And now, the end is near…

To all of you who have played our games, supported our endeavours or just like reading our scribblings, we wish you our heartiest felicitations for the season. May your stockings be filled with tiny marching feet and the rules with which to play them.
We sincerely hope that each and every one of you shall have time during the holidays to kick back, play a game or three, paint some miniatures, construct some terrain, eat well and make merry.

As far as we are concerned at the Ministry, we shall take some time to reflect on the year that has been and consider our plans for the year that is yet to come. Though no shades of past, present and future shall disturb our sleep this Christmas Eve. Bob Cratchett, or ‘Billy’ as he likes to be called, shall not starve.

For both of us it has been an interesting year. We launched our first hardback book, a work of some considerable personal satisfaction, and watched it do fairly well in what we did understand would be a highly competitive market. We knew it would not match Frostbite for sales, but we don’t write to entertain the masses, but for a more discerning enthusiast. One for whom having a toolkit upon which to draw and be able to create and play in the fantasy genres of their choice, is more important than everything being presented to them ready made and reliant on the imagination of another.

The shows that we have attended have been wonderful once more. It is here we get to meet our friends in the industry and, most importantly the players. Many new faces came to our stand to talk with us and enjoy our participation games. A special joy is when younger players come to experience our games for the first time. They are so quick to pick up the rules and often surprise their parents when they hand them their asses.

This year we were truly blessed by Billy’s huge and dangerous ravine board, where brave adventurers attempted to escape the clutches of a band of evil monsters, or a band of brave dungeon natives tried to stop a gang of murder hobos escaping justice – all depending on your point of view. We have never had a board so often admired and photographed. It has now been retired and donated to a worthy cause.

On a personal note I turned sixty years of age on the day of The Other Partizan show. My thanks to all of you who commiserated with me on officially becoming an old codger. Both Charles and I have been wargaming and roleplaying since our teens which means that between us we have enjoyed our hobby for roughly ninety years. Grognards indeed.

Since 2013 we have written and published seven books, three with Osprey – gawd bless ’em, and four under the Ministry imprint, not bad for two part-timers. Which means that much of our spare time has been dedicated to writing, editing, publishing, blogging and Facebook grouping, preparing showboards and figures, and attending shows.

So what is to come? Well despite our personal trials and tribulations this year, it really has not been as easy as it might seem, we have been laying the foundations for a new and mighty project. Something we shall properly announce after the New Year’s hangovers have subsided.

Finally, we would like to thank so many people for their assistance this year. Firstly everyone who has contributed in word and deed in our enterprise, most of whom are in the acknowledgements of our books. You know who you are and we salute each and every one of you.
A special thanks to the show-runners, especially Lawrence and Richard of Partizan, whose faith in us is so appreciated.
Also to the many players who have inspired us, and many others, by presenting their efforts on our Facebook pages, and in such fora as Lead Adventure and the Wargames Website. You are the reason that we carry on.

The New Blog

As you may know we believe in supporting our players through an active presence on Facebook and other fora. We also maintain a blog for each of our games. As you can imagine this is very time consuming, time we could use for writing new material.
Also, by having separate blogs for each game players do not get to see what else is going on in our range of games. This is a shame as all three games use the same core engine so players may find skills, powers, beasts and equipment from the others that they can adapt to their own games.

So we have decided to bring all of our games onto a single blog called, appropriately, The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare. You can find it here: https://theministryofgentlemanlywarfare.wordpress.com/

The current blogs shall not be deleted. There are hundreds of articles, battle reports, tutorials, pieces of fiction and other materials on them we do no want to lose. But they shall no longer be deleted.

Most of the additional/bonus materials we have placed on these blogs has been ported across to the new blog, where each game has its own page. Additionally we shall be combing through the original blogs an extracting all the useful articles, dropping them into PDF then placing them in the games pages of the new blog.

If you are a regular reader or follower of the original blogs we hope you will now transfer your allegiance to the new.

Partizan 2016 Show Report

One of the problems of being a writer and purveyor of fine rulesets is that you spend every show you go to demonstrating them on the tabletop and rarely have any time to appreciate the event itself. So it is, that for the last two years, I have not been to a show where I had time to browse the games and traders or chat with people.

