Thursday, 15 February 2018

How to obtain a copy of ARBM

Welcome to A Right Bloody Mess aka ARBM.

ARBM is a self published source book for gaming in an alternate 1930s Australia. It covers the lead up to the Australian (civil) War which starts in April 1933, and the major factions involved. It is a similar concept to A Very British Civil War.

The book is 282 pages, full colour, cloth-bound hardcover with dust jacket. It is designed to sit on the shelf beside the wonderful tomes of the 1970s by likes of Donald Featherstone and Bruce Quarrie.

It retails for A$80 / £45 / US$63 / €51. 

As it comes direct from the printer, shipping is very reasonable. Postage is A$10, £3, US$4, €4. This covers up to two copies. After that postage double for up to ten copies. By way of comparison, Australian postage would be A$18 if I was to do it. 

Copies of ARBM can be obtained from Eureka Miniatures or directly from me, the author. My email address is:

Happy Gaming,


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Generous Review on Lead Adventure

A Mr wharfedalehome (possibly not his real name) has left a review of ARBM on the Lead Adventure forums that I would like to share: Direct Link to Review

His comments are very generous and I would be lying if I was not extremely flattered. As well as the link above I have pasted his review here. I hope others find the book as valuable.

(Author of ARBM) : If you are interested in obtaining a copy, I can contacted here.

wharfedaleme     Re: Australian Civil War or "A Right Bloody Mess"
« Reply #91 on: January 26, 2018, 01:44:49 PM »

This is a book review of A Right Bloody Mess by Matthew Clarkson. I don’t normally write reviews of, well, anything. I think that if a product is good enough it should sell itself. I know that in an age of mass media and image building this is very much a minority view. So be it. However I think that A Right Bloody Mess (ARBM) is truly exceptional and deserves acknowledging and widespread exposure - hence the review!

The book blurb elegantly and succinctly summarises the entire book for me, so I quote it in full:

Welcome to A Right Bloody Mess, an alternate history of civil war in Australia during the 1930s. A Right Bloody Mess provides you with everything you need to know about the first year of the Australia War, the events leading up to the crisis and its participants. A Right Bloody Mess is a plausible, alternate-reality sandbox environment bursting with historical detail. Created by a wargamer for wargamers, this volume is full of comprehensive information about Australia in the early 1930s and the factions involved in the conflict.

These are ambitious claims I think you’ll agree. But the truth is, Matt delivers these and more with style. OK, enough of the effusion. Here’s the nitty gritty:

Title: A Right Bloody Mess
Author: Matthew Clarkson
Price: £45 / A$80 + postage (you need to ask for local rates as it varies considerably)
Publisher: self published, Australia 2017
Distributor: or direct from the author at:
Importer to UK: None at present (but it really deserves somebody to get behind this exceptional product)
Support & Information: from the author at:
Format: hard back, 6” x 9” (your regular hardback book size).
Pages: 275 pages (there is probably more information in this one volume than has been published on all of VBCW in 10 years. OK, this is not a competition, I’m just trying to give you an idea of what you get for your money).
Quality: professionally bound, with colourful dust jacket, beautifully printed on semi-gloss sepia paper (gives it a very 1930s feel), lavishly illustrated with hundreds of images (troops, models, flags, equipment, interesting places, personages, maps, plans – you name it)
Contents: The contents are broken down into 6 sections:
Section 1 – An Overview of the Australian War (background on Australia in the 1930s, the constitutional crisis over funding that provides the “what if” trigger [ie: like the Edward Abdication crisis in Britain for VBCW] that led to the kidnapping of New South Wales’ Premier, Jack Lang on 13th May 1932 by the New Guard [ie: the “what if”], and what subsequently happened)
Section 2 – Australian Armed Forces Pre-Secession (a breakdown of Australia’s army, navy and air force in the 1930s including their equipment and weapons, details of civilian weapons and equipment that could be pressed into service)
Section 3 – Descent Into Chaos (commentary on the factionalisation that led to war, how troops might be organised equipped and uniformed, model figures that you can use or adapt)
Section 4 – Faction Guide (a long and imaginative list of factions that you could organise anywhere from the towns of New South Wales and Victoria to the outback of South Australia or Westralia. Factions cover left wing union and political groups, state organisations such as police, criminal gangs, right wing extremists as well as immigrant groups and more)
Section 5 – Wargaming ARBM (using and adapting miniatures, useful rules to model ARBM, setting up scenarios and campaigns, how to play skirmish, platoon ands regimental sized games, how to add roleplaying elements, two fully fleshed out examples of Factions from Section 4)
Section 6 – Additional Information (the use of Morale and Quality in an Aussie setting, Primitive 30s technology, raising Militia units, taking the history beyond the opening year of 1933, designer notes, useful links)

