Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Wargames Holiday Centre - Where dreams come true?

We Marauders went to the Wargames Holiday Centre!

This was our first time & very much something of a life long dream for me.

I could just leave the above statements to speak for themselves & let the pictures do the talking but I have more to say & the pictures need to be captioned in my view. So, pull up a chair, pour a tea or coffee, wine or water, Scotch or Brandy, settle in for a long old post Marauder Moments style, off you go...

Back? Ready yet? Here we go...

"Deployment done, Allies on the left, French on the right, & me stuck in the middle with you."
There's a catchy tune in there somewhere...

The above picture captures what I was after in this experience & it has been a long, long time coming. Way back in the 1980's when I was in my teens the first issues of Miniature Wargames, then edited by Duncan MacFarlane, came to my attention. It seemed most of the pictures of big set piece Napoleonic games were from the collection of Peter Gilder at the Wargames Holiday Centre. Who the hell was he & what was this Nirvana he taunted me with? Subsequent issues caste light on these questions but these answers just led to more questions; how do you ever get so very many figures? How do you get them painted? Where is all that space? How do you make that scenery? Who do you play with? How do you pay for all this?

Then Peter Gilder penned two articles on re-fighting Leipzig in issues 4 & 5 which changed my life forever, I treasure all of those. I had to wargame like this somehow, someday, somewhere.

In the intervening decades I've owned over twenty thousand models in many scales & varied periods & loved gaming all of them. BUT - big battalion, big table, big toys Napoleonic wargaming in the Grand Manner was always the goal. Most of my collections have long been sold to cover redundancy & other inconveniences (loss of house etc!) but in the last six years I have been rebuilding a new collection to live the dream, these pages chronicle that project with Chris & the two Tony's (previously Rich too).

It needed a few key ingredients which until they came together it was pointless even contemplating; I was never going to start this "half arsed". Those ingredients are in no order; 

Money, Space, Dedication, Regular Gaming Friends who share the passion & have the staying power.

Those have happened & have grown in concentration in recent years. But I never visited the WHC.

This is Friday afternoon, getting to know each other as we deploy, squaring up to the enemy...?
Here we see Tony on the left deploying, Dave Brown on the hot chocolate, Simon already knocking out factors while Del listens, he looks relaxed & happy, that won't last, dice rolling awaits him, poor soul!     

Naturally when we were asked to go along to help Dave Brown & the General De Brigade regulars playtest the new version for army level games, General d'Armee, we jumped at it.

Then the doubts crept in. What if it was shit? What if the people were wankers? What if they thought we were wankers? What if we had no idea what we were doing? What if we were exposed as "know nuffin napoleonic drunken country bumpkins with dung on our boots & straw sticking out of our mouths?". It was possible...  So I got a bit nervous as well as very, very excited. Sometimes you're let down when you finally experience your dreams. My gaming chums felt the same.

We needn't have worried. (We are wankers though... and from the country... and... )     .     .

Simon & Gary - the monstrous bully boys of the Allied right, it's all smiles now isn't it?

27 feet of wargames table from the white water rapids to Mark Freeth our host & present
owner of  the Wargames Holiday Centre.

Those farmhouse holiday lets on the ridge were the French sides objective on their right flank.
Apparently they're sensibly priced, free wi-fi, ensuite & a porn channel. Book me in!

Tim & Martin were wound up & released to capture them. It was the first stepping stone to the villages behind.
"Cry havoc & let slip the dogs of war!"  

Reserve artillery, looks like Old Guard to me, massed to soften up the enemy supporting the holiday lets.  

Del offers Young Dave sage advice,  his face says, "that's bollocks old man"!
Tim has rocketed across the board to assault the holiday lets.

The allied right erupts off the starting blocks against Tony & I.
Fire all weapons!  

This is.....
Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France, returned from exile & kicking arse in Europe again. 

Tim's brigades barrel-arsing off to assault the hilltop farm complex, the defending Prussian battery is taking fire from three French batteries & feeling the pain. Limber up & piss off while you can Fritz!

Clear "body language" at work here, this is called "mirroring".
They both look deeply concerned at Tim's malicious intentions.  

Prussian dragoons in a truly hateful shade of blue, yuk yuk yuk!
Might get some...!

