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.

Sunday 26 February 2023

Hanoverian infantry regiment von Schulenburg

The third of my Hanoverian infantry regiments has finally marched across the painting desk and deployed into GHQ ready for action. I chose the von Schulenburg regiment for no other reason than I liked the uniforms colour combinations. As before the figures are the venerable Front Rank ones sourced from Gripping Beast in Evesham. Again, the flags are from free downloads I found after a Google search and will do for me. The bases of course are by Warbases, who else? No more blathering on, here they are ~

Next up are two Foundry officers to make a Brigade command stand for the Hanoverian infantry Brigade. Then I plan to tackle the Hanoverian cavalry using Foundry figures gifted me by Jon. Given a following wind and hopefully avoiding any further health malarky I'd hope to complete that in March.

Mind you, in true wargamer mode, I did order some extra figures from Front Rank recently: some Freitag Jaegers, a Galloper gun and crew, and a few extra Grenadiers to make up a four base composite Grenadier battalion. Of course that means that one base of four Grenadier figures will have no parent regiment on the table...yet!

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Holding up the sky, again.

I've spent a more than pleasant couple of hours in GHQ in the company of Dan and Phil while Dan worked his photographic magic on my modest SYW collection. The camera may not lie, but it certainly can exaggerate if say. A few of the many pictures he took should appear in the May issue of Wargames Illustrated accompanying a piece I have written about the collection's origins and stop-start growth. Some images first, taken as I set out the collection ~

Between my turn at sky supporting duties I took a few pictures myself, taking advantage of the stronger lighting he brings ~

Finally, the man himself at work. 101 photos taken over a couple of hours, plus a few dozen closeups on his camera phone ~

It's a great deal of work to amass pictures for one shortish article in one month's edition of the magazine. It's a bit like the 1/9th visible of the iceberg in relation to what goes in the magazine set against the number of pictures taken.

Monday 20 February 2023

Where do you stand?

No, I don’t mean where do you stand at or around the tabletop battlefield, before we start. Rather I was thinking more about where you would position yourself and your approach to your hobby on the Simulation of (insert period of choice) Warfare——It’s a Game with Toy Soldiers continuum? I’ve tried to encapsulate the two ends of the spectrum with these two pictures I found on the Internet ~

For me this picture conveys, at least in my mind, those in our hobby who somehow identify with historical leaders of armies when they assemble around the tabletop battlefield. They are the wargamers who like to stage refights of historical actions above all other forms of game.

Whereas this second picture, again at least for me, captures the almost childlike joy, at the opposite end of the continuum, of those wargamers for whom the hobby is more a case of playing a game with their toys amongst a group of likeminded chums.

I've been unwell for the past week or so, laid low by an upper respiratory chest infection, so I've not felt like painting much. The figures I've featured in my last three blog updates are those I finished in the week before I was laid low. I have however been thinking about my hobby from time to time, simulated by a thread of discussions I found on a blog I follow from an American wargamer where this very topic I alude to was up for debate. 

 Firstly, I do not think 'Historical Wargaming' is an accurate description of my hobby, rather I'd choose 'Wargaming in a historical context'. The difference helps me to comprehend where the game diverges from the reality. Consider war for a moment: death, catastrophic injury, destruction, terror, bereavement, defeat and so on. Compare that for a moment with a wargame: no little lead corpses, casualties, widows, orphans; no destruction of property, no rape or pillage, no simmering resentment at defeat, and so on. For me there is no 'simulation' in wargaming, period. 

Secondly, even staging games which start out from choices confronting the decision making of commanders in historic battle situations is faulty as it lacks any jeopardy, personal or national. Nothing of import rides on the outcome of a game at all. Wargaming for me is a game, rooted in history, as compared to rooted in fantasy or science fiction, but first and foremost a game. A quote from one of the respondents in the debate seems to me to be spot on: 

"As far as whether it replicates history, let's be real: unless you are reaching across the table and maiming and/or killing a few of the fellows on the other side, and they are trying to do the same to you, and maybe setting your host's house on fire your way out just for good measure, then no, you aren't replicating a historical battle (and if you were, my guess is that you wouldn't be invited back to play). "

Of course I'm confident that many will not see it this way and I'm not looking for an argument or debate, just throwing in my thoughts. It will no doubt be interesting to read any responses to my thoughts, but all opinions are welcomed and equally valid here  As I said, I'm not interested in debate, just curious as to where and why folks place themselves. Me, you might ask? Well, I can man up and say I play with toy soldiers alongside my friends. That's all I ask really from my hobby.

