Sunday, 30 November 2014

Operation "Red Dragon"

Last week was the 50th anniversary of operation "Red Dragon". A complete overview can be found on Wikipedia (Dutch, French, English) - especially the Dutch version is very extensive. In summary: this was an hostage rescue operation in Congo, conducted by Belgium and the USA in 1964. The operation relied heavily on Belgian paratroopers, and aimed to retrieve hostages held by Simba rebels in Stanleyville (modern-day Kisangani).

Belgian paratroopers near Kisangani during Red Dragon.
 The anniversary received quite some attention in the Belgian press, but I was wondering why this operation has received little or no  attention from Belgian wargamers.

Now that I think of it, Belgian military history is a relatively unexplored topic amongst Belgian wargamers.  Since it's start in 1830, Belgium has been involved in a number of military operations, but none of these operations ever caught the attention - as far as I know - of wargamers in Belgium. Perhaps this is due to our rather unglamourous military history. Belgium's involvement in military conflicts is not emphasized in the school curriculum, nor is it part of the "national consciousness". The only exception is World War 1, but this is more often seen from the viewpoint of political and civil history, rather than the military side.

Belgium has been the theatre of many famous historical battles. Ironically, these have been more important to the history of other nations. This is really due to the fact that Belgium was only founded in 1830. Significant events before that date might be known to people, but are often not seen as part of Belgian history. The most famous example is probably Waterloo (1815), the defining battle to end the Napoleonic Wars. I do not think many Belgians consider Waterloo as important to our history, and most probably think Napoleon did win. The battle of Oudenaarde (1708) is probably totally unknown to Belgians. Nieuwpoort (1600), featuring the Dutch against the Spanish - and which was part of the war that eventually led to the permanent split of the low countries (B and NL) - should be known due to its importance to our national history, but nothing of the sort. The Siege of Ostend (1601) could be an excellent wargame campaign. And so on ...

Apparantly, most Belgian wargamers like to pursue the wars of other nations. And perhaps this is not that strange. Wargaming is  mostly an Anglosaxon hobby, and therefore it is a surprise that most attention is given to the wars of the Anglosaxon countries.

Anyway, back to Red Dragon. The events in the Congo during the 60s and 70s still can strike a raw nerve in Belgium. Not only are some issues still unresolved (e.g. the murder on Lumumba), but also many ordinary Belgians suffered, and in many families, there is still something of a trauma regarding some of the events that happened during Congo's independence.

But wargaming should make abstraction of that. Years ago I bought a copy of the AK-47 rules by Peter Pig. I have never used them, but this might be a good occasion to get them out and try to recreate some Belgian military history on the gaming table. Or, I could disguise the scenario and have it featured in my Antares scifi campaign ...

Monday, 24 November 2014

Old Undead

I have a soft spot for old wargaming miniatures, and although I am not a hardcore collector, I am always on the lookout for acquiring some models that look interesting.

Shown below are some undead that were offered for sale for 12 euro in the local gameshop. I didn't recognize them at first, but when I saw them, I figured they must be old Ral Partha or Grenadier. Anyway, 12 euro seemed like a good deal, so I bought them.

After some research (and resource like and and Lost Minis Wiki are very handy for identifying old fantasy miniatures), I finally managed to identify them.

Apparently, they are all skeletons from Grenadier - and I could all find them in the 1987 Grenadier catalogue.

A couple of figures are part of the set 6002 Skeleton Raiders of the Undead: the lord carried on a battleshield (1), the crossbowman (2), standardbearer (5), drummer (8), and the figure carrying a sword and shield (6).

Two other figures (4 and 7) are from set 2019 ("Royal Guardsmen of the Undead Legion"), also featuring undead skeletons. The figure missing an arm (4) should have a standard there. I will probably repair him using a plastic arm from the Citadel Skeleton Army set, and perhaps provide him with a shield as well. Actually, it makes sense his missing arm is carrying a banner, since he had his sword in his left hand. Normally, one would expect a weapon in the right hand, and a shield in the left.

The two remaining figures (3 and 9) are part of set 130 ("Dart thrower and undead crew"), and apparantly are two crewmembers of a ballista, which is also missing.

All figures are very fragile, so might need some care to (re)paint them, provide the missing arm, and perhaps fill in the warmachine.

The 1991 catalogue only lists the 6002 set - the other figures are not listed. By then, it seems Grenadier has upgraded some of its fantasy figures, and some of the skeletons listed in the 1991 catalogue have a more sturdy look compared to the skeletons above.

Since they were offered for sale as a group, they clearly must have belonged to someone who had bought at least 3 different sets of figures, all skeletons. Since a war machine was part of the mix, this might well have been with the purpose of building an army, rather than having a few figures for roleplaying.

