In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black Powder at Kleine-Klumpendorf

We finally got a chance to try Black Powder with the Tricorne era last night. Keith came over with his small forces of SYW Swedes and Russians. I set out a larger force of Prussians and thinking that when Barry arrived he'd reinforce Keith with some brigades of his Reichsarmee. Fortunately we gave Walter my embryonic Austrian force since the Reichsarmee never showed.

Keith's Russians deploy:

Keith's Swedes deploy:

Prussians cross the Klumpenbruch:

The Prussian center. The cavalry reserve got a blunder roll early on and left the table. I forgot to roll for their return until the end of the game.

Dan goes looking for trouble with my Freikorps out on the Prussian right wing. They did pretty well considering most of them had the 'unreliable' rule. One battalion charged a Russian battery and would have won the fight except we gave the Russian musketeers the 'steadfast' rule allowing them to pass their first break test! Curses. The double blues didn't have the stamina to go two rounds with the Russians. But the other two battalions got tucked into a village and held off the Austrians. The Bosniaks didn't do so well against the Russian hussars but they held the flank for most of the game at least.

Russian jeagers screen the advance, blocking the fire from my massed 12 pounder positional battery. Somehow using skirmishers to stop the fire from heavy guns seems a bit cheesey but I can't find anything in the rules stating that skirmishers can't stop artillery fire. Otherwise the Russian march columns coming up behind would've made juicy targets! As it was the damned jaegers out shot my guns. I had the Leib-Garde in support, I should have sent them forward to roust out the jaegers and clear the field of fire. Or prolong into cannister range!

More Russians advancing in the center. (No one has limbers, so the Russian guns are reversed to show they are limbered.)

The Prussian positional battery with Frederick behind.

The Prussian center advances.

The Prussian left deploys to meet some Cossacks, who got beaten up pretty badly, but they did keep this brigade from turning the allied right, so they earned their pay.

Swedes come up on the Russian right:

The main battle lines come to grips looking from the Prussian left/allied right towards the village of Kleine-Klumpendorf in the background where Dan's Freikorps are fighting desperately against Walter's Austrians.

Casualties start to accumulate on the Russian grenadiers.

Russian dragoons get two moves and swing out into position to charge. Better win the initiative roll next turn!

Nope! Having the 'Form Square' rule would have come in handy right about now. This is going to hurt.
The Swedish grenadiers also charged from the front (you can barely notice them in front of my musketeers). Surprisingly both Prussian battalions survived (damn good break test roll really) and only had to recoil one move.

But by this time I had Russian hussars circling around Klumpendorf on my right, where Dan was pretty shot up and what he had left was pinned down in the town. Mike over on the left was ready to advance again, but it was too little too late really. I blundered with the Red Hussars who decided to charge forward into a Russian battery, rather than deploy to cover the crumbling right flank. So while the Red Hussars kept the Russians distracted it was time to withdraw before things became a rout.

All in all, not bad. All the previous discussion about troop ratings and staff etc. (on the Black Powder yahoo group, this blog and some emails) pretty much went for nought as we got some troops on the table and just got stuck in. I'd forgotten that some of my gaming friends really know sod-all about the era, so having predone rosters so everyone can see what they've got is the way to go. But it was nice to try a few more of the special rules and see what surprising changes occur from increasing or decreasing the stamina by one!

The armies are 15mm, mostly Old Glory with some Essex mixed in.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Black Powder Rules for the Seven Years War

Here are my thoughts on period specific rules for using Black Powder for the SYW.

Since everyone I play with is familiar with Warfare in the Age of Reason, and our armies are built for that set of rules, I'll use that as a common touchstone.

Unit Size
Standard Infantry: 12 figures. Small is 6, Tiny is 3 and Large is 18.
Standard Cavalry: 6-8 figures. Small is 4, large is 9-12.

Since cavalry 'standard units' represent squadrons, one can opt to mass 'units' from the same regiment into larger 'units' (think the Bayreuth Dragoons at Hohenfriedberg). This can be done during the game but the units must be within 6" of another and it costs a move to organize the squadrons into a mass.

Use of Mixed Formation and Attack Columns are not allowed. Squares are allowed but no one gets the 'form square' rule for charge reactions.

Unit Ratings

Cuirassiers HTH 9 Morale 3+ Stamina 3 Special:heavy cavalry D3
Guard Cuirassier HTH 10 Morale 3+ Stamina 3 Special: heavy cav D3, Reliable
Heavy Cavalry HTH 9 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: Heavy cav D3
Dragoons HTH 8 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: Heavy Cavalry +1
2nd rate cavalry drop HTH by 1, no heavy cavalry bonus for melee resolution and add 'unreliable'. Freikorps dragoons or hussars add 'marauder' too.

