Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Whatever's Next?

The upside of the two hour commute is the opportunity to catch up on my reading. I mix it up between fiction and non-fiction and old and new. Recently I just grabbed a book off the shelf on the way out and ended up with a Flashman.


Most wargamers probably have a soft spot for old Flashy, and we can always pretend we read them for the history (I do, honest). My favourite as I remarked on the "Twenty Questions" blog is "Flashman and the Great Game" which lead me to wargame the Indian Mutiny so many years ago. Most of the other books have never lead to wargames, - I looked quite seriously at Rajah Brooke and the Pirates of Borneo but struggled on trying to find sources and the figures.


So re-reading "Flashman and the Dragon" made me wonder why it had taken me so long to think about 19th Century China as a period. I actually did a course in Far Eastern history in my second year at University and studied the Taiping Rebellion so it should have been on my radar. One of the problems with it is the armies are just SO big. Then there's the sources, which are erratic. We have memoirs of travellers in China and people who visited both the Manchus and the Taiping but as with the International Brigades in Spain we know more about the European style "Ever Victorious Army" lead by Chinese Gordon than we do about everything else. Maps of battles are non-existent and exactly what happened in field conflict as opposed to sieges is a bit thin. Sounds perfect for a wargame.


What will make it an interesting problem will be finding a way of fighting smallish armies (the EVA was about 3,000 strong, the British & French expedition in 1860 was about 15,000) against really big ones. Taiping and Manchu armies were a minimum of 20,000 and normally 100,000. I think I want to do not just the Taiping Rebellion battles but also cross over into the "Opium Wars". I think I have a way of doing this but no doubt I'll change my mind after the first game.


So I bit the bullet, sort of, last night and ordered Ian Heath's Foundry work on China in the 19th Century. I've been looking at the availability of figures (15mm) and reckon I can use Irregular's Boxer Rebellion figures, and there may be some others. The Manchu army hadn't changed much since the 17th century, so there are a few ranges to look at I'd guess. Falcon UK do a Taiping Range, but I can't get a decent look at them and it seems I have to order them from the US. I'm at Derby in October, so there's a chance to poke around. I'm fairly sure Mongol cavalry hasn't changed much throughout history.


The British and French from the Opium War of 1860 can probably be put together from Indian Mutiny ranges and the Crimea for the French.


So that will be the next project, I think. I've still got some SCW figures to paint and some other bits to buy, but I can run them in parallel, I reckon, and the MNG needs a bit of a break from my Iberian obsession.


So do I.

13 comments:

  1. As for army size the simple solution is your figure to men ratio. Adjust it to where it is feasible for you.

    As for rules, again look at the figure ratio and go from there.


    -- Jeff

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    1. I think that is true. I reckon one 4 figure element to two European companies as a starting point, and a three element regiment. That still makes the Chinese armies pretty big in relationship to thme, but i'm working on that

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  2. I was going to make a similar suggestion to that put forward by Bluebear Jeff.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Having in the past had a small bash at this in 28mm I can sort of help out here- The Brits are basically Indian Mutiny Boxers will do for the chinese- mostly Mongols are much the same as Ghengis Khans lot with the addition of some firearms. Chinese armies of the 1860s were stilll "unwesternised" so for the look of the thing lots of fireworks and kites. Against Eurpeans Chinese armies couldn't manovre.
    After reading FATD myself I found a biog of Fred Ward which is as GMF has him

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    1. I'm glad to see you have come to the same conclusions as I have. Do you agree on Crimean War for the French?

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    2. Yes pretty much they are still "2nd Empire" . The Brits however are "post Mutiny " so no red coated sepoy battalions. The Indian troops were mostly "Piffer style" - ie Dressed like the Punjab Frontier force Fanes and Probyns were largly Sikh cavalry- and Dighton Probyn had his famous horse "Clear the line" - thouhg only famous to the more esoteric students of the Indian army (Guilty M'lud)

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    3. That's helpful. I've got Mollo's book on the Indian Army so that should cover the Indian troops in the Campaign.

      As the EVA wore Turbans I was wondering about using Sikhs for them. Any thoughts?

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  4. For EVA you could usehaines of the Chinese from OGs 15mm boxer rebellion, as these are a mix of turbans and conical hats

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    1. Clive,

      That's another good call, although I'm thinking of going Irregular because Ian Kay is such a nice bloke and he'll be at Derby.

      Trebian

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  5. Rajah Brooke and the Pirates of Borneo are not dead Graham, just on a slow burner. When do we retire?

    Regards, Chris

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  6. For Rajah Brooke, have you seen
    http://www.thevirtualarmchairgeneral.com/041-historicon-kf.html ?

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    1. That was one of my first stopping points when I started to look at the subject. The range was incomplete, expensive and I think now it may be unavailable!

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