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.

Friday, 20 July 2018

La locanda del Bougainvillea...

...and the completed Landsknecht pike block. Really all this wonderful, warm and sunny weather is not much conducive to sitting at the painting desk but I have managed to make some progress despite all this. Firstly I’ve finished the second building for our Italian Wars project, again made up from Warbases’ Modular Buildings and extras. It uses three components: the two storey and longer single storey building and the Portico addition piece. Again, the pan tiled roof sections are from Wills railway scenics range of plastic sheeting. The bespoke base was cut from 3mm MDF by Warbases for all my Italian Wars Buildings. The Bougainvillea adorning the end wall is made from Jarvis climbing plant sections, as on the farm I featured earlier, with flowering areas by a rubberised colour scatter I bought a while back from Mutineer Miniatures. I need some scenic additions, but have nothing suitable in the ‘Useful Bits’ box!

Secondly, I’ve completed the additional Landsknecht pikemen I bought from Warlord Games at the Barrage show recently. They were added to the front of the base of figures to make the pike block more convincing on the tabletop.

Ongoing work besides these are a unit of the 19th Dragoons for my French army from the Revolutionary War project. These are Trent Miniatures of course, sculpted by my son Matt early in his career. While I’m not entirely unbiased you understand, I prefer his sculpting style to that of the more recent sculptor, but I recognise that it’s all a matter of taste. So far I’ve completed two Dragoons but have much of the basics on the remaining six which I hope to finish this month.

Besides this unit I’ve two others by the same manufacturer in the painting queue: a unit of eight British Light Dragoons and another of six Scots Greys, for which I’m STILL waiting for the long promised Command figures! Other figures actually on the painting desk are a unit of 10 Landsknecht handgunners by TAG and a third Landsknecht pike block of 18 figures by Warlord Games and Wargames Foundry. After those are done I’ve three units from Foundry for my expansion of the AWI game: two of Continental Infantry and one of British Regulars. There are also some Light Dragoons somewhere from the Perry Miniatures stable. somewhere near the bottom of the pile are three units of Dixon ACW Union Infantry, which I will get around too, just not yet...

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Who would have thought it?

A small milestone is reached today for Tales From GHQ in the shape of this Blog post, the 500th since I made the transition to blogging after an earlier Freewebs based gallery style incarnation. I would never have thought when I published my first blog entry on 29th November 2011 that I would still be publishing some seven years later, not to mention that I would have garnered 230 interested souls along the way as Followers, nor achieved over 250,000 hits ~ thank you Mr Putin by the way! It’s proved an interesting, frustrating, uplifting and enjoyable way to chronicle all I’ve been up to in our glorious hobby, to meet new friends - both real and cyber, to find new ways of doing things and to share the joys we all experience from the many aspects of our shared interests - the historical research, the drawing up of lists, painting figures and ephemera, the sheer creativity of the hobby, but most of all the friendship. So what better way to celebrate than to feature my friends, and especially my life long friend Phil, in this milestone post?
Phil perusing Bull Run to Gettysburg before an ACW game in the original GHQ. 
Phil, Jon, yours truly, Martin and John on ‘Moving Day’ from GHQ Mk1 to GHQ Mark2.
Dan hard at work most recently taking photos to accompany my latest piece for Wargames Illustrated on gaming 1914 with Black Powder rules using in house developments.
There have been two incarnations of GHQ since I started my Blog, the original housed in the extension to our home and now the master bedroom, the current location a conversion from the garage giving me more storage and a larger table at 6’6” x 6’. Mind you, we are not above commandeering the dinning room table on occasions as you can see! You may see a little more of GHQ in the Autumn as it features in a short article on wargamers and their spaces in Wargames Illustrated. Meanwhile, who else but Phil would be expected tomorrow as we prepare to play out the 1914 game I set out for the photoshoot with Dan a couple of weeks ago?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

La Bianca Fattoria

The weather has been hot and sunny here in GHQ seemingly forever, but at least for the last couple of weeks. It will probably rain tomorrow now I’ve said that, but it has meant that I’ve not really felt like painting once the cooler mornings have passed. One thing I have been tatting with though is the first of my buildings for the Italian Wars project, a walled farm. It’s made from Warbases’ Small Roman Tower, two of the Modular Buildings, the High Walls and the Gateway sets. They also cut the base to fit for me from 3mm MDF. The tiles on the buildings and walls are from Wills railway scenics.

I coated the walls with rough textured filler, the cheap sort will do you’ll find. The doors, Windows and shutters are from Warbases’ Accessories line and are just stuck onto the building blanks where ever you want them for a bespoke look. The Lion Head drinking fountain is a new to me 3D print by Iron Gate Scenery - see previous post. It adds a nice touch I think to the building. The climbing plants are a Jarvis product, a bit messy to use I thought, while the static grass and Tufts are from Great Escape Games and The Tutbury Jinny, a model railway shop in Tutbury.

