Wednesday 14 November 2018

Battle Ravens, wargames, and history

In my recent post about playing the upcoming game Battle Ravens, I talked about the challenges of writing historical wargames and board games. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately in conjunction with my work on the Gaming a Crusader Castle project.

Battle Ravens is an interesting game in this respect. In one way, it's essentially an abstract strategy game. You could absolutely rename the two sides Red and Blue and change the Ravens to Energy Points and you would still have a fun game. Indeed, the currency being called "ravens" doesn't make an enormous amount of sense other than thematically. Ravens, like wolves and eagles, are associated with battlefields in Old Norse poetry, but you'd think that more ravens would appear as the dead started to pile up.

These ones are getting ready for it to pop off.
People often talk about historical gaming as a "simulation," but I don't know that that's really a useful idea for a game like this one. Simulation presupposes a level of knowledge about the realities of early medieval combat that I just don't know we can claim. Historical accounts of battles are either highly poetic or very matter of fact -- "and the Danes had the victory," that kind of thing. We don't necessarily know what shieldwall combat was really like. Was it the kind of tentative skirmishing envisioned by John Keegan, with sudden bursts of fighting flaring up here and there, or was it more of your phalanx-style shoving match? 

Battle Ravens takes the view that it's all about the nebulous quantity represented by the ravens -- "momentum," perhaps, or "initiative," or maybe "cohesion" -- and about forcing a breach in the enemy's line where both numbers and elan are lacking. I think that is as reasonable an understanding of shieldwall combat as any. 

Of course, in reality there's no thousand-foot general allocating "initiative" to the different parts of the army, but other than directing reserves I don't know what a general in this kind of showdown is supposed to do in real life. It feels like most of the real tactical work is done before the fighting starts -- or at least you hope it is. 

So in general what I'm looking for in a game -- in historical terms, that is -- is not so much "does it accurately model this aspect of early medieval life?" I'm not sure I believe that's really possible. I'm more interested in "does it feel early medieval," but I recognise that that's a very subjective question. Perhaps I mean that I want to know if the game makes you think about some aspect of the early middle ages. And I think that Battle Ravens, for all its simplicity, does a bit. 

Here's the info about Battle Ravens again: Battle Ravens is going on Kickstarter on 20 November 2018; the Kickstarter will go until 6 December. Expected release date is April 2019. Retail price will probably be £35, but Kickstarter backers will be able to get the game for £30 plus a free Scottish army pack. The core game will include Anglo-Saxon and Norse armies, but they plan on making Norman, Scottish and Welsh ones for separate purchase; each will include counters and tactics cards. I reviewed a promotional pre-production copy of the game. 

Monday 29 October 2018

Battle Ravens from PSC Games

The folks at PSC Games were kind enough to send over a pre-production copy of their new game, Battle Ravens. This is a two-player board game focusing on shieldwall combat in the Viking age; it's designed by Daniel Mersey, the creator of Dragon Rampant, Lion Rampant, and The Pikeman's Lament. A colleague recommended me as someone who knows a good deal about the early medieval period and also likes to play games, so I wound up with a copy. Let's take a look!

The box has an atmospheric illustration by Peter Dennis. 

The rulebook is brief and includes a few pieces of historical detail to put some of the rules in context.

The board; this is a mounted version of the board, which will be a Kickstarter stretch goal.
I don't know what the unmounted version looks like.

You get two sheets of card unit counters, again with illustrations by Peter Dennis.
Each sheet also includes 20 raven counters, which are really the core game mechanic.

Like the mounted board, these tactics cards are a proposed Kickstarter stretch goal.
There are also some dice, which I did not take a picture of because you know what dice look like. 

The game itself is simple: each player controls one side of the board and populates it with troops. Soldiers are either bondi (regular troops) or hirdmenn (more heavily armoured). There's also a pool of thrall, light skirmishers who function as a pool of rerolls for dice. 

A few troop counters.
At the beginning of each turn, players allocate raven counters to each sector of the battlefield. Ravens are the game's currency: you spend them to attack, defend or move. Allocating ravens to the correct areas of the battlefield is the key to victory here: you want to have enough to power your main attack against the enemy's weak sectors while not weakening your own defenses, and there's a bit of a cat-and-mouse game as players try to work out each others' intentions. The goal is to kill all the defenders in an enemy-held square; if the area is empty at the end of the turn, your troops in the opposite square move in and capture it. Capture three squares and you've won. 

It's very simple at heart, but when Allison and I sat down to play it there proved to be enough little wrinkles to make it quite interesting. 

