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.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Attack on Fort Desperation

For the first, and possibly only, game here in GHQ in May Jon and I played a French and Indian War game. We used Black Powder for the rules with two adaptations: firstly, you could give orders to each base of figures as well as to units, with each unit having its own commander under the CinC; secondly, units which routed could try to rally on a -2 in the next turn and a -1 in the turn following. After that, Routed units left the table. Both adaptations worked smoothly we thought and the game swung back and forth over 10 Turns before a clear winner emerged. I took a few pictures to capture the essence of the game which I hope will let you see how it all panned out ~
The defenders of Fort Desperation push out to engage the enemy. Local
settlers support the Regulars in the fort. The Light Company heads for the 
high ground.

French woodsmen emerge from cover in front of the Lights. The artillery
engage the partially concealed French Regulars. Robinson's Rangers make 
their appearance to bolster the defenders.

The Rangers move off  swiftly to engage the Padoquoi Indians who had 
landed further up the shoreline.

The French Regulars crest the hill and are engaged by the British Regulars.

The local settlers have fled and the Light Company has been forced back but
more Rangers are hurrying to secure the flank as more Padoquoi emerge from
the woods.

The British Regulars and the Colonial gunners drive back the French but
Disorder is beginning to effect the efficiency of the defenders.

The Padoquoi warriors have been driven of by the Rangers to give the hard
pressed defenders a short respite.

The Rangers and the Light Company find themselves out numbered by the 
enemy Militia Woodsmen and allied Padoquoi warriors. A crisis has been
reached for the Defenders of Fort Desperation.

Although the British Regulars still hold Fort Desperation the settlers and the
Rangers have fled the scene leaving the French under Colonel Le Blanc to
claim the victory.

Although I had originally hoped to play out the game with Sharp Practice 2 as the rules I found I was too preoccupied with my coming hip operation and fell back on our favourite Black Powder rules instead with the additions noted above. The game went very smoothly and the rules proved versatile enough to cope with our changes. I've left the game out on the table in GHQ as I hope to play it again with Phil when I'm just a little stronger in the hip department.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Great Escape...

...meets Forest Gump. As some of you may know from other social media sites I was discharged from hospital on Tuesday evening ~

I had intended to blog the French and Indian War game Jon and I played on the Wednesday previously, but I have seriously underestimated the shrinking of my horizons post surgery. My daily routine seems to revolve around walking, resting and eating, and that’s about it! I’ve got as far as uploading the pictures from the game, so perhaps next week, eh? In the meantime, if you are squeamish then look away now ~

Now, the question: who can link the pictures to the film titles explicit in the title and opening remark? No prizes sadly...

Thursday, 3 May 2018

I’m for the chop this time!

All quiet on the GHQ front for a while now folks as my hip replacement operation is scheduled for tomorrow morning! I report in for 7.30am and the theatres start work at 9.00am, so I hope to be done for lunch and taking my first steps in the late afternoon.

All being well, hopefully, I shall be home on Monday and then it’s walking as much as possible for six weeks until I see my surgeon again. Keep me in your thoughts if you have a moment tomorrow morning please. As Arnold might say, “I’ll be back!”

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Landsknecht Pike Block

I’ve managed to complete the first of my two planned mercenary pike blocks for my Italian Wars project. The figures are a mix of several manufacturers: TAG; Steel Fist; Warlord Games; Dixon Miniatures; Essex Miniatures; Tiger Miniatures; and Hinchliffe. You may well ask why? Simple really, most were a gift from Tim Hall of surplus figures. I guess the cost of the unit was about £5.00 at most.

The flags were found as free downloads on the web and represent the German city of Nuremberg. I’m pleased how well they turned out in the end I have to say, although adapting what passes for my painting style to older figures was a challenge, as was working out colours for the figures of these early Landsknechts. 
Painting has come to a standstill for now. I don’t anticipate picking up the brushes in anger for a couple of weeks now. When I do I have a second Landsknecht pike block, by Warlord Games, and a further Command Stand of Cesare Borgia and staff, on foot this time. Beyond these I will need some crossbowmen and handgunners to support the two Landsknecht pike blocks, but sourcing the appropriate figures will have to wait now. I’m hosting a F&IW game for Jon tonight, but won’t get around to blogging that before next week, so keep an eye out for ‘The Attack on Fort Desperation’.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Just Champion!