When it came to painting the buildings and base texture I used Crafters Acrylic paints, except for the tiled roofs which I used Valejo Mahogany Brown, followed by a dry brushing of Foundry Orange, Shade and Medium. The walls and buildings were first Rich Brown, then Fawn, finally Antique White, all with a large flat brush. The doors, windows and shutters are washed in Sepia Artists Ink, about four coats, and picked out with Foundry Musket Stock Brown Shade.

My guiding principle was a washed out look, more a wargames terrain piece than a carefully finished model building. You will all have your own opinions on this, but my view is that it will look fine on the table so, “It will do!”  I’ve another building underway now, also made from Warbases’ Modular Buildings and Accessories packs, including a balcony - very Wherefore Art Thou...? At the moment it’s at the Rich Brown stage, but I hope to press on with it in the next day or two. When these two are completed there remain two Charlie Foxtrot buildings, the Small Store and the Small Chapel. As I’m trying to finish my Landsknecht pike block though they will probably have to wait a while for their moment in the sun!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Never Say Never Again!

Well, I did mention in the last post that we wargamers never really conclude any project is ‘finished’, so it’s no real surprise that I’m now the owner of more lead for our Italian Wars project. I tootled up to Stafford last Sunday morning to attend the Barrage wargames show. I’ve been to the last couple and, as with the Penkridge Table Top Sale, managed to come away with a few items for my various projects, so it’s no surprise that this was the case again. While the show is rather more Fantasy and Sci-Fi than is to my taste, there are a smattering of historical traders and gamers attending and, well, if we don’t support local events they die and the hobby is the poorer for it.
Warlord Games had a big presence and I was lucky enough to be able to buy the mixed pack of Landsknecht pikemen standing and advancing, a pack which doesn’t seem to be in the webstore by the by. It comes with 8 of their 80mm wire pikes as well which was handy as I’m out of stock at present! I can add the four advancing figures to the pike block I’m working on now to finish it off, hopefully this week.
 I thought the other four standing ones would probably lie in the ‘might be useful sometime’ box in my painting desk, but I was wrong there. Wandering the show and browsing various figure reselling stands I came on two packs labelled ‘Foundry Empire/Mercenaries’. In fact they are the Early Landsknechts they made under the Citadel label I believe. Twelve figures, plus various odd weapons, in each pack for £8, so I bought them both. Together with the previously mentioned Warlord Games figures I have made another pike block, with enough odd figures left to do something with in due course I expect.
I also came across a terrain accessory trader I’d not met before,Iron Gate Scenery, with a fine array of items covering all things Ancient to Modern and Beyond and at hyper reasonable prices too ~ www.irongatescenery.co.uk I had thought they were resin, but in fact they are 3D Prints, the first I have bought! I bought three packs: a Lion Head drinking fountain; an Ancient covered well; and a set
of Traffic Lights and Road Signs. The first already adorns the wall of a building I’m working on for our Italian Wars project; the second can do service in that project and in our Late Roman games; while the latter is for our VBCW set up. There were some really fine pieces, especially for currently in vogue games like Gangs of Rome, and some grand boats with any number of uses. Their website should help you loosen your purse strings I think!
In the meantime, Sue is working at the University this week, so I can paint a little more so long as I don’t overdo the sitting. Landsknechts and Italian Wars buildings in case you are wondering!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Slow, but steady progress...

...on my latest addition to our Italian Wars project, a second Landsknecht pike block. As it worked out, these Warlord/ProGloria figures were the first figures I bought for the project last year, on a whim really. I’m not even sure which show I bought them at! As things turned out, I was more taken with the TAG figures I bought in December, so they languished in the RUBs housing my Lead Pimple until their moment in the sun arrived!

So far I’ve managed fourteen pieces for the base. The plan had been to leave space on the front of the base for six handgunners, from TAG. That would have left just one more base of ten TAG handgunners to complete my side of the project.  Now I’m having second thoughts and may add more pike to the front of the base!
Of course, ‘as any fule kno’, no wargamer really ever signs off a project as complete, there’s always something coming along to be added at a later date, so who knows if I will get the itch to add more later?

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hot From The Press...

...or at least from the digital camera, some of Dan’s photos from the Wargames Illustrated photoshoot here in GHQ. The article on gaming the Great War 1914 using Black Powder rules will appear in the October issue. In the same issue will be an article discussing the upcoming revision of Black Powder in 2019 ~

The new version of Black Powder will be more of a revision and a reorganisation of the rules layout I’m told than a rewrite. This latter is a much needed improvement in my opinion, speaking as someone who has trouble remembering the nuances of rules, and more to the point where to find the explanation! But, that is for the future, now it’s back to painting Landsknechts, Oh Joy!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The camera doesn’t lie...

