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 27 October 2014

This month I have mostly been painting...

...well, all sorts of things it turns out. Firstly, some more figures for my Wars of the French Revolution project, mostly from Trent Miniatures again, though see if you can spot the lone Foundry figure in the pictures ~

I've added two more French Infantry battalions, which brings my total up to six now, with two more still to paint. The first picture shows the sixth battalion in my collection and includes an early test figure I think, the drummer, which did n't make it into production. I had to convert the standard bearer from a flank company officer as I was one short!
The second picture is the third Horse Artillery gun and crew to bring my battery up to three guns. I really like these figures as they are so paint friendly when you get to them.
The third picture shows the fifth French Battalion I finished at the start of the month, all with red epaulettes for 'Revolutionary Show'! I find deciding on and painting the trouser colours a little difficult at times, especially the stripped effects, but I'm quietly pleased by the end look of it all.

Just in case you missed him, the fourth picture shows the Foundry mounted General from a small range of only just released FRW figures. I don't know the sculptor I'm afraid, but it fits in really well with my collection I think in terms of scale if not quality and gives a little variety to the look of the game.
I've added some more figures to the 1938-1940 collection for Blandings/Zeelowe/VBCW games. From Musketeer Miniatures via Gripping Beast, some more Militia and two sets of Brigands {I have a Stay-Behind squad scenario in development to make use of them ~

Finally, some Indus Miniatures, a firm I'd not encountered before, when I saw them on the Magister Militum stand at Derby Worlds: some rocket men for the Rajah of Rhanli's forces in the Indian Mutiny games ~

Sorry some of the pictures look a bit washed out, but I'm a novice on the iPad camera as yet. For more updates pop over to the Tales from Rhanzlistan blog {see sidebar} to see what else I've been working on.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Disaster at Penk Bridge

I've dabbled my foot in the VBCW genre once or twice over the past year or so as an alternative to 'What If?' 1940 games or our ongoing Blandings games of Pig Who-oo-oo-oey! Now, earlier in the year I decided it would be fun to bring the fully fledged VBCW to GHQ in a more local setting. Leicester Gamer, over on the VBCW Forum made me some super flags for my local units which today had their first outing on the table top battlefield ~
Peaceful South Staffs. A view looking towards Wolverhampton
Pendeford Farm in the foreground, the River Penk on the left.

The game was played out using Bolt Action rules over ten turns. We like the rules very much for their deceptive simplicity, ease of play and the unpredictable nature of the game turn using the Action Dice. Jon commanded the forces loyal to the Moseley Government and I commanded the forces of the Opposition. The Government's force must enter from the road on the table left while the local opposition force are deployed beyond the line of the north-south road, Pendeford Mill Lane. There were no more than 40 figures and a tank with assorted vehicles, MMGs and a mortar on either side and the game lasted the full ten turns, being only decided right at the death, but that's getting ahead of myself ~
5th Battalion the South Staffordshire Regiment en route to the Front

The Boulton-Paul Workers Cooperative leaves the pub for the Front

Local Anglican League militia leave a prayer meeting for action

A few atmospheric shots first to warm you up for the action, with the final picture showing the defensive positions and the developing attack. The Government's forces will score a Tactical Victory if they hold the bridge and have fewer losses than their opponents at the end of turn 10, but a Strategic Victory if they enter the outskirts of Wolverhampton. Now, the action unfolds before us ~
BUF fanatics lead the assault on Penk Bridge.
They are supported by the Express & Star Rifles and Tettenhall's Swindley's Own.

Elements of the Bilston BUF's  'Steel Division'

The Three Tuns Invincibles under mortar attack at the strategic crossroads.

The attack develops steadily and the local militia units find themselves under heavy attack as Swindley's Own, supported by the BUF squad cross the bridge under heavy fire ~
Under heavy fire Government loyalists rush the bridge.

While the 'gentlemen' of Tettenhall are distracted by the chance of a pork dinner!

A squad from the KoSLI steel themselves for the assault.

Soon the crossroads is in the Government's hands as the bridge over the River Penk is secured and the defending militia units destroyed after a hard fight ~
BUF troops try to outflank the defenders.

A volunteer ambulance rushes mounting casualties away to safety.

The South Stafford's Smith gun knocks out the enemy tank!

The odds were mounting on a successful assault by Government forces as we reached the final turn of the game despite the South Staffords still grimly holding the outskirts of Wolverhampton! The Smith gun is knocked out and its crew killed while a total of nine pin markers are loaded on the South Staffords, who fail their morale check and finally flee their position leaving the Government to claim a significant victory and a foothold on the outskirts of Wolverhampton ~

A close fought game where, despite being outnumbered and out classed, the Opposition forces gave the Government's men a stern test. Despite the defeat they are not down hearted as they regroup for the next phase of the campaign. Wolverhampton shall rise again ~ 'Out of Darkness Cometh Light'!

