Sunday, 11 September 2016

Colours 2016 - Newbury & Reading Wargames Society

An Airaco DH2 Scout takes a pass over British forces in Iraq - 'Caught at Kut ' display game
My usual routine on the second Saturday of the month would be to be spending time at the Devon Wargames Group, but the club decided to change that timetable for this month only because the day clashed with the holding of the annual show at Colours at Newbury Race Course organised by the Newbury and Reading Wargames Society.

Many of the club members like to attend this show so our club meeting changed to last Saturday, whilst I was travelling back from France, and I, in the company of Vince, met up with Mr Steve and Steve H at the show.

Most of us including myself have been going to Colours for many years now, going back to the good old days in the 80's when it was called Armageddon and held at the Hexagon in Reading and we had to pass through a skirmish screen of peace campaigners and nuclear disarmament supporters who seemed to think that wargaming and warmonger went along hand in hand, ah how we laughed!! We were all disappointed when the organisers called the show off a couple of years ago, and like many, welcomed the resurrection last year.

The show has now found a great home at Newbury Race Course which, unlike some of the larger shows in the south of England, is a delight to travel to, conveniently found just of the M4 motorway with bag-loads of free parking and airy well lit public areas in the main grandstand where the show is held.

We left Exeter at 08.30 and got to the show for 11.15 and would have been their earlier had it not been for the fact that recent developments at the Race Course has led to different entrances being signed up in Newbury town centre which caused us to approach the wrong entrance at the otherside of the course.

The picture below gives an idea of the scene of happy wargamers chatting and mingling among the trade stands when we got there mid morning.

The weather for the day was perfect for wargaming, namely wet drizzle that kept the punters well under the Grand Stand roof whilst stepping outside for a coffee and some brunch.

I spent the morning wondering around the trade stands trying to convince myself that I didn't need anything and thinking about paying for the new fitted bathroom Carolyn has initiated for this autumn and my efforts at self control are on display at the conclusion of this post.

Needless to say followers of JJ's Wargames expect these posts to look at the wargames and so not to disappoint I had the camera in hand in the afternoon following a post lunch drink at the pub to capture what I thought were some of the best of show games and displays.

When I started to put this post together I realised that the majority of games I had been drawn to were in periods I very rarely game or take an interest in so it just goes to show great looking well presented games attract all of us despite our latent interests.

So first up was this very nice display game showing off the rule set 'Crush the Kaiser', in this case illustrating their set for playing the Mexican Revolution 1910-20 and those 'what if' games based on US reaction to the British leaked "Zimmerman Telegram"

The rules are loosely based on the Rapid Fire scale of games that inspired them but are quite distinctive in their WWI modelling and period feel.

US-Mexican action in this 'Crush the Kaiser' display game

The great thing about seeing rule set display games is you get to feel the design intentions in the rules by the look of the games they create and I really liked this set and would be interested in playing them despite as I say not being an aficionado of the period.

The WWI theme continued with the lovely Wings of War display by the chaps from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome who I have featured before on my trips up to Attack at Devizes.

These chaps do this period and game a great advert by showing off the models they create to capture the look of the various Jastas and Squadrons that fought on the Western Front, set against lovely displays games with models and markers that really set off the basic game that any body can pick up from a wargames retailer.

The display of game items shows how easy it is for new players to get into this period in the hobby
The Aerodrome chaps take much time in getting the detail of the markings of the various squadrons just right - love it!
You can almost hear the buzzing of engines and tap tap tap of aerial machine-gun fire against the sound of distant artillery

I really like the way the cloud cover and crashed machines are represented over these beautiful gaming mats, simple but very effective.

The last but by no means least of the WWI themed games was this fantastic looking game entitled "Caught at Kut"by Adrian Shepherd and Friends that provided the header to this post.

I love games that show a passion for the period they represent by great modelling and attention to detail and the British campaign in Iraq in WWI is little represented so this was a particularly attractive change to what you normally see at shows.

