Monday, December 29, 2008

More Game Pics

This morning's blog entry included Dale's great photos of Saturday's game. I decided to take a look at those I took as well, and came up with some pretty good ones.

Top right is a face off between two units of hill Martians. This is an action that will quickly turn nasty with those at the bottom of the hill charging those on top, with the frequent bad result for those that charge uphill.

Next are the City forces' set up. Black Flag militia on the left backed up by a unit of militia, militia in the redoubt with a light gun holding the right.

The third photo is a view from the redoubt at those three advancing imperial legions

Top left is a view from the City troops right flank at those advancing Imperial legions. The black flag legion would later desert to the Shastapshi.

The last photo is a great picture of the German walker trashing some Imperial legionnaires. The walker was superbly handled with bravery by Dale.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Freedom for Shastapsh!!!

The Red Captains met yesterday to play out game two of our Martian campaign. According to the "Official History" of Shastapsh, written by your humble blogger, upon the ejection of the British from Shastapsh, the Shastapshi replaced their hereditary ruler the Bowel, and formed a revolutionary council. Declaring the canal city free and open, they replaced their ruler with a more representative leader, Ranzi Yukkus, and officially severed their ties to the Oenotrian Empire.

They called for freedom lovers everywhere to come to Shastapsh, Martians and Earthmen alike. Fenians and ex-Confederates, leftist and rightist radicals answered the call and flocked to the city, as the traditional residents enlisted in militias formed to keep the city free from Oenotrians and British imperial troops.

The first response came from their former masters, the Oenotrians. Choosing to fight them in open ground outside the city as the Bowel prepared his defenses, three militia battalions with light artillery support were rushed to meet the advancing enemy. Two of the militia were semi-trained cutter and musket units (with the odd bow for those with that proficiency.) The third militia unit was trained by former Regimental Sgt. Maj. Willie Fraser and armed with minie-ball muskets. It was agreed that the militias would use the terrain and create field defenses, fighting a holding action, with reinforcements to follow, retiring to the next line of defenses as the situation on the field demanded.

The Imperial forces advanced across a broad front. On the City troops' left flank were hill Martians, the Imperial artillery and a unit of elite banded riflemen. In the center were three Legions of cutter and musket infantry, and on the right were two more legions. The Oenotrians also had a unit of Gashant mounted Royal Carbiniers who were committed to the advance on the right.

The battle really evolved as three separate actions from the City troops's left to the right. On the left flank, Willie Fraser's Black Flag battalion occupied some high ground and field works to oppose the advance of the banded riflemen and Hill Martians. These advancing troops were also supported by some medium guns. These forces took advantage of their long range weapons, and immediately began inflicting damage on the militia. Fraser was wounded in the thigh, and as he ripped pieces from his Argyle and Sutherland kilt to stanch the bleeding he said: "Is naethin'. You should see what the damned Zulus did tae me!" He immediately bared a six inch scar from a stab wound across his left breast.

Fraser's own troops replied as the bandeds advanced, taking advantage of their own fire discipline and faster rate of fire. They remained at their post, until the deployment of the Carabiniers to their flank made their position untenable. Later they joined a second militia unit and a gatling (donated by the newly arrived Anarchist community of Shastapsh) in a second defense line. Events on the left flank petered out when the Carabniers made an ill-advised charge across the front of the left flank forces and suffered horrendous casualties. The left flank held.

In the center, the Martians advanced with three legion units against one militia unit in the Grand Redoubt. This advance was distracted by the arrival of a German built walker mounting two gatling guns. Two of the three legions received fire by from the defenders. Two of them lost their commanders in the resulting casualties, but advanced grimly forward. One of the legions took on the walker, failing to do much damage to its armor, but fighting with courage and determination. The walker also drew the attention of the artillery deployed on the left flank. It advanced through a hail of shot and shell dispensing death from it's many-barreled guns. The two remaining legions assaulted the redoubt, taking casualties from the defenders, but eventually ejected the militia holding the position, who fled from the veteran Oenotrians. This represented the attackers' sole success on the field, achieved at a terrible cost. They were not able to advance further.

The action on the right flank may have been the oddest of all. The Oenotrians were slow to advance on the hilltop position. It was held by a unit of Earthmen gone native-chiefly sword and pistol armed troops and a light artillery piece. They had received a note from one of the legions prior to the battle offering to come over to the City if they were not fired upon. The position was weak, and as the two Imperial legions advanced, it appeared that their superior numbers would swamp the defenders. With the fall of the Grand Redoubt this position looked hopeless, however the Imperial Black Legion fired their muskets in the air and continued marching past the flank of the City troops and on into Shastapsh where they offered their service to the Bowel, Ranzi Yukkus.

However, fighting remained to be done on the right. The remaining legion engaged the Earthmen in a close range firefight to neither side's advantage. The Virginia Steam Cavalry eventually arrived, plagued by breakdowns in the difficult terrain and charged into the Imperial legionnaires driving them away from the hill. Though the Oenotrians eventually massed for a second attack, they eventually withdrew from the general engagement.

