Monday, 18 April 2016

The State of Play

Once again battles have been fought and the balance of power is shifting. However this time things have been complicated by rumours of the contents of Colonel Pat Mustard’s salacious memoirs, currently in the hands of the Socialists.

Although deemed to be largely a work of fiction by mainstream experts, the possible existence of this scandalous tale of love affairs, assignations and lust among the Establishment has sent ripples of discontent throughout British society. Authentic or not, the manuscript gives the Socialists a strong bargaining chip, for one of their barges, plus it's crew, is currently being hauled out of the river by the BUF.

In Herefordshire, trust in the landed gentry has been shaken. In parishes in and around the scene of the recent Anglican League victory at Aconbury, residents have flocked to the Anglican banner. Local landowners south of Hereford, formerly content to remain neutral, have fallen over themselves to prove, should the manuscript ever be published, their piety and good character under the accusing glare of the ‘lower orders’ in their employ. Further north, newly conquered Brimfield and adjacent parishes have also followed suit and declared for the Bishop of Ludlow.

However most of this area remains loyal to Miss Nemone Mortimer-Wagstaff. With her control over Mortimer Country, Nemone has been looking for a cause (and a husband) for some time, but has been unable to make up her mind until now. Worried by the discovery of Mustard’s memoirs, in which the young lady’s late mother is mentioned, she has made no secret of her desire to possess and destroy the document. In matters of romance her heart is currently torn between the Anglican ‘Shropshire Swain’ and a dashing Royalist officer from Shrewsbury.

To the west, the Welsh border campaign has ended with the Fascists dealing a coup-de-grace to the rebels by pushing them out of their last strategic base at Whitney. However the joint Anglican/Socialist rear-guard has given the retreating forces plenty of time to withdraw and regroup closer to their respective HQs at Ross and Ludlow (now firmly under the Anglican League). The Welsh Nationalists have been similarly repulsed and but are clinging on in a besieged Kington.

A small but potentially significant development is the arrival of the Albertines – supporters of the King’s brother Prince Albert, whose armada sailed in force from his exile in Canada but was scattered by a storm and has landed piecemeal around the British coast. The small force of Albertines that washed up the Severn estuary have negotiated passage through the Forest of Dean and have set up shop along the Wye valley around Welsh Bicknor and Stowfield. They have since fought alongside the Anglicans but, should reinforcements arrive, they may well emerge as an independent faction.

So the Welsh border is largely in Royalist and BUF hands, but this has left the north and south of the county vulnerable to a rejuvenated Anglican League presence. Can the King’s forces anticipate the next threat quickly enough to counter it? Will the accord between Royalist and Fascist continue to hold? Will neutral parties such as the Landowners’ Protection Association and the Twiggy Mommet protest movement survive in an increasingly polarised county? Can the Anglican League exploit it’s recent gains? Will their alliance with the Socialists and Welsh hold now that another Royal has thrown his cap into the ring?

I’ve no idea, but it’ll be fun finding out!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

April Big Game - Aconbury Pictorial

Here are some photos taken by the Anglican League war correspondent during the fighting at Aconbury.

Anglicans advance

Bishop of Hereford's militia supported by Forest of Dean miners

Hereford Small Traders occupy a building

Archenfield Young Farmers occupy a hill

Lady Rita leads the Anglicans into battle

Anglican armoured cars advance

Aerial view of the battle

Fascist armour destroyed by Lady Rita's roadside bomb team

Anglican right flank holds firm

Fascists advance in the centre

Thanks to Rita for these great photos! The full set can be found on this Photobucket link

April Big Game - Whitney

Herewith follows an illustrated account of the fighting at Whitney-on-Wye from the perspective of Major Miles Straitt-Jackett, Commanding Wulfhere Company, West Mercia Division, BUF.

BUF troop barges

By Major Miles Straitt-Jackett

 Commanding Wulfhere Company, West Mercia Division, BUF

BUF right wing advances

I have the honour to report that the Socialist rabble and their lackeys attempting to hold Whitney-on-Wye toll bridge have been utterly routed, and the way is clear for a further advance by His Majesty’s victorious forces.

BUF cavalry

The action opened with both sides advancing towards the bridge, and our gallant forces suffered an early blow when the Socialists launched a rocket attack on Storm Leader Giles’s tank, destroying it utterly with four lucky hits. Undaunted, the infantry pressed forward determined to avenge their fallen comrades. The valiant BUF cavalry, having ridden down a scarecrow that may have been an Anglican spy, attempted to attack the enemy flotilla but the heartless swine within thought nothing of machine-gunning our fine equine steeds, so a tactical withdrawal was ordered to protect our noble beasts.

