Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reviresco 2.95 Inch Mountain Gun and Crew

I'm looking to do more Colonial miniature wargaming, but I'm tired of Zulus and Mahdists.  Also, I'd like to use my new French Tirailleurs Seneglais if possible, along with my British Askaris.

This essentially narrows my choice to the Great War and the East Africa Campaign. Here, the German colonies found themselves surrounded by the more populated colonies of the Allied Powers - Britain, France and Portugal.

This would also dove-tail nicely into a Great War on Mars campaign - something I've wanted to do for years.

I picked up the 2.95 Inch Mountain Gun and Crew from Reviresco, with the foreknowledge that John McEwan's minis are sometimes too small when compared to modern ranges.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this particular set scales well with the old RAFM (must we start using this term with RAFM as well...sigh) Space 1889 miniature range, and not too badly against the Old Glory colonial range.

Courtesy: Reviresco Miniatures

As for the detailing - well, the gun is very nice, though the older mould is showing the beginnings of wear. The gunners are fair-to-middling, though they paint up alright. Included in the pack are three pack horses and two pack mules.  The loads they carry are customisable - nice touch.

Courtesy: Reviresco Miniatures
There are two guns included - both may be assembled, though one is clearly intended to be attached to the pack train and transported disassembled.

Reviresco 2.95 Mountain Gun Crew
Animation: 3
Detail: 2
Proportions: 5
Variety: 4
Overall: 3.25

Reviresco 2.95 Mountain Gun Pack Animals
Animation: 3
Detail: 3
Proportions: 4
Variety: 4
Overall: 3.25

The 2.95 Mountain Gun wasn't adopted by the British Army - it was purchased by some Colonial authorities and taken into a few of the Colonial defense forces, especially British West Africa and Egypt.

I hope to have pictures of the finished, painted figs up in a few days. For now, pics from Reviresco will have to do.

- finis -

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2nd Mœris Lacus Dragoons

Another unit for my "Drums along the Shastapsh" campaign - the 2nd Mœris Lacus Dragoons.

These are the junior squadron in the Mœris Lacus Trucial Military District.  They wear the green "Parhuni" styled turban, with surplus "Oxford Mix" trousers reinforced with leather from local sources on the inside leg and seat of pants. They have a modern khaki tunic, with orange facings.

Although displaying the Wilkinson-pattern light cavalry sabre, they are also armed with a Parhuni long knife for dismounted work, along with the pattern 1878 Martini-Enfield carbine. 

Orange shoulder tabs
Figures are from RAFM.

As a junior formation, they rate a very modest T1 in Soldier's Companion - however, as mounted natives, they are very useful for scouting work and vedette duty.  They are unlikely to stand very long under fire, but we'll eventually see, along the Mœris-Shastapsh canal, of what what mettle they're made.

- finis

Saturday, August 31, 2013

...meanwhile, in the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan...

The Colonial Boys Club, a successor to the Baltimore Area Tactical Brotherhood, or BARTAB, met in Ellicott City on a Saturday last October for a large Soldier’s Companion game, hosted by Bob Giglio of Historicon and set in the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan.

Set during the early Sudan phase (1882-1885) the British column, supported by reformed Egyptian leftovers of Colonel Arabi’s “Nassir Moment” and some Bashi-Bazouks (by George, I do so like saying that name – Bashi-Bazouk!), were advancing on a local town where a British Resident had been taken prisoner.  Some 16-plus warbands of Dervish and Hadendowah “Fuzzies”, plus some mounted elements, were detailed to resist.

Caught without my camera, I was forced to use my I*Pod, of which I am no sure master.  In fact, if you picture the ape, playing with the bone, from the film “2001”, you have a good appraisal of my technical competencies. Or, if you like, imagine the following piccies were filmed in “Korda-Scope”...

 The Anglo-Allied were played by Chris J., aka Michigan Slim, Dennis O., and your humble correspondent.  The Madhists were played by Brian H., aka Higgs Pasha, and Randy M. aka "Shut Up, Randy".

The First turn saw the Anglo-Egyptian forces moving toward a dry wadi - the Dervish had been reported slinking amongst the rocks. On the far end of the board was the miserable collection of mud huts where the captured Btitish officer awaited rescue, no doubt in considerable dudgeon.

By the end of the turn, some of the Mahdi's own ansars had been contacted by out Bashi-Bazouks (Bashi-Bazouks!).

The Ansar fired a few shots at the Bazouks, who were only rated as Trained (and that, charitably) but they managed to make their morale roll sufficiently (6 or less on 2d6, after casualties) so that they only went "checked".

