Yesterday a new page in the history of Devon Wargames Group was turned as the club threw open the doors to Too Fat Lardies, Richard Clark and Nick Skinner, who joined with club members and other fellow Lardy enthusiasts from across the country for a fun packed day of gaming that spanned the historical periods and genres.
The day would have been our normal monthly club meeting and in that spirit we were very keen to welcome our guests as fellow members of the club playing the kind of games we would normally enjoy with all the added 'hubble-bubble' of chatting gamers getting into the drama of their games and talking hobby talk.
The range of rule-sets produced by Richard and Nick together with the ethos of combining great historical feel, dare I say simulation, with a huge emphasis on having fun, really ties in with the ethos of the club and prompted the idea of joining the list of other clubs who play their games in the same spirit and host similar events.
The plan for the day would see gamers signed up to play two games, one in the morning session and one in the afternoon with the changeover allowing half an hour for lunch and an afternoon break for a proper Devon Cream Tea.
Thus with a packed day lined up it was very important to make sure tables were arranged in the club hall the previous evening and with a 07.30 start to lay out the table boards and coverings ready for the game organisers to arrive and set their games up for the start at 09.30
|Sharp Practice II, French & Indian Wars - Bob (DWG)|
By 0915 we had seven tables set up to play games using Sharp Practice (and variations of it), Chain of Command, Charlie Don't Surf and Kiss Me Hardy, which gave us fifteen minutes to say a few words of welcome and introductions before 'kick off'.
|Sharp Practice II Colonial style - Jason & Nathan (DWG)|
As you will see, we had some fine tables produced for our games, with lovely terrain and figures to match.
|Kiss Me Hardy AWI Naval - Jack, Ollie & Charlie (DWG)|
|Sharply Buffed (Sharp Practice II) in the Netherlands, Eighty Years War - Colin (DWG)|
|Chain of Command 'Allies peu Fiables', France 1940 - Phil T and Jenny O-S|
|Charlie Don't Surf , I love the smell of a hog roast, Vietnam style - Dave J|
|Chain of Command 'Walmington' - Chas, Andy & Vince (DWG)|
So just before the start of play it was time to record those involved in this, our first Lardy event held by the club, and we hope a distinctive addition to the list of Lardy events popping up across the country.
|Devon Wargames Group - Clotted Lard 2018|
All the games were played in a great spirit with players less familiar with a set of rules able to take the time to get a feel for how they played and get introduced to eras and genres that they might not have played before.
It was really great to see players really getting enthused about the games they were playing with ideas about getting into various periods themselves that had previously been a whim but was soon forming up as a new project to pursue.
Obviously there was no possibility of me recording all the highlights and drama of each of the fourteen games played through the day and so I thought I would show a collage of pictures from each of the tables with the odd comment or two to add flavour.
French Indian Wars - Sharp Practice II
Sharp Practice is a favourite set of rules used in the club and Bob was able to show off one of the more traditional periods it often gets used for with his lovely French and Indian Wars table echoing to the the pop of muskets among the trees.
|Indian war-parties arrive on the river bank|
|French regulars form line in support of the light troops|
We have had numerous games played in the club for this period which generates such interesting large skirmish games with a variety of troop types to match.
Vietnam - Charlie Don't Surf
I was really interested to see how this game would play as I have never seen or played a game of Charlie Don't Surf although I am very familiar with it's close cousin I Aint Been Shot Mum for WWII.
The other really interesting aspect was that it was played using 10mm Pendraken figures, a scale I would not have thought of using for a Vietnam game, but I think you will agree that Dave J from Plymouth, one of our two visitor organised games, carried it off really well with an exquisite table to match the figures.
|'Blinds' are placed as the opposing sides start to feel out each others positiion|
The game saw the usual movement to contact using blinds, such an important aspect in sight limiting terrain, as US forward operating teams attempted to shepherd some pigs rounded up in a hostile village patrol towards the defence perimeter of a railway marshaling yard.
