Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Derby Wargame Show 2012

On a beautiful bright autumnal Saturday, my friend Ade, my brother and myself travelled deep into the far east, well to the Derby Wargame Show at least. The event this year was at Donnington race track after being previously held at Derby University. This is the only other wargaming event I regularly attend apart from the local WMMS (Alumwell) show.
new venue
Finances are as tight as ever this year so I had to chose my purchases carefully. From the Dave Thomas stand I picked up a Perry Miniatures ox drawn wagon, I had planned to buy a number of Crusaders packs of crossbow men to go along with my other Crusader figures for my Cry Havoc project but there were none available. However Crusaders loss was Curtleys Miniatures gain, from whom I also bought a number of knights, archers and flags. Apart from a book on War of 1812 and a few Knuckleduster figures that was it. 

Ade, the main man behind wargamingforfun, is interested in gaming something entirely different from his usual Warhammer fantasy stuff and is looking at getting into WWII games, which before the weekend was initially going to be Flames of War. Knowing that Warlord were in attendance and demonstrating their new Bolt Action game we decided to linger around their stand until we had the opportunity to have a go. I won't detail the gaming dynamics but it was easy enough even for me to pick after a short while. After a few turns, where I controlled the British and Ade the Germans, the game was quite evenly balanced despite the fact that I'd stupidly left my command figures hopelessly exposed in the middle of a field where they were promptly shot to pieces. 
Warlord's Bolt Action demo game
Image courtesy of Goose

Ironically (or fortunately depending on your point of view) in the action shot of us above playing the game you can't actually see me. Ade is just about visible to the left of the table and my brother is to the right. Note the awaiting crowd ready to carry me on their shoulders, victorious from the battlefield.

Knowing that several other attendees were waiting to have a game and playing up to the audience slightly, I decided to go for 'Death or Glory' tactics. My brave boys fixed bayonets and went in with cold steel against Fritz. To paraphrase Corporal Jones from Dad's Army, "They do not like it up 'em, they do not like it up 'em.". Result? They certainly didn't like it up 'em. It was absolute bloody slaughter! Everyone was wiped out, British and German alike. In fact the only figures left on the table were the two support units, the German mortar and the British machine gun crews. 
Warlord Bolt Action Demo - note my casualties in the bottom corner
Apparently I had won but I only realised this when Ade said "Congratulations" and shook my hand. As the only figures left on the table were the two British Bren gun operators I think it would be definitely classify as a Pyrrhic victory. I wouldn't like to be a squaddie under my command. Ade and myself both enjoyed the game.

After playing the demo we're both keen to take up the game properly, Ade bought the rule book soon afterwards. There is only one slight drawback; neither of us wants to play the Germans for various reasons. I recognise this may seem unusual but Ade would prefer to play as the British, Commandos etc. and I'd rather play as the Russians. To get round the rather obvious problem of not having any historical or traditional 'baddies' to play against we thought we may try and play it as an alternative history - May/June 1945 where British/Americans fight against the Russians. From what I've read it was a quite common belief amongst German soldiers later in the war that, at the very last moment, the Germans would join up with the western Allies to defeat the advance of the Communist threat. Considering what actually happened soon after the war finished (Berlin airlift, Iron Curtain, Cold War etc.) isn't as far fetched as it may initially sound. 

There was way too much going on to detail everything that caught my eye but I'd like to single out a few things that worth noting. 


A simple game based on the battle of Naseby put on by a very friendly and approachable Stoke-on-Trent wargaming group. The game and table were quite minimum but the figures and terrain were nicely done (one of the chap sells his stuff online - The Bunker 13) The emphasis seemed, correctly in my opinion, to be put on the gaming aspect of wargaming.

There was a jolly nice chap demonstrating how to paint 6mm (Baccus) figures. Yep, shock horror, I do plan to paint two armies of these tiny terrors but more of that in the future post. He gave a very useful and informative idiot's guide (i.e. so I could understand it) to painting up these figures. It's basically a whole different approach to painting to what I'm used to. I couldn't quite work out why the painter appeared to be was dressed as a pirate though, I can only assume he was taking part in demo game or perhaps he was attending a fancy dress party straight after the show.

One thing I did find surprising was the low presence of Dark Age games, only the one was being played as far as I'm aware. Considering the buzz on the blogoshere I thought there would be more but there were plenty of traders that had the stock for sale. The majority of games seemed, to me at least, to be WWII based using various scales.
Pirate demo game

All in all a very pleasant day out. The venue was large and there was plenty of space to wander around. The new location was easy to find but the noise of racing cars on the adjacent track did start to become annoying after a few hours. Food and booze was relatively expensive but perfectly adequate.

One thing that made me chuckle late in the day was when Ade said, "If ever we decided to become master criminals, such a show would be the perfect hideout." When the call went out to be on the lookout for rather chunky, 40 plus, bearded males with glasses then there would be at least several hundred suspects we could hide amongst.