Hussars HTH 7 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 special: skirmish, marauder
Elite Hussars HTH 8 Morale 3+ Stamina 3 Special: skirmish, marauder, reliable,
Freikorps hussars HTH 6 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: skirmish, marauder, unreliable

Guard Infantry HTH 7 Shoot 4 Morale 3+ Stamina 4 Special: Reliable, Elite 4+, First Fire
Veteran Infantry/Grenadiers HTH 7 Shoot 3 Morale 4+ Stamina 4 Special: Reliable, Elite 4+, First Fire
Line Infantry HTH 6 Shoot 3 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: First Fire
Garrison/Militia Infantry HTH 5 Shoot 3 Morale 5+ Stamina 3 Special: Unreliable,
Freikorps Infantry HTH 5 Shoot 3 Morale 4+ Stamina 2 Special: Unreliable, Marauder, skirmish
Jaegers HTH 5 Shoot 3 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: sharpshooter, skirmish, marauder
Pandours HTH 6 Shoot 3 Morale 4+ Stamina 3 Special: skirmish, marauder

National Rules
This is the tough part. Prussian drill was quite good and allowed them to keep up platoon vollies in a fire fight longer than their opponents. Some have argued to give Prussian musketeers a Shooting factor of 4 instead of First Fire. Perhaps just the older musketeer regiments? For the 1st Silesian War/ first phase of the War of Austrian Succession the Prussian cavalry should be pretty bad, perhaps 2nd rate but good by the SYW.

Austria, France and Britain all pretty bog standard.

Russians give their infantry the 'steady' rule and stamina 2 for their artillery.

Reichsarmee would be all 2nd rate infantry and cavalry. Grenadiers equivalent to everyone else's line.

Staff Ratings
Prussia; Frederick 10, Ziethen 9, everyone else 8.
Austria; Browne, Nadasty, Hadik, Loudon 8, most 7, Daun and Archduke Charles 6.
England and France; mostly 7s. Marshall de Saxe could be an 8 or 9 but was he around in the SYW? I can't think of any real superior generals for either army.
Reichsarmee; given the tangled staff and organizational problems they'd be 6s.
Russia; a few 7s but mostly 6.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Seven Years War Austrians!

Well I've managed to bang off the first two 12 figure battalions of Austrians this week! Both battalions are from the Old Glory 15mm "German Musketeers in Firing Line" pack.

The first battalion (ironically IR#1 with red facings and turnbacks) I dry brushed the white over the dark brown.

The second battalion (with white turnbacks and blue facings) I took a more careful blocking approach, painting the white in and leaving brown creases showing between the areas. I think this gives better definition.

I was double checking the basing in my old copy of Warfare in the Age of Reason last night and noticed the 15mm bases they give are 1 1/8" by 1/2". That's a silly frontage so I've rounded up to an even 30mm and made these bases 30mm deep to protect the fragile muskets (one almost broke while removing it from the scrap card I glue them on for priming and painting).

Here are some more of both battalions together.

I'm quite happy with having the standard on the edge of one of the inner stands so he's closer to the center of the line. In the Seven Years War they should be spending most of their time in line anyway so that's the formation I should try and make them look best in. I'm definitely going to move the ensigns in my Prussian battalions closer to the center.

As a final thought. The other night Mike was over to paint with me, and he quipped "Why don't you just spray paint them white?" trying to be a smart-ass. I don't know why Austrians get this reaction. How is painting an army of white uniforms any different than painting a vast sea of incredibly dull Union blue (which Mike was working on at the time)? Perhaps he should go and spray his ACW guys blue?

White is a rather difficult colour to do, but if you use a darker undercoat it can be quite rewarding. The equipment, facing and lace details really pop on a white uniform. I also have hordes of more colourful Pandours and Hussars to look forward too as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Tea is my drug of choice. Here's my favourite brand in fact; Typhoo.
I like it strong and sweet, which I'm told is referred to in the UK as 'builder's tea.' Whatever, that airy-fairy flavourless nonsense the tea snobs go on about isn't worth bothering with. I let mine steep for a good 6 minutes and 30 seconds (longer and it gets bitter). I set a timer so I don't forget it.

Unlike beer, tea goes well with both a bacon sandwhich and a donut. Coffee will too, I suppose, but unless the dessert is really rich and can fight back, I find coffee to be a bit of a brute, bludeoning the palate into submission.

