Saturday, June 19, 2021

Ambush at White's Farm

I had hoped that the Newport News would cover this action but their usual correspondent was not present and it seems that none of the officers present were able and willing to write an account while the photographic record was totally inadequate to work from. However, I will do my best to give some account.

(Please click on the pictures to get a larger version which allows you to see the figures, especially when screened by grass!)

As the Northwest Mounted Rifles approached the farm they were met by a hail of bullets.

Quickly they dismounted in the open and returned fire as best they could while the column behind deployed and moved to support them. 

Unseen by the Dominion troops, more Kree warriors were working their way around the flank.

One group of Kree managed to silence the gun momentarily but the Director-General's Bodyguards came quickly to the rescue and a hail of shell and bullets forced the warriors to retreat back up the gully.

Eventually, heavy casualties caused the Mounted Rifles and Victoria's to pull back but the regulars from the garrison at Fort Henry took their place supported by the DGBG while the artillery rained shells down on the farm. The artillery fire in particular was instrumental in forcing rebel units to pullback.

Eventually Colonel Ross led the Pioneer company forward with cold steel and the the Rebels broke. 

This impromptu scenario saw a column of  4 infantry companies plus a field gun and 1 unit of mounted rifles tasked with establishing a post at an farm on a wagon road.  They were opposed by 5 units of irregular mounted rifles, some in hard cover, the rest concealed in the bush. The infantry were 6 strong, the rest 4 strong.

The rules were also impromptu. They were simple and filled just over 1/2 of one side of a piece of paper and had the sort of feel I wanted with units being composed of individuals and being pinned by fire but there was too much dice rolling and the fire was too deadly so that I had to halve the number of dice almost immediately. They need some work before I'll be ready to share.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Looks Pretty Quiet....

Its June and the campaign season in the NorthWest has begun. Colonel Ross has been ordered to take a patrol as far as White's Farm and establish a post to secure the wagon road that passes it.

"Constable Smith! Ride back to the Colonel and let him know that I've had a good look through my fieldglasses. There is no sign of hostiles but I am leading my patrol of Mounted Rifles down to the farm for a closer look."


Don't miss tomorrow's episode!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Scenic Route

One of the best things about early retirement has been the luxury of time, especially hobby time. Time to explore options and test out proposals and theories and time to backtrack and try and try again. A luxury not usually available in war or the workplace.

The Oerberg army ready to see action again.

When it comes to a wargame, how a set of rules reflects the history is only one facet. Various other considerations such as the feel of the game, how emotionally, intellectually and visually engaging the game is as, how practical it is in existing circumstances, and so on are also important.

To cut this short, I've decided that on my smaller table with the hex grid, using smaller forces, I can go back to individual figures like I wanted at the start.  

Monday, June 14, 2021

Coming A Round

My Oerberg Pioneer unit was hastily paint converted from ACW figures a few years ago in order to increase the number of infantry  in the unit from 8 to 12 when using different rules. 

Since the setting is now the early 20thC rather than the 1870s as originally planned, I decided that they could use a uniform touch up. I  trimmed the trouser legs on the sappers into boots and painted all the leather dark brown instead of black.
Oerberg  Combat Pioneers with new boots and bases.
 That part was purely for the look but I also rebased them back onto their old washer-bases. Now that the armies and table are smaller than they were,
it  is easy to manage stable individuals and the single figures makes it easier  to take photos that give a feel for what's happening in pictures of a game. 

Since most of the figures are still on temporary foamcore bases, I'll  probably rebase more of them from time to time.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

May I Break In?

The border clashes between Oerberg and the Dominion's Kapelle Territory continue to flare up from time to time.  

In a dawn attack, three squadrons of mounted rifles, supported by a Pompom gun and a long range battery, seized a strategic rail junction near Belmont Station with the intent of wrecking the two lines. 

The garrison turned out smartly both in the town and in farm across the river which was being held by two companies of the Royals. A returning patrol of Lancers was sent to support the battery on the hill. The Oerberg artillery proved as deadly as ever, blowing the Lancers off the field but the mission was a long way from done.

