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.

Monday, 24 July 2017

En Avant, Mes Braves!

Monday's game in GHQ saw a return to my Wars of the French Revolution collection, pitting the French, under that military incompetent General de Bykli, against the British Expeditionary force commanded by the only slightly more competent Lord Rawnsley, Phil of course. The action is a fighting withdrawal by the British rearguard, having 12 Turns to deny the French the farm complex at the centre of the table while trying to keep as many units in fighting trim as possible. The French march on in Turn 1, a Light Cavalry Brigade on their left flank and two Light Infantry Demi-Brigades advancing down the road in the centre, supported by a battery of Horse Artillery. Once all these have deployed the leading French Ligne Demi-Brigade can enter the table. The rules used were Black Powder, continuing my resolution to use fewer rule sets and actually try to learn the ones I use. As I'm between photo storage options thanks to , in my opinion, Photobucket's appalling blackmail, disguised as business, I have only a few pictures to capture the action ~
Opening moves see the French cavalry Blunder and the leading Legere
engage the British skirmishers shielding their left wing.
The midpoint in the game: the French right drives in their opponents, but in
the center the Hanoverian Brigade steadfastly holds the farm.
French Chasseurs, out of shot on the left, force one Battalion into square.
The leading Ligne Demi-Brigade finally arrives to expel the Hanoverians from
the farm.
The end is in sight for Lord Walton. His left is driven in; his centre has lost
the farm; his right is retiring!
The game lasted 11 of the planned 12 Turns, with a French victory being agreed as inevitable given only one turn remaining. For Phil the Hanoverian Brigade in his centre put up dogged resistance while his left retired mostly in good order until flanked by the French Chasseurs a Cheval. His right wing cavalry held off the French Hussars, indeed the Hompsch Hussars drove off the French 11th Hussars. The British Light Dragoons failed to emulate their colleagues, probably due to becoming Disordered at a vital juncture in the tussle!

I've completed another unit for this game tonight, three skirmish style bases of Trent Miniatures for a unit of 12 British Marines. Otherwise I'm working on a unit of 10 Dixon Miniatures Union cavalry. Slow going with these, but two are almost done now. I'm off to see Dunkirk tomorrow at the Light House cinema in Wolverhampton. I'll be sure to let you know what I think of it. In the meantime, Toodle Pip!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Onward, ever onward!

The second of the two VBCW games I mentioned in an earlier post took place on Thursday this week. It saw new 'GHQ Irregular' Derek cutting his teeth in a VBCW/Bolt Action game. The scenario pitted my Wolverhampton Peoples' Army against the Forces of Repression. Derek took command of the Government forces in a bid to deny two bridges across the River Penk to the Peoples' Army. I only took a couple of pictures to give a flavour of the game ~

I successfully took the rail bridge but could not shift the enemy from the road bridge, despite pinning the Armoured Car! We called it a win for Derek's Government forces after six turns as time was running out.  That's every game played to a conclusion lost so far this month...

On the painting front I've made steady progress: I've finished 13 Footloose VBCW Militia figures and 5 Warlord Games LDV, with the other 5 having all the base colours finished. I hope they'll be finished tonight or tomorrow morning. I've also started the two Warlord British snipers and 12 Trent Miniatures Royal Marines, which Duncan provided by pairing Irish Militia with bicorne heads. In case folk formed the impression from my previous post that I was ready to roll over I'll mention what I've bought for my ongoing projects:- from Warlord Games, the BEF collection; a 38T; the 1940 Heer Command HQ; and, the 1940 Heer infantry gun and crew. They are due any day now I hope! Yesterday I popped over to Spirit Games, in Burton on Trent, for more Dixon Miniatures ACW infantry and cavalry. I have a list in development for Claymore too, more Dixon figures and MDF from Warbases! I've not given up yet! Toodle Pip!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Age Shall Not Weary Them...

