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.

Sunday 31 July 2016


Phil and I are all set for tomorrow's concluding moves in the Wars of the French Revolution game we started two weeks ago. Sadly, now I have studied the table more closely, it looks a very tall order for the Allied army to pull off a win. It would be more a case of the French loosing it than of the Allies winning I feel, but we shall see. As I am off to Scotland on Tuesday, I may not have time to Blog the game tomorrow so here are a few images showing what I think will be the important positions as the game develops ~

On the Allied right the cavalry is on the verge of breaking, with only one Regiment unshaken. The Hanoverian infantry will be forced into square if that happens, leaving the French to bring up their supporting guns and infantry to break the Allied right. I will need to Rally off a casualty here straight away to have any chance.

One French Battalion is already moving forward. I need my skirmishers to hold them up from the cover of the woods if they can.

In the Allied centre the 42nd Foot are holding the town for now, but my reserves are already committed, so if they break or are forced back my centre is broken.

The 42nd has some skirmishers to its left front who may hold up the enemy for a move or two with good dice. We treat the skirmishers in this game as Small Units, independent of the main Battalion. Not strictly cosher for Black Powder but it gives an added dimension to the game we feel.

The Royal Artillery 9lbers are giving staunch support to my left and centre, doing great execution! The French Lights are already Shaken, maybe one more dose of canister will see them off? Even so, there are a lot of Frenchies still moving forward.

On the Allied left the position is more stable I feel. The Lowenstein Chasseurs are holding their own while a Battalion of British regulars has plugged a worrying gap in the line. Reserves here though are thin on the ground, so these men must hold at all costs.

As I said, a lot of Frenchies still moving forward.

We shall see what the dice gods have in store for us tomorrow! In the meantime, you may remember that I talked abut dressing the town for different periods to make it a more generic and therefore useful piece, so here are a few shots to illustrate hopefully my meaning. Firstly, a pump and trough added between the houses with some figures going about their business. The barrels suggest the building might be an inn ~

Secondly, a couple are leaving church, after a quiet moment of prayer perhaps?

Two gentlemen are on their way into town, discussing the affairs of the day I expect. I've added a box of apples in front of the stables as a treat for the horses!

I hope that gives an idea of what I meant by 'dressing' the town for different periods. I also have a carriage and pair underway to add to the period feel from the SYW to the Wars of the French Revolution. I have other ideas for the look of the town in 1914 and 1940 which we shall have to wait and see. For now though, Toodle Pip!

Thursday 28 July 2016

Council of War

On a visit to Wargames Foundry earlier this year I picked up a set of 'Early Austrian Generals' from one of their Casting Room ranges. I discarded the Hussar on guard duty, as he was depicted in the later shako with peak, and added an old table with clutter, which I picked up from Colonel Bill's bits box, to the mix. They finally reached the head of the painting queue this week, along with the C18th coach set from Westphalia Miniatures that I bought from Graham of Cran Tara at the Carronade show in May!
On the Foundry website the painted examples are all in general officer uniform, excluding the two Hussar figures of course. I wanted something more colourful and varied, and this is the result ~

I used as references a set of period colour illustrations which I located on the net. The figures are meant to show, from the left: two Austrian generals, the seated figure is rather improbably seated on a drum; a General Adjutant; a Staff Officer; and lastly, a Hussar Staff Officer. The Casting Room miniatures in the Napoleonic ranges have a rather naive style, but I will accept that given my age, arthritic hand and eyesight issues! All those issues are only too clear to me when I see the enlarged figures in the photos; you will have to take my word for it when I say they look fine on the table. Here are two more views from different angles to give an overall feel for the piece ~

While pieces like this serve no rule related function in the game, I like to have pieces such as this to decorate the table, especially in those areas near the baseline when your armies have advanced to glory {or otherwise!} I have my eye on another set from the same source, a surgeon in action, which I hope to purchase later in the year on another visit to Foundry!
Turning now in closing to the C18th coach set I mentioned earlier, I am afraid to say that I am defeated in painting it by my hand's inability to hold its base safely! Phil has kindly offered to finish it off for me when he can fit it in to his commission schedule. I have all the base colours on the coach, horses, driver and feed box, so it is a more affordable commission for me. If you've not seen Phil's work, then you are in for a treat when its done!

