Saturday, October 7, 2017

So where is he going with this then?

For a number of years now I've been trying and failing to get  a "Colonial" campaign going within the context of the shiny Toy Soldier Island of Atlantica. I've started on a couple of what seemed like good ideas which have all stalled.

There seem to have two major sorts of obstacle. The first comes when I just can't seem to get motivated to work on the sort of figures that fill out what seems like a good option.

The second comes when there  is some sort of clash between what I get from my reading about the original history and what I want from my games. For example, the Boer War appeals but the range of credible scenarios is very limited and one has to either accept the limitations or leave the inspiration far behind. Neither option is attractive in cases where both matter.
There is one sort of troops that I originally wanted to fit into Atlantica but later  erased as a different backstory developed, almost against my will. That was Cossacks! I also wanted to sort of Afghan-ish mountain tribes and some hint of an Indian Mutiny sort of 'thing' where trained native troops rebelled. All of this was of course to be set around the middle of the 19th Century and WWI was not on the radar. 

As the time frame moved forward I came up with a vague blend of ideas blending Boer War, and Mexican revolution themes. These ideas could work but then a chance discovery did me in and sent me right back to long ago to old dreams of Cossacks, trains and machine guns.  

At the time I was looking at Canadian involvement in WW1 and also reading what I could find about the various non-European campaigns when I came across Colonel Dunster's diary from the Baku expedition. The what? Where is Baku and why were British trops there, let alone a handful of Canadians? Well, its in the Caucasus and they were there to train soldiers, including Armenians, to fight the Turks. I might  have let it go but at the time there was talk of a Canadian expedition to the region to train Armenian soldiers 100 years later.

Now, I have no intention or interest in setting up an historical campaign in this twisted, multi-faction setting that involved not only the British vs the Turks during WW1 and the Russian Civil War but also a host of bitter racial and religious factions with all the bloodshed and cruelty that tends to unleash. 

However, its alien enough to me that I'm happy to invent my own fake-history and  I've always had a 'thing' for Cossacks and for hardy mountain tribesmen, and WWI and for armoured cars, trains, and .... well. Have a look at this Australian War Memorial movie. The B&W clip should start at a significant point with a certain piece of equipment which is painted a very light  grey  which is fairly close to the tropical uniforms and the surrounding terrain.  

Baku Armoured Car Clip

The whole clip is well worth watching though. Surprisingly  there are other videos on the Caucasus in WW1, not surprising most are not in English though often dubbed or subtitled. 

Meanwhile planning of forces is going hand to hand on work rolling the backstory back to when there were supposed to be free range Cossacks or Circassians in what has since become known as Atlantica. The shift to the
South Atantic has helped.


  1. Have you thought about the Russian campaigns against Khiva (1874 & thereabouts)? Might at least contribute to the mix you're putting together. "Campaigning on the Oxus and the Fall of Khiva" by MacGahan can be found in the Internet Archive is a good read.

    1. No I haven't considered any options that don't include British troops in tropical gear, machine guns, armoured cars, trains, gunboats, airplanes and preferably both regular and irregular opponants. Has made it difficult, East Africa was close as were Palestine and Mesopotamia but all too distinctive and too common for fictional variants.

  2. With the dubious ethics of the Boer War, its blockhouses and its British concentration camps, the post WW1 colonial bombing campaigns of Bomber Harris, the Armenian genocides and slaughter and dislocation of the Balkans, your ImagiNation ideas sound increasingly attractive, a guilt free way to enjoy armoured cars, signallers, Cossacks and the like. I feel the same way about my Bronte inspired kingdoms. Tintin's Syldavia and Borduria is another escape route, by the whiskers of Kurvi-Tasch!

    Brilliant clip - thanks for sharing this. I wish I had found this when constructing my telegraph station.

    1. I didn't really expect to find actual video footage when I idly typed 'Dunsterforce' into youtube late one night.

  3. How about basing a game on Afganistan? Wasn't one of the reasons Britain invaded Afganistan was the threat they believe the Russians were posing to India?

    1. Thanks for the idea but I rather like my fictional setting.