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 29 December 2012

Onward, and upward?

It seems like a good idea, or it least it did at the time you might reflect at a later date, to make some attempt at summarising the year here in GHQ for our group of gamers, and for me in particular as keeper of this Blog. For all of us its been a mixed year in many ways: some have lost folk they love; some have gained new jobs; some have faced up to difficult times with their family; some have been in hospital or had loved ones there. As I said its been a mixed year for the GHQ Irregulars, and no mistake. But we have all been sustained by our friendships and the love of the hobby I feel.

My most significant highlight by far must be becoming a grandfather with the birth of Arthur to Sarah and Matthew. Lets hope we've added another gamer there! I enjoyed some much less important highs, on the gaming front of course: namely having two pieces in Wargames Illustrated's 300th issue and finishing my set of ECW rules, "A Crowning Mercy", which should be available from Caliver Books exclusively in mid January 2013; visits to numerous shows up and down the country, from Vapnartak to Wargamer, via WMMS, Salute, Partizans, and Warfare.
My lows were loosing my father-in-law, Ken, a kind and gentle man to the horror of Alzheimer's and, on a personal level, having my left knee replaced in early September. Sue was also quite poorly in July and August, but is thankfully fully recovered now. In all of these lows I felt sustained by the love and kindness of family and friends, the latter both physical and ethereal. As Churchill said, "War is a game that is played with a smile." Good advice for any wargamer if you ask me!
Turning to the year as it passes then. I see I played 53 games in total, mostly between January and August. Of these I won 17, drew 6 and lost 30. Clearly I am not Premiership material when it comes to my win ratio! "War is mainly a catalogue of blunders..." afterall, to quote Winston Churchill, again! We seem to have played many different rulesets, with perhaps the old favourite Rapid Fire loosing out in 2012 more than any other favoured set here in GHQ. I shall have to rectify that in 2013 I think. The Byklabad Chronicles continued to unfold, as that rascally Raja of Rhanli fought the British of Havelock-Bykleigh in the Great Mutiny, while in Zululand the devious Chief Bykelezi strove in vain to defeat Lord Rawnsley, not to mention that canny Boer, De Whyt. In the Sudan the 'Barmy Bykli' continued to resist the southward march of Lord Walton's Column and Lord Rawsnsley's Relief Force, with little success I have to say. Lord Emsworth and The Empress made a couple of appearances and in the Old West New Paddock City was erected and saw some action as the year drew to a close. In the ACW we continued to play out several scenarios using my own Bull Run to Gettysburg rules, in which genre I probably recorded my best successes over the year. We dabbled in the AWI, the Seven Years War and the French Indian Wars and towards the year's end we sampled Bolt Action in 1940 France and Shropshire. In the English Civil Wars we played numerous games as I developed my new ruleset, probably the highlight of which for me was the battle of Pyddle Down! I played several games at Jon's and Phil's over the year, with usually more success than in GHQ I have to say! Black Powder and Through the Mud and the Blood featured strongly, but my greatest enjoyment was a Setting the East Ablaze game really, following the exploits of Ivan Juztukov, Soviet fighter ace and scourge of the Chinese Warlord Wun Ung Lo!
Painting totals, for figures at least, was a respectable 677 completed, all 28mm, in a bewildering range of periods, manufacturers and genres, from AZW figures in January to Samurai in December, via ECW, ACW, F&IW and WWII figures! Terrain building consisted of some Grand Manner Wickups; a scratch built Indian shrine for the Mutiny, clumps of palm trees and finally New Paddock City itself  ~ a wonderful set of buildings from Battleflag which I furnished with Frontline Games resin items.
Turning now to the year ahead as I 'stand at the gate of the year' I feel constrained to offer some sage advice from the American deaf-blind writer, Helen Keller, who wrote, "Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." Keeping that advice ever before me I hope to enjoy many more games with my chums here in GHQ and beyond and to dive wholeheartedly into my new projects for the year ~ a Samurai skirmish game using figures from Museum Miniatures and the ubiquitous Perry Brothers; a Bolt Action Burma campaign utilizing Warlord's growing range and the Back of Beyond, more properly Rhawnlistan, with the Rhawnlistan Field Force drawing on Brigade Games, Copplestone, Pulp Figures and Woodbine Designs in the main. But, as we should all bear in mind, we know not what the future holds for us, in our lives or our hobby, as we stand at the gate of a new year.  ~  I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.” Or perhaps more prosaically as Winston might say, "KBO! KBO!" seems to be the best approach.
Whatever you game and paint and in whatever scale I wish you ALL

