The atmosphere is electric and our only hope is that Richard Walker has not over indulged himself in the fleshpots of South Central Cardiff. Come early and expect a queue ( This advice is meant for visitors and not Richard of course😡)


A queue in South Central Cardiff😉

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Virtus Reality 2017

Virtus 2017 -just four more days😁 . Was it possible to get all of the West’s biggest names into one former furniture warehouse? Could more than three Cardiff players occupy the same table space without arguments about questionable parentage? Well, take your hat, add some salt and pepper and behold the illuminati!

This year’s runners and riders are;
G Jamieson – Communal Italians, style and control from the thinking man’s Kevin Roland

S Hacker- Communal Italians …..fear this man, the Clevedon Santa is a demon in disguise

Mark Clarke – Samurai . Don’t be drawn in by his youthful looks this “boy” has smashed more toy armies than a large boy who likes destroying toy armies, fact!


Rob James- Tribal Mongol  An interesting choice from the East Anglian gang master. Beware the corps with the Mongolian royal family in it!

Paul Bolam- N African Arab. A army for the real competition player. Shield and flank is to be feared by those infidels.

A Whitby- Hindu Indian. An army for the real Shoot and charge officianado. Those kids didn’t call him “ol windy” for nothing.

A Claxton- Tuareg    A real man’s army from the Clevedon Mafias number one enforcer.

Don McHugh- Christian Nubian. He has dominated the West for decades. More trophies line this man’s cabinets than a shop owner who sells trophies, in bulk.


Richard Walker- Nike Byzantine. He was scared that players might bring heavy Knights. He was the player who brought medium Knights to Devizes. The man responsible for knight-gate is to be feared and loathed in equal measure.

John Dennis- Umayyad Arab , an interesting blend of staying power and mobility.

Mark Mainwaring- Viking ! A master painter and a gent to fight.

Robin Jackson- the most Welsh Welsh army ever fielded. Jones the warlord supported by Jones the Bow, with Jones the Spear in support. It makes you proud!

Mark Fry😏- Feudal Polish The ladies’ favourite with wall to wall Knights. Don’t be charmed, he will leap on any mistake like a tramp on chips.

Nigel Poole😱- Anglo-Norman. More has been written about this man than any West Country player alive or living in Slimbridge. The Forest of Dean has produced no finer craftsman of sledgehammer tactics , combined with a smokers cough and a deep feeling of foreboding.

Chris Jackson😡😡😫😖😿😥More Vikings. The Nigel Poole of Cardiff returns after an enforced absence due to ; Lift gate, Horrobin assault charges, referee gate, games master gate and most alarmingly concession gate.

Steve Price😷Feudal English.  The charm of Teresa May combined with the people skills of David Blunkett. Don’t be put off by his short temper and superior attitude, he’s a real contender to face his Mc Donness

C Masefield- Nikephorians. One of the quieter players and as such may take us all by surprise.

James Churchill Later Crusader He may not like competitions, nor competitors, nor the rules, nor the period , nor the dice but any game will sure to be a joy.


Dave Allen Samurai A welcome return to competition circuit after his enforced absence😗

Mike Ferres- Almoravids👳🏼 A brilliant army choice and a magnificent player. What could possibly hold him back?

Colin Cavanagh Arabs. A wry smile and a gentle demeanour are just two of the things missing…..


Martin ( Colin’s mate) Feudal Scot. He may not like technology but meet a real gentleman of the game.

Andy Andrew Unwin ( no ones mate – umpire) Feudal Germans. The Tory who even the Tories dislike. His worries include where to ski next and how much to charge his tenants. A rules expert whose knowledge in unrivalled in Cardiff, we’ll Trade Street, the bottom bit at least!

Keith Mc Glynn Feudal German , Affectionately known as Davros, fear this man and never lend him money!

Philip Mackie- Ghaznavid mounted archery Masonic display team

John Gallacher Justinian Byzantine- Will the silent destroyer play? Women want to be with him, men want to be him, only time will tell………
Should be a brilliant weekend! See you all bright and early at Firestorm Carpet Warehouse! The Ferres household is of course ringing to the sounds of spray cans and pin vices as the Almoravid camel corps assembles. Doors open at nine o ‘clock’ for competitors and groupies

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Scenes outside Virtus 2016- get their early!

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Warfare 2017- The Battle of the Ten Kings revisited!

I seem to remember that the Battle of the Ten Kings is described in Book 7, hymns 83. 4-8 in the Rigveda. Well those Ancient Sanskrit hymns may need updating after day two of L’art de la Guerre wargaming at the South of England’s premier hobby/leisure centre in Reading. After three hard fought battles, I felt I had the measure of my army…..


