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, 17 January 2018

Making a slow start.

I've made a bit of a start on my part of our Italian Wars project. So far it consists of a minor Command base and a base of Swordsmen, with a second such base underway. I've nothing else undercoated for painting yet, as we are waiting on the bases to be cut to our specification by Warbases. My Papal Army of Pope Alexander VI is based around The Assault Group's Papal Army Offer, supplemented by various extra bases. I joined their Membership Scheme for a year to get 10% off any orders I made and free postage, making a decent saving on my initial and subsequent orders. I've supplemented these with some Warlord/Pro Gloria figures for my second pike block and with some extra Gendarmes from Wargames Foundry. I also picked up a very large gun from a Trader at Wargamer last month from the old Games Workshop Empire range. The clerical element was provided from Perry Miniatures and some hand gunners from Front Rank.
The TAG nucleus of the Army of Pope Alexander VI
The first base I painted was three figures from Casting Room Miniatures which Phil gave me, together with a figure he'd already painted, as a bit of a guide I think ~

The first base of Swordsmen consist of a mix of manufacturers: three from Warlord/Pro Gloria; one from TAG and one from Foundry ~

When our custom bases arrive I shall be able to spray undercoat more figures and box them up ready for transfer to the painting desk when their moment in the sun arrives... In the meantime, back to the 23rd Foot in the AWI for now!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

"Enemy to the Front! Five Rounds, Rapid Fire!"

A stalwart though doomed defence is probably the most honest description of the performance of my BEF force in the second part of our 1914 game (See previous blog entry for the story to date if you missed it). Having left the game after nine turns with the hard pressed Gordon Highlanders holding on grimly on the BEF’s right, shored up by the Borderers, and the South Staffordshires on the left flank nervously watching as the Jaegers, worked their way through the woods on their left anchoring their position, while the Coldstream Guards held the central part of the position dug in amongst the ruins of a country town I was by no means certain how long my battered defenders could hold the line, certainly not the planned 15 turns needed to ensure a win by virtue of holding the position.
As it turned out, my lads performed heroics in the face of sustained German attacks, bravely clinging on all along the front and inflicting considerable damage on their enemy before weight of numbers and mounting losses proved too great a burden and the morale of the BEF crumbled and the retreat continued at the end of Turn 19. The photomontage following will, I hope, tell the unfolding story of yet another incident in the glorious traditions of the (28mm) British Army ~
The much depleted Gordon Highlanders were holding on in
La Ferme Rouge, supported by elements of the Borderers.
Pressure was mounting each turn from the Hun, but steady
fire was preventing the enemy exploiting their advantage.
In the remains of another farm elements of the BEF's
cavalry Brigade were striving to deny this objective to the
Uhlans and their Jaeger support.

On the left, the South Staffords were in danger of having
their flank turned as the Jaegers worker their way through
the woods.
It seems a little early for HQ to be relocating its drinks
Pressure from the Jaegers begins to tell as their galling fire
'Shakes' the South Staffords.

The Gordon Highlanders have finally broken under the
enemy's relentless fire. With two 'Broken' Battalions the
Borderers cannot advance and the farm is open to the Hun!

Despite sustained fire from the Borderers and support from
the RA guns the Hun surge forward to seize the second
Its all up for the BEF and a general retreat is ordered,
covered by the guns of the Royal Artllery.
As the Retreat gets underway the Hun occupy their second

The Jaegers have seized the ruined farm and the town lies
undefended before them...
In all a thoroughly enjoyable encounter over two weeks. Our adjustments and additons to Black Powder seemed to work in giving us the sort of game we wanted, reflecting the nature of Company
based tactics in the period by allowing for Orders to be given at either Battalion/Regiment level or to individual Companies.

A word on the Organisation of a Battalion in our game might help you understand this better. Each Battalion consists of 10 bases: 4 Rifle Companies, each of two bases; a Machine Gun base; and a Command base. The individual Companies may each be Disordered or Shaken, without affecting the others. But in any turn when half the elements or more are either Disordered or Shaken, then the whole Battalion is affected. In the normal way failing a Command Roll brings the Battalion Commander's turn to an end, but Brigade Commanders and the Army Commander may step in as they do in the orignal rules. Each Rifle Company fires with three Fire Dice, as does the Machin Gun base at under 24” { 2 Fire Dice at up to 48"}. The number of figures on the base doesn't matter ~ my BEF have three on most, Phil's Huns have two. Artillery Batteries are represented by one gun and crew, though my BEF have an ammunition limber too. They have individal Commands though are attached to a Brigade for Order purposes, while the Cavalry Brigade is again a seperate entity with its on mini Command structure at Regimental and then Brigade level. I'm not sure where we'll go next in developing these rule adjustments, no doubt Phil has ideas aleady as do I...

