Tuesday, 7 September 2021

The Rise of Macedon

One of the attractions of doing my Successor armies is that once you've got a core of Phalangites (the guys with big pointy pikes) that form the centre of the army, you can easily morph the force into many different variations on the theme.

That also means that my Macedonian Successors can, with a little adjustment, become an Alexandrian army, or (as in this case) go a little further back and be a Philippian army. I decided that for future WAB games, especially against Andy's Greeks, a more appropriate army might be that of The Rise of Macedon - headed up by Philip of Macedon, with Prince Alexander in the early part of his career, before he started to believe his own PR too much and became all megalomaniac and god-like (although many would say that he was always like that, but that's another discussion).

The core phalanx troops remain the same, but what of the likes of the  particularly elusive Hypaspists? There are so many options for these troops with reports of them performing many roles.

I decided to depict them as an elite peltast unit, taking on a role supporting the Companion cavalry, rather than being formed up with the phalanx.

I also decided to have their shields with a simple Macedonian star, rather than fancy parade-ground shield designs, or even the image of AtG himself on as is so often shown. 

For Philip of Macedon, I used the Foundry figure (the Hypaspists are also from the Foundry range). Philip was keen to fight at the head of his phalangites, in the thick of the action, wielding a pike. It was all 'butch and manly and stuff' (If you're getting an image of Brian Blessed, or King Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones series 1, that's about right)

So... here are Philip and the Hypaspists (sounds like some sort of Macedonian punk rock band... or maybe it's true Classic Rock!):

Next up, young Alexander, and his Companion Cavalry...

And there's another game booked in the diary, providing a valuable deadline for getting this army table-ready.

I hope all readers and visitors to the blog are well... and thank you to those who continually comment on this stuff. I know many readers are dyed-in-the-wool 18C wargamers, but having a 'side interest' in all things ancient is a lovely distraction sometimes. And I'm finding that, just now, the promise of the odd game, for a few hours, on a 6x4 table, with a hundred or so figures per side, using some fun rules (WAB 1.5), is a massive tonic.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

More gaming!

This past week, I have managed two games! 

First one was with John Boadle and Garry Broom at John's house: an 1866 bash at which I failed to take any photos, but was an engrossing encounter. And thanks again to John for his hospitality.

Second was yesterday with John Kersey who came up for our first game of WAB - part of my continuing re-exposure to the old ruleset (we are using WAB 1.5).
As many will know, John is the WAB ancient Chinese guru, author of the 'Art of War' supplement, and so it made sense to pit my Successors against one of John's Chinese armies.

A thoroughly good game, and again I was so engrossed that I didn't take many photos and those I did take are merely quick snaps. It was a bloody encounter, and ended in an honourable draw, although I think John was being quite generous there. Having said that, my elephant (in the room), ably assisted by some Greek allied cavalry, caused no manner of trouble to the Chinese right flank and eventually was left with no one to fight. On my right wing, Philipolytas 'the Highly Offensive' was just that... offensive. Following his previous outing (see a previous post) he decided that this time he would be very positive at the head of the companion wedge, driving off one enemy unit and severely blunting the enemy chariot squadron... however, he ended up positively 'deaded' for his trouble. But the companions remained intact.

In the end, troops were scattered everywhere, and we'd had a really good time. The inclusion of a couple of tense musician 'roll-offs' in the centre had added to the excitement and made the game what WAB should be about - fun.

Now the pictures:

Below: endgame...

The final picture shows the unit of Agrianians I recently painted.

Inspired by recent WAB games, I have more ancients on the painting desk. And more games in the diary...

Friday, 6 August 2021

WAB game

Last weekend, I had the immense pleasure of welcoming Andy Moran for our first game of WAB together. It's been many years since I played WAB and the same was true for Andy, so we took it rather gently, just really getting used to the mechanics again in this first encounter.

We opted to have a plain tabletop, and simply deployed and went at it.

It was a hard-fought game with Andy's Greeks causing me problems all over the table. Fortunately, for my Early Macedonian Successor Army, the game swung in my favour and a minor victory was achieved... thanks in part to a rather fortunate first roll for Oracles (I opted for an army in which Oracles were preferred to unit standards). My elephant caused more consternation in the enemy than real damage and did tie up Andy's right flank considerably. However, i found my left flank Thessalian cavalry outnumbered and broken by a couple of units of Greek cavalry, so it was a tricky situation. On my right, Philipolytas 'the Great' (Philipolytas 'the decidedly average' might be a better title) managed to get himself and his companions charged by some infuriating peltasts, but won out in the end.

