Saturday, 30 March 2013

Egging Myself on over Easter....Part 2

The ship's badge for SMS Blucher - and no, I will not be painting this is 1/2400th....;-)

One of the tasks I have set myself has now been completed. All the special abilities contained on both sets of aircraft cards for Angels 20 and Bandits High have now been typed up with an appropriate classifications for review (and no doubt discussion) with Mr Fox.

Next up - the 16 cruisers, 2 x Blucher, 4 x Scharnhorst, 4 x Konigsberg II, 2 x Nymphe and 4 x Guiseppe Garibaldi.

Rolling, rolling, rolling.....;-)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Egging Myself on over Easter....

There was no truth in the rumour that Floppsy was hiding the 4th egg in his mouth....he is naturally rather large in that area....

I have set myself three tasks for the Easter long weekend. Firstly, I want to finish the 16 cruisers I have on the painting tray - these have been based, undercoated and have the first grey dry brush in place - followed secondly by completing a major typing job I have concerning Axis and Allies: Angels 20/Bandits High. After conversations with Mr Fox I am typing out all the special abilities featured on the aircraft cards with a view to  reapplying them on a type basis rather than pilot. It will not be difficult to do but it is time-consuming. Ironically some of my 'home-grown' abilities actually reflect the official versions....

Finally, I want to get a game in and since this is dependent of getting either the ships painted or a whole pile of 40mm square movement trays I am thinking that I should get cracking on the former!

Have a great Easter one and all.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Taking the (Garibaldi) Biscuit....

A Garibaldi class biscuit....

....and a Garibaldi class armoured cruiser in her WW1 finish - they are both tasty but in different ways....(Note the single 10" gun forward and the twin 8" turret aft in the bottom picture, and the currants in the top....)

The Italian designed and built Garibaldi class of armoured cruisers is a study all of its own in terms of what guns went where. As designed she had a single 10" and a twin 8" for the main armament but this varied depending on whoever purchased them. For the navies of Fezia and Rusland I am using four Viking Forge 1:2400th scale models - two of the Japanese Nisshin, Guiseppe Garibaldi herself and the Spanish Cristibal Colon. With the exception of the latter, each model comes with two twin turrets (these are separate from the hull by the way); the Cristobal has a pair of single mount 10" weapons. For each model the hull is identical.

I happily assembled these (at least the first three) but hit a snag with the Cristobal. The hull features two large holes for the turrets to be dropped in - and these are far too large for the single 10" guns provided. I gave this some thought and decided on the following solution. I took the sole Rusland Wien class coastal defence battleship (armed with two twin 9.4" gun turrets) and replaced the turrets with the single 10" guns. So the Wien now looks different from those purchased by Fezia and the Rusland navy now has a poweful cruiser squadron of four Garibaldi class - each with two twin turrets carrying 8" guns except for the ex Cristobal mounting 9.4" weapons.

This should give Fezia something to think about - despite the fact that she is getting some powerful cruisers of her own.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Painter's Progress....Part 2 - Fezian and Rusland Destroyers

Now I have a confession to make. The only destroyers I currently own for both Fezia and Rusland are 1911 vintage German and 1914 Royal Navy M classes - although these could be used as the earlier L class. I am looking to add some earlier types in due course but for now these will have to suffice. I reckoned on each side having around 16 and it would have been easy just to go with a single type but I thought - where's the fun in that? With this in mind I opted to give each side a mixture of the two types and to provide a rationale as to how these choices came about. I will need to add to  this story once I have sourced some earlier period vessels so essentially the tale is very much the second part of the whole as it were - think of it as being like the film Star Wars Episode 4 - with the prequel to follow in due course!

Fezian Destroyers - the bottom row are the controversial (at least as far as Teutonia) 'M ' class 

The models were all painted using the 'black undercoat and drybrushed overcoat' technique and also solely using Humbrol enamels - except for the base which was two coats of Cobalt Turquoise acrylic. The flags were made for my by Tony at Brigade Models and the name labels were printed off the PC using Arial 12 in bold. I opted for the Fezians being in overall black (following WW1 German practise - at least up until around 1916/17) whilst the Rusland forces are in grey. I painted the lifeboats in white for no other reason than that I like then to be visible. The black ships were highlighted in the barest touch of white paint. I am rather pleased with the overall look and getting the whole batch completed has made a big hole in the painting schedule for both Fezia and Rusland.

Rusland Destroyers - 'Ls' to the left and 'Ts' to the right

The Development of Fezian and Rusland Destroyer Doctrine

Until the outbreak of the Balkrunian War both Fezia and Rusland used small coastal torpedo boats weighing in at an average of 250 tons and speeds of 25 knots. As neither side had need for anything larger given the limited nature of naval warfare in the Fezian Sea the use of such vessels was primarily defensive. The Teutonian naval mission to Fezia had identified a number of shortcomings with this approach - as well as operationally as Fezian tactical doctrine left much to be desired. Typically small numbers of torpedo craft would attack from ambush and from all directions, leaving them open to destruction by concentrated gunfire. Teutonian doctrine emphasised the use of the torpedo en masse with the gun very much as a supporting weapon and so the Fezian navy was schooled in the art of using the torpedo as not only a defensive weapon but one of offence as well. The only problem was the ships currently available were simply too small and fragile for the envisaged blue water role. The situation was remedied by the simple expedient of seconding half a flotilla (8 vessels) to Fezia for joint exercises - notionally Teutonian commanded ships but with Fezian crews. The ruse fooled  nobody - least of all Rusland - and so the ships were quietly added to the Fezian navy. Fezia took advantage to purchase a further 4 of the same type and so in one fell swoop had a substantial modern destroyer force - which would be more than sufficient to deal with anything Forbodia and Epiria could muster. Against Teutonian advice Fezia also took advantage of a loosening of government policy by Britannia and purchased 4 of the new L class destroyers (previously reported as M class - the model is an M but the L is very similar and is slightly earlier). These are gun heavy ships which Fezia intends to use as flotilla leaders or possibly as a strike force for specific missions - raids and bombardments etc.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Fezian Sea, Rusland was making plans of her own. Unknown to Fezia she had agreed to provide naval support to Forbodia during the coming war and so, with her navy effectively on a war footing, she had set about readying her forces. Her situation was similar to that of Fezia in respect of the type of torpedo boats she had available (similar 250 ton types although more gun orientated than he Fezian vessels) although she possessed one significant advantage. Her shipyards at Savestopal were already able to produce warships of up to 1,000 tons and so with a suitable design could begin to manufacture them almost immediately. The Naval Design Bureau had not considered anything similar and so once again Britannia came to the rescue and allowed the Rusland government to build the L/M class destroyer under licence. This helped partially but the capacity of the yards to match the Fezian strength was limited. Initial estimates were that a maximum of 8 units could be built - half the Fezian strength - and so the shortfall would need to be made good via external acquisitions. After much horse trading the Rusland navy was able to acquire 8 torpedo boats, similar in design to the German built Fezian types, from the Iberian navy. These had only recently been delivered from Teutonia but were deemed to be surplus to requirements as whilst the ships were cheap to buy and to run, the cost of the torpedoes had not been considered by the Iberian treasury and so the ships did not possess any - they were simply too expensive for the cash strapped Iberian navy. Rusland were able to get around this problem by the simple expedient of replacing the Teutonian torpedo tubes with their own version.

