Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish all the loyal followers of this blog (as well as casual readers and people who have stumbled upon this whilst Googling for something completely unrelated) a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

P.S. Why not get your wargaming off to a good start next year and join us in our planned Hereford Big Game in February!?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Geifr y Mynydd

Presenting, with apologies for the poor camera phone pics, Geifr y Mynydd ('The Mountain Goats' - thanks to Worldwarshed for the proper translation - thanks for nothing Google Translate!) - a new unit for my Welsh Nationalists.

Formed from volunteer mountain climbers, hikers and local hill-folk, Geifr y Mynydd are largely responsible for patrolling the hills and mountains that separate the salients of Kington and Monmouth with the Nationalist heartland of North Wales.

From escorting supply trains along rugged back roads and maintaining a Nationalist presence among isolated hill communities to launching raids across the border and ambushing punitive expeditions, Geifr y Mynydd are some of the toughest allies that the Anglican League can call upon. They are armed with a mixture of rifles and carbines, with a Tommy Gun and Lewis Gun for extra support.

I've harboured vague ideas about a unit of Welsh hill fighters for a while, but two paratroopers that had been thrown in free with an order from Wargames Foundry provided the catalyst. Using up the remainder of my lead pile and a generous donation of some Black Tree commandos from fellow VBCW fan 'Wilfie Smith' provided the rest of the unit.

Some head/weapon swaps and a little Milliput and there you have it! Note that I've experimented with this unit a little, using Coat d'Armes shade instead of Army Painter Quickshade - not sure if I'm happy with the results or not...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Useful Vehicles

A couple of useful second-hand vehicles for my motor pool:- a Matchbox Crossley Ambulance and a Tamiya Austin Light Utility Vehicle.

Monday, 26 November 2012

I’d like to thank my parents, my agent, my proctologist…

It appears that this humble blog has been awarded a Liebster Award by Stuart of ‘Dust, Tears & Dice’! What a nice surprise!

Erm, so what exactly is a Liebster Award?

Well apparently it’s one of these chain-mail ‘send on to x-amount of people that you know’ things, but with a twist, in that it asks you to nominate some of your favourite blogs.

The rules, should you wish to follow them, are:-

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog linking it to the blogger who has given it you.

2. Pass the award to your top 5 favourite blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of there posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.

3. Sit back and bask in the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing you have made someones day!

4. There is no obligation to pass this onto someone else but its nice if you take the time to do so.
So who do I nominate?
Picking 5 blogs that I particularly like is easy – I could nominate dozens, but most of them have already been given this award - however I’ve narrowed it down to these smashing efforts...

My gaming buddy Giles’ blog, which covers not only our VBCW adventures, but his Warhammer, Lazerburn, BOB and sundry other tabletop encounters, plus cats, pizza and global warming!

‘Mort’, one of the founders of this whole VBCW thing, has a great blog showcasing his collection and the various ‘Big Games’ that he has organised with a flavour of Somerset.

A great blog by, you’ve guessed it, a fellow called John! John’s got some great stuff on his wargaming blog and I recommend you take a look!

VBCW chum Rob’s blog, featuring everything from VBCW goodness to superheroes, zombies and all manner of stuff – well worth a good trawl through.

A blog detailing one man’s imagi-nation of Tradgardland – lots of great miniatures and modelling on this blog, plus books, DVDs and suchlike.

Please check out these rather spiffing blogs folks!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Big Trouble in Little Hereford

The Battle of Little Hereford Bridge

I had a great game at Giles’ on Saturday, together with VBCW modeller extraordinaire Tym, and newcomer Alex (‘The Bombardier’).

The background to the scrap was this:-

Following the brutal but inconclusive siege of Ledbury, the opposing factions in Herefordshire were exhausted and a stalemate ensued.

The Anglican League, together with sundry other anti-government or anti-fascist groups, were unable to complete their goal of cutting off Royalist Hereford as an advance towards Bromyard and Leominster would stretch their already threadbare supply lines.

The Royalist and Fascist forces of government were similarly hamstrung – failing to regain the initiative as they struggled to simultaneously push back the Anglicans, deal with left-wing insurgents, ‘Twiggy Mommet’ protests and patrol the border with Wales; as well as keeping the peace within the county.

As the new campaign season began, another faction appeared on the scene to break the impasse: the Worcester Loyalists. Based in Tenbury Wells, this pro-Albertine group sought to create a Worcestershire Free State, very much in the same mould as neighbouring Shropshire. Seeking to establish secure supply lines, they had already brokered a deal with socialist forces in the West Midlands (a splinter group of which had begun operating in North Herefordshire), and now made contact with the Anglican League reconnoitring around Bromyard.

