Of course, even in all the time since the last post, my hobby progress has been sadly lacking (which is happening all too often these days...). I've managed to get a fair few games in though, and this weekend was something particularly special.
Yesterday saw the opening of the new premises of Stafford Games, and to celebrate the occasion an Opening Day event was held to show off the new shop and gaming hall. What was once a crowded and rather tiny industrial unit with room for about six gaming tables and not much else (and before that, was an almost equally crowded two-floor shop in the middle of Stafford, if memory serves) has now become a large and spacious gaming hall with a very smart-looking shop area at the front, and is being styled as "The Midlands Wargames Centre". Honestly, I think it lives up to the name.
It's nothing too flashy at the moment (or at least the hall isn't), and it's not completely finished (Roland, the owner, still has plans for work to be done) but it's a huge upgrade from the previous setting (which only happens to be just round the corner, so we didn't even move very far!). But whereas the previous shop was always a struggle for space, and barely fitted half a dozen tables with all the stock tightly packed on narrow shelving around the room (which wasn't an ideal situation for either gaming, or shopping), the new premises has the shop completely seperate from the gaming area; the shop alone is about the same size as the whole previous premises, and has plenty of room to comfortably display all the available stock.
The biggest improvement though is most definitely the gaming area. Until turning up yesterday, we had no real idea of just how big it was going to be, but it's more than big enough now to comfortably meet all of the club's needs. Just to give you an idea:
Three shots taken from the back of the hall, looking back towards the shop (through the door) and the front of the Centre. As you can tell, there was plenty of space yesterday - on the left side (left on the photos, that is) there were three rows of three 6'x4' tables and on the right there were four rows of two 6'x4' tables - seventeen full size tables in all, and plenty of space for them all (plus plenty of open space left over; you could easily fit in another three or four tables comfortably). What isn't shown in the photos above (because they were behind the camera) are the two painting stations along the back wall, the toilet facilities and the all-important vending machine!
You can see the balcony above the shop as well (with the wooden barrier where the flags are hanging); that's the planned development for the future. At the moment, the only way to access the top is by ladder, but Roland has plans to add in stairs, build a sturdier barrier ("because some of us are big chaps!" he said...) and then get another three or four tables up there; either to add extra tables for tournaments, or to allow us to plan big ongoing games without having to pack everything up each week.
So those are the new premises, but what did we all get up to?
Well, as you can see, there were plenty of games going on. Here are just a few of them:
|A WAB game between Greeks and Persians (I think)|
|John's Border Reivers participation game, which attracted a lot of interest|
|A Regimental Fire & Fury ACW game by Mike, Andy, Glenn and Stuart|
|Jeff (left) and BMW John (right) and their tank-mad FoW game|
Gary, Paul, Daz and myself were playing a Thirty Years' War game between the forces of Gustavus Adolphus' Swedes, and Imperialists under the joint command of Wallenstein and Tilly. Myself and Gary took command of the Imperialists; our mission was to secure a river crossing, which was at the far end of the table. Daz and Paul took command of the Swedes in defence.
I didn't keep a record of the whole game to write up, but although the Swedes put up stiff opposition, we eventually managed to secure the bridgehead. The second photo above shows the Imperial advance early on (after two units of Swedish cavalry had been revealed behind the hills). I had command of the left flank (a unit of Arquebusiers, a unit of Curassiers, a saker, and three infantry regiments; Jung Tilly, Munich-Ebersberg and Lorrainers) which remained the most intact throughout the game (losing the cavalry, but with three full-strength infantry units taking the bridge by the end of the game) while Gary's forces got pretty heavily battered by the end. Of course, Gary will claim that this is because he did most of the fighting, but I know the truth - obviously, it's because of my better generalship!
|My Curassiers engage a squadron of much-depleted Swedish cavalry|
|A view of the Imperial line from the Swedish perspective, after the initial cavalry charges by the Swedes|
|My three infantry regiments advance early on. From left to right: Munich-Ebersberg, Lorrainers, Jung-Tilly|
|Another early shot of the Swedish cavalry charge, after my Curassiers have been pushed back initially.|
|The Imperial advance continues towards the Swedish line|
|Another shot of the Imperial advance|
|A close up of the Curassiers caracoling more Swedish cavalry|
|The Imperials within touching distance of the bridge!|
Anyway, things are all still up in the air but there are four of us at least who are prepared to put in the work and get things ready. The unfortunate thing is that not many other people at the club seem to be interested; as I may have mentioned before, the club is very Flames of War-centric, and unfortunately not many of the members seem keen to branch out into other eras, other games or other ranges. Each to their own I suppose, but with a club of our size (and now, with our facilities) it would be a crying shame if we couldn't up the level of our involvement in the wargaming community, especially after successful showings at Wargamer and Alumwell this year (which were the first games we've ever put on at shows). But I digress....
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete with some good old trade. The Opening Day had a bring-and-buy sale for people to bring along their unwanted figures; I took along my old Blood Angels army to get rid of (as we've not played 40K for years, my Blood Angels are more a collection of figures than an army, and I have Eldar if I do ever get back into playing 40K anyway). I took all the stuff I had and sold them by unit, at very good prices (if I do say so myself!). If it had all sold, I'd have made £122 but in the end I only managed to get rid of some Assault Marines and a Command Squad for a total of £21. Still, I didn't expect to sell much because I knew most people would be preoccupied with playing. They attracted a lot of interest, but sadly only a couple of buyers!
After playing Black Scorpion's Cutlass rules at the last couple of club sessions (written by a certain Gav Thorpe...), we're also toying with the idea of running another Pirates campaign (myself, Paul and Gary ran a small Pirates campaign using the LotHS rules last summer, but I think we already prefer Cutlass) so I've picked up another couple of minis for a crew
The first figure I picked up mainly because he looks like a character from a Three Musketeers film; the second because he has a parrot! You can't get more piratey than that!
In other news, the complete lack of hobby progress may soon be at an end - I'm getting my painting den back! After being turfed out of there I don't know how long ago (probably Christmas?) to make room for visitors, it was turned back into a spare bedroom. Now, I'm getting it back it will hopefully make it much easier for me to work on stuff - as things are, I've been working out of the bedroom, with everything (paints, tools, miniatures) packed away or tidied under the bed. Not the easiest situation to work with, and not helped by the fact that I often come home and the last thing I want to do at night is fetch everything out for an hour or two only to have to put it away again. With the painting den back up and running, I'll be able to just leave everything out and ready, and just pop in when I have half-an-hour free to work on bits at a time. Much easier to work with, and hopefully much more productive!
Anyway, it will probably be at least another week or so until I get the den back (we're in the middle of a big move-around, and I have to decorate another bedroom before I can move furniture around and reclaim the den...) but once I have my personal space back, I can hopefully get churning out a few more figures before the year is out and all my resolutions go out of the window!
Until next time!