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 29 January 2022

Encounter at Bikelheim

 Not an AAR report, sorry if that disappointed anyone,but rather an update on progress so far. I've completed two vehicles: a Soviet BMP-2 and a Chieftain MBT ~

A closer look at each of the vehicles to appreciate Phil's handiwork in painting both. I'm just responsible for the basing work and adding the transfers. Oh, and the buildings and such of course. The vehicles are the plastic kits from Battlefront's Team Yankee range. The Chieftain MBT first ~

The Soviet BMP-2 next ~

I hope to have more to show on the building side in due course. I took delivery of another package from LaserCraftArt recently, including bases for the office block and the modern shops which can be seen added to Bikelheim in the picture below ~
There were also bases for the terraced houses and another terraced house to complete that part of the layout, along with another small German house to join my barn in a small farm setting. More on this front as and when...

Friday 28 January 2022

Blatant Self Promotion!

 And why not? I have a piece in the new (February) issue of Wargames Illustrated. I've lost count of how many pieces I've contributed down the years, it's probably more than I can recall ~

Mind, it's tucked away at the end almost, after the more meaty on theme stuff I suppose. It's a piece in the magazine's occasional "Why I love..." some aspect of our wonderful hobby theme. In my case the subject probably shouts out for anyone who knows me well ~

"Why I love Dixon Miniatures ACW Range". Any of you who buy the magazine will, I hope, enjoy the article even if you don't agree with my general position. No doubt there will be some frothing at the mouth by devotees of (imho) inferior ranges and the odd person nodding wisely in agreement, but my main aim was just to share my enthusiasm for a range which I don't believe will ever be bettered. I also provided the photos for the article, both in game and unit photos. If you look closely you may even spot my little pewter alter ego, Useless S Bykleigh, calmly giving orders in the heat of battle! Incidentally, there's lots of other great content in this issue for pukka Wargamers' rather than the '50 figures for an army' figure fiddlers!

Tuesday 25 January 2022

This week I have been mostly...

 ...painting the wrong figures! Well, not quite, but you'll soon grasp the enormity of my error! Last year I decided on one last addition to my Army of the Pendawar Presidency, namely two Regular Infantry regiments to facilitate the formation of a Regular Brigade. Rather than just buy two regiments from Perry Miniatures I bought just one and then a second from Wargames Foundry's Napoleonic range. At first glance hardly a disastrous error you'd think. Ah, well there you are wrong then! I chose a regiment of Highlanders in bonnet and trews and the flag from GMB Designs for the 74th (Highland) Regiment. So, you may ask? Well, it happens that the 74th were not a Highland Infantry kilted regiment during the early years of the C19th! This is how they appeared during their time in India ~

They look in fact exactly like my other British Regular Infantry Regiments in my Army of the Pendawar Presidency.  On the other hand, the figures I’ve been painting so slowly and carefully over the past week look like this ~

A bit of a difference you have to admit. Am I overly concerned though? Well, no I’m not. After all, if I can Field the South Essex Regiment, which never existed outside the books featuring Cornwell’s Fictionalised hero Richard Sharpe, I can surely stand a unit of premature Highland Infantry! My game, my toys in play again you see. 

For those who’ve got this far without giving up in despair I’ll add that the other regiment formed from Perry Miniatures will be the 79th, the Hindoostan Regiment, also with white facings and a white Regimental Colour! Obviously not one of my better days when I decided all this! I’ll put it down to age I think... Twelve more figures to complete the regiment, then I'll wash and vegetate the bases all in one go.

Alongside my painting exploits I’ve also been assembling more 15mm MDF buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot Project. The latest additions are a number of terraced houses. Now, I’ve no idea if terraced houses were a thing in Germany, but they will be found in my game layout, representing both the older edges of urban areas or on their own as small built up areas so far untouched by post war modernisation. I have a few more bits on order from Lasercraftart which I hope will see me through as regards that part of the project, at least in the build up phase.

