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, 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...

Monday, 4 June 2018

Crossing the Po

For the second week on the trot Phil kindly agreed to come over to GHQ so we could have a game as I continue my rehabilitation by getting back into normal activities as much as I can. I suggested combining our completed Italian Wars bases and trying out Neil Thomas’s Renaissance rules to see what changes we might like to make. We managed to make armies of thirteen units a side by combining our bases. Each side had an objective to seize in addition to trying to destroy the enemy army. The Florentines had to seize the farm in the Papal deployment area, while the Papal army had to seize the bridge over the Po in the Florentine deployment zone. The pictures will I hope capture the colour and drama of the unfolding action in a battle which went right down to the wire ~
The Florentine army deploys mostly to the right of the Po river bridge. The
bridge is defended by a unit of mounted crossbows and a (very) large gun!

The Elmetti of the Papal army, supported by a unit of Halberdiers and another
of swordsmen, seize the high ground on the left. The artillery covers the 
approach to the farm. On the army's right the main force is focused on the 
objective of the bridge over the Po.

The Elmetti dominate the Florentine's right flank, supported by the swordsmen
and Halberdiers. The right flank advances with determination to seize the

The Florentine Gendarmes are strangely inactive as the rest of their army
advances steadily against the Borgia foe.

Screened from the enemy by units of crossbows and handguns the pike and
spearmen advance steadily towards the enemy.

With the Florentine Gendarmes still inactive, the swordsmen and the
Halberdiers close on the Florentine shot.

In the distance the Papal army moves against the bridge,while in the
foreground the battle rages for the centre.

Having seen off the Florentine shot, the swordsmen rashly engage the still
stationary Gendarmes, supported by a unit of Elmetti!

The Florentine and Landsknecht pike finally get to grips with the enemy,
while in the distance a unit of Borgia handgunners advances on the bridge.

The push of pike takes centre stage now, but the Halberdiers take the 
Florentines in the flank to swing the outcome. More Borgia units move on the
bridge on the right.

At last the Florentine Gendarmes engage the Elmetti! The outcome was
largely underwhelming for Phil's cause I have to say.

In the final moments of the battle the Florentine pike and their Landsknecht
allies are destroyed and the Florentine army is broken. The bridge is firmly
in the hands of the Papal army, resulting in a victory for the Borgia cause!

The game lasted about three hours, punctuated by lunch, and demonstrated to our satisfaction that Neil Thomas's Renaissance rules would suit us well, although we already have made the first adjustments and additions to the basics. The colour and spectacle of the armies on the tabletop battlefield have inspired us to press on with the project. Next week though we plan a return to the C5th struggle for the Roman Empire between Pompus Maximus and Baldinus.

Landsknecht Command Element

As my army of the Papal States will have a number of mercenary Landsknecht elements I thought I ought to include a Command Element for them. In addition, these are the first figures I’ve completed since my hip replacement operation last month. There are six figures on the base: two Steel Fist Late Medieval Foot Knights and four Warlord/ProGloria Landsknecht figures, including an odd looter picked up with the light gun set at Januarys Table Top Sale in Penkridge.

I’m taking a break now from the Italian Wars project and have located two small pieces for other projects: a 4.5” Howitzer and crew which will do for both the Great War and the VBCW; four Hussars by Matt for Trent Miniatures, the Salm-Kirkerg Hussars. That should take about two weeks at my current pace.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Biccles Bites the Dust

