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.

Friday 28 July 2017

Good News, Bad News

Yesterday Sue and I were out on the razzle with Phil and Di. The ladies went shopping in Newark, so there are no prizes for guessing where Phil and I went. Yes, that's correct, we went shopping ourselves, to Foundry in nearby East Stoke. I needed loads of new paints as many pots of the most commonly used colours, especially the Shade options, were almost exhausted. I also took the opportunity to buy a few packs to add to what is now more than a Lead Pimple, more of a swelling I'd guess. For my AWI Americans I got two guns and crew, the 8lb and the Grasshopper 3lb; for WWII 1940 I got German Officers, Infantry & Support Weapons, I also got two free unreleased British Home Guard. Finally, for my Wars of the French Revolution project I got some RHA, founded as they were in 1793; two crews, a battery command & two 9ld guns (I also got a 12ld gun for a later project for the collection). All in all a good visit, followed up by a spell in Melton Mowbray, where we sampled the famous pies, and then dinner in the Otter near Kegworth, but we'll pass that by...

The bad news? Sometime in the small hours one of my Don Trioni prints in GHQ fell off the wall, the brass wire fitted by the framers failed, and smashed down onto parts of my French army. There's a good deal of damage, and some units, like my Foundry Chasseurs, will need a lot of tlc. The recovery has already started, but things may be a bit quiet from GHQ for a few days so I hope you understand. Oh, and the glass needs replacing in the print frame...

Monday 24 July 2017

En Avant, Mes Braves!

Monday's game in GHQ saw a return to my Wars of the French Revolution collection, pitting the French, under that military incompetent General de Bykli, against the British Expeditionary force commanded by the only slightly more competent Lord Rawnsley, Phil of course. The action is a fighting withdrawal by the British rearguard, having 12 Turns to deny the French the farm complex at the centre of the table while trying to keep as many units in fighting trim as possible. The French march on in Turn 1, a Light Cavalry Brigade on their left flank and two Light Infantry Demi-Brigades advancing down the road in the centre, supported by a battery of Horse Artillery. Once all these have deployed the leading French Ligne Demi-Brigade can enter the table. The rules used were Black Powder, continuing my resolution to use fewer rule sets and actually try to learn the ones I use. As I'm between photo storage options thanks to , in my opinion, Photobucket's appalling blackmail, disguised as business, I have only a few pictures to capture the action ~
Opening moves see the French cavalry Blunder and the leading Legere
engage the British skirmishers shielding their left wing.
The midpoint in the game: the French right drives in their opponents, but in
the center the Hanoverian Brigade steadfastly holds the farm.
French Chasseurs, out of shot on the left, force one Battalion into square.
The leading Ligne Demi-Brigade finally arrives to expel the Hanoverians from
the farm.
The end is in sight for Lord Walton. His left is driven in; his centre has lost
the farm; his right is retiring!
The game lasted 11 of the planned 12 Turns, with a French victory being agreed as inevitable given only one turn remaining. For Phil the Hanoverian Brigade in his centre put up dogged resistance while his left retired mostly in good order until flanked by the French Chasseurs a Cheval. His right wing cavalry held off the French Hussars, indeed the Hompsch Hussars drove off the French 11th Hussars. The British Light Dragoons failed to emulate their colleagues, probably due to becoming Disordered at a vital juncture in the tussle!

I've completed another unit for this game tonight, three skirmish style bases of Trent Miniatures for a unit of 12 British Marines. Otherwise I'm working on a unit of 10 Dixon Miniatures Union cavalry. Slow going with these, but two are almost done now. I'm off to see Dunkirk tomorrow at the Light House cinema in Wolverhampton. I'll be sure to let you know what I think of it. In the meantime, Toodle Pip!

Saturday 15 July 2017

Onward, ever onward!

