Having a purely fictional setting does offer some real concrete advantages to me though, what ever uniforms are worn. I have chosen to fit myself into the space that I have, and have decided that I want my troops visible, not stored away in boxes (as far as possible, at the moment my 1/72nd troops still live in the cupboard like their 15mm predecessors,). A fictional setting that allows me to play every kind of Horse & Musket / Colonial type wargame that I can picture, using a reduced number of armies, is a huge advantage.
So, I figured it was time to rethink last year's plan. This called for a mix of 4 theaters of war involving up to 10 armies including various rebels etc, with some overlap. These were:
- North Eastern US-Canada Border covering from the war of 1812 up to the Rebellions with support from US Patriot Hunters.
- California/Mexico/Oregon with an Anglo-Mexican force facing the Americans, both regulars and Texan like rebels, with a possibility of Russian intervention.
- India: An Anglo-Indian army facing a fictional Rajah inspired by the Mahrattas, Gwalior, Scinde and the Sikhs with both European trained regulars and irregulars including Pathan like hill tribes.
- South Africa With the British facing both Boers and various African tribes, real or imagined. I was tempted to add an arab/turkish element but felt that I had covered that sufficiently for now. .
When I first started looking for a fictional setting for my Colonial wargames and wanted to expand it, (12 years ago), I had decided that I wanted to be able to game the following situations, after reviewing it, the list has not changed :
- 2 opposing "European" armies facing each other
- a "European" army facing "European" rebels
- a "European" army facing a less effective "Native" army partially converted to European methods
- a "European" army facing spear armed natives on their home ground
- a "Eurpoean" army fighting a geurilla campaign against either/both mountain tribesmen snipers or mounted riflemen.
- battles in a Canadian looking setting, green fields, mixed forests, stone and wooden rail fences, stone or clapboard houses etc
- battles in an exotic location with palm trees, adobe houses, jungles and dusty plains.
My first, 54mm try at this saw the Nku-Khu and Emir's Lair come to life on the table covering the various Native options (see the early issues of the New Durban Times) as well as the first incarnation of Oberhilse and Faraway with Danes and Fenians facing off against the British. I wanted to include India but this kept getting put away due to the effort involved and the ;lack of anything that couldn't already be covered by the Emir.
Having decided to resurrect Oberhilse and Faraway, I was tempted to just bolt a piece of India on below the mountains that mark the southern edge of known territory. Somehow, it just didn't seem to fit but bolting on the old Nkhukhuland and Wadi Foulyam on just south of the mountains seemed feasible. That is old territory though and one side was clearly British. Thinking about what would allow me to make the most of what troops were already raised or planned, I started wondering if Mexico could provide inspiration for all the non-European bits. What if the French or Dutch and not the Spanish had claimed Mexico or South America? What if instead of eradicating the Aztecs and Incas, they had opened trade with them as was done in India? What would a mid-19thC, unconquered Aztec or Inca army have looked like after 300 years of European contact?
It was at this point that it finally occurred to me that since I am relying largely on homecasting and home sculpting, backed by a few obscure, more or less OOP commercial figures, all done in an old fashioned, lean look without exaggerated detail and painted in glossy toy soldier style, that there is no significant resale value for these armies and in any case, I can always melt down the figures and start over if I don't like where it goes. Not to mention that the evidence is good that this project will carry me 10-15 years at least and by then it'll be too late to bother starting over anyway.
I'm not sure what my "civilized" native armies are going to look like yet, except that they will probably wear white uniforms with shakos and/or strawhats and be based in stone or adobe forts as well as in their walled cities. The uncivilized spear armed jungle/mountain tribes will be based on the Prince August Skraeling molds with some additions and conversions to follow. They will doubtless be used as auxilliaries by which ever native civilization rules the land South of the mountains. (naming suggestions are invited).
The natives north of the mountains have of course been in long contact with the 4 European colonies and indeed interbred with them according to the notes I made 5 years go, and have long ago adopted firearms, horses and elements of western dress. The Frontiersmen of Oberhilse are their mortal enemies which makes Faraway their sometimes friend.
So, sorry to disappoint those whom I led to expect Sikhs and Afghans but not this year or next after all. Eventually? Who knows.