The Emerald Musketeers

The Emerald Musketeers

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Sneak Peek At The Next Game On The Table

Game is set up (a small 54mm Napoleonic Spanish Peninsular skirmish action this time). Story and background is created. Now just need to find time later in the week to play it out.

But for now the set up so far......

The scene is set

Some French deserters prepare to cook a few chickens generously provided by the folk of this small Portuguese village.
Just travelling through, Sir Arthur and the ladies in his charge alight from their carriage and unpack their cases. It takes Sir Arthur a few seconds to spot the fact they could all be in the gravest of danger.
A lone French light infantryman keeps look out for his buddies.
Meanwhile, a section of British 95th Riflemen arrive on the scene. They have been sent to check out the area, as French deserters are thought to be lurking somewhere in the vicinity.
This peaceful little community could be about to become the scene of much bloodshed.
Oh dear.... what will happen next?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Battle of Cobble Bay Square

A year and a half ago I discovered the joys of imaginary gaming in the late 1930s period.. in a setting called: "A Very British Civil War." I found that 20mm miniatures suited my needs ideally and even allowed me to get my HO/OO gauge steam train layout into my games every now and then. Settling on Ireland for a location means I can use all my local knowledge to bring the campaign to life in all kinds of interesting ways.

I thought it might be nice to carry on this campaign to its proper conclusion (what ever that might be); and so I think its time to revamp where we started so long ago.. but sadly never found time to finish: which was a shame I always thought.

An Introduction:

Sir Oswald and Lady Diana Mosley {VBCW}
In 1938, Thomas Egerton Shelswell-White – obsessive huntsman since the age of eight, obsessive polo player and, in his mid sixties, boasted a memory of having ridden home the winner of the Grand National at Fairyhouse.. at a time when English officers could still relax in the grandstand – sold Bantry Castle in County Cork to an English family not long arrived in Ireland. The castle house had belonged to the Shelswell-Whites for generations and had once been the residence of well-to-do Church of Ireland bishops. It stood overlooking the centre of Bantry market square, a short walk from the harbour, hidden away amongst the town`s famous avenue of quaint, gaily painted town houses: an inconspicuous place of simple civility, on the frontier of the vast estuary bog. Unlike many other ancient mansions, its comforts and refinements had not survived the privations of the nineteenth century, and it was badly in need of restoration.

Every day for months the new lady of the house would drive across the bogland roads from her temporary rented accommodation to supervise the installation of bathrooms, electricity and central heating, and an Aga was installed in the kitchen. Word spread that Bantry Castle was being returned to its former glory and that there was work to be had from the new owners. They turned the ballroom into a drawing room and brought a carpenter from Kenmare to build bookshelves that covered an entire wall. They filled the once-dilapidated rooms with fine furniture, replaced the broken sash cords on the windows, draped curtains made to measure in Dublin and hung paintings of their ancestors on the wall. They recruited a butler, a housekeeper and a cook. Occasionally the lady’s husband would arrive in a large, exotic Delaware driven by a German chauffeur.
Soon, it became known that the family bringing Bantry Castle back to life was Sir Oswald and Lady Diana Mosley - plus their two sons and two daughters. On the first of April 1938, the WestCorkman Independent carried a short item titled ‘Distinguished Residents’, disclosing that "the previous Friday the Mosley family had moved into occupation of The Castle. Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley, who have a large staff, are charmed with Ireland, its people, the tempo of its life and its scenery," the paper related dutifully, informing readers in a final sentence that "Sir Oswald was the former leader of a political movement in England." But it said no more.

