Sunday, 17 December 2017


The Autumn Big Game 2017 continued the present TNG focus on the role of LDVs in the Hereford VBCW and the innovation of "Luxurious Sealed Envelopes" providing LDVs with certain eccentric character details.One such, of course, was the notorious "Traitor" characteristic drawn by Craig (as Captain Morgan of the North Hereford LDV):




DOGGEDLY LOYAL. “You have reached a deal with your Faction Commander and will absolutely honour it - without question, come what may - to the end of the day. I say, what a chap! We’re afraid you don’t get any bonuses, but then you don’t get any penalties, either. Well done!”


This is what you tell your Faction Commander and fellow players, but it is completely UNTRUE. You are in fact an OUTRIGHT TRAITOR. No-one knows this but you - not the present “Opposition” nor even the “Umpires”. Reveal yourself and join “the other side” when you wish at any stage during the course of the game after the first two moves by stating “My Luxurious Envelope has given me new instructions, and I am in fact a black hearted traitor who will now make common cause with the other side - bye, bye, suckers!”  If you shoot your former friends in the back at the same time, or otherwise act with ingenious evility, you will get extra Umpire acclaim.



while another type altogether was drawn by James (of the Brichester LDV):




WHO IS DR. ALZHEIMER? You’re getting on a bit, in fact, you’re really completely past it, and so are most of your LDV, which boasts more than a few Zulu War veterans (and even one from the Crimea). Before any moving or shooting by any of your sections, throw a D6 per section - on a roll of 1-2, such section doesn’t shoot/move as intended at all, while on a roll of 3-6, you’re good to go as before. Lack of movement reflects your LDV’s age exhaustion; lack of firing reflects the absence of orders to do so (Who is Dr. Alzheimer?) Otherwise - you have reached a deal with your Faction Commander and will absolutely honour it - without question, come what may - to the best of your age limited ability and to the end of what might well be a frustrating day. But where is that Zimmer frame? Who is Dr Zimmer? And what is a D6?



Everyone else drew the "Doggedly Loyal" characteristic, namely:




DOGGEDLY LOYAL. You have reached a deal with your Faction Commander and will absolutely honour it - without question, come what may - to the end of the day. I say, what a chap! We’re afraid you don’t get any bonuses, but then you don’t get any penalties, either. Well done!



which "Doggedly Loyal" characteristic was by far the most numerous of the Luxurious Sealed Envelopes, an attempt not to unbalance the game (ironic hissing from Storm Commander Giles and Councillor Cracknutt) and to provide as much concealment as possible if (as of course was the case) the "Traitor" card was drawn.

The Autumn Big Game 2017 also provided an opportunity for a TNG innovation, namely the "campaign cash" system. There were lots of worries about this beforehand "behind the scenes", but it seems to have worked pretty well, providing another facet to the game i.e. the opportunities for bargaining as to LDV terms of service, the pre-game and lunchtime "blind auctions" of additional forces (of very varying quality, again out set out in a Luxurious Sealed Envelope) and (as below) some measure (but only some measure) of how the various LDVs did during the course of the day. According to Councillor Cracknutt's report (see previous posts), it also appears to have provided Comrade Golumroo with the means for an outrageous attempt at bribery!

The actual course of the game has been thoroughly set out by each of the Faction Commander's reports (plus, of course, Councillor Cracknutt's) as referred to in previous posts. Hopefully, everybody enjoyed the day, even if Councillor Cracknutt and Cousin Verity did not get "into action" until very late on - a combination of unfortunate late withdrawals from a number of usual players (we trust everyone is now back in good health and fully recovered!) and, it has to be said, "the informal truce" (as set out in the reports of Councillor Cracknutt and the Bishop of Ludlow).

We also had some enjoyable "blasts from the past". Most obviously, the (as it turned out, disastrous) appearance of Sir Alan McGuffin and his golfing party in their home made behemoth; and less obviously, Comrade Commissar Winter's detailed memory of the events of his defeat at the Second Battle of Ledbury (which he (Robb) bitterly ascribes, in the most vehement terms, to "useless Anglicans"). While there were worries before the game as to whether the "LDV bargaining mechanism" would produce an unbalanced game at the outset, it is interesting that the initial Platoon Set Up (5 Anti Fascist Platoons vs 3 Royalist Platoons) was exactly the inverse of the Second Battle of Ledbury itself - albeit with a very different result!

One result, however, was clear - the award of the day's prize (a genuine Edward VIII Coronation Tumbler/Dice Cup, or "The Very, Very Real 1938 Relic") to Craig. Having drawn the "Traitor" card, "Captain Morgan" proceeded to be the most enthusiastic traitor known to history, respectively spending the entirety of his LDV funds in purchasing additional troops, getting almost the whole of his LDV (even as expanded by purchase) destroyed in his heroic "woody battle" with Storm Commander Giles, and finally getting himself shot in order to prove his loyalty to his "new employers". True VBCW spirit!

Captain Morgan (deceased) with the Very, Very Real 1938 Relic. No doubt he feels that he could
have used some Burley Gate Guides in his "Woody Battle" with Giles - although, if he had,
they would undoubtedly have finished up being heroically shot.
It should be said that, had the Umpires thought of a "Wily Coyote" prize in advance, it would undoubtedly have gone to Councillor Cracknutt (Alan): having had a disastrous strategic start by taking employment with the outnumbered and soon to be traitor-struck HM Government, he managed to negotiate an informal truce with Cousin Verity, then persuaded his Storm Commander to make it formal, then rushed across the table to aid his by now wounded Storm Commander (with the honour of firing the last shots of the Battle of the "Rural Redoubt"), accepted a bribe from Councillor Gollumroo (and then double crossed him), and finally managed to retire his LDV in good order and within minimal casualties. Truly wily - no doubt "Councillor Cracknutt" will be back for more diplomacy and/or double dealing in due time!

