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.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Action at Oxley Sidings

We’ve had rather a lot of snow here in the Midlands over the weekend, in Wolverhampton our first for four years I think. Phil and I had planned a VBCW game for Monday of this week, but by late Sunday after 7” of snow that looked very doubtful. But, we are not that easily subdued here in GHQ and Phil gamely battled the rush hour hordes to drop Diane off at work (up the hill from GHQ!) and duly presented himself at the door before I was washed and dressed! We had a leisurely breakfast and then repaired to GHQ to prepare our game. Just when we were having a coffee before starting, disaster struck! A pipe leak under the kitchen sink! An hour spent clearing and drying, then the plumber arrived! We were fixed and off we went into GHQ for Turn 1.
In all we managed seven Turns and a break for lunch, so the game will restart next Monday, when hopefully it will be less cold and dramatic. As ever in our VBCW games we were using Bolt Action 2 for the rules, a set we are comfortable with now and which keeps the interest of both players at a high level of involvement with the random dice activation. 
The action referred to in the title sees the Government forces attempting to capture, or destroy, an armoured train which the railwaymen of Oxley Sidings have been working on since the summer. Phil commanded the Government forces :- two large Brigades of Infantry, one Regular, the South Staffords, and one Volunteer, mostly from that nest of reaction that is Tettenhall, supported by cavalry, a Vickers Mk VIC tank, a Blacker Bombard, a Medium mortar, MMGs and an anti tank rifle. I commanded the Socialists, two brigades of Volunteer Militia, supported by three mortars, two armoured cars and an 18lb gun. 
I don’t want to give two much away before Part 2 is played out, but here are a couple of action shots to wet your appetite ~
The Armoured Train and its defenders.

The forces of Repression advancing in numbers.

The gallant railwaymen of Oxley Sidings.

All being well we shall play the game to a conclusion next Monday, so pop back next week for some pre-Christmas cheer, hopefully.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Bah, Humbug!

Going by all the snow outside,”It must be Christmas!”

Let’s hope for us all it’s a good one!

And that that we all get some new, shiny toys!

MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR from all the GHQ Irregulars!

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Battle of Brocton

You may have noticed a dearth of games here in GHQ in the last few months. Illness and household chores have all played their part in the sorry saga which has been my hobby related activity since mid October. But, we seem to have turned the health corner here and the household is all straight again, at least for now. So, this week saw a game here in GHQ with Jon and I locking horns in the English Civil War using Pike & Shotte rules for a change of scene.
As is usual Jon commanded the Royalists in his persona as Lord Walton and I commanded the Parliamentarians as Obadiah Bykleigh, gent. The action supposes that the two armies have met on the edge of Cannock Chase, somewhere around Brocton it seems.The battle takes place astride the main Stafford to Cannock road. The Royalists enjoy superior quality Horse, the Parliamentarians better artillery.I was too engrossed in the action to take photos as we went along, but I hope these few after action shots and informative captions have the flavour of the unfolding drama ~

Lord Walton confers with his Sergeant Major General whilethe artillery
soften up the enemy.

"Have a care!" The Royalists pound the enemy enthusiastically, if

The Oxford Foote have the honour of holding the Royalist army's right flank.

The main infantry fighting took place astride the Stafford to Cannock road.
The Parliamentarians fought doggedly and could not be driven off!

To their right, Obadiah Bykleigh's Foote we sorely pressed and had formed
 Hedgehog as a defence against the Royalist Horse, only to be attacked
by a Battalia of Royalist Foote! Despite fighting stubbornly, they were
eventually driven of in rout!

Royalist baggage train, safe from the marauding Parliamentary Horse!
Very safe as it turned out!

Fairfax and Essex's Foote attack across broken ground on the Parliamentary
army's left flank. Well, they would have if mydice rolls had been better!

Pressure mounts in the centre of the Parliamentary battle line, but the Foote
 hold despite overwhelming odds. Twice the pike charge and twice they fall
back. Meanwhile the right hand sleeve of Shotte falls back Shaken!

Obadiah Bykleigh's Foote assailed by a whole enemy Battalia cannot be

The Lifeguard trot forward in a vain attempt to hold up the Royalist
Horse in its victory charge!

The disaster on Parliament's right flank! Loosing the Hand to hand combats
resulted in four Routs! Dice, what did I ever do to upset you?

