Sunday, 28 February 2010

2mm: Musings on a new project....

Taking stock the other day, I realised just how long it had been since I had put brush to a 2mm sized mini, and had to go and have a quick lie down - how dare I neglect the one true scale for such a long time?
What with splashing about with 1/3000th boats, and between 1/300th Doctors, monsters, machinery, and Legionaries, 1/900th had been unjustly taking rather a back seat.
Once the swooning shock had passed, I resolved to do some research into a possible new project. (Yes, yes, I have plenty of unfinished ones, but that is hardly the point is it? - there is nothing like the anticipation of adding more to the Lead Mountain now is there....)

I did censor my thoughts in as much as I think it would be best if any new direction would have some cross-over potential, and was reminded that my fledgling Land Ironclads and Weird WWI Land Dreadnought forces lacked anything in the way of credible ground troops.
It seemed sensible then, to take the approach of exploring what this period might have to offer, but hopefully with somewhat of a twist to make it more interesting and therefore easier in terms of inspiration.

I had been admiring the completed 2mm bases recently on display over at Fjodin's Victorian House, particularly his colourful Ottoman infantry, and furthermore had been perusing the now freely available online Nafziger Orders of Battle for the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, so looking at a rough timescale between say 1880 and 1920, it came down to portraying a Colonial force, that could either campaign historically, or in a more fantastic setting.

The Nafziger documents are here; just use the search button to pick your period/conflict:

The only quandary I faced was the fact that a Colonial force, although able to fight the world over, would inevitably mean a sea of Khaki, or, if made up of Victoria's boys in red, would necessarily be visually restricted to an earlier era.

This is when I hit upon the idea of having a look at the Wolseley Campaign in Egypt in 1882, just on the verge of the Mahdist era, which, with a few exceptions, saw the last widespread use of the red tunic in battle by the British, alongside other units which wore the Khaki.

If I was to base my force around the order of battle from this campaign, then I would be able to depict a whole range of colourful units, as well as have troops that might fit into an earlier time frame, say the Zulu War, or forward into the North West Frontier of the 1920s.
Furthermore, if I added the lovely white uniformed and red fezzed Egyptians into the mix, then I could have the opportunity to engage in conventional warfare as well as something with a more VSF flavour.

There is a truncated, but nevertheless illustrative extract of the Osprey on the campaign available online at Google Books, along with a number of other previews for a quick reference:

The campaign, if used as a framework, enables red coated troops of the Guards alongside khaki-wearers from the Indian contingent regiments; there is a whole Highland Brigade as well as the blue jacketed sailors of the Naval Brigade, there are Household Cavalry alongside Bengal Lancers, green jacketed Rifleman and even an armoured 'siege train' mounting Naval ordnance!

Throw into the mix the white of the Egyptian regulars, some tribal auxiliaries for colour, and I should be covering enough bases to enable infantry to be used in any number of wars.
In the back of my mind, of course, there is still the possibility of going full hog and having a look at the Zulus or Mahdists themselves, but that is definitely for another day!

So lots of planning to do then, and hopefully some test bases in the coming ten days or so, but most importantly a whole new area to explore using 2mm.

The requisite Nafziger document, so kindly donated for free research by the man himself, is available in a direct link to the PDF here:

(The postcard view at the top of the post is one from my collection, and was produced by George Falkner & Sons, Manchester. I just wish I had more of the set, which must have depicted the whole line at Omdurman - with handy notes on which unit stood where, for future wargamers!)

Friday, 26 February 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 7

Another instalment in the series of views of Pre-Dreadnought Era ships that I have collected, this time with a look at various Russian ships from the war in 1904/5.

To kick off, we have an interesting postcard view of the notorious "Dogger Bank Incident", October 21st 1904, when the flotilla of ships of the Baltic Fleet under Admiral Rozhestventski, quite frankly, lost the plot whilst transiting the North Sea, and opened fire on thirty fishing trawlers out of Hull, mistaking them for Japanese Torpedo Boats!

Loose stories at the time, picked up by subsequent historians, blame the captain of the supply ship Kamchatka for drunkenly mistaking a passing Swedish ship for an attacker, and spreading his panic to the whole fleet, which then plunged into alarm, and engaged the innocent trawlers. The British ship Crane was sunk, killing two, and on other boats a further six were wounded, one of whom later died.
How accurate and truthful this account of the cause of the initial confusion was, I think is difficult to judge, but it is interesting in that it attests to the level of fear and consternation the recent naval successes of the Japanese had caused.

