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 May 2021

Major M Thomas of the Staff

 My most recent painting efforts for the Tales from Pendawar project fall into the lovely but essentially unnecessary category in the shape of a Staff officer in his carriage. This fine set is from Black Hussar Miniatures and I received it not too long ago as a kind gift from Matthew. It's a very fiddly little kit which Phil was kind enough to volunteer to assemble for me, I'm just responsible for painting and basing it.

The carriage is most likely a representation of a gentleman's fast Phaeton or perhaps a Curricle, both two wheeled carriages pulled by a pair of matching horses. BHM might note though that the term 'pair' does not necessarily extend to identical poses! I painted Major M Thomas in the uniform of the Pendawar Fusiliers featured on this blog earlier in the project. On reflection I might use the piece in an ACD role, so note quite essentially unnecessary after all ~

There's likely now to be an hiatus in the blog as I'm going down to Herefordshire to see Matt, Sarah, Arthur and Reuben. Next up should be an AAR following the ACW game with Phil here in GHQ next week. The next painting blog post is a way off, the Native Indian Sepoys of the 1st Regiment, the Pendawar Grenadiers, having only just marched out of the Lead Pimple.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

79th NYSM, sometime Lincoln’s Highlanders

 Before I start I have just noticed that my last post was the 800th since I opened proceeding in November 2011. I'm amazed this has all lasted so long and that any passing reader still has any interest in the goings on in GHQ. Nowt so queer as folk, as they say. Let's hope I can manage another 800...

 With the long awaited resumption of face-to-face encounters here in GHQ I hope it will at last be possible for Phil and I to play out the series of linked, campaign style games which I outlined back in early 2020, before this Coronavirus malarkey was even heard of. To that end Phil has painted a second early war period Union unit for me, in this case the 79th New York State Militia, to add to the 14th Brooklyn Chasseurs he did earlier. That will leave me the 55th NYV, the Gardes Lafayette, to complete three units for the early months of the war.

The figures are by Crusader Miniatures, the flags from Flags of War, and the bases as ever from Warbases. I was inspired into this spate of needless additions by following Nick Eyre’s splendid Bull Run game as it developed, first on the Lead Adventures Forum, and then later in Wargames Illustrated. At present I don’t plan any further additions to give an early war look to the Rebs in my collection, but I have learned in our hobby to never say anything is finished...

In order to get back into the feel for ACW games, the next scheduled game here in GHQ will be a stand alone ACW game to try out a few of my ideas before embarking on the series of games later in the summer. In the meantime here are the wee chaps themselves ready for action on the battlefields of GHQ ~

There's only one thing left now on the painting desk here in GHQ and that is the officer seated in his curricle by Black Hussar Miniatures which I received as a gift from Matt recently. There will be a bit of a pause in action here in GHQ until next Wednesday's ACW game I mentioned as I'm off to see Matt, Sarah, Arthur and Reuben now BoristheBastard has allowed visiting again.

Sunday 23 May 2021

The Pendawar Light Dragoons...

 ...otherwise 'The Pendawar Peacocks', the first cavalry unit for the army of the Pendawar Presidency. The figures for this imagination unit are Foundry Early British Light Dragoons, the Command and Charging packs respectively. The uniforms are very vaguely based on portraits of Light Dragoon officers in tropical uniform, but with the Tarleton helmet featuring a tiger skin turban and a dyed purple crest, hence their nickname of 'The Pendawar Peacocks' ~

Next across the painting desk should be another Sepoy infantry regiment for the 1st Brigade of the Army of Pendawar. As before these will be Perry Miniatures figures, so I shall need all my reserves of resolve to see them through...

Wednesday 19 May 2021

AT LAST! Coronus Cunctator...

 ...takes the field, after months of enforced gaming abstinence - for which I apportion blame to the Chinese and BoristheBastard equally - Phil and I were ready to meet across the table here in GHQ for the resumption of friendly hostilities. In fact, like buses, games on resumption came in multiples for the next day I had fixed a game here with Jon! Two games in two days I wondered if the human frame could take the excitement? Turns out that I need not have worried...

