The occasional exploits of Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh and the Rhanzlistan Field Force

Monday, 27 June 2016

Into the hills!

With the final thawing of the winter's snows here in Rhanzlistan it's time for our hero, Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh, and the Rhanzlistan Field Force to shake off the stupor of too long confined to barracks and march to further glory! Rumours have been heard over these past months in the markets and villages of the foothills of a great gathering of Bhurpa tribal elders in the palace of that villainous ruler, the Jakzi of Jimbai. Governor Godfrey Godalming has dispatched our hero and a column of His Majesty's finest sons to ascertain the truth behind these rumours, and if necessary to 'civilize' the Jakzi and those troublesome Bhurpas!
For our first return to Rhanzlistan for a while Phil would command the RFF and I would take control of the Bhurpas. Phil's game objective is to capture the Bhrpa tribal elders and their Soviet adviser, mine to survive 2 turns and inflict as great a loss n the RFF as possible; a line in the sand defence really. We used Bolt Action for the game's rules rather than the usual Setting the East Ablaze. In Turn 1 the RFF enters the table with the Bhurpa positions marked by counters, including 5 to mark sniper positions, of which more later. Piper Imrie leads the column across the Bykla river ~

Phil's infantry on his right flank have already survived their first encounter with the Bhupa sniper concealed in the ruins of a village. For each of the 5 Sniper markers the Bhurpas get one shot at their chosen target only, then the opportunity passes. I chose to target the lead command figure in Turn 1 and promptly missed, a bit of a precursor to the rest of the game ~

A spotter in the hills on the Bhurpa's right flank guides the mortar crew concealed in a village courtyard onto their target, or not in my case ~

The Bhurpa sniper was soon in action again, with Piper Imrie being the unfortunate victim of choice! But nothing daunted, the Gordons and the Bhyklabad Horse continue their relentless advance ~

On the RFF's right flank the infantry advance is hampered by the terrain, but they come on steadily despite the difficulty and the fire of the Bhurpas' antiquated artillery support ~

By Turn 6 the action is heating up all along the front. The 18lb gun comes into action to support the Bhyklabad Horse's bold advance into the heart of the village and F.O. Bikklesworth arrives in his ageing A10 to provide support with two light bombs ~

The first bomb destroys a Bhurpa group in the outskirts of the village, reducing the immediate threat to the Horse to the MMG on the roof of another building on the outskirts. Meanwhile tribesmen concealed in a dry stream bed are poised to threaten the RFF's infantry advance ~

Not that they got very far! The second bombing run is equally devastating and the tribesmen and blown to smithereens. Back in the centre, the Bhurpa Maxim takes a heavy toll on the artillery, forcing them to withdraw, but other Bhurpa elements are less successful and the game tips beyond them in Turn 9. Despite the loss of the Bhyklabad Horse to a surprise flank attack and serious losses to their support from the South Staffords and the Gordons its all up for the Jakzi!

The Jakzi, General Robinski and several Bhurpa tribal elders are captured and once more Rhanzlistan can enjoy a period of settled calm, until the next time of course...

An enjoyable game, for all that my fire was particularly ineffective bar the Maxim's efforts. The game was really swung by the A10's two bombing runs. The first destroying a whole group, the second almost destroying another. With such losses in two turns the Bhurpas could not inflict enough damage to slow the RFF's remorseless advance and Phil was able to achieve his objective in Turn 9. The Bhurpas had mauled the Horse, the 18lb gun, the Gordons and the South Staffords but it had not been enough to turn the game in their favour thanks wholly to the exploits of F.O.Bikklesworth, or Phil's dice of course ~

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Stubborn as a mule?

Very quiet in Rhanzlistan of late, very quiet; but at last some news! At Wargamer last December I bought these two pack mules from Tiger Miniatures with a view to adding more baggage to the game in the shape of transport for the machine gun sections. The rear mule sports the MMG while the front mule carries the ammunition I suppose.

