One of the few disadvantages of living in deepest, darkest Mid-Wales is that you are so very far from just about anywhere. So it was up before cockcrow to ensure we reached Newark in time to set up.
This was my first time at any Partizan where I would be running a game and I was glad to have my good friend Gareth Pugh to accompany me. Long journeys seem so much shorter in good company.
We arrived in good time, fortified along the way with coffee and buns, and were expertly ushered into the main hall and given a table close to Northstar and several other chaps I knew well.
For those unfamiliar with Partizan’s venue it is Kelham Hall, a magnificent stately pile with many halls and rooms and a labyrinthine layout in between. The main hall boasts the largest brick dome in England. This was the last occasion that Partizan shall be held here and I cannot but think that the show will be diminished somewhat in less splendid surroundings.
Much to the envy of all around us we set up in under ten minutes. Daisho needs only a small table and it is certainly nothing like Shaun and Terry’s incredible, 12’x4′, Indiana Jones in Egypt, 20mm display game.
It did turn out to be a day of pleasant surprises though. The first being when Shaun handing me a box full of Trevor Dixon’s characterful Oni figures. I am so looking forwards to getting these based and painted.
The next was that my old mates of the White Hart group were next door to us, running a busy and quite noisy Frostgrave participation game. Well, two games in fact, including another of Mr King’s magnificent creations, a mountainous mauseoleum.
One of my very oldest friends, the distinguished Ian Notter, appeared completely unexpectedly. He and I began gaming together in the Portsmouth Vile Kush wargames club in the late 1970’s and I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years. He was supporting our mutual friend Simon Miller, who was putting on yet another enormous To The Strongest! exhibition game with the assistance of the Newark Irregulars. If you ever get the chance to see one of these do so. It is not often you can see a couple of thousand 28mm figures marching across the table.
So, less of the reverie of times past and onto Daisho!
The table set up is the Village of Himeshima that I used at Salute and the objective is remarkably simple. All you have to do is walk to the centre of the table where, on the veranda of the Village Elder’s house, is standing an important emissary from the Shogun. The local Daimyo had sent his right-hand man and a lightly armed greeting party to do just that.
Unfortunately, the cunning Abbot of the Green Mountain Monastery had decided that this was an excellent opportunity to embarrass the Daimyo and had sent a small party of skilled monks to kidnap the emissary.
What neither had taken into account is that the emissary, Lord Mukimuk, is a pompous ass and very protective of his dignity. Thus, even when you capture him, he will not move at anything greater than walking pace, he will not clamber over fences or through gardens, and most certainly will not risk his gorgeous kimona in a fight.
Over the day several sets of opponents sat down to try and achieve this objective. Three times the Sohei Monks prevailed and twice the Samurai Clan Patrol. Every single game was a blood bath as monk and samurai clashed in between the poor dwellings of the village.
At one point a player asked if one of his monk archers could climb up onto the roof of a house to get a better firing position, i.e. take the high ground! I decided that if he could balance his figure on the roof then he could do so, but if his figure fell off it would have to take a karma roll to survive. This all went well until a samurai decided to clear the high ground of the irritating bowman. Both figures fell off and each player had to make a karma roll. Both rolled a 1, and both men died an ignominious death. The hilarity that ensued amongst the players and observers was so loud that every other game stopped and looked at us.
The man of the day though was Kiyoki, the Iron Wind. This able monk warrior, armed with a Kanabo (essentially an iron clad baseball bat) sent a dozen samurai and ashigaru to meet their ancestors. He died but once, surrounded by a throng of his enemies.
Every player seemed to have a marvellous time and they all picked the game’s rules up by the middle of the second turn, just as their predecessors had at Salute.
I managed to meet up with both Wayne Bollands of Wargames Illustrated and Guy Bowers of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. Both chaps have been very supportive of IHMN and our latest projects, so it was good to see them again.
Wayne introduced me to Paul Chapman and his lovely wife. They are keen aficionados of Sherlock Holmes and the other writings of Arthur Conan Doyle, one of my passions also. Paul is writing an IHMN piece for Wargames Illustrated on the great detective and I am looking forwards to seeing it.
It is worth mentioning Paul’s attire. He was fully dressed as a gentleman of the late Victorian period. This was not mere cosplay mind, but real clothes and accoutrements including a magnificent hat (a homburg?) which, with his magnificent whiskers, made him look like Sigmund Freud, or perhaps Mycroft Holmes.
All through this my friend Gareth performed admirably, providing an opponent when a single player wanted a game, and advising and encouraging the players whenever I sloped off to chat to other writers and to publishers. I doubt the day could have gone so well without his assistance.
The calendar is starting to fill up again. I’m at the Deeside Defender’s club night in a couple of weeks’ time. After that it’s possibly Fiasco in Leeds in October, then Vapnartak in February 2016, Salute in April 2016 and Carronade (Falkirk) in May 2016. If you want me to attend a show with my little travelling circus, send me the details and I’ll see what we can do.