Sunday, December 30, 2012

(Almost) the end of the year report

Instead of gaming, Friday night was a painting spree at the New Buckenham club, a successful feature which might be repeated in future. It offered members a chance to chip away at the lead mountain and demonstrate their painting techniques. My wife and I weren't able to go in the end, but Amanda painted her first wargames figure. The consensus of the club is she did a good job of it. We're so proud! ;) 

Farther poking around in my shed turned up the naval component of the Early Imperial Roman force I mentioned previously. These 1/300th scale galleys are home-made, being cast in resin from a latex mold. 
All are basically of the liburnian pattern, a light war galley used for patrol and coastal work. The model at the rear-right is an incomplete trireme intended for use as a flagship. 

I made space on each deck for a couple of stands of Roman marines, the classiarii. For those current and ex-Marines out there, note I didn't use the proud upper case M in describing the troop-type for a good reason! To quote from the Military Analysis blog, "Being in the Roman 'marines' (the milites classiarii) didn't convey the same prestige as being in the modern US Marine Corps does now [British Royal Marine Commando or Russian Marines for that matter either!]. The Roman marines were provincial or foreign auxiliaries that could fight on or off boat."

My intention is (eventually) to add a Germanic equivalent force equipped with something like the Hjortspring boat, the Iron Age predecessor to the Saxon boats and the classic Viking longboat. Unlike the longboat, the vessel really was suited only to operating in relatively sheltered waters, along a coast or in the Baltic. Quick and nimble, it would've been great for raiding parties.
 The Hjortspring boat, showing the curious double-prow and stern. Purpose unknown, these disappeared in later versions of the boat in its gradual progress toward the Viking longboat design.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday night at the club

My girls and I had another great night out at New Buckenham Wargames club. Two games were in progress, a Hundred Years War clash between the forces of England and France, and an aerial encounter between RAF Hurricanes and the Regia Aeronautica. 

These beautiful 15mm models are created by club member Paul Cotton, and are available at Old Glory UK. The RAF may be found here, the Italians here. We have the pleasure of flying the first ones out the mold whenever Paul creates a new design. 

The mission comprised a raid by the Regia Aeronautica. An SM79 bomber had to cross the length of the table, with an escort of CR42 biplanes and a lone Macchi 202 to fend off the unwanted advances from a quartet of Hurricanes sent to intercept them

My wife took one flight of Hurricanes and I the other. Dice are rolled to determine the altitude at which the planes enter the arena. I began at something of a disadvantage, as my flight found itself at lower level than the raiders. It took me some time to climb, so the onus was on my wife to take on the Italians - which she did with some style!

It's hard to describe an aerial wargaming without resorting to the sweeping hand-gestures so beloved of fighter pilots in the mess after an encounter. Suffice it to say the Macchi fighter got squarely in the sights of a Hurricane, which fired two solid bursts in an excellent deflection shot which saw the hapless Italian fighter explode in mid-air. The SM79 then found itself fired upon by both Hurricanes of Cindy's flight, suffering damage to the starboard engine, fuel tank and fuselage. 
The wreckage of the Macchi 202 plunges to earth.

 Ouch! The SM79 finds itself bracketed by Hurricanes out for blood. 
Their cheerful creator Paul Cotton looks on.

Matters took a turn for the worse for the RAF, as the CR42's finally managed to get in a position to defend their charge. Hurricane C "Charlie" suffered a horrible battering from twin 12.7mm heavy MGs and sagged off to starboard belching smoke and leaking oil. The wounded pilot decided to fight another day and headed home.

By this time my own flight had come up, after a dazzling display of formation flying to get to altitude that was of no earthly use in the end. SM79 pilot Chris went for height and managed to elude the last-ditch attempts by the RAF to bring him down. A victory for Italy.
Crowded skies. Two Hurricanes and two CR42s contend for the same volume of airspace.

The rules used are Paragon's Aerial Combat Rules 1916-1918, adapted by Paul. They use car antennae to simulate differences in altitude, and work well. No more "penguin on roller skates," as one hobby writer calls it.

