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.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

A bit of a post.

I did manage a game this Monday over at Phil's, a First Carlist War game which he has posted on his blog, "News from the Front" ~ see sidebar for link. I had the worst of a draw, but at least halted my loosing streak! Painting has been steady but not spectacular. I finished the Front Rank civilians from their Napoleonic range for my Wars of the French Revolution project of course, though they need varnishing now, and finally I managed to complete my Saxon Noble warriors, Pompus Maximus' bodyguard for our Ancient games. The lone figure behind them represents old Pompus himself when he fights on foot in desperate moments ~

The Saxons are by Foundry of course, as are all the others in my collection for C4th Rome and its wars of internal conflict. While I think its never safe to say that any collection is 'finished' in my experience, my Ancients are about as close to that state as can be. We'll have to see...

Today has been very busy in GHQ, though not with gaming. Dan, the Owner/Editor of Wargames Illustrated, has been over from Nottingham to spend the day taking photos of my Wars of the French Revolution collection to accompany an article I've written about the project. It should be in the June, and perhaps, July issues, we'll have to see. When the photos are processed Dan will be able to lay it out for publication and I will be able to provide the captions for each picture he chooses. Of course, he takes far more than he will use, even allowing for the extra pictures accommodated in the digital version of the magazine, perhaps as many as 80 images to pick from! It takes a long time, far longer than you would imagine! As sole Backdrop Services Manager, Phil was elsewhere today, I can tell you my arms ached when we had finished, just in time for tea and cake as it happened! In order that you can lay the old adage, the camera does n't lie, to rest I include a few pictures I took before we started on my iPad. Look at the magazine ones when they appear and you'll see what I mean. Dan can make even my stuff look half decent! The whole collection laid out on the table ~

The French Army HQ: figures from Trent Miniatures, Boot Hill, Front Rank, Foundry and Perry Miniatures with a Grand Manner single command tent and Warbases chickens~

View of the French attack on the Allied right, held by Austrian infantry, their front screened by artillery and skirmishers to counter the French tactics ~

On the Allied left the British position is anchored on a large wood which is in turn screened by skirmisher from the Lowenstein Chasseurs ~

Looking along the Allied front line from right to left. The old Conflix buildings have taken on a new lease of life since I based them up on MDF I think ~

The British contingent on the Allied left flank. Figures by Trent Miniatures, Front Rank, and Riever Castings, while the tents were from Architectural Heritage, now JR I think ~

As I mentioned in an earlier Blog entry, at WMMS last weekend I collected some Foundry SYW figures I had ordered to fill a few holes in my French and British armies. I've made a start yesterday on painting these, starting with a figure to represent a French Brigadier. I've also got a British General base of two mounted figures to command the cavalry arm ready to go and two large field guns and artillery crew for the British, who previously only had battalion guns. I hope to finish those by next week, leaving the new French grenadiers, for the four line regiments I have; the extra French Dragoons; and finally the Horse Grenadiers to join the British Horse Guards. But tonight they can all stay where they are, I'm too tired to pick up a brush!

Thursday 17 March 2016

All Quiet...

...on the GHQ Front. No games here, or anywhere else for that matter, as real life once more confounds the best of our plans! Jon cried off at short notice today, so I was left with no game to blog. I do, however, have some things to show which have been slowly progressing through the painting process these last weeks. First up, so as to speak, are some limbers for the Wars of the French Revolution project. Firstly, French limbers and a caisson from Eureka; and, secondly, British limbers from Front Rank ~

They both have sets of civilian drivers, which seems right for the early 1790's from what I've been able to learn. The Front Rank ones may be wrong, in that they are later limbers with C18th divers in tricorns, but they will do the job for me! They might also be pressed into service in my AWI games to save a bit of time and money! Heresy to some no doubt, but that's life here in GHQ! Next, and rather different I have to say, a greenhouse and a handcart from Warbases. They are both MDF kits of course, with an Artizan figure for scale ~

Finally, a bit of whimsy as I present JEB Bykleigh, a Dixon Miniatures ACW Rebel general with a head swap you may recognise ~

I'm very out of practice when it comes to painting ACW figures now a days, as you can see from the figures. The mounted figure is Dixon's JEB Stuart with 'my' head replacing the original while the foot figure is the same company's RE Lee with a Empress SCW head swap. In the painting queue I've almost finished two large bases of Saxon Noble Warriors for my Late Roman games, together with a dismounted and armoured figure for Pompus Maximus; all from Foundry of course. Next up will be the Front Rank Napoleonic civilian sets I bought recently to 'dress' the background of the games. After those it will be the additional SYW figures I collected at WMMS on Sunday, from Foundry again. As ever they have been cleaned up and sprayed with a white acrylic undercoat and are blue tacked to their MDF bases ready to be processed in their turn. I've still got two Dixon Miniatures Rebel infantry units to paint sometime, as well as a Union cavalry regiment. Somehow they never seem to make it into the front of the queue...

