The Wind And The Lion

The Wind And The Lion
German gunners range in on the U.S. Marines as they cross the vill. Figures are Old Glory German Sea Battalion conversions. Archway by Miniature Building Authority.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

SMG Annual Regatta - 2017

                                          SMG Annual Regatta - 2017
Every year the South Florida Miniatures Gamers, (abbreviated SMG) hold the SMG Annual Regatta in December. We usually play a game of "Limeys and Slimeys" in 15mm. Two very long time members, Jorge and Capt. Ron have run this game annually for many years, possibly for the last 10 years. They have built and painted up very impressive and beautiful fleets of 15mm 1800's era sailing ships of various sizes and types from every known 15mm manufacturer. This year however Jorge had decided to run the SMG Annual Regatta in 25mm! Since Jorge and I had built and painted a pair of 25mm ships for Bill Moreno's awesome Yorktown extravaganza game which we assisted him with running at an HMGS-South con in Orlando we had a base of ships to start with. Normally we field well over 20 ships in 15mm so this was going to be a challenge starting with only (2) vessels and only (2) months to plan. Several of us had a few unpainted ships but not enough time to get them done in time. Jorge had kitted out my ship with rigging and sails and transformed it from a basic ship to a beauty. I had another built and slightly painted ship that needed a lot of work, but he said he could get it done in time. That gave us (3) ships to start with. The next challenge was a scenario to give us direction. With only (3) ships and an average of 10 people showing up per game out of a possible 30+ within our local area things were looking bleak. We weren't going to play our standard Napoleonic naval engagement or war of 1812 battle with only (3) ships. Since I have a large fleet of dhows and xebecs in 25mm in my colonial collection for my The Sword And The Flame games it was a natural choice for Jorge to design a game based off the coast of Africa.

Jorge had designed a tight scenario where a French 32 gun frigate was escorting a trio of various sized unarmed cargo vessels from ports in Africa back to Marseille. One of the cargo ships was transporting a French lord and lady of high importance intent on getting back to France. In the vicinity of this small fleet was a 24 gun British frigate heading back to its posting from a recent leave. The villains of this scenario were Barbary Arab pirates intent on capturing the cargo ships while attempting to maneuver their way out of range of the French frigate's deadly 32 guns! Thus the scene is set....

The (3) French cargo ships leave port at sunrise escorted by the 32 gun French frigate "Toulon". A single rider slips away from the docks and heads to the nearby bay and stronghold of a notorious  Barbary Corsair, chief Ali Bin Hidin. A few shekels change hands, commands are barked, and shortly there after five heavily armed native dhows and xebecs leave port intent on intercepting the French fleet while still in relatively shallow waters where their flat bottomed boats and shallow drafts still have an advantage. Due to their lateen rigs and sails their faster rate of speed might allow them to catch the fleet before they hit the open ocean.

        The French fleet leaves a port in off the Horn of Africa for Marseille.

                                             The Arab fleet gives chase.

A British frigate shadows the action. These nations are currently at peace.

Out of the haze of the morning sun several sails appear upon the horizon. They aren't allied ships, the alarm is sounded and the crews stand to. Gun ports are opened and the cannons loaded. Marines and sailors climb the rigging and man the fighting positions in the masts.


The fast moving zebecs and dhows give the French escort a wide birth and cut in behind the transports. The wind changed course favoring the attackers which increased their speed. This same coarse change slowed down the French transports, and made the French commander's decision to lead the small fleet rather than trail it more fatal than it could've been.

The waves crash against the hulls of the zebecs as their vessels heave to. The sail rigging ropes are pulled tight as the sails catch the most wind possible to close with their enemies. One zebec Captain so intent on closing with his prey fails to see the British ship maneuvering into position behind him. As the zebec closes in on the nearest French transport ship the British cannons spit lead and fire. The British Captain has achieved the holy grail of naval combat, a rake!

The highly trained and motivated British gunners lay waste to one of the zebecs. The cannon balls hit home, shredding the zebec, cutting the masts, setting the vessel alight, and sinking it within moments.

Though no love is lost between the British and French the Brit Capt of the Circe could not stomach the fate of a European crew left to the fate of a merciless foe..... thus he unleashes death upon the zebec Capt and its crew sending them to the bottom of Indian Ocean.

 Despite loosing one of their own ships the pirates are undeterred and relentlessly continue their attack. Nervous French Sailors and stalwart Marines on the transport ships grab arms and prepare to repel borders.

