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Rio Diablo - a 28mm Wild West Campaign. Prologue: "Owlhoots"

I wanted to test out my Tray Battlefield, so I decided to play a 'prologue scene' for my Rio Diablo Wild West setting.

The idea of the setting is to play a number of games in the tray that are basically scenes from a story. They are used to direct the flow of the campaign and develope the story.

To kick the game off I pitted three Owlhoots against a lone cow boy tending some cows.

I rolled for initiative, and as the Cowboy rolled really high vs the Owlhoots, I decided he wasn't caught alseep in his tent and would appear from a randomly chosen side of the tray, and this is where the action would kick off.

The Cowboy took a couple of shots at the closest Owlhoot, wounding him before getting a bit of concealment behind his tent.

This was the last action the Cowboy managed to get in, as the Owlhoots advanced and the shotguns two of them were totting soon silenced their victim.

After killing the Cowboy, the Owlhoots made off with his cows.

This ended the prologue scene, setting up the initial event for the campaign.

The main characters of the campaign are a couple of Rangers and the game starts with them attempting to track down the Owlhoots.

To do this they will need to find clues at each crime scene or by visiting different locations in Rio Diablo to question folks about 'going ons and happenings'.

Once they get enough clues they can confront the Owlhoots at their hideout. The longer they take to find the hideout, the more crimes the Owlhoots will get up to.

Each scene will provide a clue or two for them to find. In this case, they found two clues when to came to where the Cowboy was killed:

Game notes:

 I used a modified version/mix of Iron Ivan Games "Disposable Heroes: Point Blank" and "Where Heroes Dare".

The rules worked really well, but as with all the Iron Ivan games I have played over a much bigger playing area, you need a lot of cover/obstacles.This didn't worry me for the first game, as I kind of needed the Cowboy to be killed, but played out the game, as any casualties the Owlhoots took would give the Rangers more clues to work with.

Over all the game took roughtly 30 mins to play.  It was so quick I tried my hand at a pulp game in the tray to see how that would work:

I am happy with the games I can play in the tray, but I certainly need to modify/refine the rules I am using to cope with only a small number of figures in a small area. The two things I need to focus on is scenery/cover and victory conditions for each game.

Using a tray for a battlefield

Months ago I had a lingering man flu that really stuffed my lungs up. When I was resting up I really wanted to play a game, and I was eyeing off the tray I was eating a meal from.

This gave me an idea for making scenery to play a game.

I created some removable terrain bases to put in the tray and put some figures and scenery on to see what it looked like.

This is what I came up with for a 15mm scale game:

There is just enough room to play a squad level game on the tray.

Same tray with a 15mm tank on it to give it some perspective:

The green terrain boards I made warped a bit, so this made me think of doing something a bit more permanent.

This meant buying a new tray that would be ok to 'destroy' to make my playing area.

I went to Bunnings and purchased an MDF tray.

I taped the inside edges, undercoated it lightly in black, and then flocked it.

The tray was much smaller, and doesn't really work for 15mm squad level games, as you can see in the following photo where I placed five figures on the tray with a tank:

This is a photo with a Russian village and two full opposing squads placed on the tray:

It looks good, but there just isn't any room to manoeuvre.

So I started thinking that maybe using one to five 28mm figures per side might work better in my smaller tray. I placed some basic scenery and a couple of figure (including some that are a work in progress) to see if I could be done:

I was very happy with the results. You could easily play a small skirmish in the tray.

I honestly don't think any modern game would work well due to the range of firearms, but anything from Black powder backwards in history would work.

I got to thinking that maybe Wild West, Pulp and 1920's gangster games would work, and they tend to be in close action wise.

 And what would work is if you added the fronts of buildings only and not the whole building. This would allow for scenery to be placed in the tray, but not take up so much room.

This was my initial concept photo to see if my idea had any legs so to speak:

Next I knocked together the shell of a Wild West building to see if it would really work:

I was happy with the results, as I could have a town in the tray for a shoot out, and there was room to hide around the corners to give cover to the figures:

Making the most of my enthusiasm on this project, I cobbled together a small collection of buildings of various types and sizes and came up with this:

Now I need to add the planking to the buildings, as well as windows and doors, and it will be good to go. I might even buy an new MDF tray so I can have sand as a base instead of grass... it would be better for a Wild West town.

I also intend to make an "adobe town" using the same method and some wilderness 'scenes' with trees, rocks so that I can vary where the game is played.

