August was a busy month in real life so hobby progress has been slow. Been clearing the house and packing things away in preparation for putting the house on the market, as well as having a number of family events and a pleasant break with a few days away. Managed to get a few pieces done though.
Qin cavalry, fairly quick paint job on them.
No matter how often I brush them off there always manages to be a stray bit of static grass somewhere on the models when I photo!
Took another pass at the 15mm Tanuki archers to brighten them up a bit. Much happier with them now.
Over to the Valley of Mexico, these guys are the bodyguard of the Tlatoani (the king) and the mightiest warriors with the most captives under their belts:
Yes the basing was still wet when I took these pictures. I’ll be taking better ones when the whole army is finished, which shouldn’t be too long now.
2 Trojan War units next. This is a bit of a cheat, while I painted most of them in August, one or two figures were held up in the post before I could properly finish them so they were completed in September.
From the hollow lands and valleys of Lacedaemon:
And from the island of Salamis:
As with my other Trojan War ones, I’ll finish basing at the end so please ignore the bits of bluetac on the spearmen base as they would not stand up straight no matter how much I filed the bases!
That’s it for August. I have a few units done already for Septembers batch, but they’ll have to await the next update as depending how house clearing goes they may be all I have to show for this month!
A relief bringing cool breeze* swept lazily over the hot, dusty plains of Dorylaeum in the summer of 1097. To the east stood the forces of Kilij Arslan upon their innumerable steeds. To the west stood the glittering battle line of Bohemond’s vanguard of crusaders, protecting the camp that lay directly behind them by the marshy banks of the Thymbris river. Many miles behind them camped the main force of the Crusaders with Godfrey. Seeing the mounted hordes of Turks on the horizon, Bohemond sent messengers to Godfrey requesting aid, and prayed to God that they could hold off the Turks long enough for him to arrive. It would be a long day.
*i.e. a standing fan.
The battle opened with the Turks surging forward on their right flanks, the swarms of horse archers supported by the small contingent of heavy cavalry led by Kilij himself. Their left flank proved slower off the mark, somehow missing the order to advance and lingering by the river overlong.
The knights, seeing the advancing enemy, charge forward recklessly to meet them. Brave as they are, the storm of arrows that come their way from the Turkish archers catches them off guard and drives them back. It is all Bohemond can do to rally them and get them back in the fight.
The horse archers continue to unleash their arrows into the charging knights, causing confusion and disorder among them. As the knights close with the light horsemen they throw their spears and skewer a few of the screaming pagans with their unholy demonic cry of “Allah Akbarghhhhhh…”, while those with lances lower them into couch positions and prepare to drive through them when they seem to just melt away. The cries of “Deus Vult!” die in their throats as their disordered ranks find themselves facing the well formed ranks of Kilij Arsalan’s elite heavy cavalry, who unleash a hail of arrows themselves before charging to meet the intruding Europeans. The horse archers charge up the slopes and attempt to sweep round the flanks of the Crusaders, though are slowed by a few lucky shots from the defending crossbowmen.
The Turkish horse archers on the left finally rouse themselves and begin to move forwards, not liking the look of the heavy cavalry melee nor the solid line of shields and spears that was the infantry, they plunged into the marshy river grounds, attempting to use the terrain to flank around the enemy. They gain some success, with the two sides exchanging potshots at each other as they moved past.
The melee between the two heavy cavalry forces continues, with the battle ebbing back and forth throughout the morning. The Crusaders seem to be getting the better of the fight to the North, but to the South the Turks are pushing the knights back towards the lines of infantry. Both sides are in rough shape, but the Turks take courage from the sight of the horse archers flowing around the enemy infantry and towards the camp at their rear.
The melee continues with both sides taking heavy losses, but a group of knights manage to reform and charge deep into Kilij’s Guard Cavalry, and with a roar of triumph drive them from the field. Kilij moves to take control of another group of his heavy cavalry, these fresh from fertilising the valley floor with the blood of the infidels and attempts to turn back and attack the knights in the flank, but as he turns another group barge into him at a charge, disrupting his troops and engaging in a frantic combat. The knights prevail and from their midst the one known as Tancred, nephew of Bohemond, launches himself at Kilij in mortal combat. The two fight valiently, but the Norman proves the stronger fighter and slays the great Sultan, raising his bloodied spear in victory to God Almighty and screaming his victory cries. Urged on by his glorious combat, the knights drive the remaining Turkish heavy cavalry from the field.
Meanwhile, Bohemond, aware now of the Turkish flanking action, sent word to the infantry to fall back to defend the camp. They turn about and start a march back towards the camp, exchanging fire with the swarming horse archers as they do. The Turkish horse fall upon the camp, but the Crusader infantry aren’t too far behind and attempt to drive them off. Bohemond turns his knights around and rushes to join the infantry in the defense of the camps.
The horse archers run rampant through the camp and attack the infantry from a distance, but just as they feel their victory is assured a dust cloud on the horizon materialises into a contingent of knights charging down the valley at them. More worryingly still, the dust cloud behind them seems considerably larger. Where did these knights come from? There surely can’t be another Crusader army coming?!
Godfrey arrives at the head of the army, having charged well ahead of the rest of the troops. As his knights join him in drips and drabs the Turkish horse archers gather to try and drive back this new threat and give themselves space to flee, while the Crusader infantry closes in behind them and the original knights, tired though ebullient, begin moving around their flanks.
More knights continue to arrive down the valley as the noose closes tighter around the now panicking horsemen. With the full forces of the Crusaders bearing down on them, slaughtering them in their hundreds, and no sign of their great Sultan anywhere, the horse archers break and flee into the hills and marshes. The pursuit lasts long into the evening as the rest of the army arrive, eager for blood, while the weary victors plunder the camp of the great Sultan.
God clearly smiled down upon this mighty crusading endeavour.
