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.

Thursday 30 April 2015

I Shall Need More Terrain Tiles...

One knock on effect of having a larger gaming area in the new GHQ is that I thought I would need more terrain tiles and scenery. I made an experimental table layout of the terrain tiles we have from the former GHQ to see where we needed extra tiles for more flexible games layouts. These are currently the only tiles which fit together without looking too odd ~ baring the urban, harbour and beach tiles which fit in with the main layout. Obviously there are many combinations they can be used in, but I don't want a river on every table I lay out obviously.
It seems that I will need three or four new plain tiles at least and probably an extra beach and an estuary tile too. We have plenty of green towelling in stock, so it's just off to B&Q or the like, for 6mm MDF, some PVA glue and cans of car spray and we, or more accurately Phil, are on the way!
Of course, it won't stop there, far from it. While I probably have enough walls and hedges, I will need more trees, so it's off to the Last Valley at Carronade for a start. For AWI & ACW games I'll definitely need more fencing. Now, Phil and I made that fencing back in the day, so do we make more to match or do we buy it in from sources of ready made items? As ever it's a time v money issue; right now I'd rather paint figures while my eye holds up, so time given over to making stuff is at a premium.
I shall have a better idea after next Tuesday when Phil and I will try a game on the new table for the first time. I'll post some pictures and folk can offer their thoughts, the more ideas received, the better the outcome is likely to be I think in this case. Pop back next week to see how the table looks in a game and offer any thoughts on scenery.

Thursday 23 April 2015

A Moving Experience!

Well, after some very strenuous efforts on the part of my friends and family, all ably supervised and coordinated by yours truly, the contents of the former GHQ have been moved down to the new GHQ! All that remains, all he says, is to re-sort all the drawers and cupboards so we know where everything is!!!!!
Some views of the new games room. The southern aspect ~

The northern aspect

The GHQ Irregulars, Phil, Jon, yours truly, Martin, my brother in law (A Railway Preservation man!), and John pose unselfconsciously for a triumphal picture after all their hard work. Note the Supervisor is the only one sitting down!!!!

The playing surface is now going to be 6' x 6'6", a 50% increase in gaming area from the original GHQ which we've had the pleasure of using over the last 10 years. Next month that will be fitted out as our master bedroom with an attached sitting room, giving Sue and I some much needed luxury. Our inaugural game in The New GHQ will be an ACW bash on 21 May, the first date that the four of us are free. In the meantime I'm off to do some sorting out!

Monday 20 April 2015

A Sneak Preview

Later in the week GHQ will finally move to its new home, thanks to all my friends in the GHQ Irregulars and to my long suffering family! The floor went down today and only the skirting board awaits fitting and we are in!

The cupboards at the end give much more storage space than I have at present, with the added advantage of it being out of sight! Measuring up this afternoon we could easily have a table 7' 6" x 6' 6", but I expect we will settle for something a little more modest in the end.

To make it more homely Phil and I put up a few of my ACW prints. I may put up more when we have the table and cupboards in safely on Thursday. My collection of family WWI & WWII medals and memorabilia will stay in the main house though for now.
Pop back later in the week to see what we finally come up with in Der Bhyklei Bunker!

Sunday 19 April 2015

Austrian Army ~ Progress to Date

I think my muse for painting has been energised by my holiday break. I have made progress with the Wars of the French Revolution project since I returned home, so I thought a post showing what I had done was appropriate. Despite advice, I have stuck with the Foundry Austrian White for my uniform coats and trousers on the appropriate figures. In the photos the gradation of the colour, like reds I find, does n't reflect the figures on the tabletop. Firstly, the whole force painted to date ~

The two units I've painted so far this month , a 19 figure Grenadier composite Battalion and a 28 figure German infantry Battalion~

The first of the German Infantry units of 28 figures ~

Three closer shots, to give a better idea of the standard I'm aiming for, not for the fainthearted painting fascists out there ~

As you will undoubtedly recall, the spine of my collection for this project are Trent Miniatures, originally sculpted by my son Matt a few years ago. The sharp eyed, or awake, amongst you will probably have spotted the lone Foundry figure and the Front Rank mounted officers and generals. I've acquired a few more figures for the project this month:-
Some early French Chasseurs a Cheval, from Foundry;
Some early Austrian infantry command figures, from Foundry again;
A unit of Austrian Cuirassiers, from Eureka;
And finally, from Colonel Bill's, Ive ordered a unit of Front Rank Austrian Hussars to collect at Carronade. On the painting table at the moment I've started another Austrian German infantry Battalion, four finished so far, and some Austrian Dragoons ~ progress here halted until the Osprey I ordered turns up to help with colours of facings and horse furniture.
I have preordered some more Trent Miniatures to pick up at Partizan next month: the two French Hussars to complete the 2nd Regiment featured in an earlier post; some French skirmishers, which are hopefully cast up by then; and some British Highland Fencibles {I believe some extra command figures have been commissioned while I was away}. If funds permit I may also get another Austrian Infantry unit and perhaps some of the musicians to form a small band for the British army. We'll see how the cash situation pans out nearer the date. Well, back to painting now I think! Toodle Pip!

Friday 17 April 2015

The Volcano God must be appeased!