Surveying the wreckage of his army, Obadiah Bykleigh consoles himself with
 a cup of wine! At least the baggage is safe, for now...

It was a wonderful game, despite the eventual resounding defeat when three broken Battalia saw the Parliamentary army quit the field and fall back towards Rushall. Both Jon and I were new to Pike and Shotte but felt we coped reasonably well, with only one minor hiccup, and that the rules gave a good, fast flowing game with outcomes which could be clearly seen to be viable. Weather permitting, Phil will be here on Monday next week for a VBCW tussle in our other ongoing campaign, this time featuring an armoured train!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Austrian 12lb gun and crew.

In keeping with my ‘year of no new projects’ I’ve just completed a third 12lb gun and crew for my Austrians in the Wars of the French Revolution project. The gun is from Front Rank and the crew from Trent Miniatures, found among the bag of figures Matt kindly gave me earlier in the year. Although the Black Powder rules as written designate one gun and crew as a battery I can’t warm to that myself and my French and Austrians now have three gun batteries, I just prefer that look on my table. The British are not yet up to that strength, but they will join the three gun battery ranks during 2018 I expect. It will mean an extra gun and crew from Trent and a powder wagon and horse team, most likely from Front Rank.
I always find it’s a bit hit and miss when I paint up figures and vehicles to join existing units or armies even though I’m careful to consult the existing pieces in an attempt to match up the new with the old. What I’ve discovered about my painting though is that I don’t always pay attention to how I got to the finished article and have to try and reverse engineer the process. It doesn’t always work though! I’ve also found that my style is changing with age, eyesight and arthritis all playing a part. Anyway, enough waffle, here’s the new piece, see what you think ~

I’ve also completed a generic artillery hoist from Warfare Miniatures staffed by a labourer from Trent Miniatures. It serves no purpose but it will provide baseline interest in games in GHQ.  The base needs texturing, colour washing and then grassing and tufting so no picture yet I’m afraid. I’ve also finished several Dixon Miniatures ACW Confederate dismounted cavalry figures, but the above also applies to them. Best news though - Jon and I have a game tonight!

Monday, 4 December 2017

“In a much bearded army he was the hairiest general I ever saw!”

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve added yet another Command stand to my ACW Union army. The two figures represent General John C Robinson, described by a contemporary as “...the hairiest General in the whole army!” I used a Redoubt Enterprises Figure, but Mounted him on a Dixon  Miniatures ACW officer’s horse and placed him with another officer from Dixon to represent his staff ~

I would have liked to have asked Matt to sculpt Phil’s head for me but the truth is he’s far too busy to bother and I’m rather short of cash anyway so close to Christmas. I took one liberty in choosing the figure to represent himself, but I hope Phil will forgive me! Either way he won’t be making his debut on the tabletop battlefield here in GHQ before next year, so he has time to get used to the idea...

Friday, 1 December 2017

AWI Vignette

A change of scene is as good as a rest I’ve found, so from the mid C20th to the late C18th, from the Colander Girls to All the King’s Men might put it better. As I mentioned last month my Lead Belt Fest included a blow out shopping trip to Wargames Foundry. Amongst the haul were figures for the AWI, both for the Crown and for the Rebels. When I’d sorted out the figures and temporarily fixed them to MDF bases I found I’d four left over, three officers and a grenadier drummer. I’ve combined them with another ‘bird on a post’ from Warbases to form a vignette which can be placed in the game to provide visual interest or deployed as an objective. See what you think anyway ~

I’ve also been working on an ACW Union Command stand which uses a Redoubt figure alongside a Dixon Miniatures figure, both Mounted on Dixon ACW horses to match the rest of my army. The Command stand will represent General Robinson, described by a contemporary as “...the hairiest general in the whole army.” I’ve taken one liberty with interpreting that for my choice of figure. When he’s finished you will need to judge for yourself.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Ladies of the WI.

