The AfterJoy of Six! Part Two

And we’re back! Following on from Part One in this post we look at the games that were on show and give an overall impression of the show with it’s new venue and higher attendance.

The Games

Milton Keynes Wargames Club – Trasimene

G2This was actually 2 games using the DBMM ruleset, a historical scenario, the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC), and a fictional encounter between 2 forces which I’m ashamed to say I cannot recall! (Notepad… notepad…)

The figures were well laid out and the terrain was spot on (although someone was kicking himself for forgetting the water feature). I didn’t stop long enough to join in beyond having a quick chat but I heard from other gamers that both games went very well and much fun was had by all.

Russ Fewtrell & Ian Taylor – Plassey 1757

g3Using the 18th Century Principles of War rulsets this battle pitched the British East India Company against the Mughal Empire and was the battle that established British rule in India.

Sadly I did take more photos but they are mostly blurry images of elephants from behind. That said if you were looking at an elephant from behind you might want it blurring? Regardless I have to apologise to the guys since this is the only decent photo I got.

Chris Grice – Polemos Napoleonics

g4Ah, now this game I should know more about. A fictional battle using the General d’Division Polemos rules (which Chris Grice is the author of) accompanied by the Beta version of the Baccus Polemos App. The reason I should know more about the goings on here is that I’m the guy who is writing the App, it seems my title is now Baccus Tech Guru! The idea was to show how the App could assist in the playing of the game, removing book-keeping and table clutter by tracking shaken levels, by clarifying the rules from debate by calculating outcomes automatically and generating armies at the touch of a button. There’s lots of work still to be done and several of the visitors to the table offered interesting insight.

Commission Figurines – Gorodetschna 1812

g5So other than testing my spelling what did this game have that was different? Well, for a start all the figures on the table (as far as I could see) are made from MDF! Not hugely surprising, in Part One we met Commission Figurines and their line of budget figures. I’m also a fan on the terrain hexes which are by Kallistra and in the near future I’ll be looking to pick myself up a set (unless they are overcome with generosity and want to send me a set – no, worth a try!). I didn’t think I had made a note of the rules being used until I noticed in the corner of one of my photos (yes, I take lots of photos and pick the best 1 or 2) were the words “Volley and Bayonet”.

Robert Dunlop – Neuve-Chapelle 1915

g6The rules used here were Great War: Spearhead. The British are making a push against the German lines and from the looks of the photo someone is taking a thorough pasting. It makes a nice break from the usually WW1 battles showing endless trenches (which can be fun, don’t get me wrong, but there was more to the war than that). Also with all the focus currently on Waterloo, being the 200th anniversary, it’s good to see the 100th anniversary of WW1 not falling out of favour.

Royal British Legion – Iraq, 1941

g7WW2 Micro Squad is another set of rules I’ve not touched and I really wish I’d found time to get back to these guys. They were incredibly friendly when I came around and were very happy to answer all my questions about the game. The game looked to be compact and quick flowing again using Kallistra hexes while boasting something not many 6mm games can, it was at 1:1 scale. As someone who often entertains insane ideas such as modelling a Napoleonic British battalion at 1:1 or my plans for a pre-Marian Republic Roman legion at 1:1 this instantly endeared me to it. They also had the benefit of being right next to the comfy seats where a lot of people decided to take a break and compare purchases.

Lee Sharpe & Ian Willey – Waterloo

waterlooThe battle needs no introduction I’m sure. However, this isn’t your average Waterloo demo game. This is the whole of Waterloo, all of it, at (I think – don’t quote me!) battalion level. I do know that the guys putting on this game have spent 4 years getting together all the models for this game which is an incredible show of commitment to a project. You can find more information about this battle on Ian’s Blog with No Name. I know there are other selling points to this game but I have to keep coming back to the sheer size and undertaking involved in putting on this display, words don’t do the scope of it justice.

Legion of Blokes – Nahsville 1864

nashvilleArguably one of the largest Union victories of the American Civil War (sorry, spoilers!) where the Confederates were outnumbered roughly 2:1 and thoroughly routed. All that aside though (sorry guys) my topic on conversation when at the table was the terrain.

