David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

The Death of Chief Bykelezi

 A return to the Anglo-Zulu War was Phil's choice for this week's game here in GHQ. Taking a little poetic licence with the theme I chose to pit Chief Bykelezi's Impis against the wily Boer, Van Robhinsaan. The Boer objective was simply to exit on the opposite side of the table, crossing the Blood(less) River ( which would take a turn). The wagons and baggage can only cross at the ford, as can any units on foot, while the mounted Boers can cross at any point, taking a move plus Dx6 to do so. The Zulus, apart from two units of rifle armed warriors deployed covering the approaches to the ford,appear randomly after the Boer initial disposition. The baggage train fights as two Small units - I don't have enough figures to depict the escort!

Three of Chief Bykelezi's Impis deploy on the flank of the Boers, but several moves potentially from making an attack. Probably the deciding factor with hindsight.
The mounted Boers (with some Natives making up the number) move swiftly out to block the Zulu approach.
The Boer wagons have made a bold strike for the ford, supported by some Boer infantry, only to be attacked by the fourth Zulu Impi.
While that fight rages on the mounted Boers elements halt, firing from the saddle.
The Boer infantry s fire is concentrated on the rifle armed Zulus so they can take the higher ground and flank the Impi fighting to halt the Boer wagons' bold push for the river.
The Zulus are shaken by mounting losses and so the Boers close in to finish them off! The Impi fails yet again to defeat the wagons' guards!
Meanwhile, one mounted element is driven off but the other two hold their ground. Zulu losses begin to mount and the exhibit an uncharacteristic reluctance to charge home!
Zulu losses and Disorder are mounting on the Boers' flank as the mounted elements steadfastly hold their ground.
The fight at the approaches to the ford reaches a climax! Both sides have losses, who will be the first to buckle?
Shaken and Disordered with excess casualties! Throwing 3 in the Moral check hardly helps does it? The Zulu Impi flees from combat shattered and the route to winning the game is open for Van Robhinsaan!
One mounted Boer element charges the Impi to its front. Surely a rash move at this stage? No! Both sides are Shaken by losses but are not broken!
The Impi which defeated the mounted Boer element earlier finds its path blocked by the Boer artillery! 
The Boer wagons reach the ford! The game is slipping away from Chief Bykelezi's grasp.
The rash Boer charge has done more than shatter the Zulu resolve. In the fighting Chief Bykelezi falls, never to rise again! (What a time to throw a 6 with one excess casualty?)
The Boer wagons cross the Blood(less) River. The game is almost over!
One Impi is chased to the river, where it is slaughtered to a man! (A bit of overkill never hurt anyone Phil said!)
The only remaining Impi of the late Chief Bykelezi can only watch the victorious Boers from a safe distance! Seven moves to disaster for the Zulus but a great game thoroughly enjoyed despite the comprehensive thrashing  and the demise of my little lead alter ego...

Monday, 17 January 2022

Progress of a sort..

 ...with Bikelheim over the last few days. I recently received another package from LaserArtCraft. Amongst the new MDF kits was a fourth German house and a pack of bases for three terrace houses. Tatting about, as you do, I realised the terrace bases would also fit the rural houses and leave a little space for some simple scenic effects. Here they are ~

So far I've added some simple hedges from green pan scourer and given the open ground a coat of GW Steel Legion Drab. Tomorrow I'll do a little more to the bases.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Engagement at Watford's Gap

 For our first set to of 2022, surprisingly not banned by Boristhebarsteward in both our minds, I let Phil choose the period. With his well known tact he chose an ACW game! Thus, the second game in our loosely defined 'Robinson in the Valley' campaign. Having been beaten in the first encounter, old Useless S Bykleigh and his battered command have retreated up the Valley and are encamped at Watford's Gap. As yet no reinforcements have arrived, despite Washington's promises, and with scouts reporting much Confederate activity in the vicinity the troops have been roused and are standing to, ready to face the enemy once more ~ 

Though some are a little tardy it seems ~

Sure enough Rebs are spotted marching up the Valley and closing in on Watford's Gap. As the Rebs struggle to shake out into their lines, the Union artillery opens fire on them ~

