Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Pikeman’s Lament (TPL) for The ‘15

Encouraged by my experience with TMWWBK I thought I might have a go with TPL from the same stable.  Questions arose like mist off a lake, which armies to choose?  Can I avoid rebasing?  Will I have to buy more stuff?  The last two were particularly important.  I hate rebasing and I have too much stuff. Time for a big intake of breath and a look in the Bits Box.  

Opening the Bits Box is a TARDIS like experience, its small but there’s loads in there.
First out were some British dragoons (Roundway 15mm Marlburian) already painted! Then some Highlanders ditto on all counts.  Next came some Lowland horse still in the packets. Then from the Cupboard of Lost Projects a full Spanish battalion in yellow coats and two British ones, in red naturally enough.  

Things were looking good for the 1715 Jacobite Rising.  Albeit with the Spanish four years premature  and in the wrong uniform.  A bit more poking about and I had enough figures for both sides. With a little painting I had enough for options too. Mainly, for initial forces it was just a bit of basing and rebasing required.

I rather fancy an Anglo-Scots  border based campaign. Perhaps accompanied by a wistful hum of Derwent Water Lament.  You can see some of the units on this page.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The End Is Near

Reno now needs to conduct a fighting retreat.  He intends to hold off the hostiles with fire power with each troop covering the retreat in turn.  The Crows down two of the Crow Owners and retire and Benteen’s boys shoot another. So far so good, those Indians won’t be doing much now.  Then disaster strikes, Reno’s troop refuses to move.  They think it safer to hold their ground and blaze away.

The Kit Foxes replace the Crow Owners killing two of Benteen’s men.  Worse the Badgers now appear of Reno’s flank killing another four troopers. Now, Sinjté demonstrates his worth and leads his badly armed Lakota out of cover and into bow range, more troopers fall. It’s over for Reno.

I enjoyed these rules and thought they delivered a fun and believable game. Had Reno not got caught in a confined space he would have done better.  He was unlucky too when his men refused to move by doing so they gave the Lakota their chance.

Sinjté made good use of cover and bide'd his time well.  Toka ‘La’s dream served the Kit Foxes well and in real life would have earned him great respect.  The Badger Society would also have been very pleased with themselves.  Not so the Crow Owners who took heavy casualties.  The Lakota also enjoyed excellent dice while those for the Cavalry and Crow were mostly average at best.

I’ll probably introduce dismounted and consequently more effective fire power for the cavalry at a cost of two horse holders a unit and a move action.  Simple enough.  It will also provide the opportunity for the Lakota to try and run off the horses.  A favourite tactic.

For the Lakota, the characterisation part of the game lends itself to introducing some Plains flavour.  A thumbs up for TMWWBK then,  I'll certainly play more Plains War games with it. 

Get Off My Land

Reno gets everyone across the river while the Crow patrol the open flank.  Keogh’s troop reached the first objective but before samples can be secured are engaged by Ino ‘Ka and the Badgers who kill a trooper and pin the unit. Sinjté moves his warriors into cover and waits.  The Kit Foxes shoot up the Crow downing a warrior and pinning the rest.

The Cavalry open up causing three casualties. Reno rallies Keogh’s troop and the Crows. 
Sinjté signals to Kangi 'Yuha and the Crow Owners society who in a close skirmish kill two of Benteen’s troopers.  The Kit Foxes inflict another two casualties on the Crows pinning them

Reno needs to do something to avoid disaster-the Crows are singing their death songs.  He orders fire at will, the Crows down a warrior while Benteen’s boys kill another two.  His own troop open up on Keogh’s attackers but its long range and they miss.

Ino ‘Ka’s Badgers are now among Keogh’s troop and doing serious damage.  Keogh and a single survivor reach Reno’s line.

Emboldened Kangi 'Yuha’s warriors close to skirmish with Benteen’s men but fail to inflict casualties.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Keogh’s Got the Fever!

Bad news for the 7th.  Captain Keogh’s weak with fever and the brutal Major Reno has huffed the Crow.  Still everyone is excited to be looking for gold, except the Crow who know finding it would be bad news.

Meantime dispute rages among the Lakota. Toka ‘La dreamt that the next fight would be won by rifles while Kangi Yuha knows it’s getting up close that counts.  Wider opinion is mixed but everyone agrees Sinje Gleska is still the finest warrior.  Ino ‘Ka and the Badger Society have been drinking Gin all morning but no one has fallen off his horse yet.

Yes, it the first stage of a game of TMWWBK.  

Custer, who has gone hunting, has given detailed instructions on where to scout and what to look for.  Let’s see how everyone gets on.

Reno orders Keogh to advance.  Keogh is delirious, he seems to think he has been short changed in a shebeen and is going nowhere.  Benteen’s boys don’t move either and Reno’s own troop stay with the majority. It’s not going well.  The Crow do move out.