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sometime in late summer 1914...

For health related reasons Phil and I fought our regular Monday game here in GHQ over the same terrain layout Jon & I had used last week for our Rapid Fire2 WWII game, only on this occasion in 28mm and set in the early stages of the Great War, using Black Powder rules with our developing in-house modifications. The figures are from both our collections, Phil’s Germans and my own BEF, while the buildings were painted and landscaped for me by Colin & Sue Rumford. Mostly the figures are from the Great War Miniatures range, supplemented by some from Footsore and Foundry. The hedges, walls, trees and woodland are from The Last Valley of course.
A Battery of Royal Artillery 18lb quick fire guns support the
BEF's right flank
The scenario sees the Germans pressing the BEF’s Rearguard as they make a stand in the open countryside. Our main modification sees Companies treated as Battalions, Battalions as Brigades, and Brigades (or Regiments in the German’s case) as Divisions. This allows commands to be given to individual companies to better reflect the fighting of the period while preserving the rule integrity of Black Powder. When a Battalion looses two of its four Rifle Companies then it is treated as Broken, unable to Rally off casualties or it’s already Shaken status. {No HQ Companies can be targeted and any Machine Gun Companies failing a Morale Save are simply removed.} Machinegun Companies are treated as artillery, but have three dice at under 24" and two at 24-48, in both instances jamming on a double one. All troops not in Column are considered to be in Skirmish formation, which helps to reflect the nature of the BEF's tactics especially.
Anyway, enough of that for now, a few images of the game so far to give you a flavour of how it plays ~
The vile Hun sweeping down on the gallant BEF's rearguard
The Gordon Highlanders defend La Ferme Rouge
The South Staffords defend the left of the BEF line
By Turn 9 the South Stafford's losses are mounting
We have played nine Turns so far in this game but have had to call a halt prematurely as my hip was sore. We plan to pick up the action again next Monday and play up to another 15 Turns if needed.
Casualty evacuation under fire from the enemy front and left
To be continued next week...

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Somewhere in Normandy ~ WWII 20mm with Rapid Fire2

On Wednesday evening Jon and I fought our first monthly game of 2018 here in GHQ. I’d selected a WWII game using my 20mm collection and Rapid Fire2 rules, our rules of choice for our 20mm games here in GHQ (other rules are available I'm told!) I’ve been mounting my figures singly ever since I started the collection, but I’m finally sick and tired of the time it takes to sort out a game and have begun sticking the figures on movement trays! I ran out of trays before I ran out of figures though, just before anyone notices in the few pictures I took!
Jon commanded Kampfgruppe Weissman and I commanded the British forces. The Germans are staging a counter attack 'somewhere in Normandy', their objective is one of two farms. They start 12” in From their baseline and move first, while the British move from their baseline. The German Force is two battalions of regular infantry, supported by a tank company of three Panzer IVs and a company of  two Stugs. The British have also two battalions of regular infantry and a MG battalion, supported by a company of Churchills and another of Stuarts. They may also try to call in Artillery strikes and possibly air support from a roving Typhoon.
As it turned out the game was very close right to the end. The British occupied one farm and the Germans the other fairly early on. While the British clung on to theirs, the Germans were removed twice by artillery strikes. Tanks on both sides brewed up; the Germans mounted a daring sortee to capture the British held town, only to be beaten off; a Piat took out the Stug at the death and the Germans, or rather Jon, graciously conceded the game after 10 turns. The Typhoon? It hit nothing in four turns!
I've included a few pictures finally to give a sense of the game ~
Oerview from the British table edge at the end of Turn 3
From the German table edge
German infantry support the Stug's attack on the ruined farm
A battery of 25lbers keep the German's heads down
British infantry advance from the captured farm to flank the
enemy attacking the other farm
One of the four failed passes bythe Typhoon!
The German attack has failed and troops withdraw under fire

Next up in GHQ will be a 1914 game using Black Powder rules with our ongoing set of amendments. Pop back next week to see more.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Something new for the New Year...

