Thursday 23 May 2024

An Unabashed Success! BBB Bash Day V

On 19 May 2024, some 25+ likeminded souls gathered in Daventry UK to share the love for big nineteenth-century battles. Yes! It was the fifth "Bloody Big Battles!" convention, "Bash Day V".

The first three were held at the home of the Oxford Wargames Society, Wolvercote village hall. Last year, Bash Day headed north for the first time to Leeds. (Report here.) This time, we found an accessible Midlands location in the excellent Battlefield Hobbies wargames store.

Because it is entirely about participation, Bash Day takes quite a lot of administrative effort to ensure we have the right number of games for the number of players expected, and then to assign players to the games they want to play. Mark J did a tremendous job of organising all this, liaising with the venue, keeping gamemasters and players informed at every stage, and adapting when (inevitably) one GM and a couple of players dropped out. In the end, it worked out virtually perfectly: all the games had a suitable number of players and everyone got their two games in (one in the morning, one in the afternoon).

The games were all 19th-century actions from a variety of conflicts:

Hanau (1813), from the forthcoming "Napoleon's Bloody Big BATTLES!" scenario book;

Mudki (1845), from the "Bloody Big Battles in INDIA!" scenario book;

The Alma and Balaclava (1854) (beautiful Crimean War games by Matt Bradley of "Pushing Tin" blog fame);

Brandy Station (1863), largest cavalry battle of the ACW;

Mars-la-Tour (1870), one of the biggest battles of the "imperial phase" of the Franco-Prussian War, a scenario from the BBB rulebook;

Champigny/Villiers (1870), when >50,000 men sortied from Paris during the "republican phase" of the Franco-Prussian War, complete with forts, railway guns and a river gunboat;

Isandlwana (1879), the Zulu War game in 28mm that was so popular at the Colours show so popular at the Colours show last year.

Mustering the troops! Set-up phase, circa 9am. Clockwise from foreground: Brandy Station; Isandlwana; Balaclava; the Alma (top left); Mudki (with players); Mars-la-Tour; Champigny/Villiers (top right); Hanau (centre). Photo courtesy of Mark Jarvis.

These games nicely illustrate how BBB can cope equally well with small actions of a few thousand, like Isandlwana, and with massive battles with 100,000+ men on the field, and can still resolve them in an afternoon. The scales on display varied as well, with 6mm, 10mm and 28mm forces in action. Lots of fine craftsmanship was on show: beautiful armies, gorgeous terrain, not to mention cleverly designed scenarios to create nail-biting finishes.

A bleak, wintry scene outside Paris in 1870. Dense columns of French national guards file out between the Paris forts to attack the German siege lines around Champigny and Villiers. Battlemat and armies from Crispin's collection. The forts are mine, from Peter Pig's ACW riverine range. Nowadays these forts are surrounded by urban Paris, of course. I believe one of them is the headquarters of the Foreign Legion; another hosts a wargames club - must visit some time! Photo courtesy of Mark Jarvis.

The players were a varied and high-calibre lot as well. I have sat across the wargame table from a few numpties in my time, but there were none such here. The clientele that BBB attracts seem universally to be nice smart folks who approach the game in a spirit of historical inquiry and good fellowship. Consequently we had a great crowd. Some were veterans of previous Bash Days; others were experienced BBB players attending for the first time; and then there were the totally new recruits who'd never even played BBB before. Some I had met before in person, others I knew 'virtually' from chatting on wargames forums. We doubled our previous record for female gamers attending (nice to see you, Sarah H and Sarah J!) and the teenage generation was present as well (well played, Will!). Special honourable mention goes to our US participant, Jeff, who arranged his UK holiday so that he could join us in Daventry. It was great to meet so many good people and kindred spirits. Half of us went for a post-battle curry - a precious tradition, as it is always nice to have a social as well as the dice-rolling.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this fantastic day possible: to Battlefield Hobbies for hosting; to the gamemasters for laying on such great games; to all the players, some of whom travelled a long way, for making the trek and for participating in such excellent spirit; and especially to Mark J for all his hard work to make it happen and running it so smoothly.

Before we'd even finished our curry, the guys were already talking about planning the next Bash Day. Date, venue and format to be confirmed, but rest assured it will happen. Bash On!


  1. Well done Chris and Mark on what looks like a wonderful day's wargaming. That table in the second picture looks pariculalerly well laid out.

    Talking of Big Battles, allow me to remind you that the Cotswold wargaming Day is on Sunday 15th October at the 'Big Battles' venue in Cirencester. Anyone from the Oxford Club, or their wargaming friends, are welcome to pitch up and have a chat or maybe take part in one of the games.

    CWD Cirencester

  2. Replies
    1. Cotswold Wargames Day sounds like a similarly convivial gathering. I've heard only good things about it and hope to attend one some time (can't make it this year though).

  3. I am truly sorry that I could not be there on the day, looks like it was a really good day. Bash day VI planning already - great! Colin W

  4. Sounds like it was a great success Chris. Had I been able to attend I would have gone for Champigny or a Crimean game.

  5. Alan Millicheap24 May 2024 at 11:52

    Sorry I missed this one (again). Has planning started for next year. I'd like to put Cirencester forward as the location

  6. I am going to put in a bid for Bradford/Leeds. If I am not organising it, I will need to submit a game.

    1. Also possible - Leeds worked well as a venue last time. But we need you to fly the flag at Pendraken in Middlesborough first!


Comments welcome!