The Crow advance has kicked up dust and the Lakota, apart from the Badger Society who are heatedly discussing beetles, decide to investigate.

Reno gives it another go and all but Benteen’s troop move up.  The Crow can see a large cloud of dust heading their way.

The Lakota roll forward including the Badger Society who have decided something's up.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

They Won’t Fight!

As GA Custer headed out for the Little Big Horn his main concern was that the Indians would scatter before he could attack them.  Today, we know he got that wrong, fatally in fact.  Yet Custer was far from the only one to hold to the view that the Lakota and pals were not up for it.

From what I can glean for the Plains People war, in terms of technique, was basically an extension of hunting.  Hence the famous and mesmerising Comanche encirclement. 

The aim was to coral the enemy at a disadvantage and then kill him as efficiently as possible while avoiding any casualties for the home side.  That isn’t to say that individual Indians did not engage in heroics, they often did but it was in terms of raising their own status within the band and they intended to survive to enjoy it.  Also, we should recall that the Indians did not have unlimited manpower, for them every death was bitterly mourned for entirely practical as well as emotional reasons.

All of which meant that the Americans were often confused by Indian martial conduct-why have they scarpered, they nearly had us running? Plains warfare was often indecisive because the Indians felt their objective conditions for victory were not in place.  Of course, when those conditions were met resolution was swift and bloody.

As I retouch the paintwork on my ‘Tribal Cavalry Sharp Shooter- 10 figures’ I wonder if TMWWBK will give us any of that flavour.

I’m also thinking about the very real influence on group behaviour if a prominent warrior had an inspiring dream.  Currently I'm awaiting four more troopers from QRF to complete my US Cavalry force.  I could use substitutes I suppose.  Anyhow game on soon.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

There Was Singing Before Battle

Cunedda’s bard recited in his elegy for his fallen patron that "There was singing before battle".  Cassius Dio tells us “The barbarians (Britons) approached with much shouting mingled with menacing battle songs”.

Dio was writing about Boudica’s army and the bard is describing the gwr hen ogledd- The men of the old north- so famed amongst the Cymry. We can see the practice of the Iceni and Trinovantes noted for 61 AD in the south east of the island was still current in 383 AD among British warriors around the Wall. A continuity if you like.  

There had been changes too.  In Boudica's time the western edge of Empire was at the northern border of her own polity.  When Cunedda roamed, it was, by virtue of client states, on the southern bank of the Firth of Forth.

Boudica was part of a cultural and linguistic continuity that stretched from Ireland to northern Italy and beyond most which had recently been subjugated by Rome. She, famously, was having none of that. 

The concept that sovereignty might be associated with a living royal woman is a strong undercurrent in some Irish texts and one that’s clearly pre- Christian.  I have often wondered about Boudica, was she somehow a living representation of the Icenian Sovereignty Goddess?  Her people certainly reacted to her defilement with a fury that we in this modern age might characterise as religious.  

And what of Cartimandua?  She ruled in a polity constructed around the goddess Brigantia. Her divine patroness was part of a celestial pair with Brigans, likewise Cartimandua ruled with Venutius.  Despite massive Roman intervention Brigantian identity seems to have survived, the men of Bryneich, alongside whom Cunedda fought, and the Brigomaglos who held court on the Post Roman Wall both proclaim their Brigantian antecedents.  As of course in a different way does St Brigid.  A Brigantian continuity if you wish.

Gildas, many scholars think, characterised Boudica as “an unclean lioness” because she rose against Rome, maybe so.  Gildas certainly adhered to Rome but it may be that he additionally did his Christian duty in refuting an individual who symbolised the demonic pagan past.  A recent past for Britannia and an active present in neighbouring Ireland and among the Picts.

Post Boudica the Iceni seem to have had a rough time of it.  We don’t know how much land was confiscated or how many were enslaved, probably a lot of both.  Later, the Iceni, now in the civil zone of the Roman province were granted a civates. Even by the standards of Roman Britain it seems to have been a shoddy place.  Yet it tells us something important, enough high status Iceni survived for long enough to be given back a portion of their land by the Imperium.  Here too there was some continuity.

Up in the military zone Cunedda, who seems to have been a Late Roman military official, held a court that Boudica, druidic art permitting, would have instantly recognised.  Bards sang, Heroes boozed and the loot was shared out. A continuity.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Retinues near completion.

I’m nearly finished my two Samurai retinues for Lion Rampant, the last two Ashigaru units are half painted, once done I’ve enough for a game of Lion Rampant.

As you can see I also invested in some Japanese Real Estate for added flavour.  These ones are made by Hovels.  I’ve made a couple of paddy fields too.

The colour scheme of the two sides is red and black respectively.   The blacks have opted for modernity and have firearms the reds are sticking with the bow.

