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.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Hanoverian Grenadiers

I have had a fair wind behind me on the painting front these last few week's, so I decided to bite the bullet and paint up the Hanoverian Grenadiers I have in the Lead Pimple. Although I have only painted three Hanoverian infantry regiments, and don't plan any more, I have four bases of Grenadiers. This follows a suggestion by Spanner over on the LAofW forum board to form a converged regiment of Grenadiers. Here in GHQ we are a bit free and easy when it comes to the size of Standard units, usually 5 bases but occasionally 4 {We use 6 or more as Large units}. Although Spanner very generously offered to make me some transfers for the mitres I decided to have a stab at painting them myself, having studied examples of fellow hobbyists' work on the net. The results are a bit mixed in my view, but given hand, eye and age issues I'm satisfied with the outcome.

The figures of course are the venerable Front Rank, now owned by Gripping Beast down in Evesham. Pre-Pandemic we used to visit the factory shop occasionally while on a day out with Phil and Di, but I've no idea if they are open to visitors now though. As I understand that Front Rank orders are cast up to order rather than filled from stock I've not thought of a visit anyway, but you never say never. Anyway, that leaves just six Foundry Hussars I've discovered in the Lead Pimple, so I may work on those next. 

As you may recall though I'm also rebasing my '1066 & All That' collection to use in occasional small Hail Caesar games in GHQ.  That means some new figures, especially Normans, and while Phil will paint the Normans as and when they can be fitted around his own and his commercial work, I will paint the new Saxons and do all the basing. All that means you can also expect to see the usual game reports punctuated by Dark Age painted units periodically for a while. First task though is cleaning up and spray undercoating the latest Foundry order which arrived last Friday.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Toy Soldiers 0 Real Life 1

For this week's Tuesday game Phil and I had settled on giving the Medieval aspects of the new Hail Caesar rules a run through using our joint Italian Wars collection. Between us we could field four divisions replete with their commanders. Everything was moving along smoothly, Phil throwing his usual poor dice at critical moments, and a win for Cesare Borgia's army looking increasingly likely when we broke for lunch. Cue a phone call for Phil and a family health emergency and that was it for today's game: Real Life 1 Toy Soldiers 0... So, just a few pictures from the five moves we did play ~

The left flank of Cesare's army is held in place by the menacing presence of the Papal Guards to their rear.

The centre of the Florentine army is it's heavy pike blocks supported by halbadiers and swordsmen.

Cesare's Italian Light Cavalry menace the flank of the Florentine pike blocks despite suffering losses from fire from their flank.

On the left the Knights of both armies clash in a bid to carry the flank and threaten the enemy's centre.

The Papal army has the better of the combats, with two Florentine units fleeing the field having failed their morale checks 

With its left fatally weakened the Florentine centre falls back on the pike. Their right can make little advance through broken ground and exchanges largely desultory fire with their Papal opponents.

The scene after five turns with the Florentine left falling back in the face of losses and the steady advance of Cesare's right divisions.
As I said, real life intervened at this point, so we determined to replay the game in a fortnight when Phil will next be here in GHQ.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Hoodlum Hooch Hokkum in Howardville

An occasional run out for a part of my Pulp Adventures collection featured in the most recent game with Paul here in GHQ. Captain Watson and his 'boys in blue' from the Precinct House vied with the mobster Don Bicclione and his Family over the movement of a shipment of moonshine from the outskirts of Howardville to the dockside Speakeasy. Just a few snaps taken during the game which I hope will give a sense of the riotous amusement the game provided ~

The Fleets in port it seems which means more business for Don Bicclione's Speakeasy unless shore leave is cancelled. The USS Paddock is tied up and the crew are anxiously awaiting much needed R&R.
The 'mean streets' of Howardville busy with its citizens going about their daily lives unaware of the violence and mayhem about to be revealed in their midst 
Captain Watson marshalls his forces outside the Precinct House. Reporters of the Howardville Bugle are on hand to capture the moment for their readers.
Don Bicclione's men are ready to load the shipment and speed it on its way to the Speakeasy. Their hideout/warehouse is in a quiet quarter where the neighbours certainly won't disturb them.
The streets of 'Chinatown' are unusually quiet. Perhaps the Blue Tong have got wind of the shipment and have their own plans for its destination?
Wherever the illegal hooch finishes up you can be sure it will be beyond the financial reach of these down and outs who have made their home on an abandoned lot.
Captain Watson has sensibly deployed his machine gun on the Precinct House's roof giving a field of fire all the way to the harbour.
Officer Dribble seems blissfully unaware that the mob are just above his head! He need not have worried, Sergeant Moore and his machine gun have the drop on them.
The Police car and it's passengers come under unexpected fire from the mob in their roadster. One offer falls in the hail of bullets, another death in the line of duty!
Despite their surprise at the unexpected attack the Police return fire. In the hail of bullets the monsters are cut down and their roadster burst into flames!
Sensing a chance to be a hero Officer Desch has reached the rooftop and surprised another group of mobsters. He kills one in his initial assault but then sensibly retires as the Tommy guns spit their bullets all around him.
A second roadster and it's load of mobsters join the fray but are soon neutralised by the Police fire. They die in the exchange and their car is a smoking wreck. The consignment though and it's escorts are close to their destination. Can Don Bicclione's men pull this off? Sadly not, as a hail of bullets destroys the engine of the truck and wipes out the accompanying mobsters...
In a final gesture more mobsters led by O'Toole rush the Precinct House armed only with clubs, knives and iron bars. Officer Brecher takes aim with his BAR but miraculously no mobsters stop a bullet! It's all too late though for the Don. Two of his close associates are gunned down and his consignment of moonshine is burning in the truck fire!

The game was played using Bolt Action rules over six turns. After a slow start Captain Watson got the measure of his task and saw it through to a successful conclusion despite the best efforts of his dice. The buildings are all from Old Glory bar the warehouse which Phil scratchbuilt. The figures are from Bob Mutch's Pulp Figures range. The USS Paddock I built based on a piece of UTT* with the upper housing and main gun from MiniMe. The vehicles are from all sorts of manufacturers such as Lledo, Corgi, Days Gone By and so on.

*UTT - Universal Tourist Tatt, sold the world over.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Thegns, Clerics and The Lady

The second of the unit bases of newly painted figures for the Saxon elements of my '1066 & All That' collection is completed. These are 'Thegns' from Matt's Saxons which he sculpted for Wargames Foundry getting on for 20 years ago. They have stood the test if time, as good sculpts always do I've found ~

While I was working on the base work of the Thegns I also managed to process three other bases of non playing figures, a Norman Bishop and Deacon, a Saxon priest, and a high status Saxon lady ~

Figures were from Gripping Beast if I recall correctly.
Figures from Wargames Foundry 'Edric the Wild' blister pack.
With these completed I need to set about texturing the remaining bases of the Saxon force now they have all been fixed to the new 120 X 60mm bases I settled on for this project. {The skirmishers must await delivery of their 50 x 60mm bases from Warbases via Phil.} Once the Saxon unit bases are completed I can turn my attention to the Norman side of the rebasing project, though I have already seen that more figures will be needed and have ordered them. Yesterday I opened negotiations with Phil over painting them to match the existing figures!

Saturday 18 March 2023

Rebasing, Don'tyajustluvit?

I have been rebasing figures, again, for my '1066 & All That' collection lately, starting with the Anglo-Saxons. This is the fourth time they've been rebased if memory serves me correctly. They started life as a Saga force but we never got past the brain fart of trying to make sense of the rules. The plan now is to adapt and extend what I have to enable small Hail Caesar 2 games  to be played with either three divisions of four or four of three plus a few skirmisher bases. Each 120 x 60mm base will represent a unit, with varying numbers of figures depending on pose and type. I'll expand on this when I've done the Anglo-Saxons and can show examples of a range of finished bases.

The Saxon part of the project is well underway, so the Normans will be next. They will certainly need expanding beyond what I already have and have ordered, so later in the year now before they are back in action. I'm very dependent on Phil in this respect as he paints the Normans for me (at OAP rates!) In the meantime here are the new Anglo-Saxon additions to the project in the shape of warriors in mail armour with spears ~

I'm currently working on a base of Thegns but need the ordered figures to complete the look of the unit so it'll be a week or so until they can be completed.

Friday 17 March 2023

A Change is as Good as a Rest...

...or so they say. After painting the Grand Manner wigwam for the F&IW games it was back to painting figures. As you may recall, I tend to keep the Lead Pimple replete with cleaned up and spray undercoated figures so that something is always ready to go under the brush. Still needing a break from tricorns I chose two disparate groups of figures to paint next.

Firstly a 105mm howitzer and the three gunners for our Burma 1943 games. This is a Warlord Games piece from their Australian range but it will do for me. I bought it on my visit to Warlord Games HQ towards the end of last year. Phil was kind enough to assemble and paint the gun for me, leaving me just to paint the gunners and do the basing. Hopefully it will debut here in GHQ later in the Spring ~

For the second group I chose three Late Saxon command figures from Footsore. Matt designed and sculpted this small range so I was pretty sure they would fit in with those he did for Foundry. As it happens they are less bulky but stylistically they fit in just fine. Why these though you might ask? Well, I am Rebasing and expanding the 1066 & All That collection and we found we were short of command figures in our Hail Caesar trial game recently ~

Phil has been painting some extra Norman knights for me as well. While I'm ordering a few packs of Late Romans I will add a few of Normans too, some more knights and an infantry unit in mail. I plan to buy some Crusader Miniatures unarmoured Norman cavalry too, when funds permit, as I feel size and style are closest to those I own in the collection at present. When though, well, that's another matter entirely. Meanwhile I've been painting up two further units of Matt's Foundry Saxons, Huscarls with spears and Thanes. The Huscarls are already finished and the Thanes are underway. 

Wednesday 15 March 2023

"Illi damnati moriuntur deos!'

In the latter part of 2022 I struck a deal to sell a large part of my Late Roman collection to a long time wargames chum. Like many of my collections it had grown like Topsey, largely without me noticing or intending that outcome. I was left with the rump of the collection and no real idea how I might use it in future, if at all. 

Now recently Phil and I had moved away from using Neil Thomas's Ancient and Medieval Wargames as our rules of choice and picked up Hail Caesar again following the release of its second edition. It seemed to us that giving the Late Romans an airing with the rules might give an incling as to direction in future developments. So, a few pictures from today's small game with the odd added comment here or there ~

Foundry Late Roman Heavy Infantry take up a defensive position.
The baggage train and it's escort heading for the home villa, worth 2 Victory Points if occupied, worth 1 to the defenders if held.
A mixed division of Heavy Infantry backed by Heavy Cavalry supported by a Ballista ready themselves for an assault.
Worth 1 victory point to the side holding the siege engine, pretty much held all game by the attacker's.
The centre of the defender's battle line, four units of heavy infantry, one with integral archers.
Medium and Heavy Cavalry on the defender's right flank are outclassed if not outnumbered by the enemy.
The villa, the object of the attacker's efforts, defended by Light Infantry armed with javelins or bows. The Horse Archers were in need of some better dice...
Saxon mercenaries smash into the defending Romans, but cannot break them.
Despite losses the defender's heavy cavalry sweeps away the entire attacking side's Centre Division.
Their Medium cavalry is less successful but fends off the threat to the right flank.
Although forced to retire in good order the Medium cavalry have held the right flank while the Heavies have swept the centre away. A victory for Pompus Minimaximus over Baldinus Iunior.
A fun game lasting seven of the allocated 12 turns with Phil conceding facing mounting losses. His cause was not well served by really awful dice throwing, loosing him his entire centre division and making his cavalry on the left almost impotent! 
Clearly the collection could do with a few new figures, on reflection I probably sold just a couple of bases too many. That's hindsight for you as usual! There remains room in the allocated RUBs for two more bases/units of infantry and 8-12 bases of skirmishers. Perhaps I will have saved up enough by Partizan!

Tuesday 14 March 2023

A F&IW terrain piece

I have need of a break from tricorns, from the SYW, and from Hanoverian figures; in fact from figures of any description. Of course having a second chest infection hot on the heels of the first is not really helping my disposition much. A while back now I took advantage of Grand Manner's periodic sale of raw resin casts to buy a couple of pieces for my North American game settings. I bought a large Colonial covered well and a First Nations' wigwam. 

The latter has been washed, dried and undercoated, languishing amongst the Lead Pimple for what seems like eons. So it was a prime candidate for some brush work on a larger item! I fixed it to a Warbases 100mm x 100mm terrain base, having first painted the inside and the base black. Next I painted the whole thing with Foundry Rawhide Shade. When that was dry I washed the wigwam with Foundry Black Wash. Leaving that to harden off overnight I could then dry brush the wigwam: firstly, with Foundry Rawhide Mid; and secondly, with Foundry Arctic Grey Shade. This is to match the two other Grand Manner pieces I have for my village setting.

The base is textured with my usual mixture of Woodlands Scenics buff railway ballast and washed in Games Workshop's Steel Legion Drab/Graveyard Earth to match my F&IW bases. Static grass and assorted Tufts were added finally to help it all blend together on the tabletop here in GHQ. So, see what you think of it after all the preamble ~

As I have mentioned the Lead Pimple earlier in this post I thought you'd appreciate an up date of sorts. After some reorganisation post Hanoverians it now comprises just two 4L RUBs of figures, mostly undercoated and fixed to MDF bases with whitetack ready to deploy to the painting desk when called. Mind you, that was before WMMS...

Sunday 12 March 2023

WMMS 2023

I have spent a happy couple of hours at WMMS, the Alumwell Wargames Society's annual show. It moved to Aldersley Leisure Village before the pandemic, indeed WMMS 2020 was the last show I attended before all the lockdown malarky started up. I went today in the company of Phil, my son Matt and my three grandsons Arthur, William and Reuben. They had a good time, as I did with them. Anyway, just a few images from the show of games or parts of games which took my fancy, all illustrating the vast well of creativity which enriches our wonderful hobby ~

It's a lifetime almost since Phil and I were the show's organisers and the world has moved on since then. Dave and Paul must be congratulated on not only keeping the show alive but in bringing it back after the enforced break. Show organisers, a much undervalued group of folk in my view.

There was a pleasing turnout from the hobby, both traders, model societies, wargames clubs and reenactors to entertain a decent number of wargamers old and young. Like other shows I've read of there was some die back of traders. The absence of Coritani surprised me, but more so of Warlord Games who it seemed just decided to drop out. If this is true it's a worrying development in my book, getting too big for your boots never a good sign. Of course rising costs will be an ongoing issue for all facets of our hobby but dropping out, while the easiest option in the short term, can only be damaging to the whole in the longer term.

I did my bit for the hobby economy: I bought the three boys some classical Greeks to paint from Colonel Bill, while for myself I bought some trees and a stream with a small bridge from The Last Valley, some brushes from ABC Brushes, and an C18th painter from Colonel Bill again.

During our enforced absences from shows one aspect I truly missed was the opportunity to meet friends and exchange news and views, putting the hobby world to rights. Today's visit was a welcome opportunity to do just that, so I caught up with Jon and was so pleased to see him well. I had a grand chat with Dave Thomas a stalwart of the hobby scene almost beyond compare. We spent a while remembering WMMS of old and reflected on changes down the years. The down side though, After two hours I was just so tired. This blasted virus has really knocked me back and no mistake: an early night in prospect for me.