Showing posts with label DBM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DBM. Show all posts

5 Apr 2020

Who "was" playing what? The 2019-20 Ancient scene

With competition wargaming pretty much now done and dusted until (hopefully "early") summer across the UK there's no real reason to delay publishing my once a year analysis of the relative popularity of various competition Ancients sets as unfortunately nothing will change now for a few months anyway. 

I also have the luxury of a little more time to delve deeper than usual into some of the nooks and crannies of the stats!

So, whats' been going on?

As of today there are still a good spread of viable Ancients competition sets out there all attracting north of 40-odd players and hosting events throughout the year. 
  • L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG) has continued to grow for a 5th consecutive year, such that it's pool of UK-based players is now almost as big as the next 3 most popular sets combined. 
  • ADLG is also driving an increasingly widespread use of 25mm figures on UK tabletops, to the extent that 2019-20 saw more UK-based players entering 25mm ADLG events than for several other single (non-ADLG) rulesets at any scale.  
  • To The Strongest! is now neck and neck with DBA as the third most popoular set, and is threatening to chase down DBMM's seemingly locked-in position as the second most widely played ruleset as it continues to pull in (but still churn through) large numbers of new players, even though the number of events for TTS! still remains far lower than for any other set.
  • Both MeG and FoG have seen notable falls in the number of players taking part in each circuit this year, with new player recruitment almost entirely drying up for both sets in the UK. For both however the level of competition participation by the remaining players remains solid.
  • DBM and DBMM are still both bubbling along at their previous levels, with the venerable DBM circuit enjoying an unexpected growth spurt in player numbers in the last few months.
The Summary:

The good news is that the number of Ancients events, and the level of participation is continuing to rise,  although the absolute number of players has remained stable over the last year as a continuing uptick in the numbers of people playing ADLG, TTS! and DBM has more than balanced out declines in numbers taking part in FoGAM, MeG and to a lesser extend DBMM events. 

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


Total Player Numbers (UK/Overseas), and amount of change from 2018-19

ADLG has seen the biggest net increase in players over the last 12 months, with TTS! and DBM also recording smaller increases whilst other sets have lost ground to varying degrees.




The number of overseas players now travelling regularly to the UK to play Ancients now stands at 48, up from 31 last year and has reached almost 10% of total player numbers - although this does vary significantly by ruleset. 

"Market Share" of leading Ancients sets by Total Player Numbers:



DBMM and ADLG players still make up just over half of the entire UK Ancients competition scene, with the other systems all each hovering in the 7-14% range.

One-unit-one-base systems (TTS!, and the DBx-based or derived DBM, DBA, DMM and ADLG) have increased their share of the overall player pool noticably in the last 12 months, with 82% of all UK-based Ancients players now favouring this approach, up from 75% last year.



Trends in numbers of "New" players adopting each ruleset 

Looking in more detail at just "new" players (those not seen on each individual circuit before), 5 years after it's English-language launch and even with the core rulebook now out of print for almost a year ADLG still continues to expand it's player pool. In the last 12 months more UK-based players joined the UK ADLG competition circuit than the total numbers of players for either FoG or DBM. 

The following graph shows the number of "new" players drawn into play each ruleset in any given 12-month period, as measured over the last 5 years, with the starting points for ADLG, MeG and TTS! being their first appearance in these stats. Over the past 5 years ADLG has also been consistently bringing in more new players in each 12-month period than almost any other ruleset, with around 40-50 new players each year.



TTS! and ADLG between them contributed over of 3/4 of all "new" players to the various circuits this year, although these numbers do also count players dropping out of one circuit and appearing for the first time in another.


(note - differences in 'net change' between this and the previous chart for some rulesets is due to some players returning 
to competitions after missing the entireity of the 2018-19 season. These players are not counted as "new") 


Numbers of Events and Total Entry numbers




Even with overall player numbers flat, the number of entries (each time an individual takes part in a competition) has still continued to rise year on year, and with 107 competitions held across all 7 rulesets in the last 12 months there are sure to be plenty of people out there raring to roll some dice again once the current social isolation rules are relaxed!


5 Year Trend analysis:


This illustrates the change (or not) of overall player numbers (in the preceeeding 12 month period) for each ruleset since 2016, measured at snapshots taken at year-end and in April/May each year. These do figures include overseas players.


Looking in more detail at the individual rulesets :


L'Art de la Guerre
Last 12 months: 37 events, 216 Players (194 UK, 22 o/seas), 741 entries

A year ago ADLG was comfortably the most popular UK competition ruleset with 187 players taking part making 671 entries in total across the year, and one year on ADLG is still seeing continued strong growth, adding a net +29 new players to it's UK circuit and witnessing a 10% increase in total event entries as well such that the UK ADLG player pool has now exceeded the number of players for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th biggest sets (DBMM, TTS! and DBA) combined.

The size of the UK ADLG circuit continues to include a solid smattering of overseas players, some of whom are now becoming regular visitors to these shores. In the last 12 months 22 overseas players played in the UK, a notable increase of 5 from the previous years stats meaning the domestic player pool grewn by a net 24.

The number of "occasional" ADLG players who only made a lone event appearance in the ADLG rankings increased from 65 to 81, up year on year from 35% up to 38%, driven mainly by the increase in overseas visitors (as 17 of these only played in one event). Just looking at UK-based player numbers shows almost exactly 1 in 3 players only entering one ADLG event per year in the last 12 months.

