Saturday 30 April 2016

Bayonets to Lhasa

I've spent most of the day running the kids about, doing DIY and shopping, so I'm hoping to get back to the workbench this evening. I have been to the local Oxfam bookshop, however, so was able to get hold of a paperback copy of Bayonets to Lhasa which is all about the 1904 British invasion of Tibet. My great grandfather took part in this as a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, so it's going to be a relevant read in more than the usual sense.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Back of Beyond Chinese Warlord Army [1]

A complete change of tack today, as I've decided that I'm going to shelve the Turks for the moment and start on a Chinese Warlord army instead. This isn't as big a shift as I initially thought, as I have pretty much everything I need in terms of figures, artillery and vehicles already and I can use my existing labourer unit as Chinese Bandit allies. I can also re-use the Chahar Mongol irregular cavalry that I'm basing up for my oil prospector expedition.

I've made the change so that the club campaign background will be both more coherent and easier to develop, whilst allowing me to do what I most enjoy, converting and scratch building things into armoured trains, baggage elements and other unusual stuff. As it's a bank holiday weekend I'm planning to get started straight away on basing up a couple of infantry units, a machine gun and a heavy mortar, with some 'special units' and vehicles to follow.

A bit radical but it makes a lot of sense (to me at least!).

Wednesday 27 April 2016

HLBS Pierce Arrow Armoured Car

I have been adding yet more stuff to my Back of Beyond armoured support smorgasbord, as I have developed a strange attraction to early wheeled AFV's,  which to my eye just look really cool. The latest superfluous bit of kit is a 4 pdr equipped Pierce Arrow armoured car by the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company. This was tucked away in their nautical section where you'd least expect to find it, along with a splendid RNAS Seabrook armoured gun carrier. The Pierce Arrow was especially designed for use in Russia in WW1 as described in The Czars British Squadron, which is a brilliant book if you can find a copy. I am now seriously re-thinking my next Back of Beyond army so that I can use some of the armoured vehicles that I've acquired and so that I can have another go at scratch building an armoured train, which I'm itching to try out using Lego to speed things up.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Back of Beyond Club Game

I had enough of marking this week so instead went to the club for a game of Back of Beyond, which was a re-match between my oil prospectors and Andy's archaeological expedition. We were supposed to be trying out some club rules amendments and the third edition of the Contemptible Little Armies rules but both if us forgot. In the end, it was the usual thrashing by the British Museum, with plenty of wreckage strewn across the table and the oil prospectors outmanoeuvred by the opposition. It was all really good fun and I did get to try out my desert terrain cloth for a proper game as well, so I don't mind yet another crushing defeat, although I really do need to try out a different army next time!

Monday 25 April 2016

5th Alabama Infantry Regiment Relative

I was googling something the other day and, quite by chance, discovered a near namesake and presumably distant relative, who was recorded as a private in the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment in 1865. I have a slightly unusual variation on a relatively common surname, so there is a distinct possibility that we are in fact related in some way. Interesting but it's unlikely to send me off on an ACW tangent, even though that Perry Miniatures Battle in a Box army has been tugging at my wallet. 

Desert Terrain Cloth on the Cheap

I've been hunting for a decent (cheap!) desert terrain cloth for ages, specifically one that matches with my existing terrain features and figures. When I was in France over Easter we did the usual supermarket run and I found this heavy duty beige coloured table cloth, which I thought looked close enough to a khaki shade to match my Old West and Back of Beyond scenery. I used the Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki spray for this and so the usual sandy desert mats just don't look right.

I promptly forgot about it until yesterday when I was base texturing my Back of Beyond oil derrick, so dug it out of the box and took a few photos with some hastily posed bandits and lawmen. I think it will do until I can make some proper modular terrain boards, which I've been meaning to do for a while. I was wondering about adding some texture or brushed on weathering to break up the monotone but I think I'll just leave it as it is for the moment.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Went the Day Well BUF Platoon

My copy of Went the Day Well arrived in the post yesterday, so I've spent a happy half an hour or so flicking through the rules and trying to work out how my existing forces will fit with the Force Composition guidelines on p21-24. I have a BUF platoon of an HQ and two ten man sections, one with a Lewis gun, plus a Vickers heavy machine gun team. I also have three trucks, a van for the HQ and a Lancia armoured car, so a fairly well equipped platoon to start with. I really need a couple more rifle armed figures to accompany my HQ but, otherwise, I think I'm good to go. I'll have to see what I've got in the spares box, if I can find it, as a sniper and a specialist or two wouldn't go amiss. The only thing that isn't covered in the rules is my CV33 tankette flamethrower but that's probably not cricket, so I'll just have to leave it out!

