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.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Time Like An Ever Rolling Stream...

Well, we all know how that goes I think. So here we are at the fag end of another year here in GHQ, though more properly I've only been in the 'new GHQ' for seven months, but I won;t quibble over details if you won't. The Blog itself is a little over four years old now and seems to be a tad more popular as regards visitors than in days gone by. Which fact leads me on to my first point neatly. Why would anyone really be interested in what we get up to here in GHQ? Or what I'm buying, painting, reading and so on? Must admit it beats me really, but while folk continue to drop by, and some even to contribute the odd comment, I'll carry on for now. But, just as real life can often deal you a knock to your self esteem, so can blogging I've found. Just a week ago I noticed I had gained 199' Followers' to the cause and began to wonder if I'd make 200 for the year's end. Fast forward 24 hours and I'd lost three 'Followers'. I wonder what I did to upset them? Well, I guess I'll never know now...
The first half of the year was dominated for me by two things really: a wonderful holiday with Sue to Hong Kong and New Zealand in February and March, despite my missing Dubai on the homeward leg with a bad case of Gastro enteritis which kept me in Christchurch for an extra week; and in April by the birth of Reuben, our third grandson. Both reduced the time spent on the hobby of course, but I noted earlier that I still managed to play games and paint figures, although I acquired less for the lead pimple than I would in another year. The latter months of the year have been rather more typical of day to day life here in GHQ. I have acquired, and in some cases painted, more figures for my ongoing projects. Mostly these were 28mm Trent Miniatures for my Wars of the French Revolution project, supported by some from Front Rank and from Foundry, and for my Late Roman armies more Foundry figures. In fact, the Lead Pimple is now at its smallest for a considerable time: one unit of Saxon Mailed warriors for the Late Romans; one Austrian and one British infantry unit for the Revolution; two ACW infantry units and one cavalry unit; some command vignettes for the Revolution; and finally some Omnibus passengers for the Victorian setting of The Great Detective. Also, for the first time in living memory I don't have any concrete plans for a new venture for the new year...
So, to 2015's output. Somehow I've lost my painting figures for January to June, but in the latter half of the year I painted exactly 350 figures and I guess the first half would have been less given the above events. All of these would be 28mm figures, mostly for the Revolution and Late Romans, but I did paint a fourth 1914 British Infantry regiment as well. In terms of games I managed to play 52, one a week! Of those I won 21, drew 11 and lost 20 and thus maintained my average persona! But really, who cares? Much more important to me were the times spent with my family and friends, sharing their lives and company and with the latter our wonderful hobby.
I managed to attend a few shows in the year too after a slow start: both Partizans{not sad to see the move to a modern venue though}; Carronade in Falkirk and Claymore in Edinburgh {both of which I recommend to you}; Derby Worlds; and lastly, Wargamer. We decide to give Salute a miss and I fully expect that to be the case in 2016! A vastly over rated show in my opinion; soulless and full of sci-fi and fantasy tatt! {Sorry if that upsets any Gnome fiddlers amongst you!}
Where to in the New Year then? No new projects on the blocks, no adventurous holidays on the horizon, no new terrain items in the pipeline. More of the same then: plod on with painting what's left in the 'Pimple', trusting that my eye and hand will cooperate of course; spend time with my chums; and play some decent games, perhaps even win a few here and there again. I find that I'm not depressed by this though: as my late father used to say when I asked him how he was, "I woke up this morning!" A sentiment I find I understand more as each year goes by...
Finally a few random thoughts for your entertainment. Painting first: forget the malign painting fascists if you're not one. Your block painted, pink blobbed and dipped chaps will still knock the stuffing out of collectors' standard armies if the dice gods will it. We do this for our own pleasure and the game's the thing for me! The 'look of the game' next: nicely worked bases, large colourful flags where appropriate and fine scenery will more than make the game. The figures on the table are little more than coloured markers when you survey your battlefield. Then: 'playing the game' not the rules, who cares about the result? These are toys in a game with friends. Much more important than winning or loosing, the time spent with like minded friends is never wasted. Lastly, tolerance of others in the hobby would be a good new year resolution for many out there if they don't mind me saying so. So, in the end not withstanding that final comment ~
A Happy New Year to You ALL

