Category Archives: General

Gaming in a Pandemic

Like many in the world the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed my regular gaming. Gone were the weekly DBA gaming evenings and the larger Friday evening games and multiplayer events. But what did I replace my evening games with during our very restricted lockdown?

Well like many my painting increased and more units marched off the painting table into my various armies. However, one of the most interesting aspects was our Friday evening virtual wargame video meetings. Friends around the New Zealand, and from overseas, joined to discuss painting projects, books as well other wargame subjects. Some of my favourite topics were the in-depth presentations.

These included the history of wargaming in France, which looked at developments from the 19th Century, to the 1980s – truely fascinating! This was followed by the equally fascinating presentation on depiction of World War II in French cartoons, all published in 1944 and 1945. Finally, there was most interesting look at the Battle of Bir Hakeim drawing on French and German sources which will soon be published in France by the presenter, a professional historian.

Anyway, feedback from those joining the video conferences each week was that they were all very successful.

In addition to these virtual meetings my son and I played a number of DBA games during the lockdown using Skype. Starting as something of an experiment we quickly found the games worked well, at least for experienced players. A summary of some of these games can be found here.

Finally, I hosted a multiplayer Spearhead game that ran over several weeks. Involving nine players from around the country it provided a rather unique gaming experience. If you are interested in reading more about the game you can find a report here.

All these initiatives provided a little distraction in what is a very challenging time. Fortunately I live in New Zealand, and with the situation improving here finally I find my gaming also returning to normal. However, for those readers still in the thick of the pandemic I hope that your hobby is providing you with something of a distraction, even if friends aren’t catching up in person. Most importantly I hope you can enjoy your hobby without compromising your safety.

The Grand Opening

I am fortunate to have had a dedicated wargames room for the last 20 years. It has provided me with hours of entertainment as various friends and I have moved all those miniatures across the tabletop. Memories have been made, history discussed and great battles won and lost in equal measure. However, over the last year or so we have been planning a move and finally it came time to pack up the old wargames room.

But moving house can take a while. As a result I have been without a dedicated gaming area for almost four months as we first prepared to and then moved house. Then having arrived there was the unpacking and prioritisation. Everything had an order. Without a dedicated space my gaming has been limited to DBA sized games on a small table. These games have been most enjoyable but I admit I have been yearning for the larger multiplayer games which have been a feature of my Friday evening gaming for many years.

The good news is that over the last few weeks the gaming room has finally come together. Bookcases have relocated from our old house and have been repainted. New chairs and rugs have been purchased. Late last week various military prints were positioned or hung on walls. These were supplemented by a few recently purchased items to create the desired feel in the war room. Then new mugs, glasses and even a kettle found its way to the kitchenette. It was clear the new games room was coming together!

Change can bring opportunity and for me this meant a larger gaming room. My intention was to have more space for multiplayer games and to allow more than one table to be setup. This would allow those occasional larger games or multiple events to be played. Something I had found a little restrictive in the previous location. Further, I wanted a dedicated sitting area so that on occasion we could sit down and talk, discussing those finer points of the battle planned or resolved. Above, the general setup with one table ready for use.

Now to the gaming. I’m pleased to report that over the last week two gaming evenings have been in held. The first a small Franco-Prussian War game using Volley & Bayonet. It was great to get the figures and familiarise ourselves with the FPW.

Then last night “The Grand Opening” of the Wargames Room took place. For this a series of multiplayer Wings of War games were held with seven players in attendance.

Above and below, Wings of War encounters can be seen underway on the second table with many Magnificent Machines aiming to secure the skies over the Western Front in the Great War. We have been joined for the evening by the resident dog, just visible above, who has taken a liking to the cowhide rug from which to observe the antics in the air.

With a fine single malt whiskey opened for the occasion, as well as a range of beers, and nourished by a selection of foods it proved an excellent evening of gaming.

It seems “The Wargames Room” is once again open for business. Stay tuned for more action “Across the Table” in the latest wargames room in Lincoln.

The Year That Was…

With the end of 2016 almost here it seems an opportune time to reflect on my year of gaming. What’s been achieved, what hasn’t, and some general reflections. I’m not one for New Year resolutions but this year I intended to, and generally achieved, an increase in gaming activities. This meant a reduction of posts here as I focussed more on gaming and less on posting. All round this has been particularly pleasing change in focus.