I've been painting rather less of late, as I’ve mentioned before I know. I have though finished two more bases of figures for our Italian Wars project, another base of Gendarmes and a Champion base. The figures were part of the package of free stuff Tim Hall so kindly sent me. I soaked them for several days in a bath of Detol to remove the varnish and paint, then resprayed them with white Double Acrylic undercoat which I buy from our local Home & Motor Store. The flags are, as ever on this project, from Pete’s Flags and the bases from Warbases. The figures themselves are from Foundry, Essex and, I think, Hinchliffe but the codes on the bases were not clear to read so I may be wrong on the latter two. Anyway, enough waffle, here they are ~

I think the base of Gendarmes turned out better than I hoped once the figures were all painted up. Originally the Essex Champion was also on their base, but it just didn’t gel then as a unit, hence the decision to make him my army’s Champion. I’ve started on a base of Landsknecht pike now, with more of Tim’s generous free figures bulking it out. I hope to complete it before next Friday, but it will be close I think. I’ve finished four so far and have another sixteen to go!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Battle of El Tubh

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, this week’s Monday game with Phil was again moved to a Tuesday due to my hospital appointment. The calm before the storm ~

For a change, I took command of the Imperial Force, landing from the  transport  vessels and supporting gunboats and attempting to defeat the forces of the Mahdi who were besieging the Egyptian garrison of El Tubh. The series of annotated pictures which follow try to tell the unfolding story of the battle, fought out over eight turns ~
The opening positions: Beja riflemen line the Wadhi as Imperial forces make 
their way ashore from the transports. The cavalry cannot disembark until the
infantry clear the area.

While the first assault on the walls of El Tubh goes in, the Black Watch
advance to the skirl o' the pipes, supported by the Gordons. The South
Staffords and the Royal Surreys are struggling ashore.
The assault nears the city walls despite fire from the Egyptian infantry and
artillery. On the banks of the Nile there is much confusion amongst the
troops as officers struggle to impose order - I failed all my Command Rolls!
The Royal Surreys move to clear out the Beja rifles from a farm, while the
Black Watch ready themselves for an assault from the Fuzzies!
Despite losses and disorder the Arabs drive the Egyptian regulars from the
wall. Its up to the irregulars now to turn the tide inside El Tubh.
Although the Black Watch hold off the Fuzzies they are broken by enemy
rifle fire and rout. Similarly the Royal Surreys are broken, having cleared the
far of the enemy! On the left flank though the Loyal Tandooris, supported by
the Yorks and Lancs, are hastening to the aid of the garrison.
As one Arab incursion is driven out of El Tubh, another succeeds in making
an opening on another wall.
The RMC are kept busy in the makeshift casualty clearing station in the
Sudanese fishing village. The Gattling and the Gardner Guns are playing 
havoc with the Fuzzies as they attack time after time!
The South Staffords are stiil trying to sort themselves out on the river bank - I
may have set a record for failed Command Rolls with them! However, the
Fuzzies have clearly shot their bolt and are streaming to the rear in rout.
In El Tubh the fighting is fierce and no quarter is asked or given! The 
Irregulars once more save the blushes of the Egyptian commander by driving
out the second Arab incursion over the river wall.
After eight turns Phil called a halt, admitting he could no longer stop the Imperial forces relieving the garrison at El Tubh. Twice the Nile Arabs had breached the walls and twice they had been driven out by Egyptian Irregulars, supported by the artillery despite its heavy losses. I was pleased to accept the victory, having been sure in Turn Seven that I would probably loose. Once again the Loyal Tandooris distinguished themselves in action, but the least said about the South Staffords and their Colonel the better...
Next up here in GHQ a F&IW game with Jon next Wednesday, using Sharp Practice 2, the last game for some time as you will no doubt have worked out due to the hip replacement surgery on May 4th. I'm still painting Italian Wars figures though and hope to feature some completed bases later in the week. Pop back and check on them later.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


Painting has rather slowed down of late here in GHQ, a combination of the warm spell of weather and my mind being on two weeks hence and the operation. I have however managed to finish two bases of Wargames Foundry gendarmes which I bought late last year on a visit to their Factory Shop. As ever with this project the flags are from the brilliant Pete’s Flags and the bases from the wonderful folk at Warbases. I’m a great fan of Foundry figures and down the years I’ve always been well looked after but I wish I’d checked the horse castings while I was there as they were covered in seriously thick flash, between the rear legs especially. But I managed, so no great issue. Here they are anyway, one base matt varnished due to a warm Tuesday and one base still waiting varnish as I’ve used it all up ~

I’ve got all the basic colours on four more Gendarmes which I hope to finish in the next day or so. They were in the package of figures Tim Hall so kindly sent me recently and are a mixture of manufacturers, Foundry, Essex and Hinchliffe I think from the codes I can make out. It matters not a jot either way, they will soon be joining the ranks of Cesare Borgia’s army. In the meantime, next week’s Monday game will again be on Tuesday as I’ve a hospital appointment pre admission. I’ve set out the table this morning for a Sudan War game,using Black Powder rules, as is our wont of late, the Battle of El Tubh. Pop back later next week to see how it went!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

“The British are coming...”

...albeit rather slowly! For our usual Monday game Phil and I met in GHQ on Tuesday morning. A new carpet being laid in the lounge on Monday meant GHQ was then doubling as a furniture store, again. I hope that I have finally regained it for gaming now, at least until the post hip replacement operation, now scheduled for May 4th. Anyway, on to the game. I chose an AWI game using Black Powder as the ruleset. As usual in these games Phil, in his persona as Lord Rawnsley, commanded the British while I took command of the American rebels; old ‘Independence or Death’ Bykleigh once more hoping against experience for a decisive victory! In the end we managed to play eight turns before we ran out of time. I hope the following annotated pictures will tell the unfolding story of the Battle at Hogg’s Crossing for any interested followers or visitors ~
The humble dwelling of the Hogg family. Old 'Independence
or Death' Bykleigh surveys his position. Some upstart called
Washington lurking in the background.

