Thursday, May 31, 2012

Action at the Ukrazi Village

Luck smiled upon me Monday, for I had time to fight not one but two scenarios from the Raid on the Tembe mini-campaign. 

They were games in which nicknames were earned, something any military man will tell you is important. The first conferred the alternative nickname of "Moses" on Lance-Corporal Frank "Nosher" Powell. The second saw the Captain himself named "Furious Fred." All will be revealed!

And so to the first game. 

Within two days of setting out from the port town of Yabhouti, Captain Pike's column drew near the Ukrazi River. A conversation with some locals of the Kumyonda tribe revealed the location of a small Ukrazi tribe village on the east bank of the river, not far ahead. Much put-upon by the more powerful Ukrazis, the Kumyondas were more than happy to spill the dirt on their hated rivals.

An hour after dawn, the smell of woodsmoke and animal dung on the westerly breeze told the soldiers they were close. Pike sniffed the wind and deployed his troops.

He attached himself to CSM Harrington's section, and led the way until the village came into sight.  Having established the location, Pike ordered the Ukraziland Rifles section forward. Moving into skirmish order, they advanced warily onto the field.

It wasn't long before the sharp eyes of a lone native sentry spotted the incursion and he immediately raised the alarm.

The first warband seized their weapons and issued forth from the village to battle the intruder.

Pike waited for Cpl. Powell to make an appearance on his right, but the non-com seemed to have gone astray on one of the many game paths in the area. 

Bombardier Lal Khan and his crew filled the void. They were relieved to find the ground level and relatively free of obstructions. As his crew brought the little gun into battery, Khan eyed the distant village speculatively.

Over on the left, Pike spotted movement in the bush. Birds flew up, crying in outrage at some hidden intruder. Could it be some wild animal? Within minutes Pike's speculation was answered. A Ukrazi warband ran out of the undergrowth, the speed of their advance posing a serious menace to the Ukraziland Rifles. Pike saw the askari were in a bad position to turn effective fire against the warband, so with bugle call and gestures he ordered them to withdraw from in front of his own section.

The Rifles fired a few parting shots to keep the warband's attention. The ploy worked, for the tribesmen hesitated, torn between charging either the askari or the Red Soldiers. Their front clear, the men of Barsetshire let rip with a volley.

The volley seemed less effective than Pike expected. He rubbed his jaw and glanced at Harrington, who shook his head. "I think it's the humidity, sir," the CSM said. "The men became acclimated to the coast. Here, inland and close to the river, it's a bloody sight hotter. They're distracted." 

"You're probably right, sergeant," Pike said and sighed. "Well, have a word with them. We need to be sharp with - what the devil?"

The warband had taken casualties but seemed to treat the firing with contempt. They shook their spears and shields at the slowly retiring askari and let rip with a shriek that raised the hairs on the back of Pike's neck. He looked over to the askari, and saw their reaction to be much worse. Even from a distance he could tell the war cry had rattled the native recruits. 

On the right flank the natives overcame their momentary shakiness and charged shrieking into the gun crew. The askaris were so surprised they had no time to fire into the mass before they came into contact. 
The fight proved short but deadly - for the natives. Bombardier Khan and his men, of stern martial race one and all, cut down three of the warriors at no loss to themselves. Baffled and hurting, the natives withdrew to lick their wounds.   
On the other side of the field, the fresh warband attempted to charge home, but several stiff volleys from the Martini-Henrys stopped them in their tracks. Another shrieked war-cry failed to impress the men of Barsetshire.
Back on the right the natives merged with reinforcements and charged again, this time at the Rifles. Another short, sharp melee ensued, again with the natives coming off worse.
When they withdrew once more, they left two dead for one dead askari.

The situation became critical for the Ukrazi tribe. No matter what they tried, the steady discipline of Redcoat and Askari proved too much. Lashed by rifle fire they retreated into the stockade, where Chief BembeL'Umba took stock of the situation.


He soon realized he had little choice. With great dignity he emerged from the village and appeared before the British forces. Captain Pike took one look at the dainty pink parasol held by the Chief's retainer and realized further conflict lay far from the Chief's mind. A parlay was in the offing. 

Giving a quiet order for his men to cover the party, Pike waited for the next move. An attendant placed the Chief's stool just so, and the great man sank onto it with a sigh audible from where Pike stood waiting. He walked forward and gave the man a courteous salute. In Yabhouti, he'd taken the trouble to hire a native a few phrases of Ukrazi in his spare time, and now they looked ready to bear fruit.

 "Good morning, sir" he said. "Do you wish to discuss terms..?"


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Preparations and tribulations

Preparations for the Raid on the Tembe mini campaign are now complete. I've updated the Sharp Practice cards to include the new Askari unit, and modified the campaign cards to fit my own world of British Ukraziland. 

Things were not helped by having to try several times to instal a printer driver on our new PC. No other peripherals give me a fraction of the problems printers do, and it cost me the time I hoped to at least begin the game in. But, 'tis done, and the cards printed out and enclosed in card protector sleeves. All being well, the first game will be played on Monday.  

Baker Platoon will muster the following, along with the Ukraziland Rifles.

Captain Frederick Pike, commanding.
Bugler Bates, Ronald.

1st Section:
CSM Harrington, Albert.
L. Cpl. O’Reilly, Francis.
Pvt. Rose, Henry
Pvt. Hayes, Christopher
Pvt. Lewis, Jack (Marksman)
Pvt. Bishop, Harold
Pvt. Lipton, Thomas
Pvt. Harrison, William
Pvt. Bell, John
Pvt. Moss,

2nd Section:
Cpl. White, George
Pvt. Ward, Jack
Pvt. Warren, Phillip.
Pvt. Monk, Lionel.
Pvt. Yeats, Richard.
Pvt. Alder, Frank.
Pvt. King, Albert.
Pvt. Chapman, Oliver.
Pvt. Jones, Victor.
Pvt. Murray, Andrew. 