The games featured the same Punic Wars armies and battlefield layout but were played out with differing rule sets. First Phil and I fought the game using our in house variant of Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Wargames rules. On the following evening Jon and I refought parts of the battle using Hail Caesar, under Jon's more experienced guidance I should say. Rather than two AAR reports I've opted for a series of pictures which I hope give a sense of the games, starting with an overall shot of the battlefield at the onset of hostilities ~

Before battle is joined the gods of war and of victory must be implored through sacrifice to intercede and the omens must be read...
The mighty legions of Coronus Cunctator will carry the struggle to the enemy ~
Though the vast allied army of Hannibal Bicca are equally as confident of emerging from the struggle wreathed in victory ~

I should start by saying that our concensus when Phil and I ran out of time after 12 moves was a winning draw to the Carthaginians, having lost only three full units to the Republican Romans' six. We also realised that our rules as they stand would not do for this new sub period, giving very strange outcomes in the way Light Infantry and Elephants combined to bog the game down in the centre for too long. Phil will work up some of our ideas now and we will try again next month I hope. In the meantime some in action shots from the Monday game ~
Carthage attacks! Don't get too excited, it soon bogged down.
The Republican Romans' screen of Velites and Balaeric Slingers was soon under pressure.
Elephants enjoy 8 attack dice in Hand-to-Hand combat. It doesn't do your morale any good when you throw seven 1's and a 2 though!
On the Carthaginians' right opposing cavalry melees swirled back and forth, to very little effect it has to be said.
The Allied Italian Legion took a battering, loosing all its Velites and Hastatii while inexplicably the Carthaginian elephant and supporting Light Infantry just look on!
At long last the Republican Romans on the right look like making a break through, were it not for the Celtiberian warband on their flank that is!

Meanwhile the interminable cavalry melees elsewhere on the right drag on without conclusion (Note to self, Buy new Dice!)

The end of times, after twelve turns! Now on the following night, rather than fight the whole battle through again Jon opted to stage two or three actions from within the battle to fully explain the rules to me as I'm more than a novice with Hail Caesar. After two hours of one to one tuition I'm much more confident and comfortable with the basic concepts, though I did throw dice just as awful as in Monday's game, loosing each of the demonstration mini battles! Perhaps the dice gods really do hate me...⚡⚡⚡

Monday 17 May 2021

The South Essex Regiment...

 ...in Pendawar? And why not you may well ask? An imaginary regiment in an imaginary Presidency of the E.I.C. in NW India seems entirely appropriate, to me at least. Of course I had intended these chaps to be the 38th, the South Staffordshire regiment, but when I saw that Flags of War had issued the South Essex's colours, well, I just thought it was inevitable that they should be deployed to India. The decision was perhaps inspired by memories of reading Cornwell's Sharpe's Tiger on reflection.

The figures are from Perry Miniatures' Napoleonic range, the British in Egypt elements. I chose to paint the other ranks' toppers black, giving the white tropical service version to officers only, as a way of distinguishing the regulars of His Majesty's foot from those European battalions raised by the E.I.C. Of course I know the colours provided for the South Essex post date my notional time period in Pendawar, but I can live with that. Button counters and lace fanatics best look away now! The bases as ever are from Warbases of course: excellent product, first class service, and all round decent folk!

I'm finding figures by Perry Miniatures increasingly difficult to paint, a combination of my eye and hand issues, which I do apologize for banging on about, and what I consider to be their vague sculpting style, allied with casting issues, in respect of muskets particularly. I doubt they are even aware of my ramblings, but these figures are far from my favourites. 

