Saturday, 13 August 2022

Claymore 2022: Good enough!

 Introduction

There haven't been many wargame shows over the last 3 years.  Here in Scotland, they have been slow to restart, with Carronade (Falkirk) as the only major show to happen in 2021.  This year (2022), it looks as if Claymore (Edinburgh) will be the only big show.  Oh, well - better one show than none at all.

This post is about our experiences at Claymore 2022.  It's a very personal account and as such is a record of our experiences and activities.  If you were expecting a full description of the entire show then you might be disappointed.

Travel

As usual, we had to drive some 2 hours to reach the venue.  It's not a good location for public transport, especially if one is starting from outside Edinburgh itself.  We (well, I - as the driver) did get slightly lost in north-east Edinburgh on the final approach, but this was soon corrected and only cost us a few minutes.  My excuse is that it has been several years since my last visit to Claymore and I had forgotten one of the last turns.  Oh, well - no great damage.

One difference from before was that this time we had a party of three: myself, my son A. and a friend N. from the Helensburgh games club (HAHA).

Game 1: Tank Golf!

Before we had even finished an initial tour of all the halls in which the show was taking place, we were grabbed by a group who invited us to play a quick & simple game of tank golf (?!).

The serious part of this is that during the Japanese invasion of Singapore (in World War 2), some of the fighting took place on & around a (British) golf course.  Our hosts had a wealth of information on the area.  This included pointing out which areas had now been redeveloped as a highway, where undisturbed graves were thought to be located and so on.  All very serious stuff.

Then the game: each of us was given command of a Japanese tank.  The object was to drive it from the tee to the green within the fewest possible moves.  Apparently, this hole was a par 5, so anything under 5 moves would earn bonus points.

Oh, while we were doing this, we could shoot at entrenched British infantry - and they might shoot back with Boyes anti-tank rifles and a 2pdr anti-tank gun.


4 tanks lined up, ready to start (as there were 3 of us, one vehicle wasn't used).  I had the one on the extreme left, with the white dice)

After 4 turns, I made it to the flag.  Since this was one under par, I scored a birdie.  Also, I managed to shoot one of the ATRs, scoring a bonus point.

This was a quick and simple game with a very engaged set of hosts.  The only think I would say against it is that the movement was completely random; as players we didn't really have any decisions to make (well, we chose which target to try to shoot - but that was almost irrelevant in determining the overall outcome).  It would have been nice if we could have chosen which gear to use, or the direction to head, or even whether to observe from the hatch or button up.  I think the organisers missed a trick here, though it was still a fun little diversion.

Game 2: Test of Resolve

Just before lunch (and the timing might just have affected my son's concentration 😄), we joined in another game.  This was set during the Wars of the Roses and played with the Test of Resolve rules (under development?  Already published?  I'm not clear on this).  Again, the organisers were very keen and incredibly thorough on their topic.

So, we played an ambush.  My son and a stranger took a column of evil Yorkist loyalists who were advancing along a road.  N. and I took 2 commands of noble Lancastrian rebels who were hiding in the nearby woods in ambush.


My Lancastrians waiting to ambush from the woods at the bottom.  Unwary Yorkists keep to the road.


The trap is sprung a bit too early, as the Yorkist scouts see me waiting.


Battle is joined!  Initially, damage seems light, but entire commands can disintegrate very suddenly.  This happened to the other part of the Lancastrian command as it charged from the far wood - though at least they did take some of the enemy with them.


Feeling somewhat desperate, with slightly inferior troops and outnumbered by about 3:2, I staked everything on a swift charge.  Miraculously, I crashed through and scattered my son's advancing Yorkists with minimal damage to myself.  That left just one enemy battle to go.  They put up a stiffer fight, but my remaining troops finally managed to rout them and the field was ours!

I feel a bit conflicted by this game:

  • On the one hand, I wanted to like it.  If nothing else, the enthusiasm and background knowledge of the presenters requires some form of reward.
  • On the other hand, the movement abilities of the troops seemed a bit stilted, morale seemed to be accounted for twice (once by individual unit status and again by a pile of tokens for each command) and the combat results seemed very unpredictable (anything from no real effect to complete disintegration - situation and troop quality seemed to play only a very minor part).
My experience was only very brief, of course - and late medieval civil war is not really one of my main  interests.  I'd suggest that anyone with a real desire to play games in this period should find out more and make up their own minds.


Eye Candy

There were some very pretty display games at the show.  This one particularly caught my eye: it's a samurai-era naval battle:

I believe that all the ship models are made by Scheltrum, though I could have misheard that.


Here's a random picture of the Sports Hall (i.e the smaller-sized part of the venue).  The larger part of the show was in the entrance hall - but I didn't take pictures of that.  The layout in both is the same: games in the middle and traders around all the sides.