...but it certainly can exaggerate given half the chance! You will have a chance to draw your own conclusions anyway later in the year when my piece on adapting Black Powder to 1914 games appears in Wargames Illustrated alongside the photos Dan took during his visit to GHQ last week. To help you judge here are a few pictures I took during the hectic session ~
 An additional shot of Dan hard at work during a three hours or so session taking dozens of general and detailed shots, of which only ten or so will make the hard copy magazine, with more in the version for Digital subscribers ~
I’ve left the game out on the table for Phil and I to play it through later in the month. 

I was at Penkridge Table Top Sale today, a big event for me as my first solo trip since the hip replacement operation. I enjoyed my visit much more than usual, ran into an old colleague from work too! As ever I managed an historical wargames purchase, thanks to Phil’s eagle eye, a painted Redoubt F&IW Indian leading three captive females for £9.00. Thanks to the same scout I also got four Britain’s Mounted Knights for William for £5.00. All in all a grand day out. Though I will confess I was so tired afterwards I went to sleep for two hours!
 I hope to make it to Barrage in Stafford next Sunday, a more ambitious solo trip. Tomorrow it’s off to Phil’s for a SCW game, so look out on his blog later in the week for a report.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Odds & Sods To End The Month

As another month draws to a close and the year is already half way done I find I have just a few odd figures finished which I’ve not shared with anyone as yet. So, first off four Mutton Chop 1938-40 British Infantry, mainly for my VBCW games but also for deployment in our ongoing Blandings/Operation Zeelowe Games. Two officers first, then an Anti -Tank Rifle team of two men ~

Next, the Partizan free figure from the May show, even though I didn’t attend due to the recovery phase of my hip replacement operation Lawrence kindly sent me the figure. Here he is, Captain Bicclesworth RFC ~

Next, two Labourers from Trent Miniatures British Artificiers set ~
Finally two old sets of figures rebased along with other ephemeral pats of my SYW collections: French infantry in camp and British Infantry drinking and whoring. Both sets are from Wargames Foundry, though the French vignette sees the addition of an Irregular Miniatures roasting spit and fire and a seated figure from another civilian set, the British set has the camp fire added from the French set as I used the table elsewhere~
I've started work now on my Warlord/ ProGloria Landsknecht pike block, the first figures I bought for our Italian Wars project as it happens! I have already finished the mounted Command figure and started the two standard bearers, so I hope to have something to show in mid July. On Sunday I hope to go to Penkridge Table Top Sale, so I may add to the Lead Pimple! If not then, then perhaps at Barrage in Stafford the following Sunday?

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Too late to save PMaxImp...

...but a stone thrower has been added to the Late Roman armies. The machine itself was part of a generous gift from long time chum and master modeller Ian Bottrill. I think it is from Gripping Beast but I can’t be sure. The crew were three odd figures in my ‘come in for’ boxes, Foundry Late Romans, so they fit right in with the rest of my collection.

I removed the sword from one figure and lowered the arm slightly with gentle bending. Some brass rod fitted the other hand to stand in for the operating lever. The second figure needed no alteration, just the addition of the brass rod lever. The third figure needed no adjustments at all. Nothing to it really, but a nice addition to the collection for the next game, later this year no doubt.
On the painting desk now are four Mutton Chop 1938-40 British figures, two officers and a two man Boys AT Rifle team. Alongside them are two Trent Miniatures Artificiers. I’m also rebasing the Foundry SYW dismounted French Hussars and Dragoons along with their British dismounted Dragoon opponents. Time though now to sort out the table layout in GHQ for the Wargames Illustrated photoshoot.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

4.5” Howitzer & crew 1914

As part of my break from our Italian Wars project I have added a further artillery piece model and gun crew to my 1914 BEF force. The gun is a resin kit which was included in a large bag of figures Matt passed to me last year. The gun itself is manufactured by  T.A.Miniatures http://taminiatures.com/shop/  The crew are from Wargames Foundry's WWI 1914 British range, sculpted by Dave Andrews, and so compatible in all ways save heft with his later Great War Miniatures which comprise the bulk of my BEF ~

They have been completed just in time to join the rest of my and Phil's collections for Dan's visit for a Wargames Illustrated photoshoot to illustrate a piece I've written for the magazine on adapting Black Powder rules to the 1914 phase of the Great War.
On the painting desk now are three modified Foundry Late Romans to be the crew for a stone thrower which was part of a gift from my long time chum and modeller Ian Bottrill. So, back to painting it is!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The Battle of Hipstadt

Time for a larger game in GHQ and what better than a run out for my SYW collection? A fictional game centred on the struggle for the strategically important town of Hipstadt between the British and the French. The objective is to control the town by the end of turn 10 ,a very taxing game both size and time wise for me at least! I hope the pictures will, as ever, convey the sense of the action without burdening the reader with unnecessary cut and thrust detail ~
In the first two turns the French miserably fail almost all of
their Command rolls! Merde!!!!

