Friday, March 6, 2020

An Explosive Project (2)

The transition from Very Little Wars with 16-figure companies to the Horse, Foot, Guns was easy to contemplate, megalomaniac as I am. Imagine: a stand of 4 figures represents an infantry Brigade of some 2000 officers and men. Three of those, plus maybe a command element, you have a Division; three Divisions, with a bigger command stand, perhaps, and you have an Army Corps.  You might be looking at 45 infantry figures, here. Add a Brigade of Horse (3 figures) and a park of artillery (1-3 guns each with a couple of gunners), and you just scrape past 50 figures.  Fifty figures for an Army Corps!  I'll have a piece of that!

Turcowaz regular infantry.  The army now has 21 infantry
elements, 12 of which are irregulars...
An attractive idea. But I wanted armies of about 1875, roughly Britannic and roughly Gallic. What I wanted to see was an army list for either, as a guide line for organisation, but never saw one. What with one thing and another, the project sputtered on for a few more years with nothing much happening. Becoming disenchanted with the whole DBx rule systems - through no real fault of them - it was not easy to conjure up much enthusiasm for carrying on with it.  
Royal Dearg Highlanders in the service of Ruberia.
It was the Portable War Games systems that revived the interest. The whole gig looked simple, a few try-outs indicated very quick, very playable games, and the thing has progressed much more rapidly in the last three years. It has expanded considerably as well. The original intention was a war - or series of wars - between the Kingdom of Ruberia (RED) and la République of  Azuria, upon or near their home territories, with perhaps a side-order of colonial rivalry in, say, Africa or South Asia. But when the notion of something less 'symmetric' came to mind, the Azurian Army suddenly got co-opted into an 'alternative BLUE', namely TURQUOISE, or Turcowaz. 
The latest Bashi-Bazouk recruits.  Actually they are the
Strelets-R 'bonus' Russian Streltsi figures.  Near
enough, says I.
Having fought at least 4 actions, it was clear that the Turcowaz ought to have its own army. For these I chose the Turkish armies of the 1877 war against Russia. Unfortunately these aren't so easy to get hold of.  Strelets-R makes them, but they aren't so easily available. I scored a box of foot Bashi-Bazouks (through Paul 'Jacko's' on-line contact with a distributor), and that was about it. Still, they got painted up. Then a Crimean War box came available, with Turkish foot, Russian Foot and Horse, and some Highlanders. The Turks were pretty much the same as the 1877 lot; they'd do. Unsure what to do with the highlanders, eventually I shared them with Paul and made a formation of 3 stands and a command from what I kept.
The Royal Dearg Highlanders again.  Under the PW system
this lot could be a company, a battalion, a Brigade,
or a Division.
And the Russians? Well, I did have a 'hidden character' nation that was called Porphyria that was to be a Tsardom, but as these fellows favoured green, they became Zelyoniya.  Its army won't be huge; 8 infantry elements and maybe 4 Horse, plus a gun or two.  Enough, perhaps to prove a menace to the northern borders of the Settee Empire of Turcowaz.

Just by the way, I really like the chunky presence of the Strelets-R figures, especially the later sculpts.  They probably require a deal more attention to painting than some other plastic figures of similar scales, but the end result is worth it.  
Flank rear view of Turcowaz regulars.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned 'Jacko' had himself caught the 19th Century colonial warfare bug, and was developing his own armies and nations. His green-uniformed guys become the Imperial forces of Azeitona - vaguely Portuguese (should we call them Azeitonese or Azeitonians?).  Resisting their encroachments are the m'Butu tribesmen (BLACK) and the vaguely Arabic (WHITE?) pirates/ raiders/ really annoying people. Though they are his project, there are - or will be - points of contact between his and my projects, especially in the Dark Benighted Continent of Africa Aithiops.  
Turcowaz regulat foot.
The most promising beginning seems to be upon the east coast of Aithiops. 'Jacko' scored a fine campaign map of the WW1 campaign of German East Africa. The recent battle of the Limpopo Trail was intended as a species of prologue to the conflicts that will develop in that region of the world. The Ruberians will almost certainly take an interest - and it would scarcely be surprising if the Settee Empire of Turcowaz sought some kind of confrontation with the Abyad (?*) corsairs, raiders and suchlike riff-raff...
Turcowaz irregular cavalry.  Actually Stretets-R 17th
Century Ottoman Turks, but OK for my purposes.
The Ruberian Imperial troops of Rajistan will still be mounting operations against the fringes of the Settee Empire, such as the Medifluvia region and perhaps expanding into the area of Tchagai, which itself became the scene of a revolt some 7 decades later...
The beauty of the PW system is that it could lend itself to a wide range of scales. An Infantry stand might represent anything from a platoon to a Brigade; a group of three or four might be a company or a Division, depending on the overall scale of operation or campaign being undertaken. A single cavalry stand might be a troop or a Brigade. I don't imagine any higher cavalry formations larger than a Division.  And a gun might be a troop or a regiment.  The recent action along the Limpopo Trail was a small affair of maybe regimental or brigade sized forces.  The setback to Azeitona is not one to compromise the colony's existence...
Turcowaz army, so far...  Could do with some regular cavalry
and 'modern' artillery.
 I do like flexibility and versatility.
Elements of Ruberian Army: foot, artillery, and the dreaded
Gatling guns.
Now, recent perusals of the Madasahatta Campaign (Eric Knowles and Bob Cordery) has led to the realisation that, distant as the colonial emprises are from their homelands, they require a certain naval presence, if only to protect the imports of vital supplies and equipments, and the colonies themselves from raid, robbery, etc.  Something ... ocean going; not too flashy, something with a shallow draught, moderate speed, and bally great big guns. Say hello to the Queen of the East Aithiopsian waters, HMS Blunderer, coastal battleship, 9000 tons, carrying four 12-inch rifled guns. A gunboat of the 'Fly' class, perhaps HMS Botfly (a sister vessel, HMS Shoofly, operates in Medifluvian waters) might be suitable for riverine work. Perhaps one or two former American Civil War naval units might find their way into the rival navies. I feel fairly sure that Azeitona will welcome the ironclad ram Lafayette, bought from the United States of Anaconda in 1866. No match for the Blunderer, of course, but ... with a certain presence of its own.  Perhaps the twin-turreted monitor Kickapoo, recently sold (in 1874) by the USA to an undisclosed buyer, might yet find its way to the area.  Who knows? 

