Saturday 18 December 2010

The Family Plot - Architects of War

I was quite taken by the recent adverts in the various wargames mags for Architects of War. Thankfully Warlord Games are their UK distributor so I ordered a couple of items to complement my AWI terrain. First up is the "Family Plot". Easy to put together and a joy to paint - all completed last night. This weekend I will try and get my other purchase completed - the tobacco field.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

American War of Independance update - the armies grow!

Well, its the middle of December and I've not played a game since the end of September. A combination of work and more recently the crappy weather has well and truly scuppered any plans we might have made. The weather also prevented me visiting Smoggycon and Pudsey, so the next show I am likely to get to is York in early February. The UP side of all this is that as I was snowed in for well over a week (and work from home anyway), I've got quite a few more of my AWI figures completed. I now have six battalions of British plus a battery of guns and nine (and should be ten or eleven by this time next week) American battalions, a battery of three guns and a squadron of continental dragoons. I also managed to finish generals for both sides. I have managed to get back into the swing of painting 18th century uniforms en masse, and whilst the results are not show-winning quality I am happy with them (except for the wrong shade of army painter disaster!). There are now more than enough figures for a game (solo or otherwise) over the Christmas break which will allow me to try out British Grenadier properly.
Pictured above are a couple of my new units.
Mind you, missing two shows didn't stop me spending money these last couple of months. I ordered several AWI buildings off Hovels and Magister Militum. The Hovels Georgian house and barn are very nice, as is Magister's Guilford Courthouse. I also ordered the Chew House off Magister - an excellent and imposing Georgian building! I'm currently struggling with what looks like about a mile of snake fencing to add to my growing collection of American scenery in 28mm. I ordered some Hessians off Perry last week, to give a bit more choice and flexibility for the British, as if I need it and am waiting for some more flags off GMB as I took advantage of his recent offer. Finally, my extra terrain mat arrived so I really must now move my games room across the top hall landing and set up my 10 x 6 table.
Having decided to steer clear of British in their 'warrant' uniforms in favour of the campaign dress that everyone now reckons is what they wore from quite early in the war, I will be putting about four or five batallions of Foundry British on ebay over the holidays.
Going back to rules, I think I will like BG, but I just don't like small batallions in 28mm, especially for the 18th century. My Seven Years War are all in 36's for infantry and between 24 and 36 for the cavalry, so even dropping to between 24 and 30 is a big leap for me. I hope the rules will work for my larger units. I shall give them a go.

Thursday 28 October 2010

BUF Motorcycle Recce Platoon

Finished these off the other day. Will be the last of my VBCW figures for a while until I have broken the back of my AWI army painting. The figures are Call of the Cluthu cops. Not a very good picture so I will replace it asap.

Tuesday 26 October 2010


Well, I have finished the first burst of activity in getting my next project off the starting blocks. I'm not sure I like the end result so far but time is of a premium so getting two opposing armies ready for a game is, as always, my main priority. Target date - Christmas holidays 2010. I have really gone off painting and after 10 months of 28mm Russian Civil War and VBCW getting back to 'proper' uniforms is proving to be a big adjustment. Just waiting from some finials from Front Rank to finish this lot off (and I've just noticed I need to paint the base edges of several of these units. ooops!). I've not made my mind up yet about rules or anything like that so am using 30 as the standard unit size for the English and 24 for the Americans - I can always remove a base or two depending on the figure scale required AND I like big battalions! As for rules, British Grenadier look ok but might be a little too complicated for my aging brain to handle. I think Rank and File or Black Powder will work well, as will our own 'house' set of 'old school' rules. Its half term this week so I have a few days off. My aim is to get two more Anerican battalions finished (both half done) and then try and get some generals finished for both sides and start some American artillery and cavalry. I have probably (definately) gone a bit OTT again, as based on my recent purchasing binge, I will end up with 12 English/Scots/Loyalist battalions, plus guns and a small body of cavalry to face something like 18 units of Americans with cavalry and artillery in support. Oh dear! Too many English but it'll give me some variety - that's the plan anyway. Honest! Actually, I am in the process of moving my games room across the top landing to a the much bigger spare bedroom (games room will then be decorated and become a smaller spare bedroom but big enough for any transient guest who might drop in needing a bed). This will mean I will be able to fit a respectable 10' x 6' table in the new room, which will be nice except I shall have to buy a new terrain mat! Happy days ;o)

