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 29 December 2023


As 2023 slips slowly away it's time once again to reflect on the year's passing and look forward to the new year ahead. For myself I'm never sure whether anyone is really much interested in my annual blatherings, but here goes anyway...

Let's kick off then by looking at games played here in GHQ with Phil, Paul and William and also over at Phil's OHQ. I took part in 42 games over the course of the year, winning 24, loosing 15 and seeing 3 end inconclusively in draws. Not the largest number of games played by we GHQ Irregulars but it certainly feels like my best performance in terms of wins for a good while. As ever though here in GHQ we played a wide range of games from the Punic Wars through to the 1980's what-if in the Cold War Gone Hot, via the Dark Ages, Italian Wars, ECW, SYW, F&IW, FRW, the Peninsular War, the War of 1812-15, Colonial Wars in India and South Africa, the Great War and WWII, not forgetting Pulp games of course. A few pictures of said games as an aide memoire ~

Games need figures, terrain and such of course so a good deal of hobby time was devoted to painting and modelling. Over the year I seem to have complete 664 figures, all in 28mm scale I recall this year. I've not quite reached my modest target of 2 figures a day as an average, but it's a decent effort on my part I feel given the disruption caused by hand and eye issues alongside the diversions of holidays and days out with family and friends. Of late most painting efforts have been focused on the Crimean War project using Great Wars Miniatures as you'll have noticed, though supplemented by the unexpected homecoming of the Prodigal Foundry Collection painted back in the early 1990's and rebased to fit in with my current preferred style ~

Turning now to shows and hobby related visits the score is very modest when compared to my younger days. I have visited shows at Penkridge Table Top SaleWMMS, Hammerhead, Partizan, Claymore, Colours and The Other Partizan. A few pictures then of some of the standout games I've had the pleasure of encountering on my travels. You will correctly conclude that I'm much taken by buildings on game tables ~

For the first time in many a year I didn't make a single visit to Wargames Foundry as I recall. I've made more use of Mail Order and pre-orders collected at shows than in previous years though I have also been buying from fewer ranges and manufacturers/suppliers too. I suspect sadly that this may be the thin end of the wedge as the years slip by ...

While none of us knows what our future holds, but looking forward hopefully to the myriad of hobby activities which may come to pass, what could be more appropriate than the 2024 Tales From GHQ calendar to keep a track of it all?

I suppose that leaves us with the last element of this sort of blog post, a consideration of plans for 2024. I don't know whether it's an age related thingie but I don't have clearly defined ideas, not even much beyond vague aspirations. I'd very much like to complete the Crimean War project without buying too many more figures - I've currently got an order out for a few British infantry to round out Aly's gift and another Roosian infantry battalion. I've also been thinking of a small Peninsular War Spanish force. Figures from Offensive Miniatures and from Front Rank/Gripping Beast look favourites. Then there's the Lead Pimple of course - three Dixon ACW regiments still lurking in there, some FRW Austrian Uhlans and a SYW British Fusilier regiment come to mind first. Time will tell on each of them I'd expect...

So, speaking of time both past and future a final picture thanks to long time Gloucestershire chum John of his collection of the complete set to date of the Tales From GHQ calendar, which I send to my friends in our wonderful hobby so they can record their many triumphs for posterity!

I'd like to end now by wishing all my friends, followers, readers and anonymous visitors a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. I hope to see you all here in GHQ either in person or via this blog or my Farcebook page next year!

Tuesday 26 December 2023

A Post-Christmas Frippery

What do you do with your spare odds and ends and figures? Do they go into the 'Bits Box of Doom' never to see daylight again despite all your best intentions? Well, here in GHQ after I had sorted out Aly's kind gift (see an earlier blog post) I found I had several British standard bearers I had no immediate use for. I'd also grown tired of seeing the painted Black Bottle Bill, a freebie from North Star, sitting forlornly on a base each time I sat at my desk to paint. Then suddenly I had an idea when I recalled a comment earlier this month by the Duke of Baylen/Stephen and this is the result, in period monochrome just for fun ~

A British celebration of captured Roosian standards, toasted in Porter by old Black Bottle Bill himself and accompanied by the skirl o' the pipes from a Cameronian piper! Result? Bill is no longer lonely and pointless, I've used up three spare British Fusilier Ensign figures, and I've had a dry run at painting a figure for my second Highland Infantry regiment, the 79th, the Cameron Highlanders ~

The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed the bronze of a Roosian artillery barrel lying carelessly abandoned on the ground near the group. As you will know our highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, is traditionally cast from just such a piece brought back from the Crimea so I thought it an appropriate touch. That's one piece I've salvaged from my own 'Bits Box of Doom' then! 

