Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Irons in the Fire

My Christmas shopping is more or less done and since I am Chief Cook for Christmas dinner I'm planning a serious dinner for one and all! So some slowdown in painting is to be expected...Though I did get a basic flag designed for the Grolstien forces soon to be rolled out with the Duchess' premier unit of curassiers....(2 squadrons mind you! and in her favorite colors of Carmine no less...) ....She is quite the demanding monarch!

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Imagi-Nations

I'm starting two new blogs today to bring my ImagiNations into being. Please see my Link list for directions.

Many thanks to Jeff and Jean-Louis and everyone on the Emperor and Elector blog for putting the "bug in my ear"...like going down the rabbit hole...but then again, "Alice" was always my favorite story!...the dark side indeed!

Though I must now be sometimes known as Monsieur Michel Dugas, Military Cartographer and Visiting Minister of War and Culture, to the Court of the Königreich der Bleiherzen!

Multi-Pronged Attack

Just a few images this post to let everyone see what I'm up to these last couple of weeks...
I finished 2 ECW artillery guns and crews and here they are on the table.

I had a "winter review" of my 7YW Prussians on the "Speistitschtraße" (the dining table...) to parade my just finished Kurassier Regiment 2 with the rest of the army and just to get myself in the mood to do some more painting...and some thinking on my fictitious nations).

Prinz von Preußen, commander of KR2

And finally I've been toying with names, personalities and flags for my new nations...

Below is a preliminary idea for a typical Liebfannen of the infantry regiments of the Königreich der Bleiherzen (or, The Kingdom of Lead Hearts)
or known by its people as Bleiherzland. I'm still lacking a motto but perhaps our agents in MonteCristo can help with that.

The Bleiherzlanders are folk to whom hunting, woodsmanship, and winemaking are high on the list of life's pleasures and only of late have been swept up in the turmoil of the Seven Years War recently declaring an alliance with Prussia. The formidable Duchess of Grolstein, herself a willing participant in Maria Teresa's vendetta against Frederick's Prussia has of late turned her agressive attentions on Bleiherzland if not to prove her mettle against a weaker ally of Prussia then certainly to conquer a country of seasoned young men who (being in general superb marksmen), might well serve to build up her armies for further adventures in support of the Austrians.

Since the Bleiherzland armies are as yet so small, astute correspondents expect the Bleiherzlanders to initially rely on the newest kleinkrieg methods of warfare (one of their finest young officers, a certain Goetzpeter Gerlach, recently survived a battle in America as an observer on the staff of that unfortunate Englishman, General Braddock) to take full advantage of the more forested countryside of their beloved country.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The "It" Girl?

Could this formidable creature be the Monarch of the world's newest ImagiNation...she certainly seems bellicose enough.... and her appetite for soldiers....mon dieu!...and what unfortunate state is fated to be the target of her attentions! Who knows...perhaps news from our agents before the month is out?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Workbench Teaser

I've been wrapping up my classes and grading this week so not much time for painting. But I have been using the evenings to catch up on all the great blogs I have been following...and have added a couple of interesting new ones today. I'm taking a short break from ECW (The Project) to finish 2 squadrons of Prussian SYW Cuirassiers that I've left unfinished waiting for the inspiration to complete. I have to thank all my blogger friends who are building those wonderful "imagiNations" for getting me to finish these guys...I'm sitting on piles of unpainted RSM figures that I think will become the first units of my own pair of (continually warring) imagiNations so this holiday season will be a great time to jump start that project.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Switch Hitters

I was able, despite a busy week, to get in a bit of painting on The Project so I'm pretty happy. The newest unit of foot represents perhaps a typical local garrison unit and is painted in a more motley color scheme. I didn't model it after any specific historical unit so it will be able to serve on either the Royalist or Parliamentarian side in a given battle depending on the needs of the scenario. I used a colorful flag to give the unit a visual appeal despite the mostly grey/brown/off white scheme of the coats.

The flag would be reminiscent of a thirty years war flag and some ECW flags had horizontal stripes...so I used it to give the "switch" unit some visual punch with the rationale that they might use whatever flag was at hand. I've had good success with just printing out my flags on my HP inkjet and then once they are on the staff (I use UHU glue) I fold them...let dry till they stiffen...then I come back carefully and paint over the printed colors for a bit more intense opaque quality. I've used the flags available on the Quindia site as well as some I've drawn digitally myself. I then lighten the base colors and highlight the outer curves...and I think its a pretty good look, though The League of Augsburg website has some REALLY beautiful flag work done on linen flag material. I've yet to try that but its definitely on my "to do" list.