Finds like this always make me nostalgic about the old days! :-)

Mounted Knights

I am slowly but surely chipping away at my pile of unpainted lead. Below a unit of armoured knights with lances. Figures from Grenadier if I remember correctly, and I bought them somewhere during the nineties during a big sale in my local gameshop.

These days, especially for figures that are meant to be used in large battles, I am happy with quick paint jobs. Applying a base colour, a quick wash or drybrush, and I don't bother painting every small detail.

Friday, 21 November 2014


I almost never repaint my old miniatures. First of all, they are a reminder of painting styles at the time, and second, as long as there is lead in the pile, I don't see the point.

The only thing I do is repair and/or redo the base.

The miniatures below needed some minor touching up, so I thought I might as well show them here. All three of them were painted over 20 years ago, if I remember correctly.
The Djinn and Ettin are from Ral Partha, and the flying serpent is a Coatl from Citadel.

Addendum: Both Ral partha models are the "Marid (Genie), model 11-415", and "Ettin, model 11-410", and are listed in the Ral Partha 1995 catalogue, p. 31. A complete scan of the catalogue (along with many other catalogues from the nineties), can be found on page.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Red vs Blue in MWBG 380

Our mass participation wargame, Red vs Blue, that we ran during CRISIS 2013 with over 250 participants, will appear in issue #380 of Miniature Wargames with Batlegames.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

How fast can you paint 6 ships?

How fast can you paint 6 ships? Really fast, or so it seems. A quick and dirty paint job, finished in one setting, with some decals added that I had lying around. Not the greatest paint job, I admit, but it will do for perhaps a game or two.

Ships from Peter Pig:

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Oldhammer: Bretonnia vs Skaven

Two weeks ago I was lucky to get my hands on a very good set of the classic Mighty Fortress, sold by games Workshop in the 80s. I decided to get some of my old armies out, and make a little diorama where a Bretonnia fortress was under attack by a horde of Skaven. Almost all figures are Citadel from the 80s.

Some pictures could have been sharper, but blame the auto-focus on my camera  ;-)

A general overview of the table.
A unit of cavalry, no Citadel figures, but old Grenadier figures IIRC. In the foreground some old Ral Partha cavalry.
Bretonnian cavalry, plastic knights from the boxed WFB 5th edition set, and the 2nd and 3rd row knights from the MB game Battlemasters.
More knights. The figure in front is a conversion. Horse from WFB 5th edition basic set, and the body of the knight from the old Bretonnian Knight range from the 80s.
Line of knights - all old Citadel models.
Another overview of the castle.

Some old Citadel figures are manning the ramparts.

Action in one of the city squares. Except for the dog, all Citadel.
The herald alarms everyone within the city walls. Citadel, 5th edition WFB, IRC.
Two thieves trying to steal some gold from each other. Citadel figures from the 80s.

More action going on in the backalleys of the city. Citadel figures.
Reinforcements are coming! Old Citadel figures from the Fighter range,
Cart is from Wargames Foundry, 2 figures on the right are Citadel.
Clan Eshin ready to storm the walls.
Clan Moulder with their pack of giant rats.
More Clan Moulder with giant Rat Ogres.
Converted skaven unit. Bodies are from the Warhammer Regiments boxed set, heads and arms from various plastic toy animals, but also other Citadel miniatures.
Armoured Skaven.
Plague Monks on the left, some Jezails in the middle, and a large unit of plastic Warhammer Regiments skaven on the right. Insipiration for the banner came from an illustration in the WFB 3rd edition Warhammer Armies book.
The rat drawing in the middle provided a template for the banner in the image above.
Skaven Screaming Bell (4th edition, IIRC). In front a converted rocket battery. Original model was a Hobgoblin rocket battery, but the equipment was transferred to some skaven models.
Skaven horde as seen from the Bretonnian side.
Fortress as seen from the Skaven side.
Fortress as seen from the Skaven bell.
Monstrous host for the Skaven army. A jabberwock, Hippogrif, and Chimera.
Manning toe towers. A wizard is ready to cast some fireballs.
Another view of the Bretonnian Knights.
Someone is having some fun. Model from Metal Magic, I believe.
Another wizard recruited for the war effort.
And another one ...
The archers on the ramparts are from WFB 5th basic set.
An old Citadel cannon.
Skaven archers. Converted from Goblins from the Warhammer Regiments boxed set (and added pastic Skaven heads)
Flamethrower teams.
Monstrous host, with banner. The chaos script on the banners were real achievements from my old chaos warband.
Some more shots of city life.
A smuggler.
Two citizens wondering what to do.
Two citizens. I believe the figure on the left to be toe Royal Gamekeeper, and the figure on the right an illusionist wizard.
Attempt at trying to get the city in one frame.