The American left is defended by the Cavalry Brigade with some infantry &
light artillery support.

The forces of the Crown take the offensive in the centre while consolidating
on the left and right.

The 5th New York Infantry, supported by artillery, ready themselves for the
onslaught from the advancing British Regulars.

The American centre is under pressure, but the boys from Pennsylvania have
flanked the British in support of the 5th NYI and the first  attack is repulsed.
On the American right an advance has halted the Crown's attack for now.

The action in the centre of the American line, though Disordered the 5th NYI
hold their position and repulse the attacking Light Infantry.

The Crown's advance was hampered all along the front and al through the 
game by generally poor Command Rolls by Phil. I didn't complain though!

On the Crown's left flank neither Tarleton's Legion infantry nor the Hessian
mercenaries showed any enthusiasm for closing with their foe!

On the American right the Cavalry are repulsed, but at a cost. The infantry
step up to hold the line!

The 5th NYI, the Lions of Hogg's Crossing, steady their line as the next wave
of attackers gathers to their front.

On the American left the Crown's forces have largely faltered and now the
Americans advance to the attack. The Militia rather got carried away though.

The Crown's forces attack has largely halted, too much disruption from
Disorder and too many Shaken units hampered Phil's overall plan. 

The game is over! Its all up for the Crown's attacking intent. While the forces
of Liberty have held their ground they cannot deliver the decisive blow! A 
draw is the outcome.
As ever, Black Powder as a ruleset proved all we wanted from a game, delivering episodes of success and failure for both sides, aided by a number of Blunders on both of our parts. If we could have fitted in more Turns the Crown's forces may have rallied to the attack once more  the Americans may have won the day, it was difficult to say so a Draw pleased both of us on the day! Next up in GHQ will be a Sudan War game, again on a Tuesday!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Italian Wars Handgunners

My latest base of figures comprises a unit of handgunners. The figures are by TAG and were, as I’ve banged on about before, a real joy to paint. I chose a colour scheme for the coats of Foundry Storm Green and Yellow, going straight from shade to light without the mid colour. I think it reflects the stark Mediterranean light but you may not agree ~

This is the last of my TAG units, for now anyway. I have now got two bases of Foundry Gendarmes, two bases of Warlord/ProGloria, Tiger Miniatures, Dixon Miniatures and Steel Fist Landsknecht pikes and a Landsknecht Command base of Warlord/ProGloria and Steel Fist figures and, as Phil would say, we are done!
I received my new admission date letter for my hip replacement operation on Saturday morning. I am going in now on May 4th - no Star Wars jokes please! I don’t think that will be enough time to paint all these, but I will give it my best shot! I hope that my friends will keep me in their thoughts come ‘The Day’, and if they are of the inclination towards prayer, to mention me kindly. Thanks.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

“The boys stood their ground,sir, indeed they did sir!”

For our monthly Wednesday night game in April Jon and I had agreed on an ACW game, using the Black Powder ruleset with the Glory Halelujah additions as we deemed appropriate. My figures are almost all Dixon Miniatures, still in my opinion the most characterful range for the period, though other ranges are of course available. The trees are from The Last Valley, whose products I highly recommend, while the fences Phil and I made back in the day! The Confederates, commanded by Jon, had the objective of seizing the bridge and turning the flank of my Union army which was camped along the river, somewhere in Virginia as they’d say. The Union begin with three small Brigades deployed defensively, one of Regulars classed as Large, but with not sufficient manpower to cover their front, with one more Brigade arriving in Turn 3. The Confederates begin with three large Brigades, each having one Large unit at least. The game ebbed and flowed, as all great games do, and so there are not as many pictures to tell the tale as I would have liked ~
The Rebs advance to the attack over a wide front. This caught me by
surprise I have to say, expecting a stronger thrust on my right to take the
bridge and turn my right flank.
The Union position from the bridge, defended by a battery of 3” rifles and a
Brigade of Colored Troops.
Turn 3 saw some relief on the Union side with the arrival of the Irish
Brigade to steady the left flank and prevent the camp being overrun.
In the centre the Reb attack has slowed somewhat due to poor Command
rolls! For the Union the Regulars are in reserve to steady the centre or
shore up the flank.
On the Union’s right the Colored Brigade seems to have blunted the Reb
attack for now, but a weight of men are building against them!
With time running short, the Rebs get one Infantry Regiment over the bridge
though the remaining Colored Regiment stubbornly refuses to give more
ground up to the enemy.

Despite several incidents of personal bravery in leading his
troops, General White is unable to exploit his advantage as 
time runs out.

As time ran out we decided on a winning draw for the Rebs who, despite driving back the Colored Troops defending the bridge, could not make the Union army quit its position. Their attack in the centre was driven off in the end while on their right it stalled completely against the Irish Brigade.
General Useless S Bykleigh was more than satisfied with the end result as at times it had been a desperate fight all along the Union front.