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.