The Mounted Frontier Police made a dash at the entrenched battery but were thrown back by a hail of shellfire and the fight bogged down into firefight between dismounted Oerbergers and the Railway Police, both supported by artillery, while the Oerberg Sappers moved closer to their goal. 

By the time the Sappers had blown a section of the river line, the Oerberger fire had driven the Railway Police back to the safety of the small town. It seemed like another bad day for the Dominion but at the last minute, the Armoured Car arrived, gun blazing. It was momentarily driven back by the Oerberg artillery but returned to the fight, driving the cavalry back and then gunning down the Sappers before they could blow the main line. There was nothing for the Oerbergers to do but cut their losses and retreat before more Dominion reinforcements arrived.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Meanwhile, Back At The Station.

Its been a couple of busy days, just not busy gaming or blogging. It won't  last but here's a few shots of the the table while we're waiting. 

Railway guards stand to arms.
Oerberg Sappers advancing to the rail line with a packmule laden with explosives.

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Into the Valley

Warily, B company drove into the valley, keeping a close eye out for a Rebel ambush.

Suddenly the side of the hill erupted with fire. The tank and Recoilless Rifle returned fire while the infantry debussed.

#4 Platoon spread out, took what cover they could find on the edge of the road, and began a lengthy firefight with the Redcap trench. 

The Rebels were dug in and well camouflaged. (There are bits of 6 visible in this pic).

Seeing how ineffective #4 Platoon's fire was, #6 Platoon, straight out of training and eager to show their fighting spirit, didn't bother stopping to shoot but stormed up the hill with bayonets and grenades, into a deadly hail of bullets at pointblank range.  

With the 4th and 6th platoons and the HQ squad decimated, Major Hastee ordered a retreat and began composing a report in his head about how they had been ambushed by larger numbers of well equipped and entrenched Rebels. 

Rebel Ambush party: HQ + Mortar+ 2 platoons @ 6 soldiers inc 1 w bazooka. All entrenched in the jungle on the hill.

Gov't Patrol: HQ + SP Recoiless Rifle, M3 76mm Tanks, APC w lmg, 3 platoons of infantry.

Simple One Page Rules written up the evening before with fixed move, roll to hit then roll to pin or kill/wound. They were OK with a reasonable feel, but a bit boring at times with too much die rolling for a small quick game, sometimes being very deadly  but usually indecisive as each side fired and ducked by turns, requiring too many turns with too much die rolling for such a simple encounter between small forces. Needs some thought. 

The disputed territory just beyond the ambush site. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

UN Ordered Out

Today, a United Nations standing patrol in the Little Plumtree Valley, was ordered out by a Ducal officer claiming that the Rebels had been breaking the treaty.

The Ducal Captain orders the UN advisor to withdraw while members of the newly raised 3rd Battalion move out on their first patrol.

Stayed tuned for updates as they happen.

A closer look at some of the new recruits.


Saturday, June 5, 2021

Tomorrow's Forecast

Sunny with a chance of Soldiers.

I sure  hope they're right!

Friday, June 4, 2021

Another Fallen Hero

 Word has spread quickly about the death of Duncan MacFarlane, founder and one-time editor of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated, both magazines with the pull to appear in magazine stalls and hobby shops even in obscure corners of the Commonwealth.

In those days before the internet, such magazines, including the Courier over here, were vital sources of inspiration,  information and advertising for those of us in the boonies with little or no access to relevant shops and shows/conventions, slogging it out with a handful of comrades in arms.

I didn't make the front cover but didn't care.

I can't pass on any anecdotes, the only time I met him was when I found myself scanning the same publications as him at a stall at Historicon, read his nametag and exchanged a few words. But he stands high in my regard, not only for his magazines  but because he was the first editor to publish an article by me. (#23) 

The article included a set of rules so he probably has a lot to answer for to other gamers, but if it wasn't for Duncan and then Dick Bryant, this blog probably wouldn't exist.

Thank you Duncan, may you rest in peace.

