Saturday 29 August 2009

2mm Preview: French and Indian War

A sneak peek now, at some troops that will be making an appearance during a special week of posts to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759; the victory of Wolfe over Montcalm, and the fall of Quebec.

The French and Indian War, given the terrain and relatively small numbers of troops involved, normally appears on the wargaming table top in the form of larger scale figures; woodland skirmishes, Iroquois and Rogers' Rangers et al.
I, however, in typically contrary fashion, having had a yen to make use of the Mass potential of 2mm figures to do a Seven Years War project, hit upon the idea of moving the focus to North America and Canada, and employing small minis to do a truly large scale rendition of the major engagements.

In this I was ably served by the support and services available from Tony Hughes over at Tiny Tin Troops, who was kind enough to work on the realisation of the project with me, and paint the vast majority of the troops involved, it being my first major use of 2mm figures since a couple of smaller scale efforts.

I will be looking in detail at the conception, planning and organisation of the task in forthcoming posts, as well as looking at the background to the battle at Quebec, hopefully culminating in a photographic essay on the day of the event itself. In the meantime, though, here are some views of part of the regiments of New France that will have a starring role!

Below we see the 2nd Battalion, Regiment De La Reine, which served at Oswego, Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry, Fort Carillon and finally at Isle-aux Noix at the time of the surrender:

Next we have the 2nd Battalion, Regiment De Bearn, which was in the centre of Montcalm's line at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, before retreating to Montreal:

They are followed by the 2nd Battalion, Regiment De La Sarre, who suffered great losses at the battle, including their commander, M. de Senezergue:

Moving focus slightly, we have the 2nd Battalion, Regiment Artois, which was present at the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, and comprising 466 all ranks, surrendered with the city upon its capitulation.

An interesting unit, also present at the fall of Louisbourg, was the Volontaires d'Etrangers, commanded by Col. d'Anthonay, that was raised principally from Germans, and ostensibly was a 'Legion' to operate in the role of light troops "a la Petite Guerre"; although their thirteen companies, including one of grenadiers, probably did not have much opportunity to do this during a siege:

Finally, we see some of the artillery of the Cannoniers Bombardiers, which having lovely red painted gun carriages, show up really well, even though only being teeny tiny 2mm!

Hope all this has whetted your appetite, and that you'll check back for further posts, when, never fear, I'll go into all the 'whys and wherefores' of the project as a whole.

"Vive le Roi!"

Thursday 20 August 2009

2mm Web Resources

Increasing numbers of people are showing an interest in using 2mm miniatures to re-create battles on the tabletop, so I thought I would introduce a list of readily available resources on the Web, which I have found both useful and inspirational in preparing projects in this scale.

Of course, there is an excellent and flourishing Yahoo Groups site, with approaching 1,000 members world-wide, but for those of you who are only 'dipping your toe in the water', as it were, or are not yet ready to commit to joining a Members-only Group, I present a run down of the best Web sites relating to 2mm, which should help the intrigued amongst you to become the inspired!

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and is entirely personal and subjective, but should serve as a good indication of the creative use of these tiniest of toy soldiers; apologies for any obvious omissions, feel free to let me know if you think someone should be included.

Firstly, we have what must serve as the locus for any exploration of the world of 2mm, the 'Granddaddy' of all small scale sites, namely Gildas Facit, the website of Tony Hughes:

This has long served as a primer to the resources available from Irregular Miniatures in 2mm, and is full of excellent, detailed advice, photographs, and measurements of what is on offer, any journey into 2mm should start here!

This site is now ably aided and supported by the commercial website Tiny Tin Troops, which has further valuable insights, and also offers a painting service for the faint-hearted (Yes, these miniatures are really small!):

Of particular note are the galleries, and the useful, downloadable information pamphlet:

Next, I would like to list, in no particular order, websites and pages that have 2mm related content, and more importantly, some 'eye-candy' photos that should whet the appetite!

