Saturday, 27 December 2014

And Finally....

Well here we are at my last post for 2014 - where did the time go? Fittingly, this is about the last group of miniatures in my painting pile - more cavalry for my Iron Hooves.

The figures are BUF cavalry from Musketeer Footsore Miniatures, and very nice they are too!

Here they are with my previous bunch, from Crusader Miniatures and I think they mix together reasonably well (if, like me, you're not too fussy about differences in uniform, kit etc.)

Looking back, the most abiding impression is that I haven't played nearly enough games this year - 4 out of a meagre 32 posts being actual AARs.

However two of those were dedicated to a couple of fantastic Big Games, which are rapidly becoming the highlight of my wargaming calendar.

My modelling/painting output has been modest, but considering that this time last year I was predicting that I had virtually completed my VBCW collection, I haven't done too badly!

I've also been pleased to make a token effort with historical research too, scouring the newspaper archives for interesting snippets.

So what next?

Hopefully more gaming! We have another Big Game planned for March - stay tuned n the new year for news about that - but I if the dice gods are smiling I will be able to find more time to put lead to table.

I still have more cavalry to prep and paint, plus some vehicle kits to assemble (and by that I mean 'not glue to my fingers') and some scenery (stuff I have bought that needs painting, and bits to scratchbuild.)

On top of this I have my two other blogs to maintain. The VBCW Miniatures Guide will need to be updated as new ranges come on the market, and my research continues regarding My Family in and Great War.

So to conclude - HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Here's to the next one!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Seasons Greetings From the Lady of the Manor

Lady Deirdre Ffaines-Muir would like to extend to you her most warmest felicitations of the season. Pictured here with her two faithful spaniels, Samson and Delilah, Lady Deirdre is currently residing at her country residence near Wigmore.

As patron of the Herefordshire Townswomen's Guild, Lady Deirdre is well-known for her charitable works, and for her active participation in the local branch of the Landowners' Protection Association.

The villages in her estate have recently become even more festive than is usual for this time of year, for they have been galvanised by the arrival of Lady Deirdre's ward, Miss Nemone Mortimer-Wagstaff.

This 'statuesque' young lady, pictured here under the watchful eye of head gardener Albert, is quickly becoming the most eligible 'bachelor-ette' of the county after coming of age and being presented to The King, for she is the only surviving person in the British Isles able to claim a direct bloodline to the Mortimer family - that once powerful dynasty of Medieval Marcher Lords.

This correspondent predicts that many a potential suitor will soon be sending their visitor cards to Lady Ceirdre's residence, in the hope that Miss Mortimer-Wagstaff and her loyal following in this part of the county will deem him an acceptable love match!

More smashing figures from 'Mason's' Blind Beggar Miniatures range!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Back in the Saddle

After weeks of apathy, I started getting an itchy paintbrush. Luckily I had a small unit of cavalry already undercoated – this is their story…

Trooper Riley’s horse was skittish as he and his fellow Blackshirts waited on parade; it’s hot breath mixing with the early morning fog of a cold London morning. ‘Hercules’ jerked it’s head, picking up no doubt his rider’s own nerves – for today, it was rumoured, they would be addressed by someone important. Fuller perhaps, or Jenks – maybe even Mosley himself!

“Whoever it is, I wish ‘ed get a bleedin’ move on!” Riley muttered.

“They like to keep us hangin’ abaht,” replied his neighbour, ‘Monkey’ Harris, astride his own black steed. “Y’know – get us all in a two-and-eight. Make’s ‘em feel big dunnit?”

Riley huffed in reply, wondering how, years after first stepping out in his uniform as a young tearaway and facing a crowd of baying lefties, he could still feel nervous as a trooper in Mosley’s cavalry. Surely all those nights patrolling the estuary, riding down protestors in Hyde Park and skirmishing along the front line would have hardened his nerve more than this?

“Oi oi, look sharp!” Harris hissed.

Riley watched, butterflies wheeling, as a black Roller had pulled up in front of them, the back door pulled open by some lackey to allow some high-ranking nob – all medals and sash - to climb stiffly out.

He nodded almost casually to the stiff row of mounted troops before him. “Gentlemen,” he said, his voice as hard as his gaze, “I am Baron Foy, and as of this moment you are under my command.”

The line of cavalry rippled a little.

“Tomorrow you will leave the comfort and civilisation of the capital and join the Three Counties Legion on campaign in the provinces. Herefordshire to be precise – a place you will have never heard of, but a place that you will soon learn to hate. Use that hate gentlemen, for you will need it.”