Monday 14 March 2016

Two for the Price of One

I've had a busy few days since the middle of last week! An ACW game here in GHQ with Jon proved to be something of a disaster for my Union army, so I'll draw a veil over that for now. Then on Friday Matt and his eldest, Arthur, arrived for a long weekend visit. That entailed much entertaining of a grandson, a visit to an adventure farm in Shropshire, and Arthur's first wargames show on Sunday; a visit to the Alumwell show, or WMMS as its widely known now. I think Arthur had a good time. He liked the loads of games on view, especially the Star Wars game {which I see won a prize for best participation game for the STAGS of Chesterfield}, and also the vehicles and kit of the WWII Displays. He managed over an hour before Grandma came to collect him: not bad for a three year old I thought! I took a few shots on my iPhone to give an impression of the day. I rather sadly broke my glasses early on, which both curtailed my purchases on the whole and rather limited my appreciation of the games on show. My favourites were the Kinver 20mm WWII game of my old chum Dave Page and his group and the Derby Wargames tricorn game; nice to see some of Phil's commission work on display  there too ~

Dave always claims that they don't have the internet yet in Kinver, but I'm sceptical of that myself. If he's looking in now I hope that he approves of my snaps above of his game!

Now, I know that they have the internet in Derby! So I hope that the lads from the Derby club will approve of my choice of their game for the best I saw. Sadly, I expect one of the games from Shrewsbury won again... A selection of the other games, all anonymous, as my glasses were broken by then, as you can probably tell from the pictures!

Of course there were many other games on view, several of them Participation games. I've mentioned the Star Wars game, but I recall a decent looking Saga game you could join in with and a nice small game using recycled aquarium decorations ~

Matt, Phil and I enjoyed our day at WMMS I believe, at least I know I did. Phil bought a few things, notably a Grand Manner Roman Mansio and an Olive press. Matt bought some Perry and Foundry packs for his 100 Years War project - you may have seen some of his knights on an earlier blog. Me? Well, I had a preorder from Foundry for SYW British and French packs to fill some gaps in my collection and some bases of various sizes from my chum Martin at Warbases. On impulse I bought a greenhouse and a hand cart from Martin. I also got three Perry Miniatures packs from Dave Thomas for my AWI armies, some mounted Militia and some mounted Riflemen and a pack of mounted officers. Dave Thomas kindly located them for me on the racks, as they were all just silver blobs in blurred packs to me then! I also picked up a European windmill from Grand Manner, preordered in their March sale. A good day: we even walked home along the canal in pleasant sunshine.

Now, I suppose I must bite the bullet and go back to my rather disastrous showing in last week's ACW game with Jon. I lost in Turn 9 of a 10 Turn game when very suddenly my whole right flank melted away in a series of routs! Typically, my reserves were away on my weaker left flank and I had just forgotten about them until it was too late. Motto: keeping your eye on the ball is definitely recommended! A few shots of the game for those who are interested starting in about Turn 2 ~

The Irish Brigade, supported by a battery of 3" Rifled guns and two Brigades of New York troops ~

A shot of Ol' Jubal E Bykleigh leading his Reb division forward ~

A Brigade from Virginia smash home into a New York Brigade, the beginning of the end for Useless S Bykleigh I fear ~

The Bhoys prepare to repel the waves of Rebs bearing down on them ~

While in the centre the attention of old Useless is drawn to the unfolding Rebel threat to his centre and left ~

Regulars, supported by artillery, prepare to drive off the Reb assault ~

But back on the right the first unit breaks in rout and heads for the rear ~

Only to be followed in the next turn by most of my right wing, leaving my centre about to be turned. I threw in the towel at that point, my appetite for more slaughter proving weak ~

The figures are almost all Dixon Miniatures, as my regular reader must know by now. The rules were my own Bull Run to Gettysburg from Foundry. I think Jon enjoyed handing out a walloping more than I did being on the receiving end! That's two thrashings in a week: I could almost pass for a Tory MP! No game here in GHQ with Phil today, a testament to age I fear there. I'm playing Blucher on Thursday with Jon, so that will be something altogether new to report on in a future entry. Toodle Pip!

