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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Zulus, 32 of them!

All Old Glory 15mms and based for The Men Who Would Be Kings.  These ones are the married warriors with head rings.  Nice figures I think, with a lot of variety.  They seem to be slightly smaller than the OG Ancients figures I have.  

The bag produced enough figures for three units of 16 figures with spares left over. Six figures are armed with a rifle.

I’ve ordered a bag of Zulus in full ‘uniform’ too.  That will give six units in all and should I want, a unit of skirmishers.  So in terms of the Impi a 1-4-1 formation for horns, chest and loins of the bull. 

They are quite time consuming to paint but worth it I think. You do have to glue the shields on.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Did Alasdair Mac Colla invent the Highland Charge?

I’ve blogged about the Highland Charge before and so it was with keen interest that I read David Stevenson’s case that the tactic was invented by Alasdair.  Stevenson, a financial journalist by trade is author of Highland Warrior a biography of Alasdair, of Scottish Covenanters and Irish Confederates and a fair bit more.

To briefly summarise his case:

Mac Colla originated the Highland charge at the battle of the Laney fought in Ireland in February 1642 as this seems to be the first recorded incidence of it we have.  The tactic was enabled by the adoption of the musket, sword and targe as standard equipment. The abandonment of Cotun and Mail armour also resulted in a swifter closing speed.  The inspiration came from the traditional tactic of sword and targe armed Kern but substituted a volley from  the more effective musket for the less deadly shower of darts.

I find this interesting and think Stevenson could well be right.  The impact of a Gaelic charge was a serious matter.  Mountjoy, Elizabeth the First’s most successful general noted “When it comes to hand-strokes the Irish will usually prevail”.  That said the Irish tended to separate out their shot from their targeteers not least because the latter were drawn from the traditional military class.  Many of the Irish shot, better shots than the English says Mountjoy, were not drawn from the military classes and so were not all trained swordsmen. They therefore could have carried out the effective volley required but not the superior swordsmanship needed upon contact, nor for that matter did they carry targes.

Although the ‘New Scots’ Highland soldiers who fought alongside the Irish were dual armed we find them shooting with their bows or charging fiercely with two handed swords depending on the tactical situation.  I cannot think of a single incidence during the Nine Years War of the combined shooting and assault required by the Highland charge .  

I can note that some of the McDonnell’s of the Route are recorded as carrying targes in the time of Shane O’Neill.  It was a targe that saved Sorley Buidhe (Blonde Charles) McDonnald from being brained by a Galloglaich axe.

All of which suggests that the tactic was an innovation and one that might well lie with Alasdair Mac Colla of Clan Donald.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Four Sixes for China

Here is my Great Powers expeditionary force for China.  

First, we have the German Sea Battalion.

Next the elite Italian Bersaglieri.

Finally, some British Sailors.

With a supporting gun and crew. 

Four units in all, all costing 6 points and totalling the required 24 points required for a TMWWBK company.  So, a fairly dull decision to rate everyone as dependable, formidable regulars but OK for a first in period game.

In future games, I’ll make the Bersaglieri sharp shooters and the Sailors fierce.  I also have the figures for a Russian Company, Cossacks, Dragoons, Sailors and artillery.  I’ve yet to paint most of them but I think I will get them all done. 

I've also got a unit of armed civilians for defending Legations and the like.  The latter might well accompany a naval brigade for Zulu related fun at the Cape.  Chelmsford never came back... sort of thing.

All of the toys are all Old Glory 15mm should you be thinking of getting some.  

I finished a unit of Mongols too, to support the Boxers.  They are sold as Chinese Irregular Cavalry and, believe it or not, this is the only photo of them I've seen on line.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Chinese Court Yard House

If you’re interested in games set in China you probably lament the lack of good model buildings to put on the table top.  Most of us end up buying fish tank ornaments and using them.

There are some good Chinese wooden puzzle buildings that are just the job. Sadly, unless you visit China the price has tended to be very high.  I recall seeing £35.00 once for the traditional Chinese Court Yard House.  It’s a great model as you can see if you visit the Wargaming For Grown Ups blog (look under Tai Ping).

By now you must be wondering if there is a point to my rambling.  There is indeed, I have just taken receipt of the traditional Chinese Court Yard House model for which I paid the princely sum of £6.99-post free.  I bought it on ebay this week, look under Chinese Wooden Puzzles if you want one.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

An Irish Retinue for Lion Rampant

It’s great see all these old Steve Shaw figures finished and ready to use as I’ve had them for decades.  It occurred to me that with a bit of swapping round of unit types I can field an early version to tackle the Vikings and the Normans and as well as a later one.  Not only that but I can also produce an Islemen Retinue.  Anyhow here they all are: 

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Gloves Are Off

Yes, it’s the Boxer Rising using The Men Who Would Be Kings.  I have the figures, barring some Tiger Men soon to be provided by Blue Moon.  So how to rate them?  Something like this I think.

