30 May 2019

Building the Lancastrians in 25mm for ADLG

Following on from the battle reports of the surprisingly effective Lancastrian ADLG army, I thought it might be interesting to share how the army was put together in terms of figures and basing, and the thought behind the list design as well.

Most - but not all - of them are Perry plastics, making this a very cost-effective army to build. There is now a summary of the figures I used,  how the army was designed and was supposed to work (in theory and then in practice) and also some ideas as to how I painted them up on the main website now. If you wish you can buy yourself a set of the whole lot for under £100!

Full details of the figures are on madaxeman.com

26 May 2019

Lancaster Bombers! ADLG from Roll Call 2019

Roll Call this year saw a 25mm competition in the High Medieval era, and to this gunfight came the Wars of the Roses Lancastrians, in an attempt to use a load of longbowmen and dismounted Perry Men at Arms in a sort of OK army.

There was a big Gunne, plenty of Northern references, 5 matches against everyone from the Jurchen Chin to the Swiss, the Samurai to the Burgundians and even with a Condottieri pasta course in the middle of it all.

See how "our kids" did in these heavy metal battles as longbows twanged and plastic swords clanged and the Lancastrians tried to find out if every single list in the L'Art de la Guerre book is at least partly viable.

It's a veritable Coronation Street episode of  convoluted plotting and amazing acting (by some of the casualty markers especially) - but who will be crowned Landlord of the Rovers Return at the end?

Read on to find out!

24 May 2019

Who's Playing What - the 2019 Update

With Campaign done and dusted and me being in need of a break from writing up 3 consecutive sets of competition match reports here's the "once a year" annually updated "fast becoming a thing" analysis of the relative popularity of various "competition" Ancients sets in the UK taken as a snapshot right now.

Last year's analysis came at the beginning of May, so this covers a smidge later 12 month period this time. As usual, all the data is compiled using actual, observable factual numbers of players taking part in events in the UK - well, those events that have a web footprint of some sort anyway. I also freely admit that ts not going to be perfect, so if you think some of the numbers are out by 1 or 2, that's well within the tolerances of rounding and data collection errors, its the bigger picture that counts.

Each year I also stress that this is just competition data - what gets played a your club, or in your basement isn't visible and isn't measurable so this is just a count of those weird people who enter UK-based competitions.

So, whats' been going on?

As of today there are still a host of viable Ancients competition sets out there all attracting north of 30-odd players and hosting events throughout the year. L'Art de la Guerre is firmly established and still growing, we are more than a year into the era of V3.0 for FoG Ancients, MeG is about to start  its 4th full year of being played in the UK, To The Strongest! is rolling out an increasing number of competitions and the venerable DBA, DBM and DBMM scenes are still ticking along nicely too.

What does that mean for each set in turn?

Let's have a look shall we...


Last 12 months: 18 events, 87 Players, 282 entries

The DBMM rankings website at http://dbmm.org.uk/index.php/rankings/comps provides the data for the analysis, capturing details of all players and games in the UK.

Compared to last year's snapshot the numbers in all of the stats I try to compare are pretty much identical - the headline number of active players has slipped back marginally by 3 to stand at 87, including (yet again) 9 foreign-based players. The number of DBMM competition players has hovered around the 90 mark in each of the years I've been running these stats.  8 players contributed 1 in 4 UK competition entries, with a group of 20 providing just over half.

The total number of entries has however seen a pickup on prior years, with 282 entries - up from 268 last year, an increase which seems to be driven by higher attendances at the one-day and "DBMM 120" short/small format events more than offsetting some slippage in the support for a number of the larger, full-scale multi-day competitions.

Looking at the mix of "keen" vs "very occasional" players, 30 people only played in one event - pretty much unchanged from last year. This represents a smidge over 1/3 of the total circuit - the majority of these being players attending one-day events hosted by their own clubs plus the Irish contingent who come for Britcon once a year. As was the case last year, the overall DBMM picture remains one of relative stability, with 3 new players picking up DBMM and 7 of last year's field dropping out.

