Monday 1 June 2009

SELWG Firepower at the Arsenal

I went to the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich yesterday to see the SELWG wargames event. And what a cracking little show it was. Eight or nine tables and a couple of trade stands set amongst the artillery pieces of the museum. I had a great time and even had a chance to have a go at a participation game. I'll come back to the show in a moment but first lets look at the Museum itself.
I have a personal interest in this place because the Woolwich Arsenal was where my Nan and Grandfather met. My Grandfather was invalided out of the army due to severe Asthma (and consequently avoided being dropped on Arnhem like many of his mates) and ended up working as a machinist in the Arsenal. Here he met my Grandmother, and the rest, as they say, is history. Nowadays the Woolwich Arsenal is home to the Royal Artillery Museum. This is a great little museum situated on the banks of the Thames overlooking the Ferry with a stunning view of the Thames Barrier, the O2 Dome and Canary Wharf. Inside the museum is stuffed full of objects and of course artillery pieces that illustrate the 293 years of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
The Wargames show itself was small compared to the likes of Salute but what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for in atmosphere and in friendliness. One group I have to mention were Dark Knights and Bloody Dawns who stopped their game to chat with me about Flames of War. In particular Nigel and John who were more than happy to talk through their demo game Outwit the Wittman. Michael Wittman was the Panza equivalent of a Fighter Ace with 138 confirmed tank kills to his credit. One of his most famous engagements was at the Battle of Villers-Bocage where his single Tiger destroyed between 10 and 15 allied tanks. This was the engagement being played out using the Flames of War rules by Battlefront. In this picture you can see that Wittman has already claimed his first casualties of the battle.
However Wittman's luck soon runs out as his Tiger is hit. Wittman himself manages to make his escape and lives to fight another day.
There were games in several historical periods on display as well as a rather cool sci-fi game. I couldn't see what rules were being used but from the models I guess is was Battlefleet Gothic by Games Workshop. Also in the same room was an interesting looking Wild West Game.
However the game that caught my attention in this part of the museum was Berlin or Bust. This was a participation game based on the Peter Pig rules Poor Bloody Infantry (PBI). I was intrigued to see that the games table was split into two mirror images of each other and both featured the Brandenburg Gate. Set in April 1945 the last German fanatics are fighting against two fronts. Three Russian army groups are converging on the city from the East while a similar sized American force converge from the West. The players choose to be either the Americans or Russians and are tasked with taking the Gate and any other objectives before them. The game was set to last a maximum of 4 turns due to the need to keep games to a manageable 30-45 minutes. Here we see Bryan Edwards coaching a player through the game.
I was so impressed by this game I decided to have a go myself and took command of a small force of Russian troops against Bryan's German defenders. The rules were rough and ready but made for a fast paced game with fists full of dice - always a good thing. I was very lucky with my dice roles and I have to say poor Bryan seemed to be cursed with ones, especially when making save rolls! My troops moved forward under heavy fire but lost only three units before assaulting the Gate and taking the last of the objectives held by the Germans.
Now I know it was only a participation game and the odds were stacked in the guests favor, but I was rather chuffed with my performance. I got a real buzz out of playing this game and its certainly fired my enthusiasm for wargaming this period of history.

There were also two traders at the show, Harfield Military Figures and Frontline Wargames. Unusually for me I never actually bought anything but that was not because of lack of choice. I'm in the process of deciding what period to take up wargaming and while I decide I'm holding back spending anything until I know where to invest my hard earned cash.

I had a great day at this event and will certainly make it a regular part of my gaming calender. I have posted more pictures of this event on my Picasa album and they can be viewed by clicking the link.


  1. Dear Lee
    I work with Firepower on their marketing and we'd like to use your first floor shots of the event if possible?

    My contact is

  2. A great report about a great little show (or event as SELWG would prefer us to call it!).

    Bob Cordery

  3. Many thanks for you kind comments about our "Outwit the Wittman" game. It was a pleasure talking with you.



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