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 26 September 2015

The first World War

This epithet goes to the Seven Years War in my view, fought out as it was beyond Europe in disparate parts of the globe with Britain flexing her growing Imperial muscle at the expense of France. Why this meandering opening? Well, Jon and I fought out a F&IW game in GHQ earlier this week. Now, normally we use the rule set Astounding Tales with house modifications, meaning that games are large skirmishes in effect, perhaps with thirty figures or so a side the usual size of force. We both fancied a SYW game using Blackpowder, so I had to combine units form my SYW collections with individual figures from my F&IW collections mounted on multiple movement trays for ease. The pictures which follow give a sense of the game's unfolding story over 12 turns ~

The French are camped near by ~

As are their Indian Allies, the Paddoquoi, a fierce warrior tribe ~

Lord Walton, commanding the British forces, orders a general advance on the enemy's lines ~

While the French commander, the Compte du Merde considers his response (fails his Command roll ~

The Compte advances his infantry while anxiously awaiting the arrival of his Allies ~

Lord Walton manoeuvres his infantry against the French right ~

The Indians make a surprise attack against the Rangers and Light Infantry on the British right. Both sides have excess casualties and must Test morale. The British withdraw to nurse their wounds, the Indians flee into the hills in confusion!

The British pour volley after volley into the French right ~

Which forces the French back in some disorder ~

The French right is Shaken, but holds its ground and supported by its artillery begins to hurt the British infantry ~

On the French left a prolonged fire fight sees the fortunes of war surge back and forth between the sides ~

But the French gain the upper hand and break their opponents will to carry on the fight ~

Finally, Lord Walton 'blunders', leaving his infantry at the mercy of their foe. Volleys crash into the ranks of the redcoats and they are 'Broken' and flee. The British army is 'Broken' and flees the field in Turn 11 leaving the Compte du Merde to glory in his triumph ~

The game was tense and fortunes ebbed and flowed throughout between the two sides. The French defended their position with tenacity and courage (good dice) while their enemy were rather slow to manoeuvre and ineffective in their fire (poor dice). The blunder in Turn 11 was decisive in the end, braking the army as a result of excess casualties.
For those who like to know such things, the figures are Foundry, Redoubt and Perry Miniatures; the buildings are scratch built, as are the fences; while the wooded areas and individual trees are by The Last Valley.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Bit of a mish mash!

So far this month I seem to have been all over the place and accomplishing not very much along the way. I have managed five games, but we should draw a veil over four of them at this stage, they were not a pretty sight! Painting has been slow, if I'm honest with you, mainly due to arthritis problems in my right hand. Funny how I only seem to drop the brush when its charged with paint! I've also had a visit here in GHQ from Dan of Wargames Illustrated. Phil and I were providing figures and terrain for some photos he needed to accompany articles in the next two issues: Chindits v Japanese in Burma, for which I provided the terrain and figures; and Back of Beyond Chinese, for which Phil did the necessary. Look out for Phil's work, it is stunning in my opinion. In fact, I must be right there, as Dan took figures away with him for photos on the Digital Issue. I'm looking forward to seeing those! So, enough blather! Some pictures now! First, my attempt at jungle ~

The man in action organising one of the many shots he took. Perhaps half a dozen might make the magazine. A whole days work for such a small part of the whole shows us how much which we don't appreciate goes into producing each issue ~

I've only completed one unit this month, a Hanoverian Infantry unit for my Wars of the French Revolution project. They are Trent Miniatures, of course, although the command elements are from Front Rank's Early Peninsular War range, with a bit of judicious painting they will pass for the period if you don't look too closely.

