Thursday 30 April 2015

British Cavalry: The Heavies

Unlike their lighter companions the British heavy cavalry in my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures were much easier to varnish and base.

I now have two bases of Life Guards and two of Scots Greys in my small British Napoleonic army ... and I am sure that they will prove to be as reliable as their lighter counterparts have proven to be unreliable.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

British Cavalry: Hussars

I have managed to varnish and base the British light cavalry that form part of my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures.

These proved to be the most annoying figures that I have had to deal with so far. Although the paintwork was relatively undamaged, several of the horses had to be glued back onto the bases they came with (these were cast separately and the horse and rider where then fixed to them), and one sword arm, a couple of carbines, and a sabretache fell off whilst I was applying the varnish and had to be glued back on after it had dried.

So the figures proved to be about as fragile and difficult as the originals were. This would seem to be case of (wargaming) art imitating life!

Monday 27 April 2015

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 159

Saturday's post included the latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society).

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Baker's Spartan Stand: Buying Time at Tashkessen 1878 by Frank Jastrzembski
  • On duty with the Diehards by Tim Rose
  • An advert for the VMS's One Day Seminar – The Cavalry to be held on Saturday 25th October 2015 at The Civil Service Club, London
  • Lions of the Day: The South Australian Colonial Contingent at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 1879 by Andrew Kilsby
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
The article about Baker's Spartan Stand looks to be of particular interest to me, but this magazine always contains lots to interest anyone who – like me – has a fascination for mid-nineteenth century to early twentieth century military history.

Saturday 25 April 2015

More trouble in Zubia: A colonial mini-campaign

In the aftermath of the Khedive's return to full power in Zubia there was a short period of hiatus. It was during this period that some of the riverine tribes in the south of Zubia began to clamour for greater independence from the centralised control exercised by the Khedive's government in Zubairo.

A map of Zubia.
Whilst General Ali Nasir had been in de facto control, the riverine tribes had enjoyed a degree of autonomy and – more importantly – they had been exempted from paying certain taxes in exchange for supporting the General's policy of breaking all ties with Fezia. 'Zubia for the Zubians' had been their slogan ... and now it appeared that not only was the Fezian Khedive back in power, but he was reliant on the support of the ferengi.

A map of Southern Zubia.

The revolt begins
The revolt actually began just outside Adydos, a village some way from the River Zub. A tax collector, escorted by members of the Zubian Gendarmerie (all of whom were ex-members of the old Zubian Army) ...

... were attacked and killed by local tribesmen.

This calamity did not come to the notice of the local Governor – who was based in Wadi Halfwa – until some days later, when a large number of armed tribesmen began gathering outside the town.

The Governor sent an urgent message about the situation to Zubairo via the newly installed electric telegraph, but before the authorities in Zubairo could reply, the line went dead.

The Khedive’s advisers assumed that the sudden cessation in communications between Zubairo and Wadi Halfwa was due to a technical problem, but the truth was that the line had been cut between Wadi Halfwa and Massala.

In Wadi Halfwa the Governor mobilised his garrison of Gendarmes and prepared his somewhat meagre defences, which he fully expected would be sufficient to see off the threatening tribesmen … but he had forgotten that these were riverine tribesmen who were used to using the river as their main means of transport, and who had every intention of using their knowledge of river transport to their own advantage. All of the town's defences faced inland, and not towards the river ...

... and it was from the river that the main threat came!

The two sailing craft that were armed with cannon were able to dominate the centre of the town and this allowed the sailing craft loaded with tribesmen to outflank Wadi Halfwa's defences.

As the tribesmen swarmed ashore, those outside the walls mounted their attack, and despite trying to hold off both sets of attackers ...

... the defenders of Wadi Halfwa were soon fighting for their lives throughout the town.

The result was inevitable, and by sunset the Governor's severed head was on display above the entrance to the town. Most of the defenders died fighting for their lives, and only a very few were taken captive ... and were immediately enslaved.

After a few days of captivity one of the captured Gendarmes did manage to escape, and a week later – and after a tortuous and dangerous journey along the River Zub – he eventually managed to reach the town of Abou Nasir.

