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 31 January 2024

A Fate Worse than Death?

A small F&IW game was our choice for this week's meeting here in GHQ. Phil, as 'Hawkeye Robinson' would command the local citizens, Militia and Provincial infantry and attempt to rescue the women of New Pender from the evil clutches of the Paddoquoi under the control of their cunning war leader Tá Wit.  He might expect the regulars under Lord Rawnsley to make an appearance at some stage. He also fears that a large French raiding party is heading his way bent on revenge! Nothing is ever really straightforward is it? Now read on for the full unfolding horror...

The captive women face an uncertain future at the hands of their Paddoquoi captors.
Tá Wit determines the fate of the captive women of New Pender and plots the defeat of 'Hawkeye' Robinson's rescue attempt.
The Paddoquoi warriors form up into their warbands and head off to take more scalps.
'Hawkeye' Robinson receives the blessing of Pastor Jeremiah Bykleigh as he sets out to rescue the women from a fate worse than death.
The mustered forces of New Pender: the citizens, Militia and Provincial Infantry are bolstered by their allied 'Praying Indians'.
'Hawkeye' wastes no time in urging the Provincial Infantry forward to secure the bridge over the minor river.
Despite Tá Wit's urging, the Paddoquoi warriors are reluctant to leave their camp.
One war party manages to shake off it's lethargy and reaches the bridge, delivering an ineffective volley on the approaching Provincial Infantry.
Wasting no time the Provincial Infantry charge across the bridge. A ragged volley from the Paddoquoi warriors Shakes them but still they close with the surprised war party.
Meanwhile Lord Rawnsley has finally reached the outskirts of New Pender with the first of his Regular Infantry.
Just in time too as the warriors have driven back the Shaken Provincial Infantry in Disorder. The fate of those fair female captives is in the balance.
While the contest for the bridge was raging, the town's Militia had moved up on the flank and entered an indecisive fire fight with the second Paddoquoi war party.
The 'Praying Indians' were moving very slowly forward to flank the warriors and possibly seek out the rumoured French presence.
The Militia and Paddoquoi warriors contine their desultory firefight, though casualties are edging up for both groups.
The first of the 'Praying Indians' reach the banks of the river, just in time to discover a party of French Woodsmen. They do not yet see the Coureurs de Bois following on behind the low rise.
Both sides are surprised by the unanticipated encounter and a firefight begins between the two. The Woodsmen have the worst of the early exchanges becoming Shaken but soon the first of their opponents are driven back Shaken by the effects of Disorder under the fire of the Coureurs du Bois.
The British Regulars march steadily forward now, to the relief of the worried Provincial Infantry! Although  Tá Wit's forces are looking very worried the captive women are being hurried towards his main force (off table).
The British Regulars fix bayonets and charge the weakened Paddoquoi war party. There can only be one outcome and the warriors are driven back Shaken. But there is no sign of the captive women in the abandoned camp and time is running out.
The Paddoquoi warriors and their French allies have fought tenaciously but have suffered greatly in the process. It is Turn 11 though and the captive women are almost off the table.

Almost! With a cry of "Follow Me!" old 'Hawkeye' Robinson leads the 'Praying Indians' in a wild charge defeating the already weakened Paddoquoi warriors and saving the captive women from a 'fate worse than death' at the very end of Turn 12! What a contest with the result in balance right up to the final Turn. A great testimony to the versatility of Black Powder as well as providing a challenging but fun contest. Where were the rest of the French raiding party you ask? Well, I did say it was a rumour...

The figures are from my collection, mostly Redoubt Enterprises, with some from Galloping Major. The buildings are a mixture of scratch built and modified MDF kits. The trees, fences and stream are from The Last Valley of course.

Friday 26 January 2024

The 13th (Somersetshire) Light Infantry, Prince Albert's Own

The latest addition to my Crimean War project has marched across the painting desk and mustered into GHQ ready for active service. The figures are from Great War Miniatures via North Star of course. When I ordered up the initial figures for this project all the infantry were in marching pose. Later when these were ordered I chose the firing line figures for variety. I'm not a great fan of firing figures for most periods and especially if they come with fixed bayonet as fixing them safely onto a base can be problematic or look extra crowded. In this instance I opted in the end for a single firing line. One advantage is that it has left a few extra figures from the pack to add skirmisher bases for my British line infantry units. Blathering over then, here they are ~

A view from the above front to hopefully give a better idea of the figures' dispositions on each base and the regiment overall ~
A view from the front left along the firing line ~
And from the front right along the firing line ~

The flags are from North Star's range for the Crimean War. The bases are from Warbases as ever. On the painting desk now are the figures for the second Jaeger battalion. Together with new figures received and others in the post there will be four battalions making up a regiment when they are done. There are some Vikings for William (& for grandad) also in the post if I fancy a light diversion from all the Roosians in greatcoats and British infantry marching stored in the Lead Pimple...