Where does all this leave the Herefordshire VBCW? In a most interesting place. Considering all the factions:

The Socialist (Very Broad) Front had an astonishing success at the Siege Lines of Kington, comprehensively breaking the Government stranglehold. A number of parishes to the west of the County have now gone over to support the Socialists, and a revolution has been precipitated in the east of the County, on the left flank of the Anglican "A49 Thrust". The Socialists are in a much better strategic position as a result of the Autumn Big Game 2017 than they have been for a very long time. Even leaving aside Comrade Commissar Winter's heedless regard for the casualty rolls, however, such success seems to have come at a cost. The (Very Broad) Socialist Front seems to have come under complete Communist control, the previous (and long standing) Anti Fascist Alliance of Socialists and Anglicans has been comprehensively broken, and, at least for the moment, the (now Communist dominated) Not So Broad Front has finished up being regarded as "the most hated and untrustworthy" faction within the VBCW.

HM Government Royalist/BUF had a very difficult day. Kington was a strategic disaster for HM Government, who equally failed to prevail against the Anglicans at the "Battle of Berrington Approaches". The Government's run of bad luck continued right through to the end of the day itself, with the collapse of the Bank of England. The most that can be said is that "it could have been a lot worse" - but for Storm Commander Giles' stout defence of his Rural Redoubt and the wiliness of Councillor Cracknutt (see above), the Government forces could well have lost everything (as per, in reverse, the result of the Second Battle of Ledbury). The "Government" faction has much thinking to do.....

Anglicans will look back and rue "a missed opportunity". Not only has the northward advance of Captain-General Jermingham/Sir Gilbert Hill stalled within an area of apparently pacified LDVs, the southward advance of the Bishop of Ludlow seems to be proceeding at a snail's pace. An opportunity to deal a very serious defeat to the Government forces at Berrington was lost in the mists of battle, and the Anti Fascist Alliance, long a source of comfort to anti - government forces, has been smashed by Comrade Commissar Winter's "faithless betrayal".

LDVs, at least in terms of commanders, suffered a remarkable 40% loss rate (Captain Morgan going down in the woods, and Cousin Verity being "exploded" by Comrade Gollumroo's 18pdr just at the end of the Game). While the resources of the various faction's "Central Banks" remain a closely guarded secret, in terms of "campaign stashes" earned and retained by LDVs as a result of the day, in no particular order, the following was recorded at close (all units of currencies equal to £1, or no doubt - now - "one New British Pound")

Cousin Verity (Verity LDV, deceased) : 50 Ludlow Groats
Councillor Cox (Brichester LDV) : 100 Ludlow Groats
Comrade Golumroo (Communist LDV) : 120 Liverpool Roubles
Councillor Cracknutt (Wormelow Tump LDV) : 7o Liverpool Roubles
Captain Morgan (North Hereford LDV, deceased) : NIL.

Given the collapse of the Bank of England, the GBP fees earned by HM Government LDVs proved worthless, albeit that was of little concern to Captain Morgan, as he had spent all his money anyway (and was dead). As to Cousin Verity, some kind of decision will have to be made in due course as to whether the estates of deceased LDV Commanders can pass on their campaign stashes to their (1/60 scale) successors.....

Planning is already underway for the "Spring 2018 Big Game" provisionally entitled "The Great Wigmore Cattle Rustle aka The Fall of the House of Mortimer?". This is intended to be a grand Government v Anglican v Communist v Wigmore LDV "bashathon" to celebrate not the 5th Anniversary (as had previously been thought), but the 6th Anniversary of the start of the Hereford VBCW Campaign (which makes it one of the longest running VBCW Campaigns in the country, don't you know). In honour of the "HerefordVBCW (TOS) way", "campaign cash" and "Luxurious Sealed Envelopes" will play a much less important role in the "Not the 5th Anniversary Game", but new surprises will be introduced.....

In the interim, various thoughts have arisen/potential storylines may arise as a result of the events of the Autumn 2017  "Big Game", viz:

What will be the effect upon HM Government Forces of the collapse of the Bank of England?

Who, by the way, is responsible for the said banking collapse ?

What view will Lord de Braose/PM Mosley take of "recent events" at Kington and Berrington?

Is Storm Commander Giles' job (and/or neck) safe ?

Can Councillor Cracknutt survive a charge of 
"unauthorised treating with the enemy"?
[Cousin Verity has no such worries - he is presently "singing with the angels"]

What will the notorious (and numerous) "Morgan Clan" of North Herefordshire
make of the death of their clan patriarch, Captain Morgan?

 Will the "Morgan Clan" re-raise a North Hereford LDV, and if they can find
recruits from anywhere (given the previously recorded loss rate, membership
does not seem a very attractive proposition), will they continue to support
the Communists in honour of their patriarch's "traitorous" (and final) decision?
Will there now be a 'blood feud' with Storm Commander Giles and the BUF?

Did Doctor Campbell's "Marvellous Mechanical Man" survive the day (last
seen waving a severed claw in the middle of  a melee with the BBC 
Light Entertainment Concert Party?) Does Doctor Campbell have more
 scientific marvels planned for future battles?

Have Comrade-Commissar Winter and Comrade Gollumroo run out of
friends to betray ?

Are the Communists really taking over the Socialist (Very Broad) Front
and what effect will this have ? Will the Chancellor of All-Ludlow, the
Rev. Duff-Postin, have to resign following the collapse of his
well-known policy of "detente"? Can Sir Alan McGuffin survive
 "incarceration and re-education"?

What will now become of "Colonel Mustard's Manuscript" ?
Will Red Robbo, who originally captured this
scurrilous farrago of lies/true reflection of
the County aristocracy's collapse in morals
have to hand it over to Comrade-Commissar Winter?

Are all the rumours about Captain Arrowsmith really true ?

All these (and more) burning questions can only be answered by participation in the SPRING 2018 BIG GAME....................


