SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored. I would also like to mention George S. Mills, who kindly furnished a quantity of metal and plastic figures which allowed me to complete another five or six military units, serving in several collections.

Monday, 26 December 2022

CIVIL WAR in RURITANIA

Set in the central European kingdom of Ruritania in 1870, this is a small action involving the armies of Crown Prince Rudolph and his half-brother Prince Michael. Now, it must be said, in the original book, and in all the subsequent films that have been produced under the title 'The Prisoner of Zenda', all sympathy and allegiance has been given to Rudolph. After all, he is the rightful heir to the throne. However, the original book acknowledged that Michael was actually more popular with the population. Indeed, it is clear he always carried out his state duties with energy and dedication. While his idle half brother preoccupied himself with shooting anything with four legs, and consuming the nation's grape production. So, for a change, I openly declare my allegiance to my namesake, Prince Michael the Dark, the man that will truly serve the Crown and People of Ruritania, or die fighting in their defence!

Aware that his half-brother was gaining in popularity and might just threaten Rudolph's control of the treasury, and not forgetting the palace wine cellar, the Crown Prince ordered those regimental commanders he still trusted to meet him at Zenda Railway Station. From there, he would personally lead his army against the Castle of Zenda. and destroy all potential opposition to his rule. 

But Good Prince Michael had friends in high places, and forewarned, he called upon those that honoured his late father, the King, to join him at Castle Zenda, where, God Willing, the dignity of the realm might still be saved. By the way, the original book also confirmed that Michael was the more popular son of the late king!

MOVE ONE. The train arrived with Rudolph and his White Guard. Here, he took command of four battalions, and a company of artillery. There was a slight delay in their moving off, however, when Rudolph resolutely occupied the station's cafe.

MOVE TWO. Prince Michael hurriedly deployed two loyal battalions, and his own cavalry regiment to the South of Castle Zenda. He ordered the fearless Count Rupert to hold the castle, with the Zenda regiment, and an artillery piece. A band of armed farmers and smallholders also demanded that they should be allowed to aid Michael in his honest cause, and promised to give Rudolph a bloody nose. Michael thanked them for their support. 
MOVE THREE, Rudolph's advance picked up pace. Some of his Jaeger (grey/green) surprised Michael's own regiment (buff/red), but inflicted no casualties. MOVE FOUR saw the partisans surprise the rear of Rudolph's main force, and inflicted a casualty. While skirmishers in the front of the main force now exchanged casualties. There was also the first artillery round fired, on Michael's infantry. 
MOVE FIVE saw Rudolph's infantry (blue/blue) suffer further casualties from the partisans, but not much else. MOVE SIX saw the infantry charge the partisans behind a high hedge, suffering further casualties in their charge. But they made almost equal slaughter of the partisans in the subsequent melee. No one could blame the partisans for now scattering. MOVE SEVEN confirmed that over half the daylight had been expended, and Rudolph's main force were still bogged down in the highway. Time was now against them, night fighting or a siege was not part of the plan. Rudolph decided to cease firing his gun, and ordered a general advance. MOVE EIGHT brought more bad news, his skirmishers on his right flank had suffered two casualties from the castle gun and some kind of multi-firing rifle contraption. He also received word his jaeger were nearly down to half strength. If they broke, what next would follow?
MOVE NINE. Crown Prince Rudolph ordered his troops to retire back to the railway station, where a supply of grape juice had been stored for him, purely for medicinal purposes.
CASUALTIES
Rudolph's Army suffered nine casualties out of fifty-five. Michael's army lost two infantry and three partisans out of fifty-two. (This was a fun game, and my first outing for my Ruritanian collection. Had to borrow some artillery crew from other collections, but all the others are based on uniforms seen in the 1952 film starring Stewart Granger, James Mason, Deborah Kerr, Robert Douglas, and many other great character actors. 
MGB

12 comments:

  1. That is a lovely looking game with great scenery and figures. I like how you converted Airfix Germans.

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    1. Hello Q, if I may, the figures are small, Chinese copies of Airfix. Picked up a load of these 50mm figures in a box of 300+ toy soldiers, for only a few quid (£5.50 delivered?), and they work perfectly with the smaller lead castings that Crescent and others occasionally produced. Just didn't want to waste them, so I raised a distinct 50mm collection. My Airfix Germans are actually serving in my WW2 collection. Some Chinese stuff has gone very poor, lately, but these are probably 1990s copies.
      Michael

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  2. The casualties are extraordinarily low. I assume that target shooting is not a big part of Ruritanian training.

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    1. Q. My simple rules are dominated by morale, You need a six on a dice per three shooting at a target in cover or skirmishing. So routing normally outnumbers casualties by 3 to 1. Still, Rudolph lost about 18% in this fairly minor action. See the numbers increase if a cavalry unit charges a routing unit in open! ground, might take out 3-4 in one move! Michael

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  3. A stirring report and a beautiful looking game! I confess I am not familiar with Ther Prisoner of Zenda (indeed, I find myself wanting to type 'Zelda') but I will seek out the 1952 version of the film now!

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    1. Hi John, I must confess, the 1952 Prisoner of Zenda is not a war film, but it does include all the political intrigue that so often in history led to dynastic struggles. If you then assume the distinctive uniforms worn by the leading personalities are those of actual units, and combine them with the uniforms worn by guards, in various stations, there are about fifteen military formations in Ruritania, If I'm not the first to recognise the fictional potential of the book, I have made the 1952 film my principal source. (And I just love all the great actors that starred in this production, too!)
      Michael

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  4. A beautiful game Michael, the figures and scenics look great! Excellent use of the train too! I join John in knowing nothing about the film, but you have piqued my interest!

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    1. Thank you, Brad. I should also have mentioned, some critics attacked the 1952 movie as not keeping to the original work. I think this is somewhat unfair, as the movie is really a composite of two books, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA and the sequel, RUPERT OF HENTZAU. So several major adjustments had to be devised. But its still a thrilling production, and I love it! Its as far as I go towards fictional wargaming. But do note, its not really a war film, I've just ignited a political fuse.
      Michael

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  5. Replies
    1. Cheers MJT. I have always loved the 1952 film, now I can field the characters on my gaming table.
      Michael

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  6. I like the look of your new setting , hoping to see more .

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    1. Hi Tony. Its very much a fun collection, and includes a fair number of Grade Two plastics, but linking them to this film for source information still gives it some weight. IMHO.
      Michael

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