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.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Onward, Ever Onward!

As time like an ever rolling stream flows ever onwards it’s an opportunity as the year's close approaches to look back on past hobby activity and look forward to what hopefully 2019 may bring. As ever I’ve kept an old fashioned desk diary in which I record my hobby related activities under the general headings of ‘Games’, ‘Painting’, ‘Purchases’, and ‘Visits’. Although I sometimes feel this might be a tad OCD I genuinely find it helpful in seeing the balance over time of where my hobby interests are taking me. Straight away I can see that compared to previous years I have made fewer hobby related visits, to Shows or to Stores, than in any of the most recent years. Mainly this was due of course to my hip replacement operation in early May and the enforced travel ban during the immediate recovery period of several weeks. In fact since The Other Partizan in late August it will probably be WMMS in early March before I attend a wargames show again, that's assuming we don't count the Penkridge Table Top Sale in January. While age and disposition might partly be the cause, I have to say I find wargames shows increasingly disappointing, though it’s hard to say why that is. I should probably return to this theme later and give it proper thought and consideration. We’ll have to see...
Back to the review of 2018 though for now. I see from the aforementioned diary that in the year I played 50 games, mostly against my friends and steadfast opponents Phil and Jon I should say, winning 22, drawing 14 and loosing14. Overall a pretty average performance, as ever of course. What was new though was a conscious decision on our part to consolidate the rules we played, rather than dip into numerous sets. This meant sadly leaving several sets I had written and published in favour of Black Powder as I found I simply could not cope with remembering what went where in each game. Age brings wisdom they say, but not improved memory I’ve found, so it’s simpler to use one core set for several genres we play. When we branch out into Ancients, ECW, Italian Wars and WWII I find I lean heavily on Phil especially as he’s far more into rules than I am now a days. Hardly fair to him perhaps but it seems to work for us.
Painting continues to be a solitary pleasure, though developing arthritis in my right hand allied to early stage cataracts in both eyes has sometimes made for difficulties. I see from the record I added 536 figures to the stock of resources in GHQ, though the Lead Pimple remained resolutely of the same sort of size. Must be some sort of magic thingy at work there! I only paint 28mm figures now of course, still in a range of periods and genres, but mostly in the late C18th to the early C20th. I’ve never thought of myself as more than an average standard of painter but I’m still generally really chuffed by the look of my armies on the tabletop, if not so much close up! I put this down to some advice I was given years ago now: ‘Faces, Flags, and Bases’! Well, Flags I can buy for almost any period now; faces I'm less good at now, having largely given up on eyes for example; bases I do work a little harder at now, though the benefits of laser cut MDF can’t be underestimated in the overall finished look of a unit or individual base. As the Lead Pimple has recently expanded significantly I hope 2019 will prove to be equally productive and satisfying as 2018 was!
I’ve already alluded to a significantly reduced frequency of visits to wargames shows and hobby stores and explained partly the reasons behind that. I’d like you to humour me a little though as I share my thoughts on this important aspect of our hobby for a while. I always used to look forward to the opening of the Show Circuit each Spring, usually back then at WMMS, and would often chalk up 20 plus Shows in the year, several in company with Phil and our Demo Game for that year. I really enjoyed showing our games to fellow enthusiasts, even those of the Trappist persuasion, but advancing years and the onset of hearing issues lead to that aspect fading away. Now in the role of just another punter I have to admit I find many shows a bit samey. I find them a bit like Medieval markets really, moving on from place to place over the year, but still featuring the same faces in the Trade and Gaming aspects. I realise that’s not the fault of either organisers or featured gamers, rather
perhaps it’s me in a new phase of my hobby life. This is one reason I enjoy the Scottish shows of Carronade and Claymore, featuring some traders and gamers who don't venture down south as well as the chance to meet my many Scots friends. I no longer buy much at shows, thanks to the net of course, and while I can admire a grand game I can often see it later and better on Blogs and Forum Boards. I still enjoy chatting with old chums of course, but the buzz of shows has largely evaporated for me.
Finally in the review of the year I ought to mention purchases. Well, far too many if I’m honest would be my initial thought. But then what fellow hobbyist wouldn’t say the same I wonder? Certainly if you look at Bring & Buys, eBay and the like a lot must be bought and never painted or used! On the other hand I did part with three collections this year: my 20mm Vietnam War game; my Samurai skirmish game; and lastly, my C19th Great Detective game all exited GHQ for good. In truth the first two were played out without unlikely investment in new components while the latter simply never worked for us as a game for two players. I’ve found that my penchant for Pulp type games more than sated by the VBCW genre, so next year should see my Pulp Adventures collection also departing GHQ, with the resulting cash being reinvested in more popular and enduring games here in GHQ.