In actual fact, a few years before he had become the nearest thing to a British Mussolini, following Hitler`s rise in 1933 with increased vigour. Oswald Mosley achieved political prominence as a parliamentary critic of Lloyd George’s campaign to use the Black and Tans to crush the IRA. And late in 1920, as a twenty-four-year-old Conservative MP, he was a believer in the League of Nations and condemned the Amritsar massacre in India as "Prussian frightfulness inspired by racism." In his memoir, My Life, Mosley recalled that the war in Ireland had "evoked intense moral feeling." With each atrocity committed by the Black and Tans he felt "that the name of Britain was being disgraced, every rule of good soldierly conduct disregarded, and every decent instinct of humanity outraged." Mosley was one of a small handful of MPs who doggedly pursued Lloyd George and his blustering secretary for Ireland, Sir Hamar Greenwood, over `the unacknowledged policy of reprisals`.
An accomplished speaker and orator, Mosley’s speeches and questions were fluent, precise and lucid: "reading them evokes the pleasure of observing a clever barrister at work in a trial." Were the words used to describe him in the Corkman rag. At the time he betrayed no sympathy for the IRA. In one of his early contributions he accepted that ‘in the present state of Ireland one certainly cannot deny the right to shoot a man who, when challenged, refuses to hold up his hands. Anything of that sort is perfectly legitimate.’
And after the Bloody Sunday massacres Mosley told the Commons that law-abiding people in Ireland were being intimidated by "a small gang of desperate me’," or, as he put it shortly afterwards, "the murder gang of Sinn Féin." The root of Mosley’s case against the Black and Tans was that their behaviour undermined the superiority of British imperial rule. `No Empire, no Government, has been long sustained except by the power of moral force,` he told the House of Commons after Bloody Sunday. ‘Our Empire stands alone, from the Imperial ruins of history, in its recognition of and obedience to this fundamental law. It is because I am a passionate believer in the destiny and in the yet unfulfilled mission of The British Empire, that I am unwilling to sacrifice the inviolate tradition of the ages even to satisfy the transient purpose of this gambler’s expedient …’
Mosley’s own solution to the Irish question was a version of the agreement by which the United States granted Cuba independence after the Spanish/American war, but reserved the right to invade if any disturbance threatened American interests. Under such an arrangement between Britain and an independent Ireland, Mosley wrote, any infringement could legitimately provoke ‘a bombardment of Dublin and all the principal cities of Ireland from sea and air’. Mosley was certain it would never come to that because a government supported by the Irish people would guarantee British interests, especially since (as he presciently noted) all the signs were that the first Irish government would be `conservative` and stable.
To read Mosley’s words is to come away with the impression that he single-handedly dragged the damning evidence of the atrocities (committed by the Black and Tans) into the spotlight and created an unprecedented scandal in parliament.

And yet in 1938 something changed; something fundamental and important. On March 11th Oswald Mosley (and his political `henchmen` supporters) secretly visited Adolf Hitler in Berlin. The meeting must have had a profound effect on him, because when he returned to England, he was a changed man. He immediately retired from British politics, became a virtual recluse within his vast estate on Dartmoor: and set about with his wife purchasing a new house in Ireland. The Mosleys were about to become ex-patriots of their beloved native home, and embrace all things Irish.
Soon his silk tongued oratory voice would be heard across the length and breadth of Munster, as he fervently beat the anti Protestant war drum into a frenzy of hate induced bitterness: and lifted the new MUF banner in defiance against the deprivation of British rule in the North.
Thus.. the Munster Union of Fascists was conceived and born.

***      ***      ***
June 2nd - 1938
{The Battle of Cobble Bay Square}
The driver pulled the jeep up smartly in the centre of the market square. The vehicles brakes squealing high pitched in distress!
Captain Mortimer jumped out of the passenger seat with his walking stick firmly striking the ground in front of his feet. Behind him other jeeps pulled up behind the long snake of green army transports. The Royal Fusiliers B Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Regiment of Foot (Queens Own Division) began to disembark speedily:
 "Out... out... out! Let`s be having yer.. form up by the right ,on the double."
A noisy cockney accented sergeant was barking orders to the men, which echoed and bounced off the walls of houses all around. The sound of heavy booted feet soon joined the cacophony and melded into a frightful din of military efficiency. 
.... absent from the scene were the indigenous residents of Bantry town itself. The market square was empty of all except khaki and tan. It was as though the entire of Bantry`s civilian population had walled itself up indoors, and was staying well clear of the sudden intrusion of the British army.

