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.


  1. Looks like a fun game, the paintings is a very nice idea, just that bit different. Lovely looking figures, very nice indeed!

    1. Thank you Donnie. Definitely great fun! Best rgds. Phil

  2. Great scenario and game with lots of lovely figures, plus a neat story with regards to the paintings:).

  3. Great game as ever Phil - although you wouldn't guess it from the result but I did have a slight advantage running two armies! Again thanks to both Lisa and yourself for your hospitality and good humour.

    1. Thanks John. A pleasure to have your company. A great day! Phil

  4. Looks and sounds like a smashing time! Loved the Wooden Spoon award too.

    Kind Regards,


    1. Thanks Stokes. There's nothing better than a game to get the painting juices flowing! Phil

  5. Lovely armies and a quality wargaming day spent with friends - perfect.

    1. You're right Norm. It was perfect! best rgds. Phil

  6. Sounds a most enjoyable game and day. Thanks for the report.
    Alan Tradgardland

  7. How happy to be spared the Italianate banter. Just kidding. It looks and sounds like you had a lot of fun and that's what it's all about. An interesting set up with plenty of room for pikes and horse.
    Curiously I was most intrigued by the rocks behind one of the shrines as it looks like one I've just painted!

    1. Thanks Stephen. The rocks are cork bark, from Last Valley. I simply repainted them. They top off a hillside nicely, and seemed the perfect spot for a shrine. Best regards. Phil