From TMP, an excellent Workbench article relating to 2mm Sci-Fi:

From Nik Harwood's Wiki Pages, ACW and Napoleonics:

Volley and Bayonet, all the way from New Zealand, offers Lobositz 1756, done in 2mm scale:

The Fighting Fantasist offers Thirty Year's War Renaissance armies:

Arnstein Orten considers 2mm gaming:

and mentions the Ancients ideas available at Bob's Games:
(click on the left side Nav bar for excellent photos!)

David at War Depot looks at starting with Napoleonics:

Nice looking terrain board at Beware the Beast Blog:

Thomo ruminates on nascent 2mm projects involving Aeronefs, with photo of 2mm train!:

Rodvik presents Napoleonics rules for use with 2mm miniatures:

Germy shows off his excellent Sci-Fi ranges:

John Scoville's home made, yes, that's home made, 2mm armies:

There are of course many other valiant pioneers out there who have taken the plunge, and I urge anyone interested to join the growing Yahoo Group: debate, information, advice, rules, and a plethora of photos in the gallery:

Manufacturers/Retailers in this scale include principally the following:

Irregular Miniatures:

Germy's Micro Minis Sci-Fi at GZG:

Brigade Games' Aeronef:

If all this is just too teeny weeny for you, then honourable mention must go to the close cousin of 2mm, namely the growing range of 3mm miniatures by Oddzial Osmy, which provide fantastic coverage of WWII and Modern era conflicts:

these 1/600th giants, as opposed to the ostensible 1/900th of 2mm, also have a flourishing Yahoo Group:

I hope the above will encourage some of you who are still labouring under the misapprehension that 2mm is just too small to be practical, or that are sceptical of its ability to represent large scale armies in various periods, to at least give them a try!

Saturday 15 August 2009

50th Post: Introducing Nano-Gaming

Celebrating today, with the fiftieth post of this Blog! It's a small milestone in the grand scheme of things, but one I'm nevertheless quite proud of, and furthermore exceeds my initial expectations. None of it would have been possible without the support, guidance and interaction of many members of the online Wargaming and Miniatures community, and I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge and well deserved thank you to all of those who have taken the time to read the Blog, join as followers, or indeed leave comments and feedback; the list is long, so I won't mention names, but you know who you are!

As a bit of fun, I present to you the next level of gaming at this small scale miniatures Blog; you've tried Micro-Armour, you've heard of Pico-Armour, now here's Nano-Gaming!

The Battle of Waterloo, June 1815:

D'Erlons column approaches the British squares, standing firm amidst swathes of fallen Cuirassier, atop the crest above Hougomont:

The British Guards form line and incline to outflank the oncoming French:

British Cavalry maneuver to close the trap:

"La Garde Recule!"

Broken troops begin to stream away from the line of battle; the end has come.....

Well, alright, actually some strategically placed motherboards photographed by my partner, but she had me going when I first saw the thumbnails......I was scared that someone out there had discovered a scale smaller than my own favourites that I didn't yet know about!

There will be a few cosmetic changes coming to the Blog from this post onwards, nothing too major, but just to freshen things up, (feel free to let me know what you think) and also there will be some new work done on projects that have yet to get a mention here, namely 1/300th WWII, the Desert War, and the First Crusade in 10mm, so hopefully onwards and upwards.

Thanks once again for your continued support, hope I can keep things interesting for the next 50 posts and beyond,


Wednesday 12 August 2009

6mm Romans: Yet More Musings

Baccus Romans are beautiful. There is no getting around it, especially when compared to the output of the three other main manufacturers. The Command stands in particular, given their size, are little works of art; you can even see the medallions on the Centurion's armour!

I think the only thing that justifies my somewhat miserly initial approach to this project is the cost factor of Irregular Miniature's cast-in-one Legionary blocks, alongside the fact that I wanted to depict Mass in their formations; I think it would probably be a shame to go to the trouble of painting up 96 odd Baccus Legionaries only to cram them in so tight on the stand that you couldn't appreciate the paint jobs..... that is the sop to my conscience, anyway, and I'm quite happy with how the Centuries turned out.