Thursday 25 January 2024

Handing on the Torch?

From almost time immemorial it seems there has been much handringing in the hobby press and on the internet on the matter of the 'greying of the hobby' and what might be done to bring new folk into what we all believe to be the best of passtimes. Well, I have quietly been doing my bit for the cause it seems with my second grandson William. Some of you will recall that he has featured on the blog before ~

At just a few months old here he was keen to get to grips with the little Mens!

As time went by William was a regular visitor into GHQ, exploring the draws and cupboards with enthusiasm. It seemed logical that in time he would want to play a game, and so the cowboys of New Paddock City were roped into action!

William is now 10 and increasingly well informed about the various games he has played in with grandad. I think his favourite is WWII, though usually he chooses the 28mm figures over the 20mm ones pictured here.
As last Christmas approached Ruth informed me that William had asked for some paints and figures of his own. It seems I may have nurtured a wargamer!
The first painting session after a few tips from grandad. William, ably assisted by Emma, tackles his first figures, Norman infantry from Crusader via North Star and paints from AKInteractive. And here they are ~
William of Oxley's Normans! Grandad helped him with the basing but otherwise all his own work! Pretty decent I thought for his first run out. Anyway, he must have the bug now as grandma has ordered him some Vikings! 

Not forgetting my other two grandsons, Arthur and Reuben. Both keen on the hobby, nurtured along by Matt of course! Looks like Hero Quest was the choice recently! Both nifty painters too.

So, I think I have done my bit. I sit back now and hope to enjoy the ride as I see where it takes them and me hopefully...

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Just Out of interest...

...I found this quote on the web while browsing random blogs, it concerns the deployment and effectiveness of the Royal Horse Artillery Rocket Troop present at the Battle of Waterloo. I think that it illustrated nicely that Black Powder rules have it about right for the effectiveness, or otherwise, of Rocket fire in the period. Apologies to those readers for whom this is old hat!

During the retreat from Quatre Bras, Captain Mercer described their performance thus: "The order to fire [rockets] was given - port/fire applied - the fidgety missile begins to sputter out sparks and wiggle its tail for a second and then darts forth straight up the road. A gun stands right in its way, between the wheels of which the shell in the head of the rocket bursts, the (French) gunners fall right and left, and, those of the other guns taking to their heels ... our rocketeers kept shooting off rockets, none of which ever followed the course of the first: most of them, on arriving about the middle of the ascent, took a vertical direction, whilst some actually turned back upon ourselves - and one of these, following me like a squib until its shells exploded putting me in more danger than all the fire of the enemy ..." 

I just enjoyed the humour of that first person recollection along with it evidencing that very British character trait, of finding humour even in the midst of carnage and death all around on the battlefield.

As I said, effectiveness or otherwise! From a Pendawar game last year in GHQ. Typoo Bhyka's Rocket Troop suffers an explosion on launch and we're destroyed! 

Monday 22 January 2024

A Work in Progress

The 13th (Somersetshire) Light Infantry, Prince Albert's Own, or at least the first two of their three bases. My first attempt at British firing line figures from the Great War Miniatures range. The unit of three bases will only comprise 20 figures rather than the 24-26 of their compatriots. You might ask me if I've lost my muse, but rather it's a desire to keep the figures' rifles from protruding over the front of the base and thus risking broken bayonets. I'd rather firing figures didn't have fixed bayonets, but they do, so there you go. Anyway, blatherings aside, here they are for your scrutiny ~

As you can see what will be the centre base of the firing line has six figures on it, accommodating the Commanding Officer, drummer and two Ensigns along with two further firing line figures. The bases will need washing in Crafter's Acrylic Country Maple, the grass and tufting added. But, all seven for the third base are on the painting desk now, so more may be coming for viewing soonish.

After a lifetime of varnishing figures, from yacht varnish to Humbrol spray acrylic gloss and matt varnishes, I have been converted by Phil to using Daler Rowney brush on acrylic matt varnish. So, for the first time, you dear readers are seeing the finished figures as they will hit the tabletop battlefield action! Of course as I've already indicated the bases are still to be washed, grassed and tufted, but that has to wait until the third base is ready too. I hope seeing them varnished makes a positive difference to your enjoyment of my meagre efforts with paint and brush...

Thursday 18 January 2024

The Crimean War tabletop action underway!

