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

Monday, 12 September 2016

On the Road to Rhanzlstan

Well, having taken delivery of the mountain terrain from Phil last Monday, deciding on today's game was a no brainer! Our game sees 'Robinson Force', a detached element of the Rhanzlistan Field Force, pitted against the dastardly Bhykli Khan, chief of chiefs amongst the Bhurpas of Rhanzlistan, who has been roused to open rebellion by the promise of gold from the Russian embassy to the tribes! Catching news of the uprising from native spies, Brigadie Bykleigh has dispatched a force to chastise the Bhurpas, yet again...

Robinson Force enters the table from the southern end and must force a crossing of the river in one of two spots in order to engage the natives. The armoured car, supported by Aston's Scouts force the village meeting little opposition, while the Gurkhas, supported by the South Staffords and the Jalfrezi Rifles attack along the western banks of the river.

The Machine Gun detachment advances on the Force's left flank to provide suppressing fire when the Bhurpas show themselves.

The armoured car forces a passage of the village, coming under long range mortar fire from Bhurpas somewhere in the hills up ahead, while Aston's Scouts offer close support if needed.

Without wavering the Gurkhas advance swiftly on the bridge, determined to carry their objective whatever the opposition might be.

As Robinson Force gathers for the assault the Bhurpas reveal themselves amongst the rocky heights and in the ruins of an ancient village. They seem to be supported by a motley crowd of Russian adventurers and ner do wells! They pour down fire on the armoured car and the Scouts, rather foolishly ignoring the Gurkha threat!

While the Russians are alert to the growing threat to the bridge, the Bhurpas seem happy to continue to engage the armoured car and the Scouts!

At a crucial phase in the action the draw of the Bolt Action dice favours Robinson Force and the Gurkhas charge across the bridge taking only one casualty and defeat the first of the defenders in a bloody melee!

Surviving flanking fire from the remaining Bhurpas and supported by the South Staffords the Gurkhas go on to clear the village. Their bold attack unsettles the remaining natives, as does the incessant machine gun fire from the left flank and the accurate fire of the mountain gun battery!

The bravery and example of the Gurkhas serves to encourage the Scouts and they advance at the trot to put any surviving Bhurpas to the sword!

At this stage Bhurpa resistance is almost wiped out, just the mortar crew and the Russian mercenaries are left in action. Its all up for Bhykli Khan he realises!

As the Scouts advance briskly up the lower slopes, the mortar crew and the mercenary Russians melt away into the upper slopes of the mountains of Rhanzlistan...leaving Bhykli Khan to contemplate his errors.

For those who like to know these things we used Bolt Action version 1 for the rules, adding a preliminary turn for Robinson Force to enter the table. We played over the usual six turns, though it was all up for the Bhurpas in Turn 5 as you've seen above! Though thoroughly chastised on this occasion there is no doubt that the Bhurpas will rise again or that the marauding forces of S.P.I.F.F. will once again test the metal of Brigadier Bykleigh and the Rhanzlistan Field Force over the coming months.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Hills Are Alive...

...with the sound of drybrushing! Dreadful, I know, but you will have to put up with it for now! How we went from this, rather twee Christmas Village display base ~

To this, a bespoke creation of the Mountains of Rhanzlistan; home to that most 'loyal' of tribesmen, the dreaded Bhurpas!

Well, to be more exact, to do this you need a 'Phil Robinson' in full 'Slarti Bartfarst' mode! Its a bit like having your own Dobbie I suppose. {I keep him in a garage workshop in Darkest Rawnsley, fed on scraps from the table and watered with coffee occasionally!} You see him here applying the finishing touches to the snowy peaks...

But seriously, what a wonderfully talented chap and stout friend he is. {I'm even almost sorry I won today's WWII Bolt Action game now!} The process started in the last Blog entry took just one week to completion, starting with the painting of the MDF base to counter possible warping during the process; the application of coats of Polytex ceiling paint to the plastic vacuum formed shell of the mountains; repeated over spraying of colours to bring depth to the piece and bring it to life; endless drybrushing; adding rocky texture and static grass and clump vegetation; and finally, adding the green toweling to match our existing tiles here in GHQ and overspraying it to match ~

To say that I'm chuffed to add this piece to my terrain collection is probably the biggest understatement of my wargaming life! Thank You, Phil! You are an ace bloke and no mistake! The Mountains will debut here in GHQ next Monday all being well, when the local Bhurpa chieftains take on the S.P.I.F.F. Pop back to see how it all unfolds next week and to see the mountains in all their glory!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Speaking of Hills...

...a few of my readers may remember this ~

Its a former display item for those cod Victorian houses which are sold in Garden Centres around Christmas time. Sue and I were out for a drive in early January this year when we called in at Mere Park garden centre, near Newport in Shropshire. They had a whole building given over to selling off surplus Christmas stock, amongst which were several sizes of these plastic vacuum formed range of hills. This was not the biggest, but it measures about 44" x 18", and seemed to me ideal for converting into some decent sized mountains for my Bhurpas to inhabit.
Now, only eight months later, Phil and I have begun to transform them for the tabletop in GHQ! The first stage was to acquire some 6mm MDF. Local DIY stores used to cut the sheets for you for free, no more apparently. The local builders' merchant will do this, but they were waiting for a part for the saw! Several weeks passed, cue our friendly builder neighbour Martin {Who converted GHQ very reasonably for me.} who offered to get the sheet and cut it for me. Cost £10.06 to him, as opposed to £24.50 to me ~ more incidental evidence of 'Rip Off Britain'!
Having acquired the MDF our first task was to cut off the lower lip around the form and to pad the interior of the vacuum formed hills to make it more sturdy in a game. For some strange reason I forgot to take any pictures of this stage! Sorry! Its packed with off cuts of polystyrene packing I collected over the year from new electrical equipment, held in place by seemingly yards of gaffer tape and all sealed in with clingfilm. It looked a right mess I can tell you but the hills were really solid when we turned them over to fix them to the MDF.

We fixed the hills to the MDF first with an upholsterer's staple gun and then with a hot glue gun to seal the edge to the MDF. It took four glue stick reloads to do the job! The whole piece of 4' x 2' MDF can now be safely handled for the next stages over at Phil's. The first of these was to paint the exposed MDF boards to guard against warping when the texturing and ground working get underway.

While we are generally happy with the overall look of the piece in its raw form, we did agree that the left hand side was rather too stark and gamer unfriendly, so we added some polystyrene pieces to the board to represent a more accessible approach in a game. {By the way, the holes you can see in the flat areas are for the electrical wiring to light up those houses I mentioned.}

The next stages are to coat the exposed polystyrene pieces in filler to give them the necessary strength and then to coat the plastic form, added pieces and the exposed MDF in Polytex flexible ceiling paint. As you can see, we ran out of filler, which Phil collected another tub of today, so I have no doubt the whole piece will soon be ready for the next phase, adding scree slopes and then spraying the whole with Humbrol acrylic 'Dark Brown' as the base colour to work up from.
This is where we are at now. More news of the Mountains of Rhanzlistan as the project unfolds over the next few weeks. Do pop back when you can to see how it develops.