Where do I hope to be going then in 2019 in our wonderful hobby? Well, judging from a recent inventory of the aforementioned Lead Pimple the answer is the Black Powder era with additions to the AWI, the ACW and the SYW.

That ought to keep me occupied for a fair chunk of next year {DV}...

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Christmas Greetings!

With no hobby related activity worthy of record planned between now and New Year's Eve it seems an appropriate space to wish all the Followers and many anonymous visitors to this blog


The usual 'End of Year' musings will probably appear nearer to the end of the year, for those of course who are interested in my ramblings...

Saturday 15 December 2018

20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

My real passion, if I can say I have one as a wargamer, has been the American Civil War almost since I first got into this hobby. In my time I have owned three collections of both factions in the conflict: a 15mm Minifigs collection; a 25mm Minifig collection; and, lastly, a 28mm Dixon Miniatures collection. Even with my larger table in GHQ Mk2, I have more figures than can be accommodated in any game, so why I have bought more figures is a source of some concern, but buy three more regiments worth of Infantry I did last year! Madness, I know... Of course they are all Dixon Miniatures, quite simply in my view the most characterful and comprehensive range on the market, I just enjoy painting them! Well, one of those three new purchases has had its moment in the sun and reached the painting desk! A Union Regiment, the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Flags From Redoubt Enterprises ~

The 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, known as the "Harvard Regiment", served in the Union army in the ACW. The regiment gained its nickname because the officers of the 20th were young Harvard graduates. In addition some of the private soldiers had attended Harvard. Perhaps it’s most well know member as far as wargamers are concerned was Oliver Wendell Holmes, later a Supreme Court Justice. The 20th was organized in August 29 to September 4, 1861. After training they left for Washington DC on September 4. They would fight until the war's conclusion; being mustered out on July 16 and discharged July 28, 1865. With the exception of First Bull Run the 20th participated in all of the major battles and many of the smaller battles fought by the Army of the Potomac from Balls Bluff on October 21, 1861 through the Seven Day’s, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Petersburg and finally theAppomatox Campaign.
Painting is restricted just now by caring for Sue and necessary domestic duties, compounded by the pre-Christmas crush. I'm pleased to say Sue is progressing well! In the circumstances I'm pleased to have completed these. I've also just started some Foundry SYW British infantry to represent the 23rd Foot.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

British Blustering and Posturing!

Things have been a tad hectic here in GHQ this last week or so. Sue was rushed to hospital two weeks ago with acute appendicitis, operated on, cared for in New Cross and finally discharged to my care last Wednesday. Needless to say painting and gaming with little metal chaps was not a high priority. But, Sue is making good progress post surgery and so I felt able to host Phil this Monday for our regular game. My choice was a SYW game, which I would have played with Jon but for the aforementioned medical incident! As ever, a photomontage to try to convey a sense of the unfolding action ~
Lord Rawnsley oversees the deployment of his army for the
coming action!

Le Comte du Merde similarly directs the French deployment.

A rash charge by the Scots Greys sees them routed by the 
Mestre de Camp regiment! A significant action in the game's
outcome withhindsight!

Lord Rawnsley's failures in early Command rolls handed the
initiative to du Merde's forces.

French cavalry secures the infantry's right flank allowing
unopposed deployment into firing line.

The British Horse Guards and Horse Grenadiers were very
loathe to enter the action. This exposed the British infantry's
left flank to the threat of French cavalry.

The French mass for an attack as the British hesitate!

The Cuirassiers du Roi advance on the hesitant British cavalry.

The British infantry is pinned by the threat of the French and
refuses its left flank brigade.

