Over the last few years, one of the dates which is an ever-present in my wargaming calendar is the day in June set aside for ‘Operation Market Larden’. This is a great, informal gathering of friends in Evesham, in the UK, where all the rules being played are published by, or developed from, the stable of wargames rules from TooFatLardies.
Run by Ade Deacon (@AdeDeacon on Twitter : and very ably assisted by Ade’s wife, Patsy, and sons, Liam and Connor), the OML gaming day has grown from a venue filling a small local village hall to one commanding a large function room at one of Evesham’s Hotels. It’s a great event for meeting old friends, making new ones, and trying out familiar and newly-developing ‘Lard’-focused games in a great atmosphere. I’m sure you all know the kind of thing – an event which you’re looking forward to for some time, when you can simply relax and play wargames in a relaxed environment.
This year’s ‘Operation Market Larden’, or #OML6 as we enjoyed calling it, was no exception. Each of the tables was of a very high quality, with lovingly painted figures and often spell-binding terrain. I had the privilege of playing two games from very different eras and worlds.
Up first was a game of “Seven Spears”, a Dux Britanniarum version set in Sengoku Japan, authored by Dick Bax and Thierry van de Burgt (in the TFL "Summer Special", 2014) run by podcast-host supreme and all-round Gentleman, Neil Shuck. Neil had crafted some great terrain and wonderful Senjoku-era troops, complete with cherry trees, a Japanese village and groups of samurai and ashigaru running around with sashimono banners streaming behind them. All extremely Kurosawa.
I had a super game with Ralph, a great friend of Lard who was one of the players of my Verdun game at #OML2, way back in 2014. We had a good time trying to bash the heck out of each other’s army, while the target for my forces (a group of monks carrying secret intelligences) stole their way away from the points of my katanas and yaris towards their own baseline.
The second game featured Jim Ibbotson’s stunning low-fantasy figures, both converted from Games Workshop Empire figures and assembled from Fireforge Games’ medievals. Jim and Mike Hobbs have been working on the rules for a fantasy version of Sharpe Practice for some time, entitled “Swords of the King”.
I was very impressed with Jim and Mike's rules so far, and they gave a well balanced game, with just the right about of mystical magic, braced throughout with combat mechanics which seemed to work well. Phil H, a great friend from previous OMLs and Curt’s annual ‘Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’ was my opponent for the game and, before long, we were busily activating warlocks and leading our forces forward across the battlefield.
Jim and Mike have created some excellent rules for “warming up” your warlock to ensure they can effectively cast spells and weave mists of terror across the battlefield, together with launching lightning bolts, spreading terror and various other wizard-ly antics. They can also be struck dumb, confused or teleported to a different plane of existence if they get tremendously over-worked, which is perhaps a lesson for all of us who spend our working lives reading thick books with very small print. At the same time, both Phil and myself locked combat between our forces in a manic, bloody combat which swayed one way, and then the next, before Phil’s forces eventually came out on top in his well-deserved victory.
So a thoroughly enjoyable couple of games, umpired brilliantly by Neil and Jim and with rules which were both familiar (from their respective starting points within the ‘core’ TooFatLardies’ games), but which added on some great new ideas and mechanics.
Also on display were many other stunning games, including a fantastic winter attack on the village fo Foy in 1945, taken from the "Band of Brothers" book and TV series, staged by Ade Deacon and Al Sherward.....
A cracking game of the Indian Mutiny was run by Simon Walker.....
.....with Geoff Bond running a brilliant game of a Japanese attack on a U.S. Navy escort carrier in the Philippines Sea in 1944.
Rich, Nick and myself also managed a podcast episode in the car on the way to, and back from, Evesham. We were joined for the podcast this time by fellow St Albans wargames club chum and great friend, Dougie Train – which was great, as it will have resulted in less talking from me into the microphone when the podcast finally drops into your podcast-picker of choice.
I should add at the end of this blog post an apology. I’ve not been posting during April and May owing to some work commitments which saw me in the office far more than I would ideally have liked. Hopefully I can get back to a more regular posting schedule.
Many thanks, everyone, for hanging in there and being patient with me!