Essentially each side had a similar strength in terms of modern destroyers but whereas Fezia was following the lead of Teutonia and was primarily an offensive torpedo attack force Rusland had a more balanced force with equal numbers of torpedo and gun armed types. Each could be deadly in the right circumstances and with hindsight the Rusland tactical model was probably the more versatile of the two. It is ionic that both navies had come to the same decision in respect of their earlier forces in that both side saw their torpedo craft as defensive weapons - Fezia envisaged using the torpedo on a hit and run basis against any attacking enemy whilst Rusland saw the use of the gun as a more effective deterrent against similar craft.

Reinforcements Arrive....At Last!

A Finnish MS 406 - I have four of these which will be repainted into Turkish colours

Finally, after 6 weeks or so, my order from Stonewall arrived with a whole lot of WW1 naval related goodies! The new castings are much better and are very crisp in terms of definition and once I have sorted them out I will be posting some pictures.

I also received four of the above aircraft which will provide the teeth for the Turkish air force (after a repaint of course!) circa early 1941.

The Emperor: "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen."

Well not exactly but you get the drift....

Sunday, 24 March 2013

WW1 German Destroyers

An example of the German Torpedo boat V1 to V6 of the 1911 vintage

The only destroyer available from Stonewall in their WW1 German range is described in the catalogue as a 'T Class Torpedo boat'. The sole Royal Navy example os of the M class. I wanted to establish exactly what type the German vessel reporesents as T as a description is pretty vague - and anybody that knows anything about German destroyers of the period will understand my frustration!

I pulled out my trusty copy of the 1914 edition of Janes and also Conway's Fighting Ships 1906 to 1921 and think I may have just about worked out exactly what the model is supposed to represent. A class of 24 ships split into two groups of 6 and one of 12 and built around 1911/12. The numbers for these (the Germans numbered their destroyers rather than naming them for the most part) are V1 to 6, G7 to 12 and S13 to 24. The letters indicate the yard in which the ship was built and so V is Vulcan, G is Germania and S is for Schichau. The class as whole weighed in at around 700 tons loaded with a speed of around 32 knots. They were armed with a pair of 3.4" guns and 4 torpedo tubes.

My German navy for the period will feature 16 of these whilst Fezia will have 12. I currently have the Fezian component under the brush and so once they are completed I will post pictures accordingly.

It has given me a minor dilemma though in that I want to use some earlier torpedo boats as well as these more modern types. I could make use of some of the models available from Viking Forge from the Russo-Japanese War range but these will not come cheap. An idea I am considering though is to use large 1/3000th scale destroyers as earlier types. The size differential will ensure that they are recognisable as different types. A visit at some point to Navwar may well be in order or I may even take a look at the range available from Skytrex. The Skytrex (Davco) range features models that are more 'chunky' so will fit in with the Stonewall models far more readily.

I am now in the 'monitoring of the tracking number' phase of the Stonewall order (delivery should be tomorrow - I hope!) and so I will be able really attack the project in earnest shortly.

Mixing scales within a collection? Whatever next!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Turkish Air Force in World War 2

A Turkish MS 406 sporting the 1940 colour scheme. The only difficulty I foresee is the crescent and star on the tail!

An early Turkish Hurricane Mk1 with an alternative colour scheme.

A Hurricane IIc tropical version. Turkey was fond of the Hurricane!

A P40 in Turkish colours

A Spitfire MkVb tropical version.

FW190 - the Turks really liked this type

The P47 which the Turks used to replace the MS406s - a fairly radical change of type methinks!

As you can see from the above the Turkish air force used a wide variety of types during the period of WW2 and I should point out that this does not include the Fairey Battle, Heinkel 111 and the DH Mosquito! For my Middle Eastern project I shall be concentrating on the 1940 to 1941 period so it will be primarily the MS406 and Hurricanes in service. I have four of the former and will need to acquire four of the latter. Having said that, the scheme on the FW 190 (and you know how much I like an FW190....!) does look rather tempting!

Friday, 22 March 2013

A Naval Arms Race....Part 1

HMS Dreadnought - both Fezia and Rusland aspired to owning this type of vessel, aided by Teutonia and Britannia respectively.

The Naval Situation in the Fezian Sea from 1895 to 1912

Traditionally the navies of both Fezia and Rusland within the area of the Fezian Sea were small, coastal defence forces. Neither side showed any inclination to blockade the enemy coastline or to conduct offensive activity away from the sight of their own side of the sea. Even when officially at war the sea was used as a medium for transport on very few occasions and even then on a limited scale. Each side had a 'navy' comprising for the most part small gunboats or torpedo craft - what in later parlance could be best ve described as a 'mosquito fleet'.

This all changed however when the Ruslanders decided that they had a claim on the island of Naverona.

The saga of the various bombardments of the tiny and uninhabited island of Naverona have been recounted on Bob Cordery's blog here - Return to Naverona but a little known fact is that the two ships involved actually came from the Northern Rusland fleet. They had sailed from their base in  the Baltika Sea - officially on a flag showing visit to their Forbodian allies - and just happened to be in the area. The opportunity to tweak Fezian noses was too good an opportunity to miss and so the two attacks were made. After much Fezian complaining the two Rusland ships returned from whence they came but the impact of their attack had greatly unsettled the Sultan. He resolved to furnish Fezia with a navy that would guarantee her safety from Rusland aggression and so began the extensive naval rearmament in the two decades leading up to the First Great World War.

Initially Fezia merely wanted to protect her coastline and the all-important coal carrying trade from potential Rusland invervention. With this in mind the Sultan and his adviasors decided that a force of coastal defence battleships would be more than sufficient to deter any Rusland aggression. An order was placed for four Wien class coastal defence battleships built by the Etruscians to a largely Teutonian design. Initially Fezia had no plans about using these ships offensively - they were merely to keep Rusland honest - but it was not long before the Rusland navy decided to introduce similar vessels into its own service, thereby maintaining the status quo. As luck would have it, the Northern Rusland navy had three such vessels newly in commission and so these were immediately ordered to the Fezian Sea. They were of course, coastal defence battleships of the Admiral Ushakov class. Rusland also quietly ordered a Wien class vessel for themselves thereby ensuring that the ship numbers for the respective navies remained constant.