The only fly in the ointment was of course the lack of Command figures on the base, so this is where I fell under the spell of Baccus, and opted to put the trio at the rear of each one. I had toyed with the idea of putting them out front, but felt that this would rather obscure the business end of the unit, so opted for a group in the rear. The Baccus command stand features a Legionary on the extreme right, but given that he is noticeably taller and heftier than the Irregular ones, I removed him, and just kept the 'officers'. They are slightly smaller than the Legionaries themselves, and so to my eye don't look too out of place up against the overall more dimunitive Irregular troops. Certainly the nice thick base to the Irregular blocks helps to even this out.

Whereas the Irregular blocks were more or less speed-painted (I've a total of 36 to do!), I decided to go to town, in as much as I am able, with the Baccus chaps, and I'm pleased with the way they turned out. There is some intimidating detail at first glance, but the features are so well defined that they are straightforward to paint, and reward a bit of patience, turning out absolutely spiffing, and I'm certainly no Da Vinci!

In terms of how things are going to be organised, I've decided to have each Legionary unit as three bases, which at a 'half' figure scale gives you half of the 6 Centuries that make up a typical Cohort, furthermore, visually, the two blocks obvious on each base give the impression of six distinguishable bodies of troops from above, so re-enforces the idea that this is a decent sized unit rather than just a patrol.
It is a bit unusual, having three bases each , but I'm a contrary sort of fellow!
The only exception so far is the Praetorians, who have just two bases at present, although I might do one more, in Hollywood style with black shields, to complete the unit.

As yet, the bases are incomplete, so forgive their appearance in these photos, but I hope to be finishing them off soon.

Moving on now, to some of the other necessary components, a quick look, 'in the flesh' so to speak.

First up, the Baccus Artillery base as it comes from the packet, with at lower left the offering from Irregular (ES9 Ballista in the scenics page of their catalogue). The former obviusly comes with a nice pair of crew figures, and is large and nicely defined, whilst the latter is cruder, smaller, and bereft of any crew. On the positive side, it is only £0.25 for two! I think it would make a decent smaller alternative, and if you're ambitious, with a bit of conversion, could be mounted on a suitable cart to put the 'Carro' in Carroballistae!

Leaving the Romans, now, and turning attention to their allies, here are some examples from Irregular that will see duty as either Batavian Irregulars or Suebi, who can support the various contenders for the Imperial throne in AD 69. Obviously Baccus again have some excellent sculpts available here, but I fell that more lightly armed or irregular troop types will benefit from being slighter in appearance next to the might of the Legions, so am quite positive about employing some of these, depending, of course, on how they paint up.

Not the best photo in the world, but above we have Irregular's E25 German/Gothic/Frankish Cavalry, which if you can see beyond the cast-together style, are actually pretty good, with a range of headgear and shields, and remember only £0.50 for 5 figures.

Next we have E23, Celtic Medium Cavalry, which look a bit blobby here, but in reality are quite nicely animated and are clutching a number of light spears, and therefore look suitably business like:

For the infantry, I've opted for E21 Celtic Infantry, which are again nicely animated, more so than the available German or Pictish Infantry, who come in close order, standing at ease, whereas this lot look like they are ready for trouble. Unfortunately the figure with the raised sword is prone to having this broken in casting or transit, so as often with Irregular, buy a few extra blocks just in case!

Now for some lighter types, namely E16, Barbarian Infantry Javelinmen:

E18 Barbarian Infantry Slingers:

and E17, Barbarian Archers, all of whom should serve well, depending on the paint job, as either supporters of the Legions, or as more down to earth types brought along as allies:

These are nicely spaced out on a longer than usual base, and again have good animation, given their small size.

