Friday, 15 August 2014

When shall we meet (sic) again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurly-burly's done, When the battle's lost and won.

Aaaah, Bring Out Your Lead 2014. Good times. The title probably makes more sense for those who were there, so if you don't get it, why weren't you there? Hmm? Make sure you come next time!

It was wonderful to see the event grow so much in 12 short months. Thanks must go to everyone out there who make the scene what it is, a vibrant and exciting gathering of passionate gamers, painters and collectors, but especially to Orlygg, Gaj and the Ansells.

Let's look at a few photos then, not too many, just some you may not have already seen or those I need to illustrate a thought.

The Ansells set up a wonderful marquee for us complete with bar and display cooler. No doubt an acquisition for the Stoke Hall weddings side of the business. This gave us plenty of room to spread out and proved ideal in both hot and wet weather.

On the left as you entered was Whiskey Priest's excellent 'Ferrograd' table. Truly a sight to behold, positively teeming with beautiful scenery. Lots of fantastic games took place in Ferrograd over the weekend, check out the blogosphere, Facebook or the Oldhammer Plus G+ community for multiple reports.

The little details bring Ferrograd to life, such as posters, graffiti and store signs.

On the right as you entered, the classic table which seems to be everyone's favourite. This time it had an exquisite gothic village square set up on it, I was lucky enough to get a game in on this table later on which I'll come back to.

The madness that was the siege game! I despaired at the approach taken to this particular game (there was far too much emphasis placed on precision and slavish adherence to the rules and not enough good-humoured improvisation to speed things up) but despite my minor criticisms I have to say the happy faces plastered onto the participants for three straight days made this game virtually irreproachable!

The objective, an enormous walled city. The defences were pretty solid and well thought out and the 'Siege' book has walls and towers virtually indestructible to damage from petty catapults and bolt throwers (which was all the attackers seemed to have) but nobody on the bad guys side seemed to mind. Even the inclusion of some pretty beefy giants couldn't make a difference!

An attacker's eye view.

A nice shot of the city walls as the attacker's lines hit a high water mark. Note the excellent bar in the background which is where we were supplied with all our hot food and beer!

A great shot of the evil army with the classic giant at the head about to be met by a sally of elite knights from the city. There was action aplenty thanks to delaying tactics like this but I still think the evil army deployment was too far away to be considered fair (their artillery was well out of range of the walls and just sat there getting comprehensively flattened by an air cavalry brigade) and the game unfortunately lacked an independent GM who could have made such a difference to the pace of the game. A shocking oversight! If I sound critical remind yourself that this game was thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part, I only mention these things because this size of game is likely to be common as Oldhammer events take off around the world and there really was a lot to be learnt from this experience.

The main building itself was looking remarkably cosy considering the amount of time the Ansells have had to get prepared. There were four rooms filled with racks of Wargames Foundry blisters, three of which had gaming tables set up too. There are also very nice loos beyond the archway in this picture, important for a three-day event! The talented and charming Tony Yates set up in this room and delighted his public with dozens of sketches and anecdotes.

One of the Oldhammer founding fathers, the author of Warhammer for Adults, thrills a young crowd of enthralled newcomers with tales of yore.

The Goblinmaster himself was on hand with a sackful of greens to chat to anyone interested in the art of making a perfect gobbo. One more room beyond which I didn't photograph as it was just more blisters.

Another nook of a room, behind the marquee. A very suitable cubby-hole for a quiet game away from the crowds.

There follows a snap of each shelf of the display cabinets. All the minis from last year were rotated out for fresh ones from Bryan's 80,000 strong Citadel collection.

A shot of my 'army' (only two units) going into battle. I was up against a couple of Chaos warbands who struggled against the static combat resolution of my infantry block (I have written about this before) but fortunately we had an excellent GM on hand to keep the game balanced and free-flowing.