All in all a good fun game. I used Hail Caesar as the rule set as I’d not had a game of it in around a year and a half. The scenario I designed worked out well, though I may make a few tweaks if I play it again. It gave a good fun game and I think had the Turks not been so sluggish on their left for the first few turns it could have gone a different way. For the scenario I decided the Turks could have a minor victory if they managed to plunder the Crusader camp for a few turns without being driven off, and a major one if they were able to break and drive off the Crusaders. The Crusaders would have a minor victory by just holding on until Godfrey’s full army arrived on Turn 10, though I had units of knights charging ahead of the main force start arriving from Turn 6 on a dice roll (6+ Turn 6, 5+ Turn 7, 4+ Turn 8, etc). If I play again, which I hope to some day, I’d probably make a few tweaks. I would perhaps add another unit of heavy cavalry to the Turks, or, possibly more likely, reduce the number and strength of the Crusader infantry. I had the infantry causing a -1 to-hit on ranged attacks which made them very difficult to damage. I had a special rule (that I didn’t use) that the knights could be ordered to dismount and join the infantry, which would convert them from medium to heavy infantry units, on reflection I should probably have kept the -1 to-hit for then too, though perhaps a faster acting Turkish action could have collapsed the Crusader flanks as at least one unit was on the verge of being Shaken. I will have to play again sometime to see.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did playing it and as ever, thanks for reading!
P.S. if you want to read about the real history that inspired this battle you can do so here.
Been able to keep things reasonably productive this month. Even got in a couple of games, some thinking around various projects and plenty of ideas for more projects in future. I’ve still been mostly using a dice roll to determine what my next piece of painting will be, though upped from a d6 to a d8 to include some bits that had been languishing unloved for a little too long. The two new additions came up during the month so that worked out well.
Ulster Protestant League Machine Gunner:
Civilian Militia – these will work as infantry for the socialist/communist factions as well as general militia defending their homes and maybe some guerilla fighters:
Figures all Pendraken.
I think these are 35mm. The zombies from the original Zombicide game were some of the first figures I painted as was easy to cover up all the mistakes with bloodstains! Don’t think I’ve ever photographed them, but definitely having an easier time with these now after a few years experience. One day I’ll get photos of the original ones done.
Not sure what to do with the bases, just gone with a sandy brown for now then will maybe do something with them once I’ve them all painted so it’s consistent.
Nine down, sixty two to go…
15mm Tanuki (Japanese Racoon Dog) Archers for a HotT army based around Japanese Folklore. Not entirely happy with these, they’re a little too dark still, and the colours aren’t quite popping like I want. Think I’ll maybe redo them with dark browns rather than the dark grey and add some patterns to the clothes. Figures from Alternative Armies.
Some more of Pendraken’s lovely Aztec range, this colourful unit is led by the warrior priests who had a whole different military and rank structure from the secular military forces. I already had some of these painted up previously but finished off the rest of the units and based them all.
The poor slinger at the front has a bit of grass in his face, but like a true warrior he’s still slinging away.
As this is a somewhat finite project (naivety I’m sure) being based around the combatants in the Trojan War I’ve gone with bigger bases with the aim of doing more diorama style, especially for some of the more famous characters and units. At 80×40 they’ll still fit comfortably on a dining table sized game but give a bit more space for laying out, especially when it comes to chariots, amazons and great heroes. Using them with TtS! to start with though may try with other rules too.
First up is a reasonably simple unit of bronze age axemen I’m using as Halizonian troops on the Trojan side, led by Odius and Epistrophus. They are from Alybe far away, where is the birth-place of silver thought to be somewhere on the Black Sea. Not much else is known of them but quite liked the idea of some axemen in the mix so seemed as good a fit as any.
The leader has an axe made of that strange metal that falls from the stars, or iron as we now know it. They did have iron in the bronze age, just didn’t know how to smelt it from ore so pure sources were rare and precious, usually from meteorites.
I’ll likely add some grass tufts and scene dressing to the base down the line, but want to do them all together for the project so it’s consistent. So just a basic sandy brown for now.
Also did up a unit of archers. Both sets of figures are from MM, though have some figures from Newline on order for a lot of the units.
Pyraechmes led the Paeonians with their curved bows, from distant Amydon and the banks of the Axius, its waters the loveliest that flow on earth.
These 2mm beauties have been in my procrastination pile for a while, mostly as I needed to get out the airbrush to prime them all. Glad I did. Russians all done for the Crimea, French next.
2mm really does look good for massed battles, and can paint up a load in one sitting.
Also made use of a few of them for a super mini game of Black Powder (about 20cm a side for the game mat):
This was start of turn 2, the reds hold the village and repulsed a cavalry charge by the browns at the hill.
The battle for the village intensifies.
End of game, remaining Browns circled as they break and retreat.
In my continued quest to pretty up my tables a bit with some terrain, I’ve put together a couple of hills, as well as painted up all of my 2mm terrain and building pieces.
And some 2mm terrain and building bits:
I have a pack of 2mm river sections (that should work okay as streams elsewhere) primed blue but not yet painted. I’ve also picked up a few 2mm pike and shot units which the above will work well with also.
Just in under the wire this month, got these two bases of Qin infantry done:
Plans for Next Month
Keep rolling the dice and see what comes up! I’ll continue painting through my collection mostly guided by the dice roll against 8 different projects. There are quite a few other projects I’d like to start but trying to resist the temptation until I can get a few of these ones done to a playable phase 1.
I also need to get varnishing, the weather has been pretty changeable so I’m about two months behind on varnishing.
I hope to get a game or two in as well. Some more mini games with the 2mm might be fun, though would be good to get a bigger game out as well and use the hills.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve played a game and even longer since I played a game of TtS so since I have recently finished a slew of crusades forces it seemed a good time to get a game on the table.
This game fit nicely on the kitchen table with a 12×8 grid of 100mm squares and I was able to utilise some of my newly made terrain pieces and newly acquired chits.
To the Strongest uses an activation system whereby each unit under command attempts to activate until it fails, at which point activation switches to the next command. The game is intended to use a deck of cards for this and while I do like this variety from using dice, it requires a fair bit of space to place the cards down with the units. The author suggests chits or d10 can be used for smaller scale games and I’ve opted to use the chits here for activations while retaining the deck for combat. This worked reasonably well, though I will probably attempt to use a d10 for combat in future too for comparison.