So the project that was just a side show continues to take shape and grow, so hopefully next time on this subject I'll have more completed units to show, as well as devoting some space to discussing the historical background and battles from the era in question...

Monday 10 August 2009

55 Days at Sea: 1st Scenario: Ship Stats and OOB

Ship statistics and order of battle now, for the first scenario in the 55 Days at Sea Campaign: "Surprise Attack", using Mr Barker's 'Damn Battleships Again' rules.

I thought I would lay out the details of the various contenders here, as well as make some notes on certain points specific to this scenario; I've provided some general statistics that might be useful, and included the ship classification in line with my interpretation of the definitions according to the rules.
First off, the Fleet of the Great Powers, gathered at anchor off the Taku Bar:

Great Britain:

HMS Centurion and Barfleur (Centurion Class)
10,500 tons, Weapons: 4 x 10", 10 x 4.7", 8 x 6pdr, 12 x 3 pdr, Torpedo Tubes: 7 x 18"
Armour: 12' Belt, 2.5" Deck
Speed: 17 knots
Damn Battleships Again Ship Classification: Battleship

Endymion (Edgar Class)
7,700t, 2 x 9.2", 10 x 6", 12 x 6pdr, TT: 2 x 18"
5" Deck
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser

Aurora and Orlando (Orlando Class)
5,600t, 2 x 9.2", 10 x 6", 10 x 3pdr
10' Compound Belt, 3" Deck
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser


Zenta (Zenta Class)
2,300 tons, 8 x 4.7", 10 x 3pdr, TT: 2 x 17.7"
2" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser

United States of America:

Newark (own class)
4, 083t, 12 x 6", 4 x 6pdr
3" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser


Calabria (own class)
2,453t, 4 x 6", 4 x 4.7", 8x 57mm, TT: 2 x 17.7"
2" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser

Elba (Lombardia or Regions Class)
2,245t, 4 x 6", 6 x 4.7', 10 x 57mm, TT: 2 x 17.7"
2" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser


Kasagi (Chitose Class)
4,760t, 2 x 8", 10 x 4.7", 12 x 12pdr, TT: 4 x 18"
2.5" Deck
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser

Suma (own class)
2,657t, 2 x 6", 6 x 4.7", 10 x 3pdr, TT: 2 x 15"
2" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser


Kaiserin Augusta (own class)
6,218t, 12 x 5.9", 8 x 3.4", TT: 5 x 13.8"
2.75" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser

Hansa and Hertha (Victoria Luise Class)
5,660t, 2 x 8.2", 8 x 5.9", 10 x 12pdr, TT: 3 x 17.7"
4" Deck
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser

Gefion (own class)
4,275t, 10 x 6", 6 x 4.8", TT: 2 x 17.7"
Armour: unknown
DBSA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser


Rossiya (own class)
12,500t, 4 x 8", 16 x 5.5", 12 x 3pdr, TT: 6 x 18"
10" Belt, 2.5" Deck
DBSA Class: Battleship
(Given her size, weapon complement, and armour, this seems the best designation under the DBA rules, although she was actually a large armoured cruiser.)

Sissoi Veliki (own class)
9,000t, 4 x 12", 6 x 6", 12 x 57mm, 24 x 37mm, TT: 6 x 18:
16" Belt, 3" Deck
DBSA Class: Battleship

Gaidamak (Kazarski Class)
400t approx, 6 x 3pdr, 3 x 1pdr, TT: 2 x 15"
DBSA Class: Torpedo Boat Destroyer
(DBSA actually calls for TBDs to operate/be depicted in pairs, but as these are historical, named ships, I'm foregoing this rule)


D'Entrecasteaux (own class)
8,114t, 2 x 9.4", 12 x 5.5", 12 x 3pdr, TT: 6 x 18"
2.2" Deck
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser

Descartes, Pascal (Descartes Class)
4,000t, 4 x 6.4", 10 x 4", 8 x 3pdr, TT: 2 x 18"
2" Deck
DBSA Class: 2nd Class Cruiser

Now for the Chinese Navy:

Anchored at the rear of the Great Power's Fleet:

Hai Yung (own class)
2,680t, 3 x 5.9", 8 x 4", TT: 3 x 14"
Armour unknown
DBSA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser

Flotilla approaching from the South:

Hai Tien (own class, based on Elswick built Argentinian Buenos Aires Class Cruiser)
4,500t, 2 x 8", 10 x 4.7", 16 x 2", TT: 5 x 18"
Armour unknown
DBSA Class: 1st Class Cruiser

Fei Ting (own class, officially a 'torpedo cruiser')
400t, 2 x 4", 4 x 2", TT: 5 x 18"
Armour unknown
DBSA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser

Fei Ying (own class)
Tonnage unknown, 2 x 47mm, TT: 3 x 13.7"
Armour unknown
DBSA Class: Torpedo Boat Destroyer

Kuang Ting (own class, 'torpedo gunboat')
Tonnage unknown, 3 x 5.9", 4 x 47mm, TT: 4 x 18"
Armour unknown
DBSA Class: 3rd Class Cruiser

The 'surprise package' emerging from the mouth of the Pei Ho river, obscured by the two Kwantung Junks:

Hai Hola, Hai Lung, Hai Nju, Hai Ying (Hai Hola Class)
Tonnage unknown, 6 x 47mm, TT: 2 x 18"
DBSA Class: Torpedo Boat Destroyer

The two Kwantung Junks themselves are of course classed as Merchant shipping, although they could reveal themselves as 'Raiders / Armed Merchant Cruisers' in the sense that they mount 6 obsolete muzzle-loading 24pdr guns, and are crewed by fanatical Boxers. An attempt to board and inspect these ships by one of the Great Powers could result in a nasty surprise!

The Time of Day for the start of the scenario is decided at 6 spells before sunrise, therefore dawn.

You might like to depict the Taku Bar itself as a shoal under the rules, this is a hazard to navigation and blocks line of sight for Torpedo Boat Destroyers.

The Russian Rossiya is the Flagship of the Fleet.

The positions of the various ships are as depicted in the Russian diagram on the Taku Bombardment Webpage: (Scroll down...)

The Chinese TBDs and junks approach from the top of the diagram, the Hai Yung is at position in the rear, and she will be joined by the flotilla moving from Wu-Sung after the first few spells of play.

As this is a surprise attack, I would award by default the initiative to the Chinese, and might hamper the Great Powers further by imposing a spell limit before they could either return fire or begin to move; this would obviously depict their unpreparedness and time needed to get up a head of steam.

Furthermore, it would give some advantage to the Chinese, who are, after all, outnumbered 2:1 by more capable ships!

Victory conditions should also reflect the strategic impact of interdicting the landing of troops by the Great Powers, and each loss to them, whether damaged or sunk, should be judged greater than one on the Chinese side, their likely losses being relatively immaterial in the sense of achieving the aim of closing the mouth of the Pei Ho to Western ships.

A further bit of fun might be to introduce a 'Confusion' dice roll, whereby if a ship of a certain nation receives fire from the Chinese in the near vicinity of another, competing nation, then they may mistakenly assume they are under attack by their rival power, and react accordingly.

Candidates for this that spring to mind would be mutually the Russians and Japanese, the Austro-Hungarians and Italians, and the British and the French; if the HMS Centurion receives fire within 5 cable lengths of the D'Entrcasteaux, she might think that it came from the French!

Phew!, quite an exhaustive list of things there, but should shape up into an interesting game....

Tuesday 4 August 2009

6mm Romans: More Musings

Some more thoughts now on the 'experimental' project involving 6mm Romans, that typically threatens to become somewhat greater than the sum of its parts! Reinforcements have arrived from Irregular Miniatures, and in spite of my protestations regarding cost, Baccus has kindly provided some command and artillery figures which will figure in my next post on this subject. For now, though, I thought I'd share some more ruminations on the basing and make-up of the various units.