3rd Section.
L. Cpl. Powell, Frank “Nosher”
Pvt. Watson, Geoff
Pvt. Brooks, Malcolm
Pvt. Hooper, Henry
Pvt. Wilkinson, Alfred
Pvt. Braithwaite, Frederick
Pvt. Baldwin, Albert
Pvt. Sullivan, Patrick
Pvt. Clark, Henry
Pvt. Hudson, Percival

Ukraziland Rifles Section

Cpl. Tumelo
Askar Anan
Askar Yaw
Askar Otieno
Askar Wasswa
Askar Unathi
Askar Tinashe
Askar Bongani
Askar Tau
Askar Faraji 

The steamboat Lady Cynthia will keep pace with the expedition along the course of the Ukrazi River. 2nd Section will travel aboard her, along with Surgeon Travis of the RAMC. Surgeon Alcott will accompany the expedition on shore. 

A five-man section of support personnel will be attached to the shore party to take care of cooking, etc. It includes Pvt. Geoffrey Hare, a man on one month's kitchen fatigues following his behavior in the previous action at the barracoon. Whether O'Hare gets to exonerate himself remains to be seen...   

Monday, May 21, 2012

Askaris reporting for duty

The askari figures bought earlier this month are now based-up and ready for action...

The bases are my now-standard 1" fender washers, with the figures glued to them using jewelery glue. I find it useful to wipe the washers with surgical alcohol before doing anything to them, as it removes all grease and dirt from the metal. The basing material is a concoction of spackle, PVA adhesive and tea-leaves. It's light and strong, making it ideal for the purpose.

I think I have a couple of weeks free from now on, so with luck and a following wind, I'll be able to play out the Raid on the Tembe scenario. A slight modification to the scenario will be needed, as one of the encounter cards is for a tribe of pygmies on an elephant hunt. Lacking both pygmies and elephants, I think I'll skip this card altogether.

It'll be a semi-campaign setting, with casualties and survivors carried over to the next encounter until the tembe is taken - or not - at the end. I plan to use two British Barsetshire sections, the Indian army mountain gun, and the new askari section, with one Barsetshire section in reserve aboard the steamboat. The steamboat itself will be in the unarmed civilian mode.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Very British Civil War - figures ordered

After a great deal of deliberation on AVBCW factions and the composition thereof, I placed an order with Pendraken Miniatures today for a batch of 10mm scale figures.

It was quite a struggle to choose, but in the end I opted for a platoon-size force each. One will become rural Local Defense Volunteers (LDV), and the other urban-based Socialist Militia. 

For me, two particular figures swung the decision. BR154 Civilian, shotgun, cap and coat, and SCW11 Miliciano woman. Something about the shotgun-wielding figure just shouts "Get orf moi land!" Shotguns are also far more likely to be found in rural Britain than SMLE Mk IIIs. 

The women militia will form a section within the Socialist Militia platoon, but may well eventually grow to a full platoon in their own right. All will have red side caps for a splash of color and to show their left-leaning allegiance.

The LDV are modeled in civilian clothing with British army 'battle bowlers,' possibly souvenirs from the Great War. I'll probably paint these various colors to reflect the different theaters of war their wearers served in.

I did dwell on getting a pack of flag bearers for each side too, but since I want just one flag per platoon, buying ten figures to use only one seemed wasteful. In this scale it's quite easy to convert a suitable figure using a pin for a flag pole.

I'll add vehicles and artillery over time as funds permit, and a platoon of everybody's favorite bad guys - the BUF. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Painted Askaris

The askari figures I bought are now painted, and need only to be based. I'll have to attend to that little chore in a week or so, since we're off to see that mom-in-law's properly settled in her new home. In the meantime, here are some photos of the finished askaris on the painting block.

The chap in the blue sailor's collar in the foreground is the odd man out. I was going to use him as an independent figure or a mercenary, but I think I'll now call him an NCO and leave him with the unit.

I'm not 100% happy with the way they turned out, although the faces came out well. I used a Vallejo US khaki drab undercoat and, once it had dried, applied sepia ink directly to the flesh. It works. 

Hopefully I'll be placing a small order with Pendraken for AVBCW figures sometime next week. The company'll be imposing a price hike next month, so I want to buy before then. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Askari recruits

My wife and I are just back from a rather stressful week, ensuring her mother moved into assisted living accommodation where she can be looked after around the clock. Such is her illness and the stage she's reached, it needed to be done, and to give my mother-in-law her due, she decided off her own bat it was time to make such a move. Packing up her life into a few boxes was quite a poignant moment, and both my wife and I feel exhausted by it all.

Finding my new order of Colonial askaris in the mailbox when we arrived home lightened some of the stress. These stalwart chaps are shown below, prior to de-flashing and washing.

They're Wargames Foundry, and I got them for a song on eBay where they were advertised as German schutztruppen. One had a malformed bayonet, which needed amputation. Another is wearing shorts and has a "sailor's collar." It doesn't match the others, who are barefoot and wear jackets and long trousers. I suspect I'll take him out of the lineup and make him into a mercenary askari, or a hired guide.

I'll paint them up sometime this coming week, once I've decided on a suitable color scheme. After that, I hope to find enough free time to get them into play in the Raid on the Tembe scenario. 


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