The French Capt has realized his mistake in leading his column rather than trailing it as the zebecs and armed dhows swarm his convoy. He changes course and crosses the wind to face the enemy and bring his broadsides to bear.

The change in course of the wind has lifted the Arab sailors' spirits as their sails fill with wind and they close upon their pray. The cat and mouse games ends with the zebecs coming into contact, grapples are thrown, muscles aching and coiled, men hiding behind gunwalls intent on boarding the enemy vessels.

Vicious fighting ensues, one of the transports manages to miraculously beat off the intruders due to the heroic actions (very good die rolls) of the crew and Marines, they cut the grapples and temporarily escape off the table. The other two transports are not so lucky. Despite the added firepower of the French frigate which has come about, and some successful melees the two transports finally succumb to the Barbary onslaught once multiple vessels attacked each ship at the same time.

While the French were fighting off the Barbary scum the English Capt reads aloud a letter picked up at port. War has been declared and the French and British are currently at WAR! Thus the plucky English Capt orders his crew to stand to, load the cannon, and open the gun ports. He sails into position and lets loose a broadside into the Toulon. Luckily for the French a wave rose just as the cannons discharged their ordnance and their fire was largely ineffective. Or, did the English gunners just loose heart and were reluctant to fire on another European ship whilst in African waters and surrounded by Barbary pirates and aimed their guns purposely low?

The Toulon returns fire with devastating results. After trading a couple of broadsides the English ship decides they are out gunned and break off the fight. The French Capt returns his attention to his devastated convoy, or what is left of it. Before the Toulon can come about again the transports strike their colors and are being re-crewed by pirates. The game was called at this point with the French commander being deemed to have miserably failed in his duties. What awaits him at home is suspect.

The fate of the transport crews is unknown and the French Govt has lost all hope of securing any of their safe return. The cargo has been lost as well. Worst of all the Lord and Lady Bergeron had also been captured once the last cargo ship was chased down. Their fate is still unknown......

A fun game was had by all! I for one am looking forward to next years SMG Annual Regatta 2018. What will Jorge and Capt Ron have in store for us? Another 25mm game or 15mm, AWI, Napoleonic, SYW, China Sea action, or Pirates of the Caribbean????????

Naval action at the South-Florida Miniatures Gamers (SMG) clubhouse in Fort Lauderdale Florida affectionately called "Das Krieg Haus".

I'm not sure of all the models used in this game but I will note which ones I know.

European Ships
French frigate: Made by Old Glory Shipyard:
Old Glory 25mm figs

Zebecs and Dhows
Richard Houston, ordered from:
Crews: I used many different figs from many different manufacturers and ranges. Some are infantry figures converted to be gunners.
Marines: Foundry - Sikh Wars
Sailors - Old Glory - Ansar, Eureka - Turks, Foundry - Zanzibaris, etc.

Monday, December 25, 2017

New L Class (M1900) Gunboat arrives!

The new Lucas Class (Model 1900) Gunboat has arrived!

Dan from Last Stand Dan's Boatyard and blog has designed and completed building the first production run of his newest design the Lucas (L) Class (M1900) Gunboat. This model can be used for the late 1800's into the early 1900's depending on the paint scheme and weaponry. It's a great model with plenty of diversity. I think it can be used in multiple theaters and time periods. I've got to get me one of these gunboats ASAP! I can see this boat doing duty from the Nile, to the Med, to the Yangtze, and beyond.....

In This sequence the New L Class (M1900) Gunboats bombard Dervish Nile mud forts (made by Bill of Bill's Gamer Garage).

The HMS Abu Klea crewed by Egyptian gunners.

                          The HMS Metemmeh crewed by British crews.

Above, gunboats pictured from left to right, a B Class, an original L Class, and lastly the new larger armored L Class (M1900). All of these boats including the dhow in the top left were made by Last Stand Dan in his "Boatyard". I have have most of his boats and have used them all and can honestly say they are awesome boats, sturdy, wargamer friendly, and a great value.

Here's the link to his site and the link to his boats page, however it was made prior to the new L Class being designed and built. Check out his site for some excellent AAR's and great pics of his boats and games.