A plan was formed: if the Worcester Loyalists could co-operate with the Reds and the Anglican League, a large anti-government coalition could be formed along the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, linking nationalist Wales to the Midlands via the Forest of Dean, Ross, Ledbury, the Malvern Hills and Tenbury Wells.

The first step was to continue to cut off Hereford and allow the unsupplied Royalists therein to wither away without having to besiege the city. With this in mind the Worcester Loyalists proposed to seize the rail junction at Wooferton on the Hereford/Shropshire border, thus cutting the Leominster – Shrewsbury line and further isolating Royalist Herefordshire.

As is typical in this part of the country however, word quickly spread to the Royalists, who dispatched a force to deal with this attack, blocking the Tenbury – Wooferton rail line whilst setting up defences at the road crossing of the River Teme near Little Hereford. The stage was set for the latest chapter in the story of VBCW Herefordshire and Worcestershire as a combined Worcester Loyalist/Socialist force met forces of the King and Mosley head-on.

And so Little Hereford was recreated on the tabletop thus:-

We used the ‘Went the Day Well?’ rules, which call for initiative to be sorted out by the drawing of playing cards. I’d decided to make things interesting by getting the players to roll a D6 for each section of their opponents platoon:-

1-2 = irregular (not very well trained)
3-5 = regular (trained and reasonably competent)
6 = Veteran (elite)

Tym rolled for me, and vice-versa, whilst Giles and Alex rolled for each other.

I also allowed for the possibility of discovering fords across the river, by rolling a D6 when reaching the riverbank:-

1 = River level higher than anticipated - no further ford checks may be made by either side
2 - 4 = No ford found here
5 - 6 = Ford discovered - river may be crossed at this point (class as difficult terrain)

I had also knocked up a skills table, which allowed each player to roll a D10 and give one of his sections a little extra (for example ‘rapid fire’ - an extra ‘to hit’ die roll).

Giles and Tym, playing the BUF bully boys, set up defensive positions (including artillery, HMGs and anti-tank rifles) in and around the buildings on the south side of the river, with some cavalry and assorted black-clad meanies lurking behind to cover any flanking moves. They also had a film crew to record the event for posterity.

Alex’s Worcestershire Loyalists appeared on the Tenbury road to the defenders right, while my communists were arrayed directly opposite the river along the north side of the table. I decided to split my platoon into 3 with the vague intention of the central group (the close assault section led by the platoon commander, supported by HMG, steam lorry and a runner on roller skates) rushing the bridge.

To their left, the Worker’s Union militia, led by the platoon sergeant and covered by a sniper, were to advance under cover of some woods and link up with the Worcestershires. To the right the Communist militia, backed up by my T-26 tank, two tank bombers (redundant as the BUF had no vehicles on the table), platoon commissar and standard bearer, were to probe the river for crossing points and hopefully give some trouble to the Fascist flank.

That was the plan anyway!

And so we drew the first lot of playing cards. The BUF players got the highest card and got to go first. I however had drawn a joker, which meant I could go whenever I wanted. Rather than allocating this to my artillery-armed steam lorry and try some anti-battery fire, I squandered the advantage and began my probing move to the river.

Giles was not so dumb, and immediately let rip with his artillery, scattering my close assault section, killing the runner, knocking out the front turret of the steam lorry and destroying my HMG team (thus bringing back terrible memories of last year’s Evesham game – why do I insist on packing my troops together so closely?)

The Union Militia advanced slowly, as did the Worcestershire Loyalists, while the T-26 and co. raced sideways to reach the river under as little fire as possible.

As fire from the BUF continued to pour over the river, my steam wagon attempted to manoeuvre in order to bring its rear turret into play, only to be knocked out by a Fascist anti-tank rifle! In only two rounds I had lost my heavy support and had my main path of attack blocked by a blown-up vehicle due to a combination of dice rolls and tactical stupidity.

BUF artillery continued to pound the close assault team, forcing the survivors to go to ground and play no further part in the battle and the platoon commander to seek shelter in a nearby building. My punch through the BUF defences had turned into a vague wave of the hand!

To my left, the Union militia waited in the woods for an opportune time to cross the killing zone towards the river while the sniper took pot-shots at the defenders on the opposite bank. To my right, the T-26 and militia reached the river and discovered a ford!

However jubilation soon turned to disappointment as sustained fire from Tyms BUF immobilised the tank and caused the militia to almost run away. Luckily the female commissar managed to rally these wavering leftists, who dug in as fire from the now stationary tank forced the BUF opposite to retreat into the woods linking the riverbank.

By now the Worcestershire Loyalists had discovered another ford on the defender’s right and diverted a number of their forces to exploit it. After severely mauling the BUF right flank and almost killing the BUF commander through sniper fire, they rushed across the open countryside and over the river…

…right into the teeth of the hastily reorganised BUF defensive line.

