If you didn’t know, Balagan means messy or chaotic. And lately my head has definitely been balagan. I’m trying to justify building up a Japanese force for Crossfire. I’m trying to find ways to fit the Japanese into my Official Focus of Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and Israel. I’ve got to say, it ain’t easy. But with quite a lot of mental gymnastics I might manage it.
The fact that the Portuguese were in Japan is sufficient excuse for me to consider getting Samurai armies for the the Sengoku period. I thought I’d look at what 15mm figures are available. I found five ranges of figures available and one set of transfers/decals for Sashimono banners. Before I do a (brief) review of the figures I explain what is distinctive about the period I’m interested in.
I have noticed that my The Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian of 2015 was literally a confession, describing my overly inflated ambitions and incomplete projects. But the 2016 edition was more a reflection on my progress against those goals. It has been a 23 months since the 2016 edition and it is time to revisit. But I’m going to split the reflection aspect from the confessions bit. So this is my reflection on the 23 months from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017.
Immediately following our successful experiment on Ambush scenarios for the Portuguese Colonial War, Jamie Wish and I tried another type of scenario. The goal of our second game was to defend a water party, which is an idea from FNG of Two Hour Wargames. Of course, our version of the scenario was for Crossfire and my Fogo Cruzado variant.
As a scenario design experiment, this one failed in a pretty spectacular fashion. But maybe I’m biased because Jamie won, and very quickly. 😉 Anyway, the good news is that we learnt a few things.
I’m in the process of writing a solo campaign for Portuguese Colonial War called “African Tour”. This process has been dragging on for years. Instead of sitting with my computer imagining what might make a good game, I decided to experiment with some of my ideas. So I invited Jamie Wish over, we got out my (previously unused) figures and tried an ambush scenario for Crossfire and my Fogo Cruzado variant.
Despite the scenario design misgivings I had before we started, it was actually a pretty good game. Exciting and novel.
The following rules cover both Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and helicopter support in Fogo Cruzado, my variant of Crossfire for the Portuguese Colonial War. Only the Portuguese can use aircraft. Air support may be detailed as part of a scenario and/or requested during the course of a game. I admit these rules are a bit rough.
The Portuguese Light Infantry (Caçadores) were the mainstay of the government forces in the Portuguese Colonial War. Unfortunately their quality varied enormously with the ability of the officers largely influencing the quality of the troops. Both infantry and artillery were organised into temporary Caçadore battalions for service in Africa. Must have been a shock for the specialists who suddenly became riflemen. So far I have a single combat group (i.e. platoon) of Caçadores. More will come.
The Special Groups (Grupos Especiais or GE) were African para-military formations raised in Angola and Mozambique during the Portuguese Colonial War. They had a distinctive black uniform with a colourful beret. The GE were so successful that, in Mozambique, the Portuguese recruited a battalion of Paratrooper Special Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) from the GE. I have one unit that, with yellow berets, can do double duty as a GE or GEP combat group.
John Cann published “Flight Plan Africa” in 2015. If you are interested in Airpower in Counterinsurgency, particularly the Portuguese experiences in 1961-1974, then get this book. I’ve taken a few notes, mostly quotes of bits I found interesting. To liven it up a bit I’ve included photos from other sources.
I have blogged before about my figures for the Portuguese Colonial War but they were on on individual bases. Now I have rebased for Fogo Cruzado – my period specific variant of Crossfire. That means each base is a fire team. I had to expand the numbers considerably. This week features my commando combat group.
2013 was a great year for books in English on the Portuguese Colonial War. One of them was John P Cann’s book on the Flechas (Arrows), a specialist indigenous unit fighting for the Portuguese in Angola and later in Mozambique. The book is part of the AFRICA@WAR Series. What a find! I took a few notes.
A couple of years ago I put my few Peninsular War figures on big bases. Some French Dragoons and various Spanish new battalions. Now that I’m trying to finish my Albuera project I’m going to supplement these with more figures. Before I do that I have to decide, exactly, how to deal with the company distinctions of the various nations. The French, who gave each company in the battalion, including the fusilier companies, pose particular challenges.
There are quite a few interesting things about the Battle of Albuera (16 May 1811). Enough of interest that the battle has become the subject of my first Peninsular project. The battle was the bloodiest of the Peninsular War. It was a major battle but had modest sized forces involved. Wellington wasn’t there. The battle has French columns facing British (and Spanish) line – so is a good exemplar of what happens in that situation. As a result the core of the battle was a long gruelling musketry competition. It has perhaps the most famous example of cavalry charging, and destroying, unprepared infantry; infantry that in other circumstances were considered steady. And finally, the Allied forces included perhaps the best Spanish troops of the war – those trained by Zayas.