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.

Friday 19 June 2015

By Air to Battle

Earlier in the week Jon and I played a WWII game here in GHQ using figures, vehicles and scenics from my 20mm collections and using the old stalwart of WWII rules, Rapid Fire!2. Other rule sets are available, as you all know, but these remain for me the standard others can only aspire to better for speed of play, nuance of period feel and the look of a larger scale WWII game on your table. Of course, plenty of folk will disagree with me on one or all of those sentiments, but I will let that pass as I'm sure they will. On to the game, a German v British Airborne game with 25 Victory points available on the table, all held by the Germans at the onset of the action and marked on the table by the plain red counters. In truth, the Germans are rather thinly spread, but the British player does n't know that at the outset and must decide on his Drop and Landing zones without specific intelligence on the enemy's deployment. After marking his seven zones, Jon the has to use the direction dice and distance dice {from a well known fantasy games shop} to determine how far from the target his elements will land! ominously, with hindsight, Jon's dice were either bang on target or very close! The Red Dice of Doom were well up to the mark from the outset!

The British land and deploy in the first turn, to simulate the surprise suffered the Germans and the time taken to respond to reports of glider and parachute landings all over the table. Glider borne artillery and infantry support landed on the German's left flank, beyond the lightly guarded river bridge. Purists will no doubt scoff at my rather square glider, but its very special to me as my son Matt scratch built it as a very young lad for me and I've always treasured it for that reason ~

To the east of the main town on the table the Germans had deployed one of their Stug elements and supporting infantry. The British Paras dropped all over them and from the onset the fighting was terrible to behold.

 An immediate attack by the British Piat team soon took out the Stug element, a sign of things to come for the Germans in Jon's dice throwing results~

The Germans supporting the Stugs now found themselves assailed on three sides, so decided to withdraw rather briskly to rejoin their supporting elements beyond immediate danger. No such luck, the Dice of Doom saw to that ~

That leaves the Germans garrisoning the main town rather exposed to say the least, although they did begin to take a toll on the enemy. By Turn 3 they were being shelled by the Airborne Howitzer batter on their flank and coming under small arms and machine gun fire from their front and opposite flank. Attempts to communicate with their artillery support proved unsuccessful initially and later the successful radio contact was mitigated by rather poor at targeting ~

Coming under such heavy pressure the casualties in the town began to mount alarmingly and in Turn 4 the Germans took their first morale test, which resulted in them becoming pinned ~

Refugees were soon streaming south from the town mingled with ever mounting casualties making for the forward casualty clearing station ~

Obviously now the Germans were under serious threat of loosing the game. The garrison in the main town were cut off from reinforcements and under serious pressure, with only artillery able to support the defence, while the remaining elements could not advance on the enemy to relieve the pressure, while all their firing in their own defence suffers a minus 2 on the dice while pinned and in each turn a fresh casualty leads to another morale check! Its looking ominous for the Germans now despite a strong second line of defence covering their centre and eastern flank ~

As casualties continue to mount the medics are overwhelmed at times, while the command struggles to make sense of events which have largely overtaken their ability to respond decisively ~

By Turn 8, with successive morale checks mounting against them, the Germans finally rout or surrender and its all up for the defence. The Airborne have already gained 10 points of Victory by taking the town and its neighbouring farm, while the bridge over the river has seen its outflanked garrison withdrawn in the first move of Pinning ~

All over in eight Turns I think and about 2 1/2 hours play. The dice gods definitely favoured Jon from the off and resulted in my plan to attack the drop zones energetically rather coming unstuck from Turn 2! Still, despite the hammering, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. With better dice luck for me, or worse for Jon, I would have made a better showing, but once pinned my fire became fairly ineffective and allowed the Airborne more freedom to move and coordinate their attacks.
Next up in GHQ, a Late Roman Civil War game pitting the rightful emperor Pompus Maximus against the pretender Baldinus and the usurper Albinus! But first, off to Devon for a few days R&R M'dears!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Taking to the Air

Just a brief post to keep anyone interested in our doings here in GHQ up to speed. Later this week we are playing a Rapid Fire! WWII game here in GHQ. Its a rule set I keep returning to as it does the business for me in providing the kind of scale of game I like without making my brain melt and dribble down my nose with unnecessary details. The table is already laid out for the coming battle ~

Pop back after next week for an update on how the game went. Sorry you have to wait that long, by the by, but Sue and I are down in Devon for a few days. Continuing on the WWII theme: well, encompassing our VBCW and 1940 Zeelowe/Blandings games as well as pukka WWII gaming I've added two aeroplanes to the collection via eBay auctions. They are both 1/72 scale, which I prefer for use in both 20mm and 28mm gaming. The first is a Hawker Hart bomber from 1938 ~