The evacuation of Abou Nasir
When news of events in Wadi Halfwa reached Abou Nasir, and after passing on this news to Massala by electric telegraph, the town's mayor immediately began to prepare to evacuate the entire population. Unlike Wadi Halfwa the town had no proper garrison or defences, and the mayor guessed that the riverine tribesmen would reach the town before any units of the Khedive's army arrived to defend it.

As luck would have it two of the Zub Steam Navigation Company's fleet of river steamers were alongside the town's wharf, and they were commandeered by the mayor. The mayor and more affluent members of the town's population (i.e. those who could pay) were soon aboard the steamers, which set sail once the sails of the riverine tribesmen's sailing ships came into sight.

The rest of the town's population were left to fend for themselves, and those who did not try to escape along the river's edge or across the desert began looting the town and setting fire to its buildings.

As a result the town was already well ablaze by the time the riverine tribesmen disembarked.

Angered by what had happened (they had hoped to capture much-needed supplies), the tribesmen slaughtered everyone they could find.

The defence of Massala
The Khedive's army had been alerted to the fact that there might be a problem in the south when the electric telegraph connection with Wadi Halfwa had been cut, and the subsequent telegraphed message from the mayor of Abou Nasir confirmed the fact that a full-blown revolt was in progress.

Although Massala had no physical defences, the Governor of Massala did have some troops of the newly-trained Zubian Army at his disposal. He immediately ordered the evacuation of all civilians from the town and the digging of defensive earthworks that covered the river and landward approaches to Massala.

He also sent a request to Zubairo for whatever reinforcements were available to be sent to Massala as quickly as possible. The defenders than sat back and awaited the arrival of the riverine tribesmen.

It was not long coming.

The attack was made from both the river and the southern landward side of the town's defences, where the Governor had placed his artillery, half his infantry, and his Gatling machine gun.

The Zubian artillery scored an early victory when it dismasted the leading enemy vessel ...

... and the Gatling machine gun shot large holes in the ranks of the attackers.

Nevertheless the riverine tribesmen pressed forward, and despite mounting losses they managed to reach the trenches.

Their initial assaults were unsuccessful, but just as it looked as if all was lost, the sound of a ship's whistle could be heard ... the Khedive – a Zubian Navy river gunboat – had arrived!

This caused the attackers to lose heart, and as the gunboat's gun began to cause serious damage to the tribesmen's sailing vessels, setting one on fire ...

... and sinking another.

Realising that the arrival of the gunboat had changed the situation, the riverine tribesmen began to withdraw.

Massala was saved ...

... but the Khedive was in no position to send his forces further south until they were greatly reinforced. It would appear that the revolt would have to be allowed to smoulder on for the time being.

Friday 24 April 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 385

The May issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post just before midday today ... and it gave me great pleasure to tear off its wrapper and begin reading it!

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Fynbos: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • The march on Madrid: Gaming the Spanish Civil War: Part 2 by Andrew Rolph
  • The Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend: A bridge too far for Featherstone Followers by Paul Goodwin and Chris Scott
  • The retreat from Quatre Bras to Mont St Jean: The prelude to the epic encounter at Waterloo by John Franklin
  • Flagging spirits: A colourful 'old school' morale indicator by Arthur Harman
  • The Battle of Dara 530AD: Byzantines and Sassanids clash by Jim Webster
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • Recce
At the expense of repeating myself yet again, this is another excellent issue ... and not because Henry Hyde chose mention my blog in the World Wide Wargaming section and to re-print an article on mine from THE NUGGET about why I blog. My 'stand out' articles were:
  • The second of Andrew Rolph's The march on Madrid articles
  • Paul Goodwin and Chris Scott's report about The Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend
  • Arthur Harman's Flagging spirits (Arthur is an old wargaming friend of mine and a game designer sans pareil)
  • Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence which discusses the merits of gridded wargames ... and mentions this blog and some of my rules as well!

Thursday 23 April 2015

Nugget 280

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N280) from the printer this afternoon, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments tomorrow morning.

This issue contains further details of the various sessions that will be taking place at COW2015 (this year's annual Conference of Wargamers) in July.

