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.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Passing in Review

In the 'Wargames Blogosphere' it has become the custom for many bloggers to post a review of, or reflection on, the past year's activity. I have been one such, although if I'm brutally honest with my loyal reader I've always wondered why anyone should show much interest in what one geriatric in waiting and his younger friends get up to. Nowt so queer as folk, as I believe they say oop north. So, here we go then...

As you will no doubt recall, after all I bang on about it enough, fewer games have been possible here in GHQ during the year due to the personal circumstances of all of we 'GHQ Irregulars'. Even so, consulting the War Diary I see that we managed 50 games in total over the year, a decent score by many folks standards I know, so I mustn't grumble! Of these I won 20 and lost 19, 2 had no result and  9 ended as draws, so I maintained my pretty average persona as a wargamer for another year!

Painting of figures this year has been exclusively in the 28mm size/scale form and the vast majority of them have been for my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project. Probably the second most featured figures on the paint desk here in GHQ would be for my VBCW in Wolverhampton project, for which I also acquired new Lledo vehicles with specific local provenance, sadly save for Banks's Brewery! The year's total just exceeds 670 figures at the last tally, a very decent total I think if I'm honest. If I could keep that kind of progress going in 2017 I'd be more than pleased.

I have no plans in 2017 for a new period, probably for the first time this decade at least. My modest 'Lead Pimple' comprises now only two Really Useful Boxes' of 28mm figures all cleaned up, primed white and whitetacked to MDF bases ready to be processed in the coming months. We hope to be having some work done in the house in the coming months, so that takes financial priority over hobby spending. Notwithstanding that admission, I shall probably add to the sundry periods we play in GHQ over the year, you will surely know what we are all mostly like in our hobby!

I've completed a piece for Wargames Illustrated on gaming the Indian Mutiny. I hope I'll get feedback in the new year with a date fixed for taking photographs here in GHQ to accompany the piece. I'd like to write other pieces if I can, hopefully on our VBCW settings for example, but that depends totally on editorial preferences and decisions. I am a mere paid scrivener!

The future of our hobby looks bright as we limp towards 2016, at least it does from what I see going on in the wider world of wargaming. The plethora of periods, scales/sizes, figures, rules, terrain and buildings show now signs of diminishing, nor of the  flow of creativity behind them abating. Such a bright tomorrow encourages even an old timer like me to at least look at the new products, even if at present I feel none calling to me as they have in years gone by. Its an age thing, combined with winter I'm sure. So, age and infirmity not withstanding, the Order of the Day must be Winston's rallying cry, "KBO!"

So, there you have it for 2016, make of it what you will. I am sure that 2017 will take care of itself in due course. Happy New Year!

Monday 26 December 2016

Not much to show for December!

As you will know, December has been a bit of a fallow month as far as hobby activity has been concerned. I have managed one game before it went down hill and a little painting in recent days to finish outstanding figures. Firstly, for my Wars of the French Revolution project an Austrian limber set, by Perry Miniatures with Trent Miniatures head swaps (I know they should have different head wear, but bicornes will have to do.)

Next, for my VBCW project, Mander's Horse, in both Mounted and Dismounted versions. Again Perry Miniatures, but this time straight from the box ~

Finally, something that's not new but has been rebased, some SYW British Grenadiers in action. From Foundry Miniatures this time ~

I have a second Austrian limber set underway as I type, which I hope to finish after the festivities. Then there is a caisson team to tackle and it's all done.

