Tuesday 31 January 2012

A (not much) progress report

Unfortunately, as I had expected, real life has rather put a break on the progress I was making with my 'How to ...' blog entry. It is the end of the month ... and this meant that I had to pay a visit to my wife's bank to pay a cheque in for her. After doing some shopping I joined the queue at the bank paying-in counter at 10.30am ... and got to the cashier position at 11.15am. In that time the cashier (there was only one on duty!) dealt with six customers, none of whom had something simple or straight forward that needed to be done.

For example, one women had had her wallet stolen, in which were all her debit and credit cards as well as her Driving Licence; she had been told to go to the bank to apply for replacements for the cancelled cards ... but the bank would not process her request as she did not have any form of identity to prove she was who she said she was. The cashier had to try to deal with this without any help from any other members of staff, all of whom seemed to be sitting at their desks behind the glass partition not seeing the increasing numbers of customers waiting impatiently to be dealt with.

Coming home I got stuck in a minor traffic jam caused by a set of temporary traffic lights that had stopped working properly. They were supposed to control the traffic contra flow around some extensive roadworks, but somehow they had ended up directing both streams of traffic through at the same time, which meant that no one ended up going anywhere. The crew doing the roadworks seemed totally unaware that there was a problem ... and the final straw was the arrival on the scene of an emergency ambulance trying to get through the chaos with its 'blues and twos' on!

I finally managed to get home just in time to have some lunch, and feeling like my morning had been totally wasted. I hope that this afternoon will be a bit more productive.

Going off at a tangent

How often have I been happily working on a wargames project when suddenly I go off at a tangent?

The answer is very simple. Too many times ... and last night was one of them!

There I was, building the hull for my latest model ship, when the idea sprang into my head that I could build model ships that I could use to fight naval battles using David Crook's version of MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA (MOBAS) and that would look 'right' alongside my 15mm-scale* wargames figures. This thought then seemed to preoccupy me for the rest of the evening ... and part of the night ... until, in that stage just before one drifts off into sleep, I realised what I wanted the models to look like ... the battleship playing-piece from MONOPOLY!

My family used to own a very old MONOPOLY set, and it had a small metal battleship as one of the playing-pieces. As I child I wondered whether, if one were rich enough, one could buy enough MONOPOLY sets to field a small fleet of ships to fight battles with. (Ah! The innocence of youth!) This morning I trawled through the Internet and found a picture of one of those old battleship playing-pieces ... and it is exactly the sort of design I am looking to recreate.

It is not a perfect scale model of a battleship. It is a cartoon ... but it has the 'look' I want to achieve. The problem is that I am a good way through making a model ship to illustrate a 'How to ...' blog entry ... so what should I do?

Again, the answer is simple. Do both ... and that is what I am going to try to do over the next couple of days ... real life permitting!

* I know that there is not such 'scale' as 15mm. It refers to the notional height of the figure, but it is my 'shorthand' for that scale of wargames figure (1:100th-scale), and it is an expression that most wargamers understand even if it is not correct.

Monday 30 January 2012

Another progress report

I have been quite busy again today working on my next 'How to ...' blog entry. This one explains how I build the larger model ships that I use with my figure games.

The process of making the models, taking photographs, and describing what I have done at each stage of the construction of the model takes a lot longer than I expected. I had hoped to have finished it today, but it looks more than likely that it will take until tomorrow or possibly even Wednesday.

In the meantime I have been working on one or two ideas for model ships that might work with both 15mm figures and David Crook's version of MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA (MOBAS). I think that it is not an insuperable problem, but that it might require a bit of ingenuity on my part.

Sunday 29 January 2012

How to build a model Steam River/Coastal Gunboat and model Steam River/Coastal Passenger Ship from scratch

The method I use to build a small model ship with a low freeboard involves building the hull from laminated layers of Plasticard and the then fixing a suitable superstructure to the hull.

1. Making the hull from laminated layers of Plasticard
The first stage is to cut a piece of Plasticard to the size required.

In this instance I wanted the hull to fit into a Hexon II hex, so it is cut to be 4.0"/10.0cm x 2.0"/5.0cm from 0.080"/2.0mm thick Plasticard.