A cinematic high point of the game, my emerging hero and some followers leave the church only to be ambushed by sundry chaotics! After the game my 'champion' lost the use of his legs only to gain levitation. Most of his followers shrunk to a tiny size and he now keeps them in a bag and uses them to perform minor tasks on the battlefield. If I can find a suitable 'levitating knight' figure you may see him back again next year! Suggestions welcome.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. The problem with the siege game (if it can be called a problem) was that the carefully planned scenarios were thrown out the window by people on both sides eager to get their lead on the table as soon as possible. Had we gone through the distinct three phases planned the evil army would have started much closer and probably had a breach to boot.

    People didn't want this in the end, just a big throw down and that's what they got.

    There was also huge amounts of improvisation of rules going on and gentlemanly agreement perhaps you missed it. The one thing it certainly wasn't was slavish adherence to the rules. Lessons can be learned for sure. Either players respect the initial planning and go with it or we accept that it is just going to be chaotic, possibly unfair and that there may well be times when, "your stuff", has nothing to do, like on a real battle field. Some people mucked in and moved others stuff nobody seamed to mind.

    1. I certainly missed a lot of the battle as I wasn't taking part in it but as a regular spectator I was able to see the big picture better perhaps than a participant. What I did see was a number of examples of pointless slavish adherence to the rules, perhaps you missed those! ;) I don't think everyone at the table was remembering to be responsible for the enjoyment of their fellows, fortunately the majority were and that made all the difference.

      This is just opinion, I certainly don't want to knock the game or the gamers in any way, I just think that the next one could benefit from lessons learnt and an independent GM.

      With these supersize games mistakes like the 'big throw down' you mention are inevitable, it is the ability (desire?) to put those mistakes right after the fact that was lacking.

      All in all though the entire game has my admiration, the positives outweighed the negatives 10 to one. :)

    2. The bigger the game the more people you have to please. For some the big throw down was far from a mistake to be corrected, it was the whole point. Perhaps I was disappointed that the scenarios were not played out but I couldn't stay that way for long, look at the table after all and all the happy faces. Yes it messed up the attackers chances but we improvised and the people that enjoyed it the way it was far outweighed those who had a problem with it, I doubt it is possible to please everyone in such a game. One of the perils of multi-multi player gaming.

      I was also very pleased with the way we GMed together by consent. If someone disagreed with something that was being done they said so. It the problem still couldn't be agreed then the book was consulted. I'd say this happened very rarely.

    3. Oh I completely agree with all that, especially the bit about the happy faces which were always in evidence. The game was a both a marvel to behold and a triumph. Next time, I will still urge the use of an independent GM to take things to the next, legendary level is all I'm saying. I was very impressed by the handle you personally had on the complex rules spread over two books and the way they interacted. You would be a very good candidate for a GM.

    4. I suspect it is a big ask in a game of that size to get someone to agree to not actually play. Maybe if we got more chances to play games of this size? At it's height several turns were being played at the same time, without structuring that chaos I'm not sure a GM could help any. I'm pretty sure that chaos was the magic ingredient.

    5. Lol, maybe chaos was the magic ingredient, who knows!

      Norse certainly took the same view about the frequency of this kind of game having a bearing on the way it was approached.

      I personally love to GM but I wouldn't volunteer for something this size because I like to change scale to Warmaster for things like this and also because I don't really want to spend the whole weekend tied to one game. So, I very much take your point about it being a big ask. What a GM can do if you find one is to focus the players energy and change the rules to suit the situation (I find rules are like battle-plans, they start to look a bit inadequate in the middle of a battle sometimes!).

      Hypothetically speaking, If I'd had carte blanche to interfere with this siege game I would have allowed the evil siege engines to rethink their awful deployment for the good of the game. I would also have made sure the evil guys got close to the walls by the end of play on Friday (by contracting several turns if necessary). There also wasn't enough magic going on that I could see, it is rightly feared as a potential game-breaker but in this environment it would have been a perfect equaliser for the evil side who were ultimately merely playing the losing part of a patsy in someone else's story right from turn one. It might be their own fault but I'm sure they would have preferred for certain things to have been tweaked and their failure to have been by a narrower margin. Perhaps it's just the storyteller in me that wants games to be like that.