Also, to my great pleasure, got an order in from Sash and Saber (quickly shipped I might add..) of two guns and crews that will also serve in a "switch hitting" role for either side when they are needed. The S&S guns and crews are really nice and I'm looking forward to adding them to forces. I've got enough figures to make about two more foot units and perhaps another dragoon unit then I will have to figure out what's next! I'm thinking a couple more horse units for each side. Since the Royalists in both of the last two battles have routed the Roundhead horse pretty easily I think Parliament will get the lions share of the new levy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sir Allen Apsley's Regiment

Holidays are my most productive painting times! Finished Sir Allen Apsley's Regiment of Foote in just a few days....and the baggage wagons as well. Here are some pics of the new unit. I also use these pics on the initiative cards I make for each unit. I'll put up some examples of the cards this weekend.

Sir Allen Apsley's was a regiment for the King and Apsley was noted as a hard drinking fellow and a clever political schemer who managed to avoid being executed after the war by using his brother in law Sir John Hutchinson's (who had his own regiment for Parliament) influence to keep his head. After the war, Samuel Pepys said of him " he would often give good sport to the house, arriving in a drunken mood of foul mouthed obscenities!".

My collection now has both Hutchinson's regiment and Apsley's so they can go head to head on the game table. I had not set out to have these two units with historically related Colonels but it just worked out that way,... but...an oft occurrence in "the Troubles of the Late Civile War"

Apsley's regiment was also commanded by Sir Edward Hopton at Naesby so it was listed as Hopton's at the battle and few of the men survived the defeat of the king that day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress

Gentle readers, if you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you a pleasant day tomorrow with family and friends. I spent today (...a day off for me) designing a new closet for the Mrs. and a new wooden cavalry figure (made of clothespins) to add to my little guy's toy soldier collection...I think they will paint up well. Certainly they are cheap and fun! I'll post a pic of the unit when its done.

And finally this evening I've been able to get a new unit of ECW foot for the King close to battle ready!...Hopefully a new battle within a few days to follow showcasing those new Conflix buildings. I'm also using the holidays to work up some sort of campaign system, perhaps a hybrid of the "Tinker Fox" system from The Perfect Captain and something a bit more abstract like the Warhammer "Mighty Empires" system (I got a wild hair and bought the hex tiles from my local GW store...I try to support them one way or another...creative obsession is creative obsession in my book; whether its historical or fantasy!). I've been collecting maps of England and perhaps I'm thinking to abstract a map of the counties using the plastic Warhammer hex tiles...well at least that the idea...

...This holiday business is really beguiling... no wonder going back to work after a few days like this is such a challenge!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clothespin Soldiers!

My little guy is 3 years old and I've been working on a set of wooden soldiers for him to play with...a gamer in the making. I thought I'd go in the H.G. Wells "LittleWars" direction with a simple and durable set of toy soldiers made of wooden clothes pins (the old fashioned spring-less kind) that we can roll plastic golf balls at...for starters. Again my crafts outlet comes to the rescue to make it simple. They sell both the clothes pins and a nice wooden ring the right diameter that allows you to base them. I added a dowel for a musket and painted them up in a classic "British Guards" uniform ( a simple spray black undercoat and a red coat, plus face and belts and you're done.) So a nice little unit of 20 for less than $10.00 and the painting time...which is, since its my son, a labor of love and did not take that long since the paint scheme is pretty abstract.

My next part of the project is to design design a cavalry figure and artillery out of the clothespins, I've got some ideas... and.... hmmm those look pretty fun...I've got a copy of "Littlewars" around here somewhere...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making 40mm Wagons

The baggage wagons are nearly done and I shifted into assembly line mode to complete the other two wagons in short order. Here are some pics of the process and some notes on how its done. And some pics of the first one completed.

These are the sides using 2, 1" matchsticks spaced 1 " apart as uprights then three slats 1 15/16" long are glued to the slats. the uprights extend about an 1/8" so they can attach to the bottom later. These are the sides for 2 carts.

