Showing posts with label DBMM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DBMM. 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!)









17 Apr 2017

Competition Ancients in the UK - The state of play, 1 year on

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post on the relative popularity of various "competition" Ancients sets in the UK, which, unusually for this sort of thing was based on actual analysis of real numbers rather than just a subjective TMP-esque mumble of personal preference and "down my club we think this...".

At the time, FoG Ancients was the largest set by some distance but had declined from it's peak of a few years previous, the popularity of DBMM had been flat for some time and a new set L'Art de la Guerre (which you'll have seen on this site no doubt!) was just finishing its first full year of being played in the UK.

Well, how does that all look now, and what's changed in the UK competition scene?

DBMM

A year ago it proved a little tricky compiling accurate data for the numbers of entries for DBMM events, however since then the truly excellent DBMM rankings website at http://partridges.org.uk/rankings/ has been revitalised and updated and seems to have gotten back on top of capturing pretty much everything that happens in the UK DBMM-wise.

Last time around the total number of DBMM competition entrants in the previous year stood at somewhere around 90 players - including 11 based overseas - entering 17 different events (counting those events with both 25mm and 15mm periods as one).  The total number of entries stood at 326, or 314 excluding the overseas players

In the last 12 months that number hasn't really changed appreciably, with 17 events again making up the calendar featuring 84 different players. This year just 5 players based overseas have played in UK events basically representing a smaller Irish contingent at Britcon 2016, leaving a UK-based pool of 79 active players - exactly the same as a year ago. The total number of event entries was 296, down fractionally on the prior year.

The mix of "core" and "occasional" players is also a pretty much the same, with 17 players (21%) making up half of all event entries across the year (compared to 18-20 last year).

The number of UK-based players taking part in just one event has remained about the same, with 27 this year vs 25-30 last time around. 4 overseas players also took part in just one event in the last year.

Of the 27 UK-based "unique" players, 13 of them appeared at the Milton Keynes 1-day event - the biggest single pool event in the calendar with 33 players - highlighting the continuing importance of the Milton Keynes club to the DBMM community in the UK.  A new 2-day event held in Guildford also was added to the DBMM calendar in the past 12 months, drawing another large field of 18 players, of which 4 were also "uniques".

When Milton Keynes is combined with the 5 rounds of the Northern League and the 1-day event in Central London, one-day events make up almost half of all DBMM events staged across the year, contribute over 1/4 of all event entries (86), and are the only places you will come across players representing over a quarter of the entire UK player pool.

This period represented the year immediately following the introduction of a new version of DBMM and also a new set of lists - however with no appreciable change in player numbers or participation levels in this period it's hard to say whether this has helped or hindered the DBMM community either way.

That is not to say that over the past 5 years the DBMM community hasn't seem any churn of players coming in and out - far from it as this table shows:

Current20162015201420132012
Total Players848283929697
New this year61991411N/A
Did not returnN/A420181812

  • New this year means players who did not appear in a tournament in the previous year
  • Did not return means players who did not appear in a tournament in the following year

Consistently more players have dropped out of competition DBMM every year for the last 5 years than have taken it up as a competition game, however most of this churn is at the lower end of the "enthusiasm" grading - for core competition players what is clear is that the DBMM community is very, very stable.

To illustrate this more clearly I was able to create the following graphic by ranking players by "number of events participated in" for each of the last 5 years, and then colour-coding the placings into 20-wide bands (1-20, 21-40, 41-60 etc). The paler the cell, the more active the player.

Each row represents a different player, and each number represents where the player would rank in term of "number of events entered" for each year.  In this graphic, "Player 1" - the most active player in the year to date - has also been the most active player in 2016 and 2015, and was the 2nd most active player in 2013 and 2012. Quite what happened in 2014 is a mystery....but I guess Arsene Wenger would still consider 4th to be a successful year too!


With the banding of colours very consistent across the years, the graphic highlights how the 20 most active current players have also been the most active players every year for pretty much the whole of the last 5 years.
By the time you get outside the 'top 40' for any given year the number of events entered falls away to just 1 or 2, so it is probably fair to say that the national competition scene is essentially made up of the top 40 or so active players. Only 5 "new" players have picked up DBMM enthusiastically enough to join this core "active" group since 2012, and all are still found at the lower end of the "Top 40" participation chart.


