David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Robinson Raid

Monday saw Phil and I settled early into GHQ for our anticipated ACW game, the last game here this month as I'm away next week and the following Monday is a Bank Holiday. I've recently completed a third Union cavalry regiment and am working on a fourth Confederate one, so I felt getting the mounted arm onto the table was a good idea to keep my motivation going. The scenario sees a Union supply column crossing the table, protected by a cavalry brigade. The Rebs enter from the far end of the table with their cavalry brigade and flying artillery. The Reb general is a 10, the Union general a 9 in Black Powder Command Ratings. Each side is supported by an large infantry brigade, which can arrive in any turn on a dice throw-off ~ the Reb brigade must enter though before the Union can. The uncertainty of the infantry arrival and the relative distances to be covered by each side conditions the Reb cavalry to be aggressive to have a good chance of a win. The Union wagons move at 6" plus a D x 6 and must always be protected by one Union regiment, staying within 3" of one of the wagons. I took the Union, Phil the Rebs. The situation after the first turn ~
The Union column enters and moves 12" along the road, screened by cavalry
and horse artillery.

The Rebs advance boldly, one regiment reaching cover behind the stone wall,
while Union cavalry dismount to cover the column's advance.

The curse of the newly painted unit strikes early on! Shot up by the Rebs
lining the wall and 'Whipped', and the paint was hardly dry!

In Turn 3 the Reb infantry advance on the column! Progress has been slow,
the Virginia mud must be to blame!

Reb cavalry gets behind the Union flank, but infantry can be seen at last
marching to the sound of the guns!

Further Union infantry heading for the fight! Union generals can be seen
checking the rules!

The Rebs seem to have the initiative by Turn 5 despite Union infantry
flooding towards the battle line.

In the nick of time the Reb cavalry is Disordered on the hill and Union
infantry begins to shore up the position.

As the Union infantry stabilizes the front the remaining cavalry mounts and
charges the enemy! "Follow me, boys!"

Sabres, carbines and pistols as the melee swirls around! The Union drives off
the Rebs!

A desperate throw of the dice by the Rebs almost tuns the tables but it slips
away from them cruelly as Union cavalry defeat them again! 
Meanwhile the boys from New York take up a dominant position on the hill
and the Reb infantry attack is halted by galling fire.

The Union supplies are safe at the end of Turn 9 and cannot be prevented
from leaving the table.

The Reb infantry attack stalled in Turn 9 and meant that the supply column
could not be prevented from achieving its objective and exiting the table.
A Union win!

A tense and enjoyable game for both players was our mutual opinion, with a favourable outing for the 'Glory Hallelujah' expansion rules for ACW Black Powder games. Most remarkably only one Command Roll was failed in the entire game, and that 'Blunder' provided a move in the general intended direction for Phil's Reb unit! We can't remember a similar instance ever in our games! On the other hand Firing dice were very mixed and Phil's Saving rolls were exceptional at times. But, Union cavalry winning melees, now that was unexpected given my track record!
Inspired by the game I've just finished another Reb cavalry figure and started the last one in the unit too! I hope to finish him off tomorrow now so I can get on with their bases. I'd like to have them finished before I go away for a break.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Keep on keeping on...

...the painting front, though at a pretty glacial pace of late. With all the who-ha surrounding Photobucket's changes/attempted extortion I've not been inclined to take pictures of newly finished figures and units. However, resolution is in sight after experimenting with Imgur and Microsoft and an apparent climb down by Photobucket, so some pictures are in order for those interested ~
British Marines 1793-95 ~ Trent Miniatures