HMS Blunderer - newly commissioned, still wanting
its lifeboats...
Plenty of scope for small scale inshore and riverine naval and combined operations...

To be concluded...

Abyad*  - My tentative name for the Islamic Arabs, Mahdists and what have you, engaged in raid, robbery, and all-round rambunctiousness... well that's what the Ruberians are saying, anyhow. Probably Jacko already has his own name for them.


  1. I do like the less is more approach - lovely as it would be to have Regiments of 48 foot plus officers, drummers etc, I find it impractical not to mention expensive!
    The Blunderer is a fine looking vessel.

    1. Much as I liked the 48+ foot regiments, I never actually stretched things that far. My 18th Century stuff goes in for 32+4 figure units, though the Garde Regiment of Altmark-Uberheim boasts 40+4 figures. That was another project that had small beginnings and then went nuts... in more ways than one!

  2. Lovely figures Ion. I have a great affection/admiration/like for Strelets original, current or yet-to-be!
    I expect that some interesting game reports will be coming from this one.

    1. We'll see how things go. As I recall, Major-General Scarlett and his band of men are being besieged at Hak-al-Amara in Mesofluvian country. Lieut-General Ezekiel Rust has been called upon to mount a relief force...

  3. I like your waterline model HMS Blunderer - what is the Scale? Cheers. KEV.

    1. The scale is very roughly 1:400, but I modified it to fit exactly 2 grid areas of my hex-grid table. I did that effectively by cutting about 2cm out from between the funnels. So the beam is still 1:400, but the length more like 1:450.

      You know, until I read Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargames, I never knew there was a distinct class of 'Coastal Battleships'. A bit of a find!

    2. Archduke Piccolo,

      For my cartoon-style model ships I use ratios between length, beam, and height where the scale of the length might be 1:400th-scale, the beam is 1:200th-scale, and the height is 1:100th-scale. This gives me a basic working set of dimensions, which I then modify to suit.

      Coastal Battleships were designed to be used both offensively (to attack enemy coasts) and defensively (to defend against a blockade). They were also used in the estuaries of larger rivers and even on some large rivers.

      All the best,


    3. Bob -
      ... and therefore eminently suited to the sort of campaigns we have in mind. I read the other day that the Swedish Navy of WW2 had a number of coastal battleships as their main strike force.

      It is doubtful whether there will be any 'fleet' actions, though if the Azeitonians get together the 'Lafayette' ram, AND the 'Kickapoo' monitor, they might give 'Blunderer' a run for its money...


  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    You’ve actually achieved what I had hoped to do ... create a manageable multi-national set of imagi-nations. If only I could get a grip on things and follow suit!

    Perhaps I’ll manage it when I’ve finished writing my Portable Colonial Wargame book ... which - with luck - should be in the near future.

    By the way, I love the model of HMS Blunderer! It’s a real beauty!

    All the best,


  5. Hi Bob -
    It won't win any prizes, but it looks serviceable enough. I intended that the turrets could rotate, but that didn't work out. Never mind.

    The credit for the multinational bit should go to Paul Jackson - Jacko - who had been harbouring similar ambitions for some time. Mine had been stuck on two nations, with a side order of a third, and a couple of others that had a naval significance only.

    Our separate projects will merge in 'Africa' (Aithiops). It might turn out to be one of those ... narratives? histories? ... that we never quite know where it will lead us.

    I'm looking forward to perusing your campaign system more closely. I'm wondering just how adaptable it might be to multiple 'players' swanning about in the jungles, veldts and deserts...


    1. Ion,

      It’s a very good model and looks like the original.

      I’ve loved following the battles you have fought so far, and look forward to reading future battle reports.

      The campaign system is based on the one I designed last August. It seemed to work quite well when I tested it, and it will be featured in my PCW book.

      All the best,