Sunday, 16 September 2018

Colours 2018 - Newbury & Reading Wargame Society

I suppose being a keen wargaming enthusiast must be similar to being any other hobby/leisure time activity enthusiast in that the passage of time is land-marked with events relating to that pursuit, and if you do a thing long enough the years become a back catalogue of great times spent in good company just enjoying that pursuit.

I know friends who are keen football fans (that's soccer for my American friends) and spend a fortune travelling across the UK and Europe following a particular team who might easily be able to relate to a veteran wargamer who does something similar travelling to shows on a regular annual basis and spending hard earned cash on toy soldiers and associated items, all be it that we may both consider the others activity rather pointless and silly.

But then the pointless and rather silly aspect of any activity one gets enjoyment from is surely what it's all about and I know people who would never get involved in wargaming who can appreciate the aesthetic delight in bringing a period of history to the table-top in an attractive and informative way just as a casual follower of football can delight in the skill of the 'beautiful game'.

So just as any keen football fan can probably reel off the great games they were present at in a particular year, so it is with wargame shows and I never tire of the anticipation whilst paying the entry fee and moving on into a show hall, not knowing what great times lie ahead in conversation, seeing other peoples games and just getting inspiration for ones own projects.

I have reported on the last few Colours shows here on JJ's and have been attending it, give or take the occasional missed show, for about the last thirty odd years, with memories of past shows going back to the Reading Hexagon in the eighties.

Colours 2013
Colours 2015
Colours 2016
Colours 2017

So it was with great anticipation that I, together with Steve M and Bob, fellow DWG members and regular show-goers, travelled up from Exeter to meet up with Mr Steve to share in another Colours show presented by the Newbury & Reading Wargames Society.

The venue for the show, Newbury Racecourse, is by common opinion among the chaps, one of the better venues on the show circuit that we generally attend with plenty of parking, easy access and a spacious multi-floor grandstand building for the games and traders, which as you can see was a 'hubble-bubble' of happy wargamers yesterday.

I had a list of things I was hoping to pick up on the day relating to ongoing projects at the moment and the next one on the list going forward, plus a plan to include my usual report on my day for the blog with pictures of games that grabbed my attention.

So in no particular order I present my very personal pick of games from Colours 2018.

Operation Goodwood in 20mm - Friends who like Rapid Fire.
WWII in Europe is a period I have long been interested in going back to being a child and hearing my Dad relating tales of his experiences.

Needless to say any game involving Guards Armoured Division during this period always grabs my attention and Goodwood is a regularly featured battle in that panoply of the division's history.

After WRG, I think Rapid Fire was the next set of WWII rules I got into and though perhaps a little dated when viewed alongside more modern sets of rules, are up there in the list of rules I have played and enjoyed through my time in the hobby.

The passion for the period is brought to life in this game with well painted and presented models en mass that captures the mayhem of burning tanks littering open French cornfields in the mid-summer of 1944.

Market Garden 6mm - South East London Wargamers
As mentioned Guards Armoured games always grab my attention and though 6mm is a scale that would not feature on my preferences, I have gamed in the scale a long, long, long time ago when the eyes could cope much better than today.

This stretch of road was immediately recognisable and followers of the blog will know I posted about our drive along 'Hell's Highway' from Joe's Bridge to Eindhoven in my post from last summer's holiday to Holland where we pictured the very spot Dad and his crew parked their Sherman OP tank in Eindhoven city centre.

The smaller scale does allow the size of a WWII battle to be captured better, all be it with a sacrifice in not having the visual appeal at a model to model level offered by larger scales.

That said the presentation held my attention with the level of detail the chaps had captured and the overall look of their game.

Twenty-five pounders lined out across the rear area fields under an over-flight of supporting Typhoons, perhaps the 55th Field Regiment ready to open fire?

Society of Ancients 28mm
The Society of Ancients are perhaps one of the bedrocks to ancient wargaming and I still have publications of theirs that are treasured sources when it comes to putting my own armies together.
Society of Ancients

This game had a couple of very nicely presented armies, one looking like middle Roman versus a barbarian force well entrenched behind stakes and broken terrain.