Friday 21 December 2012

The Great Paddock City Bank Robbery

Phil popped over today for a pre-Christmas game, or two as it turned out. Our planned 'Bull Run to Gettysburg' ACW game ended sooner than we had planned, with a resounding Union victory! So, after a leisurely lunch we cleared that tabletop and laid out New Paddock City for a Western Gunfight game, in which the 'Dusst Brothers' would roar into town and rob the bank! The forces of law and order, supported {or not!} by the honest townsfolk would defend the bank and see off the bad guys! Phil took the Dusst Brothers' gang and I took the Lawmen.

The town looked peaceful enough, until the leading members of the gang rode into town...

They soon dismounted and rushed towards the town's bank past the astonished bystanders going about their lawful business!
Soon honest citizens were fleeing the scene, except for the unlucky bank staff and customers who were caught inside the bank!

The local Sheriff, new to the town after his predecessor's sudden and unexpected lead poisoning, rushes from his office towards the bank. He was lucky to have the support of his loyal deputies in the following turns, especially the dour Stumpy Macfarlane, a dead shot with the shotgun!
The ensuing firefight was vicious and drawn out but left three of the gang members on the ground. The Undertaker will be busy today, not to mention OT the grave digger!
However, despite the best efforts of the lawmen, and of some of the citizens at least, Jedediah Dusst, the patriarch of the infamous Dusst clan, fled the town with the contents of the bank's safe leaving the citizens in uproar...
The town of New Paddock City has been enhanced by the erection of the 'Liberty Bell Hotel', bringing expansion to a halt for this year at least, although their is talk of a Lawyer moving into town. My collection of figures are mostly Dixon Miniatures and the older Foundry range, supplemented by some Pass of the North figures I got when attending my first Historicon. All the buildings, except one by HGWalls, are from the excellent and expanding Battleflag range; a range I highly recommend to fellow gamers. The rules we used were 'Astounding Tales' with house ammendments, which we find give a fast and fluid game with minimal record keeping {In fact only red wound markers by figures!} I'd recommend these rules to anyone who, like us, dabbles from time to time with the Old West in a light hearted way.
Now, it only remains to wish you ALL ~
 A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Friday 14 December 2012

The Liberty Bell Hotel

I've been working on another building for my Old West 'town, "New Paddock City". Its the last of the kits I was given by a friend in return for helping out. I left it til last because, to be frank its size was daunting when laid alongside the other Battleflag kits I'd tackled. In fact, although relatively complex and larger than the others I'd attempted, it goes together easliy. Even a limited modeller like me finds the instructions clear, logical and well illustrated, making the assembly straightforward. Its a 'work in progress', but I wanted to get some feed back, so here it is ~
A general view of the assembled building, with a few Dixon figures for scale. I only paint the front of my buildings for New Paddock City ~ well, it is new after all...
A closer view of the hotel's facade. A useful balcony for figures to overlook the growing town.
I've no furniture yet for the ground floor, but I've spray undercoated the resin Frontline Wargames bedroom furniture I had in stock. The hotel will have three bedrooms and two dressing rooms ~ its an upmarket establishment!! I've had a go at creating wallpaper to make the rooms more distinct and I'll be adding some posh curtains in time too.
The rear of the hotel also has an upperfloor entrance door with external staircase. Just right for sneakin' in and out of!


