Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Cancon 2015

Cancon is the largest wargaming event in Australia and is held over three days (the Australia Day Long Weekend) in Canberra, the national capital of Australia and perhaps the epicenter of Australian wargaming.

To attend, I drove in excess of 2,400 kilometres, round trip, in a borrowed motor vehicle and paid for my accommodation over three nights.  It’s a commitment I make to a hobby I enjoy.

Unfortunately, the organisation of such an important event is deficient and gives the distinct impression of being quite laid back and perhaps typifies the well known Australian mantra of ‘she’ll be right!’

Without being overly critical, my experience was:

(a)       The canteen provided a wide range of food, both healthy and non healthy options with hot and cold drinks, but it must be said at an excessive price, for example, $A6.50 for a egg and bacon roll comprising a hamburger bun, one fried egg, barbecue sauce and two rashers of bacon.   Due to the location of the event, there really isn’t an alternative for gamers on low incomes/families, who have travelled to attend the event,

(b)       The gaming tables, used by the DBA competition were crammed into an inadequate space.  A walk around the other games being played in the same hall, found this to be quite common but not consistently applied. By cramming competitors together, not only does it make for an uncomfortable experience in quite hot weather, but it also prevents spectators from viewing the games in progress, thereby preventing the promotion of DBA to a wider audience, 

(c)       Absence of a guide/map/layout of where different events were located, and

(d)       By Sunday, hordes of flies had descended into the interior of the venue, without apparent cause, speculation abounded!

I might merit the tag of ‘grumpy old man’ from these comments, but competitors pay a relatively high entry fee and the basics are not being addressed.  For a start, why not charge an entry fee for non players, as is common in the UK?  This could be as simple as a gold coin donation and instead of guys standing around in the air conditioning with wearing fluro vests, have them operate entry desks collecting the money and providing material explaining where events could be found, and background to the various games.  

The Cancon organisers were charging a $A1 for a promotional die, something which is given to competitors at MOAB, just seems ill directed.

Wargaming incorporates an eclectic mix of various, and often differing sub genres such as role play, which can be broken down into fantasy, sci fi and steampunk devotees, boardgames, card games, fantasy and historical themed miniature gaming systems, or even combinations of these groupings.  All of these were represented at Cancon, and makes the event more entertaining for families, as its not just guys playing games with toy soldiers.

Given the volume and diversity of people who are attracted to wargaming this event makes for some entertaining moments.  I especially enjoyed watching an attractive young lady, dressed as a steampunk character, complete with a brown leather jacket, googles, knee length lace up boots and armed with a rifle based firearm patrolling the hall on a regular basis   She was working on a trade stand and had really made an effort to look the part and provide some entertainment.  Well done that lady!

As I have done for the last four years, I competed in the two day DBA competition organized, to a high standard, by the affable Greg Kelleher.

I am very appreciative of the time Greg dedicates to ensure this competition is an enjoyable experience for all competitors, no matter their age or level of experience.  Similarly, the work of Mark Baker and David Lawrence should also be commended.  Both were playing, but took the time to assist Greg compile the scores for each round and develop the draws.     

I have always strived to run new armies at DBA events, hence armies that are unknown to me, before I start playing against my first opponent.  This has, no doubt, contributed to my continual poor showing in these competitions, but at least, I have seen the number of completed armies in my collection increase.

This year was unique as it may be the last year DBA 2.2 is played.  At the dinner, held on Saturday evening, there was some spirited debate, fuelled by good Turkish fare and red wine at Mecca Bah, as to the future of DBA in Australia, with the South Australia contingent championing DBA 2.2+ over the mixed reactions of other attendees.

As I have not read DBA 3, on that basis, I’m unwilling to comment on my preference at this point, but I am keen to see consistency applied across Australia be that DBA 2.2, 2.2+ or 3.

Turning to the games, on Saturday, I elected to run a New Kingdom Egyptian army (I/22a).  This is strictly not a new army as I purchased some of the elements on eBay and one or two from Peter Callan prior to 2007.  I regard it as ‘new’ because this was the first time these elements were run as one army on newly flocked and painted bases.  I am really pleased at how the bases came up, largely due to my use of tufts supplied by Barry Scarlet.

For the Sunday rounds, I decided upon an Ayyubid Eypgtian army (IV/20).  This army matches some elements from an eBay purchase, perhaps my first and date from 2006, with more recent purchases, made around 2008 from the same source.

Essentially, both armies are cavalry heavy, supported by a variety of differing types of infantry and light horse elements.  Neither are competitive armies in an open tournament so I was pleased with my result.  It might not be evident on the score sheet, but I found I was more competitive overall, having a battle plan for each game, being aware of the match up of elements and looking to use PIPs to set up future moves.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Marcus Tregenza for providing me with some of his insight into the nuances of DBA!

I ended day one with my NKE, winning two games out of six.  Interestingly, my first game was a win over David Lawrence, who I regard as a very experienced and competent player, who I always enjoy gaming against.  I must concede that my opponent bravely, or audaciously, run an Early Libyan (DBA 1/07b) army so was at a disadvantage from the start.

