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.



Saturday, 12 June 2021

A Day Out

Yesterday I went over to East Stoke, the home of Wargames Foundry, for a visit to the Factory Shop. I'll start by saying it made no economic sense to do this as my preorder for collection easily qualified for free postage. I decided to go in person to collect the order because then I could have a browse in the shop. It's a part of my regular prepandemic visit I always enjoyed, just looking at stuff and thinking of new projects or new additions to existing collections. The bonus is no crowds at the racks as there were at shows; remember them do you? I spent over an hour just browsing and along the way buying a paint triad I'd not ordered, three more packs of figures which took my fancy, and a pot of paint for Phil who texted me while I was there!

I have to confess that one significant reason I chose to make the visit was the cumulative effects of all the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions and talk of postponing final restrictions for a further four weeks! I've just had enough of being dictated to by BoristheBastard to put it simply. I've done as I was asked, I've been vaccinated twice, I continue to be wary of what I do. But, I'm over 21, by quite a bit, and can make up my own mind thank you. I've always likened all this to the soldier in the trenches in 1914-18, take as much care as you can, but if it's got your name on it...well.

Enough whinging for now. It may be Hammerhead next month and Phil and I may go. If it isn't or we don't it may be Partizan in October that we may go to. Or it may, God forbid, be WMMS next March! But, there will be shows sometime and we will go (DV). In the meantime I enjoyed my day out! The goodies I bought home with me ~


The haul comprised: two regiments of Highlanders in trousers and more Pendawar Horse Artillery gunners for the Army of the Pendawar Presidency; two regiments of French SYW infantry and one of Garde Infantry, one pack of SYW French mounted officers; two troops of French Household cavalry; a surgeon set; two packs of Norman knights by Matt; paints. A decent haul I can look forward to painting over the long winter months, hopefully...

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

The Battle of Walton's Acre

 For the second game with Jon since restrictions were eased here in GHQ I rearranged the table from the previous ACW game with Phil, incorporating the latest terrain tile he's kindly made for us. The game is the fictional War of 1812-15 Battle of Walton's Acre with Jon as Lord Walton commanding the Anglo-Canadian army and yours truly as General 'Mere Marching' Bykleigh leading the the American forces. It has to be said right away that mere marching was largely beyond the American infantry! The game lasted only 7 of the alloted 12 turns and then largely only because my Saving Throws were exceptionally good, which is far, far more than can be said about my Command Rolls!!!

The Anglo-Canadian force sweeps down on the cumbersome US forces. The going must have been really difficult on the US side of the table!
Such poor Command Rolls, failing repeatedly to achieve the target score, sees the two right flank US brigades flanked by the Anglo-Canadians!
The Anglo-Canadian centre has deployed to effectively block the US deployment. Only the Militia brigade has reached its designated position in reserve.
At least Initiative Moves come to the aid of my hapless commanders! That and the first of many exceptional Saving Throws which dilute the effects of Anglo-Canadian musketry.
To say it had been a struggle to deploy for action would be an understatement, but the US columns can now deploy into line and trade lead with the enemy!
On the Anglo-Canadian right flank columns of infantry advance with no effective opposition thanks to a Blunder seeing the US left flank brigade retire off table!
A wonderful sight, unless you are the American commander of course...
Too little, too late as the US infantry begins to deploy into firing lines.
The Canadian Light Infantry seize the farm and split the US line! The Militia couldn't budge them no matter how hard they tried. The far left US brigade is Shaken and effectively out of the game!
The US centre and right are constrained by the Anglo-Canadian deployment and struggle to bring effective fire on the masses of the enemy. Casualties are mounting despite my continuing excellent Saving Throws!
It's all up for old 'Mere Marching' as the third US brigade breaks for the rear. It's a case of every man for himself at this point I'm sorry to report!!
Despite a thrashing of epic proportions I really enjoyed the game and not just for the good company and banter. Black Powder never fails to deliver the combination of uncertainty and the unexpected which we feel accurately recreates the fog of war for commanders at all levels in the army. Next up on Monday should be an AWI game, with yet another tweak to the existing table layout. Meanwhile it's on with painting the Pendawar Grenadiers and the first of the British Light Dragoons for my Pendawar project!


Friday, 4 June 2021

Time like an ever rolling stream...

 ...bears all its sons away, as the old hymn goes. I learned via an email from Dan at Wargames Illustrated on Wednesday evening last that Duncan MacFarlane had passed away on May 28th. He was found as if napping at his desk in Lenton Business Park, Nottingham. Apparently he died peacefully and completely unexpectedly. The loss of someone I thought of as a friend and who greatly encouraged me as a writer for Wargames Illustrated is something I feel deeply. It's hard to take in any loss, but as each year passes we seem to loose another giant from our wonderful hobby, and Duncan's passing will be especially hard to take for many of my generation.

