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.

Friday 31 December 2021

Vague Aspirations...

 ...Not Plans? Not for me. After all,if the last two years have taught me anything, it's that plans never survive first contact with the enemy, nor COVID-19, nor Boristhebarsteward. However, at the risk of just drifting along aimlessly, perhaps it's best to at least have an idea or three about where things might go. So, first up, to dispel any idea that I've given up ~

There is the small matter of the oft mentioned Lead Pimple to be considered of course. Once or twice since I retired in 2002 I've let it get out of hand and become so intimidated by it that I sold most of it on. Firstly, just after retirement I bought two decent sized armies from Foundry - at a good discount - for the Peninsular War, while only a couple of years ago now I bought a Prussian SYW army also from Foundry which also moved on. So now, much chastened morally and financially, I keep the Lead Pimple in check. At present it fills less than two 4L RUBs under my desk and comprises:-

3x20 figure Dixon Miniatures' ACW infantry regiments, two Confederate & one Union.

2x24 figure British Regular Infantry regiments for the Army of the Pendawar Presidency, one by Perry Miniatures & one by Foundry.

4 command figures to make an alternate base for a British infantry regiment in the war of 1812-15, again from Foundry.

1x12 figure Scots Greys regiment for the Wars of the French Revolution, by Trent Miniatures. (I lack motivation badly on these as no Command set ever materialised, though I badgered Duncan mercilessly every time I met him.)

2 mounted British colonels for Pendawar, again by Perry Miniatures.

Without distraction or diversion that's about three months painting at my usual target rate. In addition I've two further 4L RUBs of assembled MDF buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot 15mm project. Away with Phil for airbrushing are all the vehicles I've assembled for the British and Soviet forces, which I shall detail and finish off.  In the small Plastic Pimple therefore are my box of PSC Russian Infantry and two Battlefront Soviet and two British helicopters still awaiting assembly later in the year. I do have the British infantry too, metals from Battlefront, but I'm hoping PSC will get their version in 15mm out this year as I'm not taken with those metal monstrosities one bit. That's about another three to four months I'd estimate.

This suggests that indeed there may be a good deal of slack in 2022. Some of that I'd expect to be taken up by holidays in some form and other by writing for Wargames Illustrated when I'm called on - hint, buy the February issue! But more importantly it does suggest that the slack could allow me to expand existing projects, though what I'm far from sure yet. I'd like some baggage waggons for India, those from Empress Miniatures appeal, and some limbers and such for the SYW French and British armies, from Front Rank if they ever materialise again that is! I suppose I will succumb at some stage and order some more ACW figures, I just enjoy painting them even though I've far more than I need!

All of this though is dependent on many varying circumstances beyond my control ~ family, health, finance, Covid, Boristhebarsteward and so on. Hence I have replaced plans with vague aspirations; perhaps I should become a politician? Rest easy, I'd sooner put my todger in the blender than stoop that low! Only the passing of the ages will determine how much even these vague aspirations come to fruition. But, you know, it's a hobby I engage in for relaxation and enjoyment not a job or a matter of life and death, so it hardly matters either way. I shall do what I do and hope to enjoy the experience along the way, it's all we can do in my view. So that's 2022 then, nothing much to get excited about was it?

Thursday 30 December 2021

Beating Retreat?

 Or perhaps even The Last Post? Well, either would have sufficed as title for my review of the goings on in GHQ over the past twelve months of 2021. A year only so far exceeded in awfulness by its predecessor, 2020. I would hope that 2022 might be a tad more acceptable when I come in time to write it's review, but I'm far from optimistic given that Boristhebarsteward and his clowns are still overseeing proceedings.

Of course the year began in Lockdown, so no face to face games were permitted. As I would find Zoom and it's ilk next to impossible to follow as a deaf person, my gaming fix came vicariously via chums who posted videos and blogs of their remote gaming. Thankfully, when Lockdown restrictions eased sufficiently, Phil, Jon and I were able to meet up for games once more. My desk diary shows that since then we have played 33 games here in GHQ, at Phil's and at Jon's. While that's far short of the number we'd aspire to in prepandemic times in the circumstances I'd think its a decent return. Of these though I only Won 13, while I Lost 16 and 4 ended as Draws! A below average performance in tune with the below average year I'd say! Despite everything though I enjoyed every one, if not for my performance or dice throwing then for the friendship and steadfast company of my friends. I've also encouraged William in his enthusiasm for gaming in GHQ. Who knows, he may have caught the wargaming bug from Grandad...

