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.

Friday 30 December 2011

Looking Both Ways at Once...

As this Blog has taken over from my old Freewebs site of the same name I thought I'd enter into the spirit of blogging more fully and write about 2011's highs and lows and also look forward to whatever 2012's gaming and painting opportunities might be...
High spots of the year really have nothing to do with wargaming at all: both our son and our daughter chose to get married this year; Matt to Sarah in May and Ruth to Craig in September. On these two counts alone 2011 was an outstanding year. A poor third to these was our holiday to Hong Kong, all over Australia and back via Singapore. Again, memories of this wonderful holiday will remain strong I hope in the coming years. Now turning to gaming where shall I begin?
Well, obviously with Phil, my life long friend and regular wargaming opponent. Without his imput GHQ and our games would be a poorer place. But with an honourable mention too for my other GHQ Gaming chums: Jon White; John Aston; Kevin Calder and Dave Paddock. All enrich games here by their enthusiasm and friendship ~ and, they don't gloat too much when they win! Which is more often than I'd like really, as my record for 2011 shows 70 games played; of which I Won 29, Drew 8, but Lost 33! Pretty average really I'd say. Other highlights include the publication by Wargames Foundry of my ACW rules, "Bull Run to Gettysburg" The ACW has been a life long interest of mine, so it was a no brainer when I had the opportunity to write the rules for Foundry.
I also completed my armies for the Indian Mutiny this year and published my own rules for the period, " The Devil's Wind "

2011 also saw two attempts at scratchbuilt terrain, my first for a good time. You can see why from the following pictures, of a small shrine for my Indian Mutiny games and a Pulp era warship, the USS Paddock~

The 'dome' is from the late Ian Weekley's Battleground accessories and the three Indian gods' statues are from Tiger Miniatures. The walls are simply foam board washed with Basetex and then painted to match the rather more splendid Mutineer buildings which make up Byklabad and N'Ham in our ongoing games in 'The Chronicles of Byklabad 1856-57'

My other effort was a rather more ambitious project, a Pulp era warship for our 1920's games set in and around the town of Howardville. Its based on a tacky gift boat, which I covered in sheets of greenstuff, with a superstructure and deck gun from the Minimi range. I've painted the naval crew from Pulp Miniatures, but the Marines are still in the waiting-to-do list...

I've enjoyed a number of gaming genres with my friends here in GHQ over the year. We've added the Seven Years War to our repetoire, using the Foundry British and French figures. Not everyones cup of tea I have to say, but I found that they looked 'very C18th' painted up and massed in units. Judge for yourself ~
The massed ranks of the British army, lead by the Guards of course.

While their opponents the French, come on in the same old way...

Both photos were taken earlier in the year at the Foundry's Spring Open Day.

Another addition, or rather reinvigoration, to our games has been brought about by the publication by Warlord Games of "Hail Caesar!" I even painted up some new Late Roman units over the year so we can now field two decent sized armies here in GHQ, as you can see in the picture below...

My painting totals for the year, or rather for the ten months I was in the UK, are 810 figures in all. An ecclectic mix of Mutiny figures, Late Romans, SYW, ACW, WWII, Interwar, 1914 British and C11th Anglo Saxons. I've no idea if this is a good total for me, I've never bothered to total them up before, but I'm pleased by my productivity on the whole. No doubt others paint far more, and others far less, so I must n't grumble.
The Saxons are Wargames Foundry figures, sculpted for them by my son, Matthew. As yet they sadly have no opponents, although Matt did also sculpt their Normans...

While the 1914 Old Contemptibles are by Great War Miniatures. They are awaiting Phil's 1914 Germans, which I'm pleased to say are progressing well. 

Other staunch favourites here in GHQ include the ECW, Vietnam, and WW II; the latter two in 20mm scale.
 I hope we'll see these games on the table here in GHQ more often in 2012.

