Sunday 31 May 2020

Irregular 'Friendly' Scouts

I will probably have some left over plastic figures after I've completed the Beja, so I was thinking of using them to make a unit of friendly tribesmen to act as a group of scouts for my British field force.  These would normally be attached in small numbers to patrols and marching columns, as shown in contemporary illustrations by the likes of Caton Woodville. 

I might just add a couple of figures but I could at a push have a full unit of unenthusiastic irregulars, all armed with obsolete rifles but bumped back up to four points using the Fieldcraft upgrade. I'd need twelve figures to build a unit but I can probably squeeze that many out of the spare jibbeh clad parts on the sprues, arming them with the rifle equipped arms that I'm not using. 

It's an idea worth considering at least?

Saturday 30 May 2020

Queen Victoria's Little Wars

As always, I've been doing some topical reading recently including this book, which I somehow missed before, despite having just about every other colonial warfare book under the midday sun on the bookshelves. It's a good read and full of all those little anecdotal details that make you go, 'umm, that could be a cracking scenario?' I'm also dipping into Col Mike Snook's Go Strong Into the Desert, which is excellent, as well as various Donald Featherstone classics. All jolly good stuff!

Friday 29 May 2020

I say old chap!

Now that I'm almost half way through preparing the Beja for my The Men Who Would Be Kings project, I thought I'd take a look at the British. 

As I'm not exactly rolling in cash at the moment, my plans to use metal figures have gone astray, so I'm going to use plastic figures instead. This limits my options quite a bit as I'm setting the scene in the First Suakin Campaign, so that I can field the Fuzzy Wuzzy hairdo figures for the Beja, so my British will either have to be the Yorks and Lancs or the Royal Irish Fusiliers, being dressed in Indian North West Frontier uniforms. 

I did for a moment think about using the Zulu War plastic set but with pugaree helmets from the Sudan box and green stuff converted trouser bottoms, but then reality slapped me in the face and I decided not to (yet). Anyway, I'm not keen on the pith helmets with covers, so Princess Victoria's Royal Irish Fusiliers it will probably be (unless I go all 'what if?' and create my own plucky regimental detachment of a suitably fictitious description or pretend that the 2nd Devonshires were sent to the Sudan instead?)

I also have a metal screw gun and crew to deploy, so my field force will consist of three units of twelve stalwart, stiff upper lipped infantry and the attached rather unsportsmanlike artillery. This is a convenient 24 points worth in the rules, so much less assembly work to do and also a relatively short painting timeframe required. I have ordered a spare command sprue to make up the officer and NCO numbers for the three twelve man units but may also get a Zulu War command sprue as well, so that I can make a useful heliograph team on the cheap.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Beja Unit Two Based and Basecoated

I've now textured the bases of the second Beja unit of sixteen figures, then given them an overall basecoat of Halfords Camouflage Matt Brown, ready for painting. I was able to get up to Halfords today for the first time since lockdown, so bought another two cans of the stuff, which I can now use on the other half of the army.

I have one more spear and sword armed unit to complete but I'm thinking of making the last unit of sixteen entirely rifle armed, although the individual figures will be sprinkled into the other three units rather than forming a discrete element. I have enough metal and plastic figures to do this, so it will not only be a refreshing change from gluing bits together but also add some variety to the whole ensemble.

I thought I'd also use some of the leftover plastic figures  to make a small selection of command figures to use as leaders for my various units, giving them a bit more of a personal identity. This should be fun and in the spirit of the rules, where leaders are a key element of the game and add some characterisation to the scenarios, which I think is a really nice touch.

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Number Crunching for Death in the Dark Continent

Here's the army list for the Beja in Death in the Dark Continent, which I've used for some number crunching to see how many points I can squeeze out of my 28mm The Men Who Would Be Kings field force. The standard unit size is three figures with two for skirmish bases, so dividing my sixty four foot figures by three gives just over twenty one bases, not allowing for any skirmishers. This would give me a total of 168 points worth of bases, divided up into units of six to eight bases each, the minimum size being two and maximum nine bases per unit.