Marine Command figures ~ Trent Miniatures

Warlord Games LDV with improvised weapons

Warlord Games LDV with firearms

Warlord Games German Heer 1940 Command and Panzer II

Footsore Miniatures Banker and Lady Moseley

Dixon Mniatures Union Cavalry

Closer view of ACW Union Cavalry from Dixon Miniatures

Warlord Games Vickers Mk VI and Renault tanks.
Like the Panzer II above these were a gift from long time friend and
modeler Ian Bottrill.
There is a bit of history behind the Dixon ACW figures. Sue bought them for me over two years ago at the Falkirk wargames show where they were part of a bereavement sale. At £1 each they were the bargain I could n't resist. I'm glad I finally got them painted this week. In fact they were so enjoyable that I've finished half of a unit of Confederate cavalry now as well!
Similarly with the Warlord Games tanks. I've known Ian since we met at College in 1968, I was even Best Man at his wedding to Ann. We meet up from time to time, as we did last Thursday, when he surprised me with a gift of a box of painted tanks and armored cars he'd made and painted for pleasure. Downsizing after a house move was the reason for them having to go, so I gratefully rehomed them in GHQ. The gift also included a Russian tank and Italian armored car, which Phil can repurpose for the SCW I think, and an ancient Roman cart which Pompus Maximus will commandeer for our ancient games in due course.
No more painting for me this weekend though. I'm off to see Walsall play Oldham Athletic this afternoon in our first home game of the new season, full of dread as to the result as we seem dire so far! Tomorrow Matt is coming up for Lunch with Arthur and Reuben and with Ruth, Craig, William and Emma joining us for Sunday Tea I've no doubt I'll be too busy for anything else! Still, there will be an ACW game in GHQ on Monday with Phil, if I've recovered in time and his hot air balloon did n't float away...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Union! The Union!

The next game scheduled for GHQ falls on next Monday, when Phil and I will play a decent sized ACW game using Black Powder and some of the amendments suggested by the supplement, 'Glory Hallelujah!' In truth, although I've read these several times now, I still have not taken them all in. Its an age thing. The game will give me the opportunity to put some of my recently completed Dixon Miniatures Rebel infantry on the table in the form of a Georgia brigade. Over the last couple of weeks I've been painting up another unit, Union cavalry this time. Sue bought these for me from a bereavement sale at the Falkirk show two and a half years ago, so they were long overdue to make it onto the painting desk! I've also started on another cavalry unit, Rebels this time, which I collected from Spirit Games in Burton on Trent and Trevor Dixon at Claymore. These bring the respective number of units in my collection to three Union regiments and four Confederate. They don't often figure in our games in GHQ so I shall try to wangle them into the scenario in the coming days!

Three Oldish photos of my ACW collection in action here in GHQ. I hope to have a game report up here on Tuesday next week before I'm away from base again for a few days in Somerset. In the intervening few days I hope to post something else to wet your appetite for the coming game.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Claymore 2017

As you'll already know, I went to Claymore wargames show last Saturday with Sue while we were enjoying a short break in South Queensferry, staying at The Hawes Inn on the Forth's shoreline. It's a show I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to attend: meeting friends, seeing new games and buying new toys for the Lead Lump, no longer a Pimple! What's not to like really? I've already posted pictures on Facebook as it's so easy, but for completeness I wanted to add the to my Blog also. Firstly, from my friend Kevin and the Iron Brigade, a 28mm ACW game showcasing Kev's new rules, "The Bonnie Blue Flag" published by Caliver Books. The game won the Best Game award too I believe, though we weren't there by then to celebrate their triumph ~

The Iron Brigade's games at Claymore and elsewhere are always a joy to see, featuring as they do wonderful figures, terrain and interesting vignettes galore. While I spent most time with Kevin, Vivien, Emma and Peter and their game I did have time to take in the other splendid offerings from other gamers. As I only had my limited time I took few pictures, but here are a few of the other games ~

As with any Wargames show there were many more games on show in many differing scales and genres, but between chatting to friends, shopping and just mooching these were the ones which most hit the spot for me. Of course, I bought new toys as you do: ACW figures from Dixon Miniatures, AWI figures from Perry Miniatures off Dave Thomas, MDF bases from Warbases of course, and perhaps surprisingly for me given my track record, some AWI from Old Glory. On impulse I also bought a ruined desert fort in 28mm from Supreme Littleness Designs
The previous day Sue and I had been in Perth. Besides general sightseeing and shopping we'd visited the Black Watch Castle and Museum, well worth the visit and cost, though as ever these places disappoint when it comes to postcards useful to wargamers. What didn't disappoint was the local Oxfam shop which had an excellent Military History section. I bought a couple of books, but was most chuffed to find a mint copy of Don Trioni's Soldiers of the American Revolution for £14. So all in all a grand trip! I hope we will be back next year!