Saturday 23 July 2016

Here,There and Everywhere

A bit of a mixed bag in this update of the Blog today. No games of course since Monday's Wars of the French Revolution game, but I have managed some painting! In no significant order, we have: a Command Stand for the English Civil War; a Japanese Type 1 antitank gun and crew; and lastly, well you'll just have to wait, I don't want to excite any Welsh readers!
If you recall I went to Barrage in Stafford the other Sunday and amongst my loot was the Warlord Games mounted ECW officer. I got him, you might remember, because he came with different heads, so I could add 'my own head in 28mm' to create a figure for Obadiah Bykleigh and here he is ~

Obadiah Bykleigh, Gentleman, circa 1644! The two other figures on the base are a Perry Miniatures pikeman casualty and the Warlord Games free figure that came with the Black Powder variant of their rules for the ECW period. Now I must be truthful here, as a 'stout fellow' myself, the head is a little large for the slimmer figure of the officer, but if we all squint at it on the table we will find that it will pass muster!
Continuing on the Warlord Games theme I also bought at Barrage a Japanese antitank gun and crew. Now, their kits are notoriously fiddly, especially for those of us like me who are indifferent modelers! They also fail to come with any instruction to help convert the kit of parts into the finished article. With my previous experience of these faults I quickly checked their site for the PDF download. Guess what? Of course there wasn't one! So I wrote in and helpfully learnt that its not even on the 'to do' list yet! But, they did email me some helpful photos which were enough to get it done. However, it did take three days to do, waiting overnight for each stage to set hard enough for handling when adding the next part! It comes with three crew figures, two gunners and an officer or NCO. They seem very small compared to the infantry I have, but then they are crouching low. Judge for yourself  from the picture ~

Finally, for my by now over excited Welsh reader perhaps, the Curteys' Miniatures shepherd and flock of sheep which Jon kindly gave me ~

The shepherd seems a Dark Ages sort to me, so they can figure easily in our Late Roman games as an objective marker or obstacle blocking a pathway! You would have to be very keen to spend time painting each one lovingly, so unsurprisingly I opted for a quick and easy approach. I sprayed them white first, then gave them a heavy wash of GW's Agrax Earth (or whatever its called today!) I left that to dry overnight and then applied several increasingly sparse dry brushes of Valejo Ivory. The horns I roughly painted with Foundry Rawhide shade and then dry brushed with the same firm's Rawhide Middle pot. I painted the base with GW's old Graveyard Earth and applied patches of static grass and there we are ~

I think the best that can be said about them is that they look alright from the usual gaming distance! My other painting has been some extra figures for my VBCW games set around Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire, some Footsore Miniatures British Militia for my growing Wolverhampton Workers' Militia unit. Sadly they were the expected poor castings again! Someone really does need to look at quality control where ever they are being cast! They await finishing, but today I've been hacking back the jungle, or gardening as its often misnamed! They will have to wait, I may just discover a lost city if I press on...

Monday 18 July 2016

On the Plain before Peendeforde {1}

Phil duly came over early for our game today in order to dry brush and varnish the town square for me (see previous post). Even though we are only half way through our game, and won't get a chance to conclude it until 8 August, I thought I'd post an entry showing the town in action, so as to speak, in a Wars of the French Revolution setting. First though, "Take a bow, Mr Robinson!" as the town square gets its final coat of varnish after serial dry brushing!

The game features my collection for the Wars of the First Coalition, set in the Flanders theatre from 1793-1795. You may perhaps have seen the article I wrote on the project in the last two issues of Wargames Illustrated, but if you haven't you still have time to buy the issues! I commanded the Allies, defending around Peendeforde, and Phil the French assaulting the defences. We used Black Powder for our rules and set the length of the game at our usual 12 Turns. The French assault got underway in Turn 1 with Phil passing every command roll!!!