It was not long however before Fezia, under Rusland provocation, decided that he naval impasse needed to be tilted in their favour and so the decision was made to increase the strength of the navy to include some blue water elements. This raised the bar considerably and certainly for Fezia caused all manner of difficulties. To start with she had little experience of deep water operations and also her industrial capacity was simply not up to the task of building major warships without massive investment and foreign expertise. The Sultan decreed that this would be the way forward and so immediately sent his agents far and wide to invite tenders for warship contracts. Initially Rusland was alarmed at this but the universally lukewarm response to the Fezian advances (mainly due to her abysmal credit) soon calmed the international waters. The Fezian initiative was not wholly unsuccessful though as she was able to buy from Gallia a battleship of the Tsarevitch class which instantly tilted the balance of naval superiority in the Fezian Sea in her favour.

Rusland was in an unenviable position. She was unable to send any further vessels from her Northen fleet as the situation with Teutonia was still very tense. Following the Fezian lead the Czar ordered his chief naval minister to open extensive negotiations with Britannia for warships. Word of this soon reached the Sultan and  so the Britannian naval attache was summoned to the Topkapi palace to clarify their position with regards to Rusland. The Sultan was given a polite but firm refusal in respect of any changes in the foreign policy of Britannia in respect of her relations with another sovereign power - essentially it was none of the Sultan's business whom Britannia dealt with. To say the Sultan was unimpressed was an understatement. He was apoplectic with what he saw as 'Perfidious Albion'. He immediately ordered his agents to tear up any contracts they had with Britannia (if anything Britannia was relieved by this - Fezia was notorious for slow payments, if they paid at all) and set to work to engage with any other industrial power that could furnish what he, and Fezia, required.

Rusland has been quietly observing this spat and resolved to make the most of the Fezian fall from international grace. She offered to pick up the Fezian contracts but was told that these vessels had now been earmarked for the Royal Navy. However, in order to ensure that Rusland's business stayed with Britannian shipyards negotiations were opened at the highest level to put a treaty of mutual support and friendship (falling just short of a formal alliance). Britannia would be able to supply battleships in due course but with her shipyards full of orders under way for her own navy it would not be immediately - in fact around two years to be exact. To sweeten this pill Britannia reduced the overall cost of the units involved and furthermore - and this would be of supreme importance in the long term - would undertake to oversee the setting up of a modern shipbuilding facility capable of building and servicing battleships at the main Rusland Fezian Sea naval base of Savestopal. The deal was quickly made and the press gleefully reported the details of the agreement.

Teutonia viewed this development with dismay as she had always assumed that Britannia and Rusland would never see eye to eye - especially over the ongoing tension in Gaziristan. However, it did not take long for the Kaiser's advisors to point out that making friendly overtures to Fezia would serve to both neutralise Rusland and threaten the Britannic Chindian Empire. A naval mission, with financiers and industrialists was hurriedly assembled and sent to the Sultan - together with a gift of a pair of brand new Gazelle class light cruisers. The sultan was delighted and almost immediately plans were laid to overhaul every aspect of the Fezian navy and its capacity to build and repair modern warships. An ambitious ten year plan was put in place by which time Fezia would be building her own warships and to the latest designs.

A Giuseppe Garibaldi class cruiser

Naval supremacy was now firmly in the hands of Fezia but Rusland still had some international cards to play. The naval high command decided, with Britannian backing, that acquiring some new and powerful armoured cruisers would negate the Fezian light cruisers and serve to counterbalance the effects of the new Fezian battleship. Ironically it was Etruscia that provided these - four ships based on the Giuseppe Garibaldi design. Two were immediately available and the latest two were some 9 months from completion. The first of these was the sister ship to the Iberian Cristobal Colon whilst the second was a direct copy of the Garibaldi herself. The two later models were based on the Nisshin class. In one fell swoop parity in the Fezian Sea was virtually restored.

For a period of around eighteen months there was little or no activity in the Fezian sea other than drills and manoeuvres.

SMS Schleswig-Holstein - one of three similar ships en route to serve in the Fezian navy

Fezia was concerned about the appearance of these new and powerful cruisers but had no immediate answer from her own shipyards. In the interim the Teutonian naval mission was authorised by the Kaiser to loan some vessels to Fezia until such a time as she was able to replace them from her own resources. In reality these were quietly handed over for good as the Teutonians had no further use for them. The ships passed over were the two Scharnhorst class armoured cruisers and arguably the most powerful ship of its class afloat, the Blucher. The Sultan was delighted for all of a week when word reached him that Rusland had just taken delivery of the two Nisshin class cruisers and, some months earlier than expected, two battleships modelled on the Fuji class. The Sultan was displeased but once again, the Kaiser came to the aid of his ally with the loan of three battleships of the Pommern class. Rusland was not concerned by this turn of events as they were due to receive a pair of battleships based on the Shikishima class fairly shortly.

The Shikishima class battleship - two of which were built for Rusland in Britannian shipyards

Events in respect of naval design had served to apply the brakes to any further ship additions simply because  whilst all this was going on (and in fact some five years previously) HMS Dreadnought had been launched and so the ships being hurried out to the Fezian Sea were largely obsolete. As long as both sides had similar vessels in use then the design differences were largely irrelevent. Once the dreadnoughts began rolling down the slipways though, it would be an entirely different matter. With the quiet urging of both Britannia and Teutonia both sides applied themselves to their respective dreadnought building programs. It was not expected that either side would have any of these ships in service for at least another two years but the impact of the same when ready would be decisive. The race towards war was well and truly on.

Part 2....The Balkrunian War of 1912

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Naval Rules and Plans

SMS Scharnhorst - luckily Stonewall produce this model and I have four of the same on the way. Purists will no doubt raise their eyebrows at this as there was only two of them. The other two will be appearing under the Fezian flag.

I had some good news today in that Mark from Stonewall confirmed that my order was posted out at the weekend and so should have nearly completed the journey from deepest Cornwall to Essex. As I have previously mentioned (ad nauseum) I am really looking forward to these arriving so I can really tear into the painting. Aside from the dozen light cruisers I have painted so far and preparing the next batch for the brush I have also been giving a lot of thought to the rules. Using Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame (the pre-dreadnought version) as a starting point I then set about factoring in the later ship types - dreadnoughts and a couple of more modern cruiser types (battle and light) and adding some flavour to the proceedings.

To begin with, I added in a couple of gunnery modifiers. I increased the hit score required by one when firing into an adjacent hex and reduced the score required by the same when firing into the last hex of the weapons range. This meant that a 4, 5 or 6 was needed at point blank range and a 6 at maximum range. I also allowed for the reduced possibility of large calibre guns being able to hit a small an fast moving destroyer type so guns rated as Medium or larger suffer a minus 1 when firing at this target type.

The rules essentially follow the Portable Wargame format in that you roll to hit and then roll for effect. A ship will roll a d6 for every pair of barrels of a given type. The wrinkle I have introduced here is that the gun calibre and target armour can vary the damage effect roll. Natural 6s enable an extra damage roll. I also allowed some variety to damage effects in that heavy damage can also be applied to a ship's speed or by the loss of gun dice rather than just by marking down flotation points.

