20mm Rif War 1919-1926


October 21, 2017 by wargamerchris

I am an unabashed fan of the work which Richard Baber has done over the years – particularly his work on introducing so many of us to the Rif War.  Did I know that El Raisuli was an actual man (Rather than Sean Connery).   Where else could I model the Spanish Foreign Legion – having already painted many figures in 2009-2010 for the Spanish Civil War, I found this period irresistible.

This guide is available via Too Fat Lardies site, and comes HIGHLY recommended!   To say it is COMPREHENSIVE is an understatement.  It includes a tremendous level of wargamer detail as well as historical overview.

Picture 4

It had so many features of a classic project for me:

  1.  There are no 20mm Rifian figures – requiring innovation and modelling
  2. Obscure history books unfold stories I’ve never heard of.
  3. Great historical figures (Franco, Raisuli and a host of Riffians)
  4. An endless number of long-odds battles consistently balanced between victories and defeat.
  5. A long colonial border with French and Spanish ambition and policy changes creating lots of interesting history.

For rules, I went in a new ‘old’ direction for these games.  I wanted a fast play set of rules which still had enough detail to keep players interested.  I settled on using Rapid Fire with a player coalition vs Rifian blinds.

Rifian Blinds Mechanism:

You can see some of the 3″x1″ blinds in the pic below – they are simply textured rectangles with a number on the bottom.  The Rifian forces were listed on a roster, and their quality and number in each unit varied.  The blinds included an equal number of ghost blinds.

The terrain was set up as below with the Legion desperately trying to reach the village where the colonists were being held.  Then the blinds were placed in likely (or unlikely) locations along the route.  The randomization of the blinds meant that the tribal defenses could be rock solid, or ridiculously bad, with no one knowing when the game started  When Spanish forces came within sight of a blind it was replaced with the unit from the roster, or dismissed if it was a ghost.

This was a dead simple system, but it led to a lot of fun for the players, and I found it a satisfying way to keep the tension in the colonial game.



Another view of the terrain below.  The road network was important to the Spanish players because they need their tanks and vehicles to punch through and get to the colonists.

You can also note the fortifications and wadis which were key elements of the defensive capacity for the Rifians.  Modeling a large amount of wadi on a  convention table led me to use Worldmaker terrain river pieces and fill them with sand.   I’ve seen some better techniques since then, but it worked.


Another view from the West – with the village just visible in the upper right.


The Spanish objective – the colonists were held by a unit of Rifi in the village.  The scenario gave the players a set number of turns to get to the village.


Here you can see the column in its 1920’s might form – the Spanish purchased FT-17 tanks from their French neighbors and put them to good use throughout the conflict.  Here you can see the Moroccan Tabors in the front, with Spanish Legion on the right an left flanks.    (These are the same troops that would cross into Spain for the Civil War a decade later.)


Harder to model than the legion and Rifi were the Spanish regular infantry.   They wore round hats and there really isn’t  a ready made figure for them – beyond a very hard to find set of poorly cast crumbly plastic figures from BUM they released.

I used a mix of 20mm Spanish Civil War figures for the legion and the Tabor as well as for some of the Rifi.  I also used some French colonial 20mm from B&B as well as some of the excellent ‘generic’ colonial packs from Newline Designs.


I realize now I don’t have all the pictures from the game yet – but will add when I find them.



The Spanish tercio on the right ran into a captured Rifian field gun


Richard – nice work.  This is really interesting history which you brought to life.


3 thoughts on “20mm Rif War 1919-1926

  1. Great photos – thanks for the kind comments and plug 🙂


  2. Great photos, thanks for the kind comments and plug 🙂 Richard


  3. Pete S/ SP says:

    Great looking game- I like the blinds idea- will have to try something similar myself.

    It seems a very interesting period. May just have to pick up the TFL supplement.




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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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