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 25 April 2014

The Great Detective ~ progress report

Despite some new glasses I've found that painting 28mm figures has caused some tiredness in the eyes of late, so I decided to switch to something altogether larger, namely my buildings and ephemera picked up at Salute from Oshiro Models for my Great Detective pulp style games. For those of you who've not come across this before on my Blog, its simply a pseudo-Victorian setting for Pulp games, using our tried and trusted rules, Astounding Tales. The figures are mostly from Foundry { old and newer Victorians} and Ironclad. The central 2' x 2' board which houses the urban core of the game marries up, in my mind anyhow, with the harbour and cemetery boards from the 1920's pulp Gangster games. I decided to see how the game might look in action, even though I've work still to do on several areas, so here are a few pictures to give a flavour of what it might look like ~
A general view from the harbour area

Isambard Kingdom Bykleigh explains his latest design...

Market Street ~ self evident really

Sales of an altogether different nature...

Market Blandings Cycle Club outing

Lord Rawnsley arrives to consult Holmes...

Josiah Robinson's Empire Works

Castle Street

I'd be interested in any feedback from visitors, so do feel free to leave a comment or two if you'd like. My next job will be to paint the roads and pavement areas to help it all blend in nicely. Each group of buildings will be mounted on some 2mm MDF then so that some groundwork bits and bobs can be added to taste. Pop back later in the summer to see the finished article.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

The Battle of Pender's Spring

Over the Bank Holiday break Jon and I got together here in GHQ for an American Civil War game. What follows is a photo montage of the unfolding action. We used my Bull Run to Gettysburg rules. The figures are all from my collection, mostly the excellent Dixon Miniatures of course, and the terrain dressing is from The Last Valley. The objective of the game is to control the central hill which 'dominates' the battlefield. The Rebs enter from the top right, the Blue Bellies from the left side as you look at the first picture.
The brave defenders of the Union march to glory

Rebel troops pour forward

Boys from New York rush to claim the High Ground

Both sides are trying to turn the enemy's flank

Struggle for the High Ground is developing

U S Bykleigh oversees dispositions of his forces

Fierce fighting has erupted along the line

Midpoint in the game shows the Union plan unfolding

Turning the Flank?

Pennsylvanians Forward!

The steady tread of the US Regulars reinforcing the centre

Vicious hand to hand fighting for control of the summit

Reb forces build on the Union left flank

Both sides vie for control in the centre

Union troops surge onto the High Ground

But their left is beginning to give ground

Trying to stem the tide, more Union troops advance

Though hard pressed, the Union troops drive the Rebs off the hill

It seems the Union left has stabilized

Almost looks like its all up for the Rebs now

But no, Union morale breaks under heavy fire

Troops flee to their rear and its all up for the Union's cause today!

Friday 18 April 2014

AWI with Maurice

Phil and I have been meaning to play another AWI game using Maurice for a while, but with one thing and another it kept being put back. Until today that is, when we managed to schedule a game here in GHQ. Maurice is a deceptively simple game that is fiendishly demanding of the occasional players like ourselves. Key areas have proved to be the use of 'Forces', the placement of the CinC base, and the use of the cards in directing the Actions. We started the game with a non-Maurice sequence, in which each player's Brigades entered in their respective deployment areas according to several successive Initiative Dice rolls. Phil, as the British-Loyalist force commander, Lord Rawnsley,  found himself rather hemmed in the one corner of the table where his camp was established {due to some rather poor decisions retrospectively!} The game would last until the one pack of Action Cards had all been used up {Nightfall}, unless one Army's Morale collapsed beforehand. Otherwise, whoever held the hill dominating the centre of the table would then be the winner.
The Rebellious American Army, under their usually incompetent commander, Major General 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh, boldly thrust one Brigade forward in the centre and occupied the dominant hill, repeatedly beating off attacks by the Light Dragoons and the damned Tarleton's Legion Light Horse.
Buoyed up by that Brigade's tenacious hold on the hill, old 'Independence or Death'  Bykleigh ordered a second Brigade to sweep around the hill's right flank and block a move by those Hessians in the pay of their rapacious masters!
Meanwhile, over on the American left, despite one Regiment being destroyed the flanking Brigade successfully blocked any attempt to turn the American left wing. When the lads from Pennsylvania had destroyed the South Staffords and held off the Foot Guards, the American force was free of interference to turn its full strength on the enemy!
Regiments from New Hampshire and New York swept the British Light Cavalry away with repeated volleys, followed up by a gallant charge into their disrupted enemy! Other gallant boys from Massachusetts and Maryland, supported by local Militia, destroyed the Hessians before they could fully deploy!
The end for the British-Loyalist army of Lord Rawnsley came when three destroyed units each scored the maximum of 3 Army Morale Point losses and the who army melted away, having exceeded its Army Morale Score as a result. Old 'Independence or Death' was loudly cheered to the rafters by his gallant lads!
Maurice, as I said, is deceptively simple at first sight, but really demanding as the game unfolds. Decisions which seemed so right at the time can readily prove your undoing in a subsequent moment. In the post-game discussion Phil conceded that he had found himself forced to use too many choices up in Rallying units which had been Disrupted by American fire, while himself having to frequently pass up on a Volley Phase for fear of the mounting Disruption that would result from superior American numbers in the centre and right sections of his front. I felt I had made mostly the right choices in both my initial deployment and then in the handling of my Brigades. Holding the hill was key to my success, supported by the rapid Flanking March on my right which prevented the Hessians from effectively deploying and bringing their firepower to bear.
A great game from a set of rules I like more each time we play them. For those who like to know these things, most of the figures in my collection are from Front Rank, with a few from Perry Miniatures here and there. The tents are from the old Architectural Heritage range; the trees and stone walls from The Last Valley; while the fences Phil and I scratchbuilt back in the day!