Friday, 4 August 2017

The skirl o' the pipes...

...or the roar o' the first train across the Forth Rail Bridge at "God knows what o'Clock"! We have travelled up to Jockshire once more, to The Hawes Inn at South Queensferry for our much anticipated visit to Claymore, the premier Scottish wargames show, on Saturday. It's no secret that I really enjoy these visits to Scotland, despite the rain and midges at present, and the chance to catch up with my many friends north of the Wall! I also really enjoy the chance to see games and gamers who don't make it down our way, there's always something I take away with me to keep the torch burning bright over the winter months.
Probably more so this year, as I'm missing Partizan being away on a family holiday with three of our four grandchildren. In fact I may only get to Wargamer in December after Claymore on Saturday, so I'm determined to enjoy it even more than usual. As to friends, well I shall chew the fat with Kevin mostly I expect while enjoying the Iron Brigade's ACW game and seeing how his newly published rules, The Bonnie Blue Flag, are doing. I'll also meet Colin Jack again I hope, though I doubt he'll have one of his eclectic games on display. Other visitors will include Colin Ashton and George Anderson I'm told, so I hope to have the chance for a good natter with them too. If you see me and would like to say hello please do. I shall do some shopping too and add to the Lead Lump as well, with preorders from Dixon and Warbases to see me started. Now it's off to a full Scottish Breakfast. Bykleighs awa'!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Good News, Bad News

Yesterday Sue and I were out on the razzle with Phil and Di. The ladies went shopping in Newark, so there are no prizes for guessing where Phil and I went. Yes, that's correct, we went shopping ourselves, to Foundry in nearby East Stoke. I needed loads of new paints as many pots of the most commonly used colours, especially the Shade options, were almost exhausted. I also took the opportunity to buy a few packs to add to what is now more than a Lead Pimple, more of a swelling I'd guess. For my AWI Americans I got two guns and crew, the 8lb and the Grasshopper 3lb; for WWII 1940 I got German Officers, Infantry & Support Weapons, I also got two free unreleased British Home Guard. Finally, for my Wars of the French Revolution project I got some RHA, founded as they were in 1793; two crews, a battery command & two 9ld guns (I also got a 12ld gun for a later project for the collection). All in all a good visit, followed up by a spell in Melton Mowbray, where we sampled the famous pies, and then dinner in the Otter near Kegworth, but we'll pass that by...

The bad news? Sometime in the small hours one of my Don Trioni prints in GHQ fell off the wall, the brass wire fitted by the framers failed, and smashed down onto parts of my French army. There's a good deal of damage, and some units, like my Foundry Chasseurs, will need a lot of tlc. The recovery has already started, but things may be a bit quiet from GHQ for a few days so I hope you understand. Oh, and the glass needs replacing in the print frame...

Monday, 24 July 2017

En Avant, Mes Braves!

Monday's game in GHQ saw a return to my Wars of the French Revolution collection, pitting the French, under that military incompetent General de Bykli, against the British Expeditionary force commanded by the only slightly more competent Lord Rawnsley, Phil of course. The action is a fighting withdrawal by the British rearguard, having 12 Turns to deny the French the farm complex at the centre of the table while trying to keep as many units in fighting trim as possible. The French march on in Turn 1, a Light Cavalry Brigade on their left flank and two Light Infantry Demi-Brigades advancing down the road in the centre, supported by a battery of Horse Artillery. Once all these have deployed the leading French Ligne Demi-Brigade can enter the table. The rules used were Black Powder, continuing my resolution to use fewer rule sets and actually try to learn the ones I use. As I'm between photo storage options thanks to , in my opinion, Photobucket's appalling blackmail, disguised as business, I have only a few pictures to capture the action ~
Opening moves see the French cavalry Blunder and the leading Legere
engage the British skirmishers shielding their left wing.
The midpoint in the game: the French right drives in their opponents, but in
the center the Hanoverian Brigade steadfastly holds the farm.
French Chasseurs, out of shot on the left, force one Battalion into square.
The leading Ligne Demi-Brigade finally arrives to expel the Hanoverians from
the farm.
The end is in sight for Lord Walton. His left is driven in; his centre has lost
the farm; his right is retiring!
The game lasted 11 of the planned 12 Turns, with a French victory being agreed as inevitable given only one turn remaining. For Phil the Hanoverian Brigade in his centre put up dogged resistance while his left retired mostly in good order until flanked by the French Chasseurs a Cheval. His right wing cavalry held off the French Hussars, indeed the Hompsch Hussars drove off the French 11th Hussars. The British Light Dragoons failed to emulate their colleagues, probably due to becoming Disordered at a vital juncture in the tussle!