This is a work of love by Matt and a real thing of beauty. It is an inspiring, fun and intriguing wargame book on a believable, exciting and new campaign. So if you want to know what happened to Jack Lang, figure out who are the New Guard, want to lead the Australian Light Horse into battle or fancy tooling up an old roadster and screaming across the dusty tracks of the Big Red then get this book. Read it and you’ll be hooked, trust me. It’s like VBCW meets Back of Beyond with a dose of Mad Max thrown in. If you think VBCW is a little unhinged and jolly good fun then your Kangaroos will be loose in the top paddock when you’ve read ARBM.

Once in a generation a wargame book sets new standards. ARBM does this and more with it’s novel approach, its exciting ideas and its bravura performance. For me this sits up there with the best - Featherstone's and Bath’s early stuff of the 60s and 70s. Go on treat yourself, you’ll be pleased you did.

Monday, 5 February 2018

The NSW Riverina - A Major Hot Spot

Shelldrake has started a thread on the ARBM War Room, over at the VBCF, that looks at the importance of the Riverina area. Here is the link: Riverina Information

Shelldrake has been very generous with sharing the information he has found, some of which is new to me. If you are prepared to look there are some real gems hidden in the archives. Ideas for new factions or scenarios can be generated by a few searches through the newspapers of the era.

My post (below) shows why this is the epicentre of conflict in 1933.

Here is a lot of information on the Riverina Movement in the 1930s:

 Riverina Movement - Charles Stuart University

This was used as the basis for the faction within ARBM. The area's extremely strong desire for autonomy from NSW (and Sydney in particular) made the alliance with Victoria so plausible.

The most interesting event is not contained within my book as it happened in August 1933, and did not fit my timeline. A Royal Commission was convened to determine if NSW was too large to be effectively managed as a single state. It recommended that NSW be split into three parts, one of which was the Riverina Area. The Government in is usual wisdom decided to ignore the advice. With the departure of Lang and improving economic conditions, the Riverina Movement and the royal commissions findings slipped into obscurity.

In the context of ARBM, the NSW Riverina is a major hot spot and one of the most interesting areas within which to game as every major faction is represented in some way. You have the following:

  • The Riverina Movement and its supporters. To them its homeground.
  • Local groups within the region opposed to any move toward independence or who desired to retain the connection with Sydney and NSW.
  • Victoria, who effectively invade northward into NSW, offering the Riverina area statehood within the Victorian nation.
  • NSW had just been invaded by Victoria. Naturally, such a slight could not go unanswered.
  • Queensland goes to the assistance of its southern neighbour and ally. While committing troops and equipment they also wanted a degree of control, so integration of forces was discouraged or hampered. NSW-QLD rivalry does not evaporate.
  • Western Australia may wish to assist Victoria, but to do so involves sending men or material eastward via the rail link thru ...
  • ... South Australia, who are allied with NSW but don't want to upset WA or Victoria, their neighbours. The Murray River, the boundary between NSW and Victoria, ultimately flows into SA, bringing with it problems as it is a navigable waterway. In the state's north-east, the population's loyalty would be split between SA, VIC and the Riverina Movement. Just to make things worse, the Trans-Australian railway is subject to raids from the ...
  • ... Australian Red Centre (ARC) who are opposed to WA's secession.
  • Every faction above has a multitude of smaller factions within it, many of which span the territory of multiple major factions. The largest of these are the Union Movement and right-wing organisations such as the New and Old Guard. They are capable of acting across boundaries as its members are spread across the continent. The objectives of these geographically diverse groups may oscillate between assisting the state they reside within and attacking it. Further, these large organisations are far from homogeneous, with sub-factions pursuing their own agendas.

