Sunday, 26 September 2021

Battle Bunker, 4Ground and a great day out.

Recently I won a thing. It doesn't happen very often so it was a nice surprise and it got better as it went on. So, here is some background.

A while ago, before Co-Vid messed up everything, I meet some nice folks at a wargames day at Entoyment in Poole. Lee "Stonewall" Wilkins, his long suffering wife Mel and their son Jamie soon became friends and even started coming to the Devon Wargames Club, despite being from up North. Well, north of Exeter is North isn't it? They then started a You Tube channel which posts their games, thoughts and events. I subscribed so I could stay updated about what they were doing, especially as we couldn't get together for a game during the lockdown period. 

They hit 500 subscribers and had a prize draw and one very lucky chap won it! I was chuffed to win and things got even better when I was invited up to collect my prize in person so they could put up a video of it. The prize was £50 of 4 Ground scenery, which I like and have quite a bit of already, and the venue was the new gaming centre at 4 Grounds HQ called FactoruM. What a place it is, it felt so comfortable and chilled there and was like a home from home. We met up with Ben, the owner of 4 Ground and a real top chap he is. He and all the people that work there are great company and really pleasant to be around. After a guided tour of the business we were treated to a very nice lunch before getting down to some gaming. Ben even gave us a freebie from Jamie's store room, much to his consternation. Thank you Ben, that was an unexpected bonus and is really appreciated.

Here is what I came away with, a touch over £50 me thinks!

A lovely Rorke's Drift set up was arrayed before us, with the four players taking the major parts from the film. I was Corporal Allan, the true hero of the engagement, who was the only leader on the day to keep all his men alive. Rumours that the Zulus were scared of his singing are misplaced and unfounded. Nathan was Colour Sergeant Bourne and was seen to throw away his lives in a haphazard manner. Apparently he won the most VC's on the day, but we think that is fake news. Christopher was Lieutenant Chard, RE, who was also free and easy with the lives of his men. Ben was Lieutenant Bromhead of the 24th, a fine leader who throw himself into action all over the field of battle. 

Lts Chard and Bromhead overlooking the defences

The game itself was very clever, it feels like the film did and the mechanisms Stonewall, Mel and Jamie have used for their rules do make it dramatic with action jumping from one part of the compound to another. The Zulu's can appear anywhere around the table and their actions are determined by a dice roll. Apparently not every roll results in an "F" for "Flippin' 'eck, here they come again", but it sure felt like it at the start. Ben's face when he shot at the Zulu unit facing him and they responded by charging straight into contact was a picture. It was not the reaction he expected from them, too be fair we were all a bit shocked by that turn of events.

Defend that wagon boys, here they come again!
Corporal Allan steadies his men before the Zulu assault

The initial attack was concentrated on the opposite side to my troops, but soon came around the sides and everyone was quickly facing at least some Zulu warriors. It was a close run thing, but we held until the column arrived, so won the day and went home for tea and medals. If you get the chance to play the game then grab it, I would play it again tomorrow if I could.

Jamie and Stonewall planning the demise of the Empire

Look at the evil grin on the face of Stonewall in this picture, the man is enjoying it too much I tell you!

Near the end and the redcoats are hard pressed

Zulus, farsands of 'em!

Bromhead, Hook and Schiess defend the rampart
while Corporal Allan secures their flank

Chard and Bourne are pushed back by weight of numbers

Christopher looks up "Fall Back" while Ben wonders where the roof went.
So that's it for now folks, thanks to Lee, Mel, Jamie, Ben and all the others at 4 Ground for hosting us yesterday, it was great and we will be back sooner rather than later.

A quick update

Well it has been an interesting few weeks since I have posted anything here. This will be a brief post about what has happened with a longer post about yesterdays event to follow. 

 Firstly I have now had my second cataract operation and it went as well as the first. My vision is great at distance now, I only need reading glasses for up close work. Top notch service and a great result, happy days! 

 Secondly, we had the Clotted Lard event at the club, ably managed by the over-worked Bob who did a marvelous job herding cats, ahem I mean wargamers, to get the event sorted. He had some major problems with various games being cancelled and many people dropping out for various reasons, but he pulled it all together and a good day was had by all. I ran a Chain of Command game in the morning, based on the actions at Mirbat in 1972. It went quite badly for the SAS and local troops in my game, with numerous casualties amongst the SAS unit. The players seemed to enjoy it though, which is what it is all about. In the afternoon I played a Sharp Practice AWI game put on by the very talented Jim Ibbotson. The scenery and figures were beautiful and the game was very balanced and a lot of fun to play. Victory for the forces of the King was assured by some very good dice rolling on my co-commanders part.
Finally, O Group has entered my gaming encyclopedia and very welcome it is too. Ian and Steve put on a game at the club and I was lucky enough to get to play it. It inspired me enough to put on a game the following Wednesday for my son and Nathan to play, to try out some more rules and units. The latest publication by Reisswitz Press, it is a battalion level game and plays very nicely. I will so no more about it today though as I am still learning how to play it properly, it's another set that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Below are a few snaps of the game I put on.
Table setup, France 1944

Germans occupy the farm

Panzers marsch!

A British company commander spots some trouble

The Germans advance in force

The farm is captured after a hard fight

Results of the farm fight

Right, thats it for now. Another update will be along soon with a report of a cracking day yesterday. Catch you later.