Sunday, 5 March 2017

French Conquest of Algeria 1830s-40 V

Googling the subject brings up some good stuff  but...I want more! When I am doing a new period I become over interested (some, like my wife, say obsessed) with it and need to be immersed in information. Sad but there it is.

I kept hoping Douglas Porch would make it a trilogy and do it to go with the Conquest of Morocco and ditto the Sahara but it hasn't happened. I can't find my copy of Clayton to see what he has to say about it. Detaille briefly covers it, and so far the best is the reprint of Laurie, which has nothing on clothing or uniforms but quite a lot of brief descriptions of skirmishes and battles. No maps of the though.

I have another reprint of a book about the French in Algeria to try next.

The really good news is that I am no longer ploughing a lone furrow on this one - long time wargame pal Les Bielby-Tipping has joined me. He's now located in Northern France rebuilding a chateau farmstead so has less time on his hands for wargaming, but the idea has caught his imagination and he has signed up to do some troops for both sides - indeed I am expecting details of his french force today as its raining in France and he will get some time to write it down.

En avant mes enfants!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

French Conquest of Algeria 1830s-40s IV

A drawing I did way back when first considering this period - one of the early Turcos uniforms.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

French Conquest of Algeria 1830s-40s III

Just found my ms notes, made many years ago in my own handwriting but a style I hardly recognise, from Blunt, W S, Desert Hawk, 1947:

'Abd el Kader's regular army consisted, Daumas tells us, of 8,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 240 regulations were elaborately drawn up...greatly assisted by French and other European deserters who had joined his ranks.

"Officers and soldiers of various arms had  uniforms of different colours which were exactly described" said Azan. "Everything was fixed down to the smallest detail, even the quality of the the cloth being stated. The usual headdress was a red chéchia (a kind of tarboosh). Badges included epaulettes, crescents worn on the chest and stripes on the sleeves. inscriptions on the epaulettes or the crescents of various ranks were also fixed. Often they were pious invocations, but commanding officers (raís) had on one of their gold epaulettes 'With those in authority, patience is the key to divine aid'. Any officer or soldier who left off his uniform was rigourously punished."

"The Arab artillery was feeble and antiquated, and consisted of some 20 field pieces and a number of old bronze and iron cannon...three...mounted on poor carriages with solid wheels, the fourth in the European manner. On one...(were decorations of) drums, turbans and crescents.'

All were carried on mule back.

'Cavalry wore baggy trousers and a red jacket covered with a haik and burnous (ssc); the infantry a woolen vest and trousers and a black, hooded jacket.'

Sources quoted (from bibliography):

Daumas,General M. Moeurs et Coutumes al l'Algerie. 1847.
Azan, Paul. Sidi Brahim, 1905; L'Emir Abd el Kader, Hachette 1925; Les Grands Soldats de l'Algerie, 1930; Bugeaud et l'Algerie, 1930; Conquéte et Pacification de l'Algerie, 1931; L'Armee d'Afrique, 1930.

Anybody come across these books and can provided more details from them?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

French Conquest of Algeria 1830s-40s II

I have been pointed at an excellent blog about this, all in French but Google translates it in seconds, by Al Maurer on the Colonial Wars Yahoo DG. It really is the DBs for basic info and some wonderful illustrations - lots of odd variations of uniforms...Here’s a link to part 1; from there you can find the rest:

For the Algerians I found the chapter on Chris Flaherty's wonderful Ottoman Uniform site - splendid stuff as always from this chap enhanced by illustrations his own unique style which are just perfect for painting to find some figures!

The other great source is the entry for Algiers in Matt Bevins excellent self-published 'Tangier to Tehran: A Wargamers Guide to Middle Eastern Armies of the Napoleonic & Pre-Colonial Period c1770-1830', originally published 1994, but there is an updated version 2013 (I think I did a google on Mark Bevis, got an email address and contacted him, but Micro-Mark may have the book?) Splendid information, with lots of naive but very helpful b&w drawings.

I have also had a go at the first unit of French infantry form Conte figures - one painted entirely. I like to do tis as a guide to how they will look so I can change anything which doesn't 'work', colours etc. Will post a photo.

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.