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"25mm Tonkin 1874 Game" Topic

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507 hits since 8 Aug 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 7:10 p.m. PST

Last weekend I ran a not very successful scenario for our first Tonkin game. It took far too long for the opposing forces to come to blows and when they did the Black Flag troops and Chinese Army were pretty easily driven off. I relearned lessons on running a game that I shouldn't have forgot in the first place: get everyone involved quickly; make sure the victory conditions and goals are clear and understood by everyone; for this particular scenario a pre-determined number of game turns would have helped; as would a better balance of forces. >sigh<

Still, any day spent in the company of good friends is a day well spent. The scenario called for a French column composed of three units of Foreign Legion, two of Sailors, one of French Marines and a Gardiner gun, to march the length of the table, forcing a way up the path leading to Black Flag controlled territory. The French would win by exiting units off the opposite end of the table from which they entered. The Black Flags were to stop the French and destroy as many French units as possible. They were supposed to be aided by the appearance of a couple units of the Chinese Army.
We used a modified, "The Men Who Would Be King." We're experimenting with D12's in the combat system.
Here are some photos of the tabletop pre-battle:


Here, in no particular order, are pics of the game:


All but one unit of Sailors and the Gardiner gun crew are mine. Unfortunately, I left the box containing the French Naval gunners at home so some ACW crew were pressed into service. Most of the figures are from Old Glory's terrific Boxer Uprising line but there are also figs from Foundry, Redoubt and Pulp Miniatures. The Foreign Legion are simply OG French Marines with the anchor on the helmet shaved off and painted in the appropriate colors. My Boxers did double duty by filling out the Black Flag units and although the uniform isn't quite right the OG Chinese regulars did just fine. Tonkin is a ‘side' interest for me and I wanted to leverage as much of my Boxer collection as I could to save money. I know Gringo's is producing a Tonkin line with some beautiful figures but they're much larger than OG and Foundry and more expensive than I can afford on my retirement income. There's not much in English on the Tonkin Campaign but George Nafziger has several interesting booklets on the subject. There's also a couple great chapters on Tonkin in Martin Windrow's book on the FFL, "Friends Beneath the Sands." Highly recommended.

mghFond08 Aug 2019 9:55 p.m. PST

Very nice! Love your collection. I am painting up the Gringo French, Black Flags and Vietnamese right now. And interestingly enough I was thinking of using D12s too for a modified version of TMWWBK.

You probably know this but are limited by your figures but the actual Black Flags were very well armed with guns according to all the French accounts. The Vietnamese might be more likely to have troops with hand to hand weapons however.

Very inspiring post though, be sure to keep us informed of any future battles.

Also interested in what you guys thought of the rules, to me while I like the overall system of rules that TMWWBK is a part of I am worried they will be too far too bloody for good games.

Would love to hear more about your modifications.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2019 7:52 a.m. PST

Nice game. I am also interested in French Colonial. I have been doing North Africa, the FFL and all that stuff. But this conflict is on my list.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2019 11:40 a.m. PST

TMWWBK definitely can be bloody which is one of the reasons why the group with whom I game wanted to make some changes. Using D12's for fire and melee was intended "to flatten the bell curve" if I remember my friend's reasoning correctly. They also wanted Imperial units to "stick around longer" so we're experimenting with 20-figure units for both sides.

Yes, the Black Flags had more firearms than the few scattered among the units in our game. But the limitations of the figures I chose to use in the game and poor scenario design (including terrain) on my part resulted in little firepower for the Black Flags. I'm also wondering if TMWWBK is the ‘right' rules set for my understanding of the Tonkin campaign. Generally speaking, the terrain on the tabletop should have been much more dense. That played a part in how the game played out but I made a decision NOT to put out a lot more terrain. In hindsight, that was a mistake.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2019 3:39 p.m. PST

Back in the early 70s, I had a large collection of the 25mm Indochina minis made by Jack Scruby. I added some Franco-Prussian Sailors to complete the forces. I recall them being lovely, easy to paint minis.

jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2019 4:13 p.m. PST

Wonderful job//Love the look of the game.

Leadjunky09 Aug 2019 8:51 p.m. PST

Looks like a fun game. Nice collection.

mghFond10 Aug 2019 8:10 a.m. PST


I tend to agree with you on the few playings we've done with TMWWBK and Pikeman's Lament, they are just way too bloody. Reading how the French would storm fortified positions in this particular war in the teeth of heavy fire and win with just slight losses, I don't see how we can use these rules.

Getting back to the D12s for shooting and melee, what were the hit numbers?
Example: 10+ on a D12 ?

