Monday, 20 May 2019

Show Report; Partizan 2019

Unfortunately, due to illness, I missed this year’s Salute show. As compensation I decided to attend Partizan in Newark, a show I have never visited before. Elaine decided to come with me and have an extended w/e by exploring Newark itself, and visiting friends in Nottingham. We drove up on Saturday and wandered around the small, but interesting, town centre. We visited the English Civil War museum (which was OK) and castle area. In the late afternoon we discovered a boardgame cafe  (Letsxcape2together) and decided to spend a couple of hours playing games before finding a restaurant for dinner. The cafe has a reasonable range of games available and provided a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We spend much time chatting to the owner about games in general and wargaming activity in the area. I recommend others to call in if they are in Newark.

On the Sunday we went to the Partizan show at the Newark showground.  Parking was free and extensive, and the hall was large, well laid out, with good natural light and room to move around. As well as the usual traders, there were large numbers of well presented participation and demonstration games covering a wide range of genres and historical periods. It was interesting that Elaine came to the show because I could get an opinion of a non-wargaming participant rather than just seeing things with my own perspective. She was very impressed by the modelling skills presented, both in terms of the beauty of the figures and the scenic terrain they were situated on. She also praised the friendly enthusiasm of many organisers who were happy to discuss what they were doing to a complete novice like Elaine. I actually think she enjoyed the couple of hours she spent at the show, but not enough to take up the hobby!

There were many games that took my eye. WW2 was well represented (as usual) and the game that stood out for me was a ‘Malaya, 1942’ Chain of Command game by TooFatLardies – lovely! I was also most impressed by the GNW game by the Grimsby Wargamer Society. Other notable games included a Turk v Moldovan game; a large Indian Mutiny battle; a Boxer Rebellion skirmish game; a Napoleonic Egypt battle, plus some Sharp Practice skirmishes (sorry, I did not note who put these games on). Overall I think the standard of games was very high, far better than a lot of shows I have attended, where I think the quality levels have dropped recently. Interestingly, there was no ‘new’ wargame period, genre, rules or feature that stood out as the must see or must buy item. May be Partizan is too close to Salute for this to be the case? I did manage to get most of the paints, bases and figures that I wanted to buy plus, of course, a few unplanned purchases (e.g. orange trees for a small orchard). These will feature in future posts on this blog.

To conclude, I really enjoyed and was impressed by Partizan. I can see myself attending future Partizan shows (The Other Partizan in August?), and would recommend the show to wargamers wherever you are based in the UK.

Monday, 13 May 2019

AAR: Normans v Scots (Saga v2) 12May2019

In this SAGAv2 game I played a new opponent, Dan, who fielded a Dark Age Scots army. As I’ve never faced Scots before I was interested in what they would bring to the table. Interestingly, I have never played using my own Normans; in fact they have only got to the table once and then were used by my opponent. They were the last Dark Age SAGA force I painted, and this was as my interest in SAGAv1 faded. So, this would be a game played by novices, using unfamiliar forces. I should also thank Dave from the club for his help and advice to both of us during the game.

We played the vanilla ‘Clash of Warlords’ scenario and used a random, generic terrain set up (a few gentle hills and woods). Also for purely curiosity reasons, I decided to field my bow levy troops as 2 weak, 6-man units, rather than the normal 12-man unit. I had an 8-man unit of mounted knights and another 8-man mounted sergeants unit, plus an 8-man crossbow unit and 8-man spear unit. After a cursory reading of the Norman battle-board, I decided the best plan was to take some ranged pot-shots at any exposed Scots, before unleashing my mounted troops a.s.a.p. Nothing fancy here!

The first turn proceeded as expected, my left-hand levy’s using ‘volley’ fire to increase their range and killed a couple of Scots. I foolishly advanced my right-hand levy into some woods, and these were promptly attacked and thrown out by some Scots warriors. I was now concerned that these warriors were in a good position to continue their attack and hit my rather exposed crossbowmen.
Normans at the bottom (on a very sunny day)

Next turn I charged on some other Scots warriors with my mounted sergeants; the warriors closed ranks but were narrowly beaten back. Dan then moved his woodland warriors back to threaten the rear of the mounted sergeants, who looked doomed (but, my crossbows breathed a sigh of relief!). Next turn I went ‘all-in’ charging with the mounted sergeants (again) and my knights on the other flank. I boosted the Sergeants as much as possible and again gained a narrow win. Now it was the turn of my strong unit of knights and I soon discovered the power of the Scots. I had no extra modifiers to my basic 16d6 allocation, but Dan played ‘Long Spears’ converting 4 attack dice to defence dice, and then ‘Counter-Attack’ which gained him 8 additional attack dice! I received 6 hits and save none! My glorious knights had been mauled by some measly Scots with spears!
Norman left flank, where the levy not only survived but actually did some damage.

For the following couple of turns I could not throw a single ‘flag’ symbol, and the remaining dice were either all ‘helmets’ or all ‘shields’ (bizarre). My mounted sergeants made a valiant effort to try and killed the Scots warlord, but failed and were wiped out. My 2 remaining knights tried to KO a 3-man unit of Scots levy, and failed also.
The Norman crossbows about to get their prime target, the mounted Scots warlord.

In the final turns I did manage to clear the Scots levy and this opened a path for my crossbowmen to fire on the Scots warlord himself. I used the ‘Wounded’ ability to gain 2 auto-hits and diced for 1 more. The warlord failed to save any of the 3 hits, and perished. This seemed to anger his mounted Thanes, who moved from behind some woods and charged my crossbows. My Normans survived and shot the last Scots Thane next turn.

The game ended and we tallied the ‘massacre’ points. The Normans won by 23 v 15. This was a really enjoyable game and the margin was larger than I expected (I thought the loss of those 6 knights would have hurt more). The Norman strategy basically focussed on their mounted attacks, but it was the crossbowmen who really won the game. I think the Scots missed a trick by turning back with the warriors in the woods. Dan really used his battleboard well; the ‘No Respite’ ability is really annoying to the opponent, as is ‘Reach’ whereby suddenly most Scots become armed with javelins! The Normans are a powerful, if one dimensional, force and if (!) you roll ‘flags’ then I think they can be a tough nut to crack. As a final note, I fielded my Norman warlord on foot, not mounted, because I wanted to a play a SAGA game where my leader survives for once.