The Milton Keynes 1-dayer remained the biggest event on the DBMM calendar, breaking the 40 entry mark for the second year in a row, closely followed by Warfare with 29 (across its two 6mm and 15mm periods). Outside the UK the biggest event on the global MM circuit, the Italian ITC, did however see a somewhat precipitous drop in numbers falling from 72 players down to 48 following the defection of some of the leading Italian players to other systems.

Last year only one player who started playing DBMM after 2012 entered more than 3 events, and the same is true for the current year as well meaning that if you ranked all of the current UK players by 'number of events attended', all bar one of the top 30 'most keen' have been playing since at least 2011. To illustrate this visually I've created the following graphic, showing the consistency of the group of most active players over the last 8 years;

In the graphic, each row represents an individual player, with the numbers in each column showing where they ranked according to "number of events entered" in any given year. The top most row for example shows that the most active UK player this year also entered more competitions than anyone else in each of the previous 5 years too, earning a "1" rank in each of those years. A pale blue cell means the player achieved a "top 20" placing in the UK activity rankings for that year, green cells show rankings 21-40, orange 41-60 and red is 61-80.

These blocks of colour are remarkably coherent, and especially so the higher up the rankings you climb. The current 20 most active players have held those same top 20 "activity ranking" spots for a staggering 80% of the last 8 years.

Almost without exception any "newcomers" (and that is even when stretching that term to encompass the last 7 years) seem less committed to the event circuit, appearing more frequently (or in some cases exclusively) at one-day / small format events held at or near to their home clubs. Overall DBMM continues to be solidly supported, but is still very much a ruleset where the "old lags" of the circuit continue to show the most enthusiasm to enter lots of competitions.

Looking at the full 7-year time period from 2012 to today 71 players have dropped off the UK circuit and not returned, an attrition rate of 45% of the post-2011 player universe, although with as many as 10 of these lapsed players being overseas based, the UK-only attrition figure drops to 61, representing about 10% of the UK pool churning out per year.  10 of these lapsed DBMM'ers are now playing ADLG, one has reverted to playing DBM only and one is currently only playing MeG


Last 12 months: 15 events, 49 Players, 208 entries

2018-19 has seen FoGAM continue to shed active players, with just over one third of the 2017-18 player universe dropping out of the UK FoGAM circuit in the last 12 months as the number of players has dropped from 79 to 49.

The current roster includes 4 players who appeared for the first time in the last 12 months, most of whom entered events held in the north of the UK suggesting that they may be linked to the MAWS club which continues to be a bastion of FoGAM.

13 players now make up half of all competition entries in the UK, with 6 people making up 1 in 4 of the field across all 15 UK events. At the other end of the scale, only 10 players entered only one event in the last 12 months, coming in at a relatively low (compared to other rulesets) 20% of the UK pool.

6 different clubs now provide 29 (60%) of the current pool of 49 players, as FoG starts to show increasing similarities to both DBMM and DBM which are also games played enthusiastically at a small number of very active clubs, with occasional players appearing only at local, club-run events. The average FoGAM player attends more than 4 competitions each year, the highest of any ruleset in this survey.

Having been at one point the most popular UK ruleset by quite some margin, clearly the long-term attrition rate of FoGAM players has been very significant indeed however this is as much a function of its historic popularity as it is its recent decline in support. Tracking back almost 3 years encompasses a time frame in which FoG has lost something like half of its player base, coinciding with the publication of V3. Around 20 of these 50-odd lapsed players have instead picked up ADLG and 8 adopted MeG.

Looking only at the time frame covered by latest version, V3.0 (which was adopted at the start of 2018) there have been 61 UK players who have entered at least one V3 event, of which a round dozen no longer are active on the current competition circuit. No overseas players have visited the UK to play V3 yet as far as I can work out.

Whether there is more attrition to come, or whether FoGAM is now at a stable level in the same way that DBM and DBMM seem to have both attained is yet to be seen.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG)

Last 12 months: 17 events, 74 Players, 291 entries

MeG has seen a marginal slowing in it's growth rate in the last 12 months. There are now 74 active players (of which I believe 5 are based overseas - tricky to work out as many MeG results published don't include any club data) representing a total increase of 13 in the last year (compared to +20 in the 17-18 year) making an "almost one per month" 11 if you were to only count additional UK-based players.

