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, 26 June 2017

Reaching the half way point

It was too hot to paint for a while back there, but I did my best over those few very warm days! The second part of the Eureka 'Field Bakery' set is finished, as are the three Perry Miniatures 'British High Command', from their new Egypt 1801 range, which will do service in my Wars of the French Revolution project. Also the first of my additions to the Burma 1943 game in the shape of Warlord's Ghurka figures, small chaps, mostly with big choppers! The less said about the casting of my F&IW French Militia and Indians from Redoubt though the better! The final addition, two Lledo Croseleys which Phil painted for me to give some transport options in the VBCW or Rhanzlistan games ~

As we reach the end of June, and so of the first half of the year, I can look back on what's been going on in GHQ and in my wider hobby as well as forward to what is for me a new venture. More of that later in the post though. For now, a brief recap on the past few months of 2017 seems the order of the day. Since deciding at the turn of the year not to start any new projects painting has been a liberating experience, focusing as it has on painting what and when I liked. It's all been 28mm stuff of course, but a real variety has trooped across my painting desk. In total I've managed to complete 337figures and items of equipment. In game terms I've played 30 games, winning 16 and loosing 11 altogether, continuing my form of being average! When it comes to Wargames Shows I've been to two Table Top sales in Penkridge and attended several wargames shows in WMMS, ROBIN, Partizan, and Carronade, a reduction on previous years I think. Of those I shan't be bothering with ROBIN again.
On Wednesday I shall be off to WI HQ in Nottingham for two days of FRW gaming with Colin Ashton of 'Carryings On Up The Dale' fame. We are combining our collections to stage a game set in Flanders 1799 pitting the French, under that underwhelming commander General de Bykli, against the Anglo-Russians under steely eye of The Duke of Durham! Hopefully you can read about the venture in a future issue of the magazine, with pictures by Dan of course! Well, I could ramble on but I think I will keep my powder dry until after the game. Off to finish that Warlord Blacker Bombard and crew for next Monday's Blandings/Zeelowe game here in GHQ. Toodle Pip!

Monday, 19 June 2017

400 Not Out

This is my 400th Blog post apparently, must say I'm rather surprised at both the number and the simple fact that it, and my good self, are still plodding along merrily. As this is a milestone of sorts, it's apt that it features the usual post game report on the latest tussle here in GHQ between Phil and yours truly. Goodness me, I wonder how many games we've shared down the last thirty odd years? Must be a fair few, and never a cross word! Never? Well hardly ever! A long way from felt cut out roads, streams and string round a tree to signify a wood to today's bespoke terrain. My, how our wonderful hobby has grown and changed over the years. But, on to the game before I get carried away even further...

It was so hot today, even in the normally temperate GHQ, that I thought the dice would melt! We used Neil Thomas's Ancient & Medieval rules, the Dark Ages stats rather than the Classical this time. The battle was decided on Pompus Maximus's right flank, where the mostly cavalry force overwhelmed Baldinus's mixture of Hun Light Cavalry, Saxon Warband and Roman Heavy cavalry ~ see pictures 4 & 5 for the sense of the developing action. On Pompus's left the infantry took a seeming age to close but soon got the better of the usurper's infantry, aided by some deadly fire from the balistas! Star performers for the victors were a unit of Light Cavalry who repeatedly threw 6 to save, suffering only 2 casualties in the entire game! Good to give the armies a run out today but I venture that we both enjoyed the cold beer after more than the game...

Friday, 16 June 2017

All Quiet(ish) On The GHQ Front

Sue and I are back home and refreshed after our Croatian holiday, a cruise around the Dalmatian Coast and Islands betwixt Dubrovnik and Split. That alone should explain the lack of anything new in GHQ, but of course it is always more complicated than that. My decision to stick to what I have in project terms, while personally liberating, has somewhat reduced the muse for painting on a day to day basis. I've managed to finish 8 ACW Rebs for a third Georgian regiment, 6 Indians to bring my French Indians up to scratch for Sharp Practice 2 F&IW games, 6 Ghurkas for Burma 1943 and that's about it. I've got 6 French Canadian Militia on the go for the same game and I've started five more Ghurkhas, but they're all being put on hold as I've decided I need to advance some odd figures for a venture in Nottingham later this month, but more on that in due course...
I managed a Black Powder AWI game last night with Jon, a see saw action which might have gone either way, but which I ultimately lost when my American army suffered two Broken Brigades out of four and could no longer advance, leaving Jon's British in charge of the ford which was the game objective. Old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh had no option but to withdraw from the field! Still, a grand evening's gaming, following on from a splendid SCW game at Phil's on Monday, and hopefully the muse is on the rise again...
Just a few shots from the game to give you the flavour of the action ~

As I said, just a flavour of the game, as I'm not fully back in the groove yet. Next up on Monday in GHQ a return for Pompus Maximus and his nemesis, Baldinus.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Country Garage

Ages ago I acquired a Scaledale English barn, which I used on the table in support of various Conflix rural buildings, or even as an outbuilding for Blandings Castle in our VBCW or Operation Zeelowe games. That it was a large OO scale building meant I could get away with that approach while the buildings remained individual pieces on the tabletop, but when I based them up on MDF bases in small groups it didn't fit in so well in size or style. After languishing in a box under the table in GHQ for several months I had a moment of inspiration when I found a couple of old signs in my bits box, one for an engineering firm and one for a garage. I decided to utilise it as an English rural garage from the 1930's. Searching the same bits box produced several items to clutter the scene and add to the effect, while Phil's bits box produced an oil drum, which he kindly painted, and a petrol can. Two spare Perry Mafeking civilians in my figure box provided some life to the scene, as did a Dixon Miniatures WWI bicycle. Just one problem: no petrol pump. Then by chance I noticed an old Gallia brick pillar on the floor in GHQ - it must have fallen out of a box a while back when I made my North European town. Phil seized on it and cleverly converted it into a Shell petrol pump! Trawling the web provided some period signage and posters to further the image and a win on an eBay auction provided a 1930's AA patrol van. A bit of work on the base with static grass, Tufts and the like and it was finished ~

It may be a trifle twee to the eyes of some but for me it captures the feel of rural England in the 1930's just right. Whatever, it will do nicely for me...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Grand Old Duke of York...

