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

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...

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Triumph of Hardly-Standin

Jon popped over last week for a game, my first since I got home. As I was still suffering from the after effects of excessive travel time, to say the least, I organised a fairly straightforward game set in our Imagination of Rhanzlistan. The premise of the game is that somehow acting on his own initiative the gnarled veteran of frontier warfare, Hardly-Standin, has spirited Prince Kasim, the heir to the deposed Raja of Rhanzlistan, from the clutches of his evil uncle, the Jakzi of Jimbai. All he has to do now is to get the boy to safety. Luckily he happens on a patrol, lead by Major Whyte of the Shropshire Yeomanry, who is making a show of force to cow the Bhurpa tribes into submission.

Commanding the patrol, Jon had 14 moves to exit the table with Prince Kasim while fighting off random attacks by Bhurpa tribesmen. The Bhurpas were randomly allocated to the route and marked by encounter chits. When a figure from the patrol passed the chit it was turned over and the appropriate group of Bhurpas deployed on the table. If the Bhurpas could capture the Prince then they would win the game, so Jon had to think carefully about how to deal with each attack as it unfolded.
The Imperial force consisted of Major Whyte and his personal standard bearer; Hardly-Standin and Prince Kasim; The 2nd Jats, two sections, and a machine gun; the Gordon Highlanders, two sections; and a large baggage train of 'tax goods' collected from less than enthusiastic Bhurpa villages! The Bhurpas comprised eight groups of warriors and tribesmen, including a group of sword wielding fanatics, a machine gun team and a mortar group.
The first picture gives an idea of the table layout looking lengthways down the table from a partly ruined village. The route to safety lies to the left along the road leading off the table. The yellow chits mark Bhurpa encounters.

The first group of tribesmen are revealed and are engaged by Major Whyte's command group. He drives them off in a vicious hand to hand fight as the Gordons move up in support.

The Bhurpa attack develops but the Prince is safely amongst the baggage for now.

The Jakzi himself leads an attack on the column as it passes into the village. For a time it looks tight for Whyte, Hardly-Standin and the Prince as more Bhurpas rush to the attack from beyond the village.

The Gordon Highlanders clear the village as the tribal leader, Ghi Mikha, rushes to head off Hardly-Standin's escape route.

There was no real danger though as the draw of the cards finally favoured Jon and the last enemy was destroyed, leaving Hardly-Standin, Whyte and the Prince to exit the table in triumph.

The game lasted 13 turns, using our preferred rule set "Setting the East Ablaze". All the figures and terrain are from my collection, featured in last month's Wargames Illustrated if you missed it! The Bhurpas were let down by the last chit turned being the machine gun team, while in close combat Hardly-Standin twice saw off superior numbers of Bhurpa warriors, even Prince Kasim cut down one or two for himself! All in all, a finely balanced game right up to the end we felt and great fun too. All I ask from my hobby now a days as it happens, though perhaps the odd win would be nice now and then?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Tall Tales from the Raj

As I mentioned in a post last year, I've written a piece for Wargames Illustrated on the Rhanzlistan project which Phil and I have been engaged on for several months now. Dan came over to GHQ and spent a whole day taking numerous photographs for the piece as I showed in a previous post too.
Interested readers will be able to rush out and buy the issue at the end of the month and read it for themselves. How do I know? Well, when I came back home the other morning from collecting Matt's tickets for the Johnson's Paint/Football League Trophy final ~ Walsall v Bristol City ~ the magazine was on the door mat! Dan very kindly sent me a copy as soon as they came back from the printers; what a sterling chap he is,eh! Its a six page extravaganza, illustrated with twelve of the photos he took {with many more due to make an appearance on the magazine's website it says}. Here are another sample or two to wet the appetite of the enthusiast ~

Any fan of the Back of Beyond or C20th Colonial themes will be more than happy with the issue, as it contains more than just my modest piece from the genres. The overall magazine theme of Civil Wars will also be pleasing for many folk, as will the articles on scratch building terrain and buildings please the enthusiasts with fewer thumbs than me!! An excellent issue all round I think. Not that I'm biased of course ~
Just how I felt after several hours as photographer's
dogsbody and backdrop holder!

Anyway, back to football matters to close. My team, Walsall, are making their first appearance at Wembley in their 127 year history next month and I can't be there. I shall be in New Zealand on holiday! So Matt gets to go in my place and I have to be content to catch the match on TV, if I can, or on DVD later! Still, perhaps we'll be back at Wembley for the League 1 Playoff Finals in May? Well, a man can dream, can't he....?