Saturday 24 January 2015

28mm SCW - International Brigade - New Unit

Republican Reinforcements, "You are History, You are Legend"

The latest recruits to the Republican cause are these fine fellows who will volunteer to fill out another 2 units of International Brigade. I already have the Canadian "Mac Paps" and the Irish, Connolly Column. I will probably use them for a British unit and maybe an American one, I just need to invest in some Standard Bearers.

These are the last of the figures I bought at Vapnartak York 2014, just one week before the 2015 show, that's planning for you. Might have to buy some more then.

The figures are mostly Musketeer Miniatures from their various Inter War ranges, the Maxims are from Empress Miniatures and a couple of Warlord WW2 Partisan figures might have sneaked in the back door.

After doing a fair bit of reading on the Brigades over the years, lack of uniform seems to be key, one memoir talks of arriving at the unit and each man being issued a "uniform" and when the men opened the kit not one of them had the same as any other.

I decided against a box to table tutorial post as each of the figures has a different set of clothing, I painted them in groups of 5 using a colour at a time to paint trousers on one figure, hat on the next etc to get a good mix of looks. It helps having lots of different (50?) shades of grey, green and brown.

To enhance the effect I have used different figure ranges. You only need to look at a photograph of the Brigades in the early part of their service to see that every other man has different headgear.

Not sure when these will get their baptism of fire as we don't have a definitive plan for our next SCW game. Lots of other stuff planned, sure we will fit a game in at some time.

Sunday 18 January 2015

AAR - Battle of Nasiriyeh 1915

If the Lord Spares Us, Game Report

Empire Troops on the move
Another cracking game over at Castle R during the last couple of weeks, this post covers the game I previewed as a Scenario Post last time, click HERE for full details.

A view from the Turkish Front Line
The Empire set up with the main part of their force on the right bank, with the Gurkha's and a company of Sikhs on the left bank. Two companies of Gurkha's and some guns loaded up on the gunboat.

Target, what target Sgt ?

That one !

And off they went towards the trenches. The Turks had a battalion in the two front line trenches and one in reserve on the left bank. The trenches in front of Nasiriyeh were left empty, a small gamble but with the Turkish reinforcement point in the town a reasonably safe one.

Coming out of hiding in front of an MG, none habit forming.
The Empire reinforcements arrived quickly and both ANZAC battalions were committed to the already somewhat crowded right bank. Meanwhile on the left, the Gurkha's slowly got on with their job, whittling the numbers of Turks down and increasing their suppression.

Empire Artillery creeps over the front lines.
Oh dear, not a good result for the Turks.
In ITLSU, units are activated one at a time by the drawing of cards. The "They don't like it up 'em" card forces a test on any unit which received casualties as the result of the previous unit to be drawn. It came out after a Empire Artillery strike, already under pressure the Turkish front line in front of the Gurkha's collapsed.

British Artillery on the gunboat, something that was done on the day with mixed results on the decking.
A Gurkha NCO points the way to the now empty trench.
On the Right bank, the Cheshire battalion spearheading the assault was starting to get bogged down, 2 of the 4 companies had heavy casualties, luckily for the Empire, with the collapse of the left flank the right flank decided to up sticks back to the trenches in front of the city, just as the Turkish, to their delight (sorry couldn't help it) got their reinforcement, 6 turns late. A battalion of Turkish Infantry and a Battalion of Stormtroopers rapidly filled the second line of trenches.

Empire forces pour towards the abandoned trench line.
The remnants of the Cheshire's hold trench 1.
It is of course the first outing for my new "Lawrence" Camel unit as described in a previous post, the scenario meant they were representing local Marsh Arabs or Budhoos, this allowed for the unit to appear multiple times In hit and run (more like "hit and die") attacks from random locations. So most newly painted units traditionally die horribly on their first time on the table, these boys managed it three times.

Camel Charge ! The Aussies calmly turned round, shot them to pieces and finished the rest off in melee
Camel Charge ! (Again)
Nearly made it until the Turks threw this.
Next phase of the game saw the Empire take on the second line of trenches.

A Trench too far ?
Sadly for the Empire it was a trench to far, the unsupported Gurkha's on the left managed to break into the second line but the right proved to be too strong, it was close but the Empire never managed to get enough stuff in the right place at the right time to break through the line.

