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 January 2015

Day of Battle

While the end of last year was notable for how few games we managed to fit in, 2015 has begun in very encouraging style. On Thursday of this week we managed to get myself, Phil, Jon and John together for a whole day of gaming here in GHQ. As John has to come up from near Cheltenham I opted to play two smaller games, one either side of lunch, so he would get the possibility of two wins to cheer him on the return leg through the M6 rush hour chaos! In the morning we staged an Ancient game using my Late Roman collection, pitting Jon and myself against Phil and John, as a part of the ongoing history of Pompus Maximus {the rightful Emperor} and the usurper Baldinus! We used a slightly modified version of Neil Thomas' Two Hour Wargames rules for our game, which unfolds in the following photographs ~
The rival armies drawn up for battle

The Imperial army advances to crush the rebels

Baldinus advances his cavalry on his left flank

Pompus anchors the centre of the line

While his small cavalry force block the flank attack

Pompus hold the centre while the Dux Platipus {Jon} leads the attack
on Cheltamus's forces

Pompus position looks very strong at this stage

The rival infantry clash in the centre

Germanic allies face off Cheltamus' sweeping cavalry assault on the left flank

Baldinus' cause is lost as the right and centre are destroyed and his infantry
on the left never engage the enemy!

After lunch we played a Burma 1943 game, pitting myself and John against Phil and Jon and using Bolt Action as the rules. John and I took the Japanese and Phil and Jon the British. Phil chose as the game's objective the holding of the central high ground at the end of Turn 8 ~
A general view of the tabletop battlefield

The British advance centres on their tank

Japanese tanks, supported by infantry and artillery, advance to counter the

The action begins to unfold

Japanese infantry cover their left flank against attack

Gaining the objective quite early in the game the Japanese infantry take heavy
mortar fire in their stride

Despite heavy losses the Japanese cling to the objective, scoring a very
narrow Victory!


Both of the games were quite close at times, but in the end in the Ancient game the victory was decisive with over half of Baldinus' army destroyed. In the WWII game it was very close for the whole eight turns, but in the end the British losses to their smaller squads hampered them from driving the Japanese off the objective. Our first unit on the hill eventually accrued 16 Pin Markers but it did its job of holding the objective, enabling the supporting infantry squad to move onto the hill when it was finally destroyed by concentrated mortar and HE fire!
Our next four handed game is planned for May, by which time GHQ should have relocated to the garage conversion. Next week its over to Phil's for some Great War CoC!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Hussars of the French Revolutionary Wars

The muse has been pretty powerful these first few weeks of the year, and so I've made more progress with my Wars of the French Revolution project than I had feared I might after December's debacle! I finished another French Infantry Battalion; I've already previewed some pictures of them too in an earlier post, but now I've finished some French Hussars. At present there are six, as Duncan had sold out at Derby Worlds, so the remaining couple I'll pick up at Partizan in May, my first show of 2015! {As an aside, that will be also my 65th birthday, so any there who want to say hello and buy me a drink will be more than welcome!} Here are the figures I've finished so far ~

They will represent the 2nd Regiment of Hussars in our games. Ideally I'd like some Chasseurs too to comprise a small Light Cavalry Brigade, but Trent don't do any. The Eureka ones are nice, but rather small and very expensive I think. I saw some by Foundry on a visit last year, in the non-Perry Napoleonic collections, so I'll take another look later in the year at them again. Some close ups now, which should disabuse any of you of the notion that I can paint a bit!
Officer and Trumpeter of the 2nd Hussars

Standard Bearer and Trooper

Two Troopers

The figure on the left in the picture immediately above is my favourite pose of the six, he really does look like he's about the strike down an opponent. A shame it will be me rolling his dice though... Finally a close up of one of the faces. I realy do like the characterisation Matt bought to this range.

Figures are by Trent Miniatures and the MDF bases and movement trays by Warbases. I've also made a start on the first four figures of the last French Infantry Battalion: the Colonel, a drummer and two fusileers. I hope to finish these 24 figures before the holiday hoves into view later next month. We'll have to see how it goes. A Bientot mes amis!