The next stage is to trim the oblong of Plasticard into the shape of the ship's outline. This outline is marked on the oblong in pencil and then the sections of unwanted Plasticard are carefully cut off.

N.B. I use a Stanley knife/box cutter with a sharp blade to do the cutting, and it is done on a special non-slip rubber modelling mat. A ruler with a non-slip surface is used to cut any straight edges. I strongly recommend that anyone following this method use similar tools at all times when cutting the Plasticard as it will make the whole process much safer and more accurate.

The basic outline is then sanded so that any edges are rounded off.

A second oblong of Plasticard is then cut out. This should be slightly larger than the original oblong as this will make the laminating process easier.

The original ship outline is then glued to the second oblong, and the two are weighted down in order to ensure that the fit is airtight and any surplus glue is squashed out.

N.B. I use liquid cement to glue the two pieces of Plasticard together. This does produce fumes when it is being used and can irritate the nose and throat if the gluing is not done in a well ventilated room. It is absolutely vital that any safety instructions are followed and obeyed.

Because I want the bond between the two pieces of Plasticard to be as strong as possible, I usually leave them under the weights for five to six hours at least (overnight is even better). I then carefully cut around the existing hull shape with my modelling knife, using the edge of the shape to guide my knife. I do not try to cut through the Plasticard at one go (it is far too thick to do that with accuracy), but run the knife slowly around the shape anything up to twenty times, doing a short section at a time. This takes some time to do, but by allowing the weight of the knife to do the work rather than using too much pressure to get the job done quickly, it is possible to do the whole task accurately. This is one of the reasons why I use a Stanley knife/box cutter with a sharp blade to do the cutting and not a modelling scalpel, which has no weight to it and which requires additional hand pressure to make the cut.

Once this is completed I have a thin hull shape that is made from two laminated thicknesses of Plasticard. In this case it is 0.160"/4.0mm thick. Because I want the hull to be somewhat thicker, I repeat the process of cutting out another oblong of Plasticard, gluing the hull shape to it, leaving it under weights for the glue to take affect, and carefully cutting around the shape.

I then end up with a hull shape that is 0.240"/6.0mm thick.

I could continue adding additional layers of Plasticard to make the hull even thicker, but in this case I think that it is thick enough for the model I am making.

The hull shape is then sanded so that any edges are rounded off. I also use a method that is akin to planing to remove excess Plasticard. The blade of the knife is held so that it is almost vertical to the side of the hull shape, and then it is gently scraped along the edge. This takes off a very thin shaving of Plasticard. This method does require practise, and must be done carefully so that the user does not cut oneself, hence the advice to gently rather than vigorously scrape.

2. Making the superstructure
This is by far the easiest part of the modelling process, although care is still required. As the superstructure is made from a series of different-sized boxes, the most important thing (other than using the tools safely!) is to ensure that the corners of the boxes are square when they are assembled.

In this instance the superstructure is made from two 'boxes', one large (the main part of the superstructure) and one small (the ship's bridge. I try to make the boxes in the following manner.

Cut strips of Plasticard (in this instance it is cut from 0.060"/1.5mm Plasticard) that are long enough to form the 'walls' of the box. Drill or cut any openings that are required. In this case a number of portholes were drilled into the Plasticard using a simple hand drill from a very cheap set of screwdrivers.

Glue the corners of one long side and one short side of the box together carefully. I use liquid cement that is brushed on to the join (see safety warning above) and the joint is supported whist the glue dries to ensure that the joint is square. I then repeat the process for the other long and short side. The glue takes seconds to dry, but I let it cure for thirty minutes before gluing the two pieces together to form the 'walls' of the box.

The 'lid' of the box can then be cut and glued in place and gently weighed down whilst the glue cures.

In this instance the 'lid' (which will form the upper deck of the ship) has been cut so that it overlaps the sides of the box so that when it is glued to the deck it gives the appearance of a covered way around the deck.

The same method is used to build the ship's bridge.

The main part of the superstructure is then glued to the deck ...

... and once the glue is dry the bridge is glued to the main part of the superstructure.

