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, 21 November 2017

‘Bloody Ban’ and George’s teeth...

A few years ago now Sue and I were staying with our friend Joe Moore in Woodbridge,Va, just outside Washington DC. As Mount Vernon, Washington’s home, was just up the road - in American terms that is - we decided we must visit it and see the iconic home of the First President of the independent USA. It was well worth the wait in the long queue to enter, not least because of the American families we were able to talk with as the queue slowly advanced. As you move through the various buildings and rooms guides are always on hand. For Brits reading this think National Trust room guides, only under 65 and much more friendly and helpful! The grounds themselves overlook the river and it was very peaceful sitting on the veranda/terrace and taking in the view. There’s also a museum and shop of course, and it was in the former that I saw one surviving set of the three sets of  George Washington’s false teeth!
Of course my American AWI army already has a Mounted George Washington from Front Rank but when Dan gave me the new Giants in Miniature which Matt had sculpted for Wargames Illustrated I knew I would have a second version in my collection. This is the result, a second Command base comprising the man himself and two figures, from Foundry, from the Commander in Chief’s Guard. I added a signpost from Warbases, opting to paint the bird perched on its top to represent a Cardinal, and make it seem more American I hoped!

The second addition to the AWI collection comes in the form of a Front Rank British Legion Cavalry officer which in our games will represent Tarleton himself. I have both Mounted and Infantry figures for Tarleton’s Legion, so ‘Bloody Ban’ himself was a natural addition when I decided on the expansion programme for the game.

While I was in the AWI groove I ordered some new flags from GMB Designs for my new units in the British and American armies. I plan to reflag the older units also using existing stock from GMB and the former free downloads from Clarence Harrison, now sold by Barry Hilton.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Mutton Chop 1938 British Infantry

Whilst gaming here in GHQ and elsewhere has been severely curtailed these last few weeks I have managed a little more useful activity on the painting front. Most recently I’ve been working on the new 1938 British infantry from Mutton Chop for my VBCW collection. I bought one of each pack on release, so I had 12 riflemen, including NCOs, two 2 man Light Machine Gun teams - one Lewis Gun, one Bren Gun - and the MMG team of 3 figures and the gun for a total of 20 pieces. when the command pack is available I shall add that to the mix.

Now, either my eyesight is deteriorating markedly or the sculpting/molding/casting needs some comment as I found some of the detail on the figures very soft, especially the strapping on the webbing equipment and the buckles. But, as they are viewed from several feet away on the table they are more than good enough I feel for me.

I’ve also added another standard bearer to the VBCW collection, as usual from the Footsore range, as Pete Barfield - Ace Bloke 1st Class - made me a flag for the Wolverhampton branch of the National Union of Railwaymen so I can field a unit from Oxley Sidings along with my armoured train I was gifted by Colin Ashton. Watch this space as they say.

I’ve also added one figure to my Wars of the French Revolution project, a Boot Hill Mexican Colonel who is now a French General! As he was sculpted by Matt he’ll fit right in with my collection of Trent Miniatures.

On the painting desk now I have a Front Rank Tarleton Legion officer who will be ‘Bloody Ban’ himself in my AWI games. Waiting patiently in the queue are the Eureka FRW French Horse Artillery caisson set, the caisson at least has its green foundation colour on; the Wargames Illustrated Giants in Miniature George Washington, together with two Foundry figures and a Warbases road sign; and finally, four British AWI figures from Foundry to make a Command vignette. That will see me into December I think...

Monday, 6 November 2017

By Way of a Trial...

