Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

BACK TO THE FUTURE (a hint of things to come...)

Greetings to all my fellow travellers in the Miniature Wargaming Blogosphere...

I'm calling this post "BACK TO THE FUTURE" because it involves the near-future completion of a big project, which said project is set in the past, so it seemed like an appropriate title!

Well, it's been a long time coming.  I've been whittling away at this stick of mine called "Terrain for the Battle of Charasiab" for... well, a long time.  I think I officially decided to build it soon after my family moved houses and one of my closest military history & gaming friends visited Los Angeles and I moved my old wargame ping-pong table (which was in the garage at my old house) into my home-office and set the terrain for the Charasiab scenario up and got to play something like one turn before the friend of mine had to leave.  Arghhhh!  A painful memory even lo these 3 years later.   Yikes -- three years!  That's kind of crazy.  Maiwand took me a little over three months to build, and that was all from scratch, using no pre-existing terrain pieces.  The terrain was big but it was all very simple, involving not one single hill or mountain.  Plus I had a lot of help from gamer friends and from all three of my then much younger children.  But I built my Maiwand terrain five years ago, and as every parent knows, five years makes a lifetime of difference in terms of childhood activities.  From time to time the kids have helped me out on pieces of the Charasiab terrain, which I'm thankful for, but they are far, far busier with their own school-work and extracurricular activities -- sports, art, debate, "mock trial", etc. -- than they were back then.  My son will be leaving for college in August, my older daughter is almost done with her Freshman year of high school and before too long my younger daughter will be a teenager.  My son has gone from a boy back in 2010 to a young man.  Apologies, as none of this has anything to do with the Charasiab terrain, but somehow looking back on these past three years during which I've been working on it, I can't help but reflect on other things as well.  My amazing wife remains supportive of my hobby activities.  There are qualifiers to that support when she wants something done and I'm busy trying to recreate c.1880 Afghanistan, but I'm the first to admit (here, though perhaps not always directly to her at those times!) that at most of those particular moments she is not being at all unreasonable.  I kind of work like a maniac at my career, and she believes that my hobby helps me maintain my sanity, and ability to keep plugging away in the face of occassional professional adversities, and in this I think she is a very wise woman, as well as a very beautiful, charming, and intelligent one.  Anyway, on to the -- very happy -- matter at hand...

Today took me by surprise.  I wasn't at all planning for what happened, which is that today I could finally see the light at the end of the Charasiab tunnel.  It may be weird to refer to a project I chose to build for myself as a "tunnel", but I'm sure at least some of those reading this can relate to my use of the term.  It doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying my time in this tunnel, or that I would want to somehow "escape" from it, it just means... it's been a long road, and I am excited at the thought that I may finally be getting close to seeing the finished product of all this time and effort come to life on the table, where I'll at last be able to share in its enjoyment with my friends and fellow wargamers.

Nothing is finished yet, but today I painted the bottom of the Talab Khairabad -- the Khairabad Marsh or Swamp, and I think it turned out pretty well.  I also received an email from Chris The Model Maker containing pics of the as yet unpainted three villages which will serve as the villages of Charasiab, Khairabad, and Hindiki (aka: Hinduki or Indiki).  As to be expected, these look amazing.  The larger village which will serve as the Northern edge of Charasiab includes two water-mills, and the two smaller villages include one water-mill apiece.  The three villages can also be combined together to seamlessly form a larger village containing four watermills.  The name "Charasiab" is generally understood to mean "Four Watermills," so I'll be able to combine the villages  if I ever want to adjust the battle and have the British occupy Charasiab and be attacked by the Afghans, or even if I just want to take some pics showing the Kabul Field Force advancing through it en route to their starting positions, for a historical narrative of the battle.

At the same time as these happy developments, I realized this blog reached 75,000 hits, was visited by a computer user in 120th different country, and signed up its 130th follower.  I'm very grateful to everyone who visits from each and every corner of the globe.  If not for you, maintaining this blog would be a very lonely experience, and one which I would have given up long ago, so THANK YOU again!

I'm not going to post a ton of WIP pics of building and painting the swamp, or of all the many experiments I've been doing in preparation for tinting and pouring the resin I'll be using to fill in the three river boards and the swamp board.  Trust me, those posts with their standard complement of several hundred pics will come in time!  Right now I just want to post a handful of pics to give you a glimpse of what -- hopefully -- is to come here at "Maiwand Day," over the next few months.  I hope you enjoy them...

The swamp basin below will be largely be filled with green
reeds/swamp grass like that seem in the river test piece above...

Two board missing on the left or Western edge of the table, but here's the middle and right end...

This is NOT an Afghan building, but it fit so well with the swamp I had to take a pic...

Saved the best for last: here's a few of the WIP pics from Chris The Model Maker
(built but still unpainted), NOTE: canal pieces are separate & movable...


Spurred on by the progress shown above, I cleared off the desk in my office, moved it adjacent to the ping-pong/wargame table, set up the full 6'x12' Charasiab lay-out, and took a couple of Panorama shots:

A few things will change from these pics to the finished version:

(1)  the three small Mexican villages will be replaced with new Afghan versions;
(2)  I'll finish the road system so it's made entirely of latex caulk road sections, custom-made to fit this layout;
(3)  I'll make more latex caulk crop-fields, including some poppy fields with red "course flock";
(4)  finish adding green reeds/swamp grass to the Logar River and Khairabad Marsh;
(5)  a big one: finally pour resin into the three river boards and one swamp board;

...and last but possibly not least:

(6)  maybe convince myself to build a 6" deep x 30" long x 18" high mountain piece to fit between the East bank of the Logar River and the East table edge.  The question with this one is being unsure how much it might interfere with moving figures around near that end of the table.  For now it's still a possibility.


  1. Thanks, Alan!

    Right now it's a bit of an "empty shell" of a swamp, to be filled in first with many clumps of reeds and then with olive-tinted resin "water", but I'm glad to hear you are already impressed with it! Hopefully it will look even better when it's all done.

  2. Three years is a long time! You're dedicated, that's for sure - and we of the blogosphere appreciate it, as we watch the project taking shape in such a marvelous way.

  3. Mad Guru, Once again, you have outdone yourself. The river treatment is awesome! I too am a Huge fan of Chris the Model Maker. He does some amazing stuff. I can't wait to see your game in all it's glory in NO at Colonial Barracks this year!!!! Hmmmm, now the only question is which side to play???


  4. Thanks, AJ, and thank you, Jeff!

    Jeff, you're right about it being a tough choice: one of the things that appeals to me about this Charasiab scenario is how both sides should have a real chance to win, thanks to the very strong defensive positions the Afghans occupy, in addition to them outnumbering the Brits 2:1.