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 24 January 2014

"Sie mag es nicht sie!"

Being the second version of our Bolt Action WWII games set in 1940 following the successful execution by the Germans of Operation Sealion/Zeelowe. In this version, Phil commands the British forces seeking to recapture a bridge seized by Falschrimjaegers, the latter commanded by the grizzled veteran, von Bikkel! In the early morning half light the Jaegers take their positions ~

First on the scene for the British are the local Home Guard: two squads with transport in this case ~ one on bicycles and one in a local butcher's van it seems. Of course the officer, some sort of bank clerk I believe, has rather more luxurious transport ~

Under heavy, but wayward, mortar fire the Home guard units work their way around the enemy's left flank, bringing up the Smith gun for some supporting fire ~

After a brisk cycle ride, Sergeant the Hon Wilson's squad take up a position behind a stone wall and fire on the enemy's position ~

While on the British left, the Regulars begin to move into position to assault and recapture the bridge, with the aid of some support from a light tank, a Mk VI ~

Enemy mortar fire is now intense, and Sergeant Wilson's squad takes a massive hit! As the dust clears and the ringing in his ears eases, Wilson finds himself the sole survivor ~

Lance Corporal Jones' squad has fared no better, being devastated by heavy mortar fire, leaving only Mannering's HQ and the Smith gun firing on the enemy flank ~

Casualties are mounting on both sides now, but the Germans are holding on at the bridge, largely thanks to the enemy overestimating the power of a lone anti tank rifle! Finally the tank and supporting regulars manage to neutralise the threat and begin the decisive advance to recapture the bridge ~

Desperate times call for desperate measures! Sensing defeat von Bikkel orders the final squad of Jaegers to assault the tank as it crosses the bridge. Their morale is excellent and they rush the enemy who are too surprised to respond ~

With the tank in flames after a successful assault the British attack peters out and the bridge is still in enemy hands ~

Another seventeen turn Bolt Action epic! the game seemed to swing first to favour one side then the other, with it being difficult to predict the outcome right up to the end. Phil finally conceded when the tank was destroyed and he found himself with too few Regulars left to carry the day, despite having mortar and machine gun support. For my part, I think I held on grimly despite serious losses on my flanks. The mortars did the main execution for the Jaegers, but their stirring assault really sealed the victory!
The figures are all from my small 28mm WWII collection, predominently Foundry and BEF/Warlord with some from Artizan, Stronghold and Crusader along the way. The tanks are from Warlord and the other vehicles from Lledo.

Thursday 23 January 2014

"Fur dich, Tommy, ist der Krieg vorbei!"

One of a pair of recent WWII 28mm Bolt Action games we've fought out here in GHQ: this one saw me commanding the British force against Jon who, as the German force commander, had to force a bridge crossing defended by elements of the Home Guard and seize an important communications post ~

The bridge, together with a fording point lower down the river, are defended by the local Home Guard, under the capable{?} command of the ageing and overweight Brig {Capt} Bykleigh, who we last met in the 1920's during the Soviet incursions into Rhanzlistan! The force comprises four small squads supported by a Smith gun. Half the force starts on the table, the remaining entering on a random dice throw each turn, once dice have been allocated to the on table units. To add uncertainty we added an 'end of turn' dice to the mix.

The Home Guard are supported by one Mark VI tank which arrives from off table, like the other Reserves. We classed it as an 8 for purposes of a hit {as we did the German tank}. The picture gives some idea of the dispositions after 4 Turns on the British side of the river.
The German commander, Kapt Weiss, is seen here in deep conversation with his subordinates, while the gun comes into action to support the developing attack.

While the tank, supported by a motorcycle squad, closed on the bridge, the  remaining German infantry moved in a two pronged attack to draw the fire of the defenders from the main thrust. You might just make out the diversionary attack developing in the distance of the following picture ~

The defenders found themselves defending a rather wider front than they had hoped as the enemy squad  you see in the distance moved around their left flank ~

The defenders on the left of the British line were soon hotly engaged in a prolonged firefight with the enemy, sadly having the worst of the exchanges over a number of turns as the accumulating 'Pin' markers only too clearly show ~

Despite heavy fire from the defenders, the German attack made steady progress ~

And soon the two tanks were engaged in a duel to the death which would seal the fate of the bridge defenders or the enemy attackers ~

While the British defenders crumbled under withering fire the tank was finally knocked out by the German gun leaving the bridge open to the enemy, despite two heroic failures on the part of the defenders to assault the tank in a 'death or glory' moment ~

So, Brig Bykleigh, "Fur dich ist der Krieg vorbei!"

The game lasted seventeen turns, a quite remarkable total for our Bolt Action engagements here in GHQ! A tribute to the dogged defence and 'never say die' spirit of the Brits? No, more due to our combined inability to pass Order Tests once the pin markers began to accumulate! The figures are from my small WWII collection, mostly Wargames Foundry and BEF/Warlord, though the Smith gun is from Stronghold. The terrain is from The Last Valley in the main, though Phil made the tiles and the two larger hills for me {See his News From The Front site in the sidebar if you are interested in some for yourself}.The odd vehicles are by Lledo ~ I don't bother with repaints myself ~ and the bridge was an old Airfix kit I recall. Pop back soon for a report on the second engagement we shall fight out tomorrow.

Thursday 16 January 2014

The Blandings Plate 1644

A recent ECW game here at GHQ using my own A Crowning Mercy rules. Jon featured as the First Earl Emsworth, loyal to the crown, and to his pig.... I was the Parliamentarian commander, Obadiah Bykleigh, Gentleman ~ no aristocratic pretentions here! Emsworth was charged with escorting his Plate to the king, that it might be melted down and used to supplement the Royal warchest. If he could escort the baggage train off the opposite end of the table he would win the game and, in his Emsworth persona, save his bacon...
Lord Emsworth, ably assisted, or not, by a sister and his son the Hon Frederick plan their course of action ~

Beneath the family banner a strategy is taking shape...