The Egyptians to the left of the Bazouks went into a double line and, on the next turn, volley fired on the Ansars, taking 3 or 4 casualties, but who also managed to make morale, and also went "checked".

"My, they have a lot of fellows!"

On Turn 3, the Mahdists won initiative, and after some suspicious events rolling, managed to bring their second army of  Hadendowah onto the board - to the sounds of Anglo-Egyptian groans.  The Fuzzies began to pour down the hill toward the Anglo-Egyptian forces.

As the sons of Valentine Baker-Pasha prepared to volley-fire, a troop of Dervish Camelry advanced upon the right.

Rather than be caught flat-footed, the Egyptians under Colonel O'Toole (himself ex-British Army after being caught in a compromising position in a railway coach) charged the Dervish camelry, and drove them back.

Meanwhile, in the village, the British Resident has managed to free himself, and is fighting his captors for his life.

British Cavalry brigade riding to rescue the Resident...what's that in the distance?  Natives?  Prepare to Charge!

More Dervish advance upon the Anglo-Egyptian right flank.

These blokes are using a palm grove for cover to skirmish with the Naval Brigade.

Within the village, as the Cavalry Brigade charges the Mahdist Irregular Horse, the British Resident has gained the roof-top, and resists manfully all attempts to recapture him. 

The Naval Brigade Charges

In the centre, the Anglo-Egyptians advance, and the Dervish are thrown into disarray.

With the arrival of cavalry in their rear, and with their leading warbands being shattered, the Mahdist Army withdraws from battle - like a cur, ready to bite if molested.

Post-Game Thoughts:
A fun and tough scenario, and much harder than the recount might suggest.  Anglo-Egyptian dice were afire, and the Dervish players were frustrated at almost every turn.

The biggest mis-calculation on the Dervish part was in their maneuvre of the second wave.  As the British Cavalry arrived, the Dervish peeled off half of the second wave to face them.  Pulling troops away from the line can be disastrous in Soldier's Companion, as one is rarely certain of regaining initiative in the next turn. The Dervish had to wait 2 turns before they could continue their advance, and by then, the leading warbands had been rather badly shot up.

"The sands of the table are sodden red, red at the sight of a plan that broke..."

Early Sudan is an interesting period to game - Anglo-Egyptian troops are of a highly varied quality (similar to Zulu War), which means they must be used delicately, or you risk another 1st El Teb.

"Our victory is due to my lucky shirt. Tactics had naught to do with it..."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Raid on Kraag Sagonaar - Partie La Troisième - Attack of the Sky Galleons

High Martian Sky Galleon moves to engage Meduse and Rapiere
 The raid was going well for the French - by turns 7/8, the Sapeurs Martiennes had secured a growing sample of le sirdique and had returned to the kite, Meduse.

Standing by to Repel Boarders
Furious flying Martians hurled themselves at the French for committing such eco-sacrilege, but again, Lebel and Hotchkiss cannon fire were able to break up the charging beastmen.

High Martian cloudships from nearby dependent clans began to arrive piecemeal via the board edges, and the French took the message and made ready to depart.

Almost on cue, the French kite took a random critical hit to the rudder - while facing exactly opposite their designated exit board edge. 

"Make fast and rig for towing!"

Without losing initiative, Colonel Montrie  brought Rapiere along side the stricken kite and grappled both ships together. 

He then made to tow the kite and her sirdique-wood cargo off board.



The High Martian players were not going to be so easily denied, as their heavy Hullcutter galley bore down on both French ships, a smaller Endtime galley attempted to ram the tow lines.

The ram was successful, but the towline held, and le Rapiere, bellowing smoke from her stack, made full steam for the French colony at Idaeus Fons.

The French Won!
Vive la France!
A Hullcutter lines up to ram

Down in Flames

Meduse under tow from Rapiere as the French exit

Post Game Thoughts:

The game was entertaining and amusing.  As I have mentioned previouly, the French play a bit differently than the British, with fragile-yet-heavily-armed indigenous troops stiffened by Marines. 

Losing le Rapiere would have shifted the result toward a French Defeat, as it is their only steel gunboat on Mars - the French players understood this, and were aware that they were never further from defeat than a lucky critical hit. 

The Martian cloudships arrived randomly over a two-turn period, and were positioned to surround the French aerial squadron, but were unable to coordinate, due mainly to the aggressive maneuvering of le Rapiere (and quite a bit of luck).