If I were to play a campaign, each battle would be a scene in a story rather than a whole chapter.

The great thing about the 'tray battlefield' as I am calling it, is that it is easy to move around with it, doesn't take up much room and can sit across your lap when you are in a chair.

  Put your scenery and figures in a box and you have a game you can take with you on holidays for example.

You can also keep up to date with what I am doing with my Tray Battlefield on twitter. Either follow "@shelldeake_au" or search for #TrayBattlefield.

Blotz 28mm 'Spawning pool' for charity

As part of recent order from Blotz (link here: Blotz ) in the UK I received a piece of scenery that I didn't order.

 I contacted them to let them know that they made a mistake and that I would be happy to pay for it, as I think I can use the spawning pool for a game.

The reply came that it was included in the parcel to add a bit of firmness to the packet during shipping, and the spawning pool was in fact an item that didn't pass the quality control, and as such, wasn't sellable .

spawning pool is to the right in the photo

I put the pool together this morning, and there was one or two places that weren't quite cut though by the laser, but nothing a bit of sanding wont fix.

The made pool - I have put it together, but not glued it yet

Seeing as it was free as it were, this gave me an idea.

I would like to paint it up and make it a half decent piece of scenery for a game and give it to someone. But, rather than just give it, I want to raise money for a charity, with one of people that donates going in a draw to win the item.

 I could use the pool myself for a fantasy game, a pulp game or even a 1920's horror game, but the idea using something I didn't pay for to help a charity appeals to me more.

This is where my plan comes undone; I have no idea how to go about this.

Can anyone reading this post suggest how I could go about rainsing money and giving the pool to someone?

Should I nominate a charity and anyone proving they donated (a screen shot of a completed invoice maybe?) or should I set up an online charity and people donate to it?

I have never done this type of thing before, so I would really appreciate some assistance.

oh, and please feel free to share this post with others via social media if you think it will help raise money for charity.

One of  charities I would consider helping out is "Solider On Australia". Given that our hobby relates to military conflict, and I am about to complete my 26th year in the military, I think something like this might be appropriate.

Video of Germans trained Chinese troops

I just came across this video on youtube about the Chinese Nationalist army and their German friends.

Great for a bit of inspiration.

Setting up for my first China vs Australia WW2 game

A couple of photos showing the Australians on patrol in the Jungle:

This scene will be the jump off point for the game - the Australians have to reach a number of patrol points before making it back to the other side of the river.

I will be playing with the DH: Point Blank rules, and using Platoon Forward for the management of the enemy. Although Platoon Forward is geared to, well..,, a Platoon, I am adapting the supplement to smaller sized units.

I am also thinking of remaking my jungle scenery to make it look a lot more 'sexier'.

Revisiting WW2 Alternative History - China as the aggressor

I am a big fan of alternative history settings, and years ago I painted up some 28mm WW2 Pacific war Aussies and some 28mm Chinese with the intention of doing a bit of work on some Alternative history with the two sides.

 I played one game of Bolt Action in the setting and didn't do anything more with it.  Given I only have a section per side, and I am using the "DH: Point Blank" rules that only require a section per side, it might be time to kick this one back in to action.

Like with all my alternative history settings, I like to base it as close to actual history as I possibly can.

To this end, I am using the following actual history for my back ground:

In the 1880's until the end of WW1, China and Germany had very close ties, and China was getting help from Germany to modernise the country. This went a little pear shaped during WW1, and it wasn't until 1926 that things were getting back on track between the two countries, with German military trainers arriving the train the Nationalist Party of China.

This really kicked up a notch when the Nazis came to power in 1933 and started training and supplying China with training and equipment in a much bigger scale.

 The Finance minister of China and Kuomintang official H.H.Kung and two other Chinese Kuomintang officials visited Germany in 1937 and were received by Adolf Hitler.

Kung visited Hermann Göring on June 11 and Göring told him he thought Japan was a "Far East Italy" (referring to the fact that during World War I Italy had broken its alliance and declared war against Germany), and Germany would never trust Japan. Kung asked Göring "Which country will Germany choose as her friend, China or Japan?", and Göring said China could be a mighty power in the future and Germany would take China as friend.

With these points in mind I can start to weave a bit of alternative history in to the back ground.

Historically, the Nationalists fought wars against the Communists and Warlords in China.