All the model now requires is a funnel, and this is cut from a length of Plasticard tubing and glued in place.

The basic ship model is now complete, and it can be embellished with additional bits and pieces to taste before being painted.

3. Embellishments and additions
Because these models are to be used in wargames, any embellishments and additions to the models must be robust enough to stand the sort of handling they will get. Things that can be added without too much difficulty are doors and hatches. These are made from suitably-sized pieces of thin Plasticard (e.g. 0.040"/1.0mm thick Plasticard).

One of the most obvious embellishments that can be added are one or two cowl ventilators. These were often seen on steam ships, and allowed fresh air to be drawn below decks.

Whilst these are not an essential embellishment for a model, they add period 'feel'. I had several suitable cowl ventilators in my 'spares' box and decided to use some of them.

Winches (such as those used for hauling up anchors) can also be added to the foredeck of model ships. Again, whilst these are not essential, they can add a little aesthetic detail which should not impeded the use of the model in a wargame.

4. Building a River/Coastal Gunboat
The method outlined above can be used to build a River/Coastal Gunboat. These were sometimes converted from River/Coastal Steam Passenger Ships, in which case all that would be needed would be to add a gun or two to the model. Some were built from scratch, and these tended to have smaller superstructures that were optimised to give the ship's armament the best arcs-of-fire possible.

The model that I have built represents a specially built River/Coastal Gunboat. It was constructed using the same procedures as outlined above and a scratch-built gun was added to the open deck area. The bridge does not have conventional windows. It has a slit through which the ship would be conned. River/Coastal Gunboats often operated close to shore and their bridges had to be protected from small arms fire.

The breakwater fitted just in front of the gun was made from one of the mudguards from an Airfix German Armoured Car kit. I found it my 'spares' box and thought that it would improve the 'look' of the Gunboat, especially as many of them were fitted with an armoured redoubt or splinter protection around their armament to protect the gun crew.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Progress report

Today I have been concentrating my efforts on writing a blog entry that explains how I build some of my ship models using Plasticard. I have been writing the blog entry in the gaps in the building process (i.e. whilst the glue has been drying) and I have taken quite a few photographs to illustrate it. I still have quite a bit more to do, but I hope that the blog entry will be ready to be published at some point tomorrow.

Friday 27 January 2012

Back from paradise ... and sat at my modelling table!

We finally finished emptying all the cupboards, draws, display cabinets and sundry other storage places in my father-in-law's bungalow this afternoon ... and what has not been kept as mementos has either gone to the recycling centre or to a local charity shop.

We finally got home just after dark, and after a bit of a rest (and a much needed Diet Coke) I began the process of building a couple of model ships using one of the two methods I usually use. I am photographing each stage of the process and intend to use them as the basis of a 'How to ...' blog entry.

The method I am using involves laminating Plasticard to create solid hulls, and I use this method when I want to make models where the freeboard (i.e. the distance above the waterline) is quite small. As the two models I am making are going to be a River/Coastal Gunboat and a River/Coastal Passenger Steamer, this method was the obvious choice.

The following photograph is a picture of a model River Gunboat I made using a laminated Plasticard hull. Whilst it is not the prettiest model in the world (and not one of my best efforts) it does show what can be achieved using bits and pieces from the spares box.

(Some time ago I needed a model River Gunboat for a game ... and did not have one ... so I made this one very quickly from what I had in my spares box. The laminated hull had been made for another project that came to nothing, the gun was left over from an Airfix StuG III conversion, the bridge was from a model tug whose hull had been converted into a 20mm-scale Flatiron Gunboat, and the funnel came from an Airfix 'Great Western'. It took me less than half an hour to put the pieces together, and it was painted an on the tabletop within an hour. Bearing in mind how quickly it was built, I think that we can forgive its somewhat odd and unique 'look'!)

The other method I use comes into its own when I want to build a model ship with a higher freeboard (e.g. like the models featured in my recent blog entry) and this second method is completely different from the first. In this case the hull of the model is basically a box with curved sides, and I use the inherent flexibility of the Plasticard to form the curves, although I sometimes resort to using simple formers and boiling water to help make them. This is possible because Plasticard is a thermoplastic that can be formed into a shape using heat, and if it is kept in that shape until the plastic cools, its does not revert to its original shape.

