7 Aug 2016

RIAT 2016 - the RAF Fairford Airshow

In July I just happened to be on holiday and staying in Cheltenham when the RAF Fairford Royal International Air Tattoo took place... and so a visit to it somehow snuck onto the week's agenda...

Here are some of the photos and videos from Europe's (or possibly the worlds) best military Airshow.

F16 lineup with some Mirages too


The A400M is big...


 USMC V22 Osprey

Tigermeet F16


 A400M's ridiculous display


A line of multinational Typhoons


More Typhoons (well, the same lot from a different angle)


Subtle squadron mottos #134


Greece - still flying the F4


View from the top of the aircraft steps


Same, but seconds later...


Erm... probably a Typhoon?


Typhoon, F35 and the Red Arrows in formation


And slightly nearer...

And hen going away..

F35B in hover mode.  
 Hopefully a video /..

F35B


F35A

Both flavours together

The Red Arrows


Both F35's, B in the foreground


The Red Arrows.  All 10 of them....

F22 Raptors
F22's again.

1 Aug 2016

Slate Ridge Mauler

Given the summer, painting and writing up match reports have taken a bit of a back seat to sitting in the garden and drinking imported session IPA whilst grilling chunks of chicken on the bbq.

However, in the midst of all of this excitement, a Malifaux monster, in the shape of the Slate Ridge Mauler has taken to the tabletop.

Mounted on a 50mm round base and pinned to a chip of actual slate (which was surprisingly easy to drill) he and his 4 arms are ready to appear sporadically when I next get in a game and want to try out what is often regarded as an under powered but potentially situationally useful model.


Grrrr!

6 Jul 2016

Saumur Tank Museum

The Musée des Blindés tank museum in the Loire Valley town of Saumur is one of the world's largest tank museums - and I managed to take a load of photos there a couple of weeks ago!


According to Wikipedia the museum has the world's largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles with over 880 vehicles, although less than a quarter are exhibited. Over 200 of the vehicles are fully functional, including the only surviving German Tiger II tank still in full working order!




1 Jul 2016

Gordon Bennett, it's El Sid! 5 more ADLG Reports

ADLG has reinvigorated a whole host of previously little-seen armies and figures, and next up on the rehabilitation trail are some Two Dragons Normans (and dubiously Viking-esque Almughavar morphs) who take part as a Feudal Spanish army in 5 games of 300 point large-army L'Art de la Guerre 15mm action at the 2016 BHGS Challenge.

Marvel at how these brave Norman-esque warriors emerge blinking into the light after so many years with flocked (rather than more modern grass tufted) bases.


Thrill as they double-base themselves to form ADLG units.


Gasp in horror as they still appear to have learnt nothing about tactics and planning despite their years of free time in which to study the classic military manuals.


And chortle with smutty delight as El Sid James provides the General's Commentary in all 5 match reports

16 Jun 2016

Piracy on the high seas of... Leighton Buzzard!

Leighton Buzzard is not normally associated with Piracy on the high seas, nor is it twinned with any exotic ex-Colonial cities from far flung continents (although being twinned with a town called Titisee is admittedly vaguely amusing).



But, even so it was the venue for the latest round of the UK FoGR One-Day Competition ....and so on a bright Sunday morning my Buccaneers yet again took to the table in a flurry of bad dice, even worse puns, and some oddly appropriate commentary on lawn care !


Read on for all three reports!

12 Jun 2016

Near-future Sci Fi Mechs from e4M's plastic Mech box

Here are some shots of e4M's super-cheap plastic Mechs, sized as 28mm stormtroopers but great as monster Mechs for 6mm. They are painted but not quite finished.




I'm not yet not sure about adding an Army Painter coat to them (I probably will though).

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...!).


18 May 2016

Roll Call 2016 - Taking a Pontic punt at ADLG

As ADLG makes it's way onto the big boys table of UK competitions with a 16-player field for 15mm ADLG at Roll Call 2016, discover how Mithradates of Pontus manages to almost (but not quite) control his many and varied disparate troop types in 5 games against all possible flavours of Romans.



Yes, it's 5 brand new Match Reports, complete with rules hints and explanations for what might well be the worlds most popular Ancients competition ruleset right now, L'Art de la Guerre.


27 Apr 2016

The Covenanter's make it to the Kings Capital!

In three fleetingly (thankfully?) brief battle reports, enlivened by some tremendous 15mm eye candy and the usual videos, the Scots Covenanter's  appear in FoGR and take on three Royalist armies in a one-day competition with pre-set terrain.


See how the forces of anti-papery did in these highly accurate historical rematches, including far more Poor quality troops than have been seen on a Renaissance battlefield for quite some time.

22 Apr 2016

What's in the Bag? The Salute 2016 Podcast !

In this latest Podcast episode I'm joined by Ian, Gavin, Jeavon, John and Stan all from Central London Wargames Club in a "straight to live" recording made in the beer garden of the Fox pub at the ExCeL Centre, London.

The Fox may not be the most salubrious of locations, but the Audacity software I used has cleaned up almost all of the pub-background noise when recording the podcast so the sound quality is surprisingly good for what was the resting place for weary and thirsty gamers escaping from the mega-show that was Salute! 2016.

In this episode I ask the question "What's in the Bag?" of all of my guests, and with some added liquid lubrication the discussion then rambles onto subjects as diverse as the pricing of 15mm figures, packaging strategies (blister pack or baggie?), how much would you pay for a boardgame if you lived on a submarine, and just how many 1/3000th scale ships are "too many"?

To get the full experience it may be best to have at least 3-4 pints yourself before tuning in !

18 Apr 2016

Black Ops

Just back from a couple of games of Osprey's new-ish Black Ops modern skirmish rules... and I'm pleased to report that they appear to work !

They are set in the same era as Force on Force, but are a lot more beer & pretzels, whilst still maintaining a bit of tactical depth and that real pace that is needed to make a modern skirmish game feel "real"


Here are photos from our games using mostly Elheim modern US figures.


The squad ready themselves to move out


A cautious advance past a stalled technical


Taking cover behind the HUMMVEE whilst the news crew interview a pedestrian


Peering over a concrete barrier


Possibly not the safest place to hide....


Move first, form, a firing line and open up...


Taking cover behind a storage tank


USMC advance cautiously along the street


Matchbox-scale Toyota acts as cover



 The LAW hit the LPG cannister, so we made up a quick rule to allow me to use this flame thing!


Black Ops is available on Amazon.co.uk and also Amazon.com for not that much really.

10 Apr 2016

6mm Neo-NATO and Neo -Soviet SF forces

Having done some wargamer-scale "dabbling" in 1/300th Moderns for a while now (erm... 3 whole large armies and a lot of eBay fishing...) I'd been strangely drawn to the idea of supplementing the increasingly futuristic looking tanks and rather indistinct infantry with some SF Mechs and Walkers.

This new habit started with an unusually restrained initial outing at Warfare 2014 where I picked up a handful of Mechs and Walkers from Ground Zero Games. But then... I caved in and did some online shopping...


Now, 2 years later, it's all gone SF mad!


There are now two full pages and loads of photos of this stuff being painted and fully finished for you to browse on this website.


Of course, I have no rules yet but with Salute! coming up I think I will be investing in Horizon Wars (the new Osprey set), and possibly probably FWC as well.

4 Apr 2016

28mm Perry Medievals painted and based for ADLG

A rash yet planned purchase of Medieval stuff at Warfare last year finally makes it onto this site in its  painted glory, ready for a 25mm ADLG competition that hasn't even been scheduled to take place yet.



See how the plastic figures shape up in a line of longbows and a crescent of crossbows...
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