As a consequence, much of the French cavalry on their left
wing and the Guard Infantry brigade are distant from the 
action developing around Hipstadt.

Mind you, the British are not much more active in the first two
turns! As the French commander I felt quite uneasy after two
turns, despite the lack of movement on both sides.

British  Grenadiers seize part of the town in the face of a
hesitant French infantry Brigade shielded by Light Infantry

The French right wing, cavalry of the Guard and Cuirassiers du
Roi. A magnificent spectacle, but can they fight you ask?

As the action unfolds the French press forward in the centre 
and on the right while the British hesitate.

Alas, the French cavalry are having the worst of things against
their English opponents. The Gendarmes are routed and their
supports hit by a Sweeping Advance!

They too are routed and the General leading them is killed,
leaving the cuirassiers high and dry! Mon Dieu!!!!

Both Guard cavalry regiments fail our in house Rally from 
Route phase and so are dispersed. The leaderless Cuirassiers
are attacked by the Horse Grenadiers supporting the Horse

With the French right wing destroyed the Horse Guards sweep
the artillery from the hill, forcing the Comte Du Merde to take
refuge with the stalled infantry before Hipstadt.

The British have seized all of the town by this stage. This will
be a tough task now for the French, especially with the
British cavalry free behind their right flank and centre.

The British just cannot be dislodged from Hipstadt! The
French position looks grim to say the least, with both of the
cavalry Brigade commanders now dead!

And in Turn 9 it is all over, with Du Merde conceding the field
and saving as much of his army as is possible! Lord Rawnsley
surveys the victorious British, satisfied with a victory well
As ever here in GHQ we used Black Powder for the rules finding them to our taste, although we have added a Rally From Route phase, largely as our table is only 6' x 6'6" and we have smaller armies in consequence than the creators of the rules have in their games. The routed unit is moves 12/18" to its rear and is allowed a chance to Rally at a -2. If it passes then it Rallies on the spot, if it fails then it Routes another 18" and is allowed a second chance to Rally at -1. If it fails a second time then it is dispersed. Of course, if it is contacted in either Rout by the enemy it is destroyed! It works for us, but may not be to the taste of others; that's always the way with wargamers and rules I've found!
Next week's Monday game here in GHQ will be on a Wednesday! You'll see why when you pop back next week!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Salm-Kirberg Hussars.

I've given the Italian Wars project a bit of a rest for the present, largely because the last two units I have to paint are Landsknechts! Instead I'm choosing to work on small additions to existing projects. First up are four unreleased figures from Trent Miniatures which I've chosen to depict as the Salm-Kirberg Hussars, a French loyalist unit in British pay during the Flanders Campaign of 1793-95. In Black Powder terms they will be a Small Unit in our games, one of several colourful such ones I've already recruited ~

The sources, both visual and written, which I've found do not entirely agree as to small details like sash colours and plumes, but I chose largely to follow the Knotel plate, though I did take a few minor liberties in execution!

As Phil might say, "They will do!" At least they will for me, if not anyone else. Next on the painting desk is a WWI 4.5" howitzer and crew. I hope to finish that this week, although with shorter painting sessions and therapeutic walking it may take a bit longer!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Baldinus vicit Imperatoris

Or more properly The Glorious Death of Pompus Maximus, late Emperor. This week’s game here in GHQ saw a Late Roman game in our ongoing tale of Pompus Maximus and Baldinus and their struggle for the Imperial throne sometime in the late C4th. As usual we played out the game using our in house version of Neil Thomas’s Ancient and Medieval rules. The game swung this way and that, as they generally do with these rules we find, before a decisive moment ended the contest. A few pictures to convey the sense of the game. Next week, hopefully, a SYW game using Black Powder ~

The army of Pompus Maximus was cavalry centred, Heavy and Cataphract on
the left wing, Light cavalry and Horse Archers on the right. Two units of 
Dark Age infantry, supported by a unit of Heavy Arches, a unit of Light
Infantry and a bolt thrower held the cente.

The army of the rebel Baldinus was infantry heavy, with Dark Age Infantry,
Warbands, Heavy Archers and.a Bolt Thrower. His cavalry, all Heavy, was
concentrated on his right. You will note above the heroic Pompus right in the
action! Bit of an error of judgement on my part that!

I took my eye of the game as I concentrated on the cavalry action on my left.
Suddenly I found my infantry had fled and Pompus Maximus was fighting for
his life! Although he fought valiantly no units could come to his aid. Despite
reducing the enemy to half strength Pompus eventually succumbed and with
his untimely death the army fled. "Hail Baldinus!" Perhaps not...