The Bishop's Broadcasting Service has finally completed its broadcasts on the Autumn Big Game 2017 (!!) starting HERE and concluding HERE.

All of the reports/broadcasts/apologia from the principal factions upon the events of the day are therefore now in - see blog posts below. There will be an overall "Umpire's View" to be published shortly.

Monday, 13 November 2017


The concluding instalments of Storm Commander Giles' report [aka Extended Apologia] to Prime Minister Mosley have now been intercepted and deciphered HERE and HERE. The Storm Commander concludes by labelling "the Reds" as the "bete noir" of the County. Shome colour mishtake shurely....does Captain Arrowsmith not retain such title ?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


Radio Moscow [Rob, Senior Socialist Officer] proved to be "first off the blocks" (amongst the Great or Not So Commanders) in providing a full - and fully illustrated - Big Game Battle Report [aka Propaganda Broadcast] which can be found HERE. A nice - again fully illustrated - description of the HQ and the prominent unit within Captain-Commissar Winter's CPGB Force can be found HERE as linked to from HERE.

The battlefield-promoted Storm Commander Giles [Giles], Senior Fascist Officer, has been messaging his fully illustrated report [aka Exculpatory Address] to Mosley and HM Government through in parts, which you can intercept and decipher HERE and HERE and HERE. Interception of further messages is anticipated very shortly...


Post-Action Report On The Recent Clash of Arms 

by Cllr.Walter Cracknutt, commanding Wormelow Tump LDV

To whom it may concern.


As the opposing forces mustered it quickly became apparent that our loyal forces [Alan, for it was he, had made a satisfactory deal with Storm Commander Giles, Senior Fascist and Government Officer, in the pre-game financial negotiations] were greatly outnumbered by the Anglican-Socialist Alliance, and it was therefore incumbent on us to remain on the defensive to repel the enemy hordes. My troops held our left wing, with Storm Commander Giles [Giles] in the centre and Captain Morgan [Craig] and his Hereford Local Defence Volunteers on our right. The forces of the "Socialist (Very Broad) Front" formed the enemy left wing, which greatly overlapped our own right, leaving the Anglicans holding their centre and right. This was obviously a cunning ploy by the Reds, as will be seen. The Anglicans advanced in their usual laggardly fashion, or not in the case of the cowering townsfolk facing my gallant lads, whose impressive defensive line hidden in a wheat field caused the enemy to hold back, clearly intimidated by the wide open spaces of the countryside. No skulking back alleys to hide in here ! 

After some desultory skirmishing in the centre, disaster struck when Captain Morgan revealed the Hereford Local Defence Volunteers to be TRAITORS ! Seduced by insidious Red propaganda, Mexican gold and vodka, these false backstabbers attacked Storm Commander Giles' Wyvern Defence Force (aka "Wyrd Force"). Fierce fighting raged in a wood, with heavy casualties on both sides. The situation was perilous in the extreme for the King's men.

At that moment, the situation changed when the full import of the Red Menace revealed itself, as, wrongly believing our side was done for, they treacherously attacked their Anglican allies. At once all was confusion, as the Anglican left and centre turned to meet this attack.

Sizing up the situation I immediately sent word to the Anglican commander opposite [Gavin, as Cousin Verity of the Verity LDV] suggesting we refrained from any aggressive action against each other until the situation became clearer. As the Red threat increased this agreement became an official truce for the day as the Anglican and HM. Government forces turned to face the new foe.

My Wormelow Tump LDV dashed to the aid of Storm Commander Giles' Wyrd Force, but unfortunately our fitness training had omitted to include hedge-jumping, which slowed us down somewhat. However the Wormelow Cadets did arrive in time to drive the The Westfield Watchmen CC Gentlemen's XI out of the wood, and save our gallant leader, Storm Commander Giles. Our casualties were light, one sniper and an HMG team; also one of the Wormelow Wildcats Hockey Team was killed early on by mortar fire from the false Bishop of Ludlow, whom it may be remembered from previous battle reports has a penchant for picking on young ladies.

Overall, I believe this was a creditable performance in a battle in which we were heavily outnumbered and betrayed. On a positive note the exact nature of the perfidious Red Menace has now been revealed for all to see, and who knows, perhaps the temporary battlefield truce with the Anglicans may presage a more lasting attempt at peace. 

One other point to mention is that I was personally approached by a shady character with leftist leanings and offered money to assassinate our gallant leader, Storm Commander Giles, which just shows the treacherous nature of these Reds. Naturally, being a loyal stout-hearted fellow, I did not do the evil deed but, being a Councillor, I naturally kept the brown envelope containing Mexican pesos, which turned out to be wise move when the Bank of England sadly went bust at the close of proceedings.

I have the honour to be, etc., etc.,
Walter Cracknutt
(Councillor, Commander, Wormelow Tump LDV)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


A second (and last) pre Big Game News Bulletin for all those coming along to the Burley Gate Village Hall this Saturday, 4th November (10am - 5pm) !!


For anyone geographically challenged, Burley Gate is located just northeast of the junction between the A465 and the A417. A photograph of the Hall and a helpful map can be found here.

For anyone chronologically challenged, 10am really does mean ten am this time round! The Glorious (or Not) Commanders will be waiting to pounce on you in order to persuade you to their side for the day : latecomers may find the "LDV price" has gone down as the minutes have ticked by...real latecomers won't have the luxury of negotiating their own fees, but will be subject to the Umpires' "Cheap Auction" rules! You have been warned!

Food : in keeping with the spartan "AVBCW - TNG" approach of Spring 2017, please bring your own vittels! We will provide coffee and biscuits (which may be enough for some!) but lunch is beyond our catering capacity...

Charges: £10 per player as usual, payable on the day. Remember to bring along some spare cash if you want to browse the "Bring & Buy" table (mind you, nobody has actually indicated that they have any spare VBCW stuff to bring along, but there is always the possibility of a surprise).

Photography : Yes, please. Bring a camera to record the glorious success of your force on the Field of Battle!

