I've been away from blogging for a bit. Some of that is because I was away for my summer holiday (near Dufftown in Moray, the "whisky capital of the world"), but that's not all of it. The truth is that I just didn't feel like doing anything much. I'm sure this malaise will pass - it always has done so in the past - but for now I'm still not feeling very inspired.
Anyway, on with the show!
Claymore is one of Scotland's largest wargames shows, if not the biggest. It's not as large as the very biggest such events in the world (such as London's Salute), but Claymore is quite big enough for me. It has a good variety of games and traders - certainly enough to fill a one-day show. This year we concentrated a bit more on shopping rather than playing games, as you will see...
Game 1: Carry On up the Khyber
One of the things I remember from my childhood (some 40 years ago) was watching films in the Carry On... series. These were cheaply-made British comedies filled with slapstick and innuendo; some of them were very funny and others...less so. "Carry On up the Khyber" was one of the better movies, as I recall. It was set during the the British Raj and the events supposedly took place near the Khyber pass.
Anyway, my son A. and I joined two other players for this game. Each commanded a couple of bands of Burpa tribesmen, with the aim of sacking the British residency compound. A. also had the Burpa cavalry and the rebel leader (the Khazi of Kalabar), whilst I was in charge of the rebel's incompetent artillery piece & crew. The defenders (the 3rd Foot & Mouth Highlanders, led by the British district commissioner Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond) were played by the umpire.
The game was hosted by the excellent Leuchars Veterans; I'm always pleased to find space at one of their tables. They really know how to put on a short, pithy event with plenty of thrills and spills - at least such has been my experience.
So, what happened?
One of A's warbands fought its way into the compound, driving the defenders back in disarray. Just at that moment, Lady Ruff-Diamond's pet tiger escaped, causing confusion and forcing everyone nearby (attackers and defenders) to retreat. Bah!
Against the odds, my cannon eventually hit the residency's gate and demolished it. I think the gunners were as surprised as everyone else!
An elephant briefly chased one of my units, but despite this our tribesmen poured over the defenses. Indeed, we eliminated one unit of the Highlanders and had driven the last few stalwarts from the front door of the residency; all we needed was one more turn and we could have entered the building and captured it. At that moment, an event card revealed a "Call to Prayer: all Burpa units retreat 12 inches". Bah!!
We regrouped and threw everything forward once more, including the cavalry. However, the defenders managed to block our path (just!) and hold on until the relief column arrived. So, we lost the game - bah!!!
This was a fast and hectic game. I haven't mentioned many of the other things which occurred (the rum ration to the British troops, Private Widdle's "accident" [figure it out for yourselves!], the lifting of the kilts...) because they didn't do much to change the course of the game. They did however add a lot of flavour, especially for guys like me who can remember the original film. In summary: 40 minutes well spent!
After the Khyber game, A. and I wandered around for the rest of the morning. We picked up pre-orders, made unplanned purchases and looked at various demo games.
Once again, we bought tickets for the SSAFA (armed forces charity) tombola. I won nothing (as usual), but A. had 3 winning tickets out of 6. He's had this sort of luck before, yet I keep forgetting to get him to enter the lottery. On reflection, he's probably too young to be able to buy lottery tickets legally anyway.
Finally, we had an early picnic lunch in the venue's courtyard (the weather being very nice) before heading back inside.
Game 2: Raiders of the Last Crusade (?)
I forget the exact name used for this game at the show, but it's something like the above. Anyway, this was a 4-way event using the popular Lion Rampant rules and set in the Middle East during the Crusades. So far, so good.
What made this event particularly interesting, I think, was that it is one output of a collaboration between academics and wargamers. The academics are historians from the University of Edinburgh who are interested in new teaching methods & outreach programs, whilst the wargamers are represented by Supreme Littleness (a relatively small company, but one which produces some rather useful MDF kits) and others. Read about the full project here.
Anyway, back to the game. Byblos castle is owned by Lady Contarini (a Christian). Two Arab warbands descend upon the nearby village, intent on pillage and plunder. We (A. and I) controlled Aybeg's group. The other raiding band had a "B" name which I forgot, so let's call its leader Bashir for this report. A fourth side was provided by some Templars who were riding to the Lady's rescue.