Wednesday 19 January 2022

The Death of Chief Bykelezi

 A return to the Anglo-Zulu War was Phil's choice for this week's game here in GHQ. Taking a little poetic licence with the theme I chose to pit Chief Bykelezi's Impis against the wily Boer, Van Robhinsaan. The Boer objective was simply to exit on the opposite side of the table, crossing the Blood(less) River ( which would take a turn). The wagons and baggage can only cross at the ford, as can any units on foot, while the mounted Boers can cross at any point, taking a move plus Dx6 to do so. The Zulus, apart from two units of rifle armed warriors deployed covering the approaches to the ford,appear randomly after the Boer initial disposition. The baggage train fights as two Small units - I don't have enough figures to depict the escort!

Three of Chief Bykelezi's Impis deploy on the flank of the Boers, but several moves potentially from making an attack. Probably the deciding factor with hindsight.
The mounted Boers (with some Natives making up the number) move swiftly out to block the Zulu approach.
The Boer wagons have made a bold strike for the ford, supported by some Boer infantry, only to be attacked by the fourth Zulu Impi.
While that fight rages on the mounted Boers elements halt, firing from the saddle.
The Boer infantry s fire is concentrated on the rifle armed Zulus so they can take the higher ground and flank the Impi fighting to halt the Boer wagons' bold push for the river.
The Zulus are shaken by mounting losses and so the Boers close in to finish them off! The Impi fails yet again to defeat the wagons' guards!
Meanwhile, one mounted element is driven off but the other two hold their ground. Zulu losses begin to mount and the exhibit an uncharacteristic reluctance to charge home!
Zulu losses and Disorder are mounting on the Boers' flank as the mounted elements steadfastly hold their ground.
The fight at the approaches to the ford reaches a climax! Both sides have losses, who will be the first to buckle?
Shaken and Disordered with excess casualties! Throwing 3 in the Moral check hardly helps does it? The Zulu Impi flees from combat shattered and the route to winning the game is open for Van Robhinsaan!
One mounted Boer element charges the Impi to its front. Surely a rash move at this stage? No! Both sides are Shaken by losses but are not broken!
The Impi which defeated the mounted Boer element earlier finds its path blocked by the Boer artillery! 
The Boer wagons reach the ford! The game is slipping away from Chief Bykelezi's grasp.
The rash Boer charge has done more than shatter the Zulu resolve. In the fighting Chief Bykelezi falls, never to rise again! (What a time to throw a 6 with one excess casualty?)
The Boer wagons cross the Blood(less) River. The game is almost over!
One Impi is chased to the river, where it is slaughtered to a man! (A bit of overkill never hurt anyone Phil said!)
The only remaining Impi of the late Chief Bykelezi can only watch the victorious Boers from a safe distance! Seven moves to disaster for the Zulus but a great game thoroughly enjoyed despite the comprehensive thrashing  and the demise of my little lead alter ego...

Monday 17 January 2022

Progress of a sort..

 ...with Bikelheim over the last few days. I recently received another package from LaserArtCraft. Amongst the new MDF kits was a fourth German house and a pack of bases for three terrace houses. Tatting about, as you do, I realised the terrace bases would also fit the rural houses and leave a little space for some simple scenic effects. Here they are ~

So far I've added some simple hedges from green pan scourer and given the open ground a coat of GW Steel Legion Drab. Tomorrow I'll do a little more to the bases.

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Engagement at Watford's Gap

 For our first set to of 2022, surprisingly not banned by Boristhebarsteward in both our minds, I let Phil choose the period. With his well known tact he chose an ACW game! Thus, the second game in our loosely defined 'Robinson in the Valley' campaign. Having been beaten in the first encounter, old Useless S Bykleigh and his battered command have retreated up the Valley and are encamped at Watford's Gap. As yet no reinforcements have arrived, despite Washington's promises, and with scouts reporting much Confederate activity in the vicinity the troops have been roused and are standing to, ready to face the enemy once more ~ 