I credit the ritual of stopping for tea in the afternoon when home from work with strengthening, if not actually, saving my marriage. The schedules may change but the Mrs. and I still look for times to have a good cuppa (hopefully with tea snacks too) together. Now that the children are older and have developed an appreciation for hot caffeinated beverages they join us. Sometimes they're having chai or even coffee, but the results are the same.

A few year's back my family gave me an enormous teapot for Christmas. I had asked for one 'as big as my head' and they found one.

Sometimes when I have a lot of friends over for a gaming session, everyone wants tea and a regular teapot just won't do. But this fellow holds a good 10 cups. Recently my very talented daughter knit a cozy for it. It's a manly Scotch thistle pattern. She has plans to do a bunny cozy next.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SYW Prussians

As promised a few days ago here are some pictures of my SYW troops. I painted these a long time ago when the 1st edition of Warfare in the Age of Reason was the hot new thing, so that's a good 18 years and a couple of life times ago. No attempt at shading or highlighting, but the brush work is tidy and attentive to small details.
Here are IR#35 and CR#2 on a 1 cm grid demonstrating the current, Warfare in the Age of Reason, basing scheme. The infantry isn't bad, being 120 mm frontage. But the huge frontage of the cavalry regiments will, I think, skew the game somewhat. Also the spacing between the heavy cavalry bugs me. Frederick's cuirassiers and dragoons charged boot to boot.
So I'm looking at rebasing all of my heavy cavalry and moving the standards of my infantry to one end of the stand so they will be closer to the middle of the line.

Heavy cavalry brigades. All Old Glory figures. Cuirassiers in front (CR#13 Garde du Corps, CR#2) and dragoons in back (DR#3 and DR#6 the Porzallen-Regiment). The Guards should only be one or two squadrons strong, so when I rebase, I will blacken the cuirasses on 6 of the troopers to turn them into squadrons from CR#1.

Light cavalry. Hussars are Old Glory. HR#5 ('Black' or 'Death' Hussars) in front and HR#8 behind. In the rear are my Essex Bosniak uhlans. These fellows are always rated as freikorps and hence seldom do very well, but they once caught a regiment of Scott's cavalry in the rear and during their last outing they surprised everyone, including themselves, by beating two lines of Barry's French dragoons.

My brigade commanders from the Old Glory Generals pack. Some nice character, especially the eye-patch wearing hussar Keith painted up for me one night.

Der Alte Fritz on the left meets up with his little brother, Prince Heinrich, who commanded on the western front against the French and Reichsarmee forces. More Old Glory figures.

My Bavarian brigade. 5 battalions, 2 guns, 1 general. I used Old Glory Austrian 'firing line' figures for the musketeers. The coats on the artillerists are greyer but have been whitened by the lighting. I love the yellow facings and small clothes on "Regiment Minucci".

Freikorps and jeagers. The jeagers and Von Kleist Freikorps in the mirliton hats are Essex figures. The two battalions of non-descript 'double blues' in the back are made from some Old Glory Russian musketeers. I used the Russian figures because they are carrying less gear and I wanted my Freikorps to look stripped down. I have heard that Freikorps didn't have flags but the sheet of flags I bought had these two labelled 'freikorps' and the command groups have the ensign figures so there you go. I may rebase the jeagers too. Put them on deeper bases so they still look skirmishy but contract the frontage to 120mm.

A sample of my Prussian infantry; IR#6 the Guard Grenadiers, IR#24 Alt-Schwerin being lead forward by their colonel-in-chief the Graf von Schwerin at the battle of Prague, some fusiliers (IR#35 and I think #49) and lurking in the back is one of my two Garrison battalions, also made from Old Glory Russian musketeers for that stripped down look. I split a bag with Scott once when he was building a Russian army, giving me four battalions of figures. We only got one or two games out of Scott's brigade of Russians before he had to sell them. Sad, they were quite nice.

I do, of course have more Prussian infantry. But I couldn't see the point in getting all 12 battalions out of the box. And photographing the entire array, although impressive, would lack in detail and be ultimately pointless.
The buildings in the background are a trio of German HO scale plastic model RR kits I fortuitously got on sale when our local mall had a Leisure World outlet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Step Forward

It's been a somewhat frustrating summer. Working midnights EVERY weekend cramps the summer barbeque socializing scene somewhat. Plus three afternoons a week as well. I'm glad we haven't been offered any free Festival tickets this year, probably wouldn't have been able to take advantage of them (last year when off work we got tickets to three shows).