The result wasn’t pretty.

On the communist right, the T-26 turned its sights on the central building (a pub), where a BUF anti-tank rifle continued to fire at its prey. A shell from the tank overshot the building, but managed to destroy the BUF HMG nest on the other side! This caused the BUF to vacate the building, unbeknownst to the Reds, who continued to blast away at the pub. The now rallied militia had to contend themselves with shooting at whatever they could see around the woods – mainly a unit of female BUF, proving that the white-hot sword of Socialism does not discriminate against gender!

It also doesn’t discriminate against civilians, for the militia also dealt with the BUF film crew, who had arrived to gloat at the stricken T-26 and paid for being part of the Fascist propaganda machine with their lives…

With the BUF defences pulling back in the wake of the Worcestershires’ flank attack, the Union militia rushed forward to the river bank and traded some heavy fire with their opposite numbers. The rest of the Worcestershire Loyalists were slowly coming up in support, attempting to bring the HMGs of their own steam wagon into play while their tankettes managed to find yet another ford (there must have been a drought on!) and crossed the river.

By now however it was getting too late to exploit this (I was starting to get ‘come back when you’re ready’ texts from my good lady wife and as any married wargamer knows, this usually means ‘get your arse back here now!’)  The BUF, while a little battered, were still in a strong defensive position whereas the Communist/Loyalist alliance had been given a good thrashing and, while the Union militia finally managed to cross the river and establish a toehold, little else could be done.

Despite this loss I had a fantastic game! Giles was as usual a great host (and makes a mean pizza) and he and Tym were honourable opponents. Alex was a great guy to game with, and seemed to enjoy his first wargame despite losing. Plus I got to use my counters, which worked reasonably well.

And so the narrative rolls on. The anti-government forces have failed to link up and cut off the county. The Worcestershire Loyalists and the Communists will retreat back to their core area and lick their wounds, while the Anglican League will be discouraged from advancing beyond Ledbury. The royalists, especially the BUF, have had a great morale boost with this victory. The ball now lies in their court and you can bet that they won’t sit idle for long…

An account of the battle from the BUF perspective can be found at Giles’ excellent blog here and here, while Alex’s more positive spin of our side can be found here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

VBCW Herefordshire – A Recap

I thought it was time to give a recap of events in VBCW Herefordshire, taking off after the arrest of the Bishop of Hereford and the royalist/BUF capture of (most of) the county. Think of the county as a wheel, with Hereford city as the axle in the middle. Radiating out from the city are the spokes (road/railway), which connect it to the rest of the country.

In Herefordshire, King Edward’s newly-stamped authority is upheld by interim governor William de Braose with the Three Counties Legion BUF, and the King Offa’s Legion of Blackshorts (technically under BUF command). The BUF are garrisoned in Bromyard, with the Blackshorts in Leominster.

Hereford city itself is garrisoned by a Municipal LDV, together with the local constabulary and the dubious loyalty of the Herefordshire TA regiment (elements of which have fought for the Anglican League).

The rest of the county is splitting up into modern-day Marcher lordships under the control of notable landowners, aristocrats, farmers etc. – all under the loose umbrella of the Landowners’ Protection Association (traditionalist and royalist so long as it serves their interests).

The exception of this is Ross-on-Wye, where elements of the defeated Anglican League have regrouped, with an uneasy alliance with the Welsh Nationalists, who have a foothold in Monmouthshire and Kington.

Also of note is the eruption of the Twiggy Mommet protest movement in response to the hardships created by the war and the fascists’ agricultural policy.

Chronicle of battles

Actually just over the border in Worcestershire. The royalist Malvern Hills Conservators viewed the BUF presence in the Malverns as trespassing, and clashed with the Three Counties Legion at Drugger’s End. The MHC narrowly beat the BUF, leading to a bitter enmity between the two theoretical allies.

In an attempt to seize the initiative with a bold thrust towards Ledbury and the Malvern Hills hinterland, the Anglican League advanced from Ross, and with the help of the MHC met BUF defences at Much Marcle. The BUF held the village, but after inflicting heavy casualties on their mortal foes the MHC during a savage hand-to-hand fight, were forced to withdraw, with some of their number being cut off from their HQ. This allowed the AL to take Ledbury, thus linking them up with pockets of sympathetic fighters in the area and staging the way for a potential thrust towards Madresfield, home of Edward VIII!

The Blackshorts prepared to retake Ledbury by establishing a foothold in the suburb of happy Land. After a hard fight (aided by misguided Twiggy Mommet scarecrows), they succeeded, thus beginning the opening stages of a siege.