A couple of weeks back now Phil made an order to Footsore Miniatures for some reinforcements for the Dark Ages game he has in development and was kind enough to add my small order to it. I acquired the two packs of WI figures and the female sniper team from the Interwar range for my VBCW collection. After labouring over the caisson set featured in the previous post I thought the ladies of the Tettenhall WI would be a different challenge and here they all are, under their own banner crafted by Pete Barfield of course ~

I named the leader Nora, a close examination of her stockings might reveal why, so I suppose the colour bearer must be Ivy ~
A little local colour in the form of a Beatties shopping bag and a ‘WI’ identification marking on a steel helmet, Eadie and Glenda ~
That just leaves us with Pearl and Marina. I hope you’ve managed to work the origin of the names out now ~
That leaves just the two women of the sniper team ~
I hope this little local flavour to my VBCW game meets with your approval. Now it’s on to the AWI and a five piece British command vignette I’ve made from surplus Wargames Foundry figures.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

French Horse Artillery ~ limbers and a caisson

Back in the depths of last winter Colin Ashton, of the blog Carryings On Up The Dale, and I compiled a joint order from Eureka Miniatures in Australia to be collected from Salute by Colin. Not only did we avoid the crippling postage but we also enjoyed a generous discount due to the size of the joint order. I duly collected my part of the order from Colin in May at Carronade and only now is it all finally ready for the tabletop with the completion of the caisson and horse team ~

I decided not to paint the six Horse Artillery gunners which come as riders for the caisson as we usually deploy the caisson minus horse team behind the gun battery in action, with the two limbers and caisson horse team further behind still. We’ve found this better represents the ground taken up by an Artillery battery in action on the tabletop.
Still no prospect of a game this month in GHQ, due to a combination of ongoing health issues and redecoration after the summer water leak. At least the new dinning room ceiling looks good! 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

‘Bloody Ban’ and George’s teeth...

A few years ago now Sue and I were staying with our friend Joe Moore in Woodbridge,Va, just outside Washington DC. As Mount Vernon, Washington’s home, was just up the road - in American terms that is - we decided we must visit it and see the iconic home of the First President of the independent USA. It was well worth the wait in the long queue to enter, not least because of the American families we were able to talk with as the queue slowly advanced. As you move through the various buildings and rooms guides are always on hand. For Brits reading this think National Trust room guides, only under 65 and much more friendly and helpful! The grounds themselves overlook the river and it was very peaceful sitting on the veranda/terrace and taking in the view. There’s also a museum and shop of course, and it was in the former that I saw one surviving set of the three sets of  George Washington’s false teeth!
Of course my American AWI army already has a Mounted George Washington from Front Rank but when Dan gave me the new Giants in Miniature which Matt had sculpted for Wargames Illustrated I knew I would have a second version in my collection. This is the result, a second Command base comprising the man himself and two figures, from Foundry, from the Commander in Chief’s Guard. I added a signpost from Warbases, opting to paint the bird perched on its top to represent a Cardinal, and make it seem more American I hoped!

The second addition to the AWI collection comes in the form of a Front Rank British Legion Cavalry officer which in our games will represent Tarleton himself. I have both Mounted and Infantry figures for Tarleton’s Legion, so ‘Bloody Ban’ himself was a natural addition when I decided on the expansion programme for the game.

While I was in the AWI groove I ordered some new flags from GMB Designs for my new units in the British and American armies. I plan to reflag the older units also using existing stock from GMB and the former free downloads from Clarence Harrison, now sold by Barry Hilton.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Mutton Chop 1938 British Infantry

Whilst gaming here in GHQ and elsewhere has been severely curtailed these last few weeks I have managed a little more useful activity on the painting front. Most recently I’ve been working on the new 1938 British infantry from Mutton Chop for my VBCW collection. I bought one of each pack on release, so I had 12 riflemen, including NCOs, two 2 man Light Machine Gun teams - one Lewis Gun, one Bren Gun - and the MMG team of 3 figures and the gun for a total of 20 pieces. when the command pack is available I shall add that to the mix.

Now, either my eyesight is deteriorating markedly or the sculpting/molding/casting needs some comment as I found some of the detail on the figures very soft, especially the strapping on the webbing equipment and the buckles. But, as they are viewed from several feet away on the table they are more than good enough I feel for me.

I’ve also added another standard bearer to the VBCW collection, as usual from the Footsore range, as Pete Barfield - Ace Bloke 1st Class - made me a flag for the Wolverhampton branch of the National Union of Railwaymen so I can field a unit from Oxley Sidings along with my armoured train I was gifted by Colin Ashton. Watch this space as they say.

