Wargaming the Exploration and Colonisation of Tropical Africa by European powers from 1850 until 1918.

Monday 11 December 2017

Belgian Force Publique Uniforms

Here are a couple of shots I took of Belgian Force Publique uniforms in the Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire in Brussels.  They appear to be made of (quite heavy) wool not any sort of lighter cotton.   Can't have been much fun in the jungle!

The one thing I noticed was how dark blue the uniforms were compared with the original painted miniatures on the Foundry website, which inspired me to buy them

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Congo cancelled!

"I say, you chaps, any sign of breakfast yet?"

Well, for me anyway.  I was due to go to Eric the Shed's for my first game of Congo, as organised by Alastair last night but our car started to smoke alarmingly on the way to the garage to have something else fixed.  They needed to keep it in overnight so there was no chance to get to Eric's.  Nearly as annoying was the fact that we had just come back from the Isle of Wight so didn't have any food in the house.   I had to have beans and no toast for dinner which is the sort of food the Old Bat eats.  Alastair rightly said that I needed a relief column to deliver Full English Breakfasts!

Scottish breakfast!

Part of the problem may have been the amount of driving we did last week.  On Monday it was down to Hampshire for mother in law's birthday party.  120 miles there and back. Tuesday we had to drive to Edinburgh to put Charlotte's stuff in the car so as to avoid a ludicrous £500 moving fee. Then on Wednesday we drove back home again. 876 miles there and back.  On Friday we went down to Southampton for the Cowes Powerboat race and back on Sunday.  140 miles there and back.  On the way back the car started to smell (it was burning anti-freeze) and the Old Bat needed help from the garage on Monday when her car started to smoke inside on the A3.  All done now, just a hose had gone.

Congo jungle

Although the others had enough figures for the game, poor Alastair had to make lots of extra counters as I couldn't take mine.  Still, the good news was that they all seemed to enjoy it and so, hopefully they will organise another game at some point.  Eric's account of the game is here.  Alastair's is here. I am interested enough that I might try a solo game at some point to see if I can work out the rules.  Guy is off to university in ten days so I can use his room to set up a board.

I have enough scenery for a game and certainly enough figures although I gather some animals are needed.  I certainly have, giraffes, gorillas, elephants, rhinos and lions but none are painted!  Above we have a shot of my last Darkest Africa game, ten years ago (!), as my Azande advance.

One thing I always try to do on my trips to the Isle of Wight is get to one of two very good second hand bookshops on the island.  They are both owned by the same people and this time I got to the smaller one in Yarmouth.  I never fail to get a good book or two there and this time I got this excellent one called Safari by Bartle Bull.

It is out of print now and is not very politically correct in these conservation minded days but it has some superb illustrations, such as the one at the top of this post which are useful for Darkest Africa gamers.  Although it is a Penguin book it is one of  their large format ones, not a normal novel sized one and its 384 pages is packed with black and white and colour illustrations.  I don't know if there are any African safari rules (which sounds like a dubious premise for a wargame but at least simulating shooting animals is better than simulating shooting people) but at least your group of safari hunters can get caught up with all sorts of trouble involving others.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Um Bongo, Um Bongo! Where do they drink it?

My Force Publique Belgians

In the Congo, of course and having spent two and a half weeks in Southern Africa last month (back to Africa next month) I am very excited to look at the new Congo rules from Studio Tomahawk, whose Muskets and Tomahawk rules I have played and enjoyed.

In Botswana last month

Alastair has already got his and posted a helpful introduction to the rules.  Now, I am always panicked by cards and counters (apart from the fact that I don't like the look of them) but am hoping they will be easy enough for me to follow.  

The very first metal 28mm figures I bought were Wargames Foundry's Darkest Africa ones which were first released, rather depressingly, eighteen years ago.  I have most of them (except the pygmies - I hate pygmies) and, even more amazingly I have painted hundreds of them.  As an example, here are my Belgians who have already seen action in a couple of games against my son (they lost).

Anbroos Vanderpump was delighted with what you could get with a bit of red trade cloth

Now, actually it sounds like the rules are more to do with the pre-colonial period, so rather than having troops like this I will need explorers but I have plenty of these too, although some might need repainting as I did them eighteen years ago.

I have now ordered the (really rather expensive) rules from North Star so once I have them I will be able to work out which of my existing figures I can use for the required forces.  It does sound like they are more Hollywood than historical, which is probably a good thing.  

Thursday 5 March 2015

Congo: Forthcoming rules by Studio Tomahawk

Having played the enjoyable Muskets and Tomahawks rules for the first time at Eric the Shed's last year I was very excited to discover that Studio Tomahawk are working on a Darkest Africa set of rules called Congo.  They are using this excellent looking set up using Foundry figures to promote it on their forum.

Skirmish wargaming does seem to be all the rage at present and Darkest Africa figures were some of the first metal figures I bought back in 1998 (I think).  Very excited about this as I think I have nearly all the Foundry figures and have even, unusually, painted a lot of them.  

