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.

Monday 31 October 2022

Grenadiers de France, 2nd Regiment

 Rather like my pace of life in general, my painting seems to be slowing down too when it comes to monthly figure output. It's taken me most of October to complete these 20 Wargames Foundry/Casting Room Miniatures figures! I have worked on some other figures besides these, but overall it's not been the most productive of months here in GHQ, a mere 41 completed.

The figures are painted as far as possible to match the colour and style of my first regiment, one I painted more years ago than I care to mention. There is one exception to this though in that I painted the drummer figure with scarlet cuffs and waistcoat, mentioned by a separate source I'd not used originally, and added Royal lace where appropriate to the figure. If nothing else it will help identify the two regiments on the table top battlefield. The standards are by David of the blog Not By Appointment, a fabulous SYW resource if you've not discovered it. The finials are from Front Rank/Gripping Beast and the bases from Warbases as always. Here they are anyway, I hope you approve my meagre efforts ~

This new unit forms a part of my SYW expansion project planned to extend through the winter and into the spring. I hope it will expand my SYW forces to give a little more variety in army choice for games. I've already added the Regiment Bretagne as you'll no doubt recall and next up are additions to my French line cavalry in the shape of the Mestre de Camp's 2nd Regiment and the Colonel General's Dragoons. I've surprisingly still got an outstanding order from Foundry/Casting Rooms Miniatures for some French infantry and a further Guard Français/Swisse regiment. Most unlike them to be so sluggish in fulfilling my order.

Beyond these lie the small Hanoverian force from Front Rank/Gripping Beast and the small Imagination state of Aufenhaltsland-Wolfsschinken ruled over by the aging Prince-Bishop Friedricht of Grösbikelstadt, utilising Prussian figures from Crusader Miniatures. More on all these over the winter months I hope! In the meantime, it's back to painting horses! Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh boogar more likely!!

Wednesday 26 October 2022

An Away Day...

...in Nottingham's famous 'Lead Belt'. I had to pop to Nottingham to make a delivery today so decided to make a day of it and pay visits to some of the leading hobby elements based in and around the city. A word of caution though to any contemplating the trip: Nottingham must be the speed camera and traffic/crossing light capital of Britain!
Having negotiated all hazards, plus flooded roads and Long Eaton I arrived eventually at Warhammer World. Now, worry not, I was making a delivery to a good friend and in the process picking up a very generous gift from the same. 
No new picture, it was a quick exchange in the car park!

Next stop was at Wargames Illustrated HQ, which I'd passed on the way to Warhammer World! Sat Navs, dontyajustluv'em eh? DOH! 

I had two purposes in this visit: to deliver next year's Tales From GHQ calendar for Dan and to discuss a piece I'd delivered by email in draft form at the weekend. Having accomplished both tasks I was treated to a behind the scenes tour of WI HQ, to see where much of the photographic magic happens.
A table set up for taking photographs for the much anticipated new edition of 'Never Mind the Billhooks'. This new edition will be signed off for printing very soon I'm told. I'm looking forward to seeing a copy as it has sections on the Italian Wars which may suit our games here in GHQ. We shall have to wait and see...

Talking of seeing, I was much taken by some of the bespoke buildings, seen on photo tables and shelves, like the walled manor above. Many of these passed into the care of the magazine at Duncan's express wish after his unexpectedly sudden passing. It was odd I have to say being in the offices, I half expected to see him you know!