So in summary, YES the Riverina area is a major hot spot for ARBM, particularly in the initial flurry of activity. How the map is drawn  after a year of conflict is for gaming groups to define.

(Author of ARBM) : If you are interested in obtaining a copy I can contacted here.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Historical Information Sources

This is a post I made on the Very British Civil Forum: ARBM War Room. 

It is quite amazing what stuff exists in the archives.

The 1933 Census was one of my primary documents for writing ARBM. I considered a Census in the year I was writing about a lucky coincidence. (Shelldrake generously posted the link to the PDF. 1933 Census He has made a number of interesting posts recently that are well worth reading. VBCForum: ARBM War Room )

The Australian and State yearbooks are particularly interesting if you want to know everything from population distribution to exports and imports for an area. Here is the link to the 1934 Yearbook. 1934 Australian Yearbook. From here you can also get access to the state's yearbooks, except for SA and TAS who didn't produce them till more recently.

If you want to uncover information about the various factions, and probably discover more, then a trawl of the Australian archives provides a vast amount of material collected by the Attorney Generals Department: Investigations Branch and the organisations they morphed into. (The Commonwealth Security Service in 1941 and later Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, aka ASIO in 1949) The files hold official correspondence, surveillance reports, newspaper clippings, etc. Some of which is still redacted, more due to the files being scans of the original paper file rather than being classified. These files provided an insight into the numerous factions that existed at the time and were my primary source for factions presented in ARBM. With the exception of the ARC, which I created, all the factions presented really existed and many were under active surveillance.

Here is the link to the National Archive: National Archives of Australia  If you start by searching on a faction from the book you are interested in you should find something. The New Guard and CPA (Communist Party of Australia) information is voluminous and will provide many nuggets.

The Newspaper archives are also useful if you know what you are looking for. I generally use Trove at the National Library of Australia.  Trove


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Eureka Miniatures, Cancon and Max34

Living 10 minutes walk from Eureka Miniatures means I am able to drop in every month, talk to friends and generally enjoy the wonderful characters that make up our hobby. Nic is always welcoming and always has new greens to ogle at. This combination means that I am able to get miniatures that he has put on to molds but not formally released on the website.

Nic and Eureka Miniatures will be up at Cancon over the coming Australia Day long weekend. Along with many delightful new figures he will also have copies of my Book, "A Right Bloody Mess" for those of you who wish to delve further into the Australia in the 1930s.

 One of his latest offering is the Mad Maximillian range of cars, accessories and figures. These are all 1930s inspired and offer incredible modelling opportunities. There is a corresponding set of rules, Maximillian 1934, abbreviated to Max34, by Ara from Mana Press.

Max34 is a simple and fun set of rules, with the ability to tailor vehicles statistics to match your creations. It is based in the ARBM setting and is a great example of my desire for the gamers to take the ARBM setting where they will.

Here are a couple of cars I have borrowed from the web. These beautiful examples are by Pappa Midnight and show what can be achieved.

Friday, 12 January 2018

2018 is Here (and my 1st International Delivery)

The silly season is over and 2018 is upon us.

The first copy of ARBM delivered outside Australia arrived today, the lucky gent hailing from Scotland. Deliver was 16 days. Not bad as this included New Year. It looks like 3 week delivery times are a good approximate, except for November/December when all bets are off.

So what does this new year hold for me? Truthfully, I have no bloody idea.

  • I have a novel in the planning phase.
  • I need to clean up the games room before my wife gets involved.
  • I would like to play more board games, hopefully dragging my wife beyond Carcassonne.
  • I have three rule sets in development, getting one through play testing would be nice.
  • Keep working on Rommel scenarios for ARBM.
  • Finish my example CoC forcelists for ARBM.
  • Learn IABSM and adapt for ARBM.
  • Paint more.
  • and the list goes on.

Now for something interesting.
An Australian Red Centre mobile patrol late in the conflict. Trucks are armed with German supplied MG-34s.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Right Bloody Mess has Arrived!!!

A Right Bloody Mess has Arrived!!!

