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, 24 April 2017

War in America 4 ~ the ACW version.

No Salute for Phil and I this year again, but no doubt Jon will fill me in on all the details on Wednesday. Instead I've focused my efforts this weekend on preparing for today's game with Phil, the third in our sequence of games set in North America, this time set during the ACW. I've made a few slight alterations to the basic layout, namely removing the corner harbour and adding a couple of low hills and a few rail fences, just for the look of the game really. We used Black Powder as the basic rule set again, although we incorporated one idea from the Glory Hallelujah supplement as a trial, the moving only once in order to fire rule. So, to the Battle of Penda's Farm ~

Penda's Farm, commanding an important crossroads and held by the Rebs!

Virginians hold the Reb right, North Carolinians the left.

The First Union Division sweeps forward on the boys from North Carolina!

No sign of any reinforcements for the Rebs, "Here they come! Steady Boys!"

The 144th New York are seen streaming away in Rout, beaten by the boys
from the 10th North Carolina holding the stonewall line!
The 10th N.Carolina beat off the second assault by a fresh New York
Regiment. Flank support can be seen arriving to their aid.
At last the second Union Division makes an appearance on the Reb's right
flank, lead by troops of the US Regular Army.
They hope to catch the Rebs in their flank, but fail three Command Rolls on
the bounce, allowing the Rebs to shore up their exposed position.
On the Reb left the 10th N.Carolina see off  yet another failed Union assault!
Bad news just multiplies for the Union as the Reb Second Division finally
marches to the sound of the guns!
Once more a Union regiments assails the "Lions of Penda's Farm", can they
dislodge these gallant boys?
Well, of course not! What heroes they were, the stuff of legend, repelling
assault upon assault through six turns to effectively win the battle on their
Its all up for the Union as more troops are sent streaming to the rear!
General Robinson sadly sees his boys streaming away through the camp.
Time for a Rebel Yell I feel!
The game lasted 9 Turns before Phil admitted defeat, but effectively it was over in Turn 7. The new Glory Hallelujah rule on moving and firing worked really well we thought, even on the few occasions when we forgot it and left troops to move and then found they could n't fire! The real heroes for my Rebs were the boys of the 10th North Carolina holding the stonewall. They beat off five regiments in succession in Hand to Hand combat and passed every morale check they took! For Phil, the failed Regulars' assault on the Reb right really took the game away from him and meant he was always responding to events beyond his control. But we both thought it a grand game which might easily have gone another way another time.
Next up in GHQ should be a replay of this game with Jon on Wednesday night. We'll see how that goes in due course, but for now we will bask in the reflected glory of the 10th North Carolina, the "Lions of Penda's Farm"!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Expanding, and not my waistline for once!

As I believe I've banged on about before I have no new projects in the pipeline this year, for the first time since I retired from teaching in April 2002. Strangely I've found this unusual situation to be unexpectedly liberating rather than depressing as I had feared. I've found myself painting only when and what I felt like painting rather than feeling as if I were on a self imposed treadmill, pressing on with numerous figures and units towards the goal of getting a 'new game' on the table in GHQ.
One period of peripheral interest I've painted extra figures for is the French & Indian War. We've played occasional games here in GHQ using amended Astounding Tales rules and had great fun, but last year I bought the new Sharpe Practice 2 ruleset with a view to playing F&IW games with them instead, as I had enjoyed several games at Phil's of their WWII rules, Chain of Command. Working through their helpful lists showed me that I was short of figures for the core of Regulars on both sides. I rectified this at Warfare in Reading last November, buying the figures from Redoubt Enterprises to match those I already owned. I've been painting and basing them off and on and now the whole is finished I thought you'd like to see them for yourselves ~

One unexpected consequence of this photo session is that I've realised I have only 3 French command figures to the 6 British ones! Doh! I really should write things down rather than trust to memory now a days! In the short term I can borrow figures from my main SYW collection until I cross paths with Redoubt at some show or other and pick up the French High Command set.
As I started by mentioning painting, I thought that I would finish on the same theme. I'm currently working on a French National Guard unit for my FRW project, using Foundry early French in bicornes for the unit. I've managed 12/24 so far and am surprised to find that even though on the small side I am managing to make a decent fist of them. A by product of the lack of pressure perhaps leading to more relaxed and focused painting? Who can say, but I'm pleased by the end product so far. A Bientot Mes Amis!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A Mere Matter of Marching?

