Saturday 24 February 2018

Sudan Project part 13 - Nile Gunboat pt1

Hiya Folks

part 12 can be found here

Now that I am nearing the end of my figure painting its time to turn my attention to the bespoke terrain I am going to need for my Sudan project. If you have been following this project you will know that I have started on Khartoum but until I can actually get back into the shed properly that part of the project is on old.

Now if you peruse or visit the Lead Adventure Forum you might be aware that each year they run a terrain building contest called aptly 'Build Something'. A few years back I entered and came fourth with my humongous volcano - remember this - the theme that year was Fire

link here

This year the contest has returned with the theme 'ill advised' - I wanted to take part but was not going to build a folly - the piece had to be useable in my Sudan project. Knowing that I wanted to build a gunboat I searched for some story that might fit with this theme...

Luck was with me when I found this about the Nile Gunboat Abbas-

Background (courtesy of this link

Some days before the city fell, Colonel John Donald Hamill Stewart took all the remaining westerners in Khartoum aboard a fortified paddle steamer called the Abbas. It was a desperate attempt to run the gauntlet of Manasir tribesmen who were on both sides of the Nile. They got past the most heavily fortified part of the blockade, but they were running low on fuel when the steamer struck a rock close to the Island of Kaniett.

The Abbas paddle steamer was in a desperate situation after stubbornly fighting its way past the most dangerous part of the blockade. Their destination was a place called Dongola and they were still some way off. A little further along the river was a smaller island called Um Dewarmat and an Arab named Sulieman – wad – Gamur invited them to land. They were offered hospitality which they accepted. While they refreshed themselves, Sulieman and his tribesmen overpowered the passengers and crew of the Abbas after a brief fight.

There were many civilians among them and all were believed to have been executed including Colonel John Donald Hamill. Not much is known of the fate that befell the unfortunate people of the gunboat Abbas, but their final moments at the hands of Sulieman’s tribesmen must have been very ghastly if their captures were allied or part of Ahmed Al-Mahdi’s Manasir tribesmen.

it was clearly an ill advised action to accept the hospitality of this Arab

So another boat project - I'll be posting details of this build here on the blog and on the LAF

First up I needed some inspiration and came across this Osprey book

The Abbas itself was a twin paddlesteamer and having read through my book most of the gunboats were about 100ft in length with a beam out to the width of the paddle boards of about 25ft. This gives an approximate scale of 50cm long x 12cm wide. My boat is going to be 46cm long (governed by length of foam core) and slighlty wider (16cm)

A base profile was cut from foamcore

and a second footprint cut (including area for paddleboards) - these were stuck together and the engine room added

the next step was to add the wooden lower deck using coffee stirrers

Once these were dry I started on the superstructure. Again this was foamcore given the timber decking treatment.

Once all the decking was dry I clipped the overhanging pieces of stirrer off. It was now starting to look boat shaped.

The 'walls' were made using cereal card which was glued and pinned to the foamcore hull. Small bits of stirrer were used to support the card 

Very happy with how it is looking at the moment

Some extra bits were added - the funnel (old plastic pipe)and a steering house on the top deck

Now it was time to move onto the paddlewheels - A piece of timber was pushed through the boat and where it meats the edge of the boat I cut in a large 8cm 'warbases' base

The paddles themselves are going to be constructed from lollipop sticks and these wooden cogs found on ebay

The first of the wheels are fitted and the second is on its way

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Sharpes Pursuit - A Fist Full of Lead AAR

Hi Folks

As promised the Shed saw its first action of 2018 last night, the temperatures in SW London hit a barmy 10 degrees outside so it was warm enough in the shed (16 degrees)

I was joined by Mark and Rolf and we had already decided that the night would witness our inaugural game of Fist Full of Lead (Horse & Musket). 