Whilst player numbers continue to creep up the number of competitions held and the total number of competition entries have both seen significant rises across the past year. The number of events staged grew by almost a third to 17 (up from 13) and the 74 active players chipped in with 291 entries between them - more than 50% up on last year achieved on the back of an increase in player numbers of just 20%. The average MeG player now takes part in a smidge under 4 events across the year - making the average MeG player only fractionally less committed than those playing FoG in this respect.

This growth in attendance is however not evenly distributed, but is being largely driven by a number of very, very enthusiastic players who are entering (and in some cases running in their own houses!) large numbers of events in the calendar year.

At the upper end of the enthusiasm scale 8 MeG players managed to find time to enter 10 or more events in the year - more "tenners" than for any other ruleset. 14 players made up half of all entries to UK events this year (the smallest proportion of the total pool for any ruleset) with just 6 of these players being responsible for a quarter of all MeG event attendance. With most MeG events being run over 4 rounds, if you are a UK MeG player it's therefore highly likely that you will end up playing one or more of these half-dozen highly committed MeG gamers at some point during every event you enter!

Interestingly a very similar pattern can be seen in the current usage stats for the MeG Forum (which relaunched at the end of last year). Here also a relatively small number of players are the main contributors - out of 3,000 posts so far from the forums 125 members, almost half of all posts have been made by just 5 people!

Other rulesets forums either don't show these sorts of stats, or have been running for much longer so it's sadly not really possible to see comparable numbers for other rulesets.

At the other end of the scale the number of players who only entered one MeG event this year was 27, or 37% of the UK pool - exactly the same proportion as last year - so, for MeG the headline story of the last 12 months has been very much one in which the active players have become ever more active. .

Since MeG was first launched in summer 2016 a grand total of 94 individuals have taken part in at least one UK MeG competition, with 20 of these no longer playing. This represents an annual attrition rate of  around 13% of the current player pool churning out every year.  Out of the lapsed 20 players, 3 have returned to FoGAM and 5 are currently playing ADLG.

L'Art de la Guerre

Last 12 months: 34 events, 187 Players, 671 entries

A year ago ADLG was comfortably the most popular UK competition ruleset with 162 players taking part making 499 entries in total across the year.

One year on and ADLG is still seeing continued strong growth, adding 25 new players across the UK circuit - more than any other set - and witnessing a chunky 34% increase in total event entries as well. The UK ADLG player pool is now bigger than the number of players for the 2nd and 3rd biggest sets combined.

The size of the UK ADLG circuit continues to include a large number of overseas players, some of whom are now regular visitors to these shores. In the last 12 months 17 overseas players played in the UK, a small reduction on the 19 from the previous years stats meaning the domestic player pool has actually grown by 27.

Despite the big increase in total player numbers, the number of "occasional" ADLG players who only make a lone event appearance in the ADLG rankings has fallen fractionally from 68 last year to 65 in the last 12 months. This represents 35% of the total pool - or 29% if you strip out overseas visitors.

At the other end of the enthusiasm scale, there are 9 players who have managed to fit in 10 or more UK events this year, and 16 players who between them contributed 1 in 4 entries across the UK's ADLG competition circuit. A pool of 41 players contributed half of all tournament entries.

The ADLG circuit currently includes more 25mm events than any other ruleset, with 10 of the 35 events staged this year (ad 140 of the total number of entries) catering for those wishing to bring their big toys to the table - making the 25mm ADLG circuit alone now bigger than the entire DBM universe, and also representing great news for those who like to wake up to the smell of Airfix glue in the mornings!

