Thursday, 19 December 2013

Don't Shoot the Messenger!

For my last bit of figure bashing this year I took the two remaining Perry plastic ACW cavalry figures and swapped the arms for some from my Perry plastic 8th Army bits.

This pair are a mounted militia messenger and his escort, which can also double up as generic militia cavalry. The messenger's cap is made from Greenstuff and his roll of paper from, er, a piece of rolled up of paper!

Despite being from the same manufacturer, the arms didn't actually fit very well, especially on the one raising his rifle, so a degree of filing and Greenstuffing was required. A slap of paint later (I think my watered-down Coat d'Armes shade is starting to thicken up) and there you go.

And what message does this dashing rider bring? Well, seeing as this is my final post for 2013, it's simply to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May Santa bring you lots of shiny new toys!

A bit of a hint as to what expect on this blog next year...

Monday, 9 December 2013

Dramatis Personae

I've been pleased and impressed to see how the Herefordshire Big Games have generated a degree of role-playing among the participants, with many characters emerging from among their miniature leaders. With another bash on the cards next March, it is high time that we got to know some them, along with the movers and shakers in the county...


William de Braose, Interim Governor of the Marches

William de Braose

A rather shady character of dubious background who has used the civil war to further his career.

Although titled Governor of the Marches, de Braose's power only extends to the areas of Herefordshire under Royalist control.

Jealous of the influence of the BUF (although nominally a member himself), de Braose is having to tread a fine line between the interests of Mosley's government and that of the King (who is attached to via his friendship with the King's equerry and, rumour has it, a number of loans to His Majesty).

De Braose's main job is to keep Herefordshire as a buffer zone between the Anglican League and the Welsh nationalists, and Royalist Worcestershire. However this is being complicated by the infighting between various Royalist and BUF commanders which will eventually force De Braose to pick a side and intervene with all the resources (and small private retinue) his considerabe personal fortune can provide...

Sir Peter Mandie-Benjamin, 1st Baron Benjamin of Foy

Baron Foy (centre)
More information

A prominent government supporter and ardent right-winger, Sir Peter was recently made a life peer under the title Baron Benjamin of Foy and promptly set up shop in the local manor, much to the chagrin of de Braose.

However Baron Foy's plans to seize the initiative and launch an attack on the Anglican League stronghold at Ross from his fiefdom failed when a combined Anglican League and Welsh force succeeded in cutting off the Foy isthmus, and the BUF/Royalist forces therein.

This allowed anti-government forces to take control of most of south Herefordshire and leave a bottled-in Foy and his Royalist allies to fight among themselves.

Captain Alexander Campbell, BUF

Commanding officer of one of the BUF units currently trapped at Foy. The kilt-wearing Campbell, of Oughtawashmurr House, Scotland, has been engaged in a war of words with rebel leader Sir Gilbert Hill, at one point challenging the wheelchair bound aristocrat to a boxing match and calling his secretary Miss Sweetmeat a 'tart'. This ungentlemanly behaviour has drawn the ire of Royalist commander Brigadier Lord Robert Grover, who regards Campbell and his men as an 'ill-bread Scotsman and his irksome Cockney bully-boys.'

In his own words, Campbell describes himself thus: 'The Robert The Bruce infant school, Fort William taught me all I need to know, those skills being honed in the Palestine Police in the recent troubles. If any Sassenachs want a lesson pay me a call.'

Captain Arrowsmith, BUF

A BUF officer who played an active part in the Ledbury campaign, but was in Italy during the Foy debacle. Consequently he is one of the few BUF officers in the county who is currently at liberty.

Rumoured to be a close friend of Mussolini, Arrowsmith has a reputation for brutality among his enemies and has a penchant for burning and/or blowing up buildings, veering his tank off the road and running over his opponents.

Brigadier Lord Robert Grover, The Duke of Farnham's Household Defence Force

Lord Robert (centre)
Officer of The Duke of Farnham's Household Defence Force (the Duke is his uncle) and a cousin of the Baron of Foy.

