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.

Saturday 31 May 2014

An Englishman's Home...

...may no longer be his castle! The sad outcome of the siege of Blandings Castle in May 1938 being the , hopefully temporary, homelessness of Clarence, Earl Emsworth as the result of Government cunning and inept firing. {In reality an account of a game played here in GHQ between Phil and John Aston and umpired by yours truly.} The action was faithfully recorded by a gallant crew from the BBC ~

Phil, as the defender of the castle, could occupy any position within the perimeter, though he lacked a sufficient force to cover every aspect, while John, as the Government forces attacked from his baseline opposite the castle. The table layout in Turn 1 ~

Using Bolt Action rules the run of the dice can be very important in determining the way the game develops. Phil immediately advanced his secret weapon, 'The Empress of Blandings, Mk II', known to all as 'The Iron Pig'!

She gets a sight of the enemy's MkVI tank and opens fire. A direct hit! The enemy tank is destroyed ~

Undeterred by this setback, the Government forces are advancing on all fronts! In the centre two sections advance, supported by MMG and mortar fire. The latter was to prove very accurate and destructive ~

On the left, elements of the KOSLI used the cover of a copse of trees to work around the defenders' right flank ~

While on the right a Bicycle Mounted Infantry element was advancing on an undefended section of the perimeter.

The Iron Pig crosses the enemy's front to disrupt the attack, but falls victim to an ambush from the Government 2lb anti tank gun. She is immobilised and takes Pin Markers ~

The defenders are spread very thinly, but are behaving as any Englishman would, holding their ground with fierce determination. The Empress' Company, all veterans of the Great War hold the left and suffer severely under mortar fire ~

While the Volunteer Castle Company hold the centre doggedly, despite galling fire from the Government's MMG ~

The defender's right flank is held by a group of Guests at the castle. More used to hunting, shooting and fishing than the battlefield they break under fire ~

And the KOSLI rush towards the unguarded perimeter ~

Reaching it without drawing fire from the dwindling number of defenders ~

Just as on the opposite flank the remnants of the Empress' Company find their defences breached also ~

'Tubby' Bykleigh surveys the situation from the vantage point of the castle roof ~

Its all up for the Gallant Defence of Blandings as Government forces seal an emphatic victory ~

The game lasted for eight turns in all before the Defenders' situation became hopeless with their perimeter breached in two places. Forces loyal to Lord Emsworth reluctantly took the decision to retire towards Market Blandings and live to fight another day! Their losses were grave, but they were not bowed, Englishmen One and All!

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Burma '43 Additions

I've been having a rest from painting Wars of the French Revolution figures over the Bank Holiday weekend by working on a few additions to my Japanese WWII forces for our Bolt Action Burma 1943 games. At Carronade earlier in the month I bought a couple of items from Warlord's Trade Stand : a Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank and a Forward Observation Officer group. In my bits box I found an additional LMG set, so I decided to paint those as well.
Now, before you look further on please read this Disclaimer: 28mm WWII games using Bolt Action are always fun. But, for me at any rate, it is a minor involvement. I enjoy the games but neither want to spend a lot of money on the project, nor invest hours of valuable painting time on the figures and vehicles. So, with my Japanese and British forces for Burma what you see is what you get, a pretty basic job. Now you can proceed!
Firstly, two eye level shots of the LMG group, showing, I hope, the look I'm aiming for for my deployed weapons groups ~

Next, the Forward Observation Officer and his group ~

Finally, two shots of the tank. I should say that I dislike painting vehicles almost as much, if not more, than horses! So don't be too critical about all the bits I've skirted over please. The Type 97 Chi-Ha ~

I had a couple of issues with the tank. Firstly: the box clearly states that there is a tank commander included. There was none in my box! I emailed Warlord on May 12 and got an immediate automated response. Since then, nothing! So, my tank has no commander! Secondly: the turret plug to fit into the recess hole in the hull was far too long and misshapen to fit. I had to saw about 7mm off it with a jeweller's saw. It took a while! I mentioned that in my email too. So, two weeks and no response: pretty poor customer service in my opinion! Now, back to the 12th Regiment of Foot.

