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.

Monday 27 May 2013

A Grand Week!

Its been a grand week for me and mine! No, I did n't have a number on the Lotto either, Phil, before you ask! Sue and I spent a few days with Matt, Sarah and Arthur down in Goldaming. While the weather was n't wonderful, the company and entertainment were brilliant. We also helped out with clearing rubbish from the builders and tidied the garden. As an added bonus, and an early birthday present, Matt presented me with a 28mm version of myself for my Union ACW army! I've spent the last three days painting him up, so, without more ado, I present to you Useless S Bykleigh, Major General USV ~

Matt sculpted 'my head' from photos, while the body, sadly including the girth, was added to a Redoubt figure and the horse is by Dixon of course to fit in with the rest of my ACW collection. I've always wanted to be down on the table leading my men, probably to yet another defeat, like most gamers I suspect! Here he is in colour ~

When we got back home from our visit I had to quickly rush around GHQ getting the table ready for the next day's Wargames Illustrated photoshoot. Dan was coming over to take some ECW pictures to accompany a piece I've written for publication later in the year. In fact he should have been here last month, but his visit was abandoned when we had a foot of snow! Watching him taking the pictures was instructive, but most worthy of comment was the fact that he took 96! To add to the 84 he took on a previous visit. Yet the maximum number which will accompany the artile, or so he said, would be 10! Interesting I thought. Here are a few shots from the table which I took before Dan arrived ~

Finally, an Empress Miniatures figure I bought at Triples: Colonel Buller from their Anglo Zulu War range ~

A mixed bag, but there we are! Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Action in Burma,1944

Recently Jon and I had the chance to give my Burma '44 collections a run out in a Bolt Action game. While I've finished all the figures ~ for now anyway ~ I've yet to paint the Architects of War village buildings I bought last year, so we made use of stuff from my 20mm Vietnam collection, namely a fire base which was transformed into a Japanese Outpost for the day. The table viewed from the British entry points ~

The 'Victory Points' for the game are allocated according to difficulty of attainment. There is one point for the central hill, two for the jungle perimeter, and five for the Jungle Outpost. The eight Japanese starting elements are marked with coloured counters, with an equal number of blanks. No Japanese unit or blank is revealed until it can be 'seen' by the British or it takes an action. The second picture shows the outpost in close up ~

The first Japanese marker to be revealed was a supply column entering from the track on the tables left centre edge. This is in fact a 'Red Herring', playing no part in the game but designed to decoy or dissuade the British from moving along the left bank of the river ~

The British enter the table, mules helping to move the 3" mortar and the MMG. The game will last six turns, plus D x 6 extra turns, determined by a dice throw at the end of turn 6 ~

As the 'Decoy Supply Column' crosses the river, a squad of British troops cross to the left bank while the support weapons head for the river ford. The river was fordable anywhere along its course, at half speed, but at the ford at normal walk speed ~

The 'Supply Column' crosses the river and is removed from the game. The markers showing Japanese positions are just visible in the outpost in the distance ~

A squad of British troops occupies the central hill, having driven off the two man sniper team defending the summit approaches before it could get into action ~

With the central commanding hill now in British hands, the Japanese must deploy all the remaining troops which were represented by Markers. The D x 6 throw for the extra turns was a six [Thanks Jon!] The left hand British squad prepares to cross the river and outflank the Japanese defenders ~

Over on the right flank of the British attack a third squad drives off a Japanese squad occupying the jungle perimeter. The British now have three 'Victory Points' but the Japanese still hold the outpost ~

As they attack from the left, the right hand squad attack on the opposite flank. At this stage the Japanese were holding their own, even driving off the frontal attack from the second squad~

Sadly however in Turn 12 the dice luck deserted the Japanese big time, and by the time their action dice were drawn it was all up for the Nips! Each side shared 2 1/2 points, as the outpost was still just about being disputed, while the three points for taking the central hill and the jungle perimeter meant that the British were the clear winners ~

The figures are mostly from Warlord Games, with the elephant, mule handlers and infantry gun and crew from Brigade Games. The Japanese mules are from Tiger Miniatures. The outpost is mostly resin buildings from Hovells. The twelve turns took us two hours and five minutes, about the time of the average club night game I'd think, proving that Bolt Action are a reliable, and versitile, rule set. {We have used them in WWI, the SCW, Blandings 1940 games as well as the VBCW.} We modified the close combat results to give units a chance to rout and rally, adding one pin marker for each failure to pass the Order Test! All in all a good first run out for the Burma game we thought!