In my opinion using a combination of variable damage effects and by 'modelling' specific ship classes the resultant set will have a smattering of that all important 'feel' factor - but obviously care is needed to avoid 'over egging the pudding' with layers of complexity.

I am planning to run another couple of tests with the rules (and using the new and soon to be arriving models) and then once that is under my belt I will happily share them with anybody that is interested.

All the while though, the ideas and plans for both the Fezian and Rusland navies continue to take shape and the appropriate back story - which is very much an important part of any 'imagi-nation' - is well in hand.

Exploring the Dora....

FW190 'Dora' featuring the paint scheme adopted by those units charged with defending Me 262 airfields - the so-called "Papageien Staffel" (Parrot squadron)

Dora, when she is exploring....

Yesterday evening at the club saw Mr Fox revealing many of his new goodies from the first expansion to the Axis and Allies collectible WW2 aerial miniatures game called Bandits High. The starter set for this expansion is very Pacific orientated but there are also a good selection of additional European types - and it was with these that we took to the skies. The game we chose to fight consisted of a pair of FW190 Ds (see FW 190) piloted by a veteran and a rookie against a P38J ( P-38) with an ace and a P51D (P-51) with a veteran. It was very much an 'up and down on full power and then some' type of affair with most aircraft flat out for most of the night. It was quite a rare game in that at one point every model had some damage despite what must have been collectively the worst display of d6 rolling I have have seen! The best example of this was one hex shot on the tail of a P38 - 7 x D6 needing 4, 5 or 6. I rolled nothing above a 3.... Eventually, after much high speed jinking about,  the Luftwaffe prevailed and both the US planes were crippled (reduced to a single hit point) and then finished off for a clean sweep of the skies over the Fatherland.

The game was very interesting for a number of reasons - the main one being the sheer 'grunt' of the aircraft involved. Once the US aircraft were crippled the task of finishing them off was easy, simply because their speed was greatly reduced and the Germans were able to manoeuvre at leisure into optimum firing positions.

All of the types present were well armed and so being in an adjacent hex when firing is usually not a good idea (for the record the planes rolled an average of 7 or so d6 at range 1) - however, as mentioned the dice rolling was uniformly bad which made for a longer and more absorbing game.

For me though, the action really showed up the difference between the early and late war types - essentially this is one of horsepower over manoeuvrability.

I have always been fond of the FW190 although usually I preferred the A series. However, after last night I may just soften this stance a tad....;-)

As ever, many thanks to Mr Fox for bringing the toys out - next week's festivities will see a return to the Eastern front.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Painter's Progress

One for the Antipodean readers - H.M.A.S Sydney - no doubt fresh from sinking the German cruiser Emden. I am planning to add some more Australian vessels to the RN in due course.

Although I am still waiting for my Stonewall order (which I am sure you are probably bored with reading about!) I have been busy preparing the ships that I do have available - and at this stage it meant finishing off the four other Town class cruisers. These are now completed and so I took the opportunity between waiting for assorted bits of shading to dry (good grief,  I almost sound like a painter - that could be setting a dangerous precedent!) to clean up the German T class destroyers - the only destroyer model in the Stonewall WW1 German range - prior to painting. As usual, whilst engaged in that zen-like trance one drops into when filing metal models, my mind wandered over the organisation of the fleets of both Fezia and Rusland.

The Stonewall range features but a single destroyer in both the British and German navies - the aforementioned T class for the Germans and the M class for the Royal Navy. Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this paucity of models could be more than slightly problematic when modelling not two but four navies. Ordinarily I would tend to agree but in this case we must work with the materials we have and so T and M class it will be.

Or will it?

The British and German navy planned to use their destroyers in different ways and this was reflected in the weapons fit the ships carried. As a rule the Royal navy ships tended to have more guns than the Germans who in turn were more torpedo orientated. This distinction tended to blur as the war progressed but it makes a useful tactical distinction between the two navies. Such a historical precedent cannot lightly be set aside and so the plan with the navies of Fezia and Rusland is to mirror this via the choice of models. That probably seems an obvious decision but in true wargaming what if? style I want to mix this up a little. The historical navies (British and German) will stay as they are but those of Fezia and Rusland will feature a mix of the two available types but not on an even basis. As Fezia will be following the German lead then she will feature more torpedo boats than destroyers and vice versa for Rusland. The only reason I am doing this is to inject a little variety into the respective set ups.

I am also planning on Fezia having her destroyers in black whilst those of Rusland will be in the standard grey. I have a batch of flags on their way from Brigade for the bases and am looking forwrd to getting some more of the models completed - after the batch of 24 destroyers are reday the remaining cruisers will be tackled; followed by the pre-dreadnoughts.

All in all then it is creeping along very nicely so far and will get a whole lot better once my Stonewall order arrives.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Organising the Fleet(s)


The battlship Tsesarevitch - soon to be appearing under Fezian colours

I am still awaiting the iminent arrival of my order from Stonewall of the various 1:2400th scale WW1 ships models I need for the four fleets I am planning. In the meantime though, I have spent some time divvying up the existing selection of Viking Forge models from the pre-dreadnought era for the 'old iron' element of both the Feziana nd Rusland navies. If you recall, I acquired a selection of these from my old friend Chris Hardman and then managed to change the selection slightly via some horse trading with Mr Fox. the models I have available and the forces I shall be using them for are as follows:


  • 1 x Tsesarevitch - Russian Pre-dreadnought battleship 1903
  • 3 x Pommern - German Pre-dreadnought battleship 1906
  • 4 x Wien - Austrian Coastal Defence battleship 1897
  • 2 x Nymphe - German Light cruiser 
  • 2 x Shikishima - Japanese Pre-dreadnought battleship 1900
  • 2 x Fuji - Japanese Pre-dreadnought battleship 1897
  • 3 x Admiral Ushakov - Russian Coastal Defence battleship 1895
  • 1 x Wien - Austrian Coastal Defence battleship 1897
  • 2 x Nisshin - Japanese Armoured cruiser 1904
  • 1 x Giuseppe Garibaldi - Italian Armoured cruiser (1900?)
  • 1 x Cristobal Colon - Spanish Armoured cruiser (1897?)
I am currently giving some thought to the back story as to how these ships came to be in their respective navies and I shall report this once I have done so. The sharp-eyed amongst you willhave noted thatt he Fezians seem to be rather light in terms of cruisers compared to the Ruslanders. There is a very good reason for this and it is to do with the delayed Stonewall order. Basically, Fezia will be getting the following German cruisers:

A large warship steams at full speed; black smoke billows from its four funnels

SMS Scharhorst - also soon to be appearing under the Fezian flag, together with her sister ship, the Gneisenau
  • 1 x Blucher
  • 2 x Scharnhorst
These will serve to balance out the heavier Rusland types and it means that both navies will have a powerful squadron of modern armoured cruisers in the absence of any battle cruisers.