Given that for endless months Face to Face games were off the agenda you might think that was reflected in an increased output across the painting desk. It seems not when I run the numbers and I do find that strange. Over the year I have completed 671 figures, all in 28mm. While there have been some odd additions to older projects, for example the recent Austrian Light Cavalry Brigade command base, the bulk of the effort went in first completing the Punic Wars armies and then in painting two armies for my Tales From Pendawar project set in India between 1800-1806. Like it's predecessor, the Punic Wars collection, this project too featured in an article in Wargames Illustrated. Another intermittent effort over the year saw additions made to my ACW collection, and not all from my usual choice of Dixon Miniatures' figures either. End of Days perhaps? Well no, you'll be glad to know, as I've four new Dixon Miniatures' units in the Lead Pimple!

The Wargamers' Year for me, as for most of you I'd guess, is often punctuated by visits to favourite Wargames Shows. I had managed to attend both WMMS and Hammerhead in March 2020 before the pandemic struck, but since then there had been zilch on offer! In October, with more than a tad of concern, Phil and I attended The Other Partizan! I went I must say mainly to meet my son Matt and catch up with his news and see his wonderful 100 Years War collection in action. Of course I was able to meet a few, though not all, of my usual chums from the north as a bonus. I even bought a few bits and bobs too! However, I was far from comfortable in myself amongst all the mostly unmasked hordes and so decided not to try and attend other shows that followed on.

As for most years though, I probably bought far more than was needed or even sensible given the limitations of GHQ; it's not the TARDIS after all! The addition of the Tales From Pendawar armies and expansions in others has strained the storage facilities almost to breaking point, so perhaps some rationalisation might be in order next year. Or then again perhaps not...

Finally, looking forward to the New Year with what little optimism I can muster right now, this is how the Lead Pimple shakes out: two infantry regular battalions for the Army of the Pendawar Presidency; for the ACW, the Sussex Light Dragoons are underway and three infantry units are patiently waiting their turn; for the FRW I still have the Scots Greys to paint. That's it really, the 15mm Cold War Gone Hot project will fit in around them I'd hope over the coming months, but I think it will be a back burner really. 

I couldn't end this review though without mentioning the tragic and unexpected loss of Duncan MacFarlane, former editor/owner of Wargames Illustrated and of Trent Miniatures. Even now I find it hard to accept that a rock of my hobby and wargaming life has passed. He will be in my thoughts and prayers as the year turns, as will you all. I will close now then by wishing you all a Happy New Year! I hope to see you all back here in GHQ over the course of the coming year.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

I love the smell of MDF in the morning!

Over the past couple of months or so I've been buying and making 15mm MDF buildings in preparation for my tilt at 15mm Cold War Gone Hot next year. Now that all the pleasantries of the Christmas season are behind us again I thought I'd show what I've collected so far. I'd like to do that though, by sharing with you what I envisage for the game layout: a small urban and industrial area, mostly confined to the edge of the board in two sections; a small village of two or three houses; at least one farm complex. Of the three I've yet to find anything I really like for the latter piece. I'd also like a church if I can find one I like. Here they are anyway so far ~

You will probably recognise the Sarissa Precision industrial buildings. To them I'd likely add perimeter fencing or walling if I can source it at a good price.

A row of shops
A block of offices
Two post war apartment blocks

The appartment blocks, shops and the  offices/school/hospital are from LaserArtCraft, a company new to me whose service has been first rate. The kits go together easily and seem detailed enough in the raw at 15mm scale.

The same company produce two different post war German houses of two and three floors. I've two of the former and one of the latter. These, together with my sole resin building should comprise a small village and an isolated house. The resin building is I believe an Architectural Heritage product made originally by my friend Dave Paddock. It's certainly in the distinctive brown resin I recall seeing at his workshop. I know he made several other German buildings so I'm on the lookout for more, so far without any luck.

In addition to buildings I need fir trees in bulk and modern roads. The former I'd hope to get cheaply from the Orient and the latter probably utilizing the several preprinted mats on offer. There's a long way to go to seeing the game on the tabletop battlefield in GHQ but it's now underway and should hopefully move forward steadily in the coming months. Watch this space, as advertiser's used to say!