The gaming mat is actually made of teddy bear fur (I’m assured no bears were harmed to put on this game) which was stained with paint and then heavily brushed with a stuff brush to raise the fur again. The roads were simply painted on, allowing the fur to matt. The affect was very impressive and just a little bit cuddly…

Maidenhead and District (MAD) Gamers – Operation Bagration, 1944

bagrationIt seems I didn’t get a good full table shot of this game, the dangers of using a smart phone as a camera and not taking multiple shots (took lots of shots but not 2 of this whole table it seems and the one I have didn’t focus on enough of it). I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for a very nice photo of the Russian forces holding the tree line.

My usual strategy of photographing the rule book so I know what rules were being used backfired also. Both Blitzkreig Commander and Flames of War rulebooks were on display, curses!

Baccus 6mm – Old Puttees, 1914

putteesThe Baccus reduced size game has been a staple of many wargames shows and this time I came SO close to joining in. I had sat down, had the setup explained to me by the esteemed Derek Pitman, when I was called in to the 3rd Seminar of the day. Apparently a seminar about rules and the Baccus App needs the Baccus App writer there. Oops!

derekSo, I never did get to find out how the game played beyond how to pick 32 points of models and that the small gaming board was broken down into 16 squares. I suspect that it worked something similar to Poor Bloody Infantry, Peter Pig’s set of “Rules for the Common Man”. Either way my chance was lost as once the seminar was over Derek was once again inundated with opponents. I also have to give Derek a shout out, he treated me to a bacon butty early on in the show and I completely forgot to return the favour. Next time the dead pig is on me Derek!

Cold War Commanders – Bjerkvik, 1985

coldwarAh-ha! Cold War Commander, a ruleset I’m familiar with! Okay, I have to admit now that my British are in 3mm but that’s thanks to my craving for 1:1 gameplay and Cold War Commander is intended to have 1 vehicle represent a tank troop. That said the game is great fun and this scenario was very interesting. The Russian forces were performing an amphibious assault on American forces in northern Norway.

While I was stood there several people joined in, taking command of sections of troops and really enjoying themselves. It’s encouraging to me to get those 2 packs of Challenger I’s out that I bought at Salute and finish off the Queen’s Own Hussars.

Per Broden & Wyre Forest Gamers – Gadesbuch, 1712

gadesbuchAnother of Per’s Great North War games. Fantastic scenery and a very impressive snow effect across the table and bases. Sweden facing off against Norway and Saxony for control of Stralsund.

Another set of rules I haven’t come across and will have to look into, Twilight of the Sun King. A quick google search led me to the Pike and Shot Society where they are available for £3 (or £2 if you are a member of the society) here. I can see me picking up a set as I’m turning into something of a rules collector!

Wargames Emporium – Command Horizon

commandhorizonIn this picture you can see one of the two table demoing the new Command Horizon rules as written by Wargames Emporium. In Part One I spoke about the rules being on sale and here I got to see them in action (as seems to always be the case with me, I saw but didn’t get to play – busy busy busy). From watching the game while chatting and reading the rules on the train home I have a decent understanding of how the game flows and I have to say I’m quite impressed. It’s certainly a simple set when compared to it’s peers such as Future War Commander but then I did hear them speaking about adding in additional rules for flyers, skimmers and the like. I did like the use of “tracers” (the red pointers in the image) to designate fire as it’s all to easy to forget to allocate weapons to all targets and miss out on shooting otherwise. The stun marker system seems pretty good too though I’d have to play it a few times to decide whether it’s balanced.

commandhorizon2The first Command Horizon board (above) shows a standard army facing off against a giant robot, a case of lots of guns on a single platform. The second table had a more conventional army vs army setup. My only concern is that the rules might prove to be a little ‘too’ simple and fast play for my tastes. That said it will give me the option between playing this and Future War Commander depending on how much time I have and who I’m playing against. I can see my son picking up these rules very quickly. I’ll aim to do a full review of them soon!

The Lead Commanders – Ligny, 1815

lignyAnother battle which needs no introduction and in terms of scale it certainly gives Waterloo a run for it’s money (if you exclude the Prussians then Ligny was actually larger battle). As you can see from the photo not only were the troop numbers similar but the size of the table too, another very impressive display.