All Quiet on The South Kapelle Railroad Line

Just another warm, sleepy, afternoon for the border guards at Poplar Grove Station.

Wait a minute! Whats that on the crest line across the river? Is that.......?

Yup, thought so! 


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Books Are Dangerous

After 5 consecutive French Rev games, I  decided it was time for a break but I've been too busy since then to even decide what to play or paint. 

I like listening to ebooks, especially when my hands are busy and my brain isn't,  so I started in on Bradford's The Great Siege of Malta 1565 thinking it might get the juices flowing.

Converted Meisterzin British, original homecast Turk, Irregular Jannisary, converted Prince August French.

Yeah, ok, I'm not sure how I went from Malta 1565 to Acre 1799, but its all good. 

For most of this century, some prototype Turks and some samples for a possible 1529 siege of Vienna setting, or some of the coastal raids on Italy, have been hanging around. Last year I finally sat down to see what would be involved, and how it would fit in to my plans. The result were the conclusions that it was never going to happen, but some skirmishes might be possible, and that I still missed my 15mm 1790's Turkish army. 

Recently I've been looking at my handful of Turks and at my French Rev forces and day dreaming. Tonight I decided that it was time to stop thinking and start doing! I'm not planning on a scaled down siege of Acre but some MacDuff skirmishes with small forces clashing over some village, mountain pass or an oasis, (...maybe one with a small fortified town...),  THAT sounds doable and potentially fun. 

While the body works

The mind will wander. 

I do try though to not imagine my stacks of winter firewood as revetted entrenchments while I  work. 

This chore is almost done but many more  remain. Luckily the showery weather forecast for tomorrow is favorable for an indoor game. 

If not, then it should be favorable for the first outside game of the year!

Monday, May 31, 2021

From the Archives: The 1st Edition of the Noodle

 Almost done with fiddling about with a couple more display samples from some old moulds so I can get back to gaming, but not quite done. This November will see the 10th anniversary of the First Edition of the Newport Noodle but why wait?

Besides...a few recent games mixed with some looking waaay back, has got me rethinking some of my ideas about the best way to tackle using some of my older figures in the occasional small, quick game while keeping overall numbers down.  So, without further ado, here is a copy of the first battle report based on a game, to be published in the Newport News. I enjoyed writing it so much and it was received all enough that I'm still periodically writing them when an appropriate game seems to call for it.  

From 1 November 2011:


NOV 1st, 1841


Reports have been received of an unprovoked attack yesterday on Her Majesty's troops in the Origawn Territory. It seems that while on a tour of FTC trading posts, Lord Walts received a terse note declaring that the Faraway troops that accompanied him would not be allowed to proceed. Disdaining to reply let alone turn back, the column proceeded. Our correspondent on the Frontier has posted this report:  

It was about 10 in the morning when our column, under the immediate command of Colonel Stoneforte, Brevet Brigadier,  entered N'haro Pass. Bearing the previous night's warning in mind, the experienced Frontier Fighters of the FTC DG's Bodyguard led the way,  scanning every rock and hollow where a Bushwhacker might lurk. As we approached the narrowest point of the pass, the signal was given to halt and scouts were sent forward towards several large clumps of lichen adorning a ledge which overlooks the road. The crack of rifles and several puffs of smoke was the response. Our way was to be challenged!

Like a well oiled machine, the Bodyguards fell back as the Wye Fusiliers, the famed Green Tigers, rushed forward and deployed, their new colours flying proudly. In no time at all the ruffians had been driven back and the column proceeded past the sad site of the bodies of 4 young soldiers, lying by the side of the road. 
 The Wye Fusiliers drive the ambushers from Lichen Point while the Voyagers scout up towards a patch of trees, exposing several dummy cards.

As we pushed forward through the pass, the Belmont Fusiliers or Buffs, doubling forward to shield the coach and wagon, I heard some of the experienced officers mutter about the risk about getting so tightly bunched should there be more Oberhilsers in the vicinity. I know there was some muttering about the clubs about the army's most junior Brigade commander being given such an important task but he is a man cast in the same mold as General Turner (literally- ed) and "fortes fortuna adiuuat". 

