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 28 February 2017

The Battle of Pharztstadt

As I've just completed a third Foundry Foot Guards regiment for my SYW British army, the choice of game for this Monday in GHQ was really a no brainer. A straightforward encounter battle on a generally terrain neutral table seemed the best way of reintroducing ourselves to Honours of War after a substantial passage of time. It turned out to be the right approach in what was an eventful and enjoyable few hours in GHQ. Phil chose the command of the British, leaving the French to my alter ego, Le Comte de Merde. As we were busy rule checking and on unfamiliar details I find I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do, but I hope the few I have will help tell the story of the Battle of Phartzstadt ~
The French centre, with the Guards drawn up in reserve behind a brigade of Grenadiers supported by the Wild Geese. Light Infantry, the Voluntaires de Soubais, screen the advanced line ~

Hussars and Dragoons move to the left flank, crossing the river by an ancient stone bridge, hoping to find a weak spot as the British right flank advances ~

The British are alert to the threat and mobilise a Brigade to advance on the ford and cross the river to block any move by the French cavalry on that flank. However, the second Brigade on the right fails to move, leaving the advancing composite Grenadier Battalions somewhat exposed to a thrust by the French Brigade to their right front ~

Away on the British left the 'Greys' and Dragoon Guards advance to meet the French heavy cavalry, lead by the Curassiers du Roi, coming under fire from the French heavy artillery emplaced on a convenient hill. The French Household Cavalry Brigade fails to advance to support its brethren. But in the centre the Guards Brigade advances briskly on the farm, forcing the French Light Infantry to evade ~

On the French right flank cavalry swirl back and forth in a series of decisive melees. Although the French loose two regiments to rout the Horse Guards are routed and the 'Greys' and Dragoon Guards forced to Retreat. Following p their victory, the Mestre de Campe's Regiment destroy the 'Greys', who Rout through the Dragon Gards causing them to rout also! The Horse Grenadiers' position looks precarious as more Household Cavalry advance on their front! In the French centre a solid wall of steel and shot awaits the halting British advance ~

Bravely pressing forward, the Guards Brigade attacks the French held farmstead of Phartzstadt. The First Foot Guards are routed by a combination of French artillery and infantry fire {not to mention my exceptional dice throwing at that point!} The Second Foot Guards fare no better and the Third never make their attack ~

The battle reaches its climax when the British Brigade of Grenadiers is repulsed by the French Grenadiers Du Roi, even though the Grenadiers De France were forced to retreat.  On the French left, the Line Infantry hold off their attackers, while the feint by the Hussars and Dragons has successfully tied down a British Infantry Brigade and a Regiment of Dragoons ~

At that point the British had lost half f their army in rout and a French victory was declared. "Vive Le Roi! Vive Du Merde!"

A thoroughly enjoyable and fast moving game we both felt as we mulled things over while enjoying coffee and cake. The rules definitely have an C18th feel to them in game play and rattle along at a good pace. Phil says we didn't get much wrong in the game when it came to applying the rules and interpreting them on the tabletop, always an issue for wargamers I feel. Then next game here in GHQ will be in two weeks time, after the Alumwell/WMMS Show, so I must see about a shopping list. I've also got to finish the 11th Hussards for my Wars of the French Revolution project this week if I can, so no time to tarry. Au Revoir mes Amis!

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Marmite for Wargamers?

Wargamers can sometimes come over as a rather curmudgeonly bunch you may have noticed from time to time, and I am certainly no exception to the rule I have to confess, but just sometimes I hear or read something which really gets my goat. Now mostly it is Phil and Jon who have to bear the brunt of any ranting, but occasionally I have aired my views to a wider audience, either here on my Blog or on one or other Forum group I visit. Now today I read something on a Blog I frequent which really did leave me pretty much in despair, but on reflection just might have been typical of wargamers of my vintage. What was it you ask? Well, a piece reflecting on how poor wargames magazines, and Wargames Illustrated in particular, were when compared to some  'lost Golden Age' typified by Practical  Wargamer. It never ceases to amaze me when folk ponder on whether things were better when 'they were a lad'. Of course they weren't, it just sometimes seems that way through the distorting lenses of nostalgia. Things change for all of us and time marches on pretty much regardless of what we may think or want and I cannot for the life of me see the point of harking back in our hobby. Banana Oil and plasticine anyone? Drawing pins for shields? Riders pined to horses with the wife's sewing pins? Not for me, I'll take the bang up to date every time!
Now, when it comes to magazines I happen to think this is really our Golden Age. We enjoy two monthly and one bi-monthly glossies to wet our interest in our obsessions. They are each different in focus and audience and to complain about one because it isn't just how you would want it seems somehow perverse to me. If something really does leave you flat, well don't buy it, as I usually now avoid buying one of the three, though I do look at Phil's copy. Alternately, you could always submit articles or ideas for articles. But then it's easier to moan isn't it, forgetting that Editors can only choose from what they have to hand, than to sit down and write a piece. As readers of my Blog must know from my ramblings, I have written dozens of pieces for both the old and the new incarnation of Wargames Illustrated, none of which have made me rich or famous, but all of which have been my meagre effort to give something back to my wider hobby in return for the joy it and my friends who share my passions have brought me. As the good book says, "Go thou and do likewise."
If wargames  magazines occasionally produce the same opposite responses as does Marmite ~ Vegimite for our colonial cousins ~ then wargames figures eclipse even them when it comes to provoking extreme responses. Take my case as an example: I really like Dixon Miniatures' ACW and Wild West ranges, but both leave others I know in despair and, do you know what. I just don't understand why that should be as to my eye they are wonderful. Or conversely, take Old Glory figures, which sell by the shed load; they always look to me like folk in the grip of St Vitus's Dance! We are so spoiled for choice now with figures, scales, and even plastic figures, that there really must be something for everyone if you look carefully enough. 'Golden Ages'; the problem with them if you are always harking back is you just don't see you live in one right now. As proof, if you will, that we all see things through the lenses of experience and preferences, here are my latest figures fresh from the painting desk: Foundry SYW British infantry in firing pose, painted as Foot Guards to give my army its third Foot Guard regiment. I think they really nail the C18th look, but I do realise that is by no means the view of others. Marmite you see ~

