15mm Tonkin Wars – French colonial troops vs. Black Flags in Indochina


June 5, 2017 by wargamerchris

One of the periods I’ve been building over the past four years has been the French colonial campaign in Indochina at the end of the 19th Century.   This period is interesting to me in part as a component of the history of the French Foreign Legion.  It’s a compelling study as the sources are somewhat scarce in English – though many great photos exist as well as very compelling paintings….  Google it!

Here are a few pictures from our first game several years ago:

cropped-img_20211.jpgIMG_2020IMG_2017IMG_2018IMG_2019The French faired somewhat poorly in this game – the Battle of  Hoa Moc.  The French are breaking through a line of Black Flags forces to relieve a besieged garrison.

A young French player commanded the gunboat and the landing force, and he was utterly sunk by an older commander of the junks….

Figures are by Old Glory, Frontier, Irregular, and a handful of others in there I’m sure.  This game is interesting because the Chinese ‘intervention force’ watched the battle without participating…

A couple people asked about sources – my touchstone is The Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885.



The game was played with Battles for Empire 2 – a nice, straight forward colonial mass battles rules set.  We have edged toward Black Powder as of late, but very pleased with how these rules play, and we’ve used them for Sudan, Abyssinia, Maximilian in Mexico, Boxer Rebellion etc.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss the historical sources/ rules etc.  I have many pictures somewhere – I’lol post them as I find them.IMG_2022IMG_2024IMG_2025





8 thoughts on “15mm Tonkin Wars – French colonial troops vs. Black Flags in Indochina

  1. William Langville says:

    I am interested in your historical sources, rules, scenarios, figures and pictures. Please send me an e-mail. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Geoff says:

    I am interested in rules or rule adaptations for this interesting theatre of war


    • Geoff – we have used Battles for Empires II for the most part. Black Powder has worked too. The Black Flags were pretty formidable and rarely fled the field so rules may need to reflect resiliency.


  3. Geoff Coe says:

    My main interest is in some of the earlier Vietnamese wars of the 19thC but am anxiously looking forward to a new Tonkin range in 28mm, thanks for the info


  4. Geoff Coe says:

    Could you let me have the various basing sizes?


    • Geoff – sure. These are 15mm base sizes. For black flags/ Chinese banner units each base is 1 inch square/ 25mm. The French and annamite tirallieurs and other drilled troops are 3/4 × 1 inch. Cavalry stands are two figures also on a 1 inch square base.


  5. Chris says:

    Looks superb. Glad to see that you are enjoying my rules. All the best.


  6. Hi this is a Great Looking Battle. Would love to do this. I already do Indochina 1940s 50s You have done a super Job!
    Grey in USA


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Small Soldiers

I’m a father, soldier, wargamer and traveler. This site is for my kids and to share my work over half a lifetime musing on the history of warriors and the portrayal of their efforts in miniature.  I’ve never really known why I do this

Wargame Rules

Rules I’m gaming with now:

Lions Rampant/ Dragons Rampant
Black Powder
Age of Eagles/ Age of Valor/ Fire and Fury
Force on Force/ Ambush Alley/ Ambush Z!
Hail Caesar
Command Decision: Test of Battle
Battles for Empire 2
Pride of Lions
The Sword and the Flame

Rules I’m Considering:

Sword and Spear/ Sword and Spear Fantasy
Regimental Fire and Fury
Open Combat
Chain of Command
Sharpe Practice 2
Wilderness Wars
Test of Honour
Field of Battle
Pike and Shotte (Warlord)
General de Armee (TFL)
Flames of War – Vietnamese/ WW2

Rules I still need to find to make my life better:

15mm Napoleonic mass battles rules (holy grail)
15mm War of the Spanish Succession mass battle rules
15mm Zombie mass battle rules


Command Decision Test of Battle Forum:


Din of Battle:


Henry Hyde’s Site:


Dan Mersey – author of a couple of rules sets we like:


Miniature Addiction:


Wasatch Front HMGS (Journals):




Big Force on Force (Great modern gaming)


Last Stand Dan:



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