David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

More handgunners!

Either side of our trip to Scotland, including a visit to Claymore (see previous Blog post), I’ve been working on what is for now at least my last TAG group of figures for our Italian Wars project, in this case a base of handgunners for my contingent of Landsknechts. As with all my earlier work on the TAG figures, they are easy to paint - for Landsknechts that is!

As far as the project goes at present I shall be left with a base of Landsknecht halberdiers and a third base of Pikemem to complete. These are some Warlord and Foundry/early Citadel figures I picked up for a song back in June at Barrage in Stafford. The latter are lovely figures, full of detail and life and, in my opinion, far better than the more recent work by the sculptors.

When these are completed it will be back to the C18th in the shape of my AWI additions, alternating with my remaining figures for my Wars of the French Revolution project. If all goes well all of this will be interspersed with my Palazzo for the Borgias MDF project! Well, we can plan, at least for now... You never know, but purchases at The Other Partizan may derail all of that!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

I have been to...

...Claymore, Scotland’s premier wargames show. Always high on my list of favourite shows to attend I must sadly admit to being a tad disappointed this year. Perhaps I should rephrase that on reflection, a tad less impressed than I expected might be better. The show seemed less crowded, bar the Bring & Buy, and we’ll pass quickly by the stench I encountered on my sole brief visit, and there seemed less of a buzz around the games than usual. Of course, that could just be an impression gained by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’ll never know.
Nevertheless I enjoyed my day. I met good friends, I bought most of the things on my list, I did see some games I liked and I chatted with several traders, some who I seem to have known forever! I’ve decided not to include a full picture report, most folk will have seen many pictures already, so here are three of the Iron Brigade’s alternative Zorndorf game featuring Kevin’s Prussians, mostly from Calpe with some Front Rank support, and Peter’s Russians, all admirably supervised by Emma - hope your exam results went well today!
I always enjoy seeing the Iron Brgade’s games. They deserve a far wider audience in my opinion. They are beautifully presented and full of interesting extras, vignettes, scenics and the like. Their game came second in the Demonstration Games section of the show awards. They was robbed if you ask me! Meanwhile, by way of a change, The Redoubt Castle Hotel in Bonnyrigg, our basefor our stay. Quite wonderful, highly original and the warmest welcome we’ve ever received anywhere. Highly recommended if you’re ever that way.
Next up for me as far as shows go will hopefully be The Other Partizan, one of the other highlights of my wargames show year which I always look forward to. You’ll probably have noticed by the by that I’ve no swag picture. Why, you ask? Well, I bought one figure and heaps of MDF building kits and extras, not exactly photogenic, oh and the Wargamers’ Annual 2018. I hope my TOP swag will be more diverse, we’ll see. Meanwhile, back to painting Landsknechts!






Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Le Pont a Lembeek

This week’s game in GHQ between Phil and me was a Black Powder War of the French Revolution game, with Phil, as De Rawnslie, leading the Revolutionary French army and yours truly,  as von Bikkelberg, leading the Austro-Hanoverian defenders of Lembeek and its strategic bridge over the River Semme. The Austrians win if they deny the bridge to the French, the French if they have one Brigade over the river by the end of Turn 8. Either side can win of course by defeating the enemy on the field of battle.
Austrian cavalry hold the right flank, protecting a small 
Brigade of Hanoverian infantry and a Battery of 12ld guns.

The French have all their cavalry deployed on their left flank.
Two Brigades of Heavy Cavalry and one of Light.

The French right is held by a Demi Brigade of Light Infantry,
supported by two Batteries of 12ld guns. The centre is held by
two Demi Brigades of Line Infantry each of one Old Army 
Battalion and two newly raised volunteers who must check
their status on first fired on or being in action.

"Follow Me!" To compensate for my inferiority in cavalry I 
used this order quite a lot. I had mixed results I have to say!

Austrian Dragoons, Curassiers and Chasseurs surge forward
to halt the French attack.