At the other end of the enthusiasm scale 17 players contributed 1 in 4 entries across the UK's 37-event ADLG competition circuit, extending out to 43 players who contributed half of all UK tournament entries.

The ADLG circuit currently includes more 25mm events than any other ruleset, with 13 of the events staged this year featuring large scale figures. 57 UK-based players (and one overseas player) dropped some heavy lead (or more often than not, plastic) onto an ADLG table in the past year. 

These figures are such that were the 25mm game considered as a stand-alone circuit, 25mm ADLG would just inch ahead of TTS! to have the fouth biggest pool of UK-based Ancients players (after ADLG 15mm and DBMM) - great news for the Perry Twins, Victrix and Warlord Games!

Just under 15% (32) of all players from the previous year's circuit dropped out in the last 12 months, however 9 of these were overseas-based leaving 23 UK players who failed to continue after playing last season. 50 players made their first appearance at a UK ADLG competition in the last 12 months, of which just 6 were from overseas and 44 were UK based - marking more "first timers" picking up ADLG than the total UK player universe for a number of other rulesets. 

The first ADLG event held in the UK was Roll Call 2015, and since then a grand total of 306 people have played in at least one UK-based ADLG competition. The current total of 216 means that a chunky-sounding total of 90 players have been "lost" to the ADLG circuit in the last 5 years, 29% of the all-time player pool, or 18 lapsees (!?) per year on average. 

These numbers are however tempered a little as 20 of these 70 'lapsed' players were from overseas. Removing overseas players from the entire analysis gives ADLG an all time UK-based universe of 70 lapsed and 194 still-active players, meaning 73% of all UK-based players who have ever entered an ADLG event since the ruleset was first launched in the UK were still actively participating on the circuit inside the last 12 months. 

Since 2015 the ADLG rulebook has been reprinted 4 times in it's English iteration, and is now only available as a discounted PDF from the author while a new version is under preparation for release later this year.

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after Campaign 2019) there have been 208 people who've taken part in at least 1 ADLG event in the UK.

DBMM
Last 12 months: 19 events, 84 Players (73 UK, 11 o/seas), 301 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.

Year on year, nothing much has changed in the world of DBMM. The number of active players has slipped back marginally by 3 to stand at 84 including 11 foreign-based players, continuing a pattern whereby the total player pool has hovered in the 80's for the last 5 years straight. The usual Irish contingent in the 2overseas" category this year was bolstered by a number of players from Germany coming over for the new BHGS Team Tournament last October.

Again as always, 8 players contributed 1 in 4 UK competition entries, with a group of 19 making up just over half. The total number of entries has again crept up with 301 entries - up from 282 last year. Yet again this seems to be driven by higher attendances at the one-day and "DBMM 120" short/small game format events.

Looking at the mix of "keen" vs "very occasional" players, 35 people only played in one event, up from 30 in 2018-19 to hit 42% of the total pool of UK event attendees, although 9 of these were admittedly overseas players mostly flying in for Warfare or Britcon (aaah - remember those days..?). 

After a year of some considerable churning in and out last time around, the last 12 months saw a period of relative stability with just 5 new UK-based players joining the competition circuit, together with 2 new overseas visitors, offset by 10 players dropping out.

The 2020 Milton Keynes 1-dayer was the biggest event in the DBMM calendar with 34 entries, closely followed by Warfare and the LGT Teams with 30 each. Just over 1/3 of current players only took part in events held in or near Milton Keynes, Reading and Guilford, the three clubs which continue to form the bedrock of  the UK DBMM community, with 10 of these only appearing in the stats as a result of a lone appearance at the Milton Keynes club's own 1-day event.  

The past year was however notable in DBMM terms for the the number of relatively new players taking a keener interest in competitions. In both of the last couple of years barely anyone (or, literally "one player") who picked up MM after 2012 managed to enter more than 2 events, but this year the number of enthusiastic newbies soared to a record total of 6! 


DBA
Last 12 months: 11 events, 65 Players (64 UK, 1 o/seas), 181 entries

DBA maintained a stable number of competition players in the last year with 65 players, down 3 from the previous set of stats. One of these players is from overseas, leaving 64 active UK-based DBA players - the change coming from 8 non-returnees and 5 new players this year.

With a couple of events dropping off the circuit in 2019-20 the number of competition entries fell 
noticably also, down to 181 from 224 last year, reverting to the level seen in in 2018-19's stats.  

28 players on the DBA circuit have only entered one event in the last year, getting on for half the player pool, and increasing noticably from the 20 one-event entrants last year. This seems likely to be linked to the loss of events, which denied some players the opportunity to participate more than once a year at competitions within easy driving distance.

6 players made up one in 4 of all entrants to UK events over the past year - a smidge under 10% of the player pool - and 14 contributed half of the total field across the year. 

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after the PAWS Spring event in 2019) there have been 58 people who've taken part in at least 1 DBA event in the UK.

To The Strongest!
Last 12 months: 5 events, 59 Players (56 UK, 3 o/seas), 89 entries

To The Strongest! made a further net gain of 11 extra players across it's UK circuit to end on 59 different people taking part in at least one event, driven mostly by 2 extra events which brought the annual calendar up to 5. Three of these players flew (or used other forms of transport) to come to the UK from Europe to play at the World Championships at the end of February, leaving a UK-based pool of 56 active players.

