The dust settles and the desert falls silent.
“DAK! DAK! Go!”, the 2016 Brighton Bash, ran over the weekend of January 16/17. This saw us conduct the first “proper” (6’x4′ dice and rulers) wargame tournament at the Dice Saloon shop and gaming venue, learning a great deal in the process!
Ten tables set up and Mike asked me to strike a pose. “Parting the red sea” or “deer in the headlights” you decide… [full size courtesy of Mike South]
Friday night saw Nathan, Skip and myself set up ten tables of desert terrain, aided by Axel, Jim and Mat (who came through with a plan that didn’t involve hitting me in front of armed guards and explained *exactly* how to get ten tables in the rear gaming room). It required a late finish as we had to work around the paying customers but the effort was appreciated and well worth it.
Desert settlement – Axel enjoys the perks of being a store owner by ‘supervising’! [full size]
Mat and Jim do the important work – marketing! [full size]
Saturday and Sunday saw five games conducted with a random draw bringing ‘Hasty Attack’, ‘Breakthrough’, ‘Free for All’, ‘Pincer’ and ‘Cauldron’ to the table. Not my first choice in missions, especially not Encounter (to be fair, Nathan had already re-rolled that blot of a mission twice. Clearly the dice gods wanted it played…)
I’ll get onto results in a moment, but it’s worth taking a step back and reviewing how the tournament went from a Tournament Organiser (TO) perspective.
It was a slog but the general reaction from both the Dice Saloon venue owners and the paying punters made it worthwhile. Ultimately we managed to provide ten tables of desert terrain that had a consistent look and theme whilst still presenting interesting challenges on each table such that it didn’t get samey over five games.
Having guys that play in the national tournament scene come and say that it was one of the best looking tournaments they had played in means I met one of the key objectives going into the weekend.
Big thanks to Simon Oatley for lending his ‘battlefield wreckage’, desert town, and three 1:100 Stuka for the tournament. The Stuka helped make the airfield look the part and the other terrain pieces helped liven up two of the tables. Thanks also to Nathan for loaning his personal collection of desert terrain such that we managed to fit out two entire tables with it!
If you are going to have Raiders, you have to have an airfield with a line of Stuka to shoot up!
Something I feel should be a no brainer at this point but its always nice when you hit your timings, get player’s in the right place, make sure everyone gets five unique games and play on five unique tables. Nathan’s been tinkering with the Excel sheet ever since the first Brighton Bash I ran at Wargames Heaven and its largely a case of “feed results in, get games out”. The table pairing is still a manual job which gets increasingly difficult as the weekend goes on but we managed to get through with only two players having to repeat a table. Not quite the 100% record I was aiming for but not bad going.
- Army variety
The 1500pt limit, force restrictions and the presence of raiders led to some very interesting allied forces. We had Crusader equipped Light Armoured Squadrons, Lee and T12 tank destroyer equipped US Armoured Rifles and even some Free French! The Italians were also present with a Squadrone Esplorante being a very welcome addition. The German forces were perhaps the closest to “business as usual” with the ever popular Schutzen being well represented but even here we saw some variation with 90th Leichte turning up with its re-bored Russian anti-tank guns and the Marder III(7.62) being a popular addition in place of the normal Panzers. The 25pdr also seemed to be more popular than the normal German artillery, its dual role capability being useful in the desert.
In that respect, another of my pre-tornie aims had been achieved.
Panzer IIIL and IVF clash with Crusaders and Grants for control of the south end of the runway
So, that’s the back patting. What were the negative points?
- Table sizes.
Jim and Axel, quite rightfully, realised that shifting and storing heavy chipboard tables was a mugs game and adopted a ‘modular approach’ that allowed the gaming area to be quickly re-roled from one game configuration to the next. To do this they use off the shelf honeycomb boards that are then laid on trestles and a suitably coloured custom vinyl mat laid on top (we had nine desert ones made up for the tournament). Easy to store, minimum of fuss to switch table layouts. Problem solved.