Uh oh! Russian infantry - implacable foes with a stolid "can die" attitude.
These'll be hard to shift.  

These are 12 sided d6s. For me they are a silly waste of time & plastic.
They also rolled so badly the owning player, Simon, swapped to some tasteful grey marbled dice with yellow dots, which performed very well indeed .   

Brunswickwers on the allied right support some choice Britisher foote. 

Ye gads, Scots lighte foote prepare to fire on Tony's Frenchies 

Ubiquitous French columns from Tim's command head relentlessly forward with drums rolling & yelling unspeakable oaths...

The dashing Ney arrives to a hot reception on board edge. Those lancers need flags Mark, sort it out!
A light cavalry mosh pit of epic proportions? Possibly... 

Calpe Prussian dragoons in a more suitable sober shade of blue.
These are heading off to stop Ney's vast flank attack on the allied left.  

Really lovely vintage French lancers on the move. 

Lanciers de Berg.
I must have these one day, the elite company wore bearskin colpaks!!! How cool is that?   

Frenchmen! Vintage veterans , rebased & reinvigorated.

I think Tim works out a bit.
 Dave? Back on the hot chocolate.  

Calpe Prussian LDW supporting Elite Miniatures.
When & if I redo my Prussians I'll use Calpe for the LDW & Reservists. 

Elite Minis - not sure which regiment, these castings are on my Christmas list though.

The action is on the allied left where Ney is pressing young Dave hard.
As all eyes are drawn to the action Tim nicks Dave's hot choccie...

Ney is impressive...
Tim moves to take a sip, can he get away with it?   

He does!

The Emperor spots  distraction on his jumper, dribble? The others are still transfixed by Ney's battle with young Dave.
Our end of the battle was still hotting up.    
Some close-ups.

Brunswick goodness from Connoisseur. These are surely Doug Mason tweaked models... 

Check out the wire wrapped chords on the bugle and the lance grip.

That poor chap has banged his head, war is a dangerous affair indeed.

Amazing headgear tops off this very special little unit.

Back to the battle...

The Allied extreme right where Gary keeps bringing on dubiously large amounts of fresh troops.
These are Brunswickers & Dutch Belgians supporting Brits. 

Uh oh more close-ups...

French commander of Dragoons I suggest.

Hi Mark, these are Connoisseur Old Guard horse artillery crew.

French legere by Elite Miniatures neatly painted.

I detest Grande Bandes but there's always one guy who insists on doing it ...

We are Soult.
And we are Legion.

This is my narrow sector of the line, nearly mid centre. My orders were to bombard that hilltop then capture & hold it.
There are three small brigades there with one battery. I could rely on cavalry support & possibly a couple of horse batteries to support a successful attack.  

Some of the Russians opposite me.
These are Pavlovski Grenadiers in "so last century" mitres. 

"Ye olde skool goodeneff"
Young Guard from Connoisseur, stalwarts of many actions at the Wargames Holiday Centre.    

Hand painted banner, pre GMB days were tough times indeed it seems!

Some Corsican tourist with his dandified entourage. 

Plucky Polish Prince Poniatowski & an admirable ADC.
( I love alliteration ). 

Possibly one of the most iconic Regiments of the period?
Dutch "Red" Lancers of the Guard.
I would have issued them with pointy sticks personally. Just an observation... just saying... 

Prince Eugene in the uniform of the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard.   

Filthy row on the French right.
Young Dave has a frown fixed to his face even when he's smiling or laughing I reckon.

The Emperor's yo-yo action is a site to behold - it's a blur, Tim is mesmerized understandably.
Fists of fury eh Chris?

The Emperor practices his "River Dance" routine (screen left) while no one is looking.

Dragoon Brigade from Kellerman's Corps stands about in reserve.

Brunswick Light cavalry in reserve on the allied rear table.

Russian dragoons also in reserve.

Ah! These are proper bastards these guys. May I present the villains of the piece...
"The von Krunch Cuirassiers of the Prussian Life Guard."
More of these swine later... 

These yukky blue Prussian dragoons are curiously captivating.
Elite Miniatures with pins replacing swords - very painful if mishandled. 

More dumb animals in reserve for the allies - Russian infantry.