Gaming Etiquette Note : There is no need to put your Action Cards on top of your Sections/tanks/armoured cars/that wood over there/on the table at all at any time (apart from maybe in front of where you are standing/sitting as per poker). Now that everyone has a bit of "campaign cash" (we hope), Umpires' Fines will be in operation! (explanation - it quite ruins "the look of the thing" and more importantly completely buggers up the photographs for use on this Blog).


All - even the laggardly - LDVs have now filed their Platoon Rosters, so (in addition to the early birds in the last post) we will be welcoming (in no particular order) Cousin Verity's Urban LDV (Gavin) of streetfighters and scurrilous types, Councillor Cox's very scary Brichester LDV (James) (for Herefordians who wonder which side of the Wye the unusually named Brichester might be located, the background details are here), formed of sections drawn from the Severnford Boilerplate Workers, the Camside Allotmenteers, the Goatswood Fairground workers, together with new campaign character (and very brilliant or very mad scientist), Doctor Campbell and his latest invention (it's alive! it's alive, I tell you!) plus the return of the Rorke's Drift Re-Enactment Society (on Field Maneouvres) LDV (Neil), complete with that new campaign character, alleged arsonist and proven dodgy insurance saleman, Mr. Ivor Petrolcan, Bringing up the rear (on this occasion only) is the (temporarily former) Stokkies Joubert (Roo) in unaccustomed LDV role....

The Glorious (or Not) Commanders have, of course, been preparing. The Government Forces have recorded some early strategic success, calming the LDVs along the route of Captain-General Jermingham's Front (unfortunately, neither Mort nor Doug could make the date, and we suffered a recent withdrawal of the notorious "Taunton Three" due to health issues - our best wishes to J - so we will be playing on two rather than three tables - respectively the Attempted Breakout from Kington [Table 1] and the Bishop's A49 Thrust, from Brimfield to Berrington [Table 2]) prompting the (Very Broad) Socialist Alliance to zoom into action with a the announcement of another wonder weapon (if it arrives on time). No details have been released of this piece of Soviet sourced (no doubt) hi-tech, but Comrade-Commissar Winters promises all LDVs that "the sky's the limit, comrades!" Not to be outdone (and having already promised new Anglican technology), the Bishop of Ludlow has been boasting of the bulging reserves of the Ludlow Co-Operative and Christian Thrift Society (Chairman : Sir Richard "Rock Steady" Provident-Investment), backed by tithes of the County's faithful, and the stellar performance of newly-minted Ludlow Groats against the Great British Pound (and other similarly valuable 1938 currencies, such as the Peruvian peso) on the off-off-markets in the City of London...details of the names and currencies of the BUF Bank and the Socialist Bank are noted not yet even to be "in circulation"!

Negotiating Etiquette Note : No deal is final until the parties have shaken hands upon their agreement in a truly Very British way. Until that time, both LDVs and Glorious (or Not) Commanders are not bound.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


With the days counting down to the Autumn Big Game 2017 ("The Last of the Summer Wye"), news is coming in from all over Herefordshire (and well beyond) of the forces being assembled:

The Glorious (or Not) Commanders

The "Senior Commanders" have been announced! 

For the Fascist/Royalist Government Coalition, goosestep forward Storm Leader Giles (Giles) of the Three Counties BUF Legion, as "Senior Government Officer"! Last seen at BUF HQ being roundly abused by (the presently absent) Captain Arrowsmith after The Battle of Bredwardine Fords, the Storm Leader has seized this command opportunity! Will the County LDVs be impressed ?

For the Socialist (Very Broad) Alliance, raise a clenched fist to the "Senior Socialist Officer", Captain-Commissar Winters (Rob), Professor of History, noted radical, and 'veteran" of the Second Battle of Ledbury, where he enjoyed the dubious distinction of having his entire force killed, captured or routed by the BUF and Royalists. Subsequently arrested and confined in Aston Hall, Winters has recently managed to escape his imprisonment (with the kind assistance of the Communist Party of Great Britain) and has been appointed (again with the kind assistance of the CPGB) to his present exalted command position. Will the County LDVs allow him to erase the memory of the Second Battle of Ledbury? Should he fail, does he face 'liquidation" (again with the kind assistance of the CPGB, etc.,etc.) ?

For the Anglican Alliance, put your palms together in reverent attitude for the "Senior Anglican Officer", the Bishop of Ludlow (Clive)! Another junior leader promoted to overall command (in the absence of Captain-General Jermingham, Anglican C-in-C), has the recent victor of "The Two Bishops' Battle" at Brimfield got the true stuff of leadership? Will one of his notably lengthy sermons persuade sufficient County LDVs to the Anglican cause?

The County LDVs

Ten County LDVs are jockeying for position, influence and lots of cash from the Central Treasuries of the Glorious (or not) Commanders. But not all of them yet submitted Platoon Rosters! Come on, chaps!

Recipient of a "Special Umpire Bonus" for having already returned a beautifully completed Platoon Roster to Central HQ, Captain Morgan of the Hereford Local Defence Volunteers (consisting principally of "The Westfield Watchmen CC Gentlemens XI", "The Roman Road Irregulars" and the "Huntington Parish Honey Farmers Levy"), Captain Morgan (Craig) is sure to be much sought after by the Glorious Commanders. He now has the substantial benefit of being supported by none other than Sir Alan McGuffin, Chairman of the Hereford Golf Club, and his "McGuffinMobile", a vast and deadly Behemoth of splendid appearance, as driven by McCaddy, Sir Alan's chauffeur, general factotum and psycho-batman!

