Wiliamsburg Muster 2017

DSC_0012The club participated as we always do in another Williamsburg Muster.  Though this one was different in a number of ways.

The Convention itself was held over Memorial Day Weekend (May 26-28) rather than its usual time in February.  It was not just a wargaming miniatures convention, but rather reached out to our local board gaming and roleplaying game communities to help expand the convention into a greater or more universal gaming convention, and lastly, it was at a new venue, The Doubletree here in Williamsburg.

The hotel was a great improvement, and one attendee stated that “it was nice to have a hotel with hot and cold running water for a change”.  If you attended last year’s Guns of August you will know he wasn’t entirely exaggerating!

The convention was different for the club as well.  Chris had planned on running some games but his business demands (The Phalanxe Consortium) and his convention duties got in the way.  He was present as a vendor of course as well.  Poor Peter found himself laid up at home with an injured back.  This left me to carry the Legati flag as far as running games and reduced the number of games supported by the Legati in years past.

My first game was intended to be a “Big Chain of Command” game, using TFL’s expansion for multiple platoons.  It was based on a scenario for Mud and Blood in an older TFL special, “Midnight at the Oasis”.  This was part of our ongoing commemoration of the World War One centennial.


Only two players wanted to participate, however, and so the game turned into “regular” Chain of Command with just two of the original four platoons.  One of our long lost Legati, Andrew Frantz participated and gained victory with the Turks holding the supply depot.

I also provided two 7TV games.  Both were set in 1970s London and played on the same table.  That made it far easier for me to run two games on Saturday, but it also gave me the opportunity to show off the versatility of the game.


The first game was “The Beat” a gritty London detective show involving a security van robbery.  The game was undecided.  The criminal firm successfully pulled off the heist but the Met did manage to nick some of the baddies including one of the stars.


The second game was a more outlandish spy-fi game.  Department X was escorting a VIP when attacked by the mysterious SHIVA. Al and Kerry played and the VIP was safely delivered.

Overall the convention seemed successful to me, and the new venue has a lot of promise.

Until next time Cheers,





‘Affair’ at Le Cateau- 100th Anniversary of World War One

As part of the 100th anniversary of World War one, the Legati group decided to present at least one game a year commemorating the action that took place. The first of these games was a refight of the 1914 “Affair at Cateau.”
Exactly 100 years ago to the day, British troops were retreating from Belgium through France under the leadership of General Smith-Dorrien – World War One had begun. For this game we focused on an action of the British II Corps, who are retreating towards le Cateau closely shadowed by the German First Army. On the 28 August during the Battle of Le Cateau, German cavalry contact the retreating British near the village Moy in Cerizy, a small ‘Affair’ is about to breakout. Luckily, a plucky British journalist was on hand to record the events with his trusty camera.
Sides were: Peter taking charge of the British retreat, and Clay managing the German advance on the village of Moy. The game opened with British troops retreating down a small track winding through the French countryside towards the small village, with the objective of holding off German forces until they could regroup.



On turn one the British went first, and the infantry retreat continued. Other British forces remained concealed awaiting the German advance. On the German turn, three platoons of dismounted cavalry marched in formation across the rolling hills with the objective of taking the village. On their right, mounted German lancers on the road caught up with the British stragglers and melee ensued.


The British held the lancers off well, and on the next turn they were able to disengage and withdraw to the cover of hedges along the roadside for protection. At the same time, a British gun began opening fire across the small valley into the densely packed German ranks across the way.


This British artillery fire was not enough to make an impact though. The German ranks seemed to shrug off the gunfire and marched merrily on their way to Moy.


Meanwhile, the German lancers on the road charged again into the British infantry. This final assault finally witling the infantry away into a disorganized rabble.


Turn three opened with the German cavalry identifying the gun’s potential disruptive effects on the German advance, and so with few men they bravely charged uphill onto the undefended British gun. British troops stoutly defended the gun not willing to give up their lives without a fight. Meanwhile the German dismounted cavalry continued their march on across the hill towards their objective. One their right, one platoon disengaged and moved down onto the road.


On seeing this, the British turn opened with a charge of the 12th lancers, out of cover and down the road bringing the fight to the Germans. Unfortunately for the lancers, their charge did not come off as expected. The Germans, no-doubt stirred by their fellow’s success, proved a better than expected foe, and held the charge.

Final turns, were again better than expected for the Germans. Another squadron of 12th lancers charged out of the trees into the German left but failed to make a significant impact, before being pushed back by a hail of bullets from the remaining platoons of German dismounted cavalry. On the road the British lancers’ charge had also failed, and another withdrawal was made, allowing the Germans to advance. Weiter nach Paris! (Onwards to Paris!)

Overall, the game bucked the lessons of history and playtesting. In play tests the game had unfolded exactly as the real battle, the British lancers were just enough, and held the Germans back from their objective of taking the village. So it was a surprise that the Germans defeated the British this time, and all credit must go to Clay and his Germans for changing the course of history! Rules were Trench Wars by Old Glory Corp, a “beer and pretzels” quick play rule set that allowed the game to flow without being bogged down in page-turning. Although as the title suggests, the rules are not designed for open warfare, they seemed to match well the rapid ebb and flow of cavalry action in the French countryside. Lots of positive comments were made about the armies and terrain, and Clay was kind enough to say he really enjoyed the game. Forwards to the trenches!

Guns of August 2014


      Once again Williamsburg Legati did what it could to support our local Williamsburg conventions.


     Chris and family were present with their company The Phalanx Consortium, and were actively promoting Skirmish Sangin and the related Radio Dish Dash products.

The Phalanx Consortium Table

The Phalanx Consortium Table


     Chris also ran two Demo games on his beautiful Afghanistan board, one in the evening both on Friday and Saturday.

Coalition Troops in the irrigation canal

Coalition Troops patrolling the irrigation canal



Afghans in the poppies


    On Saturday afternoon Peter offered his Mons game.  This was a Trench Wars game based upon one of the actions at Mons in 1914 and his the first official game of our clubs commemoration of the centennial of World War I. The scenario has German lancers pursuing a column of retreating British tommies while the rest of the German forces try to take the town.  I did get some pictures to share with you but for some reason the  were completely black when I loaded them onto the computer.  I will try to get some pics from peter to share with you all here.

    I ran two games.  The first was Friday night. this was a Sharp Practice game set in Spain.  Members of the 60th American were being chased by the French 4th Dragoons.


Peter moving his forces

       Peter and three others played in this game.  The British were so successful that they managed to make their objective (driving away the enemy and the get off the board) before the larger threat of French men even arrived! 


Dragoons enter on the first game

      All players agreed to a second game however with a few alterations one of which was to allow the reinforcements to arrive earlier!


Rifles defending the farm

Rifles defending the farm


    This alteration made the world of difference.  the game unfolded much like the first, though with more British casualties than the first.  However just as they left their cover and made their run for the board edge, the Dragoon reinforcements arrived!




     The Dragoons ended up dismounting and chasing the rifles off into the hills and away from their objective. for a French victory!

    My second game was Friday evening, and was a Fall of France World War Two scenario using Chain of Command as the rules.  Again with four players, the Germans were of the advance with orders to drive the french away from their positions on the outskirts of Etalle in Belgium. 

The board before the battle

The board before the battle

    The Germans held the initiative through most of this game though the French very valiantly repelled an assault for the farmhouse on their left.

Germans moving through the trout stream

Germans moving through the trout stream

      Perhaps cocky from their victory on the left, the French squad on the right tried to assault the other farm house.  Here it was the Germans who proved victorious.  The French realized that they had suffered to many causalities and they chose to fall back leaving the Germans victorious.

French men supporting the assault

French men supporting the assault


    Now we are back to are usual Wednesday night schedule until the next convention in February.  See you all at Williamsburg Muster!





No Pasaran!

Last weekend was another Williamsburg Muster and as usual Williamsburg Legati Attended and ran some interesting games.   First a demonstration of Radio Dish Dash’s new game Skirmish Sangin on Friday, followed my Chain of Command Espana and Chris and Peter’s beautiful Ronin game.  I will leave it to others to report on those games though I was in some way involved in playing a;ll of them!

While scenarios set in the Jarama campaign of the Spanish Civil War is not something new for me, the rules were.  Chain of Command is an excellent set of skirmish rules by Too Fat Lardies.  As is common with their games the rules revolve around the leadership abilities of men on the ground.  Unlike most of their games which are card driven, CoC relies on rolls of command dice.  too Fat Lardies has very generously provided several PDFs for free to back date the game to actions of the Spanish Civil War.

The scenario, based upon the Republican counter attacks of Feb.23 and 27 1937, pitted a platoon of the Lincoln Battalion against a platoon of the Army of Africa.  Primarily this was a platoon of Spanish Legion though it was brigaded with some Moroccan Regulares.  In part that was because it was frequently done and in part because I was lacking a Section of La Legion figures.

On of the more unusual aspects of CoC is the “Patrol Phase”.  this is a phase prior to the start of the game which represents the effect of scouting and intelligence gathering from both sides which serves to create the position of the front lines for a game.  In this scenario, described in the rules as an “Attack and Defend”  The defenders begin with their Patrol Markers placed 18 inches into their side of the table.  The attacker then rolls to determine a number of free patrol marker moves before entering into the usual alternating on side to another.


   The Nationalists held a small farm  along the road, the Republicans were advancing through a wood line and attempting to drive the Nationalists back.  The IB began approaching through an olive orchard on the left of the Facist rebels. There they discovered strong resistance from the elite Legionnaires but their steadfast determination whittled away the Nationalists numbers.


   The Republicans were supported by a Machine Gun Company firing barrages from off board and a Soviet supplied T26 tank.  the tank approached up the road but found a safe spot far from the action just below the bridge.  here it was safe from the Petrol bombs carried by the Moorish scouts which were about the limit if the Nationalist Anti Tank capacity in this scenario.  The tank did what it could to help the 1 section’s advance.015

   On the Nationalist right however things were unfolding quite differently.  Two of the larger squads of the Legion held the farmhouse and were engaged in quite a firefight with communists and close range in the pig sty.  One squad was pinned and nearly destroyed.  Only the presence of their capable Sargeant prevented them from breaking.

   The Nationalists took advantage of this circumstance to send their section of Moors into close combat.  Leaving the shelter of the farmhouse the charged into the communists but thanks to their brave Sargeant, not to mention the presence of the Company Commisar and a light machine gun the moors were repulsed.


  Unfortunately it was about here that time allotted for our game ran out.  I called it a draw though I suppose I could have given victory to the Nationalists as they still held their positions at game end.


      I should mention, just for the point of honesty, all the photos on this page are reconstructions.  I had my camera on the wrong setting for the game itself and all the original pictures were therefore badly focused.  I guess that makes these a re-enactment, or perhaps just propaganda as was so common in the Spanish War.

Viva Republica!

Mimi and Toutous Grand Adventure

Williamsburg Legati plan on commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Great War by sponsoring several games at the local conventions (Williamsburg Muster and Guns of August) as well as Historicon.  With this in mind a number of different scenarios representing the different fronts, different scales of miniatures, and different scales of conflict have been agreed upon.  One rather interesting conflict that has been chosen has been the little known Battle of Lake Tanganyika.

Germany’s wealthiest African possession at the beginning of World War One was German East Africa, but the war threatened the Hun’s hold on the place.  Surrounded by the colonies of her enemies, the Belgians, Brits, and Portuguese, German East Africa only had contact to the outside world through the Indian Ocean. Most of its Western border with Belgian Congo was marked by Lake Tanganyika. 

Lake Tanganyika is one of Africa’s great lakes.  It is the longest freshwater lake and the world, as well as the second deepest and second in volume of water. It empties through the Congo river system into the Atlantic.   Lake Tanganyika varies between 20-40 miles east to west and 420 miles long north to south. Naval superiority of the Lake was crucial.

At the War’s start only a handful of powered vessels could be found on the Lake.  These were small, mostly steam driven vessels engaged in various commercial activities.  Most of them were shipped in pieces from wherever they were built and reassembled upon arrival at the Lake.

The largest of these was the  Alexandre Delcommune.  In August of 1914 this 90 ton Belgian steamer founder herself uncomfortably birthed in the German held port of Kigoma.  Due to confusion regarding the neutrality of the Belgian Congo the Germans allowed her to leave on the 6th

AlexandreDelcommune                             Alexandre Delcommune

Worried by British Naval attacks at DaresSalaam and by a shortage of fuel, the Germans scuttled the  ship Moewe which had been ordered to raid commerce in that vicinity.  30 of her crewman under the command of  Captain Horn went to  Kigoma to destroy the Alexandre Delcommune.

Horn took a commercial vessel the Hedwig von Wissman armed her 4 37mm pom pom guns salvaged from the ill fated Moewe and began to patrol the Lake.Hedwig von Wissman

Hedwig von Wissman

Some debate remains over who fired the first shots on the Lake, but on August 22 the Hedwig fired upon the Delcommune damaging her boiler and stack and forcing her crew to ground her to prevent a complete loss.  Control of the Lake was now firmly in the hands of the Germans.

     Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck ordered the remaining  crew and the Moewe‘s former Captain Zimmer to take control of the the Lake region.  Zimmer made his headquarters at Kigomi do to its rail connections.  The German fleet now consisted of the Hedwig von Wissman, the steam launches of the Moewe, a few Schutztruppe and government boats brought from the harbour in Daressalam , including the petrolboat Peter, the motorboat Benz of the German East Africa Railway Company, and  most notably the 20 ton patrol boat Kingani.



The Hedwig and Kingani as well as a raft carrying the larger guns of the Meowe continue to sink any vessels they find that might be large enough to be armed against them.  they are also responsible for a number of raids attempting to finally destroy the Delcommune.  Finally several crates holding the parts of the Graf von Goetzen a small 1200 ton ship arrive.



The Force Publique Commandant of the region Commandant Goor calls for aircraft, submarines and torpedo boats to solve his crisis.  He receives the Netta.  Netta was a motor torpedo boat sent to Tanganyika without torpedos.



Britain also responds.  A professional hunter, African adventurer and poacher John Lee devises a scheme.  If two fast petrol boats can be acquired and fitted out with superior weapons, and transported in one piece through the Congo,  they can win back the Lake.  The idea is communicated to the Admiralty and after consulting with the Belgians, Admiral Sir Henry Jackson approve the plan with the words,  “It is both the duty and the tradition of the Royal Navy to engage the enemy wherever there is water to float a ship.”  Two forty foot long boats are acquired. Made byt Thorneycroft for the Greek Air Forceto serve as seaplane tenders.  Both are fitted with a 3 pounders and a Maxim machine gun aft.  Trials on the Thames proved that the 3 pounders were to much for the vessels and would break free or capsize the boats if not fired directly forward!

Mimi or TouTou                                          One of the two Thornycraft boats

The trip from the Thames to Albertville was so difficult and unlikely that neither the Belgian Allies or the Germans who learned of the attempt gave it much credence.  Remarkably however, carried by a number of different conveyances through many difficult circumstances the boats did after several month arrive.  The story of their travel is itself quite an adventure but to lengthy to describe here.  A very good account of it may be found in National Geographic Magazine written by a man named McGee who accompanied the expedition,  the boats arrive and are on the water by the 23rd of December 1915.

Some mention of the commanding officer of this unlikely “circus” must be made.  Lt. Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simson had so far had far less than a spectacular naval career.  An accident in a destroyer caused a collision with a launch that resulted in a death.  Another vessel under his command was torpedoed while its Commander was “entertaining Ladies” in a hotel.  At the time he was appointed to this expedition he was commanding a desk, responsible for transitioning Merchant Sailors into the Royal Navy.  He was by many accounts a lying and arrogant man and developed a penchant for wearing skirts.  Spicer-Simson attempted to christen the two motor launches Cat and Dog.  The Admiralty flatly refused so instead they were named Mimi and Tou-Tou.  Later their commander would admit that the names were simple French Slang for Meow and Bow-wow.


Spicer-Simson semaphoring from the foredeck of the Netta

As mentioned above, the Germans had heard of the intention of the British to bring these boats to Albertville, but they were more concerned with Belgian intentions to assemble the 700 ton Baron Dhanis.  After three failed attempts to get close enough to the new harbour at Albertville to investigate, they finally sent Lieutenant Rosenthal ashore to gain intelligence.  After failing to meet his rendezvous with the Hedwig he is taken prisoner by the Force Publique.

Rosenthal quickly learns of Mimi and Toutou and recognizes tha they are the greater threat than the only partially built Baron Dhanis.  The Belgians permit him to write to the German headquarters at Kigoma.  Rosenthal writes a secret message on the letter in urine to inform the Germans of the new threat, but the letter is not received and deciphered until far to late.

On December 26th, just three days after the British vessels arrive, the German patrolboat Kingani steams by to again investigate.  The Mimi and Toutou with the Netta as a tender race out to meet her. Realizing that the Kingani’s 6 pounder cannot fire to her rear, Spicer-Simpson orders the vessels to stay in her blind zone.  the Kingani‘s Captain Lt Junge is killed and all but two of her seven man crew are killed or wounded when she is forced to lower her colours. The Mimi takes her as a prize but not before accidentally ramming her.  She sinks in shallow water before being brought safely back to Albertville.

The Germans received intelligence from spies amongst the natives that Kingani was sunk by Belgian shore battery fire.  In February reports of increased Belgian naval activity and still not certain of the fate of the Kingani, Zimmer sent the Graf von Goetzon, the Hedwig von Wissman and an unkown small steam boat to investigate.    At Kungwestock on the German side of the lake the flotilla divided its courses.  the Hedwig was ordered to steam to the report site of the Kingani wreckage and would then reconnoiter with the Goetzen at Lukuga to destroy whatever threat the Belgians had there.

Unbeknownst to the Germans, the British had raised the Kingani, repaired her hole and moved her 6 pounder aft, and installed one of the 12 pounders serving as shore a battery forward. SpicerSimson renamed her the Fifi which he explained was french for tweet tweet!

On February 9 after failing to find the wreckage of the Kingani, the Hedwig was spotted by the allies.  Fifi and Mimi and a Belgian river barge called simply the Dix-tonne, began to pursue.  The Toutou was laid up having been damaged.  The Hedwig originally steamed directly at them, but then came about and started to run.



Hedwig was slightly faster than Fifi and began to pull away from her but much slower than Mimi.  The later very carefully stayed to the rear of Hedwig, avoiding her larger bow gun and staying out of ranger of her aft gun.  Hedwig kept tacking in hopes of getting her forward guns to bear and this action allowed the slower Fifi to catch up with the fight.  Putting her 12 pounder to work, harassing the fleeing German.  Down to her last few shells, Fifi scored a hit on Hedwig’s boiler stopping her in her tracks. Captain Odebrecht ordered her to be scuttled and the crew to abandon ship, who were then picked up by the British.
Lt Commander Spicer-Simson found a German ensign floating in the wreckage and by doing so is credited with capturing the first one of the war.

Upon learning of the loss of the Hedwig, Zimmer requested that the Kingani‘s sister ship Wami and the Adjutant be transferred to Lake Tanganyika.  This request was honoured, but neither of them would see action.  Fearing land action, Zimmer also reinforced the defenses at Kigoma which included removing all but one pom pom gun from the Goetzen .



Spicer-Simon proved unwilling to confront the larger Graf von Groetzen, and instead began to apply himself to supporting land actions. A stalemate began with Spicer-Simson refusing to enter into offensive actions and Zimmer unable to.  The Germans began to place more importance upon their land war and finally in July Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck ordered Zimmer to pull back from Kigoma.  Goetzen unable to retreat or defend herself was scuttled.  She would later be raised by the British and continues to ply her trade as the Liemba, the last reminder of the days of Spicer-Simpson’s circus.

Liemba                                                                       MV Liemba

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