I’ve also added one figure to my Wars of the French Revolution project, a Boot Hill Mexican Colonel who is now a French General! As he was sculpted by Matt he’ll fit right in with my collection of Trent Miniatures.

On the painting desk now I have a Front Rank Tarleton Legion officer who will be ‘Bloody Ban’ himself in my AWI games. Waiting patiently in the queue are the Eureka FRW French Horse Artillery caisson set, the caisson at least has its green foundation colour on; the Wargames Illustrated Giants in Miniature George Washington, together with two Foundry figures and a Warbases road sign; and finally, four British AWI figures from Foundry to make a Command vignette. That will see me into December I think...

Monday, 6 November 2017

By Way of a Trial...

...we played a small game today in GHQ using Version 1 of Phil’s modifications to Neil Thomas’ Ancient and Medieval Wargames rules, entitled Warfare in the Age of Arthur! We used bases from my own Late Roman collection, counting each single base as three for game purposes. This is marked by the red dice you see with every unit. Each side had a General and a Noble Sub-Commander who can join in combat, adding dice to the total, but who may then suffer wounds or even die! Such events reduce the force morale as does the loss of each unit after all three bases are ‘killed’. These character bases also have command radii, meaning that a force which looses its cohesion, that is has units beyond the immediate control of the command characters, find it harder to move. Movement is by modified numbers of Dx6 and fighting/firing and saving throws are as per the rules as written.
The first picture shows the Saxon Force after Turn 1. They consist of one base of Hearth Guard, four bases of Warriors and one base of skirmishers with bows.
The second picture shows the Romans after Turn 1. They muster one base of Roman Remnants, two bases of Warriors, two bases of Militia and one of skirmishers with bows. The Arthurian general is Mounted and thus enjoys a Dx6 movement bonas over the Foot characters/Commanders.
The Third picture taken later in the game centres on combat between the Saxon Hearth Guard and the Roman Remnants. The Arthurian General has joined the Combat, adding three Dx6 to the units own three Dx6. This negates the Saxons own bonus in the first round of combat, as they get an extra dice per base in that round only. So, six dice for each side. In subsequent rounds the Arthurian enjoy six dice to the Hearth Guards three, unless a Saxon Character/Commander joins the combat.
In the game the Roman Remnants defeated the Saxon Hearth Guard but were in turn attacked by a unit of Saxon Warriors and so we’re unable to exploit their initial success. Elsewhere another group of Warriors defeated the Militia and killed the Noble Character. Skirmish bow fire proved largely ineffective due to poor dice throws on both sides, the Arthurian going four turns without a single hit!
The last picture shows the battle at its height with the Saxon Warriors holding the advantage on a wide front, the yellow dice showing bases lost in Arthurian units as well as losses to remaining bases, clearly three to the nearest Arthurian unit.
In all the game lasted a little under two hours with the adaptions and additions mostly securing our joint approval. Near the end losses of units on both sides and wounds inflicted on Character/Commanders had reduced both sides Force Morale to 2 - from 8 for the Saxons and 6 for the Arthurians. With the result in the balance the death of the Arthurian Noble Character in combat with Saxon Warriors saw victory handed to the battered Saxons.
We shall have a second run through next Monday over at Phil’s all being well. The Force Morale by the way we lifted from the Two Fat Lardies’ Dux Brittaniarum rules. We shall add some pre battle additional factors next year when our campaign at Phil’s gets underway, drawn in the main from the ideas in Lion Rampant. Our hybrid rules will naturally evolve, indeed I doubt Phil will ever stop tinkering! Now, for me it’s back to Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry and for Phil to rebasing more Saxons and Romans for next week! 

Friday, 3 November 2017

The infamous ‘Lead Lump’!

As you can’t fail to have noticed there has not been much noteworthy activity here in GHQ, at least not of the sort which might be mentioned in polite society or in front of the servants! What little painting I have managed this week has already featured in the previous post and current progress on the Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry has not progressed very far as yet. So, I thought I might give the old ‘Lead Lump’ an airing and reveal to passing interest what I hope to be painting up over the next eight months or so. Of course it’s all for existing projects and is an eclectic mix, as you might deduce from the long list of labels!