The Russians themselves did not get off lightly, in that they expended hundreds of shells, many of which were directed at each other, particularly the Cruiser Aurora, which had one man killed, and was damaged. In terms of disastrous military SNAFUs, it would almost be comical, if not for the needless civilian deaths, which make it a tragedy that was to be a precursor for the later disaster of Tsushima.

The card itself has a postmark of November 16th, 1904, so it tells of the level of outrage felt in Britain, that could see such a depiction produced and circulated so quickly.

In the wake of the incident, the Home Fleet was put on high alert, and a Cruiser squadron was despatched to shadow the Russians until they cleared the English Channel.
This obviously has good prospects of being a 'what-if' scenario in terms of wargaming, and there is also the interesting fact that it is just possible that Japanese Naval personnel and vessels were probably present in Britain at the time, with the amount of them that were built at Elswick on the Tyne......

Another postcard view next, this being a German depiction of the destruction of the Light Cruiser Boyarin by Japanese Torpedo Boats. We have to take this artist's impression with a pinch of salt, in that the ship was actually struck twice by Russian mines off Dalny, so was rather an own goal, more than the result of such dramatic enemy action!

The colour scheme is probably not accurate either, in as much as it is likely that she had been repainted in the lovely green scheme so beloved of Russo-Japanese War gamers; see here:

Anyway, as a postcard, it is an interesting piece of contemporary reportage, 1905 style!

Moving on to some real photographic views, we have a cracking picture of the Battleship Sissoi Veliki, which of course had done service during the Boxer Rebellion naval campaign, but was soldiering on in 1905, until her demise at Tsushima:

There is an absolutely fascinating article by Keith Allen, looking at the technical differences between the Russian and Japanese Fleets, which give a useful insight into the conflict here:

Next, another veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, the modern Armoured Cruiser Rossiya, seen here in an RJW colours scheme, less romantic than the black or white, but illustrative of this turning point for modern naval warfare:

Harking back to the good old days, another veteran, this time the Cruiser Rurik. Resplendent in the older scheme, a ship that definitely, and perhaps rather unfairly, got the short end of the stick at the Battle of Ulsan:

Finally a very interesting postcard view of that old favourite of mine and yours, the Cruiser Varyag, seen here in her last re-incarnation as the Japanese ship, the "Soya". After Chemulpo, the resourceful Japanese had re-floated and refitted her, and she remained in service until 1916:

Of course, her fascinating story did not end there; not for her a resting place off the Korean peninsula - oh, no! Rather she currently resides off the Scottish coast, in the Irish Sea, where a memorial was recently unveiled to commemorate her earlier heroic service:

She had been sold by Japan back to the Russians in March of 1916, and was then sent to the Baltic via Britain; whilst lying in Liverpool harbour in June 1917, the Russian Revolution broke out, and she was immediately seized by the British, and some sources say that she was later offered to the White Russians; in any event, in 1920 she was sold on to a German shipbreaker, and underway once more, this heroic vessel defied the ignominy of being scrapped by sinking en route - Urrah Varyag!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

6mm Romans: Figure Comparison

The other day, I decided to take advantage of the recent offer from Rapier Miniatures, in order that I could have a look at their figures against the competing ranges of Irregular and Baccus. As you may have seen elsewhere on this Blog, I had taken on a 6mm Early Imperial Romans project with a distinctly 'frugal' twist, and in order to keep costs down, had begun with the cast-together blocks of Legionaries available from Irregular; however, I soon experienced 'mission creep' towards Baccus, and made use of their Command and Artillery figures, so naturally enough, soon reasoned myself into a corner and took advantage of the special offer from Rapier!

I have had no previous experience of their miniatures, but had heard good things about their Ancients Line, and was not disappointed when the jiffy bag arrived, containing 96 Legionaries standing, based in five figure strips, 48 Legionaries throwing Pilum, which were based individually, 6 Command strips with a single Centurion, Signifier and Cornicen on each, and an overall command group of a single mounted Tribune and two standing Legates. Flash was present only in terms of a few ribbons left over from casting, as you will see in the photos here, and a slight nub or two on the base of the strips. The casting and detail was crisp and clear, in line with the quality of Baccus, and all were nicely proportioned.

