April 23, 2020

Painting All These F-ing Tartans

Captain George H. Rippington III
Here's the full list of paints I used for the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and bit of advice on the process. It's for my own benefit as well as everyone else's, so when I inevitably leave off for something else - hopefully not any time soon, but remember the AWI project - and return years later to add to the collection, I'll have some clue as to what I did!

All of the paints are from Games Workshop's Citadel range. A brief note on my shorthand. 'Base Coat' is exactly what it sounds like... a solid layer of color painted as neatly as I can. When this is the same as the 'Primer' color (Zhadri Dust in this case), the area was simply left as is which greatly speeds up the painting process. 'Shade' always utilizes the Citadel range of washes or 'shades' which is painted completely over the base coat. 'Layer' is a color painted on that almost completely covers the color below, leaving the darker tones in recesses. This paint is thinned with a tiny amount of water to add a bit of transparency for a softer transition. If there are two 'Layers' in a sequence, the second is painted only on the upper surfaces (the top of arms, the edge of sleeves, collars, and tunics, etc), again thinned with a tiny amount of water. 'Highlight' refers to edge highlighting where only sharp edges or pinpoint highlights are applied. Don't worry about some variation in tones between models - uniforms would be far less... err... uniform after a few months in the Sudan!

Zhandri Dust Spray Paint

Helmet, Jacket, and Gaiters
Base Coat: Zhandri Dust
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Tallern Sand
Layer: Ushabti Bone
Highlight: Screaming Skull (Helmet Only)

Base Coat: Zhandri Dust
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Ushabti Bone
Shade: Reikland Fleshade

Valise Kit, Tassels, and Rifle Sling
Base Coat: Administratum Grey
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Pallid Wych Flesh

Sporran, Mess Tin Cover, Scabbard, and Boots
Base Coat: Corvus Black
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Highlight: Dawnstone

Stockings and Sergeants' Stripes
Base Coat: Mephiston Red
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Evil Sunz Scarlet
Stripes: Corvus Black

Musket Stock
Base Coat: Rhinox Hide
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Highlight: Doombull Brown

Canteen Cover and Pistol Holster
Base Coat: Mournfang Brown
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Mournfang Brown
Highlight: Deathclaw Brown

Canteen, Bayonet, Sword Blade, and Rifle Barrel
Base Coat: Iron Warrior
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Highlight: Stormhost Silver (Bayonet Only)

Buttons, Buckles, Sword Hilt, and Rifle Butt Plate
Bace Coat: Liberator Gold
Shade Agrax Eartshade
Highlight: Liberator Gold

Ok... let's pause here for a moment. If you've read this far (what about the bloody tartan? I'm getting to it...) you've probably seen that ALL of these areas are shaded with Agrax Earthshade. To save yourself a huge amount of time, paint all of the base coats on these areas and then shade the entire model before moving on to anything else. After you've finished all of your layers and highlights, you can go back with Agrax Earthshade if necessary and fix any areas where belts may have strayed into one another, to bring out buttons, etc. This will give you a nice, dark edge around the flesh areas too...

Base Coat: Bugman's Glow
Shade: Reikland Fleshade
Layer: Cadian Fleshtone
Highlight: Kislev Flesh

Ok, here we go.. first of all there is no shading or highlighting required. The pattern is busy and the fact that we've left off this stage won't be noticed and would be an even bigger mess than it already is. Having said this, painting the tartan isn't as difficult as it seems.

First, the diagram...

Don't worry about trying to work out how this falls into folds and such. I start by painting the bottom green stripe above the bottom edge and a parallel one midway between the first and the figure's belt. then paint the vertical stripes as evenly as possible all the way around.

No... Citadel hasn't started making paint in dropper bottles. I made these myself. I'll write a post on it at some point if anyone is interested in the how and why.

Base Coat: Kantor Blue
First Stripes: Waagh Flesh
Intersect Squares: Warboss Green (you can stop here for the Black Watch tartan!)
Red Stripes: Flesh Tearers Red
Yellow Stripes: Averland Sunset

The 'Intersect Squares' will likely end up more as dots than squares, but that's ok. The last two colors should be painted with the finest-tip brush you have. Flesh Tearers Red is a Citadel Contrast paint, which means it is somewhat translucent. This is perfect to mimic the stitching of the real thing. It's also thinner than 'normal' paint, which makes it perfect for painting fine lines. There should be TWO parallel red stripes for each one above, but at 28mm, they are lucky to get one. The yellow stripes seem to fall between every other red, so in the case of my models, there is only one about midway up. There would be vertical yellow stripes in the same manner, but I've chose to pretend they are all hidden in the creases! Since there isn't any shading, you can touch up errant strokes with Kantor Blue or Waagh Flesh as necessary, but you only need to correct egregious mistakes.

