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.

Thursday 27 February 2014

The Pig has Flown!

Or the Battle of Blandings Parva, a three way VBCW encounter played out recently here in GHQ. Featuring my favourite Wodehouse character, the bumbling Earl Emsworth {Yours Truly}; the Royalist/BUF forces of Lord Rawnsley {Phil}; and the Market Blandings Peoples' Defence Cooperative {Jon}.~
A quiet morning in sleepy Shropshire, 1938

As you look up the table, Jon's force enters from the road front left, Phil's from the road middle left, and mine from the castle grounds at the far end of the table. The game used Bolt Action rules and was limited to 10 turns. The objective was to control the crossroads {middle right} at the end of the game. The forces are deliberately asymmetric: Emsworth has three squads, plus his secret weapon and a pig; Rawnsley has elements of the IV Battalion the KOSLI and some BUF supports; White's Cooperative has the largest force of LDV with a tank and artillery support, but is furthest from the objective.
Beach unfurls the Earl's personal standard over Blandings Castle

Emsworth's small force, made up of family, house guests and staff set off to defend an Englishman's home from all comers ~
Advance the Colours!

While Rawnsley's force makes a direct assault on the village of Blandings Parva ~
The Royalist/BUF column advances boldly

While the forces of White's Peoples Cooperative make for the bridge across the Severn ~
Vickers VIb and Smith Gun at the bridge

Rawnsley salutes his troops as they move into action ~
Lord Rawnsley

BUF men move to engage the enemy

Fierce fighting ensues across the Severn as elements of the KOSLI engage the BUF ~
Heavy fire across the Severn

Emsworh leads a spirited and successful defence of the castle grounds in person ~
An Englishman's home...

The Royalist forces are stalled on both flanks, having spread their forces too thinly it transpires ~
The Royalist's high watermark...

They find themselves under increasing pressure from White's Cooperative forces ~
A crisis is approaching at the crossroads...

Cooperative forces now threaten to gain a foothold in St Edith's churchyard and push on into the village itself ~

Superior numbers look like tipping the balance towards
the Peoples' Cooperative

Emsworth's small force can't hold on! Time to deploy the experimental Walking Carrier, 'Tommy Atkins 01' ~
Professor Braynstawm's latest invention...

Sadly it was not the answer, breaking down in turn 9 and thus failing to deny the crossroads to the Peoples' Cooperative forces ~
The People triumph over the forces of reaction!

All in all a splendid game we thought. Emsworth left it too late to deploy his secret weapon and when it broke down at a critical moment he was thwarted in his game plan. Rawnsley's bold and direct assault was halted by Emsworth's brave defence of the crossroads and surrounding houses, while his attempt to creep around the flank was halted by forces led bravely by the ageing Earl himself. The Peoples' Cooperative forces, ably lead by Jon, profited from a steady advance, during which the two opposing forces were fatally weakened as it turned out. Slow and Steady wins the race it seems!
The figures and terrain are all from my collection with the exception of Rawnsley's BUF which Phil painted. As you can see, Rawnsley has a superior style of staff car!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Staff Car 1914

I have had the flu! Not the 'man' variety, but the full Monty flu! So, not much to show for the last couple of weeks. However, I did finish a Staff Car for my 1914 B.E.F. a while ago. As Phil has recently posted his progress on our joint 1914 project, I thought that this car might interest the odd visitor who finds his way here. The car was a £1.00 purchase in a tatt box in an antique shop in Scarborough in February 2011 and the drivers are from the Empress Miniatures range of SCW drivers. Phil painted the car, while I did the basing, painted the figures and sourced the period maps, newspapers and war diary pages to 'dress' the thing.
A general view of the piece

Catching up with the news!

Newspaper, maps and a war diary.

War Diary

Ypres anyone?

I think its come out quite well, at least given my limited skills, and while its quite anal in its own way to source all the bits from period specific artifacts, I do think it adds a touch to the game. I found all the maps, newspaper entries and diary via our old friend Google Search of course and scaled them down as best I could. The driver has a road map of Belgium from 1914, while the Officer has a newspaper, maps and a war diary from September 1914. Pointless I know, but I enjoyed doing it!

