Monday, 16 September 2019

Clotted Lard 2019

Last year saw the inaugural 'Clotted Lard', Devon Wargames Group's own 'Lardy Day,' where the club got together with the Too Fat Lardies, and other Lardy aficionados from around the country to enjoy a whole day of playing Lardy games and a few evenings of convivial chat and socialising; all in support of encouraging more people to find out why we have such a great hobby to get involved in,  and to support the amazing people at Combat Stress who continue their important work, since 1919, helping British and Commonwealth veterans.

As well as the game tables an additional table was arranged highlighting the other aspect of the day

Last year's event was a great success with just under forty attendees playing in seven games, and raising £250 for the charity and the club decided to make our normal September monthly meeting our annual Clotted Lard gathering and set out to boost the number of games, with originally ten arranged, but with a few cancellations seeing eight run on the day and our numbers up to forty six players and game organisers with an expected raising of somewhere between £300 - £350 once all the monies have been tallied up.

By 07.30 the table-tops were set up and arranged to size for the games planned for the day

The day takes quite a bit of organising but luckily the club has Bob to thank and on hand to herd all the cats that is the DWG and following a very pleasant evening in Exeter on the Friday night where club members joined our guests after their journey to Devon for a few drinks, we had a team of volunteers at the club venue by 07.15 the next morning to arrange the tables before our game organisers arrived to put out their terrain and figure collections.

This year we opted to use both rooms in the centre and have our normal club meeting dedicated to Clotted Lard

With all the tables finally set up and everyone together we took a few minutes to officially welcome every one to our second Clotted Lard, and got everyone together for the usual group photograph of all those involved on the day; before starting a day where everyone got to play in two different games, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, before retiring for the evening and an open invitation to everyone to come along for drinks and a curry afterwards.

Clotted Lard 2019

So as per last year, I took the morning to circulate among the different tables and, whilst listening to the chat and watching the games unfold, tried to surreptitiously grab pictures during play, which takes some doing with players deeply involved in the play and often oblivious to my attempts to get that perfect shot, just as it it should be.

Also, as per last year, I found myself really impressed with the effort that the various organisers had gone to to produce a set of games that really graced the occasion and I hope you will enjoy the eye candy that follows.

WWII Malaya 1942 - Chain of Command (Richard Clarke, Too Fat Lardies)

Anyone who follows Lardy news will know that Richard has been working on Chain of Command for Malaya 1941-42 and it was great to have his recently created collection of figures and terrain on show at the club yesterday.

I toured this part of the world in company with my paternal uncle back in 2005 as part of a visit with him and the BBC to join with other veterans and the British Legion in paying our respects to their comrades who fought and died with them in Malaya and Singapore and later on the Burma Railway, Hell-Ships and salt mines where many of these survivors ended up, as the war with Japan was brought to a dramatic and none too soon end.

The terrain depicted on the table brought back a lot of memories for me of that visit and Chain of Command seems a superb vehicle for capturing the close up infantry battle that it forced on the combatants, described to me in the accounts from the veterans; this so vividly captured in the initial 'patrol phase' as the Japanese markers ominously outflanked the Commonwealth position.

Rubber trees all lined up next to the railway siding, colonial bungalow and Rubber Company office all help set the scene for British Imperial Malaya in 1942

I think tabletops are like stages with all the attention to detail needed to create the scene for the audience, before the actors arrive

The paddy fields looked great and are perfect table-top clutter for this theatre and the local houses help add to the effect

The really interesting Patrol Phase in CoC underway with a lot of thought going into each placement

The Japanese start to deploy their patrols on the opposite table edge

With tape measures out, both sides are starting to look to lock down the start lines

The Japanese get a slight movement advantage when placing markers representing their ability to move in the restrictive terrain and search out the enemy flanks

Banzai - the first groups of Japanese infantry deploy off their Jump off Points

First contact as the Japanese advance is met by Allied small arms fire

In the early days of the Pacific War, light tanks versus no tanks could be a distinct advantage

A British 2 pounder AT gun deploys to counter the Japanese tanks and starts to attract a lot of return fire 

The Japanese mass, to turn the Allied flank, as their armour keeps things tied down in the centre

Napoleonic Peninsular War - Sharp Practice II (Bob, DWG)

I had the pleasure of playing in a warm up game at club, last month, with Bob's collection of 28mm Peninsular War Napoleonics and it was great to see the collection out on the table again.

