Sunday 21 April 2013

Dux Bellorum at Salute 2013

So at 3.45 am on Saturday morning I was ejected from my pit to make the journey down to Salute. As I pointed out to my fellow travelers the last time I'd seen that time in the morning I hadn't yet been to bed. And was a much younger and fitter man.
Anyway I hopped in James' car with Scrivs and John and a half ton of metal magnetised into Really Useful Boxes and headed down to Big London.
We made good time and entertained ourselves on the walk from car park to venue playing the easiest guessing game in the world: Marathon or Wargamer where you have to guess whether the person in question is at Excel for Salute or to register for the following day's London Marathon (the area of the Venn diagram where the two groups meet is, I suspect, vanishingly small).

We got set up quite quickly, I had a passable bacon butty and decent coffee and then the show began.
For the next seven hours I chatted to gamers, scoffed pasties and wandered about the stands.
We had two boards set up, one a "standard" 32 point game using Scrivs and Andy H collection. While the larger board had double size 64 pointer using James and Steve's models. My small army stayed well clear of these beautifully painted selections and were down at the end of the table demonstrating how to use sabots to play Dux Bellorum. James had made a great effort to ensure that as well as the games we had a good selection of reference and explanation material which I though really helped set the game off
We were pretty busy all day and I made a point of trying to make sure I spoke to everyone I could get to who stopped to look at the table (one of my pet peeves is when you're ignored by gamers running "demo" games at shows).
If I'd had a pound for every gamer I spoke to who said they owned the rules but hadn't played yet I'd have had £37.50 (the Italian chap who'd just bought the book only counts as half) - so hopefully we showed the game off in good light and some of those will be dusting off their collections and books and giving the game a go.

Anyway, here are all the pictures I took:

 Steve's battle line

 Ballista, tower and John, refuelling

 Steve's scratchbuilt fort

 The much admired watermill

 More of the fort

 Pictish boat

 Some of our display materials

 Andy's marvelous monks

The award

You'll see from the last award that the game was awarded the best painted trophy. Just reward for Steve's hard work in particular but rightly recognising the skills of Andy Hawes, Scrivs and James too. The judges obviously chose to overlook my less skilled dawbings on their sabots at the end of the table!

As for the rest of the show I'm afraid I didn't spend too much time looking at other games, sorry. Though I was both amused and horrified by the "wrestling with action men" game and the game seemingly made from Year 3 scrawlings of fairground rides. Each to their own I suppose, but I'm afraid the visual magic of the hobby was a bit lacking for me from those.
I did some shopping which I may blog about later and had a few wanders around. Sadly wargames marketing still seems to be stuck in a bit of a stone age mentality where the best way to grab attention is to get someone's girlfriend to wear some clothes that are too small for her in the hope of attracting custom. "Never mind the mold lines mate, look at her legs!" The show seemed very busy and the space available at excel means it never felt too crowded (apart from around the Warbases stand).

All in all a splendid day out, made all the more so by the company.

You can read about my fellow gamers versions of events over on

And if any of this has piqued your interest in Dux Bellorum you could do worse than visit the author Dan Mersey's blog

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Salute 2013

Just a few more days and it's off to Salute down in Big London.
Looking forward to it now. I gave up going a few years ago when the total cost and lack of atmosphere at Excel proved too much for me.
However this year James Morris has invited me to go down and play soldiers with him and Scrivs, Steve, Andy Hawes, Andy McTaggart and John. How could I refuse?
We'll be playing Dux Bellorum on two tables, one a big display game featuring the models Steve has been assembling over the last few months and one a standard 32 point game with Scrivs and Andy's models battling it out.
If you're at the show do drop by and say hello.
We're on stand GB05 according to the list, which from the looks of the floorplan is on the far left hand side when you walk through the main entrance.

I'll be taking my camera along and plan to do some shopping. I've pre-ordered some Musketeer late Romans from Gripping Beast but apart from that I'm just going to see what takes my fancy.

Hope to see some of you there.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Dipped Bolt Action Americans (2)

Some more quick and dirty dipped Americans.

 Cigar chompin' Sarge!


Reasonably happy again with how these have turned out.
Interesting photography variations given that I took them all one after another with the same set up then treated them all the same in Photoshop...
They would definitely improve with some highlights (especially the fleshy bits) but then I might as well go back to my usual basecoat, wash, highlight method and this is definitely quicker
Just keep telling myself to keep it quick and get playing!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

First Game of Dux Bellorum

Last night Scrivs and myself got together for a game of Dux Bellorum. I've had the rules since they came out and had given them a good read over but not got round to playing them. Then James Morris invited me and Scrivs and one or two other folk to help him demo the game at Salute. So with that in mind Scrivs and I though we better at least try and get a game in before the big day.

Seeing as it was our first time, we decided to use 24 point armies (rather than the standard 32pts) but kept the all important LPs (leadership points) at 6. I took a Sea raiders list and Scrivs regular Saxons. In the end we had the same number of warriors but I had an extra Noble unit and Scrivs two extra units of skirmishers.

Although we'd both read the rules, neither had done so recently, so we rather fumbled and flubbed our way through it. However it was pretty quick to play even under those conditions and I can see that with even a couple more games under our belts it would all go very quickly.
There was lots of to-ing and fro-ing through the rulebooks from both of us, with some bits proving tricky to find, but we got there in the end.
The combat left us scratching our heads for a bit and I'm not sure we quite got it right, but it mostly seemed to work
I think we finished the game with a few reservations about it, but on reflection I thought it was good fun. It will give a quick game, there's not too much complicated to remember and it certainly looked and at times felt like a Dark Age struggle of shieldwalls as the armies pressed against one another.
The meat of the game is clearly in the allocation and use of LPs. Without really understanding that and how to get the best from it we inevitably simply hurled our models at one another - more games will, I'm sure, reveal some depth to be derived from LPs.
The one thing neither of us could quite understand was why anyone would take skirmishers - all they seem to do is cough up LPs with little real benefit that we could see.

I did take a few pictures and the camera seemed to survive under the yellow energy efficient bulbs:

 The lines close

 Warriors prepare to deprive Scrivs of an LP

 Wait for the inevitable charges...

 It kicks off in the centre

 Sea Raiders crash into the flank

 The whole line engaged

The final doom of the Sea Raiders

In the end Scrivs got a win by eliminating my general and then mopping up.
You can read his version of events here

We've got at least one more game to squeeze in before Salute and I'm quite looking forward to playing it on the day.