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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Two For The Price Of One

It was a tad chilly in GHQ this Monday as temperatures struggled above freezing after the weekend’s snowstorms. Phil and I decided on two small games, one either side of a hot lunch provided by Sue. In the morning we played a Late Roman game, using our adaptations of Neil Thomas’s Ancient and Medieval rules, and in the afternoon a Norman’s v Saxons game using our first attempt at modifications of the rules for this period.
I only took one picture of the morning game for some reason. The table at the end of the game, with Pompus Maximus having once more beaten off the usurper Baldinus ~

In the afternoon session, fortified by a fine burger with blue cheese provided kindly by Sue, we had a first run through with our adaptation of Neil Thomas’s rules for the Conquest period. Phil took command of the Normans and I took the Saxons ~

The game swung first one way and then the other, with the Saxon line being bent right back on their left while on their right a feint charge and flight led to one unit of the General Fyrd being drawn off out of the line ~

The Norman crossbows proved particularly galling for the Saxon Huscarls, goading them into breaking their line and charging the crossbowmen. Once Combat was joined in earnest the Norman knights had a hard time of it against the Saxon Fyrd, while the Norman heavy infantry made heavy going against their opponents.

When time ran out both armies were near exhaustion with no clear indication of which one might have been able to win, so we shook hands on a hard fought and bloody draw ~

I really enjoyed both of these smallish games today and feel the rules are shaping up nicely for the sort of games we play in this period. I hope you will excuse the bare MDF bases by the way, but I’ve not got around to texturing them as yet. Before anyone asks, each base is a unit, as in Impetus, with 4 Combat and firing dice at full strength, reducing by one dice for each 4 casualties caused.

Monday, 19 March 2018

At last, Cesare Borgia has been based!

I had made a pre-show order with Warbases for collection at Hammerhead, some buildings and detailing extras for my Italian Wars project and one 80mm round 3mm base.As many will know, the weather gods were against us and the blizzards put paid to the show. Having opted to have my order delivered by post it was then further delayed by illness chez Warbases and postal backlogs! It finally arrived on Saturday and so Cesare and his entourage are now based and ready for their first showing. I hope you will approve ~

For those interested in such things the figures are by TAG from their Tudor English range, Howard and standard bearer and trumpeter. The flag is by Pete’s Flags via eBay ~ 

I’ve started the next base of TAG figures for the Italian Wars project, a base of Italian spearmen who are proving a riot of colour and a joy to paint. I hope they will be finished this week, so pop back for a look later...

Sunday, 18 March 2018

I have been to...

...WMMS 2018. I see it was the 42nd show today. As Phil and I were the main organisers from the second in 1977 until the mid 1980’s when my job took me away from the club it holds a special place for me. In its present incarnation at Aldersley Leisure Village it is only 1.6 miles from my front door, so it really is my local show. I was doubly pleased to go today with Phil: firstly, because I was expecting to be an invalid from my (now rescheduled) hip replacement; and secondly, because the weather gods dumped 4” of snow on us overnight! Are they related to the dice gods I wonder?

As traders had made a splendid effort to get there I felt obliged to make an effort to spend my money with a number of them. Charlie Foxtrot, coming all the way from Cornwall, deserves a special mention. I bought two buildings for my Italian Wars project, a small Hermitage and the smaller Store, which will do for a peasant hovel I think. Added to my Warbases buildings which arrived and were assembled yesterday I will have all I need for games in GHQ, at least for now...

From Colonel Bill’s I was able to pick up a pack of Steel Fist Foot Knights to add to some bases I hope to start work on next week

From the chaps who took over from Andy Dumelow ~ apologise for forgetting the newer name ~ I got a bargain blister of Front Rank halberdiers, again for the Italian Wars project for £8.00 ~

And for my VBCW project another pack of flag bearers from Footsore Miniatures, who had travelled from Manchester, via Nottingham, to WMMS~

Hats off to the Centre staff and organisers, especially David and Paul; the traders and club members; and finally all the wargamers who collectively braved the elements to bring the show to life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there: I bought some toys, saw some grand games and chatted with some good friends: what’s not to like? Roll on WMMS 2019!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Making use of those annoying odd figures!

I’ve never really forgiven Foundry for starting the trend of selling historical wargame figures in blister packs. I always enjoyed building up my units to suit the look I wanted by choosing individual figures. As the trend to blistering spread I’m sure I’m not alone in having a box of odd figures left over from units or projects. Having chosen TAG for the core of my Italian Wars collection I find the situation is no different, having currently two orphan Command figures. I combined these with a spare Foundry Gendarme command figure and an odd figure sculpted by Matt which I picked up at last December’s Wargamer show. The result is a Command vignette base which we will be using as sub commanders in our games. The bases are the same 100x50x3mm bases that other units are on as Sub Commanders can fight either on their own or by joining other units, at least in the current version of our rules!

