Thursday, 22 June 2017


Sunday morning saw the Gentlemen Pensioners assemble for our traditional post Phalanx game.  This year Steve had organised an ECW scenario based on Cheriton using the Pike and Shotte rules.  There were 4 players per side; (John, Will, Jan and Peter for the Parliamentarians and Ian, Chris, Nick and Dave for the King).   Steve presented both teams with their troops a map and background information and asked them to draw up their plans whilst he and I laid out the table.

A view from the Parliamentarian left flank, Cheriton wood in the foreground and North End in the far distance

A close up of North End
The forces involved were fairly even, Parliament had 408 foot and 124 cavalry, whilst the Royalists had 396 foot and 148 cavalry. When the troops had been deployed there was some surprise that c75% of the Royalist infantry were lined up behind Cheriton wood, with orders to advance through the disordering terrain.  All the Royalist cavalry had been deployed on their right facing North End.  Parliament had meanwhile interspersed their infantry and cavalry along the southern ridge.  Later the Royalist commander explained that their plan was to advance on the flanks, disperse the forces facing them and then turn inwards to 'roll -up' the Parliamentarians on the ridge.

Massed ranks of the Royalist cavalry

Parliamentary infantry on the southern ridge

The Royalist infantry prepare to advance
The battle opened with a rather dilatory advance by the Royalist cavalry.  This allowed the Parliamentarians to move up to North End and the hedges nearby unopposed.  The restricting terrain made progress difficult for the cavalry and several units resorted to exchanging pistol shots across the lanes.

Eventually the Royalist cavalry managed to get into position to attack and charged their opponents.

In the ensuing melee the Royalists were defeated, the Parliamentary cavalry made a sweeping advance and won a second melee.  A subsequent advance deep into the Royalist rear forced several units of horse to move across to cover the infantry in the centre.

Meanwhile on the opposite flank the Royalist infantry continued their slow progress through the wood, eventually reaching the line of musketeers sent forward to resist any further advance.

In the centre Royalist troops had deployed on the central ridge and artillery had been brought forward.  Some Parliamentary troops had been sent from the ridge to disrupt this movement and they managed to drive back the right flank of the Royalist line, but made no further progress..

Weight of numbers began to tell in the wood as slowly the Parliamentarian musketeers were forced back.

Around North End the Royalists managed to isolate the Parliamentary cavalry which had broken through and drive them from the field.  They then staged their own attack and after fierce fighting drove all the Parliamentarians from the settlement.  Unfortunately, they had no infantry to hold the buildings.

Parliamentary dragoons driven out of North End
So, after 5 hours gaming the Royalist plan was coming to fruition, but the bulk of the Parliamantary army was still uncommitted.  Steve accorded a 'winning draw' to the Royalists, but with the outcome uncertain.

Many thanks to all the participants for making the game so enjoyable and particularly to Steve for organising everything.  For another commentary on the battle and more photos check  wills blog .

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Phalanx show 2017

Once again Steve and I (together with a good complement of Gentlemen Pensioners) made the short journey to St Helens to the Phalanx Show.  This year the Lance & Longbow game was provided by the Alde Garde.  Jan and Peter put on a splendid game about the siege of Venlo.

The lighting within the hall is by no means ideal, giving everything a yellow cast, so the photos don't really do the game justice.  Jan and Peter delight in including vignettes in their games.

Here are some market stalls within the walls of Venlo

And here is a scratch built trebuchet.

The church has a skeleton rising from the grave.  In the background you can see a couple of bicycles, Jan and Peter love to add anachronisms to entertain the onlookers.

The figures are up to the same standard

 The majority of us were unfamiliar with the 'Hail Caesar' rules so we only managed one game during the day.  The result was a victory for the relief force trying to break through the siege lines.  Taking the initiative the knights of the relief force advanced en masse and after a fierce struggle broke through to the town.  Infantry supporting their left flank was eventually able to advance after suffering a couple of reverses.  (They were greatly helped by their opponents rolling low dice at a critical time and routing from the table).  The less said about the reserve, which should have attacked on the right the better.  Their progress would have made a snail look like Usain Bolt.

Here are some photos of some of the other games.

Kunersdorf in 15mm by the Mailed Fist group

Cambrai 1917 by Kalistra

A 28mm Samurai game by the East Lancs Wargames Club

WWII in the Ardennes, using the Bolt Action rules by Ben Houghton and Christopher Otterburn

Fantasy, Greek and Egyptian gods in the desert.  Using Lion Rampant rules.  St Helens Spartans.

The Spartans have once again put on a good show.  A good range of games on offer, plenty of traders and (up to lunchtime) plenty of visitors.  Many thanks to Jan and Peter for bringing the Venlo game; and Lynne, Chris, Dave, Ian, John, Martin, Neil, Nick, Steve and Will for another enjoyable Gentlemen Pensioners outing.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Cheriton trial

My apologies for another long break between posts.  Other commitments have again taken centre stage, I swear I had more free time when I was working!  Anyway, with less than two weeks to go before the Gentlemen Pensioners' weekend, (17th/18th June), Steve and I at last managed to get together to run through part of the Cheriton scenario for Sunday's game, so we could look at a few areas where the rules needed clarification.  Of particular interest was the fighting in Cheriton Woods.  The Pike and Shotte rules bar formed units from moving through woods, but the accounts of the battle seem to argue otherwise.  We therefore tried out formed musket units and even a mixed pike and musket formation.  What we decided on was that any formed unit would have to test for disorder if it moved within the wood.  (Pike armed troops would have a higher risk of disorder).  Musketry ranges were shortened as was the 'initiative distance'.