British cavalry finds itself outnumbered two to on the army's
left flank and has no appetite for the struggle, leaving the
infantry stranded.

The French Guard and Line Infantry Brigades advance in close
support of one another.

Lord Rawnsley decides to withdraw from the field, feeling his
position is hopeless.

Vive Le Roi! Vive du Merde! The French claim the field of
Battle as the British army quits the field in good order!

As I’ve previously stated, I was mulling over a new project for 2019, the WSS was in pole position in my thinking. In the end I settled for an expansion of my SYW collection as I couldn’t face two whole armies it seemed! I have reinvested the funds raised by selling on my Vietnam War 20mm game, so no overall hit to the warchest, as yet...

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Continental Light Dragoons

The 3rd Light Dragoons to be precise. Added to my AWI expansion project over the last week or so of disrupted hobby activity. These are the Perry sculpted Foundry figures, a part of my lost and replaced mail order from late October time. I really like the figures I have to say, they are nicely animated and paint up really easily. Oh, and they were not covered in endless fine vent runs! Unlike some I have bought of late from their own company. You may guess by now this is one of my pet hobby hates. Here they are, ready to join the fray ~

I recently took advantage of Foundry’s 'Buy 16 Get 6 Free' Christmas Sale to buy, amongst more SYW figures, two more British infantry units. They will go into the Lead Pimple for next year sometime. Meanwhile, back to the ACW with a unit of Dixon Miniatures Union Infantry, the 20th Massachusetts with Flags by Redoubt Enterprises...

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Happy Blogversary!

Well, who would have thought I could keep up these aimless rambles for seven years? Not me, that’s for sure! But, notwithstanding all that, here we are seven years down the line... I wonder how much time I’ve spent on this and related activity that might have been used differently? Well, I guess I can’t know that and it would only depress me more if I knew anyway. I’ll keep going while I think there’s some point to it, for myself or for visitors, but I do wonder sometimes if it has any real validity as an exercise. As ever, views are always welcome...
Meanwhile, a few favourite pictures from past years might be a good way to cut off pointless rambling ~

Or not, as the case may be...

Tuesday 27 November 2018

The Attack on Castello San Phillipe

For our regular Monday game here in GHQ, and the first in December, Phil and I settled on an Italian Wars game using Pike & Shotte rules for only the third time as I’d recently painted up four new Command bases. It was also a good excuse to see my Palazzo and all the related buildings and extras out on the table for the first time. The game saw Phil’s Florentine’s attacking the Papal held town of San Phillipe and attempting to sack the castello. As ever, a few pictures to illustrate how the game panned out ~
Castello San Phillipe and its town environs defended by the
forces of the Papal States.
Florentine forces gather, albeit rather slowly, for the attack to
commence. The Heavy Ordnance opens fire on the defenders!

Florence's finest, though they were not to live up to the
epithet during the battle!

After initial hesitancy the Papal Gendarmes and Elmetti
advance to confront the enemy.

A strong defensive line has been established by the defenders.
Masses of mercenary Landsknechts advance on the defenders

A view along the road to the battle. Cesare is leading from the
rear I see! The shame!

The battle is hotting up now with many of the defending force
being Disordered by handgun and crossbow fire. The pike
do not seem at all keen to engage their foe!

Despite suffering losses in combat, the Papal Gendarmes and
Elmetti sweep the enemy before them! On their left flank the
battle turns against the Florentines!

At last the Disorder is cast off and the infantry begins to go on
the attack as the Florentines falter!

The Garrison of Castello San Phillipe look on as the Papal
force presses forward on the Florentine centre.

All is up for the attackers in Turn 8! The Florentine left is 
broken and the centre is driven back. San Phillipe is saved
once more!

Pike & Shotte gave us a fast flowing and enjoyable game and
may in time supplant Neil Thomas's rules as our go to choice
for the period, we shall have to see.

