Sunday, 4 December 2011

Belgian explorer and some African slaves.

I have been busy mainly basing up figures rather than painting but I have finished this Belgium Officer from Wargames Foundry. The white is my usual method of minature paints pale flesh (an off white), a wash of raw umbra with two levels of pale flesh then white highlighting,

Additonally here are a few Eureka Miniatures african slaves painted some time ago, and who probably need a better mat varnish.

Painted at a whim, a Parhoom station Dr Jekyl (in a brown suit) and a foundry Victorian.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Scarlet Sash - Audio Book Review.

I listen to a lot of audio books rented from the Essex library (at £2 for 3 weeks) when I am travelling (being in the car at least 7.5hr/week just to get into and out of work). The latest, Scarlet Sash by Gary Douglas Kilworth is set against the backdrop of the early stages of the 1879 Anglo Zulu war including narrative of Isanlwana, and Rorkes drift. The plot revolves around a military policeman investigating two separate incidence, a theft of a watch and a locked room suicide/murder. As this is an audio book it is important to point out that the narrative is well read with various voices used to differentiate the characters, such as Boers, native Africans and of course the main characters an English Ensign and a Welsh Corporal.

However the story is a little more disjointed with a lot of what feels like off topic filler happening, additionally the main character is rather uninspiring which in some respects helps emphasise the backdrop but he is certainly no Richard Sharpe.

Overall I have enjoyed this and would not hesitate to get further audio books from the same author (he has written a series of books set in the backdrop of the Crimean war) although I am not certain that this is the type of book that I would like to read rather than listen to.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Modern Africa travel writing.

If you are remotely interested in Africa then I strongly recommend Blood River where Tim Butcher followed HM Stanleys coast to coast journey from East to west Africa including travelling down the Congo river. The stand out impression was a country going backwards, where children rarely see motor vehicles or books that their grand parents saw regularly.

I have also just finished reading Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher an account of his walk through Liberia and Sierra Leone in the footsteps of Graham Green. Similar in style to his earlier Blood River the book focuses more on Africa’s recent history with the bloody civil wars. However there are interesting flashbacks to Liberia past as one of the few non colonised African countries.

There are also more modern references to contemporary cannibalism and ritual murders which hit the news again recently (BBC news report)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Source of the Nile Game.

My intention since I bought this Source of the Nile, was to use it as the campaign aspect of a Darkest Africa campaign, as it seems to have the basic covered with battles to be fought on the table top. Each player would run an expedition exploring the interior of Africa via hex based movement and random events, terrain. The winner would be the survivor with the claim to the biggest, best discovery.

From Wikipedia:
Source of the Nile is a board game by Ross Maker and David Wesely. It was released by Discovery Games in 1977 and re-released by Avalon Hill in 1979.
Set in the 19th century, the object of the game is to explore the interior of Africa, make an important discovery, and report it back to European civilization. The explorers must outfit their expeditions and choose a method of travel, be it canoe, camel or foot. At the outset of the game the map of the interior of Africa is blank. As explorers enter each unexplored hex, a card is drawn to determine the terrain and events, if any, that befall the explorers. Crayons are used to draw terrain on the map as it is discovered.
The explorers must confront dangers such as starvation, disease, river cataracts and hostile natives. The game is, in fact, highly lethal to explorers, but if a player loses an explorer he or she may create a new one who re-enters the game at a coastal port.
The player must choose a profession, and the amount of points a player gains for particular discoveries will vary depending on their choice. In particular:
  • Zoologists get points for discovering animals.
  • Botanists get points for discovering exotic plants.
  • Missionaries get more points when dealing with natives.
  • Geologists gain points for minerals.
  • Doctors gain points for medicinal items.
  • Journalists gain points for almost any encounter, even with other players.
  • Ethnologists gain points for discovering native villages

Thoughts on a Darkest Africa Campaign.

The basis for any Colonial / Darkest Africa wargame should, I think be based on the need of the major powers to exploit the natural resources of the relevant country, to seek greater influence in terms of geography and trade and to prevent other, rival, powers from doing just that.

One suggestion would be to use East Africa as a base for the scenarios. There is lots to experience there. So Kenya and Tanzania (as the are now) could prove to be ideal - plenty of Belgian, German and English colonials to use and the native tribes there would provide much scope for plot development.

Characters that may feature:

General Sir Norton Bottle-Blythe (Military Governor of Mabele Province)
The Hon. George Smythe-White (Landowner and part-time explorer)
Henry Cabot Adams (American importer / exporter)
The Hon. John Hector Neville Winstanley (Noted explorer and adventurer)
Jean-Luc Flambard (Belgian mining engineer)
Prof. Louis Marcaut (French archaeologist)
Angus Campbell-Bannerman (Scottish mining engineer)
The Rev. Peter Cecil (Missionary)
Sir Andrew Parker-Leake (Colonial administrator)
Gert von Stauffenhalle (German diplomat and spy)

Needless to say, the above could all have competing objectives. Certainly Gert von Stauffenhalle is inciting trouble amongst the Umabele tribe, arming them with rifles and bombs. What are the Belgians up to and why do they need over 100 Askari to guard their mining operation? What about Angus Cambell-Bannerman's own mining exploration? He was up until six months ago a Captain in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, so why come to Africa in such a hurry? How about Henry Adams - why is he working so closely with the French archaeologist Professor Marcaut?

