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Company of Adventurers


 The Gypsy Queen sails into the Bay of St. George, below the watchtower on the island


         In the aftermath of the Naval Engagement off the Verde Rive – See Boilers and Breechloaders Playtest Blog for details – the Gypsy Queen briefly went along side the Santa Barbara. The rescued sailors off the San Pedro were transferred to the Santa Barbara, and that ship’s surgeon, a young man who appears to have been educated in Paris, came aboard to check on our wounded with Doctor DuMontmartre.



Part of the garrison of the watchtower wtches the Gypsy Queen pass the wharf


         He checked over the wounds of Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg and Miss Helen Hunt, and pronounced the efforts of Doctor DuMontmartre “La plupart de magnificent”. While this was going on, Corto Maltese had a long conversation with the Captain of the Santa Barbara, after which they saluted one another and he returned to the launch. To the puzzlement of the members of the Company, no attempt was made to invite the members to visit the Santa Barbara for a hot meal, hot water or the change of clothing.



Vilgilance is required at such a post


         It should be pointed out in the defense of the Company, their three-week trip aboard the Gypsy Queen had involved hardships of a sort. The majority of their baggage had been left behind in Singapore, and quarters aboard the Gypsy Queen could be considered cramped at best. The normal routine had called for the beaching of the launch at night, with camp being set up ashore. Meals were cooked over a fire pit ashore – or the boiler afloat by the different company members in turn. Hot water for bathing and washing clothes was limited and personalities were starting to grate on one another. Hence the opportunity to transfer to the Santa Barbara was deemed a lost opportunity.



The SS Innisfree is sighted 


         The two vessels continued together down the channel for a few hours, and then to the puzzlement of the Company parted ways. The Santa Barbara continued down ahead while the Gypsy Queen turned towards shore, where a structure was noted on a high cliff some distance off. As the launch continued towards it, Corto Maltese announced that it was located on the Isla del St. George, an off shore island which sheltered a bay by the same name. The facility became clearer as the Gypsy Queen closed in, and appeared to be a stone tower – building which Corto Maltese claimed was linked to the capital at Cuidad Guadalupe by means of the heliograph. It served as an outpost for the capital, as the channel between this point and there was such that any vessel attempting it would require slow and careful sailing. The garrison at the tower could flash a warning in advance giving the capital time to prepare a warm welcome.




         As the Gypsy Queen rounded the island into the bay, the members of the Company were astounded to find an inter island merchant ship at anchor there, evidently awaiting them. The vessel, named the SS Innisfree, had a number of crewmen on deck watching the launch arrive, and was flying the colors of the non-existent “Irish Republic”. A rowboat was moored alongside with two sailors waiting for the launch to tie up. One of whom called out cheerfully to Corto Maltese in a West Indian English accent – “thank you for returning our launch in one piece”.



 The flag of the "Irish Republic" flying at the stern


         A motley dressed but well disciplined working party of sailors, of various races and nationalities, quickly descended on the launch and helped the members of the Company and their limited luggage on board the SS Innisfree. The various members were escorted to a number of small but individual staterooms, where the Company members found not only hot water present for them to bath, but also their missing luggage from Singapore. A young ships officer (female) informed them that they would have two hours to bath, change clothing, and rest, but would then meet with Captain Maltese on the fore hatch.



The meeting - note Remmington taking time to paint the island - and the ship's cook standing by the rail unhappy about the extra meals he will be required to provide!

         At the appointed time the passengers – now clean, dressed in fresh clothing, and glorying the fact that they all had their own individual space – as small as it might be – gathered on the fore hatch. “Captain” Maltese welcomed them to his ship, the SS Innisfree and apologized for the method that he had brought them here. This ship had been in Singapore harbor when the Company left that city, and so collected the member’s baggage from the hotel where it had been stored. The SS Innisfree however had not shadowed the launch, but proceeded on an independent course to this point.



The SS Innisfree under Portugese colors 


As to the unasked but oblivious question as to why the Company had not sailed on the SS Innisfree, but rather the Gypsy Queen, Captain Maltese explained that the voyage up to this point had been a test of the Company’s character. Had the Company sailed directly on the SS Innisfree, they would not have to face the challenges they had to face while on the Gypsy Queen. Stephen Crane impishly asked about the fact that the voyage had put the Company in some danger – both in the fight at Saint Catherine’s, as well as the naval action off the Verde River, as evidenced by the fact that members of the Company had been wounded en route.



The SS Innisfree under Dannish colors 


Corto Maltese replied with a grin as well that while Crane was correct that it had been a test that the Company could have failed with even more serious results, that he too had been a member of the Company as well, and subject to the same risks as everyone else had been subjected. And the Company had managed to pass the test, and their presence aboard the SS Innisfree was their reward for their efforts.



The SS Innisfree under Turkish colors 


Sir Arthur Briggs-Stratton VC then asked a question about the colors that the ship was sailing, that of the non-existent Irish Republic. Corto Maltese pointed out that the SS Innisfree was properly registered and held ships papers from Denmark, Portugal, Turkey, Bolivia, and China. The use of the flag of the Irish Republic was a gesture towards a group that Corto was sympathetic. Lady Hermione Plumpton mentioned that she had noticed that several of the members of the ships crew were female, and Corto confirmed that several of the ships officers were indeed female. At this point he invited the Company to be his guests in the ships wardroom, where additional questions could be answered.



The SS Innisfree under Chinese colors 



The SS Innisfree under Bolivian colors 




Since our arrival at here at Saint Catherine’s (Puerto se Santo Catherine) our Company of Adventurers had had a sudden emersion into the culture of the Amazon Islands (Islas del Amazons), otherwise known as the Republic of Guadalope (La Republica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), including helping defend the hamlet from a combined attack of “Bolos” (coastal dwellers) and Helanders (uplanders.) Two of the members of the Company were wounded in action (Monique DuMontmartre and Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg) but are recovering from their wounds. Overall, their landing in the Islas del Amazon’s has been a most interesting experience for the members of the Company.



The tradition of calling this infant nation the Amazon Nation comes from the nature of its birth. In the middle stages of the Mexican War of Independence, General Joaquin de Arredondo – a Spanish General who taught a young officer by the name Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna everything he needed to know about surprising rebellions – decided to teach a group of rebels who lived on the western coast of Mexico a lesson. The men of all ages, with the exception of a few skilled artisans, were executed en masse. The women and children, with the few surviving men, were then shipped off to the Philippines to spend the rest of their life in servitude. However the flotilla transporting them to Manila never made it there, and it was assumed that they were lost at sea.



In reality the ships were wrecked while on their voyage somewhere to the south of the Philippines due to a navigation error, the Islas del Amazon, and the surviving women rose against the Spanish sailors who had lorded over them on the long voyage across the Pacific. They killed off all who had been unjust to them, and set up a new society in which the women served as the defenders of the homeland, and the men served as the producers, either as farmers, fishermen or artisans. All members have equal rights though it is to be noted that while the women make up the land forces, only men serve at sea in a small force known as the Coast Guard. (Guardacostas.) The new nation was named for the patron saint of Mexico,  Our Lady of Guadalope (de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe).



 To begin with, the reports and rumors of the so-called Isle dos Amazons as a nation run by women appear to be incorrect. The republic appears to be a constitutional republic in which all citizens male and female above the age of twenty have a right to vote for officials at the local level where authority rests in a mayor (alcalde) and village council. The council appoints a person to represent its interests at the capital of Cuidad Guadalope who may or may not be a member of the council, but whom must be a citizen of the village presented. Citizenship can be earned by outsiders after five years residence in the nation, but can also be awarded to an individual as a part of honor by the republic.





The discovery of a number of mineral deposits on the island, including a supply of precious gems, has managed to provide the Islas del Amazon product for outside trade. Their location was difficult to find and the Amazon’s were careful to limit their contacts with the outside world to a trusted few traders (mainly Chinese) with whom they did business. Above all else, the Amazon’s saw no reason to subject themselves again to the rule of a foreign flag.



The inhabitants are educated to at least a basic level of literacy and have prized education. They are willing to allow outsiders with needed skills to settle in their nation provided that they obey all laws and customs, and have recruited specialists in several areas to move to the Islas del Amazons. The nation has also sent out citizens overseas to be educated, usually in western Europe or the United States.  They have sent several groups to Mexico over the years to see if conditions are such for an attempt to rejoin that nation, but conditions there have not been viewed as being better then those currently enjoyed on the islands, so no attempt has been made to open communications. (And with Mexico firmly under the thumb of José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mor, elected president for life, the Americans in our party doubt that this will be possible anytime soon.)



The level of technology found among the Islas del Amazons is rather advanced considering their isolation. Our military members – Remington, Briggs-Stratton, Crane - have noted that the weapons carried by the women in this outlying village are a collection of single shot breechloaders – both metal and paper cartridge.  This choice of weapons shows some forethought as they give the “Amazon’s” a firepower edge over both the Bolo’s and Helander’s while they can be reloaded locally.  Sewing machines and some other mechanical devices were noted in the village that were must have been brought in from the United States and Europe. Overall one of the reasons that the Amazon nation has lasted so long has been its technology advantage over its neighbors.



Officially the nation followed the dictates of the Catholic Church, though many of their practices are different then those practiced in Rome or Mexico.  Priests are allowed to marry and tend to be politically active – which would be a reflection of their role during the Mexican War of Independence. Mr. Crane has looked into the social morals of the “Amazon’s” and found them to be rather conservative in their beliefs, noting both a lack of drinking and other social “entertainment” establishments.



It appears that the Islas del Amazons, as small as it is, is divided into two “parties”, which take their names from the colors of the national flag. There exist the Rojo’s (Reds) who should be viewed as the Conservative wing. The residents of Saint Catherine’s are backers of this party which appears in have its strength in the outlying areas. The opposing group are called the Verdes (Greens) and tend to be considered as a Modernist wing. Their strength tends to be in the larger areas, which the Company has yet to visit.


Our goal is to proceed down the coast to the next village of Saint Felicity and issue another report from there as we continue on our trip from Cuidad Guadalope.



Lady Hermione Plumpton,

Sir Arthur Briggs-Stratton VC.

Monique DuMontmartre MD

Francois de la Mer

Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg

Frederick Remington

Stephen Crane

Miss Helen Hunt

James' Fighting Ships

Three quarters bow shot of USS Machias
             In the course of my Isle dos Amazon’s campaign I have had the chance to pick up several 28mm gunboats built by the master Richard Houston, and have communicated with him on different ideas. One of those was to ask him to consider building a scaled down model of a gunboat/ 3rd class cruiser for my American navy. I was looking for something that would be a sea going craft based on the various US gunboats of the 1890’s – something with a ram bow and gun sponson’s on both sides. What I wanted was a heavily armed vessel, yet one that could not fight her entire armament at any one time due to their layout. In short, something very Victorian in nature.




            In response to my request Richard Houston sent me the model of the USS Machias, a compressed model of a gunboat built in the early 1890’s by the Bath Iron Works, and which served on the Asiatic Station from 1895 to 1897. She is armed with four heavy guns which I intend to rate as 5” – two on each side, as well as an additional four 12lb guns – two of which can be mounted on the bow and stern decks.



Pilothouse house close up - note the open bridge as was common to the US Gunboats of this period




The USS Machias "broken" down into its different sections




Close up of the forward port gun sponson and pilot house.



“Teddy” heads south to the South China Seas

USS Machias and USS Lafitte sail west through the Golden Gate


Dateline: San Francisco



USS Machias and USS Lafitte at sea 


Today the USS Machias and USS Lafitte set sail for the South China Seas from the Mare Island Naval Yard, bearing with them the Smithsonian sponsored expedition of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt.


Roosevelt, whose work in the Navy Department is seen by many as the guiding hand of the “iron fist” that President McKinley used in combination with the  “velvet glove” to win a victory in the recent Cuban crisis, has long been interested in natural history. His “vacation” on behalf of the Smithsonian is seen as an attempt to marry “business with pleasure”. In his role as Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt will be inspecting various overseas Naval facilities, while in his role as a naturalist Roosevelt will be bring back items for the Smithsonian that the current collection is lacking from the South China Seas. It is estimated that Roosevelt will be gone on his trip for several months at the least. In a departure from his usual self, Roosevelt declined a change to be interviewed by reporters.




Members of Roosevelt's Smithsonian Expedition gather on the bow of the USS Machias 


Roosevelt’s expedition includes a number of hand picked volunteers from various different avenues of American life, New York, the “wild West”, Harvard and Yale. These men, self-described as “rough riders”, “packers” and “scouts”, have all volunteered to serve with Roosevelt, and all are officially have been mustered into the United States Army as Quartermaster employees for the duration of the expedition.



More members of the expedition assemble on the stern of the Machias 


There is some discussion in Washington that Roosevelt is being sent into an exile of sorts by President McKinley. While the President was very generous in his praise of Roosevelt’s work in the Department of the Navy, there were some differences between the two men. At one point Roosevelt was supposed to have said in frustration “that McKinley has the backbone of a chocolate éclair” over the President’s refusal to go to war, a statement that McKinley, a veteran of the Civil War who rose from the rank of private to major on the battlefield, was rather resentful.




US Sailors exercise small arms drill 




Since the end of the “Cuban Crisis”, President McKinley has pointed out that while there were those in Washington who were looking for a  “splendid little war”, that he has never known such an event. Wars tend to be brutal and result in death and suffering, and McKinley is proud of the fact that he negotiated self rule for Cuba without having to put any American lives at risk.




Marine gun crew exercises at port aft 5" gun. 


The torpedo boat USS Lafitte is sailing with the USS Machias to serve as an escort and “tender” in the reef ridden shallows of the South China Seas. The USS Machias does include a detachment of Marines in her crew, in addition to the members of the expedition itself.



The local naval authorities have confirmed that two foreign warships have moved through the Straits on their way to an unknown port of call somewhere south of the Philippines.



 The USS Lafitte underway from starboard side


The first vessel spotted was the USS Jean Lafitte, a torpedo boat that had prior to this assignment been used by the American Asiatic Squadron as a dispatch vessel. Some question has been raised by the assignment of this vessel to these waters, due to its lack of endurance and its small size. However in the reefs and shoals of the Celebes Sea its size will be an advantage.



 Port Quarter View of Lafitte underway


The USS Jean Lafitte carries a torpedo tube on each side, as well as a reload for each tube, a rather unusual arrangement for a boat this small. It boasts a 6# gun on the fantail, and a 1# gun located amidships. Under the proper circumstances, the Lafitte would be able to destroy and adversary far larger in size, so its arrival in that area might have interesting consequences.



 Stern view of the USS Jean Lafitte


The other ship spotted in these waters was the French gunboat Jacques LeBegue, sent south from its station in French Indo China. The LeBegue normally patrols the lower Mekong River, and its assignment in these waters is unusual. However it does have a good turn of endurance, and its shallow draft makes it idea for moving in the shallows of the area of its operations.



 Starboard view of the FR Jacques Lebegue under way


The RF Jacques Lebegue is armed with a pair of 75mm (12#) guns fore and aft, as well as a pair of 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannon. In keeping with French custom for its river gunboats, one of the 37mm revolving guns is mounted on top of the pilothouse, in a position where it can fire down on bandits and pirates who have taken up positions dug in on river banks. The gun can be dismounted to add stability in heavy seas.



 Stern Quarter View of RF Jacques Lebegue


With such a concentration of foreign boats moving into those waters, perhaps our Royal Navy needs to keep an idea on those vessels.


Notes on Modeling the Ships


These vessels are conversations of a pair of vessels picked up from the Old Glory shipyards several years ago. I intend to use them for our hypothetical Sword and Flame – Boilers and Breechloaders game. They are built for gaming purposes and not as historical models.


The USS Jean Lafitte started life as the model of HMS Lighting.  I disliked the torpedo dropping gear so I built two new torpedo tubes out of brass tubing and rubber washers. The two torpedoes I used as reloads. A new stack was fitted and I built a new deck amidships over the new torpedo tubes and mounted a 37mm gun from Pulp Figures which I am rating as a 1# gun. A 6# gun was mounted on the fantail to give some more firepower, and railings were rigged. I am working on a set of US Sailors, which will have their bases painted grey to better blend in.


 Head on shot of the Lebegue, showing bridge


The Jacques Lebegue is the Old Glory River Gunboat with some minor changes. The two “37mm Hotchkiss” guns are really models of 1” Gatling Guns as I could not find a good model of a Hotchkiss, and these did look somewhat different. In looking at French river gunboats of the period, the armored raised gun position was very common and was viewed as giving the gun an edge, so I built my own version. The Gatling’s and the Pilot House details were from Reviresco.

 Reed 2

The Surat Khan at Sea


The Imperial Russian Admiralty announced today that one of its newest armored gunboats, the Surat Khan, has departed Vladivostok for a cruise into the “South Seas”. The Surat Khan is billed as a specially built gunboat designed for operating in shallow waters. There has been some discussion of the Surat Khan’s seaworthiness under severe weather, but the spokesman at the Admiralty dismissed any concerns. He pointed out that the Surat Khan has the ability to bring a mixture of firepower and armor into areas that would be barred to a larger vessel.


Reed 1 


Surat Khan from Bow On View 



         On a different note, The British Government has formally protested the name chosen for this warship, and has threatened to deny the ship access to certain Imperial ports. The  Russian government has stated that the ship is named for Surat Khan, a foreign volunteer officer who chose to serve with the Imperial Russian Army in the Crimean War.  Colonel Surat Khan fell at the battle of Balaclava, helping to bring up support to the batteries charged by the fames “Light Brigade”.


 Reed 3

 Stern View of the Surat Khan


         The British government has expressed there concern that Surat Khan was a rebel leader of an area in India, and had not only turned upon his allies and broken his word, but had organized the massacre of the civilians at Chukoti. He had fled to Russia to avoid playing the penalty for his actions.  It has been said that this action of naming a warship after this individal is a deliberate affront to the British Empire.


         The controversy over the name beside, naval officers are looking to see how the Surat Khan handles itself in the challenging waters of the South China Seas.



         Personal Note – I ran into Richard Houston  at LITTLE WARS 2011, and found this ship among his wares. I had to have it – and it managed to get me to rekindle my interest in a VSF game I had long wanted to do, but never got around to it!! I am not working on adding more ships – and moving the game forward.

News From the South China Seas



A General Map of the Isle dos Amazon's showing general trade routes = the darked and thicker the link the better the path is - the narrower and slashed - the worst it is. Note that there is a railroad running inland from St. Felicity to mines at St. Barbara. 


Back Story: In my Isle dos Amazon’s campaign I serve as a director of the action, but base the games I run on decisions made by players prior to the game carried out. Communications are by email between the various players, and myself and there is a deliberately blurred line between actual players and non-player characters. Players may discover the identity of fellow players in the course of games, but all players do not have access to the same information.


Illustrated by Postcards from Samar 


Village Samar 




The game described above started out of a dispute between two player characters, which was not written into the storyline at the start of the game. As the campaign started I had placed the Bolo nation (placed on the Moro nation) and the Helanders (based on the Pathans) in an alliance of sorts. Tom Reed in his role as Count Sonovich – leader of the Helanders – used the Bolo’s as pawns in the opening actions of the campaign. Henry Gabb in his role as Datu of the Bolo Nation was unhappy at the losses suffered by his people, and in retaliation launched an attack on the Heland port of Alberpore. Though the attack was beaten off by the port defenders, Count Sonovich decided to punish the Bolo Nation in return.



(It should be noted that there is a religous difference between the Bolo and Heland nations. One believes that boiled eggs should be cracked at the large end, while the other knows that boiled eggs are cracked at the smaller end. On such points much of the world's issues revolve.) 



However as the Heland nation lacked any means of striking back at the Bolo nation – Count Sonovich looked for possibilities, and contacted a member of the Yi family – the local Chinese trading firm. Lo Pan was a ships captain who regretted the family’s departure from the piracy trade, and so contracted to launch such an attack for a sizable payment in silver, half of which was paid in full, and half after the mission was successfully completed. Count Sonovich selected the Bolo port of Samar as its target, as it was the largest Bolo town outside the Denile Valley. It addition, it housed a German medical mission whose loss would demonstrate the weakness of the Bolo nations and perhaps cause additional problems.




The Yi family had operated as pirates in the South China Seas for several generations. Under the late Zheng Yi, one of the great pirate leaders of his time, the family moved away from piracy to trade. Zheng Yi realized that as European powers pushed into the area, that piracy would become less and less profitable. All of the European powers, regardless of their other political differences, viewed piracy in the same light – an evil to be stomped out wherever and whenever found, and their navies had the power to do just that.




Lo Pan on the other hand wanted a return to the “good old days”, and took the proposed contract back to the new head of the Yi family, Cheng I Sao. She was a former street urchin and concubine of Zheng, whom he had adopted as his daughter and heir to the family leadership. Cheng I Sao (as played by Tim Mikesell) was faced with a difficult choice – if the contract was rejected than Lo Pan could claim that she was not acting in the best interest of the Yi Family by turning down a vast sum for doing little. Yet if the contract was accepted and was successful, then Lo Pan could become a challenger for control of the Yi family and while Cheng had the support of Zheng Yi in the past, that worthy was no longer alive and Cheng’s position could be in danger.




Cheng I Sao made her decision in the matter wisely. She agreed that Lo Pan would be allowed to go ahead and attack Samar, and use up to four vessels of the Yi Family. However she voiced her doubts to the senior members of the family, and convinced them that the down payment made by Count Sonovich would be held by the family in trust to cover the cost of the ships and their equipment. The balance when paid would go to Lo Pan and his men, who could also keep any loot collected in the attack at Samar. With both the family members and Lo Pan happy with her decision, Cheng I Sao went to work. She realized that in such times there was danger as well as opportunity, and set forth to make the best of what she was presented.




As the family had moved away from piracy to trade, the various ships of the Yi had become more equipped for self-defense than active piracy, both in terms of crew size as well as weapons carried. So as Lo Pan started to assemble his “fleet”, Cheng I Sao went to work behind the scenes. The flow of weapons and men to Lo Pan proceeded at the snails pace, yet without any fingerprint as to why this was happening.



On a more important front, Cheng decided to use “back channels” to pass the word of Lo Pan’s plans. One trusted assistant traveled to warn the Datu of the Bolo Nation of what was to happen, while Cheng herself had a conversation with one Commander Watkins, a Royal Navy officer assigned to trade protection at Singapore. With those steps taken, Cheng awaited to see what might happen.




On a contemporary time line, the Datu of the Bolo Nation (Henry Gabb) was unhappy about both the lack of firepower carried by his people, and their ability to use those weapons. (In game terms only 25% of his men carried rifles, and fired them as Dervish on the Sword and Flame Charts. Ashore against a Heland force who either carried modern rifles or jezails, and who fired as Pathan’s on the Sword and Flame charts, his countrymen were at a distinct disadvantage. He did have a single unit of “palace guards” who fought at Egyptian Infantry and in melees his  sword and spear men would win all ties and were at an advantage afloat where they could serve as gunners or sailors as needed.



He had asked the Yi Family for aid prior to this point and had been rewarded by the arrival of Major Alonzo Freemerchant, late major of the Royal Marines, remittance man, and leader of a section of Chinese mercenaries. (Freemerchant was a non-player character, and his Chinese infantry functioned as rifle armed Egyptian infantry.) His mission was to aid the Bolo nation as he best he could in terms of training and knowledge.



For the Datu, his original thought was to evacuate the village of Samar and let the Chinese blow fall on an empty target. However the residents of the village, led by their local datu, refused to go, seeing it as a means of punishing their village while helping promote the interests of the rival port of Panay at the mouth of the Denile River. They would stand by their homes.



The Datu’s council also pointed out that much of his nation’s income came from tribute paid to by various merchant’s, including the Yi Family, to avoid Bolo attacks on their shipping.  That reputation had been earned at the cost of blood over the years. Once lost, it would be difficult to regain except at the price of more blood. Far better to make Lo Pan’s attack as costly as possible so that even if he won, that the price of victory would defer other such attacks. Freemerchant with his mercenaries, and the “palace guard” were sent to reinforce Samar, while Datu Henry would bring two of his larger war canoes loaded with men to cut off the Chinese retreat once they had landed. It would be a fight to be remembered by the Bolo Nation.



The last piece to fall into place it setting up the game was the instructions given to Fregattenkaptian Thomas Wirsing, commander of the HIMS Vaterland. At his last port of call in Singapore, he was, in addition to the orders sent out from Germany, invited to a small private dinner with the Port Admiral. There one Commander Watkins of the Royal Navy passed on the information about the intended attack on Samar, with an emphasis on the fact that the German Medical Mission there was an intended target. 


Though presented with British charts of the area, and permission to use British coal supplies as needed, Fregattenkaptian Wirsing felt that the problem had been neatly dropped into his lap. After all, several British naval officers, including the Port Admiral, had been present at the dinner, and there were witness’s that proved that Royal Navy had shifted responsibility to the Imperial Navy. Thus, while carrying out his other orders as mentioned in a separate blog, Fregattenkaptian Wirsing sailed for Samar in the hopes of saving the medical mission there.


The stage was set for the battle of Samer…….


 The rest of the story....


The fact that the Datu was willing to ransom his prisoners back to the Yi family, and that Cheng I. Sao would be willing to pay for them goes back to the story line above. The Datu was grateful for warning in advance and wished to repay Cheng I. Sao for her efforts, while Cheng I. Sao was able to prove to her family that her concerns were justified, and show her gratitude to the Datu for removing Lo Pan from his ambitions.






Samar - West

Marketplace at Samar from West 


The day dawned off the Bolo port of Samar bright and early, with an off shore breeze north by northeast and the market place open for business. Samar, one of the two main ports of the Bolo nation, had the advantage of a pair of headlands which offered vessels protection from the open seas This advantage was balanced by the disadvantage of an shallow harbor with only a lone short pier running offshore. Vessels transshipping cargo in and out of Samar had to use lighters to do so, which put the village at a disadvantage with the village of Panay. There a real port existed with wharfs and piers that allowed cargo to be moved directly from ship to shore.




The Stockade at Samar 


Samar however boasted a small German Medical Mission on its eastern headland – staffed by a division of the Mennonite Church. Though forbidden to act as missionaries, the small staff there provided medical services not found elsewhere in the area. As a result Samar served as a port of call for vessels that might have otherwise ignored that port.




Mennonite Church Missionaries 


As the citizens of Samar wandered the streets of town, a fisherman on the shore noticed the arrival of not less than four Chinese junks heading for the roadstead. To a port used to the arrival of one or two “foreign” vessels in the course of a week, the arrival of such an armada was deemed as unusual at best.



 The eastern edge of Samar



Standing on the quarterdeck of his flagship, the “Dragon’s Breath”, Lo Pan gazed at his target of Samar. His vision of returning the Yi Family back to its role as prominent among the pirates was about to begin, as well as his rise to control of the Yi family. Under his command he had the following vessels, carrying the following:



The Dragon's Breath 


The Junk “Dragon’s Breath”, with a crew of three sections of ten men, one armed with rifles, one with spears, and one with swords. The “Dragon’s Breath” carried a 12# MLSB cannon on the bow, and a board side of two 6# MLSB cannon and a 24# carronade.




The Jade Dragon 


The Junk “Jade Dragon”, with a crew of three sections of ten men, one armed with rifles, one with spears, and one with swords. The “Jade Dragon” carried a 12# MLSB cannon on the bow, and a board side of two 6# MLSB cannons.




Harvest Moon heading towards the beach 


The Junk “Harvest Moon”, with a crew of three sections of ten men, one armed with rifles, one with spears, and one with swords. The “Harvest Moon” carried a 12# MLSB cannon on the bow, and a board side of a two 6# MLSB cannons.




The Junk “Orange Blossom”, with a crew of two sections of ten men, one with spears, and one with swords. The “Harvest Moon” carried a 6# MLSB cannon on the bow, and a board side of a single 6# MLSB cannon.



In addition two sampans’ had been brought along to help transport units ashore.




It was now time for him to start his task of landing, looting and pillaging, and so our game began – the Storming of Samar – using Boilers and Breechloaders for the Naval Actions, and The Sword and Flame for the land battles. Tom Reed and Tim Mikesell served as Chinese Pirate Commanders, while Henry Gabb commanded the defenders.




Henry Gabb at left, Tom Reed at right, closer to camera, Tim Mikesell behind him 


We used the Sword and Flame Action Deck for the Land battles, discarding all of the European Event Cards. The Chinese pirates served as the Natives, while the Bolo’s were the Europeans. However if an event card was pulled, a D6 was rolled. On a 1-3 it was given to the Bolo’s – on a 4-6 it was given to the Chinese. Card results of lightly wounded were treated as no effect – while results of severely wounded were considered as dead unless the casualty was a “personality”. This made bookkeeping much easier and produced a bloody action. Units were standardized at ten figures each; with some additional figures as overall commanders.



The Chinese plan was based on the limitations of the harbor. Junks operating within 18” to 12” of the shoreline had a chance of running aground. Junks operating with the 12” line would run aground. Units could be landed from the junks by the use of the two sampans that Lo Pan had brought with him, or by using lighters captured ashore.  However if the Chinese players wished – they could beach their junks on shore by sailing in – but would be stranded there until the tide rose later in the day – otherwise known as the end of the game.




The pirates decided to run two of their junks ashore – the Harvest Moon and the Orange Blossom – while the Dragon’s Breath and the Jade Dragon cruised offshore in support, landing units by sampan as needed. As they had been warned that a war canoe was normally stationed there, but was not present on this morning, they wanted to be sure that they had something present to intercept it.




The Orange Blossom (left) and Harvest Moon beached on shore 


Much to the surprise of the pirates, the locals of Samar did not wait to see what was happening, but moved to seek refugee in the stockade on the west side of Samar. By the time that first two junks had landed, one to each side of the small creek that ran through Samar, there were indications that the native defenders were rallying. The first event card turned up and went to the pirates – which slowed the first pirate unit to move ashore.



First wave to go ashore 


The stockade was armed with several swivel guns to sweep the approaches to the post, as well as a single 12# MLSB that covered the harbor. The women huddled at the rear of the stockade while the old men and youth manned the swivel guns and cannon.  They opened fire on the pirate ships, seeking as their target the sampan that was attempting to transfer a unit ashore from the Dragon’s Breath.




Civilians manning a gun



Refugees in the stockade 


While the Jade Dragon was maneuvering outside the harbor, it managed to run aground as the captain was so busy watching the town, he failed to notice the headland to the east. Hung up for two turns, he managed to work his way back into deep water. To the west the Dragon’s Breath maneuvered to open fire on the stockade, while the stockade continued to target the sampan, sinking it and slipping its crew into the water. Luckily they were alongside the Dragon’s Breath at the time, and managed to safely climb back ashore.




Ashore events started to unfold in quick order. Another event card showed up going to the Bolo’s – which indicated that they had defective black powder for their local rifle unit – which halved those weapons range for the remainder of the game!! (The Chinese players cheerfully took credit for this accomplishment!!) The riflemen retreated into the stockade as the Chinese from the “Harvest Moon” started to advance into the marketplace. 




The local warehouse, which was the only adobe building in town, and which promised to have the greatest riches for those looking for booty and loot, turned out to be garrisoned by a unit of the Datu’s “Guard” from the capital, a swivel gun as well as a unit of Chinese mercenaries – all under the command of a British expatriate – one Alonzo Freemerchant, one time Major in the Royal Marines. This development came as a total surprise to the Chinese.





The Chinese pirate advance into the market found itself pinned down on the beach. A section of swordsmen from the “Harvest Moon” attempted to man a lighter and row out to the “Dragon’s Breath” to bring in reinforcements, but was turned back by fire from the stockade, just managing to make it back to the dock just before it sank.




Reinforcements arrive from tthe Jade Dragon 


East of the creek the two sections from the “Orange Blossom” found themselves in a section of the village abandoned by the locals, and they started looting with limited success.  Another event card came into play, as the of the defending Bolo sword armed units attempted to prove their valor by moving at speed into one of the pirate units – which was able then to reinforce itself with another unit. The Bolo’s were forced back and broken by a counter charge.




Bolo Defenders prepare to drive the invaders back 


A second Bolo spear armed unit then attached the same Chinese and suffered a similar fate as it lost the melee, after reducing one of the pirate units to below 50%. The second pirate unit charged the Bolo survivors and drove them off the table, while the first pirate unit failed morale and ran back aboard the “Orange Blossom” seeking refugee. The Chinese pirates were reinforced by a rifle-armed unit, which had made it off the “Jade Dragon”, helping to consolidate the Chinese control of the eastern part of the village.




Afloat the “Jade Dragon” started to turn about and come upwind to help the “Dragon’s Breath” fire on the stockade, while the “Dragon’s Breath” itself briefly ran aground as it attempted to close the range on the stockade. The stockade was hit numerous times, but with little effect.




At this point we broke for lunch as my wife had it waiting upstairs for us!




After lunch Bolo reinforcements arrived as the Datu of the Bolo Nation himself showed up with two war canoes from the west – the “Blacksnake” and the “Moonlight”. Each carried two units of melee troops, as well as a rifle armed unit. Both craft were armed with a pair of 12# MLSB cannon as well as a swivel gun on each side.



Throughout the game roles for a change in the wind status had been made several times, effecting wind speed but not direction. As the game resumed Tim Mikesell rolled for the wind, and managed to not only change the direction from NNE to due East, and kicked the speed up as well. Suddenly the Chinese offshore vessels were headed into the wind, while their new opponents had the wind at their backs.




The Datu arrives on the scene 


Facing this new threat, Lo Pan took the “Dragon’s Breath” towards his new foes, in hopes of purchasing time for the “Jade Dragon” to come up in support.




Working their way through the village, some of the pirates attempt to escape 


On the beach below the warehouse, the action seemed stalemated. Both sides noted the amount of firepower generated in this area, with what seemed to be an amazing lack of casualties. There were twenty plus men firing from the warehouse, as well as the swivel gun each turn, while the pirates were firing the bow 6# MLSB cannon on the “Harvest Moon” and the bow 12# MLSB cannon off the “Orange Blossom” back, as well as a unit of pirate armed with rifles.  Between the poor die rolling and the effects of the cards in the action deck little was seen as happening, though a post battle count of casualties in the area indicated that six defenders of the warehouse died in action, while the bodies of fifteen pirates were found.



The Dragon's Breath tacks to meet the new threat 


Frustrated by their lack of success at this point, the crew of the beached “Harvest Moon” set their vessel on fire and attempted to work their way through the village towards the “Orange Blossom”. Elements from the “Orange Blossom” headed towards the German mission, in hopes of taking captive the staff there.



With two of his masts shot away, and with a sinking hull, Lo Pan stands on his quarterdeck 


As the action cooled down on land, it heated up at sea as the sides clashed. The “Dragon’s Breath” clawed her way upwind, suffering badly from the fire of the closing war canoes. Bringing its broadside to bear, the “Dragon’s Breath” fired into the two war canoes at point blank range. Fires were set on both sides and extinguished, holes punched through hulls, masts were shot away on both sides. The “Jade Dragon” came up in time to see the “Dragon’s Breath” sinking below the waves, spilling her remaining crew including Lo Pan into the sea. Both the “Jade Dragon” and the “Harvest Moon” headed for the area, with the first attempting to rescue him, and the second intent on killing any and all Chinese in the water. The crew of the “Harvest Moon” killed most of the Chinese pirates as it sailed through the area, but Lo Pan and a few other men survived to reach the safety of the “Harvest Moon”.




The Blacksnake running down the surviviors of the Dragon's Breath  


While all eyes were on the harbor, a new vessel ended the game out of the east. The “HIMS Vaterland” had arrived on the scene, announcing her arrival by firing a pair of 4.1” shells into the “Jade Dragon”. (Tom Reed found himself being shifted from being Lo Pan to taking control of the “HIMS Fatherland” and rolled a pair of 6’s to start off his new role, shooting away one of the “Jade Dragon’s mast, preventing her escape.



The HIMS Vaterland arrives 



On the following turn the Datu led a wave of boarders over the side onto the decks of the “Jade Dragon”, even as the crew of that ship sank the “Harvest Moon” with a final broadside. The melee was bloody and ended with the “Jade Dragon” being captured by the Bolo’s, though the Datu was wounded in the attempt.



Victory - the Jade Dragon is captured and Lo Pan killed 



On shore, the remaining Chinese survivors decided to surrender, with ex Major Freemerchant brokering the arrangements. The German missionaries were released, and the Datu took charge of the prisoners. With Lo Pan dead and his head on a spear tied to the mast of the “Blacksnake”, the Datu was willing to ransom the survivors back to the Yi family.




Medical staff being seized by Chinese pirates 


 The Chinese attempt to storm Samar had ended in failure.





The royal passengers on the HIMS Vaterland watch the engagement from the crows nest.


For some details as to why events unfolded as they did – see the blog entry on Back Story – Storming of Samar.

 Bow View(1)

 HIMS Vaterland at Sea, Fregattenkaptian Thomas Wirsing on the bridge



From the Personal Journal of Fregattenkaptian Thomas Wirsing, Imperial German Navy officer commanding HIMS Vaterland


Historical Note


Fregattenkaptian (Commander) Thomas Wirsing, Imperial German Navy


Born 1864 in Stuttgart Württemberg, his father was an officer in the Wurttemberg Army while his mother was a member of he minor nobility. Unlike his brothers who followed their father into the Wurttemberg Army, he entered the Imperial German Navy as midshipman in 1880, and became an officer in 1884. Since then he have gained experience at sea serving on a number of voyages of exploration, and is one of the few German officers who can truly say that they have ”sailed the seven seas”.


Recently promoted to the rank of Fregattenkaptian he was assigned to command of the colonial gunboat SMS Vaterland. This small but well armed craft is assigned to patrol the “South Seas” an area ranging from the Dutch East Indies out into the Pacific. As a shallow draft seagoing ship, she rolls badly in a storm, but can pick her way through shoals and reefs that would rip out the hull of a larger craft. The following is from one of his journals about the start of a voyage on the HIMS Vaterland.



Three Quarter View of the HIMS Vaterland 


Xxxx, xx, 189x

Departed this day from Singapore, rendering the appropriate honors to the port authorities and the Royal Navy. Have on board as passengers Lieutenant Otto Schmidt and a nine-man detachment from the 3rd Sea Battalion.



 The brave lads of the 3rd Sea Battalion at Drill


(This attachment of the 3rd Sea Battalion detachment to your ship is rather unique. The German Navy does not carry marines per say on its ships, trusting instead to the use of landing parties of trained sailors. There exist three such battalions in the Imperial German Navy, whose function is similar to the Royal Marine Light Infantry. The 3rd Battalion is the only Imperial German unit stationed permanently outside Germany, with its depot and base of operations is at Tsingtao in China. As such they are among the elite veteran soldiers of Germany.)


My “secret” orders (delivered by courier from home, and known only to myself) are now to rendezvous with the Dutch steamer li Bain the Malacca Strait. There the HIMS Vaterland will transfer from the Bali two senior officers of the Imperial German Government, a Medical Officer, and three servants. The officers will take over my personal quarters, while the servants will be accommodated in the wardroom. All members of the party are said to be aware of the limitations of your ship – whatever that means. My passengers will find that accommodations about my ship are a far cry from those found on a cruiser at home in the North Sea.



Arrival of the visitors "field baggage" from the SS Bali


Having reached the intended rendezvous point, the Bali showed up and hove to, so as to allow the transshipment of supplies by boat. The largest lighter carried by the Bali was used to deliver the personal effects of your passengers!!




 Fregattenkaptian Thomas Wirsing Wondering where he will stow the baggage


A note brought over by the sailors on board the lighter stated that the two senior officers were respectfully a colonel of the Life Guard Hussars of the Imperial Germany Army, as well as a Colonel of the Bavarian Foot Life Guard. They have requested tat they be greeted with the proper side honors, however the normal salute of fifteen guns as benefits their rank as “ministers plenipotentiary” should not be done.




 The passangers approach the HIMS Vaterland


The passengers that were transferred have turned out to be Princess Vittoria Luise, younger sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kronzprincess Cecile, one of the younger daughters of Prince Regent Ludwig of the Kingdom of Bavaria. The medical officer and “servants” appear to be some of their ladies in waiting.




 Princess Vittoria Luise requests permission to come aboard


After giving the parties in question a chance to settle in their new accommodations, there was a formal welcome them to the ship, and then I explained my proposed mission and issues  with it to the two Princess.  As I felt that the proposed visit to the Isle de Amazons could well involve the need of your ship and crew to “stand into danger for Kaiser and Germany”, I wished to make them fully aware of what might happen.



 Kronzprincess Cecile is introduced


They dismissed an offer of sailing them to Singapore or one of the Dutch East Indies ports in order to find a more suitable ship for them to travel on. Instead, I was directed to continue with my proposed route.




The "nautical" uniforms of the visitors. 


I confess that I made the mistake of suggesting that they may wish to wear something other then their military uniforms while on board the HIMS Vaterland. It appears that they took this as permission to wear their “nautical uniforms”




 As the HIMS Vaterland sails towards the Ilse de Amazons,  Fregattenkaptian  Wirsing ponders what will happen next.


My Gott look after me on this voyage…….


Battery Defenders firing into the Bolo Fleet


An Action at Aberpore


Back-story: As part of an ongoing Sword and Flame Campaign Game set in the South Pacific circa 1900 in the mythical Isle dos Amazon’s, local gamers serve as leaders of various factions. They are presented choices, and out of the answers, I set up the scenario.



 The morning of the action at the Bey's Residence


Count Ivan Sonavich (Tom Reed) is the Russian officer charged with attempting to establish a foothold in these islands for the Czar’s Navy. The son of one Surat Kahn, a former Rajah on the Northwest Frontier, he had a natural affinity with the Helanders of the area – though his supply of gold and weapons did not harm his cause. He has used the seagoing lowlanders (Bolo’s) of the Isle dos Amazon’s as a ally of sorts, as though they share the same religion, they are of different sects. (For the record, the Bolo's believe that one should crack a hard boiled egg at the small end, while the Helander's crack open their hard boiled egg at the large end.) However over time, the Bolo’s have come to feel that they are being used by Count Sonavich and the Helanders, as having taken heavy losses during the joint attack on Amazon village of St. Catherine, and in an attempt to capture the launch the Gypsy Queen near the mouth of the Verde River.



 Aberpore from the east - town in front - keep on far side of the bay.



Dattu Hassan (Henry Gabb) serves as leader of the Bolo’s and has noticed that his power over the various clans of his nation has been eroded by a steady supply of Russian gold to his sub chiefs. He has decided to remind the Helanders of his power by conducting a razzi on the Helanders outlet to the world, the port of Aberpore. So at this point our game starts.



The Orange Blossom at Pierside off tradetown" 


The Heland port of Aberpore was an unusual hub of activity this day in September. The town itself was built on a peninsula on the east side of the bay, and was guarded by a small battery covering the bay and its entrance. A high wall and combination of buildings provided security from overland attack, while the rugged coast of the peninsula prevented any landing by sea.




The Keep and Bey's Residence 


At the head of the bay was the area known as “tradetown”, home to a small colony of Chinese merchants, and several warehouses. By tradition, those merchants living there were not allowed to carry firearms and held themselves aloof from local events. From “tradetown”, a long pier extended into the bay which could dock large vessels.



Keep and Town from the West 


To the west of the bay was another peninsula with its lower part home to Dean Pasha Bey’s residence and gardens, while a small pier jutted into the bay. The upper end was a high rocky crag on which was perched the Bey’s keep/tower. Though not armed with any cannon, the keep sat high enough that it could not be reached by any muzzle loading seaborne cannon. Marksmen from the keep could use their jezails to fire into “tradetown”, as well as into parts of Aberpore as well. All in all, the port was considered as secure from any attack.



The battery and town of Aberpore


Yesterday, the Russian advisor Count Sonavich (played by Frank Chadwick as Tom Reed was unable to attend) had arrived in town with his escort of Heland “body guards” to meet the Chinese junk Orange Blossom. This vessel had just arrived with a welcome cargo of heavy boxes of “supplies”, some additional members to join the Count’s circle of advisors, as well as an escort of Russian sailors. A pack train (4 men and 8 pack animals) had been brought along to carry the expected  “supplies” back to the Heland capital of Edinabad. The local ruler of Aberpore, Dean Pasha Bey, (played by Dean Spitz) turned over his personal residence to the benefit of the Russian advisors, (party of 9 figures) and allowed the Russian sailors (9 men) and bodyguards (10 men) to camp in his gardens. He however was less than pleased to see the Russian naval ensign hoisted over his home.



Orange Blossom Being loaded for its return trip


As the morning dawned, the residents of Aberpose arose and went about their daily work. Two sections (10 men each) of the local Heland forces were off duty – one at the keep and the other about the battery. The one section (10 men) on duty was divided up into four elements – three of which were “escorting” workers (slaves) on farming duties or working on the pier – while the remainder watched the main gate into Aberpore. The merchants opened their markets and offered their wares to the various other citizens (10 men who could serve as gunners), and it appeared that after the excitement of the day before, the village was settling back into its usual ways.



The Bazar as the day started 


It was noted that as usual Bolo sailing craft were noted as sailing off the coast of Aberpore, and no one was concerned about their presence. After all, though considered heretics, the Bolo’s were allies of a sort against the Amazon nation and other Europeans. However suddenly out of an off shore bank of mist, no less then four Bolo war craft – the Dragon Fire (two guns and 39 men), the Blacksnake, (two guns and 36 men) the Crocodile, (one gun and 22 men) and the Shark (one gun and 27 men) -were seen heading for the harbor, with all of the vessels loaded with warriors in full fighting regalia. (Due to recent losses fighting in support of the Helanders, the Bolo’s were short 30 odd men.)



All dressed up for a visit - the crew of the Dragon Fire comes to call


At this point in the game, a series of die rolls were made to determine the direction of the wind as well as its speed. It was an offshore wind at a brisk rate, and then a D6 was rolled to determine how many turns of warning the residents of Aberbore would have to prepare for their visitors. A roll of (1) one resulted, giving the defenders a turn to start preparing to meet their guests.



Datu Hassan (Henry Gagg) plots his attack - not the stack of paper that even an absolute ruler in times like these must live with!!


At this point I need to point out that Murphy reared his head – I had hoped to have five gamers present for the activities not counting myself – I set up the game to handle four layers – two to a side – and had three show up. For game purposes the Bolo’s were run by a single player instead of two – which had an impact on the game as it in my opinion caused the Bolo’s to mass their ships in the harbor.



Dean Pasha Bey (Dean Spitz) rallies his defenders and prepares to defend Aberpore


As it was the Bolo’s were in the process of passing the battery before it fired – the 6lb cannon got off two shots, while the 12lb gun fired once, both damaging the hull of Shark. However the 12lb hit was a critical one, and set off an explosion among the power stored at the ships gun (Magazine hit!). As the Shark was running under full sail as it closed, the major effect was to set off a major fire (level 6!!) The 6lb gun had also inflicted a possible critical – but it rolled a no effect.



Shark burning at pierside!!!


The Russian plan at this point was to “beat feet “ out of town, and leave the defenders on their own, so they formed up outside the residence and started to march off in quick time. Across the harbor the guns of the Dragon Fire and the Blacksnake fired on the Russians and their bodyguards, killing several of the bodyguards as well as the officer commanding the Russian sailors. (the Petty Officer of the Russian sailors assumed command for the rest of the action - but took care to bring their commanders body with them so he could have a proper funeral once the action was over.) The defenders of the keep fired at the ships in return with their jezails– and managed to inflict a light wound on Datu Hassan!



The Russians start to leave town as swiftly as possible 


On the following turns the Russians continued to attempt to withdraw, while the bodyguards ran off through the garden seeking refuge from the cannons of the Bolo’s. The Dragon Fire and Blacksnake closed the dock below the keep, while the Crocodile beached herself in “tradetown”. The crew of the Shark abandoned ship for the safety of the pier, but found themselves under fire from both the battery and the town as they dashed away from their burning ship. (The crew of the junk Orange Blossom actively discouraged anyone from boarding her as the Bolo’s passed.)


Russian Stand 

  The heroic stand of the Russians as they covered the retreat of the pack train.


The Russians fell back through “tradetown” but realized that they were in danger of being cut off by the Bolo’s, and that their pack train was in danger of being captured. According they took up a position on the far side of the low wall that surrounded that ‘tradetown and prepared to stand. The crew from the Dragoon Fire attacked the keep, while the crew of the Blacksnake occupied the Bey’s residence from which the Russians had fled. The first wave of the Shark charged the Russian line, with the support of the crew of the Crocodile supported them. In that following turn of combat the battle shifted (in typical Sword and Flame fashion) from what seemed to be a Bolo victory to something else.


Attack on the keep by the men of the Dragon Fire 


To start with, the attack on the keep was driven back by the help of the gunners of the battery, who fired at long range across the harbor and managed to hit some attackers. In combination with fire from the keep, the first wave was driven below 50% and failed their morale check. The second wave, though supported by the fire of the Datu’s personal guard, was loath to charge the keep, lacking the scaling ladders needed to storm that place.



Bolo's pour ashore from the Blacksnake and Dragon Fire - note dead Helanders from the Count's bodyguard


In “tradetown”, the first wave of attackers from the Shark ran into a blistering volley and lost their leaders among other losses (six of the nine Russians in Count Sonovich’s party had revolvers, which proved to be deadly at close range.) The supporting wave from the Shark never made it off the pier thanks to jezail fire from the town and the battery, breaking its morale and falling back to the end of the pier. The now decimated and leaderless first wave from the Shark party failed to make their die roll to move and so remained huddled before the firepower of the Russians.



The charge of the crew of the Shark down the pier  as the commander turns to encourage his men


 While the crew from the Crocodile made shore, the first wave was hit by fire from the Russian sailors. Even then they closed to the wall, but were unable to cross it. The Bolo attack had faltered. And then it happened that Datu Hassan was hit once again with a light wound from fire from the keep, which effectively removed him from the battle. In a twist of fate, Dean Pasha Bey was inflicted with a serious wound that turn, removing the Bey of Aberpore from play.


The game ended at this point, with the realization that the Bolo’s were too weak to press forward, but could hold their ground till nightfall. They had four units of melee weapons and three units of firearm weapons left in good order, but were facing five units of firearm troops (counting the Russians) fighting in a built up area. In the same fashion, however, the Helanders were too weak to dare advance against the Bolo bridgehead.


The remaining Bolo ships were screened from fire from the battery by a combination of the burning hulk of the Shark, and the junk “Orange Blossom”. (Neither side made any attempt to engage the Chinese – either on the junk or in “tradetown”, so the Chinese remained spectators to the action that raged about them.)  Though wounded, Datu Hassan would recover, and continue to lead his people – though it appeared that there is now a major breach between the Bolo’s and Helanders.



The Crisis - the Bolo's charge the "thin line"


It was determined that the Bolo’s would board craft and sail out of harbor by the dark of the moon. The Bolo’s did manage to loot the Bey’s residence and picked up a number of papers and other items that the Count and his party of Russians had left behind so it was a victory of sorts for the Bolo’s. The Helander’s managed to defend the town of Aberpore and “tradetown” from the invaders, and later salvaged a 12lb gun from the wreck of the “Shark” to reinforce the battery guarding the town so it was a definite win for them. Dean Pasha Bey however died of his wounds and became a local hero.


Russian Flag 

Russian Naval Ensign over the Keep at Aberpore 


The real winners however may have been Count Sonavich and his party. Their stand at “tradetown” meant that they were seen as the defenders of Aberpore, and not as a party trying to get out of town to avoid the Bolo attack. The death of Dean Pasha Bey left a power vacuum that he quickly moved to fill, and the Russian sailors occupied the keep and hoisted the Russian Naval Flag over it. His party reoccupied the Bey’s residence, and assigned his bodyguard about it. He could proudly look at the keep, and see that the Czar now had a port (however minor) in the South Seas – and he could advance on the port of Cuidad Guadalope – a true port that would well serve the Czar’s interests.



The new Bey of Aberpore looks over the city from his residence 



POSTSCRIPT AND GAME NOTES: The rules for the game were Sword and Flame, 3rd Edition, and Boilers and Breecherloaders. I used a mixed deck of Sword and Flame Cards for this game – mixing the native cards for Northwest Frontier and Mahdist Wars to make my deck. Since it was apparent which side would move next – I had to hide the deck from the players and removed myself as a player.


It would have been interesting had we had a second player for the Bolo’s, for it would have better allowed for an attack on either side of Aberpore, with the two elements advancing to seal off the place. On the other hand, with the defenders having such a limited amount of time to prepare for the attack, the direct attack on the harbor was perhaps the best plan – and it almost succeed. Had the Shark not been hit and its magazine exploded – it could have run up on the beach at “tradetown” out of the arc of fire of the battery, and cut off the Russians.


The course of events has been altered yet again, and future events will be impacted on what happened this day at Aberpore. Therefore this report shall end with


To be continued…………



Somewhere off the port of St. Felicity

A further tale of the Company of Adventurers

 in the South China Seas as they try out

“Boilers and Breechloaders”




The Game at Start 


Back Story: Our Company of Adventurers has been given permission to continue on down the coast to the village of San Felicity in their launch “The Gypsy Queen”. As the area was reported to be infested by Bolo Pirates, it was decided to sail in company with the Amazon coastal boat, the “San Pedro”. The former was armed with a 6lb muzzle loading cannon, as well as a pair of swivel guns, and was well crewed, and served as a courier vessel for the local villages on the Amazon Coast.

Since it was suggested that the “The Gypsy Queen” be armed as well, Captain Maltese once again showed his ability to amaze his passengers by producing a 1 pound quick firing (pom-pom) gun and mounted it on the bow of his ship. However he tempered the views of his passengers by pointing out that he had only 30 rounds for the weapon, which the gun could go through in an exceedingly short time. Sir Arthur Briggs-Stratton VC and Francois de la Mer volunteered to serve as the gun crew, as both men had some experience with that type of weapon. Frederick Remington and Stephen Crane served as the “black gang”, while the task of helmsman fell to Lady Hermione Plumpton.

As the two ships ended down the coast and started to pass the mouth of the Verde River, the sails of a pirate vessel where spotted dead ahead, while a second vessel was seen closing in on them from astern. And so our game starts……


As mentioned, this was our first attempt to use “Boilers and Breechloaders” as a set of game rules, and our efforts were designed to be low tech. The forces involved were as follows:


Our Convoy


The Gypsy Queen, a small wooden launch armed with a 1-pound quick firing gun and manned by the nine members of the Company of Adventurers. Underway, her maximum speed was 18” a turn and she could take 18 damage points.



 The Gypsy Queen 


The San Pedro, a two masted small sailing vessel armed with a single 6lb muzzle loading cannon and a pair of swivel guns. The total crew of the San Pedro mustered fifteen men, enough to man her guns (7crew) and still sail (6 crew) as well as have 2 extra figures. Maximum sailing speed, depending on the wind, was 16” a turn while she could take 30 damage points. 



The San Pedro 


The Pirates


The Crocodile: a two masted war canoe with a single 12-pound gun firing dead ahead. The crew totaled 25 men, with 4 gunners, 6 crewmen armed with small arms, and 15 melee armed crewman. To operate under sail 6 crewmen where needed with a maximum speed of 24” depending on the wind, or the 25 crewmen could move her at a speed of 12” a turn. (While moving at a rowing speed, all of her crewman would be needed so firearms could not be used without reducing her speed.) She could take a maximum of 25 damage points. The Crocodile was the “blocking” ship ahead of the convoy.



 The Crocodile


The Shark: also a two masted war canoe with a single 12-pound gun firing dead ahead. The crew totaled 25 men, with 4 gunners, 6 crewmen armed with small arms, and 15 melee armed crewman. To operate under sail 6 crewmen where needed with a maximum speed of 24” depending on the wind, or the 25 crewmen could move her at a speed of 12” a turn. (While moving at a rowing speed, all of her crewman would be needed so firearms could not be used without reducing her speed.) She could take a maximum of 25 damage points. The Shark started the game astern of the convoy.



 The Shark


The Blacksnake: also a two masted war canoe but somewhat larger with a pair of 12-pound gun firing dead ahead. Two swivel guns were also carried, one on each side. The crew totaled 48 men, with 8 gunners, 8 crewmen armed with small arms, and 24 melee armed crewman. To operate under sail 6 crewmen where needed, or 24 crewmen could move her at a speed of 12” a turn. She could take a maximum of 35 damage points. The Blacksnake started the game off board, and was rolled for both point of entry as well as its time of arrival.

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The Blacksnake


And then unknown to players at the start of the game


The San Barbara aka “The Joker” in the game. I had converted the Old Glory Sudan Steamer into an offshore craft as the flagship of the “Amazon” navy. It was a large vessel with 48 damage points and a maximum speed of 30”. She was armed with a 9” muzzle loading gun on her bow, as well as 2 swivel guns on each side of her deck, and had a crew of 19 sailors and 8 marines. Her arrival was also diced for, with players only told that they could see smoke on the first die roll, and a second die roll was needed to bring her on to the board.



The Santa Barbara


The stats for the various ships were designed independently of the game on the Boilers and Breechloaders Rules, so there was no real attempt to produce a “balanced” game.  It was also decided that the small arms change at sea would use the “mounted” categories for determining small arms ranges. One card was put into the deck for each ship, and neither a halt card or event cards were used.


Powered vessels, the launch and steamer had a maximum speed they could move, with restrictions on acceleration and deceleration. Sail powered vessels had a maximum speed based on their masts and sail area as modified by the wind speed. A ship with 1” of sail could move up to 16” a turn as long as the wind speed was 16 or higher. If the wind dropped, to below 16, then the ship was reduced to moving that speed. Some vessels were credited with larger sail areas, and could out sail others depending on the wind. For simplicities sake, ships moving upwind under sail had their maximum movement halved. The vessels were rated in terms of how many turns they could make – and the maximum number of degrees (45 or 60) they could turn, as well as the cost of the turn. Most vessels were limited to two turns of 45 degrees – at the start and middle of their movement, while the side wheel vessel could make up to three 60 degree turns, one at the start, one at the middle, and one at the end of its turn. There was a cost for each turn that was made, so the more turns a vessel made, the slower it moved. War canoes had the option of moving while rowing, with the speed determined by the number of men rowing.


The north edge of the board was considered the coast of the island, with scattered bluffs and the mouth of the Verde River being represented on the board. Known only to one player, two small groups of Helanders (10 men each) lurked hidden at two points on the board in case any vessels would attempt to beach and have their crew flee to safely of the shore.


The starting points of the Bolo canoes were diced for, as was the wind. The wind when rolled for started out of the west at 14” per turn; with a chance of the winds changing as well as veering depending on a die roll each turn. The Crocodile found herself in front of the two-ship convoy, while the Shark found her astern and attempting to close the range.



Opening Shots 


The game started with the commander of the Gypsy Queen dashing directly toward the Crocodile in an attempt to bring her in range of her 1lb gun and taking fire from the Crocodile’s 12lb cannon in turn. The San Pedro was able to stay ahead of the Shark, but as her 6lb cannon could not bear to the rear, she found herself under long-range fire.


On the next turn the Gypsy Queen found herself in range of the Crocodile, and both vessels exchanged fire, with both not only damaging the other but causing critical hits as well. Much to my surprise the commander of the Gypsy Queen chose to risk jamming his gun by using its full rate of fire  - firing off six rounds in a burst – and using up 20% of his ammunition in a single turn.



Dismasted and on fire



Combat used the card system as well for determining the order of firing so as with the TSAF, who fired first could have an effect on the course of play in a turn. Damage was done in two ways – each weapon could do a set amount of hull points, ranging from 2 points for the 1lb pom-pom up to 4 points for the 12lb cannon, and 10 points for the 9” cannon. Each hit by a gun would cause that many hull points. In addition, based on the type of vessel, each ship would have the possibility of taking critical hits. Wooden ships take a critical each time they take 4 hull points, so a hit by a 12 lb cannon meant that each hit in effect also rolled on the critical table for extra damage. As the pom-pom only did 2 points damage per hit, two hits were needed to get a critical. There are different critical hit tables for different types of ships, sailing ships, screw steamers, side wheelers, etc. However one quarter – 25% - of all critical hits have no effect – as a die roll of 16 – 20 on a D20 is just that – no effect. This factor kept the critical hits from dominating the game, yet ensured that different damage effects happen to the crews and means of sailing.



The critical hit on the Gypsy Queen was a magazine – but since that vessel lacked a magazine it was counted as a miss. (In a similar rule, it was decided that small craft such as the Gypsy Queen could not suffer a hull fire, as she had no hull- deck fires were OK, hull fires results were treated as a miss.)


The Crocodile suffered a pair of critical hits, one of which started a deck fire, and one of which dropped the foremast into the water on the vessels port side. Due to a miss reading of the rules I failed to note that when a fire starts, one rolls a D6 to determine its strength. Instead I mistakenly started the fire as a level 1. (On a sailing vessel, fires of level 3 or higher can cause additional damage, so this was an unattended edge for the Bolo’s.)


On turn 3, the random die rolls increased the wind speed to 21, and brought the Blacksnake into the game. As the wind speed exceeded the San Pedro’s sail ability – it was able to run at a top speed of 16”, but the pursuing vessels could start to close the gap. The fire on the Crocodile was put out, but she was unable to cut the lost mast free, so she slowed and started to turn to port. During the firing she was hit by both the San Pedro and the Gypsy Queen, suffering another fire and losing several crewmen. The San Pedro was hit again by the Shark and another fire started on board her. However since these were mistakenly considered level 1 fires, they were easy for the crews to put out – whereas a level f4 or fire would have needed four times the crew – and would have pulled men off other duties. Unknown but to her captain and crew, the Crocodile had taken a pounding from the 1 lb gun, and was down to lave of its hull value.


Turn 4 brought a drastic shift in the wind, as its speed both dropped and it moved to the southeast – slowing down the movement of the San Pedro. The Crocodile attempted to close with the Gypsy Queen using her oars, but the launch danced out of reach. Smoke was reported off the east edge of the board, but the Shark and Blacksnake continued to close on the San Pedro, doing damage each turn from their 12 lb cannon. The Gypsy Queen fired another burst of 1-pound pom pom fire into the hull of the Crocodile, with two waterline critical hits occurring, and causing the Crocodile to sink. (At this point of time the gun crew of the Gypsy Queen had gone through 60% of her ammunition.)


During turn 5, the wind continued to drop, allowing the Shark and Blacksnake to continue to close the gap under oars towards the San Pedro. The Gypsy Queen found herself out of position as she attempted to circle back at speed and unable to acquire a target. The repeated blows on the hull of the San Pedro were having an effect as her hull damage rose past 50% and water continued to pour in. And then with a scream of her whistle, the Santa Barbara sailed onto the board. (In one of those ironies found on the war games table, the former datu and commander of the Crocodile now found himself on the bridge of the Santa Barbara.)


Turn 6 started with a demonstration of firepower unlike any seen before. The bow gun on the Santa Barbara was a deadly thing with great range, but a very low rate of fire – once every three turns. It’s first shot hit home on the Blacksnake, inflicting 10 points of damage, with a critical which knocked out one of her two guns and killed the gun crew, as well as starting a waterline leak. The San Pedro was however now sinking, and so her crew went over the side. The Gypsy Queen began to maneuver to rescue the survivors, while the Shark sailed to close the gap on the Santa Barbara.





As Turn 7 started the commander of the Santa Barbara realized that in his attempt to close the range he was standing into danger that he would have been safer to stand off. The attempts to reload the 9” bow gun continued while the Shark made a critical hit on the Santa Barbara’s wheelhouse - reducing her speed. To the relief of her captain, the Santa Barbara ended the turn just out of the range of the grappling hooks of the Shark. The Blacksnake circled around behind the Shark, attempting to pick up the survivors of the Crocodile before closing on the stern of the Santa Barbara and attempting to board her there. The Gypsy Queen was saving the swimmers from the San Pedro, and took several hits on her crewmen from the small arms on board the Blacksnake. (Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg continued in her tradition of being a bullet magnet, as she and Miss Hunt were both wounded at this time.)



Effect - the Blacksnake catches a 9" shell! 


In the exchange of small arms fire as the Shark and Santa Barbara passed each other, the Shark took the worst of it. The blast of fire from the two swivel guns on the bridge of the Santa Barbara, as well as from her marines that killed or wounded a third of her crew, while her return fire had no effect.



The Shark tries to close to grapple 


Turn 8 resulted in the Gypsy Queen sailing off to the east with those she rescued, while the Shark headed for shore intending to beach and save the crew. The Blacksnake and the Santa Barbara circled about each other with the Blacksnake firing her remaining 12lb gun into the Santa Barbra, while the Santa Barbara – still reloading her bow gun – fired back with her swivels and small arms. Each vessel lost several crewmen in this exchange.


On Turn 9 the datu of the Blacksnake lowed his sails and used the abilities of his oarsmen to effectively spin the vessel in place so she could keep on firing her bow gun at her foe. The Santa Barbara continued to circle but opened the range out of the Bolo’s small arms. The Gypsy Queen continued to steam to the east, while the Shark, hugging the coast moved in the opposite direction.



 The Santa Barbara escapes from the Bolo's


The 9” gun on the bow of the Santa Barbara roared once more and hit the Blacksnake, causing no less than three critical hits!! However it was decided that the crew must have forgotten to insert a fuse in their haste, as all three of the critical hits turned out to roll up as no effect. However the waterline hit on continued to do its damage, and the Blacksnake lost its rudder as well as started sinking.  The datu of the Blacksnake announced he would be heading to shore, while the captain of the Santa Barbara decided he would continue to open the range – at least till the process of reloading the 9” was finished.




All in all the game lasted about three and a half hours. All agreed that it had played out well, and had been closer than it had seemed at the time. Had the Bolo’s managed to grapple the Santa Barbara, their numbers would have overwhelmed that ships crew in short order. We will be trying the rules again soon, as our various gunboats have arrived on station, and will be jockeying for position.


Oh, yes, the captain of the Santa Barbara has decided to ask for some additional weapons for his stern, as well as some rapid fire weapons. Things got a little too close for comfort there.


And meanwhile – our Company of Adventures continues to sail on down the coast toward even more interesting tales, while nursing Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg back to health.



For my colonial campaign somewhere in the South China Sea’s, I wanted to have a native tribe patterned after the Moro’s of the Southern Philippines, which I named as the “Bolo’s”. I picked up a number of More figures from Old Glory and Tiger Miniatures to use for my natives, but also needed some native boats for them to man. After all, any self-respecting group of coastal raiders needs to arrive on the scene in their swift fleet of light craft, so that they can pour ashore and terrify the locals.


I looked at constructing them myself, but then realized that there was an easier solution. In the Old Glory Shipyard’s section, there is a 28mm line entitled “Gunboats and Galley’s”> Among the vessels I found there were two interesting ships, the first being “GG004 Dutch Kanonjolle” and the second being “GG005 Dutch Kanunslup”. Both of these were Dutch coastal vessels what could be converted into my war canoe’s, giving me a smaller boat with a single firing gun in the case of the Kanonjolle, and a slightly larger craft with a pair of forward firing guns in the case of the Kanunslup. The smaller craft could hold a mixture of 25 men, while the larger boat could hold 38 men.


War Canoe1 

The Crocodile (ex Kanonjolle) bow on view at sea. (Borrowed the eyes from my grandchildren's craft supplies)


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The Shark (ex Kanonjolle) quarter bow on view at sea.


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The Shark (ex Kanonjolle) stern quarter view at sea.

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The Shark (ex Kanonjolle) running under bare poles by use of oars



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The Shark (ex Kanonjolle) running under bare poles by use of oars




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The Sea Snake (ex Kanunslup) stern view.


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The Sea Snake (ex Kanunslup) underway by oar - bow quarter view.


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The Sea Snake (ex Kanunslup) underway with sail - stern view.






 Puerto se Santo Catherine from the Sea

Tom Reed - serving as Count Sonofavich lurking in the background 



An Incident at Puerto se Santo Catherine


Back-story: Somewhere south of the Philippines in the reef filled Celebes Sea lays the semi-mythical Islas del Amazon, so named for the tribe of female warriors who are said to live on the islands. Supposedly in the middle stages of the Mexican War of Independence, General Joaquin de Arredondo – a Spanish General who taught a young officer by the name Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna everything he needed to know about surprising rebellions – decided to teach a group of rebels a lesson. The men of all ages, with the exception of a few skilled artisans, were executed en masse. The women and children, with the few surviving men, were then shipped off to the Philippines to spend the rest of their life in servitude. However the flotilla transporting them to Manila never made it there, and it was assumed that they were lost at sea.




Eastern Defenses of the Village


In reality the ships were wrecked on the Islas del Amazon, and the surviving women rose against the Spanish sailors who had lorded over them on the long voyage across the Pacific. They killed off all who had been unjust to them, and set up a new society in which the women served as the defenders of the homeland, and the men served as the producers, either as farmers, fishermen or artisans. They discovered a number of mineral deposits on the island, including a supply of precious gems, and managed to provide the majority of their needed items. Their location was difficult to find and the Amazon’s were careful to limit their contacts with the outside world to a trusted few traders (mainly Chinese) with whom they did business. Above all else, the Amazon’s saw no reason to subject themselves again to the rule of a foreign flag.


Recently the Amazon nation has some under attack from two different foes. The Bolo’s, a Moro like maritime tribe, have started to raid the Amazon nation from the sea. The Helanders, a Pathan like hill tribe, have also started to move into the Islas del Amazon’s in search of new lands to occupy. Though both the Bolo’s and Helanders share the same religious background, they are members of different warring sects and are usually unwilling to work together. The combined attacks by the two groups have resulted in the Amazon nation to start looking for outside help.


Accordingly, they have asked one of their trusted outsiders, one Corto Maltese, to bring an outside group to visit their lands. Using his contacts in the world, Corto Maltese has invited a number of noted female scholars and male journalists to travel with him to the Islas del Amazon, and so our story starts……


Puerto se Santo Catherine

Some time, 189???



        Eastern Gate defended by European Explorers


The game was set up with six players, three Bolo, one Helander, one Amazon and one Explorers (Corto Maltese and friends). Briefings for the sides were as follows:


Party Make Up: Two bands, each of 12 figures. Most figures are armed with swords – leaders carry a flintlock pistol, one to three members have rifles. Figures with a red dot on stand count as Juramentado.

Move, Fire and Close Combat As: Deverish – In addition, figures marked as Juramentado melee as Fuzzy Wuzzy swordsmen, can not be wounded, and take two hits to kill.

Special Rules:

 1. Bands carrying ladders lose 1 D6. Once a ladder is placed, on following turns 1 D6 of Bolo’s can climb over the wall. If in close combat during this time they count as being on top of the wall or barricade.

2. If they intend to take prisoners, they must announce it before melee occurs. If defender rolls a 1 or a 2, and loses the melee, they are considered captured instead of killed.

Victory Conditions: To take the village, capturing, as many prisoners as possible and capturing as many weapons as well, and above all, make sure that they collect more then their hereditary enemies the Helanders do.



 West Side of the Village - note swivel gun on tower at corner



Party Make Up: Two bands each of 12 figures. All figures are armed with jezails.

Move, Fire and Close Combat As: Pathans.

Special Rules:

1.  Bands carrying ladders lose 1 D6. Once a ladder is placed, on following turns 1 D6 of Helanders can climb over the wall. If in close combat during this time they count as being on top of the wall or barricade.

2.  Each band has a box of dynamite for blowing down a wall section. The box must be placed next to a wall section and two D6 rolled. On a roll of doubles, the charge fails to go off and must be rerolled next turn. On a roll of seven, the charge goes off prematurely, and all figures with 6” must check to see if they are hit – roll for being hit by an artillery piece at close range. On any other roll the wall section is removed.

3.  If they intend to take prisoners, they must announce it before melee occurs. If defender rolls a 1 or a 2, and loses the melee, they are considered captured instead of killed.

4.   Count Sonofavich is a Russian “advisor who has brought the two enemies together to attack the village. His mission is to cause an international incident that will allow future French Russian activity in this area. If any member of the Explorers group sees him from the village, his cover will be blown. He carries a revolver and counts as an officer.

Victory Conditions: To take the village, capturing as many prisoners as possible and capturing as many weapons as well, and above all, make sure that they collect more then their hereditary enemies the Bolo’s do.




 Bolo's Rush the West Side of Town



Party Make Up: One leader, and two squads each of a leader and seven riflemen. In addition, there are three unarmed Amazon leaders, as well as there are others who can operate light field (Swivel) guns or replace members who are killed or wounded. There are a number of peons in the village, but they may only defend themselves in close combat.

Move, Fire and Close Combat As: Boer’s

Special Rules:

1.  There are a number of light field (Swivel) guns, which can be emplaced about the town. The minimum crew is one Amazon, and the maximum crew is three Amazons. These weapons have a short range of 18” and a long range of 36”. For each crewman present roll three die. These weapons may be moved, but can not firing while moving.

2.   Amazon riflemen who are killed or wounded can have an unarmed Amazon pick up their weapon and take their place. They must move to the place where the other figure is to pick up the weapon.

Victory Conditions: Recently the Amazon nation has come under attack from both the Helanders and Bolos united - for the first time in history! Prior to this it has been possible to play off one group against the other. You have called on the services of Corto Maltese, one of the few outsiders (and males) whom you trust to bring them individuals from the outside world to make a case for help. However they fear being taken over by a colonial power so they are not willing to call for military aid from a nation at this time.

Your mission is to survive – there are other Amazon villages down the coast – if worse comes to worse, you need to evacuate the village by fishing boat and sail off to safety.



 Our group of explorers check out the village



Party Make Up: Corto Maltese, 4 female members, four male members

Move and Fire As: British – All figures are armed with revolvers and fire as officers. Corto Maltese has an automatic pistol, so his ROE is 3. (The Amazon’s refused to let you visit carrying any sort of long weapons, hence your limitation on rifles and such.)

Close Combat As: Colonials

Victory Conditions: You are a talented group of Victorian individuals noted in your area of expertise, writing, painting, science, etc. You were invited by Corto Maltese (whom you know from other adventures) to make contact with a group of “Amazon’s” somewhere south of the Philippines in an area unclaimed by any power. You have arrived at one of their outlying villages to find them under attack by other local tribes. You need to make contact with the Amazons and convince them of your good will and prove to them that they can be supported from the outside world.

If you can save the village or villagers, and have half or more of your party alive to bring word of their bight to the outside world, you will have a victory to add to your laurels!!



 Here they come - Bolo's rush the West Wall of the village 


The game started with the explorers ashore and the Amazon’s and peons scattered about the village, including the fields’ outsides the walls. Two fishing boats and a sampan were docked at the wharf, along with Corto Maltese’s launch “the Gypsy Queen”. The village came under attack from the east and west side – with two groups of Bolo’s attacking from the west of the village, and one group of Bolo’s and the Helanders attacking from the east.



 The Bolo's are Here !!!


Each of the Bolo groups advanced with a scaling ladder, while the Helanders put their trust in the dynamite that they carried to beach the walls. The scaling ladders slowed down the Bolo’s, while the Helanders advanced using cover. The Amazon’s manned the swivel guns at the northwest and northeast corners of the building, as well as at the main gate into the village. One squad of Amazon’s armed with rifles moved respectively to the east and west wall, while the Explorers formed two “flying squads” – one male and one female. The ladies moved to cover the gate on the east side, while the men remained in reserve in the village square. The peons caught outside working the fields managed to make it back into the village ahead of the invaders.


On the west side of the village four bands of Bolo’s rushed the walls, and started to see some success while taking light casualties. The Purple clan managed to scale the wall by the northwest tower and entering the second floor – trapping the swivel gun crew on the roof above. The Yellow clan pushed over the center of the wall, driving the Amazon squad back into the village square. The Dark Green clan managed to get a special action card that helped them to scale the wall near the harbors edge, but their backup clan (Fuzzy Wuzzy’s filling in for a missing unit) lost their leader to fire from the northwest tower.


The Helanders stop to loot and take captives 


The swivel gun crew at the northeast tower fell back into the village as the Helanders advanced. The Moro’s on the west side lurked in the fields being unwilling to dare the swivel gun guarding the main gate. When they saw the Helanders advancing with the dynamite, they decided to drop their scaling ladders and follow in their wake. One group of Helanders were able to dynamite a wall section on the north side of the village, while the other group advanced on the east wall – trading shots with the Amazon riflemen defending a building in the center of the wall.


 A group of Helanders dashed through the breached wall, and captured four village members, and then took shelter in a house, which they then proceeded to loot.  The Bolo Light Green clan following them found themselves in the middle of a street – facing a group of Amazons at the end of the street. Another breach was blown on the east wall, with the Helanders letting the Bolo Red clan to charge ahead of them into the Amazon fire.



 Helanders cheerfully allow the Bolo's to charge first into the defenders fire!!


At this point the village defenders were pressed back into a defensive perimeter with one infantry squad holding a house, with a swivel gun on the roof. Another swivel gun was in the tower overlooking the square, where the remaining Amazon squad was clustered at the end of the street. The explorers formed two “mini” squads, with the men holding the flank of the Amazon unit while the female members guarded the approaches to the dock.



 Street Fighting as the Bolo's Close In 


Just as it seemed it was over for the defenders, the attack collapsed. The Helanders withdrew from the attack, carrying off their plunder and captives and leaving the Bolo’s to continue the fight. At the northwest tower, the Purple clan was unable to charge up the stairway and overrun the gun crew on the roof – who were unarmed except for their gun tools! After falling the third of their attempts to close – the clan routed out of the tower when they failed to recover from a pinned morale roll. The leaderless clan found itself unable to advance forward and milled around the wall. The Red, Yellow and Light Green Bolo clans charged the defenders in the town square, and found themselves driven back by the combined fire of the Amazons and male explorers. The Dark Green Clan charged toward the dock, but was repelled by the pistol fire of the female defenders there, though they seriously wounded two of the four defenders with their return fire. In the end, the Bolo attackers fell back out of town, cursing the Helanders who had left them alone against their foe.  Only the Dark Green clan left the village with any loot, the other clans had only casualties to show for their efforts.




The Last stand of the village defenders, just as the Bolo attack was driven back! 

Note S. Crane seated next to the fountain and F. Remington painting the scene 


For the Helanders, it was a very good day. Their casualties had been light, they had some captives and loot to take home, and their pockets were full of gold supplied by the strange “off islander” who had supplied the explosives that had breached the wall. And best of all, the dammed lowlanders – the Bolo’s had been left empty handed.


For Count Sonofavich, the “off islander” the first steps had happened in his long-term plan to forward the interests of Mother Russia. European blood had now been spilled on the Islas del Amazon, and calls to aid the endangered Amazon’s would sound resound through the “civilized world”. Another attack or two might be necessary but the time would come for the Czar to send troops – and establish a Russian base to the north of Australia!


For the Amazon’s and the Explorers, they had managed to survive the attack with the end of each other’s arms. Some trust was established, and it was judged acceptable to forward the explorers on to the next Amazon town. The injured members would both recover from their wounds, but the seriousness of their situation was impressed on the Explorers.


Game Comments: The Action Deck worked well, and the game  went well all things considered. More command stands for the Bolo's are needed so that each player has an extra command group. The Juramentado's never got into melee, as Bolo players used their extra lives to "soak up hits". The next game I may group all the weapon armed Bolo's into a squad, as well as the Juramentado's.


Back to the Painting Table – and on to the next game!!!


From the pages of the Singapore Straits Times:


 Group shot

 Group Photograph of Company outside Hotel - unknown figure in back ground


“Company of Adventurers to the South Seas Vanishes”


One of the more extraordinary groups to individuals to meet here at the crossroads of the world here in Singapore has gathered under the roof of the Sarkies’ Brother’s bungalow (the so called Raffles Hotel). Calling themselves the “Company of Adventurers to the South Seas”, they have arrived here publicly, and then disappeared in private.


Present in this company were the following citizens of the world:


From London: Lady Hermione Plumpton, Author and artist as well as a supporter of the Suffragette Movement;


From Edinburgh: Sir Arthur Briggs-Stratton VC, junior son of the family that owns the famed Scottish engineering company, late captain of the Rifle Brigade, late Member of Parliament representing Perthshire for the Liberal Party, social reformer.



Lady Hermione Plumpton and Sir Arthur Briggs-Stratton VC


From Paris: Monique DuMontmartre MD, holder of a degree in medicine from the Sorbonne, explorer and expert on tropical medicine.


Also from Paris: Francois de la Mer, a former officer in the French Navy who is now a faculty at the University of Paris and senior lector in the Department of Anthropology. Noted for his research on the various cultures of Mexico and Central America, and the five books published on his work there.


Monique DuMontmartre MD and Francois de la Mer


From Berlin: Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzburg, who currently holds the first Doctorate Of History granted to a woman by the University of Berlin, and who specializes in the study of Revolutionary Movements during the Napoleonic era. She had served as a lady in waiting to the Kaiser’s sister, Princess Viktoria-Luise, and is a noted expert with firearms.




Reichsfrein Lisle von und zu Obersalzbur 



From the United States of America: Frederick Remington, noted artist of the American West in multiple mediums, military correspondent, expert on the American west and Mexico.


Traveling with Mr. Remington and also from the United States of American, Stephen Crane, author (Red Badge of Courage and Maggie, A Girl of the Streets), and correspondent for various American newspapers.


Last, another American, Miss Helen Hunt, daughter of noted American writer and activist Helen Hunt Jackson, from the University of Chicago with a degree is some new science known as Sociology. Miss Hunt has worked at the “Hull House” in Chicago and is said to be an expert on how various societies organize themselves. Her mother’s work, A Century of Dishonor, was a scathing indictment of the treatment of the American Indians by the Government of the United States, and she has hopes of following in her mother’s footsteps.



 Miss Helen Hunt, Frederick Remington, Stephen Crane


As most of the members of this group have admitted to not having a personal acquaintance with each other prior to their meeting here in Singapore, this reporter thought it was very odd so see them gathered here in Singapore.  As mentioned, they have referred to themselves as The Company of Adventurers to the South Seas, but have never mentioned as to where in the “South Seas” they were headed.


In fact, the majority of the members of the group were rather tight lipped about their reason for gathering here, with only Mr. Crane being willing to discuss their purpose over a set of series of gin and tonic’s at the Bar. However as Mr. Crane kept insisting with a straight face that the purpose of this group was to go investigate a so called tribe of “Amazon’s” somewhere in the “South China Seas”, this reporter was unable to find out just what their purpose was in the area.


Whereas the various members of the party publicly arrived in Singapore by different ships from Europe, Africa and Asia, they departed together under mysterious circumstances. It was reported that they left Singapore in company of one Corto Maltese, a sailor of some renown, in his launch the “Gypsy Queen”. However the luggage of the party was noted as being forwarded to SS Innisfree, a tramp steamer with a less then stellar reputation. No further information is forthcoming on this topic as of yet, however the Times promises to keep its viewers abreast of matters as they happen.

Greg Novak