Thursday 17 December 2015

Walton Whyte and the Golden God of Bhurpistan

It's been a very long time since we tried a Pulp Adventure here in GHQ. Why? I've no real idea, probably just too much else to play! Having set up the table over last weekend for a 'Tales from Rhanzlistan' game with Phil, it occurred to me I could modify it easily for an Astounding Tales adventure game. Jon was game to humour me and give it a try, so without more ado I present the adventure of "Walton Whyte and the Golden God of Bhurpistan"! An Astounding Tales adventure in several gripping episodes: from the steamy jungles of the Congo, via the African Savannah plains, to the fabled Lost Valley;over the dizzing Great Gorge of Ghenda, and beyond into the forbidden realm of Bhurpistan, as our hero Walton Whyte, explorer, big game hunter, entrepreneur, ranconteur, gentleman, and, above all, an Englishman, searches for the fabled Golden God of Bhurpistan...
Whyte's party consists of his 'man', Thomas; his faithful native retainer, Bhutlah; his gunman, Mandingo; his gun bearer, 'The Boy'; and six bearers accompanying four mules. Points are awarded for each trophy or treasure secured, and deducted for each man or animal lost. Each episode is self contained and involves an increasingly risky set of encounters on the way to the climax in the Lost City ruled over by the mercilous Sheik of Aghoni and his close advisor,the Mad Guru. The first encounter involves a search for a clue to the direction the expedition must take next on its journey. The thick jungles of the Congo house a mysterious ruined temple, closely garded by the pygmey chief and his diminuative warriors, but other deadly traps await our explorers...

As the expedition approaches the precincts of the ruined temple they are rushed by two bands of pygmy warriors armed with poison tipped arrows and spears. Whyte and Thomas boldly take on one group while his native bearers must hold off the other party...

Although the pygmies manage to wound Mandingo, the remainder of the natives in Whyte's party make short work of the warriors, as do Whyte and Thomas with their pygmy adversaries. The way to the temple precinct looks open...

In the world of Pulp Adventures things are seldom straightforward, as we all know. The temple ruins are home to the giant spider Taran Tulha, Guardian of the Gateway to the Golden God. The spider is both cunning and speedy, Whyte suffers a bite from its massive jaws! The enterprising gentleman's gentleman, Thomas, sees an opportunity and cuts down a nearby tree with one mighty blow, crushing the spider beneath its weight! Buoyed by success, Whyte learns for an old hermit living in the temple that he must next journey across the plains of the African Savannah to seek from Chief Phul Tummhi of the nomadic Paddokhi the way into the Lost Valley.

Making short work of the chief's Maiden Guard and the tribal executioner, Ghut Splitah, Whyte's party, still without a casualty and carrying several hunting trophies, enter the Lost Valley; the valley that time forgot; the kingdom of Lew'hi the giant ape. Soon Whyte and his brave associates are drawn into a life of death struggle with the ape, with tribes of primitive hominids, and with fierce prehistoric creatures...

All controlled by the Queen of the Valley, Tizowta, and her seer Oolowk. Things are looking very grave for Whyte's brave adventurers and their loyal natives, especially for the faithful Thomas who, becoming separated from the main party finds himself in a really tight spot...

We will draw a veil over Thomas' escape, for now, and merely record his return to the party in time to see Whyte clain the valley for the Queen Empress...

As dinosaurs long thought extinct in the modern world soar around them, the party crosses the Gorge of the Ghenda over an ancient rope bridge and enters the fabled Lost Kingdom of Bhurpistan...

Thomas redeems himself with a deadly burst of fire as Kha the Slippery threatens the party on the bridge, then helps Whyte make short work of some local Bhurpa tribesmen...

Sensing his moment of ultimate triumph, Whyte pauses to claim the Lost Kingdom for the crown, although his faithful hound seems really quite unimpressed by it all...