The lightly defended Union left flank is the first to come under pressure, though in what would prove a precedent for General Robinson's efforts, the attack was uncoordinated and regiments went into action piecemeal. (Dice! Dontyajustluvem?) Seeing the danger ol' Useless speedily responded by sending the New Jersey boys forward to pour lead into the Rebs' flank. With this support the US Sharpshooters and the New York artillery held the ridge above the Union camp ~
In similarly uncoordinated action on the Union right a lone Louisiana regiment, the famed Tigers, surge forward into the attack seeking to drive off the weakened 55th NY. Smashed by close range artillery and rifle fire they fail in their attempt and with many casualties retire Whipped! ~
More Union infantry are rushed forward on their left flank as the Rebs' attack their seems to be getting organised. With no sign of Robinson's attack reaching the Union centre soon the fighting on the flanks could yet win the battle for either side ~
Meantime, back on the Union's right flank, a second Louisiana regiment, the 3rd, has halted at the fence line, it's morale Shaken by fire from the Union's rifled guns ~
Making little headway on either flank Robinson's centre brigade begins to finally form up ready to sweep away the weakened Union centre ~
Once more though the attack is fated to go in piecemeal lowing the weakened Union Brigade and it's supporting artillery to hold their ground ~
The leading Reb regiment in the centre is halted by Union resolve and heavy fire, while the supporting regiments of the Brigade are sluggish in shaking out into line to support the attack ~
Nowhere along the whole line have the Rebs been able to pierce the Union position. Command and Control issues have hampered Robinson's attacks, sending unsupported regiments to their fate time and again! (dice!!!!) Numerous regiments find their Morale broken, leaving them Shaken and Whipped, halting any prospect of a Reb victory ~
The defensive position and posture of ol' Useless has been a major factor in bringing about a much needed Union victory ~
Despite everything though it might have been much closer but for the eventual arrival of the long promised reinforcements from Washington! A brigade of Regular Infantry marching to the sound of the guns arrived just in the nick of time to sweep over the lightly defended ridge on the Union left and halt any Rebel successes in its tracks ~

Defeated unexpectedly Robinson's command must retreat back down the Valley. Lacking any cavalry in the immediate vicinity and weakened by two engagements the Union led by ol' Useless are in no shape to persue, much to Lincoln's displeasure. No promotion for ol' Useless looks likely now. Perhaps if he can squeeze out a second victory? We shall have to wait and see...

Groß Bikelberg...

... is beginning to take shape. The first more modern looking buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot project have been completed. Once again they are from the small range manufactured by LaserCraftArt. They comprise two Apartment blocks together with a single story row of shops. Currently I have a two story modern office block underway to join them and a row of three terraced houses and a shop in the post!

The decision to paint the door and window frames on the shop fronts in white was a mistake; somehow the colour amplifies my unsteady hand more than the black used on the Apartment blocks. The signage was added from a recent Rapid Fire! free download. Again, like the more rural buildings, I plan to base them individually once I decide on base size and the degree of landscaping to be added.

Finally, a bit of whimsy in the form of a roadside hoarding. It seems that the cinema in Groß Bikelberg is having a Bond Revival Season! I couldn't resist adding this!

Monday, 10 January 2022

The Sussex Light Dragoons

 Although I've been busy painting 15mm MDF buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot project in the early days of the month, I have also been working on a small number of Dixon Miniatures' ACW cavalry figures to represent the Sussex Light Dragoons. 

Do I need more cavalry, or any more ACW figures in general? Well, of course not! But, as fellow Wargamers' reading this you are nodding sagely and thinking like me; when did need ever come into it really? I have painted them in a more contemporary style than I generally use for my long established ACW armies, but on the table in a game who will notice even?

Meanwhile, back in 15mm, I've finished two modern apartment blocks and started on a row of shops! All go here!

Saturday, 8 January 2022

The houses of Bikelheim

 I appear to have got the bit between my teeth on these 15mm MDF buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot project! Now I've completed painting the three houses to stand alongside the Rathaus in Bikelheim for the core of the village I thought you might like to take a  look ~

The two small houses. Not much to them really but they look the part I think.
The large house - really the small house with an added floor and a second larger door. 
What I need to do now is to consider how to base them up and what level of scenic effects are appropriate. I favour individual bases for these as they can stand then as scattered isolated houses to form defensive positions, objectives or block lines of fire.
As an aside I've also painted the first building for Groß Bikelberg, my planned larger urban area, in the shape of a modern apartment block. Like the houses it's from LaserArtCraft. I have a second ready to start tomorrow I hope, then it's a row of shops and some offices. All go in Hans the Builder mode!

Friday, 7 January 2022

A small German house

 Having got the monkey off my back with the new 15mm Cold War Gone Hot project by painting up my sole resin building I have briskly moved ahead to tackling the first MDF building for the project. It's from the new, to me at least, firm LaserCraftArt (https://lasercraftart.com/cube4/index) , an eBay based supplier. I featured their range in a lost near the end of last December if you missed it.

The kits are easy to assemble and fit together nicely. As I'm no modeller remember,  that means they really are easy! The level of laser cut detail is about right in my view for a 15mm MDF building and even with paint and washes or dry brushing applied is still clear enough to be painted without guesswork. 

The finished building won't win any prizes for painting, but it will do for me. I've the second small building underway and hope to finish that, now the Sussex Light Dragoons are done,  over the next day or so. I'm so pleased by this range of buildings that I've ordered another small modern German house and a terrace of two houses and a shop with integral base. I hope this latter set can serve as a stand alone roadside ribbon settlement or be added to either the village of Bikelheim or the town of Groß Bikelberg. (As an aside, the farmhouse from Sarissa Precision via Arcane and the barn from Empires at War have both arrived now to be added to the MDF pimple!) Phil has airbrushed two sample vehicles, so I hope to have those in hand next week to work on the finished look. I've also been looking at game mats by Tiny with a view to having a more dedicated game look for the Cold War Gone Hot games in due course.