This year I chose not to sign up for Partizan but instead go along as a humble punter. After all, we had already run games at Vapnartak in York, Salute in London and Carronade in Falkirk and honestly, we were knackered. So, along with my good friend Gareth, I set off at sparrow’s fart on Sunday for the long trip from Mid-Wales to Newark. Three hours later we debarked outside the George Stephenson Pavilion on Newark’s showground.

Now I have always been a fan of Kelham Hall. It is the most unique location of all the UK shows, being set in a 19th century stately home. Besides the two great halls, one with a magnificent dome, the show sprawled through nooks, passageways, crannies and smaller chambers. However, you could easily get lost inside its labyrinthine structure and many traders and games simply could not be found without a native guide and lanterns.

A lovely winter WWII game using the Bolt Action rules I believe.

A lovely winter WWII game using the Bolt Action rules I believe.

So looking at the ‘aircraft hangar’ in which the new venue was set brought both trepidation and relief. The ‘pavilion’ is a long, tall, metal-clad shed which proved to both light and airy. It has none of the character of Kelham Hall, but brought many advantages, not least of which was being able to find everything you came to see.

As usual, the Partizan crew were both friendly and efficient so queuing was kept to a minimum. When a fire alarm went off they acted in a professional manner and no-one felt unduly alarmed. I can only imagine the pandemonium if a fire alarm had sounded in Kelham Hall.

For the most part, the traders were spread around the circumference of the pavilion and the games were in the centre, helpfully divided into two zones. The first was for participation games and the other for demonstrations. The passageways around the traders and the games were wide enough to ensure an easy flow and there was less of the feeling of being packed in like sardines that you get in shows set in schools and community halls.

Dan Mersey's new game - The Men who would be Kings.

Dan Mersey’s new game – The Men who would be Kings.

My first port of call was to see Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo games as we had a present for her, a signed copy of Blood Eagle. Annie is an excellent retailer and many of our players have remarked upon the efficiency and friendliness of her service. Then we did a complete circumference of the traders, and what an excellent turnout there was.

Now, I had done the sensible thing before coming and taken out a set amount of cash to spend, however, several of the traders revealed a dangerous new technological development; credit/debit card readers that worked through their smartphones – what devilry is this? Fortunately, my card was locked securely in my car or I could have been facing the wife in the divorce courts ere long.

Particularly tempting were the beautiful terrain mats being marketed by at least two traders. The problem is how do you smuggle a 4′ high roll past the missus? A book can be hidden as can a handful of blister packs but a roll – unlikely.

As we progressed I was greeted by many splendid chaps, certainly too many to mention without fear of missing one and insulting them. Let it just be said that barely ten yards could be walked without running into someone eager to have a chat.

To the Strongest goes Roman!

To the Strongest goes Roman!

There were also a few I sought out deliberately. These included:

  • Dave Wise of GCN & COGS. Once again putting on his justly famous fast-play IHMN games for the public. Dave now boasts having every single company from the three IHMN books and Gothic. Not satisfied with that he also showed off his splendid, hand-made, Victorian Daleks.
  • Richard Dallimore of Copper Mine Miniatures. He is the chap who is creating all the steam horse figures. Dave Wise had a selection of these on display, including one of the COGs division of the Household Cavalry. I put an idea to him for his next project, but that is a secret…
  • Simon Miller, an old pal and the creator of To the Strongest. He was once more running a very popular demonstration game, this time based on a fictional Roman encounter written by the author Harry Sidebottom. Who just happened to be on hand to chat about it all. A fascinating gentleman indeed.
  • Paul Chapman of Painted Empires and his lovely companion, the Lady Teresa. You cannot miss Paul when he is at a show as he is dressed as an Edwardian gentleman, with the most magnificent set of whiskers. He showed me some of his latest painted miniatures just to make me envious, the cad 🙂
  • Shaun McLaughlin, Terry and Mick. Shaun was displaying a huge tabletop town featuring the Winter of ’79 game. The whole thing really took me back to my Navy days in the late seventies. A winter of discontent indeed.
  • Dave, Karl and Dean of the White Hart gamers. They were running a couple of Frostgrave participation games on the Northstar/Wargames Emporium stand and, as usual, everyone seemed to be having a great time.
The Frostgrave Tables

The Frostgrave Tables

This year, for the first time ever, I managed to make it to the Wargames Bloggers Meet. A dozen or so of the UK’s finest wargames bloggers gathered in a darkened corner and swapped hints, tips and, ideas. I don’t know why but I had expected something a bit more organised. However, the friendly anarchist collective approach seemed to work well enough.