Unusually for me nothing has been in the queue for all that long a time. Probably the longest waiting are my three Union infantry from Dixon Miniatures which I bought earlier in the year from Spirit Games over in Burton-on-Trent. There are also a few dismounted cavalrymen too, somewhere.

Staying with the American theme there are several units for both the Rebels and the Crown waiting their moment in the sun. They are mainly from Foundry of course and will raise the strength of both sides to something more suited to our Black Powder games. Apart from three new guns and crew, which Phil is painting for me, there are two Militia units and two Continental units for the Rebels, while for the British there are two regular Infantry Regiments and some Light Infantry. There are also some Perry Miniatures 16th Light Dragoons, including the rather nice piquet duty set. As I was given the Washington figure from Dan at WI, sculpted by Matt of course, I’ve made up a small command base featuring him. That will probably be quite high up the queue for painting this month!

As will be my last element for the French Horse Artillery in our Wars of the French Revolution games, the Eureka Miniatures caisson and horse team set. I’ll leave off the riders though for now as the two groups of three gunners look awkward to paint and I don’t currently feel up to the challenge. Anyway, when the battery is deployed for action we remove the horses’ base and position the caisson just behind the guns, so leaving the gunners in situ on the caisson would look odd to say the least. I’ve also got more Trent Miniatures’ figures for the project in the form of French Hussars and Chasseurs, but they are way down the ‘to paint’ list at present.

For our 1938 -1940 games; the VBCW in Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire, the Blandings setting for 1940 and the less fanciful general Operation Zeelowe games, I have some Foundry Wehrmacht figures and some Warlord Games BEF figures.

When I see it all laid out like this it really doesn’t seem so daunting I find. I don’t much feel up to sustained painting yet but a little cleaning up and spray undercoating might get done when I’m back from the Doc’s later. Tootle Pip! David

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Moving on...

...as opposed to other, more recent forms of moving, I’ve painted up a Royal Artillery 12lb gun and crew for my Wars of the French Revolution project. The gun is from Foundry and the gun crew from Trent Miniatures. The figures mostly sport the ‘Mother Shipton’ hat, which makes them stand out from my other bicorne wearing gun crews in the British contingent of my Allied army. From the latter manufacturer I’ve also finished three Artificiers to go with the gun when it’s emplaced in works rather than deployed in the field.

After Finishing these figures I started on some Mutton Chop 1938 British infantry figures for my VBCW project. I've got the first four to the stage where all the basic colours are blocked in and the flesh and metal areas are highlighted. The figures are quite nice, though the detail and/or casting on some is a little soft, or perhaps it’s my old eyes? In total I have 16 to paint, so at my current rate that will take a couple of weeks! I believe a command pack is next out, though how soon I don’t know of course. That will give me two 9 figure groups and a command group of 2 figures, a decent addition to the VBCW roll call. When the female figures from Footsore are released, hopefully before Warfare, I shall get those for my Tettenhall WI contingent, perhaps will some additional figures from the New Bad Squido Land Girls range.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Confined to Quarters!

Not a great deal of hobby related activity here in GHQ since last week I was struck down with a bad attack of Gastroenteritis while away with Sue in Chester. It spoilt our break as you can imagine. It’s also meant no progress in GHQ on the painting front and definitely no chance of any games ~ both cancelled this week sadly! As I seem to have rallied I can post something though, the last figures I finished before this blew up, together with something Phil has been painting up for me. Two limber sets from Eureka for my French Horse Artillery in my Wars of the French Revolution project ~

Thanks to Pete Barfield, a stalwart of the VBCW scene, I now have flags for more of my formations in my own corner of the VBCW in Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire. Firstly for the Wightwick Manor Rifles, a mixture of garden and house staff ~

The figures are all from Footsore of course: the Old General;Toff and Butler; the new Gardeners; and the new City Gents. The Gardeners are lovely figures, less so the City Gents I thought, but that’s just me ~

I also added a flag for Mander’s Horse and a generic Anglican League flag, the latter found for free on the web ~

Finally for the VBCW/Operation Zeelowe games an ambulance from Shropshire! A model I found for £1.00 in an Antique Emporium in South Staffordshire ~

To end the post, I mentioned that Phil had painted something new for me. A German Infantry gun and crew, by Warlord Games, for our 1940 games. I think it’s fine, hope you do ~
Now, back to resting I think! Pop by next week when I hope to have more to report!