The French advance on the Bridge supported by the Horse
Artillery on their left flank. The French cavalry seems reluctant
to advance to the attack!

Austrian infantry prepare to defend the Bridge as the French
advance on them. The Horse Artillery has deployed to support
the French attack.

Austrian Dragoons and Chasseurs surge past their Curassiers
and supporting Light Artillery.

The Austrian heavy guns are direted to fire in support of the
Hanoverian Infantry Brigade.

A view from the Austro-Hanoverian lines shows the ominous
numbers of French surging forward.

The Austrian infantry is under attach across the river and by
the Bridge. Time to show what they are made of!

Fighting is fierce around the bridge, with both sides having
some success.

After several gallant but indecisive charges and subsequent
melees, the Austrian cavalry is battered and weakened.

Despite a spirited and very gallant defence, numbers begin to
tell in the French's favour. The 8th cavalry move forward to
finish off their Austrian opposite number.

At the end of Turn 7 the French have two Broken Brigades,
but the Austrians have three. The French are over the bridge
and the Austrians cannot drive them back. Its all up for von
Bikkelberg I'm afraid, the Austrians concede the field to the 
French.
Black Powder never disappoints we've found in delivering a game in which fortunes swing first one way and then the other. The game was on a knife edge throughout and could have gone either way a number of times. The Austrian cavalry performed heroically, but were ultimately defeated by weight of numbers. French Command rolls were often indifferent, but their fighting was overwhelming in far too many instances for their opponents. Despite the result being disappointing for me, I thought this was an excellent game and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did Phil.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

La Cappella di San Filippe

I’m steadily working my way through the buildings I bought back in March and April for my Italian Wars project. I’ve previously completed the two I made using Warbases’ Modular Buildings, together with a few additions from elsewhere, leaving me with the two Charlie Foxtrot buildings, the Small Store/Hovel and the Chapel. The painting scheme follows that of the walled farm and the inn I featured in earlier Blog posts, though perhaps I’ve got a little better at dry brushing with practice. The buildings are based on 3mm MDF custom bases made for me by Warbases of course. The Chapel is a very simple building, though I added some Wills plastic pantile sheeting to the front elevation to tone it in with the cast resin main roof provided with the kit ~

The small store, or hovel in my mind, is a simple square building, you’d think an idiot could build it. Wrong! I only noticed when I came to paint it that I’d mounted the side window in sideways! Obviously an early Italian Top opening window light! My kit was missing one of the three exposed stonework pieces. Rather than complain I simply left the space open and painted it in to match the base, it’s a hovel after all. Like the inn it needs some bits and bobs adding to give a lived in look. I have those on my list!
Phil ordered some resin buildings and extras from Grand Manner for his Spanish Games last month, so I added in a fountain to save on postage. I made it a feature base to arrange the buildings around if we want a town in any of the games.
I plan to make a further building from the Warbases modular building options by combining some elements of the Sally Forth Italian castle range with those from Warbases to create a more impressive Palazzo for the Borgias to reside in. I’ve ordered the Sally Forth elements to collect at The Other Partizan and hope to get my Warbases bits and pieces at Claymore next Saturday.

Friday, 27 July 2018

The 19th Dragoons

French of course, from Trent Miniatures, for my Wars of the French Revolution project. The project began for me in a totally unplanned way when I bought a few bags of figures from Duncan at Partizan, if I’m honest purely because Matt had sculpted them on the one hand when he was starting out and on the other because I’d found nothing else to pique my interest. Add to that the substantial discount Duncan offered me and I was away! I just really enjoyed painting the figures, and still do. I have them firmly placed on my ‘Figures which seem to love the paint’ list, along with others like Copplestone Castings, Pulp Figures, and Front Rank. Anyway, leaving that aside for now, here are my latest additions, painted as the 19th Dragoons ~

As I mentioned at the end of my last Blog post, I’ve two more cavalry units, or rather one and a bit, in the queue: a unit of eight British Light Dragoons and the rank and file for my Scots Greys, STILL without any long promised Command Figures! I’ve also got a few Austrians who may appear as Rohan Fusiliers in due course. I intend though to try first to finish the Italian Wars figures, of which there are three bases: a third Landsknecht pike block, a base of Landsknecht halberdiers, and a base of Landsknecht handgunners. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to leave these until last after all...