If, like me, you follow the doings of 'Eric the Shed' on his excellent Blog you will have seen that recently he added a volcano feature to his terrain tiles. I must admit I liked the idea, but lack the skills and patience to do a similar thing and anyway I would rather spend my time on figure painting. Earlier this week we popped into one of the local garden centres and there, in the Aquarium Centre, was a really nice hollow cast and pre-coloured volcano! Cost me nothing as Sue kindly treated me to it! Result! Here it is as a work in progress. I glued an MDF circular base inside the hollow cone and textured it with my standard basing grits and when it was dry painted and dry brushed the resulting lava lake with a selection of reds. Judge for yourself ~

Phil has 'volunteered' to cut out an MDF base for it which I can then texture and add some vegetation and I think it will do for our very occasional Pulp/Lost World games. The figures are from Pulp Miniatures and Copplestone Castings to give an idea of the scale of the piece ~

I'm rather chuffed with this as a find I must confess. Next up I'd like a decent scaled rope bridge over a gorge so I'll be off to local Garden Centres over the weekend I think!

Monday 13 April 2015

Battle For The Byklabad Ridge

Phil and I finally managed to integrate our schedules and get together in GHQ for a game! Only seven weeks since the last time! Phil asked for an Indian Mutiny game and what follows is a photo report of the action fought out over 12 turns using my own The Devil's Wind rules. The figures are all from my collection and are mostly from the Foundry ranges. The buildings are from Mutineer Miniatures and the vegetation from either The Last Valley or, in the case of the plastic palm trees, from Tiger Miniatures. Now, on with the action.
The gallant defenders of the Ridge outside Byklabad stand too in the early morning light ~

The British Resident and his entourage prepare to quit the Residency at Byklabad ~

The Gurkhas, supported by a heavy gun and the Highlanders, prepare to defend the Ridge ~

The infantry of the H.E.I.C., supported by British Regulars and a heavy gun defend the eastern end of the Ridge ~

The mutinous hordes prepare for the assault ~

Mutineer guns batter the Ridge's defenders ~

The 'Great Gun of Byklabad' prepare to batter the Residency ~

The defenders eye view as the assault on the Ridge gathers pace ~

On the Mutineers' left flank cavalry rushes forward to screen the assault ~

"Steady Boys!"

On the Mutineers' right flank the Raja of Rhanli exhorts his men to the attack ~

On the Mutineers' left flank, screened by the cavalry, hordes of Badmash and Irregular Hill Tribesmen rush the defences ~


Under heavy fire one unit of Badmash falters but the other presses on!

The defenders are overwhelmed!

Time for a quick exit perhaps?

Weight of numbers begin to take their toll of the defenders ~

The Mutineers pour through the gap in the centre of the defences ~

Safe in the knowledge that the Mutineers have broken the resolve of the defenders, the Raja of Rhanli decides to advance!

I conceded defeat in turn 11, my centre was broken and I had few reserves to hold a line!  The Resident and his party made a swift exit, leaving General H.W. Hardly-Worthitt to salvage what he could from the defeat!

We both enjoyed the day's game, though my pleasure was tempered by awful dice luck through out the game, with my artillery proving particularly ineffective and my infantry fire being more than wayward! But, that's wargaming for you, up one game and down the next! To the next time!

Thursday 9 April 2015

De Whytt's Gamble

Jon and I recently managed to fit in another game, this time a tussle between the Boer Kommando of the cunning De Whytt and a British Mounted Column under that generally fragile general, H.W.Hardly-Worthitt. The Boers have to remove five elements of ammunition from the homestead to win the game while the British have to prevent this. All the British force can start anywhere along their table base edge, while only three Boer elements plus the ammunition waggon can start on the table. Remaining elements of the Kommando enter by random dice throw, the % needed decreasing from 90-10% each turn by 10%. The table layout at the onset of the action ~

Jon has divided his column into three, each thrusting for one of the gaps in otherwise impassable terrain of rocky hills and expanses of elephant grass, while the Boers who began on table are clustered around De Whytt's homestead and their encampment in the distance. Other elements of the Commando would enter the table, or not, on a random number generator as laid out in the rules, Washing the Spears. More of this later...

Mounted infantry advance on De Whytt's homestead through the gorge and come under fire from the Boer defenders while Volunteers move towards the Zulu kraal in the foreground. At this stage neither Jon nor I knew if there were any Zulus in the vicinity or where any such might appear. The kraal is as yet incomplete - I had forgotten all about it!

On the Boer left more Volunteers are cautiously engaging those elements in the Boer encampment, while the Boer artillery element and a single marksman cover the rear of De Whytt's homestead from attack. A firefight lasted almost the whole game on this flank with hardly any casualties resulting for either side!!

Meanwhile a solitary Boer takes his mark on Hardly-Worthitt, with equally little success!

Hardly-Worthitt, inspired by the near miss it seems, leads another of the Volunteer elements towards the escaping Boer ammunition waggon.

Fierce fighting develops around the homestead, with the Boer defenders holding their own despite being outnumbered. One waggon load of ammunition has been safely removed from the table and the second is on its way, so things are looking up for the Boers.

Sadly, mounted elements of the Kommando are driven off by volunteers while the Native Horse captures the second waggon load at the end of turn 13. The final Boer reinforcements did not enter until Turn 10, too late to really influence the game's outcome, while the Zulus never appeared, each of the three blinds on the table proving to be a dummy!
While neither side scored a clear win, Jon's British force clearly had the better of the draw having prevented all five ammunition loads being evacuated and causing more casualties to the Boers than they received in return. As I mentioned, we used my own Washing the Spears rules to run our game with some small amendments to the Pluck Test to take account of the smaller unit sizes. Great fun and perhaps a new legend created in H.W.Hardly-Worthitt?