Sunday 12 May 2013

Ono Onomoro's Failure...

As well as our Bolt Action game last week, Phil and I managed to try out a game using the latest stage of 'Funsen', my Japan in the Age of Wars skirmish rules which are in development. They are still at a fairly rough and ready stage, but I feel they are shaping up nicely for large skirmishes, and small battles if you don't mind rolling a few dice!  I've developed a set of campaign rules to use with them, which will allow games to be inter related and more meaningful without the need for reams of record keeping and these will be included in the final rulebook. The first picture gives you an idea of what a 6' 4' game table might look like.

The second picture allows a closer look at the small farm I've made up using buildings from JJD and accessories from Oshiro. I chose the JJD buildings over the more accurate Oshiro ones as they had removable roofs, a must in a skirmish game I think. The bridge to the left, together with the small shrine in picture one, were from our local Garden Centre and came ready painted for about £8 for the two.

While the game is played at a 1:1 ratio of figures to men {and women} I think movement tray speed up the earlier movement of groups of figures. I got mine from Warbases, whose excellent service included making the command bases incorporating pill and circular slots to my design at very reasonable cost. As you can see, I've yet to texture and tuft some of the movement trays though... The next pictures will, I hope, give you a brief flavour of the flow of the game together with a sneak view of its outcome.

As the game is driven by drawing cards {See an earlier Blog entry for detailed views} even the best laid plans can be undone. As it turned out our Ashigaru were left well behind by our Samurai Lords and  their lesser Samurai retainers and bodyguards. While earlier exchanges favoured our hero ~ in red ~ things can change quite quickly...

Already Ono Onomoro has lost two wounds, represented by removing two of the four figures on his base, while he has also seen one Samurai retainer killed and two more wounded.

And, sure enough, two rounds and two wounds later, Onomoro is laid low. Not dead, but definitely feeling the worse for wear. You may just see his first Ashigaru unit in the distance.... In all the game lasted about an hour and a half and allowed for about twelve turns. As we were making slight ammendments as we went along, we could probably have fitted about two more turns otherwise into that time. Now, back to painting the last five Chindits for Burma 1944...

Saturday 11 May 2013

B.E.R.T. at Blandings

Phil and I recently returned to our Bolt Action WWII games set in the fictional world of Blandings Castle, created by the writer P G Wodehouse. Our setting, for any who've not wandered this way before, is 1940 post Operation Zeelowe/Sealion and sees various rag tag British forces engaging with German forces advancing on the area of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, where Wodehouse set Blandings Castle and its inhabitants. Without more ado ~

The general layout of the game: the Germans advance from the right hand edge as you are looking at the table. The Market Blandings LDV and an ad hoc group of family, staff and guests are manning a perimeter defending the castle.

Lord Emsworth and his formidable sister Constance oversee the dispositions of the defenders of Blandings.

The Germans advance down the road to seize the crossroads. The Pak 30 never got into action, but more, sadly, of the Panzer later...

The local LDV have a Smith gun on the tower. In the whole game they score precisely 'NO HITS'!

Using the covering effect of smoke rounds, the German paratroopers get a squad onto the bridge. Although they do not breech the defences, they draw fire and that allows...

...the flamethrower team to take out the bunker and its MMG defending the bridge crossing.

With the Germans pressing the defenders at several points on the perimeter, finally in Turn 6 three squads of Regulars arrive to bolster the defence.

That was probably just as well, because the flamethrower team also went on to account for the Vickers VIC tank...

...while the mortars accounted for the Smith gun's crew!

Things were looking decidedly sticky for the defenders as the Panzer and more paratroopers forced their way onto the bridge. The defenders poured down fire on them, holding them at bay, though the anti tank rifle team could not make any impression on the tank. A crisis was approaching, surely?

Just as it seemed it was all up for Emsworth, the Empress and the rest of the 'cast of thousands', the roar of rocket engines tore the air! Arriving on the Germans' right flank could be seen the latest creation of Professor Braynestawme, with Winston's support of course, a squad of the newly formed B.E.R.T. {British Experimental Rocket Troop}.

The Germans' find themselves under attack from an unexpected direction as, in the best traditions of the British Cavalry, the troopers of B.E.R.T. swoop down and engage their enemy in a close range fire fight. The Germans never had a chance!
After ten turns the defenders of Blandings were still holding their side of the river bank. While the Germans were holding the bridge and Home Farm, they could not now commit reserves to the final push, moving men to their right to counter the new and unexpected threat. We called it a draw...