Saturday 15 February 2014

Republican French cavalry

I've managed to finish six more figures for my French Revolutionary War project, in this case the 8th Cavalry, still wearing the cuirass at the time. I think that the units will eventually number eight figures: they are currently without any Command figures in the Trent Miniatures range. {That's also the case with the British Heavy Dragoons, which I'll return to later.}
8th Cavalry ~ Trent Miniatures

The Brigade as it stands
Now, it seems unlikely that there will be new Command packs for the range in the near future from what I can gather from Duncan, so I needed to decide what I might look at as a possible source. The officer figure in the second photo above is from the Dixon Miniatures range for the FRW. I ordered a few sample figures to collect at Vapnartak, as I thought the style might be compatible with Trent's. Although their website lists them as 25mm, I was hopeful that they might do. Now, while the mounted officer will do just fine, the foot figures are noticeably small in comparison. I don't think they could be mixed within a unit easily, but I think as distinct units on the table top battlefield they might look OK. I have three General/Officer figures on foot from Dixon to paint next for a command stand, so I'll have a better idea then. In the meantime, a closer look at the mounted officer so you can judge for yourself ~
Dixon Miniatures mounted French officer
I've spent a good deal of time searching the net of late looking at other folks' collections for ideas of suitable ranges, as well as scouring on line catalogues for figures which might suit. One such gamer's site is here ~
There are numerous entries here under the FRW theme, from painting themes to battle reports. Its well worth a look if you have n't seen it yourself before.
As a result of all this trawling the net. on Thursday night I ordered a few pieces from Front Rank, which look as if they will do the job. For the British Heavy Dragoons I ordered an officer and a standard bearer, for the French a Cuirassier General in bicorne. {I also ordered some Austrian high command figures for longer term use in the project.}
Now other ranges seem to be available: from  Eureka, Old Glory, and Elite in the main. Old Glory have a range of French in Egypt which could be useful and Elite a range of Austrians ~ which I hope to add to the project in due course as funds permit. Eureka I've mentioned in an earlier post as having both French and Austrians, but being very much slighter/smaller than the Trent figures.
Now of course its a matter of personal preference, taste, opinion and just plain prejudice on everyone's part when it come to choosing figures, we all know that I hope. Its also a matter of what figures seem to suit what painting style as well I think. As an example or two, to illustrate my point, I like Gripping Beast figures a lot, but I don't own one now! I've never been satisfied with the ones I've bought and painted myself, they just don't look like I want them to. I've also attempted to add Old Glory figures to my ACW armies, mostly in the form of personality figures and some command figures from the infantry packs. Again, I've never been pleased with the results of my efforts and I think I only have one Iron Brigade sergeant left on a command stand now. Neither style of figure seems to gel with my 'style', such as it may be, yet they sell in droves to others who find them more than acceptable. My point? Well, choosing which figures I will add to the project is a minefield really for me. I have no skill for conversion, nor the patience, and only limited painting talents, so I have to be very certain I can do the job before money changes hands.
So, what have I decided at the present will be my approach? If the Front Rank figures measure up then they will fill the gaps in the existing cavalry units for the project. Trent have some Hussars which I can deploy for the French army I'm planning, as well as other cavalry lacking command packs at present, which Front Rank might help with again. I feel sadly that Dixon will be just too small, but I may have a unit of his Dragoons, as the bulky horses will compensate for the slighter mounted figures if the officer is anything to go by. From Eureka I'll just get the French limber teams, hopefully at Salute in April. Old Glory I'll probably pass on, mainly for the reasons I've outlined above, but also because they always seem to me to have such awkward poses: its all in the eye of the beholder though, I do recognise that, and many will disagree completely with me on that.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The Colours of Blandings

Since the BBC is providentially running the second series of its Wodehouse based comedy, Blandings, starting from this Sunday on BBC 1, I thought it appropriate to show the latest additions to our 1940/Operation Sealion/Blandings/Pig Whoo-o-o-ey games. They are three Colour Bearers from Musketeer, two for LDV companies raised on the Blandings Estate and one for the IV Battalion, the KOSLI. I finally managed to buy the figures this year at Vapnartak ~
The Empress' Company

