Saturday, January 15, 2022


Khyber Knives cross Sikh Bayonets in the perennially troubled Dismal Province, Afghanistan, circa 1880.

In this post, dear readers, we meander into something completely different--Colonials.  This is another of my collections that has been fallow--but not forgotten.  I picked up Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame (TPW) some time ago and ever since have had a project cooking in the background to put together some modifications to use with my Colonial/2nd Afghan War (era) figs. I finally got that together and was able to run a test game (of which this is the report). I am happy to say that changes were made based on this game and a second test game was run (no report, sorry).  As a result, the variant is now ready and posted among the content pages of this blog (more on that at the conclusion of this report). But for now, first things first: here is the battle report. As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX in this report. 
The environs of Naughtybad, scene of the recent unpleasantness.  Given that the focus of this game was testing the rules and variant, the layout was rather minimalist. The hills are self evident: the other patches are "rough."  For the curious, I detail how I created this gridded playing mat (with 6" squares) on the Portable Wargame Content Page of this blog.

The Soldiers of the Queen (entering from the bottom of the picture) are embarking on yet another punitive expedition in Dismal Province, Afghanistan.  It has come to the attention of the Politico that the citizens of Naughtybad have been skimming off contributions of the poppy harvest owed to the Great White Queen for their own use (such quaint local traditions are nothing new in these parts: Naughtybad is also known as "Happy Valley" among the locals...).  Nevertheless, such a slight to the authority of the Empire cannot be borne. 

The punitive expedition is gathered, with representative contingents from the Dismal Province Military District Force, Major C. Langley Smoot, District Commander, leading them himself. Their aim is to occupy Naughtybad and confiscate goods in compensation for the affrontery--and bust things up while they're at it.  In this game, my friend George would take up the cause of the Great White Queen.

Sharp-eyed observers may have noted the three infantry figures behind the Queen's Lancers. These represent the lancers in dismounted mode. For anyone familiar with TPW, units have strength points (average infantry 4, average cavalry 3, average artillery 2). One figure equals one strength point (in my game). As a bit of chrome, I rate British Cavalry as 4 SP when mounted, but 3 when dismounted (who doesn't prefer to ride?), hence why there are three foot as opposed to four here.  Well, that was a bit much of a diversion... 

Local Warlord and perennial foil of Maj Smoot, Ali Hassan bin Sober, given the usual advance warning of the coming expedition, has gathered the lads to give the Feringhee Dogs a hot time in Happy Valley.  For this game, your humble correspondent would take up the cause of the noble indigenous warriors against the foreign devils. 

Each side had a bonus figure (a trumpeter for the Imperials and a standard bearer for the Afghans) that they could assign to any unit (ie, as an extra strength point). This extra figure is a "freebie": its loss would not count against the exhaustion-level calculation. In this scenario, the Afghan exhaustion point was 11 strength points and the Imperial's was 10. 

The Afghans were waiting for the Imperials, deployed across the front with their mixed firearm infantry forward on the left and jezails holding the central highground. The melee infantry were positioned to support the shooters. The jezails on the key central highground were reinforced by the standard bearer.
Ali Hassan bin Sober posted himself in depth with the other jezail infantry so he could improve their long range sniping, with the tribal cavalry safely set back but at hand, ready to respond.  

Not being very sporting today, the Imperials load up on the left and refuse the right, with the main effort being spearheaded by the East Lancs and Gordons (in this scenario, all units were rated as "Average" with the exception of the Gordons, who were "Elite").  The Gurkhas, having drawn the "up the middle" lot, were reinforced by the bugler (in my variant, Gurkhas are as mobile as tribesman, so can negotiate rough terrain better than other Imperials). 
Being a fox hunting man, Maj Smoot rides with the Lancers, who would disdain dismounted operations this day. 

The ball opens...with the initiative, the Imperials advance online as if on parade at Aldershot, with their right smartly echeloned back.  The initial volleys and close assaults of the lancers and sikhs have attrited the jezails holding the central highland. At this point, the momentum of the Imperial advance seems irresistible.