Scarcely likely to be less sought after, and equal recipients of "Special Umpire Bonuses", for having both read the scenario briefing early and actually undertaken some special modelling in consequence, the Umpires also have full Platoon Rosters already returned by Councillor Walter Cracknutt (Alan) of the Wormelow Tump Warriors LDV and the Hon. Felicia Goodbody (Rita) of the Fownhope Faithful LDV. Lady Felicia (cousin of the Blessed Rita Talbot-Ponsonby) has the benefit a mobile grenade launcher :

Mobile Grenade Launcher of the Fownhope Allotment Holders Association
and the formidable re-inforcement of a Lightly Armoured Car belonging to the Fownhope Shopkeepers:

The Fownhope Shopkeepers "Special Delivery Vehicle"
while Councillor Cracknutt has recruited an old pal (from Pentonville) of the well known Alfie Lightfinger of the Gas Street Irregulars, one Shorty McBisquett, Manager of the Wormelow Pest Control Company (in other guise, and only very allegedly, a notorious gang of County poachers) and their "Not Very Armoured" Car:

Shorty McBisquett's "Not Very Armoured" Car
There may yet be further helpful "Umpires Bonuses" for Platoon Rosters being returned - it is still not too late for the other LDV Commanders to get their kit together (and avoid the dreaded "Umpire Penalties"). Remember, the better your outfit, the more likely they will be to command "a premium" from the cash strapped "Glorious Commanders"....

Other News

And now for the other news. The Senior Socialist Officer has announced that he will have "some very special logistical supplies" for any LDV willing to join his cause (the supply of which may or may not be linked to the provision of a Communist Commissar to your own force). The Senior Anglican Officer is shortly to broadcast that he will be fielding "some new high technology equipment" and planning "brilliant new tactics" for any LDV ready to enter into "the service of the Almighty". The Senior Fascist Officer has confirmed he has read the scenario briefing, and is busily engaged in preparing an all new "Wyrd Force" for the Big Day...

The Very Very Real 1938 Relic is ready to be won, and all the items for the Special Voluntary Modelling Challenge are bagged up and ready. Umpire Clive is making roads. Umpire Roo is busy making hedges - er, lots and lots of hedges - and a whole lot else!

Thursday, 31 August 2017


As the last soft rays of summer sunshine fade from the fabled green landscapes of the embattled County of Herefordshire, plans have been laid by the vast (and vastly) creative staff at AVBCW (TNG) Tac-HQ for the Autumn 2017 “Big Game”. Yes, coming soon to a tabletop near you, it’s the long awaited:



The Campaign Situation

The County of Hereford remains central to the outcome of the continuing, and Very British, Civil War.

Parish Map/Situation Map No.11
In the south of the County, with his regional base at Ross on Wye, the square-jawed Captain-General JERMINGHAM (Mort - Anglican CinC), usually assisted by his doughty (and jealously independent) ally, Sir GILBERT HILL (Doug - Golden Valley Invincibles LDV) continue their dogged drive northward towards HEREFORD itself.

In the north of the County, with his regional base at Ludlow, the gallant Bishop of LUDLOW has crossed the Shropshire/Herefordshire border on his self-styled “Great A49 Drive” southward towards LEOMINSTER, and thereafter (he devoutly prays) HEREFORD.

In the west of the County, with their regional base at KINGTON, a mixed force of Welsh Nationalists, Socialists, Communists and anti-Royalists of all descriptions - loosely allied to the Anglican cause for the moment - battle grimly on under continuing siege by a mixed force of pro-Royalist and pro-Government forces.

In the east of the County, the area centred on LEDBURY, the great early battles of the Hereford VBCW have given way to an uneasy calm.

Hereford VBCW General Theatre Map
In the Shire Hall at HEREFORD, Lord DE BRAOSE sits brooding. Embroiled in personal scandals [caused by his own murderous and malignant character/promoted by the false propaganda of the Bishop’s Broadcasting Service - select according to your taste] he increasingly has to rely upon his principal field commanders and their forces: the snarling Captain ARROWSMITH at the head of his black clad BUF and that devil-may-care King’s Colonial, Stokkies JOUBERT.

And in that field jostle the usual (and not so usual) cast of factional sub-leaders, each jealous of their reputations and ready to step up the chain of command if any of the “leading men” (sorry, Rita, they’re all still men, but this is 1938 and we’re aiming for gender equality by 2018) fail to “make the date” of the “Big Game” - Major STRAITT-JACKETT, the Bishop of LICHFIELD and the Blessed Lady Rita TALBOT-PONSONBY, Commander Eustace SPODE, Captain VERITY, Storm Leader GILES, the Reverend Percy FITZNEATLY, Sir Ed WARD-GLEAR of the MHC, the list goes on….

But new problems confront all our commanders……

The Local Defence Volunteers

The outrageous and bloody events at the HEREFORD GOLF CLUB (see “The April Fool’s Day Massacre” - Spring 2017 Big Game) have emboldened the native spirit of adventure and deep sense of independence within the County’s many and varied forces of Local Defence Volunteers.

It has been duly noted that many of the “supporting teams” that ventured forth that warm April day sprang not from the warring ideological factions of Fascists, Anglicans, Royalists, Socialists or Albertines - but from the native soil and agricultural villages of Herefordshire itself.

No longer are the miscellany of Hereford’s Local Defence Volunteers willing only to “stand their ground”.

No longer are these mixed bands of the great untrained (and occasionally unwashed) willing to take part in the County’s Civil War without reward or recognition. After all, they took on the toffs in the Spring and won (or nearly won) the County Golf Cup….

Now comes a time when the Great Commanders of all the factions must beg and wheedle and bribe and cajole for support (yes, even the jackbooted Captain ARROWSMITH). Without the support of the Local Defence Volunteers, the best laid plans of HEREFORD, and LUDLOW, and ROSS-ON-WYE, even of KINGTON behind its siege lines, are bound to go astray….

