David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Recent Additions

A brief look at the recent additions to the forces in GHQ. Firstly some American mounted militia for the AWI. They were painted for me by Phil at the end of last year, but were quarantined until last week! They are Perry Miniatures of course. There is another unit underway I'm told now, of Loyalist cavalry, but we'll have to wait to see how they turn out ~

Next, some Great War Miniatures I've been working on for our joint 1914 project. They are extra battalion Command Stands for my British infantry battalions in the main. The only reason the two Scottish battalion command stands have an extra figure is that there are six figures in the command pack and I only have two Scottish battalions! I don't like to waste figures if I can help it!

The two spare figures from the other command pack have been used for a dismounted officer for the second cavalry regiment and an entirely superfluous Army Command vignette!! The latter has no real purpose other than to fill a space on the baseline in a game. The double table and the two chairs are from Irregular Miniatures. I have found their bits ranges more and more useful in recent projects. The map, notes and newspaper are all period and theatre correct, downloaded after a Google search or ten and sized to fit before printing out. Now, who's a nerd... ~

The mounted figure from the other command pack will serve as intended as a staff officer ~

Now it's on to the Foundry figures I bought at the end of last year to finish my fourth Demi Brigade de Ligne, depicting the 2/5th. So far, four are done, 4 more are underway and 12 are left to start. Broken down like that it seems more manageable to me!!!

Monday, 9 January 2017

The Chillington Raid

The first game of the new year here in GHQ saw Phil and I playing out the game postponed, due to illness, from last December, a VBCW scenario set in rural South Staffordshire and postulating a raid by forces of the People's Republic of Wolverhampton on Chillington Hall. Local intelligence acquired from a sympathetic estate worker had Revealed that Lord Rawnsley, the local leader of the pro-Government parties in the struggle, was meeting with the reactionary landowners, the Giffords, to plan for a preemptive strike on the town. Major Mander hastily assembled a raiding force, hoping to catch the enemy unprepared, and perhaps capture Rawnsley and deal a serious blow to the pro-Government cause. As events unfolded it seemed the estate worker's information might have been questioned more thoroughly...
We used Bolt Action 2 to play out the action, with no limit set on the number of turns to ensure a clear result. before the game I diced for the number of units on both sides and then for the Morale class of each unit. By chance both sides ended with 10 units, each side having one Veteran unit and with the Chillington Rifle Company being the sole Green unit.  If Major Mander's force captures Rawnsley it is a major victory, but any other outcome is a defeat, ranging from minor to catastrophic! You can see how it panned out now if you like ~

At the end of Turn 1 Mander's raiders had made good progress towards their objective. As yet the defenders were not in a position to fire on the enemy and hopefully a fair draw of dice would see the bulk of the attackers reach the first hedge line, from where the assault on the position would go in!

Did I mention the draw of the dice? Oh dear, the first five out in Turn 2 were all for Phil's defenders and suddenly Mander's raiders found themselves in the open and under heavy fire! The Smith gun was disabled by a lucky shot from the armoured car, while the Hilton Main Miners' Collective were held up by fire from the Express and Star Rifles who had seized Home Farm. (Phil had been much more aggressive in his dispositions and actions than I had banked on, helped by the favourable draw of the dice.) Any assault now was gong to be very bloody.

Turn 3 saw the assault stall thanks again to the dice draw favouring the defenders. The Three Tuns Invincibles are pinned in the open by the fire from the South Staffs and the BUF behind the hedge; the miners exchange fire ineffectively with the defenders of Home Farm; Princess Sudhira's Rifle Company seek cover from the MMG emplaced in the Hall's driveway (I'd missed seeing that!); while the LDV are still halted far from the action, failing two Order Tests!

Turn 4 and Mander's Raiders see no improvement in their position. The fire from the 18lb gun is utterly ineffective, while despite ranging in in Turn 2 on the South Staffords, the mortar causes no problems in Turns 3 and 4. Its clear that  a minor miracle is needed now for the fortunes of war to change in the attacker's favour.

The Express and Star Rifles hold Home Farm, meaning the Miners are forced into an ineffectual fire fight to attempt to dislodge them. Despite the nearby officer, the Miners have failed another Order Test and the Rifles hold on.

The Three Tuns Invincibles and Princess Sudhira's Rifles are destroyed by fire from the Armoued car and the MMG. There is no prospect now of a successful outcome for Mander's Raiders...

The local BUF commander can be more than pleased with the outcome. Despite the loss of his men's MMG and taking 50% casualties on the rifle company they have held the right flank securely and assisted the Chillington Horse in repulsing Mander's Horse when they attempted a flanking attack in dismounted order through the Big Wood.