From the perspective of the Rohan Friekorps and the Hompesch Hussars, stationed on the Allied right flank, it all looks very threatening as the French military machine grinds towards the nervous defenders ~

A swirling cavalry melee soon develops on the Allied right, with fortunes ebbing and flowing, neither side being able to deal a crushing blow to the enemy! The Light Dragoons fall back 'Shaken'', their place in the line taken by the Hompesch Hussars. In the centre the French advance stalls for a turn or two under withering fire along the Allied line ~

On the Allied left a French skirmish screen and aggressively handled artillery allow the main Demi Brigades to advance with minimal losses! But French losses mount amongst the hordes of skirmishers and they are broken, along with one defending British battalion ~

All along the front the French advance courageously under heavy fire. Units are disordered but continue staunchly on the enemy! The Allies steel themselves for the coming tide of Frenchmen to break over their defences ~

In the safety of Peendeforde's town square the Duke of York directs the defence of the Allied position. The Dunwhinginn Fencibles hold the town's walls and gate against the French hordes advancing towards them ~

On the Allied left, another British battalion plugs the gap in the line and destroys the 4th Legere as their assault falls short with them shaken and disordered. {Their -4 in the Test left them no choice but to rout!} Turn 6 ends, along with the day's gaming, with the Allies holding their own, but with the French ominously poised for the final blow!

In fact, the heat finally proved too much for us,even in GHQ, and we repaired to the house for tea and cake. The game will continue on 8 August, pop back then to see who will win the plaudits!

Sunday 17 July 2016

Almost There...

...but not quite! I managed some further work on the town of Peendeforde this morning and have almost got it finished. It needs some ivy type climbers in one or two places to disguise the joins between building and wall pieces, which I hope to source in early August at Claymore, and something to represent a vegetable garden between the two houses. The only other job now is to dry brush the stonework on the town square, which I hope Phil can help with tomorrow, as he has a steadier touch for this than I do! If nothing else I know my own limitations by now! See what you think ~

I've also managed to finish my French Light Infantry battalion for my Wars of the French Revolution project. As is usual they are by Trent Miniatures ~

I also have a base of skirmishers from the same regiment well on the way to completion, I'll just need to add a similar base for the 14th sometime after Partizan. There is some poetic license here, as the elites are both Carabiniers and Voltigeurs, though the latter are a bit later than my period, but they look nice. I also gave them bearskins, conjecturally, as Duncan tells me the issue and use of the bearskin was widespread in the early period. Good enough for me anyway! Flags for Light Infantry are hard to track down for free I've found. This unit is making use of the 14th's from the Vexicology site, with the '1' painted out so they represent the '4'th! It will do, as a friend might say! They will enjoy their baptism of fire tomorrow on the table in GHQ along with the town of Peendeforde, which will be held by the Allies. My next project for the game will be a small squadron of Hussards de Beon, an emigre unit in British service in the Low Countries. I already have some of the figures, but will need a command pack at Partizan.

Friday 15 July 2016

Gardeners' World?

As my regular reader will know only to well, I am concentrating for the present on my 'multi-period' Northern European town, which I've named Peendeforde, for obvious reasons really. As Sue has been at the local University all week I've made some guilt free progress. Today I finished colour washing the town square and the groundwork and also set about adding static grass, tufts and flower clumps to the smaller bases housing the church and graveyard. I thought a few pictures were in order ~

This is the general view from the side of the coaching inn. The groundwork has been washed in a cheap artists' acrylic, 'Country Maple', and the stonework of the town square and the church pathway in 'Agrax Earth', from 'you know where'! The stonework will stand a lighter drybrushing I think when its completely hard, probably Foundry 'Butternut Light'.

This is the view across the table towards the main gateway in the walled section of the town. I left the opposite side of the town open rather than walling the whole, it can simply be turned that way round if you want to signify a more modern look, say for 1914-18 or 1939-45 games. The square shines because the third coat of the wash was n't dry when I took the picture. Its completely matt now it has dried, I checked!

I took this to better show the layout of the whole town with the church and graveyard in place. Because they are separately based the 'look' can be altered by swithiching them around in different ways.

I like the way the church turned out. Most painted examples I found on other blogs seemed to have slate roofs, but I chose to suggest fired clay tiles in order to match the roof of the stable block and the pantiles on the three houses. Painting the individual stones over a brown spray undercoat was time consuming, but strangely therapeutic too. I think it blends the church in with the building behind quite well.

The graveyard of all my hopes? Well, not really of course! The stones are from Ainsty. I modelled the slight mounds and the open grave cut with Miliput and then textured over it with the fine Buff Ballast I mentioned in an earlier post. As I think less is more in the creation of vegetation, I was careful to leave largish areas uncovered with static grass and to deploy the tufts and flower clumps carefully. Those against the wall and the church signify weeds, so are white or yellow. I used a red clump for flowers on one grave for a dash of different colour.
I hope to be able to add the static grass, tufts and some colourful flower clumps to the main town tomorrow. It will be more of a challenge due to the size and weight of the town piece, but I think it can be done safely in several small stages. I may leave the area between the two houses as a garden and get some more suitable pieces to model that feature at Claymore in August. I hope that fellow gamers think I've done OK so far, I'm not much of a modeller really, but the venerable Hovels buildings are a joy to paint and so reasonably priced too!

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Yes we can!

When its not "Fireman Sam" its "Bob the Builder"! Of course, for the benefit of any non British readers, these are the titles of popular children's cartoon, or at least they are popular with William who sings along with gusto to accompany the programmes' theme tunes. Hence the title, which is belted out by Bob the Builder in answer to the question, "Can we build it?" Well, in this instance we certainly can! I collected the bespoke MDF bases from Walt of Commission Figurines at Barrage on Sunday for a very reasonable price, so I'd recommend him to anyone! I've started on the landscaping of my 'universal' North European town, Peendeford, The following pictures will, I hope serve for now, although I have already done further ground work by adding a stone effect sheet for the town square and for a path to the church door ~

I hope to do some further work tomorrow, probably texturing around the church with my usual PVA and ballast mix. {On the theme of ballast, I was at Tutbury on Saturday with Sue for an afternoon out. There's a decent Train Shop there, the 'Tutbury Jinny', and I got more fine buff ballast and the stone plastic sheeting from them.}
That leads me nicely on to Sunday and the Stafford Wargames Show, Barrage. I thought the show was both bigger and busier than last year, with some nice games to entertain when you were shopped out! I didn't take any pictures in the end because unexpectedly Jon turned up and we had a good natter and mooch about the show together, even though he did n't buy anything! I was luckier, getting three items on my 'To Buy' list for the summer ~

I got the Footsore Miniatures British Militia from Ainsty, who helpfully will order me the same company's Workers' Militia for Claymore next month. The two Warlord packs I got from their stand of course - they deserve some credit for supporting so many shows with their trade stand by the way! The Type 1 Japanese antitank gun has been on my list for a while, so I was pleased to find one, while the ECW Commander was for a conversion, to represent Obadiah Bykleigh in our games by the addition of one of my bespoke heads from Matt and cast by Trevor at Dixon Miniatures! That's already on the painting table, but has to wait while I finish the last few figures for my Wars of the French Revolution French Light Infantry! Next week perhaps? For a show of its size that's a decent number chalked off 'The List'. I shall hopefully attend 2017's show which I hope will be bigger still!

One final item, a surprise gift from Jon which he bought for me when he was at Phalanx, while I was in Wales! Its from Curtey's Miniatures, you may have seen it yourself, and is very appropriate given where I was when it was bought ~

My very own flock of sheep! And with a Late Roman style shepherd I'm sure that they will soon be rustled by that villainous Baldinus! Mind you they will need painting first! And on that note its back to the paint table and those Frenchies! Au Revoir mes Amis!

Friday 8 July 2016

Girding One's Loins...

Phil has gone off on a well earned break and Jon continues to be beset by real life issues, so I am the real "Billy Nomates" for a while! But, nothing daunted, I have 'girded up my loins' and set too with the trusty sable size 000 in an attempt to finish the Trent Miniatures figures I bought at Partizan. I've completed eight Hanoverian infantry to bring the second regiment up to strength and also added another base of French skirmishers. Now I've embarked on a French Light Infantry regiment, using the Elites with bicorns for the Chasseurs. Those wearing the bearskin I've deployed as Carabiniers and Voltigeurs. Now, I realise this is pushing the envelope a little in more than one direction, but it's a case of needs must. Trent only have one Light Infantry type, the 14th in mirleton, so I've had to improvise.  I've also started to paint the Hovels church for my town, though it's proved slow going at the base coat stage! I have all the base colours finished now, so it can be onward with the dry brushing stage tomorrow! I'm due to collect the specially cut MDF bases, which Jon kindly ordered for me, on Sunday at Barrage, the local Stafford show, so I need to press on to complete the church when I can. I also have eight more Light Infantry to finish after the last four Chasseurs are highlighted.

