Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Wargamer 2015

Sunday, 6th December, 2015 saw the annual, drastically under-publicised event that is the "Wargamer" show. held for the second year at the Leasowes Sports Centre, Halesowen.

There was some good stuff on offer from trade and gamers alike, some of which you can see snippets of below.

From a trade perspective, the ever-wonderful Ainsty Castings were there, as were the omnipresent Warlord and numerous others to boot.

My eye was drawn however to someone I had not encountered before and a game I had not heard of. That trader was "7th Heaven Games" and the game was "Carnivale", gothic horror set in 18th Century Venice!!! The miniatures looked astounding and the thought of gondoliers taking on Cthulhu is a big draw!!! Check it out.

I bought some Frostgrave figures and the new scenario book, "Thaw of the Lich Lord" from Ainsty, finally got my hands on the Mercenary Captain figure for the late 16th Century from Warlord (the idea of the French Wars of Religion just won't go away...), got some much required paint and a card game called "Condottiere" from Fantasy Flight Games, bought from MagicGeek. I look forward to trying out that one over the festive period.

I hope this show gets some better publicity in future as it has the potential to be a biggie. We in the Wyrley retinue always view it as the start of our "season", where we try out our latest demo offering. Massive thanks to all those who took the time to come and see us, speak to us and comment on our showing. Your feedback is greatly appreciated! A certain doyen of the hobby by the name of Mr David Bickley even suggested we take it to Partizan! Our next scheduled outing is the WMMS show at the Aldersley Leisure Centre near Wolverhampton on the second Sunday in March. We aim to have a bigger and better offering on show there, as we like to upgrade our demo games between shows so you never see the same thing twice. Seeing as you guys have to pay to get in, the least we can do is show you something you will not have seen exactly the same as beforehand is our view.

For this outing, I called the game "The Battle of Canny, c.1476". We had elements of Grandson, Morat and Nancy in the game, so an anagram was deemed the most suitable choice of name.

But, without further ado, some pics of some of the games on offer. It was a good day out.


Burgundian right flank, with plenty of gensdarmes and a handy fence...

The unit of the match - the Burgundian foot men-at-arms led by Philip de Crevecoeur (scratch one pike block and a unit of halberdiers...)

The mixed cantons battle storming down the centre of the table.

The Zurich-led contingent that formed the right of the Swiss line. Uri, Lucerne and the banner of Adrian von Bubenberg are also visible.

One of the artillery redoubts that formed part of the Burgundian line.

More gensdarmes, this lot under the command of the Comte de Romont

And the good count himself, a Foundry rider on an Essex horse with a Perry coustillier holding his banner, which is from Freezywater Publications available from the Lance & Longbow Society stand at shows.

Sir John Middleton commanded the Burgundian centre. This little stand is a mix of Foundry, Front Rank and Perry figures, with the usual Freezywater banner.

And now for something completely different...Sikh Wars from the Selly Oak and District club


That farmhouse, but I am unsure who brought this small slice of Belgium to the English Midlands (Chase Wargames Society???)

Martin Hackett and the Border Warlords ran a fantasy game with some impressive mountains on show

Kinver brought along a decent looking Malaya game, c1942

A column of Chi-Ha tanks enters the table

Back to us and the fight that sorted out the centre - those darn MAA taking on and beating all Swiss comers...

More gensdarmes from the Burgundian right flank battle. Almost taking the Man of the Match award were the Lorrainer Men-at-arms who singlehandedly routed the gensdarmes opposed to them on this wing. The Lorrainers were the only unit of heavy cavalry on the Swiss side but they were AWESOME!!! They are just off to the right of this shot and about to pounce!

Traffic jam in the Burgundian centre, with Flemish pike from Ghent, Ordonnance pike, longbowmen and gensdarmes queuing up behind Crevecoeur's brilliant MAA

An interesting desert game, source unknown. Rommel's half track is on the road just north of centre of this shot.

