Tuesday, 19 June 2018

29th Baluchis

The latest addition to the Indian Army are these troops from Perry Miniatures' Victoria's Little Wars line.  

They are sold as Jacob's Rifles (aka 130th Baluchis of the Bombay Army), but I ended up basing my paint scheme on the 29th Baluchis.  Specifically, I looked at this print from Richard Simkin (1885):
I was tempted to paint them with the black tunics as shown, but decided to go with a slightly speculative uniform with khaki tunics and red trousers, to keep them close in appearance to the soldiers that I've already completed.  I'll justify my choice based on my readings on the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War that indicated a preference for khaki for field troops, plus an absence of documentation to prove that my choice is wrong.  As near as I can tell, all the Baluch regiments favoured red trousers, so these troops could likely represent any Baluch sepoys in the Indian Army.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Saving the Guns AAR

Having painted up my Afghan horse and completed the conversion of a WWI RHA limber, I invited a few gamers to join me at Peter's house to try a game.  The scenario was based on the Richard Woodville 'Saving the Guns at Maiwand' painting and Scenario H, 'Sigh of Relief' from the Men Who Would Be Kings rulebook.  

The British/Indian force had a field gun and 12 English infantry from the 66th Berkshire Regiment deployed in the centre of the table.   

Two units of Indian Lancers and the limber were tasked to rescue the gun and remove it to safety.

Eager to capture the gun for their own use, the Afghans sent three units of horse, two mobs of swordsmen and three groups of riflemen.

Afghan horse and swordsmen set out for a sneak flank approach to the gun.

Meanwhile, the gun crew is distracted by the approach of more horse and infantry to their front.

Initially, British musketry and gunnery is frighteningly effective, wiping out two groups of horsemen and stalling the advance of the Afghan shooters.

Afghan horse fleeing the table.

Meanwhile the lancers and limber are moving up to rescue the gun.

But wait, what's this?  Black banners climbing over the rocks, and horsemen coming up on the flank!

The gunners try, and fail, to fire once more at the Afghan horse.

Ghazi swordsmen fall upon the gunners and claim the gun, as the limber flees to safety, abandoning the gun.  The English officer is heard to comment, "if those beastly men continue to behave in such a fashion, I'll be forced to set down my teacup!"

Then the brave Berkshire men face the Ghazis,

and fight them to a standstill!

A second group of swordsmen fall on the 66th, but, displaying the stiffest of upper lips, are also seen off, but there are now far fewer Englishmen standing!

Finally the Afghan horse push back the two remaining soldiers of the 66th.  Meanwhile, the Indian Lancers have been halted, first by fire from the Pathan shooters,

And they then fall back in the face of the ferocious swordsmen!  The field belongs to the forces of Ayub Khan!

Many thanks to Peter for hosting, and to Jim and Doug for their excellent command of the Afghan forces!

The game was a nail-biter, with the advantage shifting back and forth.  Initially, I was concerned that the Brits in the middle were too powerful, as their gunnery and musketry successfully saw off two of the three groups of horse, and had pinned the Afghan shooters.  But the Indian lancers failed too many activations, and while the gunners were focussed to their front, Jim's swordsmen and horsemen came up on their right unchallenged.  Crucially, the gunners failed their activation just as the Pathan warriors were within charge range.  Despite seeing the gunners butchered where they stood, the 66th showed up amazingly well, facing off two charges by the skin of their teeth (outnumbered 16 to 12, they tied and pushed back on the first charge, and then outnumbered 12 to 8, they tied again!  But then the horse did them in).

I think the scenario is well balanced, and that showed as the advantage seemed to pass back and forth from side to side.  I'll try it again at the next Trumpeter Club Night.  Minor changes will be:
- No more testing for leader casualties.  It's fine when there's only one officer for the whole army, but tedious when you check for every unit, every time, and really only fail when rolling snake eyes.
- No testing for leader characteristics.  The Lancers were saddled with a couple of duds, which turned out to be pretty limiting on their ability to act (especially the yellow-bellied cavalry commander who could only shoot and never charge into melee).  Each unit will still test for leadership value individually.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Afghan Regulars

Here is a small unit of Afghan regular infantry.  Before painting them, I studied the Ian Heath article from a 1995 Wargames Illustrated entitled "A Most Villainous Cavalcade", which can be found on the Mad Guru's Maiwand Day website.  To be honest, these figures that I've painted are likely a bit more uniform in appearance than the actual Afghan soldiers of 1880, as the research indicates that there was little consistency in actual uniforms or equipment available.

The flag is the plain black flag of Afghanistan from the reign of Abdul Rahman Khan.  It's probably incorrect but I've not found a better flag to use - suggestions welcome!

Figures are Perry Miniatures from their Victoria's Little Wars range. 

Hmmm, I'd better clean up the collar on that officer.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

French Artillery 1914

I found this model in my lead mountain, a French soixante-quinze, the canon de 75 modèle 1897, the quick-firing artillery piece that formed the mainstay of the French artillery in World War I.  It was a very successful gun, in use internationally for many decades in the 20th Century, right through the end of World War II.  I found one in place in Herat, Afghanistan just outside the Friday Mosque.  My colleagues thought I was a bit odd to be geeking out over an old cannon, after just having toured the absolutely amazing mosque...

