Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Parish map update

Roo’s Royalist report on the Battle of Kinnersley the other day prompted me to put aside my current Frostgrave obsession for a minute and dig out the parish map that I use to drive the narrative of our games for a well overdue update.

The most obvious thing following the last Big Game is that the forces of The King have made significant advances along the Welsh border.

The failure of the Anglican League’s push from their salient at Eardisley has given the Royalists the impetus needed to move forward against the anti-government presence in the area and tighten their grip around Welsh-held Kington.

They have also followed the retreating Anglicans back to Eardisley, and are also slowly applying a stranglehold there too.

Further south, the strategic river crossing at Bredwardine is still being contested, but the timely arrival of Royalists at Dorstone means that there is enough freedom of movement between these two areas to allow the pro-Government forces to exploit the gap and reinforce the loyal parishes abutting the Golden Valley.

Thus Royalist territory abutting the Black Mountains has expanded slightly at the expense of the anti-Government coalition, including Sir Gilbert, whose plans to control the Golden Valley railway are still being thwarted.

Outside the border zone, the small number of parishes under control of the various Socialist militias has been reduced as their influence continues to wane, whilst in the north-west, Mortimer Country still remains part of the neutral(ish) Landowners’ Protection Association (while a couple of eligible bachelors have piqued the interest of the lady of the manor, none have yet to press their suit with any real determination).

So the initiative rests once again with the pro-Government camp and, along the Welsh border at least, the Anglican League and their allies must dig in. However, while the Royalists and BUF are busy in the region, this leaves their presence depleted elsewhere in the county…

Friday, 6 November 2015

Tales from the Nippy City

Yep, I've started another blog.

You see, I've kinda gotten into Frostgrave, and have been busy painting stuff for that (hence the silence over here).

If Frostgrave is your thing, then please pop over to Tales of Frostgravery and take a look!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Man the Barricades! Herefordshire Big Game, October 2015

After months of seemingly endless preparation, another Big Game has come and gone.

The overall ‘story arc’ was a continuation of the border campaign, where the rebel Anglican League have been trying to wrestle control of the railway line(s) that snake down the Welsh border from the Royalist and Fascist forces.

Once again we were honoured to play host to 15 players (2 sadly had to drop out at the last minute), which meant we could set the action across three tabletop battlefields – these being:-

Kinnersley – The Anglican League had decided on a bold thrust from their salient at Eardisley towards Leominster, hoping that such a move would, at the very least, draw government forces from the impasse at Bredwardine (see below) and at best sever communications between Leominster and Hereford.
However a royalist platoon from Shropshire had recently arrived at the village of Kinnersley and had to be rooted out first, whilst the King’s Colonials had pulled back from the siege of Kington and, hearing of this attack, hoped to swoop down on the Anglicans’ flank.

Bredwardine – Once again the Anglican League squared up against the dastardly BUF across the River Wye at this strategic crossing point; control of which would seal the fate of the Royalist territories wedged between the Black Mountains and Sir Gilbert’s Golden Valley Protectorate.
River levels were low and both sides hoped to cross and turn the other’s flank.
Thanks to a Socialist no-show, the Anglicans were outnumbered, but determined to win.

Dorstone – The last remaining piece in the rebel Sir Gilbert’s jigsaw. If he could capture this Royalist village then the whole Golden Valley railway would be under his control and he could transport illicit contraband vital supplies to his customers Anglican allies.
While Sir Gilbert had secured the aid of some revolutionary anarchists, the villagers of Dorstone would have to hold on until Royalist reinforcements could arrive.

A side-story I introduced this time around was the matter of a certain young lady – Nemone Mortimer-Wagstaff, who held the key to controlling the ‘Mortimer country’ in the north-west of the county. Looking for a suitable beau, her agents were sure to be making note of any brave actions on the part of the players – some of which had received haughty missives from an elderly maiden aunt or concerned uncle, demanding they succeed in this love match!

The Siege of Dorstone

Dorstone village and it's defences

I played the part of the loyal villagers of Dorstone – a small Golden valley village practically cut off and at the mercy of the villainous Sir Gilbert and his gangsters at one end and ragged Anarchists at the other. Barricades had been hastily erected at the command of local lad turned big game hunter Joseph ‘Himalaya Joe’ Wagstaff (cousin of the aforementioned young lady). He anxiously scanned the horizon for Lord Robert Grover: a Royalist commander thought to be rushing to the aid of the stricken village.