While the second is a plane I've been after for ages for the VBCW, a Bolton Paul Defiant ~

The Boulton Paul Defiant was made just up the hill from where we live. Indeed, until quite recently there was a museum there and a restoration group who held quite frequent open days. I believe they have relocated to Cosford Aerospace Museum following the host factory's closure and move to the i54 development. I really did n't want the night fighter variant, but I got it so cheaply I think I can swallow my pride. I may repaint it at some stage or I may take advantage of its black colour scheme and rebrand it for the BUF {provided in our games by Phil at the moment.} I'll have to sleep on it for a while and see where the muse takes me.
Continuing the WWII theme, I've also started making two 3' x 2' terrain tiles to double as either a landing beach or a wide river ~ I can use it then in all sorts of games! I have reused my old beach mat I bought ten years ago when we moved into GHQ, the original. The mat has stored really well and I hope to complete the basic cutting and gluing of the second tile tomorrow. I will need to take the tiles over to Phil's then, as he has our stock of green towelling and teddy bear fur, to make a blend of the join between beach/bank and the rolling landscape of wherever! That will most likely be in July I think.
Finally, two items of news from GHQ: firstly, I'm painting three new units for my 28mm Late Roman armies, using the cheap and cheerful "it'll do from 3 feet away" approach, and they will feature next month in a game I hope. Ive almost finished the second Roman unit, leaving just a Saxon unit to paint. Secondly, I've gone back on a decision not to attend Claymore in August. Sue and I have booked three nights in South Queensferry at the Hawes Inn for a short break and a chance for me to see my Scottish chums and admire their wonderful games. If you have never been to Claymore then do make the effort, its well worth the journey in my experience. In the meantime, back to Late Roman medium infantry!Oh Joy.....

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Action Replay!

Well, I really should have known better. After all, on Match of the Day the 'Action Replay' never alters the outcome, despite a fan's best hopes. I'd left the Sudan War game table set up in GHQ after last week's game with Jon, as Phil had expressed an interest in playing the same game on his regular Monday visit. Hoping for a different outcome, the forces of the Barmy Bhykli once more set out to prevent the Imperial column from relieving the besieged Egyptian garrison {On the table just for the 'look of the game' rather to to take part of course.} As before we used my A Good Dusting rules. A few pictures of the unfolding events in what, in the end, turned out to be quite a close game ~
The Camel Corps engages the first of the Beja tribesmen

Beja mounted on camels encounter the enemy cavalry

More Beja are seen rushing into the attack

Things look grim from the Egyptian perspective

Hordes of Beja sweep down on the Imperial infantry

The South Staffords come under heavy attack

Despite losses the Imperial cavalry sweep away the Beja attackers

Heavy losses for the Imperial Relief Column but they press on and relieve
besieged garrison

Despite several notable successes I was unable to press home my advantages at key points in the combat. It seems I must sacrifice once more to the Dice Gods as they deserted me when I had the upper hand. Phil remained calm in adversity and, at key moments, produced some devastating fire or stubborn hand to hand fighting to repulse my forces. A close game but a decisive win in the end for the forces of Empire!
Our next run out here will be in two weeks' time, as I'm off to Godalming to see Matt and his family. Jon and I will be playing a Rapid Fire WWII game while Phil and I have settled on an Ancient battle, so I've been busy painting up more Late Romans which Sue kindly bought me last summer. One new unit was finished yesterday and a second is already underway, so I hope to have a larger force available for our game with a following wind.
At this rate I shall have levelled my own Lead Pimple sooner than I thought! Now there's a scary thought...

Thursday 4 June 2015

Scenes from the Sudan

I recently played a Sudan War game with Jon here in GHQ. I got so involved in the game I forgot to take many pictures. Probably just as well given the final body count... The figures are almost all  Perry Miniatures, supplemented by a few pieces from Castaway Arts and Tiger Miniatures amongst others, while the terrain is a sand coloured felt cloth laid over my boards, with all sorts of bits and bobs to disguise the join with the fertile river valley. The rules we used were my own "A Good Dusting", available from all good retailers! Buildings are from Battleground and Hovells, amongst others I've forgotten. In the first picture the Egyptian garrison of the besieged town stands to, ready to sell itself dearly in the cause. The Imperial force must have one unit reach the walled town to win the game while seeing off as many Mahdists as it can ~
The gallant defenders ready to do their duty

Meanwhile nothing can disrupt local commerce it seems.

Beja mounted on camels rush into the fray.

Bagara Horse and Beja camel mounted forces surprise the Imperial column.

There is hard fighting all along the front.

Sadly for the Mahdist cause, "They did n't like up up 'em it seems!"