This model is from Brigade Games, and the crew are wearing 'early war' uniforms, which will allow me to use it alongside my early war French infantry.  

Here is a colorised photo (I assume it's colorised, I could be wrong!) showing the effect I was going for.

And just for the record, here's the gun I saw in Herat!

Monday, 11 June 2018

Peter the Great - Russians finished!

Here's something you won't have heard me say very often:  I finished an army!  Hopefully I'll get better at this - I just need to learn to say, "enough is enough"!  I've reached a point where I don't need to grow my army of Peter the Great.

Here are the last couple of figures finished.  Here is Tsar Piotr Alexeyevich Romanov, aka Peter the Great.  The figure is from Reiver Castings, and I picked him up after doing a search for a PtG figure and this was the only one I could find in 28mm!  He is here with a mounted officer from the Warlord Games WSS plastic artillery set.  

And here he is with a Ebor Dragoon.  Flag is also from Reiver, and is the standard of the Ingermanlandski Dragoons.

A group shot to show relative size.  Peter is much more massive.  Of course, he was over 2 metres tall in real life, but was lanky, as opposed to this fairly hefty fellow.  He's also got a suitably massive horse to ride.

With these figures completed, I now have enough figures to field a fairly balanced force for Pikeman's Lament with a mix of cavalry (dragoons only, which was normal for Russia), infantry, grenadiers and an artillery piece.  Here are a couple of group shots of the entire force.  

Due to points limits, I would not field the entire army.  With what I have available, I can mix and match a bit.  Most likely, I'd field something like this, unless there were scenario specific reasons to change the selection.  The force would include 2 units of shot, 1 forlorn hope, 1 commanded shot (dismounted dragoons) and two units of dragoons - note that I would ask my opponent to accept my proposed rule amendments for dragoons that I presented here:  http://willstoysoldiers.blogspot.com/2018/05/thoughts-on-cavalry-for-pikemans-lament.html

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Afghan Horse - OMG, soooooo many little horses.....

Miniature megalomania rears its head again...  

My favourite games tend to be relatively small, usually skirmishes with a half dozen figures up to a few dozen figures per side.  But when it comes to collecting, all reason goes out the window and I just need to get EVERYTHING.  A consequence is that I end up with loads of painted figures that I don't really need for a game, but since I have them I try to get them on the table, and then the game suffers as a result.  Smaller usually is better, especially in the context of being able to play a complete game in the typical 2-3 hour time frame for an evening game.

Games like The Men Who Would Be Kings and the rest of the Lion Rampant series are great when kept within the suggested two players, each with a 24-point force.  I just can't convince myself to stay within that limit!

That's a bit of a rambling introduction to my latest painting:  20 more mounted warriors for my Afghan/Pathan armies.  Just what I need to add to the dozen that I already have.

Over a year ago, I looked at the Castaway Arts cavalry and decided that I wanted the Afghans to have the option to bring two units of horse to a fight.  I looked at what was available and settled on the Old Glory NWF Pathan Tribesmen Mounted on Ponies and placed the order with Imperial Hobbies.  Of course, immediately afterward, Perry Miniatures expanded their Victoria's Little Wars line to include Pathan Tribal Cavalry, but I was already committed to OG.  Once the OG pack arrived, I was just not as 'in' to them as I needed, so they languished on the back bench for a long time.  And of course I got Perry Miniatures as well, including the Afghan High Command pack.

Oh, by the bye, Netflix provided me with a Bollywood movie to have playing in the background as I painted these!  Khuda Gawah, the epic story of the love between Badshah Khan and Behnazir, Pathans from rival tribes.  It starts off with a great buzkashi match, and moves on to Badshah Khan winning Behnazir's heart, but after the first half hour the story goes off to boring land as Badshah Khan takes the fall for murder and spend 18 years in prison in India.  It was partly filmed in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif (in 1992, just before Najibullah was overthrown), though, so there's some great, authentic background scenery!

Enough blather, time for pictures!

Here is the Emir.

Paint scheme was inspired by a photo of Afghanistan's Emir Mohammad Yaqub Khan meeting with British officials (including Major Cavagnari, in white helmet) in 1879.  Obviously I had to interpret or extrapolate the colour scheme somewhat!

Here is the full high command pack.

The chapan worn by the chap on the left is inspired by the one worn by former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Here are Perry Miniatures Afghan tribal cavalry:

If I've transcribed it correctly, the flag says something "William's little askari" in Pashto. 

Here are the Old Glory Pathan Tribesmen:

And finally a group shot showing all the mounted Afghans, including the Castaway Arts miniatures that I painted years ago, plus a couple of time travellers who might show up on a battlefield, just to see if anyone notices.  (here's an idea:  what if 'Guns of the South' was set in Kandahar in 1880?)