Out of context I know, but I think it's an appropriate starting point for what I want to write about today. Well, I best make a start then: Age and the Wargamer. I've been thinking a good deal of late about the issues arising from age as they affect my hobby, my participation in various aspects of it, and the future likelihood of continuing along in the present mode. At the turn of the year you may recall I decided that I would start no new periods in future but restrict myself to additions to the several we already play here in GHQ. I've found this surprisingly liberating as you'll have read and I see no change in my stance as likely to occur. Of course I still pour over new releases, but in a third person kind of way. I like figures I see, I know I'd enjoy making lists, collecting units and painting them up as best I can, but I have no urge to buy anything different any more. I am content with what I have to play. In fact I'm considering a modest cull, a small exercise in downsizing, by selling off my 20mm Vietnam skirmish game complete and also the 28mm figures for my Sherlock Holmes Pulp Game. Nothing may come of this, but the thought is planted front and centre, so who knows? We shall see.
What prompted me to write today was a visit I made last week to an old acquaintance, ostensibly to play a Black Powder game set in the imaginary British Intervention in the USA during the 1860's. We did play a few moves, but my friend's ill health brought the game to a sudden stop. I say ill health, but in fact he is terminally ill, but still keeping up with his hobby as best he can. There were masses of figures on the painting table in the process of completion to add to the hordes around his games room. In his circumstances I don't know if I could do the same, but it certainly made me reflect on my own issues of aging in the hobby. Another event earlier today also provided food for thought, as I went to Barrage in Stafford for a couple of hours. After two hours wandering around the three halls, shopping, and chatting to a few chaps I knew I found I was glad to leave, I'd actually had enough. But I think back to shows of yore, we set off so early the birds were still asleep, gamed and shopped all day, packed up in no time and then drove home! Maybe even painting the same evening. I just can't, and indeed no longer want, to pursue my hobby like that.
I'm still buying new figures though for existing periods. Take today for example: a pack of Footloose Workers' Militia Characters; two packs of Warlord British Snipers in Ghillie suits; a pack of the same company's BEF Infantry Section;and lastly, two packs of Bolt Action dice. I almost bought a collection of 28mm VBCW figures for £15 for 24,but on reflection thought I didn't need more, and walked on by. Painting, although still a joy, is occasionally difficult with hand and eye issues but I hope to carry on for now. When though, I ask, will I stop? Gradually, fading away like an old soldier? Or suddenly, as a friend I know just stopped on his 65th birthday? Will I even know until I arrive at the decision? I certainly couldn't afford mass painting by a third party, so for now I must chip away at The Lead Pimple as and when I feel like it.
We come to gaming next in my discourse. Rules are my particular problem, or rather remembering them correctly. Here in GHQ I have come to the conclusion that as far as we can all the games from the SYW to 1914 will be played using Black Powder. We play too many games you see and use too many rule sets. Even the five sets I've written I find I confuse, a kind of Hail Powder & Shotte problem! Age may not weary them, but the years certainly condemn.
All is not doom and gloom though. I still get great pleasure from this wonderful hobby and my many friends and acquaintances which fill it. Joy abounds still, though perhaps not with the same degree of intensity I once felt. Wargaming has become for me as much a social as a gaming hobby. Only two weeks ago I was over in Nottingham for a couple of days with Colin Ashton at Wargames Illustrated HQ playing a large(for me anyway) FRW game. Since coming home we've written an article about the experience and exercise and written the captions for the 18 pictures in the layout. But I got as much pleasure from the company of Colin, his wife Katherine, Dan, Duncan, Jamie and all the Battlefront chaps who kept popping in to see how it was going as from the game itself, which I lost after seven turns if you ask. I hope this aspect will continue as long as I do and that I never become one of those curmudgeonly chaps who lament the passing of plasticine and banana oil and the glory days of real wargaming!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Two VBCW actions from GHQ

Over the past few days I've been rather spoilt for choice of games. On Wednesday I played another game against Jon in our ongoing VBCW story set around Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire, while on the day before I'd been over to Sheldon in Birmingham as a guest of an old chum and dabbled my toes in a British Intervention in the USA of 1863-5, a game which sadly petered out without a clear result. Next week, Phil and Di are away celebrating their Wedding Anniversary, but on Thursday I'm staging a rerun of the VBCW for a new acquaintance, Derek, a fellow retired teacher. Three scenes from the VBCW game against Jon, a win for the forces of reaction sadly ~