- Finis -

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Raid on Kraag Sagonaar - La Part Deux - The Raid Commences

French Militia skirmishes with Hill Martian Mercenaries

L'armée Coloniale de Mars arrived in two parts - the main body, comprised of the Native Tirailleurs and Militia, arrived after a day's march across the Eastern Tempe Steppes. There was no rolling for fatigue, as le indigènois were already acclimated to the Martian environment.

The Marines and Sappers arrived via flyer - we deemed it logical that the best troops would protected until their superior firepower and fighting quality could be brought to bear.

View of the approaches from the Royal Kraag
 Turn 1, 2: The Tirailleurs and Militia entered the board while the aerial flyers headed straight for the objective (the peak with the special sirdique liftwood).  Dicing for wind direction gave the French the wind they needed for a straight run toward the peakwith the kite. We weighted the dice slightly in favour of the French for the wind direction, for the first turn only, because we decided they wouldn't launch an attack with the wind against them, élan be damned...

Tirailleurs in blue and Militia in Khaki advance toward the objective

French aerial flotilla under fire
 The hidden High-Martian batteries atop the surrounding peaks opened fire - usually needing a 6 to hit due to the height and speed of the cloudships. The High Martians crew their guns with captives, which doesn't help for accuracy, and they were armed with a mix of power grapnels, heavy guns, rod guns and rogue guns.

When a power grapnel hit, the speed of the target ship would be reduced, giving the larger guns a better chance to hit.

Throughout the game, the French Commander, Colonel Montrie, kept the gunboats moving, and minimalised the damage taken.  There was very little damage done, while Le Rapier shot up the Martian batteries with shrapnel, Hotchkiss shells, and bullets from mitrailleuse and Lebel rifles.

The Objective - the red fronds are the Special Liftwood

Turn 3, 4:  In the playtest, the French assault suffered a setback when the kite was grounded about 12 inches from the objective - this was not repeated in the convention game.  The French kite sailed right up to the peak where the sirdique grew, tossed grappling lines, and indigenous Martian sappers began to clamber down the ropes.

Up to this point, the High Martian players were unaware of the French objective - they could be coming to rescue the numerous slaves, both Martian and Human, who worked the liftwood grovesOr they might be attacking the Royal Kraag itself, in an attempt to capture King XaathgarOnce the kite came aside the peak, the French intentions were made plain.

Flying Martians rally before a charge

Turn 5, 6:
Bands of flying martians began to issue from the Kraags,  while down on the ground, warbands of slave-soldiers, including captured humans, began to fire on the advancing Tirailleurs and Militia.  

Slave troops are a distraction at best: they fire as green - you don't want to shoot your own potential rescuers, their morale is Green, and if they fail a morale roll, they break and surrender to the nearest European troops...and wouldn't you?   

They did give the advancing ground troops something to worry about, which is all we really wanted.

Tirailleurs and Militia form back-to-back

 As the pressure built up, the Tirailleurs and Militia fell back, formed two double lines in open order and fought "back-to-back".

They held off the hordes of Martian Bazingers with Gras rifles and old rifled muskets (probably the Minié, though Chassepots would make more sense).

Coming Up Next: The High Martian Fleet arrives...

Post Game Thoughts:

We probably should have had the ground-based troops dice for fatigue and drop outs - if only for realism's sake.  The trek across the steppe would make an excellent role-play scenario, as the Franco-Martian troops attempt to evade High Martian scouts (with the help of some cloudships) while dealing with the local fauna and the semi-disgruntled Militia.

The slave troops were Bob's idea - and while I didn't like them at first, Bob convinced me that for a convention game, everyone must be kept busy.  In retrospect, I think we'd use some Hill Martian mercenaries, working for gold or weapons.

Monday, June 24, 2013

France Needs Liftwood - Raid on Kraag Sagonar: Part One

Bataille Contre les Hommes-bêtes SAUVAGES! - or that's what Le Monde might say.

Our Cold Wars scenario went very well - especially for the French, who had a bold player-commander that fought with dash and elan.

The scenario: in Paris, the Foreign Office on the Quay d'Orsay has heard rumours of a certain, high-quality liftwood called "Sirdeek" or, as the French spell it "Surdique".  Reports are that Surdique has five to ten times the active lifetime of lesser liftwood, so "la patrie a besoin le Surdique"and Surdique France will have!

A column of La Coloniale is dispatched from Idaeus Fons with a simple mission - penetrate the Tempe Highlands, fight off the High Martian hommes-bêtes, recover some sirdeek liftwood trees, and bring them back for study.

