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 30 June 2022

Will it be Lemons or Oranges?

 Well, to borrow a sporting phrase, it is 'Half Time' in the year, or near enough as makes no difference! As a geriatric in waiting wargamer, although I've embraced the net in many ways, I still like to keep a paper and pen desk diary in which I record the bare statistics of my hobby activity for my own interest. Glancing at it recently I see I shall urgently need to buck up my gaming performance to reach even my usual modest level of success, though most other aspects of my hobby related activities are more than satisfactory given the circumstances.

Up until today I see I've played in 23 games, winning 7, drawing 5, but tasting defeat in 11! That's poor even by my modest standards! No doubt Phil, Jon and Paul have a different perspective on that though! Also well below prepandemic levels are visits to shows and shops, with only Hammerhead in March and Partizan in May featuring. With what seems the likely demise of WMMS from the show circuit it probably means that at a couple of hours away these, and The Other Partizan, are now my local big shows! How times have changed, as we old folk are wont to say!

On the other hand I'm pleased to say things are much more positive. Paul has joined the select band of we GHQ Irregulars, to some extent helping to fill the Jon sized space now work has called him back and reduced our opportunities for games. Painting has also gone pretty well, with eye and hand issues at least no worse. As you'll know I've even tackled 15mm figures this year, after an hiatus longer than I care to contemplate, for my CWGH project! So, the diary records 371 figures have marched across my painting desk and mustered into GHQ for gaming. I'll take that in the circumstances. Purchases have also shown little sign of drying up with the help of the two shows of course, but also to the wonders of internet shopping! I've added to the Lead Pimple in the form of F&IW figures from Redoubt Enterprises and for the first time from Galloping Major; to the ACW collection in the form of new infantry regiments from Dixon Miniatures of course; and to the SYW collection from Foundry's Casting Room Miniatures side business for more French figures. Also of course I've added to the new fangled Plastic Pimple in the form of 15mm kits and 3D prints of vehicles and aircraft for the CWGH project (see previous Blog post).

It seems I'm well stocked in the face of the second half of the year and the seemingly inevitable seasonal lockdown now the Vid is on the rise again! Who knows, perhaps that will prove a false prophecy, but I'm far from confident! Perhaps the following cartoon might give you a clue as to my thinking...?

It would seem prudent therefore given the circumstances to at least contemplate a new project to sit alongside all this, and indeed I am well advanced in the preliminary planning stages. 

More as and when of course is all I can say for now...

Sunday 26 June 2022

Old Dog, New Tricks?

 If I tell you something almost scandalous can you keep it to yourself? I've a confession I ought to make: the RUBs under my painting desk here in GHQ now harbour something beyond my modest Lead Pimple! I'm now the slightly concerned owner of a Plastic Pimple too! That's the thing about we wargamers though, isn't it? We just seem to acquire hobby stuff without really trying? I'd just completed the CWGH poRussian infantry the other day and knew with certainty that the project would be finished when the Lynx and Hinds were done! Silly boy! The next day I found myself mooching on eBay, fatal isn't it? Without much effort it seems I've acquired more Battlefront kits in the shape of an SA-9 Gaskin AA vehicle and two SU-17 Fighter-Bombers to give the Soviets more firepower. But I didn't stop there...I was browsing the net the following day and discovered Butler's 3D Prints. Lots of Cold War kit in 15mm. So, more plastic, or is it resin, for the new pimple in the form of a towed Rapier ground to air missile system, seen here in its arrival state complete with printing struts to remove. Oh joy, a different sort of cleaning up in preparation!

So, two more vehicles for the Rapier Battery, together with a second long base Land Rover, a Land Rover Ambulance and a Radio truck for the B.A.O.R. HQ ~
Not forgetting the Soviets either, a Ural truck and all terrain vehicle for the Soviet SPETNATZ patrol ~

I'd wager now that Phil is really excited to see all this new kit to be airbrushed! So, to give an idea of the Rapier in its deployed firing mode, as it may be a while before it can be finished ~

Here is the kit wrestled free from all its support struts, and with only two tiny errors on my part, as I expect it to appear on its firing base.  The Land Rover and trailer in the background complete the in transit side of the set. The crew are two spare metal B.A.O.R. infantrymen left over from the Battlefront figure set. Lord only knows when they will get painted. Phil, it's over to you I'm afraid...

Friday 24 June 2022

While in the Thirteen Colonies...