I will also have at least twelve rifle armed figures as 'extras', so rather than absorbing them into the warrior units, I'll separate them out and use them as skirmishers which would give me a single unit of six bases. At nine points per base, that gives me 54 points or after 1883 at twelve points per base I'd have 72 points. I can also add a mounted Beja Chief and tool him up with a breech loader for an extra 33 points, bringing the whole shebang up to a fairly respectable 273 point army, which is near enough to 300 points to be worth deploying.

Of course, in 15mm this would all be a lot less work and I have enough Peter Pig figures to easily assemble more than enough bases and points, but I'm doing the 28mm figures anyway so it makes sense to kill two birds with one stone for the sake of some sabot bases. The bigger issue is providing some sort of opposition, as the 28mm British or Egyptian field force for The Men Who Would Be Kings is unlikely to stretch as far. It's no reason not to do the Beja cross over though, so I'm going to carry on with that in mind for the moment.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Beja Unit Two Built and Based

I have now assembled the second of four units of Beja loonies for my The Men Who Would Be Kings, Death in the Dark Continent mash up project. I've enjoyed making these and have been playing around with all the various combinations of arms and weapons, so they are all fairly different despite being based on only ten bodies. I've included a few figures in jibbeh to add some variety but also to stretch the box set as far as possible, even though they were the exception rather than the rule.

I've also not included any rifle armed figures, as I have a couple of the metal box sets that I'm going to use for a unit of skirmishers for Death in the Dark Continent, which can also be sprinkled into the sixteen man units for The Men Who Would be Kings. I've realised that I need another box set of the plastic figures if I'm not going to use most of the jibbeh clad ones, so I've ordered one from eBay. In the meantime, I need to texture the bases and undercoat the ones I've just finished, before tackling unit number three!

Monday 25 May 2020

Foundry Paint Shades for the Sudan

I didn't have time for any more figure assembly or to start painting today for various reasons but I did sit down and work out a paint scheme for the Beja, using my very old but trusty set of Foundry shades. I narrowed it down to about a dozen basic colours plus matt black and bare metal, with most of them only in two shades so that I can have a basecoat and a highlight, separated by a wash in a home brewed brown ink mix. I think this is a happy compromise between a three paint shade layered approach and a slap it on and dip it method, the latter being something I'm really not keen on, 

AK47 Superpower Backed Reinforcements

After the game the other day I decided that I need a new unit for my Superpower Backed army to give them some more deployment options and add a bit of flexibility. 

I have two possible units that I've bundled together from previously assembled bases and vehicles, both of which tick the box. These are a unit of regular troops in helmets consisting of six bases of small arms, a couple of RPG bases and a couple of heavy weapons bases, with an unarmed open top APC to cart some of them around in. They might be a presidential guard perhaps or even a 'white helmet' military police unit? 

The other option is a unit of diecast converted militia technicals that I've had lying round for years, awaiting a rainy day to be painted, consisting of a couple of AAA trucks, an RCL rocket launcher truck, a truck with multiple machine guns and a Toyota technical. I like these but they are yet more vehicles rather than infantry, so a bit of overkill that would be better off parked up for the moment?

I've got other things to do right now but these may well get some attention if I fancy a break?

Sunday 24 May 2020

Basecoating the Beja


I've now assembled and basecoated the first of four units of Beja for The Men Who Would Be Kings and also Death in the Dark Continent. I really enjoyed gluing these together, much to my amazement, as I usually avoid plastic figures due to all the fiddly bits. The Perry Ansar are, however, very well designed and at the most require only five separate components per figure. I originally intended to use them for the second Suakin campaign but, after some further reading it seems that the iconic 'fuzzy wuzzy' hairdo had been banned by the Mahdist c1885 so they'll be used for the first campaign instead. I'll going to assemble another unit of sixteen before I start painting, so that I have at least half a force completed in one go, by which time I'll have run out of Halfords camo brown spray paint anyway.  

