Sunday, June 17, 2018

PRINZ FRIEDERICH KARL COMMAND STAND (+) DONE


Following on from the previous WIP post, here is the finished Prussian command stand vignette, based on and inspired by the 1866 Prussian Army. Above, Prinz Friederich Karl confers with an Adjutant of the German General Staff. As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
On these higher level command stands, I include dice frames, in case I need to do some form of command tracking. I also put a small metal square on the base which allows me to mount a flag as a bit of eye candy or to signify some special status (there is small rare earth magnet under the flag base). The above flag is from the excellent GMB DesignsTo complete the above command vignette, I used the General Staff Adjutant in the excellent Great War Miniatures 1914 German High Command set . The 1866 and 1914 uniforms are close enough that it is mainly a matter of color scheme to represent the earlier period.
Having acquired the 1914 high command set, I couldn't pass up on the splendid general officers in overcoats (above).  I painted these with only a vague idea of how I might use them.  However, once done, I decided to put them together as a bonus command stand. 
Now I have another high level Prussian command stand if I need one, which is what I tell myself.  The reality is that I just had to create some sort of display for these splendid figures (I hope you're happy, Aly!).  It's not as if this hobby is about utility, anyway. 

But I digress. In the process of putting this post together, I've also gathered some shots to put together another post illustrating my figure basing scheme, which some have asked for.  I hope to put together a report on that later this summer. 
 Excelsior!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

THE NEXT THING: PRINCE FREDERICK CHARLES WIP

Returning to the painting desk after a hiatus of several months, I am getting back into production with a modest project--but one that involves a conversion (what else?). In this post, as usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
The idea for this project came about whilst poking about looking for additional likely command figures for my 1866/mid century Prussians.  I stumbled across the above Great War Miniatures 1914 German Army Hussar Command Figure, which struck me as familiar...
 ...to the above-pictured Prince Frederick-Charles of Prussia, commander of the First Prussian Army in 1866.  He was a general of cavalry and as you can see, wore the uniform of the 3rd (Brandenburg) Hussars. Quite snappy.  [Image from the must-have Armies of Bismarck's Wars, by Bassett-Powell].
Thus, I have embarked on another army command vignette for my mid-century Prussians, starting with a conversion to represent Prinz Friederich-Karl...
 ...I shaved down the figure's boots to put him in trousers...
...I added beard and whiskers with a bit of green stuff...
 ...and I replaced the very modern pistol with a telescope, as in the illustration.

I'm working on the other figures in the command vignette, which are coming along nicely.  A short bit of business travel will interrupt progress for a few days, but I hope to have a finished product in fairly short order.  Until then...
Excelsior!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

OLD FIGURES IN NEW PLACES


Back in March, there was a post on Ross Mac's excellent Battle Game of the Month Blog recounting the history of his Blue Guards figures. This caused me to start thinking about the lineage of figures in my collection (funny how we pick up threads from other blogs: one of the great things about the blogging community, I think). Given that my wargaming history was interrupted when I was commissioned into the US Army in 1981, there is a break in continuity in my collections as well. Before then, I had come to own a substantial number of 15mm Napoleonics (French, Saxon, and Russians). After graduating from college and getting commissioned, my collection and associated terrain wound up doing nothing more than taking up a closet. After about 10 years of this, I finally dumped them.  As unsentimental as I was about getting rid of the collection, something made me hang on to two reminders, which are all that is left of the original collection.  Upon starting up in gaming again, I eventually rebased them (they were originally on plain green bases, which was the standard back then), and now here they are, on parade on the interwebs, which wasn't even something one could imagine back then. As usual, you may clix pix for Big Pix.
First up is the Army Command Stand, now appropriately sized for 2/3 scale Volley and Bayonet.  This originally was on a much larger square stand, which had no actual role on the table then.  In big games, I would plunk it down at some prominent place on the table where it would be ever-visible to the allies (although I eventually came to own Russians, I was in the French camp then--in those days, you picked sides).  The figures are mainly Minifigs, with a Ral Partha aide de camp (the rather oversized looking fellow pointing in the hussar rig).   Our collections back then were almost exclusively Minifigs (first and then second generation). 

The other figures that take pride of place as the oldest in my collection were inspired by the above illustration in the Funcken Arms And Uniforms Of The Napoleonic Wars (Part 2)
...not only are these among the oldest of my figures, but they are also literally the last ones I painted before going in the Army (so they have a double resonance).  After these, it would be something on the order of 22 years until I painted another figure. Again, the band had no actual role in the rules.  I would plunk these down whenever the Imperial Guard was on the table, and they would lead the march whenever the Guard moved--we did alot of that sort of thing then.
Looking at them, I realized that my current mania for modifying figures is not new. I was modifying figures back then, too. The drum major is actually a marching infantry officer figure with a head swap from a French Marshall (I believe it was Massena). The baton was made by adding a glob of white glue to the top of his sword. The sappers were two Old Guard porte aigle figures: you can see the original version at the back of the command post stand. I created the aprons and gauntlets with putty, which I then simply painted over.
I painted these with the naked eye back then, which is another testament to them coming from another era! On top of that, these were done with enamels (which I still use--showing that I'm from another era).  The enamels have held up very well over the years (as opposed to me). Other than a bit of touch up, this is the original paint (I didn't varnish back then). 

