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.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

We interrupt this programme...

There will be a break in posts now from GHQ for a week or so. The reason is that we are hosting two of our grandsons, Arthur and Reuben, for a week. After that we are popping down to Matt and Sarah's for a long weekend. So obviously no painting or gaming for a couple of weeks;a rest for all of us perhaps to come back refreshed?
That should be August 6 and an ACW game with Phil all being well. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy a few pictures from past games here in GHQ ~
Painting has stalled anyway due to the wonderful summer we are suddenly having, well, at least for a few days. I got as far as getting all the base colours on the four AWI  Militia I started but found them very fiddly I have to report. Adding to the usual moan about the vent runs on Perry Miniatures I'm going to add indistinct details making painting the muskets and the odd rifle a chore!

Tuesday 23 July 2019

A Command Stand for Scott's Brigade in the War of 1812-15

Having sorted out the matter of ADCs for the War of 1812-15 armies I turned my attention next to the matter of a Command stand specifically for Scott's Brigade in the US army. I've several figures in the appropriate uniform left over so I selected an officer and a junior NCO to accompany the remaining mounted US general. As with the vast bulk of the collection they are all the venerable Foundry figures sculpted by Aly Morrison ~

I've several other figures in the summer uniform still left, so I expect to render them as some additional small skirmish stands, just for the look of the game you understand. I mount 2 or 3 appropriate figures on a 30mm round MDF base and they are ready to fulfil their role. In the meantime I've started on a unit of Perry Miniatures AWI Militia for our AWI games.

Sunday 21 July 2019

ADCs for the War of 1812-15

As you no doubt remember, here in GHQ we decided last year to use Black Powder for all of our Horse and Musket period battlegames. With the arrival of the second edition, and the changes in the influence of the C-in- C, I've wanted to add ADCs to the appropriate armies. The ACW and AWI are well served with mounted officers, the SYW has been dealt with now, leaving the War of 1812-15 to be addressed.
For the Americans I already had a spare Foundry mounted officer figure, so he has been pressed into service to fill the role. Mounted on a 40mm round base he can't be mistaken for his brother officers who command brigades on larger round bases ~

For the Anglo-Canadians I had nothing suitable, so a quick order to Perry Miniatures brought a pack of their 1807-12 ADCs, together with a similar pack of period mounted Colonels, of which more anon. One of the ADC figures is a single piece casting  sculpted wearing his greatcoat, most appropriate thought I for the Canadian theatre of war!  Again he's mounted on a 40mm round base to help him stand out ~

Now, if you haven't lost the will to live yet, you may be wondering about the remaining two ADCs and the three Colonels. Well, one Colonel makes a fine commander for the mounted arm and the remaining four figures will make two pairs and form new Command bases at some future date!
My flags from Flags of War arrived safely in the end and so the Anglo-Canadian regiments are getting new flags to smarten them up for their next outing.

Friday 19 July 2019


As the more interested amongst my loyal followers will recall, I've been busy over the past few months painting up additional units for games well established here in GHQ: namely, the SYW, the AWI and latterly the War of 1812-15. Most recently I've been working on an additional base of figures for each of my Hessian Regiments in the AWI collection. They are comprised of the venerable Front Rank figures I acquired when Salute was still held in Kensington Town Hall! Looking closely at the 'style' I painted the originals in, perhaps over 25 years ago, I decided I couldn't replicate their look. Not only do I have a completely different look to my figures now, but I use different paints to achieve this. I decided to go ahead and paint them as I do now, trusting that the figures and bases being homogeneous would fool the eye at on table and in game distance! To further fool the eye I chose to make the additional base Grenadiers, giving the option of a combined Regiment in some games ~ remember in our games 3-4 bases are a Standard sized unit ~

Anyway, here they are for your perusal, though not aligned with their older fellows who are safely stored away in the depths of GHQ at present ~

I have an additional unit of Grenadiers still to paint for this project, but their moment at the head of the queue has not yet come. Two War of 1812-15 ADCs are next in line...

Saturday 13 July 2019

Meanwhile, on the Home Front...