Taking another cavalry heavy army on the Sunday I went up against several knight heavy armies, which produced some interesting match ups, and resulted in me taking three wins from six games, including a victory over a father and then the son!

Unfortunately, my final game was a walk over for Peter Braham.  I just didn’t have anything to take on the two knight blocks and two war wagons of his Later Hungarian (DBA IV/43c).

Saturday’s winner was Stephen Hopkins, who went through the day without loss.  Thankfully, I avoided falling victim to his Persians (DBA II/07) by not being drawn against him.  I have known Steve for at least ten years, having worked together at one point.  He is a great competitor.

The winner of Sunday and overall winner was Peter Braham, a NSW barrister.  Peter should be commended for his efforts promoting DBA his sons are all excellent players as are some his family's friends.   He is always a strong competitor and like all of my opponents, over the two days, played within the spirit of the game.  

A special mention must go to Marcus Tregenza, or the newly titled ‘Monsieur Fromage’ for fielding a Tamil Indian army (DBA II/42b) on Saturday and David Lawrence who run a Hindu Indian army (III/10c) on Sunday.  Both armies comprised three elephants out of the twelve elements – cheesy!

I forgot to mention that I finally tracked down the figures I need to complete two more armies for only $A15.  I have been tracking down these Outpost Miniatures for a very long time!  I will now be able to field: Burmese (DBA III/9) three elephants and Khmer and Cham (DBA III/23) two elephants, but the optional artillery piece is mounted on an elephant and no its not cheesy if I do it!

I sponsored the 2014 – 2015 Magister Militum per Capitoline Territorialis, following the withdrawal Nic Robson, of Eureka Miniatures.

I put together an unique trophy for the winner, painting a 40mm Viking miniature, sculpted by the talented Mike Broadbent. I was privileged to have been gifted this figure by Mike, about 2006 and to my knowledge, it never went into production so is a one off!  Or, so I thought until I spent some time examining Nic's catalogue for an unrelated task.  There is was and I found that it should come with a shield.  I'll get a spare shield off Nic, paint it and send it to Mark.

The winner of this trophy is the consistent Mark Baker.  It should be pointed out that Mark also came overall second in the tournament, Peter beating him only on a count back.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The end of 2014!

This concludes my first year writing a blog.  It has been an interesting year for me, both in terms of gaming and in the real World.  There have been a few changes and the usual ‘roller-coaster’ ride of triumphs, interspersed with, alas failures.

As always, this hobby has afforded me the opportunity to meet new gamers and to continue my acquaintanceship with other like minded people, whom I have known, in some cases, for over twenty years.  It’s this fellowship that keeps me coming back to events like Cancon and MOAB and promote innovative concepts the Good, Bad and Ugly tournament.

Overall, I am glad I commenced this blog and will continue it during the coming year.  It has not attracted a lot of views, but for me, that its the point.  I started to enable me to focus on my hobby and to assist me to reduce my lead mountain of unpainted miniatures.  Perhaps, on occasion it’s afforded me a medium to share the occasional insight with my reader, commend a trader who have provided excellent service, like Nic at Eureka Miniatures, John at War and Peaces Games, or Shayne at Campaign Books and Games Logistics. 

In terms of this blog, I was disappointed with my efforts: there was a hiatus of six months without a posting, many projects, heralded here, were commenced yet remain incomplete, while other more recent projects received attention in preference.  I clearly suffered from the classic gamer's ‘bright shiny object’ syndrome.  I will need to address this next year.

Again on the positive side, I am pleased I’m back painting after a far to long a break (ie over seven years).  Two factors have brought about this change:

(a)       I now know I cannot operate with lots of projects on the go.  I fare better if I have one or two projects actually on the painting desk at any one time.  The remaining projects need to be placed away, and 

(b)      Having a dedicated painting desk, for the first time in my Life does assist me to get some time in when I can, as there isn’t the need to set up and pack away each time I want to do something.

Finally, I feel more competitive playing DBA/HOTT than over the preceding two years.  I now afford my opponents a hard fought game, before they beat me, rather than just disappearing in a red mist before their armies.

I wish all, who may fall upon this blog, a safe and productive New Year.  One that they would wish for themselves!

I'm not Irish, but it seems the Irish have the best toasts, the sentiment expressed, quite simply conveys how I feel:

            My Friends are the best friends
            Loyal, willing and able
            Now let’s get to drinking!
            All glasses off the table!

            “Slante go saol agat!”
            Health for life to you!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Just a brief post to wish my reader the very best of Christmas!  Here's hoping whoever has given you exactly what you wanted!

I'll be posting, before the New Year, a review of the year passed in wargaming, my first year writing a blog.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Its been six months since my last post

It is almost a confession to my reader who might like to be brought up to date as to what has been occurring for me in wargaming.

I attended Little Wars in Adelaide as planned and experienced a great weekend.  I really enjoyed catching up with old friends like Nic Robson from Eureka Miniatures and making new ones.  The hospitality provided to me by Marcus Tregenza and his fellow members of Group North, was first class!

