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.

Sunday 31 March 2019

A stable block from Warbases

Continuing with my earlier declared theme of adding generic, useful terrain and building items to the resources available in GHQ I've managed to complete the Warbases wooden stable block. It's a kit of 19 parts and really needs no instructions in order for it to be assembled ready for painting.

Unlike every other kit I've had from them though, this one actually needed just a little work to fit together, in the form of trimming the upright post supports for the roof front in order for them to fit the precut holes in the MDF base.
I also made a mistake in the assembly stage of these roof supports, gluing them into place before I'd checked the fit under the roof edge! They are short in places by a millimetre!

The roof is two plain MDF sheets which don't really overlap the walls' sides as I'd like. I remedied this when fixing some tiling sheets to the roof ( I had them left over from my Oshiro buildings you see in our VBCW games). They also allow the covering of the gap at the roofs' apex. I’m unsure as to what I might add next, perhaps it’s a case of having a mooch about at Carronade and Partizan to see if anything stands out for me. In the meantime if I have a craving for MDF I have the two 15mm barns I ordered at the same time as the stable block!

Oh, and I nearly forgot, I've rebases a tent I was given by the late Peter Bradford. It's probably an old Ian Weekly Battleground piece as its in light expanded foam. Anyway, it's a welcome addition to GHQ and a little reminder of a hobby stalwart who has gone on before us.

Friday 29 March 2019

Royal Ecossais

The last of the SYW expansion project, at least for now, is the other Scottish regiment in French service, the Royal Ecossais. Again they feature the Foundry/Casting Room Miniatures range. As with the Ogilvys, I've had to compromise somewhat on the coat, as it has neither collar nor lace, but I'm happy with the end look. Here they are, as is usual, lead by their mounted Colonel ~
Again, a few closer shots, if only to show how not to do it! I've painted so many of this marching fusilier that I think I might be able to do it in my sleep ~

One thing I have noticed though is that the more I do, the more fine detail in the sculpting I see which I missed before. Age and eyes issue I'm afraid, so be kind. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'd ordered more flags from GMB Designs: for the French two more infantry regiments and one for the British, though I have no figures for any of them as yet! I plan two SYW games here in GHQ next week, so you will see the whole collection in action quite soon.

Sunday 24 March 2019

"I saw something nasty in the woodshed, I did!"

It's surely no secret amongst followers of my
modest efforts that I'm a great fan of the bases, buildings and extras produced by Martin and his folk at Warbases. Even when they produce stuff of no immediate relevance to my projects old or new, I always enjoy appreciating the ingenuity and craftsmanship which have bought then to fruition. So, I made up my mind to buy a few general items to enhance my terrain over the course of the year. I started with a woodshed which I collected at Hammerhead in early March. It fits nicely together with no fuss and is robust enough to survive my young granddaughter's attentions! 
I painted the inside walls Foundry Musket Stock Brown shade and the outside Spearshaft shade, with the roof Charcoal Black midtone. I washed the walls with Games Workshop Agrax Earth shade and the roof with Nil Oil wash. I based it on a 80 X 50mm MDF base, which I textured with my usual railway ballast mix, washing it with Crafter's Acrylic Country Maple. I added some sawn timber using MDF offcuts and a couple of short logs which Phil gave me a while back.

I think it will do duty from the ECW through to the VBCW, in America as well as here in Britain and Europe. For the next addition I've ordered their stable, so hopefully that will arrive this coming week.
While the MDF building theme was in full flow I spent a couple of happy hours building the first 15mm purchases for my coming Cold War Gone Hot project. I bought two German Houses from Laser Craft and four factory buildings from Sarissa Precision. To complement the houses I ordered a large and small barn from Warbases so they can stand as farms. If they make their new Prussian buildings in 15mm, which they should to fill an obvious gap in the 15mm market, then I'll add those too. Meanwhile, I've completed 12/20 figures for my last, for now at least, SYW expansion infantry regiment as the Royal Ecossais. I hope they will be ready to take the field for the next game in GHQ.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Cavalry Regiment Orléans

This is the last of my cavalry additions for the SYW expansion project, a French Heavy Cavalry Regiment, Orléans. As with the rest of the French army the figures are from Casting Room Miniatures/Wargames Foundry. I chose them simply for the white coats faced with red, mainly as I had some French red cavalry standards in the pile! {I hope any genuine SYW readers will forgive an elderly chap this one time!} Anyway, as usual here they are in all their technicolour splendour  ~
I had to make a small number of compromises with the painting of these figures, mainly the complex lace pattern on the horse cloths -blue,white and red, complete with checks - simply too much for my elderly eyes and hands now. I settled for red cloth edged white, and that will have to do. A few closer pictures, so for those of a nervous disposition it’s 'time to hide behind the sofa'!

