Colours 2018 – Newbury, UK

Well, that’s Colours done for 2018.

It was our first time at this illustrious show and I was much impressed with the layout and organisation (thanks Sophie & the Colours crew). The show is set across three levels of the Newbury Racecourse stand, with traders on the first two floors and all the demo and participation games on the third. Luxurious surroundings indeed.

We ran the Witch’s Cat game for the last time, and seven pairs of punters turned up to enjoy this now classic tale – you can see the game on question in the T&B page header.

I think that the final score was four games to the Orcs and three to the City Guard. The hapless men of the Guard were wiped out completely in one game. Greebo the cat racked up four kills, punishing down foolish humans who would take him away from the fish stall.

We were busy the whole day so I had no time to take any decent photos. We were right next to Simon & Andrews’s humongous For King & Parliament game, which featured more figures than I actually own. Impressive as always.

Overall the standard of demo and participation games at shows has increased every year, and Colours was no exception. There were still a few ‘demo’ games where nobody actually demo’d anything and ignored the punters, but these were a tiny minority.

I would like to thank Billy, in particular, for running over half of our games, and Lorna and Cat (not Greebo) for running front of house, catering support etc.

I would also like to thank all the people who came up for a chat or to look at the IHMN board game. This excellent game, created by Mark Byng, attracted a lot of attention. We are still looking for a publisher for this and if we don’t get one soon, may look into the mechanics of a kickstarter.

Several of my oldest gaming friends turned up to celebrate 40 years of gaming together. These included; Mark, Ian, Jim, Tim, Simon and Paul. Good to see you all together again guys. It is sobering to think that we have all been playing that long.

So, onto the swag. I sent off my procurement agent (Lorna) to acquire a number of items and she did not disappoint. I now possess two more Deep Cut Mats – an entirely cobbled one to use for cityscapes from the medieval to the Victorian periods, and a more rural one for farms, forests and wilderlands. Both shall feature in next year’s show games.

We also now have a copy of The Sheriff of Nottingham boardgame, and some nice resin pieces from Fenris games that I picked up from Bad Squiddo. Then there are the sheep… I was admiring the sheep that Simon had on his battlefield, so Lorna headed off and rounded up a small flock for me.

I got to meet and chat with another of my gaming heroes, the inestimable John Treadaway. I remember way back in the eighties being agog at his huge Stingray game, and have read hundreds of his articles, show reports and AARs since. He turned out to be just as I had hoped, a lovely bloke.

Other good people worth mentioning included; the blue giant and his companion on the Deep Cut stand, first class chaps; Guy Bowers of WSS; Dan of WI; the lovely Annie Norman and her manservant Bruce; and innumerable IHMN, Daisho and Blood Eagle players who dropped by.

This was our first visit to Colours and will be one we shall repeat. It is also the last show we shall be at this year. Next year’s programme is still being worked upon, but we shall certainly be trying to get to; Crusade, Salute, Partizan and T’Other Partizan along with several other shows. We’ll publish our full programme once we have the necessary confirmations.

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Thud & Blunder – progress report 2

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So, it has been a slow month due to holidays and other interruptions, but we are very close now to issuing the Gamma version to our internal review team. We are talking mid to late September for this.

We have also been talking to our hard and soft copy distributors, layout artist and printer. More on them closer to release.

Yes, you read that right – hard copy. Initially we were considering a soft copy release only, but we have decided this game needs a physical book.

You should note that this will be a lot bigger than Blood Eagle or Daisho, with more content in most sections.

  • For example, in most of our books we have provided 10-12 companies/ buntai/warbands. However, confirmed warbands for this game include:
    Adventurers
    Assassins
    Barbarians
    Brigands
    City Guard
    College of Wizards
    Dwarves
    Elves
    Gnolls
    Gnomes
    Halflings
    Hedge Knight
    Necromancer
    Noble Knight
    Orcs & Goblins
    Templars
    Thieves’ Guild
    The Guardians of the Dead
    Ogre Reavers

And… there may be more, or we may keep the extras for blog freebies.

As with all our games these warbands are templates for you to build on and amend to fit your own chosen fantasy setting.

We are also including a complete guide to creating your own, unique warbands in the rules as well.

If you’d like to see the game in action, and are at Colours next month, drop by our table and try it out.

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Thud & Blunder – progress report

For many years Charles and I had wondered if we could evolve the mechanics of our skirmish rules to a point where they could support a full-on medieval fantasy game. Each game we wrote moved us towards this goal.

IHMN laid the foundations; Daisho allowed us to experiment with points based magic and lethal swordsmanship; Blood Eagle improved the magic systems, introduced heroism and grim monsters, and here we are.