I’d had the pleasure of trialing the Western derivative of these rules a few weeks ago and was suitably impressed to invest in them myself. Not wishing to start another genre I decided the Horse &Musket period would be perfect as I can field my Napoleonics, Pirates and French Indian Wars within this timespan.

More details on the rules etc can be found here

As a ruleset they are very simple to grasp with each player controlling only a handful of figures (typically five). This is skirmish gaming with each figure representing one man. 

I wont spend too long explaining the rules but suffice to say combat is very simple and figure activation is done by standard pack of playing cards. Each player draws the number of cards for the figures he has and starting from Kings the players work down through the cards in their hand. Some of these cards have other benefits that affect the actions the players take, eg Jacks add bonuses to combat, sevens allow rerolls and sixes automatically reload weapons. Aces are of course wild.

The Cards produced by Wiley Games (but you can use any playing card deck)

To prepare for the game I prepared character reference sheets and as you can see our first game featured Richard Sharpe and his squad of riflemen.

As I decided to create a bit of a narrative for the game so Sharpe and his chums all got some special abilities and were pitched up against more numerous basic French.

Rolf took command of the Greenjackets whilst Mark & I controlled the French.

Above the Rifles Character Sheet

Below the Basic French template - did not have time to customise

What I can say is that this game delivered a wonderful narrative, it sped along at a great pace and all those taking part had great fun.

Ladies and Gentlemen doff your Shakoes and prime your muskets as I recount the story of ......

Sharpe’s Pursuit

1809 Portugal

Lieutenant Richard Sharpe having recently taken command of his small squad of rifles has been instructed by Major Hogan (the notable explorer) to meet up with a guerilla agent at a small farmhouse north of Talavera. This agent is reported to have the orders of battle for the advancing French Army commanded by Marshal Soult.

Unsurprisingly these orders would be invaluable to Wellington.

Sharpe and his men have observed the farmhouse from the outlying hills and have determined that the building appears to be occupied by a few French looters. Hopefully the spy (under the guise of Father Esperanto) is still alive and can still be secured with the papers.

Pictures of the farmhouse -

Sharpe must waste no time and get into the farm.

The Riflemen may approach the farm from any direction – they may make this decision once the French are placed

There are five French Looters – each looter rolls a d10 and places that looter that number of inches (according to the d10 direction point) from the centre of the farmhouse complex (they could be
outside the walls or inside the building)

Initially Sharpe and his men may approach unobserved but each turn the French player may roll a dice on a 4+ the British have been spotted.

As soon as any guns are discharged the French will be alert to the advancing British
The British may leave any side of the table to get to safety
(Unknown to the British )Once gunfire has been sounded a unit of French Dragoons may join the fray (they will be mounted). The number of dragoons will be the current number of riflemen minus one
They will enter randomly from one of the roads – they appear on a 6+ (with +1 per turn thereafter).
(Unknown to the British at the start of the game) Father Esperanto has unfortunately been tortured and with his dying words reveals that the Orders have been secreted in the Church of the Blessed Mother in Rosalejo some 5 miles to the west. Father Esperanto confirms that the French know as much and a rider was sent back to the Marshal

This concludes part 1 of the game followed of course by part 2

Can Sharpe get to Rosalejo before the French ?

If Sharpe is unable to secure the orders then assume that the mission to Rosalejo has been instructed by Major Hogan.

Sharpe will travel to Rosalejo he has he has all his men back under his command bar any that were killed in action (any with more than 1 wound will retain one wound)

He arrives on the Northside of the village (through the orchard)

The French arrive on the Southside at the sametime – the French have two squads of infantry (9 men plus one officer) – The officer is mounted

The orders are in the Chapel (centre of the town) in a locked chest.

Again Sharpe must collect the papers and may escape anywhere from the Northern, Easter or Western edge. The French may collect the papers but must escape along the southside of the board

So how did this play….