Wednesday 15 October 2014

I must be mad!

At least that's what I keep telling myself since last Friday. Those who know me well would wonder why its only recently that I have publicly doubted my sanity, but I can explain. Firstly, I'm no barmier than any other wargamer I've met, and a good deal saner than many I have to say. Secondly, well on Friday last week I was wandering through what's left of Wolverhampton's Indoor Market, which used to have a good number of stalls selling collectibles, cars and the like. I've got a good few Pulp, WWII and Back of Beyond things from there over the years. Sadly, the market has 'died on its feet' and there are not many collectible stalls there any more. But, browsing as I went, I saw this for a snip I thought at £2.50 ~

Its some sort of novelty disc carrier case I think, but it just cries out to be modified into something to grace our Pulp and Back of Beyond games: His Majesty's Airship Formidable I think. The figure in the foreground is a Musketeer Miniatures 28mm Militia figure from the Interwar range for scale. Another view of the beast ~

The upper structure will make a good gun deck I think. I have some Pulp Figures Royal Navy chaps to make up a crew and I know that they do deck guns and ship fittings which will add to the look of the beast. Anyway, I thought it would make a good winter project for when my eyes are n't up to painting! Keep an eye out for updates over the coming months!

Friday 10 October 2014

A Postscript to Normandy 1944

Jon popped over for a game this week and as the table was still set out following my Rapid Fire! game with Phil we decided to replay the scenario. As Jon had not seen my earlier Blog entry describing the game he was able to take command of the Air Landed Brigade and I took command of the Germans. As the German armour is split into two elements, of which only the Stug III's are on table at the start, I determined on a two pronged assault against the two most forward objectives {See previous Blog Post} I reasoned that the arrival of the Panzer IV's with their accompanying infantry reinforcements would allow me to develop either attack to exploit any early advantage. What do they say about plans surviving contact with the enemy ...

My attack on the most isolated objective soon ground to a halt: one Stug III destroyed and the other failing its morale certainly did n't help me, while the infantry met stiffer resistance than they were expecting.

Meanwhile, over on the German left flank my attack was slowly building momentum. Exchanging fire with the farm's defenders soon reduced their number considerably. I might even have gained the objective had my artillery barrage been more accurate!

In fact my inability to hit much with artillery was to prove my undoing in the end. Losses were mounting and despite the arrival of the Panzers it was looking suddenly bleak. Even with the farm finally freed of Paras I could not advance to occupy it, failing a morale check and having 'No Offensive Action', while over on the other flank the isolated ruined farm was reoccupied by elements of the Air Landing Brigade while my remaining Stug III was abandoned by its crew and the supporting surviving infantry were routed!

Game over in Turn 7! We both thoroughly enjoyed the scenario and felt that if German fire/ dice throws had been more accurate/successful then the game may have gone the other way as the Paras were reduced from two objectives but the Germans could not exploit the situation and gain control of them. Both games had been great fun, fast and furious and, for me, further indication of Rapid Fire!'s position as THE premier rules for gaming WWII in 20mm. Next week I'm off to Phil's for another 20mm WWII game, this time on the Eastern Front: posting me there perhaps hardly surprising really after two demoralising defeats this week!

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Normandy, mid June 1944

Having recovered from our excursion to Derby Worlds on Sunday, Phil and I managed to find a slot for a game! We had already decided to revisit an old favourite in Rapid Fire! so I laid out the terrain and forces for a game set East of the Orne Bridgehead in mid June. Phil had opted to play the Germans trying to force a break through in the British lines in a sector defended by part of a British Air Landed Brigade which I would command. {I chose to base my force as the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles, as an uncle had served with them there from the evening of D Day until severely wounded in the fighting for Caen.}The table layout is in the first picture, with the German forces entering from the lower table edge. The British have to defend all three objectives, represented by the buildings, lying to the East of the main town where the Brigade has its HQ ~

There can be no draw in the scenario of this game lasting 10 turns. Whoever holds the majority of the three objectives at the end of turn 10 wins. The British must defend all three objectives at the start of the game, but are then free to abandon any one to respond to the German attacks if they wish. I defended the most isolated objective lightly, reasoning that my outnumbered force must concentrate its' resources to stand any chance, especially as I lacked any armour support ~

The most forward of the objectives I defended more heavily, but my main force was concentrated in the third and largest objective, a small hamlet just east of the town housing Brigade HQ ~

The German force enjoys local superiority in both men and in armour support. Although not all his armour is immediately available, having been disrupted by Allied air strikes, the Stug III's, with infantry support, were soon attacking the most forward objective. The British 6lb anti tank gun enjoyed an early success, knocking out one Stug, while the artillery support, guided in by the efficient FOO, struck the infantry gun just as it deployed to fire on the defenders ~