Wednesday 29 September 2010

VBCW The assault on Wolsingham

We fought the long-awaited Government assault on Wolsingham last night. John played the Government forces from Stanhope and commanded two platoons of the DLI (regulars) with a supporting 18pdr field gun, mortar, HMG and 2pdr anti tank gun. He also had 2 Vickers MkVI light tanks and two troops of cavalry; a troop of BUF and an LDV troop - the Weardale Hunt, complete with foxhounds! Topping this off was a BUF armoured train (which John chose to use to mount the 18pdr on). There was also supposed to be some air support but in the heat of battle we forgot to dice to bring it on. Quite a tooled up force for a hard mission. John's task was to capture or destroy a socialist super heavy railway gun that had been reportedly refurbished and recently rolled out from the steelworks. Not something that could be ignored!!!

Rob and I commanded the defenders. On table were the local Anglican League; a platoon of the Bishop of Durham's guard and the Wolsingham School cadet force. They were supported by an 18pdr, a mortar and an HMG, together with a vintage Vickers MkII tank and an old Rolls Royce armoured car. My combined Shildon Railwayman's and Wolsingham Steelworkers were off table as they were stationed to the east of the town. I had potentially six platoons, a tank and a truck-mounted gun available but only two platoons and the portee were activated - the rest were occupied with a government diversionary attack.

I had envisaged a rapid government thrust to capture the gun using the speed of their train, tanks and cavalry to get them into the fight asap. We used much-simplified Triumph and Tragedy rules with a card-driven movement system, i.e. a black card allowed any government unit to move and if they wished to fire, and the red for the opposition (I was diamonds and Rob was hearts).

We drew a black card first so John's forces began to arrive on table, then we drew another, and another, and another!!!!! In all we must have drawn 18 spades or clubs in the first 20 or so cards! This meant was that John's forces did establish themselves on table and caused some serious damage to Rob's men who were unable to respond. Ah yes, I hear you say! Well the odds are that very soon there will be fewer black cards and the reds will start being churned out. Correct except for one twist. I left the jokers in the deck so when they were drawn we re-shuffled the pack! Went down well......not!
Anyway, it was a hard fought battle. Highlights have to be the demonstration of poor driving skills by one of my militia platoons in a truck that in an effort to avoid ramming the rear of the League's disabled tank blocking Front Street, swerved down a side street and collided with Rob's HMG lurking behind someone's back yard wall, and the valour of the crew serving Rob's 18pdr. Pounded by artillery fire and riddled with machine guns from the enemy tanks the gun crew was so reduced and supressed that the vicar, a passing motorcyclist and my famous Belgian reporter (avec chien) had to help serve the gun. They hung on though and did stirling work holding back the enemy and damaging the train. Less 'stirling' were the afore-mentioned militia platoon who scrambled out of their truck into someone's back yard only to be shelled and machine gunned so heavily that they immediately ran off! (Strangely no pictures of their flight have survived).

John's cavalry and infantry pushed up the road towards the town and the glorious cavalry charge I had hoped for didn't happen (boooo!) as the advance ground to a halt, held up by the tank, the cadets and the timely arrival of my other militia platoon. I think a cavalry charge might have worked and would have been a good spectacle even if it hadn't! The Weardale Hunt galloped over the fields and then dismounted, taking refuge in the church while the DLI platoon retreated under heavy fire. As usual the BUF did little and ended up running away again. Meanwhile John had started the train up in an attempt to ram the railway gun. Good idea but it was foiled by my militia portee that wrecked the gun carriage, bringing the train to a halt. Over on the far flank the other DLI platoon and mortar had been in a firefight with Rob's troops in the steelworks but had made little headway. They were eventually driven off by the Rolls Royce a/c but not without inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.

