Sunday, 14 August 2022
Sunday, 7 August 2022
Wednesday, 3 August 2022
Sunday, 31 July 2022
Sunday, 24 July 2022
Monday, 18 July 2022
Men at Arms, Retinue Archers, Shire Archers, Shire Bill, Welsh Spearmen, German Pikemen
Our plan was simple. The Main attack would go in against the Yorkist left, recently weakened by the defection, and in the centre. Meanwhile, our left-hand battle would simply hold the Yorkist units in place and prevent them from disrupting my attack in the centre. Archers on both sides were thrown out front and while the foot units advanced, would keep ahead of them and do as much damage as they could to the enemy.
Stuart's rules are IGYO so whoever won the initiative rolls would get to move first, and crucially in the early stages, fire first. Here Ray was luckier winning several early turns of initiative and weakening our archers. However, our dice rolls with fewer archers were blessed and we managed to do more or less equal damage back. So far so good for the Lancastrians.
Ray knew he was outnumbered in his centre and flank and could only hope to do well in melee - the dice gods would decide the fate of the Yorkists this day.
In the centre Rays mounted knights were hit by archers, losing 25% to Lancastrian longbows. Realising he would face more of this Ray wisely pulled his knights back behind the hill they were on, presumably so he could launch a charge if I were unwise enough to crest the hill and come into view. However, this left his billmen on either side rather exposed and I was pressing forward to exploit this.
But the first sets of Melee’s would take place on the Lancastrian right as Steve and Ray had both moved forward there. When Steve’s battle did make contact with the weakened Yorkist left flank he managed to get a numerical advantage in the fight…made all the more effective by some incredible dice rolls. The Yorkist Battle on the flank was thrown back decisively.
This meant that I could effectively ‘borrow’ the recently defected Welsh Pikemen from the left of his Battle to support my attack in the centre which would happen in the following turn.
But Ray had by now decided that victory was not to be his and conceded before the bloodshed began. I think it was a wise decision…especially as the heat in the shed was built to a crescendo by this point!
Sunday, 17 July 2022
Wednesday, 13 July 2022
Sunday, 10 July 2022
Sunday, 3 July 2022
Friday, 1 July 2022
Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Sunday, 26 June 2022
Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Sunday, 19 June 2022
Sunday, 12 June 2022
Wednesday, 8 June 2022
Hollywood meets History
Fascination with the French Foreign Legion started long before Percival Christopher Wren’s novel Beau Geste was published in 1924. French troops in faraway exotic cities like Algiers & Oran to the almost semi-mythical Timbuktu could hardly fail to excite the imagination. But Wren's story of high adventure - set in pre-1914 French Algeria - took the romantic image to a new level, and it wasn’t long before the first screen adaption of his book was made in 1926 starring Ronald Coleman. Part of the success of the book was due to the detail of military life that Wren wove into his story, prompting unproven claims that he himself served in the Legion. A second adaptation of the story, starring Gary Cooper, was released in 1939 and this cemented the romantic image of the Foreign Legion in popular culture. However, the real story of this period of French Colonial history is much more interesting.
For much of the 19th Century, the government in Paris had been divided between liberals who saw no real need for expansion into North Africa and a conservative pro-colonization party that wanted land, no matter the cost. After the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian War, military adventurism in Europe was (for the time being at least) held in check and ambitious politicians and eager young officers looked outward for glory and career advancement opportunities.
French control of Algeria was maintained by the Armée d’Afrique. This consisted mostly of indigenous Arab or Berber volunteers as Mounted Spahis, Goumiers and Irregular infantry or Tirailleurs. These were supported by regiments of French settlers doing their military service (Zouaves and Chasseurs d'Afrique) and the non-French volunteers of the French Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère). It was not uncommon for officers in remote postings to overreact to minor incidents as a pretext for glory and the chance of promotion. And once these ‘French’ troops had taken a region, the government in Paris couldn’t abandon conquered territory without losing face. In this way, France acquired colonial conquests in a haphazard and unplanned fashion that has been described as an “orgy of military indiscipline”.
