Saturday 9 November 2019

Goodbye old friend

Jeremy Butcher 
1957 - 2019

Whilst the wargaming world has quite rightly been mourning the loss of Stuart Asquith, for so long one of the leading lights of our hobby, the Partizan family are coming to terms with a far more personal loss.

For those of you who have not already heard - and apologies in that case for this being the way you now get the news - on Wednesday morning our dear old friend Jeremy Butcher, better known to us all as Klug, passed away as a result of lung cancer.

Klug was unique. By turns a bodybuilder, a landscape gardener, an ex-miner, a biker with the most amazing collection of Ducatis and Laverdas, an astronomer, a science fiction buff, a Punk, an anarchist, an anti-nuclear protestor, oft times a loner, a mountain biker, a computer buff renowned for running week long first person shooter games at his house and of course, in the context of this blog, a passionate wargamer. But most of all he was a true and loyal friend. He could be absolutely bloody infuriating at times but whenever you needed him he would be right there by your side.

Klug (right) at one of the Newark Irregulars meetings back in 2002

Klug was a member of the Newark Irregulars from our earliest days. He had grown up scratch building WW2 vehicles from plans in his comprehensive collection of Airfix magazines and each one was a joy to behold. He was always keen to point out that everything was 1/76th scale not 1/72nd which was simply too large for the tabletop battlefield. He developed his own set of very playable WW2 rules called Missing in Action based on the basic principle that any normal soldier, once the officers aren't looking, is going to find the nearest bit of cover and brew up a cuppa. He could drink tea like no one else I ever knew. He seemed to live on the stuff along with the ever present roll up ciggy. When it came to wargaming he was ever ready to have a game at the drop of a hat. When my wife and I got married in 1993 he snuck up beside me at the reception and let me know that he had one of his ready to play wargames complete with blanket terrain in his canvas haversack "just in case things got boring later on".

The long time venue for the Newark Irregulars when we met as a proper club was the next street over from his house at Pooh Corner and he became one of the most regular Irregulars, either running games of MIA or sat chatting with - and, to be fair, often arguing with - many of the other club members. At almost every Partizan show when we were at the old Kelham Hall venue he would be there at the end packing up tables and picking up litter, doing his bit as he saw it to make sure everything was a success. It doesn't matter anyone knowing now but he was also the man to whom we entrusted all the money at the shows. He would be wandering around with all of our cash in his pockets and we were completely certain that no one would suspect and that, if they did, they would definitely come off worse in any attempt to take it from him. Not for nothing did Klug have both the friendship and the respect of the local Hells Angels chapters.

Most of all Klug was a fiercely independent spirit with a strong aversion to any form of injustice or authority. It got him into trouble more times than I care to remember and it meant he never had what most of us would consider a comfortable life. Having spent his whole adult life living on nothing much other than tea, occasional slices of cake and the ever present nicotine he was utterly bemused in his final days that the State was so keen to give him money because he was ill. He would joke that if he had known they were going to be so generous he would have got a terminal disease much sooner.

As I said Klug was unique and I think we believed he would live forever. I think he believed that a little bit as well. He was a true friend: our hobby, and the world, is a far poorer place for him no longer being in it.

I trust that wherever he is now, he is sat there with a hot, sweet cuppa, a ciggy and a book waiting for us to all turn up and join him. And hopefully later, if it gets boring, we can all have a game.


Wednesday 7 August 2019

And so the end is near...

So the floorplan is done, the confirmations have all been sent out, the programme is off with our good friends at Wargames Illustrated for printing and the very last August Partizan is ready to roll out.

And I shall be very glad to see the back of it. Good riddance.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Partizan shows. I have been helping to run them since the very first one back at the Grove Sports Hall in 1986. I have been doing the invites and floorplans for them since the year I got married in 1993. I know this because the floorplans were based on the brochure my wife-to-be and I were given to plan our wedding at Kelham Hall that year. Like any good wargamer I never let anything go to waste.

At one time Laurence and I were such gluttons for punishment we even agreed when someone had the bright idea of running three Partizans a year, with the February slot reserved for Science fiction and Fantasy gaming. It didn't take us too many years to realise this was not a good plan and 'Fantizan' was consigned to history - at least until it was resurrected the following year by another club as Hammerhead.

So the pattern for the last couple of decades has been for two Partizans a year, one in May and one towards the end of the summer. The timing of the second show has been dictated by the need to maintain a gap between The Other Partizan and the collection of long standing, major shows that made up the autumn season. Three big shows - Colours, Derby and SELWG dominated the autumn months and we had always been aware that it would be both counter productive and unfair to put The Other Partizan too close to any of them. That meant the latest we could really run the second show was the beginning of September.