There is a long story behind Phil's second visit to GHQ in two days, but we'll stick with the short version: Dianne's car is broken down on our drive so Phil has run her over to work, just up the hill from us, and so spent the day here while waiting for the mechanic to fix the car, which he did not manage today, needing to order a part! So Phil will be here again tomorrow at some point, with Dianne, to hopefully collect the fixed car!
We passed some of the day trying out Wings of War, the WWII version, which I had picked up from a previous year's Penkridge Tabletop Sale for £20. I've bought a few extra planes over the elapsed time and Jon kindly gave me on of the mats to play over. So, Flying Officer Bicclesworth versus the vile Hun, von Robbensahn! We played three games, slowly absorbing the basic rules as we went along.
First blood was to Phil, shooting me down in turn two! Three damage chits drawn, total 17! My Spitfire went down in flames! The second game was rather more cat and mouse, but eventually the hero of the RAF sent von Robbensahn to his doom in his flaming M109! For the third and deciding game we swopped sides, Phil taking the Spitfire and myself the ME110 for a change of game. Despite neither of us exactly setting the world aflame my rear gunner had several hits on the Spitfire to only one on the ME110 when disaster struck. I misread a card and flew off the edge of the table into the sunset, handing the deciding game to Phil! We enjoyed ourselves as you can probably see from the picture Sue took of us. {Note the squadron moggie, FO Phoebe, on duty outside by the way.} We hope to play a game in GHQ next week, but what it is will depend very much on how I am after the weekend...

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Despair at Fort Desperation

Three weeks on from my discharge after the hip replacement operation  Phil and I met up in GHQ for a second try at the Black Powder F&IW game, with Phil commanding the British and yours truly the French. We employed the same modifications and additions to the rules as in the previous game, mainly to test out their possible inclusion in other periods we play using them, though the British added some support from a Great Lakes sloop. The French won the initiative dice off, at the third attempt, and proceeded to fail all Command rolls in their first turn! Pretty much the story of the whole game from my perspective. The game lasted 15 turns in about 21/2 hours and the following pictures capture the flow rather nicely I feel ~
While the irregulars and the Paddoquoi warriors make their opening move the
French regulars and artillery do not enter the table! In contrast the British 
seize the high ground blocking the route to the fort!

The Woodsmen fail to each their objective and the Regulars are able to
refuse their flank! Their Light Company hurry to cover the flank but are
attacked by a band of Paddoquoi.

Settlers from the lakeside village defend their homes from French Canadian
militia. For several turns neither side could hit the barn door!

At last the French Regulars enter the table but fail to deploy into firing line!
Yet another awful Command roll! The artillery blunder forward so cannot
fire! The Woodsmen are unable to break the Regulars and the Light Company
sees off the Paddoqoi! Sacre Bleu!

Just as the Paddoquoi war party lands to attack the village HM Sloop Achilles
rakes the landing area with canister. Mon Dieu!

The British Regulars are 'Shaken' so the French rush in with the bayonet!
"A Moi! A Moi!" Now as a result of the Hand-to-Hand combat they are
'Shaken' as well! Merde!

Both sides must test Morale. Both fail and Route! The British leave the table,
and the game, but the French may try to Rally! The Light Company are routed
by the Woodsmen while along the waterfront the Paddoquoi are holding their
own against Robinson's Rangers and the settlers.

In Turn 14 it looks all up for the British, the way to the fort lies undefended!
Mais naturellement de Bykli fails his Command rolls allowing the rallied 
Light Company and a Company of Rangers to enter the fort!

Turn 15 sees the French Regulars rally, but too far from the fort to effect the
outcome. While the Paddoquoi war party has seized the village elsewhere the
French cause est perdu! From a French win to a British triumph in one turn!
C'est le Guerre mes amis!

I was shattered after about two and a quarter hours of play, but also elated to have played a game much sooner than I thought possible before the operation! I've also been able to start some short painting sessions this week and have almost finished a Command base for my mercenary Landsknechts in the pay of Cesare Borgia and the service of the Papal States army. Phil will be here tomorrow again and we hope to have a go at Wings of War, the WWII version. Now, time for my nap I think...

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Attack on Fort Desperation

For the first, and possibly only, game here in GHQ in May Jon and I played a French and Indian War game. We used Black Powder for the rules with two adaptations: firstly, you could give orders to each base of figures as well as to units, with each unit having its own commander under the CinC; secondly, units which routed could try to rally on a -2 in the next turn and a -1 in the turn following. After that, Routed units left the table. Both adaptations worked smoothly we thought and the game swung back and forth over 10 Turns before a clear winner emerged. I took a few pictures to capture the essence of the game which I hope will let you see how it all panned out ~
The defenders of Fort Desperation push out to engage the enemy. Local
settlers support the Regulars in the fort. The Light Company heads for the 
high ground.