Currently trapped in his cousin's estate, Lord Robert has taken out his frustrations on BUF commander Captain Campbell.

In fact it could be said that he shows more sympathy for the rebel Sir Gilbert than his BUF allies, who he sees as a nothing more than a necessary evil in the fight against Bolshevism.

Stokkies Joubert, Commanding Officer Kings Own African Legion

Stokkies Joubert commands a unit of South African volunteers who have come to England to fight for their King, forsaking the open veldt for the damp hedges of Herefordshire. Joubert and his men have had a pretty tough time of it as of late, especially during the defence of Strangford, the result of which sees them also trapped in Foy.

Eustace Spode, Commander, King Offa Legion of Blackshorts

Eustace Spode, third from left
More information

Eustace, nephew of the powerful 7th Earl of Sidcup and Blackshort leader Roderick Spode, was exiled to Herefordshire after an unfortunate misunderstanding in a gentleman's convenience in London. Here he was tasked with establishing a Blackshort presence - a task which achieved with remarkable success.

Although theoretically subordinate to the BUF, the Blackshorts have been largely kept at arm’s length, patrolling along the county borders with a degree of autonomy.

As such they were not present during the battle of Foy and as such are one of the few remaining pro-government units still locally at Mosley’s disposal.

Sir Jonathan Porridge and Sir George Moonbat, leaders of the Malvern Hills Conservators.

The Malvern Hills Conservators are the guardians of the Malvern Hills and, while ostensibly Royalist, will fight anyone who tries to encroach on their territory. This includes the BUF, with whom they have developed a bitter rivalry in the area.

At one point the MHC even allied themselves with the Anglican League in order to drive the BUF out of the Malverns and more recently clashed with the Blackshorts.

Miles Straitt-Jackett

Born 1879, only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward 'Loopy' Straitt-Jackett and the Hon. Felicia Straitt-Jackett (nee Warming-Knightley).
Educated at Mr. Thrashem's Academy for Young Gentlemen.
Joined Army 1897. Served in Sudan, Gold Coast, Basutoland, Matabeleland.

Despite never hearing a shot fired in anger Major  Straitt-Jackett served with distinction during World War 1, commanding 13th (Colonial) Field Kitchen Unit stationed in Bulawayo.  He was present at the Tsetse Valley Incident when a crowd of rioting Native miners were subdued by volleys of plum duff hurled by his cooks, for which action he was awarded The Order of the Yellow Buffalo (2nd Class).
A good friend of the renowned Major Denis Bloodknock, Major Straitt-Jackett joined the B.U.F. in 1935, in the mistaken belief it was a book club.
Interests : Cricket, Lepidoptery, Taphophilia. He also has a large collection of cheese labels.


Brigadier Gideon Langnecke, Military leader of the Herefordshire Anglican League

Brigadier Langnecke
More information

Since the capture of the previous Anglican League leadership, Langnecke has stepped into the breach as the first professional military man to command the faction.

His fist act was to abandon the disastrous campaign to encircle the entire county and pull back to defensive positions at Ross-on-Wye.

By luck or judgement, Anglican Forces have since established themselves in the south of the county and managed to encircle a considerable number of their enemies at Foy. However they have paid a heavy price for this success and Langnecke is now forced to rely more on his Welsh nationalist allies than many of his men feel comfortable with - a reliance that will continue until the Anglican League can bolster their meagre resources for the next confrontation.

The Bishop of Hereford

The Bishop of Hereford
More information

Original leader of the Anglican League in Herefordshire and the man responsible for declaring the county against the King.

After initial successes against the government, the Bishop cooked up a half-baked scheme to install a pretender on the throne - a move which alienated him from the national Anglican League leadership and bought the full fury of the Royalists upon him.