A Peninsular War skirmish

And the funniest thing about the whole day. This is the Italian mercenary command that finally arrived on the Burgundian left to help their cause. They arrived late on turn 6 or 7 through poor arrival dice, then blundered their orders at the start of the next turn and fled never to be seen again!!! You could not write such quality comedy!!!

Monday, 30 November 2015


Just a quick suggestion to you all to pop down to your local chain of newsagents or, if you are very lucky, your local wargames shop (because there are not too many around, after all).

With luck, on the relevant shelf, you will spy a copy of the publication featured in the photos below. It can be yours for a paltry £5.95 in Britain/ $9.95 in the USA.

Now, I am not averse to painting a few figures and have won the odd award for said practice, but I do not profess to be an "expert" or anything and like what I think this type of publication brings to the hobby party, alongside terrain books, modelling books and the like.

This one has a range of sections, including preparation, faces and skin, metal, basing, etc., with a section on conversions to round things off. You will not find the sort of detailed, specific project article beloved of other magazines, but there is enough detail to get anyone going should inspiration fail or fear strike. The examples given are also pretty comprehensive, with everything from varied skin tones to different metals to painting wood covered.

You will not find much on weathering for those interested in such, but for anything pre-vehicle age, you should not go far wrong with just this single publication.

I do not believe any of this is new, having seen much of it over the years in the magazine which published this tome, but it is good to see it brought together in one package. Of course, you can also find such stuff on line, but I like something to hold (psychologists' thesis subject as I am...)

Recommended for new painters and old lags alike.


P.S. - I am not connected to the publishers in any way. This is simply my view on this publication. Other publications exist.

The WI publication in question.

IMHO, it does exactly what it says on the back cover.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Last At Last!!!

After almost eight months of trying to paint as many Swiss and Burgundian troops for the forthcoming "Wargamer" show game on 6th December at Halesowen, near Birmingham England, I finally managed to complete the paintjob on the last unit I had planned to complete.

So, here they are, the much-vaunted (???) Flemish pikemen, sporting banners from the fair City of Ghent.

I have settled on a minimum unit size of 24 figures for pikes for this era, using the Warlord Games' "Pike & Shotte" rules, so this will be a "standard-sized" unit.

The figures are almost all Perry plastics, which I would heartily recommend to anyone contemplating an army from this period. The two exceptions to the Perry count are a couple of Foundry figures on the foremost command element. The flags are from Freezywater Publications, available from the Lance & Longbow Society stand at shows and always worth a look.

Since finishing this unit, I  have managed to varnish all the new figures, texture all the figure bases for the extra units and have started the detailing phase. I have a week to go to the show, where the "Wyrley Retinue" will be demo-ing its 2016 game.

We always change things between games, so what you see at "Wargamer" will be different in some respect from what you see later on in the year, but if you are in Halesowen next Sunday, come and say "Hello!". As yet, we do not have a scenario and we are not yet sure exactly how the forces balance out. Nephew Nick has painted some troops up as Italians, however. Whether they remain Italian mercenaries in the Burgundian army or masquerade as Lorrainers in the Swiss army remains to be seen!

It will all be sorted out in the next week. So, "Wargamer", Sunday 6th December, Halesowen.


Probably about as menacing as the Flemish got at this point in their history...

A better view of the flags. Very reasonably priced, take your time to cut them out and fold then round the pole neatly and they work well. Apply Bostik or similar on one inner face and glue the halves together, then paint out any white edging carefully. They can also be detailed with shading, etc. Quick and easy!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

A Mixed Month

Just a quick "news" item to finish off the month of October, which has indeed been mixed.

First the bad news - Stafford Games is closing as an outlet effective from tomorrow. I would like to thank the proprietor, Roland Hind, for his hospitality, his generosity as an occasional wargames opponent and for relieving me of far too much money over the years on all manner of product!!! He is still continuing on the internet and the show circuit, but no more trips to buy stuff in the flesh is a wrench.