Saturday 23 April 2016

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [10]

With the Back of Beyond campaign on hold for the moment, I'm turning my attention to the extra bits and bobs that I'm assembling to complete my Dinosaur Hunter expedition. The latest addition to the painting queue is a Warbases Tchanka, which comes as a flat pack kit of lasercut mdf and card components. This was a right pain to put together, even if the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Needless to say there was much effing and blinding along the way...

The main problem was the articulated lasercut card wheel arches, which fell to bits and had to be replaced with scrap card parts cut from the leftovers, although once coated with copious amounts of superglue the finished model is quite sturdy, The crew are Copplestone White Russians to fit with the rest of the army, which features a unit of mercenary White Russian tatty infantry. I now have ten Chahar Mongol irregular cavalry to base up, which I'm planning to crack on with tomorrow.

Friday 22 April 2016

Campaign Cancelled

I've reluctantly decided to shelve the Back of Beyond campaign until next year. This is due to a Black Powder ECW multiplayer campaign that is about to start at the club, which means that there will be too many games to run each month, especially as there are several players in both. There are also some problematic communication issues with the club Yahoo group site, which really need to be resolved before I get anything off the ground. The Back of Beyond campaign will happen but just not in the next six months or so. I'll still be continuing with some related things including figures, terrain and models, with some one off Back of Beyond games on the cards in the not too distant future. 

Thursday 21 April 2016


This has been in the pipeline for quite a while now, so I was really interested to read a review of the rules in the latest issue of Wargames Illustrated a few days ago, which provided a lot more detail about the key features of the game. I have had a long term goal to 'do' Darkest Africa and have an extensive lead pile set aside for just such a thing so Congo has grabbed my attention, especially as it looks like a smaller sized game than In the Heart of Africa, which has been the focus of my efforts to date.

The emphasis is also more on exploration than warfare, with forces ranging in size from half a dozen figures up to about thirty or so, which would make it more manageable than ITHOA, which can involve a lot of figures if you go for the African options in the army lists. The gameplay also look really different and quite innovative, so I'm really looking forward to it's publication as an excuse to paint some more figures and scratch build some decent jungle or savannah terrain. 

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Back of Beyond Terrain Bits [2]

This is the other bit of terrain I've been fiddling with, a laser cut mdf  North African compound that I bought in the Timeline Miniatures sale a while back. This is a really easy kit to assemble but does require a coat of ready mix polyfilla rendering, if you don't want it to look like a cardboard box. I slapped on the filler then sealed it with a wash of dilute PVA wood glue, before undercoating everything with Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki spray.

I also added some sand to the courtyard so that it would blend with the rest of my desert terrain but still need to actually paint the thing.  I really like this building, even without any paintwork or weathering, so will definitely be purchasing some more of the North Africa range, even though they'll be used in Central Asia for the Back of Beyond. If you left off the dome it would also be useable South of the border down Mexico way, so the gunfighters and banditos aren't that out of place in the picture.

Tuesday 19 April 2016


I put a tentative Best Offer in on this Models of Yesteryear AC Mack propaganda truck on eBay yesterday and, much to my surprise, it was accepted. I've been after one of these for ages but they are usually very expensive, so I was pleased to get this one for a very reasonable price. It will get the usual wash and weathering then will be added as baggage to my Bolshevik Third Peasant and Workers Shock Brigade.

I've been thinking about revamping the army anyway, with some much needed attention to the inevitable paint chips, some detailing of the bases with tufts and some proper banners for the standard bearers, so this propaganda wagon will help to brighten up the force. I may add some cavalry too but that will have to wait until I have more time and less to do!

Fistful of Lead Reloaded Rules Book

This arrived in the post last week, although I got slammed by customs when I picked it up from the sorting office, which was a bit of shame. It's always a risk when stuff gets shipped from the USA, which I tend to avoid as much as possible (another really good reason to stay in the EU!). Anyway, the US letter sized rules book is really well produced with glossy covers and everything laid out in a logical, easy to navigate fashion.

There are a couple of sturdy cheat sheets included which is also a really nice touch, together with the laser cut counter set and a couple of D10's, so that you have everything you need to get gaming apart from a set of playing cards. An excellent deal and well worth picking up. This was my first foray into Kickstarter backing and I'm really pleased with the end result.