All I need is the Stonewall order to arrive which should be any day now!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Turkish Infantry in WW2

Turkish infantryman taken from Axis History Forum

One of the tasks I have undertaken in regards to the WW2 Middle Eastern project is to research the composition of the Turkish armed forces during the Second World War. As there does not appear to be an Osprey Men at Arms title devoted to the subject (and yes, that was said with tongue firmly in cheek!) it has involved a lot of 'Google-Fu' and looking through various obscure websites.

Essentially the Turkish armed forces were undermanned, under equipped, under trained and probably in worse shape than during the first world war. Shortages of equipment was rife and at one time no less than three helmet types were in use - 1916 Stalhelm, British and the French 'Adrian' - albeit fairly sparsely, with the British types being reserved for the artillery crews. The army used a bewildering variety of equipment and the air force was my particular favourite because at one time you had MS 406s, Huricanes, FW190 and Spitfires (5s and 9s) serving alongside each other.

Clearly from a wargames perspective this degree of equipment variety makes for a great set up with plenty of choice but the infantry element presents a few problems. At the time of writing nobody, even Irregular Miniatures, to the best of my knowledge, produces Turkish infantry figures for World War 2. Hardly surprising given their neutrality for most of the war (they actually declared war on the Axis in 1945 but this was a diplomatic gesture only and so no Turkish troops were engaged in action during the war). A potential solution though, has emerged and although I suspect he will take no credit for this, Bob Cordery kind of pointed me in what may be a suitable direction.

1930s 20mm Plastic Chinese Infantry produced by Caesar Miniatures.

Click for larger image

No, I didn't see that one coming either!

The above box of figures just happened to be lurking on one of the trade stands, along with various early 20th century Cossack types (again, very useful) and Bob just happened to be taking a look when my eye caught this set. I was intrigued as the headgear looked a pretty close match to the Turkish infantry depicted above, even down to the leggings used. I took a look at the Plastic Soldier Review for the set and was very impressed as the figures have just the right amount of 'motleyness' about them for the impoverished Turkish army of the period.

Of the figures themselves 12 out of the 40 in the set would not be readily usable as 8 are wielding rather viscious looking swords and 4 have a Chinese coolie style straw hat hanging down their back. I was impressed and so this set is a strong contender for the Turkish infantry when I come to tackle them.

Although Bob strenuously denied any involvement in this I suspect that it may have been payback for the news I passed on to him of Irregular Miniatures working on a 15mm Chaco War range of figures....;-)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Skirmish in Sidcup

Postie of Postie's Rejects fame - wargamer, historian, raconteur, wit, bon vivant, lover, legend.....

Firstly - a great St. Patricks Day to all of Irish extraction (I have just watched Jack Taylor so am well up on the 'craic' with matters Irish - actually no I am not but hey ho - the wishes are there with the best of intentions!).

Today has seen yours truly at the Skirmish plastic soldier and wargames show at Sidcup in Kent. It is a small show to be sure (sorry, lapsing into mock Irish again!) but is a good one for all that. There is more than enough to be look at in terms of games, a bring and buy and the essential trade. I met up with Bob Cordery and Big Lee and also Postie Stu from the legendary Posties Rejects and so the banter was bang on the money!

I took no pictures but managed to learn a lot about the art of photographing games from Bob (many thanks old chap - I promise not to mention the Chaco Wars again...) and so will be experimenting with some ideas later. Big Lee was looking for not a lot in particular but was sure that something would receive the benefit of his wallet in due course! Bob missed out on some bits he was after  (I will email you off list for a solution to that particular problem) and Postie had not flashed the cash as yet when I left (without saying goodbye, for which I can only apologise!). It was good just to mix it with kindred spirits - and I am looking forward to the various Rejects blogs for what sounds like a real hoot of a game they had!

I was able to hit the plastic kits in a big way and managed to acquire some Armourfast early T34s (2 boxes), some Hanomags (again, 2 boxes) and a box of the 105mm German Howitzer. I also manged to (finally) get a hold of 2 boxes of the Pegasus Hobbies BT7 tank - for which grateful thanks must be extended to Postie.

So all in all it was a great day out and my Middle Eastern project has received some valuable reinforcements.

I also now have a rather unusual choice of 20mm plastic figure to consider for the Turkish army of WW2 - more of which later.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Action off Cape Naverona....Game Number 34

The opening weeks of the First Great World War saw very little action across the dark and forbidding waters of the Fezian sea. On the Fezian side of the sea the coastal coal trade came to an abrupt halt as a precaution against raids by Rusland light forces. This strategy was not attempted by Rusland in any event and so Fezia took full advantage of the respite offered and so heavily mined the approaches to most of their major coaling ports. The mining also extended to the traditionally disputed straits and island of Naverona. The fortress had been strengthened and the straits between it and the still uninhabited island of Naverona was now virtually impassable to anything larger than a rowing boat. In fact the Fezians often joked that you could walk barefoot across the straits over the number of mines they had laid. The Ruslanders had noted this and had quietly chosen to ignore the straits all together but were not prepared to give the Fezians the satisfaction of knowing this and so resorted to a series of quickfire bombardments of the island, usually by light forces, with the intention of provoking a response. Fezian national honour could not allow the bombardment of its sovereign territory by a foreign power and so the wheels were set in motion to deal with this latest Rusland provocation.

It did not take long for the Fezians to realise two things. Firstly, the defences of the strait were now so formidable that it would take a major effort by Rusland to take, what was in effect, a worthless island and that secondly, the seaward side of the island was not protected - either by mines (the water was too deep for effective mining) or the guns (the range was too great). Clearly something had to be done and so the Fezian navy commenced patrols that included the far side of the island. It was not long before the two sides managed to be in the same place and at the same time.

The Game

The following action was fought using a variant of Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame. My only changes were to extend the original set to include the post 1905 era - various dreadnoughts and modern light cruisers being the main additions - and to 'tweak' the damage/firing system.

The ships involved are of course my newly painted light cruisers and each side by a happy coincidence has two of them. They are broadly similar with the following specifications:

Type - Light Cruiser; Speed 4; Flotation Value 6; Critical Point 2. The Rusland cruisers are armed with 1 light gun dice and 2 very light gun dice whilst the Fezian ships have 3 very light guns. The guns are based on a broadside so the Fezians muster 6 x 4.1" whilst the Rusland vessels have a pair of 6" and 5 x 4". The Rusland vessels have a small advantage in this respect.

The Fezian vessels are the Midilli and the Drama whilst those of Rusland are the Stolichnaya and the Stolnaya.

Somewhere off Cape Naverona....

The Fezian cruisers approach the island of Naverona from the West....

....whilst the Rusland cruisers approach from the East.