So make no mistake, Thus & Blunder is an evolution. Contributions from players across the world, dozens of shows and hundreds of games played by our friends and ourselves, have helped us refine and change the core and supporting rules.

This will be our largest book to date. There is more of everything. More magic, more monsters, more traits, more warbands, more landscapes, scenarios and complications. New sections on magical items, and creating your own unique warbands.

As we have said before, fantasy is our passion, so we want to get this right. This is why it is taking longer than our previous books. The Beta was released to our play-testers in the spring. By the end of August we hope to release the Gamma to them and to our reviewers/proofreaders. This always reveals a few more tweaks, clarifications and necessary corrections.

Then we will be gathering in the illustrations/photos, getting the layout done by Millsy of Cobalt Peak Design, and talking to our distributors about release dates.

Thud & Blunder will be a generic, high medieval fantasy, narrative skirmish game. Like our other games, it is neither tied to a specific world nor to a specific manufacturer’s figure range. It’s intended to allow you to use the figures you have to populate either the warbands in the book or create your own.

Being generic, you will be able to recreate scenes or stories from your favourite fantasy books, TV series and films. Adventures in Hyboria, Llankhmar, Middle Earth, Westeros, Mordheim, Melnibone, the Forgotten Realms, Albion, Lyonesse and even Narnia will be possible.

You will be able to create a unique warband of fantasy Adventurers, perhaps replicating a party you have played in a RPG (many of the  figures used in the book’s examples are just such from our own RPG games).

The game covers all the classic fantasy settings; cities, villages, castles, ancient ruins, wilderlands and, of course, dungeons. The campaign system gives you the opportunity to create your own fantasy narrative and gives your warbands opportunities to fight for territory or to follow a quest in a simple, structured campaign system.

Even with all this we have kept to our original design principle – KISS. Running participation games of T&B at shows this year, we have been able to get most players up and running in under ten minutes. It has been a joy to see players as young as eight years old get stuck in and hammer their parents.

If you have played any of our previous games the core mechanics will be familiar, though there have been subtle improvements. For example, the armour bonus for helmets introduced in Blood Eagle have been ditched. This is because the range of armour in T&B is wider and adding 2 points of armour rating for a full helm would have made the best armour AR17, i.e. effectively invulnerable. So, a separate AR bonus for helmets is out.

The largest number of pre-calculated  warbands will be in the book. Roughly twenty as I write this, but there could be more. Everything from classic Barbarians to heavily armed Noble Knights. Elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs and ogres all make a showing. Necromancers raising your dead comrades to fight once again, and colleges of wizards dominating the battlefield with fireballs. Then there is the humble City Guard coming in to clear everything up…

There is also a section on how to build a warband of your own imagination, or from your favourite books and movies.

There is still much to do… but we are three quarters of the way there. So, watch this space.

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The Saint Dewi’s Day Massacre

Last night I had my first game since the house fire.

My old friends Phil and Hairy Dave put on a three-way Blood Eagle match between Phil’s Welsh Prince Rhodri the Giant Slayer, Dave’s Picts (aka The Unnamed), and a rebel Welsh Lord called Cadris (kindly loaned to me by Phil).

Prince Rhodri gained his name when he landed the killing blow to a Frost Giant in a game last year (it was surrounded by Vikings, Welsh and Picts at the time).

Anyway Prince Rhodri’s force consisted of a couple of archers (with skirmisher, hawkeye and war bows), a few lowly spearmen, a couple of mail-armoured Uchelwr (heroes) and himself (hero) on a mighty pony. This pony should be called ‘Huey’, after the way it transported him around the battle field. Rhodri also had a legendary sword called Gerd.

Cadris (hero) had more men, having not invested points in so much armour and heroes. He had two archers, one with (with skirmisher, hawkeye and war bow) and the other with Stealthy as well, four hardy spearmen, and a couple of unarmoured girls carrying spears. Cadris is a equal opportunities employer.

The Unnamed were a tough bunch with a Lord, a Champion and a Druid (who used Second Sight so many times it eventually burned out), as well as a few spearmen and a couple of hunters (skirmisher, hawkeye, hunting bow). Most of their upper echelon had poisoned weapons (nasty, nasty stuff).

Prince Rhodri began the game calling upon Cadris to return to his service and drive back the Picts, but to no avail. We were to witness some vicious Welsh on Welsh action. They only united (briefly) when the Picts got in the way of their own inter-tribal wrangling over a pig.

The games had four relics of Dewi Sant (Saint Dewi) in a ruined chapel (worth one point each), and three happy pigs wandering about the centre of the field (worth two points each). The pigs would move randomly 1d6″ until accosted. The pigs became free whenever the person leading it was engaged in a fight.

The table itself had plenty of terrain; three hills, one of which was tall and steep, a bog, the chapel, four small woods and a hedged enclosure containing one of the pigs. The chapel was type three terrain unless you entered by one of the four doors.