I'll be adding details and working on the finish next week, so hope to post an update before Christmas.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Out of time...

...I've painted a few more Museum Miniature Japanese figures towards 2013's first project, the Samurai Skirmish game, which I've provisionally entitled "The Three Samurai". The figures are the mounted versions of Ono Onomoro and the Other One ~ I'm waiting for inspiration, or James on LAF, to provide my oponents' names. I've also painted five Ninjas from Perry Miniatures.

Ono Onomoro, his personal retainer and banner man

The Other One

The Five Assassins

During this Blog entry Photobucket froze just once, but Blogger crashed or failed to function by freezing five times. I am heartily sick of computer nerds who think they need to mess with software for something so peripheral as blogging all the time! If it ain't boke, why fix it?

Sunday 2 December 2012


...and Wargames Shows in General. Phil collected Jon and I this morning for the short hop from Wolverhampton to Great Barr as we had planned to attend Wargamer, the final show of our wargaming year before going into winter quarters! Wargamer makes an interesting contrast with the much larger two day show, Warfare in Reading, which we'd attended last month, but, in its own way, it was a more satisfying venture this year. The latter is a show I've always enjoyed but which this year was a real disappointment, not to mention a hazzard in the large hall with the 'interestingly laid' carpet!
As a former organiser of the Alumwell club's WMMS show in its early years, I've always felt it important to support smaller local shows whenever I could, although in truth I always thought the £4 entry fee to Wargamer a tad steep, even though now I get in for £1 as an over 60!! This year I would not have carped at the price: there were some interesting games and the traders provided me with the things I had on my List!! Wargamer is clearly at the cusp of growth into a more significant show in the year's roster of events here in the Midlands. Another plus for me with the show is that I get to meet some gamers I've known for a long time, but who don't travel so widely to other shows around the country as we 'GHQ Irregulars' always have. The show does suffer though from one drawback, being held in a school's Sports Hall of a certain vintage ~ "The Curse of the Yellow Lighting!"

There were games I really enjoyed looking at today, and I'd like to share two with you first of all because, for me, they neatly encapsulate the different approaches folk in our hobby take to the look of their game. First up, the Shrewsbury Wargamers' French & Indian Wars game. These chaps can always be relied on to have splendid looking terrain and buildings, together with well painted figures and equipment, always making an effort with their presentation to draw in the passing gamer.

The second game is a different creation altogether, staged by Dave Page from Kinver. Dave is a life-long gamer who attends a number of local shows, always accompanied by Erica his wife, with his wide ranging collection of 20mm games. Dave's games have that decidedly Old School look to me, but they never fail to interest me with the vast selection of items on display to catch the eye. Dave's terrain is always functional as well as clever in its simplicity, very game friendly, but always looks somehow 'right'. His offering today was a SCW game, making the anniversary of the Battle of Jamara. It looks very different from the first game, but is equally effective as a display I feel and has the added advantage to passing gamers in looking immediately more achievable for a solo player or a small group like ours. It has suffered in my photo more than most from the yellow lighting!!


 Now both sorts of games have a place in the hobby: too often the 'Gamers Porn'  offered in the hobby magazines and some Forum Boards must act as a deterrent to some entering our wonderful hobby or from offering their own games for our delectation at some future event. For the really Old School gamers there was even a WRG Ancients game on show, almost a museum piece in a way as a Display Game in a modern show, but perhaps important in that it shows once more that gaming and gamers are a very 'broad church' hobby indeed! 
Now, I have something personal I'd like to say. This short blog entry has taken me over three hours! Neither Blogger nor Photobucket work for me: both softwares will freeze or simply refuse to do what you direct. Until and unless the folk who manage these disasters can sort that out I have better things to do with my time! And anyway, hardly anyone ever bothers to leave any sort of comment, so my posts are clearly not really of interest to many folk.