Then a frame for the bottom is glued together (1"wide x 2 1/4")

Then 3 slats are glued to the bottom frame...

The 2 sides are glued to the bottom and propped at a slight angle using the little extensions on the sides to "key" in to the bottom. Then two full matchsticks 2 1/4" are attached as trails

The plastic wheels are glued to the brass tube I had laying around. I would use epoxy next time since the white glue is not so good for the plastic wheels.

Then the wheels axle assembly is glued to the cart bottom.
And finally "load" of tissue soaked in white glue is added to the bed, then after everything dries a wash of black and brown ink and a drybrush of everything and here it is!

And on the table:

...and those cool buildings are new Conflix 28mm that just arrived in the mail...Thanks to you guys for the suggestion to get them, they are perfect!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baggage Trayne

The women in my life always said I had too much baggage...But!..., ye army needs a baggage trayne to plunder! I was stumped as to how to get a bunch of wagons in 40mm without a lot of time, cash, and energy until I found just the the solution at my local craft outlet (Michael's). They have a line of plastic parts for schoolkids to do history projects and the like (called "Dr. Brain" :)... and I found pairs of wagon wheels the right size for 99 cents a pair (as well as some indian canoes for my F&I war collection...more anon)...but anyway with that and a couple of bags of strip wood and matchsticks I had the beginnings of a 40mm baggage train underway for just a few bucks.

I looked at a few period images of carts and worked up a quick model that would scale with the 40s. The entire wagon took only 30 minutes to construct. Basically the matchsticks made a frame and the strip material made the bottom and sides. The plastic wheels are already drilled for an axle and I just trimmed a matchstick to fit but next wagon I think I will get some brass wire the correct size to make the axle a bit sturdier.

The model was entirely glued together with my favorite whiteglue (Weldbond), and a quick stain with a mix of brown and black "Didi's Magic Ink". I "wetbrushed" a little bit lighter brown overall to get the black plastic wheels colored. I then added some tissue soaked in white glue to make a load, glued it to a cavalry base and I'm letting the whole thing dry overnight.

Tomorrow I'll paint the load and drybrush everything to weather it and it should work out ok. No horse teams yet but I'm on the lookout for a set of kids farm horses that might scale about right. For now these wagons will work to mark out a baggage train perimeter or work as bridge barricades (like the one defended by the dragoons at Cropredy Bridge).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Notes on the Battle

the field... (my table is a 4x8... the map shows 4x6 so a little extra at each end)

harquebus vs harquebus blaze away...

Just a few notes to relate how the battle went as a game. I must say the "Victory Without Quarter" rules are really fun and they work great for solo play as well. (They actually have me interested in "Beneath the Lily Banners" that apparently are a similar set for early Lace Wars era that Clarence Henderson of Quindia also had a hand in illustrating),

The game took about an hour and a half to play and in "scale" turns that worked out to about a two hour battle. I decided to count every new initiative deck shuffle as 10 minutes and I turned up the "Time Passes, reshuffle" card 12 times so hence the 2 hours in scale. actually right about what you might expect a small battle of the era to take.

the image on my "time passes reshuffle card" (strangely the colors have been altered.)

Haselrigg's cuirassiers go toe to toe with Rupert's cavaliers...

The card driven play sequence made for suspenseful solo play and I was able to make decisions for each side without being able to favor one side too much. Solo games for me have the feel of history playing out before your eyes, and the rules really helped to make that happen. Easy to remember and fast for a small battle. (I played during a hour and a half lunch break between classes)

Sir Horatio Cary's Horse takes a full volley of Roundhead musketry before fleeing the field...

In some of the pics you can see my homemade "reload" and "casualty" markers. I mainly have used historical images for my initiative cards and a few pics from re-enactor websites for my artillery and casualty cards. The reload image comes from a period drill manual. I'm slowly collecting period images of the commanders as well and even some of my individual regiments have the commander in a small image in the corner of the card. It really helps to convey some of the flavor of the period.

"the villan Rupert arising as if a spectre out of a mist..."

The battle was really close fought and though the Royalists routed two Roundhead horse units in the initial charge, the issue remained in doubt right to the final turn. I have a general rule that games end when an army loses half its units through destruction or rout off the table and in this fight Parliament came up short right at the end. The issue was decided in a final duel of shot.