Let's start off with a look at the Tribune and Legates - nice looking figures with good detailing, especially the breast plates and clothing, (remember all photos here are clickable for a close-up, Macro view), and great character in the faces:

The mounted commander, at a distance, scaled nicely with the offerings from the two other manufacturers - Irregular on the left, Baccus on the right, whilst obviously leaning away from the former's impressionistic bravura in terms of sculpting, toward the realism of the latter:

Up close, the rider is a little slighter in 'Heft' than the Baccus, but if anything, the horse is perhaps more realistically proportioned, although I think there would be no noticeable difference when on the table top, even if mounted on the same base - perhaps only the thickness of the Baccus strip being a factor in terms of height, but again, this is pretty negligible:

Next, let's have a look at the Legionaries themselves; I must state that obviously I have only the cast-together blocks from Irregular, and it may be that their individual figures are slightly larger in terms of individual proportions, whilst the men from Baccus are in reality the single end-placed figure clipped from one of their Command strips, as I did not actually purchase any of their Legionary ones; that aside, hopefully they will give a reasonable comparison:

Immediately, the Irregular Miniatures' chaps come across as the most diminutive, with Baccus being noticeably smaller, perhaps giving a more 'hunkered-down' behind their shields look:

It is important to note that of the three, only Rapier have provided the points of the Pilum, and although this is nice, I found that there was a tendency for these to be fragile and bend during handling, the metal/pewter is good quality, so that they can be bent back into position if disturbed, but of course the more times you do this......

Also interesting is the Rapier strip itself, in that the individual figure sits on its own base, which is then sitting on top of the strip, adding height, which otherwise would probably be a lot nearer to that of Baccus. I suppose this could be filed away, but that would be a thankless task on a whole Legion or two; creative basing would of course even this out:

From behind, in particular, the crispness of the detail on the Rapier mini is evident, although to be fair to the others, the camera focus at extreme Macro, does tend to blur a little at the edges.
The overall proportion of their figures leans toward being an anatomically balanced athletic type, whilst Baccus' men are perhaps, to be kind, a little more well-fed and sedentary in their habits?

To be honest, to my eye, Irregular would look a little too small on the table besides the Rapier, but Baccus would be fine, perhaps just not on the same base.

Next, lets move on to the rather exciting Legionary throwing Pilum.
This is a great little mini, full of animation, the only slight criticism might be the size of the weapon in relation to the figure, but some exaggeration is to be expected at this scale, so that is merely nitpicking.
Please ignore the ribbons of flash in the photo, I left these on for a fair, 'out-of-the-pack' comparison; the Pilum is sturdy, and has no need of this support, and unlike those of the standing Legionary, is less inclined to bend, so will easily be removed for the finished figure.

Seen here against the block from Irregular, the size is actually relatively close, this mini being smaller than his fellows from the same company:

Betwixt a single from Baccus and his fellows:

If anything, this one falls somewhere in between, so has more flexibility in terms of mixing manufacturers on the same base, and also lacks the extra height on the strip of the standing Legionary:

Moving on to the Command strips, these are again animated and detailed sculptings, and whilst showing the athlete vs 'norm' tendency between the two manufacturers, don't look overly large next to Baccus.

I must say that I have deliberately avoided the question of actual figure height in this post, in that I think it rarely gives a true measure of the miniature, and is often not totally helpful in describing a mini. Debates about base to eye, foot to eye, foot to top of head, etc, frequently inflame the Forum pages over at TMP and elsewhere, but from my point of view, it is the 'Heft' or bodily proportions of the figure that is the final arbiter amidst figs of the same ostensible size.

Extra overall height here again comes down to the 'double' base strip, and although from behind, the range from Rapier seems to be definitely leaning toward the Heroic, it certainly wouldn't preclude an appearance on the same table top. The standard and signal instrument are particularly nicely sculpted, with a circular shield for the Signifier.