The two armies face off!

Ravens allocated.

A new threat appears!
The question of how to allocate troops is an interesting one, and -- and here's what I'm really interested in -- it seems to produce some of the concerns that we can see from what little we actually know about shieldwall strategy. For all that's been written about warfare in the early middle ages, we don't necessarily have a very clear sense of what battle was like. The sources do suggest some concerns, though, and they turn up in Battle Ravens. For instance, when you clear a square, at the end of the turn all of your troops in the opposite square will rush into it, and they'll never come back. This is something that we know happened; faced with a breaking enemy, troops in a shield wall would sometimes just rush off in pursuit, abandoning their position within the wall.

Now -- and this is the really weird, counterintuitive aspect of the rules -- attack effectiveness is independent of how many troops you have in a square. Troops are just hit points; you use ravens to attack, and ravens are all that matters. You could have one guy in a square, and if you give him enough ravens he'll run in there and beat some heads. So in theory you could avoid the problem of losing all your troops to a follow-up by, paradoxically, evacuating the square you're going to launch your attack from. It feels a little weird, sometimes. 

Fortunately, the game doesn't really work out that way in play. While it's theoretically possible to send in your one-stand wonder team to clear out an opposing square, you have to worry about the possibility of a preemptive strike or counter-attack. If you fail to kill all the enemy stands and they hit back, your one-stand army is going to get murdered, the victorious enemy are going to flood into your square, and you're going to feel pretty foolish. So in fact, a balance of ravens for offense and troops to absorb damage is the right choice in most cases. 

Allison, who is generally not a wargames person, and I played and enjoyed this game. It took about an hour -- maybe a little longer with setup time, since it was our first time playing, and we had good fun. I won in the end, but I think we both learned a good amount about improving our raven and troop placement that could make for an interesting rematch. 

In my next post (well, no promises. A future post!), I'm going to talk about the thoughts Battle Ravens provokes in terms of historical conflict and games, because I think they're quite interesting.

Here's the rundown on the game: Battle Ravens is going on Kickstarter on 20 November 2018; the Kickstarter will go until 6 December. Expected release date is April 2019. Retail price will probably be £35, but Kickstarter backers will be able to get the game for £30 plus a free Scottish army pack. The core game will include Anglo-Saxon and Norse armies, but they plan on making Norman, Scottish and Welsh ones for separate purchase; each will include counters and tactics cards. 

Monday 8 October 2018

Speed painting Martians!

I bought some Mars Attacks models at Salute either this year or last, thinking I'd use them for ... oh, I dunno, something. I am now painting them up just for fun and they seem to be getting a better response than a lot of other things I post. I think they may be well-suited to my speed-painting style.

ACK! Ack-ack!

Anyway, I thought I would do a step-by-step of how I painted them, just to illuminate the technique.

First I texture the base, prime the model with grey car primer and drybrush it all over in two stages, first with a mid-grey and then with white. Normally I would also remove the mould lines, but the material of these Mars Attacks minis makes that a giant pain in the butt and I think if you look at the photos they're not too visible in the finished product.

 Next I apply the base colours in a thin layer. The main areas of the suit are VMC emerald thinned with blue Army Painter quickshade. The thinned paint lets the highlights created by the drybrush show through. The head is just washes; the very textured surface doesn't really need much else. The photo showed some blank spots, which I went back and touched up.

 Next I Just give the whole thing a black wash. Again, the highly textured surface of the model really makes this effective. There were also a few areas I wanted to be brighter, so I spotted them in after the wash -- the glowy coil on the gun (which I have kind of failed to cover) and the goggles are examples of this.

I also drybrushed the base.

In the final stage, I went back and did some spot highlighting, picking out the goggles again with a lighter shade of blue-green and lining the edges of some of the suit plates with the original colour. I neatened up the base and applied the helmet, which is a bit of a tricky process.

Anyway, here is the expanded squad. I've still got a few more to do but I think they're coming along nicely.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Monster Man Contest II: Winners!

The second Monster Man contest called on listeners to create monsters based on neural-network-generated names. You can see all the entries here. The votes are in -- I've received votes by email, on G+, and here on the blog, and it was tight, but we have winners!

Tied for second place: 

The Owlborn by Luke Slater!

A fairy-tale horror monster with some classic weaknesses and a cult of brainwashed woodland folk surrounding it.

The Unicorn, Black Willow by Daniel Lofton!

A fun environmental and aesthetic twist on a classic D&D / fairy-tale monster.