On the painting front I've had a bit of a burst, finishing 5 Ghurkas from Warlord for my Burma '43 game; 4 BEF Command figures from Warlord; a Blacker Bombard set from Warlord also; the Partizan free figure from May; the 3 new character figures from Footsore, along with 4 more rifle armed figures; and lastly, a 1st Corps ACW negro camp servant with a scenic tree & bird from Warbases! I've got 4 Footsore British Militia & 4 Workers' Militia on the go and the new Warlord LDV Section are ready to start after those! I'm hoping to visit the Barrage Show in Stafford on Sunday, so perhaps The Lead Pimple will be expanding again!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Holding Action at Crooked Brook

For our regular Monday game Phil and I decided on a return to the Operation Zeelowe games which we set in PGWodehouse's imaginary world of Blandings Castle;Clarence, Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings herself. As Jon had effected the rescue of Lord E from the clutches of the vile nazi, Von Brecher, in the game's last outing it seemed like a good idea to play a follow up game with the Krauts on the offensive having been stung by loosing their prize captive and his extensive porcine knowledge! The retiring British force have decided to fight a holding action along the course of Crooked Brook. While the brook is a minor obstacle to movement it is crossed by both a road and a rail bridge. These need to be denied to the advancing German force. But, the German commander has received vital intelligence from a noted 5th Columnist in the area, leading to a decision to mount. Glider borne landing to take the bridges before the British can fully deploy. To represent the chaos of a retiring force the positions of the defenders are marked by hidden number counters, the numbers corresponding to a list of British forces. As each dice is drawn in Turn 1 for the British the counters are turned from right to left across the table and the numbered unit accordingly deployed! It didn't go too well for the British I have to say. We limited the game to 12 Turns as usual, with only the Falscrimjaegers on the table until Turn 7 when Wehrmacht reinforcements could arrive. So, to the game ~

Just a few scenes to give a flavour of the action during the game. The German glider was made by Matt when he was a young boy and so, along with the British glider, is very dear to me so bear with me in using it. The Germans won in Turn 11 when the British tanks had no choice but to retire, lacking infantry support and having been assaulted successfully already. A notable incident was the duel between the surviving RN Rating, Anderson G, who held off the elite paras for three turns before expiring in a hail of enemy fire! A VC for sure we felt, though sadly posthumous...
As some of you will know, Photobucket is trying to loose customers. Until I can sort out what is happening Blog entries are liable to be brief. Sorry!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Road Trip {Part the Second}

Up bright and early today and after a super breakfast at The Village it was down to the action at Wargames Illustrated HQ. Colin had the initiative in Turn 1, but little good did it do him, most commands failed to move and one that did Blundered forward onto the French guns. It was n't much better in Turn 2 and the French managed to advance their cavalry on both flanks and their infantry in the right centre. "On Avants, mes braves!" ~

Turn 3 saw the action developing as more Anglo-Russian units marched forward. Firing rippled along the French front, casualties were inflicted, and mostly saved! The French on the centre left were
driving the Highlanders back but without being able to break them. On both flanks the cavalry after some initial successes found themselves outnumbered and on the back foot. Blunders abounded by now, three to Colin and one to me!

Despite doing well against the odd, the French infantry cannot hold the town against superior numbers, Nor can their cavalry on the right flank stem the Russian juggernaut as it rolls steadily forward. On the right flanks the fortunes of war turn against the French Light Cavalry Brigade in Turn 4 ~

With the town lost and the cavalry Brigade on their right Broken, De Bykli transfers the Light Infantry to hold his flank while desperately trying to force the issue in the centre. Russians and British infantry regiments are driven back time and again, but the telling blow cannot be delivered!

Despite successes in the centre the French position has had its right flank turned successfully by first the Russian cavalry and then their infantry. The French on the centre right begin to waver and the Russians and British begin to sense the battle is swinging their way at last.