Friday 23 January 2015

A Blockage at Blandings?

With health and domestic issues seeming to have somewhat resolved themselves, at least for the present, Jon and I managed a second game this month. While we could n't make the time for a full blown army-sized wargame, we could manage a Bolt Action bash, with the setting once more being our 1940's "Zeelowe"/Blandings world. The scenario follows on from one last year which saw the Germans capture Blandings, despite the best efforts of Lord Emsworth and his clan! Emsworth has rallied the local LDV forces and elected to make a stand across the strategic crossroads between Ludlow and Blandings. German reconnaissance has taken place and a force has hastily been assembled to drive off the LDV force before they can be reinforced by Regular Army units. The game is to last 8 Turns, with the possibility of one or other side being reinforced after 4 turns have been completed. The table is set out for the game ~

The LDV can deploy anywhere along the road between St David's and Home Farm in the far distance of the picture above. The German forces can enter at any point along the long side of the table opposite the LDV positions. In our game I took on the role of Emsworth's gallant lads, and Jon took the vile Hun, despoiler of our green and pleasant land! The picture which follow in sequence will tell the unfolding story of heroism and disaster more eloquently than mere words...
The approach road is mined!

The Germans begin to probe the defences of  Blanding's Parva

Emsworth's gallant chaps dug in around the crossroads

A German squad probes towards St David's

Mortar fire is beginning to weaken the forward position

A second German squad probes the right flank of the defenders

The LDV squad in the churchyard panics and flees, then is wiped out by
mortar fire!

German cavalry are moving around the LDV's right flank now

The German tank is moving to threaten the defenders

The tank is destroyed! But more Germans are now behind the left flank

Emsworth's surviving men find themselves surrounded. Its all up lads!

Emsworth is led off to be interned and interrogated. Good luck Fritz with that!

No reinforcements were forthcoming after four turns. Jon won the dice off for them and then threw 11 in each subsequent turn, with a score of 9 or less required, ensuring that the Germans had a hard job of winning by the end of Turn 8! Emsworth's gallant lads were both outclassed, as Inexperienced, and out gunned but fought on gallantly until the last turn. Their greatest success was knocking out the German tank, which gave Herr Weiss pause for thought at least!

Thursday 22 January 2015

Plastic, Gnomes and Pixies

Well, I did wonder if that would get anyone's attention! If you are a fellow Brit reading this you should be more than familiar with the 'Grumpy Old Men' concept, where TV is prone to fill a 30 minute slot with talking heads of well known men {and latterly women} of a certain age and in the public eye. The concept is that they drone on for 30 minutes about everything that's wrong with the modern world, young folk, etc! It seems to me that the phenomena exists in abundance in our hobby too (have a glance at PMT and its like ~ well you know what I'm getting at I'm sure. I'm even tempted to join in myself sometimes: well, perhaps I will...
But first something more mundane: I've finished another French Infantry Battalion for my Wars of the French Revolution project, together with a General Humbert and ADC base and I've also based the 'Napoleon Crossing the Alps' which Matt kindly gave me for Christmas. I've also started a unit of Hussars for the French, the 2nd Regiment, and as I type the final two are sitting on the painting table awaiting the finishing touches. I only have one French Infantry Battalion to finish now, and I hope to do that next month before I pop of on a holiday for a break from the depressing British winter! I'll say more about our trip nearer the time, though the Agent says the tickets and documentation have arrived today!
I also have managed to play some games this month and even managed to win one, albeit narrowly and aided somewhat by Phil's poor dice and card draws!!! The win came on Monday in the SCW over at Phil's. He's not blogged it for technical reasons, so I feel its OK to post some pictures I took of his wonderful collection and atmospheric tabletop.
The tabletop battlefield

Republican International Brigade engage the Carlist Militia

Republican Anarchists attack the Nationalist's left flank

Pedro Aeroddo strikes for the Republican cause!