Two Companies of French Marines
Two Companies of Martian Tirailleurs
Four Companies of Native Militia
Harpon-class Aerial Flyer Rapier
Royal Ideaus Fons Cloud Fleet Kite

There were at least 8 flying warbands of High Martians to start, and we were prepared to funnel casualties into new flying bands as the mitrailleuse, Gras and Lebels - not the mention the Hotchkiss revolving cannon fire -  took their toll.  Also, there were eight warbands of slave troops the High Martians could drive forward as cannon fodder. Atop the kraag peaks, several batteries of rogue guns, also crewed by slaves, were available to the Beastmen of Mars.

Martian kite in French service - why buy when you can lease?

 Once aerial flyers are added to a Soldier's Companion game, a second front is opened, and the ground battle becomes almost secondary as the skies above are torn by shot and shrapnel.

Le Rapier

One other noteworthy observation is we had to rename the French gunboat - it had been built a few years ago and was originally name the "Napoleon".  Such nomenclature would have been anathema after 1871, when the house of Bonaparte was banned from France.

Next post...the Raid Commences...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

High Martians

Before I post the AAR from our "France Needs Liftwood" game from Cold Wars, I decided to post pictures of my finished High Martians.

The set above were finished at the end of February of this year, and I'm well pleased with the result.  It might be hard to make out, but the "king" Martian has a bit of a French Tricolor adorning his mace of office.

The next picture shows miniatures I finished back around 1990-ish.  My colour-sense seems to have remained unchanged, but the final effect is "muddier" than my more recent work. Nice to know I've improved a bit over the years.

The gap in painting timelines was remedied by Pat G.'s excellent High Martian rules write-up for Soldier's Companion.  Prior to this, we'd never used high Martians in flight for combat.  For our Cold Wars  game, we adopted Pat's rules "whole cloth", and were well-pleased with the result.

- finis -

Thursday, March 21, 2013

French LaHitolle 95mm Rifled Breechloader

Here's another artillery piece the French introduced after La Catastrophe of 1871 - the Lahitolle 95mm Breechloader.  Like the deBange, these were used well into the Great War and beyond, with many placed on the Maginot line, facing Germany in WWII.


From what I've read, the French brought a pair of these into action against the Moroccan oasis-town of Figuig in 1903 and after a few hour's bombardment, in which several hundred inhabitants were killed, the town surrendered.

This cannon was superceded in 1877 with the introduction of the deBange, and represents the perfect obsolescent weaponry that might end up in the armory of La Coloniale. It's interesting to note that the model pictured was modernised in 1888.


Old Glory 25mm Cruesot
No manufacturer makes a 25/28mm copy.  I intend to use either Old Glory's Creusot gun from their Boer War line and try to build up the stepped barrel, or else the Egyptian Krupp gun from their Sudan range.
Old Glory 25mm Krupp

For Soldier's Companion, I'm tempted to rate this as a low-powered 12-pdr breechloader:

Weight: Medium  Pen: 1/1  DV: 1   RoF:1  Crew: 4   Range: 3/6
- finis

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Le Bois qui Soulève - Sneak Preview for Cold Wars

The following is a sneak preview of a game Bob Giglio and I are running at Cold Wars next month.  The scenario, entitled "Le Bois qui Soulève -  France Needs Liftwood!" is based on a liftwood raid, conducted by the French against the High Martians of the Eastern Tempe hills.  I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone who might be planning to play, so I’m just going to post some piccies of the highlights of the playtest.

French Kite Afire

En evant à la Victoire!

High Martians

Harpon-class gunship evades a screw galley.

Franco-Martian Tirailleurs and Militia

It's all about the Liftwood...

High Martians swooping down upon Les Marines

Magazine Critical Hit

 - finis -

Monday, February 18, 2013

Les Renforts sont Ici

As the government ministries of Idaeus Fons sort out the logistics, including who is going to pay for the army's little adventure, the reenforcements for the recapture of Fort Miami are mustering.

"C" and "D" Compaignie
In short, I've finished my second set of two dozen Tirailleurs Martien, and I'm just a bit chuffed at the moment.
L'ensemble du bataillon aka Le Shebang Entire

At right, a picture of the Tirailleurs defending a grounded kite in French service during a raid on the Tempe Hills liftwood groves.  The outline of a flying High Martian can just be seen at extreme lower right.  This picture was taken during a playtest game for Cold Wars.  I will be giving a sneak peek in an upcoming post.

- finis -