Please can I ask that all those of you who are attending COW2015 and are putting on a session to check that the details are correct ... and if you are attending COW2015 and want to put on a session, it is not yet too late to contact the Conference Organiser!

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

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent to members by post and email as soon as they re-subscribe.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT: All the residential places at the 2015 Conference of Wargamers (COW2015) have now been booked. There are still non-residential places available, and these can be booked via the Wargame Developments website.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

More acquisitions

Yesterday a courier delivered yet another Osprey book that I had ordered some months ago ... GUNBOATS OF WORLD WAR I. The book is part of Osprey's 'New Vanguard' series (No.221), and has been written by Angus Konstam and illustrated by Paul Wright. (ISBN 978 1 4728 0498 3)

The term 'gunboat' covers a lot of different purpose-built and extemporised warships, and Angus Konstam has included examples of all of them, from the Victorian flat-iron gunboats that were dragged back into service in 1914, through the numerous river gunboats that served in Africa, on the Danube, and in Mesopotamia, to the small monitors built to support coastal operation in the Channel and Eastern Mediterranean.

For a naval wargaming 'buff' this book has a lot to offer ... and as gunboats are generally simple vessels, they can be modelled quite easily (i.e. they tend to have a low straight-sided hull, a deckhouse, bridge, and funnel[s], and a heavy-ish gun [or two]).

On visit to a newly-opened branch of POUNDWORLD I found several packs of magnetic photo paper on sale ... for £1.00 for two A4-sized sheets. They are intended to be used by people to make their own fridge magnets etc. but it struck me that they could easily be used to make magnetic strength markers or unit labels for a variety of different games ... and at 50p a sheet it would not be too expensive a loss if one made the odd mistake or two.

I bought five packets!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

British Artillery

Sue and I live in Woolwich, which is – despite the fact that the Regiment no longer occupies the barracks – still the true home of the Royal Artillery. My wife's family have been associated with the Regiment since the last decades of the eighteenth century (One of her direct ancestors joined the Regiment as a twelve year-old fifer and retired as Fife Major to the Company of Gentlemen Cadets at the Royal Military Academy) and both my father and maternal grandfather reached Warrant Officer rank in the Regiment.

It therefore gave me particular pleasure to varnish and base four bases of Royal Artillery and one of Royal Horse Artillery to add to my British Napoleonic wargame army.

Now the only figures that I need to varnish and base in order to complete the British part of my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures are the cavalry and mounted Officers. Once they are done I think that I will take a short break before I move on to tackle the French figures in my collection ... of which there are quite a few!

Monday 20 April 2015

Nugget 280

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the draft of the latest issue on Sunday afternoon, and I plan to take it to the printer later today. I should then be able to collect it from them on Thursday or Friday, and this should enable me to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Saturday.

This particular issue contains further details of the various sessions that will be taking place at COW2015 (this year's annual Conference of Wargamers) in July. It also explains the current situation with regard to booking for COW2015 (i.e. all the residential places have now gone and only non-residential places are now available).

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed should do so as soon as possible. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent by post and email to members when they re-subscribe.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Waterloo playing cards

Yesterday Sue and I took a trip to Maidstone in Kent, and whilst I was there I paid a visit to the local branch of Waterstones. Amongst the books and other stuff on sale I found a couple of packs of special WATERLOO 200 playing cards priced at £4.99 each ... so I bought two packs!

The packs contain 54 playing cards, and according to the box 'The armies of both sides, and their leaders and soldiers, are featured on every card in rare prints, portraits and dramatic paintings of the ferocity of war.' The playing cards are published by Bird Playing Cards with Waterloo 200, and were printed in Austria by Piatnik, Vienna.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Some Rifles, a few Officers, and an NCO

No British Napoleonic wargames army would be complete without representatives of The Rifles ... so I have varnished and based eight of them to add to mine.

I have based the Rifle figures on individual bases so that they can be deployed singularly, in pairs, or as a unit of four figures.

I have also added three Officers on foot and a Guards NCO. (I thought that the latter was an Officer until I realised that he was wearing an Other Ranks uniform and pack. Although he is not a 'proper' Officer, I intend to use him as such.)