...is now ready to command His Majesty's forces in Flanders and the Low Countries. I received the newish Trent Miniatures from Duncan just after Partizan ~ the Duke of York and General Abercrombie. Now they are painted up I've cannibalised my old command base and used a Trent British officer, painted as a Royal Artillery officer, and the Irish Militia officer, to which I added 'my head' as sculpted by my son Matt (see earlier posts). The resulting base will command my British army in my Wars of the French Revolution games ~

I'm quite pleased by the overall look and composition of the command vignette myself, but no doubt others will have their view. The other figure from the cannibalised base I've repurposed as a Brigade Commander, so no waste there. I think the sculptor captured the profile of the Duke quite well.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Dipping the toes...

...into Sharp Practice 2 in the F&IW. As I mentioned a while ago I've expanded my F&IW collection to enable us to dabble in the F&IW using these rules. Phil and I had our first run out on Monday, perhaps not the best choice of timing as we were both rather tired after our busy Sunday. We decided to concentrate on mastering the mechanisms of play so set up a Raid scenario, with a French force of Regulars supported by Indians and Coureurs du Bois, attacking across a stream to burn and pillage the Robinson homestead. The Homestead was defended by two groups of Civilians and two groups of Robinson's Rangers, supported by British Regulars and a group of Light Infantry. We set a limit of 12 Turns and just got them in either side of lunch. The table ~

As we were tying to give full attention to the rules and working out what to do I only took one other photo during the game ~

We both enjoyed our first experience of the rules. Phil as the British lost four points and I lost 3 off our  respective Force Morale ratings, but as neither of us achieved our objective we settled on a draw at the end. We really felt that there was a story clearly unfolding in front of us as we played. As the game progressed we found ourselves using more complex arrangements for our Leaders and making better use of the Command Cards. Managing our Shock Points also came more naturally as the game wore on, though shooting left a lot to be desired generally by both sides! The Dice Gods are not fooled by a new game...

I bought a pack of Woodsmen and another pack of Indians, with knives and clubs, from Redoubt at Partizan to boost the French forces and when they have been painted we'll try a second game and see how we go. In the meantime, the next game here in GHQ should be against Jon next week on my birthday. We've not settled on a choice of game as yet, so it will come as a nice surprise to you and to me equally. Toodle Pip!

The Great Panjamdrum...

...and other bits and bobs. A bit of a mixed bunch marched across my painting desk and deployed to GHQ this last week, perhaps most unusual from my point of view was Warlord GamesThe Great Panjamdrum which I ordered from them at Carronade, arriving on Thursday. Its one of the new releases to support their Campaign Sea Lion theatre book which I discussed in an earlier post. The set consists of an MDF and card kit to make up two rocket propelled wheels and and an obligatory boffin. The kit punches out easily and fits together well thanks to a clear illustrated instruction sheet. I made up one wheel for now until we can try it out in a game.

By way of a contrast I've also completed the four missing Elite Company figures for my Foundry early FRW unit in helmets, a command base for my FRW French Light Cavalry, the 1st Maryland for the ACW, by Dixon Miniatures of course, and six Rebs by Dixon Miniatures to bring another Georgia unit up to strength, though I'm waiting on the two colour bearers I need to finish the unit off completely ~ I took advantage of their free postage on orders over £20 and also sent for a Union unit in kepi, they will form the 20th Massachusetts, the Harvard Regiment. I got the colours from Redoubt at Partizan ~ I also got the flag for the Georgia troops I mentioned, as well as two sets to reflag the remainder of my Union Colored Troops ~

Other odds and sods are the free Winston figure (in the first picture) with the Campaign Sea Lion book and the first of my Ghurkas for our Burma '43 games. Other projects on the go include
converting a Scaledale barn into a country garage for VBCW games as well as cleaning up and undercoating my Eureka Miniatures for the FRW project. The Lead Pimple is growing again...and grew some more as a result of the visit to Partizan!

The Partizan swag: three building packs from Warbases, along with assorted bases and movement trays of course; pikes, brushes and Basetex from Coritani; a gun rig from Warfare Minatures; two F&IW figure packs and the aforementioned flags from Redoubt Enterprises; the British High Command from the new Perry Egypt 1801 range, to do service in my FRW games in Flanders from Dave Thomas; Gamers' Grass Tufts from Great Escape Games; and finally, from Warlord Games, 
the new LDV Section, the Blacker Bombard and the BEF Command Group. I enjoyed great discounts from every company bar one; I wonder if you can guess which it was...? I enjoyed my truncated day at the show, we left early and arrived late due to family commitments at home, hence no pictures to show for my visit. I did though have time to chat with friends, Colin Jack from the SESWC, Colin Ashton from Carryings On Up the Dale blog, Trevor from Redoubt and Aly Morrison from Great War Miniatures. Good company, good games, great traders and lots of new toys: what could be better for a geriatric in waiting gamer ?