Sunday 28 November 2021

Warfare 2021 - Wargames Association of Reading

Warfare - 2021

Yesterday was a real treat and feeling of a certain return to normal with my travelling up with friends to attend Warfare 2021, hosted by the Wargames Association of Reading at their brand spanking new venue Ascot Racecourse.

Steve M, Vince and I rendezvoused in Exeter at about 07.30 to start our, just under, three hour drive to the outskirts of leafy west London via the historic A303 that saw us gliding over Salisbury Plain past the World Heritage site of Stone Henge; with little traffic to mention and despite an autumn storm bringing high winds over night no problems with blown down tress blocking the roads, which was a bit of a concern when we set out.

Warfare is my first show since attending PAW, the Plymouth Wargamers annual gathering back in February 2020 and I know I have really missed this big part of my hobby and the pleasure of doing a bit of shopping, chatting to traders and other folks in the hobby and taking the time to appreciate the efforts of other gamers and clubs who put on the display games.

My last attendance at Warfare was back in 2018 which you can check out in the link below, which also links to my previous show reports from 2016 and 2017. I missed the 2019 show as Carolyn and I were away in Berlin visiting Will on his Masters Degree course and taking time to tour that key historic European city.

JJ's Wargames - Warfare 2018

The chaps from the Reading club have had their issues in recent times with the old venue for this show, the Reading Sports Centre, which I commented on here on JJ's in past visits and seemed to generate quite a bit of discussion on other forums at the time.

I mentioned that my comments were entirely constructive, knowing as I do the difficulties of organising a large wargaming event and appreciating the efforts the Reading chaps go to to get this show set up year on year for the hobby to enjoy and so I was really looking forward to this post-pandemic event at a new venue, Ascot Racecourse, which seemed to offer a solution to the problems of previous shows, with the benefits of spacious parking, easy access to the motorways, and an airy well lit grandstand display hall familiar to those of us who travel up to Colours at Newbury.

It was interesting on arrival to see that my preconceptions in terms of access and facilities looked to be confirmed and the venue was well signed and organised as you might expect from an organisation like Ascot, used to making arrangements for Royal VIP's and as I think you will see from my pictures of the main traders hall on the ground floor of the grandstand the space was great, providing lots of room to enjoy wandering among the trade stands without feeling cramped and elbow to elbow with other visitors.

Perhaps the only key issue encountered in this space was the requirement to have certain doors open to allow a free flow of air into and out of the stands which with the cold winter weather we were experiencing with bitter winds, the poor traders close to such access points were feeling the chill at times and required the odd coat left on.

I very happily found my way over to Dave Thomas's stall and picked up the balance of Perry Miniatures to complete my AWI collection for my Mohawk Valley project which included the new British Light Infantry in skirmish order and the new Butler's Rangers.

Perry Miniatures - British Light Infantry Command

Perry Miniatures - British Light Infantry Skirmishing

Perry Miniatures - Butlers Rangers Skirmishing

Thank you to Dave for his usual excellent service and organisation, with everything I had ordered boxed and ready for collection.

I then headed over to Warpaint Figures where I topped up my supply of flower tufts for my basing requirements going forward and at a very good price, so thank you to them to.

Finally ending up in front of the ABC Brushes where I found myself unable to resist taking advantage of their special offers on brushes with a pack of seven Prolon-ProArte detail-brushes for £5 which looked well worth while giving a go.

The last thing required was ten colours from the Vajello acrylic paint range which had been used up during recent ship painting projects and then with time to spare, just after lunch and a good chat with other chaps from the club who had made the journey up to Ascot, (John, Paul, Lawrence and Mr Steve) I together with Mr Steve headed back into the hall and the upstairs rooms at the top of the grandstand to check out the competition games and finally the display games that really caught our attention.

Before that though I took a few moments to take a good look at the Empress range of English Civil War 28mm figures that are likely to form part of a new collection project.

I love the look of these Empress musketeers coming in packs of four with mixed head gear and other accoutrements.

Before embarking on a new collection I like to take my time to assess the various ranges of figures based on the units I plan to create and the English Civil War is an era I've long had an ambition to build some armies for and in glorious 28mm and something along with my Romano-Dacians, Wars of the Roses and AWI collections should keep me more than occupied during retirement.

These Empress castings are stunning to see up close and I grabbed some pictures of the range for my notes and Paul and Christine who run the business were very helpful in looking at the various value deals they offer that would enable me to put the size of units I am planning at the best possible price, and I think this is a range that could well form the core of the new collection especially as the West Country generals Waller and Hopton are set to join their range of personality commanders.

Likewise the detail on the cavalry options is exquisite down to the wheel locks on the pistols and a poncho donned horse holder for the dragoons.

So with lots of ideas around planned ECW units going around in my head, Steve and I headed off to the display games, and in no particular order these are the games that grabbed the attention of my camera.

The Second Battle of Murfresboro or Stones River, ACW using Fire & Fury Brigade - Jemima Fawrs Wargame Blog.

Back in the day when my eyes could cope with the detail, 6mm was a major scale in the collections I and friends gamed in offering as it does the ability to really game in the grand manner and at a very affordable price point.

Of course when the figure collection is complimented by a stunning terrain layout the game you see here is what can result.

As I say, not my preferred scale, but I can appreciate class and passion in a game and this game was packing plenty of both.

Huntingdon & District Wargames Society - Carthago Delenda Est, Punic Wars Battle 

The Punic Wars is a favourite with most ancient wargame fans and I'm no different but every now and then a Punic Wars game really grabs the attention like this one, a 54mm presentation with elephants that look quite capable of causing a lot of damage should the impulse take them.

Malvern Old Wargamers - The Last White Rose, a Tudor 'What If Battle' using Armati

This particular game played a nice twist on the usual Wars of the Rose style of game with an Italian Wars, Landsknecht style opposition in this what if scenario battle that sees Richard de la Pole, the last Yorkist standing attempting to land and take back the Tudor crown.

Society of Ancients - Battle of Illipia 206 BC using Impetus II

As mentioned, what's not to like about the Punic Wars and I'm always interested in what the Society of Ancients are putting on as a game and the presentation of Ilipia had two very nicely turned out armies on the table.

Having just concluded taking my pictures of the two armies lined up in battle array, one of the players pointed out the shields carried by the Punic infantry contingent, explaining that the shields were not, as I expected, sporting decals, but were hand painted by one of their club members!

Of course this blog is a celebration of this kind of 'going the extra mile', and I know it's mad but I love it. Just check out these shields.

and finally.

Combined Opps present 'This Very Ground' - French Indian Wars.

I know I have seen and presented this table from the Combined Ops chaps who hail from our part of the world in glorious Devon, but you can't really get enough of this kind of attention to detail with this kind of table, right down to the remains of the sky burial to the pumpkins in the settlement vegetable garden.

Warfare was a great day out and thankyou to our hosts the Wargames Association for Reading for a great show that helped fill the void from the previous eighteen months.

I do hope Warfare will be here for next year in a similar format, but I gather the talk in the venue yesterday is that it might not be at Ascot for various reasons.

How often it seems we only appreciate things the more when we don't have them and it's shows like Warfare that are an aspect of the hobby that I really appreciate. There is nothing quite like taking a day in the company of likeminded friends to simply bathe in the hobby amid traders and games, soaking up the inspiration to work on new games and collections whilst chatting through ideas with people who really get this bonkers but delightful hobby.