Thursday 9 May 2013

Action at Blandingsford

Earlier in the week Jon and I met up here in GHQ for an ECW game, using my own 'A Crowning Mercy' rules, available exclusively from Caliver Books. I took many pictures of the game, which Picture Manager promptly trashed in the editing phase! I have just four left!!! They don't really show the full extent of the game, but here they are anyhow. {I think that computers and I don't get on really!}

Lord Emsworth and his Council of War prepare plans for the defence of Blandings Castle.

The great gun, Constance, commands the main approach to the castle, well defended by gabbions and earthworks and manned by stout fellows one and all.

The southern ford is covered by Gell's Foote and by a field piece, all protected by gabbions and earthworks.
Gilbert Talbot's Foote and Marmaduke Robinson's Foote move forward to support the attackers at the bridge, while Sir John Whyte's Horse move around the left flank trying to find the crossing point and flank the defenders.
The game is scheduled to last nine turns, after which a D x 6 is thrown by the Royalists to determine the number of extra turns available. The Royalist objective is to prevent Lord Emsworth making off with the plate destined for Parliament's treasury. Lord Emsworth may not evacuate the plate in convoy until the nine turns have elapsed. {If the Royalists have not already captured the plate that is!} The castle is defended by a moated river, crossed by a stone bridge in the centre, with two hidden fords, one at each extremity. Only the Royalist Horse can search for the crossing points. Each turn they are on the bank in position throw 12 D x 6 to determine the score needed to find the ford. The Royalist player throes two percentage dice, needing a score equal or less to locate the ford. Each unsuccessful attempt reduce the number of D x 6 by one dice in the next turn.
Lord Emsworth's defender consist of two regiments of foote, some dismounted dragoons, a marksman, a siege gun and a field gun. The Royalist attackers have three regiments of foote; two troops of medium horse, two siege guns and a field gun. In addition the assault force to seize the bridge consists of a Forlorn Hope, a Petard, engineers, dismounted dragoons and dismounted horse.
Emsworth wins if he holds out for nine turns and then evacuates the plate. The Royalists win by seizing the plate before it exits the table.
Our game lasted the nine turns, but Jon had already got horse and foote across both fords and to compound my misery threw a 6 for the number of extra turns. One troop of horse overran the convoy before I could get it away in turn 10! Normal service resumed...

Thursday 2 May 2013

Disaster at Brecher's Bend

Earlier this week Jon and I finally managed to play the ACW game we had been forced to postpone on several occasions: how life can get in the way of gaming sometimes seems unreal! I present a photo montage of the game, played using my own "Bull Run to Gettysburg" rules {published by Wargames Foundry}. I took the role of the Union commander, Jon the Confederates. The Union side must exit the table on their extreme left flank with as many units as possible and seek to deny the Rebels Rawnsley Farm and the camp at Brecher's Bend. For the Confederate forces, occupying the farm, destroying Union units or preventing them crossing the ford, and even taking the enemy camp are all objectives. The game lasts nine turns, with the  Rebs entering the table by the road on the Union's right flank front. The Union forces begin as shown in the first picture ~


General Jeremiah Bykleigh oversees the crossing of the river by his leading units ~

Over on the right flank, the early morning mist has shielded the Rebs' advances { The Union measure the distance to the nearest enemy unit and then need to equal or exceed the distance score on a D x 20. It took me three turns, which meant the Rebs were right on me before any units could respond!}

Which meant the Sharpshooters got a really close first shot off ~ a pity they missed!

Driven in by weight of numbers, the Sharpshooters exposed the battery to an oblique assault by the leading Reb units ~

The Union regiment occupying the gardens around Rawnsley Farm was ejected after a vicious fire fight and sent tumbling back in rout ~

Meanwhile, just across the river, the band played on ~

And General Bykleigh and his staff planned their next move, oblivious it seemed to the disaster developing over the river ~

In the meantime, the Rebs had swung around and hit the artillery hard as they struggled to cross the ford in the river ~

Turn 9, and its all up for the Union. While they had scored 28 Victory points, the Rebs had scored 46 and so recorded a resounding though not total victory ~

I think we both enjoyed the game, certainly Jon was smiling at the end! In the circumstances I felt I'd done well to extricate half my Infantry and most of my ammunition and supply train, although I did loose my guns and the second Infantry Brigade. Not seeing the Rebs through the morning mist until Turn 3 proved to be the decisive factor in the game at the end.