Prussian Foot Guards form Elite Miniatures.

Sister Regiment to the above, both are on my Christmas shopping list.
Hi Barry, these are coming your way, exact replicas please my old friend.  

Russian infantry, possibly grenadiers judging by the plumes but only some models have a plume, dunno!    

A pretty Prussian brigade cresting a hill with cool rocky outcrops, a very pleasing scene.

I need some help here please.
These are Russian models painted like Russians but that's a Prussian LDW flag.
So, are these Russo Prusso Legion? 

Good view of the centre and far end where Tim & Martin are knocking on young Dave's door.
My massed attack is playing silly buggers in the stream for now. 

I brought these dragoons up to exploit my expected breakthrough, and the two horse batteries to add to the weight of firepower supporting my attack. Text book stuff that man.  

I walked into a river once, it cost me an i-phone but not my life!  

The allied right approaches Tony's front line where he must hold the stream on my left flank.
I trust him with my life...
Ah, Tony cedes a bridge to Gary who quickly establishes a powerful bridgehead.
I trust Tony with my life, like I said...  

Old Dave's new camera/phone looks cumbersome... chunky even.

Young Dave's admirable Dr Evil impression in action.

Prince Eugene leading from the back - inspirational stuff! 

Now these look like Hinchcliffe old timers. Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard presumably from the seventies? 

My first brigade to attack gets repulsed and messed up - it retires. Must press on mes amis! 

French Dragoons lining up to breakthrough. 

Ah. leading from the side now - the bravest of the brave? 

Young Guard follow the splendid Old Guard Lancers around the lake to assault British Guards, piece of piss right?

They'll need more headstones after my attack I suspect.

Pressing on through the stream to climb that hill, not far to go boys.

Something causes the British lead battalions out of line into square, but what could it be?

Of course, another brigade of dragoons cantering into view

Markov's Russians wreck some poor sods wheat field, no harvest this year pal!

Russian jaegers on the move.

I'd follow this guy & his magic dagger through the Seven Gates of Hell itself! 

My attack looks glorious from here.
The two horse batteries are battering away at Markov over the bridge, the dragoons are well placed to break through or protect my flank. Now I just need to make this count. 

Closer in.

From Del's hilltop looking down at my attack.
He has inserted a 6 gun 12lb battery into the line from reserve. The Pavlovskis are driven back. So far so good.

Connoisseur Minis Prussian dragoons in a more acceptable blue arrive from the rear lines.

A sexy six gun Russian battery well deployed one a ridge. Elite minis.
Gary decided that these fellas had taken too much of a battering from counter battery fire so sensibly dropped them
out of them back into the dead ground & safety. A skillful tactical move but not very Russian!     

Simon's impressive cavalry column riding down a defile to stabilise the allied centre as my
massive attack shakes them up a bit. Place your bets gents...   

It's always a bummer when the opposition have advanced so far they have to come around to your table edge to move.
Hi Gary! Tony is hiding behind Gary, peepo!  

The main event. This what it's all about. 

Rear support factors anyone?

Old Guard Grenadiers advance to support the central thrust.

Those Russian jaeger on the bridge  we an absolute pain in the arse!
An anomaly in the rules meant that firing at them would possibly cause me more harm than them, so I didn't!  

Simon's Russians beside Gary's Brits etc are pushing Tony back from the river edge exposing my left flank to threat.
For now I trust Tony stand firm... have faith in the man. 

Ah! Tony is buckling in on the centre. I'm going to trust him while I press my advantage.  

This is the kind of people we need leading our country!
Ludicrous dandies in crisp white uniforms, buckets of braid, mountains of feathers, red boots & flashing sabres.
Fuck yeah! 

Joking aside, why don't model makers sculpt Marshalls in full dress like this?

Where can one buy red riding boots these days? 

I've bought a few 

The WHC has a mossy, moist yet gravelly back passage.

Brunswickers quick stepping into action. 

More Brunswickers drying off after wading through the stream. 

This picture is taken shortly after my Dragoons helped smash the allied centre but then had to turn to face
off a determined Russian Cavalry counter attack. 

The remnants of my lead brigade gain the hill top having driven off those before them. Supports hasten to reinforce & silence that upstart Prussian battery.