Having spent what seems like half a lifetime painting and rebasing figures for my Crimean War project it seemed like the new year would be a good opportunity to get the toys out on the tabletop battlefield and give them a run out. The battlefield gives a nod to The Alma, vaguely of course, with Black Powder 2 as the initial choice of rules to drive the game. 'Grand Duke Biklovic' commanded the Roosians, 'Lord Rawnsley' (aka Phil) the British - Lord Raglan being 'indisposed' as they say. You will recall I'm confident that the figures are a mix of the venerable Foundry range, painted in the early 1990's, and the more recent Great War Miniatures range.
The tabletop battlefield at the onset of hostilities.
The Grand Artillery Redoubt.
The Lesser Artillery Redoubt.
The Naval Artillery Redoubt.

The Roosian infantry defending the three redoubts.

The gallant British infantry prepare to assault the Roosian bear in his lair! Victoria's Heroes one and all!
Lord Rawnsley can be seen in the encampment with the Light Brigade drawn up in the fields beyond.
The Highland Brigade, the Guards Brigade and the Light Division with Royal Artillery support.
Lord Rawnsley issues his orders, now it's largely out of his hands...As is my wont an annotated photomontage of the action follows to hopefully give a sense of the unfolding battle.

Turn 1: the Jaeger battalion advances towards the river as a first line of defence to disrupt the British attack.

The Rifle battalion has deployed two companies to  defend the Grand Artillery Redoubt.
The Light Brigade are held in reserve early in the game awaiting their opportunity for glory!
The initial British advance is sluggish. The Highland Brigade is finding the going harder than expected.
The Royal Horse Artillery has galloped forward and deployed swiftly. They open fire to signal the start of the battle!
The Roosian artillery opens up all along the front. Their aim was somewhat amiss or their powder was defective as they totaled one casualty inflicted on the advancing British!
The Roosian Jaegers and one company of the Rifle Battalion have reached the river and open fire on the British, further disrupting the attack developing.
At last the British commanders get their men into action. The Rifle Brigade's fire Disorders the Roosian Rifle Battalion while the Royal Scots trade fire with the Jaegers. The battery of Royal Artillery 12lbers comes into action in support 
The Roosians are contesting the river crossing all along the front. Grand Duke Biklovic's plan was for defence in depth, weakening the British resolve before they could reach the main lines and the Redoubts. Did I say plan...?
The Roosian 12lb battery in the Grand Artillery Redoubt continues to support the troops contesting the river crossing. Of course it would have helped if they had actually hit anything!
Biklovic orders forward two battalions of infantry to support the buckling defence of the river crossing. A Cossack light artillery piece adds it's weight to the defence on his extreme right flank. Pressure is mounting on the Roosian position.
On the Roosian left flank the Duke of Wellington's regiment have forced a crossing via the stone bridge. Their attack is met by a determined Roosian infantry battalion supported by some Greek volunteers! Elsewhere a third company of the Rifle Battalion is fairing poorly, Disordered and Shaken by enemy fire.
The leading Guards battalion is across the river as the Rifle Company falls back. The centre of Biklovic's forward defence has buckled but not yet broken.
Someone has Blundered! At a vital moment a Blinder sees the Roosian infantry fall back and leave the table! They have further weakened the centre of Biklovic's line!
Things go from bad to worse as the Roosian infantry defending the bridge crossing are unable to damage the Duke of Wellington's regiment. This melee is destined to be drawn out...
In the centre a sharp volley from the Guards breaks the morale of the Rifle Battalion company and they flee. The centre of Biklovic's forward defence is broken open!
While the melee at the Bridge carries on the morale of the third Rifle Battalion company breaks. More British infantry can be seen crossing the river unopposed now.
The Royal Scots charge home against the Jaegers despite the closing volley! Already Shaken the Jaegers are close to the limit of their endurance.
They break after the subsequent melee while the lead infantry battalion hurrying to their aid is Disordered by fire into its flank from some Rifle Brigade elements. The Roosian right is in grave peril now!
At the very moment of their triumph the Morale of the Royal Scots breaks when they are hit by fire from the artillery redoubts. All is not lost it seems for Biklovic's defence.
Not so! The right flank has Broken as the cumulative losses in Broken and Shaken units means it's will to fight has evaporated. The supporting cavalry, perhaps sensing disaster, decline to advance!
On the left and in the centre events have firmly turned in favour of the British! The Duke of Wellington's regiment have beaten off the defending Roosians with the support of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 
It's all up for Biklovic's army in Turn 8. It's Morale is shattered and it's will to continue the fight is irretrievably broken. He quits the field to Lord Rawnsley. 

A tremendously enjoyable game we both felt. As usual Black Powder delivered in spades as the initiative swung back and forth. Lessons have been learned by both commanders I think, so look out for a second encounter sometime next month when hopefully the forces will have expanded somewhat. Speaking of which still no sign of my Great War Miniatures order being despatched by North Star. Their sale must be very successful as their service is usually brisk and top notch.