Monday 7 March 2016

The Battle of Bykleigh's Bluff

Earlier today Phil and I gathered in GHQ for our usual Monday game, an AWI game using my collection of figures from Front Rank, Perry Miniatures and Hinchliffe ~ that latter really dates me, doesn't it? I'd been reading the Black Powder supplement, Rebellion, over the weekend looking for a game I could adapt for my collection, see if you can work out which one is closest! The table at the onset of Turn 2, in a game limited to 12 Turns as is our usual wont ~

The Rebellious Americans, commanded by old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh, are drawn up in a defensive position anchored on a redoubt for their artillery. The right flank is protected by Continental Dragoons and Philadelphia Horse, their left by dismounted Continental Dragoons and a wood. The forward position is occupied by various Militias and Riflemen. The Continental  and State infantry occupy the center. I won the dice roll for initiative in Turn 1 and attempted to move my Militia forward to occupy the low rise to their front and to line the cornfield. Needless to say I failed my Command rolls! This let the British move their Indian allies into the wood in front of my Militia and their Light Companies onto my flank. The Hessians advanced to take the low rise I had wanted to occupy. The British firing rendered two of my three forward units Disorganised!

In Turn 3 the British left advanced, its flank protected from my cavalry by the Light Dragoons. Despite losses and confusion, the Militias in the front line were holding their ground and buying time for the Americans to reorganise their position. While on the British right nothing would move, preferring to skulk in the cover of fences and cornfields!

In the center, the Indians took advantage of the wood's cover to rush the Disorganised Militia unit while the Grenadiers drove off the Riflemen on their flank! The third Militia unit on the left of the forward line inclined towards the Hessians holding the hill and halted the Dragoons in the front line in Disorder.

While the Militia were holding the front line under increasing pressure the Hessian Fusiliers deployed to give the cold steel to their foe and break their resistance!

In the meantime the cavalry on the flank had finally come to blows after some initial caution on the part of both commanders. At first the Continental Dragoons, although Shaken, held their ground against the British Light Dragoons. All the while the infantry was closing steadily on the American lines where the boys waited to receive the first volley and teat their metal against King George's regulars!

The Hessian Fusiliers charge home against the Militia and in short time send them running to the rear! Behind the melee you can see the British right, composing mostly Loyalist units stiffened by the 42nd Foot, finally leaving the cover of the cornfield and fences to advance on the American left ~

The victorious British Light Dragoons have seen off their American foe and are rallying behind the American lines. Things are beginning to look ominous for old 'Independence or Death'!

Just moments before the American front line finally crumbles the Continental troops move to attempt to hold the line as the Hessians surge towards them ~

It all ended for the American cause in Turn 6 when the fourth of their six Brigades is Broken, leaving them no choice but to quit the field. The Continental and State infantry had been held in reserve too long and were punished in a series of fire fights and then hand to hand combat.

All in all a decent game we thought, although with hindsight my Militia might have retired in Turn 2 when threatened by numerous enemy units. My cavalry performed really badly, failing crucial saving throws and then Morale checks! I made very poor use of my Continental troops in the final analysis and could have moved them forward on my center right much sooner. As I said, hindsight! Later in the week Jon and I hope to refight the scenario but in the ACW this time. As Matt will be here for the long weekend, to visit the Alumwell show, I hope we might get a game in too. Meanwhile, back to see if the hand and eye will let me finish the four C18th outriders for my British artillery limbers.

Friday 4 March 2016

I had such plans...

