More Martian Miniatures

So not only have I re-discovered nearly all the items I spent the last fifteen years squirreling away for the Space 1889 project, I’ve now obtained yet more stuff.

Last year, at one of the wargame shows in Northern England, I acquired 3 of Ainsty’s naval gun carriages. I decided then these would be perfect for Heavy Guns taken off some Canal Martian Screw Galley or War Kite for land service – just in mimicry of the Royal Naval practice to put naval ordnance on to field carriages for Bluejackets to contribute to the British land campaigns.

I’ve also picked up more Grenadier UK Wood Elves and High Elves thanks to Forlorn Hope Games. I’ve always thought these would make useful Hill Martians and Canal Martians. Next phase here is to get some practice in converting some to be armed with muskets. That’s some modelling and scratch-building work I’ve not done for a long time.

And I also took advantage of one of Black Tree Designs periodic sales and picked up some Anglo-Zulu War bits for the British but more elves from their fantasy range to also convert into armed Canal Martians.

Finally, the older stuff I had is now based up and awaits a decent coat of varnish. And I’ll brush it on – using some Winsor & Newton matt acrylic varnish. Still not quite ready to pray-and-spray just yet.

So the project gathers momentum. More info and pix soon.



Space 1889: Martian Forces

As I’ve been passing the last few days mainly on my laptop, as work on the house revolves around me, with the sorting out of household, pension and employment affairs, I’ve been browsing and re-visiting a few blogs that inspire me. Amongst those are fellow fans of GW’s Space 1889 – especially those who have taken that old genre into wargaming.

Many moons ago – well over a decade ago now – I hit upon the idea of using old Grenadier UK Elves (28mm) as proxies for Martians, as acquiring RAFM figures was expensive and time-consuming. I had also dabbled with another make – I forget the name now – but I always came back to the old Grenadier UK stuff. I purchased odd bits found at bring-&-buys at wargame shows, blister packs scoured from bargain boxes and buckets, and the occasional win on EBay. The intention was always to have enough to tabletop combat encounters within RPG sessions and end up with enough for battles using ‘Soldier’s Companion‘ rules.

It seems I wasn’t the only one to appreciate Grenadier UK’s work. Hence, I find myself now getting more and more inspired by others, who’ve sourced ‘alternates’ to provide additional forces for the Martians. Some orders have been placed, the existing stuff that’s been painted has been found and basing touch-ups are planned, and I even have some ideas on sorting out some conversion work – e.g., Dark Elf crossbowmen will be re-armed with muskets and muzzle-loading rifles.

The ambition is to ensure I have enough to start trialing some British/Human vs. Martian City States tabletop encounters using the ‘MWWBK‘ rules too. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘Soldier’s Companion‘ book is a great resource, but I find the rules are too slow and slightly cumbersome for what I want. The fact that I have so much finished or on the point of almost complete provides me the nudge to get this project rolled forward to a new milestone as well.

In addition to that, after the success in making a green base cloth from the fleece fabric I acquired in Carlisle Market, I intend to do the same with a brown lump of fleece I got for working up a Martian surface. This will involve spray painting with lighter ochre and yellow hues, and adding some scatter and flock, and I’m hoping I’ll create something suitable with the ideas I have. This should then be adequate to use for one-off games, simpler to set-up and easier to design a wide variety of terrain layouts.

And then there’s the attraction of adding aerial assets – gunboats and sky galleons and skiffs – something I’ve not been involved with before, but keen to explore further.

This might just get expensive.


Proposed menu for Brew-Up

A mix of boardgames and wargames will be the fare for whoever braves the journey to the Wall.

Certainly for wargaming, I want to delve into two of Mr Mersey’s titles – ‘Dragon Rampant‘ and ‘The Men Who Would Be Kings‘.

DR can be used in whatever setting, even for something made up on the fly. It’s useful as you  can mix up forces from some company’s ‘codex’ with something completely historical as it’s opposition. And half the fun is the construction of the Warband and in providing it some sort of back-story. We’ve used Dark Elves against Border Reivers before – and my Reivers won (bless the gods for the wonder that is blackpowder!). Then again, I suspect that we may have been playing the Start-Turn and Activations slightly wrong (Ooops!)

TMWWBK is also another I’m keen to trial with the chaps, as this actually has great potential for the VSF stuff we do, especially any Space 1889 actions. Again, it’s a perfect toolkit of rules that allows you so much potential to adapt them to give the games you want, that can then fit into the campaign setting we already have established. I’ve been steadily collecting, adapting and painting (OK, that last one – others have been painting) allsorts of Elvish forces that I can then use for the Canal Martian forces of the Oenotrian Empire and others for the Hill Martians of the Steppes. I now have quite a few, but it’s a bit of a jumble, as I really need to sort them out into proper units – to set out some of the Bands and Companies of the native enemies of the Humans who’ve come to play out the Great Game on Mars.