Tiger Men
Irregular Infantry, obsolete rifle, veteran, Free Actions Move and Skirmish. Twelve men at a cost of 5 points.

Kansu Braves

Irregular Infantry, well-armed, Free Actions Fire and Stand to. Twelve men at a cost of 5 points.


Tribal Infantry seems the best fit, Free Actions Move and Charge. Sixteen men at a cost of 3 points, or upgraded to fierce at 5 points.

Banner Men

Irregular Infantry, poorly armed, Free Actions Fire and Move. Twelve men at a cost of 2 points.

Metropolitan Banner Men

Irregular Infantry, well-armed, Free Actions Fire and Stand to. Twelve men at a cost of 5 points.

Unenthusiastic Irregular Cavalry.  Eight men at a cost of 5 points.  Or possibly veteran with modern weapons costing more.

Well drilled modern artillery at six points.

The good news is that I have nearly enough figures already painted to make a Company for each side.  My Boxers are based for Piquet Field of Battle where they act as village militia in the Tai Ping and Opium Wars. I might buy some more of them and base them for TMWWBK.  China fans will have recognised, indeed, probably own, one of the famous fish tank bridges that features in the photos.

Monday, 3 July 2017

More Jacobites

Roundway make a pack of Royal Ecossaises for the ’45, well I couldn’t resist, so here they are.

This probably means I’ll be doing the Irish Piquet’s too, Baggot’s Hussars and Fitz James’s Horse.

I now have three units of Highlanders based for TPL and intend having a fourth.  They are almost all from Roundway Miniatures (A venerable manufacturer of quality 15mm figures).

I thought they could do with some flags so I could tell them apart so I added some to the last bunch I painted.

I intend to try out big TPL using 36 points in three commands of 12-like brigades really.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

China Restored

The photos are back in the China posts, Manchu and Tai Ping.  If you missed them first time around you could give them a click using the China label on your right.

You don't often see these armies.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Irish Raiders for Lion Rampant and 100 Years War Retinues

I’m doing OK on retinues for Lion Rampant but as usual I’ve gone for the exotica, Samurai and the Bronze Age respectively. With the best will in the world these are variants rather than the rules as written.  With that firmly in mind I have bought two retinues from Donnington New Era, English and French for the 100 Years War a classic match-up. I’ll start painting them soon.

Meantime I have a bunch of the old Feudal Castings medieval Irish to hand including the now out of production Irish cavalry-lovely figures.  Most of them are painted so a little re -basing job and I’ll be good to go.  I'll opt for the retinue of the King of Leinster Art Óg Mac Murchadha Caomhanách, who we see below.

On the flat the Irish could not stand up to the massed armoured cavalry of royal expeditions from England or assembled from the colonial nobility.  All of which tends to make for a dull game.  

That said under many rules it is perfectly possible to field an Irish army that operates somewhat like a Roman legion, with double ranks of Gallóglaich, flanked by auxiliaries, fronted by skirmishers and with the cavalry in reserve.  For me, there is no fun in that, I have Roman armies and a fair idea of how the Irish tackled well-armed opponents, I think there is a better option.

All of which brings me back to Lion Rampant which I think will well reflect the small wars of raids and ambushes that now and then became small battles. Here is the retinue.

The nobles as sergeants.

Other marc slua as mounted yeomen with javelins.

Two bands of Kern as Bidowers.  More foot to follow.

And as you can see we are back in business courtesy of Imgur and the good advice available on the Wargames website which does what it says on the label.

New Photo Host Needed

Sorry for the lack of updates folks.  

I have a couple of posts ready to go but I need to find a new photo host.  I was using photobucket but they now want more money than I'm willing to part with.

Ah well now, all the images are gone from previous posts, way to go photobucket.  They will all be restored incrementally so please bear with me as it will take a while.  For the moment though it will all look a bit TMP.

Thank you for your patience. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Lone Ranger Flees

The rangers are forging ahead but the grenadiers are stuck on the ridge and holding up the column.  But the rangers have gone too far and three of them are shot dead.  Strangely no further fire comes from the French, Howe assumes they are on the move.

The entire column moves up and this time they meet a response another two grenadiers fall; their remaining comrade makes a run for it.  Howe’s unit clears the ridge, Roger’s Rangers spot movement and fire.

While Dumas exhorts his allies, Howe gets the column moving save the last provincial unit.