How about that for a great looking table - well done chaps
Camel troops held in reserve against headlines from the period
Logistics and supplies were key in this campaign, beautifully captured in this behind the lines scene
The RAF had company during this battle
These rear area models really add the finishing touch to this size of game and reminds me of a few models I need to create for our Talavera extravaganza.
Waves of infantry WWI style
Next up and a move on from WWI to the prelude to WWII namely this lovely Russo-Finnish Winter-War game presented by Martin Stadbridge and his pals at the Loughton Strike Force club.

Winter games are eye-catching and the attention to detail with this one only added to the eye-candy. I was sorry I didn't have my tripod as the cameos available to the camera were many and varied and I know my hand held shots barely do the table justice.

The view down hill from the Finnish trenches as the Russians attempt to battle them and the environment

The game was using a purpose built home made set of rules that used cards to generate unforeseen cock ups brought on by the weather and unforgiving temperatures with a cute temperature gauge marker used as a 'game end' control with a final drop to its lowest score indicating when the game had ended and the time to make an assessment of the objectives achieved.

A stunning presentation and I am glad I was not deciding best game at show because it would have been a hard call between this one and the Kut game with both being excellent adverts for our hobby to the uninitiated.

And finally, I had picked up from the General de Brigade site that Dave Brown was working on a new set of ACW rules and then I saw on TMP lat night that there was a tie up in production with The Too Fat Lardies and Reisswitz Press.

More than that I do not know, but I pictured the demo game yesterday held at Colours purely for its look.

The American Civil War has never really 'floated my boat' but it does for many and I am sure this rule set will do well  among the followers of the period so if you are reading this you can say you saw it first on JJ's Wargames.

That said I like looking at lovely games and this one had me circling the table devouring the look and the modelling.

Great stuff, but as we Napoleonic fans would say, "where's the cavalry", to which the reply comes "over there skulking in the trees with their carbines keeping their heads down". Give me Spanish Hussars any day.

So by 15.00 we were ready to call it a day and, by the look of the main traders hall below, did many of the other punters who attended, which you can compare and contrast the crowd in the picture taken in the morning.

After the show we chatted about what we thought of it and comments we would make and I would preface what I am about to write as these are the thoughts of three seasoned wargame show attenders who have also set up and run several shows of our own and that we are also fans and supporters of Colours going forward.

So first up we all enjoyed the visit with plus points mentioned being the venue and its situation, the goodly number of traders in attendance and friendly welcoming show.

That said we felt that there is a noticeable difference in the organising of Colours post and pre the year it wasn't held and that possibly there is an element of learning going on in the setting up and managing of a show like this; and as one who has done that it the past I congratulate the organisers for yesterday and know what a hard job it is bringing a show like this off.

Some constructive comments we would offer would be some simple ideas to improve on what has been achieved;

  • The list of traders carried on the web page for the show would be greatly enhanced and made more useful if they linked through to the traders site, thus making it easier to see what that trader offers and putting through pre-show orders.
  • The parking directions were clear, with it pointed out not to use the Hambridge Lane bridge to gain access to the course. The only problem was that Newbury town council have changed the road signs to the course to that route which confused those of us used to following them to get to the main entrance but ending up at Hambridge Lane and having to find our way back.
  • One final point is based on our visit to the Penarth show earlier in the year where we were treated to presentations by well known historical authors, namely Adrian Goldsworthy and Gareth Glover. I think to avoid the "3pm push off home" period that leaves traders staring at each other, more shows and especially the large ones should look to invite distinguished authors to talk and present more at our hobby gatherings. It enables them to promote their wares to a large part of their readership and adds value to the show with an historical education that underpins much of our hobby. Not only that but we all get to sit down for a while and enjoy some great content, to then be able to return to the trade hall at a later time to pick up those final pre-orders that need collecting together with those weak willed impulse purchases that keep our hobby traders in business.
Thank you to the NRWS for keeping Colours in the calendar and to all those who took part in yesterday's show, we all enjoyed the day.