Over on the other table Amanda tried her hand at commanding the right wing of the Hundred Years' War battle. A meeting engagement somewhere in France, the battle went right down to the wire.

She found herself contending the field against a sizable force of French mounted knights. Affairs looked sticky for much of the game, but her archers and foot managed to hold on long enough for reinforcements to arrive to stem then hurl back the tide. The outcome was a marginal English victory, and a stepdaughter developing an interest in gaming. Even her cool, "with-it" friends approve - we must be doing something right!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wargaming archaeology - 1

A spot of excavating in my work shed unearthed a couple of treasures. The first I'm sure many a gamer will recognise.

One of the seminal works on our hobby, I've had years of enjoyment from it. Now I think it's time I gave others a chance so I'm going to put it up for sale. 

The next photo shows my 6mm Early Imperial Roman legion defending a town against a horde of Germanic tribal warriors. Two cohorts of Praetorian Guard and some of the integral legionary cavalry alae stand ready to emerge to attack the German flanks. I'd forgotten just how many of these figures I had. The horde shown is only about half the number.

Obviously the town isn't finished. My intention is to make a few more interchangeable modular insulae and roads. The ramparts and gatehouses are cast from resin using latex molds.  

One of these days I'd like to get my Romans in Germania Libera campaign going again. Luckily I found the notes and data for it stored on back-up CDs just the other day. Like many a wargames campaign, it thrived for a few months before dying out due to people becoming busy with other things. We had one major battle which saw an eventual Roman victory after a titanic struggle. The game was memorable for the Roman commander ordering the execution of two cohorts of auxiliaries on the spot after they retreated in the face of the enemy!

More goodies will be displayed as I excavate them...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Renewing old acquaintances

My first gaming night in over three years at my old club was a family occasion. My wife came along as war correspondent, and Amanda, my archaeologist stepdaughter, decided she'd like to find out more about gaming. The club membership has expanded considerably since its early days, with easily four times as many folks in the hall last night. A nice bunch of fellows, they made us welcome, and we settled down to game.

My choice for the evening was a 28mm game set in Spain, 1050 AD - the beginning of the era of El Cid and the expulsion of the Moors from the Peninsula. Amanda is developing her studies into the Iron Age. She and I fielded Christian Spanish/Normans vs. Abussid/Berbers. We used Impetus rules, which I hadn't tried but heard good things about. 
Three gamers contemplate their forces.

The terrain was generated at random and featured two sizable woods and two small but craggy hills. Set-up by both sides used hidden deployment. We decided to concentrate our heavy infantry on our left flank facing the most cluttered terrain. The majority of the cavalry, including my high-quality Normans deployed on our right, where the terrain between woods and hills was more open. From my location I could cover the avenues of approach. Our center had a reserve of heavy cavalry, screened by Basque light cavalry and skirmishers armed with bows, crossbows and javelins. 

Gamer at play - contemplating the soon-to-be-destroyed Berber forces. 
My light cavalry are poised to slam into their counterparts to the left of the shot. Stuart presides over all.

Our opponents had more cavalry, but - we guessed - of a generally lower quality. They divided them between both flanks, with the Normans soon facing off against the Berber nobility. 

    A general view of the tabletop. My Normans get to blows with the Berbers nearest the camera. Off in the distance is a Flames of War: Holland - 1944 game.

Impetus relies on U-Go-I-Go movement using initiative dice. The rolls favoured both sides about equally. Firing is more effective within 10" range for bow and crossbow armed troops, although the effects can be mitigated by dice rolls. Both sides found it rather frustrating to get a few valuable hits only to see their opponents shrug them off. 

As the main cavalry thrust developed to our right, I rode out to meet it. It soon became apparent the main Berber infantry attack would develop on our left, once they had found their way through the difficult terrain. That aspect of the battle was in Guy's hands. 