The second of the two VBCW games I mentioned in an earlier post took place on Thursday this week. It saw new 'GHQ Irregular' Derek cutting his teeth in a VBCW/Bolt Action game. The scenario pitted my Wolverhampton Peoples' Army against the Forces of Repression. Derek took command of the Government forces in a bid to deny two bridges across the River Penk to the Peoples' Army. I only took a couple of pictures to give a flavour of the game ~

I successfully took the rail bridge but could not shift the enemy from the road bridge, despite pinning the Armoured Car! We called it a win for Derek's Government forces after six turns as time was running out.  That's every game played to a conclusion lost so far this month...

On the painting front I've made steady progress: I've finished 13 Footloose VBCW Militia figures and 5 Warlord Games LDV, with the other 5 having all the base colours finished. I hope they'll be finished tonight or tomorrow morning. I've also started the two Warlord British snipers and 12 Trent Miniatures Royal Marines, which Duncan provided by pairing Irish Militia with bicorne heads. In case folk formed the impression from my previous post that I was ready to roll over I'll mention what I've bought for my ongoing projects:- from Warlord Games, the BEF collection; a 38T; the 1940 Heer Command HQ; and, the 1940 Heer infantry gun and crew. They are due any day now I hope! Yesterday I popped over to Spirit Games, in Burton on Trent, for more Dixon Miniatures ACW infantry and cavalry. I have a list in development for Claymore too, more Dixon figures and MDF from Warbases! I've not given up yet! Toodle Pip!

Sunday 9 July 2017

Age Shall Not Weary Them...

Out of context I know, but I think it's an appropriate starting point for what I want to write about today. Well, I best make a start then: Age and the Wargamer. I've been thinking a good deal of late about the issues arising from age as they affect my hobby, my participation in various aspects of it, and the future likelihood of continuing along in the present mode. At the turn of the year you may recall I decided that I would start no new periods in future but restrict myself to additions to the several we already play here in GHQ. I've found this surprisingly liberating as you'll have read and I see no change in my stance as likely to occur. Of course I still pour over new releases, but in a third person kind of way. I like figures I see, I know I'd enjoy making lists, collecting units and painting them up as best I can, but I have no urge to buy anything different any more. I am content with what I have to play. In fact I'm considering a modest cull, a small exercise in downsizing, by selling off my 20mm Vietnam skirmish game complete and also the 28mm figures for my Sherlock Holmes Pulp Game. Nothing may come of this, but the thought is planted front and centre, so who knows? We shall see.
What prompted me to write today was a visit I made last week to an old acquaintance, ostensibly to play a Black Powder game set in the imaginary British Intervention in the USA during the 1860's. We did play a few moves, but my friend's ill health brought the game to a sudden stop. I say ill health, but in fact he is terminally ill, but still keeping up with his hobby as best he can. There were masses of figures on the painting table in the process of completion to add to the hordes around his games room. In his circumstances I don't know if I could do the same, but it certainly made me reflect on my own issues of aging in the hobby. Another event earlier today also provided food for thought, as I went to Barrage in Stafford for a couple of hours. After two hours wandering around the three halls, shopping, and chatting to a few chaps I knew I found I was glad to leave, I'd actually had enough. But I think back to shows of yore, we set off so early the birds were still asleep, gamed and shopped all day, packed up in no time and then drove home! Maybe even painting the same evening. I just can't, and indeed no longer want, to pursue my hobby like that.
I'm still buying new figures though for existing periods. Take today for example: a pack of Footloose Workers' Militia Characters; two packs of Warlord British Snipers in Ghillie suits; a pack of the same company's BEF Infantry Section;and lastly, two packs of Bolt Action dice. I almost bought a collection of 28mm VBCW figures for £15 for 24,but on reflection thought I didn't need more, and walked on by. Painting, although still a joy, is occasionally difficult with hand and eye issues but I hope to carry on for now. When though, I ask, will I stop? Gradually, fading away like an old soldier? Or suddenly, as a friend I know just stopped on his 65th birthday? Will I even know until I arrive at the decision? I certainly couldn't afford mass painting by a third party, so for now I must chip away at The Lead Pimple as and when I feel like it.
We come to gaming next in my discourse. Rules are my particular problem, or rather remembering them correctly. Here in GHQ I have come to the conclusion that as far as we can all the games from the SYW to 1914 will be played using Black Powder. We play too many games you see and use too many rule sets. Even the five sets I've written I find I confuse, a kind of Hail Powder & Shotte problem! Age may not weary them, but the years certainly condemn.
All is not doom and gloom though. I still get great pleasure from this wonderful hobby and my many friends and acquaintances which fill it. Joy abounds still, though perhaps not with the same degree of intensity I once felt. Wargaming has become for me as much a social as a gaming hobby. Only two weeks ago I was over in Nottingham for a couple of days with Colin Ashton at Wargames Illustrated HQ playing a large(for me anyway) FRW game. Since coming home we've written an article about the experience and exercise and written the captions for the 18 pictures in the layout. But I got as much pleasure from the company of Colin, his wife Katherine, Dan, Duncan, Jamie and all the Battlefront chaps who kept popping in to see how it was going as from the game itself, which I lost after seven turns if you ask. I hope this aspect will continue as long as I do and that I never become one of those curmudgeonly chaps who lament the passing of plasticine and banana oil and the glory days of real wargaming!