I gather on inspection that the shields on the chaps below are hand-painted and with heavy artillery on the table to their front just needed Russell Crowe to give a quick speech about ending up in Elysian Fields before unleashing hell.

The Race Across Idlib Province - Adrian Sepherd & Friends
Adrian Shepherd has had games featured in a few of my Colours Show reports, looking back, and his collection of Middle East WWI 28mm figures showcased against nicely modelled terrain boards always attracts plenty of folks with cameras.

This year's game as described above was no-less impressive and provided plenty of cameo shots as well as demonstrating that empty spaces on a table at this scale can still add great effect to the game.

Boudica's Revenge - Newbury & Reading Wargames Society
With my own focus very much on the Early Imperial Roman period I was immediately drawn to similarly themed games if only to see how others approached modelling this very interesting period.

I haven't heard of the rules being used for this particular game, 'Warlord Advance Guard 3500BC to 1100AD) which is an interesting time span to cover with one set of rules and reminds me somewhat of the old WRG days, ah happy times and so much simpler!

Napoleonics 15mm - Dave Brown & Loughton Strike Force
General d'Armee by Dave Brown is one of the new Napoleonic rule sets around at the moment and was being used in a very nice looking Waterloo campaign themed game with units that appeal to my eye for a Napoleonic game.

I have General d'Armee but would tend to use Carnage & Glory II or Over the Hills for a similarly scaled game.

That said, as a Napoleonic fan I'm always happy to see one of my favourite periods on a table no matter what the rule set.

Infantry and cavalry in multiple ranks just seem to look right to me for Napoleonics and 15/18mm is a great scale for striking the balance between good looking models married with the grand manner look of battle.

Battle of Soggy Bottom using 'For King and Parliament' 28mm - Simon Miller & Friends
Simon has taken a bit of a break from Ancients in recent times to concentrate on building up a fine collection of English Civil War units to compliment his rule set 'For King and Parliament', the ECW variant to his ancient rule set 'To the Strongest'.

The two long lines of gorgeous civil war units really seems to capture the look of battle for this period and I really enjoyed just working my way along each line taking in the look of both armies.


Retreat from Moscow, 40mm - Wessex Wargames Society
You don't see a lot of 40mm type games around on the circuit and so both the scale and theme seemed to me rather interesting with a very evocative table that conjured up memories of the scene in 'The Duelists' with both the main characters having to postpone their own particular feud to deal with the more pressing need in fending off a bunch of marauding cossacks amid the snowy chaos of the Russian retreat.

Raid on Zeebrugge 1918, 1;300th - Naval Wargames Society
Naval wargaming has always interested me pretty much across all eras and I feel naval games have to work that much harder to attract the eye than land games, given that much of the terrain is given over to flat open blue stuff.

Off course nice models always help and a bit of coastal scenery can add variety, but I think naval landings can always be a challenge to marry up the scale of naval and land units in the same game.

If you then add in an air raid or two as this Zebrugge game was doing then the challenges only increase.

I had never seen this particularly interesting early combined operations attack modelled before and was impressed with the display that seemed to capture the key elements quite well.

The organisers had prepared a very nice comprehensive guide to the action that explained the background to and outcome of the attack and explained how the players were required to work in cooperation attempting to ram the canal lock and sink their block ships in the mouth of the Bruge Canal.

Spectre Demonstration Game - A Few Brits and the Hobby
We play quite a few games of modern, low level special ops types of games in the Devon Wargames Group using various rule sets such as 7TV and Winter of 79 and so it was really interesting to this game that attracted me for the modelling as much as the theme.

I was familiar with 'A few Brits....' having listened to their podcasts, most recently chatting with Simon Elliot looking at his books on the Roman Army and his recent work looking at the campaign of Septimius Severus in Scotland.

