Sunday, 19 February 2017

French Conquest of Algeria 1830s-40s

I've come back to this one, inspired after a couple of games (FFL in the 1950s and WWII LRDG) on some simply beautiful scratch built terrain by Lucky Pete Reynold of the Skirmish Wargames Collective. The buildings, city walls, gateways etc, with his lovely big mosque and minaret just cried out for red legged French infantry and multicolored Algerians to be whirling bayonet to scimitar!

I have my box of Conte, CTS etc Mexicans out and am about to start on my first unit of French infantry. I am going for 12 figure units, 4 grenadiers, 4 voltigeurs and 4 fusiliers. (I know this is not historical but it will look great IMHO, so please no pedants). Wrong belting detail doesn't bother me either (sorry) but I will replace weedy pompoms on helmets, and add epaulette fringes.

I think a unit of FFL, either from the Conte but with casquette d'afrique in place of the shako, or perhaps AIP FFL with the kepi built up ditto and a unit of Light Infantry (probably anachronistically in the 1834 regulations uniform rather than 1830, which is too like the line IMHO, to distinguish them more, ie all dark blue with yellow trim) should be enough for the 'ordinary' infantry.

I have some AIP Zouves left from previous projects, but am picking some bargains from Andy Harfield in his Retiring Sale to do some more infantry. I reckon 1 unit in the earliest Tirailleur Algerien 1831-41 red fez, brown trimmed black jacket and shirt and grey trousers; 1 in the 1841-5 uniform of green jackets (shirt colour?, and red trousers; and 1 of Zouaves with red turbans should be the next tranche.

Does anyone have a source of especially inspiring visual eye candy?

4th Rule of Wargaming?

"cheap", it either works way better than expensive, or is a flop, but usually worth trying out! Just be careful what you try it on...

Is this the 4th law/rule of Wargaming?

Sunday, 22 January 2017


These are the Zaurians (aka Saurians), my Alien contribution to the campaign. They are Tehnolog hard plastic figures, the exact name of which I am afraid I don't know, but sort of Lizard Spacemen.

The female leader (they are a matriarchal  society) is from a fantasy set of Tehnolog lizardmen with a new head, representing the race's shapeshifting abilities.

They have all been given new GW Eldar weapons, which looked more reptilian to me than the blocky ones they had. A couple of head positions have been moved, mouths opened, and one 'juve' has been made into a running pose.

The Droid is just some crap plastic figure picked up at a car boot, which I'd like to make more 'Zaurian' in appearance but can't see how. The drone is part of one from a Halo set (I think...)

The figures when through a number of incarnations in terms of painting until I settled on a metallic blue, knocked back with a Formula 3 Armor Wash. The finish doesn't photograph well, and they actually look better than the phot suggests - but still pretty wierd!

More photos in my Photobucket album when I get around to posting them.

Into The Kraken Nebula

Zaurian Involvement in the Kraken Nebula

One of the previously unknown races which made an early and rather unwelcome appearance in the Kraken Nebula, the Zaurians came into immediate conflict with all other races they came into contact with, including the United Planets (UP). For a short description of what is known to date about the Zaurian race see UPKrakNebMonFor Briefing Document KN-UR-2016-09-19-001 attached.
They seem to have been one of the races which had a two-way stable link, as after a few small scout ships appeared and disappeared they were quickly followed by a sizeable fleet of warships intent on a mission of conquest.

Despite their propensity for fighting, their first hostile encounters were with races which were capable of matching them in open warfare and they received a bloody nose in the first pitched battle at Kadimer. This surprise setback has given them pause, at least momentarily, and they now conduct themselves more circumspectly in their exploration of the Nebula.

However, one outcome from the battle was that they took their prisoners back to their home world and sacrificed them to their gods. This was contrary to all the tenets of war of their opponents and causes a huge outcry for revenge. As fate would have it, Grand Gul Zod[1], the Zaurian fleet commander responsible for the transportation of the prisoners had actually been captured and was being taken to UPGalHQ for trial as a war criminal.

By a further strange twist of fate, he was one of the prisoners on the ship which somehow deviated from its flight plan and crashed on the planet and was the subject of the current concern amongst the UP Kraken Nebula Monitoring Force (UPKrakNebMonFor).

