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.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Clouds of Skirmishers?

Well, not quite as you can see, but I'm sure you get the general drift of my thinking. As you probably know, in Black Powder you do not need to deploy skirmisher figures to claim their benefits, but I just thought when developing my armies for the Wars of the French Revolution project that a French army without clouds of skirmishers just would n't look the part! I've never been convinced by the odd single figure deployed out to the front of more solid formations either, so I decided to make something of the skirmishers as a mini diorama base, opting after an abortive effort for large oval bases from Warbases, which I could augment with scenic effects from Irregular, tufts and general detritus, in the form of green stuff spent canon balls! I've shown odd examples of the skirmish bases before, but thought a grand revealing was now in order. Firstly, the French, in the persons of some 14th Legere ~
The most recent base of four Trent Miniatures figures.

The three completed bases which will screen the Legere Demi-Brigade

An earlier set of Legere skirmishers from the 4th Legere Demi-Brigade ~
Elites from Trent Miniatures acting as Legere skimishers

As you saw in a fairly recent post, I've started on similar bases for the British contingent of my Allied army ~
Figures from the Longford Militia Light Co as skirmishers for the British

An earlier attempt at British skirmishers from the 42nd on irregularly shaped MDF bases ~
The 42nd's skirmishers take cover as they can

The Austrians of course have their skirmish bases too ~
A Hungarian battalion screened by its skirmishers

I hope to pick up the final figures I need for the remaining British battalions' skirmishers at Derby Worlds next weekend. Together with the French 4lb Battalion guns I have and the battalion on order from Brigade Games I hope that will round the project off nicely. We shall see, as they say...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Stretching a Point?

I had a bad fall on Tuesday while I was out with Sue and suffered some soft tissue damage to both wrists; the consequences of two arthritic hips I'm sorry to say! One obvious side effect has been the diminution of painting here in GHQ. So, I only have one thing to show for a whole week's painting time!
The latest addition to the VBCW in Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire comes in the shape of a Leach catapult, crew and bomb making vignette. As its range was about 200 yards at best in reality. I see it as a short range defensive weapon, deployed in someone's back garden or factory yard to deter attackers. I'll have to work out something to fit with Bolt Action before it debuts on the table though.

The catapult itself is from Great War Miniatures; the three crew serving it from Reiver Castings, although I added a stick to one of rage figures, for striking the locking mechanism on firing, with a short piece of brass rod; and lastly the bomb makers are from Woodbine Designs. The Reiver figures are really quite small, but I wanted civilian looking crew for this part of the project and I think they work quite well in isolation from their larger brethren in the collection.

Next up, now I'm restored to what passes for normal, for the 1914 game are some figures for the start of a casualty clearing station and for the VBCW game an 18lb quick firing gun and civilian crew. I hope to finish both before Derby Worlds to keep some balance in the Lead Pimple under my painting desk! I have preordered the figures I need to finish the British skirmishing Light Companies for the Wars of the French Revolution project and I hope to also collect some other bits and pieces, including some Warlord Games Gurkhas for the Burma games. I hope these, together with the French I ordered from Brigade Games, will see me safely through the winter months and onto a new project for 2017!

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Grand Old Duke of York?

Not exactly I have to say if I'm being scrupulously honest, but rather a new/restyled command base for His Majesty's Army in Flanders and the Low Countries. Two versions of the Trent Miniatures Irish Militia officer and one of the foot officers from the same company's range.~

A vanity, I know, but mostly harmless so I feel that  you will indulge me this one more time. 'The' head you will recall was sculpted by Matt and cast up as a favour by Trevor Dixon. While I was working on this base I also reorganised some other figures to give me a command element for the second British Infantry Brigade, again using Trent Miniatures figures. The officer nearest the camera is from the Irish Artillery set, the other from the set of British Officers. ~
I've also started on some skirmish bases for the British infantry, as previously only the 42nd/Dunwhinginn Fencibles had their own skirmish bases. I want the game to have an homogeneous look on the table, so British Light Company skirmishers are on the agenda at present. These two are the first, I should pick up the other figures I need at Derby Worlds ~

Again, Trent Miniatures figures using one pack of Longford Militia Light Company and the remaining two officers from the pack of four. Turning to the French, I want to add one further Battalion of Legere to my Demi Brigade, which I have taken the plunge with and ordered in from Brigade Games in the USA, sculpted by Paul Hicks, so making the 12th company to contribute to my project. In the meantime I have added two more bases of skirmishers for the same Demi Brigade using the left over figures I had from the 14th Legere ~

As it happens I have four more of these figures in the Lead Pimple so there may be a fourth base; after all you can't have too many French skirmishers really. Finally, and on a very different tack entirely, for my VBCW games set around 1938 Wolverhampton, a Stokes mortar and crew ~

The mortar is from the Great War Miniatures set I bought at The Other Partizan, the crew from Riever Castings picked up at Claymore last month. I'm working on a Leach catapult and crew now. The catapult is from Great War again, the crew from Riever but with the addition of the Woodbine Designs 'Bomb Makes' set. But you will have to wait to see that, sorry. I'll finish by saying that I have two of 'The Heads' left and am wondering in what game they might yet pop up. Any and all suggestions welcome.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Watching paint dry!