Swords, spears and suicidal bravery prove no match for Whyte in his moment of victory. The Guardians of the Golden God are cut down by withering fire leaving the way to the fabled statue open...

Of course, returning safely to the motherland might prove another matter, but that will have to wait for another day. For now we can draw the curtain on our adventure and leave Whyte to savour his triumph...

Well, that's it for 2015 as far as games in GHQ are concerned. I have a WWI game scheduled over at Phil's on Monday, but then a welcomed break over the Christmas and New Year season with family and friends. We reconvene in the first week of January 2016 {DV} with two games here in GHQ. Ihope some of you will come along to see how we go and perhaps to view my by now traditional end of year ramble... In the meantime

A Happy Christmas and a Joyous New Year to you ALL

Thursday 10 December 2015

The Battle of Bilbrook Bridge

Earlier this week Jon and I played out one of our occasional Very British Civil War {VBCW} games here in GHQ. For any casual reader not in the loop, these are games set against the imaginary refusal of Edward VIII  to abdicate, the ensuing constitutional crisis, and the resultant civil war. Think SCW for Gentlemen, or cricket with guns, and you get the idea of the genre. Following on from their last defeat which saw the forces of reaction {the Government} capture the outskirts of Wolverhampton, the Peoples' forces have regrouped in the nearby village of Bilbrook. The action of the game takes place across the River Penk and is for the control of the bridge, the only crossing point in the locale. We used Bolt Action rules and set the game at 12 Turns. Jon took the Peoples' forces and I commanded the Government force.
Elements of the Shropshire Light Infantry move out along the road to Bilbrook, supported by Militia: Swindley's Own from Tettenhall and the Express and Star Rifles, lead by the Editor in chief ~

Supported by a German 'Lend Lease' Panzer 35T which has been 'acquired' from its rightful owners in the BUF,the Peoples' Forces move swiftly to seize the Bridge: the Three Tuns Invincibles move towards the pill box and entrenchments guarding the bridge approaches, while the Boulton Paul Workers Cooperative forces move directly through the village ~

Whoever controls the bridge at the end of the game will be the winner, so Jon's forces made directly for the bridge's two flanks ~

In the meantime, as my Regular Army elements moved directly on the bridge, the local volunteer units moved to the right to protect their flank ~

The 'Lend Lease' 35T halts the Regulars' rush over the bridge, which allows volunteers from the Holy Cross Crusaders to occupy the pill box and entrenchments defending the crossing. Swindley's Own are hurrying forward to support the Regulars, but there's a good way to go and under fire too ~

While the Three Tuns Invincibles support the Holy Cross Crusaders by occupying nearby gardens overlooking the bridge and road, the Boulton Paul Workers Cooperative force moves to try to flank the Government position. Luckily, the Express and Star Rifles are in reserve to counter the move. Meanwhile elements of the Shropshire Light Infantry have begun to cross the Penk and move to flank the enemy positions defending the bridge crossing ~

The 35T and the Smith gun position themselves to threaten the Vickers MkVI of the Shropshire Yeomanry as it tries to support the Regular Army in their attempt to dislodge the Militias around the bridge defences ~

The Regulars are across the Penk and moving towards the flank of the militias defending the bridge. Despite heavy fire, the Vickers MkVI is still supporting the troops trying to cross the bridge, but on their flank the heavy fire has pinned Swindley's Own in open ground ~

While heavy fighting rages around the bridge and the outskirts of Bilbrook, the Boulton Paul Workers Cooperative forces have worked their way stealthily around the enemy's flank without being noticed ~

Swindley's Own are still pinned down by heavy fire and now are in danger of being flanked by their enemy. Fortunately, the Editor has held back the Express and Star Rifles and they may be able to offer fire support to their endangered allies ~

The Regulars of the KOSLI are across the bridge but cannot dislodge the enemy Militias from their defensive positions despite the fire support from the Vickers MkVI tank. Meanwhile a heavy firefight on the flank is taking its toll of both sides ~