He was captured during the disastrous Severn Valley campaign and held at Madresfield, but later managed to escape, only to be recaptured again at the second battle of Ledbury before he could re-join the Anglican lines. Currently a guest of the Governor of The Marches, his status and indeed future is uncertain.

The Reverend Henry Meredith

A fiery Welsh vicar, the 'Bishop of Ross-on-Wye' took command of the remnants of the Herefordshire Anglican League after their defeat in the Severn Valley campaign. With a mix of firebrand rhetoric and personal charm he managed to bring the faction into some semblance of order and stabilise their front.

However he then overreached himself by attempting to link up with anti-government forces in the Midlands and encircling the whole of Herefordshire. His forces got as far as Ledbury, where they held on grimly before being forced to retreat back to Ross-on-Wye.

His military reputation in tatters and with Brigadier Langnecke waiting in the wings, the reverend split himself off from the Anglican League and began a preaching tour of the Welsh border areas, where he was captured by the BUF during a skirmish with the Welsh nationalists.

Capt. Teddy ‘Bear’ Jerningham, Anglican League officer

Before the civil war started Teddy (Bear to his friends) was the personal private secretary to Tory grandee, Sir Archibald Conrad Borrowmere and hoped to become an MP himself. Teddy watched first-hand the collapse of the government and the rise of Mosley.

Teddy was an outspoken critic of the new government and how it went about making new powers for itself and the King.  After a run in with Lord Cirencester and his ‘Political Intelligence Unit’ Teddy was forced to make a run for the country, along with his ‘man’ Purves and the two dogs. Helped by an old friend Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond Teddy made to Staffordshire, here He joined the Anglican League.

Teddy had no military background, but loved the countryside, and country pursuits. Teddy loved nothing better than to be out hunting, fishing or shooting. These pastimes have helped Teddy in his new career. Beagling was Teddy’s favourite sport and he always kept a couple of beagles even when living in London, these dogs, Dynamo and Sprocket are now the platoon mascots.

Teddy spent his early civil war career as a gypsy moving from one unit to another. Now He is part of the Malvern Shock Battalion, like most civil war units not a battalion at all, but 3 under strength companies. The battalion has a tank called Bertie’s Ruin, this is normally short of ammo so is used as a threat or to bully locals. The battalion moves up and down the Welsh border, where the villages are now laws unto themselves and the big manors are the private fiefdoms of their owners.

After his failure to cross the river Wye, Teddy is on the lookout for a couple of boats so He is better prepared next time. Teddy still keeps in touch with his old boss (now in hiding) and other friends from parliament. He knows that Lord Cirencester and his ‘Political Intelligence Unit’ are still after him.

Anthony William Hayle, King of England

King Anthony (centre)
More information

One-time conman and crackpot, Hayle claims to be the descendant of Sir Richard Hayle, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII and through this lineage claims to be the legitimate heir to the throne.

Wisely keeping his head low at the outbreak of civil war, Hayle was forced to flee to Anglican territory when Royalist forces occupied Hereford.

Here he and his small band of eccentric followers currently form a somewhat embarrassing auxiliary to the anti-government forces.

Miss Jennifer Ryding-Hudd, Commissar, the Joseph Arch People's Column

Ryding-Hudd (left)
More information

Also known as 'Little Red Ryding-Hudd', this debutante-turned-agitator is the political head of the Joseph Arch People's Column, an offshoot of the People's Assault Column tasked with bringing the revolution to rural Herefordshire.

Under the military command of Comrade Commander Fred Gibbons, the column failed in their attempt to capture a strategic rail junction near Little Hereford in the north of the county as part of the grander scheme to cut off Royalist Herefordshire.

They are currently holed up somewhere near the territory of their allies the Worcester Loyalists at Tenbury Wells.

Sir Gilbert Hill, The Golden Valley Invincibles

Sir Gilbert (seated)
More information

Sir Gilbert Hill is a land-owner and gentleman farmer from just north of Pontrilas.

