Saturday, April 6, 2024

X is for Xorn

                                                    Weird, Mis-shapen Tunnelers of Stone...
                                                        Eaters of metals in the lonely dark...
                                                   Three eyes above, and three arms below....
                                              'neath champing jaws which grind gold and bone!

One of Gary Gygax's weirder and most memorable creations,  The Xorn churns his way through the earth, searching for the precious metals which make up his diet.  These sculpts are Andrew Chernak's and date to the late 70s/early 80s, from Grenadier's original AD&D line.  Fine looking pieces they are, too!
A group of adventurers encounter a pair of Xorn keen to help themselves to the a feast of hard-won gold and silver!
A spellcaster blasts one of the Xorns with sizzling sorcery!  Will it be enough to stop this child of stone?
Nay!  The proud Xorn exults in victory, his bellows of triumph re-echo through the vast galleries of stone which are his home!

                                                       Sons of Stone wade into battle!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Canadian Campaigns : The Great North West Rebellion Part 1: Metis Fighters and the 90th Winnipeg Rifles

Years ago I became interested in the Military History of 19th century Canada.  No idea why.  Maybe just because it was a rather obscure subject about which I knew nothing, aside from the events of the War of 1812.  However, the turbulence of the USA's great Civil War and her conflicts with the culture of the Great Plains did seem to spill over the Canadian border in the form of a handful of interesting and little known conflicts that interested me more and more the more I researched them. Amoung them are the revolts of the Metis and Cree peoples, and the fascinating, though weird, almost to the point of seeming surreal, Fenian invasions of the immediate post Civil War years. There are also the "What Ifs?"...What if The British Empire had gone to war against the North during the American Civil War?  What if Sitting Bull's flight across the border had brought his Sioux followers into clashes with the NWMP and the Canadian Army?   The pictures on the old blog today represent the beginnings of a collection of figures I hope to amass in order to game out some of these Canadian campaigns, some of which are historical and some speculative.  We start with the Great North West Rebellion of 1885
I will not address the particulars of each battle of the Metis campaign in this post, that is for later posts.  All the figures shown here are from RAFM, and sculpted by Bob Murch.

The rather sad story of the Canadian government's war against the Metis and Cree is well told in Prairie Fire, by Bob Beal and Rod Macleod.  It does a fine job of detailing the causes of the conflict and also describes the various small battles of the rebellion in enough detail to be a great aid to the Wargamer.  This is fortuitous, as there does not seem to be an overwhelming amount of information on this conflict within easy reach.  Although the Canadian government would try to paint the Cree and Metis as being allies in revolt against the government, in fact each group was reacting seperately and spontaneously to economic pressure brought about by the decline of the Buffalo herds and a tin-eared government's non-response to the concerns of men who feared for the welfare of their culture and their families.  The Canadian governement was no more bothered by the concerns of such men then as it would seem to be now, and the result was bloodshed, with raids by hungry Cree against settlements and government outposts, and an organized rising by several hundred fighting men of the Metis people, who hoped to establish a government of their own.  The Government responded with overwhelming force, and the revolts were  put down, but not before the Cree and Metis had inflicted a number of rather embarassing defeats on the government forces.

The Metis people were (and are) the descendants mainly of French fur trappers and adventurers who settled on the plains and married women of native stock.  For some time they had been developing a unique culture which blended European influences with the culture of the Plains peoples.  By the time war with the government broke out, they seemed to have developed 
a strong sense of themselves as a distinct nation.  Their response to the conflict with Canada was far from uniform.  Although several hundred Metis fighters actively opposed the government forces, many other Metis opposed the rebellion and took no part in it. 
Louis Riel.  Brilliant, pious, charismatic, and possibly mad,  Riel was invited by the Metis to be the champion of their cause at the outbreak of the rebellion.  Since the failure of the abortive Red River rebellion a decade or so earlier, Riel had been in exile in America, but he would return home to Canada to be the militant religious and political leader the Metis needed to front their cause.  He was hanged by the Canadian government after the end of the Rebellion, an event which would sow bitter seeds in Canadian politics for generations to come.
Metis fighters take up position in some rocky ground at the direction of another important Metis leader, Gabriel Dumont.  

Dumont played a key role in Metis politics and was present at most of the battles of the rebellion.
The Metis had developed a set of defensive tactical procedures during their conflicts with the Sioux that made them formidable fighters on defense.  They preferred to fight from camoflaged rifle pit, strike from ambush whenever possible, and make excellent and very creative use of terrain.
They struggled to maintain a regular supply of ammunition, however, and this hobbled their efforts in a number of battles.  Their military thinking was so overwhelmingly defensive that they sometimes failed to take advantage of golden tactical and operational opportunities which, had they but seized them, might greatly have improved their overall military position.
Riel rallies some of his fighters...
On the other side of it...One of the four regiments of the Canadian government forces which I am currently painting up for my collection is shown here.  These are the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in their distinct dark green uniforms.
The Canadian Army was in its infancy at this time.  Canada had her famous North West Mounted Police, but these were scattered in tiny penny-packets of men all across the vastness of the Canadian west, and although tough fighters, their organization was ill suited and positioned to try to put down the rebellion on their own.  According to Prarie Fire,  the professional Canadian Army in 1885 consisted of the infantry school and the newly minted artillery school.  This handfull of full-time soldiers were expected to train the officers and men of Canada's various militia regiments, which were all Canada had in the way of an army.  As there was, of yet, no cavalry school, and so no cavalry regiments available.  Many instructors and Administrators of these schools would accompany Canada's militia army on the march west against the Metis and Cree. 