I forgot to mention earlier in the month that I bought some figure packs from Crann Tara for my SYW expansion. Strictly speaking they’re from their Jacobite range, but I wanted the Royale Ecossosais in the blue bonnet rather than the tricorn they probably wore in the SYW period. My toys, my game, my choice... They are very slight next to my Foundry figures, but I think they will look fine painted up en masse on the table. The next time I manage to get over to Foundry I shall buy some more figures for my SYW expansion, another British Dragoon or Dragoon Guard unit and a French Line Cavalry unit being top of my additions list. I’ve also got plans to add a further Wild Geese element to the French and perhaps some Hanoverians to the existing British side, though these would need to be from Front Rank as the thought of adding green stuff moustaches to 50 odd figures somewhat phases me!


Friday, 20 July 2018

La locanda del Bougainvillea...

...and the completed Landsknecht pike block. Really all this wonderful, warm and sunny weather is not much conducive to sitting at the painting desk but I have managed to make some progress despite all this. Firstly I’ve finished the second building for our Italian Wars project, again made up from Warbases’ Modular Buildings and extras. It uses three components: the two storey and longer single storey building and the Portico addition piece. Again, the pan tiled roof sections are from Wills railway scenics range of plastic sheeting. The bespoke base was cut from 3mm MDF by Warbases for all my Italian Wars Buildings. The Bougainvillea adorning the end wall is made from Jarvis climbing plant sections, as on the farm I featured earlier, with flowering areas by a rubberised colour scatter I bought a while back from Mutineer Miniatures. I need some scenic additions, but have nothing suitable in the ‘Useful Bits’ box!

Secondly, I’ve completed the additional Landsknecht pikemen I bought from Warlord Games at the Barrage show recently. They were added to the front of the base of figures to make the pike block more convincing on the tabletop.

Ongoing work besides these are a unit of the 19th Dragoons for my French army from the Revolutionary War project. These are Trent Miniatures of course, sculpted by my son Matt early in his career. While I’m not entirely unbiased you understand, I prefer his sculpting style to that of the more recent sculptor, but I recognise that it’s all a matter of taste. So far I’ve completed two Dragoons but have much of the basics on the remaining six which I hope to finish this month.

Besides this unit I’ve two others by the same manufacturer in the painting queue: a unit of eight British Light Dragoons and another of six Scots Greys, for which I’m STILL waiting for the long promised Command figures! Other figures actually on the painting desk are a unit of 10 Landsknecht handgunners by TAG and a third Landsknecht pike block of 18 figures by Warlord Games and Wargames Foundry. After those are done I’ve three units from Foundry for my expansion of the AWI game: two of Continental Infantry and one of British Regulars. There are also some Light Dragoons somewhere from the Perry Miniatures stable. somewhere near the bottom of the pile are three units of Dixon ACW Union Infantry, which I will get around too, just not yet...

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Who would have thought it?