Anarchist Motor column advances

A shout went up: ‘anarchists!’ The Anarchists’ motorised column had been spotted on the approaches, whilst a section of their revolutionary horse was seen galloping in the distance. Another shout: ‘gangsters!’ Sir Gilbert’s desperadoes were spotted at the other side of the village, his armoured behemoths raising steam some distance behind his infantry.

Sir Gilbert's hoodlums

In this I was lucky, for thanks to a dice roll it would take 3 turns for Sir Gilbert’s steam tanks to raise enough steam to get going. His armoured truck also started off-road, and only reached the tarmac after much wheel-spinning in the mud.

The defenders scatter to their positions

The Royalist LDV section, supported by an HMG, rushed to the barricades to confront the Anarchists, while the village militia went in the opposite direction to face the hoodlums – a section of local farmers fanning out on their flank as Sir Gilbert’s men probed to the side. At both ends of the village Wagstaff had also stationed an improvised armoured car to support the defenders, whilst a sniper and anti-tank rifle took up positions in a building in readiness for Sir Gilbert’s advance.

Farmers cover the flank

In the middle of the village, the doughty ladies of the local Women’s Institute – begrudgingly armed as a reserve section, rushed through the churchyard to meet an anticipated charge from the Anarchist cavalry lurking in the distance. Meanwhile in the HQ section, the local doctor made ready to receive casualties.

Armoured car comes up in support

The Anarchists made the first move, driving their vehicles into a hail of gunfire from the LDV. They halted, disgorged infantry, and whipped off the cover of one of their lorries to reveal a rather large looking gun…

Bent coppers move forward

Sir Gilbert also ordered his men forward, led by a section of bent coppers – ‘policemen’ under the pay of the potentate. They too met with a fusillade of fire from the stout villagers and halted.  Meanwhile the anti-tank rifle crew waited in vain for the steam tanks to appear, while the sniper took pot shots at anyone who looked important, hitting and wounding Sir Gilbert’s NCO (who only survived thanks to the rebel sawbones).

The farmers take casualties

However to the flank, the farmers were confronted by a section of Sir Gilbert’s guerrillas, making good use of the hedge cover to advance without taking serious casualties. They opened up both barrels of their shotguns and halved the farmer’s section at a stroke, causing them to withdraw into the nearest building to lick their wounds (and shelter from the dispiriting drizzle that, thanks to a random event card, was sapping everyone’s morale).

Rain rain go away...

The Anarchists had now got their lorry-mounted gun into action, and were blasting the LDV. Their return fire did little to damage the lorry, but at least their own improvised armoured car caught a section of the enemy in the open as they disembarked, causing some casualties.

Anarchist flank attack through the woods

This was enough to deter any determined Anarchist charge, but a section of their infantry did try to get around the defender’s flank by advancing through the woods, only to meet the LDV’s Hotchkiss machinegun…

The WI race to meet the threat

With Sir Gilbert’s guerrillas infiltrating one flank, he sent his Tommy-gun toting gangsters around the other, doing their best James Cagney impressions as they went. Responding to this threat, the fighters of the WI raced back into the village and towards the barricades that covered this side of the village.

Defenders take a pounding

At opposite sides of the village, the attackers were wavering – causing casualties yes, but taking casualties in equal measure. However despite this fact, Dorstone was being pounded and it’s defenders were holding on for grim death…


Suddenly a dashing horseman leaped over the village walls and cantered into the centre. ‘Where is your CO?’ this scarlet-jacketed rider demanded.  ‘I bring greetings from Lord Grover!’ Reinforcements had arrived!

Anarchist cavalry do a runner

Over the horizon, Lord Grover’s men could be seen! His vanguard had driven off the Anarchist horse, and it was this that had allowed the WI to abandon the churchyard to meet the gangster’s advance. Soon his militia were moving to confront the guerrillas. The arrival of Lord Grover gave the defenders heart, with the remaining farmers pulling back to the centre of the village to form an improvised section with the NCO and HQ runners.

'Can you hear whistling?'