I've completed another unit for this game tonight, three skirmish style bases of Trent Miniatures for a unit of 12 British Marines. Otherwise I'm working on a unit of 10 Dixon Miniatures Union cavalry. Slow going with these, but two are almost done now. I'm off to see Dunkirk tomorrow at the Light House cinema in Wolverhampton. I'll be sure to let you know what I think of it. In the meantime, Toodle Pip!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Onward, ever onward!

The second of the two VBCW games I mentioned in an earlier post took place on Thursday this week. It saw new 'GHQ Irregular' Derek cutting his teeth in a VBCW/Bolt Action game. The scenario pitted my Wolverhampton Peoples' Army against the Forces of Repression. Derek took command of the Government forces in a bid to deny two bridges across the River Penk to the Peoples' Army. I only took a couple of pictures to give a flavour of the game ~

I successfully took the rail bridge but could not shift the enemy from the road bridge, despite pinning the Armoured Car! We called it a win for Derek's Government forces after six turns as time was running out.  That's every game played to a conclusion lost so far this month...

On the painting front I've made steady progress: I've finished 13 Footloose VBCW Militia figures and 5 Warlord Games LDV, with the other 5 having all the base colours finished. I hope they'll be finished tonight or tomorrow morning. I've also started the two Warlord British snipers and 12 Trent Miniatures Royal Marines, which Duncan provided by pairing Irish Militia with bicorne heads. In case folk formed the impression from my previous post that I was ready to roll over I'll mention what I've bought for my ongoing projects:- from Warlord Games, the BEF collection; a 38T; the 1940 Heer Command HQ; and, the 1940 Heer infantry gun and crew. They are due any day now I hope! Yesterday I popped over to Spirit Games, in Burton on Trent, for more Dixon Miniatures ACW infantry and cavalry. I have a list in development for Claymore too, more Dixon figures and MDF from Warbases! I've not given up yet! Toodle Pip!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Age Shall Not Weary Them...