With most of John's forces in retreat or pinned down we called it a day. Another Anglican League/Socialist victory but one won at some cost, and you can be assured the Government forces will try to take out the railway gun again, but maybe by more subtle means next time? I already have a cunning plan.........

Friday 17 September 2010

New Project

Well, I gave in under the self-imposed pressure last weekend and bought 2 armies off Foundry taking advantage of their 25% off armies deal. What armies I hear you ask? American Revolution I answer! Have always liked this era and its still 18th C which is my favorite. The Foundry range is very nice and is complemented by the Perry miniatures range. The army deal meant that the figures were about 72p each. A bargain! my plan is to get this lot done by christmas. We shall see and wish me luck......

Sunday 5 September 2010

Newcastle Border Reiver show

Dropped into the Arena yesterday for Border Reiver. I have to say that it was quite a disappointment. Loads of trade which was good I suppose although I didn't have a shopping list that extended much beyond paints and brushes. Nothing really tempted me either. Caught up with some mates and met up with Rob and John as well as having a chat with Simon from SCM about all things VBCW. I thought that the games were disappointing though and I can't even remember what was on show which is sad - not for my memory but for the lack of anything inspiring. Oh well........

Thursday 26 August 2010


No game again this week due to unforseen problems. Never mind though. I did manage to get a few more figures finished at long last, including a troop of BUF cavalry, pictured here moving gingerly up a country lane hoping not to go the same way as their infantry colleagues in recent skirmishes with Socialist and Anglican League forces in the Dale. I've had the table set up for a couple of weeks now so here is a shot of the objective of the next game, a government assault on Wolsingham steelworks. Hopefully we will get to fight the game next week.

Sunday 15 August 2010


Its been a funny old week. Not much painting has gone on but it happens that way sometimes. I got a bit fed up of 28mm so started rooting through my lead mountain and came across enough strips of Bacchus 6mm Streletz to make up 4 btns for my Russian Great Northern War army, as if I needed any more of course? Managed to finish them quite quickly and just need to do the bases whch will probably be harder than the figures themselves! I've not had my GNW figures out on the table for a year or two but they are very nice so here are a couple of pictures of some of my Swedes. As well as Swedes I have lots of Russians (of course) and enough Saxons for anyone, plus a few units of Poles (Winged Hussars, etc). I'll get them all on the table again one day I hope, although I still have about 6 btns of Russian infantry, several Russian dragoon rgts and 5 or 6 rgts of Saxon horse to do one day...
Had a second sift through the bottomless draw in my games room and found a few odds and ends that escaped the last purge. They will be on ebay soon. I also found some more 28mm SYW figures lurking in a corner. Looks like there is a btn of RSM Prussian infantry, a regiment (24) of hussars, half a regiment of Prussian dragoons, a btn (36) of Foundry Russian Corps of Observation, a dozen cossacks and what looks like enough for a btn of dismounted Russian dragoons plus lots of wagons and odds and ends, commanders and figures for those vignettes I never got round to, e.g. dancing bear, preacher, orthodox priest.
Still not clear what to do as my next project. Gone off the idea of Sikh Wars as no matter how nice the available figures are in 28mm (Old Glory and Foundry) I don't have the space, time or money and I don't like the old Freikorps 15mm range. So, something in plastic perhaps? I might even throw in my lot with John, Rob and Neil and get some FoW (have to be early war though). Whatever I decide I have promised myself that I won't buy anything else until the VBCW project is finished. Better get painting then!!!!!!!