All this as a North Vietnamese company attack assembled on the overlooking high-ground.
|Pig herding whilst under mortar fire - not recommended!|
As the Vietnamese infantry moved in through the close country supported by occasional mortar fire and smoke, US forces rushed forward to support their forward teams guarding the perimeter wire and the scene soon erupted to the sound of rapid machine-gun fire, interlaced with criss-crossing tracer and RPG rounds, as both sides let rip.
|The detail on these little 10mm chaps is amazing and together with the terrain really created a great effect|
|The Vietnamese mortars drop smoke rounds to cover a hard pressed platoon on the edge of the US perimeter|
|The NVA are moved up to the perimeter|
|Yellow dice in among the jungle indicate accruing NVA shock|
|US troops man positions on a quiet sector of the perimeter as the battle erupts to their right|
I really enjoyed watching this game evolve and recognised a great system suitably adapted for this period of military history.
|US carriers help to add yet more hurt with their support weapons|
AWI Anglo-French Naval - Kiss Me Hardy
|The British fleet on patrol|
I am a great fan of naval wargaming which perhaps is one of the Cinderella genres of the hobby but I feel offers some great gaming potential across the different periods and with a little effort can produce some very nice looking games.
|Frigate signal - 'Enemy in sight'|
The new sea mats on offer these days can really help compliment the models and create a suitable tabletop spectacle to help rival the more busier land themed games.
|Both sides jockey for position|
Jack hosted this Anglo-French engagement themed around the battles that occurred off America during the War of Independence and in both games saw the two fleets desperately attempting to gain the best positions before closing for the kill.
|The first broadsides echo across the bay|
The ballet between age of sail lines of battle in that 'pre-gunnery duel period' in these kinds of games is for me one of the most interesting aspects, watching the player commanders trying to anticipate the oppositions movements and using the wind to gain the best position or avoid elements of their fleet becoming detached as the battle lines engage.
|The fleets salute each other as they pass|
The two games I watched had all those elements in the lead up to the crescendo as the heavy ships of both sides started to work each other over like a pair of heavy weight boxers.
|Now what do we do?|
As ships take damage, with masts tumbling left, right and centre, the two lines start to coalesce and the battle for supremacy degenerates into a ship to ship slugging match.
|Order starts to break down as the lines intermingle|
In the meantime those elements of the battle lines caught out of position desperately tack and beat against the wind to get back in touch to lend a hand before its too late.
|Out of position units attempt to get back to intervene|
And as Nick soon discovered, if you turn your back for just a minute or two to watch the outcome of a really interesting struggle developing on the table next door, you turn back to the table to find your flagship on fire and the battle well in the balance.
|Don't look now!|
|Sails and masts litter the sea as fire breaks out on the British flagship|
Kiss Me Hardy is one of the original Lardy rule sets and with the card driven activation system always gives a thrilling encounter in age of sail battles.
|Meanwhile the close in battering goes on|
Walmington on Sea - Chain of Command
|Chas has to hold figures away from him these days to have any attempt at identifying them|
This year, one of the big games to feature in the club, taking in warm up games in the earlier part of the year and followed up with a big set piece game for our annual gathering at Chez Chas in North Devon, has been Walmington on Sea, Dad's Army style using Chain of Command, which I reported on on JJ's Wargames back in June.
|One last check to see how far the jump off ranges are|
Chas produced a 'cut-down' version of the game which really helps show of how versatile Chain of Command is at coping with all types of WWII games which in this case featured plenty of British irregular forces together with home made defence weapons developed in the early days of the war when more traditional weapons were not available and when tactics were still evolving in an attempt to catch up with German methods of Blitkreig warfare.
|German naval troops embark for the beach under cover from their naval support|
|British observers raise the alarm|
Individual character figures such as the great British wartime leader patrolling the upstairs balcony of Walmington Town Hall acted as jump off points for the two sides that added to the 'Dads Army' feel for the game.
|We will fight them on the beaches and the landing grounds - no surrender!|
|Easy does it!|
The sight of German naval teams landing on Walmington sea-front and German Falschirmjagers working their way cautiously through the back streets of the town only brought back traumatic memories of harrowing close combat with teams of Local Defence Volunteers, Home Guard and the dreaded fanatical 'Morris Men'.
|Are you sure this is the right beach|
|Teams of Falschirmjager infiltrating the back streets of Walmington, brought back harrowing memories for me - far to stressful!|
Zulu Attack - Sharp Practice II
Sharp Practice II has fast developed from its initial positioning around the black-powder Napoleonic and AWI periods into a multitude of other periods where the character of individual lower level commanders are able to influence the larger battle.
|Plenty of scouts and formed columns ready for action|
We are very fortunate in the club for having members with other collections ideal for these rules, with British Colonial collections a large part of them, featuring wars in India and Africa and with the Zulu and Sudan periods particular favourites.