The cavalry melee developed, with my forces winning the roll and charging into contact. It turned out to be a more difficult task than I anticipated. I had every confidence I would win the day, but the opposition put up a good fight. One of my cavalry units succeeded in destroying a (supposedly) less able enemy force, but had to be led, fainting and gasping, to the sidelines after suffering a battering in return. 

On the other flank, Amanda became worried about the developing threat. The Berbers had pushed forward the rest of their cavalry and were bearing down on our largely immobile heavy infantry, backed by their own infantry. (At this early stage of the Reconquest, the heavy infantry of Christian Spain lacked the long spears which later proved so effective against cavalry. The Berber infantry were well-equipped with these spears from the first). Amanda sent her cavalry speeding across to assist Guy's forces, and arrived in the nick of time. 

In the center my light cavalry charged and put to flight a unit of Berber light cavalry that had unwittingly exposed themselves to danger. A follow-up charge put paid to a hapless unit of crossbowmen who had - to that time - posed no real threat to us. This blew a nice big gap in the Berber line, and put worried expressions on the faces of our opponents. They had spent most of the game getting their heavy infantry over the hills. Now they had to stop and turn to face my light cavalry - or risk a charge into their flank. A band of Berber javelin-armed skirmishers in the wood tried ineffectually to harass the cavalry, but wisely decided to lie low and take no farther part in the battle. 

Amanda's cavalry helped Guy ward off several serious attacks which would otherwise have destroyed his infantry, although one unit was caught in the rear-flank and obliterated. A charge by her heavy cavalry caught and destroyed the enemy after a brutal to-and-fro contest.

Over on the right, my cavalry charged and counter-charged. I lost one unit, which put us perilously close to the army break-point. But soon after I ground the Berber nobility beneath the hooves of my Norman heavy horses, and that put paid to the Berber ambitions. Their break-point had been passed. Game over.

Amanda enjoyed her first game and is looking forward to a new meeting next week. Our thanks to Guy, Stuart the umpire, and our opponents Chris and Mark for a great game.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Back in Blighty

Mercury, god of travelers was kind, and we arrived safely in the UK, beating the bad spell of winter weather by a few hours. The flights were trouble-free, even landing early in two cases. 

Much to my regret I had absolutely no room to stash any figures in my luggage to game with here, let alone any painting gear. I do have a number of figures I had to leave here in England, 25mm ACW, 6mm Ancient Romans and Germanic tribes, among others. They're currently residing in my old work shed, which has been used as something of a repository for a lot of stuff over the last few years. Tackling the clearing-out of that isn't something I'm looking forward to, but I was much cheered to find a Darkest Africa big game hunter on our bedroom window sill - like a small welcome committee! 

At the moment we're getting over the jet-lag - no fun - but I hope to toddle off to the New Buckenham club for a game or two soon. 

On another note, I've had to delete three lots of spam from the comments on this blog. Although it's irritating to some posters, I might be forced to resume the anti-spam measures if it continues. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blighty Bound

It's been quite a upper-and-downer of a month so far, and there's more to come. 

We made the move out of our apartment, starting at 6am on the morning of 1st November, and finishing at 1am on the 2nd, with only an hour's break for lunch. I must've traipsed up and down those four flights of stairs over a hundred times. My advice to others - dispose of as much stuff as possible before moving!

Pausing only to take some photos and a video of the empty place - if the rotten landlord claimed we'd damaged it in any way, they'd prove we hadn't - we crammed the last few items in the back of the van and departed at 1.15am, never to return.

My wife and I are effectively homeless. Thankfully friends here have rallied round and we have places to stay most times, but it's still an unsettling situation. So much so, we're staging a strategic withdrawal to the UK to live with my family for the duration. A few other legal matters have to be cleared up, but we should depart these shores on December 4th.

We will be back, but when and under what circumstances only the Fates will decide.
* * *
On to more pleasant matters. Scot from BenchVent kindly invited me to take part in their Show us your workbench competition. I entered, and here's where I used to do my work. 
It looks tidier than normal, somehow! A J out... 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Last Post - for a while

Today I had a few minutes of spare time in between packing stuff away in boxes ready for our move on November 1st. After all the stress and strain of these last few weeks, I thought it would be a rare moment of fun to get my 10mm scenery out and take some photos of it all together for the first time. I had intended to place it all on a green cloth, but it had been packed away - so my poor old stained antique table surface has to do as is.