Uniform of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

A sergeant of the Winnipeg Rifles leads his men forward.
The Winnipeg Rifles would aquit themselves well in the campaign.  Their dark green, almost black, uniforms marked them out from the other Canadian regiments who wore mainly British Imperial crimson.    
At the Battle of Fish Creek, some captured Metis said of the Winnipeg Rifles to a British officer, "The Red Coats we know, but who are those little black devils?  The name would stick.
Thence forward the regimental badge would depict a merry devil, carrying the motto: "Hosti Acie Nominati"  or "Named by the Enemy"
The 90th Winnipeg rifles would fight at the major battles of the Metis campaign, namely Fish Creek and Batoche.
An officer of the 90th organizes his men into a skirmish line.  


Monday, July 31, 2023

The Warband of Kuld the Witch King A New Army for Dragon Rampant

Out of the cold North he rides, at the head of a haggard host.  Kuld, Witch King of the Long Lost Kingdom of the Northern realm.  Long centuries ago, Kuld overthrew the King of that land and plunged it into everlasting darkness.  Now this foul lord rules over a dead land.  Often in the Autumn of a year he leads his armies south to raid and ravage the remaining Kingdoms of men.

This is Tom Meier's Witch King on Flying Charger which Tom sculpted for Ral Partha in the very late 70s or very early 80s.  The curse of scale creep means that this old 'true25' mm scale model does not play well with the sculpts of later years, but  I love Tom's work so much, I don't care.  MY collection of his fantasy work from this era continues to grow.
Yar!  Have at you!
The Witch King leads his skeleton regiment into battle.

Once strong and valiant fighting men of a fair realm, now these former warriors of the north are but automatons who work the will of the Master who slew them and despoiled thier home.  Again, these are all Ral Partha sculpts from the late 70s and early 80s...
...except for the spearman on the right here, who I thought was a figure by Broadsword miniatures, but now I'm not sure.
I have two more skeleton regiments in the lead mountain, ready to join their bony brothers at some point in the future.
I have admired Tom Meier's wonderful Ral Partha Undead Dragon for a long, long time.  I thought he'd be a perfect centerpiece for an undead army, but it took me a while to get up the nerve to paint him, I was so sure I would screw him up.  
I think he came out okay, though.
The dread beast's baleful gaze...

The army's last unit, (for now) is this troop of Wraiths, powerful undead who work the will of their dread master through magic and fear...
                                 Pretty sure that, once again these are all Tom Meier sculpts.  They just ooze a                                                                  certain creepy kind of menace.  I love them.
That's a complete Warband ready to fight the Servants of the Yellow Tower.  I do have my D&D zombies and Mummies to plus the Warband up if I need to, and I have two more Skeleton Regiments and a squadron of flying Wraith cavalry I need to paint up to really get the army complete.  I think I'll do a battle report when I put these fellows up against the servants of  Kobel Yar.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Cowboys and Indians

Last year at Enfilade I bought a pocketful of 25/28mm Old West Gunfighters from Monday Knight productions.  I added two packs of RAFM Plains warriors that have been sitting in the closet for a few years and painted them all up together, creating a decent little group for Skirmish games.

I also made up some cactus patch terrain using stuff I found at Hobby Lobby so they would have something to fight over.
Both the RAFMs and the Monday Knight minis are simple and old school castings but I like them and they were fun to paint.
I will probably revisit the Monday Knight stand this year and pick up some of their nice Old WEst townsfolk models to round out this little group.
Painting them brought back a lot of childhood memories of playing with my MARX Fort Apache set on the living room floor, as well as those bags of colorful plastic Cowboys and Indians which were so popular decades ago but which have since vanished from the cultural landscape.
                                                          High Noon on Main Street....
Armed citizens stand to to repel night raiders...

I really enjoyed working on the warriors.
My Dad and I always enjoyed the painting of Charles Russell, Frederick Remington and Charles Schreyvogel, and I used some of their paintings as reference for the warpaint on the warriors' ponies...except for the Einsturnzende Neubauten symbol on the black pony, here...
Advancing throught the cacti...More southwest than Great Plains but I may buy some Apaches soon who may be better suited for this terrain...
A shot of both packs of Indians together... 3 mounted and six on foot.  It's really too bad that RAFM didn't expand their Indians line because I really like the figures.  They only produced 4 packs, 1 set of warriors on foot with 3 poses, two packs of mounted warriors, and 1 pack of chiefs.  1 pack of the mounted warriors comes with interchangeable weapons, which gives you a little more variety, but not much.  I will have to find another manufacturer  whose stuff meshes nicely with these.  I like Dixon, but I feel like their figures would look a bit large and chunky next to these.
A chief and a brave advance on somebody...maybe Colonel Custer...
Two of the gunfighters pose in front of my  Miniature Building Authority "Texas Ranch House".
I've always had an interest in the Plains Wars and had fun with the indians, especially the details on the shileds and moccassins.
Rooster Cogburn and Wild Bill Hickock stand back to back, ready to fend off the bad guys...