The Blandings Plate is loaded onto a baggage train and makes ready to set out on its journey ~

The Parliamentarian force appears randomly, with an increasing chance in each turn to appear. Just as well, as I could n't throw above 20% for three turns, allowing Jon to get well underway, although he was rather phased by not having a large force to cover all eventualities ~

With no sign of Parliamentary opposition, Emsworth's Horse are moving ahead to scout the road, while Robinson's Whitecoats move up ahead of the baggage train ~
Robinson's Whitecoats

At last my dice luck improves and Parliamentary forces intent on seizing the Blandings Plate begin to arrive on the table, and luckily at the right end too from my perspective ~
Parliamentary Horse and Foot advance to cut off the Plate!

Fierce fighting is soon breaking out as rival Horse clash along the Ludlow road, while Parliamentary Foot hastens into action ~

Taking advantage of Royalist confusion, the Parliamentary horse crashes into a unit of Foot ~

Seen from the perspective of those in the baggage train, the Royalist position looks grim ~

However, in several turns of fierce fighting, after fortunes went first to one side, then to the other, the Parliamentary force is finally broken and leaves the field, as the Plate in its baggage train exits the table to Royalist cheering ~

In all the game lasted seventeen turns in about three hours, with a short break for a cuppa in the middle of a lull in the action. No unexpected outcomes happened and the rules worked smoothly, as we feel they always do. If anything, my troops were rather on their metal in the middle of things, but were outfought at the climax when it mattered. It seemed Parliament's desires for the riches of the Blandings Plate were not as strong as those of the Royalists, who deservedly held the field at the end of the game.

Sunday 12 January 2014

The Grand Old Duke of York...

...well, not quite yet, but instead some French from the French Revolutionary Wars period; the start of my 2014 project! They are all from Trent Miniatures and have a very characterful style about them, which was the second reason I chose the project and them. The first was because my son designed them for Duncan a few years ago now. While its not an enormous range, it is possible to make sizable forces before having to paint the same figures over again too often. At present the total painted comprises ~

That's one 24 figure infantry Battalion, a 12lb gun and Foot Artillery crew, a Foot Artillery artillery command stand, and a couple of troops of Dragoons. I may expand the numbers there in due course to 8 or 12, we'll have to see. On the painting table I've a howitzer and crew to complete the Foot Artillery Battery. After them I will start the second French Infantry Battalion, planning a few figures in Brown coats and the odd one in white for them.
The Command elements of the Battalion

Some Fusiliers and the Elite Company

Enthusiastic Officer urging on Les Braves!

Fire! The Foot Artillery's 12lb gun

Foot Artillery Command base

The first cavalry for the force are some Dragoons. I have to say that I really enjoyed painting these a great deal!

I've not discovered details of the guidons carried in the early Revolutionary War period, so I'd welcome help here ~ link would be really good! I'll keep you posted from time to time over the year I hope, but I don't anticipate any games in the genre this year, not unless my painting output seriously increases that is...

Thursday 9 January 2014

Not a lot of people know that!

Jon and I recently managed to meet up in GHQ for a game, our first of 2014! We chose an AZW game, but this time giving Black Powder a try rather than our usual rule set!! Jon, in the guise of Lord Walton, commanded the Imperial force, mostly of mounted troops supported by some artillery and the 24th Foot, while I took command of the Zulus in the guise of that old favourite, Chief Bykelezi M'Tubi, a wily if somewhat unsuccessful commander...
Chief Bykelezi, leading from the rear ~ sorry, protecting the cattle and his wives!

The game was to last 6 turns, with initiative diced for in every turn. Each side had an objective to seize ~ the Imperial baggage for the Zulus and the cattle for the Imperial side. WE began by dicing for scouting, with the winner being able to move one hill if the Imperials or both if the Zulus. My dice were better by one so I positioned the hills as I saw fit. Jon the had to order his force on to the table before turn one started with the Zulus having the first initiative. Some Boers, under their canny leader De Whyt, found them selves somewhat exposed ~

As you can see in the two pictures my Zulus failed to contact the Boers and De Whyt was able to gallop away to safety with his men, at least for now. In the meantime, the Imperial forces began to deploy for battle while most of the Zulus showed uncharacteristic lethargy when ordered to close with their foe!

The lancers surged forward to contact one Zulu regiment as it charger forward ~

While on the opposite flank the Zulus finally surged forward into action ~ as seen from the Imperial lines, where Lord Walton can be seem coordinating his battle strategy. Despite its best efforts the rocket troop scored only one hit all game! And that with an overshoot!

While the Zulus were over running the artillery and pressing the 24th hard, on the opposite flank the Lancers, supported by some Mounted Infantry, finally saw off the Zulus ~

The game looked all up for the Zulus as the withering fire from the 24th finally broke the Zulus as they retired from the bitter hand to hand fighting on the right!

However, it was the end of turn 6 and although the Zulus had had the worst of things, neither side had taken their objective and so we declared the game a draw. Chief Bykelezi M'Tubi had saved his cattle and his wives, though at the cost of the lives of many of his young men. Lord Walton would have a difficult job explaining his failure to trounce the Zulu to his political masters back in London too!
A grand game which we both enjoyed, with many tense moments right up until the end, with neither side being quite close enough to seize their objective! A fitting memorial to the 50th Anniversary of the movie, "Zulu", a perennial favourite amongst wargamers I feel! Next week, its back to the C17th and the English Civil War...