As I think I said, Marmite for wargamers. They will do for me though. Now back to the VBCW on the painting desk to finish off Princess Sudhira's Rifles. Next game in GHQ? A SYW game of course using Honours of War rules. 

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Romani ite domum!

I went to R.O.B.I.N. on Sunday with Phil. As a show, nothing short of awful from my point of view: hardly any games; mostly second rank traders, and then Fantasy/Sci-Fi in the main; a half hour queue for a coffee; no heating; I could go on, but we'll draw a veil over the event I think. Suffice it to say we won't be going back, if there's ever another that is!
But, I did get my MDF base Martin at Warbases had kindly made to order for my villa! So, the villa was based on Monday morning and left to dry overnight so I could texture the base on Tuesday before dealing with other more important issues of real life. This morning I've applied some static grass patches and a few coloured tufts, representing weeds and flowers. Less is more in these cases I think; I often see other folks bases and scenic bits and bobs which are overegged in my eye with grass, tufts and flowers. Anyway, you can make up your own mind. The roofs remain a work in progress. Martin showed me a prototype tiling sheet effect for the Roman range, so I hope to pick that up at Carronade in May and finish my roofs off then. In the meantime, here is Villa Pompus in its pomp ~

Finally, I couldn't resist this homage to 'The Life of Brian' ~

Saturday 11 February 2017

"Non Potest Facere?"

"Ita, Possumus!" As they say around here. All the basic work on my Warbases villa complex is finished now. I should collect a 3mm MDF bases from Martin at R.O.B.I.N. ~ assuming neither he nor I are snowed in tomorrow! That will mean the six components can be glued permanently into position and some groundwork added to help the piece blend into the terrain here in GHQ. I had intended to work a stone effect foundation around the exterior walls but I must admit that I'm not so sure now. We shall see. In the meantime, have a look at the work so far and see what you think ~

The exterior walls, which you recall I stippled with Basetex, I dry brushed with Crafter's Acrylic: firstly 'Sand', then 'Cream', then 'Light Antique White'. The roofs are, temporarily, painted with 'Burgundy Rose'. One tip for when you glue in the mosaics and wall coverings: paste the PVA on the MDF, not on the paper! It slides into position more easily that way. Do let me know what you think if you have a minute. Off now to get a 'List' together for R.O.B.I.N. tomorrow, perhaps I'll see you there...

Friday 10 February 2017

Robertus Artifex dicit...

Moving forward, albeit slowly, with my Warbases' villa. I have completed the Basetex stippling of the exterior walls of all the separate parts which will make up the villa. I've also sourced some free textured wallpaper from Homebase which will stand in for the lower courses of stonework on the walls. No progress yet though on suitable tiling effect for the villa's roofs.
Having allowed the stippling a couple of days to harden off, the first task is to paint the walls and wooden trellis work which encloses the portico corridor linking the two wings to the main villa building by two doors. The two connecting doors, by the by, can be pressed out in the construction phase and glued ajar. I've opted to leave mine closed. I think that the wooden door jams on the main building will be red at this stage, while all three wooden doors will be blue. Here's a look at the portico area before any paint is applied ~

I also tried a dry fitting of the mosaic pavement I've sourced from the Internet for the portico corridor flooring. I think it looks quite ok myself ~

It was very time consuming sizing all the various mosaic floors and painted walls I found on the Internet and I still have one or two walls to deal with, but here finally is a dry fit of a possible interior for the villa ~

I've left a blank MDF border around the top to allow for the roof fitting lugs to sit in place. I'll probably paint the blank internal areas red. The front internal wall of the main villa building will be red also with a frieze running across above the line of the door and windows. Anyway, down to painting later today. Vale!

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day {Part Two}

Having assembled the villa kindly sent by Diane and Martin at Warbases I decided I would like the front wall with integral gateway to set the piece off. I also wanted a 3mm MDF base to mount the finished piece on, so I ordered both over the Internet. The gateway, together with some other MDF bases I needed arrived on Saturday, and is now assembled to join its fellows on my desk awaiting developments. It's a straightforward job, once you lay out all the pieces of course. It took no more than 15 minutes to complete ~

I've decided to cover the walls and floors, as far as practicable with scaled down prints of original Roman mosaics and wall paintings. I've been happily trawling the net for suitable images and am pretty much sorted now. The next stage will be scaling them correctly to fit before printing them out. Pointless really, as once the roofs are on what will I or anyone else see? Ah, but I will know it looks right, so I can smile smugly and put Baldinus off his stroke. I hope I'll get the interior decoration done this week. I've worked out an order of progress then for the building exterior, so I can get ready for that the week after. In the meantime I've finished my Eureka 3lb Battalion gun sets for my Wars of the French Revolution project and started some Foundry SYW British Foot Guards ~

I will start with the main villa building portico. I intend to paint the three walls with Basetex to seal the MDF and give a textured effect to dry brush over. I'll use cheap craft paints for that as I have the colours I'll need in stock. The woodwork I think will be red on the trellised portico and door jams. The doors may be red, or perhaps a rich blue, I haven't decided yet. Anyway, off on errands now. Pop back nearer the end of the week to see how I progress. Vale!

Thursday 2 February 2017

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day {Part One}!

Well, like most sayings handed down to us, this needs taking with the proverbial pinch of salt! I've started building my Warbases' Roman Villa. In total it took less than two hours to assemble the five MDF kits which make up the basic villa: two small towers; two small storehouses/wings; and the main villa building itself. The first four components are simple kits each comprising only 12 components. All fit flawlessly together with no work needed beyond punching out a couple of tabs in two roof tile sheets. The main villa is a more complex kit though and requires a little dry fitting to see where each piece will go, but nothing is too difficult to work out; after all, if 'Ten Thumbs' Bickley can do it, then anyone can! I even managed to fit the opening door and the hinges first time! It's a really lovely piece, as I hope you can see from the following pictures ~
The completed villa measures just under 300mm x 180mm

The two towers are interchangeable, but the wings/storehouses are individual.

The main villa building has a hinged door. The corridor doors can be punched
out if desired.

The main roof has two extra supports. They do not have location tabs as the
end fitting supports do on all the roofs.

As you can see, the corridor doors can be punched out if desired. In the
whole model the only slightly complex fit is the front steps, corridor
supports and front trellis work. That's just 8 parts though.

The rear walls of the villa presents a solid wall to any enemy seeking entrance.

The side walls of the villa are similarly secure, with only a single high window
in each corner tower.

I plan to let the buildings settle now and give the glue time to really harden before I set about painting it. I'm pretty busy now until next Monday anyway, so I hope to work on the individual components of the villa starting next week. My first thoughts are to have about 10mm of stonework at ground level, using anaglypta wallpaper for stone effect and to stipple the rest of the walls with some Basetex before applying paint. As with all MDF buildings the roof is the biggest issue. Roman pantiles have a three dimensional nature which MDF can't rally handle. I may resort to corrugated cardboard or even buy some plastic tile sheets from Wills. I suppose a Late Roman villa might even have thatched roofs, at least on the wings/storehouses. I've ordered the front wall and gate from Warbases to complete the look I want for my villa and Martin will make me a 3mm MDF base to glue the completed piece to and facilitate some groundwork and modelling to bring it to life. More later, as they say...

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Is anything ever finished?

I had thought that my Wars of the French Revolution project was pretty nearly completed. Oh foolish man! Just before Christmas I bought two units on a visit to Foundry, ostensibly to buy paint by the by.  The one unit, French infantry in early helmet, to complete the Demi-Brigade, is finished, or rather I thought that it was. I forgot to buy any Elite Company figures for them. Oops! I got enough figures in the second unit, Guarde Nationale in bicorne, to cover that option but will need to get a few more for the 2/5th Demi-Brigade de Ligne. Then I bought some Austrian 3ld guns, artillerymen and Handlanger from Eureka, via Fighting 15s, not because I needed any but because I just fancied them. Then last weekend Matt gave me a whole new painted Trent Miniatures Demi-Brigade, Light Infantry, Hussar command base and a 12ld gun and crew! Also amongst the loot was a blister of Trent Miniatures Austrian artillerymen and a Foundry 12ld gun! It never stops, does it? Resistance is futile, as a Vogon might well say.. In the meantime, here are the latest additions to the project; figures by Foundry, Perry Miniatures, Trent Miniatures and Front Rank ~

As you see, the project just keeps on growing. Back in 1973 when I first joined the Alumwell Wargames Society as a 'Wargames Virgin' my first army was a Hinchliffe British 1815 army. Life, it seems, has gone full circle for me bringing me back to almost the period I started in. On the painting desk now is the first of the Eureka 3ld Battalion guns and crew for my Hungarian infantry. Is there no end in sight? Well, probably not if I'm honest...