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.

Sunday 29 September 2013

The Discovery of Diablium

I've been tatting for a while now with a pack of Wargames Foundry Victorians which I picked up for £5 on a visit to the store in Nottingham earlier this year. They were entitled something like Victorian Scientists, just one pack at the back of a stack on one rack in the store. I've not seen any on subsequent visits or at shows, so whether more sets exist I don't know. I bought it even though at the time I had little or no idea what I'd eventually do with it: I guess we've mostly all been there though at some time. Anyway, I've decided it'll make a nice Objective Marker in both Rhanzlistan and The Great Detective games.
The set contained two figures, two scientific gizmos, a two part telescope and a wooden crate. Without more ado, I present Professor Cohx and Major Moore, RE, an important scientific/practical duo in games ~

The shiny black stone is going to be a meteorite in the games, which will prove to be the source of a new element, Diablium, a source of untold clean power, much coveted by the Major Powers and Criminal Masterminds alike!

For any purists out there, Professor Cohx is kneeling and Major Moore is overseeing the 'machinery'. You get a better shot of the Diablium in the second picture. At Derby this weekend I got a few more odds and ends for Rhanzlistan, mainly a Tiger Miniatures pack camel train, two camels and a driver for £4.00, my kind of price! I also paid rather more for some cattle, a donkey and some goats from Empress, somewhat less for a dog relieving himself from Redoubt!

Friday 27 September 2013

Battle Group Kursk game

While I did n't buy this set of rules when they were released, being a dyed in the wool Rapid Fire! gamer, I have now played three games. Two have been at Phil's OHQ set up, using his wonderful figure and vehicle collection and fantastic scenery, but recently I have had the chance to play on a much larger table. This was entirely due to an invite to the Midlands Wargames Centre, hosted in the Stafford Games' unit just outside Stafford.

I have visited the Centre before: once to watch a very large Battle Group Kursk game between Phil and Jon and once to play in a very large, if not even huge, Blackpowder ACW game using Jon's wonderful collection. A game which I won, incidentally, despite being restricted to gaming here in GHQ on a table no more than 7' x 4'!
The BGK game was not based on a scenario from the rule book, but an encounter and objective driven game devised by Jon, who commanded the Germans. The table looked daunting at the outset I thought, with woods running down the Russian's left flank and two small hamlets occupying the centre of the table astride a road down which the Germans would attack.

Luckily for the Russians, they could deploy up to half way in from their table edge, so I took the opportunity to deploy in depth, while keeping some units in reserve in case of a sneaky Kraut move through the woods on my left flank.

I was able to deploy five Ambush orders at the outset of the game which, together with splendid observing and firing o occasions ~ we'll brush over my bucket full of 1's I think, restricted the Germans to capturing the first objective in the hamlet nearest their base line. Despite the violent off table artillery barrages and air attacks my gallant troops were subjected to, they steadily eroded the German's capability by destroying their armour, initially thanks to the cunning use I made of the Ambush Fire orders. To such an extent in fact that they never ventured beyond the hamlet and Jon conceded defeat after seven moves.
It was an engrossing game I felt and very demanding for my old brain, as I'm just getting to grips with the game system. I feel that its well suited to larger tables than I enjoy in GHQ, but I suppose we could play at the lower levels, as we have managed two at Phil's as I said. In truth I find the rules a tad more complicated than I would like; looking up the different guns stats and tank/vehicle stats was a bit cumbersome I found; while the constant re-observing was not my view of how a game should play out, but it produced some interesting situations. While I don't think it would tempt me away from Rapid Fire!, which I feel I know well, I have invested in the small pocket sized rule book, so Phil and Jon don't have to do everything, and also the Battle Group Overlord hard back book, mainly for the scenarios and the pictures I have to confess!
If you have n't tried BGK yet, then give them a go, they may be for you, you never know!

Tuesday 24 September 2013

More Firepower

As you might have noticed, if you've been paying attention that is, I have painted all the figures I acquired earlier in the year for my small Back of Beyond force. But, like most gamers I suspect, I did manage to acquire a few additional bits and bobs along the way, which I've moved on to painting now in the last days of the month.
Firstly, a machine gun for the Gurkhas ~ its the Sikh styled machine gun crew from Copplestone Castings' Indian Machine Guns pack, with two heads from spare Gurkha figures attached. Not wonderful, I know, but it will do for me ~

To avoid wasting anything, the Sikh heads have been reattached to the decapitated Gurkha bodies to make an escort for my Mountain Battery mule train, but that's getting ahead of myself for the time being. Next up we have the Empress Miniatures Jazz Age Afghans, or Bhurpas in our games: the Lewis Gun team, from the command pack, and the Maksim Gun and crew ~

Finally, two command figures for the Bhurpas, also from Empress, a Warlord and a drummer, which will allow me to move the more dignified command figure and his standard bearer to create a proper Bhurpa Command Base for our games ~

I've also painted a few more character figures for forthcoming Pulp-style versions of the game, but they are over on the dedicated Rhanzlistan Blog {See side bar for link}.

