Monday, 29 September 2014

“Taffies sir, thousands of ‘em!”

Impressive eh?

And so the much anticipated day of the next Herefordshire Big VBCW Game dawned. Months of planning, scenario writing, painting, badgering for responses, scenery building (and then some!), hall booking, badgering for responses, rule modifying, handing out of ‘extras’, badgering for responses, curry ordering, and general herding of cats came to fruition.

The cutting near Titley.

Once again we had enough players (15) to warrant three large tables, two representing the strategic railway junctions of Titley and Eardisley and one representing Longtown.

Eardisley Station (behind brick wall) and environs.

An uneasy coalition of Anglican League, Welsh Nationalist and Socialist platoons were tasked with taking these positions from the defending Royalists, Fascists and local gentry.

Longtown, with castle ruins in the centre.

We had pretty much dressed the Eardisley and Longtown tables the night before, but the Titley table was left blank until Roo and his freshly constructed scenery arrived. I say ‘scenery’, what I really mean is ‘behemoth’…

Defending the cutting.

For Roo had knocked up a massive construct – a hill through which ran a railway cutting, crowned by a bridge. Complete with trees, fields, hedges and animals, this really was a work of art! I will say this now at the risk of repeating myself later on – bravo Roo!

Royalist rear.

Together with Roo’s King’s Colonials, I had the honour of defending this hill with a platoon of Hereford Territorials and some local militia. Advancing against us were two platoons of Welsh Nationalists (including the cross-dressing ‘Daughters of Rebecca’) and a platoon of Socialists.

Digging in along the ridge.

And so we dug in - the Colonials holding positions from our right flank (bordered by a stream) up to and along the bridge, while my locals bordered the bridge and occupied the ridge of the hill down to the left flank.

The Colonials get into position.

My main position was taken up by a section of Territorials, an HMG team, anti-tank rifle, sniper and artillery observer. The hedge line running down to the flank was held by a section of local militia. Behind these groups I placed a second section of Territorials to act as a stiffener, while to the rear behind the hill I placed my artillery and a section of local Royalist cavalry, ready to charge at an opportune moment.

Artillery ready for action.

On came the enemy – the Welsh platoons advancing on our left and centre, the Socialist platoon on the right on the other side of the stream.

Ranging shot.

We zeroed in our artillery, knocking lumps out of the advancing Welsh in the centre and slowing down the Socialists on the right flank. While their countrymen sheltered behind hedges, a section of Welsh ascended the hill, advancing bravely but withering under the fire from my Territorials. Soon only their morale officer remained, who my sniper persistently failed to pick off! This individual quickly scarpered – sniper bullets flying wide. I must admit I was not sorry when my sniper was eventually hit!

Welsh advance up the centre - mind the sheep!

This was but a prelude however, as the other Welsh platoon came forward on my left, complete with armoured cars and those fearless ‘Daughters’. My anti-tank rifle failed to deal with the cars, and was soon put out of action as the Taffs fired on my left-centre positions.

Attack on my left flank.

The local militia soon began to waver, so I pulled them back and replaced them with the second Territorial section. With the Welsh centre going to ground I was able to shuffle my observer team to the left and with new co-ordinates my artillery soon began making holes in this fresh advance.

Reserves replace the shaken militia.

With one armoured car knocked out the Welsh responded by targeting the spotters, quickly wiping them out alongside the HMG team who were also causing much damage. My artillery was blinded, and reduced to covering over open sights the gap where the railway cutting bisected the hill. This was of little advantage as the enemy simply kept out of the narrow field of fire.

Welsh in the centre keep their heads down.

The firefight was fierce as the Welsh flank attack climbed the slope. With their nerves settled the militia re-joined the firefight on the extreme left and the Welsh ranks began to thin out. However with the spotters gone I had no effective answer to the remaining armoured cars as they trundled forward in low gear, firing over the heads of the cross-dressing infantry.

Militia reform as the cavalry wait to pounce.

My Territorials still held their nerve but the medic, standard bearer and HQ team could only do so much to keep them together as numbers dwindled. With the attack on the left losing it’s punch the Welsh in the centre came on once again, their infantry and armoured car firing at the remainder of my men.

Artillery spotters do their job before paying the price.

On right, the King’s Colonials were having a cooler time of it. The Socialists seemed content to stay on their side of the stream after a taste of Imperial firepower, while the Welsh in the centre, after trading a few shots, concentrated on my positions.

Socialists crawl along the other flank.

