Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lord Coxswain: The Man, The Myth, The Muttonchops

Lord Coxswain is a mysogonistic xenophobe of the great-white-hunter-who-shoots-everything trope and is thus hailed as 'undoubtedly Earth's greatest Human'.  Passionate admirer of dusky maidens and terror to Johnny Alien, he is at home in the Venusian jungles hunting down rebels and wildlife alike as he is crushing dissidents on the Moon.  He is the self proclaimed icon of humanitarian supremacy as he crushes all before him with his pith helmet, pipe and a brace of patented Dr Grordbort's contrapulations and ray guns.

A former Navy man and a veteran of many minor tiffs and battles, his adventures are not for the faint hearted. Indeed they have been described as 'full of violence, bad language, interplanetary racism and a little sprinkling of smut, so you get what you pay for.'

So why am I bothering to describe this blatantly heroic chap?  Principally because he stars in a range of interplanetary pictures and books sponsored by Dr Grordbort himself.  'Victory', 'Triumph' and 'Onslaught' comprise the three books thus far.

'Onslaught' is the latest addition to the series, but is also a bit of a compilation of the previous ones also so if you have the first two volumes you'll be familiar with a lot of it.  Nevertheless, these are a belly shaking journey through everything that is so right and wrong about VSF (though arguably this is WW1 era fiction).
Lord C valiantly defends a Moon Maiden
He is so heroic, in fact, that he has his own beer! This was indeed made in New Zealand:

Let us be honest, it’s damned thirsty work for those smashing chaps of the Earth’s Armed Forces. Spending your days up to your danglies in mud and razor wire while bringing a bit of civilizing influence to those ugly Venusian brutes can leave a chap parched.
That’s where His Majesty’s Brewing Corps comes in. How’s your average tommy meant to go over the top if he hasn’t had a bloody good pint or two of warm bitter to get his ardor up! It’s brewing at the pointy end.
Believe me, you’ve not brewed until you’ve whipped up a cheeky little robust porter while crouching in a crater, swathed in chlorine gas and surrounded by angry Venusian spear chuckers. That sorts the men from the boys, I’ll tell you!
Want to taste Victory? Why not try a couple of the liquid offerings whipped up by the boys of the Brewing Corps?
Lord Cockswain’s Courage
Brewed using five different malts, Khargunthi hops, black strap molasses, bull’s testosterone and a thousand yard stare, Cockswain’s Courage is as black as space and at 6.3% abv guaranteed to warm the cockles. Rich and complex (unlike the lads in the Brewing Corps) there’s also a merry hint of toasted oak after some poor blighter’s wooden leg was blown clean off and landed in the fermenter!
It tastes like War!

I will most definitely be putting together a Company list for IHMN for Lord C and his cronies (who are inevitably short-lived despite a lack of a 'red shirt').  Lord C is typified here in action on a big game hunt on Venus;

Friday, 26 December 2014

What Santa Brought

A delicious grab bag of goodies for yours truly & son under the tree this year - far better than a lump of coal! You can see a definitely VSF theme going on here.  Review of the various books to come by let me just say that if you haven't yet discovered the Adventures of Lord Coxswain ("The Man, The Myth, The Muttonchops") I am sitting here chuckling away and now desperately searching for some appropriate figures...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Warm Yuletide wishes to all!
1907 Artist's impression of what Santa would be driving a Century later

I hope you've been good this year!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Tsuba Miniatures

I just came across these lovely Russian and Japanese figures of RJW era, made by Tsuba Miniataures in Germany.  Just perfect for Victorian/Edwardian era VSF or colonial gaming.

I've wanted to do a Russian Company for IHMN and think that these might be a great way ahead, rather than Russian Civil War figs (nice as they might be for Pulp games).  I'll just need to find some models somewhere for the obligatory 'over the top' and/or weird characters.