The walled manor was a great scratch built piece, from America Dan thought and made me wonder if it might be by Herb Gundt. As a splendid piece though it was dwarfed by this magnificent High Medieval castle! To my eye it looked as if it was from the same hand. I especially liked the 'used' look of the gardes robes, very realistic! Perhaps it was Nottingham Castle à la Errol Flynn!
Again, thanks to the sat nav, it was back passed Warhammer World to find Warlord Games. Tucked away from view on one of many light industrial estates it took some finding, but it was worth the hassle.
My reason for the visit was to look at a couple of items I wanted to buy and hopefully receive some advice on the suitability of a third. I was much taken though on this first visit by the display cases crammed full of beautifully painted figures.
The sumptuous display of Warlord's own Epic Napoleonics. Too late for me now, but if I were younger I would be sorely tempted to splash the cash. Even now if they ventured down the Peninsular War route I might find the temptation almost too much!
The new North Africa theatre had a display to draw in even the most jaundiced gamer's eye I think. Italians, DAK and British & Commonwealth forces are available to purchase. It looks a very full range already to my inexpert eye!
For  the European theatre of WWII there is an even wider choice facing the gamer. Although a tad dark to my taste these British figures and vehicles were beautifully modelled and painted.
As I've already indicated, the latter visit was with purchases in mind. As I was successful in this respect I thought I'd better finish off by showing the purchases and a little explanation of each.
I wanted to have a couple of figures to populate my Warbases Roman Villa and to add some background detail to Pompus Maximus's command base and I think these will do the trick nicely on both counts.
For our Burma 1943-44 games the British & Commonwealth force is lacking in artillery. I thought this would do the job nicely and so added it to the purchase list!
Finally, in the same theatre of WWII I wanted an alternative to my sole Grant tank for them, so I purchased this plastic kit of the Stuart M3. It is close enough for me and after my successes with Plastic Soldier Company's 15mm Soviet and B.A.O.R. vehicles I'm confident I can tackle this! Famous Last Words? We shall see in due course.
A tiring day in the end and I'm glad to be safely home, but it was a grand day out and no mistook!

Thursday 20 October 2022

The Fate of The Eye

 For his monthly pilgrimage here to GHQ Paul had asked to play a SYW game. Ever willing to oblige a chum, I had decided on a follow up scenario to Tuesday's game. You may recall that gallant aristocrat the Comte du Merde drove off Lord Rawnsley 's force besieging Groß Bikelheim and thus saved The Eye! The defeat so affected the noble lord that he took to his tent with the vapours (and a bottle), passing command to Sir Paul Gornale, the younger brother of Lord Gornale. The newly emplaced commander immediately reorganised his force, determined to prevent the French Savants dismantling The Eye and carrying it off to safety.

As usual here in GHQ the game length is set at 12 Turns using Black Powder 2 rules. A D x 3 throw of 2 meant the French Savants took two turns to dismantle The Eye and prepare to move it by coach to safety. The British will win if they prevent the French achieving this objective. If the British do not succeed then the French win by default, regardless of outcomes elsewhere on the battlefield. Enough of the introductory waffle, a photomontage to convey a sense of the action as is my custom ~

Well, not the most auspicious of starts, a Blunder. I rolled a 1 and made a Rapid Retreat off the table! Not the best of omens for the outcome...
The Comte du Merde orders his second infantry Brigade to move to support the right flank where masses of British cavalry can be seen moving forward. French cavalry wait anxiously for their moment of glory, or not...
British cavalry surges forward in a charge, having some initial successes. The Horse Grenadiers fair less well than the Scots Grey's and are driven back in disorder by the fire if the Royal Deux Ponts regiment.
French cavalry has been roundly beaten, the Mestre de Camp's regiment being driven off table Shaken while the Orleans regiment just avoids sharing their fate...
With one Brigade bogged down on the base line and the assault Brigade still readying itself, the First Brigade of infantry closes with their French counterparts...
The British form up in line and exchange fire with the French. Supported by artillery fire the French enjoy the better of the exchange without Shaking their for. Amidst all the cacophony of battle the Hussards de Byklé wait their moment to charge the British infantry...
All along their lines the French position looks solid. The Eye is safely dismantled and stowed in the waiting carriage ready to depart...
The Assault Brigade is yet to move off into the attack, their supporting Brigade engaging the French infantry are in Disorder. It looking trés bon for les Français at this juncture...
The Assault Brigade finally gets underway. Two Small units of dismounted dragoons supported by three units of combined Grenadier companies...
The carriage transporting the Savants together with The Eye has left the town's gate and is making for the rear though threatened by the nearby dragoons...
The view from the French lines encourages du Merde in his belief that The Eye will be safe. A grateful king will surely reward him with estates and peasants to work them...
As the carriage left the town's security the Voluntaries de Soubais move forward to skirmish with the approaching Assault waves...
The British attack has finally come together, allowing a frustrated Gornale a moment's relief from the stresses of command...
Merde! One unit of dragoons evade the defenders and sieze the carriage, the Savants and of course The Eye...
Du Merde 's dream of riches and peasant workers toiling away on his new estates evaporates away to nothing...
The victory is to Gornale, avenging the defeat suffered earlier by Rawnsley. For we GHQ Irregulars the beauty of Black Powder encapsulated in one game where best laid plans and deserved victory were snatched from one set of expectant hands by the fickle dice gods and handed to another. Malheuresement, c'est la vie...
A Post Script to the week's unfolding events in GHQ. Here I am, on Wednesday, at the centre of the Heart of Darkness. My second exposure of 2022 in fact. I wonder if any of you can guess why?

