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.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Blandings to Berlin!

A surprise insertion into the revealed gaming programme, but very welcome for reasons I'm sure you will understand. Jon has managed to organise a 'sitter' for his mum on a Wednesday evening, which means he gains valued free time to recharge his batteries and also that we can now plan for a game at least once a month. As the table was already set up for the VBCW game on Monday I opted for a simple substitution of forces and came up with a scenario for our next Blandings/Operation Zeelowe game. You may recall in the previous game Lord Emsworth, a prisoner of the cunning Von Brecher, was the subject of a failed rescue operation. Herr Hitler has sent a plane to whisk Emsworth to Berlin, where the simple aristocrat may be 'persuaded' to advise the 1000 Year Reich on its pig breeding programme! Getting wind of the plan from a spy in Market Blandings Colonel White has organised an ambush. In a 7 turn Bolt Action game the British have to free Emsworth while the Germans must simply exit the table top with the Earl. On to Blandings 1940 ~
Under close guard Emsworth is escorted to his car by von Brecher.

England under the jackboot!

The convoy moves off towards the landing strip.

Fearing the worst, von Brecher has ordered the local garrison to sweep the
countryside for the enemy.

British soldiers of the KOSLI are already holding the farm! The Germans
close in for the assault!

The Rolls Royce armoured car comes off second best in an encounter with
the Panzer 38T.

With the ambush sprung, Col White orders up the Vickers MkVI and
supporting infantry. Will von Brecher make a dash for it?

The Vickers Mk VI knocks out the Panzer38T!

British reinforcements pedal hard towards the farm! The enemy convoy
seems to have stalled!

A cool head manning the Pak 38 leads to the Vickers being knocked out!
The convoy can make a dash for the air strip.

With fighting raging all around, von Brecher orders a dash forward. Can the
Hun pull off a win at the death?

The Boyes antitank rifle team knocks out the kublewagen. The column fails
its order test and is a sitting duck for the British!

In Turn 7, with the column halted, the British surge forward and snatch
Emsworth to freedom. In the confusion von Brecher escapes death or capture
and lives to fight another day!

As with all Bolt Action games I've found, the game swings backwards and forwards and produces a tense finish. The decisive factor in this game was the pile of pin markers the convoy suddenly accumulated in Turn 4 and the failed Order Test which resulted. All in all though a grand game which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Roll on the next installment in the epic of Emsworth, the Nazis, and the Empress of Blandings!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Battle of White Oak Farm

Despite feeling wan after fence erecting on Saturday and walking miles around WMMS on Sunday Phil and I found ourselves ensconced in GHQ on Monday for our weekly game. I'm sure that says something significant about us both, I'm just not sure what! We had decided to go for the VBCW as a genre, as Dan will be here later in March to take some pictures for Wargames Illustrated to accompany my latest article. {That does mean of course that the AWI game will now be on 27 March and the planned War of 1812 and ACW games will be in April, all three though played out over the same terrain.} The scenario sees the Socialists of Wolverhampton and their allies moving to seize the resources of White Oak Farm, having come off second best in the Chillington Raid just before Christmas. The farm lies nearer the enemy dispositions than it does theirs, so victory will depend on a vigorously conducted offensive. We used Bolt Action 2nd Ed rules, starting 2' in from the table edge for both forces. We planned to play six moves, plus a possible extra move decided by dice throw at the end of Turn six. As ever, I played the Socialists and Phil the Government force. Here's how the game unfolded, beginning with the positions at the end of Turn 1 ~
The Workers' Militia, the Hilton Main Miners and the Boulton-Paul Workers
advance on the right flank towards the farm.

Manders' Horse and Princess Sudhira's Rifles support the Armoured Car's
advance down the road towards Bilbrook.

The South Staffords make rapid progress to occupy White Oak Farm, their left
covered by the MMG.

The Smith Gun and a Vickers MkVIc support the advance. The anti-tank
rifle team waits to ambush the armoured car and the 3" mortar deploys.

The BUF's Bilston Steel Division and the Chillington Rifle Company hold
the right flank.