FoGAM

In May 2016 FoGAM was the biggest ancients set by some margin, with 140 players taking part in 16 events and making a total of 422 entries between them.

In the past 12 months these stats have seen a significant change, with the total number of active players falling by almost 1/3 to just 97, including just three overseas players.  The total number of event entries has also unsurprisingly declined by a similar amount, falling from 422 to 308, leaving FoGAM only now marginally larger than DBMM in the UK.

Of these 97 active players, 40 were "uniques" who entered just one event during the course of the year and a further 17 entered just two meaning just over half of the player pool are currently "occasional" players.

Unlike DBMM, the FoGAM circuit doesn't have a "Milton Keynes One-Dayer" event driving up the number of "unique" competition players and overall player numbers, with the Schiltron competition in Scotland contributing the most FoGAM "uniques" with 7.

21 FoGAM players between them made up just over half of all event entries, entering more than 7 events each throughout the year - the same as a year ago. This core group represent an identical proportion of the (smaller) overall player pool compared to a year ago, and the same proportion as seen in DBMM too.

A year ago FoGAM was already clearly on a downward trajectory from its peak back in 2012 of 250+ active players, and from these stats this trend has clearly continued.

This table shows overall player numbers in the last 5 years:

Current20162015201420132012
Total Players in UK Competitions93137156193235250
New to the circuit this year39163142N/A
Did not return after this yearN/A4941598159
  • New this year means players who have not previously appeared in any tournament in any previous year in the period 2012-17
  • Did not return means players who did not appear in a tournament in the following year
Over the past 5 years FoGAM has seen a significant shedding of players, with very few new players joining the circuit - unsurprisingly this trend really gained pace in the years immediately after the debacle of the initially non-printed V2.0. With the rules now hard to come by, the conveyor-belt of new players has largely dried up. This also means that more new players have picked up DBMM (competitively) than FoGAM  in the last 3 years, by 34 to 28 - an effect largely attributable to the impact of the Milton Keynes 1-dayer (which is strongly attended by players from Milton Keynes club where DBMM is the dominant ancients ruleset) on the DBMM circuit stats.

I've also pulled together a similar graphic to the DBMM one to show how dynamic (or static) the ranking by "number of events participated in" has been over the last 5 years. Because FoGAM has a bigger pool, I have banded the colour-coding into 30-wide bands (1-30, 31-60, 61-90 etc), again with paler cell meaning more active the players.

Each row represents a different player, and each number represents where the player would rank in term of "number of events entered" for each year.  In this graphic, "Player 1" - the most active player in the year to date - has been creeping up the activity rankings steadily over the past 5 years, having only been the also been the 12th most active player in 2012.  Once you get outside the Top 30, players are taking part in 3 or less events per year, and anyone outside the Top 60 is generally only entering 1 event.



The Top 30 most active players have, like in DBMM but with a handful of notable exceptions mostly been the Top 30 players throughout the last 5 years, but the amount of new blood coming full-throttle into the UK competition scene is also greater than seen for DBMM - possibly showing again the distorting effect of the hyper-local Milton Keynes 1-dayer and Northern league attendances on the stats for the DBMM competition circuit.

The core group of FoGAM players appear to still be just as active as they ever were however, and with every event on the circuit being a two-day affair the level of commitment by the active player group is still pretty strong.

Quite how this will be impacted by the arrival of yet another new edition is still to be seen - if the DBMM experience is anything to go by, the answer is probably "not a lot", but the FoGAM experience might suggest otherwise.

L'Art de la Guerre

A year ago ADLG was very much the new kid on the block, with only 8 events having taken place in the first year of the ruleset appearing at UK competitions, at which 84 players featured making just 136 entries between them.

12 months on and the picture is rather different - in the last 12 months 18 separate events have been staged, with 122 players taking part making 331 entries in total - giving ADLG the largest calendar of UK events, largest active played pool and largest number of event entries of any mainstream mass-battle ancients set in the UK today. With a large international player community it is also perhaps not surprising that more overseas players have taken part in UK ADLG events (7) this year than for any other ruleset as well.

The shorter game-time of ADLG makes it especially suitable for 1-day events, with three games possible in one day and so unsurprisingly the UK ADLG calendar currently includes 8 one-day competitions, one more than those currently staged by the DBMM circuit and with only 1 ADLG round of the 5-round Northern League included in this count compared to 5 for DBMM.

