Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Lights Out in the Logar Valley - a brief TSATF AAR


It may seem odd for a wargamer to get excited over such a thing here on his wargaming blog, but it has been far too long since the last time.

It was a very simple scenario, based on the "Battle of Chamla Valley" from the pages of the original The Sword And The Flame rulebook, also included in the 20th Anniversary Edition, which as many readers of this blog will know, pits a single basic unit of British Infantry tasked with entering at one far end and proceeding to recconoiter an abandoned outpost at the center of the table, opposed by 2 units of Pathan Tribesmen lying in wait hidden somewhere amongst various hills and rough terrain areas.

My new twist on the scenario replaced the abandoned outpost with my recently-completed HILL TOWER, occupied by a British HELIOGRAPH TEAM, which has inexplicably lost touch with its base-of-operations, across the nearby Kabul River.

I took the part of the local Tribesmen and my older daughter, Isabella -- who goes by "Izzy" -- took the part of the British commander.

Given a wide choice of British troop types, including khaki and redcoat clad Line Infantry, kilt and trews wearing Highlanders, and all manner of Sikh, Punjabi, and Bombay troops -- all of whom would be treated virtually identically for game-play purposes -- Izzy paid great attention to their respective aesthetic details and chose the Gurkhas: largely because in addition to looking sharp in their Rifle Green uniforms and pillbox caps, a former Gurkha rifleman turned private security guard works for a character in one of her favorite popular novels, "Crazy Rich Asians." 

Centuries may pass but the martial prowess of Gurkhas endures!

The terrain layout, prior to action commencing:

The view from behind the British start-line to the South, across the Kabul River bridge...

View from behind the pine-covered rocky hills to the west...

View from the North-West, looking back towards the British start-line...

TURN 1 & 2:

Izzy rolled her dice and brought her platoon of Gurkhas over the bridge to the far side of the Kabul River, dispatching 2 SCOUTS to check the various rough terrain areas up ahead...

The Scout to the left discovered a full unit of 20 Pathans hidden in the rocks, half armed with rifles, half with sword-&-shield.

Izzy put her full platoon -- aside from the Scout on the right -- into 2 rank OPEN ORDER with an eye on bringing maximum firepower to bear on the foe.

Seein this, despite being her father, in my role as Tribal Leader I CHARGED, hoping to take advantage of the Gurkhas' lack of a close order defense melee bonus...

I rolled for STRAGGLERS: just 2!

The Gurkhas opened fire, but despite their "Rifle" status, their die-rolling wasn't so hot, the 20 shots (2 at close range for the Officer's pistol) inflict only a couple of casualties on my charging Tribesmen, who then proceed to pass their "CLOSE INTO COMBAT" morale die roll, and of course the Gurkhas passed their own 'STAND AND FIGHT" roll (hard for them not to, as British troops w/leader present pass on a 1-6 roll on a D6 -- as it should be, I hasten to add)...

Well the melee was fast and furious, with 19 Gurkhas standing against 18 charging Tribesmen, all of whom received a "WIN TIES" modifier, as per "TSATF 20th Anniversary Edition"...

In the end, the last Gurkha forced the last Tribesman to turn tail and fall back (loss of D6 roll-off with a 3-6), then ROUTE AWAY with the other defeated survivors from his clan, giving the melee victory to the Gurkhas and allowing their many "FALL BACKS" to rejoin the heroic son of Nepal...

Sadly amonst the Gurkhas casualties from the melee was their NCO, SUBEDAR BAHADUR GURUNG, who was KIA, losing his melee roll-off with a natural "1" die result. 

Shaken survivors of the routed clan, racing farther down the road towards the table edge...

The Gurkhas kept up their advance, carrying their wounded with them, and sending their Scouts ahead again...

To discover 10 Tribal Swordsmen on the hillside to the left of the road...