Monday 14 April 2014

SALUTE 2014...

...THE LOOT and other area of interest to me, if no one else.
For the first time in a number of visits we decided to drive down on the day, rather than find a hotel for the Friday night. The reason behind this relates almost exclusively to the appalling queue situation in earlier years. Putting it bluntly, if I buy a Q Buster badge in advance then I do not expect to queue to get into the event! We set off at 8.45 and arrived without incident at 11.15, a very good journey from our neck of the woods. As we parked the car a chap leaving kindly gave us his day ticket, £15 saved. £15! To park a car? That has to be one on London's more absurd prices! Up to the exhibition hall: no queue, so straight in! As a result of all these jolly things falling nicely into place, I was predisposed to view the show kindly...
Then I took a look around. Well, not really a look, more a peer into the gloom. What has happened to the lighting since last year? Dim hardly begins to describe it. Then there was the gauntlet to be run at trade stands to collect preorders. Where do all these folk come from? Three and four deep around the stands was not uncommon. And some very intimate pushing and shoving I felt on occasions! What happened to the second coffee outlet by the way? And were there fewer seats than last year? It certainly felt like it and it was very crowded all day out in the concourse. (By the by, you get better dressed folk to cake shows by the looks of it, and no doubt better laundered too!)
I do however enjoy meeting folk at Salute, one of the main reasons for still bothering to go. I got to spend the day with my son, Matt, who lives down south now, so that's always a big plus for attending! I enjoyed seeing what he's working on and being introduced the wonderfully friendly chaps Terry and Tony from Renedra. I chatted with Dan from WI, Duncan, Ally, Nick and James, Trevor, and Dave, exchanging news and doings and generally putting things to right, as we 'geriatrics in waiting' chaps like to do!
I enjoyed looking at some of the games, although they did not shine in the poor lighting. My favourite, again from last year, was the Victorian Mars game. Now, it may be an advertorial game for Oshira, but its still splendidly presented, marvellously modelled and entertainingly presented. All that a game should be in my humble opinion. I also liked the Trent Miniatures Irish Rebellion game, very good to look at I thought. I was sadly disappointed though by the VBCW game, not the spectacle of previous years but very enthusiastically presented none the less! But, well done to all the chaps putting on games, your efforts are genuinely appreciated I know.
 Have you noticed the resemblance between Medieval Markets and wargaming shows? They move around the country and calendar like their earlier predecessors. Instead of merchants and peddlers you get traders, large and small; you see the same faces in your part of the country from show to show; and perhaps (joke mode on) amongst the fringe elements of the unwashed you could say you even have the lepers and plague victims! (joke mode off)
Turning then,finally, to the 'Loot'. My purchases ~

From the top then it comprises:-
Oshiro Victorian buildings to complete the layout for our Great Detective game: yards, outhouses, a chimney, pavements and a new industrial building's ground floor.
Mininatur spring tufts from Mutineer Miniatures.
Two 00 brushes from Coritani. Great service from charming folk!
Great War Miniatures British artillery for our 1914 game, together with a machine gun & crew and some dismounted cavalry for the same game genre.
Warbases movement trays and 40 x 50 MDF bases, for the 1914 additions. Oh, and their free movment counter, my third or fourth. Always great service and products here!
The Salute free figure ~ I shall use it to guard the Empress in our Blandings 1940 games I hope.
The Khan of all the Bhurpas, kindly removed from a pack by the jolly jocks of Mutineer. Great products and service there! We'll miss you when you've gone...
The Empress Miniatures/ Hicks "Flashman's Grandson" figure.
Finally, from Colonel Bill's, five packs of 1914 British Infantry by Great War Miniatures.
Well, thats it for another year. Did I enjoy my day despite my gripes and reservations? Of course: so many folk to meet, so many great games to look over, so many things to buy. What more could a show of its magnitude realistically deliver? (I'd pass on the reenactors though if I'm honest!) Just a shame its in London with all the attendant hassle and expense...

Friday 4 April 2014

Some British Cavalry...

...and a slightly out of period command base have been added to my French Revolutionary Wars British force. Some Light Dragoons from Trent Miniatures ~

I've decided on units of six or eight for my cavalry arms in both the French and Allied forces. These were a bit of a challenge to my ageing eyes I'm afraid, so you must excuse the rather soft effect on the lacing, as the following closer shots should reveal ~

There are a command pack and a rank and file pack in the unit, the former comprising officer, trumpeter and guidon bearer.

For the 10th sources show the trumpeter in different head gear, but I reason on campaign things often go by the board! One thing I did n't like was in the troopers' pack one figure has a pistol, while two others have drawn swords in different poses ~

As far as I can see Trent only have one suitable mounted officer figure I can use with the British, albeit with three right arm variants, so I cast about for alternatives in other ranges. The main offerings were either from Front Rank's AWI range or from their British Napoleonic Peninsular War range. Both of course are 'out of period' for the 1790's, but in the end the AWI ones seemed a tad small to my taste so I took the plunge and ordered a few figure from their Early Napoleonic range ~

Purists and lace merchants will no doubt have a fit about my choice, but frankly I don't give a fig! I've reserved the Trent figure for the Allied Army command base, along with an Austrian and a Russian mounted officer. Other angles follow ~



I'm still waiting for the missing British infantry to arrive. Not the best advert for doing business with Trent, but I've other stuff to get on with in the mean time, so its hardly a serious matter, though it is annoying I have to say.