Monday, 3 April 2017

Spoiling a Good Walk – Golfing VBCW-style!

Sir Alan McGuffin and the Committee of the Hereford Golf Club (which is neither Royal nor Ancient) welcome you to the County Cup Charity Challenge and wish you a pleasant day’s play.

It’s time yet again for another VBCW Herefordshire Big Game! (The first to be held after Giles and I handed the reins to Clive and Roo.)

County luminaries from various factions have been invited to partake in the County Cup Charity Golf Challenge and, this being VBCW, have strolled onto the links with suspiciously platoon-sized caddies.

As revealed in the Big Game briefing, each player teed off on a randomly determined ‘home tee’. The objective of the game was to capture a flag (two per table) and then get one’s CO figure to a special objective in the centre of the golf course. Each player had to give up a section of infantry, but could ally themselves with another player by way of randomly drawn ‘golf buddy’ cards.

Anyone getting to this objective would then be transported with their surviving platoon members to the 18th fairway – a separate table where they would have to race other successful players to the clubhouse, deal with the ‘welcoming committee’ and claim the cup!

Eustace Spode teed off, surrounded by his supporters, including a black armoured golf buggy. My starting position was in the right-hand corner of my side of the table. This meant I only had one flank to watch, but also that I had further to go to the special objective than players who teed off in the centre.

Luckily my golf buddy turned out to be "the blessed" Lady Rita Talbot-Ponsonby (platoon pictured above), who was teeing off in the centre on my left flank. If either of us captured a flag and made it to the special objective, both platoons would find themselves at the 18th fairway. Although the ‘golf buddy’ cards were periodically swapped, by chance Rita and I found ourselves allied throughout the game, which made things a lot simpler!

The Blackshorts advanced towards the fairway, heading for a flag. Facing me was Nick and his militia, who had similar ideas. Note the circular terrain piece at the edge of the fairway. These were dotted around the tables and placing a figure on one of them triggered an event.

In the centre of our table, the special objective was guarded by His Majesty’s Constabulary. Unlike our platoons, these stalwart chaps did not have to make nerve tests if they came under fire and had to be finished off before anyone could claim the objective.

On my left was an area of special terrain, disguised as a minefield, so I sent a section of Blackshorts to investigate.  Assuming some sort of reverse-psychology trickery, I was somewhat perturbed to discover that this area actually was a minefield!  I rolled a 6 on a d6, which meant that the mines were all duds – phew!

My platoons continued to edge forward, taking cover in the sand bunkers and such. We had a few newbies on the table, and even us veterans were quite rusty on the rules, so the going was slow at first.

In the centre, Carl’s Colonial troops had brought along an artillery piece for those long shots and opened up on the policemen – a nice target so bunched up together…

The result was rather predictable… Still the survivors held their nerve and readied their trunchions (and firearms) as the factions approached.

Not to be outdone, Spode ordered his mortar to open up. The mortar team, taking cover in the rough and guided by their forward spotters, dropped a round on Nick (henceforth to be known as 'template guy')’s approaching veterans, knocking a few chaps over.

Alas the ‘golf buggy’ was less successful, getting bogged down on the green, no doubt giving the groundsmen palpitations. By now we were exchanging fire at a lively rate.

Clouds pass overhead as Spode surveyed the scene. The Metropolitan section was veering off to the left, the Sidcup Highlanders moving up the centre alongside the spotters and anti-tank rifle team, while the Marches section were on the right, supported by the tank.

Nick’s surviving veterans decided to investigate a strange looking area, locally known as a ‘Mommet grove’. Inside they found a crop of odd mushrooms, which they duly sampled…

What strange magic is this? Invigorated by the mushrooms, Nick’s troops were transported forward! Suddenly his entire platoon was virtually on Spode’s lap!

To make matters worse, this magical movement allowed his veteran section to rush forward and claim a flag, beating me to the punch. Luckily the flag could be captured more than once.

Undaunted, Spode urged his men forward – the British knee will not be denied! Blackshort fire caused Nick’s armoured car to falter, but in return my anti-tank rifle team was decimated.

On the other side of the table, a three-way brawl erupted as Lady Rita tussled with Steve’s militia and Neil’s Royalists (including the red-coated Zulu War Re-enactment Society) over the other flag.

Suddenly the remaining policemen in the centre were reinforced by a tank! This behemoth stubbornly refused to be destroyed or incapacitated for most of the game, despite the amount of firepower directed at it.