The forces today are two evenly matched armies at 130 points each. The Crusaders have a smaller, tougher force of heavy infantry and knights, while the Saracens have swarms of cavalry backed up with a mob of poor quality infantry. It’s an age old match up of quality vs quantity.
The cavalry heavy armies of the Saracens edge out the slower moving Crusaders in the scouting department and take the first move. Hoping to deny the enemy the centre and unleash a flurry of arrows before pulling away the Saracens surge forwards towards the Christian lines.
The advance goes well, but before they can get into bow range horses and men start screaming and falling. A wall of steel tipped death roars towards them as the crusader infantry unleash their deadly crossbows into the face of the advancing cavalry. The light cavalry are no match for such an onslaught and are cut down in droves before fleeing in panic.
The Crusaders feel victory in their grasp and while their original plan of securing their flanks with the terrain in the centre is stalled, their flanks take advantage of the panic to sweep forward, the Holy Orders keen to wet their blades with the blood of the heathens.
The advance on the flanks puts the Saracens on the backfoot as they struggle to reform their lines and prepare a counter attack. However, Crusader arrogance pushes the Christian knights into overextending themselves, pushing too far forward and separating themselves from their support. The Templars find themselves cut off and surrounded multiple flanks with horse archers swirling away from them unleashing their arrows. The Knights of Jerusalem and Turcopoles find themselves being potshot on the flank and the Hospitaliers grind against the Islamic infantry on the far side. The Crusader infantry attempts to move up to support the Knights, taking a few shots at swirling horsemen ahead of them but soon running dry on ammunition after their initial bombardment. With the solid line behind them the cavalry push forward against the enemy, wounding the enemy captain but not breaking their resolve.
Despite the forward momentum of the Christians, the Saracen forces are able to seize the initiative again and the infantry hordes run forward to swamp the tired knights while the cavalry forces on the Saracen right break through the Crusader cavalry, wounding then eventually killing their captain, wiping out the Crusader left and threatening to roll up the line if infantry that is starting to look a little more shakey.
The Hospitaliers, worn out from their long fight, pull back to let fresh reserves of knights take their place against the masses of Ghazi warriors and Islamic levies, though to little effect.
On the Saracen right, the cavalry line up for a charge while the horse archers disrupt the infantry with well placed archery. The cavalry charge again and again, and while the Christian infantry prove resilient they are pushed back and eventually, worn down by the onslaught of lance and bow, broken.
With one flank destroyed and the other ground to a halt, and with the infantry shaken and breaking, the General calls for the retreat. God was not with the Crusaders this day and they flee the field in the shame of defeat.
All in all it was a good game with a close fought matchup. At first I thought the Crusaders were in for a sweeping victory after a successful first few turns and a series of poor activations for the Saracens but fortunes soon changed and with Crusader ammo reserves running dry the Saracens were able to use their superior numbers to surround and destroy the Christians. The quality vs quantity played out well with the Saracens able to absorb greater losses while every destroyed Crusader unit bit deeply into their remaining victory points.
The chit and card combo worked well, the chits fit well into the small grid without looking too intrusive and the cards gave a rapid play drama to the combat and saves.
I probably got a few things wrong, I suspect I made an illegal move or two and I’m not sure I used generals entirely correctly. I forgot all about the strategems for much of the game, or rather I kept thinking I must use them only after they would have been useful! Awh well.
I’m looking forward to getting these rules on the table more with a couple of in progress projects aimed at making use of them, and it was nice to be able to fit the game on the kitchen table without having to set up large tables. Making the grid is still a bit of a faff so think I’ll start marking out permanent grids in future and make my own boards and mats for some of the smaller projects.
As I’m being kept awake by Eleventh Night celebrations nearby it seems like as good a time as any to start on the factions for my alt history 1938 Northern Ireland. This post will talk about the “official” government, or at least what’s left of it, as the nation begins to fracture. If you’re interested in the broader background you can find it in my previous post.
The main defining feature of the LDSNI is their loyalty. They are the loyalest of the loyal loyalists. It doesn’t quite matter who or what it is they are loyal to, just that there is an overwhelming sense of loyalty. It’s in their very DNA. For many in the troubling times of the AVBCW universe knowing who or what to be loyal to has become a difficult question, but for the LDSNI government they know they are Loyal, Protestant and British and that’s all that matters. Once the silly English with their disloyal civil war work out just what being British means, they’ll be happy to give their loyalty to them again. For now though, they are loyal to God and Ulster and Tradition*.
Formed from the Ulster Unionist government, “a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State”, that ruled the province from Stormont, this is certainly the most powerful faction at the start of the period. Led by Prime Minister James Craig, the Viscount Craigavon, the government is made up entirely of wealthy Protestant Orangemen and very much reflects the views and outlook of the Unionist Protestant Ascendancy. The Orange Order, a quasi-masonic Irish Protestant organisation named in tribute to a Dutch king, plays a large role in the political makeup of the government, with all MPs being Orangemen and key advisors hailing from the Grand Lodge Council.
Moving quickly to reform the local military regiments left behind by the British withdrawn, namely the Royal Ulster Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, into a new military force, the Loyal Ulster Defenders (LUD), they seize as much abandoned military hardware as they can and direct the two former Fusilier regiments to set up a military headquarters in their barracks in Omagh with the aim of securing the border, while the former Rifles secure a base around their newly built barracks in the loyalist heartland of Ballymena. This means their military is the best armed, trained and equipped in the province.
With chaos erupting in Belfast with the socialist uprising, and the West becoming a hotbed of Irish Republican revolution, the LDSNI are shocked to find the South East, a good solid Protestant region, declaring against them with the formation of the UPL.
With Belfast proving to be less than salubrious, they are forced to consider withdrawing northwards to set up a new capital at Ballymena until they can muster their forces to secure their position and push back against the rebels. Confident that the socialists will soon tire themselves out with riot and revolution and soon turn to internal bickering, their focus is primarily directed towards the Republican threat in the West, with Donegal in revolt, Londonderry at war with Derry across the banks of the Foyle and the new LUD forces at Omagh in a precarious position as IDRA militants pop up all around them. Securing those positions and reinforcing the border of the T-Line spitting Ireland in three is crucial lest the two Southern behemoths arise from their cold war slumber and strike northwards.