Then there's the Rugby World Cup final without a single northern hemisphere side present...not even making it to the semis was another wrench and I do not even want to consider England's under-achievement.

I even almost felt sorry for the independence-huggers north of the border. Almost.

Then some GOOD STUFF.

I played my first ever game of Lion Rampant last Tuesday and loved it! I have already set aside some 15th Century figures from the Burgundian Wars project the Wyrley Retinue is engaged upon to create my very own retinue of condottieri. I think this setting is ideal for an imagi-nation, so expect to find some Italian derivative of my name taking to the tabletop in the next twelve months. Garrido Capmano? Gariglio Tipuomo? I have the livery sorted, so just to find the time.

Then there is the release of "Dragon Rampant", the fantasy version of "Lion Rampant", which sounds like an excellent excuse to drag the Orcs & Goblins out of hiding after a long time, their exile caused by the travesty that was later versions of the Warhammer rules. I am definitely looking forward to acquiring a copy and, as an added bonus, I already have the figures painted, based and ready to go!!!

To top things off, even Newcastle United finally managed a win (then promptly followed it up with defeat to Sunderland due to a shocking refereeing decision....)

And, finally, I have just one unit to finish painting and another to start and finish to achieve my target unit count for the forthcoming and aforementioned Wyrley Retinue Burgundian Wars bash. The first outing is set to be the "Wargamer" Show at Halesowen on Sunday, 6th December, though Nephew Paul may be absent.

Cheerio October!


Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Loot

Not a pirate game, or the results of said game, but my purchases from the Derby World Wargames Show last weekend.

As I posted earlier, I only needed some Basetex, but it would have been rude not to overspend on so much more...

Left to right from top left: The desired Basetex, the Wargamers' Summer Annual, the "Warband" fantasy rules from Pendraken, some MDF bases, "Frostgrave", some Front Rank medieval pike and shot courtesy of Col Bill.
Left to right front row: three packs of French & Indian War figures (French and British infantry and Coureurs de Bois - I have long had a desire to get some "Muskets & Tomahawks" games going), a Goblin army for "Warband", A High Elf army for the same rules and a Tumbling Dice Napoleonic fleet for Osprey's recent "Fighting Sail" rules, which again have grabbed my interest recently.

And missing from the above photo, two Peasant Ox Carts from 4Ground, which will be making their way onto the games table for anything from Dark Age Ireland to the 30 Years' War (and probably beyond) some time soon.
So, this pretty much covers my latest wargaming thoughts and desires.

I love fantasy games and have long desired something to replace Warhammer, with which I have long since fallen out of love.
""Warband" has "Battle of the Five Armies" written all over it!" claimed Nephew Nick.
"The "Nirnaeth Arnoediad" and the High Elves returning to Middle Earth in the First Age of Man" thought I.
The rules are simple without seemingly being simplistic and I look forward to getting some games in asap.

"Frostgrave" was bought as something else that looked interesting. I loved role-playing games in the 80's and these rules seem like a good crossover from that genre to wargaming. One to watch and I probably already have the figures, so should give these a go soon.

"Muskets & Tomahawks" has been something I have thought on for some time and I bought some British infantry and some Indians a while back. Now I have the French by way of trying to kick-start my enthusiasm.

"Fighting Sail", published earlier this year, rekindled a fondness for naval games of the past. I already had one Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale fleet, so bought another to build some opposition.

The Front Rank figures will join the ranks of my Burgundian Ordonnance foot, since their predecessors started out from those ranks. You can never have too many Burgundians, though it is a bind putting all those routers away!

And I just love the Wargamers' Annuals, having collected all of them since their inauguration. As someone who still has his "Wombles" annual from 1975 (received as a present on Christmas Day 1974, when young G was just 7 years old), not to mention various Rupert The Bear annuals from different years, I love the format and this issue yet again does not disappoint. I look forward to the Winter edition this Christmas.