And finally, our grand prize winner:

The Wendless Wolls by James Baillie!

A second win for the winner of the first contest! The Wendless Wolls combine a fun background, an adorable image, and an unusual twist relative to other humanoid tribes.

I'm going to be on holiday throughout the end of August, so those prize packs should be heading out in September. I'll be in touch to get addresses and so on. Congratulations to our winners and thank you very much to everyone who entered, voted, or supported the contest. A very special thanks to our sponsors: the Hyqueous Vaults, Spes Magna Games, and Diplomatist Books!

Monday 16 July 2018

Monster Man Contest II: Entries!

This page features some of the entries for the second Monster Man contest. It doesn't include entries sent to me as an external link, so if you want to see all of the entries, go to this page here.

Cloud of Chaos by Roger Duthie (illustrated by Roger, Amy, and Elodie Duthie (age2))

The "Cloud of Chaos" is a manifestation of a cross-dimensional shift in magical energy, where magic is drawn to the corporeal plane by the, usually sudden, presence or absence of magic in some form. It is generally thought to exist due to the excessive use or blending of magic, although it can also be created after the sudden death or dimension-shift of a powerful magic user. It is also thought that a cloud may form as a result of magical shock or magical pressure gradients within the multi-planar system. Similar to air which rushes to fill a vacuum, or sea fog rolling in to shore due to the differences in temperature and humidity between land and shore. The chaos cloud accumulates in the corporeal plane for reasons that only the well versed in multi-dimensional magi-physics can hope to comprehend (i.e. mostly only those whom are considered completely mad). It is typically a mixture of magical forces, hence the chaotic description given to the phenomenon. The cloud might have mutational or necromantic properties, or even have the ability to heal creatures which are engulfed.

Conditions for the creation of a cloud of chaos may include, for example:
  • the aftermath of a pitched battle where powerful battlemages were present
  • the sudden, unexpected teleportation of a powerful sorcerer to a distant realm, or nether-dimension
  • the experimentation of a novice magic user with magic more powerful than their ken
  • the deliberate creation of a cloud by a summoner wizard
  • the creation of a small chaotic cloud by a circus entertainer using a simple cantrip

Once it has manifested, from afar, a cloud resembles a regular cloud, mist, fog or smoke, but it may have some striking colouration: very dark and brooding, a mix of bright neon hues, or like a astronomical nebula. The properties of the cloud from within can vary depending on the mixes of magic that the cloud imbues.
Its size can vary greatly, from a few centimetres across or less, to the size of an entire city. The extent of the cloud will be dependent on it genesis: the aftermath of a battle between powerful mages may cause a cloud the size of a valley; the unexpected teleportation of a sorcerer may cause a large brooding cloud around the high tower on the crags from whence they were transported; a failed magical experiment causing small puff of smoke; or a human-sized cloud can be deliberately created for storage in a bottle or magically bound within a lamp.
Its behaviour is unlikely to follow the normal laws of physics and it may even seem to possess a pseudo-sentient character - being able to follow an individual like a dog, or be able to choose one dungeon corridor over another, or fight against a wind to stay stationary.
The games master should choose whether a cloud has a given set of bizarre characteristics or determine them randomly. The process of random generation will be dependent on the game system used. A table with some ideas is given below; of course, this should be expanded by the GM or ignored completely:
  1. Mutational: will mutate living creatures within the cloud; roll random mutations for living creatures within the cloud (if your game system has a handy mutation table, you're all set!); all mutations will persist even if the cloud is dispersed, but can perhaps be cured if the game system allows
  2. Void: creatures within the void will experience a lack of sensation, like they are in a place devoid of stimulus (e.g. black void, or white void)
  3. Time-warping: time runs backwards in the cloud; players within the cloud still get older, but exit the cloud at an earlier time
  4. Portal: the cloud acts as a bridge between random locations in space and time; this could lead to transportation to other places near the original place, or on other continents, other planets or even other planes of existence.
  5. Necromantic: the cloud raises the dead
  6. Elemental: the cloud exhibits extremes of elemental character: extreme cold, extreme heat, water, sand, plant growth, ...; the games master can choose one or randomise one, or randomise a new one every so often to keep it interesting (which is the most chaotic way, anyway!)