Also, rumours abound about the Ngorongoro tribe inland, they are becoming restive since the English party of explorers have discovered a previously uncharted plateau in the jungle. Perhaps a detachment of the 17th Norfolks, under Captain Roderick Courtney, should be sent up river to Kingora in order to investigate...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Explorers Camp

Made from parts of the renedra tent set and a scrap of hardboard.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Defence of Burdett's Drift.

Some photographs from the little known Anglo-Zulu War action at Burdett's Drift by a small detachment of the 24th Foot...

Major John Allen Bannerman-Phinn (V.C.) and some of his officers organise the troops.

Stalwart men of the 24th Foot prepare for the next attack.

Colour Sergeant Tom Winbourne (V.C.) at the heart of the defence.

Soldiers at the barricades.

Private James 'Brooky' Brook (V.C.) takes a drink - "It's damn hot work..."

Sergeant Jones and men begin to move out for a counter attack...

Captain Alfred "Alfie" McCaine (V.C.) leads the charge!!

Figures are from Empress and Wargames Foundry.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Back in 2005 I completed a number of Jungle terrain pieces. Well over the last week or so I thought it was time I finished a few more. So two week later (roughly 10 hours) I am now the proud owner of 28 new jungle terrain pieces which I believe are better than the first set.

Cost of materials

Bases - Free
Sand - £1.57
Paint - £5.00 (around 25% used)
Flock - £2?
Jungle Plants - the GW set was £30 but I have picked up around £10 of odds and ends since (whenever it was really cheap). Still have quite a bit left.

In total these pieces cost less than £10 excluding the Jungle plants, with quite a bit of material left over for more terrain, and no need to ever buy more GW base sand.

Knowing that I would need a lot of sand and wanting to avoid the cost of the GW pots (> £5 each) I bought a bag of sharps sand. This comes in very large bags and is quite damp so needs to be dried out.However this will happen even if just stored in doors for a few days. One tip is to sieve it before us. I used a metal food cover as a sieve which I bought from our local pound shop.

Being in a hurry I poured some out and dried it in the sun.

The base for the terrain was made using CD cases, scrap wood and a bit of scrap polystyrene packing material cut down with a hot wire cutters. I roughly covered this with some wall filler.

Once dry they were covered with sand, roughly spray painted black then painted brown and dry brushed brown with a bit of white added.

Then it was just a case of adding the jungle terrain pieces (aquarium plants) with a hot glue gun and covering the bases with some flock.

The final result looks good to me with an intrepid explorer only too glad to be seeing the end of the jungle.

You can see one piece of my orginal attempt which has different coloured flock, but still fits in.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Cthulhu Chief

Just when the drums stopped the stalwart adventurers broke out of the bush only to be faced by:-

Friday, 29 July 2011

Zulu Wars - A question of scale

A few test paints for an old Zulu wars projects. I certainly do not want to repeat the error of having both 15 and 25 mm armies as I have with the Sudan so:-


Or 25mm (Zulus intended to be multibased 3-4, a base)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Sudan - The Train.

The Train

Setting – Sudan, 1884

The Mission – Two cars of a British supply train have derailed. The forward part of the train, with casualties, has moved onto the major supply point to alert the Commander and activate a rescue force. The force is being dispatched with the mission of reaching the derailed cars and securing the immediate area at the rail embankment until a larger salvage force arrives. A platoon of mixed Naval Brigade and Camel Corps with a Gardner gun has been left with the cars.

The Battle – the small British force at the train embankment took too long to arrange their defences in a suitable manner. Lieutenant Morrow and 2nd Lieutenant Dorsey lacked the experience to organize their small force and the Gardner gun was poorly placed and had only half a platoon to protect its left flank. This was to eventually be their downfall. The relief force found the terrain hard going and the Scots and Hussars (21st Lancers) were delayed from their advance when a large Dervish force was spotted on the ridge running beside them. The Scots under Lieutenant McTavish took a defensive formation to protect the right flank of the rest of the advancing force. The Hussars under the command of Major Hedley rode in to disrupt the attacking ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’. Colonel Webster (commander of the initial relief force) marched (on horseback) with Lieutenant Lewis and the 1st Platoon (the ‘whites’) through the dense scrub. Lieutenant Darcy led the remaining platoon towards the derailment position.

