Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday 4 July 2022

Joy of Six 2022

 Joy of Six 2022

I headed up to Sheffield yesterday for the Joy of Six show, the first time this show had happened (as a physical event) since 2019.  

It was the biggest version of this show, with more traders and games on than in previous years and occupying more physical space.  It seemed reasonably busy without being heaving - maybe 300 people or so?

I think was put on by the Deeside Defenders?  Anyway, it is an Iran-Iraq War game (Khorramshahr 1980 which featured the Iranians trying to stop the Iraqi advance. Seemed quite interesting, with a hidden 'zonal' overlay as part of it for unrevealed units and fire support - you can see it just on the map (top-right))

The second modern game was a Cold War Gone Hot 'Denmark 1985' scenario, put on by the Cold War Commanders, which was a mixed participation and demonstration game - an innovative concept!  The table was absolutely huge - this shot is of the 'demonstration' bit, featuring the enormous raised rail bridge on the left. Naturally the game was using the Cold War Commander rules.

A closer view of the British defenders.  The big square base represents an HQ element.

The other bit of the table - the 'participation' area is at the bottom (i.e. right) of the table.

This game was put on by James Mitchell, he of the 'big games on small tables', think this one was called 'Sudan Death...'.  I thought this one looked great and very much the kind of thing I could/should aspire to.

Lots of lovely figures on quite a small board.  Love the way even the edge of the mat adds to the aesthetic feel of the game too!

Another view.

Another absolutely huge game by Daniel Hodgson - this was Little Big Horn played on Hexon terrain, using the new Baccus 6mm Pony Wars' range.  Very nice and Custer was doing rather better in the game than in history when I popped along.

Another shot.

To show the detail of the game, I just picked the closest corner but honestly I could have picked from six or seven areas of the board to show different but equivalent scenes.

Some Mounted Warriors cross one of the fords

A Native American settlement

Where the action is!  Nice smoke, not too many markers.

A Bloody Big Battles' set-up; I wish I had been able to speak to the game presenter,  I would have liked to discuss the rules and game design in more detail since this one looked do-able for me in a way some of the other games didn't.  And BBB has been on my 'must get around to trying' list for quite a long time now.  It was a Hungary 1849 scenario, which you don't get to type very often in this hobby: the Battle of Isaszeg.

Big printed map, relatively small number of figures (so lots of room for interesting manoeuvres).

A closer view of how the troops interact with the map.

And another. I guess if I were concentrating on doing this kind of battle, I would probably use painted rather than flocked/static grass bases.

The Commission Figurines Napoleonic display, using their 6mm wooden figures.

Another shot.  It does work really well and if I were a gamer on a strict budget I would start here. I was quite tempted to get some ACW figures but there are a couple of other projects I want to push on with first (not finish. never 'finish') before I tackle that.

A closer view...

And another. It is only when you get to this range when the figures start to take on the slightly more 'boxy' appearance.

Another game emphasizing the 'small table - big battle' concept: this time it is Gettysburg, again using Bloody Big Battles.

A bit closer in.  Another very do-able game concept.

Chaironea by the Society of Ancients, the first of some very nice DBx games at the show: this one is Big Battle DBA (36-bases per side). BBDBA is a very effective way of doing the small table/big battle thing and it plays really fast.  I believe that they had time to do this one twice during the day, which is good going for a game at a show.

Another shot.

I think this was a Roman-era Strength and Honour game. I didn't really get the details since it always seemed to be quite busy when I was strolling past - maybe Nikopolis? But, it looked great and everyone seemed to be getting into it.

Another shot

And a closer view of the fortifications: I love this kind of stuff, I should really make some more of these king of things for me.  There was another Strength and Honour game in 2mm, which I unfortunately didn't get a picture of.

This is a WW2 'Operation Crusader' game - possibly one of the most confusing battles of all time - re-set to the Modern-era and using (I think) the Fistful of Tows rules. I should have spent more time here, since I have no idea what these rules are all about, although I have heard of them before.

Anyway, it looked like a good, solid microtanks' game. Good vehicles and functional but nice terrain.  Another one in the 'steal' pile.

And another shot.

Per Broden's Scanian War game, the Battle of Lund, using Baccus 6mm figures and the Twilight of the Sun King rules.

As I hope you can see, it looked great. Per's games consistently evoke not just a place but a season; the snow effects look great.


Very evocative terrain for the Battle of Imjin, by Charles Rowntree.  The troops really blend into the terrain to create a very naturalistic feel. I played this at Partizan, a very interesting and justly-lauded scenario.

I didn't get a shot which truly does the relief justice, but this perhaps gives some idea.

Another shot, just because.

My phone-camera slightly struggled here, but hopefully this gives an idea of what things looked like at the point of action.

And another lovely view.  The only thing I will say is that the more naturalistic the terrain, the more visually-jarring game markers can be.