French woodsmen emerge from cover in front of the Lights. The artillery
engage the partially concealed French Regulars. Robinson's Rangers make 
their appearance to bolster the defenders.

The Rangers move off  swiftly to engage the Padoquoi Indians who had 
landed further up the shoreline.

The French Regulars crest the hill and are engaged by the British Regulars.

The local settlers have fled and the Light Company has been forced back but
more Rangers are hurrying to secure the flank as more Padoquoi emerge from
the woods.

The British Regulars and the Colonial gunners drive back the French but
Disorder is beginning to effect the efficiency of the defenders.

The Padoquoi warriors have been driven of by the Rangers to give the hard
pressed defenders a short respite.

The Rangers and the Light Company find themselves out numbered by the 
enemy Militia Woodsmen and allied Padoquoi warriors. A crisis has been
reached for the Defenders of Fort Desperation.

Although the British Regulars still hold Fort Desperation the settlers and the
Rangers have fled the scene leaving the French under Colonel Le Blanc to
claim the victory.

Although I had originally hoped to play out the game with Sharp Practice 2 as the rules I found I was too preoccupied with my coming hip operation and fell back on our favourite Black Powder rules instead with the additions noted above. The game went very smoothly and the rules proved versatile enough to cope with our changes. I've left the game out on the table in GHQ as I hope to play it again with Phil when I'm just a little stronger in the hip department.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Great Escape...

...meets Forest Gump. As some of you may know from other social media sites I was discharged from hospital on Tuesday evening ~

I had intended to blog the French and Indian War game Jon and I played on the Wednesday previously, but I have seriously underestimated the shrinking of my horizons post surgery. My daily routine seems to revolve around walking, resting and eating, and that’s about it! I’ve got as far as uploading the pictures from the game, so perhaps next week, eh? In the meantime, if you are squeamish then look away now ~

Now, the question: who can link the pictures to the film titles explicit in the title and opening remark? No prizes sadly...

Thursday, 3 May 2018

I’m for the chop this time!

All quiet on the GHQ front for a while now folks as my hip replacement operation is scheduled for tomorrow morning! I report in for 7.30am and the theatres start work at 9.00am, so I hope to be done for lunch and taking my first steps in the late afternoon.

All being well, hopefully, I shall be home on Monday and then it’s walking as much as possible for six weeks until I see my surgeon again. Keep me in your thoughts if you have a moment tomorrow morning please. As Arnold might say, “I’ll be back!”

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Landsknecht Pike Block

I’ve managed to complete the first of my two planned mercenary pike blocks for my Italian Wars project. The figures are a mix of several manufacturers: TAG; Steel Fist; Warlord Games; Dixon Miniatures; Essex Miniatures; Tiger Miniatures; and Hinchliffe. You may well ask why? Simple really, most were a gift from Tim Hall of surplus figures. I guess the cost of the unit was about £5.00 at most.

The flags were found as free downloads on the web and represent the German city of Nuremberg. I’m pleased how well they turned out in the end I have to say, although adapting what passes for my painting style to older figures was a challenge, as was working out colours for the figures of these early Landsknechts. 
Painting has come to a standstill for now. I don’t anticipate picking up the brushes in anger for a couple of weeks now. When I do I have a second Landsknecht pike block, by Warlord Games, and a further Command Stand of Cesare Borgia and staff, on foot this time. Beyond these I will need some crossbowmen and handgunners to support the two Landsknecht pike blocks, but sourcing the appropriate figures will have to wait now. I’m hosting a F&IW game for Jon tonight, but won’t get around to blogging that before next week, so keep an eye out for ‘The Attack on Fort Desperation’.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Just Champion!

