Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Camberwick Green is a small 'village' in South London which was partly destroyed in the Martian Invasion. The Martians left three 'artifacts' in the fields just outside the High Street.
The Mad Mahdi of Omdurman had a vision that the Martians were really Islamic Jihadis and that the artifacts were messages from Jesus who now lived on Mars. Accordingly he depatched Osman Arzak on a Nile Dhow on a long cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, up the Atlantic and Channel and into the Medway. Their objective was to capture the three Camberwick artifacts
The voyage in the tiny sailing boat was ghastly, not least because Arzak insisted on bringing his favourite horse.
Arzak's force included Ansar armed with proper Islamic weapons, swords, spears, shields and a bad attitude, and some Jihadiyya riflemen.
The march of a Mahdist warband through Kent did not go entirely unremarked. The locals were used to Martians, vampires, assorted daemons and the odd Prussian but Mahdists were something else so a platoon from the Buffs under Captain Adrian Nash moved to intercept, hurrying along the Kent lanes in a Thornton steam waggon chased by several farm dogs and a small boy hurling conkers.
Arzak split his small army into four, separating his rifleman out to the wings and dividing his Ansar into two attack groups who raced down the lanes between the fields.
The British rifle fire proved singularly ill aimed and the whirling Dervish reached the 'infidel turks' (aka the Buffs) largely intact. Sudanese riflemen captured the right and left artefacts and Arzak jumped over the fence at a full gallop to capture the one in the centre.
All the Mahdists now had to do was retire with the captured Martian gizmos worth 120 victory points while the Dervish occupied the Buffs. An easy win even if all the Dervish in the rearguard died
That, of course is where it all went wrong.
Captain Nash was an Erudite Wit with a working knowledge of Arabic and he made an unfortunate remark involving Osman Arzak's mother and a diseased camel. Naturally, Arzak took no little exception to such jollities and, forgetting the point of his mission, ordered an immediate assault on the Infidel on his right. Only a single Jihadiyya riflemen remembered what he was about and sneaked off with the loot.
On the Mahdist left flank things proceeded as planned, a Jihadiyya riflemen picking up the artifact and legging it.
Captain Nash died bravely under a hail of spear points but in general the Buffs proved pretty good at bayonet work and the Dervish found they did not like it up 'em.
Even worse, a certain Private Means on the right flank proved to be a crack shot, knocking down each Jihadiyya riflemen in turn who picked up the left flank artifact. He even shot Osman Arzak out of the saddle as he galloped off the field.
When Adrian and I totted up the points we found we had exactly 49 victory points each: a most satisfying end to a great game.
Friday, 18 July 2014
Monday, 14 July 2014
Fifteen Beja on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of holy water that the Mahdi washed in...
Upon hearing that the 'Turks' had a new steamboat the Mad Mahdi commissioned his own naval force by 'acquiring' a trading dhow from the river Arabs.
The model is scratchbuilt in plasticard from a plan off the Major General Tremorden archived colonial warfare site.
It will carry about twenty Dervishes at a pinch provided they don't whirl too much.
The Mahdist flag.
Sunday, 13 July 2014
The year is 1886. Wolsey's Khartoum relief expedition has failed. Despite the British winning every battle, they lost the war. The Relief Expedition is replaced by the Frontier Force which garrisons Wadi Halfa on the Egyptian southern border up near the second cataract of the mighty Nile. Conditions are hellish with temperatures of 122F recorded in the men's tents.
The newly arrived Dorset Regiment is soon christened the Dying Dorsets as they lose one third of their strength without hearing a shot fired in anger.
A half company of men camped out by some ancient ruins by a tributary of the Nile is down to just eight effectives when a friendly river Arab dashes into the camp with the awful news that the Khalifa's Merry Men are coming. Sergeant Shaun Murphy has just enough time to form a defensive line.
We used the IHMN rules to recreate an historical skirmish between the Ansar and the Dorsets on the frontier.
The Ansar raiders, commanded by El Jon, a cousin of the deceased Mahdi sent North by the new Khalifa to get him out of the way, consist of eleven men armed with properly Islamic weapons: swords, shields, and spear. They also have verses of the Koran in amulets worn on the body that are guaranteed to turn the British bullets to water (so they get the water bullet advantage).
They are supported by six Jehadiya African riflemen. These warriors are not true believers so do not get the water bullet advantage. I class their guns as carbines despite them being Remington breech loading rifles captured from the Egyptian Army because the Jehadiya tended to cut the barrels down and knock off the sights. The Jehadiya cannot use volley fire.
The Ansar objective is to kill all the infidel.
The Dorsets want to survive.
Let battle commence.
The Ansar dash forwards in one of their bounding charges while the Jehadiya lay down a desultory supporting fire with their usual inaccuracy.
The Dorsets fall back slowly, firing aimed shots and the Mahdists start to die.
The Ansar pile into the British line to be met by determined bayonet work.
The Dorsets fall back 'by the numbers', one half of the unit laying down withering fire as the other retreats through them. Two Dorsets fall to spear thrusts and a third is trapped but they sell their lives dearly.
The Ansar charge peters out after skewering two more Dorsets.
Sixteen Mahdist fanatics stain the sand sodden red.
Veteran Sgt Murphy advises his men to bayonet the Mahdist dead 'just to make sure'.
A great fun game. IHMN works really well as a colonial skirmish game. Of hand I can't think of a better set of rules for the job.
Saturday, 12 July 2014
The artwork for my next novel, written by me from an outline by David Drake, is done. At the moment it has a target slot for a March 2015 release.
The cover captures the feel of the space opera nicely as the story moves up a gear into full blown warfare.