 I've also started a unit of Highlanders, also from Trent with a couple of Front Rank figures. So far I've only got four skirmishing figures finished to show, although the first two bases of the Regiment are done too. They will be the 42nd Foot, or in some games the Dunwhinngin Fencibles under the command of Lt Col Alex Salmond,{ a well know whinger in reality!}

Duncan also very kindly found me the missing Jingling Johnnie figure so my French band is now completed and ready to lead the army to victory! Well, I can but hope ~

Finally, amongst all these flashy uniforms, I've painted up the free figure from the Other Partizan. He seemed just right for Lord Emsworth, so here he is at Blandings raising his standard for our VBCW/1940 Operation Zeelowe games ~

I almost forgot! I've been painting a few Dixon Miniatures ACW figures for a little 'Command in Camp' vignette. Here they are in front of an ACW Command Tent I bought at Partizan from Old Glory ~

Well, that's all I have to say for now. I hope you found at least something to interest you amongst the dross. I've time to put a little more paint on some figures, then Jon and I are off to see Walsall v Chelsea in the 3rd Round of the League Cup. Here's hoping for a shock result!

Thursday 17 September 2015

The Battle of Bykleigh's Crossing

Recently Jon and I managed to fit in a game here in GHQ. Jon chose an AWI theme for the game, so I set about laying out a table which would give my AWI collection its first outing on the new larger table in my games room. I chose Blackpowder as the rules to run the game by.  Most of my collection is from Front Rank and was painted many years ago, as you could tell from the 'black lining' approach to detailing popular back in the day, while some figures come from the more recent Perry Miniatures and others from Hinchliffe I think. The buildings are all scratch built, as are the fences, while other terrain features are from The Last Valley of course. The first picture gives a general view of the battlefield from the American perspective. The American force. commanded by Old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh are deployed around the crossroads, with a third defensive line about their encampment ~

The American right is held by a strong brigade of Continentals and State troops. As you can see they suffered badly from British musket fire in the first turn of the game!

The American left had an advanced line held by the Militia and a support line of State troops. The Militia also were to suffer under enemy fire but held their ground and traded shots with the Hessians with more tenacity than might be expected.

The British lines sweep forward into the attack. Or at least some of them did. The Hessians were markedly reluctant, so much so that we came to the conclusion they had not been paid for months!

One aspect of Blackpowder which seems to divide opinion is the Command structure. We diced before the game to establish the ratings of each commander and marked the number on a small coloured piece. We both personally like the uncertainty of events which results from each command throw, but others seem less keen I've noticed. In the picture below you can see the results of one British turn, where the two far commanders have both failed an order test resulting in a piecemeal advance of the force.

The American right flank, disordered by musketry in the early stages, went onto the attack when the opportunity arose. The resulting fire fights and melees were to be bloody but brief, but more of that later.

One Militia regiment was able to fire and retire as the threat grew, but its sister unit was pinned by a  Disorder  marker and had to stand the trial of a prolonged firefight, which it did more due to Jon's dice throws than anything else!

Back on the American right the British Brigade opposing it is suddenly broken and flees the field. The Americans loose one Regiment to a rout, but the way seems open to swing left and roll up the British line, especially as the Hessian advance has once more stalled!

Things are never simple though in wargames as in life. British artillery hammers the Americans and they too break, even as the British before them flee the field in confusion.

As his right flank streams away to the rear, Old 'Independence or Death' must shore up his lines and so leads the reserves of Marines, Dragoons and artillery forward to engage the Guards now occupying the Bykleigh residence.

The British attack on the American left finally makes some headway. The Militia are spent and fall back behind the second line as the mass of enemy close on the position.

The American reserves are pounding the Guards occupying the house and inflicting heavy losses, it seems that the sons of liberty may carry the day!

Suddenly the Grenadier composite units supporting the wavering Foot Guards charge the American line. One American unit breaks in confusion and the second is Shaken but fights on. In the next turn both are Broken and stream away to the rear. Both armies have two broken Brigades at this stage, one more for either side will see the army itself broken and defeat inevitable!

In fact in Turn 7 the American second line on the left is broken by a combination of musket and artillery fire and so Old 'Independence or Death' sees his army quit the field. It is no consolation that he has badly mauled the enemy all across his front as all around he sees his boys in full flight from the enemy. No doubt there will be awkward questions in the Congress...

