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 27 March 2017

War in America 2

Phil and I decided to play a series of games here in GHQ set in North America and fought out each time over the same basic terrain table, with slight geographical adjustments, starting with the AWI. You'll notice this is labelled number 2 and might be asking whatever happened to number 1. Well, all will become clear next month, so bear with me just for now please. For those interested in our future plans, number 3 will be the War of 1812 in a fortnight's time and number 4 will be the ACW in a month's time if all goes to plan. So, to today's struggle...
The British are attempting to reach Brecher's Landing to sieze much needed supplies before the Continental Army can arrive to reinforce the Militias encamped in and around the settlement. The Americans only have Militias deployed on table in Turn 1, whereas the entire British force enters in the same turn. At the end of Turn 1 the Americans dice for reinforcements, which either enter by road or water via the harbour, needing a 6 on a D x 6. If unsuccessful in that turn, then the score needed diminishes by 1 in each subsequent turn. There are two objective markers in place for the victor to hold, one by the harbour and one in the tented encampment. This means that to win one side must hold both. To the game then...

The American Militias hold the fence line forward of the east - west road linking the harbour to the encampment. Phil has divided his British forces into two main thrusts to sieze the harbourside objective and a smaller assault on the campside one. The C-in-C commands the Guards and Grenadiers in the British centre, able to switch support to either flank as the Continental Army arrives. My Militias have merely to hold on until the regulars arrive to save the day. In Turn 1 Phil's Command dice rolls had to be seen to be believed! Most units, particularly the Hessian brigade on his left, advanced the full three moves. I rolled for reinforcements after some ineffective artillery fire, a 5; close, but a no show for Turn 2.

So, no sign of my Continental Amy yet, the Militias were on their own for at least another turn! Phil's Command dice rolls continued to be unprecedented! The Hessians threatened my right flank, but were short of contact allowing one unit and the supporting artillery to withdraw to the second fence line. On the American left the two militia battalions were also able to fall back, leaving only the one Disordered unit out on its own, time for some reinforcements I hoped! The dice roll and a 4 shows up; close again, but not good enough. Things look a little sticky here now.

From Phil's perspective now you get some sense of the developing power of the British attack. My Militias must fight like men inspired to hold on for relief from the Continental Amy! No time for a rousing speech though the British and their Hessian allies pour fire into my boys. We can take it though, saving throw upon saving throw limits casualties, if not Disorder. In our turn we return fire and down go some of King George's men, never to rise again! Still no sign of the Continental Army, I throw a 2!

There is pressure all along the American front which allows the Hessians to deploy one battalion on the Harbour, thus cutting off one avenue of possible reinforcements arriving! They also take possession of one of the objectives in the same movement! My boys continue to defy the tyrant's hordes, but we sure could use those reinforcements now! Needing a 3 or more I throw a 1!!!

On the American left, Loyalists overrun the artillery defending the camp and seize the second objective which will enable them to win the game unless the Continentals arrive now.

On the American right one Militia unit is charged in its flank by Hessians and despite a tough fight falls back Disordered and Shaken. The second unit is Disordered and Shaken by small arms fire and on the far right the remaining Militia flees in Rout. Needing anything but a 1, well, you can guess can't you? Game over with a thumping victory for Phil as the British. Neither of us can recall a game where the dice throwing results were so wildly different. My only real successes cam in some fire fights and some stubborn fighting in two melees! When it came to bringing on my Continentals, no way! A thumping and no mistake; there will be some harsh words in Congress I fear and old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh may find himself relieved of his command having lost valuable supplies to the enemy!
We used Black Powder rules for the game, the figures are from my now mostly aged collection of Front Rank, supplemented by a few Foundry and lately Perry figures. The buildings are old Architectural Heritage ones, the harbour is from Ainsty bits and the trees are from The Last Valley.
Phil and I made the rail fences, probably 20 years ago now, and I made the black water swamp a similar time in the primordial past! Back now to painting Redoubt Enterpises' F&IW regular infantry!

Thursday 16 March 2017

Blandings to Berlin!

