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.

Saturday 31 July 2021

The Voluntaires de Bykli muster into Typoo's army

 The last planned infantry unit to rally to Typoo Bhyka's cause are the regiment of European volunteers/mercenaries, styled the Voluntaires de Bykli after their patron and honorary colonel Alphonse de Bykli. They featured earlier in a sneak preview but now they are completed they deserve a fuller exposure ~

The figures are by Eureka Miniatures from their French range in their Wars of the French Revolution section of the catalogue. They are largely made up of a gift from Aly Morrison at the last Partizan to be held before all this coronavirus malarky took hold, in August 2019. I added four figures to make a Voltigeur company and a mounted Colonel from Perry Miniatures - from the set of French mounted colonels in their AWI range ~

The regiment comprises four bases of Fusiliers, one of Grenadiers, and one of Voltigeurs. As an imagination regiment I felt the uniform of light blue with yellow facings looked suitably tropical in style and they carry a flag featuring the arms of the French Companie des Indes. In my mind they are largely recruited from French ner-do-wells and fortune hunters, officered by the younger sons of minor noble families making their way in the world.

Their completion brings me now to the last unit of Typoo's army, a unit of 9 Tribal Cavalry figures chosen from Perry Miniatures' Victoria's Little Wars range. I need a break from this project after this so the Highlanders for the Army of the Pendawar Presidency will wait until later in the year, along with the Hindoostan Regiment whose figures arrived on Wednesday in the post from Perry Miniatures!

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Pendawar Presidency Bodyguard Officer

 I have finished one figure to represent an officer in command of the Pendawar Presidency's Bodyguard for the CinC of the Army of the Pendawar Presidency. You may recall that they are AW Miniatures figures with the very large turbans worn by Native Horse of the period. This figure is a Trent Miniatures' Irish Yeomanry (without carbines) and makes a decent rendition of an officer for the unit with the addition of the tropical helmeted head Trent make. 

I've reached the final base of figures for the Voluntaires de Bykli for Typoo's army, having finished another base of fusiliers and the base of Grenadier company figures. That leaves just 4 figures for the Voltigeur company and the regiment is done. 

Monday 26 July 2021

Voluntaires de Bykli, Part 1

 There are 24 Eureka Miniatures in the unit I'm currently painting, the Voluntaires de Bykli. If you remember they were a gift from Aly Morrison at a seemingly distant Partizan. As it will be a while until they are completed I thought you might like a sneak preview of those I've completed to date ~

I continued with the light blue faced yellow scheme for them, which I'd previously used on Alphonse de Bykli and my French mercenary cavalry commander in Typoo Bhyka's army. The figures are mostly the ragged versions of Eureka's French Revolutionary infantry so I've tried to vary other colours on the figures where appropriate. When I've completed them I'll be sure to feature them in another blog post, only half way through for now though! 

That will bring me to the last planned unit in my original purchases, being 9 Tribal Cavalry from Perry Miniatures' Victoria's Little Wars range. Once they are completed I will be due a rest from the sub continent and will be delving into the Lead Pimple for something different for a break!

Friday 23 July 2021

The Bhyklawar Horse Artillery

 Creeping ever closer to the culmination of my Tales from Pendawar project the latest elements to successfully make it across the painting desk and into GHQ are a battery of Horse Artillery, styled the Bhyklawar Horse Artillery, a unit of European volunteer artillery drawn from the higher strata of Bhyklawar society. Some of you may recognise the figures as the venerable Foundry rendition of the Bengal Horse Artillery, sculpted back in the day by one or other of the Perrys for the company's Sikh Wars range. 

I've played fast and loose with the uniforms to suit my imaginations setting for the project, choosing to paint the jackets to partly mirror those of the 20th Light Dragoons completed last month. The helmets are white metal/tin and the horsehair comb and tuft are Foundry Boneyard light over Arctic Grey shade. The lace covering the jackets' front, cuff and seam trim is really beyond my hand and eye now so I do hope you'll view them in that context, please? I painted it by trying to carefully dry brush the Ochre middle shade with the side of my size 0 brush and then over brushing that with the light shade in the Ochre triad. The few buttons which survived the mold- making/casting process I picked out with a spot of Brass.

With these completing the journey into GHQ I come to the Eureka revolutionary French infantry gifted me at a now seemingly distant Partizan by Aly Morrison. They will form a European infantry unit, raised from French ner-do-wells, in the service of Typoo Bhyka. The figures are really nice, with a pleasing amount of detail common nowadays to most ranges of 28mm figures, so I expect it'll be a little while before you see any progress I can post.

Thursday 22 July 2021

A gift from beyond...