I’m quite pleased by the way these odds and sods have meshed together. The General appears to be consulting his chief spy, a master of disguise, feared throughout Italy, Matteo Bicclione. An aide stands by to carry off the expected order, while the General’s personal standard flutters prominently in the breeze as a focus for his command. A bit of whimsy I know, but it’s a hobby and it’s meant to be fun remember. Next up should be the great man himself, Cesare Borgia, and his entourage, at least when the base turns up from Warbases.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A base of (very) Large Ordnance completed.

Back in early January I went to the Penkridge Table Top Sale. While the majority of stuff on view is for Fantasy and Sci-Fi gamers I’ve had one or two real bargains there over the years. This year I got some Front Rank handgunners, which have already featured on the blog, and a Warlord Games/Pro Gloria Landsknecht Light Gun and crew, which is primed and nearing the head of the painting queue. But I also got this monstrosity, a large gun and Empire crew from Games Workshop for just £7.00 I recall. Now, I know it’s strictly not historical at all, but it was fun to paint and it makes a talking point in games and perhaps even here on the blog, you never know. Here it is ~

I hope to be at WMMS with Phil on Sunday, at least for a little while. I wasn’t expecting to go as you will know, but I shall make the most of my opportunity and look to buy some scenic stuff for the Italian Wars project, perhaps from Charlie Foxtrot for instance. If you see me on Sunday don’t hesitate to say hello.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Some better pictures of the Italian Wars collection

I've been messing around with taking photos of my progress so far on the Italian Wars collection. I think these pictures are better than the earlier ones I posted and you may agree ~

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Light Ordnance base completed.

I’ve managed to complete the groundwork and vegetation on my base of light ordnance for my Italian Wars project. The gun is the TAG light ordnance piece and the crew is from the Neapolitan/Spanish listing. The mantlets are from Wargames Foundry and the base from Warbases. I thought the mantlets should be a bit of a feature, hence the red and yellow colour scheme. For the bare wood I used Foundry Spearshaft with a wash of their Brown Ink. I am really enjoying painting for this project, the figures are really paint friendly and the riot of colour is fun to work with. Anyhow, you can make up your own mind I’m sure ~

I’m working on three mounted TAG figures now as a command base for the whole Papal States army.  I’ll hope to finish them next week. Why so long, you ask? Well, we have the plasterer and decorators in over the next fortnight so things are a bit disrupted. Not least GHQ, which is now a furniture and picture store!

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Pontifical Guard

The latest base of figures to join my part of our joint Italian Wars project is a unit representing the Pontifical Guard. The figures are by TAG and the flags by Pete’s Flags, via eBay. I chose a colour scheme for the figures loosely based on images of near contemporary members of the Guard, Robbie Rodiss’s rendition on his Aut Cesare blog, and the day to day wear of the modern iteration of the Guard ~

Next to be completed should be a more vignette style base depicting some field artillery. I just have the basework to do on that and it’s finished. More later in the week on this I expect.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Well, the Pre~Operation appointment didn’t go to plan, throwing up something unexpected. As a result I’m off to see a further specialist in due course and the hip replacement is postponed for now at least. In a way it’s a convenient outcome as we are having some replastering done this week following on from last year’s water leaks. That would have meant the painter was here while I was in hospital, putting a double strain on Sue. That’s not the case now of course. However, there will still be a break in games in GHQ as it’s now a store for furniture and so on from the living room and landing. I’ll try to post a few updates and news as and when I have some. In the meantime, you may take your ease...

In the meantime you can always browse older posts and leave new comments to keep me on my toes!

See you soon!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

On The Road To Manderlay...

...well, no flying fishes playing I’m afraid, nor is dawn coming up like thunder from Rangoon across the bay, just Phil and I playing our latest Monday game here in GHQ: a WWII game set in Burma 1943 game using Bolt Action 2 to give my Imperial Japanese and British Commonwealth force’s a bit of an airing. The sharpest amongst you may notice that the terrain looks oddly familiar. I’ll tell you why later, but you’ll wish you hadn’t asked. Meanwhile, on with the game which sees the Commonweath forces trying to oust the Japanese from a defensive position guarding a strategic river bridge ~
The bridge in the foreground is the Commonwealth objective.

The bridge is heavily defended by the Japanese with infantry
and an anti-tank gun.

The British infantry advance cautiously wary of the Japanese
snipers' presence.

On the right the Ghurkas have flushed out and neutralised the

The bridge defenders are under heavy and sustained attack
but are hanging on grimly.

Turn 4 and the Japanese reinforcements arrive on time! They
head straight for the bridge to reinforce the defenders.

Banzai! A squad of Ghurkas are surprised by th Japanese,
who take advantage of the 'Double Action' dice we introduced
to charge home!

The Japanese defeat the Ghurkas! They go on later to charge
the Commonwealth HQ but are wiped out!

