Monday, 22 May 2023

Partizan Wargaming Show - 21 May 2023

This is a rarity for me, a write up after a wargaming show.  Well, I made my first visit to the Partizan wargaming show yesterday with Ian, my regular wargaming opponent.  Partizan is a show I have heard so much about and always wanted to go to see why it was so special.

We attend many of the more local shows; Overlord at Abingdon, Attack at Devizes and Colours at Newbury (and Reading before that).  Years ago I have also worked assisting a trader at Salute and Sheffield and we have been to the show at Bovington Tank Museum too. So we have been to many shows.

Over this time, the shows have always been mostly, as expected. Devizes was one of the first shows we ever went to and still continue to go to, about 30 years later.  I think the location in the town, the drive through the spectacular scenery of Avebury and the valley of Long Barrow burial grounds, as well as the proximity of Roundway Down have always acted as a draw and made it something to look forward to.  The traders and games have always been good too.

Overlord at Abingdon was an amazingly very local thing when it first started, and we have continued to support that show up to this year.  It's move to the college next to the School where it used to be held was definitely retrograde and this seems to be reflected by the drop off in known traders. I gave it a miss this year. A real shame as it would it have been great to have kept supporting the local event.

Colours is always good and well attended. The Octagon at Reading was a hideous location though, and the labyrinth-like tight corridors (and most wargamers have rucksacks, large bellies and sticks!) made moving around difficult, but it did always have good traders. The move to Newbury was a great improvement.

So why go to Partizan? It is in Nottinghamshire and thus not all that close to home in Oxfordshire.  Well, its reputation made us both curious as to why it has always been described in glowing terms for years.  I was very curious to find out why.  

The show has its own website and the first clues started to appear.  This show seemed very well organised.  The games and traders were known in advance and they all looked very good indeed.   I could see it could be expensive for my pocket, the traders were very good ones indeed, and many of them.

The drive up to Newark on the Sunday morning was very smooth. A warm day and bright sunshine and hardly any traffic meant that we had an hour in hand still.  I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to visit the Wars of the Roses battlefield at Stoke Field.  This is located where Wargames Foundry is too.  This proved to a good decision and it was an excellent use of time.

Stoke Field - The ridge is probably the location of the Earl of Oxford's position - I say 'probable' for now, as I have yet to do a full tour/walk of the field, but it seemed from the viewing spot to be the most likely

For anyone who has never been, Partizan is well located outside of Newark and easily accessible. A bit of signage on entry would have been helpful as other events were being held on the large site, but it proved no real bother in the end.  Parking was plentiful and right next to the hall.  The hall is spacious and well laid out.  There is also plenty of room to move between traders and to walk around games.

It was clear quite quickly that it was going to be an expensive day, there was a lot of goodies on offer and all of the well known (and lesser known) traders were there.  

However, there was something else in addition to this which I didn't really expect  and this made the day really special.  There were several legends and well known figures in the hobby who were present, some of who have influenced my wargaming over decades and quite radically with their game concepts in more recent years.  Not only were they present, but they took the time to chat and every one of them without exception, was a delight to chat to.  

Henry Hyde was the first I met in the car park and he proved to be exactly as everyone says he is, an absolute gentleman.  I was delighted to meet the man behind so many great works including 'The Wargaming Compendium' and so influential in our hobby.

I also got to chat with Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner of 'Too Fat Lardies'.  I disturbed Richard as he took the last bite of a rushed lunch as he was so busy running games.  Nevertheless, he didn't seem to mind and was a delight to chat with as was Nick who presented me with a picture of Sidney Roundwood - unsigned alas(!), but we all had a great and very funny chat.  Nick was playing on his amazing Arnhem table in the 'Lard Zone'.  The Too Fat Lardies have been incredibly influential in the last few years on my wargaming, with their philosophy and thinking behind their games.  Their 'oddcast' podcasts on YouTube were also an absolute godsend during the Covid lockdown, a welcome bit of insanity and inspiring.  I really appreciate the amount of work they put into producing rules which are both so well researched and yet are fun and enjoyable to play too.