So what about my lack of self control I metaphorically hear you say. How are you going to explain yourself to the boss?

Well I did decide to make, as the politicians would say when they are about to spend a lot of money, usually someone else's in their case, an investment. 

First up is a purchase that I made on Friday by ordering up from Caliver Books the new set of Napoleonic Rules 'Over the Hills' which has been getting a lot of discussion on various forums. You can guess my surprise and pleasure on finding my new rules waiting for me on my return from Newbury yesterday. Well done Caliver Books for an excellent turn round and service.

I can already hear those metaphorical questions again, 'but JJ I thought you were a confirmed player of Carnage and Glory II', to which the answer is yes I am, they are my turn to set of horse and musket rules and I have no hesitation in recommending them when ever I am asked. That said I have friends who prefer to 'roll dem bones' and I like to play my Napoleonics with them as well and have been looking for a set of rules that captures the essence of C&G with dice and I think these might tick that box based on the comments I have read and my first read through of them last night.

If, as I think, they tick the box, I will share my thoughts in a proper review, post playing a few games, but I can say these look very very good and I am eager to try them out with my collection.

Following my hobby pre-read of Dux Britanniarum I picked up a copy of the rules and card deck at the show in time for the Club Xmas Game.

In addition to the rules I got some basing materials from Warbases and Magnetic Displays (see the links column on the right for these suppliers), with a group of my Saxon warriors already primed on the painting sticks to be completed in among the Spanish cavalry project that is ongoing.

And finally my France planning included getting assorted warriors and Vikings and I failed to resist the deal on offer for the three boxes planned and made my investment earlier than expected at the show yesterday. The Dark Ages collection is well and truly started!

A great day then with much fun and banter with friends. Thanks to Vince, Mr Steve and Steve H for their company and here's looking forward to Colours 2017.


  1. I would echo your comments JJ. The venue is excellent and the variety of traders equally so. That said a few tweeks would have made things better. The trader list with a map of exactly where & on which floor they were on was great, however the reference numbers for half the traders were not on the map !

    All said though I enjoyed the day. The WW1 games (not my period) were spectacular and the whole event boosts the old "wargames mojo". I know how hard organising a show is and am pleased to see this one back on the calendar. I too remember when it was "Armageddon", which makes me very old, but it also reminds me how much the hobby has improved over the years. I hope that the eye candy at shows like this will attract younger members, so that wargames can continue to go from strength to strength.


    1. Good point about the list and map, which I didn't make much use of at the show as I was indulging in a bit of impulse purchasing. I realised the numbers weren't there when I came to put this post together and couldn't identify on the guide where I had bought certain items during my travels.

      See you on the next one

  2. Great photos, the Winter War game was particularly nice. I have been quite interested in "Over the Hills" ruleset, read through them a couple of times. Probably will give them a go.


    1. Thanks John. Sometimes you see a game at a show and just know that you can"t show the detailed modelling without a tripod mount, which is not the most convenient thing to carry around.

      Well 'Over the Hills' look very interesting and I like the way they have modelled fatigue which is done so well in C&G. Only a few test games will show how easy it is to use that in play. I also like the idea of a simple version of the rules and then optional add ons to give greater depth for those who want that level of detail in their games.

      The unit structure and sizes will also compliment my collection so it will make an interesting set to play with.


  3. Wow the games look superb. I love the little ww1 plans. Have a number of Wow myself.

  4. Hi Paul,
    I love seeing games where the passion for the period and subject is reflected in the presentation and attention to detail. Harking back to a previous post, I really think these games are a great advert for the hobby.

    The nice aspect about the WWI planes is that anyone new to the hobby can get all the stuff that was on show, from the models themselves to the mats and markers and can if they choose take it to the next level by sourcing the decals to build specific squadrons/jastas. It's just a great vehicle for getting people into historical wargaming.

    1. I remember finding a great site online dedicated to ww1 that had a large coverage of the combatants, their photos, history and aircraft the flew in. I love ww1 aircraft, always have. Sounds very good fun.