...I know I said I wouldn’t be starting any new Wargames projects, especially as I usually paint both sides for games in GHQ, so you are fully entitled to call me out on this unexpected development. Towards the end of 2017 Phil and I were discussing aspects of our hobby and came to the decision to start a small joint project in 2018. We’ve decided on the Italian Wars of the late C15th, with Phil collecting figures for the city state of Florence and your truly the army of Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia Pope of course. What triggered this all off was discussing armies we had sold on back in the day. One such was my Papal Army from the days when we played WRG’s Renaissance rules at the Alumwell Wargames Society. My army was 15mm Mikes Models and the most memorable unit a large crossbow unit painted pink! I wonder if they are still in action anywhere?
Anyway, moving on, here is a base of command figures Phil gave me for a test piece. They are from Foundry’s Casting Room Miniatures range I believe. Phil had painted one figure and I have painted the other three. I’m sure you will be able to tell which are which! A couple of views ~

I’m not at all sure at this stage how the project will progress, but I will keep blogging any progress I make. I’ve bought a Papal Starter Army and several figure packs from TAG, some clerics and pavise from Perry Miniatures and some Landsknechts from Warlord. Oh and a ‘big’ Empire gun and crew by Games Workshop which I bought from a trader at Wargamer last month. All of these have been cleaned up but none are undercoated as of yet, one reason being that we’ve no bases for them. We shall be having the MDF bases made for us by Warbases, once we can agree on the sizes we want for the look of our units and games! That will mean at some stage setting out figures on card of various sizes and configurations until we are happy with the overall effect. In the meantime I do have a few other figures I can be getting on with painting...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Onward, ever onward...

...but keeping one eye at least on the past year! As the old year draws inexorably towards its close I, like many other Bloggers, like to look back at the year’s hobby activity and hopefully forward to the coming year’s expectations. As my blog is in its seventh year now I’m sure that my regular reader will know exactly the sort of thing to expect so, without more blathering away, here we go! In a year’s hobby activity somewhat constrained by real life issues, on my part and on others, I managed to play a total of 59 games, a very pleasing total given the last three months of the year! They were mostly with Phil and Jon of course, although Kevin came down from Aberdeen for a weekend and John came up from Cheltenham, while new GHQ Irregular Brian played his first games too. I hope to welcome them all back  to GHQ in 2018. Of these games I won 26; 10 were drawn; 2 had no result due to circumstances; and finally, I lost 21. As usual a pretty average year of gaming if you go solely by results. For me though, and I hope for many of my fellow gamers, the result of a game matters little, rather the friendship, fun and learning matter far more. I hope those factors will continue to be to the fore as we head into 2018 and beyond.

One game does stand out though, even though I suffered a very public defeat, and that was the Wars of the French Revolution game played with Colin Ashton and Duncan Macfarlane at Wargames Illustrated HQ in Nottingham. It was an opportunity to see my armies and Colin’s on what for me was a big table. It was a memorable two days and was followed up when our joint article describing the game and its genesis, accompanied by many photos taken over the two days, appeared in Wargames Illustrated later in the year. On a personal note, I received a framed print of the first two pages of the article as a surprise Christmas gift from Dan and it now hangs proudly in GHQ. Another memorable event was another visit by Dan to take photos of my VBCW collections to accompany a piece I had written on researching your local history and twisting it for a VBCW campaign, in my case set in Wolverhapton and South Staffordshire.

I hope readers will recall that I started out the year determined to start no new periods and to devote my painting time and effort to expanding existing games here in GHQ.  I managed to stick to that
resolution, probably the first I have managed to keep in my entire life! I painted 691 figures over the year, all in 28mm, and for a number of the games we play. I expanded the Wars of the French Revolution forces and the VBCW/1940 forces mostly, but added to others along the way, notably in the SYW, the ACW and the AWI. Waiting in the painting queue patiently for there moment in the sun are AWI units for both the Crown and the Rebels; BEF and Wehrmacht Infantry for 1940 games; a new Brigade of three Union Regiments for the ACW; a 4.5” Howitzer for the VBCW, when I sort out some gunners; and finally, some additions to the Wars of the French Revolution cavalry in the shape of French Dragoons, Scots Greys and Hussars De Beon. Should keep me busy I think, don’t you?

