Misc., Wargame Shows, Musselburgh
This Saturday was Deep Fried Lard Day. Once a year, a couple of dozen wargamers get together in Musselburgh, a rather shabby coastal suburb of Edinburgh, and play games produced by The two Fat Lardies. The whole thing is organised by Derek Hodge of the Edinburgh club, and its guest of honour is always Richard Clark – Mister Lard himself. It’s held in Musselburgh Rugby Club, which of course has a bar attached to the main hall.So, this is a weekend where beer and wargaming are in perfect symbiosis. In fact the weekend started on Friday night with a session in a Musselburgh pub, and after the wargame day another extensive pub visit was followed by more beer and a curry at a local Indian restaurant. What’s not to like? The thing about this wargaming day is that all the games laid on by gamers are full participation ones – you get a go at playing what you like. As the Lardies produce rules covering just about every period, then there’s something for everyone. Our own humble effort was our “Muddy CoC” World War 1 game, using a version of the Lardy’s Chain of Command (or CoC) rules. That said, what I noticed this year was there was less of a spread of games using different rules sets. Instead, the majority were either Sharp Practice games, or variants of Chain of Command . That, of course, is no bad thing – these are both excellent rules, and that explains their popularity. Besides, while Chain of Command is really a World War 2 set, the games laid on were set in historical periods spanning half a century, from 1918 to 1968.You get to play two games – one in the morning, one in the afternoon – so you have a tough choice to make – which of the many games do you pick? So, what was on offer? The game above was a great-looking CoC game set in Vietnam. You can just see the American patrol crossing the paddy field – and about to walk into a world of hurt. Down below is a World War 2 one, involving a German glider attack on Tito’s partisan headquarters, sites in a small Yugoslavian village. While the terrain wasn’t as pretty as some of the games on offer the figures looked great, and players all seemed to enjoy it. Next up was a Sharp Practice game laid on by Richard himself. It was set in the Spanish Peninsular, and involved a British attack on the French, supported by some mean-looking guerrillas.This was a very popular game, a fact aided by the presence of Richard, who wrote the rules, and so was right there to answer any queries. What I liked here was the attention to detail with the scenery – the table was scattered with lovely little scenic features, like the fountain and pile of olive jars seen below. Next top it was a What a Tanker game, a tank duel game which seems to have been inspired by that recent game which appeared on the wargame circuit, and probably by the film Fury. In this one British and German tanks slogged it out somewhere in North-Western France. This is a fairly tongue-in-cheek game, and judging by the noise from that corner everyone was having a blast. Next to it was a Napoleonic game featuring the newly-published rules set General d’Armee. Now, I’ve heard some really good thing about the rules – a rejigging of the old faithful General de Brigade (still my favourite Napoleonic rules set). Would these live up to the favourable comments? In fact I made this my afternoon game of choice, so I won’t say anything else here – instead the game report (Musselberg, 1809) will appear as its own game report. This of course meant that I had to miss out on a couple of really spectacular afternoon games. First, Richard’s Spanish Peninsular one had been packed away, and replaced by another Peninsular offering, this time involving a spectacular Roman bridge. it and the rest of the terrain were built by the superbly talented Michael Scott of Supreme Littleness Design. We know Michael as a master of MDF, and his buildings and custom bases are really great. This though, really took my breath away.His arched Roman bridge spanned a river (I think it might have been the Coa), and the French had to cross it and take the village beyond. The village was supplied by Richard, but the terrain was all beautiful stuff, and built by Master-Builder Scott. Naturally, this attracted wargamers like flies around a honey pot, and the game must have been a real pleasure to play, given the quality of the battlefield. As with the other Spanish game, this was fought out using Sharp Practice. Finally, the was another CoC game, this time set in Aden, at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, c.1966-67. This is the first time I’ve seen the Aden Emergency on the wargame table, and it really looked great fun, what with British regulars, Arab irregulars, armoured cars and a sprawling Arabian village to fight over. I’m not sure how the game panned out – I had to leave before it finished – but everyone seemed to enjoy gaming this unusual period. When I worked at the tower of London I sometimes drank in the Yeoman Warder’s Mess. They’re all ex-British army senior NCO’s, and over a beer or a whisky they’d sometimes regale you with war stories from this period – Aden, Borneo etc., and so I’ve always been interested in it. For me though, the highlight wasn’t the table itself, or the figures – it was the Alvis Saladin. Now, ever since I built a 1/35 scale model of one as a kid I’ve loved Saladins – arguably the coolest-looking armoured car the British ever produced. Its wheel width was supposedly designed to fit between the average distance between rubber trees – a hangover from the Malayan Confrontation – and it was fast. I know – I once had a joy ride in one, courtesy of the army. It sported a powerful-enough 76mm gun, and was a stable of the British army throughout the 60’s. I used to have one for my 1960’s Borneo Confrontation games, but I sold off the army a few years back. This puppy makes me want to revisit the period, just so I can buy another Saladin model!