The Vedic’s favourite chariots were brittle and out-classed and the mediocre foot was a bad mistake. But finally I was in with a chance, my next opponent was George with his New Kingdom Egyptians. My Puru Vedic kingdom would be facing a mirror image of itself from the West but we had elephant support!


Our Royal sage Vishvamitra surveyed the battlefield and felt confident. Our chariots were a match for the effette Nile dwellers and King Suda could stomp all over George’s foot soldiers in the centre. George was worried and placed a central gully – a rare terrain piece that also discomforts elephants. George’s dad had painted his army brilliantly and the son knew the rules, damn them!


George wasn’t coming out of his terrain fortress but he did surprise the Trtsu- Bharata chariotry by racing forward. I winced and sent forward my bow into the plantations to add some firepower to my right wing.


It worked, the Egytian charioteers disliked getting their immaculate wheeled platforms damaged and beat a hasty retreat.


As the Egytian chariotry fell back, the axe wielding guard came forward in support of their archers who were intent on skewering my elephants.


My maiden guard did it again. George cleverly avoided my elephant but the ladies around King Sudas weren’t going anywhere. Two handed cutting weapons are a delight to see, when you win, you win big in this game!

 The Egyptians were spent and fell back to their gully. The Pharoah’s chariots came back for a feint against my camp but Gordon “Poor man’s Midge Ure” Jamieson called time. We had survived!
It was midday and time for a delightful mix of all day breakfast roll, shortbread and Fanta. Mark “the Boy” Clarke sucked on his Vimto carton and pointed to the list of wargames who’s who that surrounded us; Dodgy Nigel Poole, Colin “Mr. personality” Cavanagh…..even Robin the refugee from the Flames of War circuit was here! Gentleman James had left us bottom feeders but Big Don was in full effect,  admittedly due to his Spanish opponent having to have Brummie translated into English. Through the assembled characters came the foreboding shadow of local boy Richard…


Richard is part of that new generation of competitive gamer, hungry for fame and brought up on a diet of computer games and disappointment. His choice of army was telling, Sumer and Arkad. Rank upon rank of heavy spear with pseudo knight battle wagons.


No terrain was needed by Richard, the whole army ground forward to the quaint sounds of Mark Clarke’s inexhaustible Vimto carton…….

It was horrible, within two turns we were in combat and although we scored a few noticeable victorious match ups, the day was lost against a wall of shields.


Last place was mine! The venue was great, the show was brilliant and the George hotel crew a joy to be with. I would heartily recommend Warfare to anybody, it’s up there with Salute and Devizes in the calendar. And there in the ruins of my army lay my next project, yet more Indians, classical this time, to accompany Mr James to Godendag in January. I will be revenged!

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The myth of the Aryan invasion of Reading….

Warfare at Reading looked interesting, it was the chariot era with a maximum of four heavy chariots and a minimum of one “wheeled” unit. Some interpreted the wheeled unit as a scythed chariot, a warwagon or even a siege tower but yours truly chose light chariots and the results weren’t pretty……


The Vedic period of course is controversial because of the implied superiority of the Aryan invaders from the North West. Could it really be that the Aryans were just the upper classes of the Dark skinned Brahmins? Colin pondered this question and replied that if you find a tortoise on a fence post, you can guess that it didn’t get there by itself. Rob J passed me the spraycan to finish the charioteers and elephant riders in a definate, non-politically correct, shade of light flesh. 

The army comprised a commander in Chiefs command of two elephants, warriors and three mediocre bows. To support this  array, I had two commands of four light chariots with either more bow or medium swordsmen. Twenty six units of not very hard troops but mobility was my watchword.


If you are going to travel from Navarre to Reading, you are likely to know how to play. If you weren’t a complete klutz like me, you might go for a serious army choice like Sargonid Assyrians.Senor Juan Gomez lined up his hard as nails army and looked confident. My only hope was to reduce his chariots/knights and accompanying heavy cavalry with chariot bow fire.


Behind my chariots were my massed ranks of bowmen but I was about to learn the true meaning of “mediocre”


Aetius advises; The true translation of mediocre, from the Indo- Aryan  Rigveda- samhiti Veda, is of course “crap at shooting in a crisis!” It was my elephants that should have gone up against the heavier chariots. Light chariots are a factor down in combat and don’t get ” armour” in event of a loss.


Anyhow, the dilemma was soon solved as my whole line combusted. Game two would be against more heavy chariots, from Kushite Egypt. But keen eyed viewers will see the ploy that Jesse was about to pull.



Gone were the heavy chariots and in their place stood elite spearmen. 