Looking at the Legate against the Centurion strip, he looks a little more prosperous (less lean and mean) than his subordinates, but perhaps that is a good reflection of real life, anyway!
In any event, it is a super figure, the pointing arm giving good animation and therefore variety to any prospective base, with a nice drawn sword by his side:

Finally, let's see him up against the strip from Baccus; without the extra base part, it would be a good visual match, I think:

Overall, then, some excellent sculpting and attention to detail, that might just be edging it over the output of Baccus, which has always been of a definitively high standard.
I think if you wanted some variety in your forces, then they would march easiest alongside those of Baccus, and a bit of creative basing should iron out any apparent height problems.

The animation of these figures would particularly lend itself to, I feel, depicting those units who are skirmishing, deploying or attacking, rather than just standing in ranks.

I have omitted mentioning the range from Heroics and Ros, firstly, because I don't have any of their Ancients, and also in that I feel they would be clearly different enough in size, detail and heft to warrant being characterised as different figures; I suppose in a way reminiscent of the 1/285th versus 1/300th Scale Micro Armour debate, I wouldn't ordinarily consider placing them against these other minis on the same table top, anyway.

So.....was my profligate; "it's a bargain, though", train of thought rewarded?
Certainly, it was a good offer, and even more certainly the figures did not disappoint, the only worry being the apparent fragility of the standing Legionary Pilum; I think if they do take a place alongside the other bases for this project, then it may be as elites or character figures, or certainly as attacking groups, to take advantage of those lovely little Pilum throwers....

Sunday, 21 February 2010

6mm Dr Who meets the Triffids!

It was the eve of the annual Lower Throckmorton Village Flower Show, and in the back garden of number 13 Lambert Lane, John Verity was showing off his latest prize bloom:

"I dunno John, I don't like it, it's sort of weird-looking, and what's that awful smell...where on earth did you get it?"

"That's a trade secret love, I had to have something that had a chance of winning best in show....if that Ted Baker thinks he's gonna beat me again this year, he's got another thing coming...."

So John Verity hid the fact that he had truly no idea where this spectacular yet oddly disturbing plant had come from, having found it seeded amidst the rhododendrons three months previously. He knew in his heart that something was not quite right about it, yet the image of the arrogant face of his nemesis Baker, once more besting him at the Flower Show, made him ignore his own unease.
Later that Summer night, something stirred in the shrubbery:

The day of the Flower Show dawned, and the villagers gathered in the gardens of the Hall to see battle commence at the most hotly contested competition of the social calendar (well, it is a small village....).

"So, come on then Verity, where's this wonder plant you've been bragging about then? can't see it beating my gladioli this year...."

Verity did his best to ignore the annoying grin on Baker's face.

"You'll see Ted, you'll see....."

" 'Ere....what's this then, Johnnie, some sort of joke, don't think this is funny, you know....did that plant just move? No, it can't my god......."

The charming rural atmosphere of the village was rent by screams, as from all sides, from out of the undergrowth, swayed the obscene orange blooms of the Triffids!

" for your lives!"

Within hours, silence reigned over a scene of carnage, and only the local Police Riot Squad stood between the evil vegetables and was an unequal battle, fought bravely, but ultimately hopelessly.....

The next day, U.N.I.T. arrived in the deserted village, but without proper intelligence as to the exact nature of the threat (garbled tales of killer plants.....!), the troops enter by a single narrow lane, and are ambushed......

"Doctor, I thought the Brigadier said he would meet us here, but there's no sign of's awfully quiet don't you think......hey.......did that plant just move......?"

To Be Continued.......

A quick photo montage then, of the SF10 Tripedium Linguatum (Stinging Type) from QRF. Lovely little sculpts, these, that could do duty as threatening plants in any number of scales, but with 6mm, look suitably monstrous!
I found them a little fiddly to put together, in that although the bases have a cast hole into which the flower head fits, this was a little large for the prong that is part of the head, and the weight of this causes a problem in trying to balance it whilst the glue dries - in future, I think I would trim the prong somewhat, and perhaps fill the hole with modelling putty, inserting and glueing when this was almost dry - would make for an easier bond.

The stingers themselves also look potentially tricky, but actually, there is a deep hole cast in the heart of the flower into which they fit nicely, I just found that sharpening the end with a file, and bending them a little with needle-nose pliers beforehand, helped the balance whilst the glue was drying, and gave them a suitably 'lashing out' kind of look.