It’s the Economy, Stupid

Months of civil warfare have taken their economic toll. The County’s industries have faltered or been turned over to war production. The vast farming population have gleefully taken the opportunity - wholly in line with their native instincts, but contemporaneously presented by a lack of firm central authority - to stop paying their taxes. Inflation is rife. Recruitment is hard. The Central Treasuries of the warring parties have dwindled steadily, with no respite - other than the distant possibility of total victory in the field - in sight. Once, tanks and heavy guns were common sights on the VBCW battlefields of Herefordshire - with even an occasional aircraft being spotted (or acting as spotter). Ammunition was shot off with gleeful abandon. Now, and one way or another, the price of every engagement has to be paid for not just in blood, but in coinage.

And a possibly debased coinage. With the Bank of England’s national gold reserves drained and the transportation of notes and coins from the Royal Mint a hazardous business in a troubled land, the factions of HEREFORDSHIRE have each taken to producing their own currency, backed by their own regional banks: the Capital and County Bank of Herefordshire, for example, or the Lending Co-Operative Society of Ludlow. Where once there were only pounds embossed with the King’s head, now there are florins, and fresh minted guineas, and even twenty shilling “Herefords” boldly stamped “BY ORDER - DE BRAOSE”. It is boasted (by their respective political backers, if no-body else) that each is equivalent to the old, pre-Civil War, pound - but equally widely rumoured that at least one - perhaps even more - of the new “currencies” is actually valueless.

Who can tell?

The Games

Everyone enjoys the good old “3 platoons v 3 platoons/3 platoons v 2 platoons” battles. After the wild mayhem of the “all versus all” Golf Cup Challenge, we return to our “campaign meeting engagements”, but possibly not as we have known them….

There are still three tables of our usual generous size, in this case designated “KINGTON SEIGE”, “NORTHWARD PUSH” and “THE A49 DRIVE”, each thereby representing the present campaign areas of conflict. The tables are pretty indistinguishable, however, being mostly fields, hillocks and woods with occasional B roads and hamlets. The great towns, siege works, rivers and railway lines of the County are off table, for these are to be meeting engagements on a highly localised scale…

There are only six Faction Commanders (3 pro Government, 3 anti Government). The rest of our gallant band of players have brought along not factional troops, but forces of Local Defence Volunteers. There’s no telling on which table they may fight, or on whose side….

The Treasuries

The six Faction Commanders each have access to their own Treasury, denominated in their own currency. None of the Faction Commanders know the resources of the other Faction Commanders, for stores of currency may be unequal….but all of our LDV commanders are presently penniless.

Over our usual morning coffee, it is up to the Faction Commanders to “beg and wheedle and bribe and cajole” for support - and perhaps even threaten. Hard currency (of whatever sort) will no doubt lubricate the wheels of diplomacy, for that’s what our Faction Commanders have and that’s what our LDV Commanders need.

The Negotiations

But wait!  All is not so simple. In the chaos of the Civil War, a losing LDV Commander cannot be guaranteed to keep the price that he might have earlier extracted from his Faction Commander. LDV Treasuries (commonly referred to as “Stashes”) might go missing in a retreat, or ransoms might have to be paid, even outright bribes to extricate a losing LDV force from the field. The canny LDV commander will not just demand a high price from his support, but will judge whether the price can be kept by victory in due course….

And even if kept by victory, would the price be worth anything at all? With the rumours of debased coinage swirling around Herefordshire, there is no guarantee that the cash offered by the smiling (apart, possibly, from Captain Arrowsmith) Faction Commanders is actually worth anything at all. What is a poor LDV commander to do?

Prepare his force of Local Defence Volunteers, obviously. A well-armed and equipped Platoon will be more attractive to a Faction Commander than a bunch of ill-trained layabouts, so get that Platoon polished up and on the training field in readiness for the day of the “Big Game”…..and be sure to boast in negotiations of just how effective your lot will be on their table top - if the price is right.

But what is “well-armed and equipped” and can our LDV Commander afford it? That’s right, it’s not just the Great Commanders that now have to worry about money. A tank demands diesel (or at least coal), big guns and even mortars demand ammunition stocks, aircraft and pilots might prove prohibitively expensive “in the field” and “on the day”. The better trained the Platoon, the more expensive their own wages might be…There is no point obtaining a high price for one’s services, only to watch it all drain away in the fabled “expenses” ledger.

And a ledger will be kept. That’s right, the various “stashes” of the various “LDVs” will be recorded at the end of the “Big Game”. All of our LDV Commanders might - no, will - need “money in the bank” (or under the mattress) for future adventures…as will the respective Treasuries of the Faction Commanders. Knowing this with certainty, how much will our Faction Commanders choose to spend this time out - possibly leaving them short on another occasion?

Campaign & Table Top Tactics

There are still 3 tables, but no longer fixed “3 Platoons v 3 Platoons” table engagements.

How many Platoons actually finish up on each side (pro or anti Government) will depend upon the Faction Commanders negotiating skills over early morning coffee. If Captain Arrowsmith continues to snarl, it could be, say, 15 Anti Government Platoons vs. 3 Pro Government Platoons (i.e. reduced to the Pro Government Faction Commanders). If, to the contrary, the Bishop of Ludlow decides to ignore “brass tacks” (or the provision of Ludlow “alms to the needy”) and preach a wordy sermon instead, the reverse could hold true. Or honours could turn out more or less even (i.e. equally expensive for respective Central Treasuries) and both Pro and Anti Government factions will finish up with around nine Platoons each…who can tell?

After the recruiting negotiations have finished, it’s then up to the Faction Commanders in conference to decide their campaign tactics. No longer does each table have to have 3 Platoons - it’s now a matter of tactics. Will the Anglicans and Allies choose to sacrifice the brave defenders of KINGTON, for example, and allocate the majority of their Platoons to the tables representing “THE NORTHWARD PUSH” and/or “THE A49 DRIVE”? Can the Government Forces risk the fall of HEREFORD itself to grab the long awaited prize of KINGTON, or should they concentrate their forces, say, against the hard driving Anglican Commander of Chief? Would too many Platoons on the one table get in the way of each other, and is a “balanced approach” the key to success?