After a slow start to 2015 I seem to have recovered my painting muse and the old eye seems to be behaving itself rather better than usual, as I said when I started, so here are some pictures of the latest additions to the Wars of the French Revolution project, all Trent Miniatures unless stated otherwise ~

A Foundry 'Napoleon'
Now, back to where I started: I was reading a thread on the Lead Adventures Forum about the right size for a wargaming 'army', do note the last word there, as the answers seem to be overwhelmingly about 50 figures! I think that reflects the current trend in new rules combined with a move towards hobbyists who are cash rich but time poor. But an 'army' of 50 figures? Surely some failure to comprehend the meaning of the word there? When you look further afield the Forum seems overwhelmed with fantasy, modern skirmish {which I find  myself highly uncomfortable with}, Post Apocalypse and bl**dy Zombies! Wargaming? I don't think so myself. Where are the large multiplayer games with mounds of lead? Grimsby perhaps? Well, I know I exaggerate, but I do sometimes feel like one of a dying breed, patiently painting unit after unit to build up armies for what I would call a wargame, not a skirmish ~ although I do enjoy those too as you can see from the SCW game report above. But they are a different branch of the hobby in my view, and not a replacement for pukka wargaming with large armies of 28mm figures. Now, I feel better for that...
Toodle Pip for now!


Monday 12 January 2015

The Crossroads at Ballykilly

For this week's game here in GHQ Phil and I decided to try a Wars of the French Revolution game. When Jon and I had previously played out three fictional battles last year set in Ireland we had used Sam Mustafa's Maurice rules, but as the collection has grown slightly since then ~ mainly in the addition of Heavy Cavalry for both sides ~ I decided that we would try Black Powder for this game. The British force, commanded by our old chum Major General Whytherin-Fyre, defends the strategic crossroads at Ballykilly, while the French invasion force is commanded by General Philippe De Zasta! The game can last up to 10 Turns. We decided to use the full movement distances, mainly to see how the smaller table would cope with larger numbers of cavalry and their potential for sweeping movements.

The British started the game occupying the village of Ballykilly with their cavalry and artillery drawn up on the more exposed left flank ~

Facing them were the superior numbers of French Heavy Cavalry ~

Beyond the French Cavalry Brigades you can see the infantry forming up for the main attack on Ballykilly.

The French plan was to pin the British centre with their first infantry Brigade and its artillery support, while moving around their right flak with a second Infantry Brigade, leaving the cavalry to exploit their superior numbers and weight on the British left. flank

The French cavalry thundered home against their British opposite number and heavy and prolonged fighting ensued on the British left. {Note:- It is not a good idea to fail an order test with all your cavalry!} The French swept the British Dragons off the table eventually, leaving just the Light Dragoons and the artillery to hold the flank.

In the centre the British infantry enjoyed more success, driving off the frontal  attacks on Ballykilly, but on their right flank the French managed to get behind the British and drive them in on their centre.

Despite a reckless charge of the French heavies by the British Light Dragoons and a subsequent gallant defence by the artillery, the French destroy the British left, forcing the reserves into square for self defence. On the British right a counter attack halts the French progress for a turn.

The French destroy the British defenders of the crossroads in a decisive round of hand to hand and Whytherin-Fyre leaves the field to the old enemy once again.

The fortunes of the game swung back and forth over several turns, but in the end the French registered a decisive victory when they seized the cross roads at Ballykilly! Perhaps we would have done better to play with reduced distances? Well, with Phil's murderously successful dice throwing it probably would only have prolonged the agony on my side!
The figures are mostly by Trent Miniatures, as regular visitors will already know, supplemented by a few Front Rank and Foundry figures amongst the mass. The buildings are by Conflix, which you don't see so much of at Shows in recent times I've noticed, and the vegetation and water feature by The Last Valley. I've almost finished a further French infantry regiment, leaving one more infantry regiment to go, plus some French Hussars and another General base. If I can finish these before we are off to New Zealand, in late February and March, then I can start on the Austrians for the Allies in April! Tall order though with my slower output since October. We shall have to wait and see...