Eventually, my central phalanx units (after some pretty poor dice rolling) did come out on top.

Here are just a few snaps taken during the game (when we remembered to do so!)...

First up... my Oracle roll augured well...

Pictures below taken by Andy

It was a great game, played in true WAB spirit of being fun and exciting. We learned lost of lessons as we went along, both in relation to the rules and also tactically.

Philipolytas has been sent on an Aggressive Leadership course, and the phalangites are considering actually arming themselves with pikes that work next time!!!

And, there will definitely be a next time.
Thanks to Andy for a great afternoon... more to come.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

A Game and a Building

Despite my lack of posts, there's been quite a bit of wargaming activity of late, and also coming up.

The other evening I joined with John Boadle and Garry Broom at John's home for a Franco-Prussian wargame. We used part of a large collection of figures which they have been working on revamping over the past few years...all from the old Foundry range.

I can only imagine their delight to see the Perrys come out with a new range! Lol! But at least John is making the artillery piece masters for the twins for the new collection, so "swings n roundabouts", as they say!

Here are a couple of snaps I took quickly on my iPhone whilst the game was in progress.

Around 2 years ago, John was kind enough to give me some one-to-one model building mentoring over a couple of visits, working on a German style building for the 18C. 

I was inspired and intimidated in equal measure by John's skills, and somehow the finishing touches on the painting were never done (which was my job!).

Well, John recently said he would complete the painting for me, and the other evening he presented me with the finished piece... and I think he has done a great job. I'm delighted with it. Still inspired and intimidated... but delighted.

That's all for now... but I may post again soon, as I am having an ancients game this coming weekend.

I'm dusting off the WAB rulebook, picking my 2000 point Early Macedonian Successors Army, and preparing to welcome Greeks (whether bearing gifts or not) courtesy of Andy who answered my call for 'local opponents' on the WAB Facebook page. Looking forward to it very much...

Friday, 18 June 2021

Several Real Bargains!

Thanks to all who commented on my previous couple of posts, and in particular regarding my thoughts on the passing of Duncan.

Back in the wargames room...

The rationalisation has continued over the past couple of weeks.

It has been an interesting exercise in hobby honesty: which of these projects am I really going to continue?

The result has been a bit of a rethink... and so, I have created a PDF catalogue of what I am putting up for sale.

It includes:

  • Colonial 
  • Back of Beyond 
  • French 1805 ish
  • French and Prussians 1813
  • Normans
  • Carolingians - unpainted
  • many more bits n bobs, including a whole host of 25mm fantasy figures from back in the 70s/80s... Valley of the Four Winds, early Citadel etc.
There are painted and unpainted items.

If you'd like a copy of the PDF, email me: phil(at)philolley(dot)com

I won't be packaging stuff up to send by post (too much hassle), nor will I be  putting on ebay. It's an 'in-person' sale. I've priced it all 'to go' and I hope it will go to people who will be able to enjoy gaming with it or simply to add to your collection.

Below are a few of the items for sale.

Email me for the full catalogue/ PDF.

Thanks for taking an interest.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Farewell to a Friend

It has taken me a few days to compose my thoughts about the loss of Duncan MacFarlane.

Many people knew him much better than I, but for what it's worth here are few words on the passing of our friend...

I was first aware of him via the old Battleground TV series, the Edgehill episode in which he commanded the Royalist army being my favourite (along with the Chalons ep). But like many I really only knew him much later when the first Miniature Wargames magazine hit the shelves. I travelled home from an excursion into town, clutching a copy of this new mag, and my head was spinning.  His magazines (MW and WI) were a breakthrough in the presentation of our hobby - uniquely Duncan-esque. He could spot angles for photos like no other, and create a narrative with images that was compelling. His direction of the publications created a fresh style that pushed the hobby forward in the '80s and '90s to a whole new standard. Getting a hobby magazine onto the shelves of WHSmiths in the UK was no mean feat. Keeping it there was a miracle.

I first met him in person around 1986, I think at Midland Militaire or WMMS or some or other show. A brief chat at his stand ensued. It was the first of many.

Much later, Duncan took a keen interest in what Barry and I were doing as the League of Augsburg, and following our Neerwinden game at Claymore (Edinburgh) in August 1995, invited us to his Warcon show which was to be held less than a month later in Birmingham. We seized the opportunity, and the photos of our game appearing in Wargames Illustrated 98 in November 1995 was a huge bonus.