As ever, Blackpowder provided an intriguing game with the advantage swaying first one way and then the other. As the American commander I had two opportunities to win the game, but in the end my luck ran out! Jon suffered many incidents of poor or failed command rolls and as a result his attacks became disjointed, a disadvantage further hampered by unusually poor dice in firing phases! The key disadvantage for my boys came in melees, where I consistently lost and frequently failed the saving rolls. The ending of the game was sudden, though not unexpected as it turned out. Had I survived Turn 7 then Jon's British may well have broken in Turn 8, but that's life as I said earlier on!

Wednesday 9 September 2015

A Farewell to Arms

Yes, its yet another Partizan post! And, its one with no relevant pictures, not even one of the horde of things I bought home with me. Last Sunday, bright and early ~ well, bright and early for we retired chaps ~ Phil and I tootled over to Kelham Hall for The Other Partizan. These shows are in their 25th year and have been from the outset synonymous with high quality games staged by a whole host of talented chaps {and chapesses too, before the PC police strike!}. In its early years even Phil and I were known to stage a game or two. I wonder how many I've attended since that first show? Certainly it must be more than 40. Over on Phil's Blog, News from the Front, he reminisces about those years of rising at 'What time do you call this?' and traipsing over to Kelham, crawling through Derby, being held up by roadworks on the A453 and even being stuck behind a column of vintage buses one year. The things folk do to bring a game to the show! Always worth it though, always provoking really interesting discussion as it did with fellow gamers of all ages, shapes and sizes! Perhaps even being 'rewarded' by a slot in Wargames Illustrated when Duncan added to his catalogue of photos over the day. Then, packing up and returning home tired but happy usually ~ only one year when four ACW Dixon Zouavre units were lifted from the B&B sticks in the craw really. Then, back to work the next day! How did we do it? How do those splendid folk still doing it manage? We should all be really grateful that there are still such a band of dedicated folk willing to give so much of their time and talent, not to mention cash, to bring us entertainment such as the Partizan games provide, not to mention the inspiration! So, to this year's offerings. Well, any comment on a game or show is nothing more than a highly subjective opinion ~ one man's meat, etc ~ so take anything I say now in that context please and don't be offended if I miss your favourite or, heaven forfend, diss something you really liked!

Arriving about 10.10 we found a very short queue, so we were not long before entering the Stygian Gloom that is Kelham Hall. A chat with Andy at The Last Valley and a brief detour to Colonel Bill's to pick up a pre-order and it was into the maelstrom of trade stands, traders, wargamers and wargames that is any successful wargames show. First into the Cafeteria though to discover, wonder of wonders, they had food and coffee this time around. Were the venue's management stung into action by criticism of their staff and service after May's catastrophe? Who cares, I enjoyed a sausage bap and a coffee to set me up for the day. Simple soul, are n't I? Then off to see the Newark Irregulars double header of Arthurian games, and very splendid it was too. Always enjoy the spectacle of humongous numbers of 28mm little chaps on a game, so I was well pleased. I can't comment on the rules, 'To The Strongest' as I've not tried them, but the game seemed to be moving along smoothly whenever I popped back during the day. Then into the Dome where many other splendid games were offered to us. I spent a good deal of time chatting with Dave Andrews at the Bodkins game, a rather spectacular Medieval offering with loads of figures in pike blocks on effective terrain. Highly recommended if you get the chance to see it elsewhere! Next the Derby Wargamers with a very effective game set in one of the early Lace Wars periods. No good asking me, they all look the same really, but it was well up to their usual standards. I think Phil may even have painted some of the figures in the game for Will? Now, I must confess something: although I only dabble on the periphery of the madness that is the Very British Civil War genre I am always a great fan of the games the Forum group put on. This latest offering was no exception to their stable of eccentric and spectacular games. Games featuring armed Morris Dancers, Militia, Regular Army, LDF types and a whole plethora of weird and wonderful vehicles, all on a table which looks quintessentially 'English' ~ think churches, churchyards, cricket pavilions, the local Pub and so on. I spent a good deal of my time viewing getting up close and personal with their game and I'm sure I still missed many wonderfully wild elements! While on the theme of weird, there was also a Very French Civil War game, the first I've seen, which was equally off the wall and really well presented too. Of course, there were many more wonderful efforts on view, all worthy of comment I'm sure, but these were my personal favourites.

