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 November 2023

Twelfth Blogiversary

Tales from GHQ celebrates its twelfth Blogiversary today. Twelve years of hobby related drivel, with a loyal band of followers and friends both real and ethereal regularly checking in and up on my doings! 

Looking back at the first post I see I was working on ACW Command Stands, just for fun! So what better way to mark the occasion than to report on the latest Command Stand? And here it is, Lieutenant-General, James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan,  otherwise Lord Cardigan the commander of the Light Brigade of cavalry in the Crimean War and leader of the infamous 'Charge of the Light Brigade '! Here he is in person, a Great War Miniatures figure to lead my Light Brigade across the tabletop battlefield here in GHQ ~

I only realised when I came to paint him that I had fitted the separate sabre wielding hand in an incorrect position - age/eyesight issues of course - but I think he has turned out OK in the end, if you don't look too closely! (Of course, old Black Bottle Bill would caution against that very thing!) And speaking of that bounder, here he is in 28mm in the shape of a free figure I received from North Star with an earlier order ~

I'm just not sure how to use him now I've painted him, hence he's still fixed temporarily to an MDF painting hex! Any and all suggestions would be considered, so don't be shy! Meanwhile, when my back permits it's back to painting figures for my fourth Roosian infantry battalion to complete the Regiment.

Saturday 25 November 2023

More for the Crimean War project

In between games and other hobby stuff I've been painting a British line infantry regiment for the project, the 9th (East) Norfolk regiment of foot. At a head count of 26 pieces and the complexity of British uniforms (compared to the Roosians) it's been a slow process, not made any easier by a bad back, but they are done now thankfully. As you'd expect, the figures are from Great War Miniatures, flags from North Star and bases from Warbases ~

With the base sizes I chose for the project there is scope for turning each base into a small diorama, though it is more challenging for the British than the Roosians given the lesser base depth. The sculptors have helped of course as the poses and variety often suggest possible groupings as you sort out and clean up the figures for spray undercoating ~

From my perspective what would help enormously would be a pack of officers and sergeant; say two of each for the flank companies and one of each for the centre companies. While you can source these from existing packs you end up with superfluous ensign figures. I wonder what Aly and Dave make of my idea? 

I suppose in the light of Black Bottle Bill's view the next section might include a warning such as 'Includes Wargames Standard Figures', but boogar that, here goes anyway ~

The centre stand of the unit incorporating the figures of the regimental Command.
The Grenadier company and a Centre company fill the right hand base.
The Light company and a further Centre company populate the left hand base of the regiment.
Meanwhile, next up under the brush are the fourth Roosian infantry battalion to complete the Regiment. Now they will take a while I have to warn you given the Doc's prognosis on Thursday ...

Tuesday 21 November 2023


...we are back in the Peninsular War here in GHQ. Phil and I decided to have a rerun of our Proxy Peninsular War game to continue our attempts to get to grips with Soldiers of Napoleon, and hopefully to encourage Phil in progressing his French force of course. In this battle I will once again take command of the British forces while Phil will continue to command the French invaders. As is my wont, a photomontage to show the game unfolding ~

The French cavalry Brigades are massed on their right flank supporting the battery of 8lb guns and the flank of the centre infantry Brigade.
The two infantry Brigades in the French centre and left advance in columns screened by Light Infantry in Extended Line formation. A further French artillery battery supports the attack.
The British centre advanced rather more cautiously than the left flank Brigade. The cards I had dealt myself in Turns 1 & 2 were far from auspicious.
British cavalry mass on their right flank, the Light Cavalry leading the way. (I'm hoping they can repeat the heroics of the previous game!)
The British left and centre finally seem to get their act together and move forward to menace the French Lights.
The left flank infantry Brigade has managed to advance in tandem with the centre, urged on by the Division Commander's presence perhaps?
The battery of French 8lb guns are low on ammunition (a useful card that!) I hoped that might give my Light Cavalry the edge as the French outnumber them somewhat.
The infantry of the French right flank Brigade begin to shake out into line...
...as do their companions of the centre Brigade. Sadly for Phil attempts to Rally off Points of Disruption are using up cards unsuccessfully and slowing his overall progress.
Taking advantage of the Initiative and the 'Ammunition Low" status of the French battery the Light Dragoons sweep forward on the stuttering French infantry. Phil's dice oblige when he rerolls his hits and registers none!
The French centre has stalled! The Lights attempt unsuccessfully to Rally By Withdrawal while the infantry suddenly threatened by the Light Dragoons form square. The Light Dragoons play a Charge card on the square but despite a dice advantage are driven back in Disorder. The supporting regiment in their Brigade fares equally poorly and is trounced by the Chasseurs! Despite this Victory Points are mounting more rapidly for the British!

The French centre has collapsed! Things are looking bleak for their cause. Phil sensibly calls a halt in Turn 6 seeing little he can do to stem the British advance now. As time had almost run out on us and the British were ahead 14 Victory Points to the French's 7, we called it a win for the British. 

