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 30 January 2017

Better than Christmas!

Good things happen in threes I'm told. Well, it's certainly true here in GHQ of late. On Wednesday last week Dan Faulconbridge from Wargames Illustrated was here in GHQ doing a photoshoot (see previous Blog entry if you missed it) and bought me a few bits and pieces ~ Warlord Gurkhas and a Gurkha HMG set, a Matilda Mk1 and a Vickers MkVIc. On Thursday Sue and I went down to visit Matt and his family in Godalming for a few days. When we were leaving on Sunday I was presented with a gift that left me speechless, not easy if you know me either. I'll come back to that in due course. Arriving home on Sunday evening I found a card from the Post Office about a failed parcel delivery! Typical, always happens when I'm out! I've just taken delivery of said parcel; its from Warbases. Back to that in a moment too. But, not all good news, as today's game with Phil has been cancelled due to personal circumstances. Nothing serious, just real life intruding again.
Back to the Warbases parcel now: its a gift for helping realise their new Roman buildings range. I suggested the villa project a while back now and provided resources in the development phase, so it was really lovely to see on opening the package a complete Roman villa set waiting to be assembled. I shall work on that over the next month or so and post regular updates for any interested parties to follow. Watch this space, as they say. A few shots to start us off, including a dry run assembly of one of the wings of the villa ~

Turning now to Matt's gift which left me speechless: as you may know several years ago he designed and sculpted the original Wars of the French Revolution range for Trent Miniatures. Along the way it seems he's been painting up figures for fun and on Sunday he presented them to me as a gift. They comprise a whole Demi-Brigade de Ligne, enough Light Infantry to screen the entire Demi-Brigade, a 12ld gun and crew and a Hussar command set. As I said, I'm speechless on receiving such a wonderful gift. When you see them now, you will be amazed at the quality of his work, puts everything I've ever painted in the shade! Judge for yourself anyway ~

From the whole collection Matt had assembled I can create three Battalions to form a fifth Demi-Brigade de Ligne, although I shall need to rebase them to fit in with my style in the rest of the collection. I'll also need to sort out some flags as the ones Matt painted here are duplicates of Battalions which are already mustered. As I've no 40 x 40mm MDF bases anyway it will all need to wait a while anyhow. Now for a look at the figures in more detail ~
Matt tells me he only used a two colour system for every colour in the figures, but it just looks so much more to me. Perhaps the colours I use are too subtle to show as clearly in pictures? Interestingly, there are also some figures which don;t appear to have made it into production blisters, which is a shame as they lend more variety to the units, mainly of course infantry in the earlier helmet which can be seen in the centre of the following group. I'll have to ask Duncan about them as they are undoubtedly by Matt  ~
I like the way Matt has painted the gun, its much lighter than I would dare ~
I also received, as I said, enough Light Infantry to screen the Demi-Brigade in action. I like the colour scheme Matt chose for these and hope to make five skirmish bases from them. Again they seem to have some figures which didn't make it into production moulds ~
The Hussar command group will come into its own as a Light Cavalry command base. I already have two Regiments of Hussars, one still in the painting queue, and one of Chasseurs ~
Finally, although not a gift, Matt did lend me some resource materials which will come in useful in due course I hope ~
As I said, bar today's cancellation, a good few days here in GHQ. Let's hope the trend carries forward into the rest of 2017!

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Behind the Lines with Wargames Illustrated

Earlier this morning Dan Faulconbridge, the owner/editor of Wargames Illustrated, motored over from Nottingham for a photo session here in GHQ. The task we had set ourselves was to take a number of photographs of my Indian Mutiny collection to accompany an article I had written at the end of last year, which will be appearing in the early spring probably ~ such is the lead in time in terms of the production of the hobby's leading magazine. As you will have seen in my previous Blog entry, Phil and I played an Indian Mutiny game in GHQ on Monday this week, so the bones of a table layout just needed extra dressing for the camera.

The figures in my Indian Mutiny collection are almost exclusively from Wargames Foundry, supplemented by guns and a handful of character figures from the now dormant Mutineer Miniatures. There are figures for the Mutiny from Old Glory of course, but their style has never really appealed to me or suited my limited painting style. Gamers coming new to the period can now also choose a new range by Iron Duke, although I feel their active style more suited to assembling forces at the figure fiddling end of the hobby, for Sharp Practice or The Men Who Would Be Kings. As my regular reader will know, although I do play such games as Bolt Action and Astounding Tales, my main focus has always been on the traditional war game with decent sized armies. But, enough background, on to the day's action! Lights! Camera! Action!

No plan survives first contact with the enemy: a well known military maxim which perfectly suits the experience of having one of your collections photographed for inclusion in the magazine.

Can you spot what has moved from my carefully laid out tablescape? Of course you can! The buildings which make up the most important residence in the Bhyklabad games ( and the British Residency in Rhanzlistan) have moved from one end of the table to the other for a close up shot. When you consider the 124 pictures which were taken, for perhaps 10 to find their way into the magazine, it's an effort of several hours in composing, lighting, discussing, holding up the sky, and then photographing the subject! How many readers even think about the process and time investment when they skip through the magazine? We are really lucky I think to have not one, but three magazines to support our little niche hobby, though I remain a Wargames Illustrated man through and through. 

I couldn't resist ending with this General shot taken on my iPad while my table was lit by the lights. The colours really do stand out and look much more like they do when the figures are in front of us during a game. For now though, it's time to pack the armies into their boxes. Next up here in GHQ should be a return to Rhanzlistan and the further exploits of that military incompetent, Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh as he battles the latest incursion of Commrade General Robinski and his S.P.I.F.F.

Monday 23 January 2017

Badly mauled at Badli-Mahld!

The second game of the New Year here in GHQ between Phil and I needed to be an Indian Mutiny game. Why, you ask, dear reader? Well, later in the week, Dan from Wargames Illustrated is coming to take action pictures to accompany a piece I've written for the magazine on my approach to gaming the Indian Mutiny. As I didn't want to clear one game away and lay out another on the same day, you can now see why we opted for the game we did. The game also needs to make use of the whole collection of figures, scenic pieces, buildings and terrain, as they will be needed for the photoshoot. So, a straightforward encounter battle was on the blocks as we began...
The forces of the H.E.I.C. have to clear a Mutineer blocking force from the pass leading to Bhyklabad. The mountainsides are lined with warriors of the fierce Bhurpa tribes, for whom any excuse for a fight and the chance of plunder is welcome ~

The Mutineers' left flank is further guarded by a force loyal to the Raja of Rhanli, comprising his foot guards, lancers, camel gunners, elephants and bands of local Badmash ~

The main Mutineer blocking force comprises several infantry regiments, some cavalry and two batteries of guns. They occupy the village of Badli-Mahld and will take some shifting out I felt ~

The forces of the H.E.I.C. were commanded by Lord Rawnsley, scion of that noble family of warriors tracing their ancestry back to the C17th and the ECW! His force consisted of three Brigades of Infantry, a mix of HM Regulars, Company troops and loyal Native Infantry battalions, a Brigade of artillery and two small Brigades of cavalry ~

The first turn was notable for Lord Rawnsley's poor dice throws on Command Rolls which saw the H.E.I.C.'s forces make little progress towards their goal ~

Throwing caution to the wind, the Mutineers and their native allies move boldly forward in an attempt to crowd the enemy and prevent his superior fire power and ranges from being fully exploited against them ~

The Bhurpas force the Gurkhas to retire after vicious hand-to-hand fighting while the Badmash, in an unlikely outcome, force the Sikh Horse to also retire! The dice gods are already showing their hand, although the Bhurpas' horse is driven back by a loyal Native Infantry battalion ~

In a bold attempt to force the Mutineers' centre, Neil's Blue Caps find themselves unexpectedly flanked by Mutineers! Their situation looks desperate unless friends can come to their aid ~

Meanwhile, away on the Mutineers' right flank the H.E.I.C.'s cavalry is showing little appetite for the fight! Luckily the artillery is more aggressive and the Mutineer infantry suffers from their accurate fire ~

The Blue Caps are holding on, although badly shaken by crashing Mutineer volleys! Support is coming from one of the Regular battalions in the brigade. In the distance you can see the dashing charge of the Raja's elephants against a battalion of loyal Native Infantry  ~

The Gurkhas are rallying, although the Sikh Horse remain badly shaken, but the Gordon Highlanders drive off one band of Bhurpas! The elephants, meanwhile, crush the Native Infantry in decisive Hand-to-Trunk combat ~

The Gordon Highlanders suffer the humiliation of being routed by the Badmash while the Raja's elephants rampage through the centre of Lord Rawnsley's army ~

With his attack on the Mutineers' left thrown back decisively, their centre holding firm in the village of Badli-Mahld, and no progress being made on the Mutineers' right, not to mention the Raja's elephants rampaging in his rear, Lord Rawnsley orders a halt to the attack and begins to withdraw his battered army to safety! A great victory for the Mutineers in just six turns!
We used Black Powder to run the game, You will be able to read about the modifications we used when the article appears in Wargames Illustrated later in the year. The figures are all from my collection, almost entirely Wargames Foundry figures, although the guns and buildings were from Mutineer Miniatures who seem to be off the radar at present. Phil and I created the mountain range based on a plastic pre-formed Christmas Village display piece {See the Blog entry in Tales from Rhanzlstan in the sidebar for details.}

Friday 20 January 2017

Praise Where Praise Is Due

At just before 10.00 on Wednesday evening I placed an order with Fighting 15s for some Eureka Miniatures Austrian 3lb guns, gun crew, landhanger and an Artillery officer. I received an automatic response almost instantaneously, as you do, and settled back to see what unfolded. Would they be in stock? How long would I need to wait? You know how it goes. They arrived in today's post before 11.00a.m. That's a big thumbs up for Fighting 15s and for Royal Mail! Here are the figures ~

These are just as they came out of the packet. There is no flash, nor vent runs, that I can see. I was so impressed by the service, the quality of casting and the figures themselves, including the many extras to enhance the base, that I thought I'd post them for others to see. I plan to use them as Battalion Guns for my Hungarian line battalions.
Down side? They cost me £40.00 including postage and tax. A bit pricey for some perhaps, but worth it I thought. Eureka Miniatures and Fighting 15s, recommended! I thought I'd make this post to balance earlier moans about the general quality of casting in our hobby when I bought from another two companies last year. Fair's fair, after all, it's not all doom and gloom.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Recent Additions

A brief look at the recent additions to the forces in GHQ. Firstly some American mounted militia for the AWI. They were painted for me by Phil at the end of last year, but were quarantined until last week! They are Perry Miniatures of course. There is another unit underway I'm told now, of Loyalist cavalry, but we'll have to wait to see how they turn out ~

Next, some Great War Miniatures I've been working on for our joint 1914 project. They are extra battalion Command Stands for my British infantry battalions in the main. The only reason the two Scottish battalion command stands have an extra figure is that there are six figures in the command pack and I only have two Scottish battalions! I don't like to waste figures if I can help it!

The two spare figures from the other command pack have been used for a dismounted officer for the second cavalry regiment and an entirely superfluous Army Command vignette!! The latter has no real purpose other than to fill a space on the baseline in a game. The double table and the two chairs are from Irregular Miniatures. I have found their bits ranges more and more useful in recent projects. The map, notes and newspaper are all period and theatre correct, downloaded after a Google search or ten and sized to fit before printing out. Now, who's a nerd... ~

The mounted figure from the other command pack will serve as intended as a staff officer ~

Now it's on to the Foundry figures I bought at the end of last year to finish my fourth Demi Brigade de Ligne, depicting the 2/5th. So far, four are done, 4 more are underway and 12 are left to start. Broken down like that it seems more manageable to me!!!

Monday 9 January 2017

The Chillington Raid

The first game of the new year here in GHQ saw Phil and I playing out the game postponed, due to illness, from last December, a VBCW scenario set in rural South Staffordshire and postulating a raid by forces of the People's Republic of Wolverhampton on Chillington Hall. Local intelligence acquired from a sympathetic estate worker had Revealed that Lord Rawnsley, the local leader of the pro-Government parties in the struggle, was meeting with the reactionary landowners, the Giffords, to plan for a preemptive strike on the town. Major Mander hastily assembled a raiding force, hoping to catch the enemy unprepared, and perhaps capture Rawnsley and deal a serious blow to the pro-Government cause. As events unfolded it seemed the estate worker's information might have been questioned more thoroughly...
We used Bolt Action 2 to play out the action, with no limit set on the number of turns to ensure a clear result. before the game I diced for the number of units on both sides and then for the Morale class of each unit. By chance both sides ended with 10 units, each side having one Veteran unit and with the Chillington Rifle Company being the sole Green unit.  If Major Mander's force captures Rawnsley it is a major victory, but any other outcome is a defeat, ranging from minor to catastrophic! You can see how it panned out now if you like ~

At the end of Turn 1 Mander's raiders had made good progress towards their objective. As yet the defenders were not in a position to fire on the enemy and hopefully a fair draw of dice would see the bulk of the attackers reach the first hedge line, from where the assault on the position would go in!

Did I mention the draw of the dice? Oh dear, the first five out in Turn 2 were all for Phil's defenders and suddenly Mander's raiders found themselves in the open and under heavy fire! The Smith gun was disabled by a lucky shot from the armoured car, while the Hilton Main Miners' Collective were held up by fire from the Express and Star Rifles who had seized Home Farm. (Phil had been much more aggressive in his dispositions and actions than I had banked on, helped by the favourable draw of the dice.) Any assault now was gong to be very bloody.

Turn 3 saw the assault stall thanks again to the dice draw favouring the defenders. The Three Tuns Invincibles are pinned in the open by the fire from the South Staffs and the BUF behind the hedge; the miners exchange fire ineffectively with the defenders of Home Farm; Princess Sudhira's Rifle Company seek cover from the MMG emplaced in the Hall's driveway (I'd missed seeing that!); while the LDV are still halted far from the action, failing two Order Tests!

Turn 4 and Mander's Raiders see no improvement in their position. The fire from the 18lb gun is utterly ineffective, while despite ranging in in Turn 2 on the South Staffords, the mortar causes no problems in Turns 3 and 4. Its clear that  a minor miracle is needed now for the fortunes of war to change in the attacker's favour.

The Express and Star Rifles hold Home Farm, meaning the Miners are forced into an ineffectual fire fight to attempt to dislodge them. Despite the nearby officer, the Miners have failed another Order Test and the Rifles hold on.

The Three Tuns Invincibles and Princess Sudhira's Rifles are destroyed by fire from the Armoued car and the MMG. There is no prospect now of a successful outcome for Mander's Raiders...

The local BUF commander can be more than pleased with the outcome. Despite the loss of his men's MMG and taking 50% casualties on the rifle company they have held the right flank securely and assisted the Chillington Horse in repulsing Mander's Horse when they attempted a flanking attack in dismounted order through the Big Wood.

Just time for a snifter to celebrate victory! Lord Rawnsley joins the Giffords on the Upper Lawn for a drink... I threw in the towel after Turn 5 with n prospect of any result but a catastrophic defeat! Clearly the Estate Worker was a double agent, supplying false information on the situation in Chillington Hall! Of course, poor drawing of the dice in Turns 3 and 4 did n't help much, nor did my apalling dice for fire and then conversion to casualties throughout the game. Next up here in GHQ in two weeks' time will be an Indian Mutiny game, as Dan is coming late that week to take photos to accompany my article on gaming the Mutiny for Wargames Illustrated. Meanwhile its back to painting Command Stands for my British battalions in the 1914 game. Kilts!!!!!

Sunday 1 January 2017

And here we go, again ~ Austrian Artillery.

For my Austrian army, a part of my Wars of the French Revolution project, I've been working on these limbers and caisson sets and horse teams from Perry Miniatures, with head conversions from Trent Miniatures to replace later head wear with bicornes, which I know were not worn but they speak of the period when the correct option is not available, so will do for me. The horses and riders are one piece castings, which I liked when painting the figures as the men sit correctly on their mounts, unlike separate figure and horse so often. The limbers and their horse teams are mounted on one MDF base which I sourced from Warbases, of course, but the caisson and its team are mounted on two MDF bases, making the caisson available to deploy behind the battery with the horse team to the rear. It just looks better on the tabletop I think. I showed the first limber team I'd completed in an earlier post ~

I completed the second limber team after Christmas and then the caisson team on New Year's Eve ~

Deployed for action, the battery will look like this ~

It just remains for me to wish you a very happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year ~