And for those desirous of a Japanese force, these are very nice too:

Japanese Cavalry figures will be added to the range early next year and I hope some Russian mounted troops will follow shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

War Plan Red: Part 5

Thanks to Steve Blease, who recently blogged this video related to War Plan RED which I did a series of posts a few months ago.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Medal of Arbitrary Self-Importance

All I can say is... I Want One for Christmas!

The Society for Interplanetary Cooperation and Cross-galactic Overindulgence held its annual prize giving in Carlsbad, Prussia this past Tuesday.
While the event itself displayed much of its infamous pompousness, the officers of SICCO this year left a legacy worth highlighting.
The Medal of Arbitrary Self-Importance – so named because it cannot actually be awarded by a third (or even second) person – allows time-space revellers on all wave-lengths to award those blatantly best deserving – themselves.
We are in no doubt that this medal – left unattended in a public space such as a Turkish bath, Ale house or brothel in your vicinity – would quickly make it onto the chest of a deserving (in their mind) individual.
We would therefore very much like to dispatch one to your premises forthwith.
Perchance you, Sir/Madame, would be a splendid recipient of such an award? It’s in your hands!
Regardless of the chest it adorns, Dr Grordbort’s(patrons and sponsors of the award) would be only too pleased to serve!
Comes in metal gift box container measuring 95 x 135 x 40 mm (3.7 x 5.3 x 1.5 in).

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A new Aerostat from Tobsen

Tobsen77 miniatures (who make all sorts of steampunky goodies - see here) have released a new model for the discerning aeronaught.  Smaller and sleeker than their earlier version and now armed with not one but two Maxims, its clearly the dirigible of choice for the new season.  Don't be caught in last year's balloonary!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Steam Powered Tanks

I came across this thread at the World of Tanks forum (via the Space 1889 Yahoo Group), which has some very interesting pic of developmental tanks which I hadn't come across before and the attempted application of steam for power.  Focused on US developments, its well worth checking out and has some great modelling inspiration.

Monday, 24 November 2014

For Queen and Planet!

-- Simple Victorian Sci-Fi/Colonials mass combat rules!

I spied this set of rules on the inter web the other day, which like an interesting blend of a Colonial game with VSF options.  Haven't gotten a copy (yet) but will write some thought when I do.  Here is the spiel from Wargames Vault:

For Queen and Planet – Core Rules

The sweep of the red Sudanese desert, scattered with thorny trees and pierced by black basalt outcrops is the setting for this cinematic rule set. The whirling dervish, the fanatical Ansar and the lonely British foot soldier far from home are the combatants.

With these rules, you can take the role of the British commander tasked by the Queen with maintaining crown rule in distant, inhospitable lands or the local emir, committed to exercising his own free will over the natives who will fight with all their blood, sweat and tears.

Q&P is designed to balance the mass and ferocity of the local peoples against the technology and training of the Colonial powers and to provide a fair and reasonable struggle for both imperial General and local Emir.

This rule set includes:
  • All rules necessary to play either a colonial or VSF version of the game.
  • An alternative timeline for VSF genre play.
  • Unit lists detailing British, British-colonial, Ansar, Beja and Cephalopod forces.
  • A nine-scenario campaign that will allow you to play your way through the Mahdi’s initial rebellion against Egyptian garrison forces all the way through to the siege of Khartoum.
  • A blank unit command sheet.
Each of the scenarios in this rulebook is written to be fought as a pure colonial battle, but it is very easy to add a VSF flare to any scenario or battle you fight with this rule system. I have included an addendum (in italics) to each ‘colonial’ battle to allow you to make it a VSF battle. Play balance will not be affected by converting colonial battles to VSF battles.