There is no scheduled wargame here in GHQ until August now, due to a combination of factors common to the school holiday period. Sue and I have Arthur and Reuben to stay for a week, Phil and Di are off on a week's holiday, and so on. I doubt that the remainder of July will be very productive on the painting front, as I'm finding it very slow going on the Hessian AWI additional bases as I’m trying to match a look on the figures from over twenty years ago while using my current techniques and paints. It's been slow progress I have to say. I have eight more figures to go!
While Sue was working at the University for a week I had planned a day out to Foundry and the wider Lead Belt. Silly me! Health interfered, so I resorted to mail order. Placed my orders with Foundry, Perry Miniatures and Flags of War: two days later packages from the first two arrived in the post, even before the emails telling me they had been shipped! I call that decent service, from them and from Royal Mail. Meanwhile, from Flags of War not even an acknowledgement of my order. Are they on holiday? Perhaps, but I've often noticed the considerable difference in mail order turn around between different companies in our hobby. A mild irritant in the great scheme of things I know; but if some can, why can't all?
Speaking of mild irritants in our hobby, I wonder what galls other gamers? For me, after flash and vent runs, notably on Perry Miniatures, it's the missing buttons on uniforms! Now, as Matt is a sculptor, I know that they are not missed off in that stage by the sculptors, so it is either in the mould making or in the casting process that the fault occurs. Of course, like the issues of vent runs and flash, it's also an issue of quality control. Now, I have never noticed these faults on Griffin cast figures;so if they can do it, why can't all the rest? I shan't hold my breath waiting for an answer...

Friday 12 July 2019

More War of 1812 additions...

... in the shape of an extra US Artillery gun and crew. The crew figures are from Foundry, the gun from Front Rank courtesy of Phil. It looks like this piece is much bigger than it’s Foundry fellows which make up the rest of the American Artillery Park. Although it’s listed as an 8lb gun, against the others it will look more like a 12lber!

I hope to be able to expand the War of 1812 forces again later in the year, but for now I’ve ordered some better flags for the British and Canadian units from Flags of War; some Colonels and ADCs from Perry Miniatures; and lastly, some American generals from Foundry. While I wait for those to arrive I have two Redoubt Enterprises kneeling British infantry to finish for the F&IW. Then I’ve some Front Rank Hessians to expand the unit sizes in my AWI collection. All being well I shall complete those, and more, during the gaming pause. We shall see, as they say.

Monday 8 July 2019

New Unit Syndrome

At Phil's request when we gathered in GHQ for our regular Monday game we set to replaying the War of 1812 scenario which Jon and I had played last week. Over twelve turns the game ebbed and flowed, with the fortunes of war favouring first the Anglo-Canadians, under Lord Rawnsley's command, and then the Americans, lead by old 'Mere Marching' Bykleigh. By the end of the twelve designated turns neither army was the clear victor, but with the Americans having burned two farms and still on Canadian territory. We agreed a draw, but a winning one for the Americans.
One notable feature, at least for me, was the dreadful performance of my most recently painted units, the 16th and the 33rd US Infantry: the former routing, the latter failing to march to the sound of the guns! To cap it all, the new Brigade Command element, allocated to lead the Militia Brigade failed to move his command on the left flank for five turns! That probably cost me the game with hindsight.

It just may be the hobby equivalent of an urban myth, but I can't help but feel that perhaps those ‘Dice gods’ like to teach the newly painted units their place!

"Follow me!"

I have been making slow but steady progress on my small expansion to the American forces of the War of 1812, this time in the shape of the 16th Infantry Regiment. It seems from sources that early in the war they may have worn dark grey uniform coats rather than blue. These may have been faced black, but I chose red facings for mine following an Osprey illustration Google threw up. As with the bulk of the collection they are the old Foundry figures sculpted by Aly Morrison. The flags I downloaded from the internet a while ago. As ever, a photo of the Regiment drawn up in line ~

A couple of closer shots for those of a strong constitution ~

Thanks to Phil I now have a gun for the artillery crew I bought, so they are currently on the painting desk! I’ve also got a few of the newer range by Knuckleduster, the Kentucky Mounted Rifles, which should feature later in the summer.