Nick and I continued to duke it out. My mortar team was reduced by his HMG fire and I was obliged to make up the numbers with my runners.

On the other side, the melee continued to grow as more soldiers are drawn into the brawl. With practically three platoons held up in this scrap, Carl was able to move his men forward and engage the policemen and tank, especially after drawing Nick as a ‘golf buddy’, thus securing his flank and gaining a flag in the process.

A nice overall view of proceedings. The brawl is at the top, Rita and Carl advance towards each other an the special objective in the middle whilst I attempt to outflank Nick at the bottom.

The Marches section of Blackshorts raced along the extreme right, hoping to get around Nick’s militia. However they are spotted by his HMG team, who whittled them down to half their strength.

However they pressed on to the fairway, as do the rest of the platoon, inflicting casualties against their opposite number, who was beginning to pull back a smidge.

This allowed the Sidcup Highlanders to capture a flag – huzzah! Now either Lady Rita (battling in the centre) or Spode (hurrying to the left with the Metropolitan section) had to claim the special objective before anyone else (hoping that someone will disable that damn tank first).

Meanwhile on the other green, two platoons (led by Jay and Roo) have already fulfilled their objective and have made it onto the 18th fairway…

Finally the policemen were seen off and tank was rendered inoperable! It’s a race to the objective now. Carl’s CO was lurking worryingly close, but was shot by Lady Rita’s men – hurrah! But, oh no! His second in command raced forward and got to the special objective first! Carl and ‘golf buddy’ Nick’s platoons were duly spirited off to the 18th fairway.

Lady Rita and Spode made it to the objective next, but alas the magic had faded away and they were left to trudge back to the clubhouse the long way… something about being improperly dressed or somesuch twaddle…

On the 18th fairway the race to the clubhouse was heating up. Players shot at each other as they went forward. At the clubhouse the reception committee had tooled up and were also blazing away.

Two rival sections broke away from the scrimmage. Jay’s cavalry raced Roo’s artillery limber for the clubhouse.

 Disaster for Roo! His limber was destroyed by artillery fire from one of platoons trailing behind. Luckily he had a section of miners also running forward. Meanwhile Jay’s cavalry made it to the clubhouse grounds and charged at the reception committee.

But as their sabres flashed it’s Roo’s miners that managed to force their way past the committee first and reach the coveted trophy! Bravo that man, well played!

And so Roo won the cup and the day was rounded off with cheers and applause.
What a fun day’s gaming! Yes, my platoon failed to make it to the final hurdle, but for a change I didn’t get decimated and managed to actually deal out some damage. Of course the most important thing was that I got to meet up with VBCW chums both old and new and have a great time overall!

The whole scenario was very imaginative and well presented – I can hand over the mantle of Big Game Organiser to Clive and Roo, safe in the knowledge that it's in very capable hands!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Saving 'Buffy' Blowhard

“Mayday! Mayday! This is flight 5W4Nfzzzzttttkk en-route to Hereffffzzzzzkzzfffzzrodrome. We are experiencing difficzzzztties and must make a forzzzd landing. Our co-ordinates are fffffzzzzzzzkkkzzzzkkttzzzkkzzzt”

So the next VBCW Big Game (now under new management) is scheduled for April 1st, but it’s been ages since I played a game, and I’m a little rusty on the ‘Went the Day Well?’ rules. Luckily the chaps at the Hereford Wargames Club, many of whom will be attending the event, decided to have a practice game last night and kindly invited me along.

With an offensive in the offing, General ‘Buffy’ Blowhard, a senior BUF staff officer, is being flown through stormy skies en-route to brief the local Fascist forces when his pilot is obliged to make a forced landing somewhere behind Anglican League lines.

After destroying the plane (and any sensitive documents therein), Blowhard and the aircrew make their way to the nearby village of Much Dribbling. Here they intend to lie low until BUF and Blackshort forces can be mobilised to rescue them. However local Anglican League and Albertine garrisons have also been alerted by the crash, and they too are on their way to investigate.

And so battle is joined! BUF and Blackshort (me) forces hurriedly deploy piecemeal along one side of the table, whilst the rebels do so likewise opposite. I start off with my HQ and tank entering on the road to my right, the Metropolitan Blackshorts infantry section in the centre and the Sidcup Highlanders on the left.