The first ADLG event held in the UK was Roll Call 2015, and since then a grand total of 264 people have played in at least one UK-based ADLG competition. The 'lost' 87 players who haven't entered an event in the last 12 months represent 33% of the all-time UK player pool, with 18 overseas based players counting towards this total. Stripping them out (as with DBMM) leaves 69 lapsed UK-based players, giving an annual attrition rate of 12% of the the current pool size since ADLG started to be played in the UK. Just seven of the lapsed ADLG players now appear in other rulesets rankings, with 3 adopting MeG, 2 reverting to FoGAM and 2 entering a TTS! event in the last 12 months.

Other Rulesets


Last 12 months: 13 events, 66 Players, 224 entries

DBA continues to grow in popularity as a competition game, with increases in both overall player numbers and numbers of entries in the last 12 months.

In the last 12 months 66 players have taken part in at least 1 DBA event, a small increase on last year however the popularity of DBA events has increased significantly with 224 entries overall up from 188 last year - again off the back of 13 events throughout the year.

20 players on the DBA circuit have only entered one event - 30%, down from 38% last year again suggesting an increase in commitment from UK-based DBA players as more of them enter more events each year.


Last 12 months: 9 events, 41 Players, 132 entries

DBM sits currently on 41 players in the last year entering events in the two geographically spread DBM hotspots of East and West England - these numbers are (as usual) practically unchanged from last year.

Each of the 9 events normally attracts about a dozen players to reach a total of 132 event entries across the year, with the Themed West Country event at 21 being the biggest day out on the circuit.

Of the 41 current players, 17 make an appearance in both halves of the country leaving 9 only ever playing on tables which are as flat as their surrounding countryside, and a further 14 who's mid-game cup of tea always comes with a scone and some jam. Of the 10 or so players who had disappeared from the DBM circuit in recent years, 3 are now playing ADLG.

To The Strongest!

Simon Miller's To The Strongest! has recently started to expand it's competition circuit, and off the back of just 3 events already boasts 48 players - placing it comfortably ahead of DBM and already neck and neck with FoG in terms of the size of the UK player pool.

With just three events to choose from it is not really meaningful or helpful to compare TTS! to other sets on any other metrics other than total player numbers just yet.

Others - Armati, 7th, 6th, Swordpoint, Impetus, War & Conquest

From what's available online, none of these other rulesets support significant numbers of player or events throughout the year in the UK. Even in aggregate these sets would however fail to trouble the engravers of the "most popular competition ruleset" trophy.

The Summary:

The good news is that the number of Ancients events, and the numbers of players entering them is continuing to rise as the continuing uptick in the numbers of people playing new systems is outstripping the declining number of players of other more long in the tooth rulesets.

The tables and charts below show the current direct comparisons between the leading sets:

The number of overseas players now travelling regularly to the UK to play Ancients is very notable - 31 in the past 12 months, about 5% of total attendance.

DBMM and ADLG players still make up just over half of the entire UK Ancients competition scene in terms of entries for this basket of rulesets, with the other systems all each hovering in the 8-14% range. 

Looking just at individual players doesn't make a huge deal of difference either.

"DBx"-style games (DBM, DBA, DMM and ADLG) continue to remain the most popular genre in the UK with just under 70% of gamers playing one of these 4 systems. 25% of players prefer the multi-base unit formats of MeG and FoGAM.

Looking back across the last few years (since the adoption of ADLG) the trend in player numbers overall looks like this:

5 May 2019

Lambs to the Slaughter! The Assyrians invade Patras in 5 new battle reports!

The much-trailed Assyrian army has finally made it not only onto the table, but onto a plane, and into a 5-round competition in sunny (and rainy) Greece at the 2019 Patras Challenge.

The Winged Lion of Assyria takes on three very different Roman armies, a Classical Indian and finally the Han Chinese in a series of battles fitted carefully in between bouts of extreme eating and drinking across a swathe of the Patrene nightlife's top venues.

Watch as the the newly minted chariots and infantry, supported by archer cavalry do their very best on a number of different playing surfaces to dodge between the cakes, biscuits and pieces of lamb which attempt to prove more problematic than their enemies

 Even goats occasionally get a look in.

Its all there in glorious sunshine, so roll up your Gyros, sizzle up some Spanakopita and chuck a halloumi slice on the bbq to enjoy these 5 consecutive reports !
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