Also, the nature of the cloud can change on a whim, every so often (e.g. D10 combat rounds/D6 minutes/at the GM's will), roll a die: on an odd result, re-roll on the table above. This is optional. To remove a cloud, there are number of methods:
  • magic: a fairly powerful wizard may know the way to disperse the cloud in a safe way; a planar-rift spell or certain element spells (air/ice/...perhaps others...) might suffice; depending on the size of the cloud, the magic may have to be more or less powerful
  • containment: a small cloud can be contained physically - e.g. within a sealed room
  • time: the cloud may disperse over time as the magic fades. A rule of 10 seconds per cubic centimetre would mean a small puff of chaotic smoke would disperse within seconds, a human-sized cloud would last about 5 days, a cloud atop a wizard's tower may last a decade and a vast city sized cloud may last many millennia, causing stark changes to the landscape it has consumed.
  • magical weapons: edged magical weapons may be able to slice the cloud. This may allow portions to be collected in receptacles for later use.

Stats for this entity depend on your game system and the nature of the cloud. Its strength may be negligible (it is a cloud with no form), its agility either negligible or anything up to very high (reflecting the ability to react to attack or capture), its intelligence would be fairly low in all cases as it only possesses pseudo-sentience (i.e. no more than animal-like intelligence). Its magical presence is very high, which might make a difference to a stat line.

Other ideas:
  • the cloud could take human form, this might be gigantic in size (i.e. they might be giants!)
  • the cloud could take the form of a beast which is on another plane of existence
  • the cloud might take on intellegince and an agenda, reflected by a magic user associated with the manifestation (e.g. a sorcerer trapped on another plane) or a random being trapped on another plane
Dunebat, Giant by Ben Paulson

Health: 4 Monster Rating: 6 # of Dice: 1 Personal Adds: +3

These dog sized bats hang from the ceilings of caves and tombs found in deserts. Sentient and wickedly clever, they covet all sorts of gems and gold commonly held by adventurers. As a result, Dunebats tend to congregate in one darkened, fearful room of their home and send scouts out into their dungeon. When a scout sends word of coming adventures, the Dunebats use their mimicking voices to set the stage, drawing the adventures over with cries for help. Then, when the adventurers arrive, the Dunebats will open their eyes in unison, and put on theatrics. The room, now lit up only by a thousand tiny gem-red eyes, will let out screams, the laughing of devils, the grumbling of mummies and the rattling of chains.

Most adventurers will run for their lives and conveniently drop their treasure. Those that keep their
senses and light a torch will learn that Giant Dunebats are actually a type of extremely lazy and
surprisingly cute fruit bat. Seeing as that they are unable to fool the wise adventuring party they trade
instead – fruit and coin for information on the dungeon, magic items and of course impersonations of

local celebrities and political figures.

Lycanthrope, Wereladoo by Daniel Lofton

ARMOR CLASS: by armor type or 10 (in bowl of ladoo form)
MOVE: 12" or none (in bowl of ladoo form)
HIT DICE: 4 + 1
% IN LAIR: -
DAMAGE/ATTACK: by weapon type or curse
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Hit only by silver or +1 or better magic weapons
ALIGNMENT: Neutral or evil
SIZE: S-M (by race) or S (in bowl of ladoo form)
 Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/nil

The origin of the wereladoo can be traced back to a spiteful warrior, who jealously poisoned the ladoo served at the wedding of his unrequited love. After the crime, on the fourth day of the waxing moon (and each after that) he turned into a bowl of ladoo. Since that time the wereladoo curse has spread in the following manner. The ladoo smells and tastes bitter to those of good alignment, and sweet to those of neutral or evil alignment. If all the ladoo in the bowl are consumed before the dawn, the curse is transfered to any who ate them. The original cursed individual will reappear wherever the bowl is when the dawn comes. Wereladoo can be cured by casting remove curse on the affected individual.

There are rumors that some particularly evil wereladoo have learned to control the curse and can transform at will to try to tempt the unwary.

Smashing the bowl of a wereladoo will kill it instantly and it will revert back to its humanoid form.
If a character of good alignment contracts the wereladoo curse their alignment changes to neutral.

Man Can by Christopher Cale

For Fighting Fantasy
Skill: 6
Stamina: 6
Attacks: 1
Habitat: Store Rooms
Number Encountered: 1-6
Type: Mimic
Reaction: Hostile
Wits: Average
Size: Small
Damage: 1
Treasure: Rations.

The dreaded MAN CAN lurks in dungeon store-rooms, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting adventurers and devour them. These small creatures look like ordinary food cans, until an unfortunate adventurer gets too close to the shelves they are roosting on. They are surprisingly resilient for their size, due to their armoured bodies, but can be held at bay by strongly presenting a can opener.

The MAN CAN is typically encountered when an adventurer decides to search a store room; 1 to 6 of them will suddenly reveal claws and fangs and leap on the adventurer. The adventurer must successfully test their LUCK or lose 1 STAMINA per MAN CAN. They must then fight them off as normal. Once the MAN CANS have been defeated, the adventurer may take them as Rations. Each MAN CAN becomes one Ration, though the adventurer will require a can opener to be able to get into them. The cans have no labels and have a roughly equal chances of being beans, peaches or spaghetti hoops.

Unicorn, Black Willow by Daniel Lofton

Frequency: Rare
MOVE: 24"
HIT DICE: 5 + 2
% IN LAIR: 10%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6/1-6/1-12
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good
 Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/nil

This unicorn is dark brown to black in coloration with a mane consisting of thin, leafed willow branches. Its horn is shorter than that of the standard unicorn, curves upward slightly and resembles dark, twisted wood. Black Willow Unicorns are found in swamps and wetlands and are the protectors of these fragile ecologies. As such they are much more fierce and territorially protective than a normal unicorn. When in these environments they have 15% spell resistance. They may allow themselves to be ridden by druids or dryads. Black Willow Unicorns are immune to poison and may cure poison at will, with a touch of their horn. Possession of a Black Willow Unicorn horn renders the bearer immune to poison.

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Monster Man Contest II: Questions!

With the Monster Man Contest II underway, I have received some questions about the rules. Here are the answers, which I will also add to the original post when I get a moment.

Who has the publishing rights to my entry? 

You do, of course! I'm not intending to publish these, except insofar as putting them here is "publishing" them -- it's just a fun exercise in community creativity.

Can I publish my entry on another forum, blog or website and just send you a link instead of emailing you? 

Certainly; please do!

How many times can I enter?

Let's say up to three entries per person, but no one contestant can win more than once -- in the unlikely event that someone places in the top group with multiple entries, I'll just count whichever one has the highest number of votes.

Monday 25 June 2018

Monster Man Contest II!

OK, so last time I said I would run a second Monster Man contest it ... basically didn't happen. I was too busy to promote it effectively and I only got a handful of entries, and I just let it slide. But no longer! Monster Man Contest II is in full effect, and there are fabulous prizes to be won! How would you like ... a print copy of The Hyqueous Vaults? Or a £15 gift certificate to Diplomatist Books? Maybe you'd like a collection of monsters from Spes Magna Games? Or a special monster surprise from yours truly? Well, all you have to do is make a monster!

Here are the rules:

1. Go to this article about D&D monster names created by neural networks.

2. Pick a monster such as the Slug, Spectral or the Mommy, Greater

3. Create a Monster Manual-style entry for your chosen name, with a description and stats for your favourite edition of D&D. Or your favourite RPG, whatever it might be. I'm not the boss of you! If you want to add a picture, that'd be double cool.

4. Send it to me by July 14th. You can email me ( or share it with me on Google+. 

5. I will post the entries here and ask listeners to vote on them by August 1st, choosing the top three entries. 

6. I will create an episode of Monster Man for the winning monsters. Winners will also receive a print copy of The Hyqueous Vaults (with removable cover!) and more. And everyone who reads this will get tons of fun monsters to read about and enjoy!

7. You can enter more than once if you like, but you can't win more than once.

And that's it! Go make some monsters. Share this contest with your friends; the more the merrier.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

New year, new campaign: the Great Mutant Caper

My ongoing campaign of the post-apocalyptic RPG Other Dust is ... well ... ongoing! In the last few sessions, the players have been solving a murder mystery and looking for a treasure map. This culminated in a heist at the closest thing a junkyard bartertown has to a luxury hotel. I decided to set the whole thing up with miniatures, because representing multiple different things going on simultaneously is an important part of the heist genre. 

The hotel and its compound.
The caper-comedy genre is one of my comfort zones, I think, and part of that is because it's possible to introduce consistent genre elements in a way that's still surprising. I decided to just make a quick random complications table that would let me keep things moving without having to plan everything out in advance. I rolled once every so often to get things like "a vehicle arrives" or "unwanted social interaction" or "room service!" just to keep the NPCs moving around the space.

A consortium of investors try to get Jeb interested in their new product. 

The law! The red-robed junkborgs, merciless enforcers of The Perfesser's law, turn up when Jeb sets off the alarm.

Twiggs spots lizardy medical genius Patches tampering with the ingredients outside the kitchen.