As for the boardgaming – well, we are spoilt for choice admittedly, but the ones I think we’ll get onto the tabletop include Classic Warlord, Fury of Dracula (3rd Edition), perhaps one of the COIN games from GMT, and some of the old classics I have too. In fact, there’s so many that are good options, I can leave having to list them for now.

And it means the DoMA (Department of Messing About) gets it’s first proper playing session. While the room out back is not quite finished – two walls still need to be lined inside properly and then a good re-painting and some carpet – it’s been interesting to set up the tables and trugs to see the potential layout. It’s a good space, plenty of spare area around a central flat surface, and the daylight fluoro-tubes certainly improve the lighting too. I’ve even experimented on one of my gametable cloths, a very cheap lump of green fleece – hanging it in the garage while I spray adhesive mounting glue and then shake green flock of various shades all over. The shaker was simple improvisation – an empty Pringles tube with holes pierced in the lid. Load up with a few spoons of flock, spray glue and shake. And the reliable hairspray sprayed last to provide some way of fixing it all. We shall see how it works but it was a fun and cheap exercise to dabble with.

Just some last bits of printing, and then some rules reading tonight to crib up on what’s possible, and then all set to begin tomorrow evening. Been good to get back into the mood too.

Finally, below there’s an overhead snap of the Graustark/Axphain game I set up a few months back. Apologies it’s a bit fuzzy, it was a quick point-&-click on my mobile.

This was a dabble with the TMWWBK rules, showing some of the terrain I’ve made or acquired – and also shows what the greencloth used to look like. That should remind me to take plenty of pix for the games played over this weekend.

mwwbk-gothic graustark tabeltop 1

Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 2

(This was the second part of the briefing for the same wargames weekend)

The SIAS officers, now reinforced by more volunteers, some of them armed, send out a patrol to establish just what has been going on in the countryside between them and the sea, while Judge Cooper and Mr Geach the Mayor put the town into a state of readiness. All set their hearts and minds to the task ahead and then grave news is announced – the Telegraph lines have been cut!

The two Police Constables finally make it back to town with their new ‘friend’. Hopefully, Old Jock Trubshaw is reasonably sober to have told of his midnight encounters “wiv some nasty ‘Uns..

But now more information is needed – as to how many, and where they are, and what’s their intentions in coming here? Who leads them in this odd ‘invasion’ of East Anglia – surely this isn’t some scheme dreamed up by the Kaiser? Is the ‘Teutonic Twit’ really that hair-brained? Or can it really be the Arch-fiend himself?

The Light Railway has already proven to be a valuable link to Leiston and the coast, and the Station staff and signallers have worked hard with the Enginemen in getting the light engines and carriages made ready for another venture out. With the sun slowly rising over the North Sea, time is crucial and the enemy must be found and observed.

The SIAS party and their growing band of volunteer forces must now defend the centre of the town of Saxmundham from these raiders, prevent them from looting and carrying off any spoils, and capture any of them to interrogate and find out why they are here.

The Judge and the Mayor have done a fine job in preparing the town against these foreign agents, and lookouts have been posted, a dressing station has been set up for any wounded, and gallons of hot tea and piles of bacon sandwiches are available for the gallant defenders of East Suffolk.

Now it’s known the enemy are coming straight for the town, but many rumours abound as to why. Some are saying it’s a deliberate attempt on the capital, seize the railway and ride into London, others say that Colchester is the real target, again by using the railway. But most have now heard from Old Jock that the raiders are after some sort of Viking item that’s here in the town – and yet no-one knows what or where it is. The Mayor has ordered a few trusted seniors to investigate further, but a scour around the Bell Inn, and the small Museum by the Market Hall have found nothing and now the town elders are pouring through the town records.

So all the defenders can do now is await the assault and to see where the attackers aim for – and hope to stop them in their tracks before they can plunder the town and escape.

This part of the briefing led all the players to participate in the tabletop battle, with a lot more forces present. The actual game saw Deveraux’s forces push aside some of the hastily raised and poorly armed civilian bands, and some deliberate evil naughtiness occurred when some of Les Enfants Perdu shot down some nuns that had been taken hostage. A typical Deveraux Outrage!!

