Monday 28 June 2010

I had my first game of Very British Civil War last Friday, with some guys from the Stourbridge Wargamers- great blokes- especially Ash who organised the while event. I took my platoon of Reds along, where they represented a flying column of the Stourbridge Socialists.

In the alternative history of VBCW, Stourbridge is in the hands of the anti-royalists, while near-by rival Wolverhampton is well and truly Royalist, and in the hands of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). As the steel mills of Stourbridge have been helping anti-royalist manufacture armoured vehicles, the BUF felt compelled to move in and take control of Strourbridge. Our game represented an battle on the outskirts of the town between these two forces.

The Reds, and their allies in the Salvation Army Volunteer Defence Force man the defences of Stourbridge.

The BUF attack starts badly when Red aircraft and lucky shooting make a mess of their nice black trucks.

The BUF Driver tries to ram the armoured car. The Reds manning the roadblock are overcome with emotion and charge over their barricade to drag the unfortunate driver from his vehicles, where he was clubbed to death. Moments later most of the Socialist squad was atomised by accurate artillery fire from the Royalist regulars.

Sending the vehicles in was a sneaky ruse, and the BUF use the distraction to advance through cover up the flank.

The games was a lot of fun, but we ran out of time before we could declare ether side as victors. Time for a rematch, I think.

Friday 18 June 2010

Vehicles are rare in the Very British Civil War, as fuel is a premium. Many have been commandeered from civilian use and pressed into military service. Some have been converted into Armoured Cars by having armour bolted onto their chassis etc.
My Communists currently possess four vehicles: One staff car (a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost); Two vans (commandeered from the Maynard's sweet factory and hastily repainted) and their prized possession, a home made armoured car (converted from a Model A Ford dairy truck), nicknames the Tachanka.

Two former sweet factory delivery vans converted into troop transport.

The 'Tachanka' began as a humble dairy truck, but was commandeered and coverted into a light armoured car. Inspired by stories of the Russian tachanka- a machine gun mounted onto a fast horse-drawn cart, used to great effect in the Russian Civil War- the Liverpudlian Communist were keen to create their own updated version. Armour plates were welded to the back and to protect the cab and engine, and a Birmingham made Maxim HMG was fitted to the back. Two gunners ride in the back, laying down a steady stream of fire (all be it with a limited arch of fire) while protected from the enemy. The gunners, two brothers from Birmingham who arrived with the gun, fancy themselves a cut above their foot slogging northern comrades, and this is reflected in their home-made uniforms.

A couple of WIP shots showing how I converted the Lledo die cast model A Ford truck into the Tachanka. Basically I used plasticard for the armour plates and Eureka Miniatures for the gun crew. The tarpaulin and grab handle are from a Games Workshop tank kit. I had to build up the height of the bed of the truck so the gun could fit over the top.

Here's a link to Wiki for Tachanka, if you are interested.

This is my Liverpool-based Communist force, for A Very British Civil War (see previous entry if you are unfamiliar with VBCW). It represents a platoon strength force, plus a few Motor vehicles. The Communists of Liverpool are one of the more organised left-wing forces, thanks to the influx of veteran fighters from the Spanish Civil War and

advisers from the Soviets. My force are mostly equipped with rifles, but a handful wield Czech made Light Machine Guns, or Russian made SMGs (PPD 40's if you want to be beardy about it). They don't where uniforms as such, but one or two have started adopting the Birmingham Communist Brigades 'uniform' of grey flannel trousers and khaki shirts. This squad is lightly armed, with handguns and mills bombs. They could be used as drivers, runners etc. Or perhaps even a hit squad infiltrating the enemy lines in an attempt to assassinate strategically important characters. The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was liberated from the Grosvenor estate. It was destined to be turned into an armoured car, but a commissar with taste stepped in and commandeered it. It has been hastily repainted and pressed into service as a staff car.A squad of Communists advance through woodlands on the Wirral, weary of ambush form royalist forces. They are mostly armed with rifles captured from military arms depots or supplied by their Russian allies. The man in front is a merchant seaman, and is carrying a Russian-made PPD-40 sub-machine gun. These weapons have been supplied in small numbers by the soviets to provide much needed firepower.A squad of Communists man a hastily erected roadblock trying to prevent Royalists forces encroaching on Liverpool. Here the ferocious woman in the middle of the picture is using a Czech made LMG smuggled into Liverpool via Spain, where it first saw service in the viscous fighting of the Spanish Civil War.