Cheltenham Ladies' College advance

On our left flank the gallant ladies of Cheltenham College advanced in concert with the Wulfheres of the BUF and seized a dominant hill, while Viscount Scudamore’s Loyal Legion advanced along the river bank protecting our troop barges. The Gas Street Irregulars used  their renowned searching skills to look for the missing manuscript in various buildings, and were pleased to find a rare first edition of Rev. Splong’s renowned work on the Mating Habits of the African Guinea Fowl. Fortunately I was able to point out the monetary value of said work before it was used as toilet paper. Alas, the manuscript was not found. Rumours that the enemy had located the missing document are probably false, and in any case it will turn out to be a crude forgery.

Socialist rocket barge

A generous lunch seemed to put fresh heart into the men (and ladies) as the afternoon battle swung decisively in our favour. The Socialist tank and armoured car which had caused heavy casualties amongst Viscount Scudamore’s Loyal Legion were finally destroyed,  and our lorried artillery – ‘The Decimator ‘ -  scored several direct hits on enemy Police, Post Office and Socialist units. These were finished off by the Cheltenham Ladies and Wulfheres, causing the enemy HQ and mortar to flee in their usual cowardly fashion. What a contrast to the gallant Viscount Scudamore’s Loyal Legion, who stood firm by the bridge despite suffering 90% casualties!

Socialist tank destroyed

On the river the Socialist water rats attempted to board one of our barges but their barge was sunk by accurate mortar fire, leaving the few survivors floundering in the water under Captain Arrowsmith’s machine guns.

BUF barges reach Whitney toll bridge

After this drubbing I expect the enemy will hotfoot it back to Ross to lick their wounds, while their odious propaganda machine fabricates a plethora of untruths to try to hide the extent of their inept and cowardly performance.

Socialist barge sunk by mortar

Yours respectfully,
Miles Straitt-Jackett

BUF infantry disembark

Thanks Alan for this great report and some smashing photos! (More photos can be seen by clicking this Photobucket link)

Monday, 11 April 2016

The Hunt for the Manuscript – Herefordshire Big Game April 2016

Another Big Game last weekend!

So the various factions once more girded their loins and scattered throughout the county in search of a salacious manuscript that could bring down the aristocracy.

With a total of 16 players, we were able to spread out onto three tables – these being:-


Situated in the north of the county, not far from the border with Shropshire and Ludlow, where the forces of the Anglican League Bishop of Ludlow and his ally the Bishop of Lichfield have retreated after making one advance too far in the Welsh border campaign.

Closer to home and supported by mercenaries from Worcester (paid for by an absent Sir Gilbert) they are able to make a more confident move into Herefordshire but are opposed by the King’s Colonials, Herefordshire Territorials and the Blackshorts.


The final throes of the Welsh border campaign, in which the remaining rebel forces (a mix of Anglican League and narrowboat borne Socialists), are fighting a rear-guard action on the River Wye against their pursuers.

A numerically superior BUF force, also coincidentally using narrowboats, have pushed the rebels back as far as Whitney-on-Wye – the last strategic river crossing under Anglican control. The men in black were now determined to salvage their battered reputation and finally avenge themselves against the enemy.


To be more precise the hills that dominate the Hereford to Ross road – an area currently under control of the neutral Landowners’ Protection Association but slap bang between Anglican and Royalist lines.

After retreating from the Welsh border back to Ross, the Anglican League (in alliance with a recently arrived force of Albertines) plan to mount a strong advance now that their supply lines are shorter. Facing them is a scratch force of Royalist militias and Salopians, rushed south to bolster defences.

As I played the part of Spode and his Blackshorts at Brimfield, the bulk of this report will concentrate on that action.

Blackshorts and Fascisti advance 

My Blackshorts advanced, got shot up and then retreated.

The end.

Sorry, but that’s about the gist of it… Okay, I’ll elaborate a bit… Both sides advanced along the length of the table towards the village in the centre. On the Royalist side the Territorials took the wooded left flank, the King’s Colonials the centre and my Blackshorts the more open right flank.

Anglican League death rays!

Facing the Territorials were the Bishop of Ludlow’s forces, complete with disintegrator ray guns! (Knocked up by the Ludlow School science department – actually glorified LMGs) and the ‘Shropshire Swain’ – a lovelorn chap determined to win the heart of a certain lady.