Stage by stage photos to better illustrate... looks a bit naff viewed at such size and I shudder to publish such pictures, but no sacrifice on my part is too great for you! The illusion works at normal scale - especially when they are seen from three feet away on the game table.

NOTE: The above figure was painted before I settled on my final khaki recipe so appears a little lighter than the finished versions (see the good captain at the start of the post). I wanted the jacket to be a shade darker to better contrast with the white belts and straps.

Finally, here are recipes for alternate colors you might see on British troops in the Sudan:

Alternate Red Coat
Base Coat: Mephiston Red
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Mephiston Red
Highlight: Evil Sunz Scarlet

Alternate Grey Coat
Base Coat: Mechanicus Standard Grey
Shade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Mechanicus Standard Grey
Highlight: Dawnstone

Alternate Valise Kit (Bread Bag should still be 'white')
Base Coat: Zhandri Dust
Sade: Agrax Earthshade
Layer: Talleran Sand
Highlight: Ushabti Bone

I would only use the alternate valise kit color with the red or grey coat. Rifle units may still have black valise kits at this time and I would use the same formula as for the mess kit and boots above.

Right! Clear as mud? Hopefully this is useful to someone - at least it will help me later! If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

More soon...

April 17, 2020

The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders WiP, Part One

Ok, I've finally made some progress with my Sudan project toward actually getting models on the table!

Almost one section (half a unit in The Sword and the Flame) of 1st Company, A Platoon. These Sons of Mars at led by the very keen Lieutenant Henry Hatwaver and kept on the hop by the relentless Sergeant Charger. These are 28mm Perry Miniatures (a beautiful range and one of the reasons I started the project in the first place) painted with Games Workshop paints - I'll have a full list of colors up at some point if anyone wants the recipes.

These have taken slightly longer than they should have to get on because I created extra work for myself. Originally I was planning on painting the Black Watch rather than Cameron's and my initial figure order was for those. The main difference between the two sculpts was the pattern of five tassels on the Black Watch sporran verse two on the Queen's Own. Two days after placing the order, I stumbled on the orbat from Kosha, fell in love with the idea of setting my campaign there, made the change, and placed a second order.

But I already had forty Black Watch on the way.

Sigh.. well, eventually I DO want a whole company of the kilted gentlemen and the charging figures do look splendid (there are no charging two-tassel sculpts.. tsk, tsk). So I've been trimming away the detail from sporrans and sculpting a pair of tassels in their place. They've gotten better with each attempt and the paint hides some of the poor work, but I think they'll do nicely.

I've decided to add a musician (a piper in the case of the Highlanders) to each platoon. There were optional rules for these in TSATF Scenario folder that was published in 2000. Basically the presence of a musician adds +1 to any rolls to rally shaken figures. There are rules for standard bearers as well, though only one per company is allowed. A standard bearer adds +1 to close combat rolls for the unit to which he is attached. Both types of figures are treated as 'special characters' and may be wounded or killed on a face card like other officers.

I'm hoping to have the whole 20-model unit finished by NEXT weekend and I'll try to set up some pics on terrain.

April 14, 2020

Kosha, 1885

Major General Francis W. Grenfell
After the fall of Khartoum, the future of British operations in the Sudan was uncertain for several months. A frontier force under the command of Major General Grenfell was posted to guard against further invasion by the Mahdist forces. This force was strung out at various strategic points along the Nile from Asuan to Akasha and consisted of a mix of British and Egyptian units. There were a tense couple of months at the end of 1885 leading up to the Battle of Ginnis. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the tip of the spear fell to the Cameron Highlanders, supported by the IXth Sudanese and the 20th Hussars, at the small town of Kosha.

This struck me as the perfect setting for my Sudan project. My campaign will be fictional based on the premise that the argument to avenge General Gordon (slain during the siege of Khartoum) or abandon further military adventures into the region rages on far longer than the winter of 1885.