All in all a really fun first outing with the new figures and I'm now inspired to finish a few more units

Engagement at Elstone Field

....the Cavaliers charge out of the mist!


Chippenham, November 17th 1643,

My Dearest Ginny,
By the grace of God I have survived the encounter of late to relate to you my most faithful etc... The forces of that cur Waller have ravaged this county and it is only through the noble efforts of King Charles and his finest Prince Rupert has the true light of England has shined. We were able, though outnumbered, to surprise and discomfit that devilish emmisary of that low cuckold Essex, and despite the predations of his dragoons upon the innocents of this county, we have prevailed in an encounter upon the field of Elstone. I am truly blessed to have lived to see the end of this day most trying and to be able to send you these tidings of our victory. I was honored to carry the standard of his lordship the Prince in the face of the terrible fighting I have witnessed. Not one of us escaped without our coats been holed or worse and many of us has suffered the most infernal cuts. By the grace of the Lord I remain unscathed.

By the extreme exertions of the Prince, and a hard march we visited a surprise upon Waller and just at the break of dawn swept upon his horse. By His grace we emerged from a mist with the Prince leading his Horse regiment and Sir Horatio Cary's squadron in support. Sir Cary's regiment drifted to the left in the fog and received a terrible volley from the Roundhead foot posted in support of their horse. That was all we knew of them until nightfall brought the survivors back into our camp. Our regiment charged on then alone and routed the traitor Haselrigg's lobsters and carried us on through Waller's horse who resisted stoutly until Waller was felled by a ball at the height of the combat. The Prince was able to collect us at the crest of Elstone hill and we paused in some disorder. The mist and smoke was close around us, and fearsome glimpses of a steady stand of red-coated foote a few hundred paces off caused some indecision among our officers. Though the Prince urged the charge, the men were shaken by their recent combats and began to make their way back toward our foote coming up behind. The Prince was sore pressed to rally them. I could see the final volleys of Rupert's and Hopton's foote flashing in the smoke as we passed to the rear and it was only later that we learned of the desperate struggle there that decided the day in our favor and Sir Hopton's exertions that so rallyed his men in a body behind a hedge that they could not be overturned. To relate with clarity what happened that day so recently done, is utmost difficult and the events tumbled upon each and to say what I hath seen would not be believed if not I hath with mine owne eyes hope to never to see again....

Gloucester, November 20th 1642

Dearest Mary,
I hope this finds you well and the children safe. My thoughts are with you in London...that I could be there now. Though we have with regret been turned back from our march on Bath, it was through a terrible mischance that we were not granted victory. Truly it was the workings of the devil who visited surprise upon our men and discomfited our foote's stoutest hearts. Outnumbered as we were, we could not turn back the onslaught of the villain Rupert who arising as if a spectre out of the mist, overthrew our Horse and left our Foote without succor. Sadly for our army Sir Waller was severely wounded and, if it were not for the stout fellowes of the Tower Hamlets band and Col. Oakey's dragoons we should all have been taken. There is much desertion and discomfit in the men, and I beg that you keep me in your thoughts till I return...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Battle of Elstone Fields

Finally the day of my first ECW battle with 40mms has arrived! Got the table all set up this weekend so here are some initial views of the battle. I used a card from "The Perfect Captain's" Battlefinder system for generating tabletop battles. Since the game is solo I randomly chose 3 cards for each side and a process of each "side" discarding in turn with the last being decided by a die roll I got the basic table layout. Since I'm waiting on some new Conflix structures to arrive I'm just using some scratchbuilt buildings I had on hand (they aren't quite the look of ECW era England but they will do for now). The opposing forces for this small action are:

Royalist: Prince Rupert Commanding,
2 regiments of Foot
3 squadrons of Horse (2 are Veteran)

Parliament: Sir William Waller Commanding,
3 regiments of Foot (1 is Veteran)
2 squadrons of Horse
1 squadron of Dragoons (Veteran) (freshly painted!)

This will hopefully balance the sides roughly...

A colorful battle report follow!

I've also worked up a Quick Reference Sheet for the "Victory Without Quarter" rules I'm using and if the sheet works I'll be contacting Clarence Harrison to see if he wants to include them in the rules at some point or if he would give me permission to send to my readers who might want a copy. I've got them worked up in a nice ECW looking font and they might be a helpful addition to the rules someday, though the rules are so clear a QRS may not really be necessary. But I think its nice to have the modifiers all in one place during play.