The game lasted thirteen turns before the Imperial force reached the beleaguered Egyptian garrison and raised the Siege. I'd like to think that Kipling would have admired the pluck of my Fuzzy Wuzzys, if still praising the Empire's ultimate triumph.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Additions and Acquisitions

A few things which I've acquired in the last few days and some of my more recent efforts with brush and paint are the subject of today's post from GHQ. Firstly, two items picked up cheaply: the first a 1912 Rolls Royce with Barker coachwork which will be just fine for Pulp games anywhere as well as in 1940's Blandings scenarios; the second a ruined building made of hard foam and prepainted and flocked ready for the table. The first was £2.00 in a local Collectors' Market I often visit, the second was £4.00 from a table top sale at Partizan on Sunday last. I seem to be on a bit of a roll with these hard foam terrain features recently!

Moving on to the painting progress I mentioned right at the beginning, I have been working on two new cavalry Regiments and two command stands for the Wars of the French Revolution project. For my Austrians I've added a regiment of Cuirassier, the First Regiment, using Eureka figures which Sue kindly bought for me after our New Zealand trip ~ I'd tried to buy them over the web and have them sent to the final hotel on our trip but Nick felt that the postal service was too unreliable in such a tight time frame.

The second unit is for the French army I'm building up and is a unit of Chasseur a Cheval, the 10th, wearing the early Tarleton helmet and are from Wargames Foundry ~

The final addition to the project is an Austrian cavalry command base, made up of a Front Rank general {yes, I know the uniform is from a later period} and a Wargames Foundry cuirassier from the early Napoleonic collection, a character pack with two wounded cuirassier and a wounded Dragoon.

Finally, I'd like to thank all those who wished me a Happy 65th on Sunday, either in person or on the web through Facebook. I've decided to celebrate by taking a break from painting 1790's figures and have broken out my Late Romans and Early Saxons to bulk out the army of Pompus Maximus, my Late Roman general! They are all Foundry figures, chosen while I'm in the run of painting smaller figures!

Monday 1 June 2015

Post Partizan Pensioner

I celebrated my 65th Birthday yesterday by, amongst other things, making the trip over to Nottinghamshire with Phil for the Partizan show and a visit to Wargames Foundry! Thanks to a combination of chaps, my birthday was well publicised and I received many greetings, several cards and a very special present from the O'Briens of East Berwick! Quite a memorable day! We didn't stay as long at either the show or Foundry as we usually might, I was needed elsewhere for other birthday related duties, but I still enjoyed the day, as I always do. I even spent some money on new toys and books. I won't trouble you by listing endless game photos, which show nothing really of the splendid work of so many chaps, lost as detail is in the Stygian gloom which is Kelham Hall! Thankfully the show is moving out for 2016 it seems, to the Showground I expect, though I've not seen it officially announced as of yet. I applaud the move myself: shows must evolve or die, as Triples seems to be doing from what I've read elsewhere. But, on with the main point of the post, to show my new toys ~
The Nottinghamshire Hoard

Mostly stuff for the ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project, but some other things as well mixed in the swag bag! I ought to thank Duncan of Trent Miniatures for humouring my requests so manfully and finding the odd 'missing' gem from Matt's work for him, and for giving me such a generous discount too. So, from Trent Miniatures ~
Highland Infantry

Austrian Mounted Officer, with head swap, and Generals for the

Austrian firing line, for skirmisher markers

From Wargames Foundry, where again I got a generous discount from Marcus ~
Early Grenz infantry

And from the same source for a 'secret project' for 2016 ~
Norman crossbow men

From Warbases, a firm I cant recommend highly enough, I got a few MDF vignette bases, some figures for my horse drawn omnibus, and some chickens!
Fares please!

Why did the chicken...

I also got some more brushes and some Basetex from Coritani, again a firm who I can't praise enough for service and just all round niceness too! From Caliver I collected a preorder of General De Brigade, Saga and Lion Rampant for some summer reading and possible future games and projects. I also got the beginnings of a band for the Wars of the French Revolution British infantry from Trent Miniatures but I need some head swaps before I can show them off fully!
One of the joys of attending shows for me, and for others I expect, is the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. I was able to catch up again with Dave O'Brien and Colin Jack from SSWC, to chat with Phil Olley and briefly with Charles Grant as he put me right on the SYW games on show! I also met Colin of Carry on Up The Dale fame and we exchanged views on gaming, blogging and the NHS! I chatted with Shaun of Bunker fame, Dave of TMTerrain, Colin Rumford of Rapid Fire! and finally Dan of WI fame, though mainly about the respective failures of our football teams!
To end the post, the free figure for entrants and for new subscribers to WI ~

A decent haul, great games on offer, wonderful and interesting chaps to chat with and beer! Not many better ways to spend a hobby related day at my age...