As soon as the Zaurians heard of the crash (they have liaison officers with the UP but are not members) they put in place hasty plans for a rescue operation. Knowing that speed and stealth were of the essence, a small crack team of Zaurian Obsidian Order Kommandos was assembled, under the leadership of one of the Order’s most highly decorated officers, Gul[2] Drago.

She immediately assembled a hand-picked team and set off to the planet to launch a clandestine rescue mission. The Zaurian High Command also commenced overt discussions with UPKNM-For seeking assurances about the safety of their Grand Gul and offering their assistance in a speedy recovery of the craft and its occupants.

UPKrakNebMonFor Briefing Document KN-UR-2016-09-19-001

Subject: ZAURIANS aka Saurians[3], Raptors, Zatarians.

‘Saurians are like Klingons – only not so good looking or as peaceful!’
Capt James T Kirk, USS Enterprise

Type: Reptilian sapient alien species

Home World: now inhabitants of Zatara and the dominant race in the Epsilon Quadrant.

Racial Characteristics/Personality Traits: As a race they are considered (by other species they have come into contact with) warlike, violent, volatile, emotionless, treacherous and cruel. Saurians consider these qualities as virtues, as they see themselves as warriors first and last; they exist to fight and gain status through bravery in battle.

Their society is matriarchal and through a long developed psychological quirk they cannot stand prolonged separation from the influence of their matriarch or surrogate before a slow decent into mental instability ensues.[1]

Zaurians are indoctrinated from a very young age to perceive themselves as a pure and superior race and that all other races were inferior and their lives worthless. They are taught from infancy that the Empress is a goddess and dying for her and the good of the race is the noblest act they can perform. Having been taught to have no regard for their own life in the cause of Zaurian greatness, needless to say they have even less for any non-Zaurian lifeforms.

Special Abilities: Zaurians are known to be able to shape-shift, but only for a limited time; they can assume human form as well as that of other species. They can also make themselves ‘invisible’, though the effect is actually more one of extremely effective camouflage through blending with their surroundings like a chameleon; again this can only be maintained for short periods at a time.[2]

Physical Appearance: Zaurians have a bipedal stance, with elongations like spines on the back of the head and down the spine; when first hatched they have a tail which grows with them but this is almost always lost at some stage combat and in adulthood regrowth is suppressed. However it is often allowed to regrow in later maturity as a symbol of veteran status. Their skin is striated like that of many earth reptiles and generally some shade of olive green-brown; it can also be shades of red or blue, but the reason for this is unknown.  They have a prehensile tongue which is often used in close combat.[3]

Reproduction: There are two sexes and reproduction is sexual; the female lays eggs from which the young hatch, but breast feeds the young.

Religion: the Zaurians are polytheistic, with many gods. They practice blood sacrifice and their religion has many similarities to that of the Aztec of Earth, except that the chief god, Mictlan, is female and nearly all the gods are connected in some way with war. The sacrifice of their own kind is inbuilt into their way of life, and is supplemented by the use of prisoners captured in war. This fits in with their belief that surrender in war is anathema; their warriors will not surrender and rather than do so they will commit suicide.

Religion was part of all levels of Zaurian society. On the state level, religion was controlled by the high priestesses governing the main temples in the ceremonial precinct of the Zaurian capital of Tenoc. To the Zaurian, death was instrumental in the perpetuation of life and gods and humans alike had the responsibility of sacrificing themselves in order to allow life to continue and the sun's continued revival. Blood sacrifice in various forms is conducted.

Sacrifice through death in battle is the highest form of offering. Public ceremonial occasions, where priestesses known as the Tlenamc, performed the sacrifice, usually at the top of a pyramidal building are ranked next in importance. The victim is laid upon the altar, held down and their heart cut out. For some of the most important rites priestesses offer their own blood, by their own body.

Alliances/Enemies: Zaurians are implacable enemies of all humanoid species, and most other sapient lifeforms too! There are some reptilian species with which they maintain uneasy neutrality but so far they have no known allies in the galaxy.

The combinations of racial indoctrination and religion makes them very difficult enemies to fight; they are fanatical in battle, seeking death as glorious, and implacable as victors, seeing merit in taking prisoners for public sacrifice.