Gurkha's to the front
And Gurkha's on your flank, it wont end well
A good balanced game which could have gone either way, the Empire used the gunboat as a weapons platform, it would have been interesting to see how it would have worked as a troop transporter dropping troops behind the lines.

The WW1 stuff is boxed away, we have a Gallipoli game planned later in the year, for obvious reasons,  so they will see the light of day before Xmas. Next up Napoleonic Naval.

Saturday 3 January 2015

Battle of Nasiriyeh - July 1915 - Scenario

A 28mm game in Mesopotamia

Gurkha's disembarking from a Gunboat, gaming doesn't get any better !

I always try and get a Xmas game in here in Yarkshire and WW1 in the East seems to becoming a bit of a festive theme. I started it a couple of years ago as its the nearest thing we do to the holy land. Its also good as the "desert" terrain we have also doubles up for usage in our WW2 North African, Punic War and Spanish Civil War games and we had nearly all the gang there as well, a bit crowded but good fun, those who couldn't attend come back soon y'all.

Historical Background

The British Empires actions against the Turks lasted throughout most of the 1st World War, mostly overshadowed by the fighting on the Western Front. The Gallipoli Campaign has a reasonably high profile mostly thanks to the great work the ANZAC nations do to remember their dead, however the actions in Iraq, Palestine and Africa are less well celebrated. My Great Uncle fought in this conflict, sadly he didn't come home, he still lies in the Commonwealth Cemetery in Baghdad. Its a lifetime ambition to visit him and pay my respects, sadly with the trouble in the area I don't think I ever will.

The Empire forces pushing out of their base in Basra had defeated the Turks earlier in the year in Qurna, General Nixons ultimate aim at that time was Kut, he decided to further that course of action he needed to set Nasiriyeh, further up the Euphrates, as his next target. Initially 30 Brigade was tasked with the attack, consisting of 2 battalions of Gurkha's and 2 Punjabi Regiments, 4 x 4.7" guns and a mix of Sappers and Pioneers, this was woefully short of the number of troops required for the task and numbers were soon increased. The area around Nasiriyeh has very fertile soil and was likened to parts of England by contemporary writers (hence the western trees we used in the game), it had also been a biblical year for floods in the area which had left large marshy areas around the area. Add to that shade temperatures recorded up to 113 F and hostile marsh Arabs known as "Budhoos" who hated everyone, this was going to be a fun operation.

The operation took a number of weeks and our scenario rolls together most of the aspects of the operation in one easy to swallow game.

Table Set Up

I know, I'll get round to that Map App soon, in the mean time here is a photo of our table set up with the game in progress. The Euphrates runs up the centre of the table, in the far ground on the right bank is Nasiriyeh, there are two lines of Turkish defences on both side of the river and a generous spread of woods and marsh areas. The marshes give light cover but are classed as bad going for movement. Table is 12 ft x 6 ft.

The Rules

Home made activation cards.

We use "If the Lord Spares Us" from the fantastic Toofatlardies, available as far as I am aware as a download only, I paid the sum of a whole 7 of your English pounds, from their website. I won't give a full run down here as this is not a rule review, basically they are a unit card activation system, similar to the other Lardie sets. The rules cover everything you could think of for the period (eg Gunboats) and campaign area, no glossy hard back full of gaming porn just a damn good set of rules.

The rules suggest basing figures in pairs, something I'm not keen on in this scale, mine are based singularly.

The Scenario

NB: The troops we have used are very much based on my collection of figures and not on an historical orbat.


The Turkish player starts with the 72nd Infantry Regt on the table, this consists of 3 battalions, each of which has;

1 x Brigade HQ 4 figs (d4 actions)
1 x HQ Company 2 figures
4 x Companies of 6 figs
1 x MG base.
All are morale level 3.

They may set up on either the middle 4 ft section of table or in the section containing Nasiriyeh and have 4 lines of trenches to defend.

As support the Turks have 2 batteries of off table Artillery (mostly off table because I haven't got any).

Empire Forces

The starting forces for the Empire are,

1 x Brigade HQ 4 figs (1d6 minus 1 actions)
1st Battalion 8th Cheshires, 4 companies of 10 figs, 1 x 2 fig HQ and an MG base.
Nelson Battalion of the RND, 4 companies of 8 figs, 1 x 2 fig HQ
2nd Battalion 7th Gurkhas, 4 companies of 8 figs, 1 x 2 fig HQ and and MG base.
1 x Company of 6th Sikh Battalion 10 figs
All morale grade 1

Supported by 1 gun boat armed with 2 Mgs, an on table Artillery Battery and an off table battery.