All of these figures are from Outpost Wargames Services should they take your fancy.

Friday, 14 April 2017

It Fair Set Me Thinking

This post is inspired by Joseph’s comments on Hats off to The Crow which made me think I might expand on my thinking on the suitability of TMWWBK for the Plains War.

First I think the rating system lends itself well to the characteristics of both sides.  Looking at the stats for the Crow (I’ve used the same ones for the warrior societies) we have fast moving skirmishing cavalry who will be very happy in close fighting.  In TMWWBK terms the combatants look like this: 

Crow/ Dog Soldiers
Irregular Mounted
6 points
8 Figures
Tribal Cavalry
5 points

10 Figures

Irregular Mounted
6 points

8 Figures
Modern Rifle/ Carbine


Modern Carbine

The given special rules for the Lakota etc, and the Cavalry are the same but the free actions do make a difference. The former get a full move and fire in skirmish, and to stand to, while the cavalry get to attack and to stand to.

At first glance there does not seem massive difference in the troop types although we can quickly note the Cavalry are ever willing to attack and the Indians to skirmish.  We can also spot an Indian advantage in melee and a cavalry one in discipline. Shooting seems even until you consider the differences in ranges from left to right 6-12, 3 and 4-9 for the Cavalry.  All very promising to my mind. I should add I've halved all distances to suit 15mm.

For a scenario I've chosen 'Get Off My Land' which will do nicely for Custer's gold prospecting expedition in the Black Hills.  The original was unmolested but not this time!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Hats Off to The Crow

Since I’m currently dallying with Lion Rampant I thought I might have a go with The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMWWBK) that stable’s colonial variant.

The only collection I have mounted on single bases is for Yellow Ribbon a venerable and excellent recreation of Plains warfare. So, it is to be a "Hokay hey" outing if not one for "the most extraordinary horsemen I have seen yet” *.

TMWWBK requires you to compile the stats for each unit.  It’s not an onerous task but some thought is required and, being a Piquet devotee, I put each unit’s stats on a card replete with an appropriate image on the back.  You will see them when I report the game.

Over the years, I’ve read loads about the Plains Wars and looking at the options TMWWBK offers I could see my way clear to having everyone on the table pretty much operating true to form.  

The US cavalry would be fairly average regulars, many of them were appalling riders, relying on the advantages of carbine fire power and discipline.  A flag for these lads is needed here as you can see.  

The various Lakota etc. societies would be fierce, equipped with modern weapons and totally casualty averse.  The rest of the warriors, ditto but not well equipped at all.  Skirmishing would be easy but a successful charge would be a pony of a different colour.

Which brings me to the Crow.  The 1-1 scale of TMWWBK allows me to field a unit of Crow warriors, a rarity on the table in my experience.  

The numerically inferior Crow had been more or less fending off the more numerous Lakota for a generation but they knew it was a doomed fight.  

Never the less they stuck to it, and of course when the chance came, allied themselves to the expanding USA faster than you could say guns and ammo.  In the long run, it did them little more good than their Lakota foes but it was really their only option.

Today many of the Plains Peoples, Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho and even Comanche have their aficionados.  Less so the Crow but they too fought for their land and the life of their people and really, you cannot do more than that.

* George Caitlin on the Comanche- Sadly no one makes Comanche in 15mm.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017


I seem to have my hand in now with the Samurai painting.  I’m just waiting for some smaller Warbases* to arrive for the single model bases and I’m just about getting there.

I confess I’m wondering if the glued on sashimono and swords are going to stand the test of time and play-perhaps a dab of white glue might be in order. Better safe than fiddly as it were.

Anyhow here’s the bunch so far.

If Lion Rampant continues to charm I might do a more retinues for The Cid and the 100 Years War.  I've also got a load of surplus Irish and Norman figures, steady there OB, steady. 

Meantime I await more Carlist War stuff coming into production.

* Speaking of which there's an outfit with real business moxy, spotted the gap and straight in.  I use nothing else these days.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A Box of Samurai

Many years have gone by since a box of Samurai arrived on my doorstep. They were from Outpost who make interesting stuff. Having cut my teeth on the ‘The Seven Samurai’ as a child and owning a box set of the films of Kurosawa enthusiasm ran high.  I also had a couple of Stephen Turnbull books full of lovely images-it should have been a breeze of a project.

I painted ten or so figures and none of them looked right. Somehow or other, I wasn’t getting it.  So, the box went into a cupboard and its contents were consigned to the ‘maybe’ list.  Until recently that is.

Lion Rampant by the indefatigable Dan Mersey made quite a stir a couple of years ago, and recently I bought a copy.  Someone produced the stats for a Samurai retinue and I reached for my box of Samurai which had enough figures for both sides.

Progress is being made as you can see on this page.