Simultaneously the two formations sight one another and turn to engage. Meanwhile, the stokers urgently throw more coal into the fires to bring the boilers up to maximum power and the gun crews ready their weapons.

The two battle lines have turned comfortably into range and so the order to open fire is given.

A veritable hail of 4", 4.1" and 6" shells arch back and forth as the ships quickly find the range and begin to score hits. The only exception is the Fezian ship Midilli which manages to miss completely.

The Rusland ships are now skirting the island of Naverona whilst the Fezian vessels find themselves at extreme range for their guns.

Not so however for the 6" weapons on the two Rusland cruisers. The Fezian cruiser Drama is hard hit (the black marker is for the 6" the white is for the 4") and as a result of this salvo loses a gun dice, one point of speed and one of her flotation points. With the damage she has thus already sustained from earlier in the action she is in pretty poor shape.

The range is now extreme even for the longer reach of the 6" weapons but still the Drama takes punishment from the Stolichnaya. 

As the Drama has now reached her Critical Point her commander has no choice other than to break off the action and get away as best as she can. In order to cover the retreat of her stricken comrade the Midilli puts her helm hard over to occupy the two Rusland cruisers - hopefully buying some time for the Drama to escape.

Whilst the Drama limps away from the action the Midilli soon finds herself under fire from the Rusland cruisers and takes some minor damage for her trouble. In the meantime though, she manages to hit the Stolnaya. With nothing to be gained by engaging two enemy cruisers the Midilli then breaks off the action and heads for home. The two Rusland cruisers, with some damage, fire a few half hearted salvoes at the island before departing.

The final damage sustained by each vessel was as follows:
  • Midilli - 2 flotation points
  • Drama - 5 flotation points (critical), 1 very light gun dice destroyed and speed reduced to 3 points
  • Stolichnaya - 2 flotation points
  • Stolnaya - 1 - flotation point

The battle was over and whilst it was a small affair was entertaining all the same. The rules worked very well and I was pleased with the tweaks I had added to Bob's set. I will need to change a couple of things but nothing substantial.

I really liked the ability to apply damage scored from a 2 or 3 point hit to gun dice, speed or flotation points because it gives a little more flavour to the action than just marking off hits. I need to change the wording slightly on this  - I thought I had included the speed lose as a result but could find no trace of it in my draft - but not in a complete rewrite sort of way.

As far as the action went the weight and range advantage enjoyed by the Rusland cruisers 6" proved to be a significant factor - if only for psychological reasons as much as anything else - although they actually only managed to hit the Drama with this calibre gun once. Being under fire and unable to effectively reply must be a frustrating experience - as the crew of the S.M.S. Emden found when engaged by H.M.A.S. Sydney.

In closing I must apologise for the poor quality of the pictures. I am having real problems trying to cope wirth flash photography when using the blue Hexon as it reflects the light quite strongly. I will need to experiment further and so will hopefully get some decent naval shots in due course.

Friday, 15 March 2013

"My Kinda Town....This Cruiser is......!!"

The Royal Britannic Navy Light Cruisers HMS Bristol and HMS Gloucester

The Rusland Navy Light Cruisers Stolnaya and Stolichnaya

(With apologies the the estate of Frank Sinatra....)

Aside from a day spent indulging in my usual job search related fun and frivolity; I have managed to finish the first batch of Town class cruisers for my 1:2400th WW1-ish project. In common with the Magdburg class cruisers completed earlier these models will see service in both the Royal BritannicNavy and that of Rusland - under the terms of the alliance between those two great nations; Britannia and Rusland, to offset the similar alliance between Fezia and Teutonia. Details of these nations can be found here - The World of 1891.

The models are the Bristol group of the Town Class Cruisers of WW1 (Town Class Cruiser 1910) from Stonewall Miniatures. They have been painted using my 'new' technique of a black undercoat and a dry brushed top coat. I will need to add the name labels in due course (that is a job for over the weekend) and they are then ready for action. I heard from Mark at Stonewall today and he has managed to get the casting machine fixed and the new mould 'cut' for some of the models and so my order should be with me during the early part of next week.

In the meantime though , the recent outbreak of the First Great World War has seen an increase in offensive posturing by the naval forces of both Fezia and Rusland, supported by their allies, and it expected daily that the shooting will begin in earnest.

Although it has been some 25 years since the last 'incident' involving the hotly contested island and straits of Naverona (The Second Bombardment of Naverona) it is expected that once again this will be a key feature in the plans of both naval HQs. Fezia has already taken the precaution of heavily mining the straits but all this has served to do is to antagonise Rusland as well ensuring that the uninhabited island can be engaged freely from the open sea - beyond the range of the dreaded 'guns of Naverona'.

Only time will tell what plans Rusland has in store for this continuing insult at the hands of the Fezians.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Unemployed Wargamer

Bish Bosh Dosh indeed....;-) Luckily I am quite a way from being in this predicament!

I have been unemployed now since the 24th September 2012 and obviously this has had an impact on my wargaming. Despite the fact that seeking new employment is almost a full time job in itself you could be forgiven for thinking that I must have a lot of time on my hands in which to tackle the various projects I have set myself. To a certain extent this is true - but only in that I am able to get to my hobby earlier in the day and without the hassle of the commute home beforehand. Of course, aside from the continual and ongoing job search - usually involving at least half a day on the internet, copious numbers of emails and phone calls and the endless waiting on responses - there are also a number of domestic chores to be attended to as well as a myriad of DIY tasks. Thus far I have been able to get a number of decorating tasks tackled and once the weather improves will be able to move outside for some other odd jobs around the home. Fitting this kind of task in around the working week (when I am working that is!) is usually not a great idea for me as I seem to have enough to do at weekend without spending most of it up a ladder and so being at home is a definite advantage in this respect.

As far as my wargaming is concerned it is fairly safe to say that having access to this great hobby of ours has certainly kept me sane during some of my more trying recruitment episodes. The actual hobby itself though requires regular servicing or care and maintenance which usually involves spending money. This is where the problems start because obviously being on a limited income such things as new figures, models, rules etc have to drop down the priority list. The odd tin of paint or two is not a problem but how do you service anything bigger? Well, my solution has been to look very long and very hard at what my collection is all about and what exactly it is I want to spend time gaming and how. The end result of this is that I have pared my collection back in order to finance the current project line. This cannot go on indefinitely though and so I have really thought about that which I want to do and that which I actually will do - and there is quite a big difference! I have removed all traces from the collection of those periods that 'seemed like a good idea at the time' and with the proceeds raised have been able to bolster the new projects. I have also been truly fortunate in that several of my wargaming circle have very kindly donated excess 'toys' to me - for which mere words cannot begin to express my appreciation - all of which helps maintain the 'ooh shiny' feeling.