A surprise insertion into the revealed gaming programme, but very welcome for reasons I'm sure you will understand. Jon has managed to organise a 'sitter' for his mum on a Wednesday evening, which means he gains valued free time to recharge his batteries and also that we can now plan for a game at least once a month. As the table was already set up for the VBCW game on Monday I opted for a simple substitution of forces and came up with a scenario for our next Blandings/Operation Zeelowe game. You may recall in the previous game Lord Emsworth, a prisoner of the cunning Von Brecher, was the subject of a failed rescue operation. Herr Hitler has sent a plane to whisk Emsworth to Berlin, where the simple aristocrat may be 'persuaded' to advise the 1000 Year Reich on its pig breeding programme! Getting wind of the plan from a spy in Market Blandings Colonel White has organised an ambush. In a 7 turn Bolt Action game the British have to free Emsworth while the Germans must simply exit the table top with the Earl. On to Blandings 1940 ~
Under close guard Emsworth is escorted to his car by von Brecher.

England under the jackboot!

The convoy moves off towards the landing strip.

Fearing the worst, von Brecher has ordered the local garrison to sweep the
countryside for the enemy.

British soldiers of the KOSLI are already holding the farm! The Germans
close in for the assault!

The Rolls Royce armoured car comes off second best in an encounter with
the Panzer 38T.

With the ambush sprung, Col White orders up the Vickers MkVI and
supporting infantry. Will von Brecher make a dash for it?

The Vickers Mk VI knocks out the Panzer38T!

British reinforcements pedal hard towards the farm! The enemy convoy
seems to have stalled!

A cool head manning the Pak 38 leads to the Vickers being knocked out!
The convoy can make a dash for the air strip.

With fighting raging all around, von Brecher orders a dash forward. Can the
Hun pull off a win at the death?

The Boyes antitank rifle team knocks out the kublewagen. The column fails
its order test and is a sitting duck for the British!

In Turn 7, with the column halted, the British surge forward and snatch
Emsworth to freedom. In the confusion von Brecher escapes death or capture
and lives to fight another day!

As with all Bolt Action games I've found, the game swings backwards and forwards and produces a tense finish. The decisive factor in this game was the pile of pin markers the convoy suddenly accumulated in Turn 4 and the failed Order Test which resulted. All in all though a grand game which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Roll on the next installment in the epic of Emsworth, the Nazis, and the Empress of Blandings!

Tuesday 14 March 2017

The Battle of White Oak Farm

Despite feeling wan after fence erecting on Saturday and walking miles around WMMS on Sunday Phil and I found ourselves ensconced in GHQ on Monday for our weekly game. I'm sure that says something significant about us both, I'm just not sure what! We had decided to go for the VBCW as a genre, as Dan will be here later in March to take some pictures for Wargames Illustrated to accompany my latest article. {That does mean of course that the AWI game will now be on 27 March and the planned War of 1812 and ACW games will be in April, all three though played out over the same terrain.} The scenario sees the Socialists of Wolverhampton and their allies moving to seize the resources of White Oak Farm, having come off second best in the Chillington Raid just before Christmas. The farm lies nearer the enemy dispositions than it does theirs, so victory will depend on a vigorously conducted offensive. We used Bolt Action 2nd Ed rules, starting 2' in from the table edge for both forces. We planned to play six moves, plus a possible extra move decided by dice throw at the end of Turn six. As ever, I played the Socialists and Phil the Government force. Here's how the game unfolded, beginning with the positions at the end of Turn 1 ~
The Workers' Militia, the Hilton Main Miners and the Boulton-Paul Workers
advance on the right flank towards the farm.

Manders' Horse and Princess Sudhira's Rifles support the Armoured Car's
advance down the road towards Bilbrook.

The South Staffords make rapid progress to occupy White Oak Farm, their left
covered by the MMG.

The Smith Gun and a Vickers MkVIc support the advance. The anti-tank
rifle team waits to ambush the armoured car and the 3" mortar deploys.

The BUF's Bilston Steel Division and the Chillington Rifle Company hold
the right flank.

In Turn 2 the South Staffords occupy the White Oak Farm. The farmer and
his prize pigs seem unimpressed!

The Socialist advance continues, using the steam road roller to smash through
the thick hedges. Manders' Horse is held up short of their objective by the
strong enemy position.

Princess Sudira's Rifles advance to support the MMG
enfilading the farm. In the distance the BUF and the
Chillington Rifle Company advance across the fields.

In Turn 3 the Socialist tank advances on the farm's defenders while their
infantry makes steady progress in support. The South Staffords' position
looked very strong at this point.

The tank attack fails to dislodge the farm's determined defenders in Turn 4.
The infantry will have to go on! Manders' Horse is under heavy fire in the
centre! On the left, Princess Sudhira's Rifles gather for an attack.

On the Government's side the situation seems well in hand at this point.

Despite heavy fire from the defenders and their supporting units the Socialists
assault the farm in Turn 5.