Friday 6 August 2010


Finished the first couple of aircraft for my VBCW war in Weardale. I think my modelling skills left me when I reached puberty but they'll do! Inspired by the RAF's policing of the NW Frontier in the 1920's I decided that one of the most effective ways the Government forces could patrol the high pennine passes would be from the air. The terrain is pretty inhospitable, roads are few and opportunities for smuggling undetected are many, especially to and from the Comminust enclave in Chopwell and Socialist forces around Shildon and the Liverpool Free State.

Government forces have established airstrips at Stanhope and St John's Chapel using the showgrounds. Operating from these strips are a mottley collection of aircraft, few of which are serviceable at any one time. At Stanhope the BUF have a Bristol Bulldog fighter supporting a Government Avro Anson used for reconnaisance and interdiction over the high ground. Currently a Handley Page Heyford is located at Stanhope. Forced down by mechanical problems it is hoped it'll be airworthy in the near future (i.e. when I have worked out how to mount it on a flying base!). There is also a Gloucester Gladiator fighter at St John's Chapel.
The Anglican League operating out of Wolsingham have likewise turned the showground into a makeshift landing ground where the Bishop of Durham's Hawker Fury is based, although it usually to be found flying from the (safer) grounds of the Bishop's palace in West Auckland.

The Shildon Railwaymen are operating an old Russian I-1 fighter off an 'airstrip' located next to the Wagon Works. They also use this landing strip to accomodate aircraft shuttling across the pennines to the Liverpool Free State.
Pictured above are the Hawker Fury being stalked by the BUF Bulldog, who in turn is about to get a nasty surprise from the Socialist I-1. The last photo is of my Heyford heavy bomber. I've just taken delivery of a Tiger Moth and am waiting for a couple of other kits to arrive - not for quantity but for variety........honest! Now to find something to mount the Heyford on.....

Thursday 29 July 2010

Another bad day for the BUF

Just played another VBCW game. Rob commanded a BUF snatch squad charged with escaping off the table with their Anglican League prisoner, the firebrand Reverand Jesmond Parsnip, Vicar of Wolsingham. Closing in were a small force of League troops in pursuit from Wolsingham under the command of John, and allied Socialist Shildon Railwaymens' militia under myself en route from Fir Tree.
BUF forces were all motorised and comprised a headquarters section, a towed anti-tank gun, three platoons of infantry, supported by two armoured cars, a Morris and a 6x Lanchester. The Anglicans were in pursuit with an old WW1 vintage Rolls Royce armoured car, a platoon of the Bishop of Durham's Guard (from the Anthony Bek Company) supported by an HMG, and a platoon of Wolsingham School cadets. The Socialists had three platoons of militia, a Vickers 6-ton tank and an Armadillo armoured truck.
We used Triumph and Tragedy as the basis for the rules but much simplified. I used a random card-driven movement and firing system; one card in the deck for each unit, which worked well and added to the confusion....lots ;o)
The BUF were lucky with the draw of cards and most of their units moved early in the turn. Their Lanchester turned to head off the League forces heading towards them, shooting up the bus carrying the cadets and forcing it to stop, thus blocking the road. It was supported by a rearguard of a platoon of infantry and the anti-tank gun, that moved to outflank the League now bottled up on the road.. The BUF Morris and the other trucks with their prisoner headed for the exit point at the opposite end of the table, but not without demonstrating some really poor driving skills, one lorry running into the back of another, causing some damage and a dead passenger! Meanwhile the Socialist column raced towards the crossroads to cut off the BUF escape. Exciting stuff!!!!!!
Next turn saw the BUF rearguard de-bus and take up position on a hill to enfilade the League forces, but not before the League Rolls Royce armoured car had broken through behind them. A vicious firefight followed by a bayonet charge by the Bishop of Durham's guard and the BUF were driven off and almost anihilated. But between them and the Lanchester they had blocked the advance of the entire League contingent and caused several casualties, including Wolsingham's Head Boy in command of the cadets.
The BUF and Socialists continued their race for the crossroads and the road to safety; the latter got there first. Just. One BUF platoon was dropped off to hold the flank while the Morris and the final platoon (together with prisoner) sped over the bridge at full speed and halted at the Old Mill. The Lanchester acted as rearguard, bottling up the League force, but it came a cropper when reversing at high speed round a bend, ending up in a ditch!
Finding the crossroads occupied the Morris armoured car could not get past the Socialist vehicles blocking the road, and had all its tyres shot out and the Boyes anti-tank gun destroyed. But it kept the much of the Socialist infantry pinned down, immobilising one truck and the Armadillo, while the last BUF platoon disembarked and tried to escape on foot behind the mill and across the fields and behind walls and hedges. The BUF flank guard retired under heavy fire onto the bridge where firstly they were pinned down, suffering heavy casualties before legging it in rout.
The BUF almost made it off the table with their prisoner, but the final Socialist platoon cut them off and pinned them down in the open just inches from their exit point. The BUF force had been almost totally destroyed as a fighting force, only the Lanchester was in a position to escape. League and Socialist forces had suffered heavy casualties, and most of their transport was shot up badly.
An enjoyable and hard fought game that could have gone either way right up to the last turn of the cards, and was almost a rare BUF victory, but not quite. A BUF triumph it wasn't; more like a BUF tragedy! An early good run of the cards had put Rob in an advantageous position, and John and the League couldn't get into the game once they'd seen off the rearguard, but the situation changed rapidly, enabling the Socialists to get into position. The BUF's fortune wasn't helped by some really unlucky dice rolls, e.g. most BUF hits seemed to result in few kills or wounds, just pinned or 'near misses', whereas the League and Socialists seemed to score kill after kill.