It was very nice to see all bases clearly labelled too. It’s hard to take in and learn the history at these events but what you gain is more a feel for the period and the scale of the engagement that doesn’t come across in books. The process of painting, basing and labelling all those troops must have required extensive research and through it greater understanding. Not to mention understanding the battle well enough to put on a demonstration of this magnitude.

Mailed Fist Wargames Group – The Hungry Legions

hungrylegionCredit for this photo has to go to the Baccus photographer. I was certain I had photographed every table but I remember going to snap some pics here and being distracted, I obviously never returned. Due to this there’s very little I can say about the game other than from other people’s photos and the brief moments I spent stood near it.

Firstly I can say with some certainty that the rules in use were Hail Caesar. I admit to having looked at them and not being taken by them, I stand by my mainstay of Warmaster: Ancients but I’m open to being convinced. I also know that the terrain is somewhat special. Those forests are hiding troops, and I don’t just mean in a scenario way. The tops actually lift off and you can move troops THROUGH the forest, rather than balancing them on the top or denying the area completely. I’m 50/50 on how I feel about this, traditional trees I think have a visual quality that I prefer but the practical use of these can’t be denied. I promise to come talk to you and photograph you next time lads!

Seminars

So I’ve finally gone around the whole room, I’ve visited all the stalls and I’ve been to all the games (almost – sorry again!). One special feature of the Joy of Six is the seminars throughout the day. In the morning there is Question Time with Peter and The Igor (both from Baccus) where no topic is off limits and the trickier the questions the better. Around lunchtime the Wargames Emporium had a talk on their Command Horizon rules – I’m sorry I missed this one but I had to fit in my photography somewhere!

Finally, and for me most importantly, there was the Polemos rules discussion in the afternoon. Important because I was actually on the panel, representing the Baccus App and handling all the techy stuff. I was joined by Peter Berry as head of Baccus, Chris Grice as author of many rules including the Polemos Napoleonics and Nick Dorrell, also a Polemos rules author this time the Great North War.

Determined that I would be the only one talking I aimed to get all of the App related questions out of the way early on so in quick succession the key answers were:

  • Yes, it will be ready by Christmas, don’t ask which Christmas (certainly not last Christmas!)
  • Multiple devices talking to each other is currently off the cards (too complex – maybe later)
  • As technology moves ahead the potential to attach QR codes to unit bases (or operate on a facial recognition style system) and ‘scan’ a combat for instant resolution could become possible. Technology is a wonderful thing.
  • No, I don’t think the App will ever make the tabletop element of the game superfluous. It’s there purely to support the game (by clarifying the rules and speeding up combat resolution), not replace it.

The topic then quickly moved onto the upcoming new rulesets and suggestions for future releases. I wasn’t making notes though and by this point I was running on a handful of hours of sleep in the past 3 days so you’d best ask Peter about that or check the Baccus News.

Final Thoughts

So, what did I think of the show?

I thought it was bloody fantastic. I will always make the effort to show my face here in one capacity or another. There are shows that I could skip without feeling that I’d missed out massively but this certainly isn’t one of them.

Is there anything I would change?

Yes, but I have no idea how! When you go to most shows you can pretty much filter out the stalls and games that don’t interest you. Either you’re not interested in the period or the scale or the ruleset. At the Joy of Six everyone who walks in the door wants to look at everything because they fall into one of two categories: 6mm wargamer or aspiring 6mm wargamer waiting to be converted. You can’t filter things out because it all interests you. Most shows I have 1-2 hours at the end where I’m wondering if I should leave, have I done everything, anything else I want to buy, am I bored yet? For the entire of Sunday I was talking to people, looking at stalls, watching games and generally getting involved. I could have spent another 10 hours there and still not done everything I wanted to do. How do you fix that, I have no idea but it’s a lovely problem to have!

Plans for next year?

For a start, I’ll be there. Count on that. I do have a plan for something I would like to do next year but a voice in my head is telling me “You didn’t have enough time to look around this year – don’t push your luck!”. Lets just say that either I’ll be running around with a camera next year or I’ll be stood next to a table with a very large piece of scenery on it trying to convince you to put on a black cloak!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, it’s been a (long) pleasure writing it and normal service will be resumed shortly with some more Lord of the Rings updates and a potential revisit to the 3mm British Cold War Commander models.

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