Predicting the other 10 Tribesmen -- probably armed with rifles -- would be hiding across the road on the Tower Mountain, the Gurkhas set up astride the road itself, in postion to potentially bring fire to bear at either flank, though with the Tribal Swordsmen so close, this time they went into CLOSE ORDER, as a number of them could not fire anyway as they'd spent the turn carrying wounded comrades, and if the Swordsmen did charge, this would afford the defending Gurkhas a +1 melee modifier... 

Meanwhile, across the field of battle, the Gurkha's regimental Bhisti, somehow failed in his land navigation and wound up watering some goats on a low sandy hill instead of the wounded...  

Back at the foot of Tower Mountain, the 10 Tribal Swordsmen -- whose ranks included their all-imporant Clan Chieftain (aka: basic unit Leader) CHARGED the Gurkhas, and then during the FIRE PHASE, after the Gurkhas fired at them, the Tribesmen brothers reveald they were indeed hidden exactly where the Gurkhas commander predicted they would be, atop the rocky hillside leading up to the Tower itself...

The Tribal rifles opened fire, scoring 2 hits, each of which had a chance to be inflicted on their own comrades rather than the enemy -- but as it turned out, BOTH HITS landed on the Gurkhas who they were meant to...

After receiving another 3 hits from Gurkhas fire, the Tribal Swordsmen passed their CLOSE INTO COMBAT roll and another melee ensued, from which the Gurkhas once again emerged victorious, and their Tribal foes once again routed off down the road, albeit after inflicting a few more casualties...

With the Sword-&-Shield Tribesmen routing away down the road, their rifle-armed brothers on Tower Mountain (from the same Basic Unit, and without a Leader present) were forced to check their own morale... and failed, sendng them scurrying off chasing after the rest of my command, down what might be dubbed "The Road of Glorious Victory!" as, despite having arguably been defeated and routed away, my Tribesmen had indeed managed to bloody the Pagan stooges of the British Infidel dogs!

...or so I told my daughter.

...as she sent her Gurkhas racing up the mountainside to gain firsthand intelligence on what had become of the out-of-touch Signal Team...

Sad to say, as might be expected under the circumstances, they were nowhere to be found.  Whether they had gone to meet their maker... or been spirited away to serve as hostages for further parlay, I am not at liberty to say.

Though it only lasted 4 turns, both Izzy and I really enjoyed this game.

Both melees were "close run" things -- with the first being literally as close as it possibly could have been.  Had the last Gurkha rifleman not won his last roll-off, the game would have been entirely different, with the British probably being run out of the valley back across the bridge after one or two turns.

Izzy took a chance setting up in 2 rank Open Order to bring more fire to bear on my charging tribesmen, but then rolled pretty poorly (as she did throughout most of the game) on her firing dice, and paid for the decision by suffering heavy casualties and coming as close as possible to losing the melee, which would have been devestating and led to her total defeat.  

But as it turned out, she got through it and pushed on to success, achieving her objective of reaching the Tower and checking on the disposition of the Heliograph Team.

So despite suffering somewhat heavy casualties, the game resulted in a full BRITISH VICTORY.

With her brother home from college for the Summer, there is a rumor afoot that a full brigade of British troops -- with the Gurkhas joined by 2 other Infantry units along with cavalry and artillery -- may be reentering the Valley under combined dual sibling command, with an eye on inflicting punitive action on the VILLAGE located on the far side of Tower Mountain.

If anything comes of this rumor you will learn all about it right here...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Painted Tower

After posting 200+ pics showing the rather involved and time-consuming build of my Afghan/NWF Hill Tower/Mud Fort, I am back again, with a short-but-sweet post sharing a handful of pics of the just-finished fully painted version.

I'm very happy with how the the Tower turned out.  I think the paint-job fulfilled all the potential the model had.  I have to say, I think it's the best painted piece of model terrain I've ever done, and certainly the best looking model building I've ever made.

But enough bragging!  Hope you enjoy the pics below...

"Very nice, Contractor Khan -- but we both
know you promised me indoor plumbing!" 

EDIT: March 13, 2017...