Another day in paradise ...

Most of my day can be summed up in the following little ditty (which can be sung to the chorus of 'Off To Dublin In The Green').
And we’re off to Herne Bay in the car, in the car
Where the house clear just has to be done
Where no cars are flash and there’s not much cash
For the O-APs waiting for the sun.
Note: O-APs are Old Age Pensioners, who seem to make up a large proportion of the population of this Kent seaside town.

Perhaps I might get some modelling done when I get back. Who knows?

Thursday 26 January 2012

Nugget 250

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N250) to members of Wargame Developments this afternoon, and with luck it should be delivered to them by the beginning of next week.

I have uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are now available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

This is the fourth THE NUGGET of the subscription year and if you have not already resubscribed, you can do so by post (please make cheques payable to WARGAME DEVELOPMENTS) or via the PayPal button on the Wargame Developments website.

Income Tax ... it's a wonderful way to ruin your day!

I had just finished doing all my household chores, and had got all the stuff out that I needed to begin building a couple of model ships to illustrate a 'How to ...' blog entry I was going to write ... when the post arrived ... and ruined my day.

One of the envelopes was a large A5 brown one, with the words 'H M Revenue & Customs' on the front. I opened it to find that it contained my PAYE (Pay As You Earn) Tax Code for the forthcoming year ... and that my personal tax allowance (i.e. how much I can earn before I begin to pay Income Tax) had been reduced from £8105 to £1399! This would have meant that I had to pay an extra £112 per month in Income Tax next year.

I immediately contacted the HM Revenue & Customs Helpline ... only to hear a recorded message that told me they were too busy to answer my phone call and requesting me to call back later. Undismayed I kept phoning until I finally got into the queue ... which I then stayed in for over 45 minutes. When I eventually spoke to a tax adviser he told me that the reason for the reduction of £6706 in my tax allowance was due to an estimation by HM Revenue & Customs that I would need to pay the higher tax rate for some of my income during the forthcoming year.

I went through the figures on my self-assessment tax form for 2010-11 (the year they have based the estimation on) and the tax adviser agreed that I had not needed to pay the higher rate tax during that year. We then went through my estimated earnings for 2011-12 (which was less than I earned in 2010-11), and he agreed that there was no danger of me needing to pay Income Tax at the higher rate during 2011-12. He went through my file, and after some thought agreed that the tax code I had been sent was wrong and that I new one would be sent to me during the next week of so.

All of the above took me nearly two and a half hours ... and by the time I had finished I was in no mood to do any modelling. As the title of this blog entry states, 'Income Tax ... it's a wonderful way to ruin your day!'

PS. The tax adviser did explain how HM Revenue & Customs made their estimations of future earnings. Apparently they estimate that people paying tax will have a 3% year-on-year rise in income, regardless of the current economic situation. They obviously know something that the rest of us don't know!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Ship models that will work with Hexon II terrain

The response to my earlier blog entry about David Helber's ideas about making ship models that will 'work' with figure wargames was very positive, and so I decided to have a look at the models have I already made for that purpose.

The first eight were made from Fimo™, and several were featured in the photographs of my recent MEMOIR OF BATTLE (MOB) play-test.

Flatiron Armoured Gunboat: 4.5" x 2" (11cm x 5cm)

Armoured Gunboat: 3.75" x 1.75" (9.5cm x 4.5cm)

Light Cruiser: 5.75" x 1.75" (14cm x 4.5cm)

Coastal/River Passenger Steamer (1): 4" x 2" (10cm x 5cm)

Coastal/River Passenger Steamer (2): 4" x 2" (10cm x 5cm)

Sailing Craft (1): 3.75" x 2" (9.5cm x 5cm)

Sailing Craft (2): 4" x 2" (10cm x 5cm)

Sailing Craft (3): 3.5" x 1.75" (9cm x 4.5cm)

The next four were made from Plasticard and are as yet unpainted.