I received a parcel in the post just after lunchtime on Wednesday. While I knew it was likely to arrive in the near future I hadn't expected it quite so soon. The book you see below was in this parcel and forms a gift for a momento, my small part of the legacy of Duncan MacFarlane. Richard Tyndall chose it for me and he must have been nudged by Duncan from beyond as it's a welcome addition to the Gettysburg section of my ACW library.
Inside Richard had put a small inscription and I'm not ashamed to tell you that a tear came to my eye when I read it. You may put that down to age, but I'm still finding it difficult to accept that Duncan has passed on. I shall treasure this momento of one of the gentle giants of our hobby who I was pleased to count as a friend.
Thoughtful, intelligent, knowledgeable, erudite and damned funny at times. A final photo from happier times, taken by Colin Ashton I think at our Wargames Illustrated 'War of the French Revolution' photoshoot a couple of years back now.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

The heat, the dust, the flies...

 ...and that's just early in the morning here in GHQ. It's hot as Hades here these last few days and with a game scheduled with Phil today what more natural choice could there be than a return to the subcontinent? In fact a first battle in Pendawar is the game I chose, mainly to get all the troops out and see what, if anything, might need adding over the winter lockdown! (See, I'm a true optimist when it comes to the common sense of my fellow human beings!) Below are pictures from the day to give a feel for the look of the game. We were more concerned with trialing various characteristics than who won - I should say now Phil won in Turn 8 of the scheduled 13.

The left and centre of Typoo's army, the man himself is in the centre foreground of the picture. 
The right wing of the E.I.C. Army of the Pendawar Presidency, featuring the 1st Brigade of Infantry supported by a Brigade of Light cavalry consisting of the 'Pendawar Peacocks' and the 1st Native Cavalry regiment.
Early action in the centre when Typoo's cavalry tangle with the 'Peacocks'.
Resulting in an early triumph for Typoo as the 'Peacocks' are routed! They may be pretty but they can't fight it seems.
The difficult terrain on Typoo's right flank is held by his allied Hill Tribesmen and the 'Great Gun of Bhyklabad'. The E.I.C.'s 2nd Brigade attacked them and after heavy fighting drove them off.
The tribesmen flee! This despite a house rule allowing two turns of attempted rallying! They fled the field!
On Typoo's left flank the troops of the allied Raja of Rhanslistan are holding back the E.I.C.'s 1st Brigade despite losses. The Raja leads his household elephants in a charge against the 3rd Native Infantry Regiment. Closing and Passing fire are ineffective in stopping the heavyweight charge!
It mattered not a jot as the subsequent melee saw the elephants flee, routing the Raja's Household Guard Cavalry in the process!
After several failed attempts the mass of peasants and ner-do-wells finally come into their own occupying the ruins of a village and charging the Bhyklawar Horse Artillery battery!
Somehow the melee does not see the gunners break and flee! New Dice Please!!!!
Late in the day Typoo throws forward his Brigade of Regular infantry seeking to split the E.I.C. army in two.
Their supporting cavalry though show a more than marked reluctance to come to their aid when their right flank is exposed.
Without cavalry support the regulars find themselves charged in the flank by the 1st Native Cavalry regiment. Shaken and Disordered markers abound by this point!
With the Hill Tribesmen driven from the field the 2nd Brigade can turn it's attention to the exposed flank of Typoo's regular infantry regiments.
There is nothing Typoo can do. With three Broken Brigades at the end of Turn 8 the battle is lost. He sensibly retires to fight another day.
I'll say more about the modifications and special rules we employed in fighting this battle using Black Powder 2 rules in a future blog post, as we intend to try a second game in two weeks in the light of experience gained today. By then I hope to have added two cavalry commanders to the forces and to have completed the Voluntaires de Bykli for Typoo's army. 

Monday 19 July 2021


 ...Vicomte de Flagge-Hutte, in the employ of Typoo Bhyka as the commander of his cavalry ~

The figure is a Perry Miniatures French mounted Colonel from the AWI range of French figures.  He's a one piece casting and as it's such an active pose I thought him a natural for a cavalry commander. The uniform is entirely conjectural, based on the light blue with yellow facings that I decided on for Typoo's European troops. As he's from the nobility I gave him a pair of yellow trousers too!

Now that he's finished I can get on with highlighting the five crew figures for the #2 gun, the Bhyklawar Horse Artillery to finish the battery. I've also started the first 4 Voluntaires de Bykli to sort out the look of the unit. The detail on these Eureka figures is much sharper to my eye than either recent Foundry or Perry Miniatures figures I've completed, which I hope will compensate for my ongoing hand and eye issues. We shall see I expect.