First off, I picked up some of Irregular's E4 Roman Heavy Cavalry, which to my mind look the part for Auxiliary Horse. Cast together, there is not a great deal of detail to each figure, and they would suffer in comparison to the cavalry supplied by Baccus, but at £0.50 for five figures on the block, the price is pretty good. Comparing them quickly to the mounted Roman Generals from Baccus, I would say the horse size and heft is pretty similar, although the riders are somewhat slighter in proportion.

Temporarily based as a Turmae-ish sized unit on 60x30mm:

Next we have Irregular's E7 Middle Roman Legionaries in 4 rank blocks, which I invested in to form Praetorian Cohorts.
Hollywood depictions aside, it seems that they and the Cohortes Urbanes of Rome itself were pretty much indistinguishable from the standard Legionary, but I wanted to differentiate them from the rank and file. There is an excellent discussion on their equipment on the Red Rampant Blog site, which is a great source of intelligently laid out information:

Opinion seems divided, but on balance, and quoting Tacitus, the historian of the 'Year of the Four Emperors' in which I am interested: "all that distinguished a Praetorian from a Legionary was his shield".
Although this could mean either colour or design, rather than size or shape, the longer, more oval shields on these guys are a great way to tell the difference:

In common with the E1 blocks, there are no command figures visible, (Although there is some suggestion of larger headgear to the rightmost figure in the front rank - the Centurion's position - an attempt to show a crested helmet? It's certainly too subtle to be really useful.) so I've been thinking of maybe adding the command strips from Baccus packs behind the rear rank, more to come on this in a later post....

Moving on to some more of Irregular's offerings, we have the E3 Armoured Auxiliary Archers. Now these guys are, and I make no bones about it, blobby, blobby and blobby, the compromise in sculpting a raised bow in 6mm meaning that unlike a larger scale figure, the casting only allows an 'all-in-one' approach.
The great advantage that these have over the otherwise superlative Baccus sculpts, is that they are at least in an active pose; Peter Berry's guys all look as if they are queuing up waiting for a bus! Archers should be 'arching' on the tabletop, rather than standing at ease....

It is, though, a big compromise, as these are not great looking figures, and for an amateurish painter like me, they make it hard to bring out any character on the finished mini; blobs of paint go on a blobby mini.....oh well!

The next quandry with these arrow jockeys is how to base them. I intend to make use of the Basic Impetus Rules with a few tweaks (They are available free online, and I'm cheap!), so they would come in as Missile troops, which to my mind should be seen in a looser formation than standard Infantry, but something about Roman bowmen just cries out for massed ranks.

Matched here with Irregular's E2 Early Armoured Auxilairies, who also face similar indecision as to their depiction, you can see the difference in visual impact:

A deeper unit would appear on a 40x30mm base, whilst the spread out approach would see them on a 60x30mm one:

The Auxilia, similarly, would have a loosely formed counterpart, as below. The Irregular Auxiliary minis are in a nice active pose, but unfortunately suffer heavily from that common bugbear of this manufacturer, namely miscasting. Their legs are extremely spindly, and their pilae/pilums are sometimes all but indistinguishable, or even absent on the casting. Given that they are mounted in blocks, this is not so noticeable, but again would be a poor contrast with the superior product from Baccus. Then again, the shield size is more in proportion than those of the latter company, and at £0.25 for six figs (That's £4.00 for 96), are definitely cheaper!

A new and rather slow burning Blog, that has some intelligent and incisive things to say about the output from Baccus, as well as displaying some brilliant photos, is Mike's Leadpile, well worth a visit:

So I'm not sure how to proceed with basing these men of the Auxilia, whether to depict them as proto-legionaries in close formation, or have them in a 'lighter' role, and therefore more widely spaced. I think even Historians debate as to how exactly they were deployed; were they really a distinct class of medium infantry, trained to open out in loose terrain, or were they close order troops that were recruited from non-Roman citizens?