Blogger has been more uncooperative even than usual tonight! I had plans to write something thoughtful to mark the 300th post on my Blog, but I've wasted over 30 minutes waiting for Windows 10 to update, for either Safari or AOL to deign to function, and for Photobucket and then Blogger to decide to work! Its at times like these that I think the whole body of computer nerds should be rounded up and locked in a dark place with something nasty!!!! And what's it all for anyway? Who looks at anything for more than a fleeting moment and then what infinitesimally small percentage can shift themselves to say anything about your efforts? Well, I've got that off my chest at least.
I've had a difficult few days this week with my arthritis in my hands particularly. I have painted, if I dare use that word, a few bits after a long weekend break at the end of February. I managed to complete the two Front Rank British limber sets for my Wars of the French Revolution project, but I pulled the outriders off and have replaced them with C18th civilians, as it seems that's what was the norm in the early 1790's. So I have to undercoat the four figures and paint them now before I can fix them to the sets and varnish the whole. I also managed to finish a set of machine gun pack mules from Tiger Miniatures for my Rhanzlistan Field Force. These are really useful little figures and I recommend them to anyone looking for some inexpensive options for a mule train in any period from about 1800 onwards really, as there are several choices, even mules without any loads to add your own. But my main achievement this week has been a converted ACW Reb command stand of one mounted and one foot figure, JEB Bykleigh and staff! I finally got a supply of 'my heads' cast by Trevor at Dixon Miniatures and can now indulge a fairly silly whim to have a 'little lead me' on the table in my armies! Next up will be an ECW version I hope, after I buy a suitable figure from Warlord at next weekend's WMMS show. {You may remember that Matt made the head originally for a Christmas present for me ~ it adorns the header page on the Blog ~ so I will choose a figure he sculpted for Warlord's ECW range and modify that.} But, back to my recent 'painting', three Foundry Dragoon Guards for the Indian Mutiny project. They are quite straightforward little chaps with no really difficult animation to deal with but when I looked at them this evening it seems they were painted while I had a bag over my head and my hands in boxing gloves, mistakes all over the place, very disheartening! I will have to go over them completely now and paint out all the wobbles and missed bits. If its not the hands its the eyes it seems. I do not intend to give up though, as I enjoy it far to much and it has always helped me with my anxiety and depression, it always seemed to flow out of the brush when things were difficult as I painted the little lead chaps.
There was only one game here in GHQ this week, an Ancient game with Jon as the usurper Albinus against yours truly, the rightful Emperor, Pompus Maximus! The scenario saw Jon's force of mostly infantry attempting to intercept a tax gathering convoy while my mostly cavalry force tried to save the tax raised for the Imperial Treasury. We used Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Rules, the Dark Ages option this time, and played our usual 12 Turns. At the end of Turn 12 I had just scraped a win by dint of saving the tax collector from Jon's hordes and having lost one base of figures less than he had in the process. Here's a picture of the action ~

The tax collector's waggon could not move until Turn 4, determined by random dice throw before the game giving Jon a chance to use his only cavalry, two units of bow armed Hun Light Cavalry to try to seize the convoy, defended at that point by only one unit of Dark Age Infantry. In fact the infantry put up a splendid fight, holding off the Huns and then Jon's Frankish Warbands just long enough for the convoy to escape and for the first relief forces to arrive. Meanwhile, the bulk of my cavalry were off on the flank to cut off any escape just in case Jon did manage to capture the waggon. The fighting there was very bitter with his infantry doing sterling service throughout the game. We entitled the battle, the Battle of Villa Relagatio ~ local football fans may work that out I hope! This is the situation at the end of Turn 12. Not much left of the two mighty forces that began the battle...

I'd better get back to something more thoughtful though now as this is the 300th post as I said at the outset. I mentioned that next weekend sees the Alumwell Wargames Society show, more popularly known as WMMS. I saw from their web page that its the fortieth such show and that really brought me up sharply. You see, Phil and I, together with the support of the other Committee Members, were the organisers of the first shows in the 1970's and 80's. I suddenly feel ever one of my 65 years now. I've missed at least three in more recent years, due to travelling to exotic locations, but must have been at more than 35 of them I think. The show now is held in Wolverhampton, at Aldersley Leisure Village which is about a mile from my home. If its a nice day we can walk there along the canal side. But this year is very special for a more important reason, as Matt is coming up and bringing Arthur, our eldest grandson, to his first wargames show. Now Arthur is only three, but he's already shown signs of being really keen and with some help has painted two 28mm figures of his own when he's been staying with us! As I have a photo of Matt sitting at my painting table, aged about two, pretending to paint the 'little mans' its not really a surprise, it must be in the genes! It seems I have passed the torch on in the darkness in some small way, and that gives me more pleasure than almost anything else you see. If there is nothing beyond this life, then I will have made a small difference along the way in this, and that's all any of us can try to do really.