Friday 17 February 2023

August Friedrich von Spörcken

The growing Hanoverian contingent for the SYW expansion project will need its own commander. Looking around in the Lead Pimple I have found a suitable mounted figure. He is a Front Rank figure of the Marquis of Granby but I think he bears more than a passing resemblance to August Friedrich von Spörcken, a distinguished and long serving General officer in the Hanoverian army throughout the SYW period.

A period portrait of August Friedrich von Spörcken, above, and his 28mm incarnation, below.

Any General worth his salt deserves to be accompanied by his entourage. In this case two spare Foundry British officers, now pressed into service in the Hanoverian army. For now though its on to my third Hanoverian infantry regiment. Once they are completed only the Cavalry element using Foundry figures remains and this part of the planned SYW expansion project is done.

Tuesday 14 February 2023

"Boom! Boom! Boom!"

After completing the second of the three planned Hanoverian infantry regiments, Jung Zastrow, my attention turned next to these two 6lb guns and crew. As with the infantry these are all from Front Rank via Gripping Beast

Sadly there are no dedicated Hanoverian figures for the crew, just generic British artillerymen are listed, so they are missing pompoms and adornment from the tricorns and have coat lace where there should be none. But, hey, these are toys in a game seen usually at playing distance and the colours alone will signify that they are Hanoverians. The facing colours on the uniforms and the paint job on the gun carriages are described in sources as Red Lead, so I used Foundry Madder Red Shade for the base and dry brushed it with the same British Redcoat Mid shade. I think it looks about right. The ironwork on the pieces was historically painted black but I've always painted mine gunmetal down the years and highlighted it lightly with a metal colour like Spearpoint or Bright Steel. 

Anyway, all that aside, here are the latest toys in my game ~

Next to march smartly across my painting desk are a mounted general accompanied by two officers on foot to provide the command for my small Hanoverian contingent. Finally, the title of this post? Well, it comes with apologies to one Private Baldrick of Black Added Goes Forth fame of course.

Monday 13 February 2023

I blame the genes!

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I've been playing around with the table top here in GHQ in preparation for a forthcoming Wargames Illustrated photoshoot in support of a piece I've written about my SYW project. One area of terrain enhancement I've been working on is a small German style farm which I think suits the north European theatre more in keeping with local architecture than the venerable Conflix buildings I've used in the past.

The buildings are from Warbases, three of four they offer under the label German rural buildings. These three comprise: the large barn, in the front left; the farm outbuildings, to the right of the barm; and lastly, the farmhouse, to the rear of those two. The resin wooden fence pieces are a set I got from Coritani
For fun I've populated the farmyard scene with pretty much everything suitable to the SYW from my terrain bits 'n bobs accumulation! I really like the buildings Warbases produce, indeed I've already assembled three of the four buildings in 15mm for my Cold War Gone Hot collection, whereas these are their 20mm buildings, the 28mm being to my eye too large for anything other than skirmish game buildings ~ see an earlier entry for more on this.
One area of these MDF kit buildings though which does benefit from a little effort is the roofs. Here I've used roofing slates/shingles sheets from Oshiro Games on the Farmhouse and Outbuilding. For the large barn I've used a section of teddy bear fur fabric which Phil trimmed down and fitted for me. When it's firmly stuck down then it's coated in PVA glue and combed flat. That took a day or two to dry I have to say, but when hardened it could be washed in Games Workshop's Agrax Earth wash to give the worn in look I wanted.
A little 'scene dressing' with the haycart and dog kennel, from Warbases again, and figures from Foundry and Front Rank.
Again, chicken coop and chickens from Warbases, figures from Foundry's SYW Civilians range. The water pump is a resin piece I bought one December Wargamer show back in the mists of time, no idea who it's by though now. All far too crowded for a practical wargame if course, but just right for a few characterful photos I'd hope. No doubt you'll have your own views on this.
Now, the title you might like to ask about. Well, I spent a few years early on in my retirement researching my family tree. I found out so much I had not even an inkling about of course, but mostly I discovered that I came from honest, solid peasant stock. Mostly agricultural labourers and miners on both sides of my family, though yeoman farmers aplenty before the post Napoleonic Wars agricultural crash I discovered. So, are farmyard scenes and pastoral idyll in my genes I wonder?
Finally then, the three farm buildings in 15mm scale/size just for interest. I didn't buy the large barn though, so this set is slightly different.

