Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Lard on the Volga - Birthday Bash 2017

It seems strange how something always seems to crop up on the evening my local wargames club meets. School plays, my daughter’s swimming training, my son's football games, a phone call with work – whatever the excuse, it’s going happen on a Tuesday evening when my local club meets.

For a long time we’ve talked about meeting on a weekend, and putting on a club game. 

I turned 50 a little earlier this summer, and this seemed like a good excuse to hire the club venue and stage a large game of “Chain of Command” last Saturday. My chums Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner have already posted a ton of photos from the game on their fine Lard Island News blog. So what follows is my recollection of our visit to Korbinskaya on the Don River.

For anyone thinking about staging a “birthday game”, I can honestly simply say – do it! It’s a great way to arrive at “that” milestone, as well as spending the time with a great selection of friends who just also happen to be wargamers.

Setting the Scene

One of the fun things about any wargame is setting the scene. Rich sent a few emails to me in the week before the game, detailing the setting on the river Don at the small town of Korbinskaya and it’s nearby Collective Pig Farm No. 452. A force organisation table later and I was in business, sewing minefields, working out defensive positions and finding old photos on the internet of what a collective farm would look like. A little goes a very long way when it comes to inspiration!

The table

We ended up with a large wargame. Indeed, 22 feet of wargame, from the Don to Collective Pig Farm No. 452. As you’ll see from the photographs, Rich and Al’s terrain was a joy to behold.

The fine Russian buildings from Warbases, Sarissa and Charlie Foxtrot looked splendid. My favourite was a wonderful Russian Church, complete with boarded up windows and Bolshevik and Soviet posters demonizing the Russian Orthodox Church.


Never let a wargamer go hungry or thirsty. It’s an old saying (I’m sure), but nevertheless it’s an accurate one. I had arranged for lunch to be shipped in from our local bakery including a selection of decadent, bourgeoisie confectionary. Inevitably this was enjoyed by the Soviet players just as much as by the evil Nazi players.

I was honoured by my Lard chums increasing our collective daily sugar intake by creating two cakes, which were unveiled at the end of the day’s gaming. Despite initial misgivings, the indoor (Health and Safety Approved) sparkler worked far better than the Soviet pioneers’ satchel charges on the tabletop.

The game

As all games seem to do, it raced by. The Germans thrashed forward to the small, Tasrist-era bridge over the Lenmakluski stream, while I attempted to corral a slightly-recalcitrant defence using fiendish Commissar methods. The Soviet sailors from the Black Sea fleet arrived in the nick of time, just as most of the crews from the T-34s were bailing out under steady German fire.

As you can see from the photos, the troops provided by Rich, Al and Ade were of a wonderful standard. Thanks chaps!

The After-game entertainment

The best part of wargaming is the friends you share the hobby with. As might have already been mentioned by Rich, one can only hope that the band enjoyed themselves as much as we did.


  1. Happy Birthday, Sidney!

    Stunning looking game. I agree that a birthday game with friends is just the ticket.

    Well done!

  2. What a fabulous way to celebrate the milestone. Many Happy Returns Sir!

  3. What a great event, and a wonderful way to celebrate the milestone. Happy birthday!

  4. Great report from a what seems to have been a great day. Happy birthday!

  5. Great looking game - and baked goods!
    Happy Birthday, Peter

  6. Belated Birthday wishes old chap, what a fine way to celebrate.

  7. Great looking game and Happy Birthday.

  8. A splendid way to celebrate your birthday! Many happy returns.

  9. Well that looked bloody good fun!



  10. Happy Birthday Sidney.
    Looks almost worth missing Wembley for... :)

  11. Many happy returns sir. That game looked like a good one.

  12. A belated Happy Birthday! is in order it seems! A tremendous looking game and an excellent way to celebrate.

  13. A Happy birthday, and a great looking game and fireworks display!
    Best Iain

  14. Awesome board and celebration! Way to do it, Sidney.

  15. Thanks so much for the very kind comments, everyone. It was a great game, and a wonderful event.

  16. A nice win on your birthday celebration Sid. Glad you all had fun.

  17. What a terrific birthday bash - well done Lardies and happy birthday Sid!

  18. belated Happy Birthday! What a great day!


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