Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year - Bonne Année

Société Impériale Martien de Trieste

Here's a little writeup, designed to introduce the Hapsburgs into Space 1889/IHMN

The Imperial Martian Society of Trieste is an Austrian commercial enterprise, based in Trieste, and offers passenger and cargo service between Trieste and Mars.  This is often through leased tonnage on British, French, Russian or German ether flyers.

The Austrian Government is primarily concerned with thwarting Russian ambitions in the Balkans, and as a result of this lack of interest, Austria has no territorial concessions on Mars. Austrian commercial factors trade through the Martian enclaves of friendly countries, especially Prussia, Russia, Britain and France. The Martian Trade consists of exported foodstuffs such as wheat, rice and flour and finished goods such as metal tools and cookware. The Trieste Company also trades (by special order) in heavy machinery: locomotives, boilers, pump and drive engines.  

The Trieste Company is currently looking toward expanding their interest in the Hesperian/Cimmerian Basin, an area relatively untouched by the other Great Powers.

Troops: The Trieste Company has few regular troops, instead relying upon hired irregular bands of Hesperian or Cimmerian Canal Martians, commanded by officers of the Royal and Imperial (KuK) Austrian Navy, along with some mounted contingents. These are occasionally stiffened by a company or platoon of sailors from the Imperial (KuK) Austrian Navy.

Uniform: Crewmen and Officers wear a version of the Imperial Austrian Postal uniform (itself based on the army pattern): dark blue tunic with light blue trousers and a low-crowned shako. Working/field order consists of a white, naval-style jumper with a white field cap or dark blue beret.

Weaponry: Single-shot breechloaders (M1867 Werndl/Holub) or Lorenz rifled muskets for the European troops. Muskets or rifled muskets for company/martian troops. 

Miniatures available: Any good Martian figure for the local troops. Any good late 19th century Austrian sailors for the "on loan" company troops. Use Austrian naval officer miniatures for the Postmaster/Officers.

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Up the Chari Creek

Had another opportunity to play the French Conquest of Chad .Went to Ellicott City to play an evening game with Bob Giglio's crew, using Soldier's Companion (Mk. II).

The scenario was based on the Battle of Kouno, 28 October, 1899, on the Chari River which flows from Lake Chad in French West Africa.

The main French column entered on the board edge, while the commander was aboard the river steamer.  The natives were lying doggo on the coast line, while a  flotilla of canoes, filled with warriors, began to issue from the village, across the sand bar.

Steamer Leon Blot
As any old colonial player knows, there is an instant where the leading European units make contact with the natives, and one side "recoils". In this instance, it was the French, as the commander, caught off guard for two rounds, who had to contend with small arms fire and attacking bands of spear-weilding tribesman.

Hostile River Bank

The steamer happily continued up stream, lobbing the occasional shell in support of the main column.

Dervish launch the first charge
It is a testament to the quality of the Tirailleurs Seneglais that, after falling back, they rallied, at one point even launching a frenzied counter attack. This helped swing the balance against the Dervishes, and stemmed the attack. With the return of the steamer and the reserve ammunition barge, the French were in position to resume the advance, but with darkness falling and scads of dervish occupying the village stockade, the assault would needs wait until the following day.

Tirailleurs flanqued!

On the river, the steamer Leon Blot attempted to push on toward Rabeh's kraal, only to be  met with a flotilla of war canoes. The superior speed of the steamer allowed the Blot to steam past the boarding hazard, only to realise that the main column was in danger of running out of ammunition, and had to come about and run the gauntlet a second time.


Post Game Thoughts

The "minute de fou" or mad minute ability give the Lebel breech-loader a hella-lot of firepower, which was extremely effective in sweeping away entire warbands of dervish - this despite having armed all of the natives with various firearms and even a battery of cannon. Despite the danger of jamming, neither French commander hesitated to use this, effectively doubling the French fire power. The French commander, Jeff H. at one point remarked "Nous n'apportons nos fusils de les regarder!*"

Hats off (chapeau!) to Bob G. for researching an oft-overlooked scenario in Colonial gaming (Bob credits Ian Croaxhall for supplying the original data). This campaign is actually an indirect result of the battle of Omdurman, as the remnants of Dervish army, shattered by Kitchener, moved east beyond Kordofan and towards Lake Chad - putting them and their leader Rabeh az-Zubeyr on a collision course with the French.

Landing more ammunition

The French Regroup

Grappling attempt

The Village Boat Landing
 - finis -

 *"We didn't bring our rifles to look at them..."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

All Your Liftwood Are Belong To Us

Here's a bit of frivolity for your delectation - I found this image on an old thumb drive. It's from a shirt design, made for the referees for our convention away teams, back in 2008.  We wanted something to help set the tone as being apart from British Colonial.

We also gave one to Uncle Frank (Chadwick) - after all, a man can't have too much Space 1889 memorabilia.

The image is of a marsoun (French Marine Infantry), planting his regimental banner in the north-east rim of the Acidaliium Basin on Mars - not exactly a hopeful sign for the Acidalium League.

The French phrase is a translation of this article's title, with a nod to Zero Wing - makes a nice change from the "Keep Calm..." meme that's currently making its rounds.

- finis -

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Additional French Law Enforcement for IHMN

Juggling projects: here are three more models for my IHMN French Police.

Chief Inspector Dupin. A very nice miniature by Artizan Designs (PLP063 - Gaspar Toucan) in their Thrilling Tales line, and captures a certain Suchet-ness, n'est pas? The bow tie and handkerchief are actually a deep pink, which the camera was unable to capture.