Royalists advance towards Brimfield

Opposite the Colonials in the centre deployed the Worcester mercenaries, paid to do Sir Gilbert’s dirty work and completely resistant to any offers to double their bounty and swap sides (typical of Spode to forget his cheque book).

The King's Colonials move up

Deploying opposite me was the Bishop of Lichfield and his troops. Using the platoon generator guide with which we ask all our players to build their forces, I employed a mortar, anti-tank rifle and a light tank in addition to the usual HQ group and infantry sections (three Blackshorts and a unit of Women’s British Fascisti). Meanwhile my opposite number took to the field with a large Char tank, anti-tank team, HMG, mortar and a rocket battery towed by an LMG armed steam wagon, in addition to his HQ and infantry sections.

And so I moved forward alongside my Royalist allies, outgunned but undaunted!

The Royalist left and centre quickly dug in to the wooded hills and village church, trading artillery and machinegun fire with the enemy – managing to disable the Bishop of Ludlow’s tank. The remainder of Ludlow’s forces sprang forward to occupy the village buildings, supported by the mercenaries who similarly got indoors.

The Blackshorts ran as quickly as possible through the open field to the nearest hedge line, my tank taking the extreme left where it could at least get a shot at Lichfield’s behemoth. Sadly my entire platoon seemed incapable of hitting anything when it came to shooting...

Rockets land among the Blackshorts

The Blackshorts were forced to take shelter behind the hedge, where a barrage from the enemy rocket launcher took out my anti-tank rifle and a couple of riflemen. With the help of their signallers (before they too were killed), my mortar zeroed in on the enemy tank, but also failed to do any damage.

My infantry could not advance further until the Anglican tank was dealt with. However, in a depressingly familiar state of affairs, the two tanks traded shots for the rest of the game – neither managing to knock out the other.

One death ray down!

The rate of fire was hotting up across the table, with the King’s men challenging the enemy but facing a determined Anglican rebuttal. The Colonials knocked out one of the lorry-mounted death rays, but lost an armoured car in response.

Blackshorts line the hedges and get shot at

The Blackshorts could do little to support, being whittled down not only by the heavy firepower of the enemy opposite but also being enfiladed by the mercenaries (stubbornly refusing to change sides on the vague promise of double payment sometime in the near future) in the building to their left.

Pulling back to reform

I could hold on no longer – even with the assistance of a section of Loyal Americans and an HMG from the King’s Colonials. Once full sections were now being merged into composite units in order to hold the line, but with the forces of the King being battered across the table, little else could be done.

Motorbike police pierce the centre!

The final straw was when a section of Anglican motorcycle police blasted through the centre of our line (to the theme tune of CHiPs!) This foolhardy move was accompanied by a general advance by the Bishop of Lichfield – largely untouched by my feeble (and inaccurate) counter-fire.

View from the opposite side - Anglicans advance

It was time for us to pull back and leave the village of Brimfield to the Anglican League while we still had a relatively viable force. 

Pulling back further

What of the manuscript? Well a number of promising documents were discovered by both sides (I had hidden some red herrings across the three tables), but the genuine article was not to be found at Brimfield.

Narrow(boat) victory at Witney

On the other tables both sides had mixed fortunes. At Whitney the BUF pushed back the Anglican rear-guard, thus clearing the Welsh border area of the rebels, but the much-desired manuscript and all the society-wrecking scandal within had been discovered by the Socialists! The reds immediately vowed to publish the document in full…

The fighting at Aconbury

At Aconbury the rebels fared better and managed to see off the Royalists, ensuring that the no-man’s land between the two sides, and more importantly the Hereford-Ross road, was in their hands.

For me the game was a lesson in how not to plan a Big Game in a hurry. Various factors meant that I didn’t give as much attention to the day as I usually do. My on-the-spot decision to have all sides fight along the length instead of the width of each table bunched things up and certainly made things difficult for some players (including me). I also failed to pay full attention to the platoon compositions that we ask players to submit before the game in order to help balance things out. Lessons learned…

End of play at Brimfield

Still, despite (for me) a poor game where I lacked any tactical imagination, it was great to see old friends and meet new ones. It was gratifying to see that everyone seemed to enjoy the day and, as usual, the food was top-notch!

As for the overall narrative – with Colonel Mustard’s scandalous manuscript about to be published by the Socialists, things have got a lot more interesting…

Watch this space…

In the meantime, here are some other reports of the game (to be updated as they roll in):-

Giles' report part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4