To complete the 1st Brigade of the E.I.C.'s Army of Pendawar I have two Sepoy battalions, one of which is the 1st regiment, the Pendawar Grenadiers. The army boasts one cavalry brigade on completion: a small contingent of British Light Dragoons; equally small, the volunteers of the Pendawar Light Dragoons; and lastly two contingents of Sepoy cavalry. Looking over at Typoo Bhyka's forces there remain only a cavalry unit and the European Voluntaires de Bykli. Given a following wind I'd like to have these finished and deployed for action in GHQ by the end of July, hand, eye, circumstances and the like permitting of course.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Something has been on my mind a good deal of late

 I seem to have been thinking rather a lot about our hobby over the course of this rather constrained period brought to us by all the Coronavirus malarkey. Whilst I’ve not been able to play any face-to-face games here in GHQ I have followed many a friend’s game via their blogs and Facebook pages. What I have been able to do is to review my collections of figures for the various periods which we have dabbled in here in GHQ and in my hobby in its wider context over the last 50 years or so. It’s an uncomfortable fact, but in the nature of life they have a likely future beyond my own, so some sort of planned rationalisation might seem the way ahead. The trouble is I don’t really want to part with anything, even though some collections are almost never deployed in games!

One of my main problems is a combination of a number of factors: plentiful hobby time to fill, a catholic interest in historical wargaming periods, a joy of painting new figures, the lure of the shiny and new, and the financial independence to indulge my whims. In short, like many of my readers I’d guess, I’m a hopeless case, a Wargamer! Hence the choice of illustration on the left. I need never buy another figure if I’m honest, but the fact is I’m never still in a hobby sense, restlessly indulging in the latest interest, Pendawar 1800 - 1806 in this case. And even though I’m plodding on with painting the figures I’ve acquired for this latest project I still find my mind turning to additions I might make to the two armies as we go along. Phil teases me, at least I take it that way, that I have megalomaniac tendencies, at least in hobby terms, and collections just grow out of hand. I really do need to address this fault in my make up. As St Augustine as a young man was said to have prayed about the temptations of the flesh, “Lord, give me continence, but not yet...”
One of my biggest collections would come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, it’s my ACW collection. The current iteration, my third for the period, is almost exclusively comprised of Dixon Miniatures, a bit of a Marmite choice amongst fellow enthusiasts I’d have to say. I started in 15mm using mostly Minifigs, sold those on and graduated to 25mm Minifigs, always building both sides for gaming. They were sold on when I discovered the wonderful range from Dixon Miniatures ~ characterful, wonderfully detailed and animated, and a joy to paint. So large has the collection grown that much never gets out on the tabletop to see any action in GHQ. Even so, I know there are three unpainted regiments lurking in the Lead Pimple of Shame under my desk, not to mention the two regiments Phil has been painting for me! In the light of these factors I’ve decided a small cull may be in order, so keep an eye out for units seeking a new home later in the year.
Meanwhile here in GHQ thoughts turn to a return to face-to-face gaming, starting on Monday with a first outing for the two Punic Wars armies I painted over the first two Lockdown periods. I'll hope to post an AAR later in the week for any interested visitors to the blog. In the meantime, Game Ye Joyously! Really!!

Monday 10 May 2021

Just a quick note

 Since finishing the unit of Regular Cavalry for Typoo Bhyka's army I decided I couldn't face another nine horses! So, back to the E.I.C.'s Army of Pendawar in the shape of their sole British Regular Infantry Battalion. It will take me more than a little while to work through the 24 Perry Miniatures figures which comprise the unit, plus the single Foundry officer I've added from the spares in the Lead Pimple! I had intended them to be the South Staffordshire lads of the 38th  but a recent release by Flags of War has caused me to revise that plan. I'll have more to say about this decision when the figures are all finished in due course.

In the meantime I've taken a picture of all the figures I've completed so far for Typoo Bhyka's army. They fill one 7 litre Really Useful Box, more or less ~

 The space should be filled by the missing three cavalry bases, giving a total of the nine cavalry I mentioned, though that will probably be later in the summer now I expect. 

Now that the petty fogging restrictions on our basic rights are being relaxed Sue and I have been out and about more. Recently we met her brother Martin for lunch. We'd not been able to meet for 15 months as his wife had MND and was shielding. Sadly she passed away earlier in the spring, so not attending the funeral due to restrictions it was our first face to face encounter. 

After lunch at the Mytton and Mermaid we went across the road to visit Attingham; even though the house was closed the grounds, cafe and book shop were open! I bought a book for £2. I greatly enjoyed his The White Mughals, which set me on the way with my Tales from Pendawar project, so I thought this might reignite my interest in the Mutiny where Typoo's army can easily be assimilated into the Mutineers' army.