The Blackshorts then proceeded to capture another road into Ledbury, setting upon the local defenders before they had time to react.

Both sides brought up reinforcements and in the 2nd battle, a combined Blackshort/BUF force beat back a determined Anglican League/MHC/Twiggy Mommet counterattack.

The 2011 ‘Big Game’. The Royalist contingent from Hereford, travelling south to take part in the Somerset campaign, sustained a very bloody nose.

The next target for the royalists was the village of Colwall, with its strategic railway tunnel on the Hereford-Worcester line, currently occupied by anti-fascists.

In the first battle, the MHC easily saw off a Blackshort attack, a large portion of which was hampered by lack of ammunition. In the second battle, the MHC had been relieved by the Anglican League, who promptly lost the village to an aggressive BUF assault.

The 2012 Ledbury ‘Big Game’

Both sides were heavily reinforced in preparation for the battle of Ledbury. Local royalist forces were supplemented by forces from Shropshire and beyond, while the Anglican League/MHC drew support from forces as diverse as Socialists from the Midlands and the exiled Emperor of Abyssinia!

Both sides came out heavily mauled, and while the royalists failed to take the town, the opposition also suffered heavily. The Anglican thrust has been stopped in its tracks, but the royalists are unable to take advantage of this. A stalemate ensues.

While the Socialists made their way to Ledbury, a splinter group travelled to Shobdon, where a number of political prisoners were being held at a former Instructional Centre. The Guarding BUF and local LDV force narrowly defeated the red horde, thanks to timely reinforcements and some cider!

Attempts made by the authorities to stamp their ownership on the Lugg Meadows (a rare example of the ancient Lammas Meadow system) causes consternation among the local community.

Shots ring out at the very outskirts of Hereford City as Twiggy Mommet protesters force a small police guard to flee from the council enclosure works, forcing the authorities to rethink their policy.

As part of Tym’s 2012 Cardiff ‘Big Game’, the Herefordian Royalist contingent proved pivotal in the attack against the Welsh Nationalists, leading the attack along the flank.

At the time of writing the latest battle to have been fought on Herefordshire soil. A small force of BUF crossed into territory claimed by the MHC. After a protracted firefight, the BUF got the better of the MHC but ultimatelylost their backbone and decided to withdraw after taking casualties themselves.

In summary, while the royalist/BUF authorities still hold much of the county, their control is being slowly eroded around the periphery, with the Anglican League controlling an arc from Ross to Ledbury, the MHC aggressively patrolling the Malverns, the socialists probing into north Herefordshire and the Welsh still lurking along the border.

The royalists need to take bold action to regain the initiative or they will find themselves completely cut off from the surrounding counties. Similarly the Anglican League needs to muster their meagre resources and maintain the uneasy alliance with the MHC, the Welsh and the reds in order to capitalise on their gains.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Pox 1 - Wargaming 0

As the spectre of chicken pox stalked with playgroups of Herefordshire, I prepared for the 5th Big Game at Evesham.

But it was not to be, as the aforementioned pox struck the JP household and yours truly was obliged to stay at home* and help look after one spotty and very miserable child.

To compensate for this lack of wargaming, I consoled myself with taking a few photos of the Royalist platoon that I was planning to take to Evesham.

Captain Stanley Horne, with his platoon sergeant and standard bearer

Irregular LDV section

Trained LDV section

Trained Territorials section

Mortar team and spotter team

Sniper, motorcycle messenger, anti-tank team and armoured vehicles

Armoured steam lorry
Photos and write-ups from the game can be found here and here.

*Actually I did pop up on Saturday morning to say hello, and to see a man about a gun (don't ask). To give my wife a break I took our youngest (and at the time of writing non-spotty) daughter. There's no harm in starting her wargaming early! (Although the look on everyone's face when I turned up with a baby was quite funny...)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

“Come Into the Garden Maud”

The blacksmiths and engineers of Herefordshire have been busy again, with another second-hand purchase – this steam tank from Ironclad Miniatures.

I’ve christened her ‘Maud’, after a very special lady in my life who, blind and in her late nineties, has recently survived an operation for a broken hip, and is still going strong!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Can you dig it?

After making dozens of road sign game markers, I realised that I hadn’t done anything to show units that have dug in or gone to ground.

Getting fed up with making signs, I thought I’d try something different, and came up with these…

Basically chunks of packing foam, cut into small wedges, with some stuff from my bits box glued on (a chap in a helmet peering over the edge, a rifle and mug resting on an earth bank, a spade and shotgun barrels resting on some sandbags). Add some of my new basing and voila!

Speaking of road signs, I’ve also glued some small discs (courtesy of Giles) to the removable bases to hopefully make them a bit less top-heavy.