Rumors of a Mahdist invasion will still send elements of the Anglo-Egyptian army south in force, but the Cameron Highlanders of my campaign will find themselves resident in Kosha far longer than their historical counterparts. Indeed there will be missions beyond garrisoning the fort that will take them beyond the town as there will be a strong push by one wily and influential minister for the army to re-establish power as far south as Dongola. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I LOVE maps and I don't think you can really have a campaign without one. Even if you don't plan on plotting the location of every unit (I don't) it's good to know the important features of the area and how far apart said features might be. Imagine my delight when I discovered a treasure trove of high resolution 1:250,000 scale survey maps only a few years beyond my date of interest tucked away on the Library of Congress website! I've only downloaded a few (Wadi Halfa, Kosha, and Dongola), but as far as I can tell most of Egypt and the Sudan are covered in these beautiful maps. Most regions have three sets, produced in different years, the oldest of which is dated 1911. Besides rivers, settlements, and wadis, the maps have wonderful details like palm groves, wells, and ruins. I've spent a huge amount of time scouring the internet, cross referencing locations (Sai Island) with modern tourist attractions and ongoing excavations to see what sort of terrain I might build to represent a few of these on the table.

This map (drawn by me using several of the survey maps as a guide) represents the core of my campaign. It's only about one quarter of the Kosha map, but trying to fit more on one sheet of paper was making the text too small to read. I can always add more sheets if the campaign warrants, but I think this will do for now!

My initial British force will be a company of Cameron Highlanders. In The Sword and the Flame rules, this will be 42 models (1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 3 NCOs, and 36 privates). All of the officers and NCOs will be given names and personalities. Even though I have extensive records on the men of the 79th Regiment of Foot, I've decided on creating fictional characters to populate my campaign so as not to sully any reputations. Major General Grenfell will be the only historical figure and will interact with the tiny garrison through inspirational letters.

In the next post, I'll have the first examples of painted highlanders and wax poetical about the joys of painting tartans!

April 9, 2020

Mahdist Horde

That's about as far as I've gotten with planning for the Madhists... I need a pile of them!

I'm just going to collect forces along the lines of what's given in The Sword and the Flame. Brom recommends 2.25 Dervish units per British, with no more than one in four armed with rifles. For my first goal (two British Platoons would be four and a half native units), I'm going to collect the following force to get in some games ASAP:

One Unit of Dervish with Spears
Two Units of Dervish with Swords
One Unit of Dervish with Rifles
One Unit of Dervish Cavalry

The cavalry will be my 'half-sized' unit and will probably be camels rather than horses because I have NEVER owned nor painted camels. There will be five Sheikhs and a mounted Emir plus one standard bearer. I am planning on one flag per 'Tribe' (three units) and will use the optional rules presented in the 2000 Scenario Folio. Going forward, I will be buying two Dervish units per Imperial and split painting time between the two armies. I'll mix in some Nile Arabs along the way to add some variety to the horde, probably aiming for a tribe and supporting cavalry.

I'm going to make one change to TSATF in that my native units with be 18 models (rather than 19) plus a leader. This is purely for the practical reason that Perry miniatures come six models to a pack and I can place orders in groups of three. I may add musicians to some units (again from the 2000 Scenario Folio) which will bring some to the proper count. I don't expect this unit reduction will have any real effect on game play.

At this level, my leaders will be purely fictional, but I have a fairly detailed list of the historical tribes and chieftans in the area before the Battle of Ginnis and will incorporate some of those as the collection grows.

Up next, we'll look at the campaign map and explore some of the ideas I have for creating a narrative!

April 4, 2020

A Scrimmage in a Border Station

Colonial gamers are a freewheeling lot as you’ll find if you hang around dedicated forums. Questions about uniforms or orders of battle are often met with, “They are your toys! Paint them however you like!” Now this should be the case in ANY period, but the button counters and fashion police are much quicker to raise the hue and cry in other periods.

That said, when building an army I always try to find a brigade on which to model my collection. Not only does this establish a realistic force composition, it lets me point to at least one circumstance where my units served together. I also set out to find a brigade with a measure of variety (mixed coat colors, allied troops, or supported by an unusual detachment). I knew I wanted my first units for TSATF to be Highlanders, so that helped me narrow my choices (but not by much... there were four or five battalions of these kilted heroes scattered all over the Sudan).