The only issue is, despite searching high and low, they could not find one that would stack up to give a 6 x 4 board without a lot of ‘white space’ around the mat. Now, that white space has its uses (over the course of the weekend I noted that most games had an assortment of ‘dead pools’, reserves, counters and dice stacked up in it. But it did cut into the ‘arse manoeuvring’ space and made it tricky to reach across the table.
Not a big issue. But we may take another look at how we set up the room to allow for better table navigation.
100% pure wargaming – condensed for goodness
- Raid missions
I wanted to encourage raid missions so gave each raider two cards that could be played at the start of the game. One “raid” missions and one “convoy” mission. As it was, we only had one raider (Paul Stovell and his Compagnie de Tirailleurs Senegalais) and he only used one card; “raid”. The only issue was that the card was played on the “airfield” table where the whole area counts as road. Needless to say it made for quite a quick and painful game for his opponent.
The raids may need to be reconsidered in a torny format. The Bunshop guys did have a very good suggestion and we’ll get to that shortly.
In my efforts to get terrain sorted its fair to say I dropped the ball on presenting the prizes. The Dice Saloon provided some generous prize support but I hadn’t put any thought/effort into the small things like presenting a certificate/placard to the winners as we have done at past tournaments. No-one mentioned it as an issue so maybe I’m over analysing but at the next one I’ll try and get something in place.
That’s lessons learned out the way. Now the results.
With one exception (Soja just running out of time), every army had at least a basic paint job. Combined with the terrain it made for some great visuals during the tournament! I let player’s nominate the best painted and Graham Willmott (with 5 votes) won out here with his US Armoured Rifles. Skip and his 8th Armoured Heavy Squadron came second with 3 votes and Gav Duck’s late night painting (plus a lend of my recently repainted Grants!) got him 3rd place with 2 votes.
[Hey, you know what would have been great Lee? If you had taken some photos of the best painted force??]
It was a fairly laid back tournament and most sporting was fairly hotly contested with more than a few players getting one vote. Duncan Gosling however won over almost all his opponents and got 4 votes. Graham Willmott and myself came joint second with two votes each.
Dave and Gav get ready to fight it out in the blue
As an Axis vs Allies tournament we have a prize for best Axis General and best Allied General, rather than a single overall best general. Interestingly, when totalled, the two sides were pretty close: Allies had 490pts vs an Axis total of 515pts. The axis however had far more variation in the points – the top four axis players were also the top 4 players overall but the bottom four players overall also featured three axis players! Sadly, I have to count myself in that number. I won but one game this tournament and came a rather lowly fourth from bottom. Not my finest moment!
Anyway, to results. Despite being a last minute confirmation, Hammy and his entirely tank based PanzerKompanie came first for the Axis and overall. Dave Madigan with 15Pz SchutzenKompanie came second of both axis and overall; whilst Tom Warburton, also a last minute addition and with an army Nathan threw together for him a week before with no time to practice, came an amazing third place in both axis and overall standings.
On the allied side, Paul Stovell, with the only raiding force, came first for the allies (fifth overall). I was surprised to see this but really glad that one of the outlier forces did so well. Skip came second (6th overall) with his Heavy Armoured Squadron and Graham, both Willmott and Klaka secured joint third with their US Armoured forces.
Terrain packed up and play mats rolled away, its time to think about the next tournament.
Having got on well with the venue, I’m keen to run a few more desert based tournaments to justify their expense on all these desert mats! Noting that no one from Brighton was heading to Art of War (brownie points being replenished all round) and finding an empty spot in the venue’s calendar we have scheduled a 1650pt North Africa tournament (DAK!DAK!2Go!) for April 23/24th. This will be a more straightforward affair with no raiding missions and no restrictions beyond no characters/ list only from North Africa/Tunisia sections of the book.
After that? Well, the Bunshop guys had a rather interesting idea for an axis vs allied Raiding event. 5 Allied Raiders vs 5 Axis Garrison forces and 5 Axis Raiders vs 5 Allied garrisons. It’s very intriguing but, given the need to have 4 groups of 5 players I can see it being a logistical nightmare for the poor old TO!
Still, its all a game, right?