Lord Grover’s dashing messenger trotted up the street to Wagstaff, who had bravely joined the barricades and was bowling over ‘policemen’ with his elephant gun. ‘My Lord presents his compliments and requests-‘
His sentence was cut short as an ominous whistle filled the air, followed by a nerve-shattering explosion!

Pressure mounts...

As the dust settled the village doctor patched up a wounded and clearly stunned Wagstaff. The messenger, a tempting target for Sir Gilbert’s spotters in his red jacket and astride a white charger, was not so lucky. ‘Incoming’ was the cry, as yet another mortar round thudded into the village green. Sir Gilbert’s vehicles had extricated themselves from the mud, and had arrived…

Lord Grover's men

While the LDV, now joined by the anti-tank rifle team, and sections of Grover’s force were managing to keep the Anarchists at bay, Sir Gilbert’s flank attacks were also stalling. Yes his guerrillas had knocked out a section of Grover’s militia, but his regulars were soon on the scene to repay in kind.

Hell hath no fury...

The WI had also reached the barricades and turned their Lewis gun on the cocky gangsters, who had forgotten to bring enough ammunition and were helpless against the women’s wrath!

'It's the WI - let's scarper!'

Throughout the battle, the armoured ‘Beaverette’ car had performed sterling service. Not only had it accounted for several ‘policemen’, but had also seen off two failed attacks by the enemy’s tank-hunters. However it’s luck was not to last, for once again the hunters leapt forward. The car was ready for them, and opened up it’s machinegun, taking down one of the attackers – a strange cross-dressing chap pushing a pram-full of explosives. Unfortunately his comrade, a mad Scotsman reeking of strong drink, was unscathed and planted his sticky bomb to devastating effect…


Sir Gilbert’s vehicles had by now reached the village, and were bringing their machineguns to bear on the beleaguered barricade. This combined with the mortar fire, finally broke the brave defenders, who retreated through the carnage.

Improvised section, improvising

The improvised section now moved forward to take their place, only to be met by a fierce charge by a scratch force of surviving bent coppers and other lackeys of Sir Gilbert. Hand-to-hand combat ensued, with the outnumbered villagers failing to withstand the brutal rebel thugs, who pushed them back from the barricades and finally entered the village.

Barricade breached!

However light was fading and, although battered and bruised, the defenders still had plenty of fight left in them. The WI were in the process of emerging at Sir Gilbert’s flank as the charge occurred, and could possibly have swung back to eject them from the village. The sniper was still active and able to draw a bead on his targets, possibly including Sir Gilbert himself, if he had chosen, like his far more courageous counterpart ‘Himalaya Joe’, to lead from the front.

Anarchists holding back

At the other side of the village the Anarchists showed little sign of renewing the attack (rumour had it that their CO, if Anarchists have such a thing, was secretly enamoured with Wagstaff’s cousin, the famous Nemone).

Not all the hoodlums are so keen

Lord Grover’s men had also by now arrived in force, armoured vehicles and all, and with Sir Gilbert’s infantry either running away or battered from the charge, could have soon re-established control of the village.

Grover's men enter the village

And so the day drew to a close with an honourable draw.

I didn’t have chance to record the events on the other tables, but it appears that at Bredwardine, neither side was able to force passage over the river - ‘Can’t we do something more interesting next time?’ being the cry (be careful what you wish for…) It seems that both sides have given up trying to secure the bridge – maybe an indication that the border region is dwindling in importance?

Action at the river crossing

Things were a little more clear-cut at Kinnersley however, with the Royalists convincingly beating back the Anglican assault after some spectacular explosions and, if rumours are to be believed, a gallant Royalist captain single-handedly destroying an Anglican tank with his sword! Ms. Mortimer-Wagstaff’s agent is reported to have looked on with interest...

Taking out a tank with a sword!?

Once again a great day’s gaming with some sterling gents (and lady), who all entered into the spirit of things with gusto. We used a trial version of ‘Went the Day Well?’, which prompted some head scratching, but all issues were settled in the usual friendly manner. Bravo to all participants!

More action at Kinnersley
So what happens next? I think it's pretty clear that the border campaign has run it's course. The Anglican League and their allies, while making some strategic gains, have been unable to fully consolidate in the region, with many important railway junctions and river crossings still in government hands.

While the BUF have once again failed to cover themselves in glory the more moderate Royalists have risen to the occasion, pushing back the rebels and ensuring that the lifeline from Hereford to the loyal pockets along the border are still intact, leaving Sir Gilbert's Golden Valley territory extremely vulnerable.