Well butter my bollocks and call me Nancy!

After two years of hard graft, A Right Blood Mess aka ARBM is finally here.

So what’s got me all hot all bothered? ARBM provides the wargamer everything they need to understand the Australian (Civil) War, the events leading up to it and the first year of the conflict.

The Australian War starts on the 9th April 1933 with the secession of Western Australia, the Northern Territory (which together form the Dominion of Westralia) and Victoria. Detail is provided about the kidnapping of New South Wales Premier, Jack Lang, on the 13th May 1932 by the New Guard, allowing players to include this earlier confrontation.

ARBM is a sourcebook, with detailed information about the leadup to civil war, the factions involved and their capabilities and resources. Limited information is provided about the first year of the conflict so that gamers may take the setting where they will. It is rules and scale agnostic for the same reason.

The setting is based in fact and most of the detail is historically accurate, including the content and distribution of the armed forces, various factions, armaments factories, etc. This will hopefully allow players to explore the gamut of plausibility from “very historical” to “whimsical.” A good example of the latter is the 1930s cars produced by Eureka miniatures and the complementing Maximillian 1934 rules published by Mana Press.

The book is a 6.1” x 9.2”, full colour, cloth bound hardcover running to 282 page, plus dust jacket. Price is A$80 or £45. Copies will be on sale at Eureka Miniatures or by contacting me at

Below is the Table of Contents to give you a better idea of the book’s scope. The structure of each faction’s information is at the bottom.

Happy gaming,


Table of Contents

Section 1:
An Overview of the Australian Civil War.
The Depression:
New South Wales Crisis:
The Gathering Storm:
Descent into Civil War:
The Australian War:
Alternate versions of Alternate-History:

Section 2:
Australian Armed Forces Pre-Secession.
Australian Army:
Royal Australian Navy:
Royal Australian Air Force:
Civilian Weapons:

Section 3:
Descent into Chaos.
Small Arms and Equipment:
Wargaming Figures:

Section 4:
Faction Guide
A New Australia:
Known Factions 1933:
Dominion of Westralia:
New South Wales & the FCT:
South Australia:
Australian Red Centre:
The Riverina Movement:
Australian’s Labour Unions:
Communist Party of Australian:
Other Left-Wing Organisations:
United Front Against Fascism:
Australian Labor Party:
The New Guard:
Fascists within the New Guard:
The Italian Fascist Movement:
The Old Guard:
League of National Security:
Other Right-Wing Organisations:
The Australian Fascist Party:
The Centre Party:
Blue Shirts:
Silent Knights:
Australia First Movement:
Black Shirts:
Citizens' League of South Australia:
The Establishment:
United Australia Party:
Attorney-General’s Department: Investigation Branch:
State Police Forces:
Societies Underbelly – Gangs and Criminals:
Australian Immigrants and Other Groups:
New Zealand:
Italian Immigrants:
Irish Immigrants:
German Immigrants:
Chinese and Asian Immigrants:
Religions Groups:
Smaller and Ad-hoc Groups:

Section 5:
Wargaming ARBM:
Repurposing Miniatures:     
Potential Rule Sets:
Campaigns and Scenarios:
Company to Regimental Sized Engagements:
Skirmish Games:
Examples of Faction Creation:
Geelong Workers Union:
The Murray River Growers Association:

Section 6:
Additional Information.
Australian Spirit:
Technology and History:
Militia Units:
The Setting:
Going Beyond 1933:
Designers Notes:
Useful Links:

Faction Information:
The information present for each faction listed in Section 4 is
structured in the following manner:

1.   Introduction and Overview:
2.   Military Organisational Structure:
3.   Army:
4.   Air Force:
5.   Navy:
6.   Key Infrastructure:
a.    Mining and Agriculture:
b.    Military Production:
c.     Transportation:
d.    Other Key Infrastructure:
7.   Wargaming the Faction:
a.    Training and Support:
b.   Uniforms and Equipment:
c.    Heavy Equipment:
d.   Primary Allies and Opponents:
8.   Wargaming Figures:

(Note: Not all factions have every section listed above, the
minor factions only have those parts that are applicable to them.)