First to engage were the Hussars of the 21st Lancers. Unfortunately Major Hedley and his troopers found the ridge hard going and this effectively ended their charge into the advancing Dervish mob. Within moments they were surrounded and a pitched battle began. Even with the force of their charge gone they fought well but soon many of the horsemen fell to the spears of the Dervish. Trooper Jackson (the bugler) was the first to fall. Sgt. Harris was severely injured and the rest of the troop began to suffer casualties. Ultimately the wounded survivors were forced to retreat with Major Hedley the only man without injury.

The Scots under the command of Lieutenant McTavish fared much better and easily held the attacking Dervish force at bay, slaughtering many in the process. McTavish was injured but the platoon held fast.

Colonel Webster and Lieutenant Lewis made it just past the main road that bisected the battlefield. They still had about half way to go to reach the stricken forces at the derailment but were forced into a defensive square formation when the line broke behind them as Major Hedley and the wounded 21st Lancers fled the battle. A group of skirmishing Dervish riflemen hid in some nearby scrubland on a low hill to the north and began to fire upon the hastily formed British square. Sgt. Anstey was killed, Lieutenant Lewis wounded and Colonel Webster, who had refused to dismount from his horse, was winged by a lucky shot from one of the Dervish marksmen.

Lieutenant Darcy made the best progress coming within firing distance of the railway. The sight that greeted them was a terrible one – a huge swarm of Madhist warriors had surrounded the meagre British forces at the embankment and were butchering them to a man. The poorly placed Gardner gun had little effect on the masses of charging Dervish and a large group of camel mounted warriors had sliced through their left flank and attacked the defenders from the rear. It was not long until the desperate Naval Brigade and Camel Corps men were decimated along with their officers.

With the train and its supplies taken, the defenders slaughtered, the Hussars decimated and Colonel Webster injured it was decided there was no other course of action but to fully retreat to meet up with the oncoming salvage force and report the bad news back to General Gordon…

An alternate view...

(Read in appropriate Arabic accent)
"Dem bloody English, got no bloody idea. My Allah I will show the
wisdom of the great Warrior of the Desert.

We placed some nobody savages at the top of the ridge to lure the red
coats from their advance and it did, they all lined up in a nice line
and even sent some house dung sildiers after us by is Allah's wisdom
had forseen this and hid one of my many excellent bands of hot shot
sniperers there and another group of spear hurlers to attack the
horses flanks and they eat there fill of horse flesh that night and
picked to sand bleached red coated bodies clean of all things useful
including naughty butler looking through key hole pamphlet thing.

While the En'lish where wasting their blood in this diversion more of
my fine shoting snipperers had crept down the ridge and overlooked the
train and its defenders. Silly bleeder Englishman put big many shot
gun in the wrong place and my many hoards ran almost stright onto
their lines with out more than a few bloody specs among Allah's great
and furious army.

They moved the gun too late to do any good, and then left its flanks
open to the six legged beasts of my great camel cor! who slew left
and right and stright ahead all the way along the track eventually
coming out the other end like a train from a tunnel the meat the sanil
paced British forces. These Britishers they think the whole world is
one of their nice walled cities and when they get into trouble they
make silly little squre walls of men but my then my many guns of the
all seeing had no one else to shoot at and that man house could not
take so much one lead in one go and they fled like the cowrdly scaven
dogs they are..

Go back to your forgion Jeruselum you heven hounds and may the arse of
your tiny Queen grow ranceed with sand driven saws until she take back
these heven devils from our shores. Allah be praised, Allah be
merciful, Allah we did it!!!"

The Mahdists


The British

1 x mixed Platoon of Light Camel Corps (dismounted) and Naval Brigade
3 x Infantry Platoons
1 x troop of Hussars

(at train site)

Lieutenant Jack Morrow                          (Naval)                           (killed in action)
2nd Lieutenant Laurence Dorsey               (Camel Corps)               (killed in action)
Sgt. Bill Green                                       (Camel Corps)               (killed in action)
Corporal David McDavids                        (Naval / Gardner Gun)     (killed in action)

(initial relief force)

Colonel Horatio Webster (Hussars / 21st Lancers / Commander of relief force) (wounded)
Major John Hedley         (Hussars / 21st Lancers)                                     
Sgt. Robert Harris          (Hussars / 21st Lancers)                        (wounded)
Trooper Jackson            (Hussars / 21st Lancers / Bugler)            (killed in action)

1st Platoon (‘whites’)
Lt. Henry Lewis                                                                         (wounded)
Sgt. Andrew Anstey                                                                   (killed in action)

2nd Platoon (‘Scots’)
Lt. Jack McTavish                                                                      (wounded)
Sgt. Donald McGinty                                                                                                                 

3rd Platoon (‘Buffs’)
Lt. Arnold Darcy                                                                                                            
Sgt. Michael ‘Micky’ Jones                                                         (killed in action)