I have one Casting Room /Foundry French Infantry Regiment left, and I’ve started them as the Royal Ecossaise. I was going to use some Cran Tara figures I’d bought especially for them, but, although they are lovely figures, they are simply minuscule alongside my other figures. There’s a moral there for us all: "Never buy anything without doing proper research first!" Proof, if it were needed, that one is never too old to learn! I recently ordered three sets of SYW flags from GMB Designs, so expect more SYW reinforcements later in the year. Meanwhile, after the Royal Ecossaise it will be back to the AWI with Lee's Legion infantry and the Volunteers of Ireland

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Up the cut without a paddle!

Monday saw our return to the VBCW here in GHQ, a decision prompted by my having collected a set of canal pieces which Andy at The Last Valley had made for me. I still need another two sections and a longer gentle curve, but for now we can make do with what we have ~
The Socialist defenders are stretched thinly along the front.
I've got several things on the go to enhance future games, one of which is a gasometer I picked up cheaply in a model train shop we frequent from time to time. The game sees the Government forces of Lord Rawnsley in a two pronged attack, seeking to carry off supplies before the barge can set out and to destroy the Corporation Gas Works if they can. The Socialist forces lead by the Manders will do their best to thwart the facists' plans of course. As is my wont an annotated photomontage telling the story of the unfolding action ~
The forces of oppression muster for the attack!
The 18lber is an early victim of the once a
turn randomly generated event card, drawn
on the 'red dice of doom'!

A duel develops between the armoured cars of both sides with
the Socialists' Heath-Robinson version having the better of it.
A prototype Matilda leads the South Staffordshire veterans
across the railway line despite fire from the defenders' mortars.
The 18lber engages the enemy Rolls Royce
armoured car in support of their own's 
The forces of oppression are moving forward on their right,
while the centre pins the defenders in place. On the left their
attack has stalled thanks to accurate fire.

The thinly defended Socialist left flank is in danger of being
overwhelmed. Heavy mortar fire can only target the Tettenhall
Militia in the defenders' support. The gasworks is in real
The Socialists' right flank is secure, the enemy will not be able
to cross over the canal bridge.

This allows the reserves from St Edith's to be transferred to
reinforce the threatened left. They 'run' for all they are worth!

Phil is having a field day with these Random Event cards! The
18lber's effectiveness was sadly much reduced this way.

Regulars from the South Staffordshires make use of cover to
harass the defenders in the Socialist centre. Their Light
Machine Gun was especially troubling.

Despite its unreliability {the best random card I had the chance
to play} the prototype Matilda reaches the canal. Without any
readily available anti tank support the Socialists' left flank and
the gasworks appears doomed.

St Edith's finest are rushing to the aid of their comrades! They
may be too late to save the gasworks, but the supplies may
yet be saved.

Desperate times in the defence of the left flank! The men are
doing all that an be asked, but the situation on the left is critical!

The heroic mechanic is doing wonders to keep the Matilda in

With the defenders of the gasworks overwhelmed the forces of
repression do their worst and set it alight! You an just see the
lads from St Edith's arriving in time to save the supplies stored
on the canalside.

We ran out of time in Turn 9. The game ended in a draw, with the gasworks in flames but with the barge and the supplies still firmly in the grip of the Socialist Heroes! Not that I'm biased of course. Next games in GHQ will be two SYW games in early April.

Friday 15 March 2019

The future’s not ours to see...