...we played a small game today in GHQ using Version 1 of Phil’s modifications to Neil Thomas’ Ancient and Medieval Wargames rules, entitled Warfare in the Age of Arthur! We used bases from my own Late Roman collection, counting each single base as three for game purposes. This is marked by the red dice you see with every unit. Each side had a General and a Noble Sub-Commander who can join in combat, adding dice to the total, but who may then suffer wounds or even die! Such events reduce the force morale as does the loss of each unit after all three bases are ‘killed’. These character bases also have command radii, meaning that a force which looses its cohesion, that is has units beyond the immediate control of the command characters, find it harder to move. Movement is by modified numbers of Dx6 and fighting/firing and saving throws are as per the rules as written.
The first picture shows the Saxon Force after Turn 1. They consist of one base of Hearth Guard, four bases of Warriors and one base of skirmishers with bows.
The second picture shows the Romans after Turn 1. They muster one base of Roman Remnants, two bases of Warriors, two bases of Militia and one of skirmishers with bows. The Arthurian general is Mounted and thus enjoys a Dx6 movement bonas over the Foot characters/Commanders.
The Third picture taken later in the game centres on combat between the Saxon Hearth Guard and the Roman Remnants. The Arthurian General has joined the Combat, adding three Dx6 to the units own three Dx6. This negates the Saxons own bonus in the first round of combat, as they get an extra dice per base in that round only. So, six dice for each side. In subsequent rounds the Arthurian enjoy six dice to the Hearth Guards three, unless a Saxon Character/Commander joins the combat.
In the game the Roman Remnants defeated the Saxon Hearth Guard but were in turn attacked by a unit of Saxon Warriors and so we’re unable to exploit their initial success. Elsewhere another group of Warriors defeated the Militia and killed the Noble Character. Skirmish bow fire proved largely ineffective due to poor dice throws on both sides, the Arthurian going four turns without a single hit!
The last picture shows the battle at its height with the Saxon Warriors holding the advantage on a wide front, the yellow dice showing bases lost in Arthurian units as well as losses to remaining bases, clearly three to the nearest Arthurian unit.
In all the game lasted a little under two hours with the adaptions and additions mostly securing our joint approval. Near the end losses of units on both sides and wounds inflicted on Character/Commanders had reduced both sides Force Morale to 2 - from 8 for the Saxons and 6 for the Arthurians. With the result in the balance the death of the Arthurian Noble Character in combat with Saxon Warriors saw victory handed to the battered Saxons.
We shall have a second run through next Monday over at Phil’s all being well. The Force Morale by the way we lifted from the Two Fat Lardies’ Dux Brittaniarum rules. We shall add some pre battle additional factors next year when our campaign at Phil’s gets underway, drawn in the main from the ideas in Lion Rampant. Our hybrid rules will naturally evolve, indeed I doubt Phil will ever stop tinkering! Now, for me it’s back to Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry and for Phil to rebasing more Saxons and Romans for next week! 

Friday, 3 November 2017

The infamous ‘Lead Lump’!

As you can’t fail to have noticed there has not been much noteworthy activity here in GHQ, at least not of the sort which might be mentioned in polite society or in front of the servants! What little painting I have managed this week has already featured in the previous post and current progress on the Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry has not progressed very far as yet. So, I thought I might give the old ‘Lead Lump’ an airing and reveal to passing interest what I hope to be painting up over the next eight months or so. Of course it’s all for existing projects and is an eclectic mix, as you might deduce from the long list of labels!

Unusually for me nothing has been in the queue for all that long a time. Probably the longest waiting are my three Union infantry from Dixon Miniatures which I bought earlier in the year from Spirit Games over in Burton-on-Trent. There are also a few dismounted cavalrymen too, somewhere.

Staying with the American theme there are several units for both the Rebels and the Crown waiting their moment in the sun. They are mainly from Foundry of course and will raise the strength of both sides to something more suited to our Black Powder games. Apart from three new guns and crew, which Phil is painting for me, there are two Militia units and two Continental units for the Rebels, while for the British there are two regular Infantry Regiments and some Light Infantry. There are also some Perry Miniatures 16th Light Dragoons, including the rather nice piquet duty set. As I was given the Washington figure from Dan at WI, sculpted by Matt of course, I’ve made up a small command base featuring him. That will probably be quite high up the queue for painting this month!

As will be my last element for the French Horse Artillery in our Wars of the French Revolution games, the Eureka Miniatures caisson and horse team set. I’ll leave off the riders though for now as the two groups of three gunners look awkward to paint and I don’t currently feel up to the challenge. Anyway, when the battery is deployed for action we remove the horses’ base and position the caisson just behind the guns, so leaving the gunners in situ on the caisson would look odd to say the least. I’ve also got more Trent Miniatures’ figures for the project in the form of French Hussars and Chasseurs, but they are way down the ‘to paint’ list at present.

For our 1938 -1940 games; the VBCW in Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire, the Blandings setting for 1940 and the less fanciful general Operation Zeelowe games, I have some Foundry Wehrmacht figures and some Warlord Games BEF figures.

When I see it all laid out like this it really doesn’t seem so daunting I find. I don’t much feel up to sustained painting yet but a little cleaning up and spray undercoating might get done when I’m back from the Doc’s later. Tootle Pip! David

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Moving on...