 The Rise of the Mahdi Scenarios:
1) First Battle of El Obeid - Dec 1881 Egyptian vs. Ansar
2) Second Battle of El Obeid (or Hick's Folly) - Nov 1883 - British lead Egyptians vs. Ansar
3) First Battle of El Teb (or Baker's Teb) - Feb 4, 1884 - British lead Egyptians vs. Beja
4) Second Battle of El Teb - Feb 29, 1884 - British vs. Beja
5) Battle of Tamai - March 13, 1884 - British vs. Beja
6) Siege of Khartoum - ~May 1884 - Ansar sieging British lead Egyptians
7) The Battle of Abu Klea - Jan 17, 1885 - British vs. Ansar
8) The Battle of Kirbekan - Feb 10, 1885 - British vs. Ansar
9) The Battle of Tofrek - March 22, 1885 - British vs. Beja/Ansar

Friday, 21 November 2014

French Nefs re-released

Those chaps at Brigade Models have remastered their French Charlemane class Battlecruiser Aeronef and recast them with different variants of beautiful tumblehome hulls and period style hull guns.

I think they look just fantastic but now my exiting French fleet (here) can never compare and needs to be upgraded.  The naval arms race continues...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

"Sky Galleons of Mars" to Return!

Exciting news indeed, from the guys who are doing the reboot of the Space 1889 RPG!  Early days thus far but expect a Kickstarter in the future to get this moving.  Details so far are:

  • Classic rules to be used, though updated
  • Classic Hex maps to be utilised
  • All new range of miniatures- plastic in the starter with metal ones available individually
  • English, German and likely other language versions

Watching with great interest!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

USS Olympia

Recently I had the chance to sneak a peak at the USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport in Philadelphia.  Launched in 1892 she is a one of a class protected cruiser sporting 8 and 5 inch guns.  She is also a veteran of the Spanish-American War and is in beautiful condition.

Unfortunately, my camera decided to die earlier in the day so I have no pics of the occasion, but it was excellent  If you are in the area so drop down and see this lovely lady of the sea.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Great Martian War on Film!

WoW, this is fantastic!  Really inspirational for players of All Quiet on the Martian Front too.

Great martian war from PLAZMA on Vimeo.

Thanks to and "Steam fantasy"for sharing the love on FB

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Steampunk short film

Found this today and thought I'd share the laugh

Friday, 3 October 2014

Nemo's War takes shape

The second edition of this great game is taking shape at Victory Point Games.  The new artwork and counters look fantastic.  I'll be upgrading my first edition for sure!

Monday, 22 September 2014

The first real Aeronef

An interesting article regarding pre WW1 commentary on the impacts of technology, including airships. Very reminiscent of HG Wells in War in the Air

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

War Plan Red: Part 4

The US Plan to defeat Great Britain, based on their assessment of the likely British plan to blockade the Atlantic and invade through New England to threaten the vital industrial heartland of the US (for more detail see here).

Having assessed the likely British plan, US planners broadly concluded that:

  • Naval situation in the Atlantic would at best be a standoff with neither side having no significant advantage, OR the British would sabotage the Panama Canal and gain a decisive advantage
  • British efforts to lodge an invasion force would likely be staged using Canada as a forward operating base
  • British Cruiser and submarine forces operating out of Canada and the Carribean would be sufficient to blockade the majority of merchant traffic, and
  • British threats to the North East of the US would likely be effective before the American industrial and manpower superiority could be mobilised.

Allied convoy assembles in Halifax: Exactly what the US planners wanted to prevent
In consideration of these factors, the US planner concluded that the answer to defeat Great Britain was to immediately go on the offensive and remove the British ability to utilise Canada and other forward operating bases, by seizing “Red bases in the western North Atlantic, the West Indies, and the Caribbean.”  The strategic priority was Halifax, Nova Scotia and its all important naval base which would be critical in supporting a forward deployed Royal Navy operating on the East Coast of the US.  The US estimated it had a maximum of 14 days before the combined RN Home and Mediterranean Fleets would be operating on their doorstep.  Use of this time would be critical.