Twiggs fails to talk his way past the housekeeping staff.

Our heroes(?): L to R: Jaime, Twiggs, Jeb, Reesix

The night manager is having a pretty bad day. 

Sunday 27 May 2018

Another thing I'm working on

Last year when I went to Salute, I mentioned playing in a game refighting the battle of Lodi Vecchio. This was a lot of fun, but it also wasn't just any Lion Rampant game, it was part of an ongoing project exploring the relationship between medieval history and wargaming. I'm happy to say that the project is now in its second phase and I'm helping out with the web aspect.

So check out Gaming a Crusader Castle, won't you? There'll be more stuff going up on there in the coming weeks as we create scenarios, write articles and more. We'll be going to games shows throughout 2018 and 2019 to show off the Byblos Castle keep model by Supreme Littleness Designs and also to run some games using a range of different historical systems, starting with Claymore 2018 in Edinburgh.

Saturday 19 May 2018

In the meantime

A lot of my time lately has been taken up with various projects that I have either talked about here or will hopefully talk about soon. But I haven't stopped playing games! Despite my enthusiasm for Ghost Archipelago, many of my local gamers remain devoted to Frostgrave, and that's fun too. We've been playing a lot lately at the games night hosted by a local book store. In fact, their games selection is pretty good -- and as a Cambridge University alum, I'll get a discount, at least as soon as my alumni card arrives. So that's pretty good!

Anyway, I've created (or more accurately recreated) a Frostgrave warband and returned to my age-old practice of just getting my butt kicked. We usually manage to get two tables playing at once, so here are some photos from the most recent event -- they're mostly the other board, since the lighting was better over there.

A cultist sniper takes aim high above the battlefield.

There's something sinister about these nuns. 

This player's warband is made mostly of classic Citadel models.

Most of the shots of my table came out a little blurry, but it looked OK on the night. 

Although we did eventually take out this warhound, he earned his kibbles, holding us off for several turns.

My apprentice and his team spread out among the ruins to look for ... "clues."

I love the variety of colours on these cultists; mine are very drab. 
Anyway, I'm having fun and really pleased with the effort a big book store is making to cultivate its gaming community. It's mostly board games there and a little D&D, but we do make a fun spectacle. People often come by and ask what sort of game we're playing; I should put together some starter warbands for kids or whatever.

Monday 7 May 2018

Diceni 2018

Diceni is a gaming show in Norwich that I keep meaning to go to and never do, but this year I found myself at a loose end and decided to pop over and visit it. 

I really like the format of the show: it's a ring of traders surrounding a core of demo and participation games in a big open area in the centre of a building called the Forum. This is a big sort of community centre that also houses a cafe, a theatre, the public library and so on. What this means is that people are always moving in and around the show. I saw a lot of parents there with their kids, and lots of those kids happily playing games. Entry is free, which I imagine helps there. 

Here are some bad photos I took of the show floor: 

As you can see, it's pretty big, but not huge; it's very much set up for people to rock up, do some shopping, maybe play a quick game and then head out. Here are some of the things I saw: 

Have I ever been to a British gaming event where Bez wasn't doing his thing?
He was at the first ExiliCon, that's how dedicated the guy is. 

This game was being run by people from the Random Platypus forum.
It's a sci-fi variant of the Walking Dead: All Out War rule.

I played a game of the Osprey samurai game, Ronin
I got thumped quickly, but it was a good-looking table.

This big Marvel participation game seemed to be very popular. 

People playing Warmaster. Seems like a thriving community!
 There was a pretty good mix of traders there, including Ainsty and The Assault Group on the miniatures side, as well as another historical manufacturer -- Hellion? I don't recall. There were a couple of other minis game companies around, including the guys who make Mythos and Purgatory. There were also board game companies, people selling dice and other accessories, and the thing I like most: second-hand games!

Guess who bought Kryyyyooomeeeeek?

A friend of mine is very into this game, so I thought I would pick it up when I found it for £4. I flipped through it at lunch, and while I don't have much to say about the rules, the way the setting material is written is bananas.

Anyway, I also took the chance to visit a friend who works nearby, and had a walk around Norwich, looking at some sights and doing some shopping. 

I liked the concept of Diceni as a very accessible show in a public space. The location makes it good for drop-in visitors, and most of the display games were fun and colourful. I feel like if you're going for a drop-in event, Saturday might be better, but I expect there are more potential clashes on the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend, so it's a trade-off. If, like me, you have other stuff to do in Norwich, it's a fun way to spend a few hours.