Luckily this left Roo with plenty of reserves to plug the holes in my line while I did what I could with the remainder of my infantry and readied my cavalry for a glorious last-ditch charge on my far left. However time was running out and the day drawing to a close. It was obvious that to fight on would be folly, and so I pulled back my troops. The cavalry would cover the cutting alongside the artillery while the tattered infantry, beefed up with the South African section, would descend the hill and take up new defensive positions in the farm behind us.

Fresh attack in the centre.

The Welsh came over the crest of the hill and traversed the bridge as we fell back, exposing themselves to direct fire from our artillery and the largely undamaged Colonials. If the game had continued they would soon have paid the price for their advance.

Tactical withdrawal to new positions.

At Eardisley the Anglican League successfully took the railway station from the Royalist/BUF defenders, despite (or perhaps because of) poor weather, Fascist air support and an armoured counterattack.

The Welsh take the crest.

At Longtown Sir Gilbert and his temporary Socialist allies trudged through the mud from a heavy downpour and amid the traffic chaos could make little headway against the local gentry holed up in the ruins of Longtown Castle.

The rebels taking Eardisley Station.

I was disappointed that my attempts to factor in the effects of fuel and ammunition shortages didn’t work – my rule amendments were simply too complicated to stand up to the test of gameplay and were abandoned after a few turns, but it was always going to be an experiment so you live and learn. Next time I think such factors will instead affect the scenario and platoon generation, rather than being forced through unnecessary rule mods.

The gentry hold Longtown.

However this failure was but a minor niggle, as this was yet another brilliant day’s gaming with some thoroughly decent chaps! Fair-minded gameplay, great miniatures and models and some stunning scenery were the order of the day, and I think everyone went home from what was a very enjoyable bash.

Man the barricades!

So the anti-government coalition has been partially successful – taking Eardisley station but not quite managing Titley Junction. Thus a portion of the railway line from Hay is under their control, but they still do not have the uninterrupted supply line they so desperately need.

Socialists stalled.

The forces of government have denied the rebels their lifeline, but at great cost. Their foes are now established along the Welsh border as well as to the south. Will Whitehall finally sit up and take notice of this backwater as the rebellion spreads?


The neutral gentry and their fiefdoms have had a shock. Although prevailing this time around those bordering the Black Mountains are surrounded by rebel factions. The Landowners’ Protection Association is proving to be a paper tiger and each estate must soon decide whose side they are on…


Boys (and Girls) in the Hood

More Twiggy Mommet scarecrow protesters in the form of Blind Beggar's hooded cultists...

These were given a quick paintjob in readiness for last Saturday's Big Game (more of which in my next post). However, as most of our regular Big Gamers know better than to mess with any item of terrain with a scarecrow on it, these guys did not get a chance to grace the tables.

Blind Beggar is a small project run by 'Mason' of LAF fame, and these cultists are part of his first experiments with putty. They look nice and creepy (especially the little girl going 'shhhhh...')

A couple of the figures don't have hoods, so I splodged some Greenstuff on their faces and hid the join with a hat, but otherwise these are painted as is.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Supplies and Shortages

It’s been a bit quiet around here recently, hasn't it? Well on top of the usual real life things that get in the way of playing with toys, I've also been busy getting ready for the next Herefordshire Big Game; to be held at Burley Gate Village Hall on Saturday 27th September.

We like to do something different for each big game, and this time around we are looking at factoring in shortages. The logic behind this is that with civil war raging, supplies of fuel and ammunition would be disrupted, leading to shortages and rationing. To this end we’re trying out some house rules that oblige players to roll for fuel and ammo, with an option to resupply via dumps and runners when they run out.

This in turn led me to look at knocking up some models to reflect this situation – e.g. supply vehicles, runners and supply dumps.

Luckily, on top of a nice Dragon Artillery Tractor from Reiver Castings, I also had a mule and wagon that had I cadged off Very British Civil Forum member ‘Staffie’, and a spare Sikh HMG team that I acquired second hand from the Lead Adventure Forum.

The Dragon tractor was quickly assembled and painted, and the mule and wagon cobbled together in what I hope is somewhere near a correct fashion (with the addition of some thin ply and cocktail sticks to finish it off).

The supply dump was mainly scratchbuilt – cardboard for the crates and small pointy rubber bungs for the shells (massively over scale but still quite cool looking I think). I then added some bits from the HMG set and a 1/32 Tamiya jerry can. The whole thing fits onto the back of the wagon quite nicely.

Both the wagon driver and the runner are Sikh HMG crew with headswaps and a bit of filing here and there. The third member has already been utilised as a Royalist bomber (second from the left in the photo below), and will stand in as the second runner on the day.

Just over a week to go until the big game, and with some awesome pieces of terrain under construction and some challenging yet (hopefully) playable supply issues, it’s shaping up to be a good ‘un!