The US Army had only limited initial resources but those available would strike north rapidly.  Within 3 days of mobilisation, a Corps of 3 Divisions (some 25,000 troops) would muster at Boston.  Depending on the situation, they could move north through Maine using the rail network to enhance their mobility, or proceed north under fleet escort to conduct an amphibious attack on Halifax.  In considering the lessons of WW1, US submarine warfare would also be waged to interdict Canada from British shipping and deny the buildup of the forces required to undertake an invasion of the US and deploy accordingly.

The best defence...
This track would also be supported by spoiling attacks along the eastern boarder.  As troops became available, an advance would be made from upstate New York against Montreal and Quebec while another force would advance to take the hydro-electric plants on the Niagara River.  Other moves would be made to safeguard the Detroit industrial region and capture other key infrastructure such as the Sault St marine canal and its locks.  The occupation of Canadian territory was a priority, weather and logistic wallowing.  Realistically, in these early stage there would be little that Canada could do without British reinforcement, though aggressive aerial attacks were expected with little that could be done to prevent them.

Back at Sea, the short period before the Royal Navy appearing in strength was critical.  The US Atlantic fleet (4 Battleships  plus cruiser support) would be used to strike British possessions.  Initial targets were Jamaica, the Bahamas and Bermuda, to be followed up if possible with attacks on Trinidad, St Lucia and British possessions in the West Indies.  These would reduce the use of these bases to interdict merchant traffic and help safeguard the Panama Canal.  On the great lakes and in the pacific Canadian ports would be blockaded.

With the British ability to invade the East Coast significantly degraded, the US Army would focus on dislocating the Canadian Eats and West coasts to prevent a buildup of Indian or ANZAC troops from the Pacific coast.  Capture of the Winnipeg rail centre, a crucial rail node, was key in this, followed by the occupation of Vancouver and British Columbia.

Overall, the US plan was to strike quickly to remove Canada as a staging point, prevent a British buildup and allow US mobilisation efforts to come to fruition.  As unlikely as the situation was deemed, it was deemed to be a valid strategy.

Should Japan enter the War on the British side, a join War Plan Red-Orange would be activated (War Plan Orange being the contingency plan for war against Japan).  British Naval strength was seen to be the biggest threat and the intent was to prosecute a "Red First" policy, analogously prescient to the 'Europe First' policy of WW2.

One point to consider - War Plan Red was developed in 1927 after the Geneva Naval Conference of that year, and was approved in 1930.  Transplant this scenario to a VSF setting and a few different aspects come into play.  The demilitarisation of the US-Canadian boarder, key to the US twentieth century plan, started in the late 1870s.  Residual infrastructure could still be present  and even be reactivated in a period of tension.  Use of such facilities for aeronef raids into the US might degrade or delay the initial thrust into Halifax.  Alternatively, an RN aquanef blockade could be established off the East Coast prior to hostilities, nullifying the initial US freedom of acton.  Lots of possibilities.

Alternatively, if it appeals to you as is then there is a board game from Avalanche Press you may wish to investigate (thanks Michael P, for the information).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

War Plan Red: Part 3

The British Plan
...or at least, the US planners' assessment of the likely British plan...

The War in the Atlantic
This was assessed to be the dominant, but not only, theatre of maritime operations.  The RN would initially seize control of the North Atlantic by combining their Home and Mediterranean Fleets and operating from a forward base at Bermuda.  British cruiser and submarine forces would try to cut US Atlantic lines of communications from bases in Halifax and Jamaica.  The Royal Navy would blockade the East Coast of the US, disrupt commerce, harass coastal areas with bombardment, and conduct Air and Amphibious raids to further degrade the economy and, ultimately, popular will of the US people for the war.

The British would expect the US to immediately redeploy the bulk of their Pacific Feet to the Atlantic via the Panama canal, and generate a Fleet in being with which to contest this blockade.  If this was achieved, no decisive engagement would be sought initially as both sides were well balanced and the result could go either way.