The woods erupt with whoops and howls and musket fire.  Five of Howe’s unit are shot and Roger’s Rangers are reduced to a single man.  The lone ranger flees.  

Howe orders a volley into the tree line and two blue coated figures fall. Meantime Goreham’s Rangers move up, while another unit of British regulars joins Howe.  The provincials though have stopped dead.

Nothing stirs in the trees but Howe orders another volley killing one of Dumas's regulars. The French response is swift another of Howe’s unit falls bringing them to half strength and it proves too much, the unit collapses into rout taking Howe with them.

Game over and pleasingly like Monongahela.  The provincial units probably executed a swift about turn and headed home to ready for frontier mayhem.  The British regulars were likely doomed.  Although TPL is billed as a fun game, and it's all that, it can certainly generate a historical result.

Friday, 23 June 2017

March or Die

The British commander, Lord Howe, wishes to traverse the wilderness as quickly as possible.  He is quite prepared for an ambush but intends to plough through accepting casualties as the inevitable price of moving forward, Should the foe attempt to contest his passage he expects them to block the head of the column and accordingly his advance guard is formed of grenadiers and rangers backed by British regulars.  Fire-power should force the pass. He had expected Indian allies but for some inscrutable reason they have declined to accompany him.

The French plan is simple, they intend to rake the marching column from cover until it approaches a pre prepared killing ground blocked with abatis, there the entire, if small, French force, will regroup under captain Dumas and inflict deadly punishment. 

The column moves out with Roger’s Rangers scouting well ahead but close enough to receive rapid support if necessary.  There seems to be some confusion among the provincials to the rear.  Seemingly nothing stirs in the woods.

The rangers have encountered a steep narrow ridge running across the trail, it’s surmountable but it will delay each unit in turn as men scrabble up it.

Firing breaks out on the flanks of the grenadiers, first one, then another soldier drops.  The stoic grenadiers keep going forward scrambling through the difficult going.  Rogers Rangers have now cleared the ridge, and the rest of the column moves as if one body though the rearmost unit of provincials is now significantly behind its fellows.

More shots ring out at the head of the column but the rangers dive for cover and no one is hit.

The Indians are heard but not seen and another grenadier falls, the unit now at half strength continues to advance.  More soon.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not Monongahela with TPL

Does anyone actually own enough trees for the French and Indian Wars?  I certainly don’t.  I was able to assemble four feet of leafy corridor to represent Monongahela which I hope will do the job of providing an appropriately gloomy, restrictive environment for the game.  

While we are making-do I should say that victory for the Anglo-Americans will be achieved by exiting the corridor.

For the French and Indians success is preventing the same.  

Onontio's men are heavily outnumbered.  The pre-match characterisation has produced a British commander (7 units) who is a ladies man and a French one (5 units) who is a duelist, party boys then.

As much as anything else I want see how well TPL works for this conflict.  If I'm happy I'll be trying two epic defeats one British, one French where the commanders concerned decided upon a European battle plan in an American context.  Oddly both of them were closely involved in the promotion of the new 'light infantry' tactics but opted for a traditional approach.

Monday, 19 June 2017


Another Spanish volley downs three more of Hamilton’s men but the tough regulars stick to it.

The Highlanders and Sir John stop to drink a toast (failed their movement test).
All of the patrol is now moving but it’s really too late.  Hamilton’s unit down a Spanish Grenadier.

The Spanish volley into their much - reduced foes killing three and routing them.  Pleasingly Colonel Hamilton survives, still surprised that the damn French turned out to Spanish.  What a world.

As for Sarsfield he is Fortuna's blessed child.

The Jacobites begin to move off as the Highlanders with Sir John disappear over the horizon . When the patrol arrives it can bury the dead.  

Game over.

So that’s TPL, a fast-moving, fun game with lots of uncertainty.  The outcomes and the story told were plausible to me so I’ll be playing more of it. As it happened my Highlander adjustments never got an outing and I’ve now re thought them, more of which anon.

In TPL terms Hamilton was characterised pre game as old wound and Sarsfield as lucky.

Sarsfield’s luck was uncanny but did not extend to the actual fighting where the results for both sides were less spectacular. His ability to roll successive sixes was another matter, the Jacobites positively bristled with newly minted heroes. Still, strange things happen in combat as the late General Flashman often noted.

Hamilton’s patrol never saw action neither did Sarsfield’s re-enforcements.

My post first game verdict on TPL?  A lot of fun and loads of potential uses. I halved all distances as I use 15mm figures.  My next TPL game will be from the French and Indian Wars but I’ll be returning to 1715.