    6. I've had this out with my brother already but I feel there was perhaps a lack of imagination on the evil players side. Why were the Wyverns, all four available used piecemeal and squandered as part of the ground assault. Why didn't they take at least one tower, why did they give the sky to the forces of law. I know my brother was annoyed at this waste but did he pipe up?

      What about the balrog, once it beat the elemental why didn't it start flying, or as it burst through the enemy lines why was it only supported by the Khornate forces?

      Why did the evil side set up their war machines and towers so far back, they had up to the half way line even in the lopsided game we played? I would have had them closer but you can't make the opposition do that. it is their choice. Had they mentioned the speed I'd have suggested they went faster I hadn't noticed.

      Several times they broke the thin outer defenses, each time they pressed on to the wall, why didn't they roll up the defenders thin line when they had multiple chances? Perhaps I should have mentioned it at the time but it is hard not to let your enemy make daft mistakes.

      Why did the skaven opt for the tunnel to put troops in the city instead of a breached wall? I did veto a second tunnel of Skaven appearing within the wall. The plan as suggested, massive unit appearing in an excellent midway position on the wall uncontested, would have been game over with the only winner the Skaven.

      My observation was that the forces of law were talking a lot more and agreeing upon plans, several turns from the one they were in. The forces of chaos had several generals playing out their own plan with no clear objective beyond lets see what this can do...

    7. A very succinct summary of the reasons for the evil side's failure!

      Over the years I have formed the opinion that one, lone wargamer would beat multiple opponents every time (assuming equal points) because their joined up thinking would always defeat the disjointed efforts of the 'team'.

      To apply that experience here, it seems as though the good side had a well thought out strategy and a cohesive approach to the battle, helped no doubt by charismatic leadership! All the while the evil side were just pushing their toys about and blundering amiably about somewhat.

      The responsibility for marrying these two styles together can't fall solely on the more effective good guys, so this is where a neutral GM could have involved themselves and possibly made the game even more engaging for both sides.

      I'm still just in the realms of the hypothetical here of course. The actual game as it played out was obviously enjoyed immensely by everyone (myself as a spectator included) but next time I'm thinking it might be worth making subtle changes to avoid certain pitfalls. Though a self-defeating 'evil' side certainly has a narrative appeal!

    8. Hi guys,

      Loved the siege, a real once in a lifetime experience. I'm enjoying looking through the pictures. I think we should have a proper discussion about how these "big games" work, and what people want out of them. I've now participated in two massive thousands of figures games (this and the Ziggurat game), and while I enjoyed them both it was key that not everyone was on the same page about what was going on. The main thing seems to be the spectacle, but beyond that it would be a good conversation about how to get the gameplay right.

      Erny, what you say about strategy is sadly unrealistic, for three reasons. The first is deployment; by the time I came on Sat (my own fault for being late) it was a fait accomplis, and there was no way of putting things down other than jamming them in wherever. I think here a "high general" for the evil side would have helped, offering guidance and not just leaving things to chance (although then again, we were chaos!)

      Secondly, it was clear whenever I chatted with people to try and get a sense of our overall strategy, there wasn't much of a response. I got the impression that wasn't really something they wanted out of the game, so eventually I just stopped asking because I didn't want to get in the way of their fun with my idea of what I wanted to do. Again, this might be realistic - we were chaos after all! - but it's not right simply to say that we were being unimaginative when really there was no structure in place for us to manage the assault. Again, a clear idea of a "high general" would have helped enormously, together with proper councils of war before the start of the turn to get a sense of what we wanted to do. I think that needs to be part of how the game is pre-organised.

      Thirdly, and most importantly, time. I calculated by the middle of Saturday that there was no way (due to deployment and the speed of turns) that my fimm were going to get to the walls with their battering rams and ladders. It was simply impossible at the speed turns were moving at. At which stage, you have to just shrug and enjoy yourself pushing what you can push around. If things had moved along faster, more things might have got to the walls, but there was a lot of time spent trying to work out who had to do what; some people were uncomfortable playing out of sequence; and often people needed to look up things that weren't that important in the rules. Here, an independent GM would be a great service, both to make decisions on the rules rather than people having to look everything on the book, and perhaps more importantly to KEEP THINGS MOVING, to really up the pace, make sure there is no dead time when people are just sitting around. If we'd had more turns, things could have been very different.