Friday 17 April 2015

Some recent acquisitions

Yesterday's post included two packages addressed to me. One contained a free commemorative medallion that has been struck for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (all I had to pay was £2.50 postage and packing) and two books from the 'History of Wargaming' Project.

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo commemorative medallion
I saw a TV advert for this free medallion, and bearing in mind my current Waterloo/Napoleonic project I decided to order one.

The medallion arrived sealed in a folder that includes a brief description of the main events of the battle and space for additional medallions that one can buy.

Tony Bath's Ancient Wargaming
I bought Tony Bath's SETTING UP A WARGAMES CAMPAIGN when it was published in 1973, but I sold it a few years ago ... and immediately regretted doing so.

This new book contains the text of SETTING UP A WARGAMES CAMPAIGN but also includes a whole lot more. The book is split into five sections:
  • Tony Bath – In Memoriam by Phil Barker (with additional notes by Paul Szuscikiewicz)
  • Peltast and Pila Ancient Wargames Rules by Tony Bath
  • Setting up a wargames campaign by Tony Bath
  • The Legend of Hyboria
  • Tony Bath & The Society of Ancients by Phil Steele
The book has been assembled by John Curry with the assistance of the Society of Ancients and was published in 2009 by the 'History of Wargaming' Project (ISBN 978 0 557 11180 0).

Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming
This book is a very different kettle of fish as it is aimed at the 'professional' end of the wargames spectrum rather than the 'hobby' end. (It is subtitled DEVELOPMENTS IN PROFESSIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL WARGAMES.) It was written by John Curry and Tim Price MBE, and was published in 2014 (ISBN 978 1 291 97965 7) by the 'History of Wargaming' Project.

The book's contents include:
  • A foreword by Dr Peter Perla
  • An introduction to Matrix Games
  • A description of S.C.R.U.D. (the Simple Combat Resolution Using Dice)
  • The scenarios and other materials for four Matrix Games:
    • The Falklands War (1982)
    • Chaoslavia (1993)
    • Crisis in Crimea: Counter Revolution (March 2014)
    • The Red Line: Civil War in Syria (August 2013)
    • Lasgah Pol – Afghanistan (2008)
  • A further reading list
  • A number of appendices including:
    • A Brief History of the Matrix Game
    • Counter Sheets and Fail Chits for the Matrix Games
I was involved in helping Tim Price to develop the Matrix Game concept into a working games system (I even get a mention in one of the appendices of this book!) and ran demonstration games at several wargames shows. At the time quite a few people within wargaming were rather anti Matrix Games, and were very vocal about it. We persisted, and eventually Tim Price took the concept even further forward and turned it into a respected and useful tool for professional wargamers.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

British Line Infantry

Despite still suffering from the effects of my recent cold, I have now completed the varnishing and basing of the British Line Infantry figures in my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures. Other than the Rifles – which have yet to be varnished and based – these are the last of the British Infantry that will be added to my small British Army ... for the time being.

There are eight bases of Line Infantry, each base having three figures.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Just my luck ...

Winter is over, Spring has arrived, the weather has begun to improve ... and I have managed to come down with a rotten cold.

Just my luck ... and it has happened on a day when I had planned to fight a couple of battles as part of a mini-campaign. Hopefully the cold will go as quickly as it arrived; in the meantime I will try to get as much time in the sun as I can and drink lots of fluids.

Saturday 11 April 2015

30% off the price of When Empires Clash! when bought direct from

I understand that Lulu is currently holding a 30% off sale on all printed books. This means that anyone wishing to buy a copy of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! via Lulu can buy my book for only £4.19 (plus postage and packing), thus saving £1.80.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

To buy a copy, just click on the link shown above. When the webpage opens, in the section where it asks for the Coupon Code ...

... just type in APRIL30 (WITH NO GAPS) and then press the 'Apply' button to activate the 30% sale price discount.

I do have another non-wargaming book on sale with Lulu. It is entitled BROTHERS IN ARMS AND BROTHERS IN THE LODGE: THE STORY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GROVE PARK LODGE (No. 2732) WHO SERVED DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR (ISBN 978 1 291 98955 7).

It is normally on sale for £5.00, but the discounted price is £3.50 (plus postage and packing), thus saving £1.50.