Monday, 26 June 2017

Phoenix 2017

Steve and I made our first visit to the Phoenix show last Saturday.  It is organised by the West Coast Gamers and is held at the Rheged  Centre near Penrith.  There were some interesting historical games on show, though there seemed to be quite a strong SF and Fantasy interest.

Matt Crump had a very nicely modelled WWII scenario about an attack on Hawkinge airfield during the Battle of Britain.  Next to him were the Dumfries group with an AWI battle using the Rebellion supplement to the Black Powder rules.

The stand out game for me was the local group's Battle of Dyrrhachium between the Byzantines and Normans.  Not only the painting of the figures, but also the flags made for a splendid spectacle.

The traders attending were mostly local, but some 'national' names were also in attendance.  On an upper floor there was a gaming tournament (Magic: the Gathering)  which seems to have a strong local following.  Finally, there is a Bring and Buy which seemed very reasonably priced.

There is a lot to recommend this show.  The venue is light, with plenty of space, and free parking.  More importantly perhaps it lends itself to a family outing.   Shops are on site, as is a cafe and an outdoor play area.  The size of the show means that the gamer can probably  shop, chat and browse within a couple of hours at most, so with an early start the afternoon can be spent in the beautiful Lake District.  On the A66 and minutes from the M6 junction for Penrith travel by car is easy.  For those using the train, Penrith station is not too far away.

Well done to the West Coast Gamers for organising the show and may it continue for years to come.

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 right 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.