Saturday 17 December 2016

In sickness and in health

The year is in its death throes, Christmas is marching ever nearer, and my motivation has gone awol! Bit of a crappy end of the year here in GHQ I'm afeared. Phil and his family have been laid low by novo virus, aka winter vomiting bug, so no game now in either venue before 2017 comes mewling and crawling along. In addition I had a nasty fall while visiting Matt and his family last Monday which left my back sore and made painting impossibly uncomfortable. I had started 6 Perry Miniatures British Yeomanry for my VBCW games, but in truth I wasn't much enamoured of the figures, especially the horses which I really dislike. I wish everyone would use the splendid Ebob horses, I enjoy painting their clear detail and they look like what they are supposed to represent. When they are eventually done they will be Mander's Horse in our Wolverhampton setting for the VBCW games. ( I also have 6 dismounted troopers of course to finish later.)
As there's not much going on I thought I'd mention where I hope we are heading in 2017 (DV). I have nothing new planned after all. I did toy with figures for the Maori Wars, using Sharp Practice 2, as well as the Peninsular War with the same rule set, but in truth neither lit up for me in the end. I still may dabble in SP2 though, in the F&IW setting though. I have quite a few figures for the period, but at Warfare I bought more Regular Infantry for both British and French from Redoubt. I enjoyed painting the other figures from Redoubt and they proved easy on the hand and eye, so look out for more in 2017.
I went over to Wargames Foundry two weeks ago to buy what are probably the last figures for my FRW project: French infantry in helmet to represent the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Demi Brigade de Ligne and others in bicorne to be a National Guard unit, as I like the flags! I also bought some SYW British infantry in firing pose to complete my Guards Brigade, together with the WWI casualties set and a pack of C18th Road Workers! Oh, and a lot of paint! Why do paints all run out at once I wonder? Most of my new acquisitions are cleaned up, sprayed white and whitetacked to their MDF bases. Back permitting the SYW Brits will join them next week giving me a 'Lead Pimple' of three Really Useful Boxes of figures.
Finally, I finished a piece on the Indian Mutiny for Wargames Illustrated; I hope it will make the March or April edition as February's is already put to bed. Speaking of Dan, tangentially at least, I received from him two books this week, Bolt Action 2 and Honours of War. Very kind and I'd like to thank him publicly for them. That'll do for now I think. Just one last thing ~

Saturday 10 December 2016

3rd Battalion, 5th Demi-Brigade de Ligne 1793-95

A bit of a burst has seen me finish this latest addition to my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project. The figures are from Brigade Games sculpted by Paul Hicks and are slighter than my preferred Trent Miniatures French infantry.  I expect that regular readers of my ramblings will immediately recall that I purchased these from a Flea Market seller at October's Derby Worlds wargames show. As I've said before about them, I couldn't get all 24 figures in the same pose, opting for 8 in advancing or charging pose and the balance of 12 in March attack pose. I found a drummer, but no officer or standard bearer, so my solution was a standard bearer from the Dromedary Corps and a Mounted Russian colonel cunningly disguised by a paint job as French! Lace freaks can look away now, as they say, but they will do for me.

This is the second Brigade Games unit I've painted for the Wars of the French Revolution project ~ see my earlier post featuring the 31st Legere if you missed it. After a total of 49 pieces I feel that it's OK to make a few points about the figures as I had them. Firstly, the service from the States was first class; I was kept informed of progress of my order, it was promptly despatched, and there were no additional rip off charges at our end, so I'd call that a result. Secondly, I know the range is really for the French in Egypt, so accept some anachronisms in both uniform and equipment, such as the voluminous neck clothes on several figures. As I've said before, they will do for me.
Turning though to the figures themselves, there are a couple of gripes, neither uncommon I'm afraid wherever you source figures on the whole. Mould making or casting related issues are the usual flash, though none too serious, and one instance of a twisted musket which I dare n't try to straighten. Nothing major though there, but let's turn to the finer details. I really like figures to sport buttons or open button holes if the sculptor wanted to reflect the wear and tear of campaigning. What I really dislike is buttons not moulded or not cast, in effect they are seconds in reality. Now partly this may be the result of the sculptor's detail work being too fine, but seeing greens regularly on Forum Boards and blogs I suspect that's not the case. In our hobby generally mould making and casting is often second rate, with the certain exception of Griffin, so I'm not singling Brigade out for criticism, merely reporting some disappointment. Saying this, would I buy more from them? Certainly, I know what I'm getting and can live with it. A related personal issue, of age, eyesight and hand leads me to say that really I prefer figures with deeper, more pronounced detain now on my paint desk, but I will tackle stuff that isn't while I still can, I'm just slower and have to paint over 'mistooks'!

Tuesday 6 December 2016

"It will be over by Christmas!"

Probably the last game in GHQ this year, though you can never be sure where the 'Two Sad Beggars' are concerned! A rerun of last week's WWI game using Black Powder rules with several amendments suggested to us, well Phil mostly, by the previous game! We had thought of using 5 bases to represent a battalion, but in the end stuck with the 10 bases as we preferred the 'look' of the game. I am going to add a few Command bases to the British side, again just for the impression it will give, and we may add a fifth battalion next year to each side, Phil already has the figures I learned! Anyhow, on to the game ~

Most of the Germans failed to make it onto the table in Turn 1! Hurrah, I thought, time for a bold move. The cavalry and supporting RHA Battery will advance and deploy on the low ridge, thus commanding the German left and centre. Roll of the dice brings a Command roll of 3! Yes! The British seize both the ridge and the initiative, catching two Hun artillery batteries on the move too!

Away on the British left things are not so successful: the Borderers fail to reach the wood and the Gordon's fail to occupy the town. The A10 though is collecting valuable intelligence concerning the Hun's deployment and intentions.
Aerial reconnaissance reveals large formations of Hun infantry moving up in the dead ground behind the orchard. The enemy artillery have deployed under fire and are already doing some damage amongst the British cavalry brigade.
Having seized the ridge with the cavalry brigade it's time to move the infantry up to complete the domination of the enemy left and centre, or it would have been with a better Command Roll! The Hun takes advantage and seizes the orchard and ruined farm. Their artillery continue to play merry hell with the cavalry skirmishers.
Despite the hiatus in the infantry advance, the first battalion passes through the skirmishers on its way to clear any enemy from the flank and then roll up the Hun line! It all looks very jolly for the boys of the B.E.F. at this point!
Meanwhile, on the B.E.F.'s left things look sticky: the Hun battalion in the ruined farm, although Disordered, holds its position while at last the Jaeger battalion appears in its support.
The B.E.F.'s advance on the right has stalled, the Lancers charged the Hun cavalry skirmish screen to their front but were held off, and suddenly the battalion in the B.E.F.'s centre breaks! Its retreat is gallantly covered by the machine gun company. On the left the Borderers failed to reach the Jaegers in a charge after a poor command roll and are Shaken and Disordered in the subsequent fire fight! The battle has suddenly swung in the Hun's favour over two moves!
Suddenly the Hun see their chance and pour men forward into the gap. There are no reserves available to plug the hole in the line and so the Hun claim the victory!
The Gordons do hold the town, although Disordered by enemy fire. The Borderers can do nothing to aid the cause and so a general retreat is ordered by the B.E.F. commander. Their will be some hard marching before they can regroup and attempt to stem the Hun tide as it washes over Flanders.
The game lasted 10 Turns and for the first seven all the successes were with the B.E.F. but without a telling blow being delivered. In Turn 8 it all unraveled and defeat was almost inevitable when the centre collapsed suddenly. In the post match discussion over coffee and cake we came up with several ideas to develop the rules further for 1914, so if you are interested keep an eye open here for future developments. "Toodle Pip, Goodbyee!"

Monday 5 December 2016

Into Winter Quarters...

The last show of the year, nearby at least, is Wargamer held in Halesowen, three junctions down the M5 from GHQ. I believe that supporting local events is important on the 'use it or loose it' principle. There are generally some really good games, a decent trader turn out and a Bring and Buy, so going along is a no brainer really. The last couple of years I've been on my own, as Phil was busy elsewhere, but today we went along together to see what was on offer and meet several local chums too. If you were there, then you will know why the title of this blog entry is so apt on two levels: the end of the campaigning year, as far as wargame shows are concerned, allied to the lack of heating at the event yesterday! Arctic conditions not withstanding I enjoyed my visit, met up with some chums, saw some games, and did a little shopping along the way. The games first, starting with my old chum Dave Page and the Kinver Wargamers and a WWII game, Greeks v Italians in 20mm ~

I always enjoy looking at Dave's games, so much detail n show and always an usual subject or unusual slant; its a shame he does n't take his game to more shows. Next up, my old club Alumwell and a 28mm Peninsular War game with a mortgage's worth of Grand Manner buildings on view ~

Now a smaller game, but no less beautifully formed, by the Wyrley Retinue ~

Next, another Napoleonic game in 28mm, sorry in advance but I don't know who it was by. Masses of figures and those Conflix buildings which seem to crop up everywhere ~

Another 28mm game, this time set in the Zulu War. You won't need me to tell you which battle it was! It features the buildings and figures sold by Warlord Games and Empress if you need a clue ~

Next, so I'm not accused of sizism, a game featuring the little chaps, the Battle of Issus ~

Not the easiest of games to photograph using an iPhone! There were also a number of Participation games running; I rather liked this one, "Eating Hitler" from a scenario by Howard Whitehouse I believe ~

A WWII fest at the show in many ways: firstly a Western Desert game ~

A switch to the Western Font ~

There were many other games on show, perhaps more than in previous years, and the show definitely had more folk through the door than in years gone by, but I thought I'd end this personal selection with a couple of shots which show a game which predates most of us I would guess ~

Puts our hobby nicely into context I think and ends my personal selection from Wargamer 2016. I'll finish with a couple of gripes, leaving the lack of heating to one side for now. There is no floor plan in the A5 sized programme and many games had no information available as to what or who it was, very frustrating and not very reviewer friendly. I know I could take notes, but its easier to snap the information and then incorporate it into the Blog. I almost forgot; what did I buy? Two triads of Foundry paints from Ainsty Castings! Definitely last of the big spenders!

Saturday 3 December 2016

En Avant mes braves!

While Phil and Di have been away for a few days R&R in the Lake District I have made a determined effort to press on with painting for my Wars of the French Revolution project, in the form of the Brigade Games figures I bought on the Flea Market at the October Derby Worlds.
The folk selling these figures had bags of stuff so I had a grand time rummaging through the boxes to see if I could make up another 24 figure battalion. In the end I couldn't find an officer or a standard bearer. For the former I eventually found a Mounted figure, a Russian as it happens from their Russian Colonels set, but I've painted him up as French and he will do! For the latter, amongst the Dromedary figures I found a standard bearer, so I've pressed him into service and painted him in a Hussar style scheme, after all, it's the Revolution and the commissary must provide what it can!

So far I've completed four of the six bases of figures and I'm well on with the fifth base of figures, in the Advancing pose rather than at March Attack like the others. If that seems odd, bear with me a moment please; the remaining base of figures representing the Elite Company are also Advancing and the two together will head up the column of attack formation, as will the odd attacking pioneer figure I've also completed. No vegetation on the bases yet, I'll do that once all six are complete. Together with the odd Trent Miniatures Battalion I have these will be the 1st & 3rd Battalions of the 5th Demi-Brigade de Ligne. For the 2nd Battalion I've decided to field a unit mostly in helmets. There are figures available from Eureka, Elite, Eagle, and Foundry Miniatures amongst others. I like the Eureka ones most, but cost dictates another choice this time. I've not seen any Elite Miniatures in the round and Eagle only have an advancing figure and an officer, so, as I want the Battalion to be in firing pose I shall be going with Foundry figures. That they are smaller I can live with; I've found you don't notice that when the battle is joined! As there is a buy 8 get 2 free offer on I've decided to make up a second Battalion in bicorne as one of the Paris National Guard battalions. I like the flags you see, no other reason.
I shall be left then, besides these two new battalions, with a regiment of French Hussars, two Austrian limber teams and an Austrian caisson team. I think that if I'm not careful this ongoing project could simply run and run, so I must be cautious in other acquisitions as storage space and table size are neither limitless. Perhaps some Trent Miniatures Scots Greys next Partizan, hopefully there'll be a command pack for the cavalry by then! So, no more waffle, back to painting now. A Bientot!