 A Normandy 1944 game - the Battle for Hill 112.  This is using the 'All Hell Let Loose' rules which are apparently scalable for different levels of WW2 conflict. Nice vehicles and terrain pieces in this one, and one of the presenters kindly talked me through how they add vehicle aerials!

Another shot.

And closer into the point of action: the markers are less obtrusive in this set up.

And again.

Another Big Battle DBA game, put on by COGS: this one was Catalunian Fields and very nice it looked too.

DBA has a particular flow to it, but gives a fast game.

Recoil moves and pursuits break up the lines!

Apologies, I didn't get a great angle on this game for some reason. But it was another game from COGS, featuring the ECW battle of Roundway Down using Heroics and Ros figures.  You can just see some bases off the edge at the bottom of the picture - the bases are quite flexible, with pike and shot and command blocks fitting separately into the bases, which IIRC are 3D-printed. They worked really well and obviously give lots of flexibility to re-skin a unit from the ECW to the TYW and so on.

Another view: the Parliamentarians were doing rather better in this refight!

And again.

And last of the games I got a picture of, this one is a very large DBMM game. Again, I have forgotten the name of the battle but lots of lovely chariots featured!  This one was put on by the Milton Keynes' team. I had a very interesting chat with one of the presenters about the virtues of DBMM, the development of ancient rules, Phil Barker's approach to rules-writing and so on. It was an interesting day in that I was part of two conversations, one with a Phil Barker fan and one with someone who wasn't! I am much more in the 'fan' camp - I think a lot (but not quite all) of the criticism is unjustified, and it says something quite positive that the DBx system was the one most represented in the Joy of Six games yesterday.

I think this is a great Ancients-battle scene.

Sorry the photo isn't great but this is of the infantry battle in the centre.
I missed taking workable photographs of a few games: a lovely MAD-gamers 'War of the Worlds' 1890s game; a bijou but interesting looking tank-hunting game; and a small campaign game of Henry V's 1415 campaign (but using 6mm figures for the forces involved). There was also a very nice collection of well-modelled 6mm inspiration pieces.

I had been looking forward to speaking to Sean of God's Own Scale and seeing his Guilford Courthouse game but unfortunately he got COVID and wasn't able to attend. I was also vaguely expecting to see a really big WW1 game but if it was there I missed it! Which will be embarrassing, since it was probably on a 20-foot table that I ended up walking straight past...

It did inspire quite a bit of thought for me on the way home. I haven't reached any very definite conclusions but in no particular order:

1 - Table clutter (I mean markers rather than cans of pop) can quit easily break the visual 'spell'.

2 - Large game demonstrations show lovely-looking large set-ups but don't necessarily show you how to stage a large game, where you want to play that game to a finish (although one answer to this seems to be play DBx, which will get you to the end quite quickly!). The Strength and Honour games seemed to roll on quite quickly too.  I guess more broadly I am thinking about when you would want to put on a 'big' game and when you want to change the scale of the figures and rules instead to get a big battle on a small table. It also applies to how many individual bases you would want on the board.

3 - There are lots of ways to make 6mm games look really good - they are almost entirely about terrain and basing rather than the painting of individual models.

As usual, there were two discussion groups, one about Baccus things in the morning and one about the hobby more generally in the afternoon.  The latter was very busy and featured Dan from Wargames Illustrated, Greg from Little Wars' TV and a podcasting chap whose name escapes me at the moment - Guy from WSS ended up getting involved quite a lot too! But they were all very good and apart from the first question (the hardy perennial of getting more 6mm articles and photographs into wargaming magazines) the discussion was of questions that were a bit different from the last couple of times that this was done: the impact and future of the geographical expansion of the hobby, the impact of various media forms on the hobby and its demographics and so on.  The Baccus' Q&A as ever was quite useful in hearing Peter's thinking about future developments.  He was saying that NW Europe 1944 will be finished very soon, followed by the Soviets for 1944 and 1945. After that, he was planning on pivoting to the Western Desert. For other ranges, Poles for the GNW, a Great Italian Wars' range and Byzantines for the Crusades-era were mentioned, plus the continual review of ranges for moulds which were becoming more worn out.  He did stress though that the size of the WW2 range would be quite a dominating feature for the next few years.  The calls for 'more fantasy' from the hobby panel in the afternoon and Peter's reaction were quite amusing...