I deliberately didn't add any figure to the base as I cunningly thought it might pass muster for our 1943 Burma Campaign games, where my Chindits can always do with more pack mules! Purists may have a fit, but it works for me! I can thoroughly recommend the mules sold by Tiger Miniatures, in all about six different types I've found so far and very cheap at £1.50 each. There is even one with no pack, allowing the more talented chaps than I to convert to their heart's content.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Mountains of Rhanzlistan

As it was so pleasant this afternoon, Sue and I went out for a drive and ended up near Newport in Shropshire. We popped into a local garden centre complex for a cup of tea and a wander about, just to pass the time really. In one building they were selling off Christmas stuff at between 30-50% reduction. In the  Christmas Village collection there were several display bases for the village buildings in the style of 'mountains'. They are made of vacuum formed plastic. I thought this one would be great for my Bhurpa tribesmen to swoop down from on unsuspecting Bolshies! As it cost me only £15 I think it was worth a punt! It measures 45" X 15" X 12" but there were others smaller, and one even bigger with a waterfall! I know it will need a lot of work to bring it up to the standard of the rest of the terrain ( cue Phil?) but I'm hopeful it will enhance the table top in due course. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 14 December 2015

A 'SPIFFing' Surprise...

I realise its been quite some time since I last posted anything relating to the exploits of the Rhanzlistan Field Force {RFF}or its rotund commander, Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh, in this dedicated Blog, but there are so many genres to be gamed and time is limited, even for we retired gamers. I can however put that omission right today by sharing with any interested party the goings on earlier today in Rhanzlistan...
As ever, Phil bought with him his wonderful Bolshevik Russians who, in the guise of the Soviet People's International Frontier Force {S.P.I.F.F.} represent the main opponents here in Rhanzlistan. The game was set up to represent a surprise attack by S.P.I.F.F. against the RFF so as the defender, I deployed first, with Phil having a choice of three entry points on the opposite side of the table. This left my forces somewhat spread out to cover each eventuality, with a further force held off table to be hurried forward if things looked sticky! We used 'Setting the East Ablaze' as the rules and found in the early turns we were more than a little ring rusty! First into action were a column of Bolshevik infantry probing the RFF's right flank along a line of hills. They were successfully engaged by the Mountain Gun of the No1 Baalti Battery ~

The RFF's position was split by a fast flowing river rushing through a mountain gorge. The only link between the right flank and the HQ was a rickety rope bridge. This was the sole means of reinforcements passing from one area to another and was a choke point in the deployment of troops as the game unfolded. The No1 Baalti Battery was supported by The Royal Surreys and the Loyal Tandooris , while their extreme right flank was held by the Jalfreezi Rifles. Beyond the gorge were the Brigade HQ , defended by the South Staffords and the RHA No5 Battery ~

The South Staffords had dug in in depth to defend the old wooden bridge across the river to their front. In the game the river would be tested for a crossing point when a unit reached the bank: on a D x 6 Even throw the river could be forded, on an Odd throw it could not! On the extreme left of the RFF's defensive position the RHA 18lb gun was deployed to cover the river crossing. Despite being thinly spread across a wide front the RFF position looked very secure in the opening moves ~

The SPIFF advance was developing quickly. On their right the artillery supported by the Siberian Rifles moved towards the river while in the centre the armoured car unit, supported by a strong cavalry force drove straight for the bridge crossing point ~

Disaster for the S.P.I.F.F.'s armoured car as it probed the bridge defences it suffered a direct hit from the 18lber and was knocked out, effectively reducing the bridge to difficult going as it burnt fiercely ~

Undeterred by this set back the Bolshevik cavalry confidently crossed the bridge, only to find them selves caught in a murderous cross fire from the RHA battery, the South Staffords and the Royal Surreys. At that point their cause looked lost ~

The forward positions around the bridge had looked in real danger, but moments later {the next turn} the Bolshevik cavalry were decimated when the order of cards allowed all three units to fire on them one after the other ~

Sensing a possible opportunity the Rolls Royce Armoured Car drove forward up a slight rise above the river and engaged the Siberian Rifles. What it had n't banked on though was the fire of the Bolshevik artillery which promptly destroyed it where it stood ~

The Bolshevik's artillery might be proving dangerous, so the RHA 18lber got it in its sights and suppressed its fire effectively ~

Over confidence can sometimes bring on disaster I've found, in life as well as across the wargames table! While all the action was seemingly around the bridge, the Bolshevik infantry had rushed forward on the RFF's right flank and engaged the Jalfreezi Rifles and the Royal Surreys in a close fight ~