A rather astonishing rate of churn saw 30 new players (including 3 overseas visitors) take part in their first UK TTS! event in the last 12 months, and a further 22 who failed to reappear. The biggest driver for "new" players was the first TTS! event to be held in Scotland which generated 14 new players for the circuit. More puzzlingly perhaps, the majority of the 22 lapsed players had all taken part in both of the previous two World Championships (held at the same venue and same end of February dateline) as this year's event, making their non-reappearanace somewhat noteworthy.

With just 5 events (only one of which was in Scotland) the stats for one-event players and enthusiastic players must be taken with a (wee) pinch of salt, but for what it's worth 5 players generated 1 in 4 of all tournament entries this year and 16 players delivered just over half. A huge 41 of the 59 players either chose, or were able to enter only one event. perhaps not surprising given there were only 5 to choose from in the last 12 months.

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after Roll Call 2019) there have been 57 people who've taken part in at least 1 TTS! event in the UK.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG)
Last 12 months: 14 events, 62 Players
 (52 UK, 10 o/seas), 245 entries

MeG also saw a noticable fall in player numbers in the last year, losing a dozen players overall as the annual total fell from 74 down to 62. This fall came after 2 previous years of growth, with the 10 new players who joined the UK MeG competition circuit offset by 21 who failed to reappear after taking part at events held in the 2018-19 season.

This downward trend would have been even steeper were it not for the MeG World Championships being again held in the UK and attracting even more overseas-based players this time around. This event, together with Britcon saw the overseas component of the "UK" stats doubling year on year (from 5 up to 10), leaving the underlying numbers of active UK-based players down almost 25% in the last 12 months (falling 17 from 69 to 52). 

Of the 10 new players seen on the UK MeG circuit for the first time this year, 6 were also part of this year's overseas invasion leaving 4 UK-based new adoptees, all of whom only entered one event. 

The number of MeG events staged last year also fell slightly with 14 staged (17 in the previous year) as some of the more poorly attended events dropped off the calendar.  The 62 active players racked up 245 entries between them - a fall of 16% following a 50% increase between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. 

Almost uniquely, every event on the MeG circuit is a singles competition and all are played in 15mm. Most other rulesets circuits support a mix of scales, or include one or more doubles-format events in their calendars with doubles in particular often being where new players for other sets will put a toe in the water and make their first competitive outings.

As with FoG, a relatively small number of very enthusiasic players are continuing to drive the MeG circuit. Just 6 players made up a quarter of the field at all competition fields across the year, with 13 players representing just over half of the field across all 14 UK-based MeG events staged. 

At the other end of the scale the number of players who only entered one MeG event this year was 21, or 34% of the UK pool with 7 of these being overseas-based. The list of 'only one event' gamers also included all bar one of the 10 "new" players, with the other being a French player who made it to two UK competitions last year. 

Since MeG was first launched in summer 2016 a grand total of 103 individuals have taken part in at least one UK MeG competition, with 60% of them active members of the UK competition circuit in the year. Just looking at UK based players the stats are 52 still active players out of an all-time pool of 90, or 58% - leaving the number of currently active UK-based MeG players back at the same level as it was in January 2018. 

Copies of the original ring-bound rules from the first print run are still available from the authors website, however a new, hard copy verison of the rules is due to be published by Plastic Soldier Company later this year.

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after Campaign 2019) there have been 61 people who've taken part in at least 1 MeG event in the UK.

DBM
Last 12 months: 9 events, 44 Players (43 UK, 1 o/seas), 141 entries

The number of active DBM players crept upwards again, this time adding a net +3 more players over the last 12 months to end on 44, passing FoGAM in the opposite direction on the absolute popularity leaderboard in the process. 

Only one of the DBM players visits from overseas (I believe..), however this year also saw 7 brand new faces (well, "new" since I started keeping these stats back at the start of 2017) join the circuit, replacing 4 who lapsed and failed to return in the past 12 months  

The now-standard list of 9 events spread across two geographically diverse DBM hotspots of East and West England combined to deliver 141 entries in total (up from 132), although high proportion of doubles events on the DBM circuit continues to boost both players numbers and the total number of entries relative to the stats for other sets. Many of the 9 new players made their first appearance on the circuit as part of a doubles team, often at events staged by their hometown clubs.

Just 5 players make up over a quarter of the total entries on the UK DBM competition circuit (a shade under 10% of the player universe) with 11 chipping in with half of all entries. At the other end of the enthusiasm scale, 16 players only appeared once last year, including 6 of the 7 "new" players. 

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after the Westbury event in 2019) there have been 42 people who've taken part in at least 1 DBM event in the UK.

FoGAM
Last 12 months: 12 events, 40 Players
 (all UK), 207 entries

2019-20 has seen FoGAM lose close on another 20% of its player universe, shedding 9 players and 3 (admittedly small) events whilst still holding firm on the total number of competition entries at 207 over the year. That reduction of 9 players was achieved through a simple loss of players, as no new players joined the UK FoG circuit over the last 12 months. Uniquely, there are no overseas players I can identify who take part in UK-based FoG events. 

As the pool of players shrinks, the importance of the keenest players to the FoG circuit continues to grow with 11 players now making up half of all competition entries in the UK (13 last year) and just 5 people (6 in 2018-19) now making up a quarter of the field across all 12 UK events held in the last 12 months.  At the other end of the scale only 6 players entered just one event in the last 12 months, a far smaller proportion than any other UK ruleset. 

