Encouraging young wargamers

This week my young neighbour Luke has visited the shedquarters twice. The first was for the assault on the north African hilltop village of El-andam Na’tion.

Luke wanted a tank battle, so I quickly painted up some of my spare tanks from the board game Memoir ‘44. By using the Japanese tanks as similar looking Italian types I was able to muster 30 tanks a side.

The British had a mix of Crusaders and Shermans. The Axis had a dozen Italian tanks holding the town, and reinforcements of PzIV with both short and long 75mm guns, and one troop of Tigers.

The rules were from Don Featherstone’s “Battles With Model Soldiers”., chosen as a simple introductory system.

The British won by taking the village. Then Luke reset the battlefield as a more open area with scattered buildings. In this scenario he thrashed me. At one point I surrounded one of his Tigers and with three Shermans at shortest range they all missed!!!

I don’t mind losing. If it brings one more young chap into the wargaming hobby I have won.

Where did February go?

Since my last wargame posting I have finished the game that was in progress as part of the Market Garden campaign.
By the parameters of the game the British won, with two thirds of the 7th Hampshire’s moving off the board to the north. However, The Germans are holding much of the town of Oploo in strength and the British have a regiment of field artillery ranged in and the remains of the 1st Worcester’s as protection. Reinforcements are arriving, but once again XXX Corps advance was stalled for four hours.

I have also been preparing for the Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend at the end of March at the Wargames Holiday Centre. We have received the rules (“Will Victoria be Amused?”) and the “General Idea”. This year it’s an expedition up the Nile fighting the Mahdi. The game appears to be very much a rôle playing exercise with all players against a randomised enemy.  Our game provider, Steve Thompson, has gone to incredible lengths with production of model soldiers, boats, buildings, dogs, crocodiles, etc. , not to mention producing a game character sheet and back story for every officer!

I decided that we needed to try out at least the basic rules, so I ordered a load of 20mm plastic figures and gave them a basic undercoat. Unfortunately on the first solo test I ran out of enemy on turn 2! (Half the order of Mahdists had not yet been delivered).
So I quickly took some “top-down” photo’s of what I had available, stuck the results onto vinyl floor tiles to make some units and we set to.
Large warband We found that this is not going to be easy.

Of course, I now have lots of half painted plastic soldiers for a scale and period that I don’t normally game, so they have gone into the painting pile.

One model has been completed, and the umpire has already written extra character rules for the pair of characters:
The Right Honourable Sir Armstrong Whitworth C’nardley-Stannde with his servant/gamekeeper and now batman, Gordon Bennett.
Sir Armstrong Whitworth CNardley_Standde
These were created from a mix of body parts found on eBay. I needed riding legs and a bewhiskered face resembling my own, and ended up with a pack of two Lancers and a pack of two steampunk adventurers.   With my painting skills, or lack thereof, I used basic block painting followed by a coat of Army Painter dip and then a matt varnish spray.  It has been touched up in detail  since this photo’ was taken.

Apart from that I have achieved very little in the past couple of weeks, apart from some gentle gardening in the ridiculously fine weather we have been enjoying in Britain. So kind of Europe to let us share some of the warmth before we drift off into the fogs of isolation.

Donald Featherstone tribute weekend 2017

This year’s battle for the annual Donald Featherstone weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre was Blenheim.  This was particularly appealing, as I have had a desire to fight the battle on the wargame table for getting on for 30 years – I have painted one Anglo-German brigade so far!  Also this was the battle in which I first commanded the forces of the “Grand Alliance” in 1830mm scale with live action (i.e. Historical re-enactment).

As usual we arrived on Friday afternoon to find the table ready with some forces in their pre-determined positions, like the French dragoons in Blindheim village.  We had ten players who had all been present copies of the period amendments to the Black Powder rules that we would be using for the battle.  The picture heading this post shows the starting positions, viewed from Blindheim towards the west.

We split into teams and prepared our deployment.  I, as commander of the Franco/Bavarians, foolishly opted for the historical set-up.  I took command of three French brigades in the centre.  The Grand Alliance, which included one player who was a much called-upon walking encyclopedia of the rules, opted for a different set-up.

Thus, when the battle started, I found myself in the centre of the French line opposed by a Dutch brigade reinforced by General Cutts’ brigade that had historically attacked Blindheim.

Saturday

During the course of the battle I suffered greatly from the Anglo-Dutch Platoon fire (which we discovered on day 2 should have only been used for the first firing), but was able to counteract this by the French “Ferocious Charge” (which we later discovered was actually supposed to be only used for cavalry)

By the end of Saturday it was declared  a victory for the Grand Alliance against the Franco-Bavarians.  The centre – my area – had collapsed with three broken brigades.

We reset the battlefield and changed sides.

This time my team, as Grand Alliance, decided to simply screen Blindheim on the left flank and Lutzingen on the right flank and punch a hole through the Franco-Bavarian centre.

Interlude:

We adjourned to spend the evening at a formal dinner in a nearby hotel.  Many anecdotes were exchanged about ancient wargames figure designers. Chris Scott told us some tales about the late, great Donald Featherstone.  I was invited to recant the stories of the 2004 re-enactment of Blenheim. Henry Hyde told us of how our hobby had helped him through a recent bereavement.

Henry then conducted an auction of items donated by those attending.  We raised between £300 and £400 for Combat Stress, a charity for which Henry has now raised over £26,000.

Sunday

On the right flank it became very sticky.  One Swabian brigade which could have been very useful spent the entire battle misenterpreting its orders and marching hither and thither.

On the left flank the screening of Blindheim resulted in a repulse, and in the centre the massed cavalry attack not only failed, but got in the way of any supporting troops.  My own command was interesting.  The troops screening Unterglau ran away.  The rest of their brigade was useless at causing enemy casualties, but took no end of punishment before breaking. The Hanoverians, rescued the English troops.  To my satisfaction, the only English battalion that did not break was Orkney’s – my own re-enactment unit in another hobby.

The Irish troops holding Unterglau for the Franc0-Bavarians simply stood and took whatever was thrown at them.

After some very hard fighting it was clear that the Franco/Bavarians had held their line.

So, the result of the weekend was: Grand Alliance vs Franco-Bavarians 1-1.  Team A vs Team B 2-0

At the end of the weekend Steve Thompson was declared the winner of the “most gentlemanly wargamer” award.  He gets his name engraved on the glass trophy jar, free entry to next year’s game and a miniature diorama of the period to keep.  Well deserved, as throughout the weekend he not only commanded his own brigades but was always available to explain the rules to all who needed help.

Next year we will probably return to the American Civil War.