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.

Monday, 30 June 2014

So far, so good...

The year has staggered through to its half way point and summer really seems to be upon us here in GHQ. I usually post a mid season appreciation of what we've been up to in our small, select group here in GHQ (and over in Darkest Rawnsley at Phil's) and I see no good reason to deviate from the plan, even if no one else reads the rambling or bothers much about our doings. It serves to remind my old brain of the highs and lows of my hobby life and helps me to look forward to the second half of the year (DV) with enthusiasm. To mark the half year's end today, Phil and I have played an Ancient game trying out Neil Thomas' rules from his "Ancient Wargaming", so more of that later.
Now-a-days I find I need to keep some notes to remind me of what I've been doing and what I've painted and gamed. I do this on old filing cards which I keep on my painting desk. Looking over them now I can see where I've visited, what I've bought for my hobby, the games I've played (and how I did in each one) and what sort of painting and modelling I've been doing. Sad, probably, but it keeps a tab on at least a part of my life in retirement, and I know of at least one person who regularly follows it as he looks forward to his imminent retirement!
So, in the first half of 2014 I find I have played 28 games. Of these I Won 13, Drew 2, and Lost 13! Pretty much average really, so no surprises there at least. Games wise we played any number of genres, here in GHQ, over at Phil's and even an occasional visit to the Midlands Wargames Centre housed at Stafford Games. In terms of numbers, we've played mostly Bolt Action games, in 1940 Sealion settings and VBCW Blandings games as well as Burma 1943 and even Vietnam! A versatile rule set we found! Besides these games we've had quite a few Back of Beyond games which feature on my dedicated blog, Tales from Rhanzlistan {see side bar for link}. Maurice games have also proved popular, usually set in the AWI, but branching out recently into the SYW and the Wars of the French Revolution. Besides these we've played a whole range of games, many of which feature on earlier blog reports, so we'll not mention them except in passing.
Painting has been steady, if not spectacular so far. My most productive month was January, with 83 28mm figures added to several collections, my least productive turned out to be April with a mere 40 new chaps being finished. All in all I've finished 327 28mm figures in the six months. Not outstandingly productive, but very acceptable all things considered.
Most of my painting has been focused on two projects : the new one for 2014 being the Wars of the French Revolution and the second the Back of Beyond. For the former the bulk of the figures have been from Trent Miniatures and were mostly sculpted by my son Matt, although a number from Front Rank and Dixon have been used to fill the odd gap. For the Back of Beyond project there have been figures from Empress, Copplestone, Pulp Miniatures, Mutineer Miniatures and Brigade Games. In addition I've painted odd figures for the ongoing VBCW/1940 Sealion games set around P G Wodehouse's Blandings Castle and the developing The Great Detective Victorian Pulp setting, that seems to have been in development for ever! Mostly figures from Musketeer and Foundry here. For my Bolt Action Burma 1943 games I've also painted a few more Japanese infantry and a couple of tanks, all from Warlord Games. While we are on the subject of painting, I should perhaps mention my occasional lazy eye problem. Increasingly I have to monitor my eyes' performance, as too much sustained painting leads to focusing problems which take longer to clear than they used to. I can remember the time when a quick glance out of the window restored the focus, but now I just have to stop, go away and do other things, and return when I can focus on the task in hand, literally. My optician says my eyes are healthy, for my age, for which I am thankful ~ as a deaf person I'd dread loss of sight even more I think than I do of hearing. I have special prescription glasses for painting too which give me the right focal length when I'm sitting at my desk painting or preparing  figures. I'm glad I did go to Specsavers really!!!!
I've enjoyed visiting a few shows in the first half of the year: in January the Penkridge Table Top Sale to start the year; in February a visit to Vapnartak in York; in March it was Alumwell/ WMMS just a mile from our door; in April Salute of course; in May Carronade in Falkirk; and finally, Partizan in the Park in June. I enjoyed each and every event, bought heaps of toys, met many friends and saw some really wonderful games. My stand out favourite of all the games I saw was the VBCW game at Partizan, especially the wonderful cricket pitch scenes and figures! Well done to all who entertained me and all the other punters at all the shows, your efforts really are appreciated!
Now, as you'll know only too well, I'm no great modeller, but for a good while I have been working on a 2' x 2' board with an urban theme which will stretch through from the 1880's to the 1950's and beyond. After much deliberation I opted not for the MDF buildings on offer from numerous sources {See the Shed Wars blog for what can be done with these} but for the plastic modular buildings from Oshiro. James was kind enough to supply the combinations I wanted and, although we had a few difficulties, they were all overcome in the end and we are still speaking to each other! The board is pretty nearly done now, just some chinmeys to add and a few bits of groundwork and its done. We may yet see Holmes and Watson battling the Demon Dog of Detford this year in GHQ!
Speaking of GHQ we shall be on the move in the second half of 2014. Our garage is being converted by stages into the new GHQ. It will be a little different, but no less usable, although I shan't paint there, that will stay indoors in the smaller of the two guest rooms. GHQ as is will become our bedroom, with the office area being reimagined as a sitting room with bookcases and a TV with DVD player. This will all cost money and take time away from gaming activities, so I anticipate 2014's second half will be a little quieter...
Now to a few captioned scenes from today's Ancient Game to round the half year off nicely ~
Pompus Maximus

Huttus Baldinus

P Maximus draws up his army

H Baldinus draws up his army too

Legionaries & Militia in P Maximus' centre

The two armies move towards each other

First clash ~ PMaximus' Auxiliary Elites into action

On his Flank PMaximus commits his remaining Elite Auxiliary unit

For H Baldinus things are going badly in the centre

With his centre destroyed and the flanks soon to crumble H Baldinus quits the field

The game lasted a little over two hours either side of a leisurely lunch, all very civilized. Phil had made play sheets and unit markers so the game flowed smoothly with only two occasions where something cropped up which needed to be checked. We both liked the feel of the rules and the game they produced. Once committed units fight it out until one is destroyed, though variable dice scores needed for hits and saving mean you need more turns than you think to make inroads. Units which fail morale checks loose an extra base, so cohesion and fighting ability soon crumble, very realistic we thought. We shall be back for more later in the year I hope, as my Ancient collection does n't get the airing it needs.


  1. A nice little round up of the first half of the year, really wish I was disciplined enough to keep a record here at OHQ. Fine pics of the game,
    I am pleased you liked the rules, they will certainly do for me. I will look forward to having my revenge at a future date :-)

    1. Thanks, Phil. The rules seemed to both our tastes, so more to come I trust.

  2. I for one have enjoyed reading your exploits for the first half of the year. Look forward to future developments.

  3. Great update David, always interested to follow your progress, it puts my current none existent output to shame. How are the WW1 rules coming on?

    Best regards


    1. Thanks for that sentiment. I am sure we all progress according to our circumstances, so chin up, no shame in that! More from WWI fairly soon, Phil's output has matched mine, so games will be more varried now. We each have a fourth battalion to paint up too.