The LDSNI and LUD don’t stand alone. Loyalists and Orangemen across the province have risen up to support their government and formed their own paramilitary organisations. The most prominent is that of the Loyal Ulster Volunteers, or ‘Luvvies’ as they’ve come to be known (out of earshot). They are led by the eccentric (self styled) Grand Marshal William King, a man with a penchant for dressing up in 17th century garb and riding his horse everywhere, behaviour which would have led to ridicule were he not also the sort of man whose head seemed to merge with his shoulders without the need for an intervening neck and who posessed a glare that would be banned by the Geneva Convention. The heady combination of fear and awe that he inspires encourages many in the community to join the Luvvies and swear loyalty to, rather worryingly, Billy, God and Ulster.
Regardless, these paramilitaries could support the thinly spread LDSNI wherever they are able, provided their goals, beliefs and Traditions continue to align. There are rumblings, however, within the government that “The King” may have grander ambitions than mere support of the status quo. Not only that, others within the government question just where their loyalties lie. To the ill favoured King Edward? Or the newly declared Prince Bertie? Or to a higher power like Calvinists of old? Crisis has brought the government together to face a threat but whether the enemy without also raises enemies within remains to be seen.
*This seems to involve a lot of red faced men in silly black hats and orange sashes marching around with drums and pipes and setting things on fire. This may be somewhat confusing to outsiders but it’s okay because it’s Traditional and part of their Culture and is therefore completely excusable.
There’ll be more posts on the other major factions in future, and I’ve started planning out the first few games of the campaign. It’ll be a good while before in ready to play them out but that’ll give me plenty of time to flesh out the world a bit more. It seems the racket outside has died down so that’ll do me for tonight!
The aim of this post is to provide some background to my AVBCW project in Ireland, primarily Northern Ireland/Ulster. This is still a bit of a work in progress, but think I’ve got the general background worked out now.
For those unfamiliar with the world of “A Very British Civil War” it is an alternative history scenario, wherein King Edward VIII does not abdicate in 1936 causing Parliament and the CoE to take a huff with him, so he installs Oswald Mosley, of the British Union of Fascists, as Prime Minister. Many people consider this an affront to tea and crumpets and good British sense so England fractures into a staggering array of squabbling factions, Scotland declares independence, then fractures into a few squabbling factions itself, Wales implodes, the Cornish secede, Communists pop up everywhere, Prince Bertie invades at the head of a Canadian army, and Ireland annexes Ulster.
Essentially it’s like if P.G. Wodehouse wrote the Spanish Civil War and peopled it with Dad’s Army and the People’s Front of Judea…
The Irish aspect of this always struck me as a bit dull. Given the zany antics of the rest of the British isles, it seemed a shame that Ireland was given such short shrift. Now to be fair Ireland has had its fair share of bloody internecine conflict through the real 20th Century, something I well know having grown up during the tail end of the euphemistically named “Troubles”, and still see the legacy of it all around, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be poked at lampooning stereotypes. I have no intention to cause anyone offence and the factions will be mostly fictional or heavily fictionalised versions of the history, and certainly not intended to be taken in any way seriously.
To that end, I’ve come up with a slightly altered version of the timeline. The events on the mainland proceed much as the standard narrative suggests, but there’s a few key divergences in Ireland. The primary one is a very different outcome to the Irish Civil War.
Real Irish History 1922 – 1937
In our timeline, after the Irish War of Independence, the British and Irish put together the Anglo-Irish Treaty that would make Ireland (excluding the 6 North Eastern counties) a Free State, though still nominally part of the British Commonwealth and still swearing allegiance to the monarchy. Those favouring the treaty saw it as a sensible stepping stone to full independence in future given how close they were to surrendering to the British at the end of the war, while those opposed felt it was giving into British demands and would accept nothing less than an all-island independent republic as declared during the Easter Rising.
When the treaty was ratified by a majority of just 7 votes in the Irish parliament, the Anti-Treaty members who had lost the vote walked out. Tensions continued to rise between the Anti and Pro treaty sides in the run up to the 1922 elections. Any attempts at reconciliation were scuppered by British insistence that the treaty terms must be followed to the letter and no republican constitution could be made. When the Pro-Treaty party won the elections, those tensions came to a head and violence broke out.
The Anti-Treaty forces consisted of around 12,000 men, mostly IRA veterans, while the Pro-Treaty forces numbered around 8000 former IRA and WW1 veterans. The AT forces held much of the south and west of the country, but despite the higher numbers and more land held, they were poorly equipped and uncoordinated. The PT forces, with arms, vehicles and equipment shipped over by the British, were able to grow the newly formed National Army into a much more effective fighting force and eventually overwhelm and defeat the AT forces, ending the conflict a year after it started. The Free State was formed and many of the Anti-Treaty politicians returned to parliament as a new political party, Fianna Fáil.
The conflict was bloody, as is often the case with a civil war, with many comrades from the War of Independence just a few years prior now bitter enemies. Atrocities were committed on both sides and indeed the legacy of the conflict still shapes much of the politics of Ireland to this day. Even the nominally independent Catholic Church took sides, supporting the treaty and refusing the sacraments to known Anti-Treaty IRA members.
All in all the conflict proved somewhat futile when in 1937 the Irish Parliament, now led by a resurgent Fianna Fáil, ratified a new republican constitution, with no mention of allegiance to the British monarchy and Irish independence was gained without British objection, much as the Pro-Treaty advocates had always claimed would be the case.