Just time for a snifter to celebrate victory! Lord Rawnsley joins the Giffords on the Upper Lawn for a drink... I threw in the towel after Turn 5 with n prospect of any result but a catastrophic defeat! Clearly the Estate Worker was a double agent, supplying false information on the situation in Chillington Hall! Of course, poor drawing of the dice in Turns 3 and 4 did n't help much, nor did my apalling dice for fire and then conversion to casualties throughout the game. Next up here in GHQ in two weeks' time will be an Indian Mutiny game, as Dan is coming late that week to take photos to accompany my article on gaming the Mutiny for Wargames Illustrated. Meanwhile its back to painting Command Stands for my British battalions in the 1914 game. Kilts!!!!!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

And here we go, again ~ Austrian Artillery.

For my Austrian army, a part of my Wars of the French Revolution project, I've been working on these limbers and caisson sets and horse teams from Perry Miniatures, with head conversions from Trent Miniatures to replace later head wear with bicornes, which I know were not worn but they speak of the period when the correct option is not available, so will do for me. The horses and riders are one piece castings, which I liked when painting the figures as the men sit correctly on their mounts, unlike separate figure and horse so often. The limbers and their horse teams are mounted on one MDF base which I sourced from Warbases, of course, but the caisson and its team are mounted on two MDF bases, making the caisson available to deploy behind the battery with the horse team to the rear. It just looks better on the tabletop I think. I showed the first limber team I'd completed in an earlier post ~

I completed the second limber team after Christmas and then the caisson team on New Year's Eve ~

Deployed for action, the battery will look like this ~

It just remains for me to wish you a very happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year ~

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Passing in Review

In the 'Wargames Blogosphere' it has become the custom for many bloggers to post a review of, or reflection on, the past year's activity. I have been one such, although if I'm brutally honest with my loyal reader I've always wondered why anyone should show much interest in what one geriatric in waiting and his younger friends get up to. Nowt so queer as folk, as I believe they say oop north. So, here we go then...

As you will no doubt recall, after all I bang on about it enough, fewer games have been possible here in GHQ during the year due to the personal circumstances of all of we 'GHQ Irregulars'. Even so, consulting the War Diary I see that we managed 50 games in total over the year, a decent score by many folks standards I know, so I mustn't grumble! Of these I won 20 and lost 19, 2 had no result and  9 ended as draws, so I maintained my pretty average persona as a wargamer for another year!

Painting of figures this year has been exclusively in the 28mm size/scale form and the vast majority of them have been for my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project. Probably the second most featured figures on the paint desk here in GHQ would be for my VBCW in Wolverhampton project, for which I also acquired new Lledo vehicles with specific local provenance, sadly save for Banks's Brewery! The year's total just exceeds 670 figures at the last tally, a very decent total I think if I'm honest. If I could keep that kind of progress going in 2017 I'd be more than pleased.

I have no plans in 2017 for a new period, probably for the first time this decade at least. My modest 'Lead Pimple' comprises now only two Really Useful Boxes' of 28mm figures all cleaned up, primed white and whitetacked to MDF bases ready to be processed in the coming months. We hope to be having some work done in the house in the coming months, so that takes financial priority over hobby spending. Notwithstanding that admission, I shall probably add to the sundry periods we play in GHQ over the year, you will surely know what we are all mostly like in our hobby!

I've completed a piece for Wargames Illustrated on gaming the Indian Mutiny. I hope I'll get feedback in the new year with a date fixed for taking photographs here in GHQ to accompany the piece. I'd like to write other pieces if I can, hopefully on our VBCW settings for example, but that depends totally on editorial preferences and decisions. I am a mere paid scrivener!

The future of our hobby looks bright as we limp towards 2016, at least it does from what I see going on in the wider world of wargaming. The plethora of periods, scales/sizes, figures, rules, terrain and buildings show now signs of diminishing, nor of the  flow of creativity behind them abating. Such a bright tomorrow encourages even an old timer like me to at least look at the new products, even if at present I feel none calling to me as they have in years gone by. Its an age thing, combined with winter I'm sure. So, age and infirmity not withstanding, the Order of the Day must be Winston's rallying cry, "KBO!"

So, there you have it for 2016, make of it what you will. I am sure that 2017 will take care of itself in due course. Happy New Year!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Not much to show for December!

As you will know, December has been a bit of a fallow month as far as hobby activity has been concerned. I have managed one game before it went down hill and a little painting in recent days to finish outstanding figures. Firstly, for my Wars of the French Revolution project an Austrian limber set, by Perry Miniatures with Trent Miniatures head swaps (I know they should have different head wear, but bicornes will have to do.)