A small milestone is reached today for Tales From GHQ in the shape of this Blog post, the 500th since I made the transition to blogging after an earlier Freewebs based gallery style incarnation. I would never have thought when I published my first blog entry on 29th November 2011 that I would still be publishing some seven years later, not to mention that I would have garnered 230 interested souls along the way as Followers, nor achieved over 250,000 hits ~ thank you Mr Putin by the way! It’s proved an interesting, frustrating, uplifting and enjoyable way to chronicle all I’ve been up to in our glorious hobby, to meet new friends - both real and cyber, to find new ways of doing things and to share the joys we all experience from the many aspects of our shared interests - the historical research, the drawing up of lists, painting figures and ephemera, the sheer creativity of the hobby, but most of all the friendship. So what better way to celebrate than to feature my friends, and especially my life long friend Phil, in this milestone post?
Phil perusing Bull Run to Gettysburg before an ACW game in the original GHQ. 
Phil, Jon, yours truly, Martin and John on ‘Moving Day’ from GHQ Mk1 to GHQ Mark2.
Dan hard at work most recently taking photos to accompany my latest piece for Wargames Illustrated on gaming 1914 with Black Powder rules using in house developments.
There have been two incarnations of GHQ since I started my Blog, the original housed in the extension to our home and now the master bedroom, the current location a conversion from the garage giving me more storage and a larger table at 6’6” x 6’. Mind you, we are not above commandeering the dinning room table on occasions as you can see! You may see a little more of GHQ in the Autumn as it features in a short article on wargamers and their spaces in Wargames Illustrated. Meanwhile, who else but Phil would be expected tomorrow as we prepare to play out the 1914 game I set out for the photoshoot with Dan a couple of weeks ago?


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

La Bianca Fattoria

The weather has been hot and sunny here in GHQ seemingly forever, but at least for the last couple of weeks. It will probably rain tomorrow now I’ve said that, but it has meant that I’ve not really felt like painting once the cooler mornings have passed. One thing I have been tatting with though is the first of my buildings for the Italian Wars project, a walled farm. It’s made from Warbases’ Small Roman Tower, two of the Modular Buildings, the High Walls and the Gateway sets. They also cut the base to fit for me from 3mm MDF. The tiles on the buildings and walls are from Wills railway scenics.

I coated the walls with rough textured filler, the cheap sort will do you’ll find. The doors, Windows and shutters are from Warbases’ Accessories line and are just stuck onto the building blanks where ever you want them for a bespoke look. The Lion Head drinking fountain is a new to me 3D print by Iron Gate Scenery - see previous post. It adds a nice touch I think to the building. The climbing plants are a Jarvis product, a bit messy to use I thought, while the static grass and Tufts are from Great Escape Games and The Tutbury Jinny, a model railway shop in Tutbury.

When it came to painting the buildings and base texture I used Crafters Acrylic paints, except for the tiled roofs which I used Valejo Mahogany Brown, followed by a dry brushing of Foundry Orange, Shade and Medium. The walls and buildings were first Rich Brown, then Fawn, finally Antique White, all with a large flat brush. The doors, windows and shutters are washed in Sepia Artists Ink, about four coats, and picked out with Foundry Musket Stock Brown Shade.

My guiding principle was a washed out look, more a wargames terrain piece than a carefully finished model building. You will all have your own opinions on this, but my view is that it will look fine on the table so, “It will do!”  I’ve another building underway now, also made from Warbases’ Modular Buildings and Accessories packs, including a balcony - very Wherefore Art Thou...? At the moment it’s at the Rich Brown stage, but I hope to press on with it in the next day or two. When these two are completed there remain two Charlie Foxtrot buildings, the Small Store and the Small Chapel. As I’m trying to finish my Landsknecht pike block though they will probably have to wait a while for their moment in the sun!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Never Say Never Again!