In my alternative timeline, things turn out a little differently…
Alternative Irish History 1922 – 1937
The British take umbrage at the attempts by the Pro-Treaty politicians to amend the treaty with a republican constitution to appease the Anti-Treaty side and when war breaks out are much less willing to provide supplies to the nascent National Army, though still do offer some begrudging support. As such, the Anti-Treaty forces are able to hold onto much of their territory and the war drags on for many years leading to deeply divided and embittered Ireland. The Pro-Treaty forces push south as far as Waterford and north around the borders of Ulster. Wary of the threat of the war spilling over, the British fortify the borders of Northern Ireland, absorbing Donegal into the state and creating a line of defence across the entire North. The Anti Treaty forces manage to seize the Pro-Treaty Co. Galway, connecting their south western territory to their north western territory. Exhausted by the conflict and lacking the resources to push into the enemy territories, both sides settle into an uneasy stalemate, fortifying the “T Line” that has divided them across the top and down the middle of Ireland.
Throughout the conflict, Communism International had come to see the Anti-Treaty side as allies in their movement. In our timeline they provided mostly moral support to “the struggling Irish national revolutionaries” and offered to “assist all efforts to organise the struggle to combat this terror and to help the Irish workers and peasants to victory”. In this alternative timeline, given the war dragged on for longer that a year, this support moved from the moral to the material, with equipment and vehicles flowing into the West to aid their fight. This, combined with the rejection by the Church and a longstanding hatred towards the Anglo-Irish landholding elite, leads the Anti-Treaty Irish to declare themselves the Citizens’ Republic of Ireland, a socialist republic with strong ties to Soviet Russia and Communism International. Dissenters and elites are suitably purged and the military is reformed among Soviet lines as the “Green Army of the CRI”. The Starry Plough, gold on a field of green, is officially adopted as the flag of the new Republic.
On the Pro-Treaty side, bitterness towards the British grows and though paying lip service to the treaty, division between them increases. Eoin O’Duffy and his proto-fascist Blueshirts are able to grow from strength to strength and become even more fascist in outlook. In our timeline they petered out in the early thirties, being subsumed into the Fine Gael political party. Here they come to be the dominant party in the Irish Free State (what was left of it) and their corporatist and militaristic rhetoric resonates with a people still at war and feeling surrounded and under threat. In 1932 Eoin O’Duffy becomes Taoiseach and declares that henceforth the Irish Free State would now be the fully independent Irish Social Republic. Having been in close contact with the Italian fascists for some time, the army is reorganised with Italian supplies as the National Guard and the new Republic takes as it’s flag the red St. Patrick cross on a field of blue.
When the Spanish Civil War breaks out, both sides are well positioned to assist the rival factions. In real history, Eoin O’Duffy raises an Irish Brigade to go off and fight for Franco, but in this timeline, given his position as head of state, he’s able to provide much assistance to the Spanish Nationalists throughout the war. Balancing this, and seeing an opportunity for a proxy war with their bitter rivals, the CRI send support to the Republicans. During the war, any time the two Irish sides met across the battlefield the fighting would become particularly intense, akin to the “Bad War” of the German Landsknechte and Swiss Pikemen of the 16th century. This pushed the war to its conclusion faster than in our timeline, finishing in the autumn of 1938.
The Nationalists are triumphant and, grateful for the Irish Social Republic’s support, agree to an alliance with O’Duffy, meaning Spanish Nationalist support flows into the nation, adding to the Italian support and bringing along with the grudging acknowledgement of Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, the defeated Republicans flock to the west of Ireland to take refuge with their socialist brothers in the Citizens’ Republic of Ireland, bolstering their ranks considerably and shifting the Soviet focus more directly to the British Isles.
In the meantime, the abdication crisis has kicked off in England and the British have pulled out of Northern Ireland to deal with the situation on the mainland. The Ulster Unionist government initially maintains control but without the full force of Britain behind them, other forces start to arise and new factions seize control.
A Verry N’orn Ayrush Civul Warr – Ulster 1937
The British withdrawal from Northern Ireland is pretty hasty given the state of affairs on the mainland. The Ulster Unionist government moves quickly to requisition whatever military hardware the British don’t carry off with them and immediately drafts the now disbanded provincial regiments of the Royal Ulster Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers into a new military force, the Loyal Ulster Defenders and declares themselves the Loyal Democratic State of Northern Ireland. They are not yet clear just what it is they are loyal to, just that they are loyal in general. The former Rifles are deployed from their base in Ballymena to secure Belfast and the Parliament building at Stormont, while the former Fusiliers, operating out of their base in Omagh, attempt to re-secure the defensive lines along the North-South border.
Taking advantage of the dramatic reduction in military forces in the region, and the chaos that it is causing, the regional IRA forces, re-branded as the Irish Democratic Republic Army in opposition to the abandonment of the Republican ideals by the South, move from their low level guerrilla campaign to an all out uprising, seizing large swathes of territory in the western counties as well as instigating risings in the sympathetic Antrim Glens and West Belfast. In Omagh, they besiege the token force left at the St Lucia Barracks, leaving the government the difficult decision of whether or not to order the troops away from the border defences.
With socialist uprisings across England taking root and the socialist state of the CRI in the south, socialist and communist groups in the North had been growing from strength to strength in recent years. Many of the working class of Belfast, as well as areas of south-central N. Ireland had developed a strong socialist tradition, and while having many divergent viewpoints, a loose grouping of many different organisations, calling themselves the Socialist Workers of Ulster United, rise up in revolution, tacitly supported by the Soviets and the CRI influence. Riots and uprisings break out across Belfast as revolutionaries flood in from the surrounding regions to the southwest. The revolution coalesces on Stormont, besieging the government there and forcing them to begin a retreat out of the city with the aid of the former Royal Ulster Rifles to set up a government in exile at the newly built St Patrick’s Barracks in Ballymena.
In Co. Down a growing movement of radical protestants with fascist leanings had grown with close links to international fascist movements, especially in Germany. The popular Ulster Youth organisation, having run “educational” events and meetings for children and young people over the past decade had raised a generation of young men and women who were militant in their faith and outlook and well drilled and disciplined in military maneuvers and armaments. The parent organisation, the Ulster Protestant League, had been formed by a former army chaplain turned firebrand preacher, known as “The Big Man” Commander John Campbell, whose particular brand of populist preaching had seen many churches align with the UPL. Seeing the opportunity the chaos presented, the UPL quickly mobilised, with sympathetic factions in the Palace Barracks in Holywood opening the gates to the Commander, the UPL sets up their base of operations there. While appearing to be aligned with the fascist government in England and claiming “loyalty” to them, there are whispers that The Big Man has much different plans in mind.