Picture from Robbie Roddis' blog

Perhaps the first television wargamer, via the Edgehill refight on ITV's short-lived Battleground series - which you can find on U Tube - to the Editor of first Miniature Wargames and then Owner/Editor of Wargames Illustrated, to the owner of Stratagem and latterly Trent Miniatures Duncan's influence and reach in our hobby has been exceptional. It's true he was somewhat eccentric, well, who isn't in our niche hobby really? He could also be irritating at times to deal with as an author, but it would be churlish to dwell on these minor flaws against the panorama of his immense contribution to the growth of our hobby. He didn't always get it right, but he did on balance drive us forward in so many ways.

Duncan was a friendly face at many wargames shows and a contributing factor in the establishment of Partizan as THE wargames show for historical wargaming. I had many a long chat with him at these and other shows, as well as holding up the sky/background as he took after hours shots at the short lived WarCon shows in Birmingham! I shall miss his friendship and always value his contributions to my hobby and my own personal growth as a writer and wargamer. Rest in Peace old friend, rest easy.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

PJ Rawnsley in the Valley

 The second face-to-face game here in GHQ since the partial lifting of coronavirus restrictions by BoristheBastard sees a return to ACW wargaming using Black Powder 2 with home tweaks from the Glory Hallelujah supplement. The game imagines a Union force, under that scion of a long line of incompetents stretching back to the Revolutionary War, old US Bykleigh, sent to confront a Confederate incursion into the Valley, lead by that veteran of many a hard combat, ol' PJ Rawnsley hisself. The figures are from my own collection, which in the main are Dixon Miniatures of course. All the buildings are scratch builds from the last 25 years give or take; the roads are from the old Scenic Effects - if anyone has some they don't want I'd be up for them; the railway, fences and woodlands are from The Last Valley. Phil made the terrain boards and the hills for me of course ~

The Union force enters from the far side of the table at the point the road and rail routes enter, while the Rebs enter from the near left where the road enters the table. The Rebs have the first move, reflecting better intelligence gained from scouts and southern sympathisers in the Valley.
PJ Rawnsley's Command ~

Brecher's Brigade ~
2nd NC
10th NC
36th NC
Desch's Brigade ~
10th SC
16th SC
24th SC

Battery B SC artillery, 12lb Napoleons
1st Virginia Cavalry

US Bykleigh's Command ~

Moore's Brigade ~
14th NYSM
39th NYV the Garibaldi Guards
94th NY
Paddock's Brigade ~
5th NY
79th NY
95th NY

Battery L NY Light Artillery
5th NY cavalry

The first two turns were a disaster for PJ Rawnsley's Command, failing most of the Command rolls the Rebs we're finding moving forward very hard. This allowed the Union forces of 'Ol Usless to move southwards down the turnpike unopposed.
By the end of Turn 2 the Union were largely on their way to achieving the defensive position 'Ol Useless was aiming for.
Even by Turn 3 the Rebs we're strung out along the Turnpike struggling to make up lost time. Brecher's decision to send the 2nd SC around the union right might have been a masterstroke, if not for the intervention of fickle fate...
By Turn 5 Moore's Brigade had taken up a string position on the Union's right flank, with the Garibaldi Guards keeping a watching brief on the movement intentions of the 2nd NC. Meanwhile Paddock's Brigade had secured the Union left, supported by Battery L and the 5th NY Cavalry 
The 2nd NC's flanking move was bogged down first by losses to small arms fire and secondly by a succession of Fate Cards I was able to play on them. Allied to very poor dice rolls they floundered for the whole game.
On the Rebs' right the 16th SC suffered grievously from the fire of the 5th NY and Battery L; Whipped they sought safety in retiring from the fight!
Moore's Brigade were by now involved in a prolonged firefight across the open ground separating the two sides. Getting the better of the exchanges turn by turn was shifting the battle in 'Ol Useless's favour.
The 2nd NC found it impossible to progress under successive moves of small arms fire from the Union right and the cumulative effect of a succession of Fate Cards.
The 36th NC having struggled into position slowly entered the firefight on the Rebs' right but to very little effect - problems in the Richmond powder mills I fear!
The exchanges of fire on the Rebs' right finally saw the 24th SC become Whipped and with them the whole of Desch's Brigade retired from the fight in Turn 11!
Despite the Fate Cards limiting their ammunition supply the 39th and 14th stood their ground manfully exchanging lead to good effect with the Rebs opposite.