I seem to have been doing rather a lot of that of late, gazing into the middle distance vacantly rather than getting on with paint, brush and figures. I think that it must be that the onset of Autumn, with the nights closing in, has brought on the annual S.A.D. rather earlier than usual! Or perhaps I need a new period interest to spur me on? No? Well, at least I do have something new to show at last, and for different games that we play here in GHQ. So, no more waffle, here we go ~
For the 1940's Operation Zeelowe/Blandings games, some new aerial power for Lord Emsworth, the Empress III ~

This lovely little model is the Ironclad steam gyro-copter. Matt suggested it might be fun, so I bought it at Claymore in August. Hardly any flash on the metal parts, cleanly cast resin body, nice pilot with three extra heads for conversion affectionados, goes together easily, what's not to like? One quibble though, the hole for the flight stand, included with the kit, is in the wrong place for balance. Easily solved with the trusty pin vice!
Next, for the Wars of the French Revolution project, from Trent Miniatures, a rather corpulent Tyrolean officer who appears to be singing an operatic aria! I've nicknamed him Biccarotti, rather unoriginally, and plan to use him as a marker in a game for a once only Morale reroll, in the spirit of "Its not over until the fat officer sings!"

More sensibly for the same game genre, the final pack of Front Rank Napoleonic civilians, augmented by The Other Partizan free figure ~

While on the subject of free figures, Dan of Wargames Illustrated fame gave me a Lord Kitchener figure. I can use him in the 1914 games I'm sure but I see no reason why he should n't figure also in my VBCW games set around Wolverhampton in 1938 ~

So, neatly and finally, on to the VBCW genre. I have added two new units; the Chillington Rifle Company and the Tettenhall College Cadets. The former are mainly the weaselly folk ,by Paul Hicks I believe, which Phil kindly gifted to me, the latter the Woodbine Designs armed schoolboys and staff groups, with a Footsore standard bearer ~

In the case of both these units Pete Barfield very generously made me the flags, making use of some ideas I researched on the internet and sent to him to work with. Needless to say, his wonderful creations owe little to my work and really lift the units on the tabletop! I also have flags made by him for the Chillington Light Horse and for the Tettenhall Militia. I hope to pick up the figures for them at Derby Worlds in October, so keep an eye out for them later in the year! Toodle Pip!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Not Much Going On...

...here in GHQ over the past few days, not much at all. You might remember that I pushed the boat out and ordered some Austrian Chevauxleger from Eureka for my Wars of the French Revolution project. Well, they are now finished, based and varnished, and safely stored in GHQ until their debut, sometime next month I hope. I deviated from my usual group painting style and did these one at a time. On reflection I think that, while keeping me sane, it did slow the process down quite a lot.

I also finally managed to paint a Dixon Miniatures ACW limber set for my Rebs! I've only had it about three years! It seems all I've painted this month is horses!! I'm not a lover of painting horses!!! Its really quite hard now trying to match a style which began years ago using entirely different paint from a different company. Not sure I mind though, they seem to fit right in.

I've just noticed while they were uploading how poor these pictures are. No difference in the lighting in GHQ today and the usual iPad pictures, but somehow they are very poor in contrast compared to the usual efforts! Still, it gives you an idea of what I've been up to. There are some other things finished, at least the painting stage is, but not ready to show yet. One is another 'personalised head' figure, a British mounted General for the Wars of the French Revolution project. I need to decide what else will go on his base, so he won't be ready to view yet a while. I've also finished a fat Tyrolean officer ~ lord only knows why Duncan commissioned him/Matt sculpted him ~ but I've christened him Biccarotti and will use him as a re-roll token when its desperate in a game; "Its not over until the fat officer sings!" sort of thing. Both are from Trent Miniatures in this case.
Phil is due over tomorrow. We are going to tackle the first stage of basing the 'Mountains of Rhanzlistan' now I have the 6mm 4' x 2' MDF boards we needed. Quite a lot of hot glue gunning going on tomorrow then! Best get an early night! But, before I go, something of a shock in the latest Miniature Wargames with Battlegames. Tales from GHQ is featured with some kind words as one of the Editor's Blogs of the Month. Well, knock me down with a feather! To say I was surprised is an understatement of gigantic proportions, but pleasing never the less. Onward and Upward, eh?