Amongst the time spent taking in games and chatting to chums, and even finally discovering the gallery in the Dome, I managed some shopping too! By the standards of many my spend would be modest, but three grandsons does rather dent one's wallet I'm finding! The haul then: two 28mm early FRW Austrian Hungarian Infantry units with skirmish elements and the missing bandsman with the Jingling Johnnie from Trent Miniatures; 4 mounted Norman Knights by Foundry from Colonel Bill's ~ ones Matt made for Foundry, for our Saga meets Lion Rampant Robin Hood games later in the year; a set of Shaken markers from Figures in Comfort for our Black Powder games; an ACW Command Tent from Old Glory; 105 30mm round MDF bases from Warbases; and, finally, three packs of Gamers' Tufts from Great Escape Games. A good day I thought from all aspects and I look forward to next year's shows in the new venue, though I'm sure I shall miss the Gothic splendour of Kelham, sometime...

Since I returned home life has been back to its normal round. A WWII BGK game at Phil's, which I lost of course; painting Hanoverian Infantry for my Wars of the French Revolution project; cleaning up Norman knights so Phil can paint them for me; sorting through my returned Anglo-Danish army which I'm hoping to convert into some Saga sized forces to fight the Normans Phil has painted for me, when they are n't fighting Robin Hood et al of course! I' m also waiting on the first of a 15mm project which has been two years or so in the making, but I'll return to that at a later date when the figures are based and ready for the table top! In the meanwhile, back into GHQ now to set up the table for next week's Wargames Illustrated photo-shoot. More on that anon of course. Oh, and more Hanoverians of course! Toodle Pip!

Thursday 3 September 2015

Chief Bykelezi's Uprising

Jon and I recently played out an Anglo Zulu War game here in GHQ. We used my own "Washing The Spears" rules and the figures from my collection of Empress Miniatures figures. The game was a tense and bloody affair going to 15 Turns before a resolution. Some pictures from the action will illustrate how the game unfolded I hope. Zulu positions are marked by Blinds at the start of the game, though they can deploy within one normal move of the Blind. The Blinds were downloaded from the Two Fat Lardies website! The British column of five elements has to cross the tablet to Chief Bykelezi's Kraal ~

Before they can reach the Kraal and win the game they must force a crossing of the Great River, which has only one fordable point on the table ~

The Zulus are revealed when they are in direct line of sight of any element of the British column or their base of native scouts ~

The leading Regiment of the column deploys to face the charging Impi while the remainder of the column moves forward it its support ~

The first of the Impis crashes home into the British line. Meanwhile the second Regiment deploys into line to meet the onrushing second Impi ~
The third of the Regiments, the South Staffords, charge the flank of the Zulus already engaged while the onrushing third Impi tries to support the secon Zulu attack ~
The first Zulu impi is driven off with heavy losses to the British; the second Impi is seriously weakened; the third is engaged by the Lancers ~

The initial Zulu attacks have been beaten off, but the third Impi will soon destroy the Lancers thanks to exception dice in the combat and a fourth Impi has crossed the Great River to join the attack ~


The game became so tense at this point that I forgot to take any more photos! Doh!! The fourth Zulu Impi destroyed the Lancers and overran the 9lb Battery but was decimated by the fire of the remaining British infantry. With the final destruction of the Zulu riflemen on the banks of the Great River, the way to Chief Bykelezi's Krall lay open. After 15 hard fought turns and over 50% casualties the British, under General Whyte, had carried the day!
I have to say that Blogger, Photobucket and AOL have still not resolved their problems with Windows 10! Why computer nerds need to 'fix' things that are n't broken I fail to understand! I have had to load my pictures to the site on my iPad, which was a struggle in itself with Blogger and Photobucket, then go onto my laptop and edit the pictures and insert the text. About two hours to do something which took minutes before! What a useless community computer nerds are! A bit like telephone sanitisers...