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Raising the Siege of Groß Bikelheim

For our weekly game, in GHQ of course, Phil and I had decided on a SYW game. This it transpired was to be smaller than our usual offering as there was an unexpected outside time constraint. We still aimed for 12 Turns though, hoping the reduced  army sizes would speed play. The scenario pits a French force, inferior in infantry, cavalry and artillery attempting to raise the siege of Groß Bikelheim. The French are commanded by my old favourite persona, the Comte du Merde; the British besiegers by Lord Rawnsley. The early pictures hopefully give a sense of the table layout. If the British can breach the town's walls then they can carry off the Eye of Bikelheim, a monstrous telescope, the wonder of the Age!

A general shot of the Tabletop battlefield at the start of Turn 1. Groß Bikelheim is in the far right, the British siege lines and encampment in the near right.
The French relief force enters in Turn 1, it's commander hurrying into the besieged town to encourage it's defenders.
The Eye of Bikelheim can be seen in the town's square. It's defenders comprise a regiment of Grenadiers de France and a regiment of Grenadiers Royale. A coach stands ready to carry off the Eye at the first opportunity.
The British encampment, from where the assault will originate comprising Grenadiers supported by dismounted Dragoons.
The main British force supporting the assault phase of the siege, two brigades each of Infantry and cavalry.
Not an auspicious start for Du Merde! One regiment Shaken and Disordered by artillery fire, the two remaining advancing too enthusiastically following a Blunder!
As often happens, a run of poor to indifferent Command Rolls, for Rawnsley on this occasion, allowed du Merde to reorganise his infantry brigades and advance on the enemy.
Hesitant British cavalry have received much damage from the French guns and infantry. The Horse Grenadiers, already Shaken, break in rout and flee to the rear. Other cavalry becomes Disordered, freezing the attack on the French right. The French cavalry sits in disciplined ranks awaiting it's moment of glory!
The first two composite formations of Grenadiers have moved forward to assault the town's defenders. The second wave of Dragoons and Grenadiers await their order to move forward into the maelstrom.
Determined defense by the French has blunted all the British Brigades' advances except for the assault lead by the Grenadiers. Fire from the defending infantry and artillery now concentrates on those elements leading the assault.
French artillery and infantry fire in the centre drives back the British infantry supporting the assault. The  leading squadrons of French Dragoons and Cavalry ready themselves for the decisive charge against the hesitant British cavalry. 
The Grenadiers leading the assault are smashed by fire from the defenders and finished off by a gallant charge executed by the Hussards de Byklé.
The infantry of the French relief force drive forward as the British attack crumbles under heavy fire!
Massed, but ineffective, British cavalry can only look on in disbelief as their infantry falls back exposing them to the French artillery fire once more!
The final assault by the composite formations of Grenadiers is shattered by the defenders' fire! Shouts of "Vive Le Roi!" echo through the lines of resolute defenders!
The victorious Comte du Merde and his staff gather around the Eye of Bikelheim, having saved this wonder of modern science from the marauding, cultureless British hands!
While the poor bloody infantry who bore the brunt of the fighting must settle for a quick roast of game, probably killed by a stray shot during the heat of battle!
For those who enjoy knowing such things the buildings/walls of Groß Bikelheim are the venerable Hovels ones which I highly recommend to fellow gamers. The trees and such are by the similarly recommended The Last Valley. The figures are from my collection, almost all Foundry/Casting Room Miniatures, with a few from Front Rank in the French lines. Their should be a second follow up game later in the week, all things being equal. In the meantime, the Comte du Merde signs off for now! "Á Bientôt Mrs Amis!"