The 6 biggest clubs chip in with 25 (62%) of the current universe of players, and the average FoGAM player now attends more than 5 competitions each year, the highest of any ruleset in this survey.

As a result of these trends the UK FoG scene is now pretty much identical in profile to the longstanding DBM circuit, with a committed group of around 40 players concentrated in handful of clubs which also play host to the more popular events in the calendar. 

Since the introduction of FoGAM V3.0 at the start of 2018 there have been 62 UK players who have entered at least one V3 event, of whom a smidge under 2/3 are still playing FoGAM. V3 is available through Caliver Books and some other outlets. 

Taking just the last 10 months (starting just after Campaign 2019) there have been 39 people who've taken part in at least 1 FoGAM event in the UK.


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

From what's available online, the only ruleset on the above list which comes close to generating comparable numbers of regular competition players in the UK to any of the rulesets covered here is Swordpoint, with 4 events and 34 active players in the past 12 months. 

The most recent couple of Swordpoint competitions have however both generated the highest attendances I've been able to track down for events for this system (with both getting into the 20's) so it may be that had CV19 not decimated the tournament schedules Swordpoint could have made a chart entry next time around. 

Interestingly this recent post on TMP by Gripping Beast states that they have now sold almost 3,000 copies of the first edition, and are now planning a revised version for re-release - a interesting benchmark for the sales of volumes of wargame rulesets given that actual sales figures are rarely published.

The Boring Methodology Stuff 

As usual, all the data is compiled using actual names and numbers of players taking part in events in the UK, as published online on a forum or similar. Sometimes I've had to rely on runners and riders lists rather than results, and sometimes I've had to make some assumtions and guesses where nicknames have been used - but generally, given the amount of hard data here any errors shouldn't be enough to skew the bigger picture.

The other key caveat is - as always - that this is just competition data. What gets played at your club, or even solo in your basement isn't visible and isn't measurable, so this is just a count of those weird people who, pre-social isolation, used to go out into the world and enter competitions held in the UK.

Last year's analysis ran from May-May, but with things screeching to a halt in mid-March there were a couple of ways to approach this year.
  • Run a 10-month "year", from May 2019 to now. 
  • Run a 12-month "year", from March 2019 to now. 
Having chewed it over I finally opted for using a full 12-months, and "double-counting" those competitions that happened between mid March and the beginning of May last year, so attendances at those events count in both this years and last years stats.  Neither way would have been perfect, but I felt that any trends are easier to understand and spot if when comparing 12 months with 12 months rather than comparing 12 months with 10 months worth of events and data. 

I've also presented the stats in a way which shines a clearer light on the numbers of purely UK-based players than it has perhaps done in previous years. This is because some rulesets have now started to see very significant numbers of overseas players coming to the UK to typically take part in one (or at most two) events per year, inflating both total player numbers and also the numbers of 'occasional' players for a couple of the featured rulesets. 

With some rulesets now drawing almost 20% of their total player pools from overseas, and others not attracting any overseas players at all last year, without adjusting the numbers to show the impact of overseas players these stats would struggle to give a fully transparent view of what was happening in the UK ancients community.

Previous stats published on this site:




9 May 2018

Who's Playing What - the 2018 update


If "once a year" can possible be counted as "fast", here is my 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.

For those of you who remember this stuff from last year (and the year before) the key thing is that this is based on 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.  


That means if your local meta, your friendship circle, your local game store or even your Wiccan coven plays something different that's fine - this is just a count of those weird people who enter competitions.

And there's certainly been plenty going on!

As of today we are just at the end of Year 3 of L'Art de la Guerre as a competition set (it first appeared at Roll Call 2015, with its' first "full season" in 2016), there is a new version of FoG Ancients on the tabletop, MeG is just a few weeks away from its' second anniversary, DBA appears to be having something of a second (third? tenth?) wind right now and - of course - DBM and DBMM are still chugging along too.

Well, how does that all look today when you add it all together, shake it about a bit and pour it onto the page? 

Let's have a look shall we...

DBMM

Last 12 months: 18 events, 86 Players, 264 entries

The excellent DBMM rankings website at http://partridges.org.uk/rankings/ has been running at full steam for the last couple of years making the task of capturing all players and games much easier.

Last time around there had been 17 DBMM events in the previous 12 months, featuring 84 different players, including a 5-strong overseas contingent  (Irish players at Britcon 2016) which meant the UK-based pool was made up of 79 active competition players - unchanged from the previous year.

In the 12 months just gone that number of different players has crept up a smidge from 84 to 86, and the number of events has also increased by 1 as well, making a calendar of 18 different competitions for DBMM. So far, so same. What has changed noticeably however is how many entries there have been, as whereas last year the 84 players made 296 entries, this year that's dropped by over 10% to 264.

This slowdown in "keen" participation is mirrored by a corresponding increase in the number of "very occasional" players, as 37 of the 86 UK DBMM'ers only entered a single event in the last 12 months - up from 32 "one-timers" in the previous year, and even fewer the year before that.

The slightly more committed souls who play in 2 events each year account for a further 14 players, leaving just 35 individuals who are playing in 3 or more UK DBMM events each year.

Looking specifically at who those 37 "very occasional" DBMM players are, it's also rather likely that a significant proportion of them are experts at mastering roundabouts (but are possibly scared of motorway driving) given that 18 of them made their only tournament appearance of the year at an event held within 10 miles of Milton Keynes. Another 9 did not venture outside the city limits of Reading to enter an event, which further underlines the continued importance of the WAR and MKWS clubs to DBMM numbers in the UK.