      So I would say, let's have a discussion on the forum about "big games", what we want out of them, and what lessons to learn. But my suggestions would be that an independent GM is essential, and that each side should have a "high general" to try and coordinate things. And, most importantly of all, KEEP THINGS MOVING!

    9. Perhaps I should have said lack of imagination on the part of the evil generals who were controlling the toys capable of the dramatic moves. That or too much to do, I don't think Steve had much time to think. A high general is a good idea, I guess I sort of assumed this would happen, or at least that a decent council of war would occur and objectives defined. We should make the appointment of a high general part of the signing up process, that and ensuring the general is able and willing.

    10. Well the drums I bang over and over again on this blog are 'you need a pre-game agreement in place' and 'you need a GM' so I'm all for more planning in the run-up for big games.

  2. Hi!

    Ral Partha produces some rather decent levitating Knights and smallish demons for the old Crucible range and they're cracking sculpts if you can locate them on their website!

    All the best!

    1. Cheers mate, I'll get looking right away.

    2. Don't suppose you could make a suggestion to narrow it down? RPE is a big site!

  3. Thanks for this nice walk through the weekend, Warlord Paul! Great photos! I really like the two mixed units in the second last picture. Mixed units always speak of true fantasy to me. And Bryan Ansell's 80 000 minis! Oh, if only one day he opens up the cabinets and lets people game with them! Perhaps this will be a BOYL 2015 event!

    1. My absolute pleasure as always PW. Thanks for the compliment, I love my units to have a mercenary, rag-tag feel to them and mixing races and ranges jump-starts the story-telling for me. I think Bryan's collection is approaching holy relic status currently, it does seem a shame they don't see the tabletop these days though. Maybe next year I'll challenge him to a game!

  4. Hi all...great report... But as ever Paul... I want a picture if your tshirt!

    We had similar issues in the epic game as the sheer quantity of models and players involved slowed things down to start with. But we had a group chat and modified the rules process and this sped things up considerably; so there are ways around the issue. It does help if both sides talk to each other continuously to rectify any pace issues and ensure all players are having fun. Chico was a master at this; and let's face it...we're Oldhammerers; we're here to have fun not stick rigidly to the rules and eek out victory at all costs!

    But I have to say the siege game looked so beautiful I nearly passed out with delight!! Xxxxxx

    1. Indeed, it seems daft discussing a 'problem' that was certainly no such thing. I feel bad for the Fimir though, that's twice they have simply walked from A to B in a big game. I am simply hoping that the lost art of a good story-game comes back into fashion when I speak up really.

      I am not in any photos that I have seen yet, last year I was photo-bombing almost every other shot but this year not a sausage. I know that when the Foundry newsletter comes out I will be on that in the group shot at least so I will re-post that one. If all else fails I will just get one taken especially! I have three t-shirts, so maybe I will make my family appear wearing one too, lol.

    2. Well, to be fair, one of the units of fimm went through the tunnel and got behind the city walls, it was just the others trudging forward. And they've had really good outings in the smaller games I've played.

      I'll probably bring them along to Night of the Living Lead (if that's ok with you, and fits into your plans) before giving them a bit of a break to motivate me to work on other projects.

    3. Sure, fair-play, you got a little action then. I seem to recall it was a lot of effort for very little reward though, especially when it came to getting a shot off with your mortars!

      You are very much welcome at Night of the Living Lead II (Slayer Gaming, Mansfield) of course, I'll make sure you are in the vanguard!

    4. His mortars did more than many of the war engines on either side. Star players in fact, though I wasn't disappointed when they blew up.

    5. Yay, toad-cannons for the win. War engines are always a ticking time bomb though.