These few pics are all I can post apparently due to space limits so I'll send off a couple more in the battle report(s) to follow. I'm also not sure how to add titles to the pics, so gent. readers, you'll have to fill in the blanks. This may take me a few days to fight since my gaming space is cleverly hidden in the back storage room of my dear wife's yarn shop and I sneak over there during lunch hour to play a turn or two before heading back over to the university where I teach. You can see from the pics that I'm going to need some good ideas for a backdrop to conceal that nasty white tile wall in the background....any ideas?

"Give me a fine regiment of stout gentlemen and table room to maneuver!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fighting Late in the Day

One of the advantages of gaming solo is being able to let a game sit for a few days to be taken up later whenever I have a few hours (or even minutes) to spare. This 7YW battle has now been fought out over a couple of weeks.

Its now in its final stages so I thought a few images of the climactic firefight between the outnumbered Prussians and an assaulting force of Austrians and Hungarians might be of interest. The Prussians resisted stoutly but eventually succumbed to the Austrian's combined musketry and artillery followed by a charge of dragoons at just the right moment to put a critical infantry regiment to flight.

I roughly based the table layout on the battle of Minden from a Charles Grant refight I found in an old copy of Wargames Illustrated and just used the 7YW armies I have ...(again a classic "Grantian" approach)....really fun overall!

I'm currently working up a pair of fictitious states that will be smaller warring allies of big Blue and White...but that, a project for a future date... but as soon as I take the plunge into painting the first ficticious 25mm RSMs...I'm sure I'll be hooked... in the meantime the 40mms are calling...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dragoons by Hook or Crook!

Working with 40mm figures can present challenges since some manufacturers lines have not yet been fully built out and the aspiring collector of this scale has to be creative to get what's needed to make a complete army ready to fight. Since Sash and Saber's ECW line doesn't yet have any dragoon figures, I'm either going to have to go with Irregular Miniatures which are a good choice—or— since I'm in the states and with the nasty conversion rate these days, the cost per unit goes up a bit if I go with Irregular.... the alternative is digging out the "green stuff" and getting busy converting S&S musketeers to do duty as dragoons!

I've had decent success with adding cuffs, equipment and details with my French and Indian War collection using "green stuff", (I was able to backdate an AWI Brit artillery crew to work as a French F&I crew with a bit of trimming, head swaps, and the addition of larger cuffs. I've found 40mm is an easy scale to sculpt in and this latest outing with dragoons is working out pretty well. As of this evening I've got a unit of Okey's dragoons well on the way. These guys will also be able to perform in a pinch as a "forlorn hope" of commanded shot. In addition to adding cuffed cavalry boots, I added a few sacks of additional booty...no doubt plate looted from some local gentry's manor!...as well as a bit more flashy feather on the guidon bearer's hat. The command/dismounted marker (stand) uses a leftover Romanov command figure in a buffcoat from my infantry unit I finished a few weeks ago. I also tried the trick that Jeff at Saxe-Bearstein suggested of mounting the smaller S&S figures on pennies to get them to match the Romanov's better on the command stand. I think that strategy works great...I'll post the finished unit in a day or two.

I'm basing the unit on two 80mm by 60mm bases like a cavalry unit but with 4-5 foot figures on each base. (I use mdf laser cut bases from "Gale Force Nine" they have a great deal on a chinese food quart box full of bases (...on their "econo bases" page) that you specify when you order...they come in a day or two...blistering fast service for me in the states... I think Litko Systems especially in the UK, would also be a good choice though I've not ordered from them yet.

This unit will represent a looser formation of commanded shot or dragoons at roughly the same frontage as a horse or foot regiment but in the rules I'm using they will only be able to take two "hits" before being destroyed. In lieu of dismounted horse stands that would be cost prohibitive, I'm going with a 60mm round base of two command figures to place with the unit when it is to be counted as dismounted on the table. Otherwise it counts as mounted...until I can afford to splurge on a mounted dragoon unit with both mounted and dismounted versions. The round command base also gives me a chance to include a dragoon guidon (with pointed tails on the flag) for additional color. Can't wait to post these guys behind the nearest hedge and show those rampaging Royalist horse what getting to the baggage train really involves!