Monday 20 May 2024

If Carlsberg did wargames shows... Partizan

They've been doing it for 38 years now... and it just keeps getting better each time.

Laurence Baldwin and Richard "Tricks" Tyndall have excelled yet again in creating a phenomenal show, in terms of organisation, attention to every detail, and professionalism in all their dealings with gamers and traders. Big shout out to them.

It was a great weekend; exhausting, exhilarating, and thoroughly enjoyable.

My game was small, as mentioned in a previous post, being merely the first steppe (!!) in the Eastern Renaissance project.
Looking around the hall, I was in awe of the massively impressive tables being set out... the quality of scenery just beggars belief.
However, with this game I wanted to make the point that not all demo games have to be huge affairs. I am in awe of the work that goes into the mega games we see at shows, where an army of people seem to be able to put such massive battles onto the tabletop. But, for the 'average Mr Wargamer,' such games are beyond wildest dreams. However, something more modest can be equally attractive and enjoyable to create.

Throughout the day, I was of course tied to my own table so unable to take a wander round and look at the other games in detail, so I'm looking forward to seeing all the blog posts and videos that report on the show in the coming days.  

Meantime, here are a few photos of my own efforts. I didn't get to play the game much, being engaged in conversations with old friends and interested visitors to the table all day. But that is what it is about for me, and it was great to make acquaintance with so many blog readers. So thank you for popping by for a chat.

Over to the pictures:

One thing that did seem to be of additional interest for visitors to the table was my Project Journal which I left open for people to browse through at leisure. It charts the development of the game, showing each unit as it was painted, and other scraps of ephemera.

Being surrounded by so many amazing tables, I didn't expect to win any prizes, and that has never been my reason for putting on games anyway, so I was shocked and delighted in equal measure when the judges, led by Henry Hyde, along with organiser Laurence Baldwin, came up to me around 3pm and presented the Best Demo Game award.

To all who stopped by at the table, thank you. Apologies to the many who I noticed having a peep at the game but who I didn't manage to chat to. And apologies to all the other tables I didn't get to visit. As I mentioned, I didn't get away from the table at all during the day, but Lisa's presence as chief of moral support, ensured I was fed and watered at regular intervals. As more than one kind blog reader pointed out, I think I owe her a holiday!!

Sunday 12 May 2024

Preparations for Partizan: Time for Action!

Preparations for Partizan are in the final stages...

Rumours abound in the southern borderlands of 17th Century Muscovy of an Ottoman force on the march toward the village of Akshun.
Already, Tatar raiding parties are being a 'nuisance' and burning local homesteads.

Meanwhile, in the village of Akshun itself, preparations are underway and defences are being prepared. A call has gone out to Muscovite forces under Ivan Rachmanstakovich, and a contingent of Boris Bolshenko's Cossacks are also hastening to the scene.

Above: Ottomans on the move.
Below: Those pesky Tatar 'fire-starters'.

The village of Akshun:

So, it's all set for...

The finishing touches to the Ottoman forces were a second unit of Janissaries, and the Ottoman 'Kazan' vignette:

Hope to see many blog readers at the show.


Monday 6 May 2024

Springing back into Action!

Whilst I have been quiet from a blogging point of view over the past couple of months, I certainly haven't been idle on the hobby front.

Most of the hobby attention has been on the upcoming game at Partizan, more of which in a future post.

Painting-wise, in the past couple of months, I have achieved the following:

  • Tatar command and lancers = 16 points
  • another janissary unit = 24 points
  • a vignette for the Janissaries = 6 points
  • Terrain - a full new terrain suite for the Eastern Renaissance game at Partizan = 50 points.

That's a total of 96 points, bringing my calendar year-to-date total to 185, which is certainly on track.

I will post in full about the preps for Partizan in a few days, but for now here are the Tatars which I recently completed:

In addition, Lisa and I have been on our travels a little, including a trip to Devon. We stayed in a hotel near Teignmouth, The Passage House, right on the Teign estuary. On the walls of the neighbouring inn, I spotted these weapons which may be of interest. One or two curious pieces amongst the lot:

We also had a few days in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds, famous for it's ECW battle of course.

This doorway to the church has Tolkienesque overtones for sure!

As I mentioned, in a few days I will do a Partizan preparations post. Until then, all the best...

Wednesday 28 February 2024

February Digest

Following January's end-of-month post, I thought I would do the same for February as, once again, it has been a productive and varied month on the hobby front.

Despite being away quite a bit (business and pleasure), I have been getting a fair amount of time at the paint desk.

Painting points for the month are as follows:

Ottoman Spahis 12 cavalry = 24 points
Tatar infantry = 12 points
Ottoman artillery = 5 points
Muscovite artillery = 5 points
Italian farm for Billhooks game = 1 point
3 tents for Billhooks = 3 points
Cavalry leader + standard bearer for Billhooks = 4 points

Total = 54 points.

... plus the Bob Ross style painting (see post from a couple of weeks ago)!!

Here are some pictures of this month's output:

Spahis (shown in a previous post):

Tatar infantry:

Note the use of sabots. One thing I dislike about movement trays and sabots is the 'gap' left by removing casualties. So,. my own Wargames OCD solution is to create 'spacers' to fill the gap. Think it looks quite neat.

Of course, if you don't want to put them in sabots at all, they can simply look like this...

Ottoman artillery:

Muscovite frame gun and crew:

It hasn't only been the Eastern renaissance project getting the attention this month. In preparation for our recent game of Billhooks, the Condottiere set-up also got some bits n bobs done, such as this farm:

Condottiere tents:

Condottiere cavalry leader for Billhooks:

I named him Luigi Riva (if you were around for the 1970 Italy team in the World Cup, you might remember Gigi Riva... I discovered, sadly, he recently passed away).
I painted this in a bit of a hurry to get ready for the game... the power of a deadline!


