Yes it is a wet and windy June morning as we meet up with Mechanical Shaun and Floating Jeff to unload- up comes Theatrical Steve and our team for today is complete. Liam - aka Garth is also supposed to be here but is stuck in Kendal with mechanical difficulties awaiting the AA . So the five of us set up the game on its 10 feet by 6 feet table with around 800 15mm Marlburians- all Blue Moon 15mm and mostly painted and organised by Jim in the last year. I provide a few units as well as most of the terrain so this is a co-operative effort but with Jim definitely in the chair as Umpire .
|Early in the action. The Allied guns find the French Infantry.|
As it happens the game was a little cracker- even though I came second -Floating Jeff's legendary dice throwing eventually proving my undoing. Jim based the scenario on the battle of Creveld from the Seven years war. Apparently this meant my outnumbered British - with Prussian and Danish help had to cross a river in the face of a French army while a Durch force appeared on the French Flank unbeknown to the French high command. We we almost got away with it . The French slightly outnumbered our whole force and Mechanical Shaun - as the Dutch commander pressed them hard, forcing the French to divert troops to protect their flank and rear. Meanwhile I tried to cross the river in two placeS and despite routing two French battalions with some fearsome artillery fire it was never really on the cards until the last move when I finally got Dumbarton's regiment across and into the French- only to lose the melee against Jeff 's usual highly inappropriate dice rolling.. It was really nip and tuck and a fine time was had by all. Rules were a slightly modified version of Warfare in the Age of Reason. A set I have always liked and have used for many sub-periods within the 18th century. It can take modification without upset and is not so hyped up on its own cleverness of mechanism that it ever becomes less than sipmple to use or obscure in meaning.
|The Dutch put pressure on the French flank and rear.|
|Dumbarons Regiment prepares for it assault|
Now As to the show- well frankly I have seen better. Usually for a small local event Durham gets pretty packed . The crowd was very sparse this year but then the weather was unseasonably awful. Having said that though there was a certain lack of games and a lot of empty space in the main hall. When I went in the only sound was that of my own footsteps ! . There were two scruffy looking games at the far end of the hall- cluttered and uninteresting. One was Cruel seas - looked hasty like a normal club night game put on half and hour before the players arrive. - Can't even recall what the other one was. . Over in the bowls pavilion there was a game of the Russian assault on Bhokara which was interesting and unusual. Typical of Conrad Cairns and his friends nice one Dudes. A static display of the so called "Battle" of Piercebridge in 1642 looked nice but in 2mm was barely visible to the naked eye despite the effort that had gone into the scenery. The actual encounter was a skirmish involving the Hull roundheads trying to stop a much larger Royalist force crossing the River Tees. Since they only had a couple of infantry companies and a troop or two of horse they failed . However the display looked very nice. It was obvious some effort had been expended.
|"There are more of us than you "- chant the French as Prussian and Danish troops move up to cross the river.|
There simply were not enough games. The main hall as I mentioned had 2 small games- both less than 6 feet by 4 both lacking in anything resembling effort at any kind of display . Both about as eye catching as a party political broadcast.. I have no idea who was running/hosting them and I don't care.
|The French main battle lineas it shifts to counter the Dutch.|
Surely the local groups can do better for a local show with such a long history.. After all it is not as if the NE is short of wargamers. But perhaps that is not the right question. Perhaps the question should be "Can the NE supply a sufficiency of wargamers who are willing to put some effort into a demo or PP game at a small show such as Durham?" Has the local hobby become so utterly introverted that it can't be bothered to do anything other than play -in private- on four foot square tables- I can't answer that and I am also aware that petty local bickering has sometimes had its effect. I only know our group does not follow THAT pattern, after all in the last few years we have managed to do a Demo at the Durham show is lots of different periods and scales of which our 15mm Marlburian game was only the latest. In the past we have done 28mm ECW, 40mm ACW, 20mm Modern, 15mm Modern, 1/600th Naval, 10mm Seven Years War, 28mm Seven Years War and 40mm Wars of the Roses. All this from a group with no more than 6 regular members plus the occasional guest. For next year we are looking at 28mm Indian Mutiny and before anyone sneers behind their hands "well they have the resources of Old Glory UK behind them - only partly true- the models still have to be made and painted, scenarios worked out,. EFFORT put in for what has for us always been an enjoyable day. A few cheaper soldiers does not a demo game make. The chaps still have to turn up, still have to have some enthusiasm for what they do .
Not sure what the dozen or so traders made of it- I did not have my traders hat on so didn't ask. Not that I would anyway.. I spent more on a roud of beers than I did on toys. A secondhand copy of C.S. Grants book Wargames Campaigns and a can of white spray primer- for buildings I brush prime figures- was my lot. Though I was tempted both by Hoka Hey wargaming's Elizabethans and by Reiver Castings French revolutionary Wars British I resisted- at least for now .....
Now I and the rest of our group did enjoy the day and will be ready to do another demo next year if we are invited. Yes the show needs a bit of a shot in the arm but no it should not merely wither away like so many others. It deserves better.