Saturday 23 December 2023

'The Thin Red Line'

Finally the 93rd, the Sutherland Highlanders, muster into GHQ eager to see action in the new year. They have been a more complex regiment to paint for this project than any I've tried to complete so far, largely because I had to finish the entire lower part of each figure before fixing them to their MDF hexes ready to complete. This was mainly due of course to kilts, hose and sporans needing fiddly details. While the sporans turned out to be reasonably straightforward, the hose and kilts were more complex. In the end the patterns are 'suggested' rather than replicated as you can see in the photos ~

Of course, as I've consoled myself many times, on the tabletop battlefield at gaming distance they will do just fine. They are wargames figures, painted by a wargamer, for use in a wargame and we would all do well to remember that in our own painting if you ask me! The figures are by Great War Miniatures of course, with flags from North Star and bases from Warbases as ever. There is an hiatus in painting activity now though as I'm rebasing and re-varnishing the cavalry from the Prodigal Foundry Collection to better fit in with the more contemporary look of the project. There will be more on that in the New Year of course. 

In the meantime gentle reader, that's it here on the blog until after Christmas Day, so whatever floats your boat, I hope you will enjoy your Christmas!

Wednesday 20 December 2023

The Battle of Brecher's Farm

For our final game of 2023 here in GHQ Phil chose an ACW game with Black Powder 2nd Edition as the rule set, incorporating some suggested rules from the Glory Hallelujah supplement. This should be the decisive engagement in our loosely linked series of games this year under the overall heading of Robinson in the Valley. Once again Phil will command the Rebel forces and yours truly the Union. The situation as dawn breaks in the Valley ~

The Confederacy's last hope of driving Useless S Bykleigh and his Union forces rests on newly promoted Major General PJ Robinson, while failure once again for Ol' Useless may see him posted way out West fighting Indians for a living! Much rests therefore for both the individuals and for the cause they espouse... As ever, an annotated photomontage will hopefully convey some sense of the unfolding action for the interested reader ~

Winning the initiative did little to further the Union cause, the US Sharpshooters failed to advance! Though the New Yorkers on the Union left headed resolutely to man the field's fenceline. 
Thankfully for the Union cause the Georgians also fail to receive orders to advance. Some respite for the troops on the stretched Union lines.
Not so the boys from North Carolina, they advance boldly against the Union left.
The New Yorkers line the fences ready for the coming Reb assault. Just as well as the supporting Regulars falter, with the 1st Regiment blundering off the table and the 2nd failing to move!
The Battle begins in earnest, Union canon and muskets burst into life giving the first blood to their cause!
The Rebs bring up their artillery and a duel begins with their Union counterparts.
Making amends for their initial tardiness the boys in the Georgian Brigade advance at the quickstep aiming to turn the Unions right flank before their reserves can match to the sound of the guns.
In the nick of time, just as it seems the Georgian Brigade will succeed a second New York brigade shakes out into line sealing off the path to the army's flank! The reserves have made it at the vital moment! 
Pressure is building up though on the Union lines all across the battlefield as the weight of the Georgians' attack builds in strength.
On the Union left heavy fire staggers the advancing brigade from North Carolina and buys Ol' Useless time to try and rally his faltering Regular brigade 
Still the Rebs come on, nothing it seems can stem their inexorable advance! The US Sharpshooters find themselves flanked and  under heavy fire to their front!
Rifle fire ripples along the Union fenceline but still the Rebs press forward. The Sharpshooters are Shaken by the scale of their losses but hang on grimly!
Battle rages on the Union right! Despite the weight of firepower Rebel losses are slight. The New York boys must be firing high!
Meanwhile the Union centre is looking increasingly fragile. Somehow Union fire is ineffective and Rebel casualties ridiculously light!
The Union right is buckling slowly, one New York regiment is Whipped and falls back towards the rear and safety.
But the Rebs are not having it all their way. Slowly their losses are mounting too, but somehow their morale holds and they cling on!
The boys from Louisiana held in reserve finally arrive on the far Union left and close range fire fails to deter the Tigers from a direct assault on the 20th Massachusetts. Hand to hand fighting is fierce, but the Tigers are hurled back! The left is holding!
Events on the Union right though are far from favourable as losses mount, morale wavers and the Rebs sense their moment is close!
Fighting is now going on all along the front as the crisis of the battle fast approaches.
The 2nd US Regulars arrive at last to shore up the Union lines. But it may be too late, the New York brigade is broken and falls back in Disorder!
The boys stream to the rear intent on no more than self preservation and safety.
The Rebs sense victory now! The Union right is broken and the centre begins to crumble knowing it is outflanked.
The Union's cause is lost with its right and centre Broken! Ol' Useless has to concede the field to PJ! A Rebel victory bringing the campaign to a conclusion, the Valley is safely in Confederate hands over the winter...

The game went to Turn 11 of the alloted 12 before Ol' Useless saw his army fade away and quit the field. A final victory for the Rebs then lead by PJ Hiself! Perhaps the coming year will see a turn around in the fortunes for Ol' Useless, time will tell...