The Three Tuns Invincibles are overwhelmed by their Regular Army opponents and the Holy Cross Crusaders are suffering mounting casualties. It begins to look as if the Government forces will carry the day and capture the bridge ~

But the Peoples' Forces rally and mount a concerted attack. The 35T and the Smith gun engage the Vickers as it tries to force a crossing. Its knocked out by their combined fire and completely blocks the bridge ~

Both sides are completely spent and Turn 12 comes to a close with neither side having captured the 'Bridge over the River Penk'! Heroes from the KOSLI have attacked the 35T which was prevented from advancing on the bridge, meaning the game ended in a Draw! Both sides will withdraw to regroup, rearm and recruit ready to carry the war to the enemy the next time ~

For those who like to know these things: the buildings representing Bilbrook are the Conflix pre paints while those of Wolverhampton are by Oshiro. The bridge is a Hovels piece and the vegetation is by The Last Valley. The figures are a real mix: some by Foundry; by Musketeer Miniatures; by Artizan; by Stronghold; by Pulp Figures. The flags were made for me by Leicester Gamer over on the Very British Civil Forum. I need to add more figures to this game, but somehow I never quite get around to it!

Sunday 6 December 2015

I have been to...

...WARGAMER 2015.
This is the last Wargames Show of 2015 and at Halesowen is reasonably near to where I live of course, as its held just off Junction 3 of the M5. It suffers in my opinion from very poor pre show advertising. Its web site is primitive, to be kind, and only on Friday this week could you download a floor plan. Even the programme on the door has no floor plan, so if I have labelled any games wrongly you will need to bear with me, I did my best to get it right! Its a local show of course, no pretentions to be another Salute or Partizan, but having said that it attracts a good spread of traders and some very fine games by local groups. As a local show it has much to offer the West Midlands based wargamer I believe and it deserves to grow and prosper, so all being well I will be there again next year! Judge for yourselves anyway, as here are my highlights from the games on show:-
First up, a 20mm WWII game by Kinver Wargamers, lead by my old chum Dave Page and his wife Erica. Its set in 1943 Malaya and features Japanese v Commonwealth forces ~

Next up, a 28mm Wars of the Roses battle by my old club, the Alumwell Wargames Society ~

Now, for those with a long memory amongst us, a game collection probably not seen for well over a decade: a 28mm 1st Sikh Wars game, put on I believe by the SODS ~

The game featured wonderfully animated, painted and based 28mm Wargames Foundry figures from their Sikh Wars range, and other colonial sets to fill out the Sub Continent 'look 'of the game. A few pictures to do the game some justice, but in the flesh it was even more spectacular ~

Not all games were Demonstrations or indeed 28mm games. I don't photograph the smaller scale games, not because they are poor games, but because they are not really to my taste. However, a 15mm Flames of War WWII game proves to me that not all FoW games need be tank parks. I don't know who put this on sadly ~

And a Participation game for two players, upscaling the old Waddingtons 'Battle of the Little Big Horn' board game for wargaming ~

A C15th Renaissance game in 28mm by Wyrley Retinue. I have the odd feeling I taught one or two of these chaps in my first teaching post! If so, they've aged well and can put on a very fine game ~

Another 28mm game, set in the Peninsular War: 'Sharpe's Sorrow 1808', by the The Phoenix Society ~

Finally, from John French and Friends, a 28mm WWII 'Raid on Rommel' game which I thought very well staged; understated but very convincing of the reality ~

Now, if you are not inspired by these to attend next year's Wargamer show {on 4 December 2016 at the Leasowes Sports Centre} then you are a hard person to please I think! I certainly enjoyed my few hours there: chatting with friends and with Traders, watching some lovely looking games and chatting with the folk responsible for them; and, of course, spending some money! My small stash refelects not my poverty but the determination to reduce the 'Lead Pimple' in 2016. From Colonel Bill's some MDF bases for my FRW skirmishers next year; two more pack mules from Tiger Miniatures; a Foundry Draft Elephant set and three Dragoon Guards for my Indian Mutiny games. The irregular MDF bases I can't remember who I got them from, but Jon will know as its a chum of his ~