My previous post described the Billhooks game we had last weekend... so no more to say really, except that I am already level with the whole of last year in terms of games played!

Parting Shot

I was delighted to see the recent FB post by The Perrys and North Star Nick showing a 1672 game. On closer inspection, I realised that several of the units in the picture were painted by me about 11 or 12 years ago... they were sold on to a well-known show trader in order to find their way back to Nick's collection. So it was great to see them in the photos... one of those 'double-take' moments!

That's about it for the month.
I'll be heading to Hammerhead this coming weekend (browsing and shopping!), so hope to see many of you there.
All the very best for now...

Monday 26 February 2024

Never Mind the Paintings...

We had an "Old Berks" gathering on Saturday, so John Kersey and Andy Moran visited for a game... Steve G was unable to come due to a bout of illness. He was sorely missed... but John took on the mantle of two players in our game.

For a while, we have been putting together forces for imaginary European armies of the mid-late 15thC with the intention of playing Never Mind The Billhooks, and having had a few 'practice games', we decided to go for a slightly more involved and ambitious scenario on this occasion.

The setting, the armies, the names were all totally made up so no need to go looking for the historical events they mimic.

Even before the Deluxe version came out, I had an eye on using the core rules for mid-late 15C Italian Condottiere armies, and so our game used the basic rules, with the likes of "Swiss" (actually the Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes) being veteran pikes (but without all the rest of the Swiss special rules), for example. Each army was approx 100ish points, so a game of around 200 points per side.

The Protagonists:

The Army of Bavetta (dark blue Milanese type chaps) commanded by me.
The Army of Haut-Dijon (sort of Burgundians) commanded by Andy.
The Army of Firenza (sort of Florence types) commanded by John.
The Army of The Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes (sort of Swiss) commanded by John.

Map of the Table:

Scenario Outline:

The army of Bavetta has called upon its allies under The Duke of Haut-Dijon in its fight against the forces of The Republic of Firenza. The latter has also called upon allies and a powerful force of The Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes has answered that call.

The armies face each other across the open plain of Decolla. To add to the situation, it is rumoured that two masterpiece paintings by the renowned artist, Roberto Rossi, are to be found in the area. Local gossip has it that a code is concealed within the gilt frames of the pictures - a secret gunpowder recipe that will dramatically reduce the rising number of inadvertent artillery explosions that many armies have recently been experiencing. Understandably (anyone who has ever played Billhooks will get this), such secrets are much sought-after. The generals are aware of the value of the masterpieces, and of the secret code. The discovery of the paintings and the code would be a huge boost to any individual's currency at Court. 

Therefore, the objectives for each player are to destroy the enemy, seize control of the plain of Decolla, and find the paintings.

To add a further complication... there are actually 4 paintings hidden on the table. Two are the real ones, two are fake.
So that I wouldn't know which were the real ones, Lisa put a note of both the real and the fake paintings in a sealed envelope. On her return from a day shopping/ daughter's wedding venue visiting (leaving us boys to play toy soldiers!), she would open the envelope... more of which later.


Having seen the table laid out, we diced for which side the armies entered from. Winning the dice-off, Firenza-Konfederation troops decided to enter from the west. Haut-Dijon and Bavetta would enter from the east, Bavetta taking the left wing, Haut-Dijon the right.

A hard fought game ensued, which ebbed to and fro.

The Bavettans held the farm all day (discovering a painting in the main building) against an onslaught of the Konfederation pike/halberd blocks who had overrun the southern shrine (discovering a painting) and who came trundling down the hill and across the plain. Meanwhile, to the northern end of the table, the Firenza troops had launched up the hill, ransacking the shrine of Our Lady of Decolla (and discovering a painting), and starting across the plain. Haut-Dijon began his advance and soon had skirmishers in the woods, also discovering a painting.

The Firenza defence against Haut-Dijon was stoical, but eventually the arrow storms proved too much. 

Meanwhile, The Konfederation pike blocks had been stopped by a dogged Bavettan defence despite the Bavettan artillery, having caused a few casualties, eventually doing it's usual and blowing up, earning it the Old Berks "Good Grief" Wooden Spoon award which Andy had made specially and brought along on the day. The Bavettan infantry performed well, using the hard cover of the farm walls to good effect (and having a unit of skirmishing handgunners firing from the farmhouse helped) along with a sweeping Gendarmes attack. At last, the enemy blocks were halted, faltered, and began to break up. The 'Swiss' dice rolls in one turn temporarily earned them the Wooden Spoon, but it was soon back in Bavettan hands when the second unit of Gendarmes attacked the Swiss pikes in the flank, but failed to break them with some typically atrocious dice rolls.

The Duke of Haut-Dijon, having seen off the last of the Firenza forces, began to come to the aid of the beleaguered Bavettans and the game was up.

A terrific game, lots of fun, nail-biting moments. The vagaries of the dice were matched by the vagaries of the faux-Italian accents that accompanied the banter!

Whilst the Bavettans were holders of the Woden Spoon, each army had gained a painting... but which were the real masterpieces and which were the fakes?

Lisa tentatively opened the envelope to the eagerly awaiting Old Berks.

Yes! Bavetta's was real.
And the Konfederation had also gained a real one. So, myself and John had the luck.

The Haut-Dijon master of antiquities and art is now seeking fresh employment!

Firenza is no doubt plotting revenge.

Can't wait for the next game.


The paintings/ masterpieces:
... you may recognise from my previous post a week ago!

That's all for now folks...

Back later this week with a review of the month, more figures painted, and some more random thoughts about the hobby.

Meantime, "Arrivederci", as they say in Bavetta.