Derby World Wargames Show, 3rd-4th October, 2015

After failing to make it to the second Partizan show last month, going to Derby was an absolute must.

I only actually needed one thing - Basetex in green and brown (so two things technically) - but naturally ended up with more.

So, first up, a few photos of games at the show.

"Battle of the Scheldt" game by the Barely Legal Wargames Club - an Allied assault on a German position over flooded ground. Bring out the Buffaloes!

A wonderful Dutch bridge.

The German positions. This game had loads of neat touches and some wonderful terrain, as you can see. Very well presented.

"Marignano 1515" by The Ilkley Lads. Wonderfully painted figures (and lots of them!) on basic but functional terrain.

Gotta love the Swiss! Zug and Basel prominent in this block.

I was going to buy some tents at the show, but baulked at the price they were offered at. Perhaps we won't be doing Morat after all...

French Gensdarmes under Francis I's personal command.

Obviously Hougoumont, but I am afraid this game was guilty of one of my pet hates - no sign or other paraphernalia to say who was presenting it! It turned out to be "L'Order Mixte Club".

Hougoumont in close up. Looked impressive, but not demo'ed...

"Quatre Bras" by the "Like A Stonewall Group".

Derby Wargames Society gave us "The War in Ireland: 1689 - 1691". I believe this is Clanrickarde's Jacobite regiment.

The Dutch Garde te Voet, Kirke's and Trelawney's regiments.

And a starfort, no less.

The Danish contingent made up the left wing of the Williamite army. Will I ever get round to finishing off my own project for this fascinating conflict???

And another windmill, to go with the one on the "Scheldt" game. Like buses, you wait ages for one and then two show up together! This game was my overall favourite - good terrain, an interesting period, decent figures and something to see all over the table.

This was actually a participation game put on by "Old DWA" entitled "Romano-British defend against Saxons". Not the most catchy title, but another good outing and well worth a look. Again, lots to see all round the table. Will I ever get around to painting my Arthurians???

Sort of Hadrian's Wall...

I don't know exactly why it is, but it is only long after the show, when I finally get around to looking through the show pamphlet, that I realise how much I missed! I simply do not recall "Great War 1918" by the Reluctant Conscripts, the Toofatlardies presenting their "Chain of Command: Afghanistan" game or Stafford Games' "The Battle Of Gross Beeren", all of which were probably excellent - many apologies to those I may inadvertently not have given die credit to!

Shows for me, however, are about shopping first and eye candy second I guess. I am truly amazed by some of the stuff I see clubs and individuals laying on at shows, which is why I aim to do something at local shows via the Wyrley Retinue. But I never carry the show pamphlet around in my hand so seem to be missing out on my paltry entrance fee! As with the old school report, "must do better" springs to mind.

Next up for me is the "Wargamer" show on 6th December at Halesowen, where the Retinue should be out and about for the first time with our 2016 offering, whatever that ends up being.

Wherever you are, support your local show and get gaming! And try and see everything on offer, unlike me!!!


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The missing link

No, not Nedeli man, the million years old South African cave dweller, but Norse-Gael man, the thousand years old hybrid of Irish and Viking culture from the western British Isles.

When I started my SAGA project about nine months ago, I always had in mind that I would build four basic forces, with Dark Age Ireland as my theme. Two Viking forces and one Irish one down, the fourth and final instalment is the Norse-Gael.

I have not used them in anger yet, but love the thought of those two-handed axes...

I first encountered Norse-Irish (as they were known under WRG 6th Edition) at the former Forge club in Hednesford, Staffordhsire, probably 30 years ago. They were in the care of an ex-pilot named Bob Seagrave, who loved his combat troops, irregulars and big units. On the sole occasion I saw them, they cut their way savagely through some opponent or other. I also remember being regaled with tales of Bob flying a Short Sunderland flying boat up and down the Malaysian coastline during the fifties or sixties, presumably during the Malayan trouble of that time, to and from Singapore.