While a respectable figure in the local area, he cuts a somewhat different figure over the border into Wales, where he runs a number of ‘legitimate’ interests via a gang of ‘business associates’, posing as Welsh Nationalists.

Sir Gilbert has forged a sizeable satrap in the Golden Valley and has raised his banner in revolt against the King and Mosley.

His forces played a sizeable part in the battle of Foy and his star is in the ascendant – much to the chagrin of the neighbouring gentry.


Sir Barrington Patchpole QC, Leader, Landowners' Protection Association

Sir Barrington Patchpole (centre)
More information

Sir Barrington Patchpole, QC, is the nominal head of the Landowners' Protection Association - an umbrella group that represents the interest of the landed gentry in Herefordshire.

While some landowners see the group as a cover to create their own marcher lordships and mini empires, the LPA's main aim is to pool their resources to defend their lands from all and any interlopers.

In the main this means bandits and raiders from across the Welsh border (along which most of the territory protected by the LPA is situated) but also from other factions who might be tempted by the stocks of food and ammunition garnered in the various estates and farms under the LPA's wing.

King Twiggy Mommet

A Twiggy Mommet scarecrow
More information

Titular leader of the Twiggy Mommet protest movement and descendant of Rebecca and Captain Swing, King Twiggy is believed by folklorists to be an imaginary figurehead, rather than an actual person (although that has not stopped the authorities from putting a price on his head).

Disguised as scarecrows, the movement gives the rural populace an opportunity to vent their anger at the privations of civil war with a degree of anonymity - breaking down roadblocks or vandalising property in the name of King Twiggy.

Across the factions many an unpopular officer or official has woken up to find a sinister scarecrow placed in his garden as a warning of his conduct, while in extreme cases a strange band of straw mannequins can be seen shambling across the battlefield.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The New Ironsides - Anglican League Cavalry

Carrying the pennant for the Anglican League are the New Ironsides; a unit of cavalry comprised of old soldiers who still believe in the power of the glorious charge, backed up by the power of The Lord!

The minis are from the Perry plastic ACW cavalry box, converted a little with bits from the Perry plastic 8th Army set.

It took me a while to decide on a colour scheme, but in the end I went for a khaki and blue affair, so that they can also be used as regulars/yeomanry if need be.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Bodyguard(s)

And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII will always love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...

Ahem, sorry about that...

I've finally painted the four lovely Adalen Miniatures that I somehow managed to win last month.

I thought long and hard on how to incorporate tricorne-wearing Swedes into my little version of the VBCW, and decided to cast them as Nordic mercenaries in the employ of the Governor of Herefordshire, William deBraose.

Acting as his ceremonial bodyguards, they are clad in the uniform of his personal retinue (pictured below in a crappy old photo before I re-did the bases).

The Weasel and the Fox

No, not the latest Disney cartoon, but two little minis that I procured from Giles. One of his Warhammer gaming buddies (and VBCW Big Game-er) was giving some figures away after bagging a huge haul of stuff from Reaper Miniatures' Bones Kickstarter.

I asked for some animals (Reaper familiars) just to add a little colour to my scenery, and got this pair in return.

The weasel will now take pride off place with my Muttonchop Weasley Wretches (pictured below, before I re-did the bases). Can you spot his brother?

Monday, 28 October 2013

A Very Lardy Civil War

If you're a wargamer with an interest in any period in or around WWII, you will no doubt have heard something of Chain of Command; the new WWII platoon level skirmish rules by the Too Fat Lardies.

With it's 'game within a game' tactical phase, multi-phase turns and dice-based activation of platoon sub-units, I was certainly intrigued enough to buy a copy (incidentally making good my promise to Richard at Lard Island to buy something after cadging a free promo mini off him). I duly bought both a hard copy, and the electronic tablet version.

The rules are geared towards the use of historically accurate tactical formations, and include army lists for the four great WWII players. Each nationality has a different set of army lists, together with associated armouries and support lists. Platoons have a strength rating and the difference in these figures allows weaker platoons to level the playing field against more powerful opponents by fielding a greater array of support units (AFVs, HMGs etc).