 ...men are selected for the new fangled Light Companies ~

In the shape of these Redoubt Enterprises British Light Company in bowler hats. I've. Made use of a spare figure from the Line Infantry Command Advancing pack as one figure had arrived with incompletely cast separate musket and hands. {Despite two emails asking for a replacement and an in-person request at Partizan nothing has arrived. In my book that's more than poor customer service!}

For the frontier look I wanted when I rebased the F&IW collection I've been adding more than my usual tuft or two to these bases of Light Company figures, as indeed for the Grenadiers also, in the form of larger clumps and weeds, though carefully avoiding the 'cottage garden in bloom' look. The MDF bases are from Warbases of course whilst the rocks and base texture are by Woodlands Scenics, via Arcane in Nottingham. 
Next to teach the head of the painting queue are the French Compagnies Franches de la Marine, using figures from Redoubt Enterprises once more. They are having to be patient though, as I'm off for some much needed R&R in Cornwall next week. Don't despair though, no chance of blog withdrawal symptoms for you dear reader, two further entries in the can for later!

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Meanwhile, in New France...

 ...the regular infantry receive reinforcements in the shape of over-strength Grenadier companies. These are more Redoubt Enterprises' figures, nice large chaps making painting relatively straightforward. Sadly, there were some issues with the casting, seemingly the molds need some attention as sword hilts and scabbards  are misshapen on some figures. Notwithstanding this issue, the chaps came out fine in the end I think ~

Just for variety when painting these I chose one pack in tricorns and one in bearskins. Of course the poses chosen match those of the fusiliers for the look of the game. The larger 80x50 bases were chosen both to utilise the six figures in a pack and to facilitate the two bases being combined to give an extra Regular sized unit in our games.

The remaining figures I purchased for this phase of expansion for the French & Indian War project are all cleaned up and spray undercoated white ready to start. They comprise the Compagnies Franches de la Marine for the forces of New France, using more Redoubt Enterprises figures, while for the British there are a second company of Light Infantry and two warbands of Stockbridge natives, the former using Redoubt Enterprises figures, the latter my first figures from Galloping Major. I hope that all things being equal I shall have completed all of these by the end of August, R&R breaks somewhat eating into potential painting time at this time of year of course.

While on the subject of French forces of the SYW period you'll not be surprised that I took advantage of the recent Foundry Jubilee Sale to add figures to my main SYW collection. The Line infantry Regiments in the distinctive while coats will each have a Grenadier company added to their number, while a further regiment will muster into the line also. In addition extra figures will mean the 12 figure Line cavalry and Dragoon regiments can be reorganised into 8 figure regiments. 

Sunday 19 June 2022


 ...otherwise known as rebasing! In the last game we played in GHQ I deployed my small number of Rocket Men in the army of Typoo Bhyka. While the Indus Miniatures figures are quite nice I've never been happy with them based up individually, they just didn't look as if they were doing anything! I've thought about rebasing them before, but somehow never got around to it. Well, with no more games scheduled in GHQ until early July, Jon and Phil both being AWOL followed by Sue and I enjoying some R&R, an opportunity presented itself too good to ignore. To the three Indus Miniatures I added a Foundry figure to suggest a higher caste commander and we were done ~

I'd like to think that the way I've positioned the figures suggests the group going into action more convincingly than when they were on individual bases. Anyway, they will do for me and by extension I hope for my loyal reader.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

A Slight Diversion

 A return to my Tales from Pendawar was this week's choice for our game in GHQ. Lord Rawnsley, returning triumphant from his latest campaign against the forces of Typoo Bhyka, finds his passage home rudely interrupted by a scratch force scraped together in haste by the usually ineffective Raja of Pendawar. This force is blocking the route home at the only two crossings of the mighty River Indra which the baggage and infantry can use. They may receive small reinforcing elements as the local headmen answer the Raja's urgent summons. As is usual a photomontage to give a sense of the action ~