This battle for Shastapsh was a tremendous victory for the city defenders. They inflicted considerable harm on the Imperial forces at relatively little expense. The addition of the Black Legion to the City's garrison provided a veteran, steadying presence to the growing City militias. The German crew of the light walker deserve considerable praise as its presence on the battlefield was of considerable moral support to the inexperienced defenders. It disrupted the attack on the right flank and in the center and was under continuous fire from the Imperial artillery.

Game three of our campaign is scheduled for January 24th. It will be the SGoM revenge raid on Shastapsh. It should be fun and continue to have considerable influence on the campaign.

Notes on pictures: The first picture is the initial deployment of the Black Battalion led by "Wee Willie" Fraser, former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. They held the field fortification and hilltop in the opening phases of the battle. Fraser is my personal character in the campaign.

The second photo is of the imperial deployment in their center and the defender's left. The third photo shows the arrival of the walker on turn two. It really made a mess of things for the Martian imperial commanders-Joe, Gene, Chris and Gary. The fourth photos shows the game at mid-point-On the left I'd been forced back to a new defensive position, the bloody assault on the Grand Redoubt in the center and the two legions advancing on the right.

The next photo shows the assault on the right. This is really the most tense moment in the game as the City commanders desperately hope that the Black Legion will follow through on its promised treachery. The last pictures show Joe blowing yet another artillery roll to take out the Walker. Sad, very sad. Finally we see the Gashant-mounted Carabiniers about ride Balaklava like off to attack my Black-Flag militia battalion. They never quite arrived in one piece.

Our thanks to Mark Waddington for conceiving and running the scenario. Pictures are courtesy of Dale Mickel.

First Royal Mechanology Regiment

First Royal Mechanology Regiment (1st RMR)

1879 was the year that British troops fought their first major engagement in the Gorovaangian War fought between the British regency of Parhoon and the city-state of Gorovann.

The war was a close run thing and brought out a need for a higher level of technology. In 1881 the first ironclad airship the HMS Aphid was launched. (This is discussed in a later article). The transport of iron plate and weapons from earth was a long and slow process but within a few years there was enough surplus for the shipyards to create one of the first armed and armored land vehicle to ever exist. (The vehicles were originally built and manned by the navy hence the common use of the term “land ship”).

This first vehicle was equipped with a light gun, a crew of 3, and could move at the speed of a marching column of infantry. It was loud, smoky, and prone to break down every few hundred yards but in its first battle it was such a success in clearing out stubborn enemy defenses that the British command immediately asked for several more to be built.

The second machine was very similar to the first but armed only with a gatling gun. The third vehicle was made a bit wider, supported a crew of 4 and was equipped both with a medium cannon and a gatling gun for close in defense.

In 1888 the first Royal Mechanology Regiment was officially formed. The vehicles were still incredibly loud and would sometimes breakdown at the most inopportune times but their success, not only in impressing the native Martians but in actually winning engagements, ensured their future use. Armor thickness is still an issue but the size of the vehicles and the power of the engines allow only a minimal amount of armor due to weight.

While protected against most small arms, a good hit from most any artillery piece has been known to be catastrophic. Note that the fear of dying in these new fangled contraptions has not stopped hundreds of British troops from volunteering to serve in them. They have been particularly attractive the new breed of young officers arriving on Mars looking for adventure. Newer vehicles have addressed some of these protection issues.

The Oenotrian Empire declared war on the British in 1889 and several of the new machines were lost due to being hit from enemy airships with bombs and flame. (One was actually captured by the Oenotrians). As can be seen in the pictures a Hales rocket battery was added to the larger vehicle in an attempt to defend against such an occurrence.

How They Were Built

All three of the models started out as the main vehicle included in the Disney Atlantis “The Spanner” Battle Builders toy set. (See Picture).

Portions of the front were cut off, the cheesy turret removed and plastic styrene was cut to build up a cab area to mount the gun. Plastic tubing was used for the gun and front mantlet along with tanks and smoke stacks in the back.

Rivets were added with glue (a secret method which I will be happy to tell anyone who asks). All the doors and vision panels were added with more styrene. The larger vehicle had the two halves of the original Spanner spaced a bit with styrene but all the rest of the process was the same.

All the vehicles were then sprayed black, dry brushed a bit, and then dusted with “rust” or if you prefer “Martian soil” for the color. Considering they have been in heavy play in convention and private settings they have held up remarkably well! Later articles will show several types of walkers, other land ships, and of course the flying craft used on the red planet.

Any questions will be happily answered!

Royal Gashant Corps

On of the purposes of this blog is to share with you, the reader, some of the things we Red Captains are doing with our interpretation of Space 1889. In doing that let me share a little more about us. We are all historical miniature gamers. Mark does WWI in Palestine and the French and Indian War, I do the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Scott and Dale are into ancients, Chris does World War I and naval miniatures, and Gene does whatever the rest of us are doing. I think we do our Martian adventures because of the possibilities it allows us. We've used the Chadwick universe as a framework, but we've very much made it our own. We've written our own history, created our own timeline, and even created some of our own troop types. If you are an orthodox Chadwickian, more power to you, but I think we all gave up orthodoxy in any thing years ago.

