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 July 2023

Should I be killing the Fatted Calf?

Well, as I indicated in my previous blog submission, I am now once again, and I must stress completely unexpectedly, the owner of a decent sized Crimean War collection. The figures of course are all from Wargames Foundry's range, all sculpted by the Perrys, and painted by me back in the mists of time, probably the early to mid 1980's. As such of course they are both on the small side and painted in a different style when compared to current standards and would not readily mix within a unit to my thinking. However, in distinct units I foresee no issue. As I'm sure some of my regulars will readily recall, my view is that in the heat of battle no one will really notice differences, nor care I'd hope. Anyway, the prodigal collection as it was returned to its spiritual home ~

I've spent quite some time sitting in GHQ getting reacquainted with the whole collection and have formed a preliminary judgement on the fate of the various elements. 

First off, and a no brainer to boot, I'll keep all the cavalry and artillery. They are distinct elements in a game and so can stand alone comfortably alongside their new stouter relations. Besides which it will save a shedload of roubles as now I can field representative formations for both the Light and Heavy Brigades as well as the obvious Roossian cavalry elements of Hussars, Lancers, Dragoons and Cossacks. Another obvious gain is the British RHA which Great War Miniatures does not have in its range as on the North Star site. Here's a quick peak at the Roosian cavalry, four units each of twelve figures, together with the Roosian artillery ~

Turning now to consider the infantry elements of the collection reveals a less certain outcome. I seem to have settled on 16 figures or so in a unit back then while the new units are 24 figures for the British and 30ish for the Roosians. It seems to me that reorganising the Roosians into larger units will be possible, but with some wastage sadly inevitable. As I hope the picture shows I can depict another four battalion infantry regiment together with an understrength Rifle battalion in support ~

Whereas for the British element consolidation looks unlikely without serious repainting of facing colours. Certainly there are some British infantry I can definitely move on in the form of 40 or so Foot Guards  complete with Brigade command as the new element already includes the first two of three units making up the Guards Brigade. I'll leave it for now, more on the British part of the collection in a future post.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Roosian infantry expanding

 In more ways than one, but more on that in due course. Firstly though, the second base of infantry for my first Roosian infantry battalion are now completed. These have taken me longer than I hoped largely due to two figures deciding to pop off their 'painting hexes' and needing to be reglued. The PVA seemed to take an age to harden off as it was a humid morning. They are finished now though, so here they are ~

As before I've added a from above shot of the base and another of the two bases together to give a sense of the three rank appearance ~

Now, when coming to address the matter of the second source of expansion I'm almost lost for words. Jon came by on Friday morning and unexpectedly returned my original Foundry Crimean War collection which I had traded for a 15mm Peninsular War collection back in the midst of time. That the trade had not concluded in no way reflects on Jon's integrity, simply put he and I were the victims of circumstances beyond our control. I now have potentially a larger Crimean War collection than I'd banked on. More on this later in the week.

Wednesday 26 July 2023


Something of a rarity here in GHQ, a Rapid Fire! WWII game using my 20mm collection of figures, vehicles and buildings. Set in late June 1944 the game saw the Germans, commanded by the veteran von Bikkel, defending two villages (each 5 VPs) and one town (10 VPs). The Germans win if the score is 10-10 at the end of the game {Turn 12} and they still have viable defensive forces in action, otherwise Brigadier Lord Rawnsley claims the win. Firstly then the German forces' dispositions at the outset of the game ~

The first village is lightly defended and it transpired is fated to fall to a determined assault early in the game.
The main town is lightly defended at the game's outset. Von Bikkel is confident Rawnsley will not get that far!!!
Hans von Bikkel's HQ attempting to coordinate the German defence and hold off Rawnsley's assault for 12 Turns. 
A battery of 150mm artillery are the main German firepower. Despite the best efforts of observers all along the Front they would prove woefully ineffective as the game unfolded.
A company of three Panzer IVs are the Germans main armour, though two are out of fuel unknown to the enemy.
Germans are dug in all along the low wooded ridge supported by infantry guns with a company of two Stugs available if needed.
The second village is defended by more German infantry and blocks the approach towards the main town.

Turning now to the unfolding action over the 12 Turns. The British force comprising two lorried infantry Battalions, a Priest battery, part of the Guards Armoured Brigade with Stuarts, Cromwells and a Firefly, and a company of Churchills enter at numerous points along their baseline. They also can call on one bombing run from a Mitchell with three medium bombs ~
An opening artillery barrage from the Germans' 150mm battery managed to destroy just one lorry and inflict 2 casualties! An omen of what was to follow, if only I'd known...
While Rawnsley's force envelops the first lightly defended village on his left his main thrust is against the second more heavily defended village. Capturing this objective took several turns as the defenders put up stout resistance.
A lone Panzer IV faces off against the Sherman Firefly and inflicts Heavy Damage.
The Firefly is then destroyed in the following turn but it's companion Cromwells will exact revenge when they force the Panzer crew to abandon their tank.
The second village falls at last in Turn 9 to Lord Rawnsley's troops after prolonged fighting when its defenders come under heavy fire from two directions.
The Mitchell makes its final approach to the German held town as anti-aircraft small arms fire fails to deter the heroic crew!
All along the Front the British are finally advancing with the Germans very much on the back foot by Turn 11.
The Mitchell finally adds to the Germans' woe in the last turn by wiping out von Bikkel's HQ with a direct hit! A resounding British win as they hold the two villages and have seen the Germans' morale shattered when their HQ is destroyed!
The 'Butcher's Bill' you ask? German losses amounted to 55 infantry, one Stug and one Panzer IV, British losses to 15 infantry and one Firefly, with a further one Priest and one Stuart suffering Heavy Damage.
The Field Hospital treating the casualties from both forces. You may notice the chaplain's sad duty extends to those who lost their lives.
With the conclusion of this game things in GHQ will be quiet for almost a month until Paul makes the trip up for the postponed Punic War game. I am heading up north to take in Claymore in Edinburgh, for the first time in four or five years I think. On the way home I hope to visit chum George in Warton while I stay near Carnforth. Hopefully my hand and eye will benefit from a break in painting for a couple of weeks! 

Monday 24 July 2023

Ivan has friends.

As the heading says, Ivan has some friends now that I've finished the first base of Russian infantry. The next 4 figures are underway too and will join with the mounted officer I've previously shown on the second base. For the greatcoats I've settled on using three Foundry triads: Stone {mid & light} for officers; Rich Butternut {shade, mid & light} and British Uniform Brown {mid & light} for the rank and file. Using just two shades on each figure has given me four colour looks for those figures helping I hope to elevate the Roosians from merely dull! No doubt you will have a view on my approach ~

I've included this fourth picture taken from above the base to hopefully better illustrate my approach to suggesting three ranks of Roosian infantry while keeping down the cost of figures needed for the project. I think you will get a clearer idea when all three bases of the Battalion are completed ~

My target is to finish this first battalion by the end of this month before we head off for some northern R&R. As we have two of our grandchildren staying for part of that time this target is a tad more ambitious than it looks, but I hope to get there. After the break I hope I shall be refreshed and ready to tackle the second Russian infantry battalion and possibly their first 12lb gun and crew. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

The Coldstream Guards join the Guards Brigade.

 The final figures to complete the third base of the Coldstream Guards have been finished and so here, without more waffle, are the second Guards regiment of the three which will make up the Guards Brigade ~

The figures are from Great War Miniatures via North Star, as are the flags, while the bases are from Warbases as ever. Now that two regiment are completed along with the Brigade Command stand I feel as if the project is properly underway. The third regiment of the Brigade, the Grenadier Guards, are not in the painting queue as yet. After some Roosian infantry I'll hope to finish the remaining bases of the Royal Scots, seen in an earlier blog entry of course. Meanwhile, here are the Guards on the tabletop battlefield here in GHQ ~

As I write this though the first Roosian infantry Battalion are under the brush and progressing at a decent rate. More on them in due course when I've at least a completed base of figures to show. Mind, there seems little interest in this project outside of folk I'm pleased to call friends and so this may become a bit of self indulgent recording. To balance that though, the Blogosphere seems rather quieter overall than it should be, even given that it's 'Summer' here in Blighty.

Thursday 20 July 2023


 Two of 'em!" Alongside the Coldstream Guards I've been splashing paint on two figures from the Roosian hordes as test pieces. Mainly for the colours I've chosen for greatcoats and for caps. I based my choice on reenactment photographs from a group seemingly based in the Crimea. I also confess to using photographs of other Gamers' 28mm miniatures too ~

The mounted officer will be in the centre of the command base of the 1st Battalion of the first Regiment I shall represent. I chose him as the test piece for the second figure as I wanted to try the grey greatcoat look and the Forest Green I chose in preference to Foundry's Russian Green, which I think too dark in 28mm. I have however acquired a Triad of them on loan from Phil so I may try out that on another figure for comparison. I'll need it later anyway for my Rifle Brigade figures. 