The Welsh nationalists have retreated to Kington and are under siege, whilst the various left-wing factions have been unable to put their stamp on proceedings and are losing what little influence they had in the county. Lots for me to think about...

Rob (Lord Grover)'s view of proceedings is here.
Giles' report of the fighting at Bredwardine starts off here.
Sir Gilbert's latest propaganda nonsense is here.
Newcomers Alan and Rita's account of the action at Bredwardine is here.
The Bishop of Ludlow's tale is here.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Big Game News!

The next Big Game is due to kick off this Saturday (17th October) at Burley Gate Village Hall.

In anticipation of the day, here's a quick look at Saturday's edition of the Hereford Times...

Outsiders spotted!

Once again the greatest threat that civil war can bring has been spotted in this glorious county – outsiders!

Armed groups have been seen making their way cross-country to join in the battles to come. Some carry the dreaded and alien red banner of socialism, or it’s brother the red and black flag of Anarchy. Others profess to support His Majesty, or that traitorous cabal of Bishops known as the Anglican League.

Some are thought to have hopped over the border from Wales or the Forest of Dean, while others hail from more exotic climes – Shrewsbury, Ludlow and even Winchester!

The authorities advise all locals to remain calm, and if possible avoid all contact with the outsiders. If contact is necessary, Herefordians should respond politely, mutter something unintelligible and then charge them twice the price that they would normally do.

Kington: A tough nut to crack?

The border town of Kington; occupied by Welsh nationalists and with it’s strategically important railway station; has been the scene of feverish activity recently, with the Welsh defenders throwing up formidable defence works in preparation for a Royalist assault.

However it seems that the King’s men are wary of shedding too much blood in capturing the town. After receiving a bloody nose at the battle of Bullock’s Mill, Royalist forces appear content merely to maintain a blockade of the town.

The exotic accents of the King’s Colonial troops that locals have become so used to in recent times are beginning to fade away as their platoons are slowly moving away to other postings, leaving the siege line to be held by our brave Herefordshire Territorials.

Whence are the Colonials bound? Only time will tell.

Society news

Fresh from her presentation to the King, the debutante Miss Nemone Mortimer-Wagstaff, Ward of Lady Deirdre Ffaines-Muir and last surviving member of the once-powerful Kingmaking Mortimer family, has taken up residence in her Guardian’s residence at Wigmore Manor.

Hundreds of local well-wishers descended on the manor to witness her arrival and cheered as she stepped out from Her Ladyship’s motorcar. Miss Mortimer-Wagstaff seemed somewhat taken aback by her rapturous welcome, but quickly regained her composure and smiled warmly at the crowd.

The arrival of such a glamorous young lady has set the area alight – it is not for nothing that such a large swathe of North Herefordshire is called ‘Mortimer Country’, and many local folk draw great pride from their association with such an ancient dynasty. Indeed, many have already pledged their allegiance to Miss Mortimer-Wagstaff, and have promised to take up arms for her if necessary.

Like moths to a flame, her return has also drawn scores of admirers and potential suitors, each vying to gain her attention and favour with acts of bravery. It is believed that such a state of affairs is most pleasing to Her Ladyship, who is keen to establish a suitable match for her ward, and is said to have dispatched agents to all corners of the county in search of a sterling fellow to take hold of the Mortimer tiller and steer it into profitable waters!

Anglicans on the move

While the main battle lines around Foy appear to be static, the Anglican League presence in the border country is stirring. Not content to sit tight in their recently captured salient at Eardisley, reports are coming in of a significant Anglican force heading out of the village for parts unknown.

A current theory doing the rounds is that this force is heading north to break the siege of Kington at the behest of their Welsh allies. Others believe that some sort of advance into Royalist-held territory is being attempted, while many in Hereford are clinging to the hope that they have opted to withdraw from Eardisley and retreat into nationalist Wales.

Whatever their intentions, readers can be sure that they will be keen to regain the initiative.

Stand-off at Bredwardine

The current stand-off at Bredwardine continues, as both sides face each other across the important Bredwardine Bridge; the only crossing point over the River Wye for some distance.

Neither the Anglican League and their allies, or the BUF/Royalist coalition, managed to score a convincing victory during the last battle for the bridge, and sources report that both sides are now looking for ways to break the deadlock.