Sunday 26 December 2021

Christmas Goodies

 On the whole I don't expect much in the way of hobby related gifts at Christmas, I think family and friends know I like to choose my own stuff on the whole. This Christmas I did receive a few things though which I thought worthy of mention `

Given my occasionally uncooperative right eye this may prove a useful acquisition. Thank you Sue! We shall see!
Again from Sue, after all it wouldn't be Christmas without an annual and I do have the full set.
From Phil and Di, one I've neither read nor own in my Gettysburg collection. 

A bit of nostalgia never hurt anyone! From long time chum and long range GHQ Irregular John and his wife Sharon. 
All welcome additions to the GHQ painting desk and my wargames library - OK then, bookcase! Now, off to block in the flesh on my Dixon Miniatures ACW Sussex Light Dragoons.

Friday 24 December 2021

There is a Bit of a Buzz...

 ...about Christmas here in GHQ! 

First up, using the set of four hives from Midlam Miniatures and a spare bench from the Redoubt Enterprises' Confederate seated generals vignette, a little bit of scenic whimsy that I'd use in any period on the tabletop. Sadly though I've  not located any 28mm scale bees, yet...

Next, a Command base for my Austrian Light Cavalry Brigade in our Wars of the French Revolution games. These three figures are from Eureka Miniatures, via their UK stockist, whose service was exemplary in my opinion. After painting all those Casting Room Miniatures' SYW French figures of late I found these quite a challenge to both hand and eye, the sculpting style being far more delicate, and making frequent touching up in the next session almost inevitable. But, they are finished and will do for me! Of course you are free to differ, so without more ado, here they are ~

After the pleasant distraction of the Christmas period has run its course the next unit to emerge into the light of the painting desk will be from Dixon Miniatures' ACW range in the shape of the Sussex Light Dragoons. Back to a style of sculpting I know and love in the best range of figures for the period by a country mile, and then some!


 A long time ago, when I and the world were young, or at least it seems that way, I bought two more packs of Norman Cavalry sculpted by my son Matt for Wargames Foundry. Off they went to Phil, like all their predecessors, to be painted as and when he could fit them in amongst his much more important regular customers! Well, eons later (joking Phil) here they are ready for the tabletop, when I get round to grass 'n tufting the whole 1066 project that is!

Phil also very kindly painted the splendid standard for them. At a push they might fight his growing Byzantine army as we are not the types to get hung up on a little ahistorical action. I might even have finished them off by applying the static grass and Tufts by then ...

Tuesday 21 December 2021

"It was just business."

 The final action of 2021 here in GHQ was a game set in my fictional suburb of the Big Apple, Howardville. Once more, and for the very first time that GHQ relocated to its current home, the Baldinnis and the Bicclionis vie for domination of this patch of Mafia turf. The rules used were Bolt Action 2, adapted for individual figures. First, a few pictures to set the scene ~

The 'mean streets' of Howardville...
Down an alley looking towards Chinatown...
Hard Times! Down and out in Howardville...
The lure of celebrity and the rise of the talkies...
Final destination...sadly for many residents on the wrong side of the law...

It's been a few years, as the cobwebs testify!

Let's see how the game unfolded, shall we...?

The Baldinni family arrive in style!
Carlo 'Knuckles' Napoli and his bruisers sneak around the back, leaving Bicclioni's henchmen to cover the front of the building  
A sharp exchange of fire across the entrance to Chinatown marks the start of the action.
Matteo Bicclioni takes cover behind his wheels, leaving his wife Sara to cover him from her seat!
The firefight at Chinatown is hotting up! Lead is flying everywhere...
The henchmen rush forward to support Matteo and Sara as Edwardo Scarfinni sprays their car with lead!
Matteo and Sara are suddenly faced by Baldinni's muscle as they try to sneak around the flank. Fists fly as their pistols missed their mark!
With the firefight causing a distraction Knuckles and his thugs ready themselves for close action...
While shots are exchanged to little effect Knuckles and his men rush the remainder of Baldinni's henchmen!
Fists against a squeeze gun? Never a good idea really...
In the desperate struggle Matteo is down and out!
Seeing her husband struck down Infront of her Sara's anger is raised and she throws herself into the action to avenge his loss!
Meanwhile around Chinatown the action continues unabated. As hitmen go few of these would make the grade it seems!
The Baldinni family's wheels block the street and provide cover for the Don and his children...

As casualties mount the Bicclioni's gang fail a Morale check after loosing seven members Don Bicclioni waddles to safety! As Don Philippe Baldinni later remarked, "It was just business, nothing personal."

Finally it just remains for me to wish you all a very 

Happy Christmas and a Peaceful, Prosperous and above all Healthy New Year!