In Turn 2 the South Staffords occupy the White Oak Farm. The farmer and
his prize pigs seem unimpressed!

The Socialist advance continues, using the steam road roller to smash through
the thick hedges. Manders' Horse is held up short of their objective by the
strong enemy position.

Princess Sudira's Rifles advance to support the MMG
enfilading the farm. In the distance the BUF and the
Chillington Rifle Company advance across the fields.

In Turn 3 the Socialist tank advances on the farm's defenders while their
infantry makes steady progress in support. The South Staffords' position
looked very strong at this point.

The tank attack fails to dislodge the farm's determined defenders in Turn 4.
The infantry will have to go on! Manders' Horse is under heavy fire in the
centre! On the left, Princess Sudhira's Rifles gather for an attack.

On the Government's side the situation seems well in hand at this point.

Despite heavy fire from the defenders and their supporting units the Socialists
assault the farm in Turn 5.

A rush of blood to the head sees Princess Sudhira's rifles assault the BUF!
Not a good move and by Turn 6 they were eliminated. Support though from
the MMG, the 3" mortar and Leach Catapult and the 18lb gun eliminates
the enemy in Turn 6.

Fierce hand to hand fighting in the farm ensues in Turn 6. Its in the balance
after the first round.

The second round of combat sees the Socialists defeat the South Staffords and
occupy the farm. The Miners advance in their support.

Although there was an extra turn, immediately it started the Miners eliminated the remaining South Staffords. With no prospect of taking the farm now, Phil conceded defeat. The Socialists of the Peoples' Republic of Wolverhampton could acquire the stores and animals of the farm. A thoroughly enjoyable three hours which could have gone either way in the end.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Loosing the Will to Live?

Just gathering my thoughts after spending a few hours, and little else, at the 41st WMMS organised by the Alumwell Wargames Society, of which I was once Secretary and WMMS organiser in the 1970's and 1980's. The first event we organised was in 1976 and my last would have been in 1984 probably when a promotion and move away from Walsall left me an exmember. Nevertheless I have attended all but three of the 41 shows I believe; I missed those three due to being out of the country.
Now a days WMMS is held at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton, about a mile or so from my front door, so no excuse for not going really.

Sue dropped Phil and I off at the venue before leaving for a week at her sister's in Lincolnshire. (I'll come back to that later.) Dave Jarman and Paul Yates, who took over from Phil and me as organisers, were manning the entry desk, and once again we were admitted for free. It was about 10.15 when we entered the hall and the show was very busy indeed. Traders are arranged around the outer wall of the hall and in a centrally located block. The games are arranged in rows in the ample spaces in between the two and the ubiquitous B&B is located at the far end of the hall. There's a Costa coffee bar in the entrance space of the centre - hence the Blog title - and an upstairs bar which also serves hot snacks. I never made it to the upstairs bar, I'd been putting up new fence panels in the garden on Saturday, with much help from Gary and Martin, and was finding walking and standing painful! We did grace the Costa Coffee Bar with our custom and it was there I almost lost the will to live while Phil stood in a glacial like queue! I loathe this poncy coffee culture. I want a drink. I want it in a time frame which doesn't age me! Stuff the 'coffee experience' where the sun don't shine! Instant coffee, boiling water and milk will do for me at a Show.

Now, rant over, I promise! To the games now: there were many really good looking games to enjoy or even join in with if that's what you enjoy (gaming with strangers not for we deaf folk though.) In the end I decided to offer pictures of just a few of the many on offer and no order of merit is implied or to be adduced in my choice, the order I present them, or those I omit; it's just how I felt this morning.
Firstly, from the Derby Wargames Society I believe, a game set in Ireland during the Williamite Wars following The Glorious Revolution ~

Next, from the Shrewsbury Wargamers, a real visual treat of an C18th game in my view ~

Next, a couple of games set in the Iberian Peninsula I expect (As a deaf person I don't tend to chat to folk I've not met, so apologies for the lack of attribution.}~

A couple of shots of the Kinver Wargames Group's WWII 20mm game, lead by Dave Page. I've known Dave as long as I've been a wargamer and he always has really interesting games on show and has supported WMMS since our first show I believe. I also like his games because they are full of interest and action and nothing, but nothing,that would be beyond the average gamer ~