In the alternative history, the warlords and communists were defeated and the nation united (except for maybe a small communist area close to Russia... just to allow for some future fun and games from that area).

If this unification was done sooner rather than later, China would have the ability to modernise and build a very large army before the events leading up to WW2.

Now, with such a large army and wanting avenge military humiliation at the hands of Europe and Japan from the 1800s onwards, China starts to flex its muscles and invade other nations for their natural resources to provide for their ever expanding modernisation.

The Sino-Tibetan war of 1930-1932 would make an ideal jump off point for this aggression.

The big question is what to do with Japan in this alternative history.

 Do I treat them like Britain - Japan could have its own Dunkirk as it is kicked out of Korea?

 This would put them on the back foot as they prepare to defend Japan from Chinese aggression. The main focus for Japan could be keeping their borders safe and conducting their own  "Battle of Britain" as it were preventing China from launching it's own "Operation Sealion" against Japan.

 With no Japan as the main antagonist, there would be no Pearl Harbour, so no major involvement from the US, although China would invade the Philippines, but would that be enough to galvanise the American nation in to declaring war?

Following the occupation of Korea, the other Asian nations bordering China would go next Southeast Asia and South Asia soon after that.

This would give control over most of the areas Japan held during WW2.

Britain, and thus Australia, are drawn in to the conflict when Singapore is captured.

With most of Asia under China's control, Australia and the Pacific would be next in line for conquest.

Military Developement - the big factor

As Nationalist China was equiped by Germany, including weapons, tanks and planes, it wouldn't be too hard to see early war German equipment in a game set in this alternative history.

The question is, does China keep getting German support in the form of blueprints and new technology during the war?

This is probably the most practicle way to game this conflict, so as to make for some games with a lot more gear to play with.

Wargaming the War

Unfortunately, there isn't a large range of WW2 era Chinese figures to use for this alternative history.

Brigade Games makes some 28mm Chinese Nationalists, some of which I have, and I can add WW2 German equipment in the form of tanks and trucks to the game easily enough.

Eureka miniatures does some 15mm Chinese, but again, it isn't a large range. Eureka do make some lovely Australians, Gurkhas and early war US figures that would be great to game with though.

The only other company that I know of that makes WW2 Chinese is Reiver Casting, who at least make some suport weapons in the form on mortars and HMGs. They also make artillery crew, so I could add German artillery or AT guns to the game.

At the moment I have a section of Australians and Chinese to start playing with, and I could easily switch to using Eureka Miniatures 15mm range.

At squad level plus some support weapons etc, 15mm wont break the bank, and I can play in smaller areas.

wargaming bases, and how postage it killing Australian businesses

I am in the process of ordering some MDF bases for some of my 28mm Skirmish games, in particular an ACW skirmish game I am tinkering with.

I figured I would order about 30 get get me started, and I wanted to buy locally.

One business is about 20mins down the road from me; it will cost $5.70 for 30 bases. Nice. They offer reasonable postage of $8 flat rate Australia wide. Not bad at $13.70, considering how must Aust Post is ripping the country off.

Interstate #1:  $17.80 in total

Interstate #2:  $19.90 in total.

Interstate #3: $14.35 in total. 

Same State: $19.95 in total.

Overseas: $4.42AUD INCLUDING postage. And this is for 40 bases... ten more than I was going to order.

I really want to support Australian businesses, but I am on a very low income - people on unemployment benefits get more money than I do, just to put this in to perspective for the one or two followers of my blog I still have.

As I just want the bases, I will go with the overseas mob. When I want some of the scenic items from the Australian stores I will go with them and add some bases to the order as well, but I don't really need and buildings at the moment.

And Australia post complains they are not making money. This is because they provide a shit service and charge too much for it. Way to kill businesses Aust Post!

15mm / 20mm Urban terrain kickstarter

I have backed my first kickstarter, and one that is in Australia.

It is a modular MDF urban terrain system that can be purchased in either 15mm or 20mm scale.

Postage is free to anyone in Australia, and there are good postage discounts for backers overseas (scroll down to the bottom of the campaign section to see these rates)


There is a video on the page showing the system, and images showing the terrain being set up.

The owner of the kickstarter is very responsive to suggestions from backers.

There are only four days left to go for anyone wanting to back it, and as it is fully funded, additional backers help unlock some add-ons for the project.

I will be getting 15mm, as I want some scenery for my Modern Aussies, as well as for a 15mm zombie or sci-fi game.