My immediate boss the Dairy/Grocery Manager had been planning to move out to Calgary in search of fame, fortune and true love while he persued a career in broadcasting. The Boss and Mrs. Boss indicated they would like me to take over his duties.

That felt nice. Really nice. To have someone acutally say that they liked what you do and see the potential for more is quite gratifying. Working more daytime hours and a raise would also be quite pleasant.

But then my Dept. Manager has a fight with Destiny Girl and the whole deal is off. Crap.

But this whole exercise got my Boss thinking and he realized that splitting the two departments and moving me to more daytime hours would be a Good Thing after all. So after a brief summit with my dept. manager we decided I would become the Grocery Manager and he would remain in Dairy. But we'll have to help each other out and share minions anyway.

Of course this is all being delayed horribly by the trouble in finding someone who wants to take my midnight shifts. We had a New Guy who didn't show up for his training shifts and isn't returning calls. He'd better be dead is all I can say; if he's gotten a better job he could've at least called to let us know. Yesterday though the Boss hired a new New Guy who is fleeing the Coffee House of Mordor which dispenses our national beverage, so there is hope still.

Being Grocery Manager in a small grocery store in Southern Ontario was, for some reason, never one of my life's ambitions, but it is a step forward.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking Stock

Alright, I'm taking the plunge.
Or at least getting further along than I was before.
Last night, while waiting for glue to set on my next commisions, rather than finish up the last of my WW2 German armour or paint some Colonial figures, or flock my Medievals, I instead started a whole new army!
15mm Seven Years War Austrians.
OK, maybe not the swiftest idea, but it'll be fun.
Being rather organized with my miniatures (not as obsessive about making the spreadsheets as Mike is but I do keep inventory lists of the leadpile when I've got a lot) I found I had previously sorted much of my unpainted SYW figures and made the following notes:
2x 18 figure German musketeer battalions
4x 12 figure German musketeer battalions
3x 12 figure German grenadier battalions
14x 12 figure Pandour battalions (told you I had a lot- Battle of Olmutz anyone?)
3x 12 figure Cuirassier regiments
3x heavy guns
3x medium guns
2x light guns

Most of these are Old Glory figures from back before Old Glory sold off their 15mm lines to 19th Century Miniatures and you could buy the infantry in the big bags of 100. One regiment of Cuirassier are Minifigs.

So last night I scraped and got ready for priming 3x musketeer battalions, 2x Pandour battlions and 1x grenadier battalion plus 2x guns and a general I dug out of my Prussian stocks.

I also remembered that I already have painted a nice little Bavarian brigade of 4x musketeer and 1x grenadier battlions with 1x light and 1x medium gun. Instant allies.

To face them Frederick already has under arms:
1x Guard battalion
2x grenadier bns (the Grenadier Guard and 1 converged grenadier bn)
9x musketeer/fusilier bns
2x garrison bns
3x freikorps bns
1x jeager bn
2x cuirassier regts (including the Garde du Corps)
2x dragoon regts
2x hussar regts
1x freikorps uhlan regt
3x medium guns
2x howitzers
3x heavy guns

Since we were playing Warfare in the Age of Reason all units are 12 figures strong. Bigger battalions would be cool, but it would be expensive and time consuming. Increasing the battalion size to 24 figures wouldn't change the 120mm frontage, so it won't affect playability to stay with the 12 figure units. The 18 figure battalions are a left over from AoR that gave the Austrians bigger battalions for some reason that is not actually historically justified. I'll have to see if I can instead change them into 3x 12 figure battalions, but the units are made up of kneeling and standing firing line figures, so it may be difficult. I bought them because I thought they looked cool, but the reality is the muskets are fragile and they are hard to rank up in column. I'll stick to the classic 'march attack' pose for future purchases.

Switching from the 12 figure to a 6 figure cavalry unit (a 'division' of 2 to 4 squadrons) as the standard size unit would give us a cavalry unit of roughly the same frontage as the infantry. Multiple units from the same regiment wouldn't be a problem, since cavalry usualy deployed by squadrons anyway. So no repainting. But one could have the option to mass them together into a big sledgehammer too. Having the option to deploy a 6 figure unit of cavalry means I can use up those left over half dozen figures from the old 30 figure cavalry bags too.

Now that I'm blogging about my SYW stuff I realize I have never gotten these figures posed before the camera. I'll have to fix that before my daughters take their cameras off to university next month!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Powder Blues

I've been chanting the no new periods, no new scales mantra pretty hard these last two years.