There should be one final run through on 30/11/23 when Paul visits to try his hand at the French command, though with modified forces based on a better grasp of the system which has evolved over the previous run outs. Now though, it's back to the 9th (East) Norfolk Foot for the Crimean War project.

Thursday 16 November 2023

A Gift!

We were in Birmingham for the day yesterday, ostensibly visiting the city's Frankfurt Christmas Market, and generally having a mooch about the shopping centres. In truth I don't much care for Brum (as we locals call it) and we only pop in twice a year when our cars are being serviced ( The Metro stop is opposite Holdcroft's and of course it's free to we geriatrics!) Enough background anyhow: we were in Waterstones when I spied this on the bottom shelf~

At an eye watering £74.95 I'd picked it up and promptly put it down like a hot potato! Who makes up these prices for bits of cardboard and paper? Anyway, Sue promptly bought it for me! Will it ever be played? Who can say, but it has a solo player option so perhaps it will?

Meanwhile, back to painting the Grenadier company of the 9th Foot for my Crimean War project...

Monday 13 November 2023

"Forward the Rifle Brigade!"

And so another unit for my Crimean War project musters into the 'awaiting varnish' queue here in GHQ as I have finished the Rifle Brigade skirmisher figure bases. There are 18 figures in the unit mounted in pairs on 3mm x 40mm round bases. The figures are from Great War Miniatures and the bases from Warbases textured with my usual mix of Woodlands Scenics Buff Ballast, washed in Crafter's Acrylics Country Maple with static grass and clump vegetation added to give the unifying look I've settled on for this collection ~
The Rifle green uniforms are a bit dark to my taste, though reasonably accurate to real life colours, as I used the Foundry Roosian Green Shade and Light pots. {I had a unit in the Foundry Prodigal Collection but they were sold on to Colonel Bill's, or Black Bottle Bill as he is now to be known!}
Next under the brush are the 9th (East) Norfolk regiment. If I can complete them by the month's end I shall be more than pleased as the 4th Roosian battalion to complete that regiment are waiting in line! My target is to have managed both units by Christmas, when all bets are off hobbywise! 
Beyond those I have a regiment of Roosian Dragoons, a battalion of Roosian Grenadiers, a battery of Royal Artillery 12lb guns and two regiments of Highland infantry ready to go, with two further British line infantry regiments ready for spray undercoating. Remaining in the lead Pimple then are just a Roosian Jaeger Battalion and all I have is done! 

Saturday 11 November 2023


 They served, survived and came home whole when so many did not. Great Uncle Albert 'Jack' Boot, a trench mortar gunner in the Coldstream Guards 1914-18; Uncle Arthur Nash, a driver with the RASC in Burma; Cousin Ernest Slynn, a Rifleman in the Royal Ulster Rifles (Airborne) who landed in support of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day and whose war ended at Caen with shrapnel in his shoulder; my Father Howard Bickley, RN, who served in the Atlantic, Arctic, Mediterranean and Pacific theatres onboard Destroyers 1939-45.

Thursday 9 November 2023

A Sharp Engagement at Apoderada

Another run out with Soldiers of Napoleon was on the cards for this week's game between Phil and me here in GHQ. Rather than rerun a Wars of the French Revolution game I opted to see if I could proxy a British army for the 'Peninsular War'. The French of course would have to be from my Wars of the French Revolution collection, but the British I assembled from the Pendawar, War of 1812-15, and Wars of the French Revolution collections. The French mustered four brigades: two of infantry with accompanying 12lb and 8lb gun batteries; a Light Cavalry brigade of Chasseurs and Hussards; a Heavy Cavalry brigade of Dragoons. The British mustered four full strength Brigades and one half strength: three of infantry, two accompanied by 9lb Foot Artillery batteries; a Light Cavalry brigade of Light Dragoons; a Heavy Cavalry brigade of three regiments. As we are still at the learning stage - well we are both the wrong side of 21 - we are more interested in the mechanics and card nuances than a result but I can reveal that we actually did play this through to a proper conclusion in the time we had to play, a first after four games! As is usual now, an annotated photomontage to hopefully give the loyal readers a sense of how the battle unfolded ~