Next, for my VBCW project, Mander's Horse, in both Mounted and Dismounted versions. Again Perry Miniatures, but this time straight from the box ~

Finally, something that's not new but has been rebased, some SYW British Grenadiers in action. From Foundry Miniatures this time ~

I have a second Austrian limber set underway as I type, which I hope to finish after the festivities. Then there is a caisson team to tackle and it's all done.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

In sickness and in health

The year is in its death throes, Christmas is marching ever nearer, and my motivation has gone awol! Bit of a crappy end of the year here in GHQ I'm afeared. Phil and his family have been laid low by novo virus, aka winter vomiting bug, so no game now in either venue before 2017 comes mewling and crawling along. In addition I had a nasty fall while visiting Matt and his family last Monday which left my back sore and made painting impossibly uncomfortable. I had started 6 Perry Miniatures British Yeomanry for my VBCW games, but in truth I wasn't much enamoured of the figures, especially the horses which I really dislike. I wish everyone would use the splendid Ebob horses, I enjoy painting their clear detail and they look like what they are supposed to represent. When they are eventually done they will be Mander's Horse in our Wolverhampton setting for the VBCW games. ( I also have 6 dismounted troopers of course to finish later.)
As there's not much going on I thought I'd mention where I hope we are heading in 2017 (DV). I have nothing new planned after all. I did toy with figures for the Maori Wars, using Sharp Practice 2, as well as the Peninsular War with the same rule set, but in truth neither lit up for me in the end. I still may dabble in SP2 though, in the F&IW setting though. I have quite a few figures for the period, but at Warfare I bought more Regular Infantry for both British and French from Redoubt. I enjoyed painting the other figures from Redoubt and they proved easy on the hand and eye, so look out for more in 2017.
I went over to Wargames Foundry two weeks ago to buy what are probably the last figures for my FRW project: French infantry in helmet to represent the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Demi Brigade de Ligne and others in bicorne to be a National Guard unit, as I like the flags! I also bought some SYW British infantry in firing pose to complete my Guards Brigade, together with the WWI casualties set and a pack of C18th Road Workers! Oh, and a lot of paint! Why do paints all run out at once I wonder? Most of my new acquisitions are cleaned up, sprayed white and whitetacked to their MDF bases. Back permitting the SYW Brits will join them next week giving me a 'Lead Pimple' of three Really Useful Boxes of figures.
Finally, I finished a piece on the Indian Mutiny for Wargames Illustrated; I hope it will make the March or April edition as February's is already put to bed. Speaking of Dan, tangentially at least, I received from him two books this week, Bolt Action 2 and Honours of War. Very kind and I'd like to thank him publicly for them. That'll do for now I think. Just one last thing ~

Saturday, 10 December 2016

3rd Battalion, 5th Demi-Brigade de Ligne 1793-95

A bit of a burst has seen me finish this latest addition to my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project. The figures are from Brigade Games sculpted by Paul Hicks and are slighter than my preferred Trent Miniatures French infantry.  I expect that regular readers of my ramblings will immediately recall that I purchased these from a Flea Market seller at October's Derby Worlds wargames show. As I've said before about them, I couldn't get all 24 figures in the same pose, opting for 8 in advancing or charging pose and the balance of 12 in March attack pose. I found a drummer, but no officer or standard bearer, so my solution was a standard bearer from the Dromedary Corps and a Mounted Russian colonel cunningly disguised by a paint job as French! Lace freaks can look away now, as they say, but they will do for me.

This is the second Brigade Games unit I've painted for the Wars of the French Revolution project ~ see my earlier post featuring the 31st Legere if you missed it. After a total of 49 pieces I feel that it's OK to make a few points about the figures as I had them. Firstly, the service from the States was first class; I was kept informed of progress of my order, it was promptly despatched, and there were no additional rip off charges at our end, so I'd call that a result. Secondly, I know the range is really for the French in Egypt, so accept some anachronisms in both uniform and equipment, such as the voluminous neck clothes on several figures. As I've said before, they will do for me.
Turning though to the figures themselves, there are a couple of gripes, neither uncommon I'm afraid wherever you source figures on the whole. Mould making or casting related issues are the usual flash, though none too serious, and one instance of a twisted musket which I dare n't try to straighten. Nothing major though there, but let's turn to the finer details. I really like figures to sport buttons or open button holes if the sculptor wanted to reflect the wear and tear of campaigning. What I really dislike is buttons not moulded or not cast, in effect they are seconds in reality. Now partly this may be the result of the sculptor's detail work being too fine, but seeing greens regularly on Forum Boards and blogs I suspect that's not the case. In our hobby generally mould making and casting is often second rate, with the certain exception of Griffin, so I'm not singling Brigade out for criticism, merely reporting some disappointment. Saying this, would I buy more from them? Certainly, I know what I'm getting and can live with it. A related personal issue, of age, eyesight and hand leads me to say that really I prefer figures with deeper, more pronounced detain now on my paint desk, but I will tackle stuff that isn't while I still can, I'm just slower and have to paint over 'mistooks'!