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2019 10:43 a.m. PST

Here's a book that may be of interest to some. link

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2019 12:33 p.m. PST

Mark, thanks very much for that link on the book!!

mghFond, the hit numbers have been the subject of much debate, as have discipline and leadership values. The Foreign Legion and Marines hit on 9+, the naval infantry on 10+ and the Black Flags and Chinese regulars on 11+. The Legion received +1 on discipline, the Marines and naval infantry +0. The next play test we're designating two BF units as fanatics with a discipline of +1 or +2. I like the simplicity of TMWWBK a lot. I don't enjoy flipping through a bunch of charts and the older I get the worse my memory becomes. But I'm still not sure TMWWBK is what we're going to stick with for Tonkin. That's part of the fun, though, tinkering with the rules, playing the changes and then gabbing about what else needs to be done. grin

mghFond10 Aug 2019 8:16 p.m. PST

Thanks, Ragbones! And I agree with your sentiments. I'm gonna put on my first game with the new collection in late August or early September. Will try to put an AAR up here on TMP.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2019 8:00 a.m. PST

I look forward to seeing it!

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2019 12:28 p.m. PST

Ragbones, your figs and game look great to me! I'm slowly building up forces for this theatre as well. I'm using Old Glory, Castaway Arts, Dixon, Stan Johansen, Askari Mini's, and Gringos, however in separate units due to the size difference. I plan on using TSATF, The Sword And The Flame for the land battles and Gunboat & Dhow! for the naval actions.
Keep posting!!!

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2019 1:05 p.m. PST

SgtGuiness, can't wait to see your stuff in action! Always great stuff!

mghFond11 Aug 2019 1:21 p.m. PST

Sounds great, SgtGuiness, looking forward to it.

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2019 11:43 p.m. PST

Wow, Ragbones, I appreciate your humble self-criticism, but as others have said above, your table and game look fantastic! One question: how did the casualty figures come into play? Do they have significance as game pieces, or are they for purely aesthetic/game record value?

FlyXwire12 Aug 2019 4:42 a.m. PST

Ragbones, fantastic looking figs and great table.

I know absolutely nothing about this period, so exotic looks and units abound!

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 7:32 a.m. PST

Hi Mad Guru, the casualty figures were originally going to be used as pinned markers but since I only have casualty figures for the Chinese we decided to go with the little white plastic tile spacers instead. Since I had the casualty figures there we just used them to show where Chinese and Black Flag unit's took exceptionally heavy casualties from fire and to mark the flow of the game. I don't *think* OG makes casualty figures for the Western Powers figures in it's Boxer Uprising line. I put together that collection when OG first released it, perhaps 25 years ago? Now that I'm retired and spending a lot less I couldn't add a bunch of new casualty figures anyway.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 8:10 a.m. PST

Very nice looking game! I also have a collection for this period, but I concentrated on the siege of Tuyen Quang. I also made a few mistakes in my scenario design. But, speaking from years of experience in the computer game industry, playtesting is the only way to develop a fun scenario. I want to try a more open game of maneuver, like yours, next. Thanks for posting!

mghFond12 Aug 2019 3:25 p.m. PST

Ooh, sounds fascinating, Nick, any pics of your guys?
What rules did you use for the siege?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 3:37 p.m. PST













Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 4:07 p.m. PST

mghFond, here are some photos. The fort is mostly the out of production Old Glory Peking Legation buildings. I picked up the wrong box that morning and so I had to improvise. The fort should have been a third larger. The French figures are mostly old Falcon, as are some of the Chinese. The rest of the Black Flags are Foundry. I started this collection five years ago, before the excellent Gringo figures were available. The Black Flag flags and the French gunboat are Gringos, though.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 4:17 p.m. PST

I used TMWWBK rules. I made the Black Flags and Chinese too good at shooting (it didn't help that one of the Black Flag players mistakenly fired all his units one better than they were) so they were able to dominate the firefight. In the end the defenders made a last stand in the fortified pagoda. The French did have one bright spot, the gunboat rammed and the sunk the junk.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2019 8:38 p.m. PST

Nick, that's a great looking game! I love the fortified pagoda. What a terrific piece of scenery. I also really like that terrain piece that looks like a couple huge craters. Like the Black Flags exploded a mine beneath the position. I also like how you painted your figures. Did you make the junk?

mghFond12 Aug 2019 8:40 p.m. PST

Oh wow, very nice! Looks cool. Great inspiration for me. Like all the ships really.
I have a large Taiping Rebellion collection in 15mm using a lot of the Falcon range back when you could get them.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 4:35 a.m. PST

Outstanding Nick, absolutely beautiful!!! The two of you gents have really set the bar and have inspired me.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 7:57 a.m. PST

Thanks, All, for the kind words. The pagoda was a lucky find at a pet shop: link
It's worth checking out the aquarium section at your local pet shop.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 9:12 a.m. PST

Ragbones, the junk was a resin kit made by an English company, sadly no longer in business. The junks from Old Glory are not a bad substitute and I have one of them as well.

rob polymathsw Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2019 6:09 a.m. PST

Great stuff! I love those Uniforms!

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2019 8:08 a.m. PST

To be clear about the table, very little of the terrain was mine. All kudos belong to Mike, at whose house the game was run. In fact, he's to blame for getting me involved in Tonkin in the first place. grin Mike's got a great eye for color and scenery. He's a master at scratch building and painting terrain.

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