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Two VBCW actions from GHQ

Over the past few days I've been rather spoilt for choice of games. On Wednesday I played another game against Jon in our ongoing VBCW story set around Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire, while on the day before I'd been over to Sheldon in Birmingham as a guest of an old chum and dabbled my toes in a British Intervention in the USA of 1863-5, a game which sadly petered out without a clear result. Next week, Phil and Di are away celebrating their Wedding Anniversary, but on Thursday I'm staging a rerun of the VBCW for a new acquaintance, Derek, a fellow retired teacher. Three scenes from the VBCW game against Jon, a win for the forces of reaction sadly ~

On the painting front I've had a bit of a burst, finishing 5 Ghurkas from Warlord for my Burma '43 game; 4 BEF Command figures from Warlord; a Blacker Bombard set from Warlord also; the Partizan free figure from May; the 3 new character figures from Footsore, along with 4 more rifle armed figures; and lastly, a 1st Corps ACW negro camp servant with a scenic tree & bird from Warbases! I've got 4 Footsore British Militia & 4 Workers' Militia on the go and the new Warlord LDV Section are ready to start after those! I'm hoping to visit the Barrage Show in Stafford on Sunday, so perhaps The Lead Pimple will be expanding again!

Monday 3 July 2017

Holding Action at Crooked Brook

For our regular Monday game Phil and I decided on a return to the Operation Zeelowe games which we set in PGWodehouse's imaginary world of Blandings Castle;Clarence, Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings herself. As Jon had effected the rescue of Lord E from the clutches of the vile nazi, Von Brecher, in the game's last outing it seemed like a good idea to play a follow up game with the Krauts on the offensive having been stung by loosing their prize captive and his extensive porcine knowledge! The retiring British force have decided to fight a holding action along the course of Crooked Brook. While the brook is a minor obstacle to movement it is crossed by both a road and a rail bridge. These need to be denied to the advancing German force. But, the German commander has received vital intelligence from a noted 5th Columnist in the area, leading to a decision to mount. Glider borne landing to take the bridges before the British can fully deploy. To represent the chaos of a retiring force the positions of the defenders are marked by hidden number counters, the numbers corresponding to a list of British forces. As each dice is drawn in Turn 1 for the British the counters are turned from right to left across the table and the numbered unit accordingly deployed! It didn't go too well for the British I have to say. We limited the game to 12 Turns as usual, with only the Falscrimjaegers on the table until Turn 7 when Wehrmacht reinforcements could arrive. So, to the game ~

Just a few scenes to give a flavour of the action during the game. The German glider was made by Matt when he was a young boy and so, along with the British glider, is very dear to me so bear with me in using it. The Germans won in Turn 11 when the British tanks had no choice but to retire, lacking infantry support and having been assaulted successfully already. A notable incident was the duel between the surviving RN Rating, Anderson G, who held off the elite paras for three turns before expiring in a hail of enemy fire! A VC for sure we felt, though sadly posthumous...
As some of you will know, Photobucket is trying to loose customers. Until I can sort out what is happening Blog entries are liable to be brief. Sorry!