[1]  ‘Grand Gul’ is a senior officer rank in the Zaurian armed forces, equivalent to General or Admiral
[2] ‘Gul’ is similar in rank to colonel; it is unusual for an officer of the seniority to be leading such a small team, but this indicates the seriousness with which the Zaurian are treating the mission.
[3] Alternative spelling; both are pronounced the same - Saurians.

Game Notes

[1] MRB Note: This will be exploited in the rules in some way… eg each squad has a female leader who is the Matriarch Surrogate and maintains the equilibrium of the other members of the squad, male and female. Should anything happen to her, the others must take Control tests, which get harder over time: if they fail one, their efficiency is reduced eg they roll 2D10 and take the worst for all future tests.

[2] MRB Note: the unpredictable time periods are a game ploy to match the advantages of the ability to a compensating ‘cost’. There are shapeshifting rules in STAR to which ‘maintenance’ rules may need to be added if these are not already there, eg to maintain the new shape or invisibility roll 1D10, outcome ‘rule of 5’ as normal eg: 1 = lose the new shape and cannot shapeshift anymore this game; 2-4 fail to shapeshift this time; 5-9 shapeshift successfully; 10 can maintain new shape indefinitely, no need to take any more tests.

[3] MRB Note: needs rules unless something suitable already exists in in STAR.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Had a sudden urge to provide some Locals for the first game, set on a planet with a mining colony with a n Old West Frontier I found some cowboy figures in a drawer and started messing about with them.

One snag was they were some I had deliberately collected to see how many standing firing with the right arm up I could find - so there is a marked similarity of pose!

 Head swaps came first, no real reason or need but I prefer it usually. Then new weapons from the Sci-Fi Bits Box. The some new arms and legs ditto...

Well, that's going to come in handy when mining - maybe I should add a power-pack of some kind to drive it?

Yes. that was a third (bionic) arm on this one!
A Bionic arm also but only the two in total - and a very big gauge shotgun.
Lastly almost the whole Borg thing...

Saturday, 31 December 2016


This is the name of our group SF campaign, for which I am doing some figures... and here are my first two 'squads', both from the Star Wars genre.

They are Bounty Hunters, a mix of repaints of metal and plastic and some more serious conversion.

The second team are Death Troopers fro Rogue One, which I have recently seen and really enjoyed. These are repaints of Hasbro plastic Storm Troopers, with extra bits and new weapons.

A good source of SF weapons, some specifically Star wars and others more generic, is

Lots more photos of the figures on Photobucket at and

Friday, 11 November 2016

Guilty Conscience Strikes Again!

Not posting here, still scribbling in notebooks here's a wheeze - publish some old articles and drawings I've done over the years. The thought was prompted by a post on the Little Wars Yahoo Group, about figures for the Indian Mutiny, and me remembering a piece I did for the Britain's Standard on it (the IM). I have no idea how to do this, ie upload a Word documnet - maybe I just stick it in one of these?

“The Devil’s Wind” - Storming the Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, 16 November 1857
- The struggle for the Secundra Bagh was one of the most bloody of the whole campaign. 

‘In the annals of war there are few achievements more heroic than the defence and relief of Lucknow.  For nearly six months the garrison withstood repeated attacks of an overwhelming force and suffered hunger and sickness with a courage that won them an imperishable name.
British Battles

Causes of the Mutiny

  During the 1850s many Indians in Bengal believed that the British were deliberately seeking to destroy traditional Indian religious and cultural customs. Matters were brought to a head by the introduction of the 1853 Enfield .557 cal rifle-musket. The rumoured use of cow and pig fat to grease the cartridges would make them offensive to Hindu and Muslim soldiers. The British made it known that these fats had not been used and they replaced the cartridges with new ones. They also allowed the sepoys to make their own grease from beeswax, ghee and vegetable oils.
  The rumour persisted, however, showing that the unrest was much more deep rooted than simply a problem with cartridge grease. From February, when the 19th Bengal Native Infantry refused to use the cartridges, until May 1857 when the 10th, the 11th and 20th Bengal Light Cavalry turned on their British officers matters grew worse. The following day mutinous sepoys reached Delhi. The Red Fort, the residence of the aged Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II, was captured & he was proclaimed ‘emperor of all India’. News of these events spread, further mutinies followed.
  Eventually all 10 Bengal Light Cavalry Regiments and most of the 74 Bengal Native Infantry Regiments were affected. In Jhansi the army rebelled and killed the British officers. The mutiny spread rapidly through Northern central India, and, by the end of June, Cawnpore had fallen and Lucknow was besieged.
  Fortunately for the British, the Mutiny was almost exclusively confined to the Bengal Army. The Madras and Bombay Armies were relatively unaffected and Sikhs, Punjabi Moslems and Gurkhas remained loyal. The British soldiers in India were  scattered across the vast sub-continent and regiments were brought from the Crimea and China.