The figures are from our joint collections and include items from Foundry, TAG, Casting Room Miniatures, Perry Miniatures, Dixon Miniatures, Essex, Hinchliffe, Warlord Games/Pro Gloria, and Steel Fist. I was never one for mixing manufacturers much in the past, but this just seems to add to the splendid Renaissance look of the armies to me. Bases were made for us by Warbases of course while they also provided the bulk of the MDF kits I used to kit bash the various buildings. Other components came from Sally Forth, Sarissa Precision, Charlie Foxtrot, Supreme Littleness Designs, Grand Manner, and Iron Gate Scenics.
We hope to revisit the Italian Wars early on in 2019 giving Phil a chance to add another unit or two perhaps to his Florentines. As for me, I've called a halt to Papal expansion and am back to painting extra units for our AWI games, the 3rd Continental Dragoons at present as I've had the dismounted versions for 20 years but never got around to adding the mounted versions! Typical wargamer I suspect, my attention wandered off to something newer and shinnier!

Saturday 24 November 2018

Loyalist Militia for the AWI

I have been working on a new unit for my AWI collection recently using the Foundry figures I recently purchased. I wanted a generic unit to represent the Loyalist Militias who rallied to the Crown’s cause to supplement my more organised Loyalist and British Regulars in my force. I wanted a rather motley appearance, with a nod to both uniformity and local supply, so I chose a mixture of American figures from three packs: Command; Uniformed Militia marching; and Minute Men marching. I chose a brown faced red uniform for the uniformed figures, painting all those first, then turning to the  Minute Men figures in more civilian dress, though I did try to make a nod to uniforms in the shape of red waistcoats where I could. For their Colour I ordered a ‘Make your Own’ version from Flags of War, a red field with the motto ‘God Save The King’ - a very hard choice for a life long republican! Anyway, here they are, see what you think ~
Loyalist Militia ~ a Standard Unit in Black Powder

A 'Make You Own' colour ~ from Flags of War

Mixing Uniform and Civilian dress

And again, a mix of dress

I had four figures left over from the Command pack but no other figures, so as I’d missed Warfare due to illness I decided to treat myself to some figures from Perry Miniatures to make up another American unit. I chose Firing Line figures, one pack in uniform coats and one in Hunting Shirts. In addition I ordered the Mounted Officers in cut down coats and three packs of Volunteers of Ireland, the latter whose flag I also had bought from Flags of War. They are all cleaned up and spray undercoated white now, ready to take their place in the painting queue!The Lead Pimple never seems to diminish these days you know, strange that...

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Action Replay!

No game here in GHQ this week as it was my turn to travel to Phil’s for the third game in our ongoing Fall of the Reich campaign. Phil has blogged our efforts so I hope you will pop over to his site News From the Front, via the side bar link, as I always admire the look of his games. Last week though we did play an ACW game in GHQ, a slightly expanded version of the Wednesday night game Jon and I had fought the week before. Again the game was pretty much nip and tuck right to the end of the allotted 12 Turns. While the Union, commanded by old  Useless S Bykleigh, could not quite pull of a clear victory, they did manage to turn back the Rebel tide! Phil 'Mudwall' Robinson did concede that his army would quit the field due to their overall position at the game’s conclusion, so a winning draw for the Union! I took a handful of pictures just to give a feel for the action ~
Opening moves see the Rebs attacking all along the Union front. Some Union
troops are slow to march out of camp!

The Union camp is strangely calm now the boys have finally moved off to
march to the scene of the fighting!

The Rebs are pinning the Union left flank while attacking the centre and right
vigorously! Old Useless is quite concerned at this stage that his centre may

As it happens the centre holds firm against the odds as Reserves arrive in the
nick of time! The Reb right is forced back and some regiments in their centre
are Whipped!

The Reb's left flank crumbles away and 'Mudwall Robinson' orders a tactical
withdrawal, leaving old Useless in possession of the field!

Buoyed up by those two ACW games I have finally got around to cleaning up the three Regiment’s worth of Dixon Miniatures I bought way back last year. I now replace the cast on flagstaffs with wire pikes as I’ve had old ones simply fail if you just caught them. It’s a bit fiddly for me, but much easier than doing it post paining and basing!!! They will end up as one Union Regiment, the 20th Mass, and two Confederate ones, one each from Virginia and Georgia to make up those State's Brigade numbers. I hope to get one at least done before the year’s end...