I posted about this Painted Tower over at TMP (The Miniatures Page) and someone asked me what color(s) I'd used.  

As return visitors to this blog will know all too well, I usually post a literal ton of WIP pics for my projects, but I didn't do that with this paintjob.  I've been crazy busy, even more so than usual, with work.  Not in a particularly lucrative way, but super busy nonetheless!  The previous post I did on building the Hill Tower included more than 200 photos, and I just wanted to cut to the chase and post the final results, which I was very happy with.

However, when someone asked for the info, I felt compelled to respond.  For me, without any doubt the best thing to come from hobby blogging is when a fellow hobbyist makes some use of something I've posted about, be it for building terrain, historical info of any kind -- uniforms, orders of battle, etc. -- or game related details like rule tweaks or supplements, or in this case, how I painted the Hill Tower.

Having replied in some detail over at TMP, it seems strange not to have the info here on my own blog, so... I am tacking it on here at the end of this post.  At some point in the future I will spend the time needed to illustrate the instructions with some pics (although I didn't post them earlier, I did take my typical ton of WIP photos), but for now it will just be a written guide, which I think will still be useful.

If anyone who reads this has a question about the process, please feel free to leave it as a comment at the bottom of this post, and I will do my best to reply as soon as possible.

I just noticed this "Painted Tower" post seems to have resulted in the 150th follower of this blog, which I take note of with a smile on my face.  "Maiwand Day" has a very narrow focus, so it's very satisfying, as well as a bit surprising, that it has earned the attention of that many fellow wargamers, terrain makers, and history buffs, not necessarily in that order!  To my 150th Follower ANRY SEAGULL and my previous 149 Followers, you all have my sincere thanks!

...and now you also have the PAINTING TUTORIAL for my Hill Tower:

The painting process used a number of colors and was somewhat involved…

I.   Step one is a base coat using spray paint. I mixed 3 different colors. One brown, one gray, and Rustoleum Camoflauge "KHAKI".

I painted sections of the model in each color, without worrying about bleeding or overlay at the edges where the sections meet. Just make sure everything gets covered.

I generally -- though not exclusively -- went from darker to lighter from the ground up, with the idea that the closer to the ground the dirtier the building will be, and the higher up the more bleached by sunlight it will be.

NOTE: The reason for using the spray paints is that:

(1) they dry with a slightly different texture, and...
(2) the different base colors will lend variation to the uniform colors later added above them.

Also, wth all the surface detail on this building, some bits and pieces of the different base colors will still be visible through the colors added afterwards.

After the 3 base colors, next is a light coat of pale almond spray paint, sprayed at a 45 degree angle, so it hits the more exposed surfaces. I used Model Master "Desert Sand" -- but any pale almond color will do.

Then an even lighter coat of white spray paint, just hitting the raised edges of the model.

Then leave the spray-painted model to dry for a full 24-hours. The various colors will mix and blend around their edges, which is all good.

II.  For step two I used 3 shades of tan acrylic craft paint -- starting with Craft Smart TAN, then Craft Smart SUEDE, then Delta Ceramcoat SANDSTONE. Truth is the exact colors are not that important, just the idea of 3 lightening shades of tan -- though I really like the Craft Smart TAN for the base color.

Over the base coat of spray paint, I did a heavy dry brush of the TAN, then lesser dry brushes of the 2 lighter shades.

For the red brickwork, over the spray paint base, I dry brushed FolkArt TERRA COTTA, then beat its overly bright red back down by dry brushing the various tan colors over it.

Needless to say, a key part of dry brushing is having the patience to wait for each different color to thoroughly dry before going back over it again, otherwise, even if just a little wet, the colors blend together and you lose the layered effect.

The doors were just a 2 layer job: base coat with any dark brown -- I used Delta Ceramcoat "WALNUT" -- let dry thoroughly, then dry brush with "SANDSTONE".