Out of context I know, but I think it's an appropriate starting point for what I want to write about today. Well, I best make a start then: Age and the Wargamer. I've been thinking a good deal of late about the issues arising from age as they affect my hobby, my participation in various aspects of it, and the future likelihood of continuing along in the present mode. At the turn of the year you may recall I decided that I would start no new periods in future but restrict myself to additions to the several we already play here in GHQ. I've found this surprisingly liberating as you'll have read and I see no change in my stance as likely to occur. Of course I still pour over new releases, but in a third person kind of way. I like figures I see, I know I'd enjoy making lists, collecting units and painting them up as best I can, but I have no urge to buy anything different any more. I am content with what I have to play. In fact I'm considering a modest cull, a small exercise in downsizing, by selling off my 20mm Vietnam skirmish game complete and also the 28mm figures for my Sherlock Holmes Pulp Game. Nothing may come of this, but the thought is planted front and centre, so who knows? We shall see.
What prompted me to write today was a visit I made last week to an old acquaintance, ostensibly to play a Black Powder game set in the imaginary British Intervention in the USA during the 1860's. We did play a few moves, but my friend's ill health brought the game to a sudden stop. I say ill health, but in fact he is terminally ill, but still keeping up with his hobby as best he can. There were masses of figures on the painting table in the process of completion to add to the hordes around his games room. In his circumstances I don't know if I could do the same, but it certainly made me reflect on my own issues of aging in the hobby. Another event earlier today also provided food for thought, as I went to Barrage in Stafford for a couple of hours. After two hours wandering around the three halls, shopping, and chatting to a few chaps I knew I found I was glad to leave, I'd actually had enough. But I think back to shows of yore, we set off so early the birds were still asleep, gamed and shopped all day, packed up in no time and then drove home! Maybe even painting the same evening. I just can't, and indeed no longer want, to pursue my hobby like that.
I'm still buying new figures though for existing periods. Take today for example: a pack of Footloose Workers' Militia Characters; two packs of Warlord British Snipers in Ghillie suits; a pack of the same company's BEF Infantry Section;and lastly, two packs of Bolt Action dice. I almost bought a collection of 28mm VBCW figures for £15 for 24,but on reflection thought I didn't need more, and walked on by. Painting, although still a joy, is occasionally difficult with hand and eye issues but I hope to carry on for now. When though, I ask, will I stop? Gradually, fading away like an old soldier? Or suddenly, as a friend I know just stopped on his 65th birthday? Will I even know until I arrive at the decision? I certainly couldn't afford mass painting by a third party, so for now I must chip away at The Lead Pimple as and when I feel like it.
We come to gaming next in my discourse. Rules are my particular problem, or rather remembering them correctly. Here in GHQ I have come to the conclusion that as far as we can all the games from the SYW to 1914 will be played using Black Powder. We play too many games you see and use too many rule sets. Even the five sets I've written I find I confuse, a kind of Hail Powder & Shotte problem! Age may not weary them, but the years certainly condemn.
All is not doom and gloom though. I still get great pleasure from this wonderful hobby and my many friends and acquaintances which fill it. Joy abounds still, though perhaps not with the same degree of intensity I once felt. Wargaming has become for me as much a social as a gaming hobby. Only two weeks ago I was over in Nottingham for a couple of days with Colin Ashton at Wargames Illustrated HQ playing a large(for me anyway) FRW game. Since coming home we've written an article about the experience and exercise and written the captions for the 18 pictures in the layout. But I got as much pleasure from the company of Colin, his wife Katherine, Dan, Duncan, Jamie and all the Battlefront chaps who kept popping in to see how it was going as from the game itself, which I lost after seven turns if you ask. I hope this aspect will continue as long as I do and that I never become one of those curmudgeonly chaps who lament the passing of plasticine and banana oil and the glory days of real wargaming!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Two VBCW actions from GHQ

Over the past few days I've been rather spoilt for choice of games. On Wednesday I played another game against Jon in our ongoing VBCW story set around Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire, while on the day before I'd been over to Sheldon in Birmingham as a guest of an old chum and dabbled my toes in a British Intervention in the USA of 1863-5, a game which sadly petered out without a clear result. Next week, Phil and Di are away celebrating their Wedding Anniversary, but on Thursday I'm staging a rerun of the VBCW for a new acquaintance, Derek, a fellow retired teacher. Three scenes from the VBCW game against Jon, a win for the forces of reaction sadly ~

On the painting front I've had a bit of a burst, finishing 5 Ghurkas from Warlord for my Burma '43 game; 4 BEF Command figures from Warlord; a Blacker Bombard set from Warlord also; the Partizan free figure from May; the 3 new character figures from Footsore, along with 4 more rifle armed figures; and lastly, a 1st Corps ACW negro camp servant with a scenic tree & bird from Warbases! I've got 4 Footsore British Militia & 4 Workers' Militia on the go and the new Warlord LDV Section are ready to start after those! I'm hoping to visit the Barrage Show in Stafford on Sunday, so perhaps The Lead Pimple will be expanding again!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Holding Action at Crooked Brook