The crowded pass.

For a while, it seemed that this dozen or so scruffy frontiersmen (actually it was probably only 10, ed) were all that we faced. The bridge over the South Sloy River could be seen ahead and the road to Roslin and safety beckoned. Suddenly from a ridge ahead, more shots rang out and the grey clad forms of Volunteer rifles could be seen. The Bodyguard had been taking a terrible toll from sniping and that was no ground for a cavalry charge so they dismounted and forming a skirmish line, returned fire.

More foes appear!

With Corporal Blogger and his fellow Horse Guard riding ahead and a column of the Buffs pushing forward on our right, we felt no threat but the carriage ground to a halt while the situation was sorted. Suddenly the road ahead filled with troops,the pale blue of Oberhilse regulars and the wild troopers of the infamous Frontier Horse.

 The trap is well sprung!

It was a bad time for us to lose the initiative! Before they could react, the skirmish line of the Body Guards was ridden down. The Horse Guards who had posted themselves as a reserve, found themselves too close to the action and were forced to draw swords and spur forwards, being caught up in the precipitate retreat of the FTC troopers. With their blood up, the enemy troopers spurred forward in pursuit, scattering the Buffs before they could deploy from their march column and surrounding the Director General's coach.

The Frontier Horse seize the carriage containing the Director General, his wife and Duke Peter. 

font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 15.456px;" />All was chaos but Colonel Stoneforte rose to the occasion! Quickly rallying the Buffs, he seized the initiative and led them forward in a wild charge before the Frontier Horse could drive away their prize. True to his last breath, Corporal Blogger spurred forward to join them and rescue those whose safety had been placed in his care. At the same time, Stoneforte ordered the Green Tigers to drive off the enemy skirmishers who were creeping close on the flank. With a brave huzzah the red coated troops stormed forward.

 Colonel Stoneforte rallies the Buffs and gives the order to Charge! 

Alas, fortune does not always favour the bold. Corporal Blogger cut down one of the enemy with a masterful stroke of his broadsword but a rifle bullet threw him from the saddle. The Buffs, their ranks ragged, tangled with the horsemen about the carriage but honours and casualties were even. The melee hung in the balance. Then , as Colonel raised himself in the stirrups, urging his men on, another rifle shot rang out. These Frontier Horsemen are crack shots, born in the saddle and raised as hunters. The Colonel was flung backwards off his horse and the Buffs, gathering him up fell back in dismay. On the hill slopes beyond them the Tigers struggled across the broken ground as the enemy rifles cracked, time and again. Finally as the Buffs behind them gave way, it became too much and they turned and fled pell mell down the hill again.

Too little, too late.

Anxious to prove themselves the Black Horse pressed forward from the rear, but this was no parade ground. The wagon, which had been saved by the charge of the Buffs, still blocked the pass so the big black horses were urged up over the ragged ridge. By the time they had reformed on the flat, the carriage and the enemy horsemen were gone. In their place stood a  resolute square of blue clad infantry while the rifle fire from the hill swept the road. For a moment it looked like the horsemen would throw themselves onto the square but they were the bulwark behind which the army must rally and there was still the vital paychest and records to protect.

Lord Walts confronts his captor, Brigadier Zinn.

The mood around the campfires that night was bleak indeed, the groans of the wounded and maimed mixed with the laments of the men for their failure in the face of the enemy. There was the usual post battle chatter about how the Buffs should have advanced in an attack column, how the carriages ought to have been held back till the way was secured and how we needed more Riflemen on the frontier as musket armed line infantry are no match for riflemen in rough ground. I even heard arguments that the day was really a draw because the Oberhilsers didn't get their hands on Ol' Betsy the steam tractor nor on the gold, but in truth we were bound for Roslin and none of us made it, least of it the Lady and Lords that we had been charged to protect..