After the initial bloody occupation of the Touat, the tribes that had relied on trade with the region inevitably began to push back. The French occupiers had upset the delicate economics of the Sahara. To sustain their military forces the Armée d’Afrique was forced to transport vast amounts of supplies to a region that could barely support the local population, let alone their new European masters. This necessitated the acquisition of tens of thousands of camels, up to 40% of which died on the long treks south. For many Berbers, the majority of their personal wealth was invested in their camels. The requisitioning of animals lost to poor handling and often without adequate compensation, was a ruinous policy for many. In addition, the water of the Oasis chain could not sustain all the extra troops and camels, so the French sunk artesian wells which lowered the water table, simultaneously drying out the ground and creating stagnant disease-ridden pools on the surface. Little wonder that many of the indigenous population turned to raid as the only way to support their families.
Between 1904-7 BrigGen Lyautey was given increasing freedom of action with French military posts pushed further and further westwards, even across the debatable border into Morocco. On two occasions he reported the creation of recon outposts (soon to become permanent forts) using unmapped local names to conceal how far west he had pushed. Thus he ignored the official policy of the Foreign Ministry in Paris by shaping policy on the ground. Meanwhile, the rail line moved ever further south and west eventually, reaching Bechar in 1905. This supplied operations in the region for many years to come and solidified French control of this previously contested land.
With French incursions into Morocco, the Sultan began to face growing anti-french sentiment but was impotent to do anything about it. Corruption, lack of money and incompetence made the problem worse, eventually putting Europeans living in the major cities in danger. The French were eventually ‘forced’ to react, occupying Casablanca in 1907. This increased Arab anger both at the French and the Sultan, eventually resulting in a rival Sultan being proclaimed and a call for Jihad against the French. The Arabs were eventually defeated but by the end of 1908 the Sultan had abdicated, his wannabe usurper was dead, and Morocco was firmly on the road to becoming a French Protectorate.
The Beau Hunks Rules:
Whenever L&H end their movement in contact with an officer one of the players (or guest) around the table will draw 2 Chance Cards. There are three types of cards in the Chance deck:
- Jeanie-Weenie Cards - Pictures of the unfaithful heartbreaker, each dedicated to a different lover! Laurel & Hardy will gain Victory Points for each Jennie-Weenie card collected and if they get enough to win the game Hardy decides she wasn’t worth it after all and they get out of the Foreign Legion.
- Event Cards - Rare but significant events that affect all the units on the table.
Laurel and Hardy will gain Victory Points for each Jeanie-Weenie card found and could, potentially be declared the winners of the game, leaving the players to contest second and third place!
Recommended Historical Reading List:
Douglas Porch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1984)
Our Friends Beneath the Sands
Martin Windrow (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2010)
Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion
Martin Windrow (Blandford Press 1981)
The French Foreign Legion 1872-1914 Men-at-Arms Series No.461
Martin Windrow (Osprey 2010)
French Foreign Legionnaire 1890-1914 Warrior Series No.157
Martin Windrow (Osprey 2011)
Files for download:
- Show Leaflet
- TMWWBK's Quick Reference Sheet
- Unit Block Labels
- Beau Hunks Card Deck
- Askari Miniatures Guide to North African Dress (pdf file)
- French Foreign Legion Uniform Guide by 1898 Miniatures
- How to Paint French Foreign Legion by 1898 Miniatures
- French Foreign Legion Organisation Charts 1900-1914
- The Tuareg-Wanderers of the Desert (from Swiss Air Gazzette 1984)
Sunday, 5 June 2022
Saturday, 4 June 2022
Sunday, 29 May 2022
Tuesday, 24 May 2022
Friday, 20 May 2022
Several members of the Rejects will be going and some of us will even be wearing our Rejects shirts with our names and the group logo on them, so please feel free to ambush us and say hello. I for one don't expect to get much shopping done as I am looking forward to a whole day of chin-wagging with friends new and old.
Sunday, 15 May 2022
Thursday, 12 May 2022
A few nights ago the Rejects gather online (rather than in the Shed-o-War) for an evening of WWII fighter combat. Richard (of My Wargaming Habit fame) hosted the game using Zoom as the medium for five of us to join and play. We played this very simple game a month ago and had such a good time Richard decided to do it again.
The result was unfortunately a German victory, but the real winners were all the participants as we had a really good time cheering each other on. I'm pretty sure my neighbours must have been wondering what all the noise was about, given that this was an evening game 😆.