Not the best paint-job in the world on view here, but I was keen to get them done - probably should have taken more time over them - they'll also eventually be mounted on two-pence coins to aid stability - the stingers are always going to be a weak point when handling them.
Overall, though, a nice addition to my 6mm monsters, and a great mini from a lesser-known range at QRF.

Friday, 19 February 2010

2mm Web Resources: It just keeps on coming....!

I told you that 2010 would be the year of the littlest miniatures, and I am glad to report a further online entry for the world of 2mm.
Fjodin's Victorian House is an eclectic and eccentric mix of all things VSF related, and has made a good start on introducing a number of ongoing projects, as well as posting up some intriguing links to videos that might be of interest to VSF, or even just Victorian gamers.

Principal amongst this however, is the showcasing of the author's expanding collection of 2mm minis; some excellent painting on offer here, and hopefully plenty more in the future!

March on over and take a look......

Monday, 15 February 2010

2mm Web Resources: the Future?

Hello all! The majority of what we do with our 2mm minis may involve the 'historical', but that does not mean we can't embrace new-fangled ways of presenting the hobby; with this in mind, I introduce a first step in the possible future of wargaming with miniatures - yes, it's 2mm minis on Facebook - that thing the youngsters are always on.....

Chris has made an excellent start with this page, showcasing some of his miniatures, current projects and observations on the hobby - well worth a visit, and with a growing membership, will no doubt be a great addition to the world of 2mm online.

This should give us all an excuse to indulge our passion for all things tiny, whilst remaining 'hip' and 'groovy' (or whatever they call it these days) at the same time!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Chemulpo: After Action Report

Rear Admiral Uriu's ultimatum to the two Russian vessels anchored in the Port of Chemulpo, Korea, is about to expire, when to the west of Yo-dol-mi Island, the silhouettes of two ships appear in line ahead, heading straight for the Japanese.

The after-action report then, on the re-fight of the last stand of Varyag and Korietz, using Phil Barker's "Damn Battleships Again" rules, with a few adjustments of my own thrown in here and there.
In order to balance the inevitability of the Russians being overpowered, we deployed a 'cunning plan' involving two of the neutral ships; as described in my last post, the French Pascal and the Italian Elba. These vessels made an interference run in the direction of the Japanese, ostensibly as neutral shipping under the rules.
I was hoping also that wind and weather might become a factor, but unfortunately, and perhaps typically, the die rolls gave us 'Light airs and calm', and of course the time of day also did nothing to mask the Russian breakout attempt.
Rudnev, commanding the Russian flotilla was rated as type 4 gallant/mad, whilst Uriu was type 5 cautious.
To further mask the strength of the historical Japanese fleet, I resolved to employ only the models I had for actual vessels, rather than using proxies for the remaining ships, so this served to limit the firepower available. The balance of Uriu's fleet, including the Torpedo Boats, were judged to be further out to sea, watching for any Russian reinforcements approaching from Port Arthur.

Meanwhile, to the East of the Island, Varyag and Korietz, make best speed for the open sea:

Much to his annoyance, the shapes of the ships approaching Rear Admiral Uriu's Naniwa resolve themselves into two neutrals, and he furiously crosses their bows in order to prevent them from masking his line of battle, and the all-important guns of the armoured Asama.

The Japanese battle line resolved itself into the Asama, Takachiho and Akashi, and a tentative long range shot from the 6" guns of the Varyag failed to make any impression on the armour of the foremost Japanese cruiser; things were not looking good when in reply, Korietz was immediately damaged. Instead of puffs of cotton wool, I am using the 1/2400 shell splashes, CM36, available from Quick Reaction Force.

Thunderous fire from the Asama and Takachiho bracketed the two Russian vessels, and in a few cruel minutes, both were damaged, whilst ominously the Akashi began to pull away from the Japanese line, moving to cut off their enemy's escape route ahead:

Not dismayed, however, Rudnev's gunners fought back against the smoke and flame, and loading their weapons like men possessed, found the range against the Takachiho: a hit!

The intervention of the neutrals had effectively put Naniwa out of the fight, and some inspired rolling meant the Russians could actually strike back against the better armoured Japanese, whilst they in turn had some hideously low rolls, failing to make a dent, even on the 4SP Korietz.