Back to the action around the bridge crossing and a gallant charge by the elite Bolshevik infantry saw the South Staffords evicted from their trenches ~

Things were suddenly looking sticky for the RFF's gallant lads. Never fear, the Tandooris were making their way across the rope bridge to reinforce the South Stafford's position covered by the fire from the Machine Gun Company ~

Sadly, the card draw and the dice suddenly favoured the cause of the enemy. A Maxim Gun played havoc with the Tandooris as they crossed the bridge and a second cavalry unit rushed towards the village and the RFF's HQ ~

At this point, we ran out of time as Phil had to get away to an appointment! As friends, we agreed a draw, although I think that a generous gesture on his part towards my lads, whose position was very weak now. Brigadier Bykleigh can be seen organising a 'tactical withdrawal' from the headman's house ~

A celebratory 'cuppa' for the S.P.I.F.F. commanders and their propaganda chief seems the least they deserve for overseeing a remarkable turn around in fortunes from one half of the game to the other ~

We shall return to Rhanzlistan and its myriad of characters soon in the New Year I hope. In the meantime, I hope any readers who have enjoyed their visit to our little corner of the Empire will find the time to leave a response to our efforts. A Happy Christmas and New Year to you all from Rhanzlistan!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Residency at Byklabad

As I said on my main blog, I've been up to South Queensferry for a long weekend break coinciding with the Claymore wargames show in Edinburgh. The break enabled me to meet friends and family and to take in the show along the way. Before we went up 'd started work on a building complex to represent a superior location, hoping it would double as the Governor's Residency, the Headman's compound or even a Missionary church! I finished it off this morning so I thought that you might enjoy a peek ~
The Residency

The building, or more correctly buildings, are from the Mutineer Miniatures resin range for the Indian Mutiny. The walls are from the Ainsty Graveyard Walls set. I've yet to sort out what I'll do for a gate, the etched brass one provided might serve, but I may make a wooden gate using coffee stirrers in due course. Warbases kindly cut the 3mm MDF bases to my specification. I painted the Residency and the walls of its compound to match the other buildings you have seen in photos here before, with the exception of the roof tiles and stairs which I painted a shade of blue to represent more expensive tiling. The dome I painted in Bronze, just for a change and to mark out the building on the table. Enough waffle: a few pictures with figures to get a better idea of the building in a game ~
The Byklabad Horse depart for the front with RA support.

The Governor takes the air after Tiffin perhaps?

The Governor receives Prince Kasim and his entourage.

Well, I hope that the pictures give some sense of how the building will come alive in a game. When that will be I can't exactly say right now, as real life seems to have dealt a bit of a blow to my gaming chums of late. Later in the month perhaps if things in that direction improve?


Thursday, 30 July 2015

On the move!

Its been very quiet these past few weeks here in Rhanzlistan, but we have been putting the hiatus in the action to good use. At last the RA 18lb gun has a dedicated limber set to move it more swiftly into action against those pesky Bolshis!

Its a bit of a mishmash which the button counters would probably have a seizure over, but it will do the job nicely. Its made up of four Foundry horses and a limber set of sorts which I got by browsing Dave Thomas's stand last year at Partizan. The riders and outriders were similarly sourced and are also Foundry, from their WW1 range. The heads are from Gripping Beast's Woodbine Design range. As I already had the heads, the total cost was £8.00, which is a bit of a bargain I thought.

Now, I know that the limber horses come from different sets and that the limber ammunition box itself is probably from the FPW range, but it does the job for me at a price I am prepared to pay for something which strictly speaking I can do without! Anyway, it will do for me...

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Bhurpa Super Weapon

I bought this set on a visit to the Wargames Foundry HQ towards the end of last year. Its from the little advertised Han Chinese range. I thought it would make a nice antique 'super weapon' for some Bhurpa chieftain. After all, weighed down as they are by British taxation, surely nothing gets thrown away. If it still works, we'll use it must be the guiding principle I feel ~

I see it as crewed by some militant Buddhists who have fled to Rhanzlistan to avoid the depredations of the roving Chinese warlord, Wun Ung Lo ~ see Phil's Blog for his exploits! The terrain pieces its photographed on I picked up at the North Midlands Model Expo the other weekend. They are hard foam prepainted and flocked pieces I got for £5.00. I'm on a bit of a roll with similar pieces of late...