I mean I have enough ancients, medieval, WW2 and Colonial figures stockpiled to keep me painting for quite some time even without commission work getting in the way.

Then 15mm SF has to burst forth with a dazzling array of really nice figures from a variety of manufacturers to fuel my desire to play platoon to company sized 'hard' SF actions inspired by the TV show Firefly and the Falkenberg's Legion stories and the novels Fire in a Far Away Place and A Small Colonial War. Everytime I try to think small, like I'll just get a platoon per side, I fall victim to OSS the Oh Shiney Syndrome and start adding vehicles and aircraft to the list and another platoon and then other factions or races and well... you know.

Fortunately this would mean starting entirely from scratch; terrain, rules, figures, everything. I've also realized I'm pretty fussy about my imaginary games and if I can't provide both sides and the terrain I don't want anyone else mucking about in my imaginary worlds with their strange ideas about what fits, thank you very much. Thus far then I've been able to keep this particular monkey off of my back.

I've also been seriously jonesing to do some horse and musket again. Fueled by the awfully nice releases from Perry Miniatures as featured in the Black Powder rule book.

Plus I like Napoleonics (they are just too damned pretty) and 28mm figures.

I have an embryonic 28mm Napoleonic Russian army that I got cheap at the Hotlead Bring & Buy a few years ago. But it's only four 16 figure battalions and one gun. I'd need another 8 to 12 plus cavalry and guns to make a decent Black Powder army. In the meantime they could be used for the smaller scale Sharp Practice rules though.

But it would be a much bigger investment in money and time, and Mike is the only friend around here who has 28mm Napoleonics. I'd need to have him and his French available if I wanted to play for a while (it would be quite some time before I could build my own French army).

We used to play a lot of Warfare in the Age of Reason in 15mm. Barry has an appallingly large Reichsarmee, plus French and British. I've got the Prussians. Sadly Scott had to sell off his Austrians to pay some bills.

I think our armies have grown so large (I've got 17 or 18 infantry battalions and 7 regiments of cavalry) that we broke Age of Reason. It would take forever to set up, then the cavalry would fight on the wings and just as the infantry lines came to grips it was time to go home. So we don't play very much anymore. Maybe once a year.

So I'm really hoping that Black Powder will solve those problems and let us play big horse and musket battles to a conclusion in the three to four hours we usually have. So far we've played four games of BP in other periods and I've enjoyed them all. But getting together with Barry's army has been a challenge. My schedule right now precludes Saturday evenings or Sundays and Friday nights don't work for Barry.

I found in my stash of unpainted miniatures a pretty good start on a 15mm Austrian army. I think I took them in trade for some painting from Scott, intending to use them as Saxons and then forgot them. If I paint them up I'd have an economical in-house opponent for the Prussians. Really they just need some hussars and dragoons. I've got a start on everything else; musketeers, grenadiers, LOTS of pandours, 40+ cuirassiers and an assortment of artillery.

Of course I'm already thinking more musketeers and limbers and ammunition caissons and supply wagons and they'll need some generals and.... oh look, shiney!

Some Really Stubborn Italians

In 1943, after the Allied capture of Sicily the Italian Royal government, did the sensible thing, imprisoned Mussolini and surrendered. The Germans promptly rescued Il Duce and formed the Italian Socialist Republic, or RSI. The Allies naturally referred to these Fascist hold-outs as Really Stubborn Italians.

A friend I've met through the local convention scene asked me to paint up his RSI army for him and this proved to be a somewhat stubborn commission. I started with the platoons worth of Black Tree Designs regular infantry last fall while in school. In fact I took step-by step pics to illustrate a painting guide I was writing for my technical writing module.

In the late winter he added some machine gun teams to round out the rifle platoon. Four 2-man LMG teams and two 3-man MMG teams. These are from Bolt Action. Nice castings. Delicate, detailed sculpting and good proportions. I quite enjoyed working on these boys.
Last came a platoons worth of paratroopers. Bolt Action figures. These are really nice sculpts with lots of detail. The camouflage intimidated me so these took a while. I actually started them at the same time as the MG teams but that was too much to work on all at once so I broke them into two lots. I had started working again in the meantime with crazy retail hours, so my painting output suffered. Plus their uniforms were giving me some pause for thought.
I needed a break to cheer myself up, so I painted up the 15mm German para force for myself. This actually helped me think through my problem with the Italian camouflage. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.
They almost make me want to do 28mm WW2. But not quite.