25 players make up half of all competition entries - perhaps weirdly, again an identical proportion to that seen for the other two rulesets - with 60 players having only taken part in one event across the year.

The pattern of appearance of "uniques" in ADLG is more akin to that seen for FoGAM than for DBMM, with no stand-out event contributing such a significant proportion of "uniques". This total of 60 "uniques" is still materially higher than in DBMM or FoGAM, but is not entirely unexpected given that ADLG numbers are still growing year-on-year.

The recently-held Roll Call has been the single biggest contributor with 11 new ADLG players appearing there for the first time followed by 7 at the inaugural round of the Northern League and a further 7 appearing at the only event held in Scotland in the past year, Sighn-Dubh.

Central London Wargames Club is a particular hotbed of ADLG and has hosted two 1-day events in the past 12 months and this alone could reasonably be expected to skew these figures. However out of the 122 players currently in the UK pool, only 8 are CLWC club members who's appearance in the rankings is attributable to these two events alone. This means that CLWC's two ADLG events are making a smaller contribution to the ADLG player pool than MKWS' 1-day DBMM event makes to the size of the UK DBMM player pool.

One other notable aspect of the ADLG circuit is the large number of 25/28mm events being staged. The "big toys" format had nearly died out in the UK for most of the other rulesets, with at best 1 or 2 events having a sub-tournament alongside a larger 15mm competition, but ADLG seems to have captured the imagination of players with 25mm armies, presumably because the lower unit count makes them easier to collect and paint, and also means the table is less cluttered than for other mass-battle 25mm sets. As many as half a dozen of the ADLG events held in the past 12 months have been in 25mm scale.

Other Rulesets 

A year ago I also looked at DBM and DBA - both were smaller player pools and circuits than any of the above sets, with around 50 players each and 8-12 events staged. Looking at the tournament listings for both sets, they appear to be relatively unchanged and so it's fair to assume that with no major upheavals in either community both are doing much the same as before.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG) is this year's new kid on the block, having had it's first (technically a "playtest") event at the BHGS Challenge last June and so is coming up to close on a full year of events.

So far there have been 5 MeG events staged - 3 singles, 2 doubles - all held as part of existing multi-ruleset competitions, attracting a total of 31 different players, 13 of whom have appeared only once.

The total number of competition entries so far has been just 68 (less than half the total racked up in the first full year of ADLG) with the 8 players who took part in last years initial "playtest" event making up almost half (29) of those entries. This picture will continue to change with 8 new players already signed up to play at either Britcon or The BHGS Challenge later this year (but a similar number from this year's events not yet signed up to return). Basically it is still very early days to draw any meaningful conclusions as to what impact, if any, MeG might have on the mainstream of the UK mass-battle Ancients competition scene.

Swordpoint is the new mass-battle set from Gripping Beast launched at the end of 2016, and from what is posted on their forum it looks like they have held 2 events so far, with 18-20 players at each. There are at least 2-3 more events planned for the rest of the year. Currently the player pool stands at 30 unique players after 2 events - the same size as MeG already - with only 8 of the 30 having done both events. The pool size is certainly set to increase based on the already-published list of entries for Warfare (11 players as of today) and so it is possible that by the end of this year Swordpoint and MeG will both be neck and neck in terms of player pool, number of events and number of entries.

The Summary:

The good news is that the number of events, and the numbers of players entering them is - overall - still slightly increasing, as the uptick in people playing ADLG (plus a little bit of MeG) is now more than offsetting the continuing decline in numbers of FoGAM participation, whilst DBMM continues to chug along at much the same level as it has done for the last few years - although with an arguably slightly shrinking pool of highly active players.

Independent of any single ruleset, the most notable top-level trend would seem to be the increase in numbers and importance of one-day events across the UK circuit, most notably for ADLG but also for DBMM. The one-day format is clearly easier to get a pass-out to attend, but is also easier to organise, so the emergence of a series of new, mostly 1-day ADLG events in the SW and SE of the UK to mirror the Northern League has contributed greatly to player numbers and participation levels overall.

On this basis, if the new supposedly "faster" format for FoGAM v3.0 allow the FoG community to shorten game times down towards 2.5 hours and therefore get onto the one-day-event bandwagon, it could well end up doing more to redress the ongoing decline in support and participation for FoGAM than anything "new" inherent in the rules themselves.







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