Friday 20 September 2013

Chalk and Cheese

I've managed two games here in GHQ in the last two days. Yesterday Jon and I played an ECW game using my own A Crowning Mercy rules, and today Phil and I played out a Back of Beyond game marking the debut of the famous Rhanzlistan Field Force and using the Setting the East Ablaze rule set. Now, if I had been just going to mention the ECW game then I might have aptly entitled this piece Snatching Disaster from the Jaws of Defeat, as my Royalists were trounced in six turns by Jon's Parliamentary forces.
The Opening positions ~ Royalists nearest the camera

I'd like to say that it was largely the result of my reinforcements failing to appear, but if I'm to be honest it was largely due to my cavalry suddenly loosing the plot in melees against unloaded foote caught in the open! Disastrous dice does n't even begin to sum it up!!!
Royalist and Parliamentary Horse clash on the flank

I fail to score a single kill against Gell's Foote!

While I am repulsed by Fairfax's Foote to the left!

I lost in six turns! Prince Rupert of the Rhine was killed on the field by a musketeer! Somewhat of a disappointment does n't really even begin to cover the outcome!!!. Its worth noting that Sir John Gell's Foote in the Parliamentary army is undefeated in any game using four different sets of rules over several years! A true veteran regiment to grace any tabletop I feel!

Turning to today's Back of Beyond game, the outcome was slightly more favourable for my forces in the game, though it did seem to take forever to edge the game. There'll be a full report over on my dedicated Blog in due course sometime this weekend, but in the meantime here are a taster shot or two ~
The tabletop layout for the game

Brigadier Bykleigh issues his Order of the Day

I'll be adding a full report on the Battle over on Tales from Rhanzlistan soon. Pop over to get the latest news hot from the Frontier...

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Odds and Ends and Colours

I've been plodding on here at the GHQ painting desk with various units for the Rhanzlistan Field Force, as featured in several earlier Blog entries. To disuade the possible gremlins of boredom from raising their head I've also been working on all sorts of other bits and bobs for various projects. First up, some Foundry 'Victorians', the League of Red Headed Anarchists for my Sherlock Holmes games.

Now I know that these sculpts are not to everyone's taste, and especially to the chaps at Foundry now, but I like them. They are easy to paint, rather like Pulp Miniatures, and do the job just fine for me. Look out for them later in the Autumn as they tangle with The Great Detective.
Next up, also from Foundry, the Home Guard Communications set.

"Press Button B!"

And the motorcycle despatch rider from the same set ~

They'll both figure in our 1940 games, with the next one scheduled for December, when the British will counter attack at Market Blandings amidst rummours of dastardly goings on up at the Castle! Speaking of the castle, the final figure is for Lord E himself, a Copplestone Castings 'Jolly Good Chap' who just suits my vision of the man himself in our games.

Finally, I went to Colours last Saturday, my first visit to the show in several years. It was never a show or venue I especially liked: the ground floor area is too crowded and the games often dwarfed on other floors by the sheer space of the venue, much like Salute in my opinion. However, I did have a good day out, meeting a few folk I know and buying a few bits and bobs for various projects. I also ordered a final building from Oshiro for my Victorian to 1940's urban setting, even though I've not painted one of the others yet ~ a long story. I also got a copy of Battle Group Overlord and the small rule book, even though I think I still prefer Rapid Fire! I can't let Phil run everything in the games, he gets no time to think and plan for himself. I also bought several sets of figures to add to the Bhurpa tribes for our Back of Beyond campaign. I got the command set and machine gun from the Empress Jazz Age range, three bodyguard types from Grubby Tanks, the old Britannia ones I think, and a wonderful figure for the Jakzi of Jelilabad, the Khan of All the Bhurpas, from Mutineer Miniatures! While finally for my new Bolt Action project I got a pack of WWII British Paras in berets from Foundry, who were tucked away in the annexe to the main show. Now its Derby Worlds next up to visit on  Sunday week. I hope to see rather more than I managed last year when I did the show on crutches just a few weeks after my knee replacement operation! I'm not planning so much to buy as to look and wonder at the games on show. I seem to miss so much now a days when I see such wonderful photos on other Blogs. I must try harder to look and remember what I've seen!