Bill Daniels, Gamers Garage:


Egyptian Gun Crews:

British Gun Crews:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Sword And The Flame - Unit Data Cards

                            The Sword And The Flame - Unit Data Cards

The Sword And The Flame is my favorite set of wargame rules for many reasons. They are fast, simple, and furious. The rules cover a wide range of  colonial conflicts and have many official and non-official variants for various theaters, conflicts, and campaigns. This post is about the Unit Data Card play aids for this rules set that were made by Patrick Wilson from The Virtual Armchair General decades ago. All the data a player would need to run their troops is on these cards, see the pic below of one of the original cards prior to customizing. The movement rates, firing, and morale are all included.

The cards are filled out with the unit name and stats as desired depending on the nationality, unit, experience, and weapons used. Below is an Uzbek cavalry card I made up for a scenario well over 10 years ago. I keep all my cards in a protective plastic holder in a binder. These cards are half of a regular sized sheet of paper.

The above cards were more than adequate for several decades. I have used old school cut and paste technology to personalize some of them, which literally meant I physically cut out a picture and glued it onto the data card. In this manner I customized and personalized the cards with pictures and font. One day, about 2 plus years back my buddy Bill Hogan, another HMGS-South club member, sent me a power point slide with the old school TSATF data cards. He had digitized the cards and added fields that could be filled in with what ever data was desired. These were wonderfully done and opened up a whole new play aid dimension to the game. I played with the slide and discovered that by adding boxes, altering their size, and filling them in white I could change any value or item on the card. Being an artist in a past life I quickly altered, added, cleaned, and adjusted the cards as I desired for each individual unit. I added pictures of my own units or pics from the web, even national flags for the desired units. I added cool fonts in different colors to differentiate the units, tribes, and nationalities. Below is an example of one of the game cards I made with Bill Hogan's awesome Power Point template. With Bill's digitized unit data cards the only limit is your imagination!

As you can see from the Unit Data card above Bill had added some cool graphics in different areas to help differentiate the units like crossed rifles for infantry, crossed sabers for cavalry, crossed cannon for arty, an anchor for naval troops, etc. These  really make the cards stand out. Being a workable doc I like to make custom cards for specialized scenarios like I did for my The Wind And The Lion games, my NWF, Sudan, and Boxer games, but most recently for my The Hun The Frog And The Lion Game. I alter the morale and hit tables as I see fit for certain battles, units, guns, and equipment. As previously stated the size of these cards is a half of a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. This lends itself well to be saved in a plastic sheet holder for a half size binder. All the cards can then be saved in theater or period binders. These plastic covered data cards are then distributed to the players prior to a game. In addition I insert the melee table with the melee mods into the back side of these cards and now the players have all of the data that they need to run their troops without assistance from the GM. They also double as a cool coaster to keep the game table dry.

Here are some tools of the trade as far as running and playing TSATF. The aforementioned Unit Data Card Binder can be seen in the upper right hand corner.

                                             TSATF Data Card Binder

                         New Style Card made with Bill Hogan's template.


Above is a pic of the back of a Unit Data Card in the plastic holder in the binder. I added the much needed Melee table with melee modifiers to the back of the Unit Data Cards. You can't have a classic TSATF Melee without the melee table and melee mods!!! To me, the melee, the random movement of units by cards, and the random movement distance by dice is what really sets TSATF apart from other rules and what makes it so grand! With these cards in hand any TSATF player be they a grizzled vet or a newbie (FNG) has all the data they need to run their troops for a game.

Game card for French Troops from The Hun The Frog And The Lion game I ran.

Pathan Native Artillery

I had recently sent my newest edition TSATF unit data cards to a Mr. David Raybin when I saw him post on TMP (The Miniatures Page) that he was going to run his version of The Wind And The Lion scenario using TSATF. Since this is one of my most favorite movies, one of my favorite games to run, and my most favorite set of rules, I figured I'd offer him my customized unit cards. Most gamers I know are very generous with ideas and data so I paid it forward as I've been assisted so many times in my 45 years of gaming. I'm always willing to help a gamer and especially to promote The Sword And The Flame. At the end of this post are links to The Sword And The Flame rules, HMGS-South and Colonial Barracks conventions where we run our TSATF games, and to TVAG who made the original cards and who sells all sorts of cool gaming and colonial wargame stuff. You can still get copies of the original unit data cards from TVAG. Below are a few samples of some of the cards I've made utilizing and customizing Bill's outstanding Unit Data Card templates. See you at the con!


This one is for a scenario I got from Patrick Wilson and Richard Houston entitled, The Hun The Frog And The Lion. This is another game / scenario loosely based on the movie TW&TL.


JB - AKA Sgt. Guinness