I also spent some time talking to the Very British Civil War crew, whose demonstration game was one of the highlights of the day for me. I have admired this game from afar for quite some time and it was smashing to spend some time talking about it with the authors. I just wish I had the time to invest in it and get some games in.

A Very British Civil War game in action.

A Very British Civil War game in action.

One person I had hoped to meet, but who was not there, was Dan Mersey. There was a lovely participation game of his latest rules The Men Who Would Be Kings run by two of his comrades but, alas,no Dan.  To make myself feel better I went and bought Dragon Rampant from Annie.

Of course, we met up with our good friend Nick Eyre. Nick and we have a number of secret plans for the next twelve months which we shall let you know about in good time. One thing we can tell you is that we shall be at The Other Partizan in August running Blood Eagle participation games on Nick’s stand.

An enormous Winter of '79 game put on by Shaun Mclaughlin and his merry men.

An enormous Winter of ’79 game put on by Shaun Mclaughlin and his merry men.

Something I did note was that there were fewer demonstration games where those running it just sat and ignored the public. Salute is especially bad for this, however, all but a couple of games at Partizan were crewed by people keen to show what they were doing. One fellow, whose name escapes me (sorry) was running an Irish game with the Jacobites facing off against William’s mercenary army across some magnificent terrain. The fellow had spent three years putting it all together and the effort really showed. He was using the Beneath the Lily Banner rules, which I had heard of but never seen in action.

Ireland 1688 and all is not quiet...

Ireland 1688 and all is not quiet…

Overall I think the show has benefited from its move to the Newark Showground. The layout and the light, airy hall makes a real difference to the experience. The Partizan crew, the traders and, the gamers, worked hard to make it a pleasant experience for one and all. It was well worth the long drive over and back. We shall be looking forwards to returning in August to contribute our own game.

 

Partizan 2016

For all of you going to Partizan next week.

The Ministry shall not be running a game, instead I shall be attending as a punter for a change. It will lovely to have time to have time to mooch around the trade stands and observe the various games. The last six shows I have attended we have been so busy that even a toilet break was a hurried luxury.

If you are going I have a few recommendations for you:

  • T10 Northstar/Wargames Emporium, our constant friends and distributors of Blood Eagle and Daisho.
  • T31 Bad Squiddo Games, run by the inimitable Annie Norman
  • PG19 COGS/GCN, where Dave Wise and his stalwarts shall be running their infamous fast play In Her Majesty’s Name games once again.
  • DG15 Simon Miller’s To the Strongest! demo. If you want to see how to play a game with several thousand figures in a couple of hours.

Partizan 2016

I shall be wandering about in my black Ministry polo shirt so feel free to flag me down for a chat, or to give me a piece of your mind 🙂

North of the Wall

Well, later today we begin the long trek from Mid-Wales to Falkirk in Scotland. Google tells me it will take six hours, but they have not met the official Ministry driver – Lorna, my wife.

There we shall be attending:
Carronade 2016
7th May 2016, 10am – 4pm
Graeme High School, Falkirk FK1 1SY

There shall be 30 + Clubs Presenting Demonstration & Public Participation Games, 40+ Traders, a Flea Market and a Bring & Buy.
Adults are £2.50 and Concessions £1.50
More details at: http://www.falkirkwargamesclub.org.uk/Carronade/Carronade_Home.html

I am so looking forwards to seeing all you Scots, Picts, Highlanders, Lowlanders and even any English who can get their passports stamped by Nicola Sturgeon 😉

I shall be presenting and running Blood Eagle participation games all day, as well as flogging copies of that and Daisho if any of you are interested.

A report and pictures shall be forthcoming, you have my word on that.