PJ Rawnsley orders a general withdrawal at the beginning of Turn 12, leaving 'Ol Usless in possession of the field! A Union Victory!  Cue manly cheering, "Huzzah! Huzzah!"
As a trial exercise for the onset of the campaign in The Valley the game was a valuable exercise. The size of forces proved about right for the starting positions, allowing for manageable growth in respective strengths dependant on outcome in successive games, hopefully reaching a climax in a large battle at the Campaign's conclusion. The Fate Cards proved rather more intrusive than I planned, so their role will be reigned in once we start, with new cards collected only when a card has been played and not every Turn. {For those interested by the way, the Fate Cards are from my own Bull Run to Gettysburg rules published by Foundry.} I have one more unit I want to paint before we embark on the Campaign, so starting in late summer seems about the right target given my current painting plan. More as and when, as they say.


Thursday, 27 May 2021

Major M Thomas of the Staff

 My most recent painting efforts for the Tales from Pendawar project fall into the lovely but essentially unnecessary category in the shape of a Staff officer in his carriage. This fine set is from Black Hussar Miniatures and I received it not too long ago as a kind gift from Matthew. It's a very fiddly little kit which Phil was kind enough to volunteer to assemble for me, I'm just responsible for painting and basing it.

The carriage is most likely a representation of a gentleman's fast Phaeton or perhaps a Curricle, both two wheeled carriages pulled by a pair of matching horses. BHM might note though that the term 'pair' does not necessarily extend to identical poses! I painted Major M Thomas in the uniform of the Pendawar Fusiliers featured on this blog earlier in the project. On reflection I might use the piece in an ACD role, so note quite essentially unnecessary after all ~

There's likely now to be an hiatus in the blog as I'm going down to Herefordshire to see Matt, Sarah, Arthur and Reuben. Next up should be an AAR following the ACW game with Phil here in GHQ next week. The next painting blog post is a way off, the Native Indian Sepoys of the 1st Regiment, the Pendawar Grenadiers, having only just marched out of the Lead Pimple.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

79th NYSM, sometime Lincoln’s Highlanders

 Before I start I have just noticed that my last post was the 800th since I opened proceeding in November 2011. I'm amazed this has all lasted so long and that any passing reader still has any interest in the goings on in GHQ. Nowt so queer as folk, as they say. Let's hope I can manage another 800...

 With the long awaited resumption of face-to-face encounters here in GHQ I hope it will at last be possible for Phil and I to play out the series of linked, campaign style games which I outlined back in early 2020, before this Coronavirus malarkey was even heard of. To that end Phil has painted a second early war period Union unit for me, in this case the 79th New York State Militia, to add to the 14th Brooklyn Chasseurs he did earlier. That will leave me the 55th NYV, the Gardes Lafayette, to complete three units for the early months of the war.

The figures are by Crusader Miniatures, the flags from Flags of War, and the bases as ever from Warbases. I was inspired into this spate of needless additions by following Nick Eyre’s splendid Bull Run game as it developed, first on the Lead Adventures Forum, and then later in Wargames Illustrated. At present I don’t plan any further additions to give an early war look to the Rebs in my collection, but I have learned in our hobby to never say anything is finished...

In order to get back into the feel for ACW games, the next scheduled game here in GHQ will be a stand alone ACW game to try out a few of my ideas before embarking on the series of games later in the summer. In the meantime here are the wee chaps themselves ready for action on the battlefields of GHQ ~


There's only one thing left now on the painting desk here in GHQ and that is the officer seated in his curricle by Black Hussar Miniatures which I received as a gift from Matt recently. There will be a bit of a pause in action here in GHQ until next Wednesday's ACW game I mentioned as I'm off to see Matt, Sarah, Arthur and Reuben now BoristheBastard has allowed visiting again.


Sunday, 23 May 2021

The Pendawar Light Dragoons...

 ...otherwise 'The Pendawar Peacocks', the first cavalry unit for the army of the Pendawar Presidency. The figures for this imagination unit are Foundry Early British Light Dragoons, the Command and Charging packs respectively. The uniforms are very vaguely based on portraits of Light Dragoon officers in tropical uniform, but with the Tarleton helmet featuring a tiger skin turban and a dyed purple crest, hence their nickname of 'The Pendawar Peacocks' ~

Next across the painting desk should be another Sepoy infantry regiment for the 1st Brigade of the Army of Pendawar. As before these will be Perry Miniatures figures, so I shall need all my reserves of resolve to see them through...