Sikh Battalion is 10 figs because I haven't painted the rest yet, same for the RND Mg

Empire enter from the table edge furthest from Nasiriyeh, they can load 2 coys and one weapon onto the gunboat.


Arabs !!! Led by some dodgy looking guy in a Fez
 Starting from the first turn Infantry on table engages each other from short range (9") add a Turkish and an Empire reinforcement card to the deck along with two Arabs cards, each time the card is drawn in normal game play roll 1 d10, needing a 10 for the reinforcements to arrive (-1 per turn drawn)


1 Battalion of Regular Turkish Troops, 4 coys of 8 figs plus HQ and MG base. Morale 2
1 Battalion of Stormtroopers as above no MG Morale 0

Arrive in Nasiriyeh.


2 x Battalions of Australian Light Horse (dismounted) use 4 x 8 plus HQ and MG Morale -1

Arrive on Empire table edge.


When they arrive roll a die to determine which half of which table they arrive on, only count areas in which action is taking place. So if you have action on the right and and centre 4 ft sections roll a d4 to determine which table and "north or south" they arrive on. Then use a random die to determine which piece of unoccupied terrain they have been hiding in.

Place a group of 10 Arabs in that terrain feature, the nearest unit will become the enemy. Their mission is to be a pain in the backside. As they have no traditional means of removing suppression they will leave the table when they reach 10 points, if they are not fired at in a turn they can recover 1d4.

The objectives are straight forward, the Empire need to capture Nasiriyeh, the Turks need to stop them, the Arabs just need to nick anything that isn't nailed down. So there you go, an AAR will be published when we get done, probably last a couple of sessions minus time for chatting obviously.

Thursday 1 January 2015

28mm "Lawrence of Arabia" Camel Troop - New Unit

WW1 in the Middle East, Artizan Figures

Something a bit different this week. As the first post of 2015, Happy New Year readers, I have put up some photos of my just finished 28mm Camel Unit.

I started my WW1 collection about 5 years ago mostly as an excuse to buy some of the excellent Woodbine Design Companies 28mm WW1 in the East range. I have in that time built up quite a decent size collection (which will be on show in the next Battle of Nasiryah post). Rather than specialise in a already specialised period I decided to build up forces to cover Gallipoli, Iraq and Palestine.

Like most men of a certain age, I was influenced by the stories of Lawrence and of course the magnificent film, staring Peter O'Toole about his life. I think this period is a "would like" for a great many gamers but sadly for some reason its a minority period, its surprising with the great range of unit types in the theatre.

So who could resist a unit of Camels to go with Armoured Cars, Tanks, Cavalry, Gurkha's, Aussie Light Horse, Paddle Steamers, Gunboats etc etc. Not me ! These have been an ongoing project for years. I paint horses and these Camels using oil paints (I'll cover the technique in a box to table post one day), the method is straight forward but very time consuming with the drying time of the oils being the issue. I did the Camels about 4 years ago and for some reason (you're gamers you know why !) they have sat around in box waiting to be finished, the upcoming game was my excuse to get them done.

The figures are from Artizan who do a small but excellent range of figures for the period. I haven't found them particularly easy to get hold of, I picked some up at a show once in a discount box others I found on a trip to A1 Games in Glasgow, at £9 a pair Camel units aren't cheap.

I haven't put any flags on the figs as yet as I don't want to limit there use, I could put the classic Sharifian flag on but I also want to use them for irregular "Budhoos". I will probably go for a generic Arabic writing stylee flag unless anyone has any suggestions.

Skin tone is probably a bit light, I have never been happy with my efforts at darker skin, apart from that I'm pleased with the results. They get their debut on the table in a couple of days time, along with my "new" paddle steamer, they will probably last two turns.

I would be interested in how my American readers perceive Lawrence, with little or no US involvement in the conflict is he known of at all ? Sadly this is the sort of History we fear to teach in schools anymore (God forbid you mention The Empire in a none Star Wars context), a great shame, Lawrence seemed to have a better grasp of Middle East politics than we do today.