I'm looking forward to digging out the figures and dusting off the terrain for a game very soon. I really should get round to painting up the townsfolk and cowboys that I set aside for the project last year. I'd also like to add some more terrain to the already pretty extensive collection with the enormous Sarissa Precision bank at the top of the list of things to do.

Monday 18 April 2016

Back of Beyond Terrain Bits [1]

I banged together a couple of bits of terrain for the Back of Beyond over the weekend, including this well head derrick for my oil prospectors, using a Sarissa Precision water pump left over from my Old West project last year. There were some attempts to prospect for oil in Sinkiang Province and Turkestan during the 1930's, so it seemed like a valid bit of scenery to add to my multi-purpose desert terrain set up (it will also do for prohibition era gangster games).

I tried to make use of as much of the kit as I could, with only the weather vane from the top and the overscale ladder being sent to the spare bits box. I need to add some more details and clutter before I texture the base and paint it up. I'm also going to make a camp for the expedition using the Perry Miniatures tent set together with some oil barrel stacks to use as cover and to block lines of sight. I also have a second AC Mack tanker to re-wheel and weather as my baggage element. Nice.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [9]

I've been working on the Back of Beyond stuff in parallel over the last week or so, on the one hand preparing the Turkish army for painting and on the other adding some extra bits to my existing but incomplete Dinosaur Hunter / Oil Prospector expedition. For the latter, I have room for a unit of irregular Mongol or Turkic cavalry, which is in the post, together with a fourth and final unarmoured machine gun carrier. I have three of these already, converted from Models of Yesteryear diecast AC Mack trucks, but want to have something a bit different for the last one.

The idea now is to make the last of the unarmoured machine gun vehicles a tchancka, using the Warbases lasercut kit, which wasn't available when I originally put the expedition together. This is the same in points terms (50 points) and is virtually identical in the rules, although it moves faster and can't fire and move in the same turn. I have one horse left over from my Old West project, so only need to order a single pack of horses to go with it. The crew are also in the spares box, as I'll be using a Copplestone White Russian machine gun and a spare artillery crew figure for the gunner and driver.

This all ties in very nicely with my tatty White Russian mercenary bodyguard unit that already accompanies the expedition. I'm hoping the order will arrive in then post soon, so that I can crack on with assembling the tchancka and then painting it up, ready for some practice games in the Back of Beyond prior to the start of the campaign in June. In the meantime, I'm still basing away with the Turks, with only a couple of units of infantry, an armoured car and the aircraft to complete, ready for the painting stage of the project.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Back of Beyond Turkish Army [6]

I got quite a lot of basing up done today, although I still have a couple of units to go to complete the Turkish expeditionary force ready for painting. I've completed the basing on a unit of twelve infantry and a unit of nine Circassian cavalry. These look like Cossacks, which is pretty much what they are, although they originated from the Caucasus and were usually Muslim. They were employed by the Turks in very much the same way that the Cossacks were used by the Russians and there's even a Circassian elite guard in the Jordanian army today.

The other addition is a single character figure of the Mullah, who can be attached to the Turkish force in the Back of Beyond campaign rules. The Mullah gives a morale boost to the army for the first four turns of the game, so that they can ignore all morale tests, which is potentially quite useful if a little deranged. The figure is an old Foundry Arab from the Darkest Africa range sculpted by Mark Copplestone, with an added Mauser pistol from a Bolshevik heroine glued on to bring him up to date. I'll have to think of a better name for him though, apart from just 'The Mad'?

Friday 15 April 2016

Enemy on the Euphrates

All this Back of Beyond nonsense has spilled over into some related reading, so I'm now starting on Enemy on the Euphrates, which I have on the Kindle but may also add to the physical bookshelf as a good old fashioned hardback. I didn't get a chance to do the usual Friday afternoon charity shop book hunt, so I'll be heading off tomorrow in search of some more books to overburden the furniture with (you can never have enough books...that's my excuse anyway). I've also been inspired by the fantastic painting on the Over Open Sights blog of Mr Mark Hargreaves:

...I'm absolutely nowhere near this level of superb painting and shading but we can all aspire to great things, even if we rarely get there in the end. If I ever win the lottery, this gentleman will definitely be painting my armies! 

Thursday 14 April 2016

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [8]

I've decided that the Back of Beyond Dinosaur Hunter army needs a bit of a boost, based on the collective experience of those of us at the club who have forces built using this particular list. The weakness of the Dinosaur Hunter force is in the lack of any field artillery other than that provided by the 'proper' armoured car, which is often the first thing to be knocked out by the enemy as an obvious bullet magnet. Once this has been destroyed, the only option remaining is to close assault any armoured vehicles with bombs (which is not to be recommended as you can see, with my White Russians failing dismally to knacker the British Museum's finest Rolls Royce!).