Of course, subsequent Partizan shows provided similar opportunities to meet Duncan, and at places like Triples and Claymore too. We also visited his home for photo shoots and the Scout Hall in Newark for "Shoot to Thrill" sessions. At his home, one had to tip-toe around the boxes of wargaming paraphernalia all the way up the stairs.
During one such weekend, being dined by Duncan as a treat in Newark’s Café Bleu, including late night cognacs aplenty, I was struck by the fond interaction between he and the staff at the restaurant – a mark of just how popular he was with people beyond wargaming, for he had a natural rapport with others and was able to converse with anyone.

In hobby terms, he was a great supporter of others’ efforts. You always felt he was genuinely interested in whatever you were doing in the hobby. I will miss the friendly wave, smile, and nod of acknowledgement, beckoning across a show hall, and the lengthy chats at his stand … and getting him a coffee when he looked overrun by eager customers.

Following me showing my Sassanid army on my old blog/ website, he took great delight in telling me his many tales of derring-do with the Peter Gilder Sassanids he had inherited and used in WAB tournaments (in my opinion, they were one of his best magazine front covers). When I launched my small, very amateur, Classic Wargamer’s Journal back in 2010, he was one of the first to subscribe.

At Claymore in 2011 I bumped into him as we were both setting up stalls in the morning, me to sell off a whole host of wargaming materials, including many old magazines (later issues of Min Warg, and some WIs), and he insisted on helping me carry the magazines in from the car and set them up on my stand. He figured that it was all his fault anyway “for publishing the damned things” in the first place!

After every encounter with Duncan, you always got the sense that you came away a better person for it… more knowledgeable, more illuminated, more enthused than ever before. On one occasion he and I even discussed at some length the very clever coded messages that were part of the correspondence between Frederick the Great and Voltaire!

I imagine, somewhere up there just now, there’s a “Great Wargames Show in the Sky” happening… the hobby ‘luminaries’ (those who have gone before us) are playing games, and Paul Trickett and Lee Maxwell have nipped away from their tables to help man Duncan’s stall for a few minutes while he goes around taking photos of the games.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my condolences to his family, of course, and also to our fellows in the hobby who were close to Duncan… people like Tricks and Laurence , organisers of Partizan (and indeed all the Newark Irregulars), and my fellow demo-gamers down the years who, like me must be feeling it a bit at the moment… Graham Cummings, the Derby lads, Mark Allen, Bill Gaskin, John Ray, Ian Smith, The Perrys, Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews, and many more who I have got to know ‘on the show circuit’, and of course the many traders who were Duncan’s great friends. He has been a constant in all our hobby lives, a common denominator in our acquaintance, and maybe we are mourning the passing years, as well as the passing of our friend.

Erudite, wise, experienced in our hobby beyond measure, Duncan’s contribution is certainly beyond measure, not only to my life, but to many thousands of others too. He was the enigmatic, Merlin-esque, ‘Arch-Druid’ of the hobby; the island at the heart of the wargaming archipelago … who knew everyone, who sowed connections between so many, and who will never be forgotten.

Farewell my friend. Duncan MacFarlane, RIP.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Artillery emplacements

Thanks to all who commented on the previous post... the stock-taking continues apace, and yesterday the cabinets got a real reshuffle. Amongst other things, this involved me moving the Classic collection from one cabinet to another... a major undertaking since they are all single based!

Meanwhile... In a short interval in the regular painting schedule (rank and file units), I decided to add some artillery crewmen for the gun emplacements that I use for a few periods. I painted these Forge World emplacements several years ago, and they have appeared on many a table. But I needed some crew for them for the WVS project.

I decided to paint some generic crewmen who could be for either side, depending on the scenario. In my head they are Mundanians -part of the local defence forces of the region of Mundania, so their allegiance could be for whichever side is protecting the region against enemy incursion... sometimes that's Vaubaria, sometimes it's Astrovia.

So, a generic grey coat, a few bits of detail, and done... simple.

This is also the first time I have used a GW 'Nuln oil' wash (and I rather liked it). I feel that everyone else has probably been using this technique for ever and a day but that somehow it had passed me by. Late to the party as always!

Finally, while I remember it, I should add my voice to the considerable chorus of praise and thanks to Alec and Angela at Front Rank who announced recently that they will be selling the business and retiring. Over the years I have bought and painted many of their figures. They are always fantastic to deal with, and speedy in delivery. Their contribution to my hobby, and that of so many people, has been invaluable. I wish them all the joy their retirement so richly deserves.

Hope everyone is having a good Bank Holiday weekend!