Sunday 7 July 2019

Barrage 2019

I'm a firm believer in the old saw, if you don't use it you may loose it, when you apply it to small local shows. In that spirit I usually attend the twice yearly Penkridge TT Sale, Wargamer in its different guises, and Barrage in Stafford. They are all reasonably near to home, not overly expensive to get in, and I've usually managed to come away with useful additions to the Lead Pimple. So today I set off for Barrage held in Blessed Bill's in Stafford, in hope rather than expectation I will say.
It's a well established local show, well known for its bias towards Fantasy and Sci-Fi traders and gamers, though always with a decent showing from the historical branch of our hobby. I decided I'd get there for 10.00am, just as well for the car park was very nearly full by then and the queue to enter was around the building and back into the car park!
There are three halls making up the show, plus a foyer area, each with traders and games, many in organised competitions with a scattering of displays. Now, my antipathy towards gnomes and space pixies is well know to you all, so I'll pass that all by if you'll humour me. I have taken a few pictures of a few of the more historical offerings ~
 A 15mm Cold War Gone Hot game utilizing Team Yankee components gave me some ideas for 2020's project here in GHQ.
 Right next to it was a Saga game awaiting it's it's  participants. Not my sort of game, but I acknowledge it's it's popularity.
 A Desert War game caught my eye in passing, but I neglected to go back and note the details. Doh!
A couple of rows of Bolt Action tournament games were on offer. The usual sort of thing but clearly enjoyed by the participants.
My personal favourite though was the AWI game, not in my preferred 28mm scale sadly, but still a splendid sight!
In the end I stayed about two hours and met up with Jon and Phil, who both outspent me on the day! What did I buy? Another 9 brushes from ABC Brushes! Last of the big spenders me! But 9 Pro-Arte sable brushes for £10 I call a bargain! I kept my wallet tightly closed in the end, saving my cash for The Other Partizan next month. Amongst the traders I might have spent with were Sarissa Precision, Eagle Miniatures, Warlord Games, Foreground, and Sergeants Mess. I shall do my best to support them again next year, though hoping to see more of the historical arm of the hobby on show.

Saturday 6 July 2019

At the Year’s Midpoint!

I have read one or two blog posts by fellow bloggers outlining how their first half of the year has panned out. It’s always interesting to read other folks’ take on our wonderful hobby I find, though it’s often salutary when you realise how much more they have squeezed into their half year than I have! But, never daunted, so here for any passing reader is my take on my half time situation.
Our hobby is rightly known as wargaming, not warpainting, so it’s only right to focus first on the games played, here in GHQ and over at Phil’s, otherwise ‘Olaf’s HQ’. Phil, Jon and I have played 26 games in the first half year, all but five or six though have been against Phil. Of those I have somehow won 13, drawn 6 and lost 6, with one game petering out into no result. By my modest performances in past years that is outstanding form! No doubt that will be rectified in the second half of the year though!

Probably, no, almost certainly on reflection, I spend far more time painting stuff than I do playing games with it, but then don’t we all. So far then I’ve manages to complete the painting, basing and varnishing of 389 figures, all of them in 28mm. If you look back through my blog for this year you will find out what genres I was working in, but from memory it would mostly have been Italian Renaissance Wars, the SYW and the AWI. The Italian Wars project lead to two articles in Wargames Illustrated, the second of which I believe is due in the next issue.

Although our hobby might sometimes seem a solitary venture, in reality for most of us it is a social pastime as much as anything else. Gaming aside that encompasses visits of all sorts: to walk battlefields; to visit manufacturers or hobby shops; and to attend Wargames Shows, or Conventions as our colonial cousins grandly style them. So far this year I’ve been to six Wargames Shows: ROBIN; Hammerhead; WMMS; Partizan; Phoenix; and the small local Tabletop Sale at Penkridge. Missing from the list is obviously Salute, a vastly overrated, overpriced and overcrowded event, not to even mention the ghastly lighting and the hard floor. I would take a lot of persuading to visit that again! I’ve also been over to Foundry twice, though the second visit was very disappointing stock and paint wise. I combined my visit to Hammerhead with an overnight stay in Newark and visited Caliver Books and Battlefront on the day before the show.

I’m more than pleased with how my hobby time has enriched my life in this half year. I don’t know what dark place I might have found myself in at times without my friends in the hobby or the refuge that it’s contributing activities provide. I’m hoping for more of the same in the months and years to come, not just for me and my friends, but for all of you who visit this corner of the blogosphere from time to time.

Thursday 4 July 2019

The Flag was still flying!