“In honour of the sacrifice you are about to make, I have been authorised by the Prime Minister to bestow upon you an honorary name of my choosing – the Bethnal Green Auxiliary Mounted Rifles being a bit of a mouthful, is it not?”

“Therefore I have devised an honorific that reflects both your magnificent black steeds and your own steely determination. From henceforth you will be known as…”

He paused for effect.

“The Iron Hooves!”

“Iron ‘oofs!?” Harris coughed, “Gaw’ blimey!”

These figures are Crusader Miniatures WW2 German cavalry, and I have some Musketeer BUF cavalry waiting to join them once they’re undercoated.

On a completely different note, I’d like to point out an amazing bit of scratchbuilding, currently in the ‘How To’ section of the Lead-Adventure Forum.

Mark, AKA Tin Shed Gamer, has built a steam traction engine entirely out of cardboard and superglue! His efforts can be followed here.

Mark reckons that it’s something I could easily build, although I respectfully disagree! As a compromise I have agreed to have a crack at a (hopefully) simpler model – an armoured traction engine similar to that employed in the Boer War:-

Watch this space!

Monday, 17 November 2014

All Quiet on the Western Front

Gone a bit quiet around here hasn’t it?

I have a healthy lead pile (mainly cavalry), plastic kits and some scenery waiting in the wings, but it doesn’t look like they’ll get done any time soon.

Partly this is due me still being burnt out after the last big game. I’m just not in the mood to do any painting or modelling at the moment. Another reason is the lack of opportunity for spraying undercoat on stuff due to little spare time, the weather etc. etc.

Plus I’m also involved in the Herefordshire History website. This project, spearheaded by Herefordshire Libraries, aims to digitise the county’s entire collection of historical documents, newspapers, photos etc. and make them available to view. My small part in the noble endeavour is to scour the WW1 photos and identify any details – for example, can a soldier’s regiment be identified from his cap badge?

The website - - officially launched last week, and is well worth a look.

Despite feeling well and truly jaded with VBCW, I have already made a few steps towards planning the next Big Game, scheduled for 14th March 2015.

The battle to control the Golden Valley Railway and it’s connections will continue, and rumour has it that the Anglican League have already formulated a plan of action…

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


All this recent talk of scarecrows got me in the mood to scratch build another one, seeing as it's nearly Halloween and all...

While my previous effort was a stuffed effigy of a BUF bloke, this one is a simpler construct mocking the pious Anglican League (obviously they have been raising their tithes a bit too much!)

A very quick and easy build this - a crosspiece made from bits of cocktail stick, dressed in a tissue paper 'robe' (hardened off by spraying with hairspray and layers of paint) tied with string, a putty pumpkin head and a 'mitre' made from a rolled up sticker.

I'm not particularly happy with the paintjob, as it looks spookier as a WIP!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Parish Map Update

Now that the dust has settled after the last Big Game, it's time to take a look at the lie if the land.

An alliance of Anglican League, Welsh Nationalist and Socialist forces have pushed across the Welsh border to capture the important railway junction at Eardisley, and occupy a strong position to take the strategic Titley Junction.

The allies have elected to keep hold of these gains as part of their grand plan to take control of the Hay-Presteigne line and link it up to the Golden Valley Railway. Much of this line lies under the control of Sir Gilbert. For his part Sir Gilbert has given rival landowners in neighbouring Longtown a bloody nose for daring to oppose his expansionist plans.

The Socialists have demanded a slice of the pie in recognition for their assistance, and their uneasy allies have begrudgingly allowed them to set up shop in a handful of parishes. However these are isolated and separated rural locations where it is hoped they can run their Socialist utopias without upsetting the apple cart too much.

The Royalists and BUF, far from being put on the back foot by the rebel advance, have been galvanised into action. Squads of loyal men have been sent to any neutral parishes along the westbound railway routes from Hereford and Leominster and have secured them against any possible rail-borne thrusts from the Welsh border.

Additionally those border parishes that were under the sway of the Landowners’ Protection Association before Sir Gilbert turned his attentions on them 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.

Plans are being drawn, defences erected and assaults prepared. This will not be the last time that the border will shake to the sound of gunfire...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Straw Poll

Someone on the VBCW forum asked me how many Twiggy Mommet scarecrow protesters I've got now...

The answer is 37!

You can learn  more about them here and here.

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…