All the figures are bog standard Gripping Beast castings, shield designs sourced/ inspired from various pictures, drawings and the like, and one taken directly from a hanging in the Salem Methodist Church in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire! I changed the colours though!!!

These figures conclude my first foray into the Dark Ages, though I have a mind for more. I "need" some Irish horsemen. I would like to expand my Vikings and Irish into full-sized forces for WAB or similar.

The SAGA campaign for which the project was initiated is underway, and the Norse-Gael will make their appearance at the designated point! I may even take some photos of that first outing when the time comes and the participants actually mange to get together for the next round of games!


Warlord and both hearthguard units. The shield with the black cross outline and red swirl is the one from the Salem church, the one far left showing the stag based on the emblem on the Irish SAGA dice. I may add tow more hearthguard units to make these up to eight figures strong of the same equipment type.

The whole force, 25 figures strong in four units plus warlord.

The warrior options, two units of eight in total, one with those axes and the other spear/ sword and shield. Lots of my favoured patterned clothing too.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Swiss go marching on

Well, I did not make it to Partizan.

You may remember I was planning to go just to have a look at the Dave Andrews et al Burgundian Wars game, but seeing the pictures on the Gewalthaufen blog was almost as good.

What a game that looks! Masses of figures, some good terrain, some lovely vignettes. My personal faves are the Berne scenes with pet bear in attendance (blame the Swiss for keeping captive bears, not me!)

So, are we Wyrley Retinue members still planning to go ahead with our own Burgundian Wars offering?

At the moment, "Yes" is the answer.

The game looked excellent, but we are not competing with that, merely doing our own thing. I will not be able to paint up that many figures in time  for one thing. Our intention is to show our own take on things, perhaps even gaming a historical battle between the protagonists. I know Nephew Paul favours Morat, but I bet he has got nowhere near building the Grunhag...

I suspect we will pick and choose something to cover several bases, as we have done with all our games to date. Some sort of siege activity would be apt, given Charles the Bold's predisposal to being caught whilst besieging! Add to that a flank march from the Swiss (a la Nancy), or perhaps something out of period transposed to the late 15th Century...

The point is, we are still good to go. Consider us "inspired" rather than "demoralised" or worse...

Proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating, so here are a few shots of my increased Zurich contingent. I painted some Zurich troops for my original WAB Swiss army over a decade ago, but these are brand, spanking new this Summer, mostly Perry plastics with a few extras thrown in.

As ever, your comments are most welcome.

If anyone used/ is using Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte" rules for this era, I would love to know how you grade the two forces, especially the Swiss with their "quirks".


Combined Zurich and Zug cantonal pike block. Perry plastics apart from the drummer with blue and white drum who is from Essex. That's Essex Miniatures, NOT Southend-on-Sea Essex...The Zurich standard bearer is also Citadel/ Foundry. They are backed by a unit of halberdiers and flanked by some skirmishing handgunners.

The handgunners are also Perry figures, apart from the standard bearer, who is Citadel/ Foundry. The flag is a sticky label painted then cut to shape and wrapped round a piece of brass rod.

The halberdiers are all Perry figures. This is probably the only weakness in the Perry sets for this period. You have to chop down the pikes supplied and add the halberd heads to suit, which are also supplied. I think this union makes for a weak bond and likely breakages when they see action.

Close up. "Est-ce que vous regardez moi?" Or, "Oi, you with the red saltire. I'm gonna get you!"

A close up of the large Zurich flag. I would normally use calico for some hand painted flags nowadays, but started this collection years sago with Freezywater flags from the Lance and Longbow Society stand. Thus, I have to continue in the same vein now I am building up my original collection, though these two are computer labels. (I don't know why the flash went off. It was a beautiful, sunny day when I took these photos in the conservatory/ man-cave)

Those handgunners again.