Earlier this week Phil and I played out the next installment of our themed War in America games, this time set in the War of 1812, using the same table top battlefield and scenario of course. Phil took command of the attacking American force and I commanded the Anglo-Canadians. The captioned pictures tell the unfolding story of the battle, fought using Black Powder rules, over our customary 12 turns. The figures are all by Wargames Foundry from my own collections ~
The Anglo-Canadian left is thinly defended by the Glengarry Light Infantry,
supported by Light Dragoons. American Dragoons sense a break point here.

The centre and right are manned by Fencibles and Militia, with some
Marines on the harbour.

The Marines from HMS Dianne stiffen the Michigan Fencibles on the far
right flank.

Two batteries of US Artillery support the attack by a Brigade of Volunteers.

Orders don't get through and one Battalion finds itself out front facing not
Militia but Regulars!

The US Dragoons had the worst of it and break for the rear! More British
troops arrive to shore up the left.

Although the Fencibles are wavering under artillery fire and falling back,
more Regulars are marching to the sound of the guns.

The Volunteer Brigade falters but on their flank State troops keep up the
advance and US Artillery pound the defenders. Disorder is widespread but
the Volunteers keep their fire up!

The Fencibles and Militia take advantage of the Disorder amongst their
enemies and advance. One Volunteer Regiment shakes out into line to trade
fire with the British.

The Volunteer's fire breaks the British Regulars opposing them, they flee in
confusion! The Light Dragoons catch the Pennsylvania Regiment in column
and rout them!

At last the third Brigade arrives on the US left and makes swiftly for the
lightly defended Anglo-Canadian right flank.

While the Marines are driven off, the US Regulars come under sustained fire
and are Disordered and Shaken as a result.

Away on the opposite flank another Brigade of US Regulars marches forward
into battle, flags proudly waving in the breeze.

Their bold advance drives off the Light Infantry and imperils the flank. The
Light Dragoons save the day and sweep away one Regiment.

On the right the British Regulars' fire power routs the enemy and save that
flank too!

One final supreme effort from the US regulars is repulsed and with it the
Army's Morale is shattered. Troops flee for their lives while defenders are
too drained to pursue.

Even on the far flank the attack breaks down. The American's will to continue
is shattered and Canada is saved for the Crown once more! Hurrah!

A most enjoyable game which swung first one way and then the other for the full twelve turns. Phil was hampered in the early moves by poor Command Roll dice while I succeeded early on in bringing on my first Brigade of Regulars which stiffened the Militia at a crucial time. When his other brigades arrived they were slow into the field allowing the British to take the initiative. For them the Light Dragoons were especially gallant and effective, shoring up the weak left flank first, then delivering two vital blows to the enemy.
Like a number of my more elderly collections, if I was starting again I'd do it differently, but for now they must do for us. I bought most of the figures in the large £5.00 mixed bags when they first moved to Nottingham from Guernsey. That dates them and me! Anyone starting the War of 1812 now in 28mm has ore choice of figures and ranges, but for me these have a charm and a history which makes them special. Next up in GHQ, an ACW game in two weeks. Slightly altered terrain already in place on the table, but the same scenario of course. Back to painting Anglo-Zulu War horse holder sets now. Joy!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Bob a Job Week?

A few additions to my VBCW in Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire have made it across the painting desk and into GHQ, starting with these 1st Corps Scout Troop figures which I picked up at WMMS last month you may recall. Searching the web for information on the colours was interesting, didn't realise there was so much variation around. I settled on a colour scheme from illustrations on chocolate  and cigarette collectors cards as most contemporary photographs were obviously monochrome. The figures, or rather some of them, come with a selection of right hands holding various items of equipment suitable to Scouting in 1930's. I replaced three of these with very unscoutlike weapons, adding a greenstuff hand in one case. Well, it is the VBCW! Anyway, here are the 4th Wolverhampton Scouts in 1938 ~

Next, at last year's Derby Worlds I bought a selection of Footsore Miniatures figures on the Flea Market which included a few colour bearers. As I had two left over I painted one up for each side, the Workers' Defence Committee and a Personal Standard for Eddie VIII. The former has a flag provided for me by Pete Barfield as ever, the latter a commercial flag gifted by a chum. Here they are anyway ~