Eighteen trees seemed adequate to form a small wood, but now I'm not so sure. It's a good thing they're easy to make. I'll need at least the same again to create worthwhile tree cover. In the meantime here are a few shots with some of my Pendraken 10mm models. 

The Rollesby Roughriders escort the Flegg Fencibles' armoured truck Black Shuck as it tows an 
18 pounder field gun to a new position.

The autumn sunlight plays across the clouds above the empty lanes...

...but they're not empty for long. A Socialist Militia convoy passes, composed of two trucks bearing supplies, escorted by the Austin armoured car Strike.

 And all's quiet once more.
It's nice to see the visitors to this blog passed the 25,000 mark sometime in the last week or so. Our personal situation is in a state of flux, but I hope to resume posting here within a month or so. My wife and I are on course to pay an extended visit to England over the winter months to visit family and friends. I hope to take the Barsetshire Regiment and their foes with me, and link them up with other Colonial period figures I had to leave behind in the UK. I should get a few wargames in at my old club at New Buckenham too. Rest assured, whatever and wherever I game, I'll take plenty of photos for posting here! AJ out...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

All Stop

Our apartment house nightmare has deepened to the point where I don't think I'll have time to post anything beyond this. Asbestos was found in the building to add to the sewage back-up woes. It's all been abated now, but the dryer units are still going full blast in the basement. The legal shenanigans are developing further. My wife and I are too stressed-out and getting too busy preparing to move to do much else.

As to where we'll go and how quickly we'll get there I have no idea. I'll resume posting on my hobby ideas when we're more settled. A J out...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ten mil trees - 2

We had a house-hunting session this weekend, and found a couple of promising properties. In between times I was able to finish the N-scale trees for my 10mm gaming...

Horsemen riding by. The Rollesby Roughriders pass a wood during a patrol.

I opted for a wet-brush of acrylic craft paint rather than mess around with spraying them. Varying the amount of dark and light green gives a pleasing variety of shades. Jeff and Jim suggested I use pennies for bases to weigh the trees down, but they proved too small for the job. British 2p pieces would work, but I found thick card and a layer of spackle does the job as well. The green paint I used on the bases looked a bit too bright, but a wash with sepia ink diluted with rubbing alcohol toned them down.

Something I should've mentioned in the how-to post is, these are made from thistle seed heads. Before beginning any work, it's best to put the heads in a bag, close the neck and give them a jolly good shake to dislodge the thin black seeds. Canny modellers can then take these and scatter them in some suitable spot, thus ensuring a supply of raw materials in the future. For those with green inclinations, the flowers attract pollinating insects to the garden too. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ten mil trees - 1

Modelling therapy was the order of the day yesterday. For a while now I've been looking at using teazels for some kind of scenic modelling project. A blog I read recently showed what could be done using them for sci-fi gaming scenery. Plenty of thistles grow along the course of the trail near us, so supply wasn't going to be a problem. I collected a few - using secateurs as the stalks are spiny.

I already had the image in mind for what I wanted to achieve. As it happened everything went according to plan. The hot-glue gun came in handy at this point. 

I took the teazel, snipped off the spiny stalk and replaced it with a "trunk" cut from a thick twig. A quick trim of some of the longer spines at the top was also done. Applying streaks of hot glue through the spines, I stuck on small offcuts of foam rubber packing material left over from my previous hedgerow project. Once the whole surface of the teazel had been covered and the glue set, I gave it a thick coat of ordinary household paint in a fetching shade of brown and heavily sprinkled it with used green tealeaves.

In the space of an hour I made a dozen trees for ten mil gaming. The photos show their current appearance. I intend to give them coats of different shades of green, but I'm debating whether to use rattle cans or use craft acrylics for best effect. The bases are temporary card, which I'll replace with something better and permanent. I'll post more photos of the finished result.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Württemberg 10mil figures

Some more 10mm figures here, again from Pendraken. I have permission from the owner of these figures, Sam Scott, to post the pictures he took of his new Württemberg army. Superb work!