So that brings me fittingly to an end of my 2011 review and steers me towards the projects 2012 will hopefully bring. Looking into the crystal ball, or rather into the 'Lead Pimple', its easy to say where I'm heading at the painting desk ~ 28mm Foundry WWII for our Operation Sealion/"Pig Whooey!" games; more 28mm Empress Anglo-Zulu War from Empress Miniatures; a unit of Dixon 28mm ACW Union Regulars; some 28mm Pulp Miniatures US Marines; the third unit of Foundry 28mm SYW British Foot Guards; and lastly, 28mm French Indian Wars from Redoubt {to expand the skirmish games I already can put on} to complete projects that have been hanging about for a while now.
All those figures are already here, most even cleaned up and undercoated, so the crystal ball is a tad redundant really. As to new projects for 2012 I have to confess for the first time in many years that I have nothing new planned. Whether I should  be ashamed of, alarmed by, or proud of that I don't know, but, it is true that I'm not planning anything new for 2012. Perhaps I, and GHQ, have reached a kind of stasis...
Anyway, pop back from time to time to see what we're up to here in GHQ. In the meantime, whatever your wargaming interests, I'd like to wish you all,

A Mere Matter of Marching...

Phil and I played a Black Powder game last night, set in the War of 1812. Phil opted to command the British and Canadian forces, leaving me to handle the American 'invaders'. I rather hope you might like to see a few shots from the game, especially as I managed to win in the end ~ thanks to dogged performances by my Infantry, especially the 1st United States Infantry; poor dice throwing from Phil in crucial mellees; startlingly good saving dice by yours truely; and the eventual arrival of my reinforcements on Phil's shattered right flank.
A general view of the battlefield at the opening of the game.
The British & Canadian forces.
The Americans, who found marching anywhere somewhat problematic in early moves..
Phil's right flank advanced steadily, supported by his artillery.
While the centre and left flank faired less well.
However, only the US Rifle Regiment moved forward early in the game to oppose them...

Finally, the US Generals managed to make their Command Rolls and the attack moved off...
The midpoint of the game, with both sides finally closing for the serious business...
Despite being disordered and shaken, the 1st US Infantry stood firm and repulsed the attacks in the centre...
While on the US left flank the 17th US Infantry engaged the Canadians and a unit of Regulars...
Four moves later the British and Canadian Right and centre were broken and Phil threw in the towel and admitted defeat!

More than a mere matter of marching of course! More like dogged resistance and determined attacking when it mattered most. The figures are from my collection, all by Foundry I think ~ some from their War of 1812 range the British Regulars from their Napoleonic range. The buildings in the foreground were by Dave Paddock as Architectural Heritage and the trees are by the Last Valley. Phil and I made the fences, many moons ago now.

All in all a great evening and a most enjoyable game... The Battle of Rawnsley Lane was a thoroughly enjoyable way to pass an evening.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

The Nabob of N'Ham

Last week John Aston popped up from Cheltenham for a game in GHQ. We played a leisurely Indian Mutiny game which was nip and tuck until near the end, when the 'Mutinous Rabble' of the Nabob routed the spectacularly useless forces of the HEIC, lead by the inept General Havelock-Bykleigh...
John kindly sent me some pictures he took of the game...
The Nabob's opening deployment ~ the village of N'Ham is in the distance. In the near foreground is the Nabob's left wing, his Cavalry and Horse Artillery which were to prove stubborn and troublesome..

"General Havelock-Bykleigh", grinning like a loon, and quite unaware of the wrath of the 'Dice Gods' still to befall him at a crucial stage later in the day...
Looking along the lines of the HEIC Army's deployment. In the foreground their Cavalry and the Bengal Horse Artillery ~ both arms were to bitterly disappoint their General in the game...
First to develop was a Cavalry encounter on the Nabob's left. Despite initial successes the HEIC Cavalry were unable to press home their advantages, while the Artillery duelled with each other to surprisingly little effect...

The HEIC's attack in the centre, to sieze their principle objective of the 'Great Gun of Byklabad', developed far too slowly to be effective: you can see that one Loyal Bengali Infantry Regiment reached its objective, but its support was routed easily..
Late in the game you can see the HEIC centre and  right flank are beaten ~ no praise to the 'Dice Gods' on this occasion. The only success of the day for the HEIC's cause was to drive the Badmash out of the village of N'Ham, a task accomplished with elan by the Gurkhas and the Gordons...

 I did manage to save most of my Army to fight another day, though perhaps using different dice. In the last action from the day's gaming, the HEIC Baggae Train leaves the table intact...