Though some are a little tardy it seems ~

Sure enough Rebs are spotted marching up the Valley and closing in on Watford's Gap. As the Rebs struggle to shake out into their lines, the Union artillery opens fire on them ~

The lightly defended Union left flank is the first to come under pressure, though in what would prove a precedent for General Robinson's efforts, the attack was uncoordinated and regiments went into action piecemeal. (Dice! Dontyajustluvem?) Seeing the danger ol' Useless speedily responded by sending the New Jersey boys forward to pour lead into the Rebs' flank. With this support the US Sharpshooters and the New York artillery held the ridge above the Union camp ~
In similarly uncoordinated action on the Union right a lone Louisiana regiment, the famed Tigers, surge forward into the attack seeking to drive off the weakened 55th NY. Smashed by close range artillery and rifle fire they fail in their attempt and with many casualties retire Whipped! ~
More Union infantry are rushed forward on their left flank as the Rebs' attack their seems to be getting organised. With no sign of Robinson's attack reaching the Union centre soon the fighting on the flanks could yet win the battle for either side ~
Meantime, back on the Union's right flank, a second Louisiana regiment, the 3rd, has halted at the fence line, it's morale Shaken by fire from the Union's rifled guns ~
Making little headway on either flank Robinson's centre brigade begins to finally form up ready to sweep away the weakened Union centre ~
Once more though the attack is fated to go in piecemeal lowing the weakened Union Brigade and it's supporting artillery to hold their ground ~
The leading Reb regiment in the centre is halted by Union resolve and heavy fire, while the supporting regiments of the Brigade are sluggish in shaking out into line to support the attack ~
Nowhere along the whole line have the Rebs been able to pierce the Union position. Command and Control issues have hampered Robinson's attacks, sending unsupported regiments to their fate time and again! (dice!!!!) Numerous regiments find their Morale broken, leaving them Shaken and Whipped, halting any prospect of a Reb victory ~
The defensive position and posture of ol' Useless has been a major factor in bringing about a much needed Union victory ~
Despite everything though it might have been much closer but for the eventual arrival of the long promised reinforcements from Washington! A brigade of Regular Infantry marching to the sound of the guns arrived just in the nick of time to sweep over the lightly defended ridge on the Union left and halt any Rebel successes in its tracks ~

Defeated unexpectedly Robinson's command must retreat back down the Valley. Lacking any cavalry in the immediate vicinity and weakened by two engagements the Union led by ol' Useless are in no shape to persue, much to Lincoln's displeasure. No promotion for ol' Useless looks likely now. Perhaps if he can squeeze out a second victory? We shall have to wait and see...

Groß Bikelberg...

... is beginning to take shape. The first more modern looking buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot project have been completed. Once again they are from the small range manufactured by LaserCraftArt. They comprise two Apartment blocks together with a single story row of shops. Currently I have a two story modern office block underway to join them and a row of three terraced houses and a shop in the post!

The decision to paint the door and window frames on the shop fronts in white was a mistake; somehow the colour amplifies my unsteady hand more than the black used on the Apartment blocks. The signage was added from a recent Rapid Fire! free download. Again, like the more rural buildings, I plan to base them individually once I decide on base size and the degree of landscaping to be added.

Finally, a bit of whimsy in the form of a roadside hoarding. It seems that the cinema in Groß Bikelberg is having a Bond Revival Season! I couldn't resist adding this!

Monday 10 January 2022

The Sussex Light Dragoons

 Although I've been busy painting 15mm MDF buildings for the Cold War Gone Hot project in the early days of the month, I have also been working on a small number of Dixon Miniatures' ACW cavalry figures to represent the Sussex Light Dragoons. 

Do I need more cavalry, or any more ACW figures in general? Well, of course not! But, as fellow Wargamers' reading this you are nodding sagely and thinking like me; when did need ever come into it really? I have painted them in a more contemporary style than I generally use for my long established ACW armies, but on the table in a game who will notice even?

Meanwhile, back in 15mm, I've finished two modern apartment blocks and started on a row of shops! All go here!