Over July to September, the real World intervened resulting in me becoming a nationally accredited mediator.

During this period, I also had to prepare for my participation at MOAB in Sydney over the October long weekend.  This required the basing of three 15mm and two 28mm armies – fives armies, madness! 

To accommodate the transportation of these armies, I decided to drive to the event, especially as I had just spent over $2,000 to have the clutch in my car replaced!  I faced the drive with some trepidation, but the car performed really well and though tiring – 13 hours driving to get to the motel at Miranda late on Friday evening and then 12 hours return drive on the following Tuesday, the long weekend was enjoyable.

I elected to play in the two day DBA competition professionally organized by Stephen Webb.  The first day, the games are based around a map campaign, its theme changes each year.  This year was a Successor Campaign, set between 320 and 315BC. 

I fielded the army, commanded by Antigonos (DBA Bk II/16(a)).  I experienced my usual poor dice rolling, particularly in critical rounds of combat.  It is difficult not to become disheartened when rounding two six to ones in the same round of combat!

At the conclusion of the campaign, I had managed to loss six games out six.  My country had been invaded and conquered several times over.  The winner of the campaign was Adrian Williams.

My spirits rallied that evening, when I gathered with Greg, Mark, Phil and David to consume a carnivore’s delight, washed down with a very nice red at the Gymea Tradies’, great venue, excellent company couldn’t ask for better.

The next day saw another six games of DBA contested, this time it was to be historical matched pairs.  I fielded Feudal French (DBA Bk IV/4(b)) and Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (DBA Bk III/33).  Unfortunately, after six games, I ended with one draw, one win and four losses.  So, it was another trip to the Tradies to drown my sorrows with Greg and Mark.  We also watched the NRL Grand Final, though I still can’t work out why people like the game, its not like its rugby!

On Monday, I competed in the HOTT event organized by Victor Jamusz.  It was to be my first games of HOTT.  I had previously liaised with Victor and Terry Webb, in the US, for this event to be also the first leg of the internationally contested Good, Bad and Ugly tournament (‘GBnU’).  Thanks again Victor, for allowing this to occur!

Though there was a smaller than expected turn out, I enjoyed the experience greatly.  I particularly liked finally meeting Alan Saunders in person.  I have enjoyed his blog for quite some time.

As for my gaming, suffice to say, it was a marginally better day with the dice.

The GBnU requires some explanation.  It is an annual event, run over a number of legs, where competitors play in local competitions, but the final results are combined, with the outcomes of other legs, to produce an overall winner, and other place getters.  So, this year, the first leg was played in Australia, followed in no particular order by other legs played in Glasgow, Coventry in the UK and several US sites such as Nashville and Austin.  Terry did an excellently job in developing this concept, well done that man!

The theme for GBnU this year was Childrens’ books and movies.

The following are some photos of the event.  I must state that these are perhaps the worse photographs I have taken with my camera.  I can only blame operator error!
The competitors: Rear rank: Greg Kelleher and myself, Front rank: Victor Jamusz, Alan Suanders, Michael Chellew and Martin Stewart

The first round, I went up against Greg’s Saxon armies, so a battle of shield walls was contested.  Greg’s armies were based upon the books written by Bernard Cornwall.  I quickly lost my warlord and it went down hill from there.

Whilst this game was in progress, on the next table Alan and Victor were battling it out on Mars, using Alan’s imaginative armies, based upon the John Carter/ Baroom novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

I must say I liked Alan’s creative terrain and seventies style tie dye terrain surface!

On the third table, Martin’s Napoleonic French and English, which he painted when he was eleven, were fighting it out!

I’m continually amazed at the imagination and creativeness that gamers bring to HOTT!

Round 2 and I went up against Victor, using my Clan War based fantasy samurai, the Mantis Clan under Yamamoto against the Ratlings or Nezumi under Tchickchuk of the Tattered Ear pack.  A close loss with me losing Tchickchuk.

The sharp of eye will note that the basing task I set myself was not meet, but at least they are fully painted figures.

Whilst this was going on, Michael fielded his Daliks against Greg, who used Michael’s Teddy Bear Pirates!  The pirates are manufactured by Eureka Miniatures.

Round 3 and I was up against Martin and pulled out a rare win in the virtual last throw of the dice, Wellington had fallen!

Round 4 and I was up against a very experienced player in Alan.  An interesting game that though I lost I felt like I had learnt a lot about HOTT!

During this game, on another table Victor fielded his Orcs.

All in all, an entertaining day of pushing lead!

Since MOAB, I have been again busy with real world activities, but I have managed to get myself some great gaming mats manufactured by the US based Cigar Box games, through its excellent Australian supplier, Campaign Books and Games Logistics.  Shayne is a great person to do business with, I can't commend his service any higher!

In other posts, I’ll be setting out my purchases for the year and the status of the projects I have engaged in over the last twelve months.  I have achieved mixed results, but after my first year of this blog, I’m still gaming, and I’m back painting again and enjoying it!