Another Ghurka squad occupies the ruins of a temple and from
there fire of the bridge defenders' flank.

The defenders are having a very hard time by Turn 6.

The Japanese infantry gun fires on the Ghurkas occupying
the temple ruins.

The Commonwealth tank is knocked out by the anti-tank gun,
but the Japanese reinforcements are caught on the bridge and
heavily punished by concentrated fire.

The Japanese are hanging on when they come under heavy
aerial attack. The defence looks very frail by now!

At the end of Turn 9 smoke conceals the gathering final
assault from the Commonwealth forces.

The game ended in an inconclusive draw after nine turns as we ran out of time! The Japanese were hanging on grimly to their positions around the bridge while the Commonwealth forces would need a further two or three turns to see if they could wrest control away from the Emperor ‘s sons. That's it from GHQ now as far as games go until after my hip replacement operation and the inevitable convalescence, though I shall hope to continue to post from time to time.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Pavise or Pavises?

As you may have seen in an earlier post I started work on a base of crossbow armed infantry from my TAG Papal States Starter Army. As the figures come in both firing and advancing poses I’ve been able to make up two bases by the addition of some figures from various command packs. I wanted to have the firing figures sheltering behind their pavise and the advancing ones carrying theirs on their backs, so I ordered a set of pavise from Perry Miniatures. When they arrived I looked around for suitable transfers for my Papal States’ figures to utilise. Nothing I found was suitable to buy so I started looking for period designs I might use as inspiration for painting my own. I found several really lovely examples, all way beyond my meagre skills with the brush, even if I simplified the design. In fact the designs I’ve chosen come from details on the wonderful Pete’s Flags which I’ve used for inspiration. I understand the pavise in the plastic sets are flat, but the metal ones are in 3D which really stretched my painting skills... Anyway, here are the finished base of figures for you to see for yourself and make up your own mind ~

I’ve started now on the Pontifical Guard, again taking my inspiration from Robby Roddis’ rendition of the unit on his Borgias blog (See link in earlier post). If I can finish those then next up will be a vignette style base for a light gun. We will have to wait and see where we go. Meanwhile, here’s the first of the Pontifical Guard to pique your interest ~

Now it’s off to Burma in 1943 for a Bolt Action 2 WWII game with Phil, unless he’s snowed in of course in Darkest Rawnsley...

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Odd poses and free figures...

The latest additions to my Italian Wars collection is a base of mounted crossbowmen. They were received from TAG as part of my initial order for the Papal States Starter Army. There are two packs in the catalogue for the Italians, one firing and one standing at ease. I got the former in my package. Now I’ll state right off that both the horses and figures are decent sculpts and nicely cast. There was little cleaning up required and the separate crossbows fitted the figures reasonably comfortably. The problem is in the pose when you come to base the figures as the men are sitting firing to the right of the horse meaning either the horse looks forward and the men are firing to the right or the horses are places parallel to the base front to facilitate forward fire, but look strange when on the move, rather like equine crabs! It would have been nice to have them posed firing forward really from a game aesthetic point of view. Judge for yourself anyway ~

In the initial order I also received two free female figures. Freebies always welcome and nothing wrong with female figures either, but one woman with a basket and four Perry Miniatures clerics are my total civilian population in future games right now. The second free figure I’ve assigned to my gun vignette as she looks suitable in pose to add variety to the look of the base. There doesn’t appear to be a civilian pack or two yet in the TAG catalogue. Are any planned I wonder? Here she is anyway ~

While I’m having these thoughts on figure poses and choices, it would be nice if there were
Command figures for the non armoured types such as my Mounted Crossbow unit or indeed the Foot Crossbows I’m painting now. Bases look odd to me with full and three quarter plate armoured figures on bases of essentially unarmoured figures like those. Here’s a photo of the base in question as a work in progress which I hope makes my point ~

I got my letter from the Hospital yesterday confirming my Date with Destiny for the 10th March at 7.30 a.m. No going back now as they say. I wonder how many more figures I can finish before I’m made even more bionic? Could I be on course to become Britain’s £6.00 Man I wonder...? Well, austerity and all that...

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Romagnol Pikemen

I have completed my first unit of Italian pikemen for my Italian Wars project. They are figures from TAG, all lovely sculpts and very easy to paint with such clear details and sharp casting. They are inspired by Robbie Roddis’s own rendition of the unit, which you can see over on his blog ~
You’ll need to locate the post in question from the side bar of Popular Posts, clue: it has the same title as my post here!
The flags are from Pete’s Flags via eBay and represent great value for money. There are a fair number to choose from I found for my army, you can’t have too many really in this project in my view. Many may be conjectural and no doubt some button counters will need a safe space, but these are toys in a game, no more, no less, so they will do nicely for me. Next up a base of mounted crossbowmen followed by a base of foot crossbowmen. If time permits before 10 Match and my Date with Destiny I shall try to do a base of Papal Guard. We shall see ~