Gunboat: 6" x 2" (15cm x 5cm)

Cruiser: 8" x 2.5" (21cm x 6cm)

Ironclad Battleship (1): 10.25" x 3" (26cm x 7.5cm)

Ironclad battleship (2): 10.25" x 3" (26cm x 7.5cm)

What this comparison shows is that although the Plasticard ships are much more accurate (if somewhat distorted) models, they are just too large to represent the sort of ship they are when used with the Hexon II terrain. I have therefore come to the conclusion that the maximum size a model ship that can be used with Hexon II can be is no more than 7.75" x 2.5" (20cm x 6cm). In other words, approximately the size of the Plasticard Cruiser.

Something to ponder on methinks!

Ship models for figure wargames

The model ships that I used in my recent play-test seemed to generate quite a bit of interest. The inspiration for them came from 'Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial-era Wargames Page' which is currently unavailable, although there is a link to an archived version of the website here. This website was the brainchild (and product) of David Helber, who was – along with Eric Knowles – the main inspiration for my interest in Colonial wargaming.

Here is an example of the sort of ship model that David used in his wargames:

In the section about ship and boat models David wrote the following statement about ship size and scale:
Real ships and boats are much larger than most people think. The ironclad model above is roughly patterned on the 1873 turretship HMS Devastation; it would be nearly four feet long, if modeled in accurate scale for 25mm figures. Clearly we can't even approach literal realism within the confines of a 4x8 foot gaming table. The model is simply a symbolic placeholder for the ship, in a game with a tremendously compressed ground scale.

Since we cannot make it realistic, we have to settle for making it visually appealing and useful as a game element. We can do the first by exaggerating the vertical dimension and turning the model (toy, actually) into a cartoon representation of a generalized 19th century warship, and the second by keeping it as small as possible without seeming totally ridiculous. In fact, the model is only 9" long and 2.75" wide; each turret can barely contain three figures, let alone two naval guns and their crews. Yet it can happily steam back and forth on a 6" strip of blue paper along the edge of the gaming table, provide artillery support, land marines, look roughly proportional to the scale of the battle, and add to the Victorian visual effect. If it were much larger, say even 12 or 14 inches long, it would require nearly a quarter of the table for water, severely lack maneuverability, and visually dwarf the land action (which is, after all, the main subject of the game).

Moral: be ruthless with your ship sizes. The ironclad is 9", the dhows are a bit large at 8+", the gunboat is 7.5" and the launches are 6." We know a steam launch is not 2/3 the size of an ironclad, but we live with the discrepancy in order to get a reasonable number of figures in the launch, and also keep the ironclad playable.
This is an excellent guide for anyone attempting to build model ships and boats to go with their figure wargames.

Here are some further examples of the ships and boats David made and used:

Inspirational, aren't they?

N.B. The photographs featured above are © David Helber. They have been used without his express permission as I have not been able to contact him. I feel sure, however, that he would not object too strongly to my use of them for the purpose of spreading his excellent ideas.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Is bigger always better?

I was once told by another wargamer that he thought that only battles fought with at least a thousand figures per side were 'proper' wargames. His basic premise was that unless there were loads of figures on a huge tabletop that was covered in 'realistic' scenery, your enjoyment of the experience was considerably reduced.

I am sure that there are a lot of wargamer out there who would agree with these sentiments ... but I am not one of them. In fact, over the years I seem to have found that I am gravitating towards fielding fewer figures on a tabletop that is limited by the size of my toy/wargames room. (My table can be extended to cover an area of 6' x 4' [180cm x 120cm] but is usually set up to be 4' x 3' [120cm x 90cm].)

Yesterday's battle is a case in point. A total of sixty three figures were fielded on the tabletop, alongside four cannon, a machine gun, two gunboats, two passenger steamers, and three sailing craft. The terrain fitted comfortably onto my 4' x 3' tabletop and was put together from Hexon II terrain hexed tiles, some Hexon II mountains, a Hexon II fortification, three wooden native huts (from a toy Safari set), a resin quay bought in a souvenir shop in Croatia, and a load of Sugarcraft palm trees that began life as cake decorations. The bases for the trees were made from Fimo™.