The bit between their teeth, the valiant Russians turned into the approaching foe, and the range narrowing all the time, let loose a barrage of torpedoes, only to be damaged in turn by a rain of Japanese shells:

Varyag was damaged for the second time by the Asama, but incredibly, both gun and torpedo hits were made on the Akashi, however, with her impetuous turn into the enemy, Varyag was now effectively doomed; the weight of fire incoming meant she was going to be in real trouble.
The only bright spot was it meant that Korietz was able to pull ahead, whilst her companion took the heat.

Then, disaster! Blinded by smoke and torn and wrenched by weight of shot, a cruel blow was inflicted on the valiant Varyag, and she is crippled by the fire of the enemy....

The nobility of Rudnev's sacrifice means that the weaker Korietz, bloodied but unbowed, can make good her passage toward Port Arthur and immortality:

To be frank, the Japanese at this point could have closed in for the kill on the smaller ship, which was going to be easily outpaced by the cruisers, but in good gentlemanly fashion, Uriu refused to engage such a weakened opponent; whether the TBs waiting out to sea would have been as kind, remained to be seen....

Honours, even, then, the vast armoured bulk of the Asama, unscratched by the lighter guns of the Russians, is chivalrous enough to allow the brave Korietz to pass:

The immortal Varyag and Korietz:

So, having weighted the game as much as possible away from favouring the Japanese, the Russians, mainly due to some very fortunate dice, gave not a bad account of themselves. In reality, however, just as historically, there was not a lot they could do against the ships with greater defence factors; closing the range gave them a better chance to hit, but of course this works both ways!
The combat ranges were adjusted downwards, to allow for the 1/3000th models, and the engagement easily took place on the 4x4 foot sea mat, although more shipping would have made things rather tighter.
The neutrals declined to take an active part, but had they got into the fight, things might have been more even, or at least made very interesting for the Japanese.
Good fun as a game, not least in paying tribute to the valiant and gallant fight put up by Rudnev and Belyaev, and of course things ended without the need to take on board the inevitable scuttling of the Russian ships that was to follow....

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Chemulpo: DBA Scenario Ideas.

A look now at some ideas as to how to present Chemulpo 1904 as a 'Damn Battleships Again' Scenario, looking in particular at the various vessels, their classification, and how one might 'level the playing field' somewhat, in order to turn what was always going to be a one-sided encounter into something a little more balanced.

As I'll be using the ships that were present during the Boxer Rebellion from my earlier campaign, I don't have the requisite models to represent every vessel, but given that historically not all the Japanese vessels seem to have engaged fully, (I suppose the Asama alone could have done the job, in reality....) I'm going to work around that.
I think the battle could throw up some interesting outcomes, and depending if you extend into 'what-if' territory, the involvement of the four neutral warships could be crucial.

All the vessels in the photos here are Navwar 1/3000th, and eagle-eyed viewers will note that my Varyag is actually a masquerading French Chateaurenault - I ordered the wrong pack, so had to make do! All ideas relating to the scenario are not official, emanating from myself, rather than such luminaries as Mr Barker et al.
If you don't have an immediate reference like a Naval Annual or All the World's Navies, thankfully there are a number of sites online that have good information available for this period.
The always interesting website has a nice summary of statistics for the various participants here:

In addition to the major surface vessels, they mention eight separate Japanese Torpedo Boat types, although I have yet to see these particular ships confirmed by other sources; some say three boats, some six, and most have no detail as to which ones; certainly, historically, they seemed to have taken no part in the main action, although that doesn't stop you adding them in for maximum mayhem!

First up then, some basic ship statistics, starting with the Varyag, or 'Viking' herself:

HIRMS Varyag: 1st Class protected Cruiser
Speed: 23 knots
(I hasten to add that this was optimal, sources put her capability at more like 19 kt on the day.)
Armament: twelve 6"QF, twelve 3", eight 47mm QF, six 15" Torpedo Tubes.
Damn Battleships Again Class: 2nd Class Cruiser, 6 Ship Points.