A rush of blood to the head sees Princess Sudhira's rifles assault the BUF!
Not a good move and by Turn 6 they were eliminated. Support though from
the MMG, the 3" mortar and Leach Catapult and the 18lb gun eliminates
the enemy in Turn 6.

Fierce hand to hand fighting in the farm ensues in Turn 6. Its in the balance
after the first round.

The second round of combat sees the Socialists defeat the South Staffords and
occupy the farm. The Miners advance in their support.

Although there was an extra turn, immediately it started the Miners eliminated the remaining South Staffords. With no prospect of taking the farm now, Phil conceded defeat. The Socialists of the Peoples' Republic of Wolverhampton could acquire the stores and animals of the farm. A thoroughly enjoyable three hours which could have gone either way in the end.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Loosing the Will to Live?

Just gathering my thoughts after spending a few hours, and little else, at the 41st WMMS organised by the Alumwell Wargames Society, of which I was once Secretary and WMMS organiser in the 1970's and 1980's. The first event we organised was in 1976 and my last would have been in 1984 probably when a promotion and move away from Walsall left me an exmember. Nevertheless I have attended all but three of the 41 shows I believe; I missed those three due to being out of the country.
Now a days WMMS is held at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton, about a mile or so from my front door, so no excuse for not going really.

Sue dropped Phil and I off at the venue before leaving for a week at her sister's in Lincolnshire. (I'll come back to that later.) Dave Jarman and Paul Yates, who took over from Phil and me as organisers, were manning the entry desk, and once again we were admitted for free. It was about 10.15 when we entered the hall and the show was very busy indeed. Traders are arranged around the outer wall of the hall and in a centrally located block. The games are arranged in rows in the ample spaces in between the two and the ubiquitous B&B is located at the far end of the hall. There's a Costa coffee bar in the entrance space of the centre - hence the Blog title - and an upstairs bar which also serves hot snacks. I never made it to the upstairs bar, I'd been putting up new fence panels in the garden on Saturday, with much help from Gary and Martin, and was finding walking and standing painful! We did grace the Costa Coffee Bar with our custom and it was there I almost lost the will to live while Phil stood in a glacial like queue! I loathe this poncy coffee culture. I want a drink. I want it in a time frame which doesn't age me! Stuff the 'coffee experience' where the sun don't shine! Instant coffee, boiling water and milk will do for me at a Show.

Now, rant over, I promise! To the games now: there were many really good looking games to enjoy or even join in with if that's what you enjoy (gaming with strangers not for we deaf folk though.) In the end I decided to offer pictures of just a few of the many on offer and no order of merit is implied or to be adduced in my choice, the order I present them, or those I omit; it's just how I felt this morning.
Firstly, from the Derby Wargames Society I believe, a game set in Ireland during the Williamite Wars following The Glorious Revolution ~

Next, from the Shrewsbury Wargamers, a real visual treat of an C18th game in my view ~

Next, a couple of games set in the Iberian Peninsula I expect (As a deaf person I don't tend to chat to folk I've not met, so apologies for the lack of attribution.}~

A couple of shots of the Kinver Wargames Group's WWII 20mm game, lead by Dave Page. I've known Dave as long as I've been a wargamer and he always has really interesting games on show and has supported WMMS since our first show I believe. I also like his games because they are full of interest and action and nothing, but nothing,that would be beyond the average gamer ~

After that visual feast of games on offer a word for the many traders who travel miles in the hope of selling us their many wares, stalwart band of folk in my experience, and some who've supported WMMS since 1976!  We really are so well catered for today in so many periods, scales/sizes and materials we ought to be grateful to have been living in this hobby golden age. Nostalgia ain't what you think it used to be! Saying that, I spent all of £12.00, I'm almost embarrassed to report! No new projects you see. I bought four MDF movement trays for my F&IW Sharp Practice 2 project; three new paintbrushes from Coritani; a Troop of Boy Scouts for my VBCW game from 1st Corps; and finally, I was gifted a 'piddling' dog by Trevor on Redoubt's stand. Hardly the last of the big spenders! Phil, on the other hand, was more lavish in his expenditure!!

So, I mentioned, Sue has gone to visit her sister for a week, leaving me to hold the fort! I don't plan to have a paint-fest, but I do intend to have a basing-fest. At last I will paint and vegetate the bases of my Foundry C11th Normans and Saxons so we can play a few Lion Rampant games if we want! They've only been in GHQ for a year or so waiting their moment n the sun! But not tonight! I'm really tired after yesterday and today, I must be getting old...