This not being his first dance, Hassan bin Sober is not dismayed. The Ghazis answer by coming forward over the highland and pushing the Sikhs back; the tribal cavalry goes into action like a thunderbolt. The fight for the central highland becomes a back and forth affair. 

On the Afghan right, the melee infantry come forward into action to block the advance at the defile between the highland and the rough terrain. The Gordons would take it on the chin, leading to an extended scrum among the units on this wing.  Eventually, the Afghans would be attrited and have to give up the ground. 

Meanwhile, Maj Smoot decides that something must be done about the harassing fire coming from the Afghan mixed firearm infantry who are working their way around the Imperial right. And so he leads the Queen's Lancers into action, who get the job done in the finest tradition of the mounted arm, suffering casualties gloriously. 

Back in the center, the Jezails have been cleared from the highland, but the Ghazis remain defiant, causing the Sikhs to back off to more respectable shooting distance (not very sporting).

With casualties ticking up on both sides and time running out, George surveys the situation...
...and decides that quick action is needed, so he commits his alter ego, Maj Smoot, to lead the remnant of the 9th Lancers up the hill and into close combat on the flank of the Ghazis--providing another stirring "artist's rendition" of action on the Northwest Frontier to adorn the morning papers in Blighty, no doubt. 

A defiant parting shot. 

Although the 9th Lancers had paid a price, the Afghans had been pushed past their limit, and so they hastily packed up what remaining bales of poppy they could carry ("for later") and abandoned Naughtybad and Happy Valley to Imperials (for now...).  

As mentioned earlier, this was our foray into The Portable Wargame (and my mutation thereof), and we came away entirely satisfied with the experience. We were able to run through both this and the subsequent test game in about two hours each, both rendering interesting play that felt "colonial" as opposed to something more generic or simplistic.  In short, TPW produces a very good balance between playability and chrome: it has provided the opportunity for me to "rediscover" my grand old Ral Partha Colonials.  We're already looking forward to more games!

For anyone who might be interested, I have added a Portable Wargame Content Page to this blog. You can find and download the 2nd Afghan War variant used in this game there, along with the accompanying player reference sheet and unit roster. 


Thursday, December 30, 2021


Greetings, dear reader.  As we approach the turning of the year, the time has come for the usual retrospective post on the past blogging year.  Although there was a brief sense of "coming through" the pandemic in May and June of this year, the onset of Delta succeeded by Omicron makes it feel in many ways as if we are back where we were when I posted my 2020 retrospective.  Although there are vaccinations and better measures in place than this time last year, it still feels as if we are heading in the same direction that we were then, away from the "new normal" that we briefly arrived at, post-vaccine pre-Delta, and into more limitations.   So wrapping up 2021 on this note, I look forward to 2022 being a New Year, literally and figuratively, in this regard.  But for now, let's turn to the Meanderings of 2021.


The major accomplishment of 2021 was the completion of the Russian Army of the Russo Turkish War.  This accounts for almost all of my painting for the year.  The actual figure count for this project, compared to the sense of the task, however, was somewhat modest: 128 foot figures (including infantry, gunners, dismounted command), 48 mounted (including command and cavalry), and 6 pieces of equipment (ie, artillery).  I will say that the project probably felt larger than the figure count because it involved more than painting--the research and blogging about the research was also a big part of it.  In addition, quite a few of the cavalry were conversions.  So in the end I'm good with the figure count--at this point in my life I have come to terms with the fact that I don't paint quickly (to say the least), and therefore don't crank out lots of figures.  Late in the year I did a different kind of painting: kriegspiel blocks. In the closing weeks of 2021, I have painted four army-sets, red, gray, blue, and white, of  infantry, cavalry, artillery, wagons, and command, each of about 90 pieces (so far), totalling about 360 blocks. I'll include a separate post on my approach to painting kriegspiel blocks in 2022 (there's something for you to look forward to, dear reader...I think). 


In 2021 I managed 32 posts (including this one). Despite wishing increase the count and post more regularity in 2021, this is about the same as last year (31).  I think that the impact of COVID on energy levels and major life transitions sucked time and attention away from blogging this year.  Then again, the 2019 post count was 36, which makes three years running that the post count was in the 30s: maybe this represents that I've arrived at what is a sustainable activity level? We'll see. Much depends on how much gaming is going on, I suppose. The last few years haven't been all that great given circumstances, so fewer prompts for posting.  