Saturday 19 July 2014

Zambezi Campaign 27: Wasimba musketmen

I found a pack of these Foundry Native Musketmen on my floor a week or so ago (yes, it is that untidy) and so set out to get them painted as the start of the Wasimba villagers force that is the third out of five forces that the Gary Chalk scenarios require.

They are armed with cast off muskets supplied by the British and led by the chief's son, resplendent in his cast off waistcoat given to him by Commissioner Sanders Wallace.

Next I need to paint some spear armed warriors and archers.  In fact, another fifty figures are needed for this force.  I have certainly got most of the tribal figures to form the Wasimbas but as most tribes in this region had Zulu style shields I need to order some from Empress Miniatures, I think.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Zambezi Campaign 26: Margot Muirhead

Although I haven't done anything for the Zambezi project for nearly a year, it is far from forgotten.  While looking for something else, in one of my boxes of unpainted figures, recently, I came across the lady who was always destined to be the wife of the Rev Angus MacSporran.  She didn't take long to do and can also serve as a bystander for In Her Majesty's Names games. 

Margot Muirhead is the daughter of a minister of the Kirk herself. She married the much older Rev MacSporran and now, stuck in a native village up the Zambesi, regrets the fact that if she had stayed at home she could have gone to Edinburgh University, as she had always wanted,  Scottish Universities agreed to accept women shortly after she accompanied MacSporran to Africa.  She consoles herself by preaching to the poor benighted heathens, playing her flute and collecting butterflies.  The latter activity always seems to involve crawling around in the bushes by the river when the young men of the village go there to bathe.  She returns from these aurelian sorties flushed and breathless and usually needs a cold bath herself, afterwards.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Zambezi Campaign 25: Heavily armed askaris

These are the 12 heavily armed askaris which I need for my Arab army.  I finished them today, so that gives me all four of the units of firearm-equipped Zanzibari troops I need for the Gary Chalk scenarios.  Wargames Foundry figures, of course.

The Arab force so far: perilously close to an army!

Now all I have to do are complete the sword armed Baluchis, another cannon, plus the leader of the force, and the Arab force will be complete.  Then I will have to move on to the three tribal forces I need which will total 140 figures.  I'm not sure if these are all armed with spears which means painting cursed shields so I will have to check back in the relevant issue of Wargames Illustrated.  A little bit of research has shown that tribesmen in this area would have had Zulu style shields so I will probably have to order them from somewhere.  Empress miniatures do them separately I know.

I'll probably take on the second cannon next.

Friday 22 March 2013

Zambezi Campaign 24: Third unit of Wangwana

In a burst of activity last week I completed my third unit of 14 Wangwana freedmen for my Arab army.  The final unit of these Zanzibari soldiers will be 12 heavily armed askaris with more modern rifles (Winchesters and such like).  I have already started these.  After these I only have another cannon and crew to do (also started) and the Baluchis with swords which I have also started but which are going to take ages.  

I probably have enough figures now to do an initial skirmish which is not part of the Gary Chalk scenarios.  I'm thinking of sending the Sikhs into the bush to see if they can discover what the Arab slavers are up to.  A nasty discovery would mean the dispatch of the gunboat up river.

Other good news is that I managed to get another Copplestone elephant on eBay as these are far superior to the ones they used in the Gary Chalk article.  Now I can paint them both together.

I'm also contemplating two more forces: German and French.  I already have some of the Foundry Germans although they will need repainting and as for the French I am very tempted by some of Artizan's new French Foreign Legion (especially the ones in sun helmets) and some tirailleurs.  Hmm...

Friday 15 June 2012

Zambezi Campaign 23: Arab standard bearer

Here is the standard bearer for the Arab force, carrying the red flag of Zanzibar.  Zanzibar was part of the Sultanate of Oman which had flown the red flag since 1698.  When the independent Sultanate of Zanzibar was declared in 1856 the red flag was retained and remained the flag of the island state until November 1963.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Zambezi Campaign 22: Second unit of Wangwana

Today I finished my second unit of Wangwana for the Arab forces.  I now have one more unit of fourteen of these to paint.  I'm not sure if I actually have the figures available for this.  I found some today but need to have a look in some of my other file boxes.  Frankly, my unpainted figures are in a total mess at present so I need to have a sort out and a bit of an inventory.  I also need to paint a unit of 12 heavily armed askaris and am not sure if I have these either.

Baluchis ready for undercoating

One thing I do have is the 14 Baluchi swordsmen that are needed for one of the other Arab units.  Gary Chalk's scenario is set in 1882 and mine probably ten years later than that.  Baluchi swordsmen like this would probably have disappeared from Africa decades before this but perhaps our Arab warlord has held on to his in his isolated inland enclave.  One thing is for sure they are not going to be as quick to paint as the Wangwana!  I plan to paint them in brighter colours than the Wangwana to reflect their higher status and the saffron coloured clothes that many of them wore.