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.

Monday 29 August 2016

Not Much Going On...

...here in GHQ over the past few days, not much at all. You might remember that I pushed the boat out and ordered some Austrian Chevauxleger from Eureka for my Wars of the French Revolution project. Well, they are now finished, based and varnished, and safely stored in GHQ until their debut, sometime next month I hope. I deviated from my usual group painting style and did these one at a time. On reflection I think that, while keeping me sane, it did slow the process down quite a lot.

I also finally managed to paint a Dixon Miniatures ACW limber set for my Rebs! I've only had it about three years! It seems all I've painted this month is horses!! I'm not a lover of painting horses!!! Its really quite hard now trying to match a style which began years ago using entirely different paint from a different company. Not sure I mind though, they seem to fit right in.

I've just noticed while they were uploading how poor these pictures are. No difference in the lighting in GHQ today and the usual iPad pictures, but somehow they are very poor in contrast compared to the usual efforts! Still, it gives you an idea of what I've been up to. There are some other things finished, at least the painting stage is, but not ready to show yet. One is another 'personalised head' figure, a British mounted General for the Wars of the French Revolution project. I need to decide what else will go on his base, so he won't be ready to view yet a while. I've also finished a fat Tyrolean officer ~ lord only knows why Duncan commissioned him/Matt sculpted him ~ but I've christened him Biccarotti and will use him as a re-roll token when its desperate in a game; "Its not over until the fat officer sings!" sort of thing. Both are from Trent Miniatures in this case.
Phil is due over tomorrow. We are going to tackle the first stage of basing the 'Mountains of Rhanzlistan' now I have the 6mm 4' x 2' MDF boards we needed. Quite a lot of hot glue gunning going on tomorrow then! Best get an early night! But, before I go, something of a shock in the latest Miniature Wargames with Battlegames. Tales from GHQ is featured with some kind words as one of the Editor's Blogs of the Month. Well, knock me down with a feather! To say I was surprised is an understatement of gigantic proportions, but pleasing never the less. Onward and Upward, eh?

Monday 22 August 2016

Travels with my Chum and Other Things

Phil and I have been out and about recently: to Gripping Beast in Evesham last Thursday and to The Other Partizan at Newark Showground on this Sunday. The 'Beast' was combined with a day out with Sue and Di, a very fine day as it happened, including my purchase of the Staff and the Armed Schoolboys for my VBCW project; the Woodbine Design WWI Character set of Padre, casualty & bombers for the 1914 game and the VBCW; and, at last, a pack of Saga Highland cattle! No pictures of that of course, but patience is a virtue remember. On to Partizan then on Sunday, and what a day that was!
Of course, the days when we were up, game packed and on the road for 6.30 a.m. are long gone, now a days we leave at a genteel 8.30, hoping to arrive around 10.00 and miss the opening queue! As we traveled eastwards towards the spiritual centre of the wargamer's world the weather grew warmer and sunnier, a sure sign from above that we were going to have a grand day out! We arrived, parked and walked straight in, no queue at all! A good start in my book, I hate queuing! We had decided on the way over to collect our pre-orders first and stow them in the car's boot, no sense in carrying stuff for the sake of it after all. I trotted off to Trent Miniatures, Warbases, and Colonel Bill's in short order and soon had all the pre-ordered loot stashed in the car! Time to browse the stands, meet up with friends and take in the games staged for our delectation! And we were not disappointed I have to say! Some splendid games on show, in some lesser gamed periods as well, and all to a grand standard guaranteed to inspire the most jaded of us! I only had my iPhone camera with me, so you will have to be a little generous in judging my efforts to capture the essence of the games which appealed to me the most, no other judgement made than that. Firstly a Great War in East Africa game ~

Secondly, a splendid VBCW Canal Commando raid game staged by the stalwarts of the VBCF! I can claim a marginal involvement, having contributed a building to the town set up!

Thirdly, a Russian Civil War game with a time travelling theme! Spot the Time Bandits!

Fourthly, a rather nice Indian Mutiny game, mostly the Mutineer Miniatures figure range I think. I wonder what happened to them?

A rather nice 28mm Western Desert 1941 game. Lots of interesting things going on within the main game. I like to see that myself, it adds to the period interest more so than rank upon rank of troops!

While it should n't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that all the games I've chosen were 28mm games, there were plenty of others to delight the eye. A rather nice 6mm(?) Napoleonic game; a 20mm Italian Wars of Unification game; and a 54mm Ancients game featuring these rather splendid Nellies ~

Much, much more to delight and entrance even the casual gamer in my view, and that's not even taking into consideration the splendid array of Participation Games and the various Societies displaying their wares, not to leave out the Traders themselves, for many the whole point of attending a show like Partizan! Now, an aside, but a necessary one. You'll notice I have n't said who the games were presented by. This is not a slight on any chaps, intended or unintended, but a reflection on this old chap's lack of organisation and his inability to hear folk due to increased deafness. Large venues full of folk leave me functionally deaf, as for instance the chaps on the VBCF game must have realised in chatting with me! That aside, the muggy heat in the afternoon needs mentioning. I needed to sit outside in the fresher air or I think I might have fainted! If future events are held in August there needs to be some thought given to ventilation or to air conditioning! A small inconvenience really though and it did give the opportunity for a fine ice cream!
Finally, the almost obligatory 'Loot' photos. Figures first of course and mostly from Trent Miniatures for my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project ~

The gaming aids and terrain items we all need now a days to beautify, or in my case distract from, the painted chaps! Plus the free figure of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel and a gift from Dan at Wargames Illustrated of the Lord Kitchener figure! The counters for Sharp Practice might give you a clue to a minor project next year, as might the Osprey I bought for £5.00 on the New Zealand Wars.

Finally, You may recall that I started off by mentioning that patience is a virtue, and so my final offering combines purchases from Reiver Castings at Claymore, Gripping Beast and from Colonel Bill at Partizan. For the VBCW in Wolverhampton, some heavier weapons in the form of an 18lb gun, a Stokes mortar and a Leach Trench catapult, while for the Great War in 1914 the start of a casualty clearing station vignette ~

I have managed to clean up a few more figures earlier tonight, mostly French Light Infantry for more skirmisher bases and a character figure for the British forces, one General Bykleigh. But, I still have three Eureka Chevauxleger to finish before I can get on to anything else. So, off to the painting desk I go. Toodle Pip!

Monday 15 August 2016

Action at Wadi el An'dhi

As the weather has turned hot and sunny again here in the UK, at least for a few days, so it seemed like an omen for our Sudan War game here in GHQ today. Phil, in the persona of Lord Rawnsley {scion of the famed military family, tracing their ancestors back to Sir Marmaduke 'Gaylord' Robinson of English Civil War fame} took command of the Imperial Desert Column charged with the defeat of the forces of the 'Barmy Bhykli', otherwise Osman bin Lina.
He commanded a Brigade of infantry comprising the South Staffs; the Royal Surreys, the Black Watch and the Gay Gordons; a Brigade of cavalry, comprising Hussars and Dragoons; the Guards Heavy Camel Corps; a Naval Detachment from HMS Inglorious with the Gardner and Gatling guns; and finally a RA screw gun. Lord Rawnsley enjoyed a Command Rating of 9, his two subordinates either 9 or 8, depending on the throw of a dice for their first order.
For his part, the Bhykli mustered all the troops at his disposal: a dozen or so Rhubs of fanatical Beja warriors; two Rhubs of rifle armed Beja skirmishers; a large waband of Beja camelry; the Nile Arabs from the nearby fishing village and two groups of Baggara Arab Horse; all supported by a captured Krupp breech loader and the enslaved crew.
Using the 'Blood on the Nile' supplement to Black Powder, the action kicked off with the Imperial forces advancing cautiously towards the wadi, while the Mahdists waited anxiously for the order to charge! [I kept throwing high!] Finally the Baggara Horse were activated and they charged forward on the right flank engaging the Dragoons ~

They were son sent tumbling back beyond the rocky outcrops while the Hussars bravly crossed the wadi and moved towards the village on the Mahdists' right flank. In the centre Lord Rawnsley advanced his infantry rather incautiously in line, hoping to maximise the effect of their firepower when the expected attack developed ~

The Imperial infantry advance was very slow, leaving the Royal Surreys, supported by the Guards' Heavy Camel Corps on their left, somewhat exposed when the Mahdist hordes of fanatical Beja warriors were revealed to their front ~

As the situation on the Imperial right flank developed, over on their left the situation looked bleak. Despite being repulsed on two occasions, the Baggara Horse had defeated the Dragoons and forced the Hussars back. Hordes of Nile Arabs had emerged from the fishing village and swarmed through the wadi towards the stalled Imperial infantry, leaving the nervous tars of HMS Inglorious somewhat exposed ~

As the situation demanded action, Rawnsley was not found wanting. The Hussars had rallied and charged bravely into the leading warbands of Arabs, while the Black Watch moved smartly forward n their flank and poured fire into the supporting Arab groups. The situation was stabilized on the Imperial left flank for the time being ~

Away on the Imperial right flank, The Gordons joined the Royal Surreys and the now dismounted Guards in forming a wall of steel facing the onrushing fanatical Beja. Just at this moment the large group of Beja camelry made their appearance. Rolling the dice in anticipation of them appearing on the Imperial right flank, imagine Rawnsley's elation when they appeared away on his left, promptly blundered and left the table for good! His bacon was saved for now at least ~

Despite heavy fire and the faltering of some Rhubs of fanatics, the mass of Fuzzy Wuzzys made a determined charge for the waiting Imperial lines ~

While the guns of the tars from HMS Inglorious continued to play on the Fuzzy Wuzzys, the Nile Arabs had their dander well and truly up and swept all away before them. The Imperial left flank was collapsing, leaving the tars' flank exposed to the masses of enemy troops beyond their left ~

The South Staffords were soon in deadly hand to hand combat with the Fuzzies, briefly holding their own before they too were swept away. It was all up for Lord Rawnsley on this occasion as the remnants of his force fled to save their lives and the victorious Beja warriors slaughtered all who they could catch! ~

Serious questions will be asked in Parliament, you may be sure of that, while the Queen Empress will surely shed a quiet tear or two for her boys in red who will not see home again. In two weeks time we hope to play a follow up action, when the 'Barmy Bhykli' will sweep down on the regrouping Imperial forces and hope to do more damage to Rawnsley's faltering military reputation! A rare and welcome win for the 'Barmy Bhykli'!
I'm sure most of you will recognise the Perry Miniatures figures from my collections. Phil scratchbuilt the buildings of the town for me, while the huts in the village are from Hovels. The hills are from GW of course, while the palms are from S&S, the low cacti from the local garden centre and the rocks in the outcrops from Juno Beach! Andy of The Last Valley made me the extra wide wadi. The Mahdist foot flags are from the Flag Dude, the cavalry ones from a web site I found back in the day.

Saturday 13 August 2016

Play up! Play up! And play the game!

Monday's game in GHQ is all set to feature an overdue return to manly action and deeds of daring do in the sands of the Sudan. Lord Rawnsley's Desert Column aim to put an end to the rebellious Osman bin Lina, known to all as the Barmy Bhykli! Instead though of using our usual rules, A Good Dusting, we thought we would use Black Powder, with tweaks from the Blood on the Nile supplement. A few shots of the scene of the action to raise your interest ~
The lair of Osman bin Lina

The wadi el Andhi

Lord Rawnsley takes tea.

God bless the navy!

Pop back after Tiffin on Monday and see how it all unraveled for one or the other of us.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Some new pieces for the black powder era ~

Just a quick Blog post to show a few new items here in GHQ. Firstly, you might recall that Phil was finishing off the coach and pair for me. Here it is, and I think its a wonderful job ~

The coach set is from Westphalia Miniatures,  retailed by Cran Tara in the UK. The driver is an old  Foundry ECW model from my spares box with the hat turned up into a sot of tricorn. I hope it will serve from the 1740's to the early 1800's without looking out of place. The set includes the trough and bucket you can see over the wall.
Secondly, a little vignette for the Wars of the French Revolution project. By way of explanation, I recently received from Eureka in Australia my order of some Austrian Chevauxleger charging into action. I had asked for a standard bearer, not included in the deal, to be exchanged for a trooper as I like my cavalry to have standards where ever possible. They kindly simply added the figure and a standing horse, leaving me with 13 figures for a 12 figure regiment. I mounted the least aggressive looking posed trooper on the standing horse to use in my vignette. I also had a spare Austrian dismounted Hussar from the generals vignette I'd bought from Foundry. I cut off his shako's visor, as he would 'do' then for our earlier period. The result is a little vignette of two troopers out on vedette ~

The Casting Room Miniatures' Hussar is a less finely sculpted figure than the Eureka trooper and horse, but I think they look fine together. And, as they say, 'Waste not, want not', so I feel virtuous in having made use of the figures.

Now to paint the rest of my Eureka Chevauxleger! Two down, ten to go! Mustn't tarry...

A Journey through time...

As I said a while back now, my Northern European town project was meant to be a blank canvas background onto which I could place different items from my collections without them or the town looking out of place. Today I tidied the Wars of the French Revolution game away and took the opportunity to take a few quickly posed shots to give a feel for how the town will look in different eras. See what you think anyway. Firstly, the blank canvas of the town ~

In action in our recent Wars of the French Revolution game set in 1795 ~

Next, with a few civilians around 1815 ~

After almost a century of peace, the BEF are billeted in the town in 1914 ~

Less welcome visitors march into the town in 1939 ~

I hope that these few hurried images give an idea of what I was working towards in the design of the town for a number of different genes and eras. I can even see it being used in The Great Detective games as a setting for some villainy by von Brecher, the notorious Prussian criminal mastermind!

Monday 8 August 2016

Back from 'oop north'!

Well, I'm back from our trip to Scotland! Quite an eventful time it proved to be too: a violent storm; emergency hotel room change when the roof leaked; and Sue's bout of illness, all failed to spoil our break, though they did try hard! These minor inconveniences were more than compensated for by good company, good weather, fine food, a ride on a steam train, visits to historic houses, a Bond museum, a few excellent drams and of course, Claymore 2016!
To the main business then, the SESW club's annual show, Claymore, held at Edinburgh College on the first Saturday of August each year. One of my favourite shows, as I think you will know by now, and always worth the travel and expense in my view. I get to meet many friends from outside my area of the country and see games by groups who don't sadly often venture down our way, which means I see new things, meet new people and get new ideas. In short, a great way to recharge my elderly batteries! With meeting good friends, seeing all the new games and shopping of course I don't have time to photograph everything I see. Plus, my photographic skills are pretty average on the whole, so some pictures are better than others. Anyway, here are a few images of games I liked and enjoyed, which I hope I have correctly attributed this time! Starting with my good friend Kevin Calder and Peter of The Iron Brigade who staged a fine 28mm ECW game. These talented chaps always put out fine looking games, characterised by wonderfully painted and detailed terrain, buildings, figures and wonderful little vignettes. Judge for yourself anyway ~

Next, another 28mm game by Dave Imrie and friends from Claymore Castings, a characterful WWII game full of incident and action to inspire any visitor to greater things ~

From my chums Dave O'Brien and Barry Hilton of the League of Augsburg a fine Williamite Wars game featuring a river crossing showcasing both Warfare Miniatures castings and the considerable skills of the chaps in converting, modelling and painting. Always a pleasure to see them and their games ~

Another interesting game which took my fancy was the Falkirk & District club's Boxer Rebellion 1900 game. I'm not usually a fan of hex terrain, but somehow I didn't really notice it on this expansive offering ~

Some other games now which I just did n't have the time to explore in detail, but which never the less impressed me greatly. A Late Roman/ Arthurian game by Supreme Littleness Designs ~

Tyneside Wargamers' Battle of Cannae 216BC on a large table using the very little chaps looked most impressive

There are plenty of Participation Games at Claymore if that is what attracts you to attend an event. I could n't find a good photo of the LeucharsVeterans Custers Last Stand, but here is Glasgow and District's Pancho Villa's Gold. Both games looked great fun and attracted many participants over the day ~

And lastly, from Kirriemuir Wargames Club, the Battle of Gaugamela sporting a wealth of information for the casual or interested visitor~

What's missing from my report? Well, no photo of the 'loot'. I bought a steam gyrocopter from Ironclad for my Blandings games; some WWI  British cyclists from Dixon Miniatures for the VBCW; some civilian artillery crew from Reiver Castings, again for the VBCW; some Litko 'Disordered' markers from Figures in Comfort; some brushes and a resin tree stump from Coritani; and lastly, some 25mm round MDF bases from Warbases! Not the last of the big spenders by any means, but The Other Partizan is only two weeks away, so I squirreled away some cash for that too! So, that's my take on Claymore 2016: I'm already looking forward to 2017's show. If you have n't been and you fancy a trip I would always recommend this show to you. Now, off to Phil's for a WWI bash!