By now, my day had been made, but then I saw Alex from 'Storm of Steel' wargaming and we had a great chat too.  Alex proved to be as decent a gentleman as he comes across on his channel.  For anyone who hasn't seen his channel, I would really recommend it.  His rules playthroughs are really useful and I have made decisions on buying rules based on his games.  Alex's paint and chat sessions are ideal to paint to whilst listening.  

Also seen were the Perry Twins, my goodness the amount of figures of theirs that Ian and I both own must be in the thousands. Their figures were so heavily influential over three decades,  dragging me deeper into the hobby so far that I have never looked back. They were both tied up in games so I never got to chat with them but would like to on another occasion.

This game just made me stop in my tracks. It was the Battle of Ipsus, put on by Simon Miller of Big Red Bat Cave (  Simon's games are always awesome.  This was simply amazing. I tried to estimate the number of figures in the pike phalanxes who are 6 deep. I lost count, there must be thousands!

I have to say that the people running the games were all amazingly friendly and that was the one thing that I think I can say really stood out about this show and what made it special. Every single person who chatted to me was just so friendly and happy to chat.  

True enough, both Ian myself spent several hundred pounds each...the figures and kit being sold was remarkable, but that wasn't the key thing about the show. It was the people we met and chatted with. I can honestly say it was the nicest and most pleasant show I have ever been to.

My 'loot' haul from the show. I went with a list. Some items were on the list, most were not and bought on impulse!  Included are Spanish Napoleonic Guerrilla's by the Perry's.  Also seen here is the picture of Too Fat Lardies' Sidney Roundwood given to me by Lardy Nick!

Will I go back? Oh yes! This is going to be a regular event in my diary from now on.


  1. I went last year and was determined to go this year and then realised I'd double booked with my wedding anniversary weekend away, I did think it was excellent and I'm hoping to go in October, quite a diverse haul!
    Best Iain

    1. I'm toying with going in October too, though I fear blowing too much cash! I agree about my diverse haul, I often wish I could be like a friend who only does the Napoleonic Wars. I might actually get somewhere with my armies then! :-)

  2. Glad you had a good day Jason, its my favourite show.

    1. Hi Ray, It was an awesome show. I thought I saw you at one point (in a red shirt?) but if it was you, you were chatting with someone and I didn't want to disturb. I'll definitely be going again!. Best wishes, Jason

  3. A nice summary Jason. It looks like a terrific show.

    1. Hi Lawrence, It was amazing as shows go. My only fear is that other shows will not compare. I am going to Devizes ('Attack') next month but with that one, I often incorporate a tour of Roundway Down battlefield, a look around the town and of course the magnificent drive through the ancient valley from Avebury. So it is special in its own way. Best wishes, Jason

  4. Glad you enjoyed the day Jason - its about 40 years since I was at a show - I went to three or four in either Edinburgh or Glasgow with a couple of teenage mates back in the late 70's but nothing since then - oh, actually I did go to something here in Auckland about ten years ago but it was really just a bunch of participation games, no trade at all in this country so zero dollars were spent. Tried to get my ten-year-old son interested - he rolled a few dice in an ACW game but the bug didnt take (he is now 21 and just came home from a rugby club dinner, which is something he enjoyed at school but has only just got back into as a young adult)

    1. Hi Keith, It is interesting about how shows are done in different countries. I know the UK is especially trade focussed. There were a lot of great games to watch and play at Partizan which is another reason why it seemed better than many other shows which seemed to be all trade and demo games (where the players seem to ignore everyone!). Every demo gamer at Partizan seemed to make great efforts to engage with the public. This was such a difference and helped make the day so special. If you visit from NZ you would need a giant suitcase to get your purchases back! It really is the best sweetshop for wargamers! :-) Best wishes, Jason