Suakin Berber Blockhouse

I knew I had one of these Empires at War laser cut kits in the stash somewhere and I managed to locate it today, after an exhaustive rummage in the garage. As I mentioned previously, I have quite  a lot of 28mm desert terrain already but, as I enjoy terrain making, I am going to add this one to the .to do' list. As I'm only building a minimum of new terrain pieces for the project, I can also spend a bit more time to pimp this one up with a detailed interior and a nice paint job, rather than just spray painting and drybrusing it as usual. I'm also planning to scratch build some acacia brush, some zarebas and perhaps some sections of incomplete railway track, so that I can run some interesting skirmish scenarios. 

Saturday 23 May 2020

Basing the Beja

I'm using 1p coins for basing the Perry Miniatures plastic Beja, mainly to give them a bit of much needed weight but also so that I can store them in a Really Useful Box with an insert tray, making them easier to protect and to transport. The other consideration behind the 1p coin basing is so that I can use sabot bases for Death in the Dark Continent, thereby making the army useable for larger games and not just The Men Who Would Be Kings skirmish scenarios.

The Death in the Dark Continent rules use two or three figures on a 60mm base frontage but with a flexible base depth, although the suggested depth is 30mm. Unfortunately, getting three 1p coins on a 30mm x 60mm base just doesn't work, so I've experimented with different dimensions and reckon a 50mm deep base is both large enough to fit the figures on but also not too big. As a bonus, it will allow for some nice base texturing and detailing, which is one of the things that Chris Peers was influenced by when he wrote the rules in the first place.

Incidentally, this article on basing from the NorthStar magazine is well worth a look:

Friday 22 May 2020

Sands of the Sudan

I've been busy the last few days with painting, bathrooms and hallways rather than wargaming figures, so I've not had time to start on the 1/2400th scale pre-dreadnoughts. I still have some thinking to do about how to paint them as well, so I'm going to move them to one side for the next few weeks and instead start on something a bit bigger. I've already decided to do something with an African theme but instead of Congo, I'm going to build a Beja army for The Men Who Would Be Kings, as well as any other skirmish rules that take my fancy. The thinking behind this is that I won't have to make any new terrain, as I already have plenty of desert scenery, unless I really want to, so I can concentrate instead on the actual figures. These are the Perry Miniatures plastic ones with a few metal figures sprinkled in for variety. I'm going to build the first unit of sixteen figures today, if I can squeeze them into the DIY scheduled.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

AK47 Game Photos

That was a cracking game, even if I was thrashed by my son, with lots of action and some spectacular pyrotechnics at the end courtesy of an airstrike and helicopter gunship attack. I was playing the ZAP defenders but failed to get all my units on the table, while the MDF attackers did much better, which helped to swing the battle in the sprog's favour. He played very well and rolled some good dice too, so I'm happy that he won his second game of AK47, having been thrashed last time at the club. 

Anyway, by turn three my downgraded militia infantry had routed, after a last ditch RPG charge on the advancing enemy tanks, followed by the destruction of my armoured car unit apart from one which broke down but refused to be destroyed for the entire game. I did get my militia technical on to an objective in the last couple of turns before they too were forced to run away, while my helicopter gunship only arrived in the penultimate turn, so had a limited impact on the final debacle. 

I did force the MDF tank unit to flee, however, and almost wiped out the enemy professional jeep patrol, but it was all too late. A humiliating 83 to 34 point defeat for the Zubuto Army of the People, if not the ZIP tribal militia which failed even to turn up despite having two shiny new T-55 tanks attached in the political phase. A lot of fun even if I had to scrape the barrel for terrain...I really should get my act together for AK47 scenery!

NEWSFLASH - Special Forces raid frees captive MDF troops

From our loyal correspondent in Njuba (MBC)

In a daring raid across the Mbote-Zubuto border this afternoon, special forces units of the Mbote Defence Force backed by regular troops and armour, freed a group of soldiers captured by ZAP border security forces earlier this week. The Zubuto Army of the People and supporting militia units were taken completely by surprise and suffered heavy losses, with an entire platoon of militia troops routed by the advancing tanks of the MDF, while a relieving force of mobile ZIP militia technical vehicles was wiped out, along with a patrol of armoured cars from the border security force. Only the late arrival of a helicopter gunship prevented the total destruction of the ZAP forces, with two key objectives seized by the victorious MDF troops. 

Long live Mbote!

(I'll post an AAR later...with lots of photos!)


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