Knowing I had a game coming up with Giles, I thought I'd give CoC a whirl, but first had to knock up some psuedo-historical army lists. This is easier said than done, but Luckily there are already a number of 'fan generated' army lists available on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo group, so I was able to cherry pick various bits from Home Guard, SCW and early WWII lists.

I decided on a simple encounter game (scenario 1 in the rules) with both the resurgent Anglican League and embattled BUF sending out patrols to establish some kind of front line after the game-changing events of the Battle of Foy.

When working out the lists, I decided to make both sides 'green' to reflect their largely amateur status, but gave the BUF a greater strength to reflect their government backing and greater access to arms and ammunition. I also allowed the BUF to split their LMG teams from their parent rifle teams (whilst lumping them together for the less well armed AL) to reflect the slightly more modern tactical approach of the corporate state as opposed to the 'middle England at war' feel of the AL.

This did mean however that, while Giles' BUF were limited in what support they could field, my AL had more options due to the difference in platoon strengths (i.e. I had more support points to spend.)

Giles and his BUF took to the field with his platoon leaders, rifle teams and a standard bearer (an experimental rules tweak to add a bit more VBCW-ness). He spent the remainder of his supply points upgrading one unit to regular and the 'bully boys' trait (again from my experimental support tables - basically the same in the rules as being 'aggressive').

My Anglican League platoon

I had platoon leaders, three less well armed militia sections and chose a cavalry scout team, an adjutant and a sniper from my experimental support lists.

So we had the rules and lists (modified and tweaked to fit the VBCW mould), a table set up (a slightly smaller one than recommended in the rules - we played at my gaff) and a motley collection of miniatures... let's roll some dice!

Patrol markers placed

I started off with no real plan, other than to get my jump-off points behind some decent cover during the patrol phase. During this phase, players place patrol markers in a chain, 12" apart until they are 'locked down" by being in the vicinity of the opposing player's markers. From these markers, you then deploy jump-off points: safe zones where your troops can deploy in relative safety.

Anglican jump-off points

This is one of the strong points of CoC as it saves the often tiresome business of moving your units along the table, and can give you a tactical edge if you can lock down your opponent's markers in less advantageous terrain.

BUF jump-off points

Moving our markers along the length of the table, I was able to place my jump-off points behind a hedge line at the middle of the table, thus claiming a sizeable chunk of territory and forcing Giles to jump off behind the hills in the more open land beyond.

Anglican League advance

To add further to his discomfort, I proceeded to roll a double six in my first handful of activation dice, meaning that I would also have the next phase. This brings me on to another good feature of CoC. Rather than activating units alternately, or by using playing cards, you instead roll five dice. The results determine what you do: a 1 activates a sub-team, 2 a whole section, 3 a junior officer etc. 6's determine who goes next while 5's increment your Chain of Command rating. When this reaches 6 you are allowed to do cool stuff like force end the turn, avoid morale tests and such.

Advance into doom!

Another thing worth remembering is that CoC rewards good tactics - fire support and the like. What it does not reward is sending your sections of shotgun toting militia out of cover and into the teeth of BUF fire. Alas this is what I did on my left flank. The results were not pretty and the red-shirted militia were forced to fall back (ranges are long in CoC!)

The dastardly BUF

Their return fire had less of an effect as their targets were classed as regulars (one of Giles' options from the support tables), which made them harder to hit - yet another CoC innovation: your rating allows you to take cover more effectively, not to shoot better.

Tally Ho!

On my right I moved my cavalry onto the hill in the hopes of drawing out the BUF, who wisely refused to take the bait. I placed my sniper in a stand of trees in the centre, hoping to use the disruptive effect of such a character (troops must be on overwatch to even spot snipers, let alone shoot at them) to pin down their centre. However I failed to appreciate that the centre hill would block his line of sight, causing him to spend much of the battle twiddling his thumbs.