Monday, 22 August 2016

Travels with my Chum and Other Things

Phil and I have been out and about recently: to Gripping Beast in Evesham last Thursday and to The Other Partizan at Newark Showground on this Sunday. The 'Beast' was combined with a day out with Sue and Di, a very fine day as it happened, including my purchase of the Staff and the Armed Schoolboys for my VBCW project; the Woodbine Design WWI Character set of Padre, casualty & bombers for the 1914 game and the VBCW; and, at last, a pack of Saga Highland cattle! No pictures of that of course, but patience is a virtue remember. On to Partizan then on Sunday, and what a day that was!
Of course, the days when we were up, game packed and on the road for 6.30 a.m. are long gone, now a days we leave at a genteel 8.30, hoping to arrive around 10.00 and miss the opening queue! As we traveled eastwards towards the spiritual centre of the wargamer's world the weather grew warmer and sunnier, a sure sign from above that we were going to have a grand day out! We arrived, parked and walked straight in, no queue at all! A good start in my book, I hate queuing! We had decided on the way over to collect our pre-orders first and stow them in the car's boot, no sense in carrying stuff for the sake of it after all. I trotted off to Trent Miniatures, Warbases, and Colonel Bill's in short order and soon had all the pre-ordered loot stashed in the car! Time to browse the stands, meet up with friends and take in the games staged for our delectation! And we were not disappointed I have to say! Some splendid games on show, in some lesser gamed periods as well, and all to a grand standard guaranteed to inspire the most jaded of us! I only had my iPhone camera with me, so you will have to be a little generous in judging my efforts to capture the essence of the games which appealed to me the most, no other judgement made than that. Firstly a Great War in East Africa game ~

Secondly, a splendid VBCW Canal Commando raid game staged by the stalwarts of the VBCF! I can claim a marginal involvement, having contributed a building to the town set up!

Thirdly, a Russian Civil War game with a time travelling theme! Spot the Time Bandits!

Fourthly, a rather nice Indian Mutiny game, mostly the Mutineer Miniatures figure range I think. I wonder what happened to them?

A rather nice 28mm Western Desert 1941 game. Lots of interesting things going on within the main game. I like to see that myself, it adds to the period interest more so than rank upon rank of troops!

While it should n't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that all the games I've chosen were 28mm games, there were plenty of others to delight the eye. A rather nice 6mm(?) Napoleonic game; a 20mm Italian Wars of Unification game; and a 54mm Ancients game featuring these rather splendid Nellies ~

Much, much more to delight and entrance even the casual gamer in my view, and that's not even taking into consideration the splendid array of Participation Games and the various Societies displaying their wares, not to leave out the Traders themselves, for many the whole point of attending a show like Partizan! Now, an aside, but a necessary one. You'll notice I have n't said who the games were presented by. This is not a slight on any chaps, intended or unintended, but a reflection on this old chap's lack of organisation and his inability to hear folk due to increased deafness. Large venues full of folk leave me functionally deaf, as for instance the chaps on the VBCF game must have realised in chatting with me! That aside, the muggy heat in the afternoon needs mentioning. I needed to sit outside in the fresher air or I think I might have fainted! If future events are held in August there needs to be some thought given to ventilation or to air conditioning! A small inconvenience really though and it did give the opportunity for a fine ice cream!
Finally, the almost obligatory 'Loot' photos. Figures first of course and mostly from Trent Miniatures for my ongoing Wars of the French Revolution project ~

The gaming aids and terrain items we all need now a days to beautify, or in my case distract from, the painted chaps! Plus the free figure of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel and a gift from Dan at Wargames Illustrated of the Lord Kitchener figure! The counters for Sharp Practice might give you a clue to a minor project next year, as might the Osprey I bought for £5.00 on the New Zealand Wars.