Accordingly, the US Navy would remain in a defensive posture concentrated in the Western North Atlantic, threaten British lines of communication, wear down Royal Naval strength and await  favourable opportunity for Fleet Action.  Of course, if the Panama Canal could be disrupted or sabotaged, this would be a different story...
Panama Cana - a vital Strategic link
The War in the Pacific
The British Asiatic Fleet would be concentrated at Singapore with only light, inshore forces remaining at Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.  Indian troops would muster and link up wight he Fleet before for assaulting the Philippines to neutralise the US naval facilities holdings in Manilla.   This would safeguard threats to British trade and commercial interests and subsequently, the Asiatic Fleet would be utilised to destroy any residual US Naval island holdings throughout the Pacific.

With the bulk of Empire assets investing the US East Coast, Hawaii was expected to remain a safe bastion and while it might be attacked to disrupt and commerce raiders operating from there, no invasion or landing was expected.

Alaska was expected to be raided from Canada, but only lightly and this was seen as acceptable.

Landings by ANZAC and Indian troops on the West Coast of the US where seen as acceptable risks
The Land War
The pivotal US territory was seen to be the industrial North East region of continental US.  Possible landings by ANZAC and Indian focus on the West Coast or striking south from Canada could and would be tolerated in order to maintain a strong defensive perimeter to safeguard the industrial heartland of the USA.

Should the Royal Navy manage to defeat the US Atlantic Fleet and establish sea control (either though battle or should the Panama Canal be disputed and the Pacific Fleet trapped) it was expected that invasion would come via sea with amphibious landings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  These forces would then strike westward through Connecticut, disrupt the region generally and threaten New York.  This would greatly shorten the period of conflict and try to overcome the US mobilisation effort while also degrading industrial capacity.

War planners concluded that the British Empire could achieve this outcome, the US choice would be reduced to what kind of terms to ask for in their surrender...

Thursday, 4 September 2014

War Plan Red: Part 2

Having discovered the 1920/30s era US Military plans to engage in hostilities with the British Empire (here), I had to delve deeper.  Admittedly, neither side considered such a war remotely probable, but it was certainly not impossible should issues regarding international trade route and overseas territories come to a head.

Archives were searched, journals read and the odd book discovered.  For the discerning strategist, the following detail is provided.  Note that the UK never committed such plan to paper, but some good guesswork assessed their likely operations.

Pre Conflict Comparison

The Royal Navy had slightly more naval power, with the main battle line spread between the Home Fleet and the Mediterranean.  It would be able to rapidly concentrate and venture across the Atlantic to have significant presence at Nova Scotia within 13 days.  In comparison, the bulk of the US Navy battlewagons were in the Pacific and the timely use of the Panama Canal was critical in being able to face off against the British fleet in the Atlantic.

                               Royal Navy         US Navy
       Battleships             16                     18 (12 in the Pacific)
       Battlecruisers         4                       0
       Aircraft Carriers     6                      3 (larger capacity than RN equivalents, all in the Pacific)
       Cruisers                  62                    18
       Destroyers              175                  221
       Submarines             57                    68

Air Force strength was significantly in favour of the British, though redeploying it to Canada would take significant sea lift capacity.  The British could muster such lift capacity but it would have to be balanced with other priorities, such as ground forces.

                                      RAF              US
Fighter Squadrons           12                3 Pursuit, 2 Attack
Observer Squadrons         5                 9
Bomber Squadrons          11                2

Manpower wise, the British Army could rapidly mobilise more soldiers from across their dominions than the US, but the US could build a greater land force over time.

                                               British Empire

       Regular Forces       100,000 man Expeditionary Force (4 Divisions, 2 Cavalry Brigades)
                                      Deployable to Nova Scotia within 30 days

       Overseas Forces     Canada: 52,000 (increasing to 120,000 in 11 Divisions in 30 Days)
                                      India and ANZAC forces: 13 Divisions available at short notice

       Territorial Army     13 Divisions available within 6 months


       Regular Forces       100,000 men at home,
                                       9 Divisions

       Overseas Forces     40,000 in Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Hawaii

       National Guard       175, 000 (60 days to mobilise)
                                       18 Divisions (understrength), 9 Cavalry Brigades

More to Follow...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Imperial Germany's Invasion plans for New York

Following some comments on my War Plan Red post, I did a bit more digging on Kaiser Bill's plans to 'put America in her place'.