And yes, I have an interest in this project, as I am a backer myself.

Quick and easy hedges for 15mm and 20mm games

Normally I would post a topic on my blog and then share the link in forums, but this time I did it in reverse: I posted on the forum and then shared the link on my blog.


To show my support for The Wargames Website forum. TWW is oneof my favorite forums - everyone is nice and polite, and generally very helpful and supportive of peoples' projects.

So, I am doing my bit to help promote the forum.

To see how I made super easy and fast to make hedges, please click on the link below:

TWW link

First game of the 15mm Napoleonic campaign

Last weekend I paid a visit to Eureka miniatures and purchased some AB Figures Napoleonics for a skirmish campaign.

As I had a few units in my OOB, I decided to start painting the units one at a time, and whilst doing that, I would perform what some regard as heresy and play a game with unpainted miniatures! Gasp! Oh the Horror!

Regardless of what others think on unpainted miniatures (and, not, that isn't an invitation to pass judgement via a comment to this post), I decided to play the first game of the campaign.

The campaign is set n early 1814 when France was 'copping it a bit' from all sides (well, maybe three out of the four sides anyway).

The rules being used are Nordic Weasel Games "FiveCore 3rd edition" with some modifications for the Napoleonic period.

The British have just landed in the Netherlands and must meet up with allied troops before pushing on to Antwerp, and then on to Paris.

For the first game, elements of the 95th Rifles are scouting ahead of the main force to determine what French troops are around.

The Set up:

The British had the option of setting up in either A or B, as marked on the map above.

The French were placed as blinds in areas 1, 2 and the 3 that was the opposite to where the British started.

The French force was unknown, and one of the blinds would be an actual enemy, the other two were shadows messing with the riflemen's heightened senses.

This was a semi co-op game, in as much as I was the referee for the game.

The Game:

The British began their patrol on the right hand flank of the area, with some of them skirting the forest along a small hedge, with the others moving forward to investigate the farm house.

Half of the detachment on the left  cross over the hedge to check out the area on their left flank.
It is just as well they did, as a patrol of dismounted French Dragoons was lurking near by.

The other half of the riflemen move closer to the farm house.

Three of the Riflemen fire at the Dragoons, dropping one and causing a second to flee.

The French fire back, knocking one Riflemand to the ground and causing a bit of panic in another. The Paniced Rifleman jumps back over the hedge to settle his nerves.

The next British action sees some reloading and a Rifleman take aim at a Dragoon, who panics and retreats in to the forest.

The Rifleman take advantage of a 'dash' move and jump the hedge between them and the Dragoons intending to close with them after firing a volley in to the Frenchmen.

One Dragood is dispatched with a quick stab from a sword bayonet.

The Dragoon officer is shot, even whilst trying to rally his troops who have fled in to the forest when faces with superior numbers.

(Note, this took a couple of activations).

Deciding they have had enough, the remaining French Dragoods beat a hasty retreat, leaving the British victors of this skirmish.

The Riflemen have joined up with the remainder of the Battalion and are currently paying a visit to the Quarter Master, who is giving them some nice green uniforms.


This game was played on a 60cm x 60cm terrain tile.

For small unit vs unit skirmishes I found this to be perfect; there was enough room to manoeuvre, and it was small enough that it forced the engagment, meaning the game didn't drag on too long.

For larger games with multiple units per side, I would play in a bigger area.

Between cups of tea and chatting, the game took roughly two hours to play.

The Dragoon force was only seven men, compared to the 14 men in the Rifle detachment, but only six of the Riflemen were involved in the actual battle.

The remaining Riflemen fell back towards their jump off point so as to not be exposed during the battle, and kind of just lurked there for the remainder of the game.

The rules are very easy to pick up on, and the only time I had to check the rules was to see if troops next to the hedge could actually take their shots.

Given the muskets/rifles needed to be reloaded, not a lot of reaction fire took place - this may have changed with different scenery, and if the remainder of the riflemen joined the battle.

I really love this game - it is easy, a lot of fun, the game play creates a story for the game as you play, making it excellent for a narrative.

Being held to account...

Mrs Shelldrake is visiting her family in Japan for the whole of January, and I am using the members of The Wargames Website to help keep me focused on the hobby instead of missing my Wife.

You can follow the topic here: link

To this end, I have finished painting one giant spider and one PNG Mudman for a FiveCore Pulp game.