Monday 19 July 2010


Well, I have spent the last 2 weeks in Rhodes enjoying the 40 degree sunshine and Mythos lager contemplating my next wargames project. John, Robbie and Neal are well into Flames of War but I wasn't that interested unless I got some Russians (I always go for Russians for some reason, no idea why!) but with the promise of early war stuff I might be tempted to get a few bits and pieces, French maybe, we shall see.

Going back to the sunshine, and prompted by some of my holiday reading, I did wonder about going back to one of my great interests from years gone by, i.e. Normans in Italy, the Sikh Wars or the US-Mexican War (I still have a set of the rules I published yars ago - "A little more grapeshot Captain Bragg!"). With the Sikh war I have even gone so far as surfing the net for suitable figures (in 15mm I reckon as I have too much 28mm lead) and working out what I might get for my first purchase. Of course, I still have to finish off my VBCW figures...........

A final thought on the heat though. I have no idea how anybody, no matter how fit and tough, can operate in temperatures like you find in the eastern med in the summer. I like it, becuase for 2 0r 3 weeks I get to walk around in my shorts and crocs, drink beer, eat nice food, read lots, plan my next projecty of course, and jump into the sea/pool as and when required to stop sizzling! But fight a battle or even walk up the road to the shops in our resort in clothes would leave me gasping! (Ok I'm not as fit as I was but I know what I could have done in my thinner more muscley days ;o)

I guess I have enjoyed my break but will be glad to get back home and get as many more VBCW figures as possible done during August when work keeps me at home more.

Getting hot now and the pool is beckoning me.......

PS: I've been coming here for a few years now and the fortifications at Rhodes town remain stunning in their sheer size. Definately got the X factor.

Sunday 20 June 2010


Well I thought the guns on both of my armoured trains were a bit on the small side so I cobbled this together from a kit I bought on ebay a few months ago. I need to do some work on a customised flatcar to carry this beast along with its ammunition and other stores but wanted to see what it looked like. I think that if it were to fire the entire train would end up being propelled at a zillion miles per hour back up the railway line, but this is not real life so what the hell!!!!
I seem to have acquired rather a large number of figures for this project and just hope I can get them all finished and on the table soon. I still have my BUF cavalry to finish, along with their dismounts, as well as about 60-odd militia (including cavalry) as yet unassigned to any particular faction, a squadron of Yeomanry and a platoon of regulars or TA. Well at least they are easy enough to paint! Not today though as the sun is shining and the garden needs sitting in!!!!!