I thoroughly enjoyed fighting the battle and – judging from the comments I have received – quite a few people enjoyed reading the battle report I wrote about it.

I suppose that I could have fought the battle using more figures on a larger tabletop, and that I could have spent hours – if not days or weeks – preparing a far more detailed terrain over which to fight ... but would I have enjoyed it more? I doubt it ... just as I doubt that I would ever have got round to fighting that battle if it needed all that pre-battle preparation.

It is my personal opinion that what makes for an enjoyable wargame is the story that unfolds as the battle is fought. Donald Featherstone advocated what he called 'narrative battles' in a chapter in his book WAR GAME CAMPAIGNS, and this is what I try to achieve in my games. The scenario should make sense and should explain why the battle will take place. It should also lay down the constraints under which the protagonists are going to have to fight. Having set the scene, the battle then unfolds in an understandable context ... and it is here that I think a major part of the enjoyment comes for me. I feel as if I am creating history, even if it is a fictional version of history ... and that is not dependent upon huge model armies and super-realistic terrain; it is dependent upon my imagination.

Monday 23 January 2012

Memoir of Battle play-test: 'Remove that nest of Sea Rats!'

A group of slave-traders (who were thought to be operating out of Marzibar) set up a temporary base inside an old abandoned coastal fort on the border between the Britannic Colony of New Surrey and Fezian Madasahatta. The area was disputed territory. According to the Fezians the fort was in Fezian Madasahatta, but maps produced by Britannic surveyors definitely showed it as being part of New Surrey.

The slaver-traders – who were led by the infamous Ali Yusuf – had arrived by dhow, and quickly restored the old fort. They stationed two Field Artillery Units (each armed with smooth-bore cannon) within the fort along with a Unit of Infantry armed with single-shot rifles. A similarly armed Infantry Unit occupied a nearby abandoned native village whilst a third Infantry Unit remained aboard the dhow.

In order to stop any possible slaving raids into Britannic territory the Governor of the Colony – Sir Reginald Goodman – had ordered military units to eject the slave-traders ('Remove that nest of Sea Rats!') and destroy the fort so that it could not be used for such a purpose in the future. The forces he had allocated to the task comprised:
  • The armoured gunboat HMS Indolent (commanded by Lieutenant Commander Barrington Muir)
  • A unit of Marines (which will be transported aboard HMS Indolent)
  • An Infantry Unit of the Scotia Highlanders (armed with magazine rifles)
  • An Infantry Unit of the Madasahatta Rangers (armed with magazine rifles)
  • A Machine Gun Unit
  • A Field Artillery Unit (armed with rifled field artillery)
  • Two steam-powered coastal passenger ship that will each carry an Infantry Unit and the Machine Gun Unit or Field Artillery Unit
The overall command of the force was given to Colonel Charles Wells, an officer of Marines who had a lot of experience of landing operations.

News of the impending movement of Britannic troops into the disputed territory caused consternation amongst the Fezian hierarchy in Madasahatta. The Governor – Abdullah Rahman – immediately ordered his military subordinate – Colonel Saleh Usman – to assemble a force with which to 'protect the sovereignty of Fezian territory'.

Colonel Usman mobilised two Infantry Units (armed with single-shot rifles) and a Field Artillery Unit (armed with rifled field artillery) as well as the armoured gunboat Osman III (commanded by Lieutenant Harun Mohamed). He also requisitioned two dhows to transport his force to the disputed area.

Turn 1
The Britannic force sailed down the coast towards the disputed area, led by HMS Indolent.

Turn 2
Whilst the two steam-powered passenger ships moored so that they could begin unloading their cargo of soldiers and military equipment, HMS Indolent sailed further along the coast to investigate the fort.

Turn 3
As soon as she came in sight of the fort, HMS Indolent was fired upon, but suffered no damage. She returned fire with her heavy armament ... and inflicted casualties upon the Unit of Field Artillery that had fired at her.

In the meantime the first Britannic Units had been unloaded from their transports.

Turn 4
HMS Indolent continued to trade fire with the fort with the result that HMS Indolent suffered some minor damage and the Unit of Field Artillery was destroyed!

