In 1988 when we were all a little younger and a great deal keener, Brian Todd and Dean Bass two members of Milton Keynes Wargames Society ran an in house magazine, The Lone Horseman. Open of the articles published within that august tome was a report on Triathlon, a unique tournament using 7th Edition rules, organised by Milton Keynes Wargames Society.
Enjoy the below and smile.

Triathlon ’88

You may not know where all the flies go in winter, but I can tell you where the nutters go in October. Triathlon! The Milton Keynes Wargames Society Ancient tournament played almost continually over a 45-hour period at York House.

Twelve teams of up to five players each congregated one October Friday to compete in the third Triathlon. The 1988 teams were Bun Shop, Chichester City Cataphracts, Choccies (Cheltenham and October), Derby, Gamers in Exile (Central London), Slough Barbarians, 10:30 Charge (Pinner Splinter), and two Warlords teams (surprisingly enough Warlords 1 and Warlords 2). As you can see there were some exotically named teams, none more so than “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of the Slough Barbarians and Graham Fordham and his Hamster (without the Hamster)”, which is marginally longer than “Gamers in Exile with Graham Fordham’s Hamster”!

Triathlon began with the traditional champagne toast to the Queen, followed by the draw and the start of the gaming. As with any Wargaming event, the problems began to arrive early. Chichester City Cataphracts originally entered a four-man team. Only three players turned up, of which one almost immediately returned home with a bad case of flu! This “minor” problem was overcome by using every MKWS player available (some arriving at 3am for only one game), some of the other competitors that should have been taking a break, and even the umpires played the occasional game. The two original Chichester players, Pete Dolby and Mark Dudham, played a prodigious number of games, despite determined efforts to give them extra breaks. Pete Dalby, hardly moving from the table throughout the event, played seven straight games (that’s 21 hours of playing, excluding change over and tea/food/toilet breaks – the actual time must have been close on thirty hours). Pete actually played nine of the eleven rounds sitting at the same table using the Chichester 25mm army. The Chichester team completed all of its fixtures thanks to the support of their fellow competitors and that unique spirit that is engendered by Triathlon.

The Baggage Camp is an intrinsic part of Triathlon, four example The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of the Slough Barbarians etc were prominent by their horsetail standard. The Bun Shop and Derby set up their camps in opposite corners of the room. Both teams were determined to spend the weekend defending their camps by playing on the table nearest to the camp. A delay ensued when neither team was prepared to move when they had to play each other. Diplomatic negotiations took place, and after a possible exchange of “trade goods” and an alternative of no points to either side, the problem was solved – the Bun Shop moved.

With the gaming in full swing several notable and peculiar games took place. Triathlon used the full deployment options excluding siege games. As a result, an attack at night on a marching 25mm army with possible rain certainly stuck in the mind. Another game worthy of note produced the following overheard conversation: “I had routed his army all bar two units and was feeling quite confident. Can you imagine my surprise when it all rallied in front of me and came back into the fray and when we added up the points at the end, I’d lost!”

Other games included a Lychimenid army virtually disappearing, when throwing a row of –2’s to a Ptolemaic army’s row of +3’s and a Roman’s flank march failing to appear for 8 turns.

The now almost constant gaming was only interrupted by the meal breaks. Cooked breakfasts were provided Saturday and Sunday, with an evening on Saturday and Sunday lunch also available. The breakfasts were usually preceded by smoke signals, swiftly followed by fire alarms. After all you wouldn’t want to miss breakfast! Not to be out rung, the burglar alarms joined in on Saturday evening. This was an error on my part whilst trying to find suitable sleeping accommodation for the fair Lynda. I would just like to say sorry to a sleeping Dave Allen for walking over him several times.

Whilst Lynda slept, husband Dave Fairhurst wandered around saying “I haven’t been to sleep yet!” This was all he was ever heard to say until the end of the event and beyond! Elsewhere, at sometime early Sunday morning, a Slough player (was it Famine or War?) was to be disturbed by a mirage of a beer can descending before his eyes. Irreparable damage to his sanity was avoided, when he discovered the can was indeed descending supported by a balloon. Looking upward he discovered Andy Gittins at the top of the stairwell.

As Sunday morning arrived and breakfast had been eaten, fatigue began to take its toll on players, organisers, and umpires alike. I seem to remember saying, “That’s my ruling, its totally silly. Please ignore it if you’ve got any better ideas!”

Thrust into my hand, as players returned from the pub to start the last round was a short note: “Three Bunnies for three Bardies, signed Phil and Death”. This communication proved to be a transfer deal between the Bun Shop and the Slough Barbarians etc etc. Pandemonium was let loose as various team, whose final position was dependant upon the last round results, to decide their final positions tried to put in their own transfer deals, trying to strengthen their teams for the final round. It was explained to them all that the Transfer Deadline had passed some 45 hours previously.

So who won? Does it matter? Warlords 1 won with a clear margin from a highly contested second place, which was achieved by Gamers in Exile (with Graham Fordham’s Hamster). Triathlon once again proved great fun. The first Triathlon proved that 7th Edition worked in a competition environment, and that Wargamers can stay awake after closing time. Triathlon ’88 proved that Wargamers could stay awake after two successive closing times, and that 25mm 7th Edition is not only possible, but also both a successful and highly enjoyable.

So, what about the future? Triathlon ’89 is already booked up and will roll again in October. The format will be similar to the previous years. One word of warning to this years competitors – beware the “Eddie Warring”!

One final note. Finally, after two years of organising and umpiring Triathlon, this year I played in my first game. You guessed it. I played the bloody hamster!

Author Note

Triathlon ended after seven years mainly due to the exhaustion of the organisers. For those that took part, I would hope that it remembered with a smile. The last year had fourteen teams entered, which required thirteen rounds, the first of which began at eight thirty on the Friday evening. Ironically the Guildford team won the last Triathlon, after the addition of the Eddie Warring scores, relegating Reigate to second place. Triathlon always took place on the weekend that ended British Summertime; we needed the extra hour! Triathlon survived fire alarms, fatigue and even a hurricane. If anyone that took part in Triathlon would like to add their anecdotes to those above, please email them to me and I will add them to the site.