Sunday 13 June 2010

Durham Show 12 June 2010

Well, for the first time in many a year I attended this small but friendly show as a punter rather than help stage a demo game. The show has been going in its present location since the late 70's and has always been worth a visit. Always seems to be well attended (except the year it clashed with the FA Cup Final!). Not much in the way of games this time though, although the two that caught my eye were the 10mm SYW game put on by the Old Glory gang and a very nice 28mm ACW staged by the Durham group.

Enough trade (for me anyway as I had a very short shopping list and much reduced funds having just dropped my car off at Kwikfit to get 2 new tyres!). I picked up some Reiver BUF cavalry for VBCW that I have just stuck together and will crack on with them after dinner when they have dried. I got home to some new Solway VBCW flags for the Northern Army. I can probably use no more than half a dozen as standards for Royalist troops (DLI, Northumberland Hussars) so if anyone wants some of the others just ask.

Also had the chance to catch up with some old friends, remember how we (as the Prussians) got stuffed in a recent refight of Mollwitz using Black Powder. My set went on ebay the next day as while I liked the rules the first time I used them (and lost) I didn't think they felt right for SYW. (The fact that the Prussian Guard brigade ran away has nothing to do with it!). Best of all, got to chat with the real-life incarnations of a number of chaps off GWP who share an interest in VBCW. Their VCBW worlds border on mine so maybe one day we might see my Weardale forces skirmishing with the Chopwell Communists or Lord Lambton's private army? Would be an interesting development methinks?

Sunday 6 June 2010

War comes to Weardale!!!!!

Played my first (solo) VBCW game last weekend to try out the rules and get my figures on the table. Basic premis was that the uneasy peace found to that date in the Dale was was about to be broken. A small Government force was holding a roadblock controlling a bridge dominating a key level crossing on the Weardale railway. Socialist forces from Wolsingham (steel workers and quarrymen) had been tasked with taking control of the area to permit their newly-converted armoured train to pass unmolested out of the dale and back to its owners the Shildon Railwaymen's Peoples' Militia.
The Government had a platoon each of LDV and BUF. The BUF had just arrived and were camped quite some distance from the bridge but had brought with them an anti tank gun and an armoured car. The force was supported by a 3" mortar manned by TA members of the DLI. Local police were also present. Somewhere in the area were the Wear Vally Rangers, a motorised militia unit raised by a local landowner and former MP. Attacking this small force were four platoons of Socialist militiamen, supported by an improvised portee and a 'liberated' Vickers 6-ton tank.

The Socialists drove their main attack across the bridge with a flanking force including their tank to their left. The police on the bridge checkpoint were overwhelmed, the survivors running as fast as they could. Meanwhile the BUF platoon mustered and advanced towards the bridge under heavy fire from the enemy. The socialist portee managed to knock out the BUF armoured car with its first shot but then missed with every subsequent one! Caught in heavy fire from militiamen lining the walls to their front the BUF broke and ran.

Meanwhile, the LDV platoon and mortar were unobserved in the churchyard and not in any hurry to expose themselves, although the mortar did manage to bracket the portee on the hill over the river, putting their aim off at the very least! Over on the left, the militia and their tank had crossed the river unopposed. The much vaunted (in their eyes) Wear Valley Rangers appeared in their nice posh touring cars and came under fire straight away from the tank and supporting infantry. They suffered no casualties but discression being the greater part of valour they turned tail and fled, having failed their pluck test. The BUF anti tank gun was knocked out, and most of the Government forces were in full retreat or lurking under the cover of the churchyard walls. It was all up and the remaining LDV to beat a hasty retreat just as the armoured train from Wolsingham appeared.
Well, I got almost all of my troops on the table and the game was ok but I didn't like the VBCW variant of WGW so next time I will try Triumph and Tragedy.