I began the year with 56 followers and had a modest increase to 59. Although blogging is something that has become part of my hobby experience--done for its own sake--it is nevertheless gratifying (dare I say encouraging) to see a metric indicating that my meanderings here have at least a passing relevance to others--and it is also helpful that the indicator is growing (even if by a few) as opposed to shrinking.  As far as being a reader myself, I have to apologize for not being as consistent a presence in the comments sections of the "network" of blogs that I normally visit.  I've lurked more often than I would have liked, and I hope to do better in this coming year (which should be one resolution that won't go the way of most New Years resolutions).


 The big (most discouraging) news for this blog was the crashing/hacking of several of my content pages, which have since been taken down.  These included the very content heavy Nine Years War resources page and Dubious Designs page (with my Print and Play games), as well as my Colonial Gaming Resources page (which was not that developed).  I hope to eventually get these back up in the coming year.  Despite these drawbacks, I did manage a major addition to the blog: the Pikeman's Lament/resource pageIn addition, I intend to add a Bloody Big Battles/Kriegspiel content page in the upcoming year.  As far as interest, the 19th Century Rules/Chocolate Box Wars page led the way with 568 visits this year, followed by the Miniatures on a Grid/Baroque Battles page with 465. Following up were the Smalle Warre, Pikeman's Lament, and Ramilles Large Napoleonic Game pages at 295, 243, and 213, respectively.  Given that the Pikeman's Lament page didn't go online until August, I expect that the numbers for 2022 will be up with the leaders.  Among the remaining pages, the all time leaders are the 19th Century/Chocolate Box Wars page with 2,290 visits and Baroque Battles at 2,140. Interesting to note that the most popular posts are the Danish Delight (Battle of Dybbol) at 1,600 visits--which has held its place for some time--with the Saga Gripping Beat Mongol Hearthguard now at #2 with 1,100. 


As reported in my earlier Ex Libris post, much of my gaming/hobby time and energy was consumed by managing the "real world" aspect of the hobby: to wit, clearing out and reorganizing my gaming space (and associated toys, collections, etc, etc).  I thought it would be appropriate to provide an accounting for this project in this year-end wrap up.

One major imperative of this project was to open up space. Clearing out the books was a big part of this, but another was to displace several of my collections from the game room to "long term storage" in the attic (we are fortunate to have a large attic that makes this possible).  Above right, my 15mm Napoleonics and 6mm League of Augsburg collections, and above left, the 35+ boxes of my 28mm Napoleonic collection, they all now reside in the attic.  
Before: on top of all of my books, my swords and other collections were leaning in corners and sitting atop other things.  

I got this nifty display case (from IKEA), and installed some LED lights myself. 

 Now my collectibles, ceramic figs, bronzes, and other bits have a dedicated, dust free space for display. That plus the lights are a nice accent in the room when I turn other lights down.  I'll devote another post to a tour of these bits and bobs if there's interest.
My small sword collection is no longer consigned to the corners.  For the curious, in the above (left to right) are a Pattern 1796 British Light Cavalry Saber (Thos Craven, probably about 1803), a model 1811 "Blucher" Cavalry Saber (dated about 1830), a British "Walloon" Sword ( mid/late-17th Century), a French model 1845 Infantry Officer Sword (dated 1846), a French An XI Cuirassier Sword (although dated 1816, it is a pre-Restoration, French 1st Empire model AN XI, as carried by French Napoleonic dragoons and heavies),  a French An XI Light Cavalry Saber (dated 1811), and hiding out behind, my very own US Army Pattern 1902 Officer's Sword (picked up circa 1984, not the same vintage as the others, but still ancient, like me--part of my kit during my career as a US Army Armor/Cavalry Officer). If there's interest, I can provide a more detailed post on these weapons in the future.