Friday 13 September 2013

Latest additions to my Back of Beyond Project

A shrine to the 'Little Yellow, Green Eyed, Idol ~

The first figures for the Shropshire Yeomanry, all from Brigade Games WWI ranges ~

There's some background information on Rhanzlistan over on the dedicated Blog, which you can link to from the side bar.

Monday 9 September 2013

Almost there now...

The Rhanzlistan Field Force is moving ever closer to making its debut on the tabletop here in GHQ. Its not quite finished, but its just seven figures from being completed; or at least all those white chaps I showed in the first post about the project! I've still to sort out some artillery and a second mounted unit at some stage, but opportunity and finance are really controlling that move.
First new member to show you today: the District Officer for Rhanzlistan, Albert Atkinson ~

Albert is a Copplestone's Miniatures figure, representing the Empire on the ground, so as to speak, in Rhanzlistan. Next up, the first of the Shropshire Yeomanry, Sergeant Easthope. He's a Brigade Games figure from their WWI range. Not my favourite sculpt I'd have to say, but I hope I've done it some credit ~

Finally, the first of the Russian presence in Rhanzlistan, the Russian Mission, headed by the veteran of the Revolution, Hero of the Soviet Union and pilot extraordinaire, Ivan Justukov. He is supported by the Femme Fatale, Anna Pavlova, and the Commissar for the putative Bhurpa Freedom Force, Pietre Roczoff, and some drunken sailor in the background ~

These are all from the fine Pulp Miniatures by Bob Murch. I'd like to have added some of the Scots he makes, but for some reason they are portrayed in steel helmets! Odd folk sculpors some times...
I hope to add something to the RFF this weekend as a result of visiting Colours, but it all depends on the elusive finance...

Friday 6 September 2013

An Open Flank

A recent game here in GHQ saw Phil and I engaged in an epic ACW tussle. Phil commanded the Confederate forces and I took their Union foe. The rules used were my own Bull Run to Gettysburg and the figures were from my own extensive collection, almost entirely drawn from Dixon Miniatures' superb range. The scenario sees a weak Union Cavalry Brigade, supported by a Battery of Artillery, attempting to hold a river crossing point somewhere out on the flank of the main Union army. The first picture shows the Union Cavalry spread thinly along a fence line, while the second shows the view towards the Confederate lines. {The Observation balloon means that there can be no Confederate hidden movement in the game.}

The Confederates begin the game with a strong Cavalry Brigade, supported by an Artillery Battery, with which to seize the bridge. They expect their infantry supports to begin to arrive in Turn 3, after which the Union player dices for the number of turns, after turn 3, after which his infantry support will arrive.

In short time Phil sent the entire Brigade forward in a coup de main manoeuvre to seize the bridge, realising that his supporting infantry would be slow to reach the objective.

This presented me with something of a dilemma, having an inferior force to hand.

One Confederate Regiment had already cleared the bridge, despite some determined fire from the artillery and the dismounted cavalry skirmishers, and a second was moving to its support. Clearly my Cavalry had to get into the saddle and into action quickly if the game was not to be lost. The first Rebel unit across the bridge was met in a swirling charge...

...while its supporting Regiment was engaged as it crossed the bridge, with the artillery offering what supporting fire it could...

As both melees ran over into the following turn, the Confederate infantry marched to their support.

While the Rebels just across the bridge were no routed, the pursuing Union horsemen soon found their position threatened...

...by massed Rebel infantry and supporting artillery.

In the meantime, the more forward of the Rebel Cavalry Regiments had routed its Union opponents and moved on to take the retiring Union Artillery Battery in the rear, resulting in an entirely expected route in their turn.

Turn 9 and the game is over! The sharp eyed amongst you will have wondered where the Union Infantry support had got to. In turn 3 I threw a five, meaning they would not appear on my table edge until turn 9. A bit late to save the day for Useless S Bykleigh I'm afraid!
All in all a splendid little game, with much honour going to the Union forces, outnumbered as they were, while the glory of victory belonged to the Confederates. A fitting tribute in our own way to the sad passing of Don Featherstone, the last of the Giants of our hobby, to whom all those of us who came after owe more than we realise.