With thei cavalry routed on the left flank the French maintain a stubborn defense against ever mounting numbers. Despite valiant efforts though the main town defending the beach falls to the British and reinforcements begin to pour ashore from the fleet anchored off the coast.

The situation is grave, but not yet hopeless for the outnumbered French. Despite facing mounting odds the centre is holding and the right is being shored up by infantry from the second line.

The French centre right is pinned by ever increasing numbers of enemy infantry, but they cling tenaciously to their position. On the centre right one Demi-Brigade breaks and the French army is Broken!

Its all up for De Bykli! The Duke of Durham surveys the shattered remnants of the enemy and muses on the butcher's bill his victory has cost his army ~

A great couple of days at Wargames Illustrated HQ. A fine game with a good friend in rather splendid locale too. The armies you've seen are respectively Colin's British and Russians, aided by a small number of my Light Cavalry and one late arriving Infantry Brigade. The French are mine of course, I never managed to win a reserves 'dice off', so Colin's French stayed safely in their boxes! Thanks are due to Dan and the staff of WI for generously hosting our extravaganza and keeping s generously fed and watered. Thanks are especially due to Jamie who took the 'Official' photos for the magazine and its Facebook page and to Duncan for generously helping out with rules questions and advice in general. I hope he had more luck than I did with his French army in his own game later on in the evening! Our game was several months in the organising and planning, but it was all well worth it I assure you. We are already planning next year's extravaganza, a Seven Years War game!

Geriatric Road Trip {Part 1} ~ with apologies to Colin!

I'm off back to Wargames Illustrated HQ a little later this morning, where Colin & I are fighting a large Wars of the French Revolution game set in Flanders of 1799, pitting an Anglo-Russian force under Colin's command against the Revolutionary French army commanded by General de Bhykli, a well known military incompetent if ever there was one! Here are a few pictures taken after we set the game up yesterday ~

Monday, 26 June 2017

Reaching the half way point

It was too hot to paint for a while back there, but I did my best over those few very warm days! The second part of the Eureka 'Field Bakery' set is finished, as are the three Perry Miniatures 'British High Command', from their new Egypt 1801 range, which will do service in my Wars of the French Revolution project. Also the first of my additions to the Burma 1943 game in the shape of Warlord's Ghurka figures, small chaps, mostly with big choppers! The less said about the casting of my F&IW French Militia and Indians from Redoubt though the better! The final addition, two Lledo Croseleys which Phil painted for me to give some transport options in the VBCW or Rhanzlistan games ~

As we reach the end of June, and so of the first half of the year, I can look back on what's been going on in GHQ and in my wider hobby as well as forward to what is for me a new venture. More of that
later in the post though. For now, a brief recap on the past few months of 2017 seems the order of the day. Since deciding at the turn of the year not to start any new projects painting has been a liberating experience, focusing as it has on painting what and when I liked. It's all been 28mm stuff of course, but a real variety has trooped across my painting desk. In total I've managed to complete 337figures and items of equipment. In game terms I've played 30 games, winning 16 and loosing 11 altogether, continuing my form of being average! When it comes to Wargames Shows I've been to two Table Top sales in Penkridge and attended several wargames shows in WMMS, ROBIN, Partizan, and Carronade, a reduction on previous years I think. Of those I shan't be bothering with ROBIN again.
On Wednesday I shall be off to WI HQ in Nottingham for two days of FRW gaming with Colin Ashton of 'Carryings On Up The Dale' fame. We are combining our collections to stage a game set in Flanders 1799 pitting the French, under that underwhelming commander General de Bykli, against the Anglo-Russians under steely eye of The Duke of Durham! Hopefully you can read about the venture in a future issue of the magazine, with pictures by Dan of course! Well, I could ramble on but I think I will keep my powder dry until after the game. Off to finish that Warlord Blacker Bombard and crew for next Monday's Blandings/Zeelowe game here in GHQ. Toodle Pip!