Volunteer Castle Company

IV Battalion, KOSLI

Just a bit of visual fun on the tabletop and entirely in the barmy spirit of our games! I have created several more Company Colours for the local LDV units, using an original provided for me by Leics_Gamer over on the VBCW Forum Board, but I need to source some suitable figures to bear these Colours first.
On an only tangentially related theme, also fromVapnartak, I bought a Flashman figure from Empress Miniatures to use as a character in our AZW games ~
Sir Harry Flashman VC

Saturday 8 February 2014

"Vive La Republique!"

I've been working away at my Trent Miniatures French Revolutionary War project since the start of this year, and I thought it was time to give my latest efforts an airing on the Blog. {There are two Eureka figures amongst the Army, which I got via Fighting 15s. I also bought a few Dixon Miniatures at Vapnartak last weekend. Both manufacturers figures are slighter in build and smaller in height, but they are being used on separate bases, so 'They will do!'} So, blathering over, here are my latest efforts ~
A Command base for the Army

Next up, the Demi Brigade Command stand, using the aforementioned Eureka figures. Nice figures, but  really 25mm figures in size ~
The Howitzer and crew to complete the two gun Foot Artillery Battery ~
Now, the Second Battalion of the Demi Brigade, an overview and a few close ups for those who can bear to look that is ~

The Command figure is from the Foot Artillery crew set ~ 



I'm not particularly steady of hands now a days, but I do try, as the striped trousers might show ~

The Elite company ~

 The Third Battalion of the Demi Brigade, in the foreground of the following pictures~
The whole Demi Brigade drawn up in Mixed Order. I'll add the flags when they are varnished later ~

And finally, the whole force to date ~

I'm working on some figures for the 8th Cavalry at present. The horses look to be by Copplestone, or at least in Mark's style, but the men are from a sculptor I don't know. They have separate heads, so some variety of pose is possible, but sadly as yet no command figures seem to be available. After these, I hope to finish the Light Infantry Battalion before the month is over. That will just leave the two gun Horse Artillery battery, which Sue bought me for Christmas! Then its on to the British Brigade I hope.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Onomoro at the bridge

A recent game here at GHQ featured a titanic tussle between Phil and myself set in Japan in the Age of Wars. The game centres on two roaming bands of warriors, each intent on local hegemony. To secure their gains, so far, it is imperative that they take and hold a vital bridge which will give them control over rich farmlands and ensure they are well fed over the winter. A peaceful scene, somewhere in rural Japan ~

Ono Onomoro leads his weary warriors and loyal Ashigaru towards the bridge, blissfully unaware of the challenge which he faces ~

Meanwhile, that mean and underhanded nemesis, Shiro Komodorisai, has assembled a large force of masterless Samurai and unwilling Ashigaru to seize the rich farmlands for himself ~

Quickly, Onomoro sends forward his loyal Samurai retainers to seize the bridge, supported by Ashigaru with bows and muskets ~

In the meantime, Komodorisai's mercenary Samurai have rushed through the farmyard, scattering the local population to the winds ~

Although outnumbered three to one, Onomoro's valiant Samurai retainers rush to save the locals and engage the enemy horde ~

Onomoro himself rushes to support his brave men, leaving the Ashigaru to secure his flanks and deny the enemy any advantage ~

The followers of our two Lords sell their lives dearly as they struggle for the advantage which may yet turn the battle in their favour ~

His stalwart retainers struck down, Onomoro is facing overwhelming odds! Despite slaying three of his enemy he is finally struck down from behind by the cowardly Komodorisai!

Our game lasted twelve turns, using my rules in development, Funsen, although without the usual card sequence activation. The sides were deliberately asymmetrical, with Phil's group having many more Samurai. The buildings are from John Jenkins Designs in Hong Kong, with the ephemera from our own Oshiro Miniatures. As ever the vegetation is from the Last Valley. The bridge is an aquarium pice I got at a local Garden Centre for a few pounds, although I have n't got around to painting it yet...