We also looked at fighting in and around buildings, which doesn't tend to feature much in our battles. Under the rules, even small units of musketeers can be difficult to dislodge, though if enough musketry is directed at the defenders they can be forced to take break tests and it is possible that they may then rout ( as below)

Here are a few photographs of the action.

Gerard's attack the Artillery Firelocks at the hedge around the village

Broughton's attack the other unit defending the hedges

The firelocks, having been disordered and then suffered heavy casualties, rout  

Shuttleworth's attack Broughton's, but are driven off

The cavalry clash in the centre
On the 17th June the Gentlemen Pensioners will be going to the Phalanx Show at St Helens.  This year the game on the Lance & Longbow stand will be provided by Alde Garde club (link), and it will feature " The attack on Venlo 1372".  Peter and Jan always produce games of a high quality, and are happy to spend time chatting to fellow gamers, so if you are vising the show be sure to drop by for a chat.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Slow going

The weeks have flown by since our visit to Salute.  As you may have guessed by now, tabletop action has come to a juddering halt.  Other commitments and the sudden passing away of Roy Adams one of the Gentlemen Pensioners means that gaming has taken a back seat. Every group has someone like Roy, there was never a dull moment when he was around, nor a pause in the conversation.   Roy was generous with his time and knowledge and would always help if he could.  A kind man who will be missed by all who knew him.  Rest in peace Roy.

I have at least managed to paint a few figures for the Muscovites, but that project will now have to be put aside as planning has started for the ECW game at Steve's over the Phalanx weekend.  The figures are not quite complete, (the bases need flocking), but here are some photos

Two cornets for the Muscovite reiter regiments.  The designs came from Dan Schorr's Great Northern War website, (now sadly no longer available).  The figures are from my ECW collection, 'moonlighting' as Muscovites.

The other new arrivals were a unit of streltsy pikemen.  They are Old Glory figures and fit nicely with the Hinchcliffe musketeers.  The figures were almost free of flash and had painted up well.  My only criticism would be that the figures all had their heads tilted to one side. (see the Lonely gamers blog for similar comments and photos of very nicely painted Polish troops of the same period)  The design for the flag came from the same source as for the reiter above.

For more photos of Muscovite troops try the Sword and Scimitar  website.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Salute 2017

Last year, my post on my first trip to Salute ended by saying that, enjoyable as it was, it was unlikely I would attend the show for a few years.  Well, due to Mr Branson's munificence Steve and I ventured south once again.  (with the travel costs being less than half what they had been in 2016, it would have been churlish not to take advantage!).

Once again the journey was swift and uneventful and by 9.30 we were helping set up the Lance and Longbow stand.  There was time during the day to wander around and make those planned (and unplanned) purchases.  My impression was that in spite of the number of visitors there was plenty of space to view the games, a high percentage of which were participation games.  This has to be a good thing.  Not only to attract new 'blood' into the hobby, but also allow established gamers to try out a rule set/period, before splashing out on rules and figures.  Some of the trade stands were attracting considerable interest, with people queueing to  make purchases, so hopefully it was a worthwhile trip for the traders.

Overall, I think the Sci Fi/Fantasy quota was down on last year, nor were there any of the large 'diorama/display' type games which attracted so much attention.  Given the size of the venue if someone (club or group of individuals) can stage such a spectacle I am sure it would be a good 'draw'.

Here are some photos of the show, other blogs will already have posted their far more numerous offerings, but I hope this selection will give a flavour of the event.

Wyre Forest Wargames Club's 'Kalisz 1706'.  The quality and detail of the painting of these 6mm figures was inspiring.

Raphia 217BC by Simon Miller and the Wargames Holiday Centre.  The blocks of pikemen were very impressive.

One of several games based on the Russian Civil War, this one was 'Carry on up the Volga' by the League of Gentlemen Anti-Alchemists.

This ECW game attracted quite a bit of attention and used the 'Pike and Shotte' rules.

Essex Warriors put on this very impressive SYW game, the Battle of Prague.  I would have liked to get back to this later in the day to see how the battle developed.

This 15mm Napoleonic 'Dresden' caught the eye, and one in 25mm by the Old Guard.

An often overlooked campaign, the Italian Front in WW1 by the Scarab Pals.

The modelling on this Samurai game by Oshiro Modelterrain was excellent.  Although not games, I felt I had to take photos of these terrain features created by 4ground.

Certainly gave me a few ideas of what to aim for when building some defensive features for my Muscovites.  This frozen landscape was also impressive

Also very impressive was the terrain for the 'Freebooters Fate' game

I had originally planned to restrict my purchases to sufficient figures to make up a unit of dismounted dragoons to supplement my French Grand Alliance forces.  However, in my wanderings I found the 'By Sword and Flame' stand.  Although I have 25mm armies for that period, the rule book and its supplements do provide loads of information on organisation etc and so I also left London clutching the revised rule book.  A pricey purchase but one which I anticipate will help me get historically accurate forces together for my Eastern Renaissance games

The big plus of a show like Salute is the opportunity to meet up with friends/acquaintances who you rarely get the chance to meet in person.  Neil, Rollo and Barry worked with Steve and I on the society stand and Bill, Jim and Ben did a great job with their participation game, with a good number of youngsters trying out their modified 'Lion Rampant' rules.

Some things don't change, the light levels, the noise and the hard floor (none of which the organisers can be held responsible for), but Salute is an excellent show, giving a gamer a chance to see the widest range of wargaming 'stuff' in the flesh rather than online.