For our regular Monday game Phil and I decided on a return to the Operation Zeelowe games which we set in PGWodehouse's imaginary world of Blandings Castle;Clarence, Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings herself. As Jon had effected the rescue of Lord E from the clutches of the vile nazi, Von Brecher, in the game's last outing it seemed like a good idea to play a follow up game with the Krauts on the offensive having been stung by loosing their prize captive and his extensive porcine knowledge! The retiring British force have decided to fight a holding action along the course of Crooked Brook. While the brook is a minor obstacle to movement it is crossed by both a road and a rail bridge. These need to be denied to the advancing German force. But, the German commander has received vital intelligence from a noted 5th Columnist in the area, leading to a decision to mount. Glider borne landing to take the bridges before the British can fully deploy. To represent the chaos of a retiring force the positions of the defenders are marked by hidden number counters, the numbers corresponding to a list of British forces. As each dice is drawn in Turn 1 for the British the counters are turned from right to left across the table and the numbered unit accordingly deployed! It didn't go too well for the British I have to say. We limited the game to 12 Turns as usual, with only the Falscrimjaegers on the table until Turn 7 when Wehrmacht reinforcements could arrive. So, to the game ~

Just a few scenes to give a flavour of the action during the game. The German glider was made by Matt when he was a young boy and so, along with the British glider, is very dear to me so bear with me in using it. The Germans won in Turn 11 when the British tanks had no choice but to retire, lacking infantry support and having been assaulted successfully already. A notable incident was the duel between the surviving RN Rating, Anderson G, who held off the elite paras for three turns before expiring in a hail of enemy fire! A VC for sure we felt, though sadly posthumous...
As some of you will know, Photobucket is trying to loose customers. Until I can sort out what is happening Blog entries are liable to be brief. Sorry!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Road Trip {Part the Second}

Up bright and early today and after a super breakfast at The Village it was down to the action at Wargames Illustrated HQ. Colin had the initiative in Turn 1, but little good did it do him, most commands failed to move and one that did Blundered forward onto the French guns. It was n't much better in Turn 2 and the French managed to advance their cavalry on both flanks and their infantry in the right centre. "On Avants, mes braves!" ~

Turn 3 saw the action developing as more Anglo-Russian units marched forward. Firing rippled along the French front, casualties were inflicted, and mostly saved! The French on the centre left were
driving the Highlanders back but without being able to break them. On both flanks the cavalry after some initial successes found themselves outnumbered and on the back foot. Blunders abounded by now, three to Colin and one to me!

Despite doing well against the odd, the French infantry cannot hold the town against superior numbers, Nor can their cavalry on the right flank stem the Russian juggernaut as it rolls steadily forward. On the right flanks the fortunes of war turn against the French Light Cavalry Brigade in Turn 4 ~

With the town lost and the cavalry Brigade on their right Broken, De Bykli transfers the Light Infantry to hold his flank while desperately trying to force the issue in the centre. Russians and British infantry regiments are driven back time and again, but the telling blow cannot be delivered!

Despite successes in the centre the French position has had its right flank turned successfully by first the Russian cavalry and then their infantry. The French on the centre right begin to waver and the Russians and British begin to sense the battle is swinging their way at last.

With thei cavalry routed on the left flank the French maintain a stubborn defense against ever mounting numbers. Despite valiant efforts though the main town defending the beach falls to the British and reinforcements begin to pour ashore from the fleet anchored off the coast.

The situation is grave, but not yet hopeless for the outnumbered French. Despite facing mounting odds the centre is holding and the right is being shored up by infantry from the second line.

The French centre right is pinned by ever increasing numbers of enemy infantry, but they cling tenaciously to their position. On the centre right one Demi-Brigade breaks and the French army is Broken!

Its all up for De Bykli! The Duke of Durham surveys the shattered remnants of the enemy and muses on the butcher's bill his victory has cost his army ~

A great couple of days at Wargames Illustrated HQ. A fine game with a good friend in rather splendid locale too. The armies you've seen are respectively Colin's British and Russians, aided by a small number of my Light Cavalry and one late arriving Infantry Brigade. The French are mine of course, I never managed to win a reserves 'dice off', so Colin's French stayed safely in their boxes! Thanks are due to Dan and the staff of WI for generously hosting our extravaganza and keeping s generously fed and watered. Thanks are especially due to Jamie who took the 'Official' photos for the magazine and its Facebook page and to Duncan for generously helping out with rules questions and advice in general. I hope he had more luck than I did with his French army in his own game later on in the evening! Our game was several months in the organising and planning, but it was all well worth it I assure you. We are already planning next year's extravaganza, a Seven Years War game!