The gloom was only slightly lightened when a messenger appeared out of the darkness. Colonel Stoneforte, his wounds bandaged, called the men around and announced that word was received that the Director and Duke Peter were safe and sound and were the guests of the Oberhilse commander for tonight but would rejoin us in the morning.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Quick Look Back

My first 54mm wargame collection was for the War of 1812, my second started as  1st Afghan War, but due to the difficulty of finding affordable 54mm Afghans in the mid 90's, drifted off into my first venture into "Imagi-Nations" set in the 1850's/60's on a large island with Zulu-like natives and colonies of British and Arab/Turkish types. The figures are a mix of  various homecast figures, mostly converted, inc Dutkin's Arabs and Sepoys, Castings Highlanders,  Mtd Guards officer and Zouaves,  PA Mamlukes and various  plastic figures, and some 90's Britain's. Buildings are foamcore inspired by The MajorGeneral's old website.Here's some of them in action on a small make shift table after I lost my wargames room for a few years.

Note the fellows in green, a mix of Britain's Napier's Rifles and Lil Army sepoys.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
(Homecast from Castings moulds. )

Napier's again, seeing off some Albanian mercenaries

A shot of my old games room, probably in '99 or 2000.

Meanwhile, back on the painting desk, an Englishman and a Scottish Highlander are nearly dressed for Tel el Kebir.

Friday, May 28, 2021

And here is our Hero.

It was a rash thing to do, casting a figure that doesn't fit into any of my current collections and visions of rebuilding armies for the NorthWest Frontier or Egypt momentarily danced in my head this afternoon. 

Homecast Lil Army 54mm Sepoy from a Lil Army mould, available now from the Dunken Company which is where I got my first moulds from back in '98.

Luckily,  the thought of the time and energy required and the lack of anywhere to store them, let alone display them, not to mention all of the unfinished collections I a want to work on, soon quelled that idea. I  should be able to find room to display a few single figures or vignettes though, just for the heck of it.

Thursday, May 27, 2021


Its been a few decades since I cast one of these fellows but the mould was patient and still works. 

Having had a couple of New York's Lil Army moulds sent over to me from Ireland some time ago, I thought it would be proper to at least do one of each so I also dug my old sepoy mould out to make three and fired up the ol' melting pot..

 There's a bit more work to do on the other two (especially after I broke the Highlander's bayonet off when moving from desk to table to take his picture - oops) but they won't be too far behind. 

Seeing the Lil Army exagerated head and detail again, I don't they'll look right to me in a traditional glossy toy soldier finish so I think I'll go the gently shaded route with these three figures like I did back when. I like to think it helps disguise the mutant look of the big heads.

Monday, May 24, 2021

All Things Must End

Well, another Huzzah convention has come and gone and while it was a virtual one which didn't require travel, I'm as tired and happy as I usually am after three weeks of intense planning, preparation,  playing, shopping and socializing  and driving a 2,000 km round trip! Of course during the last three weeks,  I designed and solo tested a scenario, hosted 4 remote wargames, and played in one, all without slacking on spring yardwork! Not too bad for an old guy.

Now on to the last game: Frogs and Lobsters:

Here's a few mid game screen captures from two different players each a few thousand kilometres away, one in New Jersey, the other in Alberta followed by an overview photo that I took here in Nova Scotia after the game was over.

Early in the game, the right hand Republican column pushes ahead.

A broader view mid game, the Yellow Hussars were repulsed by the small convoy guard but the Black Hussars have just seized it. The Royal Navy landing party didn't do quite so well this game.  

Royalist Riflemen launched a counter attack before the Hussars could reform and against the odds took back the convoy. The armies were now engaged across the whole table.

Lastly, an overview of the end of the game here in Nova Scotia: 

My thanks to the organizers for organizing this virtual con and getting me off my lazy butt, and to all of the players who played in my games included the vital learning games as well as the actual convention ones. There is now talk of more remote games amongst our informal wargaming group here but once I get some updated gear and learn some alternate platforms like Discord,  I will probably post periodic calls for volunteers for some international remote games.  

Time for a change of subject now. I think a bit of painting is in order before I play another game.