The situation on my left...
The big hole across the bridge is a result of my Dragoons going Bezerk. Some freak charge/combat results can rev up a unit to keep charging with ever accumulating factors to run down several units. It became a bit silly if spectacular & I guess its part of gaming, you want to see big moments, just not be on the receiving end of one; Simon was very gracious. 

Old Guard Chasseurs a Pied approaching the front from reserve.

The Corsican tourist again, kinky riding crop in hand, "beat me big boy!"

Old Guard Grenadiers a Cheval on the move.

This fella needs some TLC, one too many battles chum?

French line lancers from Tim's command heading for the centre as Ney's attack gained momentum.

Berg lancers leading the above regiment, check out the elite company in colpaks.

Young Guard making slow headway.

Chassuers a Cheval of the Guard in melee with Prussian dragoons & Guard Lancers charge Russian Guard horse artillery - yikes.

Oh deary me!
Prussian Guard Cuirassiers enter the fray with viscous intent...
Russian reserves begin the task of retaking their hill, good luck with that Vlad!" 

I like these Prussians, tempted to say Caple but not sure...

A farce of figures?
Elite, Front Rank & Elite sharing a base & foolishly exposing the variance in scale!
Apologies for the fuzzy texture, user error?

Dave looks defeated...

Chris will soon cheer him up with some amazing combat results, oh dear maybe not!

This picture show a turning point in the battle, my D'Erlon moment if you will.
My rampant dragoons are spent after their exertions & retire to breathe their horses.
The Von Krunch Kurassiers charge & disperse a supporting dragoon regiment then go wild charging the flank of that whole infantry brigade who are rolled up, they then smartly wheel dispersing a resting dragoon regiment before finally being charged by fresh French Cuirassiers - who they also beat.
A combination of charging with Glory, Elan, a General & being Guards plus a good initial dice roll turned these into a highly buffed up, pimped up Death Star Battle Bus which took out seven units before retiring on its sister unit to brag & eat pastries.         

Meanwhile here is an Arab leader in Stalingrad - far more realistic!
"Ferro Roche anyone?"
The Death ride of Lasalle vignette

Dwell a bit on this one, the amount of conversion work is quite staggering.
Look at his sword for instance...

"Just let me put my pipe in your ear Monsieur." 

"Get off me you psycho!"

Dutch "Red" Lancers of the Guard.
Love these! 

The von Krunch are near the top of the picture as the whole Allied right admires their gloriously brutal charge into history. 

Same shot with the Wood Elf artillery battery cheering too.

High water for me - my final forward position, they never shifted me but it was hopeless. 

No smug"we've won" crap from these two which was mightily appreciated.
Thank you gentlemen - for a sound excellent thrashing!

The Guards & remaining cavalry reserve better clear off before "le merde hits le fan"... 

Dave Brown trying to take a picture with a chocolate biscuit, he's delirious by now.
Tim smiles broadly thinking I'm snapping him after his victorious exertions, say "cheese" all the same.
Insightful chat at breakfast by the way Tim, many thanks for the company.  

Dejected & defeated French general staff huddle to decide how to depose their useless C-in-C.
The French lost. Tony & I were defeated in detail, Dave & Chris failed in the centre right and only Tim & Martin/Ney made significant headway taking the holiday lets and marching along the allied back board through Young Dave's brave but dying LDW  (sounds like 2nd class rubbish to me!)

The rules acquitted themselves well for a beta version. There was much open discussion at the table, the bar & at diner which was great to see & be part of. There will be a post mortem amongst the writers I'm sure. They gave us a clear result well within the allocated time frame which loads of sets don't. We're already playing a big game using this newest version, report to follow.

The guys we met were without exception top drawer gentlemen players who could take it as well as dish it out so there were plenty of laughs which is so much part of gaming for me. Thanks go each and every single one but I will single out a few, Dave for asking us three along, Gary for the scenario, Simon & Del for "tearing  me a new one" and of course Mark for hosting & chatting about the Gilder stuff. Lastly to Tony & Chris for being "you" & staying the course in this Grand Manner saga.

Book you own WHC experience here wargameshc.co.uk
If they'll have us we'll be back - no brainer.