As an added bonus if you've got this far here's a sample 79th Highland infantry officer ~

I estimate that these will take up to twice as long per figure as other British infantry figures do. We shall see down the line though...

Tuesday 18 July 2023

The Guards have advanced!

Despite having to be in Derbyshire for two days last week, as well as having a game in GHQ on Thursday, I have somehow contrived to complete eight figures for the second of three bases which will represent the Coldstream Guards. There are seven Guardsmen and a Sergeant this time ~

That leaves the final base to complete the unit, of which four are now finished and the remaining five figures are underway which suggests I'd hope to complete the base by the end of the week. As ever the 3mm bases are from Warbases and the texture is my in-house mix of Woodlands Scenics Buff Ballast with additional Rocks from the same range. The static grass is the mix I use of Spring and Summer grasses from Jarvis I think, via Phil, with larger clumps from Gamers' Grass Tufts, via Great Escape Games and Arcane.

Alongside the Coldstream Guards figures I've been working on some sample figures: a Roosian infantry figure, mainly to test out the greatcoat colour; a mounted Roosian infantry officer, alternate greatcoat colour and cap; and lastly, an officer for the 79th Highland regiment, mainly for a kilt method. I'll pop these into the next blog entry as the mounted chap is not quite finished yet. 

Saturday 15 July 2023

An Action Replay

Paul and I had hoped to play a Punic Wars game for this month's encounter but at the last moment I was called away and we had to settle for a replay of the Normans v Saxons game from last week which I had fortuitously not cleared away! Paul took the William and the Normans and yours truly Edgar the Aetheling and the Saxons. As usual a photomontage which tries to capture the action, interspersed with rather better photos Paul took during the game. In the end after 10 of the planned 12 we ran out of time, so frenetic had the action been, agreeing on a winning draw for Paul's Normans. The Saxons, battered but undefeated, live to fight on another day ~

William's two right Divisions formed up with his knights on the far right...
...while his left mirrored the deployment.
A closeup showing off Phil's brushwork to good advantage.
Edgar threw his skirmish screen forward while his mounted warriors demonstrated on his right.
Meanwhile, the three Divisions formed up along the ridge and down into the valley blocking the road towards the north.
The Saxon shieldwall has formed up and will resolutely defend their position.
Having drawn out the Norman left Division the mounted warriors retire uphill and the Coerl bowmen begin to whittle down William's knights.
The whole Norman and Breton left Division is moving steadily forward to threaten the Saxon right Division despite coming under fire from the bowmen.
Those skirmishers' look more than a tad exposed!
William's forces are finding the going difficult - poor Command dice - but the Saxons are not tempted forward to exploit his difficulty.
The Saxon mounted warriors though have impetuously charged the leading Norman knights. Despite being at a disadvantage they earn a welcome draw and further blunt the Norman's advance.
Norman knights on William's right just will not move forward! Oh the dice! How we laughed!! The infantry meanwhile struggle forward emboldening the skirmishers to keep up their fire.
Norman pressure begins to tell as the skirmish screen first buckles, then breaks. A first taste of victory for William!
As the skirmish screen is overrun the Saxon centre and left Divisions brace for the expected onslaught. The Coerls making up the left Division look very nervous.
William's forces are attacking in the centre and menacing on his right.
The crisis point is approaching. In the centre the Saxons repel the Norman assault while the Coerls are assaulted repeatedly by the knights.
Viewed from behind the Norman right the position looks much better for the Saxons than they felt.
Fighting though along the line now is intense. Saxon lines buckle again but do not break. William just cannot deliver the knockout blow 
From behind the Saxon right it is becoming clear that William's forces are slowly gaining the ascendancy.
While the Saxon right is miraculously holding and even bearing back the knights the centre is clearly being pushed back.
As dusk falls - we ran out of time in Turn 10 of 12 - the game ends in a winning draw for William's forces! Paul had fought back from a shaky start to almost defeat the Saxons. On my part I'd done better than I feared by the end, so I was pleased by the final outcome. We no doubt got lots wrong, as you do when learning new rules, but we are getting there I think. Hail Caesar delivered a grand narrative to the game with lots of twists and turns, just what is wanted in medieval warfare I'd think.