Friday 16 July 2021

4th Native Infantry Regiment

 The latest addition to my ongoing Tales from Pendawar project comes in the form of the 4th Native Infantry Regiment. The figures are once again from Perry Miniatures, the flags by chum George Anderson, and the bases from Warbases, as ever. 

I painted the framed turban red rather than the blue of all the others to remind me of the fictional backstory I've developed for them ~ their predecessors, during the SYW conflict on the sub continent, carried an enemy battery at the point of the bayonet despite grave losses. As an acknowledgement of their martial achievement they were awarded the distinction of red rather than the customary blue colour. In truth I got the idea from the picture below ~

I'm turning next to the horse artillery for the Army of Pendawar in the form of two six pound brass guns and crew. The more knowledgeable amongst you will come to  recognise the figures as being from the Foundry Sikh Wars range, but we'll gloss over that slight time anomaly for now if you'll humour me. 

Saturday 10 July 2021

Some thoughts about painting.

 On one of the two wargames Forum Boards I joined I've recently contributed to a discussion about brushes. This got me to thinking about issues surrounding the general issue of painting wargames miniatures.  Having been doing this pretty steadily for 50 years I thought I'd have a go explaining my own approach as it's evolved, particularly over the last few years as issues surrounding aging have come to the fore.

First, a little personal history is in order I think to provide context. Like many of my generation, the baby boomers of the post war period, I grew up amongst a father and uncles who had served in WWII and a mother and aunts who had worked on the Home Front in industry and agriculture. An interest in things military seemed a natural part of life, collecting and playing with Britains and Timpo WWII figures and Corgi and Dinky WWII vehicles. Battles raged across carpets, the cobbled yard and the garden, depending on season and weather! 

From that beginning interest was further developed by building Airfix kits and collecting their soft plastic OO/HO boxes of soldiers. Increasing pocket money and paper round earnings saw me branch out into larger scale plastic figure kits, by Airfix at first and later the occasional Historex kit. It was at this stage, newly married and in our first home in Walsall, that I first encountered 25mm Hinchliffe metal Napoleonic figures which I bought in the now long gone Model Shop (Grainger's?) to collect and paint for a change. Wilf Upton, who worked there, on Saturdays I assume, suggested I might join Alumwell Wargames Society. I went along one Wednesday evening with no great preconceived notion of what I might encounter. I saw my first Napoleonic game and was hooked for life! 50 years later I find myself painting Napoleonic figures still, though I've ventured all over the globe and through history in the meantime.

So, putting that aside, back to where I started with painting. At first it was Humbrol enamels, the smell of White Spirit brush cleaner, and rows of 24 infantry figures being batch painted: pink flesh, block painting, no shades or highlights, shiny yacht  varnish brushed on. Some time in the late 1970's I discovered Plaka acrylic paint in the local Art Shop and enamels were consigned to history. About the same time the idea of black lining must have caught up with me, then added shading and the highlighting of flesh areas. I first did the latter I remember on a unit of Pecheneg horse archers! I remember because I was asked by a fellow club member what it was meant to be!

From Plaka I graduated to Colour Party acrylic paint, which I stayed with for years learning to shade, often using artists' inks, and to highlight. Always finding it helpful to chat with club members, look closely at display games at shows and then pour over colour pictures in hobby magazines: Battle for Wargamers; Practical Wargamer; Miniature Wargames; and lastly Wargames Illustrated! Finally graduating to first Valajo and now Foundry Paints. 

So, what if anything have I learned? I'll borrow from Lord of the Rings if you'll indulge me: I've been there and back again. The exponential growth of access to high quality images of figures and games through the number of hobby magazines and then the internet and the world of online blogs and forum boards has driven me and many others I expect to ever increasing efforts to 'improve' the finals appearance of our figures. You'll notice I say figures rather than armies? That's been the core issue for me I think on reflection, too much exposure to finely finished individual or small groups photographed in close up and looking far larger than their 25/28mms in reality. 

It has caused me in the last few years to question why such a level of effort and detail is necessary in painting armies, unless of course painting is your major focus in the hobby. I was almost lost to the painting fascists, as I've dubbed them, to be honest before I came to see what I was doing to myself. I realised I was morphing slowly and almost unaware into a 'painter who wargamed rather than the 'wargamer who painted' I needed to be if projects were ever to reach the table. This revelation if you like came to me when I was working on Perry Miniatures British figures for the Sudan. They seemed to take me for ever! How would I fare when it came to the Mahdists? 