The powerful southern states look at the fragmentation of the North as a key opportunity to gain an advantage over their rival, though for now, neither side is prepared to make the first move. The military buildup of recent years resulted in some very tempting targets in the northwest, especially the military airfields, and control of the region would give the owning side a clear means to encircle their enemy and move to unify the entire island.
And so it begins.
In a future post I’ll go into more details of the various factions, as well as some of the setup for the narrative campaign I’m planning. I’ve still a bit of thinking to do around that, as well as more details on the individual factions (e.g. who leads the CRI? A moderate de Valera trying to control a cadre of spittle mouthed communist die-hards? Or maybe a Citizens’ Council?). Also need to work out a mechanic for the ticking time bomb of southern involvement in the north, as that’ll kick things up a notch. I want the campaign mechanics to act as a narrative guide rather than be a hard set of rules to follow, just to keep a bit of randomness and interest. I plan to have a few variables within the wider campaign to trigger different outcomes, for instance having levels of resource, morale, and factionalism. These will likely be scales of 1-10 with different affects on point values, experience levels, and trigger new special events such as new factions spawning.
At this point I’ve only a few units made up for it, I plan to use Blitzkrieg Commander IV as the primary ruleset, though may look into others for variety in time. I know Bolt Action is very popular for squad-based combat so may suit some scenarios. The plan will be to start with a few small actions to get a feel for the rules, then start looking at dealing with the currently disputed areas, the Seige of Stormont and the Battles of Omagh and Armagh for a start, maybe some guerrilla conflicts in the Antrim Glens, and work out what the hell is going on around the Foyle!
I still don’t quite know what to call this project, I’d initially gone with A Very Northern Irish Civil War, but it’s gotten a bit more widespread, AVBCW in Ireland is too much of a mouthful, and A Very Irish Civil War doesn’t quite sound right. Given the main theatre initially is in and around N. Ireland, AVNICW will likely do for the time being.
I’ve made some good progress on a few things this month. Switching to doing smaller units has kept up a better momentum and I’ve finally been getting a bit more time to do hobby stuff this month. I also did some sorting and reorganising of my hobby space, partly to make a bit of space for working from home that was a bit of a change from the kitchen table, partly because I was running out of space to put things!
First up, got the basing on my Crusader infantry all done, figures are mostly Pendraken/TB Line but I also repainted and rebased some of my MM bill men, which were some of the first 10mm figures I ever painted! These were over 200 figures that I’ve been painting over the past while and as the bases I needed arrived this month it was good to get them all based up and finished.
Some crossbowmen. These can be fielded as their own unit or attached to infantry. I probably need to do another couple of packs if these at some point.
Knights of Jerusalem (TB Line). So much lovely turquoise.
Yes I’m a mad fool who paints his flags. Easy enough when they’re crosses though. Adds a certain homeliness to it.
Also in the mix are some some rebased MM knights as Men-At-Arms. I painted these a year or two back, but part of my gradual rebasing of my old Crusader cavalry from the 50mm to 40mm squares.
Finally a few bits for camps and bases:
Think the tents are Irregular Miniatures. The buildings were resins off eBay I got ages ago.
In the rest of my crusades queue I’ve a pack of foot knights to paint up, some Eastern infantry as Armenians, more tents and civilians, a bunch more mounted knights and a handful of marker pieces. For now. I’m not too far off being able to do Arsuf either, my original plan for this project, though will likely do Dorylaeum first and write the accompanying Flippant History. I’ve also a TtS! game prepared with them and will be starting a Soldiers of God campaign in the near future too, so keep an eye out for battle reports.
A new project next, moving to ancient China for the late Warring States/Early Imperial period. These are based on a 40mm frontage initially, though long term hope to upgrade to 80mm frontage. Initially doing some Qin and Chu forces, though will be also doing a Han army and probably some rebel factions in the future. Figures are mostly from Newline, though a few (like the spearmen) are from MM’s range. The MM figures are a little more squat and cartoonish than the Newline ones but fit okay on separate bases.
First up Qin mixed infantry (Ji halberd and crossbow) needing a bit of static grass brushed off their shoulders:
And some more:
Qin Heavy Cavalry:
Then onto some Chu infantry (Ji halberd and swordsmen):
And from a different division of the army:
Some (un)impressed spearmen:
Some Chu crossbowmen:
The Chu will be organised into two large army divisions with a small detached overall command, hence the white and grey and white and purple colour schemes.
The Qin will have four smaller army divisions plus a command division.
This is to represent the difference between the more militaristic Qin who gave greater autonomy to their well trained troops and the largely poorly trained conscript armies of the Chu under often competing noble commanders.
My Han army lists are different still, to give each it’s own distinct flavour and play style. More on those in a future post.
I have been having a go at filling the biggest hole in my wargaming collection…terrain! The trees I got on eBay a while ago so they’ve been mounted on thick card and flocked.
I’ve also got two hills made of card and polystyrene to paint and flock but will hit them next time I’ve the airbrush out. Finally I’ll have terrain that isn’t just bits of card with colouring pencil terrain drawn on! I’ve also done some more experiments with the gridded battle board idea. Magnetic grid points make it pretty reusable for other things, but is a bit more fiddly to do. The tile spacers, doubled up for height then painted or flocked to fit in with the board are actually looking pretty decent and may be the way I go. Also need to think about the terrain style for the board, I’m thinking fairly lush and use for my Aztecs since I intend to keep them at a 40mm frontage and not double up to the 80mm like I do with some other projects. The 70mm grid that my foam board will allow will also suit them well, whereas it would be too small for many of my other projects which will need an 80-100mm grid.
I’ve also started working on a Trojan War project, though as it’ll be a reasonably “fixed size” project in terms of number of units I’m tempted to go for bigger bases for a more diorama look. I’ve a handful of figures painted but not based yet. I could go with my current basing style and use it as the seed of a broader bronze age project, but think it might be nice to do something a little more special for this epic conflict. I may make a battle board for this some point in the future too with fixed terrain, though that’ll be a while off yet.