A few Brits and the Hobby Podcast

If you are interested in the Spectre rules system and the figures that compliment them then you might want to listen to the chaps latest podcast taking about them

Wars of the Roses (1st St Albans) - Penarth & District Wargames Society
A few of us are regulars at the Penarth show 'Crusade' that generally kicks off our show going year in January.

So it was nice to chat to a few members from the club hosting a participation 28mm Wars of the Roses game loosely based on 1st St Albans and using Lion Rampant.

The Wars of the Roses is a theme I intend to pursue once the ancient collection is built to a respectable level and having picked up some items in preparation for that project I was more than happy to see how the Penarth chaps had set about modelling their game.

First and Second St Albans in 28mm are both challenging battles for the wargamer to attempt given the need to model a suitably accommodating built up area and I have studied various other peoples ideas for doing that.

Of course me being me I will want to do my own version and so am working on what that might look like.

The Battle of Kyoto 1868, 28mm Sharp Practice - Abbott's Road Wargames
Feudal warfare in the far east and particularly Samurai warfare, is not really my thing but that said I really can appreciate a nice looking game with superb terrain organised around a sound historical theme and this particular game grabbed my attention.

Of course any game using the superb creations that are buildings by James at Oshiro Model Terrain are always going to grab the eye and I was sorry to have missed saying hello when I stopped by to take pictures of this excellent looking game based on the Boshin War.

As mentioned I was keen to pick up a few bits whilst at the show, so was able to add to my growing collection of figures for my upcoming Wars of the Roses project with a great Perry's plastic box offer of three boxes for £50 from Great Escape Games.

I also topped up with some important colours from the Coat d'Arms range and purchased some Black Tree Roman Western Archers in a mixed bag of twelve figures together with a bag of ten Celtic casualties from Mili-Art.

A big thanks to Trevor at Coritani and Magnetic Displays for sorting me out a roll of 20mm magnetic tape which I use on all my 28mm bases.

I have found over the years that magnetic bases can save a lot of heart break when transporting figures and is very useful for affixing the odd detachable label occasionally.

Finally I was very lucky to get a very nice birthday present a few weeks ago of some of the Sarissa range of their MDF English timber frame buildings, to which I added three more purchased at the show yesterday and I will very much enjoy putting these together a bit later.

Another great Colours, spent in the company of friends just talking wargames and stuff and meeting other very nice people involved in the hobby.

I came away with lots of ideas and inspiration and would thank the show organisers at the Newbury and Reading club for a very enjoyable day.


  1. Great report with so many stunning games. Thank you!

    1. My pleasure Jon, and thank you for your comment.

  2. I was one of the SLW mob putting on the Hell's Highway game at Colours yesterday and I remember you telling me that your Dad was on that road. If I had put 2 and 2 together (I am a regular reader of yours) I'd have engaged in more of a conversation. Apologies but I was a bit frazzled by then as had been doing the 'punter interface' role all day and the 5 o'clock start was catching up with me!
    Glad you liked the game though, thanks for the kind words, I'll pass them on to Daren who's work it all was (although I pitched in with the all important 'Purple Smoke'!).

    1. Hi Iain,
      Thanks for your comment and no problem, I have done that 'meet and greet' role at shows myself and as you say after a long day you feel completely bushed, but I should say you were still on the case as you noticed my interest and said hello.

      Well done to Daren and your team as I think your game really captured how long and exposed that particular stretch of road is and completely matched my Dad's description of driving along it in a Sherman as feeling like ducks on a shooting range.

      The purple smoke certainly made it for me.

      All the best

  3. Very nicely done, I really appreciate the time you have taken to take good photos and then an excellent write-up.


    1. Thanks John, much appreciated. It's nice to be able to share the day.

  4. Good to see you at the weekend. That Antwerp restaurant is the Groote Ganz.

    1. Hi Matt
      Thanks mate, great chatting and look forward to catching up in Antwerp.

  5. Good write up on a good show - I enjoyed it very much this year...

  6. great write up an i agree one of the better shows