Monday, 19 June 2017

400 Not Out

This is my 400th Blog post apparently, must say I'm rather surprised at both the number and the simple fact that it, and my good self, are still plodding along merrily. As this is a milestone of sorts, it's apt that it features the usual post game report on the latest tussle here in GHQ between Phil and yours truly. Goodness me, I wonder how many games we've shared down the last thirty odd years? Must be a fair few, and never a cross word! Never? Well hardly ever! A long way from felt cut out roads, streams and string round a tree to signify a wood to today's bespoke terrain. My, how our wonderful hobby has grown and changed over the years. But, on to the game before I get carried away even further...

It was so hot today, even in the normally temperate GHQ, that I thought the dice would melt! We used Neil Thomas's Ancient & Medieval rules, the Dark Ages stats rather than the Classical this time. The battle was decided on Pompus Maximus's right flank, where the mostly cavalry force overwhelmed Baldinus's mixture of Hun Light Cavalry, Saxon Warband and Roman Heavy cavalry ~ see pictures 4 & 5 for the sense of the developing action. On Pompus's left the infantry took a seeming age to close but soon got the better of the usurper's infantry, aided by some deadly fire from the balistas! Star performers for the victors were a unit of Light Cavalry who repeatedly threw 6 to save, suffering only 2 casualties in the entire game! Good to give the armies a run out today but I venture that we both enjoyed the cold beer after more than the game...

Friday, 16 June 2017

All Quiet(ish) On The GHQ Front

Sue and I are back home and refreshed after our Croatian holiday, a cruise around the Dalmatian Coast and Islands betwixt Dubrovnik and Split. That alone should explain the lack of anything new in GHQ, but of course it is always more complicated than that. My decision to stick to what I have in project terms, while personally liberating, has somewhat reduced the muse for painting on a day to day basis. I've managed to finish 8 ACW Rebs for a third Georgian regiment, 6 Indians to bring my French Indians up to scratch for Sharp Practice 2 F&IW games, 6 Ghurkas for Burma 1943 and that's about it. I've got 6 French Canadian Militia on the go for the same game and I've started five more Ghurkhas, but they're all being put on hold as I've decided I need to advance some odd figures for a venture in Nottingham later this month, but more on that in due course...
I managed a Black Powder AWI game last night with Jon, a see saw action which might have gone either way, but which I ultimately lost when my American army suffered two Broken Brigades out of four and could no longer advance, leaving Jon's British in charge of the ford which was the game objective. Old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh had no option but to withdraw from the field! Still, a grand evening's gaming, following on from a splendid SCW game at Phil's on Monday, and hopefully the muse is on the rise again...
Just a few shots from the game to give you the flavour of the action ~

As I said, just a flavour of the game, as I'm not fully back in the groove yet. Next up on Monday in GHQ a return for Pompus Maximus and his nemesis, Baldinus.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Country Garage

Ages ago I acquired a Scaledale English barn, which I used on the table in support of various Conflix rural buildings, or even as an outbuilding for Blandings Castle in our VBCW or Operation Zeelowe games. That it was a large OO scale building meant I could get away with that approach while the buildings remained individual pieces on the tabletop, but when I based them up on MDF bases in small groups it didn't fit in so well in size or style. After languishing in a box under the table in GHQ for several months I had a moment of inspiration when I found a couple of old signs in my bits box, one for an engineering firm and one for a garage. I decided to utilise it as an English rural garage from the 1930's. Searching the same bits box produced several items to clutter the scene and add to the effect, while Phil's bits box produced an oil drum, which he kindly painted, and a petrol can. Two spare Perry Mafeking civilians in my figure box provided some life to the scene, as did a Dixon Miniatures WWI bicycle. Just one problem: no petrol pump. Then by chance I noticed an old Gallia brick pillar on the floor in GHQ - it must have fallen out of a box a while back when I made my North European town. Phil seized on it and cleverly converted it into a Shell petrol pump! Trawling the web provided some period signage and posters to further the image and a win on an eBay auction provided a 1930's AA patrol van. A bit of work on the base with static grass, Tufts and the like and it was finished ~

It may be a trifle twee to the eyes of some but for me it captures the feel of rural England in the 1930's just right. Whatever, it will do nicely for me...