Next are two of the Parroom Miniatures Victorians range (VEP_12). The line is currently on hiatus, so neither of these latter miniatures is presently available.

Parroom Assassin. I was painting the face of this model when I suddenly realised what it was (probably) supposed to be - a certain anarchist with a Vendetta. If the line ever goes back into production, I might buy this mini again and paint him with his "Guy Fawkes" face. He would be fun to chase across the roof-tops of Paris.

Assassin and Anarchist

Parroom Anarchist. My least favourite miniature of the three. A hunched, closed off miniature makes for very little character and rather difficult to paint satisfactorily.  The round, black bomb is neat. The non-descript nature of the model was doubtless intentional, and for an IHMN game, I would allow this model to blend into the crowd, only to spring out and hurl his bomb at any player's or passing Austrian Arch-Duke's miniatures.


Friday, July 31, 2015

"With Fury Unabated..."

It's been some while between posts - unfortunately, there hasn't been much opportunity for VSF gaming this year. (Hat tip to Alpini Jeff for the nice piccies.)

Downtown Alexandria

So it was fortuitous to be invited to a playtest of Bob Giglio's most recent Colonial Epic - the Invasion of Alexandria - or as he entitled it "With Fury Unabated".  This was a cleverly concocted game with lots of buildings, which made for a lot of fun.

Mob Storming the Customs House

Running off a bad lot

An Honest Merchant - or a latent radical?
In a nutshell, the players take the parts of the British Marines and Bluejackets as they land in 1882 Alexandria in an attempt to rescue European civilians and protect European property from the riotous followers of Colonel Achmed U'rabi.

Royal Navy Landing Party
Civilians waiting to be evacuated
Storming the British Legation
"You are NICKED, my gyp darlings..."

The ruleset was Bob's Modified "Soldier's Companion II" which addresses some of the perceived shortfalls of the original Soldier's Companion by Frank Chadwick.

Yanks having the odd pot shot.
"Right, we'll go round the back..."
"The Flag was still there..."

The game was, in turn, inspired by the "55 Minutes at Peking" games we ran in the early '90's, which came from an article by the Staines Wargame Club in Miniature Wargames magazine. And there ends our pedigree.

The British and Bashi Bazouks defend the Armoury

"There they go, lads! After 'em!"

(Pictures to be uploaded as soon as we determine whatever blogger's problem is. Three computers, same result. Edit: It was Microsoft's Internet Explorer causing the problem. Typical.)

Post Game Thoughts:

If I were forced to give a criticism, it would only be in comparison to the pace of the inspirational "55 Minutes at Peking". The Staines wargamers created a hectic, breathless game where the players barter, shout and plead with each other for help, and the referees really ARE out to get you.  Bob's game was less frenetic, which might actually reflect the age and temperment of the players, and no harm done.

Bob also added some clever random events, and some events triggered by certain conditions being met.  The Khedive arrives if the British can capture the main gate to the palace. Random armed crews from merchant steamers may arrive; bolstering the British or patronising the local wine shop.  My own lads at the armoury were assisted by the fortuitous arrival of a band of bashi-bazouks, who assisted in the defense and actually ran off a mob of wrong sorts.

Rally to the Khedive!

In conclusion, this was an excellent game, played to conclusion in about 4 hours, covering an often-overlooked action of a little-gamed conflict. Full marks for originality and research. Well done!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Martian 28mm from Ironclad Miniatures

In this post, we'll have a look at some of Ironclad Miniature's 28mm Martian troops. Ironclad usually make some very nice VSF vehicles, so this expansion into infantry should be interesting. John L. at Ironclad had these to me in excellent time (just over a week) from Old Blighty.

These figures are listed as "Martian Citizens", reflecting a local town or small city levy, and are sculpted in loose trousers and loose vest/tunic. I plan to use mine as hired company troops in the Hesperian Basin on Mars.

The figures are displayed on a 1" grid, with two RAFM Space:1889 Martian Colonial Infantry flanking for size comparison purposes. As the reader will see, they match up nicely, being of a similar size to Askari Miniatures.

28mm Martian Citizen Musketmen (MAR 05) from Ironclad Miniatures

Of the three sets, I like the musketeers best. They have some good animation and detail work. There are four poses, and the buyer receives one of each.

Martian Citizen Musketeers
Animation: 4
Detail: 4
Proportions: 4
Variety: 4
Overall: 4 out of 5

28mm Martian Citizen Spearmen (MAR 06) from Ironclad Miniatures

Also in four poses, with spears and shields included, the spearmen struck me as a little stiff - although how much animation does one need from a fellow holding a spear? I'm also not very fond of white metal spear shafts, and plan to remove the nicely cast spear head and mount on piano wire.  The addition of the shields is greatly appreciated.

Martian Citizen Spearmen
Animation: 3
Detail: 4
Proportions: 4
Variety: 4
Overall: 3.5 out of 5

28mm Martian Citizen Command
Finally, the command figures - I like the drummer a lot, and am somewhat less fond of the officer. His pose seems a bit static to me - possibly he's new to the job and a little reticent about shouting orders? Having a bit more variety-of-pose for these would be welcome.

Martian Citizen Command
Animation: 3
Detail: 4
Proportions: 4
Variety: 3
Overall: 3 out of 5

All in all, a welcome addition to the Martian armies, and a nice change from the dominant RAFM offerings.

- finis -