Saturday 25 November 2023

The Men Who Would Be Warlords of Mars

Above the Liftwood groves, an Aphid class gunboat flies under French colours as Épée 

A well overdue return to some Space 1889 gaming today, with the specific intent to trying to nail down our rules modifications to The Men Who Would Be Kings. We feel they are..okay...but probably the best fit of anything we've found thus far. Regardless, we got to push some models around and thats always fun!

A French expedition from Ideus Fons defends a central position, with Cloudship Épée in overwatch position

Some rules changes we played with included Bolt Action style of pulling chits, to keep the game fully interactive and generate drama and tension with 'who goes next', which can at times be critical (and was!)

Épée (by Oshiro Models) with a crew of Armoured Sailors (by Ironclad Miniatures)

Additionally, for narrative reasons we played:

- a unit that rolls boxcars on an activation may take an extra action immediately (but must declare both at the start)

- a unit that rolls boxcars on Disciple check a takes an immediate free action (heroic reaction to taking fire!)

Units - we have trialled a few options and recommend Space 1889 units under TMWWBK as:

  • European trained Canal Martians as Regular Infantry with Obsolete Rifles
  • Canal Martian Shooters as Irregular Infantry
  • Can Martian Choppers as Tribal Infantry
  • Tharks as Tribal Cavalry
Tharks!!!! (Bronze Age Miniatures)

A unit of Tirailleurs Martiens (RAFM models) prepares to defend their position against advancing Martian Cutters

Canal Martians advance from cover (Bronze Age miniatures)

Give them a taste of St-Etienne steel, mes Amis!

Aerial gunnery takes advancing Martians under fire

New Units:

Shield Gunners as an additions to a Canal Martian Shooter unit. A Shield Gunner takes an additional hit to kill (eg 2 at close range, 3 at long range, 4 at long range and in cover!), and all shield gunners in a unit must be taken down before. A Shooter unit can add 2-3 max at a cost of 1-2 points, adding some much needed resilience against modern European musketry

Cloudship is still in development. We used the Aphid as a Regular Cavalry unit for activation and movement. It carries a half unit (6 men) of riflemen which have to activate separately, and a crewed weapon which also activates separately.  The Cloudship (in this case a poorly armed Scout class type) is operating at low altitude and can be taken under fire by all units as usual. 

Each hit is randomly allocated as:

  • 1-2 Crewed Weapon Crew (4 total)
  • 3-4 Upper Deck Crew (6 total)
  • 5-6 Hull hit (6 total)
  • Weapon fire is reduced proportionally with hits. The cloudship crashes if reduced to zero hull points.

Tharks crash into the Legionaries, devastating the unit

Would love to hear other people's experiences and suggestion for TMWWBK, or other rules sets they use for Space 1889 ground actions.

Sergent Pierre Reno, veteran of the Third Thark Suppression Campaign, revenges his comrades upon the last Thark


pancerni said...

Some good ideas, great looking collection for Space 1889!

Paul O'G said...

Thankyou! I like your own Tharks too :-)

David Crook said...

Hello there old chap,

That looks early impressive - love the gunboat! Following on from our recent meeting there are a few VSF plans afoot…..

All the best,


Paul O'G said...

Hi Gavin - yes 100%. It was a custom build my friend commissioned a few years ago. Thanks for the links! As my force is French I'm thinking of building either model based on the Harpon class gunship or a small converted Martian Screw Galley, which would be very thematic.

I'm also following Crossover miniatures who do a couple of different airship classes, including an Aphid style ship, some cruiser sized ships, and large sized Martian galleys also

Paul O'G said...

Thanks DC! Looking forward to hearing more :-)

Furt said...

Fantastic Paul! So sorry to have missed it. :(

Paul O'G said...

You were missed mate - next time!
I'm sitting here cleaning up figures for the next few units in fact... :-)

Codsticker said...

Fantastic looking game!

Captain Darling said...

Absolutely spiffing stuff gentlemen!
Great figures and contraptions on display.
Sounds like your getting a good set of rules together, nice, I like TMWWBK and just used it the other night for a Sudan game.

Tod Higman said...

Great write up. Will you share your rules/lists?

Paul O'G said...

Thanks Tod - rules are The Men Who Would Be Kings, with the adjustments described in the post

jvapocalypto said...

Looks like a great game! I was inspired by your Space 1889 posts some years ago and started collecting some British and Martian colonial units. Great to see you back at it! I've been using MWWBK rules too, and I'll try my next game with your rule modifications. I like the shieldgunner rules, that was something i wasnt sure how to address until now.

I think deploying Shooters as Irregulars and Cuttters as Tribals is probably the most pragmatic way to play it.

I have tried out some home-rules where the Shooters/Cutters can deploy together, maneuver the board together as a "phalanx", and have a free actions to swap the ranks positions (Cutters or Shooters to the front, shooters may only shoot when at the front). Combined as a phalanx, the unit is easier to hit by enemy fire, but also may shrug off some pin markers. The units may also split into separate groups and act independently at any point in the game. I've tried it out, and I like how it plays, but needs more testing and tweaks

Paul O'G said...

Thanks for dropping by and the kind words!

Very interested to hear more about your combined Shooter/cutter units please!
Great blog you have there too!

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

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