Who can tell?

The only rule is that at least ONE (defending) Platoon of Pro or Anti Government Forces must be allocated to each table, and that such ONE Platoon cannot retreat off table to another table. Oh, and the second rule is that such platoon NEED NOT be a Faction Commander’s Platoon. It can be an LDV Platoon.

And you thought this was simple…

Not every LDV is equally reliable, nor necessarily stays bought. And even the LDV Commanders don’t know whether they’re reliable or trustworthy when the great negotiations take place over morning coffee….

That’s right, it’s time for the “LUXURIOUS SEALED ENVELOPES” as introduced in the Spring Big Game 2017.

This time, a “LUXURIOUS SEALED ENVELOPE” is given to each LDV Commander on the morning of the “BIG GAME”, not to be opened until after all negotiations have concluded.

The “LUXURIOUS SEALED ENVELOPE” will tell each LDV Commander their personal character. These will not be complicated, but will be varied. LDV Commanders can range in character from “DOGGEDLY LOYAL” through “SCANDALOUSLY INCOMPETENT” to “OUTRIGHT TRAITOR” - to give just a few examples.

LDV Commander’s Character Traits can be revealed orally to Faction Commanders and fellow players after the start of each tabletop game (so as not to effect initial placement), and may be reflected in individual bonuses or handicaps. The written contents of the “Luxurious Sealed Envelopes”, however, may not be revealed at any time. “DOGGEDLY LOYAL” players may get a +1 on morale tests. “SCANDALOUSLY INCOMPETENT” players may get a -1, or even a -2, on shooting tests. “OUTRIGHT TRAITORS” may act in the interests of the opposing side (pretty obviously), but when they choose to do so and how they choose to do so will be a matter entirely for them. So secretive are they that not even the “opposing side” - and not even the Umpires - know that they are “TRAITORS” until the moment of truth…the only thing that is certain is that an “OUTRIGHT TRAITOR” is very unlikely to confess in advance that he/she has such traitorous characteristics….

Of other bribes, Umpires’ Ambushes and Ancillary Rules - YOU REALLY SHOULD READ THIS BIT

Here’s the “wash up”, although the umpires (Clive and Roo) reserve the right to invent new rules absolutely on the spur of the moment (but pretend they’d thought of them months ago) to fix any glitches:

(a). Faction Commanders : Have you been working on a new piece of kit, a shiny new Section or a nice meaningful terrain piece? Tell the Umpires what you could bring along in addition to your Platoon and you might just be granted special dispensation to use it. This could be useful in negotiations with LDV Commanders (e.g. “the Umpires have granted me permission to use my HUGE NEW TANK at no cost, so we’ve got the beating of Captain Arrowsmith this time, no worries” or “I have a Petrol Dump terrain piece which I can provide you with, so your Armoured Cars will cost you nothing to run this game if you stick with me…”). The only limit is your imagination and the Umpires’ jointly granted generosity. PS. the better the back story, the more exotic/imaginative or the more VBCW your extra piece of kit is, the more likely you are to be granted permission).

(b). LDV Commanders : absolutely the same applies to you. Ask the Umpires for permission to use your additional kit, and your wishes might just be granted (or not, dependent which side of bed they got out of that morning). Worried that you don’t have an LDV force at all? Don’t - however your existing troops are uniformed, they can be named as an LDV anyway (although the black shirted lots, if the price is right, might just prefer to ally with the BUF for “the look of the thing”).

(c). Umpires Ambushes: and speaking of Umpires, please understand this time (and for all time) they’re evil. On AVBCW TNG’s first time out in Spring 2017, we invented “Umpires Incentives” to get your Platoon Roster in on time, and in proper order in accordance with the Rules (well done, Alan and Rita). We also invented “Umpires Thank You’s” for those who had gone out of their way to help with terrain, etc. (well done, Tim and Nick). The incentives were then relatively minor (a +1 bonus on a morale throw, which, by the way, Alan forgot to use at a critical time). This time we’re bigging them up Billy-Big-Time….you have been warned.

(d). Continuing Favours - of Absolute Authenticity - Mark One: Oh yes, some things translate from Big Game to Big Game. The proud victor of the Hereford County Golf Cup (not Roo, who actually won with his scratch force, but that 28mm mercenary miner, Mr Cuddy Davison) will be displaying the Cup behind his assigned Platoon (if Nick and the Lichfield LDV can make the game!), which will benefit from a +1 morale bonus throughout the Autumn Big Game. Look out for this valuable piece of silverware! (although it’s actually painted gold -  and it can be captured, yes).

(e). Continuing Favours - of Dubious Provenance - Mark Two: And yes, some things even translate from AVBCW (TOS) to AVBCW (TNG). We speak, of course, of the notorious (and possibly forged) “Memoirs” of the late Colonel Mustard, as captured on the field of battle by the Socialists. Such book, in the same manner as the Golf Cup above, will be displayed behind a selected Socialist Platoon (if they turn up at all, which is never guaranteed), which will “benefit” (if that is the word) from a -1 firing bonus throughout the Autumn Big Game. Look out for this classic example of English illustrated literature [tasteful erotica] [smutty pornography] [forged rubbish] (which can be captured, yes, if anyone wants to do so - just please don’t ask why the socialists can’t shoot quite as straight as before, this is the 1930s).

(f). Ancillary Rules: And yes, we have noticed that we could finish up with one table with only one “Defending” Platoon on it, and, say, three to seven “Attacking Platoons” facing them, dependent on how the negotiations and the Campaign Tactics work. That might not make for the most interesting game. So here’s what we’ll do if that situation occurs. The “Attacking Platoons” must advance up to the “end” of “their” table (no doubt running or motoring frantically and no doubt destroying the one “Defending” Platoon on the way). At the “end” of “their” table they will then be translated to “another table” of the Umpires’ choice, at a point of the Umpires’ choice, and will then take full part in the battle on that table as the relevant Faction Commander requests. If things look really bad/potentially boring on any one table at the start of play, bear in mind that the Umpires have kept the fabled “Mommet’s Circles” terrain pieces from the Spring Big Game 2017, which may be deployed at the Umpires’ will to assist with (already fantastically assisted) movement….