The flag is by Warflags. Sorry, no idea who makes the buildings, but they are nice.
* * *
Following on from the sewer disaster last week, I started making some N-scale trees as a means of taking my mind off the stress we're going through right now. They'll go with my new 10mm AVBCW stuff.

Steps are being taken to deal with the problem, and our plans to move are firming-up. We're looking into moving out of St. Louis altogether. It means a lot of packing and sorting stuff, not least of which is dealing with our contaminated belongings in the basement storage area. I'll post here about hobby fun when I can, but there may well be long gaps.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Effluent Society

Everything has ground to a halt due to the sewer backing-up in the basement of our four-apartment block to a depth of several inches. There is fecal matter lying on the floor where people, including a young child with special needs, have to pass. Some of our possessions, including washing machine and dryer have been affected. Some items have been utterly ruined. 

The landlord is inept, and will probably follow his established pattern and attempt to clean up human effluent himself without taking proper precautions, let alone hire professionals to do the task. 

Attempts to get the local authorities involved in ensuring the place is properly cleaned have led to a bureaucratic ring-around-the-roses. No one will take responsibility. Our township has apparently fallen into a black hole as far as jurisdiction is concerned. Private landlords around here could literally have fecal matter floating about their basements waist-deep, and no-one in authority will take notice. Our local Alderman has tried his best, but we're still left in limbo. 

Our desire to move has now become an urgent issue.

I know this isn't wargames or modelling related. Sorry to have bored anyone with this, but I really, really need to let off steam.     

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gaming interlude.

Not much in the way of gaming or modelling going on at the moment. I'm working on stuff to show at Archon 36 in a month's time. After that, the prospect of a house move looks more likely. In the scant spare time I have, I'm noodling with making some 1/150th scale trees to suit my 10mm figures. 

In the meantime, I'm being horribly tempted to dabble in Napoleonics. Temptation in the shape of this chap's Little Tin Men blog is not helping matters. Go there to see some very nicely done Austrian and French infantry, some equally nice terrain, and a great little game fought to Sharp Practice rules.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some AVBCW buildings

Here are a couple of buildings I made for the VBCW in 10mm. First up is a blockhouse, built of corrugated iron and field stone, with a plank and turf roof. It can house up to eight fighters, and a machine gun could set up shop on the roof quite comfortably with a few sandbags for protection. 
Next is a typical British semi-detached council house, of the type built in the hundreds of thousands all over the UK from 1920 onwards as part of the "Homes for Heroes" campaign. The program gave employment to troops returning from WW1, boosted the post-war economy and, indeed, provided inexpensive housing for millions.
The lighting wasn't quite right when I took the photo. It looks a great deal more orange than it does in real life. I'll build another one of these days to use as a master- model and cast a few in resin. A few more houses and cottages, a pub and a church to go...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can you tell what it is yet?

A small GASLIGHT project I've had on the slipway for quite a few months has finally begun to take proper shape. In the immortal words of Rolf Harris, "Can you tell what it is yet?"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AVBCW - The assembled forces

Here are a couple of photos of the combined LDV and Socialist Militia companies. Both units have integral armor and artillery, along with support weapons in the shape of the sturdy Vickers MG.

The LDV favor ten-man sections including a Lewis LMG and second. Mostly composed of rural laborers, they have a leavening of "old sweats" from the Great War and some TA members who decided the keep their military skills at home. 
The Socialists favor twelve comrade sections, with the exception of the Socialist Women's Alliance section (nearest camera) which has fourteen. All sections include a Lewis gun team. The Company HQ numbers ten, including the CO and Lewis, which acts as a reserve force immediately to hand.

Mostly composed of workers and unemployed folk from the towns and cities, like their rivals in the LDV they also have a number of former soldiers and TA in their ranks. 