Captain Mortimer turned to face the old Bantry Castle (the tall and imposing structure which dominated the central square of the small market town). The gates were firmly closed and the wide arched entrance looked like a closed mouth, stubbornly fixed in rude denial of even a weak defensive whimper.
But suddenly, silently, from around the side of the Police Garda building came a militant looking throng of people. In their midst they carried a large banner, held aloft with pride and determination.
Captain Mortimer saw the British emblem displayed with enthusiastic vigour and immediately discerned the Loyalist intent of this crowd. As they came on, some of the lead most civilians began pointing militantly at the castle, stabbing fingers towards it with disdainful lack of respect. "He`s in der` Sir... dat trouble maker Mosley an` his painted harlot of a wife, dat they are, sir.` This from a well heeled and dressed Irishman at the lead... the local bank manager (Denis Healey), if Mortimer correctly recalled.
All at once the crowd found it`s voice.
Aye.. we don`t want der` sort here" and various cries of agreement rose and fell with new found courage and conviction... the army was here, and those trouble makers would soon be dealt with. This was the crowd`s assertion anyway.
Captain Mortimer tweaked his moustache and sighed: never an easy thing to stand in the middle of a belligerent civil divide: and in this matter the division was deep and impassioned. Protestant Irish, loyal to the Crown on one side.. and Catholic Patriots who only wanted the British out of their country and the North returned to its rightful home rule on the other; what was the Captain to do? He had come here with orders to arrest Lord Mosley and any of their supporters his men could lay their hands on. Oswald Mosley had been stirring up quite a hornet`s nest of dissension and unrest, which smacked of treason, and fascism..... and a new word `Nazism` was being bandied about and the Captain didn`t like it one tiny bit. Mortimer rolled that word round his tongue like he had a bad taste in his mouth - Nazis. The growing crisis fit to overtake the world, all stemming from Hitler`s German extremists, and a promise of cleansing the bad apples to create a new pure future for all. Balderdash, Mortimer concluded.

... a new pure future, or at least, for all who would bow to the shiny black jack boot: and to the growing voice of power within Aryan agenda.
Mosley was a supporter of this voice, and his influence was mesmerizingly dangerous. So much so that the Captain had been ordered here to put an immediate stop to it. Seeing the crowd of Loyalists gathering at the gates of Bantry Castle - Lord Moseley`s home.. Mortimer was happy to note that not everyone was seduced by the black shirt`s seditious words. The banner waving mob was out for blood!
The first pane of glass was heard smashing in one of the lower level windows of the Castle home. Soon afterwards a single shot rang out from the building.. sounding ominously loud in the confined density of the market square.
A pool of blood ran from the pavement into the gutter, and a young boy lay still on the sidewalk.
Silence  ensued for a few seconds. Then.. as one, the crowd reacted. With an incensed howl of rage they advanced en masse on the Castle gates.


Mortimer was quickly losing control of this situation and that`s precisely the moment a group of red clad huntsmen entered the square from Main Street. Sized up the situation in moments, and charged right into the back of the mob attacking the Castle.

 Meanwhile (militant `united Ireland` extremist IRA, sympathetic with Mosley`s cause) sniper shots began to ring down on the exposed platoons. The shots came from above, from carefully chosen buildings within the square itself, a couple of Mortimer`s men fell painfully to the ground.
Tricky little buggers to paint - these wee 20mm guys are.
The cockney sergeant bellowed:
"Get under cover, and drag those wounded men to safety. Move it!"

Suddenly the market was a hive of movement. Civilians hammered at the Castle Gates, at first unaware their number were being butchered from the rear by the red jacketed huntsmen (led by Moseley`s Son - Albert). And all the time, Moseley`s snipers were picking off Mortimer`s men with unchecked impunity.

The ambush had been set, and Moseley had played his hand. Round one had most assuredly fallen to his treacherous schemes. 
 Mortimer gave the order for is men to retreat, and in a somewhat disorderly array, the khaki army melted out of the square (leaving a few of their jeeps behind in their hurry to find safety and drag their wounded to cover).

The Loyalist mob was routed, and those who could not flee were butchered in the blood red cobble stoned street.
The war in Munster had begun.
Irishman against Irishman, with the British caught in the middle.

I will continue this story and these imagi-war adventures over the coming months, as time permits. It allows me to play a campaign literally on my own doorstep here in Cork, and should make for some vivid imagery.
But for now, I still have my Zulu war to complete, and a veritable horde of English 1/32nd scale English Civil War miniatures to finish painting.

Fun times ahead.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

"What's in a name?"