The traders seemed to be doing quite a fair level of business for most of the day. Of the main 6mm ranges that were absent, there was Adler, Total Battle Miniatures, anyone selling GHQ, Microworld, Vanguard, Perfect 6 and Leven - also the Polish guys whose range I forget weren't around (they of the nice ACW figures); conversely it was nice to see Irregular Miniatures and 2d6 Wargaming for the first time. I had heard that Grumbler Miniatures were going to be there but I didn't notice them - not sure if that was me and I just missed out! So there is still plenty of room for the show to expand.
Anyway, I got a few bits and pieces to keep me going in the summer: some Vietnam War stuff from Irregular, a few Battlescale buildings, a couple of different Soviet AFVs from 2d6, a few figure packs from Brigade and a mixture of some Early War WW2 (French and British) and some Cold War British and Soviet stuff.  I tried to get some Scotia Polish but unfortunately they didn't seem to be carrying any that day! Same deal for 2d6 Wargaming's Meditteranean theatre WW2 Brits...There were probably a couple more things...I had meant to get a couple of things from Baccus but I never seemed to find a quiet enough time to get them - one for the post next month, perhaps...
Anyway, it was very nice to get back to the JoS show - had a good day, it was nice to chat to a few people I hadn't seen in a while.  It did seem to have a nice 'buzz' to it, possibly helped by having the Little Wars and Too Fat Lardies' teams there for the first time.


  1. Thanks for an excellent show report as due to prior commitments and sadly the cost of fuel, I couldn't make the show, although I would have loved to. Some great games on show there and many that were doable at home in terms of table size, force size and terrain etc.

    So nice post visit thoughts too. I would highly recommend giving BBB a run out as I think they are a great set of rules, allowing you to fight big battles in a few hours, depending upon the number of players and all pretty easy to achieve at home.

    1. Thanks Steve. Although certainly not every game was easily doable I think the vast majority were: perhaps only Little Big Horn and Denmark '85 were really out of reach to the average gamer.

  2. I enjoyed the show too although I only went for the afternoon. I ended up commanding the northern wing of the Army of North Virginia at Gettysburg for a while, which was a bit unexpected but enjoyable! Sorry I missed you but as you say, it was quite busy.

    1. I only got a brief look at it but it did look a very achievable set up in terms of feeling like Gettysburg and fitting on a normal table.

  3. Great photos of what was a great show. Sorry I wasn't around when you came by. Couple of comments on the BBB Hungary 1849 game. This wasn't on the schedule originally, but I learned the day before that a game had dropped out, so I chucked a box in the boot of the car in case. Turned up at 10:00am, asked Peter if he wanted an ad hoc game, he said yes, so I rolled out the battlemat and we were set up in 10 minutes - a very easily 'do-able' game, as you rightly say. As for the flocked bases: most of the time they are fighting across a felt cloth rather than the printed mat, so they're more suitable for that.

    1. Thanks Chris, and well done you for setting up such a good game at short notice. You were there when I came by but very busy explaining a point to another visitor and I didn't want to disturb the discussion. There is a lot to be said for that technique I think in many circumstances.

  4. This was my first trip to Jof6, and probably my my last as I might not be in the UK much longer.
    The ancients game was an Assyrian against Lydians though the rules and who put it on escapes me.
    I really liked the tinywargames mat for the Sudan game. The ripple effect of the sand made it stand out. Speaking to James the edging was done at his request for 'something suitable' for the Sudan.
    Another thing that made the Pony Wars Battle of the Little Big Horn stand out was the use of trees made for 15mm figures. This gave a really nice effect.

  5. Great report! Thank you very much,

  6. Excellent show report with so many stunning battle displays. You must be exhausted.

    1. Thanks very much. Not exhausted, but it is a full day. It is the one show I have never left before closing time.

    2. To parody an old Country-Western song, "Do the games get prettier at closing time?"

    3. Hahaha! I don't know about the games...I wonder if the figures get more tempting if there is still a bit of cash left in the wallet though?

  7. Thanks for this excellent report!
    So many beautiful tables... and some stunning!
    It was the place to be!

    1. You are very welcome. This show just works really well.

  8. Wish I could have spent longer with you but the gaming and chat just kept me away. Great report crikey you were busy. Yes they were lovely models on the All Hell Let Loose game I concur with your expert assessment. The day went in a blurr for me, nice pint good company great show IMHOP.
    Keep well Rob.

  9. The DBMM game was indeed Assyrians vs Lydians, I'm glad you enjoyed it! We (Milton Keynes Wargames Society) have a table every year so hopefully will see you again.
    We typically play a "club" or "tournament" style game rather than a fixed historical battle as it's what the game is generally used for and it takes so many figures we can't be that picky anyway!

    1. Many thanks - for anyone who can make it, the big DBMM game that the Milton Keynes society puts on is always worth a look (I have seen a few at JoS over the years) if only to dispel the idea that DBx games can't look good or generate an interesting 'narrative' of a battle.

  10. I was putting the Crusader 2 modern game on and, yes, we were using Fistful of TOWs. We managed to play 2 games on the day with the "Allies" triumphing both times. Many thanks for the mention in your great report.


    1. You are very welcome, and I am really sorry I didn't get to investigate this further. Are you putting on a game at The Other Partizan?