In a game with lots of Welsh war bows, cover would be important, especially that which blocked like of sight, as the hawkeye trait seemed to be the standard.

In the first few turns there was a rush to claim relics and pigs. The odd figure here and there fell to bow fire but things did not really get serious until Cadris was slain and the Picts began cutting a swathe through Rhodri’s lighter forces with their magic and poisoned blades.

The game then went very narrative as Rhodri’s men and the Picts began to concentrate on each other rather than the objectives, allowing Cadris’ forces to begin marching loot off the field.

In the end Prince Rhodri’s force was decimated and had only a couple of figures left, along with one relic (one point). The Picts had several men left standing and had got two pigs off the field (four points), despite the Apache Gunship, which was Prince Rhodri on his mighty pony, charging around the length and breadth of the field mowing down pretty much anyone he came across.

This included Blodwen, a fourteen year old girl, whom he missed on his charge, but then used a Hero point to reroll his attack and slay her as she ran with a relic. Amongst Cadri’s men, Rhodris will be forever called ‘Rhodri Girl-slayer’.

Cadri’s force managed to get a pig and three relics off the field for five points and the match.

Honestly this was the funniest match I have played for a long time, with Dave and especially Phil, taking on the roles of their leaders with gusto.

One pig changed hands between the three forces at least six times, and I have named it Lucky Lleu. In one engagement there were three of Phil’s Welsh, two of mine and two of Dave’s Picts all fighting over the confused sow.

In the after battle survival checks Cadris managed to crawl from the battlefield to fight again. He is plotting his revenge against Rhodri as I write this…

Overall it was nice to play a battle where the players had not chosen to field a handful of well-armoured heroes each. Instead the forces were more balanced and reflected the period. This led to a much more enjoyable match, instead of a slugfest.
Prince Rhodri’s legend is growing.

My apologies for the lack of photos, but we were playing for fun, not an AAR 🙂

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Show news

As many of you are aware I run the show side of the Ministry, and have plans to attend a record number of shows this year.

Due to unforeseen circumstances (a house fire) the Ministry shall not be attending Carronnade in Falkirk, and quite possibly Partizan in Newark this month.

We shall keep you up-to-date with this situation as it develops.

Meanwhile Dave Wise and the stalwarts of the Games Club Network shall continue to run fantastic skirmish participation games, some of which involve our rules. SO keep an eye out for their excellent tables.

Update 08/05/2018

We shall not be going to Partizan this year, but shall aim to go to The Other Partizan in August,

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A little modern history

2013 – Salute at the Excel centre in London. This was the show where In Her Majesty’s Name was launched by Osprey Publishing.

Salute 2013

That is Nick Eyre (who has changed one jot – I need to check his shed for a painting methinks), my little son Conor (now a hulking 6’3″) and I. Charles was still in his ‘no publicity’ phase, so is out of shot.

As you can see I am still in shock. I turned up expecting to find a few books on sale, instead there was this amazing 12′ long London City Board by Shaun and Terry. The White Hart members were already running games using the figures Nick had produced, and a fair few others as well.

We attracted a lot of attention that day, it was a much better launch that we could have envisaged. So thanks to all those involved.

For new recruits to the fellowship of IHMN, this is long before the formation of The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare, so no bowler hats or polo shirts.

The following year we ran our own games and found two other groups running IHMN as well, and so it began. We have run games at every Salute since, and at shows the length and breadth of Britain.

Well here we are, five years on. Six books on the shelves, a seventh on the way, and plans already being laid for the eighth. Many thousands of books have been bought by you all, for which we are eternally grateful (and not a little confused).

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Salute 2018 – updated map

Salute 2018 Us and Friends

As is our custom now, we have added the locations of a few traders that may be of interest.

Too Fat Lardies are the premier British independent rules creators and well worth a visit. They are putting on a demo game just up the alley from us too.

Ainsty Castings sell all of our Ministry books and a goodly number of the IHMN figures too. ell worth a visit for their sheer range and friendly service.

Bad Squiddo is the legendary Annie Norman, purveyor of fine, properly attired, lady miniatures, and various livestock.

Wargames Illustrated and Wargames Soliders & Strategy, are both old friends of ours, and produce excellent periodicals.

Trev Dixon has been sculpting and selling miniatures from when I was a nipper. Most of my Samurai collection come from his talented hands. He has also become a friend to the Ministry. This year he has the misfortune of being next door to Forgeworld. So force your way through their queue and show you still support our legends.

Andy, at Heresy Miniatures, is a legendary one-man band. His figures hold a charm that few can match.

And last, but by no means least, the boys at Osprey gave us our start in the business, so will ever be our friends.

On week to go folks… so don’t panic!

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