Now, I’m not planning on ever recreating whole battles. My games will be raids, patrols, and other skirmishes. While orbats could be useful, I was more interested in remote garrisons and the like. I found EXACTLY what I was looking for when I stumbled on ‘A Scrimmage in a Border Station’ (taken from Historical Records of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders by Captain T A. Mackenzie, which I now have in my possession).

Kosheh was a small brick fort 113 miles to the south of Wadi Halfa, and was the most advanced British post in the Sudan. The garrison of Kosheh now consisted of 1 troop of the 20th Hussars, 1 troop of Mounted Infantry, a few British and Egyptian Artillerymen, the Cameron Highlanders, and 100 men of the 9th Sudan battalion... 150 (men) from the same battalion occupied a zeriba (improvised stockade) on the west bank. Mograkeh (3 miles north of Kosheh) was held by the 3rd battalion of the Egyptian army and some of the Egyptian Camel Corps. The armed steamers Lotus and Shaban patrolled the river (stern wheel paddle steamers).

This garrison was involved in multiple skirmishes with the Madhists in the month leading up to the Battle of Ginnis (December 30th, 1885). They were part of a frontier force and the literally tip of the spear at this time. Not only is there a wonderfully diverse mix of units, the force is small enough to collect the entire detachment for TSATF:

1 Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders (4 units + command)
1 Company of IX Sudanese (2 units + command)
1 Troop of 20th Hussars (1 unit)
1 Troop of Mounted Infantry (1 unit)

Plus guns (although they would most likely stay with the fort for most of my games), a gunboat (only useful if the game is on the banks of the Nile, which turns out is pretty common), a battalion of Egyptians, and a unit of camels if I wanted further reinforcements. There are also three more battalions of British and the rest of the 20th Hussars nearby. My one deviation would be to field a detachment from the British Camel Corps rather than the Egyptian one, because Perry Miniatures only offers those at this time. I may make further alterations to my fictional force. For example, the British Camel Corps are essentially mounted infantry so I may replace the troop in the fort with these and substitute some regular Egyptian cavalry for support at Mograkeh.

I said one deviation, but there will be a second in that I will postpone events that led to the Battle of Ginnis. In the Quindia Studios timeline there will be a more substantial period of sniping and mayhem that serves as the backdrop for my campaign. It may be a year before gathering Madhists force the conflict at Ginnis. There will also be details added to the surrounding campaign that will be decidedly ahistorical.. a lost mine, a forgotten temple to dark powers, and other equally pulp style tropes.

My first order of Perry Miniatures (two platoons of Highlanders - a Captain, two Lieutenants, three Sergeants, and thirty-six Privates) just arrived and I hope to have painted examples soon. Wish me luck with the tartans!

Next time we’ll talk about Madhists...

April 1, 2020

The Sudan 1885

I know, I know.. what happened to the AWI? I’ll try to at least finish my Highland battalion, but I’ve been distracted... again.

I’ve been shuffling some of the clutter in my house from one room to another - hopefully organizing and streamlining collections in the process - and I stumbled on my copy of The Sword and the Flame (20th Anniversary edition). It’s been a while since I’ve read this book or even laid eyes on it, so I dropped it onto my ‘bedtime’ reading pile.

I’d forgotten how much I loved these rules.

When I first got my copy (2000-2001?) I quickly despaired of ever painting the number of models required to play the game properly. I had yet to launch my Napoleonic project and had only painted RPG minis and small armies (40-60 models each) for Warhammer and Warhammer 40k games. While a modest British force might be in that range, the 200 natives I thought I would need for a balanced game was not! I did run some small skirmishes with The Sword in Africa supplement included in the 20th anniversary edition. That was fun, but lacked the grandeur of TSATF games I’d seen in photographs. This was also about the time I was developing the rules that became the basis for Donnybrook and they became my ‘go to’ set for skirmish games. TSATF was returned to the bookcase.

So after reading the book again and with more confidence in my ability to produce hordes of painted models (and afford to procure them), it wasn’t long before I found myself skimming through pages on the Perry Miniatures site. While images from the film Zulu (A prayer's as good as a bayonet on a day like this) are probably ingrained in the being of every wargamer, I settled on the Sudan theater for my collection.

As is usual for me upon entering a new period, I set out to collect a pile of books on the subject.. 

A few are still en route, but I discover more all the time and as the project grows, I’ll continue adding them to my library. If anyone has any suggestions for a 'must have' sourcebook, please let me know!

Up next, I’ll lay out my specific plans to get this on the game table.