This is the first of many entries that shows off some of our troop types and models. Most of the articles are written by Mark Waddington, and they also feature his photos. If there is something purposeful for me to add, I will do so.

The Royal Gashant Corps

The Royal Gashant Corps or “RGC” was formed soon after the British arrived on Mars. The lack of water and appropriate fodder limited the range and abilities of the few horses sent from earth. To correct this issue volunteers were asked to form a new unit mounted solely on the Martian equivalent of a horse called a Gashant.

The Gashant stood half again as tall as a horse and weighed over twice as much. They are temperamental beasts but once tamed are quite loyal to their rider. They can maintain very fast speeds over difficult terrain and minor wounds seem not to affect them at all.

As the new unit was envisioned as mounted rifles the majority of the original volunteers were from the infantry. There are many humorous stories centered around the first few weeks of training as the recruits were first introduced to their new mounts. Once the unit had settled in it quickly started to establish a name for itself.

Its first action was deep in the Martian desert north of Parhoon as the unit surprised a strongly protected caravan of illegal spice. (The British considered the spice market to be under their control and did not want to share the profits with anyone else). The troops guarding the caravan had little idea how to defend against the fast moving and well trained tactics of the earthen troops and after a short but sharp fight surrendered. From then on the reputation of the new unit grew in leaps and bounds.

Note that the unit is not meant to be cavalry and has little shock value in a charge. Instead it was designed to get rifle and lightly equipped troops to their destination as fast as possible as scouts or even as blocking units that would hold a vital pass or area until relieved.

Even the British command took note of the successes of the RGC and have kept them busy with a constant string of tasks to accomplish.

The pictures show a small section of the unit both mounted and dismounted. The Gashants are from the original Space 1889 figure sets and can now be purchased direct from RAFM. The soldiers (mounted and dismounted) are from Redoubt .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flight From Shastapsh: The Campaign Begins

Last Saturday the Red Captains met at Game Matrix for the first game of our campaign. The concept for the campaign grew out some games I've hosted several times and have morphed into an "official history of Shastapsh conflict." The outcome of this game is intended to shape the next campaign, scheduled for December 27th.

According to the Official history, Shastapsh was ruled by the Empire's minion, the Bowel, but had increasingly suffered under the increasing influence of British bankers and business men. In fact Great Britain's official Secretary of State for Martian Affairs, Sir Percy Carnaervon, Lord Meepsor, established his offices in the city. Civil strife ran rampant giving cause for the British to send troops into Shastapsh, seize control of the palace, even taking control of the Bowel's palace. In the unique British manner of belief that it is better to be the lowest gutter dwelling Englishman than the greatest of any other culture, the occupiers soon made themselves odious and obnoxious and the Martians responded with ferocity. Finding themselves at the end of a very long supply tail and far from reinforcement, Meepsor made arrangements to evacuate the city of all military forces, as well as prominent families and officials.

Our campaign begins with the air evacuation of the city. The dirigibles carrying the British notables and their escorts HMS Aphid, HMS Ladybird, and HMS Dauntless are at altitude, preparing for exit and return to Syrtis Major. However, rising from behind the suburbs to the north are air ships that are not of clear origin. As the airships and gunboats struggle to make their altitude, they are set upon by the attackers.

The metal-clad cigar-shaped vessels seem to be armed with a tether mine on a pole, and strikes one of the smaller dirigibles. The two smaller vessels, clearly of Martian origin, fire Hale rockets, striking the great Zeppelin Z-2. Two rockets explode in the gas bag, and the entire structure is eventually enveloped in flame. All of its twenty civilian passengers and twenty marines perish in the fireball or are spilled to the ground below. The smaller airship, contacted by the spar torpedo boat, suffers a similar fate, as the mine explodes, detonating the inflammable hydrogen gas bag. Unfortunately, the weapon proves as dangerous to the attacker as it does to the target. As the dirigible erupts into fire, the mystery boat loses trim control and plunges to earth near one of the great bridges spanning the canal.

All of this occurs, scarcely before the British know their leaving is to be opposed. The escorts attempt to shepherd the airships toward escape, firing at their adversaries as they may.

On the south side of the canal, further dangers arise. Martian vessels begin climbing to altitude from the great Oenotrian aerodrome. Their intentions are unclear. While severe tensions exist between the two great empires, war does not presently exist. Will they too participate in a dastardly attack on the peaceful diplomatic mission? HMS Dauntless is dispatched to eyeball the potential adversaries and shots are exchanged. Damage is inflicted and losses are taken, but none severe enough to bring down any of the adversaries. The remaining dirigibles and their escorts are able to escape the horror of the Shastapsh evacuation with tales of the Oenotrian perfidy and rumors of the mysterious attackers armed with Earth weapons. Who are those guys? Despite the loss of innocent life, Meepsor, in his prepared statement reminds the press that it could have been much worse. The British Air Vice-Marshal, Adrian Steiner-Pugh calls for retribution that is swift. "We'll make Nipple-town scream," he said.