Lucknow – Besieged, Relieved & Besieged Again!

  In the summer of 1857 the country between Delhi and Allahabad was in the hands of the rebels, and Cawnpore and Lucknow were besieged. Sir Henry Lawrence, Chief Commissioner at Lucknow, had the Residency buildings fortified and supplies stockpiled. Lawrence had about 1,500 troops, half of them loyal Bengal sepoys, to defend the Residency and a similar number of civilians to protect.
  The Mutineers attacked on 4 July 1857. The initial assaults were unsuccessful and they begun an artillery and musket barrage. The siege continued until 25th Sept, by which time the  British were reduced to 350 British soldiers, 300 loyal sepoys and 550 civilians.
  Amazingly schoolboys from the La Martiniere school served alongside a detachment of 32nd  Regiment in defences. As well fighting, the boys performed a number of tasks within the Residency compound. Two died of dysentery and two others were wounded in action. When a mine blew down the outer room of The Martiniere Post, the boys bravely defended the breach and after days of bitter fighting drove off the enemy. Uniquely, the school was awarded a Battle Honour.
  A relief force of 1400 British soldiers and some Sikhs, under Maj-Gen Sir Henry Havelock, fought its way into Lucknow on 25th Sept. Every street was entrenched and barricaded and every house loopholed and defended by sepoys. Taking the bridge to the city and in the 2 miles of streets one third of the relief force fell.
  The remaining force was now too small to evacuate the defenders, and joined the besieged. Again and again the rebels sought to capture the fort. They tried to breach the walls with mining, explosives and through underground tunnels. Both sides fought with desperation and courage. Sharpshooters crept within 50 yards of the defences and kept up a galling fire, while disease and death took their toll. 
  A 2nd relief force under Lt-Gen Sir Colin Campbell, of less than 4,500, arrived a month later but was vastly outnumbered by the rebels. To avoid fight­ing in the narrow lanes and streets of the native city which had hampered Havelock’s earlier relief attempt, instead of a direct attack down the Cawnpore road, a flanking move­ment to the right to capture the Dilkusha Palace and Martiniere buildings was made. From there they would go through a number of large gardens and fortified positions, the Sikandra Bagh, Shah Najif and others, to the Residency itself, clearing a route by which the beleaguered garrison could be evacuated.

The Secundra Bagh- The Desperate Struggle 16  Nov 1857

"93rd! We are about to advance to relieve our countrymen and women besieged in the Resi­dency of Lucknow by the rebel army. It will be a duty of danger and difficulty, but I rely on you."
Lt-Gen Sir Colin Campbell
  The Dilkusha and Martiniere were captured on 14th Nov. On the 16th, the main column, 93rd Highlanders in the lead, began clearing lanes and gardens up to the Sikandra Bagh. This structure was described as "a high-walled enclosure of strong masonry... of 120 yards square, and carefully loop-holed all round". It was held by 2,000 mutineers of the 71st Bengal Native Infantry and regiments of Oudh Irregulars and supported by large bodies of rebels in a nearby small fortified village. 
Under intense fire, the British infantry, with several guns in support, came into action and forced the enemy to abandon the village.  The Sikandra Bagh was bombarded for more than an hour, then the enclosure was stormed.
  Detachments of the 93rd  & 53rd kept down enemy fire from the left while the Sikandra Bagh was breached. In a bold attack they captured 2 enemy guns and made an entrance into a huge barracks building south of the Sikandra Bagh, creating a secure protective flank position.
A company of the 93rd extended in skirmish­ing order between the two buildings, further strengthened the British left and enabled the attack to be made without fear of rebel reinforcement.