 .... "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
Oliver S Gilbert... hero of the (17th century) age. Dashing suave, handsome and courageous.They call him The Ironman.. due to his strength and unstoppable combat prowess. His cavalry regiment is called Gilbert`s Ironhides.
Hmmmm, the name REVEILLE just wasn`t cutting the mustard for me. "Time for bed" said Zebedee, as I decided that name had to go. And then a new title presented itself to me in a Qui-Gon Jinn moment of clarity. Which leads nicely to the main subject of this post. As Bowie would sing "Ch-ch-ch-changes" as realisations dawned in my muddled and hobby overloaded head, and new directions became poignantly clear in an epiphany of sheer and stark illumination.
For a long while now I`ve been working away on my beloved 54mm side of the hobby. Painting and converting away like crazy and enjoying every moment of it.
Amazing what (with vigilance) you can find in the cheap bin at the local toy store.. if you get lucky enough.
This huge set is in perfect 1/32 (54mm) scale, and contains heaps of cool things I can add into my games. I rather like the toy soldier look and wont be painting any of this to look more `realistic` Defeats the whole purpose of old school if I did.
Amazon sales is another great source to find good quality cheap stuff for your games.
Back of the pack shows just how much you get in the box.
Ideal for my Texas/Comanche Wars, or to represent a small town in African Natal.. for my ongoing Zulu War.
Very proud and happy with this amazingly lucky find.

This last few weeks alone I`ve managed to complete all my plastic Comanche Indians, all my Texans (or Boers, depending which game I`m using them in): and have made fine progress with my cool looking 1/32nd scale 17th century English Civil War miniatures.
These cheap toys from China are easily the most appalling plastic soldiers I have ever seen.. Christmas Cracker toys are actually better quality than these. The figures themselves had little of no detail on them and the plastic was so bendy I could barely get each one to stand up. But nothing that really couldn`t be fixed easily enough. First up I cut/carved detail into them myself using a sharp modelling knife: then I used a firm spray can glue to stiffen up the plastic and make it usable. A coat of heavy duty white spray can undercoat finished the job and made them usable for my gaming needs. Painting them was the easy bit...  mostly a combination of paint and ink washes: finished with a nice overcoat of matt varnish.
These make perfect Comanche warriors. This whole packet of 70 (54mm) plastic Cowboy and Indian figures cost me £2.99.
Some Texan and Indian Scouts (at the back of the box).
Zulus and Redcoats.. neatly stacked away until their next game.
Mexican Santa Anna era deserters (these will see use in a new game I intend to play out very sooooon).

 On top of this I`ve managed to put the other half of my mind into  full focus in preparation for the more fantasy side of my beloved hobby. I`ve made such headway with my ideas for this in fact that I am way ahead of my plans to open a second blog late in July... dedicated and devoted purely to fantasy horror and science fiction.
You really can`t beat Star Trek Heroclix.
... or space ships.

And that`s when it hit me... the clarity.

I had always assumed that I needed to keep historical and fantasy gaming completely separate and sure, in the past (on my other blog) this may well have been true. Here on my new site, I will continue to do historical and quasi history stuff.

But I think its time to get back to doing some fantasy wargames and role playing as well. Oh I do already (for my family, group friends, and the club here in Southern Ireland), but I desperately needed a  break from blogging about it all... and thus I dove headlong into historical games and breathed a sigh of relief at the much needed change. But a year away from the other side of the hobby is long enough for me.

Soooo, a lot of time has passed. And my recent intense week long Dungeons and Dragons/Star Wars mini campaign I game mastered when the family all came to visit, got my juices going again and inspired me no end.. filling me with a deep craving and desire to want more (seems I`ve still got it, yeeeeey go me ^^). My hiatus from the fantastical had finally come to an end. So of course as already mentioned, I was planning on opening a second blog to facilitate this second face of my hobby.


But then out of the blue, something changed all those plans. Dave Stone over at The Game Cupboard is moving house (moving is always a nightmare at the best of times, especially when you have a wife and young kids to think about as well.. but worth it once the slog is complete). So he has decided it is time to retire (for a while) from blogging, and has asked me to take over the blog there once again... which I have willingly agreed to do. So suddenly there is no need for me to start a second fantasy blog.. I will simply take over the running of the old one.

Meanwhile: I finally have a new name for this blog.

So there we have it. "The Emerald Musketeers" seems nice and catchy (and thanks Simon over on the Fantorical blog for that name, which he originally penned, and which stuck).