Current low river levels are sure to complicate matters, as a number of fordable points have been discovered by locals recently, and news travels fast in Herefordshire…

Dorstone defended!

The quiet village of Dorstone, the only Royalist-held village on the Golden Valley Railway, is said to be bracing itself for the oncoming storm, as several factions converge on the area in order to gain mastery of the vitally important railway line.

Practically cut off from the outside world, villagers are throwing up defence works using whatever they can find. Bathtubs and toppled-over wardrobes block the main street, the forge and motor garage are hives of activity while at the approaches to the village large holes are being dug for an unknown purpose.

Some reinforcements are getting in, as Royalist militiamen trickle in via seldom-patrolled back roads, but more importantly a famous Herefordian has arrived in the shape of Joseph ‘Himalaya Joe’ Wagstaff – explorer, big game hunter and devoted subject of His Majesty.

Speaking on the village green, Wagstaff has pledged defend the village of his birth with ‘every drop of blood’.

Lord Reith’s demands

The Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the recently ennobled Lord Reith, has turned his fiery gaze from the glamorous world of radio and television and onto the sleepy Herefordshire countryside.

He has written to the authorities to demand that the local Three Counties BUF Legion suspend the use of it’s controversial mobile pillbox (nicknamed the ‘Darlek’) on the grounds that it infringes BBC copyright. Lord Reith asserts that the contraption is a direct copy of a design the Corporation drew up as part of a proposed science fiction series.

Lord Reith further demands that the ‘Darlek’ be handed over to a BBC so that it can be ‘suitably dealt with’. Failure to comply will have ‘dire consequences’, threatens with Director-General, amid rumours of an eccentric ‘scientific advisor’ arriving at Bredwardine with the intention of putting this deadly weapon out of action.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Scientific Advisors – Splendid Chaps, all of Them

Who are these strange chaps?

Well, they claim to be ‘scientific advisors’, although they’re nothing like the scientists I’ve ever come across!

For a start, they all insist on being called Doctor John Smith - the Doctor for short, and when they turn up (seemingly at random), they always bring with them some sort of mobile laboratory disguised as a police box. How they manage to carry out any experiments in such a cramped space is beyond me…

Heresy Miniatures

They are, to a man, very eccentric – if only in their dress sense (ranging from navvy jackets to frilly shirts). They can also sometimes be overheard muttering to themselves about how the civil war shouldn’t actually have started (then again, that’s something we all wish), claiming that King Edward VIII should really have abdicated and that, by rights, his brother should be on the throne!

Crooked Dice

Apparently these odd fellows are determined to investigate the source of this ‘anomaly’, by attempting to, and I quote: ‘neutralise the temporal paradox and reverse the polarity of…’ well, something or other – one tends to get a little lost when talking to the Doctor!


Personally I think that, while each one of them undoubtedly possesses a brilliant scientific mind, they are all completely bonkers, and are only sent to assist us when HQ has had enough of their wittering and wants one of them out of the way for a while…


Some lovely ‘temporal traveller’ miniatures from Heresy and Crooked Dice that I have been meaning to treat myself to for ages - happily some birthday money has allowed me to indulge!


For a change I’ve actually taken my time in painting these, as opposed to my usual base-coat and quick-shade method, allowing me to experiment with shading, highlighting, drybrushing and such. I’m very happy with the results!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Civvy Street

I thought it was high time to add some more non-combatants to my VBCW collection. Luckily my mate Giles had emailed me asking if I wanted to add anything to a Wargames Foundry order he was doing (taking advantage of their 20% discount offer).

I plumped for their 'British Characters' set from their excellent Home Guard range, which conssts of a vicar, verger, scary-looking nun, policeman, ARP warden, an elderly chap, a lady of a certain age and a woman with a bicycle.

I also added the 'Max Normal' figure from their 2000AD range, as I think he doubles up nicely an important bank manager/businessman type fellow. He's a bit larger than the Home Guard range, but seeing as I based these on a variety of bases I had knocking about, they all vary in height anyway.

These civvies can be used as tabletop decoration, objective markers or plot points etc. and add a nice bit of character to my collection! (And no, I didn't paint the 'W' on the warden's helmet - luckily I found an old transfer sheet in my bits box.)