The Milton Keynes 1-dayer is now by far and away the biggest event on the DBMM calendar, with 36 entries, followed by Warfare with 32 (across its two 6mm & 15mm periods).

Last year I had a graphic showing the stability at the top of the "enthusiasm" pile for DBMM and nothing has really changed since then, with the most established players also being the keenest - in fact, no single player who started playing DBMM after 2012 entered more than 3 events in the last year. In DBMM the "old lags" of the circuit are the enthusiasts, and the "newcomers" appear to be mainly those who are dipping in and out.

The current stats also cover the second year after an updated version of DBMM (and all new lists) were published - with almost no change in the overall number of players and a 10% slide in event entries it would however appear the lure of new lists has not encouraged more people to enter events in the UK DBMM community.

As last year, the overall DBMM picture remains one of stability, with only a handful of players picking up DBMM to replace the handful of annual dropouts in each of the last few years. If it weren't for the two highly localized Reading and Milton Keynes club-based clusters of players who tend to appear at events organised by their own clubs, the national DBMM scene would however be significantly smaller.

FoGAM

Last 12 months: 13 events, 79 Players, 253 entries

In May 2017 FoGAM had just seen a year of steep decline, dropping from 140 players down to just 97. With a new, "faster" version of the rules out at the end of last year (and list books still coming out as we speak) the good news for FoG is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed significantly, as 79 players took pat in one of the 13 UK FoGAM events held in the last 12 months, for a total of 253 total competition entries - pretty close to the same total entries as DBMM, but achieved across 4 fewer events.

However, these numbers straddle two editions, so the real question for FoG AM is how the shift from V2.0 to V3.0 is going? Well...
  • Since January 1st 2018 there have been 6 FoG V3.0 events, attracting a total of 49 players and 94 entries
  • The same period last year saw 7 events, 68 players and 112 entries under FoG 2.0

  • The answer to why this happened is mostly "Scotland", as the Scottish club circuit has migrated pretty much entirely to ADLG (with a wee smidge of MeG being played in Perth) meaning that the "Schiltron" event dropped out of the FopGAM rankings taking with it 8 unique players and 15 entries from the FoGAM stats this year.
Looking further forward to events coming up in the next few months, more existing V2.0 players will reappear on the FoGAM scene as well (based on current signups for future events).  By Britcon this will see the UK FoGAM total player pool reach a minimum of at least 54 players. The return of the Northern League as a FoGAM event after a short hiatus may also help drive active player participation up as well.

That V3.0 total of 49 includes 7 (yes seven!) new players who have appeared in the rankings for the first time so far this year - pretty much all from the Wessex club(s) who hosted a V3.0 event in February - so FoG is certainly picking up some more new players with V3.0 underway. 

On the flip side, there are still 30 players in the current "last 12 months" pool who have yet to play a V3.0 event, and quite a few of them have already appeared at events playing other rulesets - whether they stick or twist with these new rulesets is of course yet to be seen. 

With 17 players still making up half of all competition entries the core group of FoGAM players are just as keen as ever, but on current trends my guess is that FoGAM V3.0 will end the year with something in the region of 60-odd active UK players - arguably comparable to the current DBMM pool if the "MKWS/WAR" bastion of "local-events-only" players was to be adjusted out.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG)

Last 12 months: 13 events, 61 Players, 185 entries

Last May MeG was fast approaching it's first full year of UK events, with 31 different players taking part in one of the 5 MeG events held in the 11 months since the release of the ruleset in mid 2016.

Since then the number of UK events has increased significantly with 13 competitions being held in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly the pool of active players has also increased accordingly in the same period, led my a big intake in mid-2017 which saw the total pool of active UK players hit the 50 mark by last year's Britcon.


8 months later the rate of influx into the MeG scene appears to have calmed down a little, with the UK MeG player pool peaking at 65 earlier this year. It now sits on 61 active players entering UK events in the last 12 months (including 2 overseas players) - these 61 have racked up 185 competition entries between them. 


As one might expect with a still-new ruleset, currently 24 of the 61 players (39%) have only taken part in 1 event so far, and a further 15 only playing in 2 events in their MeG careers to date - hardly surprising with many of these only starting playing MeG competitively this year. 

MeG also appears to be succeeding in attracting many of it's players from outside of the traditional pool of Ancients gamers - which might be linked to the relatively high proportion of these "toe in the water" 1-2 event players, as many of them will need to collect and paint whole new armies to take part in MeG events.

The top tier of active MeG players however is made up of a small number of very, very active players, including many of those who got in at the ground floor as part of the initial "playtester" group. 

9 of the 11 playtest pioneers are still very much leading from the front, and still chip in with almost 1/3 of all UK competition entries between them in the last year. Put another way, if you entered a UK MeG event in the last year you had almost a 1 in 3 chance of meeting one of the original playtesters in any given round of any UK event - so if you need help with learning the rules, your opponent may well be perfectly placed to assist!

2 years on from it's launch MeG now boasts a very similar sized UK pool of players to that of the current FoG V3.0 circuit, although a significant proportion of players still at the "dipping their toes in" stage with only 1 or 2 event entries to their name. By comparison the UK ADLG circuit had reached 114 active players and 307 entries by the time it reached the 2-year mark in it's UK evolution.
  
L'Art de la Guerre

Last 12 months: 28 events, 162 Players, 499 entries

A year ago ADLG had just overtaken DBMM and FoG to become the biggest UK competition ruleset with 122 players taking part and making 331 entries in total across the year.

One year on and it's still gaining in popularity, adding 40 new players to the UK circuit to total up 162 players and 499 event entries in the last 12 months - more than DBMM and FoG combined. 

Part of this has been driven by the emergence of a number of regional mini-circuits in the South West, London, North East and most recently across Scotland, which has resulted in a potentially social-life-destroying 28 separate events taking place across the lengths and breath of the UK in the last year.

The size of the UK ADLG circuit is however somewhat inflated by the large number of overseas players who are now regular visitors to these shores to take part in ADLG events. In he last 12 months 19 separate overseas players drawn from all across Europe and further afield entered a UK ADLG event, with even more are set to arrive and be added to that number via the ADLG Worlds at the forthcoming BHGS Challenge this June - an increase of 11 on the previous year's total.

There are also 68 "occasional" ADLG players who only making a lone event appearance in the ADLG rankings - 42% of the total, or 32% if you strip out the overseas contingent. 

This may sound like quite a lot, but is pretty much identical to the equivalent numbers for other rulesets, with 43% for DBMM, 39% for FoGAM and 39% for MeG. Of these, only DBMM has a meaningful number (7) overseas players to impact these percentages, with just 1 overseas player for FoG and 2 for MeG.

The Central London Wargames Club remains a hotbed of ADLG contributing 22 players to the rankings. CLWC however only hosted one of its' usually popular 1-day events in the past 12 months, and so the number of CLWC club members who appear in the pool as a result of attending a CLWC event this year is just 6 out of the 22. Competed to the impact of the MKWS and WAR clubs and their local events on the UK DBMM circuit, and now also the Wessex club in FoG 3.0 the importance of CLWC members to the ADLG circuit is now therefore relatively low. 

Other Rulesets 

DBA

Last 12 months: 13 events, 65 Players, 186 entries

DBA has been undergoing something of a renaissance in recent years with a growing competition circuit and more new events taking place as well.

In the last 12 months 65 players have taken part in at least 1 DBA event, making up a total of 188 entries, meaning that DBA currently sneaks in just ahead of MeG to claim the prize of being the 4th biggest UK mass battle ruleset as of today - again off the back of 13 events throughout the year. 

25 players on the DBA circuit have only entered one event - that proportion of 38% placing it pretty much in line with other rulesets.

The full-year total for 2017 was 56 different players, so DBA is seeing a very solid increase in popularity as well so far this year. 

DBM 

Last 12 months: 9 events, 40 Players, 130 entries

DBM sits currently on 40 players in the last year entering events in the two geographically spread DBM hotspots of East and West England - these numbers are practically unchangd from last year.

Each of the 9 events normally attracts about a dozen players to reach a total of 130 event entries across the year, with the Themed West Country event at 21 being the biggest day out on the circuit.

Of the 40 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. 

Swordpoint 

Launched by Gripping Beast at the end of 2016, initially it seemed as if it might attract a following but based on forum posts there are only likely to be 2-3 UK events this year, with a UK player pool of maybe 20-30.

Others - Armati, 7th, 6th, Impetus, TTS, 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.  Simon Miller's To The Strongest may have the largest single pool of players with around 30 attending their main annual event, whilst 7th has a small circuit of 3 events (but failed to gather support to add a 4th earlier this year). 

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 ongoing meandering decline in players for other more long in the tooth rulesets.

DBx-based games are also still by far the most popular with almost 75% of all UK players choosing a "single-base, single unit" system in preference to "multi-base unit" rulesets. 

The table below shows the current direct comparisons between the leading sets:


PlayersChange Players 3+Players (2018)EventsTotal EntriesAverage Field
ADLG
162+40921152849918
DBMM
86+235621826415
FOGAM
79-1836491525317
DBA
65+340501318614
MeG
61+3022391218515
DBM
40-2119913014
  • Players - different players entering a UK event in the last 12 months
  • Change - net change in previous 12 month period
  • 3+ events - number of players who entered 3 or more events for each ruleset
  • Players 2018 - number of different players to enter an event this calendar year (included as a benchmark for FoG 3.0, which started in January 2018)
  • Events - number of competitions throughout the year.  Where one event includes multiple pools they are counted as different events
  • Total entries - count of entries at all UK events 
  • Average field - average field (doh!)









10 Sept 2017

Patras 2018 !!!!

Just heard some brilliant news - the Greek wargaming community have now taken up L'Art de la Guerre, and are planning on bringing back the near-legendary Patras tournament in 2018 !!!

It's now more than a dozen years since myself and a crew of Central Londoners made the trek across the Peloponnese to play in the Patras DBM tournament.... The epic report is still on this site and available here.

And here's the equally epic lunch!


The local clubs are looking at dates at the moment - as soon as it's firmed up we're on!

31 May 2016

Competition Ancients in the UK .. the state of play

Recently, with all sorts of new rule systems coming onto the market and perking up player interest it appears that the UK Ancients competition circuit has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance (geddit?).

Rather than just rely on gut feel, I've pulled together some stats for the rulesets covered in the main "BHGS" series of events (edit 2.6.16 plus the DBA circuit), as these are (I believe) the rulesets that have most takeup in competitions right now. This does unashamedly mean the focus is on mostly 15mm events - so all of the various iterations of WAB and it's derivatives are not covered, but unless I'm missing something I don't believe any of those sets are supporting the same sorts of numbers of players or events throughout the year as the ones I looked at.

The data I did use was collated from several sources - the current BHGS rankings for FoGAM and L'Art de la Guerre, plus the DBMM rankings page  (edit 2.6.16 plus the UK DBA rankings) and finally John Graham Leigh's DBM results page, all to look at how many people are playing each system in competitions across the UK.

The main (and I believe fairly safe) assumption is that these sets of rankings & results capture pretty much all of the competitive games played in the past 12 months in the UK across these 5 systems. I also then shared this with the veritable king of stats analysis in UK gaming, Martin from Vexillia who did some validation and additional analysis (thanks Martin!)

What I looked at was numbers of players, number and size of events, and then also how much does each set appear to depend on a "core" of very active players, and finally also how long is the "tail" of occasional players in each ruleset.

So, what's the state of play?

DBMM 
Currently the dbmm.org.uk site shows results from 17 events held in the UK, although there are a couple more which haven't made it onto the site. Two of the events Roll Call & Warfare) have two DBMM periods running in parallel on the same weekend - usually 15mm & 25mm.

As of today the data available suggest that there are between 80-90 players who have entered a UK DBMM event in the last 12 months. This does include 11 players listed as "non-UK", who between them represent 12 competition entries (ie they all entered one event, apart from one person who entered two events this year). Most of the "overseas" players are from Ireland, so whether that’s technically abroad in MM terms I’m not sure...

If we settle on 80 UK players (netting out 11 overseas) they generated between them some 326 event entries (or 314 counting UK players only) in the past 12 months, giving an average of just under 4 events entered per player.

4 of the DBMM events were small(ish), with 10 or less players entering. There were also 5 rounds of the Northern League, which is nominally a doubles event but where the majority of "teams" in each round are usually single players. Each NL round had between 10-13 players at each one-day event making up 8-10 "teams". The 4 "small" events include two 25mm competitions that ran alongside larger 15mm events.

The 4 "small" events account for 37 of the total UK entries.

Other DBMM stats:
  • It looks like around 35-40 people entered just 1 event - if however you strip out the effect of overseas players this means 25-30/80 UK players played in just one event last year (35%)
  • 18-20 people made between them half of all UK competition entries. 
  • The average DBMM event attracts about 18 UK-based entrants
For some events information on who played is patchy so the total number of games played is correct, but the stats for how many players, how many play in 1 event, and how many make up 50% of the total pool of entries will probably be a smidge off.

Going back to 2012 and using the same dbmm.org.uk database (see FoGAM analysis below for why 2012 is relevant) the UK DBMM scene appears to have been pretty much the same size with 97 players entering 21 UK competitions (of which 9 were 1-day events), and making up 359 total entries - of these 13 were overseas players, all of whom entered just 1 event. 22 players made up half of all competition entries in 2012 (not that different to today) and 34 players, including the 13 overseas players, entered just one event, again a similar number to today.

The current stats are for the period immediately prior to the recent rollout of an updated version of DBMM, which common sense suggests will result in an increase in competition entries. Whether this brings lapsed players back into the pool, or increases the number of events that existing players attend will be interesting to see.

FoG AM
The FoGAM rankings currently includes results from 20 events, but this reduces down to 16 if you count Roll Call, Reading and Britcon where multiple FoGAM themes are offered at the same event.

As of the latest rankings there were 140 FoGAM players who took part in at least 1 event last year. It looks as if only 3 of these were non-UK-based, and all of them only entered one event each so unlike for DBMM this will be largely immaterial for player numbers overall.

These 140 players generated 422 event entries in total - an average again of just over 3 events entered per player.

Only 3 of the FoGAM events featured less than 10 players. These were Roll Call 25mm, running at the same time as a 15mm event, and both PAW events, where 15mm and 25mm events were also offered together on the same days.
  • 57 people played just 1 event (Burton Doubles accounts for 12 of these) - again almost exactly the same as DBMM, at 39% of all players. 
  • 29 people (out of 140) made up half of all competition entries - 21% of the player pool
  • The average event has a whopping 26 entrants (counting 2-period/theme events as one event)
These numbers are substantially down on the total from 2012 (the oldest set of rankings on the BHGS website) when the number of players reached over 250 and the "events entered" was in the region of 630, but is still substantially more than any other ruleset. Back in 2012, 46 players made up half of all entries to events, however perhaps significantly the number of  players who entered just 1 event that year was a massive 129 - meaning that over half of the entire pool of players were only "occasional" competition participants. This net reduction of 72 in the number of "occasional" players means that the drop-off in these one-off entrants accounts for almost 80% of the decline in overall player numbers.  

With a new version of FoGAM in gestation currently there is again the potential for a resurgence of interest in FoG. The key differences to the DBMM community are that FoG has both a wider current active player base, but also a "keener" core group of highly active players who on average enter 7.2 events each per year - the highest number of events entered for any ruleset by the core groups of players.

DBM
The DBM circuit is concentrated in two areas - Norfolk/Essex and the South West of England, and almost all of the 10 events last year took place in those two locales. Many of the events are doubles, but single players often enter these events too. 2 of the 10 events had less than 10 entrants. The DBM community continue to release small incremental amendments to the rules, and also have adopted the newly revised DBMM army lists for competition use, and so a degree of freshness is regularly injected into the circuit.