The Germans countered with fire from their own battery of 105mm howitzers and soon the British position was getting a might uncomfortable ~

Meanwhile, over on the British left flank, a cautious German assault was unfolding against the most lightly defended position ~

The HQ vehicle, in advance of the Company's support and transport elements, was engaged by the defenders' 20mm Oerlikon gun and knocked out, although the crew were unharmed ~

While supporting infantry has debussed and were moving forward briskly to outflank the British position ~

Up until then, British casualties had been light, while German attacks had suffered serious attrition and even been halted on the British left flank. That all changed in one decisive turn. Firstly,directing artillery and heavy mortar fire on the forward British position, the Germans destroyed the defenders. In the subsequent Morale Check the British found themselves pinned. On the German right the defenders of the most isolated British position also found themselves under heavy attack and the building was also devoid of men at the turns' end. In the following turn the Germans moved forward on a wide front, as the British being pinned were unable to rush reinforcements into the vacant objectives ~

In the following turn the British, having had a more successful Morale Check were able to move men toward the threatened objective on their right flank ~

Sadly though for the British cause, the next turn produced further losses and a further Morale Check. The resultant score of -3 settled the game: the British must surrender or rout ~

The German armour reinforcements, having only just arrived in the action, did not even need to fire a shot in anger ~

As the objectives were being quietly occupied by their infantry and the surviving but very battle damaged Stug ~

The game ended in Turn 7 out of the planned 10, largely due to the one turn of spectacular German fire power! The vehicles, figures, terrain and buildings are all from my collection here in GHQ. The figures are 20mm SHQ, FAA, Foundry and AB Miniatures; while the vehicles are a mixture of Skytrex, Raventhorpe, and SHQ. The buildings are all prepaints from Colin's old Sentry range once sold by Rapid Fire! themselves. Trees, fields and the like are from The Last Valley of course.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Derby Worlds

Yesterday Phil and I went to Derby Worlds, held at Castle Donnington Exhibition Centre. Unless I go to Wargamer in December this will be my last show before Partizan next May, which will be on my 65th birthday I see! So, I had preordered some more Trent Miniatures from Duncan at the September's Partizan to add to my 'Lead Pimple' {see earlier entry}. I had also scraped together enough cash to ensure I could do a little impulse shopping if the mood took me, as I expect it surely would any of us presented with the myriad of traders present at the show I was also looking forward to meeting old friends for a chat and hearing about their latest projects and tabletop exploits. I see that the new venue has provoked some strong reactions on the web, but I do like it I have to say: nearer home for a start; loads of convenient and free parking; heaps of traders and some fine games, all under one roof. Granted the light needs getting used to and does render my pictures a little greenish, as you'll see later in the post, and the floor was hard on the old knee after a few hours, but I still think its a better experience than the many roomed University venue. You are, of course, free to disagree with me on this though! There were quite a few nice games on display and I've taken the liberty of compiling a photo montage for any of you who did n't get to the show.
Like a Stonewall's 'Bulldogs and Daschunds' 1914 Mons Salient game ~

Another World War 1 game, the Battle of the Marne, from my old chums at Derby Wargames Society ~

A super 28mm Vietnam War game from a group of friendly chaps down from Border Reivers Wargames Society ~

The Saga Cross and the Crescent participation game featured some smashing buildings from Adrian's Walls. I liked the mosque so much I have ordered one for collection at Partizan next year to add to Byklabad and the Rhanzlistan games ~

A really splendid French and Indian Wars 28mm game by the Old DWA ~

There were many other games on show, but these were the ones that took my fancy the most. No doubt others will have different favourites based on their own preferences. A word here too about the programme: a glossy A5 effort with plan and clear lists and descriptions of the games and traders, so well done chaps! Other show organisers take note, the days of a folded A4 sheet really do belong to the 1980's you know. Finally, what did I buy? Well, here is the stash~

Please note the plastic figures and bases from Warlord Games which were not a purchase, but a freebie in the show entry bag! I bought: Trent Miniatures French and Austrian cavalry for the Wars of the French Revolution project; some Foundry 'unlisted range' early French officers and generals, plus some Austrian cavalry characters for the same project; Indus Miniatures native Rocket Troops for the Mutiny games; some MDF oval bases from Warbases, who else? An Osprey on Foreign Troops in British Service during the Wars of the French Revolution for a bargain £3. And from Lead Adventure Miniatures, a new figure for the 'Empress of Blandings' ~

This wins my vote for quite the most outrageously expensive figure I have ever bought! But I liked the character of the pigs! Sad, or what...