Game 3: Imjin River

Once again, we found a game with a very knowledgeable and dedicated host (there seems to be a pattern here!  Although I find it odd that this state of affairs should remarkable; engaged & competent game organisers ought to be the normal state of affairs at shows).

Our final game was a recreation of the battle of Imjin River, from the Korean war.  So, Chinese hordes are sweeping over the border and are only 20 miles from Seoul.  Can the vastly-outnumbered U.N. forces (in the shape of the British Gloucestershire regiment) delay them enough for a proper defense to be organised?

This game was notable for at least two things:

  1. The terrain was superb!  The boards were topographically accurate, having been built from maps of the actual location.  I was even told that the vertical scale was correctly proportioned - this land is really rugged.
  2. The game wasn't reset for each group of players.  Rather, we picked up the situation from where it had been left by earlier players.  I was told that our finishing situation would be recorded and set up as the start point for the next show which the game would visit (Partizan?  I probably didn't remember this correctly).  The entire battle would thus play out over several sessions throughout the show season.
So, the U.N. forces have a lot of firepower (artillery and aircraft), but the Chinese have stupendous numbers of troops...


At the time we picked up the game, the Gloucesters had just received orders to pull back several of their battered companies (which had weathered intense attacks all through the previous night).


It was really scary leaving our tranches on the previous hill tops in order to run across the plains back to our supports.  Each red disk is a Chinese battalion (or regiment or something like that).  Our pale blue disks are companies.


Air power and superior command & control are great!  We didn't lose any of our units at all (though 'A' company in particular was roughly handled and had very few stands left by the end).  Note that another Chinese army is now crossing the river and heading towards the U.N. positions.

So, this was a very intense game.  From the U.N. perspective, the communist attacks felt completely relentless.  Even when we wiped out a Chinese unit there would always be another one along soon after.  I imagine that N. (who took the Chinese) must have felt frustrated, as almost all his strongest attacks melted away under the withering U.N. firepower.  But when a communist attack did make it through, when the artillery & aircraft were occupied elsewhere and the Gloucesters were in open ground, significant damage was caused.

I don't know what rules were used - whether they were commercial or home brew.  However, we all picked up the important points very quickly and they seemed to give realistic results.

The only criticism I would raise is that there were a lot of small markers for various levels of damage, ambush status and the like.  These didn't always stay with the correct stand of figures, especially when models were balanced on steep hillsides.  A better solution would have been to integrate the markers more closely with the stands, either by swapping out models for "damaged" ones, or by giving each stand magnetised markers, posts for "damage rings" or some other mechanism for recording status.

Overall, this was a very impressive and enjoyable game, about a significant historical event.


Conclusion

This last game took us up to departure time.  I haven't mentioned our wanderings around the trade stands (there was plenty of that), or a couple of visits to the Bring-and-Buy room (the first time it was absolutely mobbed; later on not quite so busy).

Travel home was easy enough, taking almost exactly 2 hours of driving.  At least we had plenty to talk about!  Overall, it was a good show for me.  One good game, two acceptable ones and a certain amount of talk and shopping.

Ah, yes - the loot:

So, in no particular order:

  • Some new sets of rules.  Not that I really intend to play them, but just because I'm curious.
  • A box of Living Dead Peasants.  These are probably destined to become Mindless in my Viking-themed undead army for SAGA: Age of Magic.
  • Matt varnish.  I use a fair amount of this stuff and courier deliveries suck, so I try to buy it in person at any shows I visit.
  • More Perry Samurai.  Although technically these are peasants, probably destined to join my scruffy force of bandits.
  • More prehistoric goodness from Stone Axe Miniatures, as supplied by Iron Gate Scenery.  This time I have a Megaloceros family (giant Irish Elk) and some goats (generic small grazers).
  • Finally, a Club biscuit - my prize for winning the Tank Golf game.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good day out to me.

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    1. Thanks, Michael! Yes, we enjoyed the day very much.

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  2. Looks and sounds a great show.

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    1. Thanks, Ray. It's always good to get out of the house; I had no regrets about this one.

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  3. And a good time was had by all too, by the sound of it. Interesting range of 'loot', no doubt all just essential items!

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    1. Again, thanks. I think I'm being a bit more selective about my purchases these days, just buying the essentials :-) .

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  4. Thanks for your honest review of Test of Resolve

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    1. Well, it wasn't really a review - just some first impressions. Thanks for putting on the game; I did enjoy it (perhaps at least in part because I was the last man standing :-) )

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  5. Yes a good day out...but I agree that the bring and buy should've been twice that size...!

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  6. You had me at "Tank Golf" ... how fun this day must have been :)

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