 The rules we used were my own "The Devil's Wind" which are available from Dave Thomas, Mutineer Miniatures and Caliver books at Shows and by mail order...

It proved to be a most enjoyable game we thought, which might have resulted in a win for the HEIC's forces had their attack in the centre developed more aggressively and, crucially, had I thrown some decent dice in the afternoon session... Oh well, there's always the next time.

Saturday 24 December 2011

A Mutinous ~ sorry, Happy ~ Christmas

Just time to wish anyone who pops by a very
 Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year 
~ except accross the tabletop battlefield that is.

Also a chance to show you my very latest additions to the Indian Mutiny collections. They are all Foundry figures, a mixture of Mutineers from three packs and an artilleryman doubling up with the unit's Colours.
25th Bengal Native Infantry

The figures need to be matt varnished before they can join their fellows in the GHQ storeage system, but that will have to wait until after the holiday is over. As a teaser for 2012, I've based some 1940 WWII figures ready to paint and washed their faces and hands so I can get started on expanding the Seelowe 1940/"Pig Whoooey!" games in the Spring. I have some Foundry German paratroopers, to expand their game options, and some Home Guard in helmets, to double as Regulars; together with some old BEF Miniatures ~ a Boys Anti-Tank rifle group and a 2lb Anti-Tank gun and crew. All are preped and ready to start after the festivities have subsided. In the meantime, as I said before ~
Happy Christmas!

Friday 16 December 2011

"Pig Whoooey!"

Its become a bit of a tradition for our small group to gather in GHQ just before Christmas for an annual 'fun game'. For the past four years that game has been a 'Pulp Adventure' type of game, played very tongue-in-cheek indeed. I thought it would be appropriate to post a few shots of Wednesday night's game, set as always around P G Wodehouse's fictional Shropshire setting of Blandings Castle. For those of you only familiar perhaps with Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" stories a few words of explanation might help ~

Blandings Castle is the seat of the Earl of Emsworth, his family, various staff members and eccentric guests galore in the best country house tradition. Emsworth's sole pleasure in life is his 'Champion Fat Pig', the "Empress of Blandings", around whom all the stories orbit in one way or another. Our games always concern the pig and efforts to nobble it/save it from disaster and the like. In previous years the games have been noteworthy for eccentricity by the bucketful from all of our group, but with minimum violence allowed ~ handbaggings/fists/shovels, that sort of thing! This year I decided to up the anti and set our game in 1940's Britain, following a hypothetical German successful execution of Operation Seelowe.
An overview of the table

In the foreground of the picture you can see Market Blandings with its ancient Parish Church; to the right is Home Farm and in the distance lies Blandings Castle. The Castle has its own LDV force comprising various members of the staff ~
Lord Emsworth {yours truely} inspecting the Castle's LDV
Market Blandings has its own Home Guard unit, ably lead{?} by Captain Mainwaring-Robinson, which comprises three sections ~ No 1 {Jones' Van} Section, No 2 Section and No 3 {RECCE} Section, mounted on bicycles!
No 1 Section ~ "Don't panic!"

No 3 {RECCE} Section

The Germans were tasked with carrying off the "Empress", with a view to creating a 'Master Race of swineflesh' to feed the Thousand Year Reich! Jon, aka Kapt. Weiss, lead the Germans as they attempted to outwit the Home Guard and the Castle LDV and carry home the bacon, so as to speak.
As ever, we found the game amusing and demanding at the same time. Jon's force made straight for the Castle and the 'decoy pig', as it turned out, and got bogged down in a fire fight with the castle's LDV and No 2 Section of the Home Guard. Meanwhile No 3 Section attempted to cycle towards Home Farm, initially to outflank Jon's Germans I felt, but later to accidentally discover the "Empress", hidden in plain sight in the farm's pigsty! Meantime, Emsworth dispatched his trusty butler to snatch the pig, without success of course, leaving No 1 Section to dash across the bridge under the cover of the ongoing firefight and carry off the decoy pig and achieve their objective of providing a 'Christmas Pork Supper' for the OAPs of Market Blandings.
Weiss surveys the Castle's environs ~ the centre figure represented the SS Vet!