I've been painting rather less of late, as I’ve mentioned before I know. I have though finished two more bases of figures for our Italian Wars project, another base of Gendarmes and a Champion base. The figures were part of the package of free stuff Tim Hall so kindly sent me. I soaked them for several days in a bath of Detol to remove the varnish and paint, then resprayed them with white Double Acrylic undercoat which I buy from our local Home & Motor Store. The flags are, as ever on this project, from Pete’s Flags and the bases from Warbases. The figures themselves are from Foundry, Essex and, I think, Hinchliffe but the codes on the bases were not clear to read so I may be wrong on the latter two. Anyway, enough waffle, here they are ~

I think the base of Gendarmes turned out better than I hoped once the figures were all painted up. Originally the Essex Champion was also on their base, but it just didn’t gel then as a unit, hence the decision to make him my army’s Champion. I’ve started on a base of Landsknecht pike now, with more of Tim’s generous free figures bulking it out. I hope to complete it before next Friday, but it will be close I think. I’ve finished four so far and have another sixteen to go!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Battle of El Tubh

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, this week’s Monday game with Phil was again moved to a Tuesday due to my hospital appointment. The calm before the storm ~

For a change, I took command of the Imperial Force, landing from the  transport  vessels and supporting gunboats and attempting to defeat the forces of the Mahdi who were besieging the Egyptian garrison of El Tubh. The series of annotated pictures which follow try to tell the unfolding story of the battle, fought out over eight turns ~
The opening positions: Beja riflemen line the Wadhi as Imperial forces make 
their way ashore from the transports. The cavalry cannot disembark until the
infantry clear the area.

While the first assault on the walls of El Tubh goes in, the Black Watch
advance to the skirl o' the pipes, supported by the Gordons. The South
Staffords and the Royal Surreys are struggling ashore.
The assault nears the city walls despite fire from the Egyptian infantry and
artillery. On the banks of the Nile there is much confusion amongst the
troops as officers struggle to impose order - I failed all my Command Rolls!
The Royal Surreys move to clear out the Beja rifles from a farm, while the
Black Watch ready themselves for an assault from the Fuzzies!
Despite losses and disorder the Arabs drive the Egyptian regulars from the
wall. Its up to the irregulars now to turn the tide inside El Tubh.
Although the Black Watch hold off the Fuzzies they are broken by enemy
rifle fire and rout. Similarly the Royal Surreys are broken, having cleared the
far of the enemy! On the left flank though the Loyal Tandooris, supported by
the Yorks and Lancs, are hastening to the aid of the garrison.
As one Arab incursion is driven out of El Tubh, another succeeds in making
an opening on another wall.
The RMC are kept busy in the makeshift casualty clearing station in the
Sudanese fishing village. The Gattling and the Gardner Guns are playing 
havoc with the Fuzzies as they attack time after time!
The South Staffords are stiil trying to sort themselves out on the river bank - I
may have set a record for failed Command Rolls with them! However, the
Fuzzies have clearly shot their bolt and are streaming to the rear in rout.
In El Tubh the fighting is fierce and no quarter is asked or given! The 
Irregulars once more save the blushes of the Egyptian commander by driving
out the second Arab incursion over the river wall.
After eight turns Phil called a halt, admitting he could no longer stop the Imperial forces relieving the garrison at El Tubh. Twice the Nile Arabs had breached the walls and twice they had been driven out by Egyptian Irregulars, supported by the artillery despite its heavy losses. I was pleased to accept the victory, having been sure in Turn Seven that I would probably loose. Once again the Loyal Tandooris distinguished themselves in action, but the least said about the South Staffords and their Colonel the better...
Next up here in GHQ a F&IW game with Jon next Wednesday, using Sharp Practice 2, the last game for some time as you will no doubt have worked out due to the hip replacement surgery on May 4th. I'm still painting Italian Wars figures though and hope to feature some completed bases later in the week. Pop back and check on them later.