...as opposed to other, more recent forms of moving, I’ve painted up a Royal Artillery 12lb gun and crew for my Wars of the French Revolution project. The gun is from Foundry and the gun crew from Trent Miniatures. The figures mostly sport the ‘Mother Shipton’ hat, which makes them stand out from my other bicorne wearing gun crews in the British contingent of my Allied army. From the latter manufacturer I’ve also finished three Artificiers to go with the gun when it’s emplaced in works rather than deployed in the field.

After Finishing these figures I started on some Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry figures for my VBCW project. I've got the first four to the stage where all the basic colours are blocked in and the flesh and metal areas are highlighted. The figures are quite nice, though the detail and/or casting on some is a little soft, or perhaps it’s my old eyes? In total I have 16 to paint, so at my current rate that will take a couple of weeks! I believe a command pack is next out, though how soon I don’t know of course. That will give me two 9 figure groups and a command group of 2 figures, a decent addition to the VBCW roll call. When the female figures from Footsore are released, hopefully before Warfare, I shall get those for my Tettenhall WI contingent, perhaps will some additional figures from the New Bad Squido Land Girls range.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Confined to Quarters!

Not a great deal of hobby related activity here in GHQ since last week I was struck down with a bad attack of Gastroenteritis while away with Sue in Chester. It spoilt our break as you can imagine. It’s also meant no progress in GHQ on the painting front and definitely no chance of any games ~ both cancelled this week sadly! As I seem to have rallied I can post something though, the last figures I finished before this blew up, together with something Phil has been painting up for me. Two limber sets from Eureka for my French Horse Artillery in my Wars of the French Revolution project ~

Thanks to Pete Barfield, a stalwart of the VBCW scene, I now have flags for more of my formations in my own corner of the VBCW in Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire. Firstly for the Wightwick Manor Rifles, a mixture of garden and house staff ~

The figures are all from Footsore of course: the Old General;Toff and Butler; the new Gardeners; and the new City Gents. The Gardeners are lovely figures, less so the City Gents I thought, but that’s just me ~

I also added a flag for Mander’s Horse and a generic Anglican League flag, the latter found for free on the web ~

Finally for the VBCW/Operation Zeelowe games an ambulance from Shropshire! A model I found for £1.00 in an Antique Emporium in South Staffordshire ~

To end the post, I mentioned that Phil had painted something new for me. A German Infantry gun and crew, by Warlord Games, for our 1940 games. I think it’s fine, hope you do ~
Now, back to resting I think! Pop by next week when I hope to have more to report!

Thursday, 12 October 2017


With three weeks without any games here in GHQ or elsewhere I’ve been trying to make progress on painting, mostly for my Wars of the French Revolution project,  if for no other reason than keeping the summit of the Lead Swelling within sight! (See my previous post for a peek at the growth in the Swelling!) My first task was to complete my unit of Eureka Miniatures Austrian Hussars, in the to do queue since May! The twelve figures proved less taxing than I feared and were completed in just over a week. They will join the Light Dragoons from the same manufacturer in my Austrian’s Light Cavalry Brigade ~

Next in the queue were two small units, in Black Powder terms, to represent the Hussars of the Damas Legion and the York Hussars. They are each four figures in number on two 80 x 60mm bases, compared to the normal strength of British or French cavalry in my collection of eight figures on four similar sized bases. They are unusual as the figures from Trent Miniatures were never released, seemingly neither Matt nor Duncan know why that was. I suspect that it’s because they don’t sit easily on the Trent horses. However, my wife remarked on seeing the finished figures that the poses of the riders actually made them look like riders in motion and I tend to agree. You will have to judge for yourselves ~

I’ve settled on a style of painting my figures for this project which suits my hand and eye at my age. I use just the base and highlight shades generally in the Foundry Paints triads, with the exception of faces, musket stocks, standard shafts and horse flesh. I still paint in the eyes where I think it will work for me, not the Austrian Hussars you’ll note this time. We need to remember that for the majority of us our hobby is wargaming not warpainting. I enjoy seeing the beautifully worked figures of the painters out there but my figures, and probably yours too, are viewed in the game from several feet away mostly. In that context, as Phil is wont to say, mine will do! As I termed them, the Painting Fascists nearly stole my hobby but I rallied just in time! (Mainly because my work wasn’t good enough or enjoyable as an experience. ) Now I find Painting more relaxing and less pressured. If I don’t feel like it I don’t do it and I certainly don’t suffer angst over the finished item! No doubt you’ll have your own views on this...