Next, her consort, the sea-going gunboat the HIRMS Korietz or 'The Korean':

Speed: 12 knots (on a good day....)
Armament: two 8" L/35 muzzle-loading guns, one 6" muzzle loader, four 4", six 47mm QF. The website above also gives her a single 15" Torpedo Tube, but I have not seen this mentioned elsewhere.
DBA Class: Obsolete, this seems rather harsh, but in view of her weaponry and size.....2SP? Perhaps for the sake of balance, a 3rd Class Cruiser designation might hold, at 4SP - both these ships punched above their weight in terms of gallantry and bravado!

Now for the rather weightier opposition; first up, the impressive Armoured Cruiser, Asama:

Speed 20.5 knots
Armament: four 8", sixteen 6" QF, twelve 12pdr QF, seven 2.5pdr QF, five 18" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 1st Class Cruiser, 8SP.

HIJMS Takachiho and Naniwa (sister ships):

Speed 18.5 knots
Armament: six 6", two 57mm QF, four 18" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser, 6SP.

HIJMS Naniwa (Rear Adm. Uriu's flagship):

HIJMS Akashi (Suma Class):

Speed 20 knots
Armament: two 6", six 4.7", four 3", ten 47mm QF, two 15" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser, 6SP.

HIJMS Niitaka:

Speed 20 knots
Armament: six 6", sixteen 3", four 47mm QF
DBA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser, 4SP.

HIJMS Chiyoda:

Speed 19 knots
Armament: fourteen 6", ten 4.7", three 15" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 1st Class Cruiser, 8SP.

HIJMS Chihaya:

Speed 18 knots
Armament: two 4.7", four 3"QF, five 18" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser, 4SP.

So, even discounting the up to eight TBs, Japan seems to have a whacking great advantage, but I think with some special rules, you could engineer in some interesting bonuses to give the Russian pair a chance.
Depending on whether you see Rudnev's mission as to go down in a blaze of glory, or to attempt to break the blockade, then DBA allows for some interesting impacts on play using wind and weather as well as navigation hazards. If you saw the map I linked in my previous post, you will notice not only the Yo-dol-mi island, but also the 5 fathom line across much of the eastern edge; this would play well as a shoal, for instance.
Next of course, we have to factor in the dash and elan of the respective commanders, Uriu certainly seems to have been relatively cautious and methodical, conservative, even, whilst Rudnev allowed himself to be caught in a situation that could only engender rashness - I like the Flag Officer's Classification no4: "He is a gallant officer and/or completely mad" - could have been written for him!

Then, of course, there is the potential involvement of the neutrals; this could take the form of running interference, as it were, with perhaps them behaving as merchant shipping under the rules, and just happening to sally out in line astern and covering the Russian pair in the process (Will Uriiu fire on/through them?), or even something more active.

Historically speaking, the U.S.S. Vicksburg was definitely erring on the Japanese side of things, geopolitically at this period, the two countries were, if not allied as such, benevolently disposed toward each other, and indeed, in terms of trade, the dominance of a victorious Russian Empire would perhaps not have been in America's interests.
Perhaps we could then discount her active participation, but what about the British HMS Talbot? Bayly had made his point as "Yours, disgruntled of Chemulpo....." with his protest letter, but surely, could not have gone further, attacking an ally at the expense of a global competitor?
I think, on balance, he will act as he did historically, although it would be nice to think he would come up with some sort of diversionary wheeze as I mentioned above to allow the Russians to leave without bloodshed....

Turning finally to the other two European nations, this is where I think that the best possibilities for action lie. The French, if anything, were natural allies of the Russians at the time, and how could they resist the romance of that last, gallant sally? In reality, they looked on, a la Charge of the Light Brigade, and shrugged "C'est Magnifique....mais ce n'est pas la Guerre!", but wouldn't it be great, if impassioned by the Russian example, they joined the fray?

Descartes Class Cruiser, Pascal:

Speed 19.5 knots
Armament: four 6.4", ten 4", two 18" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser, 6SP.

Finally, the Italians; not to stereotype their nation, but could they stand idly by and watch the French go to glory and beyond without them? I say: "Avanti Italia!"

Lombardia Class Cruiser, Elba:

Speed 17 knots
Armament: four 6", six 4.7", eight 57mm QF, seven 47mm QF, two 14" Torpedo Tubes
DBA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser, 6SP.

Plenty to think about, there, I think, I'll be running a refight along these lines in the next few days, so keep a lookout for the After Action Report!