Finally, I started working a project I got some samples for last year but haven’t done anything with yet. This is moving things into the 20th Century for a bit of alternative history based around the “A Very British Civil War” scenario, though in my own region of Northern Ireland/Ulster. I’ll have some more posts in the future about the back story and factions I’ve been thinking about but started with a unit of infantry for the Ulster Protestant League, a faction of extreme Protestant fascists. Black and purple have a strong link to Protestantism in the region along with the better known orange. As orange tends to be a bit more political associated and purple a bit more religious associated I’m saving the orange for a faction of government loyalists and using purple and black as the UPL faction.
The figures are Carlist Requetes from Pendraken’s Spanish Civil War range. I understand the historical troops were ultra-Catholic nationalists, so there’s a bit of delicious irony in them being used as ultra-Protestant nationalists. I didn’t realise this when I picked them, I had just envisioned these guys in berets and the figures seemed appropriate. The sashes were blankets for the original troops, but I felt the sash more thematically appropriate than a blanket.
I’ve a few more bases in progress from this project, but that’ll just have to wait until the July update.
I confess to being a complete novice when it comes to 20th-century warfare and equipment, having been more interested in history than hardware. I’ve a decent knowledge of the broad historical strokes but when people start talking about gillies vs boots and what helmet that division wore in that region and whether Mark III or Mark IV of the J-33 “Doddler” Tank was in use in a particular battle (yes I made that up…) I’m completely lost. So the alternative history mishmash of WW1, SCW and WW2 that AVBCW (or AVNICW – A Verry No’rn Ayrush Civul Warr*) offers is a nice gateway to the period without getting bogged down in the details. Though in truth it may evolve into an Ireland wide conflict given some of the alt-history I’ve been putting together! More on that in another post to come soon.
Hopefully, next month will be as much of a varied mix. I’ve taken to deciding what unit to paint next based on a dice roll against a table of potential projects, which is quite a nice way to keep the momentum going on different things. I doubt I’d have started the AVBCW project any time soon if it hadn’t come up on the dice and there are a few more unstarted or untouched projects on the list that may come up at the whim of the dice roll!
It’s also been some time since I played a game, so I’m hoping this month to get the Crusades forces out again for a game of To The Strongest! and possibly kick off a Soldiers of God campaign.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
* For those unfamiliar with N. Irish regional accents, this should be said quickly, somewhere between the back of the throat and the nasal passage, with proper emphasis put on the Rs at the end of words. I’m looking at you non-rhotic English speakers – excepting the Yanks, the Scottish, West Country folk, and pirates who all have a proper appreciation of the arr!
This morning I was able to get FK&P onto the table for the first time. Been working on the ECW troops for the last year so it’s good to finally get them out.
Unfortunately the second table I’d ordered didn’t arrive but was able to get a decent setup using the one I had and the kitchen table. For those who aren’t aware, FK&P by Simon Miller and Andrew Brentnall is a playing card driven, grid based game for the British Civil Wars. It’s based on the To The Strongest! Ancients ruleset with many additions and tweaks to suit the period. The basic concept is you activate a unit by drawing a card, then continue to activate units drawing cards until you draw an Ace or a lower card in a unit with a higher card. Those activations can then be used to move and attack, drawing various cards for hits and saves.
Below is a picture set up with the grid. The grid corners are laid out using small stones and tussocks made from glue and flock – glue gun blob, flock, PVA spray.
The Royalist order of battle consists of two standard units of foot, Prince Ruperts Bluecoats and the King’s Lifeguard of Foot, as well as a pike heavy unit of mixed regiments, the various leftovers of broken battalia from a long war forming a tercio under Sir Henry Bard. There are also two units of horse, Sir William Vaughn and the Northern Horse. All units are rated as veteran and the horse have attached shot, small units of musketeers to provide some extra initial firepower.
The order for the Parliamentary side is three standard units of foot, John Pickering’s, Sir Hardress Waller’s and Phillip Skippon’s own, as well as a unit of commanded shot, two field artillery and two units of horse, Nathaniel Rich’s and Edward Whaley’s.
The miniatures are all 10mm Pendraken and based on 120mm frontage for foot and 100mm frontage for horse and commanded shot. The grid was 150mm squared.
The Royalists make the first move and press the advance. Cautious of the enemy artillery the horse sweep round the flanks while the infantry surge forward to try and close before too much damage can be done. Bard’s motley crew lag behind the other foot but still press forward. The Parliamentary horse rush to greet the advancing Rupert but both sides draw off after an initial clash ends in stalemate. The Parliamentary foot move up on the flanks hoping to envelop the smaller enemy force while the concentrated firepower batters their centre, but at this distance the shooting from both sides proves ineffective.
The Royalist advance moves up to closer range, exchanging fire with the ill-prepared artillery and driving them from the field, but Skippon and Waller fill the gap and lay down retributive fire, inflicting heavy casualties. The Northern Horse join the flank fight and both sides battle hard, neither giving any ground.
Vaughan breaks Whalley and sets off in persuit, but the arrival of Cromwell gives Rich’s men a fresh burst of vigour and they press the fight against the Northern Horse, breaking them and setting off in a persuit of their own. While Rupert’s foot fall back to regroup from the fight, the King’s Lifeguard launch a brutal salvee charge into Waller’s men. The sturdy Roundheads take the punishment and push the redcoats back, turning their muskets on them and unleashing wave after wave of shot until their red coats become redder still. The Lifeguard break and flee the field.
As the foot start to tire from the heavy fighting, Bard launches a half arsed charge, but is driven back by the concentrated fire of the enemy. They have no desire to press the advantage though and take the respite where it is available. Rupert, in a rare moment of awareness, realised the foot were struggling and managed to rally his remaining horse while Cromwell charges after the jubilant horse calling them back to the fray unsuccessfully.