As a result and after some consultation with the players concerned, I've decided to allow the expeditions to have a single mountain gun or light infantry gun, which should even things up a bit but not too much. In the rules, these light artillery pieces have a reduced range of 40'' or 24'' in an anti-tank role, with the ability to fire in the turn after they have moved, so they're pretty useful but not at the cost of unbalancing the list. It also matches the spirit of the lightly equipped expedition list, being the sort of thing they might have picked up along the way or knocked together from various bits. This means that I now need a mountain gun for my Texan oil prospector expedition, so I had a rummage and came up with this.

The gun is an old Force of Arms Schneider 65mm mountain gun model that I originally got bought for my VBCW project. It's a bit basic but is just right for the job. The figures are Copplestone White gun crew, which match the ragged white infantry that are employed by my force as mercenary troops, although they are a little less tatty. I'll have to make them look suitably scruffy when I paint them up. I did experiment with some Artizan cowboy figures as gun crew and may still create an alternative base for the gun itself but, for the moment, the White Russians will do, even if the shell being loaded is a bit too big for the gun!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Contemptible Little Armies Third Edition


I decided to get hold of the Third Edition of Contemptible Little Armies and the corresponding Back of Beyond supplement yesterday. I've put off doing so until now as the old Second Edition is perfectly good. However, as it's now out of print it is about time I investigated the latest version, if only to try them out. 

This means that I now have at least three derivatives of the original rules including Setting the East Ablaze, so there's plenty of scope to expand my Back of Beyond project and try out some different rules in the process. I'll write up a comparative review when the rules arrive in the post tomorrow.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

First Corp Peugeot AC

How cool is that!
I was browsing the First Corp web shop thing and spotted this really cool Peugeot AC armoured car with 37mm gun, which I decided on the spot had to be included in the Back of Beyond arsenal. It may end up as an alternative armoured car for my oil explorers, in place of the usual Garford-Putilov, complete with some head swaps on the crew to turn them into Texan 'wildcatters'. It wouldn't be as powerful as the Garford-Putilov but would look really good alongside my diecast AC Mack trucks.

The other option would be to use it with my Turkish army, instead of the Erhardt armoured car, although the army list would have to be bent slightly. The Turks did have similar unarmoured machine gun cars in the First World War, so it wouldn't be too far off to let the Turks have an up-armoured version? It reckon it's a good 70 points worth due to the 37mm gun, so only slightly more expensive than the Erhardt but packing a definitely more powerful punch.

There are a shed load of other really excellent 1/48th scale WW1 armoured vehicles on the First Corp site which would be perfect for the Back of Beyond:

Monday 11 April 2016

Back of Beyond Campaign Four

I've decided to run another Back of Beyond campaign at the club, starting in June and running through to the end of the year. I spread the word and have managed to get about six players signed up for the campaign, some veterans of the previous outings and others new to the whole thing, which is a really good turn out. I'm hoping to rope in one or two more to make the numbers up to a round eight, which would make the whole thing easier to run and ensure that most people get a game each turn. I'll have to twist some arms but I'm sure they can be 'persuaded'.

The various factions include a French and a British dinosaur hunting expedition, the Japanese, the White Russians, the Mad Baron himself and my American oil prospectors, assuming I don't complete the Turks on time. There may also be a Bolshevik force that I will lend out to a player who doesn't have any army to use. It would be nice to have a Chinese Warlord as well but it looks like he'll be missing out this time round. As a result, I'm seriously thinking about postponing the Turkish army and quickly putting together a Chinese Warlord one instead, just to keep things interesting for the campaign. I still have a couple of months to get this sorted but it may be a bit of a rush!

Sunday 10 April 2016

Back of Beyond Turkish Army [5]

We arrived back home late yesterday, so I've been unpacking and sorting things out all day including the army that I began to base up over the holidays. I also did a bit of conversion work on a couple of figures, one a Scarab Miniatures French machine gunner and the other a Copplestone Darkest Africa German colonial officer. This was a simple job but as always took longer than I expected.

The machine gunner was turned into a AA gunner by gluing and pinning the torso and legs at an angle, then filling in the gap with green stuff, before adding a head swap from an spare infantryman. The officer was turned into an NCO by a simple head swap, so that I can now deploy four ten man units of infantry, alongside two eight man units of Circassian cavalry which I have located in the lead pile.


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