As I just mentioned its the Stafford wargames show, Barrage, on Sunday at the Blessed William Howard School. If you live locally I hope you will pop into the show and support a local group's efforts. With the demise of Sheffield Triples sounding a warning bell, shows need all our support if they are going to survive and prosper! If you need any help in organising yourself in this, or any aspect of our hobby, I refer you to the diagram below ~

Now, with mine well and truely girded its back to church!

Sunday 3 July 2016

The Forgotten Army...

The injection I had to help my arthritic hip problem went well and was followed as per instructions by two days' complete rest, which sadly could n't extend to sitting at my painting desk and getting on with some serious panting! But, as an unexpected bonus, on Friday Sue and Di went to a Craft Exhibition at Birmingham's NEC, leaving Phil and I to organise a game for ourselves. As I'd left out the terrain from Monday's Rhanzlistan epic we decided to utilize it for a Bolt Action game set in Burma 1943. Phil took on the roll of the British commander and I took the Japanese. We decided to play for 12 turns, as is our usual practise, with the British objective being to expel the Japanese from the village of Pendhi-La, which they have fortified as well as the situation allows. The first picture shows the British crossing the river, the Grant in the lead, while 'Mad Jack' Robinson directs affairs from the river bank ~

One of the three Japanese squads occupied a dry stream bed to the front of the village and were supported by an anti-tank gun {its an infantry gun pretending!}. Almost from the off the gunners and the tank crew engaged in their own private 'duel in the sun', with neither seemingly able to deliver a fatal blow! The gun and crew are from Brigade while the infantry are from Warlord by the way ~

The other two Japanese squads were dug in around the village. While the anti tank rifle team could n't actually knock out the Grant, they could and did inflict several 'Pin Markers' on the tank throughout the game. This had the effect of holding up Phil's thrust down the road and rather blinded me to the developing threat on my left ~

Phil had organised his force into smaller squads than the Japanese and also given them the 'Tough Fighters' rule. I ought really to have taken some notice of that, but you know how it is when you get carried away by early success in a game! I was concentrating too much on the tank and failed to move decisively to counter the attack through the jungle on my left ~

I'd actually lost sight of one of those groups but decided to move one of my large squads out to my left flank thinking they would make short work of the six enemy I could see! Wrong!!! I'd forgotten not only that they were 'Tough Fighters' but also how combat works when one side is in hard cover ~

While the movement on the left was developing my HQ were overseeing the mortar fire directed by an observer group on the roof of one of the houses in the village. I think the observer needed glasses though, or perhaps the radio link was poor, as my mortar shells fell everywhere except on their targets!Captain Onomoro and his staff were far removed from the action for too long ~

The squad in the dry stream bed and their supporting gun were so heavily involved in continuous firing that they soon called for ammunition resupply {I took a picture of the mule teams and wanted to use it!} The mules are from Tiger Miniatures while the escorting infantry are from Brigade ~


Phil was favoured by the draw of the dice on my left and one squad occupied an area of rocky outcrops by a ruined temple {Garden Centre find!} while the second squad continued forward unnoticed by the Japanese! Banzai! I decided on an impetuous charge to dislodge the enemy to my front ~

I was pretty confident my superior numbers would do the trick and that, once the small squad was eliminated, it would allow me to follow up by swinging in toward the road and take the enemy by surprise. The dice rolled! I killed six! Success, the enemy were wiped out! But Phil had also rolled, causing 10 casualties! 'Tough Fighters' indeed, my whole squad was wiped out ~

Now I had no immediate cover for my exposed left flank and my right was being whittled down by steady fire from the British mortar and MMG teams. While the duel between the gun and tank crews moved towards its climax more British infantry squads were threatening my centre and right from the cover of the jungle ~

Right at the start of Turn 8 the Japanese gunners finally brew up the Grant! Only to be mortared to death later in the turn, along with most of the infantry in the dry stream bed! The remaining squad dug in the village suddenly acquired 10 'Pin Markers' and was eliminated, leaving the way open for the British to occupy Pendhi-La and win the game in Turn 9! A clear result for the British/Phil with an overwhelming defeat for my Japanese! Still, a great game which we both enjoyed and we finished just in time to collect our wives from Wolverhampton station on their return! I hope to be at Phil's on Monday for a WWI Chain of Command game so keep an eye out on 'News From The Front' for his account of that game next week. Now, its back to painting for my Wars of the French Revolution project! Toodle Pip!