Aetius added; shut up Mr Ferres, you dismount your knights all the time. You only have to see a handcart and your brave caballeros are trudging through the mud on foot.


My brilliant tactic was to withdraw my left wing before Jesse and attack through the rough ground with my medium foot. That might have been a winner but the proto- Numidians slaughtered my chariots with thrown javelins! Jesse’s eight units of Egyptian bow cut down my other chariots and I even had to sacrifice one of my elephants to save the camp from the lusty spearmen.


Constantine the typical Roman centurion adds;

What a plan! Withdraw in front of troops that can’t reply to chariot bow shots. Bring your out numbered chariots in front of his bowmen. Really? Those poor elephants were your last, best chance and they got left behind. Boo!


Now Simon had brought an army I myself considered, Early Persians. Lovely uniforms and mobile shooty cavalry, plus scythed chariots to frighten my opponent. The scythed chariots were a damp squib, falling to my infantry bow fire. I advanced on the advice of Senor Gomez to attack with my elephants. The Iranians scattered and my maiden guard were slaughtering their way forward


But, and there always is a “but”, the Armoured Persian horse were more than a match for my nimble chariots. Elite shield-bearers tore through my warriors, avoiding the more martial elephants and lady fighting machines. I decided to re-organise………


Oh dear, what was meant to be a reorganisation led to all my manouvre dice being used up and my attack faltering. In the last bound of the game, Simon was able to claim a victory. Three losses and two more tomorrow……

Aetius added; I fxxking give up. I’m going to work for the Madtaxman blog.

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Mortem Et Gloriam- Swiss roll

It wasn’t pretty! Damian wanted to be the English in the Hundred Years War. I didn’t fancy being French pin-cushions so I opted for the English proto- BEF. Damian left the room and came back with his French ordinance collection……


I placed my army in coastal foothills five days before the battle. By battle’s eve my army was on a plain with a single copse for my Irish auxiliaries to sneak about in. Every deployment card was trumped by Damian the card sharp.


My brilliant plan was to line up all my mixed units of men-at-arms and longbowmen in one long arc. My separate pole arm infantry and specialist archers were held in echelon.


Oh good, Damian placed two keils  of Switzers directly opposite my refused flank.


My right wing would have to wheel forward to flank the advancing Swiss. Damian brought his own archers and artillery to match my moves.


Mortem does allow troops to move rapidly. The two lines met in turn three and most Englishmen were retiring for tea by move six!

My third game of Mortem had really impressed me. One thing I forgot to mention yesterday- Mortem uses units of bases that fight in files. The result is a crisp mechanism that really does work. Damian’s figures are always a joy to behold but now I have to get ready for the Warfare Competition in Reading. More L’art de Guerre loveliness Wednesday. For those who have still to book Virtus 2017- 28mm LADG then hurry!

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Wargames…the son and heir of nothing in particular….

Three weeks it took and we’re back to square one. It all started with the idea of our own set of wargames rules. If Games Workshop could do it, so could we…..oh dear!


My son gave me the idea of a fast introductory game. Age of Sigmar uses single figures but I wanted “units”. If you are going to use DBM style elements, it’s no longer a small game that you can just start in a matter of days. A re-reading of DBA awoke memories of this revolutionary system. But, the armies are too small. Big battle DBA had been tried in the past but spears and pikes just one or two ranks deep. D.B.M. Was of course massive ten or more years ago. There remains a small dedicated band of players but one reading of version 3.2 was disappointing. If anything the peculiarities of the system seem to have been exasperated. I dare anybody to read the section on skirmishers versus heavy infantry and wonder whether this remains a “game”.

So, what about increasing the size of DBM style units into “regiments” of four, six or eight? Field of Glory territory I’m afraid. Now in its third edition and a potential re-emergence on the competition circuit next year? Mortem et Gloriam is growing in popularity and gives a good, fast paced game. But, could it really be described as a “entry level” game? Double the size of DBA sized units and you have something very like L’art de la Guerre. I have loved this system for three years now and it remains my current game of choice. My limited mental capacity sometimes gets the factors for combat out of sink, two handed cutting weapon against  Armoured spear elites anyone?


So, whichever way I looked for inspiration, someone had been there before us. In conversation with Damion last night, we decided on the major determinant of whether you enjoyed the game, namely who you were playing. Having set myself the task of painting a whole LADG army in a month , it is possible to get going at a relatively modest outlay. Rules for around thirty pounds and about a hundred pounds worth of metal. I still have eight chariots to paint but I must say I have really enjoyed painting a whole army in one go. A new set of rules may be a non-starter but painting get together soon and one day beginners competitions may increase the number of newcomers.

Thanks for reading

Mike

See you at reading if my aerosols can stand another week of “painting”