The Metropolitan Blackshorts advance through a cornfield towards the village church – will the fugitives be hiding in there? The HQ section also advances, with the specialists splitting up to support the infantry sections. Signallers and anti-tank rifle team race forward to the church walls in order to get a view of the enemy.

Meanwhile the Sidcup Highlanders search the nearest house for General Blowhard and co. but discover nothing. It takes a turn to search each building and read the small blue piece of paper secreted therein. Meanwhile my BUF compatriots are also moving forward, as do our opposite numbers.

My tank spots a target – believe it or not Zulus?! No doubt rounded up by some zealous Anglican missionary, they are in the open. The tank opens fire and, while dealing little damage, causes the brave, if misguided, warriors to waver.

More scattered reinforcements make their way onto the field. The Ladies’ Fascisti cycle into the fray on my left, just in time to see their battle-hardened Highlander comrades throw themselves to the ground, startled by a backfiring car!

Both sides are now inching closer to each other. The Metropolitan Blackshorts clamber over the church wall and begin to investigate the hallowed building. Along the road opposite, the enemy is struggling to get over the hedges but are nearing some ruined houses.

Suddenly a group of men break cover! As the rebels approach the ruins, General Blowhard and the aircrew race from their hiding place. They quickly cross the road towards the church and the protection of the Blackshorts.

Both sides are starting to get to grips with each other. As Blowhard makes his way through the Blackshorts and back to BUF territory, the forces of order begin to exchange fire with the rebels. On my right, the tank is poised to unleash more terror upon them, but a well-placed shot from an anti-tank rifle disables it’s gun.

My signallers can now see the enemy and are directing mortar fire onto them. They are joined by the largely redundant Blackshort anti-tank rifle team, who are quickly wiped out by enemy HMG fire. On both flanks my BUF allies are pressing forward.

The Metropolitan Blackshorts occupy the church and begin to fire at the enemy, now taking cover in the recently vacated ruins opposite. The BUF artillery truck opens fire on these rebels, but the shot goes astray and lands perilously close to the church.

On the left flank the rebels occupy more ruins and a firefight erupts between them and the BUF, who are soon joined by the Sidcup Highlanders, whilst the Ladies’ Fascisti take up positions in reserve. Among the enemy ranks, cricketers make good use of their bowling arms by lobbing grenades instead of googlies.

The shooting is intense and both sides take casualties, but eventually one section of rebel militia can take no more and makes a run for it, muttering something about a lost scarf. However the triumph is short-lived as rebel armoured cars suddenly appear on each flank. Meanwhile Blowhard and co. are withdrawing through the cornfield behind the church as fast as they can.

By now the Marches Blackshort infantry section has arrived. They make a beeline for the church walls, where the spotting team and runners are holding the line and suffering for it. The rebels cannot hope to catch General Blowhard, so all the Blackshorts and BUF have to do is hold them up long enough for him to make his escape.

On the right flank the BUF exchange fire with the rebels. Again the fighting is deadly to both sides but it does the job of holding up the enemy. By now the hour is late and it is clear that Blowhard and co. will make it off the table safely. The BUF battle plan for the coming offensive is secure…

A fun, and well overdue, VBCW battle! The forces of order took the lion’s share of casualties but managed to rescue the General from rebel clutches. In reality the purpose of the game was to reacquaint ourselves with the rules, and for that it served it’s purpose well. Lots of laughs all round – great stuff!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Herefordshire 1938: The Next Generation!

A few weeks ago I was asked if there was going to be a VBCW Big Game this year. This was my answer:

Giles and I have been organising these big games since 2012. While I can't speak for Giles, personally I've decided to take a long break from doing any more.
After a while the work behind the scenes becomes onerous and I've always been of the opinion that, when a hobby begins to feel like a job, it's time to step back from that hobby - this is how I feel about the VBCW big games at the moment I'm afraid.
I'm not selling my VBCW collection just yet - if someone else takes up the baton I'll do my best to pop along and support as much as I can, but my days of chasing people up for orbats and curry orders are, for the time being, over :)

Happily, other chaps have manfully stepped into the breach and have volunteered to keep the flag flying! They have organised a new Big Game for April 1st 2017, and have created a new blog. It can be found at

This new blog will be the source of information for new Big Games (although I'll be using this blog to write any AARs from my perspective). Please pop across and take a look!