Lietenant Sharpe snapped shut his telescope. He’d seen all he needed. There were five French soldiers milling around the farm in the valley but no sign of Father Esperanto. The agent he had to meet to procure Marshal Soult’s orders of battle, perhaps he was hiding in the buildings.

He spoke quietly to his trusted Seargeant and directed his force towards the vineyards. He would approach from this direction in the attempt to surprise the force in front of him. The Vineyard wall would offer cover almost up to the gate.

The Rifles creep through the vineyard

His men, accustomed to this type of action crept forward. Their hands away from their triggers lest they alert the unsuspecting targets. As the British move forward towards the wall they heard a cry…’Sacre Bleu’. They had been spotted.

Quickly the British Skimishers advanced towards the gate, with Cooper and Perkins trying to gain entrance via the side building. Soon the air was popping with lead shot and the pall of gunsmoke hovered over the once tranquil Spanish Farm. Daniel Hagman, the best shot in the company kept up a steady rate of fire pinning the French in the tower.

Daniel Hagman gives covering fire behind the Vineyard wall whilst his pals advance 
By now Harris, Sharpe and Harper had reached the gate only to be encountered by fierce resistance and despite Harper's seven barrelled gun they could not get a foothold in the courtyard. These French were tough. But the diversion on the gate was working 

– Perkins had gained access to the farm and had discovered Father Esperanto tied up and beaten. He revealed that the orders were safely hidden in the Church at Rosalejo a few leagues north of the farm.

Perkins, armed with the information fled the farm and shouted to Sharpe - time to get out of here boys...they began a steady retreat

The sound of the gunfire finally alerted the local patrolling dragoons and giving no thought to the farmers produce charge headlong across the field towards the retreating British. Sharpe raises his rifle and dropped one rider as he crosses the wall.

The Dragoons give chase to the fleeing greenjackets - sporadic rifle fire forces most to dismount and withdraw to cover...all bar one who reins his horse in and charges Sharpe

Sharpe draws his cavalry blade and receives the charge....

But the Frenchman's horse knocks him to the ground and winds him (actually he died but that would spoil the story). The victorious Frenchman's smirk is soon wiped as Hagman puts a bullet between his eyes. Hagman drags his commander from the field

With the rifles fleeing the scene the French looters bravely exit the farm and take a few failed potshots

Part 2 - Events in Rosalejo

The small town of Rosalejo was a few miles from the farmstead but knowing he had no time to spare Sharpe drove his men hard towards their destination. time was of the essence and could he secure the papers before the French

The town was set up in my new gaming area so little time was taken shifting from one table to the next. Sharpe and his men come in through the Orchard. The Church is in the centre of the town

Aside from a few locals everything appeared quiet in the town...

Perkins and Hagman dashed forward to the church - the wily old poacher covering the street

By now the squad of French Soldiers had arrived in the town (picture below- left edge) and these ploughed forward into town intent on the same goal

The French pushed forward to the church

The advanced French scouts prepare to enter the church from both entrances

They charged in with loaded weapons - the noise inside the building was deafening

The next two to three turns saw the French and British wrestle over the church - five frenchmen lay in pools of blood (namely thanks to Sharpe) and Perkins, Hagman and Cooper all lay still on the church floor.

Sharpe and his blade were deadly

French Snipers were doing the damnest top stop the Brits from getting to the church but they weren't very good shots

Harper dashed into the church and grabbed the chest containing the papers - he fled into the street avoiding the fire from the advancing French troopers

Armed with the Papers seargeant Harper ran on through the Church and through the Orchard. Sharpe covering his exit. Once again the brave riflemen had done their job for King and Country....

The End

In summary  - a great game and a rulset that delivered first time round

For the next part of Sharpes story head hear

Sharpes Hazard

Monday 19 February 2018

Shed Works all done - let the games begin

So this weekend I spent the best part of two days clearing out the games shed, refurbishing the roof (thanks John) and generally getting everything ready for the start of the spring games season.