Apparently, this increasingly ambitious series of late 19th Century plans included dispatching a significant fleet to cross the Atlantic, conducting a decisive engagement in the vicinity of Norfolk Virgina, dashing north to shell Boston, and then sending battalions of Prussian chaps ashore in New York to install panic and plunder the city.

Cheeky Blighter!

Not sure how successful that might have been but there has to be some games in that!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

War Plan Red

In doing some research into the US War Plan Orange this week, I stumbled across some other interesting plans developed in the aftermath of WW1, mostly to exercise War Planning and Strategic staffs learning, but also useful as the basis for contingencies.

Of striking interest to me was the US War Plan Red, which was to fight a war against England, and potentially Japan also as per the provisions of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.  War Plan Red had a number of subset plans, notably War Plan Scarlet against Australian, New Zealand and Commonwealth interests in the Pacific, and War Plan Crimson against Canada.  Interestingly, War Plan Red had the US assume a strategically defensive posture against what they saw would be a mostly Atlantic affair and prepare for a landing of British Troops on the east coast of the Continental USA.  At the same time, the planner saw that a invasion of British interests in Canada and the Caribbean would be the best way to reduce British interests on the continent.

All very interesting, particularly when one then lays on top of that the Canadian Defence Scheme Number 1 which was for a counter invasion of the US to stall for time and allow British support to cross the Atlantic.  The Canadian plan saw flying columns seizing territory along the Pacific and Atlantic US coasts.  An audacious plan indeed but one that was seen as sufficiently desperate it might just succeed if the dice rolled correctly.

And so were laid the plans of what might have been, but more interesting is to consider them being executed in the 1890s...with a few VSF elements thrown in...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Scenes from a Japanese film "Clouds on the Hill", which I have been unable to get a copy of so far.  Some good imagery in these clips, particularly the low freeboard on the capital ships.

There is also a great (and unfortunately hard to find) Japanese film "Battle of the Japan Sea" made in 1969.  The first few minutes are available on YouTube.

One of the more interesting written accounts of the whole battle that I have read is "The Fleet that had to Die" by Richard Hough.  Originally written by a Russian only a year or so after the battle, it has some very interesting perspectives regarding the Baltic Fleet and its epic journey from Russia to Tsushima and its subsequent destruction.  Well worth tracking a copy down.

And if you ever find yourself in Japan near Tokyo, you must go to the outlying city of Yokosuka and go onboard Admiral Togo's Flagship: the Battleship Mikasa.  I had the privilege in 1995 and it was fantastic.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Maine Maritime Museum

The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath is mainly focused on the old wooden schooners built there in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  However like the great Museum in Paris (see here), there are some lovely warship models and these caught my eye during my visit last week:

USS Katahdin
Built in 1893, she was an innovative ironclad ram designed for inner harbour defence.  Armament was four 6pdrs but the maim weapon was the ram.  Rendered rapidly obsolete she was decommissioned and sunk as a target vessel in 1909.

pic from
USS Machias
Built in 1893 this was a schooner rigged gunboat.  Her main armament was eight 4 inch guns, backed up by four 6 pdrs and four 1 pdrs.  She had three separate commissions and ranged far and wide before being sold to the Mexican Navy in 1920.

pic from
USS Dahlgren
Coastal Torpedo Boat built in 1900 she was fitted with four 1 pdrs and 2 torpedo tubes

Pic from

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Awesome Aeronef scale terrain

I was visiting the Boston City Hall this week and received a brief from the town planners.  In their office they had this fantastic model of the downtown area.  Superbly detailed and yes its in 1:1200 scale just like the Aeronef model range!  I can also see it with Tripods marching their way downtown sweeping all before them with their heat rays...

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!