The French left hand infantry brigade advanced screened by Light Infantry and accompanied by  battery of 8lb guns - ignore the howitzer model and imagine the flags please!
The French right hand infantry brigade advanced more slowly, as its fellow screened by Light Infantry and accompanied by a battery of 12lb guns. The Dragoons are held at the rear for now at least.
The French HQ is a hive of activity!
The British have concentrated all their cavalry on their right flank, the Light Dragoons in advance of the Heavy Cavalry. The centre and left are held by the regular sized infantry brigades, with the half strength brigade held in reserve for now.
The British advance their centre throwing out a skirmish screen from the Light Companies. On the left the 95th advance in Extended Line while the rest of the brigade holds its position.
The Light cavalry clash to open the action. Both Light Dragoons and Chasseurs are Disordered by the combat but the French are thrown back.
Despite Disorder the Light Dragoons renew the charge against the Chasseurs...
...who are destroyed! First Victory Points to the British! Hurrah etc!!!
The 2nd Hussards renew the fight for the French, charging the Disordered Light Dragoons. Despite the Disorder the Hussards are thrown back too. Perhaps the Heavies will not be needed on this flank?
Ominously though the French infantry begin to fire, inflicting Disruption on the Light Dragoons and the infantry. In response the leading British regiment is looking for a barn door it might hit!
Losses causing Disruption seem to have broken the nerve of the British commander in the centre as his advance halts.
Meanwhile on the right the gallant Light Dragoons are Broken, their 13 points of Disruption defying any point in Rallying. British losses are beginning to tell and Victory Points building for the French.
French musketry and artillery fire are proving decisive in swinging the outcome their way. 
Finally the French exceed the required Victory Points, by some margin I have to say, as the British faced a combination of poor card choices and even poorer Dice score when failing several consecutive Rally tests!
There will be another 'Peninsular War' run out on the 30th with Paul, all being well, when we shall have some of his pukka French figures on show! Oh, and of course he will take the pictures!

Tuesday 7 November 2023

The Rifle Brigade

Following my success in tackling the Roosian artillery I decided to move forward with a similar small number of figures/bases and tackle my Rifle Brigade figures for the British. These are based on 40mm x 3mm round bases, with two figures to a base to serve primarily as skirmishers. I bought three of the four packs in the Great War Miniatures range, two in Albert shakos and one in fatigue caps for a little variety. So far I've completed four bases ~

Having recently sold some Foundry Crimean War Foot Guards painted in the early 1990's to Colonel Bill's I see my painting is described as merely 'wargames standard' and not fit to be viewed close up so I'm not sure if I should post close ups any more! But, you know me, a journeyman painter personified so here they are to view in close up ~

When the remaining unpainted Rifle Brigade  figures are completed I shall be over half way through the Crimean War complement in the Lead Pimple: three more Roosian infantry battalions and 5 more British infantry battalions, plus some Roosian Dragoons. I aim, DV, to paint four or five of the infantry Battalions by the turn of the year leaving the tail enders to the last winter months...

Saturday 4 November 2023

An Italian Interlude

For our monthly game Paul and I had planned to give Soldiers of Napoleon a run through, Paul as an introduction to the ideas and yours truly to see what I could remember from my first two efforts with Phil. As things transpired it was not as much as I'd hoped, but it was fun nevertheless. We played six turns before the clock ran down on us. At the end Paul's French clearly had the upper hand over my Allies so we called it a win for France. Paul took some pictures so I thought you'd like to see them. No blow by blow account this time, just some images and brief description ofyou may enjoy. All the figures are from my Wars of the French Revolution collection, the bulk of which are Trent Miniatures sculpted by Matt early in his career ~

The Allied position at the opening of hostilities.
The French brigade to their right moving off briskly to the attack supported by a battery of Light Artillery.
You may recognise the buildings left over from a recent Renaissance game?
A motley crew of Light Infantry were tasked with holding the Allied left flank.
General Bonaparte directs the guns forward to harass the Allied centre and support the French assault.
Emigré Hussars are the sole cavalry the Allies have available. They are deployed to support the Light Infantry on the left flank.
Lots of French Light Artillery deployed forward to play along the Allied centre.
The Allies have a battery of 9lbers supporting their centre. The Hanoverian Brigade sends it's Light Infantry forward to help defend the guns.
The artillery has some useful Bombard turns, but never quite enough to hurt the French fatally. 
Two regiments of French Hussards have forced much of the Allied left and centre to form square. The loss of the Emigré Hussars dealt a fatal blow to the Allied plans!
The Allied C-in-C begins to sense that the battle is running way from him!
French Light Infantry on their right advances behind the Hussards signalling a storm of fire falling on the Allied squares.
A battery of French Light Artillery.
The only notable Allied success comes on their right where the large British Brigade repels the French assault, though the 43rd of Foot are lost during the action.
Disordered, full of Disruption, and about to be trounced by the French Hussards!
A pastoral scene behind the French lines. The figures are from Eureka for any reader who is interested.
The British Brigade standing firm on the Allied right flank. As noted, the only real positive for the Allies in the game. 
On Tuesday I hope to play a fourth game of Soldiers of Napoleon with Phil. Perhaps then I shall realise how many rules errors I made in this game? When I was building this collection I was able to buy single figures from Duncan, even in some cases figures which were never released. Since his passing and Warlord Games acquiring the range {for sale via Skytrex} the pack prices have soared to ridiculous levels in my opinion. I'm glad I have neither the space nor the inclination to add to my armies!