Best wishes,



  1. A stunning game that sounds like it truly was the experience of a lifetime. Glad everyone enjoyed himself. I believe those Brunswick Uhlans featured in an early issue of Wargames Illustrated way back in the late 80s or very early 90s. Happy to see they are still in service.

    Best Regards,


    1. Wargames illustrated, that's the mag that was in my brain. Riding down the side of a building?

    2. You're right I think they did.
      Thanks for dropping by Stokes, definitely worth the trip.
      Best wishes,

  2. Spectacular display of troops and terrain plus loads of closeups. Stunning!!!

    Inspiration in a glass.

    I'm a bit younger than yourself Jeremy by 5-10 years I'd guess? but I recognise a lot of your thinking Re miniature wargaming, Peter Gilders inspiration. My brother frequently bought a wargaming magazine and I must have been reading either his old copies or very young to be paying attention to theme when new? Spent most of my childhood watching him paint 15mm minifigs till I could myself but It was the 25mm connoisseur and/or elite miniatures that caught my imagination. Stunning brunswick uhlans like the ones shown above come to mind and loads of peninsular terrain.

    Loved this post, brilliant!!!

    1. Be fun to meet up there one day Paul, it's a great weekend away.
      I may have some Faller 15mm style building which might suit your collection, interested?

    2. Yes we have talked about it as a group, some of the guys have already been a number if years ago when it was in a different location. I plan to do a couple more villages so yes I may well be interested JJ. You want to Facebook message me?

    3. Not sure if my message went through, yip I'd be interested JJ, have a couple more villages I'd like to add to my collection.

  3. Fantastic write up and photos, some of those units are wargaming royalty..there just is something about a converted Gilder figure that is the ultimate in 28mm Napoleonic gaming. Glad you had a great time.

    1. Thanks Roger, it was loads of fun & certainly one we intend to repeat.

  4. Lovely seeing those old miniatures. Connoisseur and Hinchliffe still look OK en masse like that.

    1. You're right and certainly the Connoisseur models mostly stand up to close scrutiny, I'd get some if & when I replace some of my early plastics.

  5. Brilliant post JJ - amusing, informative and just a little bit irreverent! Love it. Looking forward to General D'Armee.

    1. If that's what you thought Carlo - I'm pleased, exactly the pitch I was aiming for.
      Best wishes,

  6. Thanks for the many great pictures, and the funny narrative!

  7. What a post! Most impressive pictures of a most impressive battle, great write up and wonderful armies...

    1. This post took days to do so your comment is much appreciated Phil.
      Be good, Jeremy

  8. JJ. It was a pleasure to be present, most especially because Of the company. You are correct the post mortem began in the car on the way home
    Tims rent on the holiday lets was short lived although you are correct about the quality of, and presence on the mortal coil of my LDW.
    See you at the next one I hope
    Young(cough) Dave

    1. Ah young Dave, to hear from you, sorry I missed so much of "your" weekend, it was a pretty bug affair to cover & take in, next time. Be sure to let me know if you repeat the event.
      Best wishes,

  9. Great stuff and a splendid narrative to go along. I reckon I first went to the WHC in Scarborough about 25 years ago and the last time about 6 or 7 years ago just before Mike died and it moved south.
    I've probably played with some of those figures myself :)

    1. I remember you telling me, sounded like a chilly old place before Scrivs. Maybe catch up there when you return?
      Find regards,

  10. A few of us were obviously captivated by those early MW issues. I remember being captivated by a Leipzig refight using gilder figures early on
    I'm jealous of your WHC visit - its on my bucket list
    Superb and amusing report, brilliant pictures, hadn't realised the blog was so superb and extensive
    Well done

    1. Cheers valleyboy and welcome on board!
      Glad you enjoyed poking around the blog, there's loads here!
      Best wishes,

  11. Late to the party here, as I missed this one somehow- I really relish this post.

    Mark me down as another who was impressed by the Leipzig article in Miniature Wargames 4-5. I brought those copies with me when I came to Japan, and still drool over them from time to time.

    But increasingly, when I want to see Napoleonic wargaming done in the Grand Manner, yours is the site I come too.

    I really appreciate your efforts in preparing and posting these reports, Jeremy.