I have managed to acquire most of that which I will need for the WW2 Middle Eastern project (at least the German and Russian part) and this weekend should see the last bits and pieces in place when I visit Skirmish in Sidcup on Sunday. I have the Stonewall WW1 1:2400th scale ship order to prepare once it arrives but at this stage do not need to spend any further money on the fleets. This will need attention in due course (the words 'battle cruisers' is etched across my fevered brow) but will more than suffice for the present. I also have a number of building projects to consider involving balsa wood which received a welcome boost this morning from a family friend who is donating a great bag full of the stuff that he no longer uses to me. Between these three projects alone I have more than enough to keep me occupied for the foreseeable future and when you factor in the Angels 20 aircraft my hobby cup is truly running over.

There are of course some big purchases that I would like to make but cannot consider until my employment situation is resolved and the finances are more readily available. The biggest single expense will be Hexon as I want to add to my collection the desert transition set for use in the Middle East. I can wait for this though as the armies have yet to be assembled in any event.

Being unemployed is a frustrating and morale draining experience and so keeping one's spirits up when searching for work is essential. By taking a long hard look at what I want to do and how I want to do it may have been forced on me by necessity to an extent but I am really glad that I have had to do it. I have trimmed much wargaming fat from my collection (most of which has been in the form of books) which has helped the new projects hugely and more importantly, has given me the funds to enjoy that all important 'ooh shiny' factor when visiting some of the shows.

I am also very pleased (actually, relieved is probably a better description!) with the fact that I was able to make as much progress with the block armies as I have done because by using them  it has enabled me to tackle a huge variety of historical periods at little or no cost. Using the same blocks to fight battles from the Seven Years War to WW2 has been a lot of fun and if push came to shove I could probably get away with not needing to use figures or models for my gaming needs (I can almost hear te pitchforks being sharpened and the stake being readied....) at all - but where's the fun in that?

In closing, I can safely say that being unemployed is not a lot of fun, but by taking a positive from the experience it has served to focus my interests in a way that perhaps I might not have done had I been gainfully employed.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Flames of War 'Doodlebugs'

The completed objective marker from the Flames of War 'Open Fire' starter set

Thanks to the efforts of one of my regular readers, Mike Whitaker, I now own not one but three of the above 15mm scale models; together with the launching ramps. This is really handy as I have in mind a V1 chasing game for use with Axis and Allies: Angels 20 and so ideally needed three of them. I plan to mount these on some flying bases give them the appropriate paint job and so they will be going on to the painting tray along side the Bf 109s currently awaiting their tropical colour scheme.

Many thanks for organising this Mike, much appreciated.

The real thing - I like the camouflage scheme applied to the launching rail. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hex/Mega/Operational Art of Memoir '44 Blitz....

I have not read the above but would like to - and I reckon I know a man (or possibly two) that has!

I have been bouncing emails backwards and forwards with both Bob and, to a lesser extent, Tim in connection with rules for WW2 games set at an operational level. This is the level that sits between the tactical and the army and so includes brigades, divisions and corps.

Now I know that Bob has been beavering away on gelling some ideas around this thorny subject - rather the fixing of the same on a hex grid - and I have also been applying my brain cell to the same. In my case the need, as mentioned in a previous post, is to be able to map or define the command level I am operating at on the table and I want to do this with simple and straightforward mechanics - like Memoir '44 but with history bolted on. That is not meant as a dig, far from it, but it is meant as recognising a need to use some of the exisiting mechanics - which are excellent - with what can best be described as a large dose of 'wargamesness'.

Any wargamer that has played Memoir '44 will know that of which I am speaking and, I hope, empathise with me....

Whilst pondering this subject - and for my own purposes this has a direct bearing on my Middle Eastern project - I have taken the opportunity to prepare some bases for use with my block armies that will work within the rules - whether Hexblitz, Megablitz, Operational Art or even Memoir '44. Using a 40mm square base (the standard for an infantry combat unit in Hex/Mega/Operational Art) I can place a single block. I do not want to fix these in place so I am making a matchstick frame on the card base so that a block can be placed without moving around too much. There will also be plenty of room for the magnetic strength point marker as well. I shall use 40 x 60mm versions for higher command and artillery and 40 x 80mm for armour and transport and such like.The sizes have been chosen especially for the blocks because fitting a 20mm Panzer 4 on a 40 by 80mm base is not going to happen anytime soon....;-)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Naval 'Volte-Face'....

A postcard of the Turkish navy featuring the Goeben (or Yavuz Sultan Selim) in the foreground. Not quite the Spithead review though!

I have been giving a lot of thought to the composition of the fleets of both Fezia and Rusland using the 1:2400th models from Stonewall. I had even gone as far as creating a mini back story as to how the fleets came about and how their geographical requirements influenced their respective ship designs. I had likelend the Rusland navy as having much in common with the WW1 German fleet whilst the Fezians followed the British line. The latter decision was partially aided by the the fact that the historical Turkish Navy could have had HMS Agincourt and HMS Erin had they not be taken over by the RN.

It was all very tidy and though I say so myself, quite plausible within the historical context of what I planned to represent.

That was the plan.

'Was' being the operative word.

I have decided to completely turn this idea on its head and so now the Rusland navy will be made up of British ships whilst the Turks will get the Germans. My reason for this comes down quite simply to the fact that as the historical Turks had a number of ex-German ships and were also allied to the Germans it made more sense to have them being primarily German looking. I also have some older 1:2400th German models from Viking Forge that can be used as well which adds a degree of extra justification. I realise that as this is an imaginery set up then it really does not matter who has what but since these two worthies are mirroring their historical prototypes up to a point having an alternate history that ties back makes for a more comfortable fit in my experience rather than purely hypothetical forces.

This will be how I approach the project in any event - and I will also adopt a similar standpoint for the WW2 Middle Eastern project.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Naval news and the delays of the same....

The first four Rusland ships - light cruisers based upon the German Magdeburg class cruiser

Another view of the above - for details re the painting see below.

Although my nautical posts have been somewhat sparse of late this does not mean that not a lot has been going on. Far from it in fact. To begin with, my Stonewall order has yet to arrive but this has been explained by a problem with one of the moulds finally giving up the ghost and a breakdown in the casting machine itself - all of which has delayed the delivery somewhat. I have taken the opportunity accorded by this delay to change my mind once again about what I am going to do with the ships and so I have reverted to my original plan of splitting the fleets between historical and hysterical farces (and yes, that was intentional!) - namely I shall have representative fleets for the Royal Navy, the High Seas Fleet, Fezia and Rusland. The latter pair will be using the early war kit whilst the former will have the second generation of dreadnoughts etc.

The four cruisers you see above were painted using Humbrol enamels and with a black undercoat dry brushed with various shades of grey (not quite 50 though....). The bases were painted using a tube of Windsor and Newton Cobalt Turquoise which came up far lighter and greener than the colour on the tube suggested. I was after a colour that was as close to the colour of a Hexon tile as I could find and this looked like it was it. It is a little too light but I shall stick with it - it certainly lightens up the ship colour which is no bad thing. I have yet to add the identification labels and ensigns to the bases - mainly because I need to come up with some - so that will also be under consideration. The rules are probably the only thing that is ready at the moment and these will form another post in due course.