On the DBM circuit I counted 52 players in total appearing in last years results, making up 149 event entries (including doubles where each player is counted separately). Apparently one of the players does live in Finland so I'm told, but in the absence of a huge Finnish DBM community I guess he can count as UK-based! The 2 small events attracted 17 players across the two events.
  • 20 players played just 1 event (40% of the player base - almost identical to the other rulesets)
  • 12 players made up 50% of all competition entries (24% of the overall pool) 
  • The average event has 15 entries (although this is skewed upwards by a greater proportion of doubles events on the DBM circuit)
DBM retains a relatively small, yet loyal following and with 52 players the overall pool of players is perhaps surprisingly not really that much smaller than for it's newer cousin DBMM. Stripping out the '1-event' entries reduces the pool of "active" players down to 32 - again not a million miles away from the 40 for DBMM.

The core 12 players who make up half of all tournament entries take part in an average of 6.2 events each per year (out of 10 possible events!!), but still represent a smaller proportion of the overall DBM universe than the equivalent group do in in FoGAM.

ADLG
L'Art de la Guerre is the new kid on the block, having been widely played for just under a year and so the rankings currently include results from just 8 events. There are as many as 8-9 further events scheduled for the rest of this year, so by the end of 2016 the UK rankings will be more directly comparable to those of other rulesets. Some events are now also included on the international rankings site, which has over 350 active players this year entering events across the globe

84 players currently appear in the UK rankings, including 4 overseas-based players (and one who is about to emigrate to Portugal!). They are otherwise all French, and have all played in 1 event each in the past 12 months.

These 84 players are more thinly spread than in other rulesets, making 136 competition entries in total. Only one event featured 10 or less players, which was the 2015 Challenge - the oldest event in the rankings currently - however as of today 18 players are signed up for the 2016 Challenge which will replace the 2016 event in the rankings in a couple of weeks.
  • 52 people have played in just 1 event (including 4 overseas)
  • 24 people currently make up half of all competition entries (30% of UK-based players). 
  • The average ADLG event has 17 entries.
These stats are still showing a ruleset in its infancy, however the overall number of UK-based players who have entered at least one ADLG event so far has already overtaken both DBMM and DBM, and with an average event size of 17 it seems more than likely that the size of the UK competition circuit for ADLG will also surpass that of both the DBx rulesets by the end of this year too.

DBA (added 2/6/16)
Bill MacGillivray has now kindly sent me the UK DBA Championship standings, which means DBA can be added to this mix. Most of the DBA events are one-day competitions, but with the shorter game length of DBA they will often have the same number of rounds as a 2-day event for the more "big battle" sets listed here.

The DBA numbers are based on the final 2015 season standings, so are slightly out of sync with the other sets of results. So far this year numbers appear to be almost exactly in step with 2015, with a couple of new events on the circuit as well in the Midlands and North of England. A new version of DBA 3.0 came out last year which is likely to have rekindled player interest so overall 2016 numbers might well end up being higher.

The 2015 season included 15 events, all stand-alone competitions, and including 4 in Portsmouth. The biggest event had 18 entrants, the smallest 6, and 3 of the 15 had less than 10 players, the cutoff to be considered "small" in this analysis.

In total 49 players took part in at least one DBA event last year, and these players between them made a total of 176 competition entries. This level of participation is great than for both DBM and ADLG currently, and if "small" events with less than 10 entries are stripped out of the numbers the gap with DBMM also shrinks, putting DBA in third place behind FoGAM and DBMM as the most actively played ruleset, even though it has the smallest overall pool of UK-based players.

  • Just 15 (30%) DBA players took part in only 1 event - the lowest proportion of 'occasional' players for any of these rulesets. This may well be down to a combination of predominantly one-day events on this circuit, and the geographic concentration of DBA players in a few specific areas.
  • 10 players made just over 50% of all competition entries - at 20% of the total player pool this is comparable to FoG but lower than the other 3 sets which have more directly comparable sized pools of players.
The stats for DBA in general show a very keen and stable core of active DBA players taking part in a consistently supported circuit of events, with a proportionally shorter "tail" of one-off players as well. The DBA numbers also include 2 players who both entered 14 out of the 15 events in the calendar year and who therefore represented 16% of all competition entries between them - well done chaps!

Interesting times - but still also pretty good times too for Ancient gaming, with over 1,000 entries to UK competitions over the last 12 months across these 5 rulesets alone.

With all 5 sets having something "new" going on in terms of rules updates and new lists (or, in the case of FoGAM, having updates on the horizon) there is also plenty happening to keep each community interested in their particular set, which only really leaves the possibility of over-familiarity with the same pool of players as being likely to dent numbers.

Even with the decline in numbers for FoGAM and DBMM over the past 4 years, the emergence of ADLG as a mainstream set, plus the introduction of new versions of all the other sets may mean that by the end of this year the UK will be back to pre-2012 levels of participation in Ancients events again.

Footnote:

As another relevant comparison, the equivalent headline numbers for FoG Renaissance are;

  • 101 players in the last 12 months (6 overseas)
  • 300 competition entries (exactly!)
  • 21 players make up half of all entries
  • 46 players only played in 1 event

These numbers would place FoGR in second place behind FoGAM in terms of popularity, ahead of all of the other Ancient rulesets on both of the key metrics of player numbers and competition entries (if it was an Ancients set of course...!).


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