Both sides have acquired their heavier weapons from a number of sources - ex-military stock and materiel donated by various supporters.  
* * *
All figures and models are mounted on plasticard. Infantry bases are 1" front by 1/2" deep. Artillery and cavalry are 1" square. The Vickers guns are 1" by 3/4" deep. All vehicles have 3/4" width and are 1/4" longer than the model. Two vehicles can pass each other on the roads I use. 

I have a copy of Went the Day Well rules, which I'll adapt to this scale and see how they play. I intend to build roughly comparable forces for the BUF and Anglican League sometime in the future.

On the Colonial front, I upgraded the chance cards used in Sharp Practice, printing them out in color and sticking them to old playing cards for greater durability and ease of use. As mentioned before I hope to get the heliograph section from Black Tree Designs sometime soon. Watch this space. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A spot of attribution

Some visitors to this blog inquired about the origins of the medical and cookhouse figures shown in the masthead photo. I bought them from eBay and the seller didn't know, but I've since found they come from Black Tree Designs (US)

The medical team are the appropriately titled "Kill or Cure" vignette, and the Cookhouse team may be found here

I have had good results from Black Tree, with their reasonable prices and quick dispatch of orders. Some time in the future I hope to buy their heliograph team, which would make a splendid addition to the garrison and field force of British Ukraziland. 

I'm a bit busy making commissions and getting ready for the upcoming Archon convention in Fall, but I should get a wargame or two in soon. The next scenario for Ukraziland is stirring in my mind. I need to work out a few details, but it should be a challenge for the garrison.
* * *  
I did manage to finish the Pendraken AVBCW figures bought recently. Here are the Vickers MG teams (one each for the LDV, Socialist Militia and BUF), and two period lorries.

The above shows the LDV cavalry, with the armored lorry Black Shuck on the road, supported by the new Vickers team. The road itself is cut from a tar shingle, and the photo shows how flexible it is where it follows the contours of the cloth. Time permitting I'll take a couple of photos of the entire force of LDV and militia soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

AVBCW Mobile Forces

My current batch of VBCW figures from Pendraken Miniatures is almost done. Here are a few photos of the mobile forces for the Flegg Fencibles LDV and the Socialist Militia.
These are the mounted contingent of the LDV - the Rollesby Roughriders. Based in stables close by the village of Rollesby on the main road between Great Yarmouth and Norwich, these fellows act as the Fencibles' quick-response unit.

 Armoured might - On the left "Black Shuck." On the right "Strike."

The armored component of the two forces consists of a lorry with improvised armor in SCW fashion. It's been given the name "Black Shuck" after the legendary Devil's dog which is supposed to haunt parts of Norfolk during the hours of darkness. Supposedly any who see the dog will die a horrible death. In actual fact, the legend came out of the smuggling industry along the coast. The "Gentlemen" spread the tale around to keep folks at home at night so they could work unobserved. Still, the LDV think the name seems appropriate - all who see the vehicle will die a horrible death!   

The Socialists have fixed their calloused working-class hands on a WW1 vintage Austin armored car. It has been given the name "Strike," to reflect the right of the worker to withhold labor and the hard-hitting punch of twin Vickers MGs.

I found vehicles and cavalry easy to paint, and that's coming from someone who normally finds painting cavalry a chore, no matter which scale. The mounted troops are on bases with rough grassland effect, but the vehicle bases are modeled to resemble road surfaces, since they'll spend more time than not on roads. 

I have two more lorries to paint, and three Vickers teams, one each for LDV, Militia and BUF. Photos to come, time and other commitments permitting. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

AVBCW Artillery

A sad and hectic few days have ended with my wife and I finding calmer times in which to return to an even keel. Getting back to the hobby is quite a relief. I took some photos of the recently-completed artillery component of my 10mm AVBCW collection last week, and have posted them below. 

These are British 18-pounder guns from Pendraken Miniatures' WW1 range. One of my favorite artillery pieces, I believe it was the gun-type used by my great uncle's battery of the Royal Field Artillery during the Great War.