What is A Very British Civil War (VBCW)?

Not to be confused with the English Civil War, this is setting for a wargaming, utilising an alternative history in which Britain descends into civil war during the interwar period (ie 1938).

The idea was the brainchild of Dr Rob Jones, Steve Mortimer an Simon Douglas, of Solway Crafts and Publication. The premise is that King Edward refused to abdicate in 1936, triggering a constitutional crisis in which Sir Oswald Moseley, Leader of the British Union of Fascists, managed to seize power. The country is torn apart in the aftermath, leading to a bitter and protracted civil war.

What makes VBCW unique is that it is not a game, as such, but rather an idea. The background is laid out in a series of books produced by Solway, but they don't provide rule. That is left up to the individual gaming groups to choose which system they wish to use. Furthermore, as the fans of VBCW have an active web presence of the Lead Adventure Forum and the Gentleman's Wargame Parlor, the background of the world Solway created has become an organically evolving thing. Players are encouraged to build forces that represent their own area, and to report the results of their battles, and in this way the face of the VBCW country is constantly changing.

What appealed to me most about the VBCW was that is is a work of fiction. By which I mean that it is an alternative history, only loosely based on real historic events. I have always wanted to do historic wargaming, and have often pondered doing a WW2 force, or perhaps Napoleonic. I dallied briefly with colonial wargaming a few years ago, but never really got into it. The problem for me is that I dislike the idea of having to stick to historically accurate uniforms, weaponry etc. I can't stand the idea that another wargamer might look down his nose at my beautifully painted army and snidely comment that 'those epaulets should be sky blue' or whatever. But that is where VBCW is different: as it is an alternative history, anything goes. I can paint my army any colour I choose, and no one can tell me it's wrong! Freedom to engage in historic wargaming with out giving a chance for some beardy rivet-counting know-it-all to show off!

The guys on the forums I mentioned earlier are fantastic. They are very friendly, are always open to new ideas, and love to debate their alternatives history. I spend far to long reading their forum (sometimes more than I spend painting!)

My first VBCW army (because I plan to do some more too) is a force of Communist from Liverpool. Coming from Merseyside myself, it seemed natural to do some scousers. I am using mostly Musketeer Miniatures, with a few Artizan Designs thrown in to the mix, and a pack or two from Empress Miniatures Spanish Civil War range and Eurekas Russian Civil War range. I have used Lledo die cast cars, repainted in suitable colours, for their precious motor vehicles.
I also plan to make some suitable scenary, starting with a rural village, and then progressing onto a built up urban board, with rows of Victorian terrace housing and some docks to represent Liverpool itself.

Queen Victoria visits Deadhorse

My son Charlie has been doing about the Victorians for a school project. What better way for him to be educated, informed and entertained at the same time than to paint a 28mm scale miniature of Her Majesty. OK, it's probably not that educational, but it was fun, and I think he has made a really good job of it. He already paints better than me,and he's only ten!

This miniature is one of the Eureka range. They are an Australian company, but they are available in the UK from Fighting 15.
Too long has passed since I have blogged, but I have been busy with work, writing, going to the Download festival, and painting an army for a Very British Civil War (more on that later). I thought it was about time I got on with posting some of what I have been up to.

This week Leon and I managed to link up for a few more games of the excellent Pulp City. For the uninitiated Pulp City is a 28mm skirmish game using superheroes and villains- very much my cup of tea. Leon, aka Pulp Citizen, is a Pulp City fanatic, who has some wonderful scenery, and has nearly the entire collection of Pulp City figures already painted in his cabinet. Needless to say, we used his figures and gaming board.

The first game was a relatively small affair. I took the villain team, comprising of Supreme Zed (a zombie supervillian), Sangine (a Vampire) and his evil chiwawa Draku, Mourne (a supernatural ghost-creature) and Francis Gaitor (a swamp dwelling half-man/half croc). I also took some minions, in this case a 'horde' of three zombies, and Stongarm, some sort of undead construct from the netherplane. Minions can be purchased like equipment, and are weak compared to the heroes, but can be useful if used tactically, or with good fortune on your side.
We were facing the hero Solar (sun powered superman type), Kitty Cheshire (and invisible teleporter), Ace of Wraiths (supernatural gunslinger) and Vector (a living computer program). They also brought a couple of vigilante sidekicks (minions).