Enough of my whittering on for the present, when all is said and done this will not get me any more paint on the figures waiting patiently on my desk here in GHQ. As we edge ever closer to a return to normal life, as we all earnestly wish to see, the first sign here should be next Monday's game with Phil here in GHQ and the following AAR!

Friday 7 May 2021

Typoo's Regular Cavalry

 Determined to crack on with the additional horsemen for the army of Typoo Bhyka I have been working on the second such new addition. These are once again the venerable Wargames Foundry Sikh Wars figures, armed on this occasion with tulwaar and dhal. I found the figures' pose rather staid for wild tribal horsemen and so decided to render them as a Regular cavalry regiment. Again the unit comprises three bases of three figures each ~

The third new acquisition of horsemen for the project are the newer Perry Miniatures Afghan cavalry from their Victoria's Little Wars range. They are not next in the queue to pass under the brush though, that honour falls to an E.I.C. Regular Infantry unit for the 1st brigade. 

I have acquired some cavalry now for this side of the project in the form of Trent Miniatures British Light Dragoons in tropical service helmet, supplemented by some Foundry British Light Dragoons to serve as the CinC's  HQ Guards. I also ordered some Native Sepoy cavalry from AW Miniatures to round off their fighting side of the project, and they duly arrive yesterday. At first glance they are closer to the Trent Miniatures British Light Dragoons than to the Foundry Light Dragoons, but they will be fine at table top gaming distance in GHQ I'm sure.

Saturday 1 May 2021

I was just thinking...

 ...apropos of nothing in particular, but hobby and personal stuff in general rather. I suppose in part it was all pushed to the fore in my thoughts by a visit recently to the National Trust's Wightwick Manor to meet up with Phil and Charles for a socially distanced - God how I hate all this coronavirus malarky - coffee and chat. Chewing the hobby fat is one of the mainstays of our hobby I would maintain, whether over the table during a game, at a club night in general, but perhaps more importantly when meeting one's wider circle of friends at one of the many wargames shows across the country. 

Well obviously, for most of us here in the UK at least, all of these have been hit on the head by various Borisbans over the last seven months or more. Many folk of course have found ingenious ways around this enforced hobby solitude, most innovatively via online games hosted through technology available via zoom and the like. So I'm sure like me you've followed game reports from Phil, Matt and Colin for example highlighting games they've staged as the months have dawdled by. You may even have been able to participate in such games yourself, unlike me of course as regular visitors to my blog will of course have noticed over the last few months.

It's well over seven months now since the last face to face game staged here in GHQ. As a profoundly hearing impaired wargamer Zoomed games, lacking subtitles, are not possible, as I couldn't hear anything said to me, necessary for playing the game of course! That extends to chatting over the phone or via Duo and it's ilk too. In short I could easily be described as a true Billy No Mates for the duration! That is were it not for three lifelines that have sustained me when the old black dog has drawn near or threatened to hang around too long: that is, the rich vein of fellow gamers' online blogs and forum boards;  my monthly hobby boost provided by Wargames Illustrated; both supplemented by text chats with Matt, Phil, Jon, Kevin and Dan (at Wargames Illustrated) . Without these I doubt I would have got through all the attendant malarchy sustained just by the creative elements of the hobby in the form of painting, modelling and planning! I'm still here, still enthused by our marvellous hobby and sustained by family and good friends! Thank you all! Roll on 17 May when the first game here in GHQ will burst into life I hope! A Punic Wars debut for Coronus Cunctator(Phil) against Hannibal Bicca(yours truly) with the two new armies painted under conditions I hope never  to have to encounter again!

Dan hard at it in GHQ MK1 taking pictures to accompany one of the two articles I provided for WI's 300th celebratory issue.
Phil handing out another thrashing the last time I was hors de combat, thanks to my hip replacement!
Lord Walton/Jon surveying the field with his usual skill prior to giving me another beating I expect.
The next generation of enthusiasts in the form of two of our grandchildren, William and Emma. Probably the only important contribution I may have made to our hobby.