Saturday 24 May 2014

The 33rd Regiment embarks

The latest additions to my French Revolutionary Wars project to reach completion are the 33rd Regiment. They are all from Trent Miniatures once more. I am using their Irish Militia range to represent the British forces: now I'm sure that will upset the odd purist, and I use the word odd in all its meanings here, but they will do just fine for me. Here is the full Regiment drawn up in line ~
The 33rd Regiment of Foot

Now, as you know only too well, I'm no great painter, but never the less I have always wanted to show the figures in close up as well, even though we don't see them on the table this way, and hopefully to encourage others as limited as myself to persevere. The command stand for the regiment is next ~
The colonel and the colours

Next, the Light Company. I don't much care for the later figures in this range, as I find them rather poorly posed and a little dated in style compared to the earlier sculpts by Matt, so I used the centre company figures and painted on a representation of the wings. Not perfect, but as Phil might say, 'It'll do!' ~
The Light Company

And finally the Grenadiers, again with wings added via the paintbrush, excepting the officer of course ~
Grenadier and Centre companies

The final regiment to paint for the British element of the Allied Army is the 12th Regiment. I have the majority of the figures ready to paint, but need to pick up the command figures from Duncan at Partizan next weekend. Perhaps if you see me wandering around the Big Top you might say 'Hello!'

Sunday 18 May 2014

"Pour Encourager Les Autres!"

Or in this case, Moi! I have run into one of those periodic moods that I'm sure affects more than just me, I want to paint, but I can't be bothered mostly. This mood problem, combined with the old focus problem in my left eye, has meant that painting has trailed away quite significantly: only 25 figures so far this month. Poor show! So, in an attempt to give my get up and go some go, I laid out all the figures I've completed this year so far for the French Revolutionary Wars project. First up though, the latest addition, in the shape of a Regiment of British Heavy Dragoons ~
British Dragoons

Now, two shots of the assembled armies to give a feel for what the collection will look like by the end of the year, I hope ~
The French...

...rather outnumber the British at present.

I've actually completed three fifths of the next British Regiment, the 33rd Foot, and have all the figures bar two ensigns and a drummer for the fourth regiment, the 12th Foot. I hope to collect the missing figures, together with a few odd cavalry figures for both armies from Trent Miniatures at Partizan on 1st June {Partizan in the Park, apparently ~ an attempt to talk up a show in a tent if you ask me!} I have the same number of French infantry to paint in the second half of the year, but plan to add Austrians to the Allied cause rather than more British troops at the September Partizan {hopefully not in a cardboard box?}
Because I am struggling to sit and paint for any length of time ~ I could be painting now after all rather than blogging ~ I have made a bold plan. I shall finish the British and the odd figures mentioned above by the end of June. That will leave me July and August to paint anything I fancy from the 'Ready to Go' pile, aka the Lead Pimple. I have a Great War Miniatures 18lb gun, ammunition limber and crew and a fourth Infantry battalion by the same manufacturer; two Dixon Miniatures ACW regiments for an Orphan Brigade; a Foundry unit of early Saxons for C5th; a mule born Radio set team for Rhanzlistan, with mules by Tiger Miniatures and figures from Copplestone  (but no radio equipment sourced yet); two mounted Mexican bandits, from Dixon again, for New Paddock City. In addition to these, I have some paint on the Japanese FOO team and the Chi-Ha medium tank which I bought from Warlord at Carronade earlier this month, while I also have some work to do on the terrain items for The Great Detective games. I suppose I really ought to be painting now...