Amongst all that panic and indignation the forces of villainy broke into Saxmundham Church to raid the crypt for the Viking treasure, and hot-footed it back to the coast. The SIAS re-mustered what they could, including some Volunteer Riflemen of the Suffolk Regiment who had dashed into town from Sudbury, but alas they could not prevent the ‘Man of Blood’ from departing.

All-in-all, it proved the variant SG2 rules worked, and that it was also possible to mix gaming styles together too, to satisfy both wargamers and role-players attending the same games weekend. It’s something I should plan to repeat again sometime this year, now that we have IHMN and TMWWBK – two sets of rules that lend themselves perfectly to this concept.

Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 1

(A prequel campaign, this was used as a ‘tester’ of the adapted Stargrunt II rules at a wargames weekend several years ago)

That ‘Man of Blood’ is loose again in the world. After his deprivations in Imperial China – taking advantage of the feuding Governors and Warlords – he’s now believed to be running opium again back into Western Europe. It’s also believed that Von Ludecke is still with him – Beck is reputed to be somewhere in North America & D’Allange is said to be in the Middle-East.

Deveraux has been gathering his forces of anarchy and mayhem, and the Imperial Powers have managed to set aside their differences and recognise his threat to all their regimes.

His many acts of outrage – the raiding and sinking of French steamships in the Gulf of Lyons, the bombing of the Hotel Excelsior in Sarajevo, the abduction and subsequent ransom of Princess Elenia of Moldavia, and the derailment of the Ottoman Army’s Smyrna Military Train – are just the latest in a long line of sinister events all perpetrated by Deveraux and his minions, Les Enfants Perdu. Their exploits blaze across the front pages of the Western Press and all clamour for direct action against the Arch-fiend.

Now, strange sightings of lights afloat in the darkness off the East Anglian coast has prompted Horseguards to send some officers to Saxmundham to investigate. Before they are able to arrive however, the train journey is interrupted.

The northward train has been stopped just south of Saxmundham by unknown hijackers, who have removed the engine and tender, leaving the passenger carriages stranded. The party of officers have then resorted to walking up the line, in the dead of night, to the station and there they meet the Stationmaster and two Police Constables.  On the Platform stand Detective Inspector Symonds and Judge Cooper, who address the assembled throng of servicemen in the Passenger Waiting Room. The London-bound Express has also lost its engine and tender, blocking the line coming south from Norwich.

Peculiar happenings have also been occurring in this area, in the dead of night, close to the shoreline, and two Police Constables managed to signal earlier using Morse Code with their patrol lanterns, that they have under guard a valuable yet delusional witness. Gun flashes and then a considerable noise of gunfire were observed and heard from their direction, and Symonds now needs assistance in finding and bringing back his two Constables and their valuable witness.

To that extent, Judge Cooper has just proclaimed the Local Emergency Powers Act in the town’s marketplace and a small band of volunteers have been gathered, some armed with shotguns, to assist. What’s desperately needed though, is leadership and military training and that’s why the Judge and Symonds are glad of the officers arrival.

The town is buzzing with unusual night-time activity, the gaslights are burning brightly tonight, and the townspeople move about the shadows with a determined purpose – what mystery waits out there in the darkness. Some of the apprentice boys have been dispatched westwards, on bicycles, to pass on news of the situation and to seek more assistance.

This was the first part of the briefing for the game weekend and was resolved with some combined ‘kriegspiel’ and role-play, along with a few tabletop skirmishes. The participants soon got ‘into character’ – it only needed some reminders of Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as that man Sherlock, and away the game went.

Dalliances with Danger – The British Make Plans

(More content from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service

Formed within the last few months and based at the mountain fastness of HMAS Collingwood, the Aerial & Telegraph Station in the Hindu Kush, the Detachment, as it’s more colloquially referred to, has the logistical backing of the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service under the guidance of the Procurement Section in the Foreign Office. The current main component part of the Detachment is the Aerial Gun Sloop HMS Alacrity.

And the Admiralty played its role too – placing a recruiting advert in the London Gazette, whereupon a special team then had to be drawn together to sift and interview the applications.

Gentlemen Officers To Be Recruited!

Gentlemen officers of either service actively sought after & encouraged to join the new Royal Naval Detachment – The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service.

Successful applicants should expect to serve away from Home stations & to barrack at the Aerial & Telegraph Station, HMAS Collingwood in the Hindu Kush. Service on board the Aerial Sloop HMS Alacrity will be taken at Naval pay equivalent to current rank, off-reckonings & mess bill accounts to be arranged with the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service.