Friday 10 February 2023

Hanoverian infantry regiment Jung Zastrow

I've been pressing on with the Hanoverian tranche of my SYW expansion project and have recently completed a second infantry regiment, the Jung Zastrow regiment. They have yet to be varnished, but I thought you'd like to see them anyway. The figures are from Front Rank and are nice figures under the brush. Bases as ever are from Warbases while the flags are the result of a Google search and will do for me! Anyway, here they are ~

As I'm in the process of preparing my table here in GHQ for a forthcoming Wargames Illustrated photoshoot later in the month I thought I'd try an 'in game type' picture just for interest. 
For those who like to know these things, the roads are a latex product from Scenic Effects back in the 1990's, the tents are of similar vintage from Architectural Heritage designed in the USA by talented friend Dave Paddock, while the trees are from The Last Valley. The 'general dressing' set is from Foundry's SYW Russians, the cooking cauldron from Irregular Miniatures and finally the gabbions are from... well, there you have me now, memory let's me down right at the end; Gallia perhaps?

Thursday 9 February 2023

The Battle of n'Gornali's Kraal

 After an hiatus beyond the control of either of us Paul was able to visit GHQ once more for our monthly game. He had requested an Anglo-Zulu wargame and even gamely volunteered to be the Zulu commander, despite everything I did to try and dissuade him from his reckless choice! So, the Battle of n'Gornali's Kraal, pitting the Zulus' of Chief Watzoni n'Gornali against the Imperial column commanded by our old chum Utterly -Barking, one of the least known and even less successful Victorian generals. We used Black Powder 2 rules to play out the game and set the maximum length at 12 Turns. As is my custom now an annotated photomontage to give any interested reader a sense of how the battle unfolded ~

The Zulu impis parade outside the kraal of chief Watzoni n'Gornali.
Empress Miniatures Zulus make up almost all of my collection bar a handful of rifle arme skirmishing figures and some character figures from Casting Rooms Miniatures.
Utterly-Barking leads his column towards n'Gornali's Kraal at an unhurried pace.
"Zulus' Sah! Thaarsends of 'em!" Well, a slight exaggeration perhaps but still quite a sight.
Sighting the second Zulu impi making ground rapidly to his right Utterly-Barking orders the lancers to attack, supported by his small contingent of Mounted Infantry (who will do sterling service throughout the battle by the by.)
"Charge!" Lance points lowered the troops surge forward against the leading regiment of Zulus.

The 24th & 80th regiments make heavy weather of their advance while the Hales rocket troop is also tardy in it's deployment. It seems that Utterly-Barking is complacent about the Zulu threat.
The lancers' charge smashes into the leading Zulu regiment and scatters them, continuing through to crash into the second, while the third is disordered by rifle fire from the supporting Mounted Infantry.
With the impi threatened with destruction the third regiment rallies in a fierce struggle with the tiring lancers whose casualties have mounted steadily over their exertions.
Finally the gallant lancers can take no more, their morale fails and they break for the rear and safety. Only disorder prevents the victors at this juncture from sweeping forward to overwhelm the Mounted Infantry.
Meanwhile, on Utterly-Barking's left front more Zulus' are seen surging forward towards his slowly deploying main column of infantry.
While the Frontier Light Horse deploy as skirmishers to harass the Zulu advance the Hales Rocket troop are ordered to open fire on the leading Zulu regiment.
Disaster, the rocket explodes in the tube and is destroyed along with the crew! Utterly-Barking's eyebrows are scorched by the blast!
The 24th and 80th have finally deployed into firing line and casualties begin to mount for the Zulu attackers.
Still, the Zulu regiments press forward undeterred by mounting losses!

The leading regiment crashes into the 24th. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting erupts all along the regiment's front.
Despite some losses it is the Zulu regiment who break and flee. It seems that, "They don't like it up 'em!" to coin a phrase?
There is no respite it seems for the gallant 24th as more Zulus' surge forward in the attack.
On the far right the lads of the Mounted Infantry are finally beaten and flee the field. Their job is done though as the Zulu impi is broken and cannot threaten Utterly-Barking's main column. 
The final push sees the Zulus' spirits finally broken and the impis melt away into the veld's safety to regroup and fight another day. Chief Watzoni n'Gornali is beaten, for now, but not bowed.
The small garrison at the mission station are saved! They have not faced the ultimate test of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. Utterly-Barking, despite his lethargy in the field, has triumphed over Chief Watzoni n'Gornali and saved them.
A fine game in which it's fair to say neither side performed with vigour at times. Paul struggled to get his Zulus' moving and was frustrated at times by my uncharacteristically good Saving dice! The Mounted Infantry were particular recipients of this good fortune over three rounds of combat. In the end mounting losses and some poor Morale results broke the Zulus as an effective fighting force and handed the victory over by default.