Sunday 11 May 2014

Carronade 2014

Sue and I have been up to Scotland for a few days, giving us the opportunity to meet some good friends and me the opportunity to take in, albeit too briefly, the Carronade show at Falkirk. We had missed the last two years due to issues with health ~ my new knee and Sue being ill ruling out those planned visits. Happily we made it 'over the border' this year without any problems. From our base in The Hawes Inn at South Queensferry we managed to visit a number of places, including St Andrews ~ probably THE worst place in Britain to try to park your car ~ for the Bishop's castle and the cathedral ruins {including the mine and counter mine from a C16th siege which you can venture down}, Aberdour Castle, Cupar, Stirling, Culross and of course Carronade. I've taken a few pictures at the show, mainly to showcase my chum Kevin's ACW game, but with one or two others which took my fancy. But, a disclaimer first: with spending my limited time chatting with Kevin, Peter and Colin, combined with a tad of shopping, what I saw and snapped makes up but a brief slice of a much larger offering.

Anticipating the butcher's bill?

Rebs enter Westfield

The 3.10 from Richmond?

Westfield Station

Union troops move forward!

Artillery moves forward

Some other games which took my fancy on the day included Samurai game, a D Day game {complete with working lighthouse!}, and a large scale Napoleonic game :-
Samurai action from The Old Contemptibles

Bolt Action D Day from SESWC

Working lighthouse!

Durham's larger scale Napoleonic game

I mentioned a tad of shopping: some bespoke MDF bases from Warbases {for the buildings in The Great Detective game} thanks to martin and Diane and from Warlord an Imperial Japanese Army FOO set and a Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank.
Carronade is a busy and friendly show, well worth making the effort to visit if you get the chance. The bonus from my point of view is that I get to see games and meet fellow gamers who otherwise I might not encounter at more southerly shows shall I say. I always enjoy seeing the madcap participation games by the [now titled] Leuchars Veteran Wargamers; this year a Splendid Dambusters game complete with bomber cockpit to crouch in and rubber flying helmets to wear for the participants! It looked wonderful fun from the brief moments I saw!! Lots of other games, a Flea Market and traders by the lorry load. Do visit the show if you have the chance!

Tuesday 6 May 2014

The Battle of Atzoff

Phil and I have recently played out a second game of Maurice, this time using my SYW armies. The game, which we named the Battle of Atzoff, sees the French assaulting the British position in and around the town of Atzoff. The town itself features several of the versatile Conflix buildings and the well, also by Conflix, marked the objective for the game. All my figures are from the Foundry SYW range, sculpted by Rob Baker I believe. They seem to divide opinion amongst wargamers I know, but for me they have that very C18th look. The opening picture shows the battlefield as the forces deployed. Phil, as the Attacker, got 8 Action Cards to start with while I, as the Defender, got 5. The story of the game unfolds in the following pictures, each one captioned to draw your attention to the salient feature in the game at that moment. To Atzoff then!
In the early morning mists the armies deploy

The French centre right begins to grind forward to attack the enemy

The French, led by the Garde Swisse, sweep forward

While to their right the French cavalry move to attack the British left wing

A desperate fight ensues, but the British falter

They are fatally disrupted and flee

The weight of the attack is still on the British left, allowing the right
to move forward

On the French left fire breaks a British regiment!

The Garde Swisse carry the town of Atzoff!

The Wilde Geese are on the wing!

Another firefight favours the French cause!

The French army's morale collapses and they flee!

Exhausted troops cheer their general!

While Phil's French were very successful on his right, he rather neglected his left wing where, in two rounds of decisive volley fire I was able to fatally disrupt three infantry regiments. To be fair to Phil, his dice throws for Army Morale points lost as a result could n't have been worse, while over on my left mine could not have been better. Hence, the French army suddenly exceeded its Army Morale and broke as a result, leaving the hard pressed British army victorious.
A super game we both agreed lasting about three hours in all, with a break for lunch kindly provided by my wife Sue. We think in our next outing with Maurice we may try the Advanced Rules, or some aspects of them at least. In the meantime we have a Bolt Action WWI game to look forward to next week after my trip up to Scotland to take in Carronade at Falkirk on Saturday.