This weekend saw a get together of a group of wargamers from up and down the length of England (unfortunately our Scottish contingent couldn't make it). We congregated on Friday evening in the Suffolk town of Framlingham, where our local host Tim had made the arrangement for us to have an excellent couple of days of gaming, socialising and recovering from hangovers.
It was a fair old way to go, especially for those coming from the North East, but everyone agreed it was more than worth it. Great company and top-notch games throughout, and lots of laughter and banter to go with it.
We used the very nice function room at The Crown, a lovely hotel/inn where some of us were staying, which gave us plenty of room and facilities to spread out in. Despite this pic, the lighting was a bit dim when the sun wasn't shining (ie. most of Saturday) so I didn't get many decent photos on my phone.
Several people had offered to put on games (there were several rounds of voting(!) over a year ago), providing the figures, rules and scenery for others to play. These included Peeler's Leipzig DBN taster (for Simon, who seemed to enjoy it immensely), Essex Boy and GaryP's 20mm Marlburian game (which Andy and I joined), and the main event - Tim's awesome ACW collection in a full-on 2 day clash which started on Saturday and which we all joined on Sunday.
The WSS game was great fun, and it was a pleasure to play with Iain and Gary's superb collections. The rules used were Rank and File from Crusader, and they gave a quick realistic game with simple, easy to learn, mechanisms. We played at least 12 full turns which says a lot for how easy the rules are to pick up. Everyone agreed that it looked and fought out as they imagined a Malburian battle would, and we had some very exciting moments as both sides had triumphs and reverses.
As allied commander I had the dubious benefit of Iain's dice rolling assistance (he was also the scenario designer and umpire) but fortunately the English, Dutch and Danes fought tenaciously among the hedgerows and successfully held the right and centre against the French infantry. It didn't go so well on the left, however, where the cavalry fought it out in the open fields. Here the enemy gradually got the better of the allied squadrons, helped by an infantry brigade which came up and held the farm in the middle of the melee. Their volleys emptied a good few saddles and by the end (which was deemed to be dusk) our flank had collapsed.
We all surveyed the battlefield and agreed it to be a strategic success for the French, as the allies would eventually have to retreat down the only road they remained in control of, but a tactical draw, as 2/3 of the table remained in allied hands as night fell. A really enjoyable game all-round, with friendly and generous opponents in Andy and Gary, and lots of thanks to Iain for the effort he put into planning and running the game.
Then it was off to the bar for a well-earned beverage or two and the usual debate about basing, followed by an excellent curry in a nearby restaurant and more beers in Tim's local.
On Sunday we all re-assembled (some more slowly than others..) for the now-expanded ACW game. Tim, Phil, Dave and Tim W had fought the opening moves of this encounter battle (Coinville I think) on day 1 and developed the battlelines that the rest of us joined for day 2. I was on the Union side (which I think I've been on every time I've played this period, but which is fine by me) and I was involved in trying to defend the centre and right against an outflanking Reb attack, while waiting for our reserve division to arrive.
There was lots of artillery fire initially, and then the infantry got to grips and casualties mounted. The whole time JEB Stuart was dashing round our right flank and things were a bit nervous as we waited for the outcome of the Union CinC's rolls to see where the reserve would appear. Naturally Iain's dice ensured it would be at the other end of the table, and that sounded the death knell for the North! Unfortunately I had to leave before the final turns were played, but it was a delight to see these armies on the table again and to be involved in such a great looking game.
Some of my division, all gorgeous figures from Tim Hall's collection:
All in all, everything went even better than expected and we're looking forward to the next opportunity to get together again for another one. Big thanks go to Tim for all the planning/arranging, and to everyone for their excellent company!