By now the Britannic force was unloaded from its transports ...

... but the slave-traders had not been idle and two of the Infantry Units began to advance to meet the 'invaders' ...

... whilst the dhow manoeuvred so that she could sail out to engage HMS Indolent.

Turn 5
Before the advancing slaver-traders could get into single-shot rifle range they were engage with artillery fire from HMS Indolent and the Britannic Field Artillery Unit. This not only caused casualties amongst the slaver-traders but also forced one of the Infantry Units to retreat.

The Britannic Infantry Units used this opportunity to advance towards the fort.

The slave-traders countered by moving forward and firing at the leading Britannic Infantry Unit (The Madasahatta Rangers) ...

... whom they decimated!

In the meantime the slave-traders in the dhow were slowly making progress out of the small harbour they had been moored in and towards HMS Indolent.

Turn 6
The casualties cause to the Madasahatta Rangers showed that the slaver-traders were not going to be an easy enemy to defeat. As the main advantage enjoyed by the Britannic force was its firepower, Colonel Wells ordered HMS Indolent and the Field Artillery Unit to fire at the advancing slave-traders. The Field Artillery Unit's fire destroyed the leading slave-trader Infantry Unit and HMS Indolent's gunfire inflicted a casualty on the other slave-trader Infantry Unit, which seriously depleted its strength.

As this was happening the Fezian convoy came into sight, heading towards the fort.

The slaver-traders in the dhow immediately crammed on all available sail and made their escape seaward, leaving their compatriots to fend for themselves!

The remaining slave-traders (led by Ali Yusuf) fell back towards Fezian territory ...

... and the Britannic troops again began to advance on the fort.

Turn 7
As there were no suitable targets, neither side fired their artillery at their opponents. The slave-traders occupied the jetty near the fort ... and proceeded to surrender to the Fezians!

The Britannic troops continued to advance, led by the Madasahatta Rangers who were intent upon exacting their revenge on the slave-traders for the casualties they had suffered.

Turn 8
A Fezian Infantry Unit stormed ashore from the dhow that had been transporting it whilst the second dhow moored next to the fort prior to landing the troops it carried. The gunboat Osman III - carrying Colonel Usman – steamed towards HMS Indolent and signalled that the Colonel requested an urgent meeting with Colonel Wells, whom he rightly assumed was aboard the Britannic warship.

Realising that the situation had drastically changed and that there was a distinct possibility that fighting between the Britannic and Fezian troops could break out at any moment, Colonel Wells signalled the Britannic troops to stop advancing with immediate effect. This order was not well received by the Madasahatta Rangers, but they grudgingly obeyed it.

Turn 9
Whilst the Fezians rounded up and disarmed the slave-traders …

… the Britannic and Fezian commanders held a conference aboard HMS Indolent.

Colonel Wells knew that the fort was situated in disputed territory, and did not want to risk starting a war without approval from his government. His force had achieved its aim – the removal of the slave-traders – but he wished to make sure that they could not return at a later date. Colonel Usman realised that his force was out-gunned by the Britannic troops and gunboat, and he looked for some way in which he could ensure that he protected 'the sovereignty of Fezian territory' without risking an all-out fight with a potentially stronger adversary.

After some considerable discussion the two Colonels agreed that the fort should be destroyed by explosives. These would be provided by the Britannic Marines and the fuse would be lit by a Fezian officer. The slaver-traders (or 'traders' as the Fezian Colonel insisted on calling them) were taken into 'protective custody' by the Fezians, who returned them to Marzibar.

Turn 10
After the explosives had been set, the fort was destroyed in a huge explosion.

It is rumoured that an independent Boundary Commission is to be set up to adjudicate where the actual border between the Britannic Colony of New Surrey and Fezian Madasahatta lies ... but who knows how long that will take nor what could happen in the interim?

I was very pleased with the way this play-test went because:
  • The rules – including the latest additions that covered the use of ships – worked without a hitch.
  • The six-figure Infantry Units were far more aesthetically pleasing on the eye than the 4-figure ones.
  • The use of Hexon II enable me – in a very short amount of time – to set up an attractive-looking terrain over which to fight this battle.