The general table layout and force dispositions at the opening of the game. The Raja's scratch force is artillery heavy but light on horse. Lord Rawnsley has two brigades of Company infantry stiffened by the 74th and the 76th, supported by horse and foot artillery and some elements of cavalry. He aims to force the crossings and drive off the rabble blocking his route to home and tiffin!
A large number of hill tribesmen have rallied to the Raja's urgent summons bringing with them the legendary Great Gun of Bhyklabad. The raja has mustered what artillery he can covering the main ford, including his own Rocket men, while leaving the ferocious Bhurpas to deny Rawnsley's men the use of the second crossing point.
Hoping to soften up the Bhurpas, Rawnsley sends his horse artillery forward while his infantry make steady progress towards their objective.
The second column making directly for the main ford finds the going tough, the terrain hampering the rapid movement and deployment of the force. The baggage train merely adds to the general confusion!
Despite his difficulties, Rawnsley soon has his first battalion into action, forming a firing line along the river bank opposite the Raja's main defensive position. The Raja's own artillery opens an ineffectual fire on the enemy.
Finally the Raja's motley force of Household guard infantry, cavalry and elephants moves forward to see off the impertinent ferengi. It seems Rawnsley has missed his opportunity in forcing the lightly defended crossing.
Both crossing points are now being contested by infantry fire, but as yet noone has got so much as a foot wet. Rockets blaze across the azure skies, exploding harmlessly amongst the countryside!
The household's war elephants lumber across the river under heavy fire, but charge home against the 76th.
Unnerved by the sight and noise the 70th break and flee to the rear. First blood to the Raja!
The baggage is threatened by the war elephants, who somewhat surprisingly fail to capitalise on their opportunity! They will regret that when withering infantry fire breaks them and the survivors route through their own supporting cavalry.
The Sepoy battalion has failed to make any real impression on the warlike Bhurpas. Perhaps Rockets roaring dangerously close overhead have unnerved them.
Indeed the next rocket salvo strikes home. The Sepoys break in panic and flee to the rear. The Raja's spirits are raised by this second success.
Perhaps it is just as well that his dander is up, for the news on reinforcements is desperately bad, only one group of hill tribesmen cavalry have answered the call!
More success for the Rocket men! More confusion amongst Rawnsley's forces as the brigade commander is carried away with the routing Sepoy battalion.
With wild yells the Bhurpas charge across the ford and strike the 76th! Salwar clashes with bayonet! Shrieks and moans rent the air as a desperate struggle plays out. The Bhurpas have the upper hand but cannot break the Jock's spirit! The gallant Colonel Anderson exhorts his men to die hard!
The second grouping of Bhurpa warriors has been suffering badly under artillery fire. Their morale is finally broken and they flee. If their countrymen do not break the 76th the crossing will fall to Rawnsley's forces and the Raja's heavy guns will be flanked and silenced.
Sadly it is all up for the Raja in turn 8. The Bhurpas are seen off by Anderson's gallant lads after a bloody hand to hand fight, while at the second crossing the Raja's Household Guards are routed and the Voluntaires de Bykli are forced to retire, their morale broken. Not a single soul in Rawnsley's forces has got so much as a toe wet, yet the route to home and tiffin lie open before them! Such are the vagaries of war my friend...

Monday 13 June 2022

The Red Hordes...

 ...have at last moved across my painting desk and deployed into GHQ awaiting a varnish spray, which is dependent on that rare thing of late, a warm and stillish day!!! These are the Plastic Soldier Company's imaginatively titled box of Cold War Soviet Infantry, though not all 141 claimed pieces as a few had weapons snapped off during their time in pre-painting limbo! They comprise: 20 bases of 4 infantrymen; 2 Command bases; 3 AGS-17 machine gun bases; 3 SA-7 man-pack anti-aircraft missile bases; and finally an AT-3 Sagger and an AT-4 Spigot man-pack anti-tank sections on large bases. Here are the whole collection on view ~

Now, before I move on to the expected close up pictures of individual groups I'd like to say that they were painted to be viewed at gaming distance on our table in GHQ, not in close up where all the little niggles are clearly visible! I'm assured by those who've seen them that they are perfectly adequate and so will do the job just fine, so I'm not going to argue the case beyond asserting that I did my best with the figures! 

As my loyal reader will recall from time to time I bang on about hand and eye issues so you could be forgiven for wondering how I tackled painting such small figures. I can satisfy your curiosity if you'll bear with me. Firstly of course I cut the figures carefully from the sprues with a sharp craft knife and gently filed off any superfluous pieces left on the helmets. The figures could then be assembled where necessary, fixed with whitetack to my trusty MDF board and sprayed with my usual double acrylic Matt white paint, £5 from our local Home & Motor store. The spray needs to be very light to avoid obscuring details. When the figures came then to be painted I fixed them with whitetack to 60mm MDF hexagonal bases, usually in 4's or 3's - a base at a time - and I washed them with Games Workshop's Agrax Earth wash. These two preliminary steps ensured I could comfortably hold figure groups and see the detail I was trying to paint! Experience has shown me that hexagons are easier to hold and rotate pretty much as well as circular bases for painting. The 60mm size means that it's easy to get at the inner facing aspect of each figure. I painted the figures with my usual Size 0 ProArt 40 Sable brush from ABC Brushes - ridiculously cheap and keeping the point far longer than any other make I've ever used! The uniform colour I bought from Great Escape Games at Partizan,  the AFB Series AK11370 Russian Sand. All the other colours are my trusty Foundry paints bar the bases which are GW Steel Legion Drab, formerly Graveyard Earth!