Of course, there was friction between all of the 4 groups; each had its own set of objectives. For example, our leader Aybeg wanted to show that he was a better raider than his subordinate Bashir. The Templars were trying to put pressure on the Contarinis to hand over control of the castle ... and so on. This rivalry could even lead to fighting between forces which were nominally on the same side; anything was permitted!
Initially, Bashir's force engaged both the Templars and Lady Contarini's garrison. Although they had considerable success in these fights, they also took quite a few casualties. Aybeg was secretly quite pleased with this!
In such a confined space, action was thick and fast.
- Bashir's wild infantry destroyed all of the castle garrison who had sallied forth, but was much reduced in potency as a consequence of such severe fighting.
- Our (i.e. Aybeg's) infantry fought the Templar sergeants to mutual destruction.
- The Templar cavalry proved to be remarkably resilient. Although repeated attacks by the Muslim heavy cavalry had reduced the unit to just 2 figures, they just wouldn't give up and run away like normal people!
At the end of the game:
- Bashir's battered remnants fled with all the loot they could lay their hand upon (worth 5 points, as a shepherd was found to have an extra pouch of money hidden in his clothing!).
- The castle's archers finally made it to the bottom of the tower, but it was too late for them either to rescue any of the villagers or to avenge their Lady. 0 points.
- The Templar heavy cavalry made a decisive charge against Aybeg's nobles (helped by a disastrous decision of mine not to counter-charge - on the basis that the knights were too weak to achieve much). They drove the Muslims away from the young lad who had been in their clutches a moment before. Turns out that this little scamp was the nephew of Lady Contarini and it would be very useful for the Templars to hold him during their negotiations for purchase of the castle from the Contarini family. 4 points to them!
- Aybeg's untouched light cavalry swept through the village, gathering up all the remaining fleeing villagers for a total of 9 points and a clear victory. In your face, Bashir!
After this success, we wandered around for a bit longer. There were some other participation games which we might have played, but these were setups that we had seen at earlier shows. Although neither A. nor I would have minded having another go, there were plenty of other folks wanting to play them and we felt it best to let them have that experience instead of us.
There were 2 more participation games listed in the program that I was quite keen to try, but both locations just had empty tables. For whatever reason, they were "no show".
So, we left a little early and started the long journey back in the car, stopping only at a motorway service station near Stirling so that I could have some coffee. Otherwise this was an unremarkable drive and we arrived home in time for dinner.
No show report is ever complete without a picture of the acquisitions, right? Well, here's my haul:
From left to right, top to bottom:
- Brushes! I don't remember seeing a trader selling just brushes, palettes and related items before. They seemed to be doing a roaring trade, at least when we were there.
- Paints. More shades of grey and brown.
- A Dice Masters base set (D&D), from the Bring and Buy table.
- Some Copplestone spy/thriller miniatures. Mostly goons/thugs of various sorts.
- Lucid Eye cavemen and Neanderthals. More Paleo Diet games are on the horizon, I think!
- Varnish aerosol, always bought at shows to avoid expensive courier fees, since the regular parcel service won't carry spray cans any more.
- 2 books, one on Napoleonic Ottoman armies (a bit of a pipe dream of mine) and the other on painting Dark Age figures. Turns out that the latter isn't quite what I was after...
- A flock of sheep from 1st Corps, done as a single base. Should look really good!
- Some laser-cut crosses and crescents given as a prize for taking part in the "Raiders" game. Not sure what I'll do with these.
- Plastic Arab infantry, for my slow-burn Saracen army (for SAGA).
- Several Pulp/Lost Earth models from Antediluvian Miniatures, bought at a discount.
- A.'s tombola winnings: 2 x plastic spoon/fork/knife combos plus lanyards with "RAF" on them. Also a camouflage jacket! Not quite my type of fashion, but I think that A. now fancies himself as a sniper or a member of the SAS or something like that.
- [Not pictured: an order of 24 figures from Warlord Games which I hope to convert into something for my "Wicked Witch" Hordes of the Things army. Stay tuned...]
And so ends another show year for me. I've now got another 84 figures to paint (plus 1 flock of sheep), so I'd better get cracking! Might take a while...