Summing up, the 3 key colors were:

(1) Rustoleum camo Khaki spray paint
(2) Craft Smart Tan
(3) FolkArt Terra Cotta

Oh -- an important WARNING: since my tower was built from what I would call "lower quality" materials -- mostly foam core & styrofoam (as opposed to wood or resin) I had to be VERY CAREFUL to make sure ALL SURFACES were covered with my texturing material (wood filler) in order to protect them from being dissolved away by the spray paint. The paper-covered surface of foam core is not so susceptible to this but the foam edges will be instantly eaten away, as will any/all styrofoam, even of the highest/most dense quality, such as the blue foam I used for the crenelations on the Tower.


III. STEP THREE is a weathering WASH.

Without it you can still get a very nice finish, but this third step is what will take it to the, "next level," so to speak.  I didn't include it earlier because -- silly as it may sound -- it was recently imparted to me by a master modeler, and I wanted to ask his blessing before sharing it with the world-at-large, so to speak.  Happily he just sent me an email reply saying go ahead, and he hopes it will help some people out, which is great!

This third step is a bit challenging, for a couple of reasons.

The wash consists of 2 drops of BLACK acrylic paint, 6 drops of CraftSmart TAN… and a spoonful of LEPAGE MULTI-PURPOSE WHITE GLUE. 

Mix together in a small container -- like for pudding or yogurt -- then add water until the container is about half full, and continue mixing.

Then get a brush and a HAIR DRYER.

The next part is a bit tricky and I suggest trying it on a test piece before using it on a real model…

Brush the wash on with one hand and as you go, use your other hand to DRY IT with the hair dryer set on "low."

Throughout this process do your best to keep the side of the model you're working on LEVEL at all timesl LEVEL, to minimize the uncontrolled spread of the wash beyond the area you are focused on drying.

For larger buildings like this Tower, the wash will inevitably slip over edges and corners in spots you won't catch. Don't freak out because you can fix those spots later.

Drying the glue-paint mix instantly with the hair dryer will give the model a worn & chalky finish, perfect for an old building.

The challenge is, the only water soluble glue I know of that will dry with a MATTE FLAT FINISH is that made by the Canadian company LePage. For some reason their white glue dries without any gloss sheen at all. I asked around at American hobby stores trying to find a locally available American product able to do the same, but no one I've asked knows of one.  Luckily for me I was able to get a friend who lives in Toronto to buy a bottle and send it to me. Before that I tried to find a way to puchase it online from a Canadian supplier but without success. Maybe an American or British buyer could just call a Canadian hardware store, order a few bottles over the phone and use a cc to pay, though for Brits the postage would be painful.  Maybe some other modelers out there know of a similar matte drying water soluble glue and can share the info. That would be great, since it would make it easier for more people to use this method.


…Back to the tutorial:

After brushing and drying the entire model with the wash, go back and check for those pesky dribble spots and touch them up with any/all of the 3 acrylic tan paints.

Then give the building some dry brush highlights.

And that's it.

This "WASH & DRY" step comes with its own WARNING: this method is best applied to WOOD & RESIN models. My tower is made of foamcore and styrofoam, and as I was drying the wash with the hair dryer (even though it was set on "LOW") I suddenly saw a few spots where the outer shell of the building was starting to THIN OUT and basically DISAPPEAR!

Luckily I was able to complete the wash & dry step without inflicting more than a tiny bit of damage to the building, but after putting so much work into building it, for a moment there I was very worried. I had tested the method on a commerical resin building and it had worked wonderfully -- but then I realized my tower was made of much less resilient materials.

Anyway, all's well that ends well, as I touched up the few spots where the outer shell of the model had disappeared by adding tiny patches of Wood Filler, and thanks to the rough-hewn nature of the Tower itself, I don't think this detracted at all from the look of the finished piece.

Just doing the first two steps -- spray paints and then multiple craft paint dry brushes -- will result in a very nice paint job, as seen in these pics I took before adding the final wash:

...But to get the finished effect seen in the photos above, you will need to source some LePage white glue -- or something similar -- and use it for the "Wash & Dry" weathering.