The center and right pieces will fight alongside the LDV and Socialist factions. The piece on the left I painted in a Black & Tan fashion to serve the BUF faction, when I get around to building it. The solitary figure to the far right is an as yet unnamed command figure for the Socialists. 

I have more figures in the shape of cavalry and infantry in the works. More photos to come once they're painted and based.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gamer, interrupted

My wife and I have both been busy these last few days, as a number of things happened unexpectedly which require sorting out. I've mentioned before a house move might be on the cards. This is now a probability rather than a possibility. The when and where remain to be decided. 

In the meantime, gaming will continue as-and-when. The poll result and comments have come out firmly in favor of retaining the tembe, and that's the decision I'll go with. More to follow on that. 

The good chaps at Pendraken have notified me the latest AVBCW figures are on their way. With the good graces of the two post offices and a following wind, I should have the new shinies in my hands by the end of next week. Photos to come.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I think more often than not, after buying figures and models in a new scale, we gamers only realize we need matching scenery too. Since starting A Very British Civil War in 10mm, I've turned my hand to making some typical British hedgerows for the period. 

I've put a batch up for sale on eBay, to help fund my addiction hobby. Click here for details.

  A platoon from the Norwich Socialist Militia on the march to spread 
Socialism throughout East Anglia. SCW figures by Pendraken Miniatures.

The tarmac road surface is cut from old roofing shingles. They're easy to cut, durable, and flexible enough to follow the contours of the table where needed. Of course, in the 1930's many roads throughout the UK lacked metaled surfaces, so I might paint some to represent the ordinary dirt farm-track style with the central strip of grass. I plan on making enough for three or four roads, which should be sufficient for my gaming table. 

One of the beauties of this scale is, a lot can be fitted into a relatively small area. As an example of what can be done, check out the wonderful dioramas by Portuguese modelers Carlos Briz and Mário Laranja. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mini-Campaign aftermath

And so the Raid on the Tembe campaign comes to a close. The last vestige of Sheik Yabhouti's hold on the region has been erased, leaving the British in control - after a fashion. 
It proved a hard little expedition in many ways, especially the actions following the relief of Willoughby Pond's trading post. The Barsetshires lost five men dead, and others badly wounded. 2nd Section received the worst of it, and will need to be reconstituted and retrained. 

Private Hare did not do anything to exonerate his previous blemished record; indeed he retired in the face of the enemy with the rest of the section to which he was attached. As a result he has been packed off on the troopship home. Once he reaches the depot in Barchester, he'll be formally Discharged from Service.

As for the Ukraziland Rifles, their heavy losses have caused something of a crisis. Recruitment has dropped off, due to the natives' belief the British are merely using them as cannon-fodder, and it's unlikely they will field a full platoon in the near future. This leaves something of a shortage of manpower, with commensurate difficulties in holding the newly-acquired territory.  

And what of the tembe itself, that took so many lives, and much time and treasure to seize? As a fortified structure, it can't be left to whoever can claim it. Two solutions offer themselves. The British could destroy it and withdraw. A garrison could be left to hold it as an outpost, but this will draw on very limited manpower. If it is held, perhaps it could be used as the nucleus of a settlement inhabited by friendly natives. Equally, it could prove a magnet for all the hostile forces in the region. Decisions, decisions...

And so I place the decision in the hands of the readers of this blog. I've set up a new poll, with three questions. What shall be done with the tembe? Destroy it, Garrison it, or Other. If you vote Other, please leave a comment stating what other option you'd favor. 

* * *
Now for a word about the rules. Once again Sharp Practice proves itself a versatile set of rules for solo Colonial play, with a few adaptations. My only problems really stem from my limited playing area. Like most (all?) gamers I'd really like a larger, permanent table that can be set up and left, allowing room for maneuver and time to game. One of these days...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Attack on the Tembe

Before the game I had to decide on the politics of the situation. The Ukrazi tribe could offer help to the Yabhouti Arab slavers currently occupying the tembe. Previous heavy defeats at the hand of the British and a long-standing dislike of the Arabs made this chance remote. I decided there was only a 20% chance the tribe would fight, and rolled 23% on decimal dice - close, but no cigar. The Yabhoutians were on their own.