Jason and Nathan rolled out the Zulu War collection for this very nice game using Sharp Practice recapturing the days of the Empress Queen.
|Zulu's - Face the front and mark your target!|
|The Union Jack still flies under a hail of knobkerries|
France 1940 'Allies peu Fiables' Chain of Command
|All quiet on the Western Front|
Another of the games from our guest gamers was this spectacular 28mm France 1940 game using Chain of Command that featured a German motorised group attempting to penetrate one of the many canal crossings that were a feature of the British defensive positions that developed on the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940.
Phil and Jenny had produced a glorious table that really captured the feel of the typical terrain in these parts of Belgium and France that helped produce some great eye-candy for the camera.
The game saw a German motorised infantry group supported by light tanks attempting to secure the bridge on one particular canal before its British and Belgian defenders were able to blow it to smithereens.
|Blitzkrieg 1940 style!|
|German infantry cautiously advance under British and Belgian small arms fire|
|The two inch light mortar opens up on the attackers|
|Belgian troops help to hold the line|
The attention to detail and passion for the period was really obvious and the game was a great addition to our days play.
|'I'm afraid you can't park it their old chap'|
|The Germans are across|
Eighty Years War - Sharply Buffed
Finally we had one more period of history featuring in the days line up of games with Colin's lovely collection of Renaissance period Eighty Years War Spanish and Dutch forces that he has built around the Sharp Practice supplement 'Sharply Buffed' and covered more fully by Colin on his own blog 'the leadpile'.
The armies for this period are spectacular with multicoloured troops and banners sporting weapons from arquebus to lance, pikes to heavy cannons.
|Not everyone can get away with a Rose Pink outfit!|
This war between Dutch nationalists and Spanish empire troops was more than just a war for liberation, copiously laced with all the powerful drivers around religious conflict.
Thus this skirmish saw the Spanish imperial troops attempting to re-occupy a Dutch village where the church had be redecorated in the new Protestant style of worship with the locals very keen to keep it that way.
|Pike blocks and ruffs, what more could you want from a period?|
Sharply Buffed uses the core rules of Sharp Practice II but with period specific adaptations to recreate the units from this period.
|That Dutch cannon proved particularly annoying to Spanish troops attempting to flank one side of the village and stretch the defences.|
I was able to sit in on the second game and the Sharp Practice engine behind it was very obvious as both sides cautiously brought their units close enough for the first exchanges between skirmishers and longer range cannon fire.
As these initial combats occurred both sides sought to position their pike and musket blocks supported by their cavalry to bring about a decision.
|Both parties sent forward arquebus armed skirmish bands to feel out the other sides position or attempt to slow the advance|
The adaptation produces a really interesting and fun game with a period that is so nice to see at any time.
|Who would get the drop on the other was determined by the token draw and the Dutch units token came out first - fire!|
Our day finished on time at 17.00 and once all the games were packed and the hall facilities tidied up we adjourned to the pub for some pre-curry drinks.
Everyone seemed to have fully enjoyed the day and by common consent among the club members who attended is something we look forward continuing going forward.
Speaking personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and spend time in the company of other gamers, just wargaming and talking hobby stuff - great fun.
On a final note I should record that after expenses for catering and hiring of the hall the club looks likely to be able to send a cheque for about £200 to our preferred charity ' Combat Stress' who have been treating British Veteran Service men and women for mental health conditions brought about by their service since their creation as the Ex-servicemen's Welfare Society in May 1919.
In addition I should thank the Management of the Whipton Institute, our club venue, for their generous contribution to our charity support by allowing us the use of the hall for free and to several visitors to the event who generously contributed to the final pot - thank you very much.
Thank you to all involved for making such a great day and a memorable one for all involved and thanks in particular to the great team of people who helped organise the day from the Devon Wargames Group and most particularly Bob C who was invaluable at herding all the cats that are wargamers, including me, and making sure that the day went to plan. Here's looking forward to 2019.