Right flank under fire

With my left in tatters I tried to force the right, bringing back my cavalry and moving up another section of militia, who soon met the same fate as their chums. Soon the unit broke (having racked enough shock markers to build a barricade with) under the BUF's murderous fire, and my senior leader, who I had attached to the unit to help jolly them along, was wounded.

Cavalry dash

All this caused my morale to tumble, and winning a game of CoC means keeping your morale up! In an effort to redress the balance I once again ordered my cavalry forward, surging over the centre hill and onto one of the BUF jump-off points. By now my CoC value had increased to 6, allowing me to end the turn and capture this jump-off point to the detriment of the BUF morale.

Reinforcements too late!

A quick break for lunch, and then on to turn 2!

Which lasted for about five minutes.


The cavalry paid for their impetuousness in blood, rather predictably, and were soon, fleeing the scene with the broken militia section. By now my morale had dropped to 1, which meant I could only roll 2 activation dice per phase, giving me few options. One such option was to concede defeat.

Run away!

The game was great fun, with a very steep learning curve! (Giles' AAR can be found here)
Thankfully my abrupt defeat gave us time for another game and so we re-rolled for morale and support. This time we had less support options to choose from, so Giles dropped the 'bully boy' trait but retained the rest, while I forsook the cavalry, adjutant and sniper for a single MG armed tankette.

The barn in no-man's land

Giles was keen to bring out some of his superb EM-4 farm buildings, so we plonked the barn in the middle of the table (belonging to a farmer who has been extracting weapons from local gun runners in payment for crossing his land). Once again I was happy with the disposition and cover of my jump-off points, as was Giles, and the barn formed the no-man's land in between.

Left flank crumbles again

My red shirts and tankette, accompanied by the platoon sergeant , deployed first, but on opposite sides of the table. Another lesson learnt - while my militia were in cover this time they were not supported by the tankette. Soon the militia were once again getting the rough end of a firefight, despite being in cover, and shock points were stacking up to breaking point.

Tankette to the rescue!

I decided to tip the scales in my favour by racing the tankette across the table to belatedly provide support, whilst activating another militia section to add to the fire. Luckily Giles kept back his other two BUF sections, allowing me to concentrate my fire on his regulars. So, while my red shirts eventually broke, so did his regular BUF.

Concentrating fire

It was now that Giles made a tactical blunder that, I must admit, I was hoping he'd do when he mentioned he'd bought his farm buildings.

Barn blunder

With one section breaking and another holding back behind a hedge line, he moved his other section into the barn - a barn with windows at the front and back, but not the sides. I acted immediately, activating my third militia section and racing them past the side of the barn and out of the BUF's field of fire.

Flanking on the right

Taking a gamble and clearly not remembering the lessons learnt in the last game, I risked an advance in the open to the BUF section that was hanging back at their rear-left flank, managing to get close enough to open up with a devastating combined rifle, shotgun, SMG and BAR fire.


With this section withering under my fire, Giles bought his remaining section back out of the barn - easy prey for my tankette and militia, who were now advancing around the BUF flank to within shouting distance of one of their jump-off points.

Flanking on the left

Caught in a pincer movement with a jump-off point about to fall into Anglican hands and with two sections broken, Giles conceded defeat. (Giles' AAR can be found here)

And so the day ended with honours even.

I was really impressed with the rules - very bloody when it came to weapon ranges but this only served to force a more tactical mindset. Yes you need bucketfulls of dice and the number of markers required may well put off those who dislike battlefield clutter, but nonetheless a very good set of rules (although I think more suited to the recommended 6' x 4' table than my smaller one).

The basic rule mechanics are pretty easy to pick up (even for a habitual in-game page flicker like me) although we did make some mistakes (forgetting to deduct firing dice for shock markers for example) but that didn't detract from the game too much (Giles' thoughts on the rules can be read here).

I short I can see why Chain of Command is causing such a stir - bravo Lardies!