After that visual feast of games on offer a word for the many traders who travel miles in the hope of selling us their many wares, stalwart band of folk in my experience, and some who've supported WMMS since 1976!  We really are so well catered for today in so many periods, scales/sizes and materials we ought to be grateful to have been living in this hobby golden age. Nostalgia ain't what you think it used to be! Saying that, I spent all of £12.00, I'm almost embarrassed to report! No new projects you see. I bought four MDF movement trays for my F&IW Sharp Practice 2 project; three new paintbrushes from Coritani; a Troop of Boy Scouts for my VBCW game from 1st Corps; and finally, I was gifted a 'piddling' dog by Trevor on Redoubt's stand. Hardly the last of the big spenders! Phil, on the other hand, was more lavish in his expenditure!!

So, I mentioned, Sue has gone to visit her sister for a week, leaving me to hold the fort! I don't plan to have a paint-fest, but I do intend to have a basing-fest. At last I will paint and vegetate the bases of my Foundry C11th Normans and Saxons so we can play a few Lion Rampant games if we want! They've only been in GHQ for a year or so waiting their moment n the sun! But not tonight! I'm really tired after yesterday and today, I must be getting old...

Monday, 6 March 2017

Sound the Charge!

Just a short post to show the latest additions to two of my projects: the 11th Hussars c1793 for the French army in my Wars of the French Revolution project and Emmerich's Chasseurs, a Loyalist volunteer unit for my AWI project. The Hussars are from Trent Miniatures, painted by yours truly, while the Chasseurs are from Perry Miniatures, painted by my chum Phil Robinson of Olaf'sHQ Painting Service ~

Following on from the Hussars I've now started some additional French infantry from Redoubt Enterprises for my F&IW/Sharpe Practice 2 project. Two painted so far, ten to go! 


Sunday, 5 March 2017

A gift which sums up all the best in our hobby!

I have a theory that our postwoman only ever delivers hobby related parcels for me when I'm out. I'm such a regular at the collection depot that I no longer get asked for my ID! Come Friday, and rain notwithstanding, we had been out shopping when on our return there it was on the mat, the 'Tried to Deliver' card! So, up with the lark on Saturday and off into town before the shoppers' rush to collect what we assumed was the last of the books I'd ordered from Wordery for Sue! Not so it turns out, a ruddy big parcel addressed to me! So, off back home with said parcel and swiftly into GHQ to open it and savour its delights!
Time to confess now though; I knew what it contained as soon as I saw who it was from, I just wasn't expecting it until next week. I'll just go back in time a little, if you'll indulge me for a while. I was at Partizan on my 65th birthday and found that Laurence and Richard, urged on by Duncan, had placed birthday wishes reminders on every Games table. Consequently I received birthday wishes not only from friends but from complete strangers too! One such turned out to be one Colin Ashton, author of one of my all time favourite blogs, "Carryings On Up The Dale". We chatted for a good while and found we had quite a lot in common, all part of a grand day really. Then we met again at Claymore later in the year and chatted some more. That turned into regular exchanges and chats via the internet and the exchange of information, sources and little items that were surplus to requirements. In one such exchange recently, Colin mentioned he had an Armoured Train stored somewhere in his War Room that was no longer needed and asked if I could make use of it. Of course, I said yes thank you, I'm sure I could, steeling my stretched finances in dread of how much it might be. Well, it turned out that Colin intended it as a gift! I'd got the wrong end of the stick, but what a gesture, eh? I'm now the proud 'Fat Controller' of an Armoured Train for our VBCW games. To me this just sums up neatly all that is best about our wonderful hobby and puts those few who only carp and criticise into their true perspective. So, this post is a Thank You, not just to Colin, but to all those around the world who carry the torch for all that's best in human nature and in our little hobby! Now, here's Anthony the Armoured Train ~

You'll probably have noticed that there is no railtrack! It's being made/enhanced by Andy at The Last Valley. I hope to see at least some test pieces at WMMS next Sunday. Speaking of which, time for a list I think.