Well, I did mention in the last post that we wargamers never really conclude any project is ‘finished’, so it’s no real surprise that I’m now the owner of more lead for our Italian Wars project. I tootled up to Stafford last Sunday morning to attend the Barrage wargames show. I’ve been to the last couple and, as with the Penkridge Table Top Sale, managed to come away with a few items for my various projects, so it’s no surprise that this was the case again. While the show is rather more Fantasy and Sci-Fi than is to my taste, there are a smattering of historical traders and gamers attending and, well, if we don’t support local events they die and the hobby is the poorer for it.
Warlord Games had a big presence and I was lucky enough to be able to buy the mixed pack of Landsknecht pikemen standing and advancing, a pack which doesn’t seem to be in the webstore by the by. It comes with 8 of their 80mm wire pikes as well which was handy as I’m out of stock at present! I can add the four advancing figures to the pike block I’m working on now to finish it off, hopefully this week.
 I thought the other four standing ones would probably lie in the ‘might be useful sometime’ box in my painting desk, but I was wrong there. Wandering the show and browsing various figure reselling stands I came on two packs labelled ‘Foundry Empire/Mercenaries’. In fact they are the Early Landsknechts they made under the Citadel label I believe. Twelve figures, plus various odd weapons, in each pack for £8, so I bought them both. Together with the previously mentioned Warlord Games figures I have made another pike block, with enough odd figures left to do something with in due course I expect.
I also came across a terrain accessory trader I’d not met before,Iron Gate Scenery, with a fine array of items covering all things Ancient to Modern and Beyond and at hyper reasonable prices too ~ www.irongatescenery.co.uk I had thought they were resin, but in fact they are 3D Prints, the first I have bought! I bought three packs: a Lion Head drinking fountain; an Ancient covered well; and a set
of Traffic Lights and Road Signs. The first already adorns the wall of a building I’m working on for our Italian Wars project; the second can do service in that project and in our Late Roman games; while the latter is for our VBCW set up. There were some really fine pieces, especially for currently in vogue games like Gangs of Rome, and some grand boats with any number of uses. Their website should help you loosen your purse strings I think!
In the meantime, Sue is working at the University this week, so I can paint a little more so long as I don’t overdo the sitting. Landsknechts and Italian Wars buildings in case you are wondering!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Slow, but steady progress...

...on my latest addition to our Italian Wars project, a second Landsknecht pike block. As it worked out, these Warlord/ProGloria figures were the first figures I bought for the project last year, on a whim really. I’m not even sure which show I bought them at! As things turned out, I was more taken with the TAG figures I bought in December, so they languished in the RUBs housing my Lead Pimple until their moment in the sun arrived!

So far I’ve managed fourteen pieces for the base. The plan had been to leave space on the front of the base for six handgunners, from TAG. That would have left just one more base of ten TAG handgunners to complete my side of the project.  Now I’m having second thoughts and may add more pike to the front of the base!
Of course, ‘as any fule kno’, no wargamer really ever signs off a project as complete, there’s always something coming along to be added at a later date, so who knows if I will get the itch to add more later?


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hot From The Press...

...or at least from the digital camera, some of Dan’s photos from the Wargames Illustrated photoshoot here in GHQ. The article on gaming the Great War 1914 using Black Powder rules will appear in the October issue. In the same issue will be an article discussing the upcoming revision of Black Powder in 2019 ~

The new version of Black Powder will be more of a revision and a reorganisation of the rules layout I’m told than a rewrite. This latter is a much needed improvement in my opinion, speaking as someone who has trouble remembering the nuances of rules, and more to the point where to find the explanation! But, that is for the future, now it’s back to painting Landsknechts, Oh Joy!






Sunday, 1 July 2018

The camera doesn’t lie...

...but it certainly can exaggerate given half the chance! You will have a chance to draw your own conclusions anyway later in the year when my piece on adapting Black Powder to 1914 games appears in Wargames Illustrated alongside the photos Dan took during his visit to GHQ last week. To help you judge here are a few pictures I took during the hectic session ~
 An additional shot of Dan hard at work during a three hours or so session taking dozens of general and detailed shots, of which only ten or so will make the hard copy magazine, with more in the version for Digital subscribers ~
I’ve left the game out on the table for Phil and I to play it through later in the month. 

I was at Penkridge Table Top Sale today, a big event for me as my first solo trip since the hip replacement operation. I enjoyed my visit much more than usual, ran into an old colleague from work too! As ever I managed an historical wargames purchase, thanks to Phil’s eagle eye, a painted Redoubt F&IW Indian leading three captive females for £9.00. Thanks to the same scout I also got four Britain’s Mounted Knights for William for £5.00. All in all a grand day out. Though I will confess I was so tired afterwards I went to sleep for two hours!
 I hope to make it to Barrage in Stafford next Sunday, a more ambitious solo trip. Tomorrow it’s off to Phil’s for a SCW game, so look out on his blog later in the week for a report.