Cromwell finally manages to pull his horse back in line and gets them turned round and back towards the fight in short order. Rupert struggles with his own horse as, unused to continuing the fight after a good rout, they mill around in disarray but eventually get turned in the general direction of the enemy. The foot battle back and forth, slowly grinding each other down.
The bluecoats surge forward in a last ditch effort and break the heavily disordered Parliamentarians. With renewed effort they launch an attack on Pickering’s reserve troops but are thrown back by the fresh troops. Rupert urges his horse onwards towards the exposed flank of Waller’s regiment but the long day has tired them and Waller has time to turn his men to face the incoming attack, stopping it short. With a ripple of musketry from the Parliamentary shot, Bard’s beleaguered troops finally break and flee from the field. Seeing his centre broken and Cromwell’s imminent return, Charles sounds the retreat. The day goes to the Parliamentary forces, but the Royalist veterans put on a brave fight.
Overall this was a lot of fun. The difference between the staying power of the veteran Royalists vs the numerical superiority of the Parliamentarians gave for an interesting balance. The fight got pretty close at the end. Had Rupert got one more activation and managed to hit Bard’s flank it might well have been a Royalist victory.
As far as the rules go, I do think they’re an improvement over TtS! and can see a lot of the modifications that have been added to the predecessor come to their fruition here. I suspect we’ll see those come into the ancients rules too in the next version.
The game started a bit slowly, partly due to my constant checking of the rules for things like range, and what numbers I needed to get, but after the first turn or two I didn’t need to check them again and got in the swing of things. The first few turns had high cards for activations and low cards for attacks, the opposite of what you want, so that slowed things down a bit too, but once the range closed the fighting got much faster and more furious. I particularly liked the persuit mechanism as it was something very important in the outcome of fights of this period and something not all rules cover well.
The most awkward part of it all is the set up process. The tussocks and stones worked well to not distract from the game, but laying out the grid with measuring tapes was time consuming and awkward. My two options going forward are to either use my felt cloth and mark out the grid directly on that, or else make some form of template to make it easier to lay out quickly.
I know I made some mistakes with the rules, but hopefully only a few small ones. I’ll have to have another read of the rules now I’ve had a game to put it all into context. I’ll definitely get some more games in the future and have a few more units in the queue to add to the forces in future. I didn’t use a few of the rules available as this was a test game, but will be more confident with using then in future.
This year has been one of the busiest of my life, both in work and personally. Hobby time overall has been pretty small compared to what I’d like due to time and budgetary constraints.
However, while work continues apace, my personal life has become a bit quieter and a bit less expensive for the moment so all being well I can focus some more time on hobbies!
The past few weeks I’ve been getting into my lead hillock and clearing it down a bit. First up, some additions to the Islamics for the crusades. This was primarily Arab tribal units and horse archer units with figures mostly from Irregular miniatures, though a few from Pendraken too.
I’ve also made up a few “minor” command bases for the Crusaders. These can operate as sub commanders, though I intend to use them as the main commanders in a campaign that I plan to do between two minor (imaginary) Crusader and Islamic states. Figures are again a mix of Irregular and Pendraken.
Next up a little preview of some work in progress. I’ve settled on the Crimean War as my 2mm project and have started putting together the British units. Still toying with basing design and flags.
There’ll be plenty more to follow in the near future. Initially I’m doing the Battle of the Alma with BBB so will need to fill out the British, French, Russians and a few Turkish too. Depending how I feel about things after this I may expand the forces out to cover the entire set of BBB Crimean War scenarios.
This week also marks the arrival of a fairly large order from Pendraken:
This contains the seeds of multiple projects to keep me going for the next little while, plus expansions to existing ones.
The main new project is from their Aztec range, where I’m hoping to do some of the pre-Columbian wars between the various states such as the Mexicans, Tarascans and Tepanecs.
There was also a few models from their early 20th Century ranges and a copy of Blitzkrieg Commander IV to experiment with a “Very Nor’n Irish Civul Whar” project, more on that in future posts.
There’s a stack of figures from their fantastic fantasy/dungeon ranges to have a stab at some fantasy RPG games. I’m mostly interested in historical, but the odd foray into fantasy can be fun and it’s a good way to draw others in.
There are several figures to round out my ECW armies, as well as some packs from their newly (re)published TB Line medievals to expand out the Crusader armies. Their figures, especially the cavalry, are a bit bigger than Pendraken’s normal cavalry figures, which works well as most of my knights are currently from Magister Militum, which are generally a bit chunkier and taller anyway.
Lots to keep me busy! I’m sure I’ll also be getting back to the Flippant History posts at some point too, though they’ll probably take a back seat for a while to painting.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in past blog posts, I’ve been working on an English Civil War, or British Civil War, or War of the Three Kingdoms (but that just makes me think of China and all the potential there…) project. It has been somewhat slow going, mostly due to this being a pretty busy year (one of the busiest of my life to be honest) so in the past ten months I’ve only been able to produce a couple of small forces.
I’m basing the project on the Battle of Naseby, a turning point in the Civil War that saw the Parliamentarian New Model Army overcome the rag tag Royalist veterans. I de-scoped my initial plans a bit to focus on producing two smallish forces that I can game with, then add to and expand into the full order of battle I want.
I’ve now (finally!) finished these small forces and as of today have them varnished and drying. I decided this would be a good time to photograph them as well. Alas my photography skills are poor, and I’ve only my phone camera and poor lighting. Though typically the sun came out after I was finished! Awh well.
I’ll be putting together an order to “finish” the project in future, but want to take a break from the period for a while and focus on other things. I’ve a bunch of odds and ends for the Crusades projects to paint up and I think I’ve settled on a 2mm Crimean War project next.
So without further ado…here are the pictures. You can click on them to enlarge.
Parliamentarian New Model Army
Bits and Bobs
Various markers that can be used for attached shot, hero markers, etc. I’ve some casualty markers too, but I haven’t photographed them, so you’ll have to wait for when I get a game in for that!
I’ll be expanding there forces gradually over time. More horse, more foot, some dragoons are all on the agenda. I’ll also try and get a game in at some point as I’ve been looking forward to trying out the For King and Parliament rules.