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.

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