I’m probably something of an ‘old fart’ if truth be told, but I really do try to keep up with all that’s happening in our hobby; it’s just that things seem to be rather more nimble shall we say than I’m proving to be. I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with Matt for a while now centred on some of my views on the seemingly inevitable rise of the ‘Goldfish Gamer’ and the associated never ending line of ‘games in a box’. No doubt some of these ‘games’ are good fun; but, are they wargames at all and do they lead their exponents onto more traditional forms of the hobby?
I suppose I’d better try to define my terms first. The ‘Goldfish Gamer’ first; an individual with a limited hobby attention span, finding it hard to focus on anything for a sustained period, the wargamer’s equivalent of the millenial, needing instant gratification in their hobby as in their life. The true devotee of the ‘50 figures is an army’ brigade. They are tied inevitability to the bijou ‘game in a box’, offering a shallow gaming experience needing no knowledge or interest beyond the boxed contents. These are the sorts you encounter on Forum Boards and such asking for ‘support’ for this or that game, never thinking to read a bit of history and work it out for themselves. Or asking, as I saw once, if such and such a unit is ‘legal’ in a game. The latter left me speechless with laughter. Were they expecting a knock on their door at midnight from some Game Marshall or enforcer? Were they afraid of being sent to the Re-education Camp?
I’m sure now you see where I’m coming from. So, do these games and associated gamers qualify as wargames and wargamers? Matt tells me that they do, but I’m not so sure I can agree. His argument is that I and my generation are 50 years plus down the hobby timeline and have therefore accumulated largish armies in several periods, while the younger gamer just starting out may be daunted by years of painting required to build a decent sized army. The bijou game offers an easy point of entry, with manageable numbers of figures, limited terrain and a structure to game within. In many ways it’s a persuasive argument, but, is it inevitable that they will make the transfer to mainstream wargaming? I’m not so sure on that point, any more than I am on the transfer from games of space fairies! Of course, I won’t be around I expect to see what happens in another fifty years...
There is an advert running on TV at present for an insurance comparison website, it’s relevant here because it sets itself up against too much choice with scenes of excess that might be out of some dystopian future. It’s a decent metaphor for our hobby at present: mushrooming companies, endless kickstarters, new rule books, more MDF than you can shake a stick at, and so on. Is this a sign of a vibrant and growing hobby community? Or is it simply more folk chasing the same hobby pound? Pick up an old wargames or military modelling magazine and count all the companies that are no more. I know which option my money’s on here.
So, having chewed a bit of fat and exercised my old fart credentials a tad, where does that leave me? Well, I’m prepared to admit that my hobby might not be yours, but both are probably equally valid within their communities. The vibrancy of our hobby at present owes a good deal to these new forms of games, leaving aside the moot point of whether they be wargames at all, anyone at Hammerhead or WMMS in the past two weeks couldn’t help but notice that! Against that, there were a large number of more traditional wargames as I understand them, proving just as popular with visitors but in different ways.
Having wrestled with this question of the hobby’s future direction, Matt has challenged me to do something outside my comfort zone. There were any number of choices, but in the end I plumped for a modern game, in plastic and in 15mm! Next year should see the emergence in GHQ of Cold War Gone Hot 1983 wargaming. I’ve acquired already the basics for the game: a BAOR force who will be opposed by East Germans. For rules I’ve been looking around the net for free offerings, so far finding a Rapid Fire spin off and a Battlegroup offering. I’ve also acquired several sets of MDF 15mm buildings, aiming to build a factory complex and a couple of farms to break up the table and provide objectives. Still a long way to go there, but I’ll keep mooching about for suitable items. I'd like to have the initial project on the table in time for my 70th birthday next May, but we'll have to see how that goes.
I'll  keep you up to snuff as the project develops, but for now it’s more SYW and AWI units first, so plenty of time for other hobby stuff in GHQ...

Tuesday 12 March 2019

2nd Horse for the SYW British

The latest additions to the SYW expansion project are the 2nd Horse. The figures are from Foundry as ever. I dispensed with the drummer from the Command pack (I made use of him with an odd General figure to make a second Commander base in Black Powder for my British cavalry.) Here they are drawn up for your appreciation ~

The standard is from the range offered by GMB Designs, whose service I've always found first class. (Other SYW flags are available from Flags of War in the F&IW range.) The bases are from my chums at Warbases; the ground texture is three grades of railway buff ballast from Woodland Scenics; the tufts are from Gamers Grass via Great Escape Games ~

Despite a very busy few days, at least by the standards of we retirees, I've also started the figures for the Orleans cavalry for my French army. Some flags I'd ordered this last week from GMB Designs arrived yesterday too. They are for Robinson's Foot, the 45th; the Royal Bavarie; and the Garde Lorraine. The latter I intend to paint in yellow coats faced black, very Wolverhampton! Meanwhile, the Cavalry General and his drummer ~

Sunday 10 March 2019

WMMS 2019

I've been to WMMS today, in the company of Phil of course, and with William our second eldest grandson. He was much taken with the large Star Wars participation game, while I just enjoyed the sit down ~
I thought the show had a real buzz about it, lots of different games to view or join in with and a host of traders ready to take your cash for new toys! I took a selection of pictures of some games, those which were related to my interests or those which I thought others night like to see ~

As you do, I came home with a bag of new stuff. Nothing too startling as I was at Hammerhead last weekend after all. A couple of new brushes from Coritani; two small MDF kits from Sarissa; some bits for next year's project - well outside my comfort zone in both scale and materials; and finally, 5' of bespoke canal sections made for me by The Last Valley. Look out for the latter on the next VBCW outing next month! 

Thursday 7 March 2019

It keeps you on your toes I've found!

It’s been a busy few days for both me and for GHQ too. On Saturday I visited Hammerhead at Newark Showground for the first time, being snowed in last year forced us to cancel our visit, my take on the show has already been posted on this Blog. Monday saw Phil and I playing out a Pike & Shotte Italian Wars game, which Jon and I replayed on Wednesday evening. The reason for the replay? Well, Dan from Wargames Illustrated was here on Thursday taking pictures of our two collections to accompany a piece I’ve written about the project for the magazine, which piece will appear later in the Spring I believe. Some pictures from the day to wet your appetite hopefully ~

As ever, so many pictures are taken, yet only ten or so will make the magazine, a few more making the digital version of course. Dan must take several thousand in the course of a year I would think. He must motor a fair few miles too in the course of the year. There is much more to this editor lark that most of us realise.