One of the aspects of our hobby I still enjoy is visiting wargames shows and events to meet friends, see wonderful and inspiring games, look at the new and shiny products just released and, of course, buy some new toys, even though I probably don’t need anything new, ever again if I’m honest with myself. My ‘Visit Year’ runs from the Table Top Sale in Penkridge in the first week of January to the Wargamer Show in Halesowen in the first week of December. Along the way I took in ROBIN, a new show in Nottingham; WMMS in Wolverhampton; Carronade in Falkirk; Partizan in Newark; Barrage in Stafford; Claymore in Edinburgh; and Derby Worlds, in Leicestershire. Of these, I shall continue to support the Penkridge TT Sale, mostly because it’s just up the road, Barrage as again it’s local, and Wargamer because it usually has good games and I see some good friends just before Christmas. ROBIN I shall give a miss next year as it wasn’t worth the journey. WMMS is a mile from our home, so even if I wasn’t emotionally attached to it as a former organiser I would still support the event. Partizan is a given unless circumstances intervene as they did in August this year. Our trip to Carronade with Phil and Di is an annual event now, though next year we hope to stay nearer Glasgow for a change. Claymore similarly has become a long weekend stay for Sue and I as well as a chance to catch up with friends from Aberdeen. That leaves Derby Worlds, now a longer trip from home, which could well fall from the calendar next year. Of course, any of these could fall foul of my hip replacement, which I’m told I now need, but we shall see. As well as attending the above events I enjoyed the occasional visit over to the Lead Belt, mainly to Wargames Foundry in East Stoke, but also to Dan at WI HQ, Arcane, Warlord Games and my chum Duncan of Trent Miniatures.

Turning to the coming year, none of us know what it will hold, in hobby or wider life terms. As I said, I expect I shall have a hip replacement at some time in mid year, NHS permitting of course. That may change all my hopes and expectations hobby wise, but will be good for my mobility and whole lifestyle really. I shall just go along with the flow there. One thing I do hope for though is the continued support and understanding of my wife Sue, my family and my friends as together we travel life’s pathway, of which this wonderful hobby of ours is just a part.


Friday, 22 December 2017

From the Lead Foothills...

...to the tabletop battlefield! I’ve finished two units of Perry Miniatures AWI American militia. They are both from Virginia for game purposes, as we mostly seem to set the AWI games in the northern theatre. They do include though a number of ‘southern’ figures in shirt sleeve order, just for a different look to the unit. I got the flags for these two new units when they were free downloads, though now I see they are sold through the League of Augsburg site ~ well, that’s a stereotypical Jock for you I suppose ~

I've also added some artillery in the shape of a Continental 6lb gun and crew from Foundry and an amusette vignette from Perry Miniatures. These were painted by Phil for me ~

This leads me nicely to the point I’d like to make. Both the militia and the gun crews are the work of Alan and Michael Perry, but in my opinion the quality of the older Foundry product far exceeds those more recent castings from Perry Miniatures. Same sculptors but different mold makers and casters of course. I’m not the most talented painter, I know that, but it does help no end when the moulding is clean and the castings are crisp and flash free. The next units I’ll add to the AWI expansion for these reasons are all from Foundry; two units of British Line Infantry regulars and one of Light Infantry, followed by two units of Continental Infantry also from Foundry. Since striking out on their own Alan and Michael may have produced more animated figures, but much detail seems lost in the production process to me. And let’s not touch on the issues of mold lines, flash, rogue metal lumps and endless vent runs which plague their figures. Of course, I still considered their figures when expanding the project, I’ve some 16th Light Dragoons in stock which I shall hope to paint at some point in 2018, unless Phil relents that is...

I’ve also completed three bases of Confederate dismounted cavalry skirmishing, by Dixon Miniatures of course, who else’s figures would I buy? I need to order some guidons though from GMB as I’ve run out!

And finally, a BEF 2” mortar team for our 1940 Operation Zeelowe/Blandings/VBCW Games. The figures this time are from Warlord Games ~

I’m coming round to the idea that my style of painting, if I can call it that, and my aging eyesight combined with the arthritis in the painting hand, lead me to find some sculpting styles easier to work with than others. In the meantime, on with more Warlord Games BEF in the form of two 2 man Bren Gun teams.