Were they defined more by bureaucracy than by their tactical deployment. Discuss.

I know I'm still unsure.

There are a lot more things to play around with before I firm up which way to go with all this, including Artillery, and various Gallic/Celtic/German types to stand in for Batavians and Suebi,
so keep on the look-out for more on all this.......who said this was a subsidiary project again?

In the meantime, have a look at some great eye candy photos of Romans from Baccus over at the always inspiring Geektactica Blog:

maybe I'll be ordering more from Mr Berry after all.......

Sunday 2 August 2009

55 Days at Sea: First Scenario: Surprise Attack

It is the 9th of June 1900. The upsurge in violence associated with the rise of the Boxer Movement in China has meant a gradual build up of forces by the various Powers who wish to gain influence at the expense of the ailing Manchu Regime.
At the point of entry at the mouth of the Pei Ho River, it has been a tense standoff; gunboats, transports and shallow draught vessels have gingerly threaded their way under the guns of the Taku Forts, wary of the private sympathies of the Chinese Imperial Troops who man them.
Luckily, in line with the public stance of their government, they have remained aloof, and the landing of troops bound for Tientsin and beyond, has so far gone on unhindered. The Boxers are to all intents and purposes still regarded as 'rebels'.

However, the tide may very well be turning against the Allied Powers, with the notoriously anti-foreign Prince Tuan having replaced the moderate Prince Chi'ing as Foreign Secretary, the noose has been tightening around the Foreign Legations at Peking.
300 or so reinforcements, both marines and sailors, have arrived there by rail on the 31st may, bolstering any likely defence, but perhaps this show of strength has done as much to heighten the tension as to calm it:

"The arrogance of these barbarians, trying to threaten the Imperial Court itself!".

Insistent messages, sent by the local Commander at Taku to the Imperial government, stating that he could prevent further Foreign intrusions by closing the mouth of the Pei-Ho, have finally received the following enigmatic reply:

"The Fox, when barred from the Hen House, is no longer a Fox...."

The Commander knows that the large ships of the Fleet cannot pass the barrier of the sandbank formed by the Taku Bar, and although the foreign navies posses some heavy calibre guns, if he can dissuade them from closing with the Forts, then landings up the Pei-Ho at Tangku will become impossible, and Tientsin and the Legations will be effectively cut off.

A strike force is assembled, made up of the four modern Torpedo Boat Destroyers, so kindly provided by the shipyards of Germany, of the Hai-Hola class, in addition to two Kwantung Junks to act as a deceptive screen on the approach:

From Wu Sung, to the South, a further group, led by the Protected Cruiser the Hai Tien, will be in position by dawn:

Finally, already a wolf amongst the flock, the Hai Yung lays at anchor a few cable lengths to the rear of the Allied Fleet, ostensibly to protect the interests of the central government, she will lead the surprise attack on the unsuspecting Foreign Devils:

At 05:00 hours, HMS Aurora, an Orlando Class Cruiser, reports the approach of two apparently friendly Junks, traders perhaps? The surprise attack has begun!

So that is the set up for the first part for the 55 Days at Sea campaign, a 'what if' scenario to mirror the actual historical combats that took place on land, with a spotlight on the naval elements that were in place in 1900. As you can see in the photos, the trusty old blue nylon tarpaulin is yet to be replaced by a nice sea scape mat, but once its replacement has arrived, I intend to do a run through using the Damn Battleships Again! ruleset. So stay tuned for an After Action Report in the near future.

Now just a quick look at some of the WTJ Naval ships seen in their unpainted state in my last post on this subject: The German Gefion:

The Russian Bobre:

And just for fun, the Spanish WTJ Lepanto in the company of Navwar's battleship Pelayo: