Thursday, 26 February 2015

Herefordshire Yeomanry

During the last battle of Titley Junction, the loyal forces of the Herefordshire Regiment TA were forced to rely on a locally raised civilian militia cavalry for their mounted arm. These horsemen, while no doubt very keen to do their bit for King and Country, ended up trotting back and forth along the rear and not doing very much at all.

Therefore the local military authorities have been given leave to raise a more professional cavalry force from the ranks of the TA, to be christened the Herefordshire Yeomanry. It is to be hoped that these mounted infantrymen will add the necessary dash, aggression and élan when the forces of the King once again square up to the traitors and rebels and retake the lost positions around Titley!

Another unit finished in my bid to clear the lead mountain - some WW1 British cavalry from Great War Miniatures (with an extra converted Pass of the North chap to make up the numbers). They have been painted in the same colour scheme as my New Ironsides, so that they can be mixed together and used for either Royalist or Anglican League cavalry.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lead Pile? Cobblers!

A couple more figures from the lead pile painted up - a chap lying on a bed (possibly injured) and someone doing a spot of cobbling. I can use these for non-combatants, dioramas, scatter etc.

You might have noticed that my output has risen recently. This is because in real-life a change in job role is possibly on the cards, which might cut down the amount of free painting/modelling time. Therefore I'm working my way through the lead/plastic/raw materials pile while I have the chance.

These two minis are from the Perry Miniatures ACW camp followers set (bought second-hand from the Lead-Adventure Forum), elements of which I have used in other VBCW bits. The bed/table thing was given to me by a kind chap on the Very British Civil Forum.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Sharpen the Sickle! Scarecrows in the Malverns

Deep in the heart of Malvern Hills along the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border lies Witches Wood. An area of ill-repute, ancient stones and treacherous undergrowth, Witches Wood is shunned by the superstitious locals who say it is the haunt of ghosts, devils and more recently, the abode of King Twiggy and his legion of living scarecrows.

The militia of the Malvern Hills Conservators have learned that a consignment of arms, bound for the Royalists in Hereford, has gone missing in the area, and rumour has it that it is being stored in Witches Wood by persons unknown. Being a practical bunch, the MHC have been asked to retrieve the crates, ghosts be damned!

Missing weapons cache

For the first time in ages I was able to invite Giles over for a skirmish game using the Brink of Battle rules – once again with a 500 points force apiece. For a change I decided to field a ‘horde’ of Twiggy Mommet rural protesters, who, fed up with the civil war raging through the countryside, have captured the aforementioned arms cache.

My horde of protesters

Fielding a horde gives you larger numbers of low-quality troops, which is useful when casualties start to mount up and rout checks need to be taken, but they are less handy in combat. Plus you need enough action tokens to make full use of them all. With this in mind I gave their commander almost legendary stats, and the ‘Master Tactician’ trait, which gave me extra action tokens each round, alongside the mandatory ‘Commander’ trait. I could thus activate almost all of the models without having figures standing idle. He had obviously been rummaging through the arms cache as he had an SMG and extra ammo in case of those pesky weapon jams.

I also had a veteran with decent stats and the ‘Commander’ trait, allowing me some flexibility in command and giving me a backup leader should the commander get wounded. The rest of the horde had lower level stats and were armed with a mix of rifles, shotguns and improvised weapons. Being dressed as spooky scarecrows, I gave each figure the ‘Savage Aspect’ trait, which gave them a much-needed advantage when charging into close combat (something the scythe wielding protesters would have to do to avoid being shot up).

Witches Wood and environs

My daughter helped me to dress the table to represent the edge of Witches Wood (designated ‘area terrain’ and thus providing concealment but also difficult terrain). Her assistance did come at a cost, for, lacking any livestock models, she insisted I rectify this with some of her toy rabbits – giant bunnies obviously being a speciality of Malvern Hills farmers!

'Cattle' enclosure

And so the game began, with Giles’ usual team of MHC militia – well armed, well trained but at a numerical disadvantage – splitting up into three teams and bravely advancing into Witches Wood.

MHC militia advance...

My scarecrow horde also split into three, with the commander and chums making straight for the crates while the others advanced on the flanks. The going was slow due to the undergrowth, but both sides benefited from the concealment this offered. do the scarecrows

Both sides exchanged fire. A scarecrow was wounded on my left flank, causing his mate to fail a panic test. After seeing his pal fall, he turned tail and fled. However the situation was quickly redressed, with MHC militiamen also succumbing to blasts from the scarecrow’s shotguns both on the flanks and in the centre.

Fighting on the flank - note the use of old pennies as action tokens!

With the woodland reducing visibility, the MHC were unable to make use of their longer range rifles and with smaller numbers, they soon hit the 25% casualties required to force a rout check. Alas the dice weren’t in Giles’ favour and the roll failed, causing the MHC to withdraw rather than take any more casualties in the close confines of Witches Wood.

One more victim for the scarecrows!

Plenty of time then for another game! We left the table pretty much the same as before (giant rabbits and all) but this time opened up the wood a little bit with an elevated clearing in the middle. We also changed the axis of advance from the wide edges of the table to moving along the length.

Same table, but with a more open wood

This time we both elected to split our forces in two – one team making for the wood while the other took to the open flank. My commander and those scarecrows with firearms headed for the hill on this flank, while those armed only with improvised weapons, supported by the second in command, sought the cover of the wood.

Mayhem on the flank

As the flanking party reached the hill they received fire from the MHC, similarly advancing along the flank and taking cover in some rough ground beyond the rabbit cattle enclosure. Although one scarecrow was downed, the others held their nerve, returning fire from their vantage point on the hill and bagging two of the three MHC militiamen.

Scarecrows begin their flanking move

While the other MHC chap withdrew, this team descended the hill and into the woodland to outflank the MHC there, who with numbers once again beginning to count against them, lay in wait for the other scarecrows to emerge into the clearing.

Scarecrows come under fire

Despite the cover afforded by the undergrowth, these scarecrows had to reveal themselves sometime, and with the field a little more open, were soon succumbing to MHC rifle fire. A series of poor panic tests saw some scarecrows fleeing from their fallen comrades, leaving only a small number to grapple with the MHC.

Flanking manoeuvre fails thanks to some long-range shooting

With the advance in the wood contained, the MHC were free to turn their fire onto the flanking party, who duly took casualties, including the scarecrow commander, felled by a long-range shot from the remaining MHC militiaman who had withdrawn from the flank earlier and was skulking behind the 'cattle' enclosure. The commander's loss was keenly felt, as his high CMD (command) rating was of great advantage during rout tests and the like. His surviving companion wobbled before bravely continuing to advance, but was soon dispatched by more long range MHC fire (through a gap in a hedge!)

Casualties mount and scarecrows flee

In the clearing the remaining scarecrows struggled to get within pitchfork-thrusting distance of the MHC firing line, but eventually close combat was achieved. Initially the scary-looking but poorly trained and poorly armed scarecrows had the better of it, but they were no match for the MHC with their rifles and bayonets.

Close combat

By now both sides had taken over 25% casualties but this time it was I who failed – my poor dice roll compounded by the large modifier Giles was able to add to his opposing roll due to the number of wounded in the scarecrow ranks. The scarecrows threw in the towel and withdrew, with honours even after two great games!

The battles from the Malvern Hills Conservators' perspective can be found here and here.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Border Horse

The sound of thundering hooves is echoing around the hill and valleys, shattering the peace and quiet of the border country. Bandits and raiders beware - the Craswall Border Horse are here!

I've had an idea for a unit of civilian militia cavalry rattling around my head for some time, inspired by a film I saw at the local Borderlines Film Festival some years ago.

'Real Life on the Black Hill' was made from home movie footage shot by a housekeeper for a Crawsall farming family near the famous Black Hill in the 1950s. As well as including some fascinating insights into a rapidly vanishing way of life in and around the Black Mountains, the film also showed the local farmers breaking in the wild Black Mountain ponies.

These men were expert horseman, and would often descend from the hills with their semi-wild ponies, either for the pony sales at Hay, or to exhibit their riding skills in rodeos at the local country fairs.

In fact my father remembers these shows. After watching the film, he recounted, with a gleam of mischief in his eye, how on one occasion, one of the exhibition riders had the same name as him. When this name was called out over the tannoy, he sauntered off towards the ring, much to the amazement of his mates!

So this unit is inspired by these skilled Black Mountain riders. They are mainly Reiver Castings civilian cavalry, with the numbers made up by some converted OOP Pass of the North US cavalry figures I acquired second-hand.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Next Big Game - Briefings

With the next Herefordshire VBCW Big Game coming next month, I thought it might be interesting to show you the initial briefing that I send to prospective players.

Hi gents,

Regarding the next VBCW big game - Saturday 14th March 2015 - the usual stuff first...

Cost - TBC (approx. £10-15 per head depending on catering costs) - Includes hall hire and catering (see below)

Venue - Burley Gate Village Hall -

Start/finish time - Start approx 10am, finish no later than 6pm (usually way before then)

Food - Catering will be provided. Depending on how things go you will may asked to choose 2 items from the menu in a future email. Please let me know if you have any dietary requirements.

Rules - 'Went The Day Well?' platoon level rules - Don't worry if you haven't played these rules before as there will be plenty of players willing to show you the ropes. I will also send a quick reference sheet on request.

Force composition - Please use the attached Platoon Generator guide to build your platoon. Please speak up if you do not have any/enough figures as collectively we should have enough to help you out. We're pretty flexible with the guide, so please let me know if you have any issues.

Terrain - We should have enough terrain, and will hopefully be dressing the tables the night before (please refrain from adding bits without our say-so). You are however welcome to bring bits along as I'm sure we'll need extra stuff on the day.

Players - Here's a list of players who have definitely confirmed attendance, their faction and the battlefield I’ve pencilled you in on. Please let me know if you have any issues, or if I've missed anyone out.
 (Snipped for privacy)
Please get together, nominate an overall commander for each faction, and by all means discuss your battle plans. Faction briefings will be emailed soon.

Please also let me know if you'd rather be known by your real name as opposed to your forum username, and vice-versa.

Curry! Please let me know if you're up for the post-game curry (usually ordered for 7pm) at Giles' house down the road. If you want to stay for the curry, here's a link for the menu - - please let me know if you’re staying, and your menu choice ASAP.

And now, the story so far…
 An alliance of Anglican League, Welsh Nationalist and Socialist forces has pushed across the Welsh border to capture the important railway junction at Eardisley, and occupy a strong position to take the strategic Titley Junction – all part of their grand plan to take control of the Hay-Presteigne line and link it up to the Golden Valley Railway, much of which lies under the control of Sir Gilbert. For his part Sir Gilbert has attempted to chasten rival landowners in neighbouring Longtown for daring to oppose his expansionist plans.
 However, far from putting the local government forces on the back foot, this advance has galvanised them into action: sending squads of loyal men to secure any neutral parishes along the westbound railway routes from Hereford and Leominster. Those border parishes that were under the sway of the Landowners’ Protection Association have also taken action; realising that banding together for mutual protection is not enough, the local gentry from Longtown to Clifford have declared their estates for the government and the King.
 As the forces loyal to the King gather momentum, the anti-government coalition must now brace themselves for the inevitable counterattack. However in addition to weathering the storm there is still scope for an offensive – if the rebels can take the Royalist parish of Dorstone and the river crossing at Bredwardine they will not only cut off the newly declared Royalist border region, but also complete their mastery of the Golden Valley Railway.
 The Royalists and BUF remain strong, with reinforcements and supplies coming in from government depots outside the county. The BUF still has scores to settle while the Royalists are also keen to get back on top, buoyed by growing local support from those fearful of a belligerent Wales.
 On the other hand the Anglican League has yet to carve out a stable supply route and relies on an increasingly expansionist Nationalist Wales. Their uneasy bedfellows the Socialists at least now have their foot in the door, awarded somewhat begrudgingly by their allies, but will not be content with languishing in an isolated spot in the back of beyond. Sir Gilbert now has Royalists in his back yard and Socialists peering over the fence, but securing Dorstone, the final piece in his jigsaw, will solve all his problems.
 Thus the scene is set for more battles along the border…
 Looking forward to a good day’s gaming!

There you have it!

At the time of writing there are still some spare places, so if you fancy a trip to the 'shire then please let me know :-)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Carry On, Doctor

I am pleased to announce that distinguished medical practitioner Dr. Kenneth Tinkle has joined my VBCW collection.

Fresh from Harley Street, this eminent fellow, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps in the last war, has donned his regimental tie and is heading out once more to the battlefield to provide care to the wounded.

Joining him are three volunteers, namely Sister Hoggett and Nurses Clarke and Parkin. The latter pair are dressed in an approximation of a WW1 Voluntary Aid Detachment Red Cross nurse uniform, while Sister Hoggett's uniform markers her out as a Trained Nurse.

Finally, accompanying the myopic medic is Tinkle's faithful batman/bodyguard, Henry.

Some fun figures from Blind Beggar Miniatures. The doctor and nurses comprise the Medical Practitioners pack, while the chap with the shotgun is from the Gents in Bowlers set.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Writing's on the Wall

Yet another not-very-interesting post today I'm afraid, serving to document what I've painted as opposed to entertaining the reader.

Another set of Tamiya 1/35 brick walls assembled and painted to add to the scenery pile in readiness for March's Big Game (Burley Gate, Herefordshire, Saturday, 14th March).

Speaking of which, we've had a couple of players drop out recently, so if anyone's interested in popping along, then please let me know (cost will be £10-£15 which includes buffet). More details here.