Well done to Richard for hosting this fun little evening event.
Tuesday, 10 May 2022
I thought I would drop a sneak peek of a game the Rejects played over the weekend. For several years now we have run a Demonstration game at the Broadside Wargames Show (formerly in Sittingbourne, now in Gillingham, Kent). The last Broadside was in December 2021 and Richard ran an excellent French Revolution game using his own set of rules (see article and video HERE). Then the baton was passed to me to come up with a game for this year's Show, just six months later! Anyone that has followed this blog, or my YouTube Channel Miniature Adventures TV, will know that I have been working on French Foreign Legion in 15mm as my project for the show.
For the Demo Game, I will actually be running two sets of rules (yes folks, two for the price of one!). The main battle uses The Men Who Would Be Kings as the base ruleset with a handful of minor rules tweaks for this game. Overlaying this is an entirely silly (and deliberately comic) card-driven game featuring the legendary comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. They must move around the table looking for evidence of the infidelity of Ollie's unfaithful heartbreaker, Jeenie-Weenie. Whenever they encounter a French Officer, someone will draw two cards from the Beau Hunks inspired deck of chance cards. Some of these cards affect one side or the other, some just affect Laurel and Hardy and a few a more general Event cards. All feature comic scenes from the film Beau Hunks and their other films. If you happen to be passing our demo game at the show, expect to be roped in to draw the cards, sing one of the Duo's theme songs or do a little dance!
So, back to the practice game.... A big thank you to Ray (of Don't Thow a One fame) for sharing these pictures. I was so busy running things I didn't take any pictures at all! The session on Sunday was really useful because it gave me some much-needed practice umpiring a game with a rowdy (but good-natured) bunch of gamers. It also revealed several small mistakes with the QRS I was using and threw up a useful to-do list of minor changes I want to make for the Demo game itself.
That's it for now, more will be revealed on the day. It goes without saying that we would love it if you could come along and see our efforts at Broadside on the 4th of June at the Medway Park Sports Centre, ME7 1HF.
Sunday, 8 May 2022
Sunday, 1 May 2022
Sunday, 24 April 2022
Sunday, 17 April 2022
Sunday, 10 April 2022
Sunday, 3 April 2022
Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Tuesday, 29 March 2022
The Setup & OOB
The British forces are a mix of Regulars, Light Infantry, provincials and civilians. They are dispersed across much of the table with the Line troops concentrated around the construction site for a new fort. They also have a unit of friendly Indians hiding in nearby woods. The French have a mixed force with Marines, Militia, Coureur de Bois and a sizable Indian contingent.
The British players (Myself, Ray and Mark) start the game not knowing where the French may attack from, and based on previous games, fully expecting to have to defend at various points around the table edge. I don't know if Stuart gave the French players (Steve & Surjit) much choice in deployment but they decided to attack with everything from one direction. The British had to wait a couple of turns to be absolutely sure that this was the only attack, before drawing reserves away from the other roads and this delay proved crucial for the outcome of the game.
|The setup (picture gratefully borrowed from Ray's blog, Don't Throw a 1)|
|French troops and Indians press forward sending British Militia and Civilians running for their lives.|
|The 44th start to form up and move towards the battle, but having waited for two turns to be certain of the French attack, maybe it is too late?|
|The French press quickly into the town, with British stragglers ruthlessly cut down. Casualties are mounting and as the victory points for this game are purely based on kills, this is already a one-sided game for the British.|
|The British now see the direction of the attack and try to concentrate their forces. The 44th have reached the rear of the defensive line and started to consolidate into a formed unit blocking the road.|
|Formed up like this both lines can fire and with a bonus for volley fire...but only if they can get close enough to fire on the invaiders.|
|The British have a strong looking defensive line, but the light is fading and the French decide their raid has been a success. The Victory points agree! British 62 pts to a massive 132 pts for the French|
|The winners. Steve and Surjit after a well-deserved win. Steve's ability to roll hits was so impressive he won Man-of-the-Match, hence the happy look on his face.|
An excellent game, with some beautiful terrain and figures from Posties collection. As a British player, I was of course hoping for a different result, but the points at the end showed this as a clear win for the French, not least because they won the Initiative in all but one turn of the game.