No small part of my time this fall was taken up with designing and then building the sword rack (big shout out to my friend AJ, of AJ's Wargaming blog, for the loan of the tools and assist with expertise and advice!).  From gathering materials to final painting took almost two solid weeks (I don't do woodwork much faster than I paint figures, it seems). 

There's now a fridge in the man-cave (forget the rest: this is probably the most important addition!)

The view entering the newly reorganized game room.
The trimmed down game room library: it is a more focused set of references and rules, but still a robust resource for all of my gaming purposes.
Along the back wall, the remaining figure collections housed on shelves under a handy set-up space.
Terrain storage and a dedicated snack table to the side...
...and a place to sit, read, and mentally meander.
And with that, I'll sign off and wish everyone (in advance) a Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 22, 2021


 Scene of action in Kringleland last Yule.
As is our annual tradition at this time of year, we to check in on the goings on in Kringleland. For those new to the blog, or who may just wish to refresh themselves, in our Yule-time post of last year we conveyed a brief history of Kringlelandand the source of the animus between Oberkringleburg and Unterkringleburg, which manifests itself in a conflict known as the Christkinglekrieg at this time of year.  
In last year's report, the doughty Unterkringleburgers raided Oberkringleburg in their rough and ready manner: man-to-man, with snwoballs (schneeballs) in hand. The Oberkringleburgers, eschewing such primitive notions of romanticized warfare, met them with their Schneekannone, manned by technicians, pride of their unabashedly unromantic, "high tech" approach.
Above: a rash Unterkringleburger on the receiving end of a Weissball shot from Schneekanone #2 during last year's action. Like most, last year's action was seasaw affair that ultimately was a wash (such is the state of nature in Kringleland). Nevertheless, having grown tired of the asymmetry the confict, the Unterkringleburgers have sought to redress the technological disparity...
...and chosen their man of the hour, the Unterkringleburg Munitionbakermeister, with his grand chef's hat
, to take up the great task.  Let us follow along on this historic journey...
...still being in touch with the Gute Alte Zeit ("Ye Goode Olde Dayes") as most in Unterkringleburg are, his quest begins in the Weihnachstbaum Wald (where else?), where he seeks out the counsel of der Gross Schneemann, who in turn advises him find those master artificers of the forest, the Krupp Kleinerkringlevolk... 
...and as if on cue, a journeyman of the Kleiner Kruppers (as they are known colloquially) comes journeying past (strange and mickel powerful are the ways of der Gross Schneemann)...
 ...and with the intercession of der Gross Schneemann, he agrees to guide our hero to the Krupp Kringlewaffenfabrik, their famous workshop of legend deep in the forest...
...where he meets with the Kleinkringlevolkwaffenfabrikmesiter himself, who then consults his great Kringlewaffenbuch for inspiration. After hours of haggling, an agreement is reached, and the Kleiner Kruppers begin production on the Unterkringleburg Wunder Weapon...
...the Krupp Stollenwerfer! --a rugged, simple to operate, multi-barrelled, crew-served weapon capable of delivering a high volume of the sugary Christmas loaves on target...
...upon receipt of the first prototype, the Unterkringleburgers waste no time in training a first crew.
 In the above, we see a lad learning the role of Stollenfeuer Kannonier, leaning in to touch his match to the fuse to launch a spread of primed stollens downrange....
...while another performs the task of Pudzerzuker Kannonier, whose job it is to continuously sprinkle powdered sugar over the about-to-be-launched loaves in order to replace any that was lost during the loading process...
...taking things even further, the Meisterbacker has initiated a home-grown improvement program (albeit under license from the Kleiner Kruppers).  In the above, we see his able assistant, the Munitionsmeisterbackerhelfer, supervising the Munitionstollenlader (ie, stollen ammo carrier), who is bringing out a new prototype for testing...
..der Flugelstollen--the fin stabilized stollen!
In order to buy time for production and crew training, the Unterkringleburgers have worked out a truce for the current Yule season.  From long experience, however, the
Burgomeister of Oberkringleburg (above) remains suspicious, and senses that something is brewing. He will ensure that Oberkringleberg is on guard and ready when the truce expires, come what may!
In the meantime....

...Seasons Greetings to All for NOW!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...