Tuesday 10 June 2014

I have been to ... Broadside

Despite feeling slightly under the weather due to a mild stomach bug, I was determined to go to BROADSIDE. This is a small regional wargames show that is run annually by the Milton Hundred Wargames Club. I know the main organiser – Alan Abbey – very well indeed (I taught him when he was eleven!), and it was a pleasure to meet him again this year.

Here is a picture of the man himself:

I managed to get around all the games that were taking part, and took photographs of as many of them as I could. I did have the usual problem though; some had excellent signage and information whereas others did not. As a result I have not been able to attribute some of the games to a group … so if your group's game is featured but unnamed, please accept my apologies.

World War I (Crush The Kaiser)

Kandahar: Second Afghan War (Gravesend Wargamers Club)

The Arabian Campaign, World War I: The taking of Akaba (Rainham [Medway] Wargames Club)

American Civil War Ironclads in action (South East Essex Military Society)

Note: SEEMS (South East Essex Military Society) were using a slightly tweaked version of my Portable Naval Wargame rules.

Western Gunfight ... using Playmobile figures (Gravesend Gamers Guild)

Dr Who (Friday Night Fire Fight Club)

A variety of skirmish-level wargames (Hornchurch Heroes Gaming Club)

Somewhere in France: Summer 1944 (Shepway Wargames Club)

Battle of Shaho: Russo-Japanese War (Posties Rejects)

Postie scratch-built this very impressive balloon using a polystyrene ball, wire, and cardboard. He used a metal base so that it was stable.

Belgium: August 1914 (Medway Wargames Society)

The Magnificent Seven Gunfight (Skirmish Wargames Group)

North West Europe

Vietnam War

Science Fiction games

Western Shootout

Napoleonic Wars


  1. Whenever I go to a show these days, I find it pretty rare to have a game that isn't primarily about infantry (and your photos here bear that one, with just the ACW ironclads as the exception). Is that your experience in general? Would you care to speculate as to why aircraft, armour and ships are currently unpopular?

  2. Rogerbw,

    I know what you mean ... and I don't know why it is like that.

    I suspect that one reason is that infantry form the majority of the fighting strength of an army, and the games reflect that.

    Another might be the amount of space available at most shows. Games involving 1:72nd and 1:100th-scale model aircraft seem to require quite a lot of space ... and I know from experience that naval games using 1:1200th-scale model ships and Fletcher Pratt Naval War Game rules need a large amount of floor space.

    So I think that the answer is that they are not unpopular; they are just impractical.

    All the best,


  3. Excellent pictures of what look like an interesting selection of games.

    I have been wargaming for nearly 45 years now and at no point have I ever been tempted to do a wargame with either aircraft or ships. Odd, as I have made lots of model kits of both.
    I don't read articles on them in the wargames press either and there were quite a lot a few years ago.

    For ships I'd guess that it was poor quality models, on the whole, that put me off. Most are either such small scale that they are caricature tokens or too large, as you say, to be realistic (Flames of War tank battle syndrome). If someone made nice pre-steam period small plastic ship models (like the old Airfix ones)I might buy them!

    As for aircraft I can't get past the weird rods they have to be mounted on. Too much of a game and not enough of a visual recreation for me.

  4. Great pics Bob!!
    As for ship and plane games, in my opinion, they're not at shows because clubs want a game with scenery and terrain, something to really catch your eye. You just don't get that with air or naval games.

  5. Legatus Hedlius,

    It is a very good show, and well worth going to.

    Funnily enough my wargaming has always included naval wargames, but never air wargames ... except for some computer air combat games. I never liked the idea of using stands etc. Too cumbersome and unsightly for my liking.

    As a child I used to fight naval wargames on the lawn using Airfix 1:600th-scale warships and some balsa wood 'home builds'. I fought many interesting battles before I grew up!

    All the best,


  6. Ray Rousell,

    I am pleased to read that you liked the photographs.

    I must admit that your point about clubs wanting to put on games with scenery and terrain is a good one ... and one that I had not thought of.

    All the best,


    P.S. I thought that the Postie's Rejects game was the best one I saw at the show, and I was pleased to read that it won a prize.

  7. Damn good pictures Bob, I believe the show will make most games fit on a 6x4 foot table in future to make a fairer system but I do believe games need to be more friendly.

  8. Francis Lee,

    Thanks very much for your complimentary comments about the photos.

    Setting a table size limit makes sense if space in the venue is restricted ... and one result is that the games are closer in size to those that most wargamers would be able to set up.

    All the best,


  9. Hi Bob, I wondered if I might tap into your not inconsiderable naval knowledge. I'm about to make a couple of card models of an armed tug, and an R-Boat, from 1944, to deploy into my Pegasus bridge game in 15mm. I'm basing them on current German card kits - one of which is for a rather nice tug. But here's my quandry - what paint job would suit them. Just grey - or something more intriguing. I've drawn a blank - especially around details of R-Boats. I will probably fudge the scale a bit ( on a separate note put into ebay's search line 1/100 destroyer - one option is a 52" long model of a type 45 destroyer! - might be a squeez on my 6 X 4 table!!). Do you know of any decent reference material that would guide me re the painting of German river/canal defence boats? Apologies for seemingly hijacking your post theme - although I suppose the armed tug might be capable of delivering a "broadside" from it's weaonry!! Kind regards, Ken

  10. Ken H,

    No problem with the hijack ... especially as your request is such an interesting one.

    Grey would be fine for both ships, but the Germans did tend to use a type of dazzle camouflage for coastal escorts (Vorpostenboots) and motor minesweepers (R-boots). Have a look at the following website for some inspiration German Navy ... and the following pages in particular: Vorpostenboots and R-boot.

    My advice about the models would be to make the length 1:400th-scale and the width 1:200th-scale. This is the 'cartoon' approach that I use and it seems to work fairly well.

    Good luck with your project.

    All the best,


  11. Hi Bob
    That's a great link - I especially like the R-Boot camo job! It's a fascinating part of the operation at the Canal bridge that an R-Boat and an armed tug turned up along the canal - one was brilliantly hit with a piat round, which persuaded the other to withdraw! I've just re read some of the posts re your excellent photos - and I must say that I too find the slightly unusual elements of wargaming great fun - I particularly liked the balloon shot - brilliant! many thanks for your helpful reply, kind regards Ken

  12. Ken H,

    I was pleased to be able to help.

    I have used the website before, and have found it to be one of the most informative ones that deal with the ships of the German Navy.

    Hitting a German ship with a PIAT round is even more impressive than the Royal Marines firing an 84mm Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon at the Argentine corvette when the latter was attacking South Georgia in 1982!

    Long live the unusual in wargaming ... it is what makes it that little bit more interesting!

    All the best,



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