Jon came over for a game today and as it was the 4th of July I had decided on a game with an American theme. Now the obvious choice might seem to be a War of Independence game, but we had played two of those quite recently in GHQ. Instead I chose a game from the War of 1812-1815, sometimes referred to as the second war of independence. My collections for this period are not extensive, but they are sufficient for a decent 12 Turn game on my table here in GHQ. The figures are predominately from the Foundry range, sculpted by Aly Morrison, supported by some British Regulars from the range sculpted for the Foundry by the Perry brothers. There are also some American Generals from Old Glory.
The simple scenario envisioned an American incursion across the border with the Canadas with the aim of burning farms and carrying off crops, livestock and produce. The British/Canadians happen to have a small force in the area and having got wind of the movement of troops have marched to the area to surprise the enemy. Both sides have a brigade of reinforcements available: the British in Turn 3, the Americans from Turn 4 on a throw of 70% or less. As usual, we got so engrossed in the action that I forgot to take more pictures, but anyway, here are a few to give a sense of how the game went ~
From the safety of Fort Desperation Old ‘Mere Marching’ Bykleigh watches
as Scott’s Brigade arrives in Turn 4 to shore up the American centre,

The American attack on the left was held up by poor Command coupled with
Persistent Disorder of the Pennsylvania Militia. They managed though to hold
on throughout the game, eventually forcing the British/Canadians back.

Charged by the British Light Dragoons, the US Rifles are forced into square.
Although the cavalry lost the melee, the whole advance on the right ground to
A halt and eventually resulted in a wholesale retirement!

The Glengarry Light Infantry covered themselves in glory by holding off
Numerous attacks from American Regulars and covering the flanking of the
American right.

The British/Canadian left covering the retiring centre.

In the end, it was the breaking of the British/Canadian centre which handed victory to the American forces, despite the best efforts of the American commander, Old ‘Mere Marching’ Bykleigh. The American right never really got into a position to damage the enemy and ended up retiring back over the river; while their left, although driving off the enemy, could not decisively deliver a knock out blow due to persistent Disorder or failure of Command! In the centre it was the steady fire of the reinforcements of Scott’s brigade which finally proved decisive. Trading volley after volley with the British regulars of Lord Walton they stood up manfully to the task, breaking the centre and handing victory to the surprised Americans. Apt really, given the date...

Monday 1 July 2019

The Kindness of Friends...

...both material and ethereal. I've been meaning to write this particular blog post for a few weeks, but you know what things are like I expect. First one thing, then another and before you know it it's some other distraction drawing your attention away! Anyway, an end to blathering and excuses, on to what I have in mind to share with you.
Now, wargamers; well,we are an odd assortment really and are much misunderstood by the muggles outside our hobby. Even within our hallowed cloisters we are a very mixed bunch. I have to be honest, I've met more than a few I wouldn't like to be stuck in a lift with! Notwithstanding my personal perspectives, you've only to frequent a forum board or three to realise that it's impossible to satisfy some no matter what you might do or say. A broad church doesn't even come close to fitting us all as a descriptor.
One thing though does shine through even the most Stygian gloom of our hobby, and that's the unconditional kindness of gamers. Ask a question, however obscure, and in a twinkling someone will pop up with just the answer you were after. Got a problem finding a book or figure? Someone's sure to come along with what you need.
Now quite recently I've been the recipient of just such kindness, both from friends in the GHQ Irregulars and from friends I've only ever met in forum conversation. I ran out of MDF bases and was low on static grass. Bother! No need to worry, Phil gave me both requisites. I was discussing my 15mm proposed project with Jon and moaning about the dearth of suitable cheap buildings for 1980's Germany. A few weeks later he arrives with a large box. Opening it I found a host of prepainted 1980's scale buildings. Enough for a town, a couple of villages and some farms. He just happened to have them to spare! An unexpected couple of parcels arrived in the mail a few months apart, from Tim Hall who I've never met but who I chat with in a forum context from time to time. The first was packed with surplus Renaissance figures, now in my Italian Wars army, and the second with all sorts of figure genres, all but a couple which fitted in with ongoing projects.
My point, you ask? Well, casting your bread on the waters was always a good move in my experience, karma if you like. A kindness from a friend, or stranger, strengthens the bonds which hold us together in our hobby. It predisposes us to reciprocate with a kindness of our own, I know it has me at any rate. Just wanted to share this with you. Back to painting the 16th US infantry regiment now for the War of 1812 expansion project...