So, as Phil said, a highlight of our gaming year and a memorable game in our ongoing Blandings Castle Campaign. Rules were modified Rate of Fire with a card driven turn sequence introduced to add to the friction of war in the game ~ a very successful adaption we all felt! Oh, the title you ask? "Pig Whoooey!" ~ the universal pigman's cry to call any pig, at least according to Wodehouse!
The "Decoy" pig and pigmen

On a different note, I've finished painting the Raja of Rhanli's Guard for our Byklabad Chronicles games from the Indian Mutiny, so a couple of shots to end with ~
The Raja's Guard ~ unit and detail shots

Well, I hope you enjoyed the brief game synopsis and the pictures of the Raja's Guard. I'm working on a second BHA Limber set now and hope to finish that and another Mutineer Sepoy unit before the end of the year {DV}.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Some Classical Advice?

I don't know how many of you have seen this before on the 'web thingy', but it amused me, so I hope it might amuse you too...

Monday 12 December 2011

Normal{ish} Service is resumed...

At last, I might add! The effects of jet lag seem finally to have departed, though I still feel very cold here in the UK! I have managed though to get back into some sort of rhythm here in GHQ, at least as regards painting, if not gaming. I'd prepped some figures before leaving for the holiday, so there was a choice of subjects on the painting desk. I'd got the ACW painting bug really since "Bull Run to Gettysburg" came out, so I started with two Army Command bases for the game ~ Dixon's ACW figures of course, to chime in with all the rest of my collection. First up, The Union Command ---

Next up, the Confederate Army Command base. I added a couple of spare infantry figures cheering on 'Bobby Lee' ---
Now, I must be honest and say that its quite hard to recapture a painting style from days long gone, but basically I wash the figures' base uniform coat colours with a thin black ink wash and then highlight with a very light dry brush dragged across the figure with the side of an old size '0' brush. I don't know that I would choose this approach now a days, but it suited the large Dixon Miniatures armies I was building up in the 1990's. I have one remaining unit of Union Regulars to paint up using this approach and then I'll be done ~ oh, apart from some limber teams I've acquired recently...

Next up, a small command base for the Indian Mutiny game, comprising some odd figures from a Foundry £5.00 Bargain Blister at the Summer Open Day --

Finally, some pieces from Empress Miniatures for my Anglo-Zulu War project, a Command base for the British and Imperial forces ---
Together with a Naval Rocket team from their rather esoteric Maori Wars range  for the Indian Mutiny project ---

I've also started work on a new unit for the Indian Mutiny games, the Raja of Rhanli's Guard, an Infantry unit of four bases comprising an ecclectic mix of Foundry figures from the Sikh Wars and Mutiny ranges of old ~ now somewhat confusingly conflated on their site into Colonials. More of them when the unit is completed, though I have finished two bases for now.
I've added to the 'Lead Pimple' too in recent days as well as aquiring some books while I was away. Starting on the Book front, I bought three books from a Salvage and Antiques Centre in Moonta, SA. Odd place to find wargames related stuff perhaps, but pleasing aquisitions: for the ACW, "Lightning at Hoover's Gap" by Sunderland, a consideration of Wilder's Brigade in the ACW for A$5.00; "Galloping at Everything" by Fletcher, a study of British cavalry in the Peninsular and at Waterloo, for A$10.00; and finally, "Dettingen 1743" by Orr for A$4.00 - I saw this later in Adelaide Booksellers for A$38.00 so thought it a great buy!
In terms of adding to the 'Pimple', I've bought some more AZW figures from Empress ~ the Mounted Infantry, in both mounted and dismounted order {Perrys take note} and the Native Horse, together with horse holder sets for Natal Carbineers, Natal Mounted Police and the Native Horse. From Foundry's recent Open Day for the Mutiny I bought a second Horse Artillery limber set , a pack of Mutineers, and a 32lb Howitzer and crew in airpipe helmet; while I also got two packs of British SYW infantry and command to raise the third Guard unit for my army. I also got heaps of paint at a discount price, mostly metalics as my Valejo paints are almost used up. That brings me finally to my best holiday buy: three pots of the old GW Flesh Wash! A great buy for me, although they did cost me A$12.00! I got them at a model store in Kadina, SA and carried them home without mishap too!
So, that's me for the moment; back in the swing of things at last. Thanks for visiting my new Blog! Please do pass the link on to anyone you think might be interested.