I'm already painting Sir John Wauchope's Horse comprised of Cumbrian and Northumbrian gentlemen and their tenants.  Algernon Percy will doubtless be wearing his French coat. 

Here are the re-thought Highlander stats.

Unit:  Clan
12 Models inc’ 1 Hero
Attack Value
Defence Value
Shoot Value/Range
Only half the unit fire Hit on 4+ Max ‘9
Maximum Move
Special Rules
No firing post charge
Counter charge v foot, wild charge, fleet footed

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Gang aft agley...

Sarsfield receives re-enforcements his luck is becoming proverbial (He threw three sixes in a row).

The patrol continues its progress but the new men cannot (poor dice) keep up the pace.

Sarsfield continues his advance into range as he does so he notices among the grenadiers the heroic Gonsalvo (another three sixes) and gives him a gallant halloo.

Hamilton’s dragoons press on while his grenadiers wait (poor dice) for the new men to catch up.

The Jacobite cavalry can now see Hamilton’s dragoons, one them, Algernon Percy, reminds his comrades of his French service (another three sixes) which is well received.

Hamilton’s grenadiers volley the Highlanders dropping three of them.  A cry of Claymore goes up.  Hamilton’s foot volley into Sarsfield’s unit killing three but, naturally enough missing the man himself.

The Spanish grenadiers down two of their opposite number.  The Spanish foot shoot three of Hamilton’s men but the Colonel is unscathed. Clan Mac Iain charge the grenadiers killing four and forcing the rest to retreat-but at the cost of three casual casualties.  

The Mac Iain frees Sir John Wauchope.

Meanwhile Hamilton’s dragoons press on while the patrolling foot pause (poor dice) to re-organise themselves.  

More soon.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Sarsfield’s plan is to use his regulars to pin the foe in place while his irregulars attack them. If necessary he will commit the infantry while the grenadiers effect the rescue.  He will then execute a fighting retreat covered by the regulars.  He knows Hamilton may be reinforced but will deal with that if it happens.

Hamilton intends to hang on until help arrives he relies on the devastating volleys of his well- trained men to buy him time.  He will therefore fight in the open hoping to discomfort the enemies less experienced troops and even the odds.  White coats he muses, the rustic was right-Frenchmen!

Sarsfield’s grenadiers step off but the rest of the regulars aren’t ready, he does some tri-lingual swearing to help things along.

Meanwhile the new men of Hamilton’s patrol have taken a wrong turn.  Hamilton draws up his men so the cottages protect their rear.  

Sarsfield has got everyone moving and the war pipes are skirling. All quite inspiring he thinks.  The Highlanders are moving fast in a three- deep formation.  He didn’t know they could do that.

Hamilton’s patrol is now in good order and marching homewards.  There's everything to play for.


As a pre-emptive strike the London Government has arrested Sir John Wauchope who they consider a likely rebel. According to confidential reports he is a Free Mason, a closet Catholic, and a secret dabbler in the occult sciences. Whatever of that he is almost certainly a Jacobite and definitely a licentious drunkard albeit popular in his locality.

Sir John is being held in a hamlet deep in the wild west of Northumberland.  

He is in the custody of Colonel Augustus Hamilton who has at his command:

6 Grenadiers (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 points
6 Grenadiers (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 points
12 Private soldiers of Smythe’s Company (Veteran Shot) @ 6 points
12 Private soldiers of Small’s Company (Raw Shot) @ 3 points
6 Dragoons (Raw Gallopers) @ 3 points
24 points in all.

Sir John may not languish long in captivity a rescue party is on its way led by the notoriously lucky Captain Carlos Sarsfield of his Imperial Majesty’s Spanish service.  

Captain Sarsfield commands:
6 Grenadiers (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 points
12 Private soldiers of Tercio Catalonia (Veteran Shot) @ 6 points
Clan Mac Iain Mhor consisting of:
6 Gentlemen of the clan (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 points
12 Clansmen @ 3 points

If you are familiar with The Pikeman’s Lament (TPL) rules you will see I have differentiated the Highland Gentlemen from their lesser equipped followers to reflect their skill with firearms. That said once the Gentlemen have charged they will be deemed to have dropped their firearms.

6 Gentlemen volunteers (Raw Gallopers) @ 3 points
24 points in all.

Colonel Hamilton is an old soldier who is taking no chances. He has sent his newly raised troops, with a stiffening of grenadiers, to patrol the tracks, you couldn't call them roads, surely. 

His veterans carefully guard Sir John. 

Earlier some yokel brought in a report of Frenchmen. Perhaps foreign troops in the king's service heading north or more likely nothing but a rural fantasy.  He'd see what the patrols said.