(g). Ancillary Rules +1 ; Inter-table movement is not necessarily restricted to the situation given above. If one side is victorious on a table before the “close of the afternoon” and (by equally frantic running/motoring) reaches the “end” of “their” table as above, they can equally move onto another table via the special (highly secret, and rumoured yet to be invented) Umpires’ Tabletop Campaign Rules….

(h). Ancillary Rules +2 = Auctions: Ok, someone’s going to be late and miss the morning coffee negotiations. These things just happen. If any LDV player is late, or if any LDV player has not come to satisfactory terms with any Faction Leader by the close of morning coffee negotiations, their services will either be “purchased” by open bids in a quick, dirty and very public auction, or simply assigned (NB. at nil value to the LDV player) by the Umpires. It is not recommended that Faction Commanders turn up late. Well, not if they want a comfortable rest of the day.

(i). Free For All: There is no ban on negotiations between Faction Commanders and LDV Commanders taking place before morning coffee on the day of the Big Game. There is equally no ban on LDV Commanders negotiating amongst themselves - how about an LDV “trade union” to keep the price of life and labour up? If you wish to indulge in private discussions by email, well done. Be aware, however, that it may not be clear until relatively late in the “circular emails” who is actually going to be a Faction Commander and who an LDV Commander (dates which everyone can make are very hard to arrange) and none of the Faction Commanders will know how much money they have to spend until the morning itself.

(j). Currency Debasement: Oh yes, we’re serious. At least one of the Faction Commander’s currencies is absolutely worthless. It might even be more than one currency. You don’t know which, and even they don’t know which, because the worthless currency (or currencies!) will be decided/announced by the Umpires at the conclusion of the Big Game. Well, you know, sometimes even 28mm life is a bit of a bummer….

(k). Charitable Donations: Some may remember that the County Golf Cup Challenge event was held in favour of the now hugely enriched (but also now hugely overworked) Hereford Widows and Orphans Fund. The Umpires wish to continue the idea of Big Games being held in aid of “charidee”, particularly so as the funds are worthless and the charity fictional. See, that’s how bitter and twisted we are. You have been warned again. Anyway, we want YOU to suggest a fictional, Hereford based, charity to benefit from the Autumn 2017 Spring Big Game, together with a tagline that can be used in charitable posters, leaflets, etc. The best idea with the best back story wins, and the originator will receive one of those new Umpires Bigged-Up Favours….useful for the negotiation phase before the Big Game.

(l). FREEBIES. Oh yes! There’s no such thing as a free lunch in Hereford 1938 (in fact, we’re continuing the TNG approach of not providing lunch, so bring your own please as before. We’ll provide coffee and biscuits, though) but there are NEWLY INTRODUCED FREEBIES! Here’s what’s on offer this time:

(i). FREE CURRENCY. That’s right. The Hereford 1938 economy, ruined as it is, is not just a paper accounting exercise. We’re providing real plastic (or maybe real paper, we haven’t decided yet) currency to our Faction Commanders for distribution in negotiations and for you to keep (if you’ve got any left) after the Big Game! Wow!

(ii). FREE SWAPMEET/BRING AND BUY. Your tat is another’s treasure. Got figures you’ll never use? Terrain pieces you’ve tired of? Impulse purchases that demonstrate only a complete lack of judgment? We all have, even in VBCW. Bring them along to the Big Game and swap them or sell them. Great!

(iii). FREE MODELLING CHALLENGE DOGGY BAG - NEW! The Umpires - and the vast (and vastly creative) planning staff of AVBCW (TNG) have already devised a unique “Big Game” for next year, 2018. They’ve gone further, and actually bought some real model kit that they want you to convert as you will, paint, and bring along to the 2018 game. So, free “Modelling Challenge” Doggy Bags will be available at this Big Game for any VBCW volunteer willing to take one away and spend the long winter months converting and painting (well, we think it’ll probably be an evening’s work/fun, but still). ONLY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - no compulsion to take a doggy bag - but hey, FREE MODELS! (Terms and Conditions Apply). What- ho!

(iv). FREE AND VERY, VERY REAL 1938 RELIC TO “THE VICTOR LUDORUM” = NEW! NEW! The County Golf Cup (in 28mm form) proved a real vote winner last time out, so we’re keeping our newly minted tradition of having a small prize at the end of the “Big Game”. This time out it’s a VERY, VERY REAL 1938 RELIC that ANY HOME WOULD BE PROUD OF (well, let’s not fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority, it rather depends who wins it). Oh yes! The joint award of the Umpires, the VERY, VERY REAL 1938 RELIC will go to (i). the player who has most keenly demonstrated the VBCW 1938 spirit during the BIG GAME AUTUMN 2017, or, at the Umpires’ option but wholly in line with their native inclinations, (ii). the player who has most obviously demonstrated the ABSOLUTE EVILITY NECESSARY IN A CIVIL WAR, EVEN A BRITISH ONE, or (iii). oh, bloody hell and excuse the French, the obvious winner of the day. I say, top-hole, Bunter!

(m). That’s It, Chaps! That’s your challenge, should you choose to accept it. If you wish to add any ideas/cautionary words/constructive criticism/worries/ideological texts or, even better, good period jokes, please feel free to send a message to either of the Umpires!

“AVBCW The Next Generation - Herefordshire: the final frontier. These are the games of the AVBCW crew. Their continuing mission: to explore strange new scenarios, to seek out dodgy geezers and model Heath-Robinson contraptions, to boldly go where no gamer has sensibly gone before” - a Hereford1938 quotation attributed to Sir Ed Ward-Glear of the Malvern Hills Conservators.