Sharp Practice, as the name suggests, has its roots firmly established in the period and campaign and there is for me nothing quite like the splendour and colour of Napoleonic troops of this scale en masse with terrain to compliment.

Its a few days after the Battle of Salamanca and the French are in retreat, or are they?

Spanish irregular cavalry out on patrol

French light cavalry advancing, not retreating

The arrival of French troops causes British light troops to turn out and stand to.

More British light troops turn out in the village beyond the river as the bugles sound stand to.

The reason for the alarm soon becomes clear as French columns are seen approaching

Dismounted dragoons add to that Peninsular look

All out defence as the French approach the walls

French skirmishers pour on the fire as the columns close in

Keep Khan & Carry On (Colonial Afghanistan) - Chain of Command (Colin DWG)

Another club game that has been getting a warm up at recent club gatherings is Colin's variation on a theme, that he has developed a reputation for in the DWG, after his Eighty Years War collection for Sharp Practice was rolled out to everyone, with him deciding on another interestingly different theme for Chain of Command.

I have always thought the bitter colonial asymmetrical battles fought on the North West Frontier of India and Afghanistan between British Imperial troops and Afghan irregulars a rather tricky period to model, but I, and all those involved with Colin's game, confirmed that he had created a really immersive game using CoC, and his model terrain really captured the rocky peaks and gullies to allow for the ambush and ambuscade nature of the fighting.

I gather he and others on the Lardies Yahoo group have been discussing slight modifications to CoC that he used yesterday, designed to better model the mercurial nature of the morale and aggressiveness, particularly for the tribesmen, depending on how well the battle was going for them at the time.

Those that played it remarked how well that seemed to play and the extra uncertainty it seemed to create.

Gunga Din country captured in Colin's North West Frontier game for Chain of Command

Indian troops press forward into the rocky passes with groups covering the heights

Afghans wait in ambush 

Wait for the signal to open fire

Nice little touches to the Jump Off points help add to the whole effect

Mounted reserves held back in one of the passes get ready to deploy

American Civil War - Sharp Practice II (Nathan & Jason, DWG)

Jason and Nathan are stalwarts of the club when it comes to putting on a nice looking and well turned out game, almost at the drop of a hat, and it was great to see the ACW collection out on the table with some interesting additions in the form of a Union siege battery and signalling tower.

When I had another look at the game, later in proceedings, much fun was being had as a Confederate cavalry column, caught in the flank by some Union infantry at the road T-junction seen below, managed to turn the tables on the 'blue-bellies' driving them back up the road, slightly fewer than when they arrived.

Now those are what you call guns

"Left a bit, left a bit, to me, to you"

Rebs in the woods move in on an unsuspecting target, or is it?

Battle Royal as both forces enter the fight en masse

Victorious Confederate cavalry in control of the junction

Get Me to the Church On Time - Chain of Command (Jenny O. & Phil T.)

Jenny and Phil returned to Clotted Lard with a follow up to their magnificent France 1940 game that they ran last year with this equally stunning rendition of the 1944 action to secure the town of Saint Mere Eglise on D-Day.

Jenny has an undoubted skill in turning out a stunning table, that brought back memories of three summer holidays to the area staying just outside the town at Fauville.

The terrain was equally matched with a lovely collection of figures and the players were enjoying the struggle, that is, fighting among buildings and along narrow streets with CoC; something I experienced in our club game of Dad's Army last year battling through Warmington on Sea with Falschirmjager.