Applicants can expect to serve all over the World as required by the Minister of War & the Admiralty. Life onboard HMS Alacrity will involve long flights & lengthy journeys, & we beseech you to consider this fully before applying – gentlemen of nervous flying dispositions & suffering from vertigo should consider that this service may not suit them. Able demonstrations of marksmanship will be standard & studies of anthropology & linguistics will be held as an advantage. The Detachment is keen to recruit medically & technically-minded staff as well. A familiarity with the Naval Aerial Service is preferred but not necessarily required. All applicants will be chosen on demonstrated merits, good conduct & excellent records of service.

The Detachment is also eager to encourage the recruiting of officers from the Dominions, Colonies & Dependencies of the Empire – in the case of the latter two, please provide a supporting letter of reference from your superior officer or civil administrator. Horse-riding & sports are actively encouraged as leisure pursuits. We regret that there are no facilities for Officer’s families & again beseech you to bear this in mind. Servants & batmen however can be provided accommodation & horse remounts will be provided for.

Duties will involve the positive investigation & prosecution of agents & provocateurs set on de-stabilising the trade & well-being of the Empire. An analytical mind is as valuable as a good strong sword-arm. Training & briefings will be regular & all Officers will be expected to attend. Battle drills will be carried out along with the Station’s garrison of Bluejackets & Sikh infantry & Officers will be expected to participate.

Interested parties should apply in writing in the first instance to:

Captain William H. B. Norris MC
Room 14 East, The Admiralty

For the main part, travelling expenses to the Hindu-Kush must be met in their entirety by the successful applicants. Advances may be made available.

This set the initial scene for the specialist British Imperial unit, it’s base and it’s initial vessel, for the very start of the campaign. Certainly the idea of a model of HMS Alacrity set a few of the gamers off with thoughts on modelling the Aerial Gun Sloop in 28mm scale.

The Gazette recruiting advert also made for an excellent poster in the right gothic font.

Dalliances with Danger – The Opening Innings

(More detail from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

Les Enfant Perdus

The general term given to Deveraux’s own military elite, made up of a mix of military shades, all intensely loyal to Deveraux and his lieutenants.

In amongst this ‘Brigade of Brigands’ are the Colonel’s own Siamese henchmen, along with a motley collection of American outlaws, gun-runners and profiteers, D’Allange’s renegade Foreign Legion deserters, and a cosmopolitan mixed-bag of Central and East Europeans with severed ties to their own homelands, many of whom are wanted criminals, anarchists, deserters and escaped convicts.

Led and ruled with an iron hand by Deveraux’s devoted lieutenants, Hiram Beck, Gunther von Ludecke and Francois D’Allange, they are fearsome in their execution of Deveraux’s military schemes, ruthless and well-equipped and battle-hardened with many experiences of clashing with the forces of the European Powers.

His Other Elements

Deveraux recruits additional forces wherever he lays down roots – often manipulating the local populace to do his bidding by guile, blackmail, extortion or false rewards and promises. Often there is questionable loyalty and motivation, but always a concern nevertheless. Integrating himself in such a fashion into a region provides him some degree of perimeter protection and forewarning, when the locals warn him of newcomers and outsiders. The Powers have found that stealthy infiltration into his various lairs and domains is always so difficult and challenging.

But Deveraux has a consistent weakness, an appetite for learning and technology, and the men and women who delve in its creation. Warranted he only desires such advances to further his evil ambitions, but it is an aspect that can be used against him, by those clever enough to construct stratagems worthy to pit against him.

Opening Batsmen for the Home Team

As the British have agreed with all present at the Craigievar Conference to take the lead in the counter-operation, the Ministers looked to the Royal Navy and the Army to see if they had any acceptable contingency plans available.

Sadly, the staff at the Admiralty and Horseguards had to reply in the hesitant negative, but thankfully up stepped a relative unknown, Sir Tristram Monk, Under-Secretary for Procurement at the Foreign Office. In a detailed presentation, Monk outlined the new Detachment he had been commissioned to raise by Vice-Admiral Beckett. The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service, recruited with personnel from both Arms of the British military and indeed from several destinations within the Empire itself with a special article recently featured in the Naval & Military Gazette, would be based in a mountain fortress in the Hindu Kush. The Detachment, as it’s more commonly known, would be an excellent first choice to make the first responses and moves against Deveraux.

All present agreed with his excellent analysis and promised assistance towards the campaign where possible. Monk was then tasked with completing the preparations and after the conference ended, promptly left for India. The Foreign Office agreed to keep all those present informed of proceedings.

The Powers allowed themselves a momentary breath of relief.

This element outlined a bit more detail on Deveraux’s ability and motives, but it importantly provided a unit, the British SIAS, as a focus for the Old World Order forces.