I began this project you may recall in response to Matt's challenge to me to tackle something outside my comfort zone. Plastic figures and 15mm scale definitely fit that bill! Of course I had considerable help and support from Phil with the vehicles, so much so that I doubt I'd have got beyond assembling a few without him! Are we finished then you can reasonably ask? Well, not really, as I've still two HINDs and two Lynx helicopters from the original purchases as well as the recently acquired T55s, but these can all wait for now as I turn back with some relief to my F&IW expansion project...Oh, a game you ask? Probably not until July or August. Holidays beckon you see for we GHQ Irregulars!

Thursday 9 June 2022

The Rani of Pendawar, Part 2.

 As I mentioned in an earlier blog post last week, featuring the command base utilizing the Giants in Miniature Lakshmi Bai figure, I'd also purchased the mounted version of same from Empress Miniatures at Partizan. Amongst the hordes of tiny Russians currently infesting the painting desk here in GHQ the two mounted figures made a useful diversion. Now they are finished I thought I'd feature them here for any interested passer by, even the hordes of 'Trappist Wargamers'! You know the type, those who look but never think to leave a comment! Without more ado, the Rani and her loyal servant ~

Hopefully one or even both iterations of the lady will feature in a game here in GHQ fairly soon. As they say, pop back to see what develops when you have a spare minute or three...

Sunday 5 June 2022

The Russians are coming!

 Albeit rather more slowly than I'd like! They are for the Cold War Gone Hot project and are from the Plastic Soldier Company's small 15mm range, the box being rather blandly titled 'Cold War Soviet Infantry'.

I purchase these, I think, at Hammerhead 2018 so they have lain in the Pimple for over four years to reach the painting desk. {As an aside I recently ordered a box of the same company's T55 Soviet tanks to supplement the force, but they are some way off getting any attention yet!} The box contains, it says, 141 figures. I've not counted them myself! I've finished another four bases worth since I took the picture, so 40 figures are done. 
After cutting them from the sprue and filing off any small pieces of remnants I sprayed them white. They were fixed in 4s to my Warbases 60mm hexagonal bases with white tack and then washed with GW's Agrax Earth wash. For those interested in such things this helps me first to hold figures relatively pain free and second to see what I'm trying to paint! The uniform colour I chose at Partizan from Great Escape Games is AK11370, from the afv series,  Russian Sand. It is a light brown with a hint of green and is close enough for me in 15mm! I hope to finish the remaining figures now they are all prepped by the end of the month, but presently I'm distracted by the Empress Miniatures' mounted Lakshmi Bai figures! More on both as and when ...

Thursday 2 June 2022

The Rani of Pendawar

 I contributed a Quick Fire article to Wargames Illustrated earlier in the year featuring my ongoing Cold War Gone Hot project. Each such contribution gets the author a Giants in Miniature figure, and so for mine I chose the Lakshmi Bai figure as I thought it would suit games set in the subcontinent, of which we have three or four options here in GHQ . 

Trawling around different companies' web sites I noticed Empress Miniatures had a mounted version, along with a second  figure, in their Indian Mutiny range. Further browsing of the range sourced a likely group of 4 figures to attend my foot version and so both packs were duly acquired at the recent Partizan show. I've been painting these five foot figures since then, interspersed amongst my 15mm Cold War Gone Hot Russian infantry for variety, and here is the completed base ~

The Rani of Pendawar , or indeed of Bhyklabad, and her body guards will feature as a command base in games set in my fictional Indian settings of Pendawar or of Bhyklabad, maybe at a squeeze even in Rhanzlistan should we venture there again at some future date! The flag of course is by my talented chum George Anderson and the base from the ever reliable Warbases, who else? Meanwhile, it's back to the little people, otherwise known as the Plastic Soldier Company's Cold War Russian Infantry...