Next, a Christmas gift from Phil, an armoured truck conversion. As its the only one I have at present it has no detailing for any particular faction of my Peoples Republic of. Wolverhampton army, if I add others then I'll decorate it for the Boulton Paul Workers Cooperative. Why? Well they produced powered turrets for British bombers in WWII, so its appropriate given the vehicle's turret I feel ~

I was in town on Friday last week quite by chance and found the monthly Farmers' Market in full cry. Amongst all the foodie stuff there were two chaps with a stall selling diecast vehicles, Lledo, Days Gone By, Corgi and such. I picked up three more vehicles for my VBCW project at £1 each ~

I'm hoping to add an airfield to the game this year, as we live on what was Wolverhampton Airport from 1938, hence the RAF vehicle. Lucas Batteries were in Birmingham, but they probably had customers amongst the local cycle, motorcycle and car manufacturers. Still no joy on the Wolverhampton Corporation bus though. Lastly, a Pulp Figures 'Poirot' who will be added to the game as Head of 'Manders Intelligence', MI9 ~

I'm working now slowly on some Empress Miniatures AZW horse holder sets, one each for the Boers and the British Mounted Infantry. More on them when they are done.

Pointless Additions...

...but I liked them. Some late C18th road labourers from Wargames Foundry. I bought them on a whim on my last visit to their factory shop. They serve no useful purpose but are characterful and decorative, so I bought them. The 'rocks' were added from my terrain bits box. I think I enjoy painting this sort of thing more than fighting chaps of late ~

Nothing else to say about them but look out for them hiding away somewhere on the next C18th game here in GHQ.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

"Our boys fought like lions, and died like men!"

Jon duly arrived on Wednesday evening for the second of our planned monthly games and was happy to take part in a rerun of the AWI scenario Phil and I had played out last week. The initial set up remains the same, as does the Chance element of 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh's Continentals arriving to reinforce the Militias defending Brecher's Landing. Surely, I hoped, the dice gods might at last smile on me tonight! Early in the game the Crown forces and their Loyalist allies showed little appetite to get into action, leaving their Hessian mercenaries to bear the brunt of the Militia's fire. No sign of old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh and his Continentals yet...

The Hessians' attack is stalled but on their right the Crown forces advance. Our boys are sticking to the task, despite some Disorder, but are anxiously looking over their shoulders for those long awaited Continentals ~

Pressure has been building up on the sparsely defended American left flank and finally the Militia and the Mounted Rifles can take no more punishment and break for the rear! Where are those Continentals?

Hessian Dragoons dismount and get behind the Militia's flank, also sealing off the harbour to possible American reinforcements. The Militia's situation is looking grim, although the Rhode Island artillery are proving a tough nut to crack for von Weiss' men. Where are those Continentals, we need them now?

The whole weight of the British military juggernaut rolls forward in Turn 4. Will it all prove to much for our gallant boys holding the line?

At last the dice gods relent. I manage to make the dice roll for reinforcements and the first Continental brigade is lead onto the table by 'our hero' hisself! The Militia, under such intense pressure for so long, raise a ragged cheer! All is not lost, yet ~

Even as the cheer dies away one Militia unit can take no more punishment and brakes for the rear. The gap cannot be immediately filled by our boys or exploited by the enemy, the struggle goes on ~

The boys cannot take any more! The final Militia unit, having fought so valiantly, can take no more punishment and joins its fellows streaming to the rear. All is not lost though, as the second Continental brigade marches onto the table to join the fight!

The fighting ebbs and flows for three more turns, with neither side gaining the decisive result in firefights or in hand to hand combat. Suddenly the situation changes in Turn 9 and the Continentals holding the American left flank break under sustained pressure. Our boys fought like lions and died like men, but it was not enough as finally the Army's will to win has broken and those who can must save themselves.

In the chaos which marks the end of any close fought action some units escape in good order, some flee in rout, officers try to rally the broken and steady the shaken, but the game is up and the battle lost! The final ignominy comes when the 2nd Massachusetts are captured to a man and marched off into captivity past the victorious Lord Walton and his Staff ~

A grand game all round Jon and I thought, in which the Milita fought tenaciously against the odds long enough for the Continentals to arrive. Sadly by then their ability to deploy and act was hampered by both the British presence and the failure of key Command Dice rolls. Old 'Independence or Death' Bykleigh slipped away at the end and lives to fight another day.

Next week we move forward in time to the War of 1812 here in GHQ. Will it prove to be 'a mere matter of marching'? Pop back later next week to see how it turned out.