Current production line of 54mm English Civil War figures.
Primed, based, and ready to paint.
So one thing remains true. You can still expect a ton of historical type material on this blog. But there will now be a second one which will cover a wide range of topics, from Samurai and  Dungeons and Dragons, Tannhauser, Mage Knight, Hero and Horror Clix, Star Wars, Star Trek, Judge Dredd and Superheroes.. and much more. I will have Tarot and Hillers helping me and writing various articles, and I still hold out hope that I might one day even persuade Luke to `use the force` and honour us with a glimpse into his own wonderful and intricate Bolt Action wargame projects.
Happy days ahead, to be sure :-)

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Crossing of the Buffalo (part 4 - concluding part)

Wow, things developed fast and decisively in the final stages of the game. I was quite surprised just how quickly things fell apart for one of the sides... like falling dominos in a line. Please enjoy.

Anglo Zulu War - part 4
The crossing of the Buffalo River into Zululand.
Ranged fire from the Zulus on the hill, armed with archaic muskets and a few rusty rifles manage (by luck and a fair wind) to score 3 hits upon the unfortunate Boers.. busy holding their own in the centre of the British defences.
Next I check for severity of the hits. A 5 and two 6`s. They will need to be picked up by the stretcher bearers and seek medical attention from the medical tent.
Orderlies carry away the wounded on stretchers.
Return fire from the Boer marksmen tear into the advancing Zulus. 4`s 5`s and 6`s (medium range) inflict some terrible wounds.. due to their superior skill and weapons.
Many Zulus fall.
The Zulu regiment in the centre.. facing such intensive fire, are forced to take an immediate morale test.
....which they fail.
The elite Boers continue to pour fire down upon the retiring Zulus
Continued fire from the Zulus on the hill is sporadic and unfocused, and amazingly, don't score a single hit on the Boers (6`s needed to hit).
Over on the left flank, the British heavy cavalry are starting to turn the tide of the melee in their favour. Many Zulus fall, but the cavalry do not get away scot free either.

The Zulu left and centre is suddenly in total disarray: unable to sustain the momentum of its attack.
The Zulu left folds and crumbles, and starts to retire.

Zulu fire from the hilltop ceases, as they observe the rest of their warriors falter,

"Now Maitland, now!" Bugles sound and the household cavalry seize their moment and charge into the Zulus.. who turn and rout before the heavy onslaught. There, I have finally found a title and leader from my British cavalry. 11th Coldstream Guards, led by Colonel (Sir) Peregrine Maitland.

Which reminds me (makes memo to self): I need to purchase some Scots Greys sometime soon.
On the far flank, a strong Zulu regiment of elites rushes towards the NNC (natal native Contingent). Captain Dickenson watches his entire contingent come apart.. wiped out to a man.
The Captain fights like a wildcat. Beleaguered and alone.
He goes down by sheer weight of numbers. Suddenly the entire right flank of the British is left exposed and vulnerable.
Yet the regular British infantry (with Naval battalion in firm support) have secured the river crossing and stand defiant and ready to face any Zulu threat.
That Plastic Army Men white horse will have to go I think.. badly needs repainting. Its stands out like a sore thumb.

The unmarried Zulu ranged weapon warriors on the hill have seen enough. Fearful of the Boers turning the full wrath of their firepower on their number.. they retire swiftly, but in good order.
The Zulus on the right, aware they have just annihilated the Natal Native Contingent and their Captain.. still decide discretion is the better part of valour (unable to take proper advantage of their good fortune on that flank), and reluctantly turn and retire from the field. The British firepower is just too devastating: and now the invading army have formed up on the far bank, they are in a position to inflict terrible suffering on their number.
In desperation, against the odds, I made a check to see if Captain Dickenson might have survived being pricked like a pin cushion and left for dead on the field of battle.

...he actually survives the attack.
But never the less, will later die on the surgeons table. Sadly, had the stretcher bearers got to him sooner... maybe he might yet have lived?
Maitland pursues the fleeing Zulus from the field.
The last Zulu warriors retire from the fray.
Lord Chelsford`s main column is across the river, and crossed successfully onto Zululand. Losses are acceptable (just under 5% losses, of which over half will recover).
Zulu losses on the other hand amount to just under 20% of their number. Which is very high for this small scouting army send to stop the invaders from entering their land. Most of those hurt will not survive the terrible wounds inflicted by the savage gunfire of the British rifles.
They will retire and contemplate their defeat, and ponder their next move in the campaign to follow.
This marks the end of this stage of the game.
Next post: time for a change of pace (before continuing this campaign in a few weeks). But for now, its time for a different kind of wargame. Please stay posted, and see you next time.