The problem with this was it left a very limited amount of time between the first and second shows. As soon as the May show was over we needed to get the planning sorted out for The Other Partizan. With traders this was not usually a big problem although we lost a few to summer holidays. With games it was a bigger problem - again because of the holidays but also because putting on two games in quick succession is, for many people, simply too much to ask. These problems were only exacerbated by the move to the Show Ground which necessitated pulling the second show back into mid August as well as finding twice as many games for each show.

In short, it takes twice as much work to organise the second show as it does the first. And I think it is widely recognised that The Other Partizan is generally the poor relation to the original version.

But now two events in quick succession have produced a solution to this problem and marked the end of the late summer Partizan.

The first was the implosion of the Derby Worlds show. I won't go into detail about this, partly because the loss of such a long standing show is not something to celebrate, but mainly because I simply don't know all the details. Needless to say the show, after moving venues over the last few years, is now no more. This opens up a very nice gap in the calendar in early to mid October.

Following quickly on this opportunity came the news that the Showground were very keen for us to move the second Partizan away from the current mid August slot. I believe this is because Newark is due to be overrun with vegans on an annual basis - a sort of reverse zombie apocalypse.

When a number of alternative dates - all still scattered around late summer and none of them really ideal - were offered, Laurence took the opportunity to suggest a more radical move; to the October slot recently vacated by Derby.

This is a much better slot for us all round. It is away from the purse-tightening weeks of 'back to school'. It is away from the summer holidays so the full compliment of traders and game are more likely to be available. It gives the games more time to regroup and prepare after the first show. It ensures that the previously profitable Derby slot is maintained for traders.

And, most importantly of all, it gives me an extra two months to get the show organised.

So personally I will be very glad to see the back of the August Partizan. But I am also very much looking forward to its new incarnation next October.

Friday 31 May 2019

Awards season

Well it has been just over a week since Partizan 2019 and we are already hard at work preparing for the second show which will be on 18th August. Invites should go out over the next few days and we already have the free figure crafted and cast ready to be revealed in early June.

But before we wrap up the first show we need to do the important business of announcing the lucky winner of the raffle and the winners of the awards for best Participation and Demonstration Games and the Editors' Award for Best in Show.

Without all the hard work and effort that goes into providing the more than 60 games and displays, Partizan simply would not exist. And so we like to say thanks to the gamers by drawing a free raffle at each show. Every game is put into a hat and one lucky winner gets £75 worth of vouchers to be spent with any of the traders at the show.

At Partizan 2019 the lucky winner was Phil Steele from the Northamptonshire Battlefield Society. This was particularly pleasing for us as Phil is one of the hardest working people attending and supporting our show. Not only does he bring excellent medieval games, filled with detailed histories and background information such as the Battle of Edgecote presented this year, but he also organises stands for no less than three societies - The Northamptonshire Battlefield Society, The Society of Ancients and the Nasby Project. A worthy winner indeed.

As at previous shows, for our judging panel we were very fortunate to have the services of a triumvirate of Editors; Dan Faulconbridge  of Wargames Illustrated, Guy Bowers of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and Henry Hyde of Battlegames. Dan, Guy and Henry spent the day scouring the hall looking at all the games on offer before huddling in a corner to try and come to a joint decision. For anyone who does not know these fine gentlemen I should point out that they could all be described as 'strong willed' characters and this phase of the deliberations is rarely quick or easy. But thankfully after much discussion and no recourse to edged weapons, they arrived at their joint decisions. 

The first award was for best participation game and is named in honour of Pete Gill of the RAF Wargames Association who passed away in 2016. This year we were delighted to welcome Pete's widow Jacqui to the show to present the award to the Peterborough Wargames Club for their "Men Who Would be King" game. 

The Macfarlane Award for the best Demonstration Game went to the Old Pikey's Wargames Club for their superb rendering of the Battle of Oosterbeek during the Arnhem landings. Quite apart from its great visual impact, the game was filled with the many small details that can keep you occupied for hours. Most moving were the small 'Pegasus markers' showing the location of the actions during which some of the 5 Victoria Crosses awarded during the Arnhem operation were won. A truly inspirational game. 

Our final award of Partizan 2019 was The Editor's Award for Best in Show. This is for the most impressive and inspirational game at the show. For the second year running this was won by those incredible chaps from the Earlswood Wargamers Club. In May 2018 they won with their magnificent Stalingrad game and this year they had an equally inspiring World War 1 Offering - 'Angriff Auf Die Abtei'. Once again the overall spectacle was matched by all the amazing little details. A couple of photos are shown below but we will try to put together a larger gallery for a future posting. 


One again we would like to thank everyone who brought their wonderful games to the show, not just those who won awards. Without the efforts of all the gamers, there would be no show. 

Thankyou all. 

Just as a post script, big thanks also to Guy Bowers of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy of sending me his huge collection of photographs from the show. One of the reasons Partizan succeeds is because of the kindness of those in the industry who support us year in, year out in so many different ways. Thanks Guy. 

Friday 19 April 2019

From Brussels with Love

Over the years we have been fortunate to have a smattering of international visitors to the show - at least those who have made themselves known to us. These have included, unsurprisingly, more than a handful of North Americans of both the loyalist and rebellious variety (only joking guys) as well as visitors from Japan and Australia. This year, as you may have seen on the Facebook page, we have already been contacted by Roly Hermans who is visiting the UK from New Zealand and has managed to arrange things so he can pay a visit to the show whilst he is here. Of course the most oft spotted foreign fellows at Partizan come from our nearby neighbours in Europe and over the last few years we have had visitors from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland.  

This year we have something a little more interesting with (I think) our first game provided from outside these shores. A few weeks ago we were contacted by Jasen Lakic, a games designer from Brussels who runs 3C Boardgames. He asked if he could bring a new block based wargame to demonstrate at the show prior to launching a Kickstarter in May. Of course we are delighted to support new and innovative gaming ideas so leapt at the chance to host the game. 

It is called Multiverse War and, according to Jasen's description is 

"an area control/character progression/wargame where players recruit armies, explore the new lands and battle for better strategic positions to secure more space for development. The only way to advance through the eras is by killing enemy units or destroying buildings so players must do their best to outmaneuver their opponents and earn those valuable kills. You gain access to more powerful units and buildings by making kills with those units but do not underestimate Heroes. They are special units with increased Health, Action points and many unique and powerful abilities. Veteran heroes are formidable opponents, a strong hero can easily sway the odds in your favour!"

Not our traditional miniatures wargaming perhaps, but just another facet of our wonderful hobby. We are certainly looking forward welcoming our Belgian friend and seeing Jasen's game in real life at Partizan next month.    

You can find more details of the game development at:

Tuesday 16 April 2019

2019 Partizan figures first look

"Freiheit ist immer nur Freiheit des anders Denkenden"

We always try to do something a bit different with the Partizan figures. Over the last few years this has usually involved basing them on historical figures of interest - both military and civilian - particularly if there is an interesting anniversary lurking around a corner. This year is no exception and we have decided to make a temporary swerve to the left to celebrate two notable figures of the socialist movement.

2019 is the centenary of the Spartacist Uprising in Berlin in 1919. In 1915 one of the founders of the Spartakusbund  (Spartacus League) - originally a left wing anti-war movement - was the Polish-German philosopher and activist Rosa Luxemburg. When Germany was defeated in 1918 the league became very active in the post-war chaos of the German Revolution and Luxemburg, along with Karl Leibknecht, co-founded the Red Flag Newspaper and took part in the first congress that founded the German Communist Party.

In January 1919 a wave of violent strikes and uprising swept across Germany with armed bands attempting to seize control in a number of cities. Although Luxemburg apparently considered this a mistake, she did eventual come to support the uprising in Berlin. But it was a short lived revolution and was quickly crushed by the German Freikorps - mostly WW1 veterans - raised in support of the existing government. On 15th January 1919 Luxemburg and Leibknecht were captured by Freikorps troops and executed.

There is no evidence that Rosa Luxemburg physically took up arms during the uprising but we have asked our figure designer Martin Baker to model her with a rifle as if she were standing on the barricades in defence of the revolution. Here is the green ready for mould making.

The figure will be free to everyone trading, putting on a game or running a society stand at the Partizan show on 19th May and will also be free for the first 500 visitors through the door on the day. 

Sunday 17 February 2019

ROBIN 2019 Games Expo and Trade Fair

So I (LB) popped down to the ROBIN show today (Sunday 17th February) to see how it was going to be different from the previous incarnation. For its first two years it was run by Donna Simmerson who put in a lot of energy and experience to pull off a great little show which had a lot of potential. It's always difficult to start something from scratch, but Nottingham, at the centre of the fabled Leadbelt, has struggled to develop its own show, probably because of more established offerings in nearby Newark, Derby and the late lamented Cannon in Retford. The new experience has been relabelled as a Games Expo and Trade Fair so I was expecting an expansion of the card and boardgame part of the hobby, and looking forward to seeing what was on offer, given that Nottingham also has a thriving industry in this sector.

Arriving a few minutes after opening I parked easily, and found that their first innovation as to make the entry through the Tennis Centre, which means no door opening straight to the outside, which was a definite improvement. The weather was much milder this year too, so a much more comfortable temperature in the hall. There were a lot of unfamiliar traders which was refreshing, but meant some of the big names were missing. I think Tactica was on in Germany this weekend, so it looks like Foundry and Wargames Illustrated, for example, were there instead of nearer to home. Surprisingly the fresh faces didn't really represent an expansion into the boardgame and card game sector, but it as good to see some of the smaller names from the wargames field - and it is probably wise at this point for us to apologise again to those of you who are on the Partizan waiting list - we know it is frustrating to have to wait to get into the more established shows, sorry! 

For those of you who like to hear the personal side of things I managed to get two out of three things on my shopping list - a ne can of Strong Tone varnish, and Wayne Bollands new Cold war rules 'The Zone', which look very good, and will persuade me to get out my Sloppy Jalopy vehicles and those old Mongrel figures! I saw Wayne in the distance and s going to get him to sign it for me but he diappeared whilst I was chatting! I was looking for some Vallejo sepia wash, but couldn't find any, but got some decal softener instead! All in all quite restrained I thought.

Of the games again there were  couple of board game and card game offerings, but more traditional wargames. Standout amongst those were the Lenton Gamers Chain of Command game and James Morris'  Red Book of the Elf King games, and the Leicester Phat Cats Blood and Thunder pirate game with some very impressive ship models.

I had been hoping to find time for a quick game of Mortal Gods and/or Cruel Sea, but seemed to spend a lot of time chatting with folks instead. The legend that is Duncan Macfarlane seemed in fine form, and we talked nostalgically with Dave Bickley about the days when painting was done with Humbrol enamels, Plaka paints, or even oils, before I realised that I'm actually not old enough to remember those days...

ROBIN has only been going three years, and this is the first year 'under new management'. I've often said that a show needs to have a reason for being, a niche that makes it stand out and gives people a reason for going. Over the years I hope Partizan has done that, and I had high hopes that the move to expand this show to include more diverse sectors of the gaming world would be the making of it. On the face of it much remains to be done to achieve this goal, but if and when it succeeds then ROBIN will be a great addition to the circuit - and it's also very handy for me, living as I do in Nottingham now..

Friday 1 February 2019

Plans and stratagems

The New Year has been and gone and the last excuse for avoiding preparations for this year's shows has been blown away in the blizzards.

So we have buckled down and started sending out invites and drawing up floorplans. If you were hoping to bring a game to the first show in May and have not yet received an invite then please do let us know. If you were hoping to trade then, as always, we are very over subscribed but will do our best to fit traders in as space becomes available. Again, let us know if you are interested and we can add you to the waiting list. Finally if you represent a wargaming society and wish to promote your particular aspect of the hobby then let us know and we will try and fit you in to the History Zone where we provide stands free of charge.

Meanwhile we have been making some changes to future shows. If you put on games or trade at the show you should already have received a letter about this but, for wider consumption, we are making some permanent changes to the date of the second show of the year.

 Since the Partizan show moved to the new venue we have had to compromise on the dates of the shows, particularly the second of the year, which has been pushed forward into mid-August from its traditional slot in early September. Whilst we think that everyone would agree that generally the move to the showground has been very successful, the need for the second show to move to mid-August does, we believe, impact on numbers and also makes it far more difficult to tempt games as so many people are away at that time. In addition the relatively short period of time between the first and second Partizan shows makes organisation rather difficult.

We have recently been asked by the showground to make a further date change as they have a large client who wishes to take the whole venue for a weekend. We have used this opportunity to ask for a more radical change to the date in light of the demise of the Derby World's show.

Therefore we would like to announce that, whilst this year's show dates remain unchanged from those advertised, from 2020 The Other Partizan will have a new date in early October.

A reminder that the dates for 2019 are:

Partizan: 19th May
The Other Partizan: 18th August

The new dates for 2020 are:

Partizan: 17th May (please note the letter that went out to games and traders had an incorrect date for this show) 
The Other Partizan: 11th October

The dates for 2021 are:

Partizan: 23rd May
The Other Partizan: 10th October