Now that is what you call a town

Parachute hanging from the belfry adds to the scene as the 82nd Airborne rapidly deploy

I loved the public urinal, very French

A nice little touch I noticed on my trip around town

This kind of modelling really helps to capture the proximity of street fighting, with roads covered by light machine-guns, it is wise to keep off the streets

The Germans try to infiltrate back into town

Lieutenant Colonel Vandervoot, or perhaps John Wayne, with broken ankle, oversees things, during the fighting to clear the town 

Hill 203 - I Aint Been Shot Mum (Ian, DWG)

Ian has been working hard in recent months to build up his collection of 15mm WWII Normandy figures and then decided he needed some bocage to go with them.

I get the feeling he is not up for building any more of the stuff, but his efforts bore fruit with his hedgerow-hell game seen yesterday.

I Aint Been Shot Mum is where Lardy Games began and the rules are great for recreating WWII battle at the company level and a set that gets a regular run out in the club.

In the bocage each field becomes a battle within a battle

Troops lining hedgerows provide a fire base for those crossing fields trying to find the flank

The German HQ set up in the village with a security section close by

The covering fire goes in as the flank advances

WWII Pacific Air - Bag The Hun (Geoff B.)

How cool is it to get to play a set of rules with the bloke that wrote them?

Geoff brought along his WWII Pacific collection of aircraft and a couple of floating targets as Japanese Navy Betty bombers attempted to come in low and fast to drop torpedoes on a US light carrier and its escort, with Zero and Wildcat fighters doing their best to interfere one way or another.

I have a large collection of Battle of Britain 1:300th models and this game had me thinking it was time they returned to the skies using Bag the Hun again, as I really enjoy the uncertainty in air-combat that they produce.

The lack of armour plating on most Japanese aircraft types of the period certainly seemed to be showing, as one group of Betty's were taking a bit of a pounding from the Wildcats, just as another group were swinging out to give them a better approach to drop their torpedoes towards the US ships.

Japanese bombers move in with their escorts as the wildcats attempt to intercept

A flight of Bettys with Zeros in close attendance

'Finger Fours' of Wildcats prepare to intercept

A pair of Wildcats dodge the escort and close in on the bombers

Japanese aircraft were not built to take punishment and self sealing tanks and armour were considered an unnecessary luxury. Still it looks as if the 'Thatch Weave' hasn't quite worked either!

A group of bombers swing off to get beam on to the US ships in preparation to drop their torpedoes

American War of Independence - Sharp Practice II (Jim I.)

I'm putting together my own collection of AWI figures for Sharp Practice at the moment so I'm always interested to see how others model the conflict using these rules and it was great to see Jim's collection of figures and terrain.

The AWI is a popular conflict to use Sharp Practice with and the rules are well suited to model the management of the many irregular units and the morale difficulties these types of units can quickly get themselves into that perhaps are less of a problem when playing with regular troop types.

The conflict also sees a lot of colour and variety of different troop types that makes it very attractive to model, with a lot of small actions well suited to 28mm and the size of game SPII was designed for.

On this side of the pond, these are the good-guys

A rabble of rebels attempt to disrupt the King's peace

Peace definitely broken as rebel militia let fly

"Shall we shoot the horse sir?"

Gaps have appeared in the ranks of the redcoats

Time to bring up the Loyalists

"I said don't shoot the bloody horse!!"

Casualties mounting among the regulars

So there we are for another year and another Clotted Lard meeting, with much fun had by all and every intention to regather for Clotted Lard in 2020.

The official 'Clotted Lard' logo adorns Bob's chit bag

Thank you to all involved for making the day and evenings the fun they were and for putting together some great games.

The club is due to have our Annual General Meeting at next month's gathering which will also see a review of the club accounts, by which time we will be able to confirm exactly what monies have been passed on to Combat Stress, but in the mean time thank you to everyone involved for the contributions made.