  The 93rd, the 53rd, the Punjab Infantry and a battalion of detachments from other regiments, urged on by the martial sounds of the 93rd's pipers, rushed forward. The regimental sergeant-major was among the first to fall, shot dead as he advanced. So narrow was the breach that only one man at a time could enter but the first few through in held off the mutineers while their comrades rushed in.  When suffi­cient men had gathered, they drove the enemy back into an open square in the center of the enclosure.
The struggle was one of the hardest fought and most bloody of the whole campaign, no quarter being asked or given. 
  Above the rebels calls of ‘Din, din!’ (Kill, kill!)and ‘Chalo, bahudar!’ (Come on, my brave one!) rang the Sikh battle-cry of ‘Jai Kalsa Jee!’ and the Highlanders’ ‘Come on, for the honour of Scotland!’. The sepoys defended themselves stubbornly, but Campbell’s men had learned of the massacre of over 200 British women and children at Cawnpore. Enraged by this and in the heat of battle, the British and Punjabis showed no mercy, slaughtering all but a handful of the defenders.
Lt-Col Ewart attacked the leader of an enemy group with sword and revolver, killing him and 5 others. With sword wounds on the arm and hand, Ewart fought two native officers for a regimental colour, downed both and captured it.
  The slaughter continued until the British overcame the last sepoy in the position, which presented an appalling appearance, with great heaps of dead piled upon each other, most of them killed by bayonet or sword.
  Over the next day, the relief force the remaining fortified, including the old mess house of the 32nd Foot, and the Moti Mahal. These permitted the union of the relieving forces with the Residency garrison.
  The force of mutineers was still so vast that there was no question of holding the Residency. The women and chil­dren, sick and wounded were evacuated. It was the successful conclusion of one of the most audacious operations attempted during the mutiny. With little more than 4000 men, Sir Colin Campbell had fought upwards of ten times that number, seized by storm one strong point after another and withdrawn both garrison and civilians.

Further Reading

Richard Collier. The Indian Mutiny. London: Collins, 1963.
Christopher Wilkinson-Latham & G A Embleton. The Indian Mutiny. London: Osprey, 1977.
Michael Barthorp & Douglas Anderson. The British Troops in the Indian Mutiny 1857-9. London: Osprey, 1994.
Ian Knight & Richard Scollins. Queen Victoria’s Enemies (3): India. London: Osprey, 1990.

The Preziosi Collection, 19th Century & Colonial Era Orders of Battle, British Colonial Wars, 1856-1881, The Indian Mutiny (1857-1859) from The Virtual Armchair General, at

Friday, 9 September 2016

Three Days of Gaming!

Just spent three most enjoyable days gaming with two best friends, with games across the scales and periods. We try to get together 3 or 4 times a year, as tempus fugit and we ain't gettin any younger... There are usually four of us at these Glory Daze  but one (Mike 'Doc' Bell) couldn't make it this time, so it was just the three of us, Me ('Botch' Blake), Ian 'Kid' Colwill and Ted 'Pops' Herbert. All now being retired we can meet during the week rather than at weekends, when often other things are going on.

Ian & Ted turned up at my place on Monday morning and Ted set up the first game. This was an Old West Pima County 54mm skirmish, a four sided affair involving the High Chaparral ranch, Mexican 'Maximillianistas' gunrunners, Apache Indians and US Cavalry! Ted provided the story, terrain and figures, and we used an updated version of the very old original Colonial Skirmish Rules.

A great game ensued, in which I came 1st and 2nd (clever eh?),  Ian came 3rd and Ted 4th (with a hefty minus score! And he was umpiring/gamesmastering/directing!!) That night we watched the original version of The Alamo whilst sipping our Larceny bourbon.

On Tuesday we entered a 3 game Black Powder Small Action marathon set in the Texas War for Independence. Chris Swan provided the scenarios, Ian the 28mm figures and terrain, and the umpiring. the last game was an innovative 'chase' game based on the attack on San Antone which pitched groups of Texicans against each other to see who would be first to fight through the town and capture the Mexican HQ.

Amazingly I managed to win all three games (the last by a dirty trick in the final move), making it 4 nil to me so far. The evening viewing was the second version of The Alamo, and another bourbon the name of which escapes me.

Wednesday morning (Ted had to leave at noon) saw us moving down to 15mm and an AWI game in a campaign Ian & Chris have been running. Here it looked like another clear victory for me (as the Rebel Colonialists) against Ted's British until Ian's pesky red devils finally got off there arses and swooped onto my flanks and proceeded to roll up my line!

All in all a most enjoyable few days, both in terms of wargaming and companionship.