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.


Some time in March, 2010, I set up a miniature version of the Second Anglo-Afghan War battle of Ahmed Khel, fought in April of 1880.  The terrain was relatively easy, since it was just a road and a bunch of typical Afghan/North-West Frontier rugged hills.  Doing some research for this game got me thinking about the fact that the 130th anniversary of the Battle of Maiwand was coming up on July 27th, 2010, approximately 4 months down the road.  For some reason known only to the gods of miniature warfare, I made a unilateral decision to create nice looking terrain and complete armies for Maiwand in time to refight the battle on the day of its 130th anniversary.

As anyone familiar with the battle knows, the problem is that the key terrain features were a wide ravine and a trio of secondary, interlocking dry watercourses, known in local parlance -- or at least what passes for local parlance in 19th Century British military nomenclature -- as NULLAHS.

Not having a sand-table and not wanting to have one, to my knowledge this left me with only one way to create something close to "realistic" looking, semi-diorama quality terrain for the game: carving the ravine and the three interlocking nullahs out of styrofoam insulation boards.

Although I have created a decent amount of decent-looking miniature terrain over the years, I had never done anything close to this scale and in fact had never created a single "terrain board" in my life.  But for better or worse I did not let that stop me.

This blog is a (probably over-dense!) record of what followed...

-- but before I let you return to it, I have to THANK a bunch of people:

First is CLARENCE HARRISON of QUINDIA STUDIOS.  Clarence has no idea who I am but his incredibly well-produced website gave me hope, inspiration and a great deal of hard and fast, practical guidance for how to proceed with building the terrain for this project.

This is a LINK to Clarence's DESERT TERRAIN BOARDS page.  At the bottom of that page you can link to the home-page of his site, which includes gorgeous photos of his terrain as well as very practical instructive tutorials on how he creates it:


There's another person I have to thank who I have not met in person -- yet.  His name is Nick Stern and I met him on The Miniatures Page and he really helped keep my enthusiasm and confidence going throughout the months of somewhat strenuous terrain construction.  The plan is for him to come from his home in Northern California to my home in Southern California and take part in the 130th anniversary game.  I hadn't really though of it before but my now several-months-old friendship with Nick -- the first of its "forged over the internet" type for me -- is certainly the most surprising and probably the most valuable thing to have come from this project.

Everyone else I have to thank I have known in person for years.  First is my wife, who has not left me despite the many hours I have spent alone or with others in the garage, struggling to recreate in somewhat exacting detail a dusty, barren plain in 19th Century Afghanistan.

Second is all three of my children, ages 7, 10 & 13, each of whom has helped a great deal, carving foam, gluing sand and pebbles and painting textured ground-cover.  Knowing that the boards bear the marks of their helpful handiwork makes those boards that much more beautiful to me.

Third is my close friend and fellow gamer, Matthew Rigdon, without whose helpful hands and -- in particular -- sharp eye, the boards would not look as good as they do.  After I finished the final highlight dry-brush on the first board, Matthew surveyed it... and spotted a problem that was keeping it from looking as good as the little 2'x2' prototype "Research & Development" board we had previously tested the paint scheme out on.  We reworked the paint scheme and it turned it out looking even better than the R&D board had.

Fourth is GAMER-X, who shies from being identified to the world at large.  Gamer-X took it upon himself to fabricate the village of Mundabad and Khig and the somewhat famous "Walled Gardens" of Khig, wherein some of the men of the British 66th (Berkshire) Regiment made their last stands following their retreat from the field of Maiwand.  Gamer-X had very little experience fabricating miniature buildings but volunteered to lend his assistance in a big way.  A former resident of the Greater Los Angeles area, he is scheduled to return and be present for the 130th anniversary game on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010.

Last but not least are 2 non-gamers, without whom fabricating the terrain for this big Maiwand game would not have been possible: my good friend, MICHAEL CUDLITZ, who helped me manage all the Masonite for the terrain boards with his pickup truck and the table-saw in his garage -- and my thoughtful and considerate neighbor, BECKY YATES, who was generous enough to lend me her SHOP-VAC and allow me to hang on to it past a reasonable time-frame!  Without it I could not have cleaned up after myself in the garage while carving Mundabad Ravine and the three nullahs.  They get their names in lights because not being miniature wargamers themselves, they had nothing to gain from helping me, other than my sincere thanks!

Since I was 15 or so and read Colonel Leigh Maxwell's excellent book, "My God--Maiwand!" around the time of the 100th anniversary, I've been somewhat obsessed with this battle.  This blog site chronicles  what I imagine will be the final expression of that obsession.

Most of it concerns the construction of the terrain boards, the largest and most difficult of the various tasks required for the game to be pulled off.  There will also be bits and pieces about the history of the battle and about the figures that make up the armies being used, especially a few special "conversions" done to create particular historical figures who fought on the original Maiwand Day.  Then, after July 27th, there will hopefully be a blow-by-blow narrative of how the game plays out.

As you may already have realized -- based on the little blurb just below the title of this blog -- the rules we'll be using for the game will be THE SWORD AND THE FLAME.  I have been playing them since just before reading "My God--Maiwand!" and, in my own humble opinion, have yet to find a better set for colonial miniature battles.