Finally, You may recall that I started off by mentioning that patience is a virtue, and so my final offering combines purchases from Reiver Castings at Claymore, Gripping Beast and from Colonel Bill at Partizan. For the VBCW in Wolverhampton, some heavier weapons in the form of an 18lb gun, a Stokes mortar and a Leach Trench catapult, while for the Great War in 1914 the start of a casualty clearing station vignette ~

I have managed to clean up a few more figures earlier tonight, mostly French Light Infantry for more skirmisher bases and a character figure for the British forces, one General Bykleigh. But, I still have three Eureka Chevauxleger to finish before I can get on to anything else. So, off to the painting desk I go. Toodle Pip!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Action at Wadi el An'dhi

As the weather has turned hot and sunny again here in the UK, at least for a few days, so it seemed like an omen for our Sudan War game here in GHQ today. Phil, in the persona of Lord Rawnsley {scion of the famed military family, tracing their ancestors back to Sir Marmaduke 'Gaylord' Robinson of English Civil War fame} took command of the Imperial Desert Column charged with the defeat of the forces of the 'Barmy Bhykli', otherwise Osman bin Lina.
He commanded a Brigade of infantry comprising the South Staffs; the Royal Surreys, the Black Watch and the Gay Gordons; a Brigade of cavalry, comprising Hussars and Dragoons; the Guards Heavy Camel Corps; a Naval Detachment from HMS Inglorious with the Gardner and Gatling guns; and finally a RA screw gun. Lord Rawnsley enjoyed a Command Rating of 9, his two subordinates either 9 or 8, depending on the throw of a dice for their first order.
For his part, the Bhykli mustered all the troops at his disposal: a dozen or so Rhubs of fanatical Beja warriors; two Rhubs of rifle armed Beja skirmishers; a large waband of Beja camelry; the Nile Arabs from the nearby fishing village and two groups of Baggara Arab Horse; all supported by a captured Krupp breech loader and the enslaved crew.
Using the 'Blood on the Nile' supplement to Black Powder, the action kicked off with the Imperial forces advancing cautiously towards the wadi, while the Mahdists waited anxiously for the order to charge! [I kept throwing high!] Finally the Baggara Horse were activated and they charged forward on the right flank engaging the Dragoons ~

They were son sent tumbling back beyond the rocky outcrops while the Hussars bravly crossed the wadi and moved towards the village on the Mahdists' right flank. In the centre Lord Rawnsley advanced his infantry rather incautiously in line, hoping to maximise the effect of their firepower when the expected attack developed ~

The Imperial infantry advance was very slow, leaving the Royal Surreys, supported by the Guards' Heavy Camel Corps on their left, somewhat exposed when the Mahdist hordes of fanatical Beja warriors were revealed to their front ~

As the situation on the Imperial right flank developed, over on their left the situation looked bleak. Despite being repulsed on two occasions, the Baggara Horse had defeated the Dragoons and forced the Hussars back. Hordes of Nile Arabs had emerged from the fishing village and swarmed through the wadi towards the stalled Imperial infantry, leaving the nervous tars of HMS Inglorious somewhat exposed ~

As the situation demanded action, Rawnsley was not found wanting. The Hussars had rallied and charged bravely into the leading warbands of Arabs, while the Black Watch moved smartly forward n their flank and poured fire into the supporting Arab groups. The situation was stabilized on the Imperial left flank for the time being ~

Away on the Imperial right flank, The Gordons joined the Royal Surreys and the now dismounted Guards in forming a wall of steel facing the onrushing fanatical Beja. Just at this moment the large group of Beja camelry made their appearance. Rolling the dice in anticipation of them appearing on the Imperial right flank, imagine Rawnsley's elation when they appeared away on his left, promptly blundered and left the table for good! His bacon was saved for now at least ~

Despite heavy fire and the faltering of some Rhubs of fanatics, the mass of Fuzzy Wuzzys made a determined charge for the waiting Imperial lines ~

While the guns of the tars from HMS Inglorious continued to play on the Fuzzy Wuzzys, the Nile Arabs had their dander well and truly up and swept all away before them. The Imperial left flank was collapsing, leaving the tars' flank exposed to the masses of enemy troops beyond their left ~

The South Staffords were soon in deadly hand to hand combat with the Fuzzies, briefly holding their own before they too were swept away. It was all up for Lord Rawnsley on this occasion as the remnants of his force fled to save their lives and the victorious Beja warriors slaughtered all who they could catch! ~

Serious questions will be asked in Parliament, you may be sure of that, while the Queen Empress will surely shed a quiet tear or two for her boys in red who will not see home again. In two weeks time we hope to play a follow up action, when the 'Barmy Bhykli' will sweep down on the regrouping Imperial forces and hope to do more damage to Rawnsley's faltering military reputation! A rare and welcome win for the 'Barmy Bhykli'!
I'm sure most of you will recognise the Perry Miniatures figures from my collections. Phil scratchbuilt the buildings of the town for me, while the huts in the village are from Hovels. The hills are from GW of course, while the palms are from S&S, the low cacti from the local garden centre and the rocks in the outcrops from Juno Beach! Andy of The Last Valley made me the extra wide wadi. The Mahdist foot flags are from the Flag Dude, the cavalry ones from a web site I found back in the day.