And so to the game. Captain Pike had taken direct control of 1st Section of the Barsetshire platoon, CSM Harrington control of the battered 2nd Section, now down to seven effectives, including the recalled Pvt. Hare. Cpl. Powell's 3rd Section were brought ashore to provide the vital manpower needed for the final assault. 

The terrain in the area is tangled, with stands of scrub, trees, long grass and other obstacles to confuse any white man passing through. I decided to roll 1d6 to see which section of the table the British would enter by from the East. A score of 1 placed them closest to the tembe, 2-3 in the central section, and 4-6 the area nearest the river - which Capt. Pike would prefer.
Needless to say, he didn't get his way. The die decided the British entry point would be close to the tembe. Cpl. Powell led the way through the trees and scrub to within sight of the tembe, standing on its low hill.
Captain Pike with 1st Section followed close on his heels. As ordered, Powell approached the tembe and promptly received fire from its walls. A great wail of fear told the British soldiers slaves were present. 
Powell followed pre-encounter orders and withdrew to the scrub line to conduct a heavy rifle fire upon the embrasures in the tembe walls. 

Pike had two options for breaking into the tembe. One was a bombardment from the Indian Army mountain gun, crewed by Bombardier Lal Singh, but Singh appeared to have been delayed in the brush. The second was a petard placed against the tembe gate. Appraised by Cpl. Powell that slaves were present, Pike decided on the petard. Even though placing it posed more risk for his troops, it would be safer for the unfortunates within than a full-on bombardment.

Girding their loins, Pike and his men rushed toward the gate, as CSM Harrington came up on their left.  

Pike noticed that fire from the tembe had already slackened considerably as Powell's musketry came into play. It helped his aim considerably. He and his men reached the log gate, and set to work with practiced hands to set the charge. 

Meanwhile, CSM Harrington ran into an ambush. On approaching a belt of scrub he and his men were totally surprised by a blast of musketry. As powder smoke filled the air, Harrington could see the dark shapes of tribal musket men dodging and ducking amidst the scrub. He directed his men to return fire, but so rattled were they, their efforts proved negligible.
Pike's men set the charge and Pike himself lit the fuse. Retiring immediately, they were still almost caught by the explosion. As his head reeled and ears rang, Pike made a mental note to brush up on his field demolition techniques.

Not far away, Harrington and 2nd Section were in trouble. Pvt. Alder fell dead, shot through the head, and the shock began to pile up. The section's return fire was still ineffective, and the men began to waver.
As smoke from the petard cleared, Cpl. Powell seized his chance. Standing up, he shouted "Come on, lads!" and with a rush and a cheer they stormed across the open ground and up to the walls. Pike directed fire from his own section upon the embrasures nearest the gate, and was joined by Lal Singh with the mountain gun.

Powell and his men thrust the rifle muzzles in through the embrasures and fired unaimed. Return fire from the tembe all but vanished, as Pike led his men with a cheer to the gaping hole where the gate had been. Behind him, 2nd Section had retired from contact. Harrington began berating them, ordering them to stand fast. Reluctantly, 2nd Section slowly pulled itself together, but the fight appeared to be all but over.  

Even though the Yabhoutians were protected by the stout walls of the tembe they'd suffered from Powell's well-directed fire. Only the leader, Wazir Amini Tago and one of his men survived out of the dozen or so original garrison. Even so, he met Pike at the gate in hand-to-hand combat. 
The fight surged back and forth, with shrewd blows taken and given. Eventually, bloody and rather annoyed, Pike beat his man down and placed the point of his sword at the Wazir's throat. "You will yield, sir!" he snapped.

The Wazir complied. The slaves were liberated, the tembe fell, and with it the last bastion of Sheik Yabhouti's influence in the Ukraziland region.

And so ends the Raid on the Tembe mini-campaign. A follow-up with thoughts on the game will appear soon.

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