I have eight town class cruisers on the painting table which are currently black undercoated and awaiting the grey and I am hoping to get this tackled over the weekend.

The earlier period navies for Fezia and Rusland will be making use of the box of ships I acquired from Dave Ryan of Caliver Books - they being the old Minifigs 1/1800th scale range available once again. These will of course be painted in the correct colour scheme for the period - so plenty of black hulls and white upper works will be in evidence.

The big thing though, will be taking delivery of my order from Stonewall which, all being well, will be during the course of next week.

"Go tell the Fezians"....Game Number 33, Part 2

The battle was fought using Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle rules for the 19th century on a 13 x 9 hex playing area and using my block armies. The actual order of battle looked like this (the strength points for each unit are in brackets):


1 x Commander (2) - Pasha Ali, Good
4 x Infantry (4)
1 x Cavalry (3)
1 x Field Artillery (2)

Total strength points - 23, exhaustion level 15. 


1 x Commander (2) - Count Hugo Pullitov, Good
1 x Commander (1), Average
8 x Infantry (4)
2 x Cavalry (3)
2 x Field Artilley (2)

Total strength points - 45, exhaustion level 15

The exhaustion levels reflect the fact that the Rusland force is largely a raiding body whilst that of Fezia simply reflects the dogged nature of the Fezian soldiery when dug in - especially when under the watchful eye of Pasha Ali.

The only special rules I incorporated into Bob's set was that each part of the Rusland force rolled its own command dice and that in the event that both sides reach their exhaustion level in the same game turn then the side that has lost the most units at the end of the turn is deemed to have lost the battle.

Somewhere along the Wooden Doors Road on the way to Firmopoly, 25th May, 1890....

Firmopoly at the start of the action - Pasha Ali is coordinating the defence from the centre of the village.

The Rusland Northern attack gets under way and the leading battalion has already been pushed back with losses from Fezian machine gun fire.

Meanwhile in the South, Pullitov urges his men forwards with the infamous Cossacks in the van.

The Southern units move into position, careful not to spring the trap too early. The unsuspecting Fezians are only concerned with the action in the North.

With a massed cry of 'Hurrah!' the Cossacks and the leading infantry charge into the attack. The Fezian cavalry countercharge and inflict casualties on the Rusland horsemen whilst the infantry fight is poised in the balance.

Meanwhile in the North the main Rusland force struggles to deploy into attack formation under fire from Fezian machine guns, entrenched infantry and artillery. Thus far the Fezians are holding their own and the Ruslanders are unable to make headway or use their superior numbers to any effect.

As fast as the Ruslanders deploy into attack formation so the Fezians shoot them down - casualties are beginning to mount. Can the surprise attack in the South succeed in time?

Then disaster strikes the Fezians! The entrenched infantry, with Ruslanders charging down the hill at them and with their own cavalry being hotly engaged by the Cossacks suffers a collapse in its morale and abandons its position! The Rusland infantry need no urging to rush into the position formally occupied by the Fezian infantry. The gateway to the South of Firmopoly has been opened.

In the North the Rusland infantry attempts to unsuccessfully force the Fezian trenches, aided by their artillery which is now in position. Still the Fezians cling on but casualties are mounting.

Bereft of the protection the trenches offer the retreating Fezian infantry attempt to fall back into Firmopoly but are caught in the open by Rusland rifle and artillery fire and destroyed as a fighting unit. The Cossacks overcome the last of the Fezian cavalry as another Fezian infantry unit moves into position to stem the attack.

Disaster in the North! Perhaps stunned by the rapidly mounting casualties the Commander of the main force fails to order a single unit except for his artillery. The battered infantry in the centre remain halted and stoically await their fate....

....They did not have to wait long and the end was as swift as it was merciless at the hands of the battered, but unbowed Fezian infantry.

In the South of the village a gallant unit of Fezian infantry found itself assailed by artillery, Cossacks and infantry and despite driving off the Rusland infantry with losses, was overwhelmed and destroyed.

In the North the Commander seems to have regained his nerve and two fresh battalions of infantry move up to assault the Fezian position. This time though, not only are the defenders tired and weakened but the attackers are remaining just out of range, in effect pinning the Fezians in their trenches. All the while, the Rusland artillery continues to batter the trench line.

Endgame. In an attempt to stave off defeat Pasha Ali moves a unit of infantry out of the Northern trenches to bolster the defence. It is too late. The second unit of Cossacks breaks into the town and the Rusland artillery engages the Fezian guns on the hill. The last of the Southern Fezian infantry is put to the sword and the Rusland infantry under Pullitov head for the village at top speed.  

With the defences in the South breached and the Northern trenches undermanned and battered by artillery it is only a matter of time before Firmopoly falls. With a heavy heart Pasha Ali offers his sword to Count Pullitov and surrenders. Firmopoly has fallen.


The final score in the final turn was 16 to 15 so the Fezians took the result right to the wire. In fact, it was only the artillery that saved the Ruslanders in the final turn with the casualties that overtook the Fezian score.

The Rusland Northern attack struggled with a succession of poor command rolls and so was quite laboured. As a result many of its units were targets for most of the game and unable to reply to their Fezian tormentors. Once the artillery was in place this helped enormously and so the Fezian infantry in the trenches were gradually being worn down over the course of the attack.

The Rusland Southern attack went off pretty well although also suffered from some poor command rolls. Luckily the artillery was on hand to help out and the morale collapse the Fezian infantry suffered (two flag results - they could ignore the first but had to use the second) was also a significant factor which the Ruslanders exploited gleefully.

In both cases the uncommitted infantry units (four battalions in all) would be able to swiftly move into Firmopoly and ensure that any resistance was overcome.

The Fezians did all that could be expected of them really although a bolder commander may have tried to drive off the Southern attack whilst the Northern assault was stalled - as Pasha Ali later dryly observed, Napoleon may well have thought of such a thing - the strategy of the central position - but he was no Napoleon.

Count Pullitov was decorated for his exploits but passed over for promotion initially due to the number of casualties his force suffered and how close he came to defeat.

Of Firmopoly itself after some routine ransacking and looting (especially by the Cossacks who were extremely keen to get into the town for this very reason - not from any sense of martial necessity!) the Rusland army fell back to the frontier and home. Pasha Ali was paroled and feted as a hero across Fezia for his gallant stand against the might of Rusland. He was recalled by the Sultan, awarded the Order of the Golden Heron, and is now a military adviser.

I am sure we will hear of these worthies again in due course but for now it is enough to know that whenever men speak of war and martial prowess the great battle of Firmopoly is sure to come to mind.