The plot of the game was that a mysterious and evil artifact has been unearthed by grave-diggers in one of Pulp City's churchyards. Sangine has assembled a force of evil entities to try to capture it, while the heroic Solar and his team try to prevent them. In our game whoever has the artifact at the end of six turns is the winner. Simples.

In the first turn my two flyers, Supreme Zed and Mourne rushed forwards towards the artifact. Solar levitated over the church to try to prevent them removing it. Vector, only barley in this dimension at all, moves through the seemingly solid church as if it wasn't there. blasts are exchanged and Mourne is badly wounded. Gaitor tosses a postbox at Vector, damaging him quite badly.

In round two Mourne grabbed the artifact and made a dash for safety behind the wall of zombies, but Solar caught up with him and hammered him into the ground, incapacitating him with his blazing fists.

Francis Giator and Strongarm rush the already damaged Vector, and tear him apart. His body dissolves in a shower of pixels. Buoyed up by their success they races towards Ace of Wraiths, and injure him too. Then Gaitor finds out why it's a bad idea to make Ace of Wraiths angry, as he unleashes the 'Queen of Blood', and in a blaze of supernatural gun fire shoots Gaitor, and injures Strongarm. Then, being as slippery as an eel, manages to escape from combat and put some distance between himself and Strongarm. Meanwhile Supreme Zed sweeps down and captures the artifact before Solar can pick it up.

In round three Solar unleashes the power of the sun against Supreme Zed and Sangiune, but the villains prove quite durable. Zed blasts Solar with his Death ray, before moving off with the artifact, taking cover in the graveyard. Ace of Wraiths blast away at the Zombie horde. Three shots- three kills! That thinned out my side considerably. Strongarm continues to chase the slippery Ace, but can't pin him down.

Ace then blazed away as Supreme Zed, injuring him, but a long way of killing him. Zed regenerates the damage at the end of the turn. Sangine and his bloodthirsty pet chiwawa Draku tear into the injured Solar, and bring the hero down.

In turn four Sangine actives his blood lust, then he and Draku clash with the vigilantes, tearing them apart in short order, feasting wantonly on their blood. Ace of Wraiths tries to gun Sangine down, but Sanuine's reflexes are too finely tuned for the gunslinger, and he easily dodges the bullets. Draku launches himself at Ace but fails to damage him.

In turn five Draku savages Ace's leg. Ace released the supernatural power in his revolvers, injuring Strongarm and Sangine. Sangine retaliates by sinking his fangs into Ace, incapacitating the hero.

In turn six, all fired up, and with a taste for blood, Sangine charges Kitty Cheshire before she can turn invisible, and takes her down with a savage blow. With the hero's defeated, and Supreme Zed in possession of the Artifact the games is well an truly over.

Supreme Zed, Sangine, Draku and Strong arm make off with the evil artifact, dragging the unconscious body of Francis Gaitor with them. The day belongs to the villains.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Two new folks from the frontier town of Deadhorse (LotOW campaign). The one of the left is Albert Wiessen, a journalist of sorts, who followers notorious characters around, publishing tales of their infamous exploits in the penny papers so popular back East, while the other is Danny 'Card shark' Malone, gambler, drunkard and hell-raiser newly recruited into the posse of Sheriff Fray of the Deadhorse Lawmen.

Big Howdie to Doctor Warlock, fellow fan of Pulp City and stuff. I hope you find what you like here. Don't worry, there will be more super-stuff soon. This is just a blip.
I have been working on some more scenery for the Legends of the Old West town, Deadhorse. Added to the town are two new shops, the Eastern and Smyth Gun Makers, where cowboys and gunslingers alike are sure to want to come to purchase their custom made firearms, and for the fairer sex Miss Rosie has just opened up her Haberdashery and Dress making emporium, selling a wide selection of fashionable dresses, hats and even shoes.
I have also been painting up a few of the bits of resin scenery I purchased, in this case some piles of crates. Wooden crates like this are excellent, because they will work well in a wide range of settings, from Conan to Modern. These crates could be found in the docks of Hyboria, on the Deadhorse railroad station platform, on the quayside of war torn Liverpool, or in the warehouse patrolled by a certain caped crusader. A very versatile piece of scenery.