The big table isw now clear of all the rubbish

the shelves are now sorted by games, figures, rules and terrain sets

The floor has been swept and hoovered

And the shed extension has now been refurbished and has its own table ! - This can be 4ft x 4ft or 6ft x 4ft

Its all starting to look rather shipshape

First game tonight !!

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Has Photobucket finally come to its' senses?

As most bloggers know Photobucket decided to kick a nunmber of its customers in the the proverbials last year by discontinuing the service that allowed hosting of images to blogs, forums etc. The subject was done to death on the forums and significant negative press hit the main media airwaves.

Tonight I got this email ( you may recall I have a premium account which costs me about $90 per annum)

I have made the email italics

Hello ,
This message is to inform you that your Plus20 subscription has been discontinued. You will continue to keep all of your plus benefits until your expiration date. In order to stay current post expiration, we ask that you upgrade to one of our latest plans.
We've been working on some exciting new stuff for 2018, including a new plan which offers additional benefits at a far greater value.
As a valued customer, we are offering this plan as a preview to you before our official rollout.
You asked and we listened. Photobucket is launching a brand new website from the ground up with increased features, ease of use, and unrivaled performance. Here's a sneak peak of what's coming shortly.
Thank you for your continued business and please do not hesitate reaching out with any questions.

Have questions? We are happy to help! Email

So I had a sneak peak
and this is what they are offering....

it appears the service they were threatening to take away has been restored...
Phew...and what a PR disaster

Thursday 8 February 2018

Sudan project part 12 - British Camel Corps

Morning All

part 11 can be found here

Hot on the heels of the Egyptian Infantry we have one of the more Iconic units of the Sudan campaign - The British Camel Corps

Once again I have elected to use the Perry Miniature range and after some careful calculations worked out the optimum number for my purchase. 

These have all been given the serge grey blue tunics of the time with the rather spiffy looking mustard coloured cords. I have to say these were a real joy to paint and were turned around in about four evenings of hard painting.

Out of interest I have copied this short summary from wikipedia

The British forces consisted of the 1,100 British of the Desert Column under Sir Herbert Stewart, against a Sudanese force of approximately 12,000 fighters. While the main British force (the River Column), led by General Sir Garnet Wolseley travelled by river from Korti to Khartoum, Stewart's column was to cut across country by column directly for Khartoum, since time was running short according to what little information was available from the garrison.The force was composed of four regiments of camel-mounted troops (Guards, Heavy, Light and Mounted Infantry), detachments of the various infantry regiments in Egypt and of the River Column, and a detachment of the 19th Hussars, mounted on horses. Four light field pieces and a small Naval Brigade manning a Gardner machine gun completed the force.

The good news is that I already have the Hussars (not shown yet), the artillery pieces (shown in British Infantry post) and the Naval units (to be finished).

Up first we have a dozen riders (this equates to one regiment so there is plenty of scope to add more !)

The basing on these represents a departure from my usual format. Usually I base all my cavalry individually on single bases (25 x 50mm) but because I ran out of these I decided to mount half the unit in pairs. Quite happy with the result and will probably do this forward going.

Of course I needed these guys to be able to dismount and fight so a couple of packs of dismounted units were procured. These packs come in packs of 6 - I bought three of them giving me eighteen figures. Twelve were used to make this unit. 

The plan will be to transfer these to more skirmish style trays with a larger footprint.

Finally I bought two packs of camels kneeling with their guards (2). These along with the remaining six dismounted riders were used to create four bases of troopers defending their mounts. These have been set up so they can either form a firing line or a square

Rather fortuitously the square in the middle is exactly the same size as one of the infantry units so these can be dropped in to complete the complement of twelve

So the final shots are of the total unit - in theory I could use these as tywo units (or even three on the table)

I am now getting very close to finishing the core army - just the Naval units to finish and some Bashi Bazouki irregulars

Still can't help thinking I dont have enough Dervishes....

More soon

part 13 here