I’m of course fortunate to have so many good natured opponents which has made this an enjoyable gaming year. Indeed, most weeks I’ve managed two gaming evenings. Tuesday has become a regular event with one player who approaches gaming generally from the same perspective as I do. This regular gaming slot has found us playing all manner of rule systems. DBA, BBDBA, DBR and Wings of War are regularly seen as the fit well into the available time. Each tends to go in phases with 300 point English Civil War encounters being the current phase.

Friday evening slots allow greater time for games and generally allow Volley & Bayonet encounters, occasionally supplemented with Spearhead or Modern Spearhead. Larger multiplayer Sails of Glory or Wings of Glory games feature when we are suffering from the impact of a busy work week. A larger group of players attend these events but organising these sessions can be a bit more hit and miss with many opponents travelling or suffering work commitments.

My attendance at wargaming conventions has been lower than I had hoped with only one out of town event and that being in Australia back in January. It seems a distant memory now. This was supplemented by DBA at Conquest here in Christchurch, which was pleasingly well supported by out of town players.

Yet there remains somewhat a hole in my convention gaming. I recall the many excellent Spearhead and Modern Spearhead events in Wellington in years past. It’s such a shame these are no longer organised.

What I haven’t achieved in the year is much progress with miniatures painting. A couple of small projects have been completed but in general the existing projects have languished yet again. Perhaps I need to add this to the list of aims for this year. For example I really need to complete my WWII Soviets for Spearhead, while progressing some long overdue expansion of other armies. Then there is a new 6mm Volley & Bayonet army that has been on my mind for a few years. Not to mention a large batch of 6mm Spanish I was gifted a few years ago. Goodness, the painting projects almost seem overwhelming!

So on reflection an excellent year of gaming. That said I’m rather looking forward to see what 2017 holds…

Mephisto – Australia’s A7V

Last weekend I managed a brief trip over to Canberra to attend Cancon. While being very much a quick trip, rather than combining it with a holiday, I did manage to call in briefly to the Australian War Memorial Museum. While I have visited several times I wanted to particularly visit the upgraded World War I exhibits.

Many of the older dioramas remained and remained well presented and interesting. In addition there had been considerable investment to upgrade and present various displays and interactive sections. However, it was the A7V which for me stole the show, not least it being the only such vehicle in existence. This particular vehicle, Mephisto, was captured at Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so…

  

Above, a view from the front. Note the devil carrying a British tank. The supporting material of the exhibit outlined many of changes to markings and camouflage and the vehicles history. Below, a view of the rear.

   

Another side view, clearly showing some battle damage. 

     

In addition a photo of an Italian CV-33 tankette, which of course illustrates the change in doctrine during the inter-war years, an aspect I find fascinating.

 

As to Cancon itself I played in the DBA competition. A short summary of the DBA competition can be found here

In addition to my games I tried to visit a few demonstration games in surrounding areas of the convention hall. I’ve provided a few photos of one which in my mind was outstanding. Using 3mm figures this Moderns game, with its outstanding terrain, illustrated all the advantages of the smaller scales.

  

The villages, with Soviets deployed around them, looked first class and the woods well superb. Below, Americans seen advancing. 

  

Another view, taken later in the day now with helicopters in support. 

  

The Wargames Room Returns

My gaming room has been out of action for around three months. A combination of packing and unpacking and two months of repairs. Finally last weekend the unpacking had progressed sufficiently that the games room was operational.

First up Jim and I deployed two 15mm Renaissance armies on Wednesday for our regular mid-week gaming session. While I failed to take any photos the game was excellent. The terrain, primarily a small town and some enclosures, provided a particularly challenging battlefield. Musketeers exchanged fire in the streets and enclosures while pikemen, German mercenaries in Polish service, formed in deep formations to press the shallower Protestant regiments. An outstanding evening game breaking up the week.

Then on Friday evening several players gathered for a multiplayer Volley & Bayonet game using my 6mm miniatures. Robin and Adrian commanded the French and Allies while Alastair and I deployed the Prussians in an 1813 game. The game illustrated all the great points of Volley & Bayonet and indeed multiplayer games in general. A short report of the action can be found here.

It is certainly good to have “The Wargames Room” operational and to get back to pushing those little lead armies around during the evenings. Now, time to start organising another encounter…