The figures remain in my opinion the very finest I've ever managed, but they took so long I almost gave up several times! So, when it came to the Mahdists it was back to block painting, ink washing and one highlight in the details. Much quicker! And on the tabletop battlefield? Well, they looked fine to me.

So, I'm a born again painter of wargames figures using a block colour, one highlight and some ink washes. But for all the recent disruption in life I'd probably have gone over to GW contrast paints for man and horse flesh at least. I may even when we open up a bit more from this virus malarky! The key for me at any rate as I've said in an earlier blog post is how the army looks when I'm gaming. I might say at the bottom line you could spray one side pink and the other puce if you wanted and noone minded to play the game. But we do like our toys to look something like in the final analysis don't we?

So I've settled for 'something like' as my ambition when it comes to painting. Partly of course that's been driven by aging issues of eye and hand, but I've come to live with those. I enjoy my painting, even when it's curtailed by these very issues. Friends and blog followers remain relatively positive about my efforts, the figures feature in my Wargames Illustrated articles, they will do as Phil says! I've been helped towards this by many folk but also by the availability of wonderfully detailed flags, shield transfers and endlessly varied basing materials and decoration. The overall result, I think, looks fine in a wargame context but would never win any prizes in a painting competition (would it Dan?) I'm happy where I am with my hobby now, just sorry in a way it was such a drawn out journey. The moral you ask? Don't beat yourself up over standards you can't attain reasonably, there are no Painting Gestapo waiting to knock on your door. As is said, To thine own self be true!

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Encounter at St Olaf's-in-the-Marsh

 For this week's game here in GHQ Phil and I settled on an ECW bash. A locally superior Parliamentary force, led by Obadiah Bykleigh, must beat the Royalists of Sir Marmaduke 'Gaylord' Robinson before his superior numbers of horse arrive to tip the balance against Parliament. The game is set at 12 Turns and uses my own A Crowning Mercy rules(available from Caliver Books). The following pictures will I trust carry the sense of the action to regular readers ~

The opening move sees a broad advance by the Parliamentary force, while the Blue Dragoons move off to the right to seize the farm complex and secure the army's right flank. 
Meanwhile the Royalists head straight for the enemy, though their Red Dragoons are sent to occupy a low hill overlooking the farm and from where they can observe any Parliamentary flanking threat.
Sir Marmaduke Robinson's Foote have a prominent role in the Royalist advance, keen to show their metal before their Colonel who commands the Royalist force.
The first clashes of the action are on the Parliamentary left flank. Obadiah Bykleigh knows he must press home the attack while he enjoys superiority of cavalry numbers before the Royalist reinforcements reach the field of battle.
With the dragoons covering their flank the Royalist Foote begins to form up for action.
Meanwhile the Parliamentary Dragoons have lined the hedge row along the lane, flanked by Lord Brooke's regiment of Foote. 
Essex's Tawney coated Foote are ready for action in the centre of the battlefield. Sadly their powder was damp or their ardour stunted as they made little impact on their enemy. (New dice please!)
Royalist Foote formed for battle trades fire with the enemy in the centre of the action. For all the fierce fighting not very many casualties seemed to accrue on either side.
Parliamentary cavalry charges home and with the clash of steel drives back the Royalist Horse. With no sign of the longed for reinforcements it looked promising for a swift Parliamentary victory.
Meanwhile in the fighting to secure St Olaf's the Royalist forlorn hope despite losses drive out the Parliamentary dismounted heavy horsemen who had attempted to seize the churchyard.
Obadiah Bykleigh leads his cuirassier regiment against the Royalist opposite number. A vicious melee where no quarter is given or expected develops which holds up the Parliamentary attack and gives time for the expected reinforcements to appear behind the right of the Royalist army.
The central firefight between opposing elements of Foote remains stubbornly indecisive with neither side giving ground to its opponent.
In the distance the Royalist's newly arrived horse can be seen streaming forward to throw back the Parliamentary cavalry. With no progress in the centre in evidence Obadiah Bykleigh began to sense that the battle was slipping away from his grasp.
Parliamentary Horse and cuirassier break and flee to the rear carrying Obadiah Bykleigh away with them! Parliament's cause is lost!
The Royalist cavalry pours forward past its stoic Foote into the open flank of the Parliamentary Foote. The army is beginning to fade away as a fighting force and the battle is lost.
Obadiah is left to reflect on a battle lost which so nearly seemed won at one stage while Sir Marmaduke can reap the well earned rewards of victory! Eight turns played out of twelve allocated to the game, so a solid win for Phil's alter ego. Next up here in GHQ in two week's time will be a return to Bhyklabad  and the Indian Mutiny. Meanwhile, back to painting Sepoys for the Army of Pendawar...