I have once again put together 15mm French and Russians (and Prussians), in addition to my 28mm Napoleonics.  There are many in my current gaming group who have 15mm Napoleonics as well, which we used to play quite regularly (2/3 scale Volley and Bayonet). So, the command post, after all those years, has had a role on the table, and the band has also once again held a spot on the table with the (new) Old Guard figures. What's old is new again.

So much for this trip down memory lane...
Excelsior!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

LOOT THE BAGGAGE TRAIN! HUZZAH! 2018 CONVENTION REPORT, PART THE SECOND

Following from my previous post on the Huzzah! 2018 Convention, this post, dear readers, will report on the convention game I offered on Saturday morning,...
...the description for which runs as follows: "Loot the Baggage Train!" (30 Years War): This game represents that moment so characteristic of this age when the lure of looting the baggage train overcame any interest in the battle. In this game, players will control a file of dragoons, Croats, or "Polish cossacks" as they all converge on a semi-abandoned baggage train. Loot the train; loot the other players. It's every man for himself: the player who comes away with the most swag, wins.  For those new to this blog with enough  curiosity (or endurance), you may check out an earlier post on my preparation for this game, which will in turn link you to other posts regarding playtesting, etc.  For now, we resume the current topic (as usual, in this report, you may clix pix for BIG PIX).

THE SETUP
 The Scene of Action and Dramatis Personae

The scenario has six players, and each is on his own (although there were some agreements struck between players, of the live and let live--for now--nature). The factions enter in balanced fashion on opposing sides of the field (three per table edge).  The terrain setup represents a post-station at a road junction, with a stable and a small inn, around which a few households have popped up. Given its routes and location, it was a natural concentration point for the baggage of a small army in the area--which is in the process of losing a battle in the environs as the game begins, leading to a panic in the train (a not uncommon occurrence ).  Consequently, the place has already been partially looted by its attendants (again, not an uncommon occurrence) and in their rush to save their skins, mostly abandoned, save for a few dispirited guards and the quartermaster (players may attempt to bribe the former to do their bidding in limited ways). Rumor had it that the army's paychest might be  here, hence the interest of our player-heroes (this also explains why some of the guards allowed themselves to be talked into hanging about: self interest. If all others abandon the place, then they could take their share).  Enter our six factions, representing the kinds of enterprising troops who could be found on the edges of a battle...
...a figure's-eye view of the approach to the train from various perspectives.

Scattered about the table are a number of cache's, a selection of which are circled in red (above) for illustration.  Searching the cache flips the green marker, which in turn reveals a number corresponding to a list of contents.  Some might be dummies.  Others might contain loot or other things, such as loaded pistols or even a "grenadoe"--the latter of which could be as dangerous to would-be users as to intended targets (more on that later).
 Above, the Grenadoe marker (front, back). 

The table set-up and ready to go with figures and player materials in place.

Each player controlled four figures (a leader and three soldiers). Each figure had wounds, action points, equipment, reloading status, and a flask (first aid) to track. During the playtest, players used a tracking sheet (above right) with markers to keep track of these things. These worked, but turned out to be rather fiddly and slowed things down.  By the convention game, with the help of my friend AJ, who has a laser engraver, I had created 24 tracking boards, one for each figure (above left), with pegs to track wounds and operations points, and places for activation markers, equipment, unit identification, and so forth. As of the Sunday before the convention, these were only a concept. By the following Friday, they were assembled, labelled, stained, and ready to go on Saturday morning.  Thanks to AJ for helping with design and cranking out all the pieces on a long Sunday's project.  These improved play very much...
...the components of the tracking boards are interchangeable (above left), so that I can repurpose them for different systems and/or different stats. There are also counters that represent equipment, whether carried, in-use ("equipped"), or in some location on the table, like laying about or on a wandering horse. In the case of firearms (above right), there is a "loaded" and an "unloaded" side: just flip the empty side up after firing. So much for logistics. Back to the game. 


THE GAME
Although the nature of this game made it something of a free for all, and therefore not very structured, it basically broke down into two phases...
PHASE I
...in Phase I, all factions entered and converged on the town, at least initially. The Gray and Black German Dragoons  skirted conflict, checking out outlying caches and heading for the town, while on the other side of the table, the Brown German Dragoons went for an all out attack on the Brown Croats. The Blue Croats rode hard down the edge of the table and wound up colliding with the Polish Dragoons, who had dismounted and were searching outlying caches approaching the town in their area. As the factions approached, the baggage train the guards fired off some shots (none of which hit) before scampering. I should point out that each side had a starting number of crowns that they were obliged to spread out among their troops. Therefore, picking off an opposing player's figures and lifting their loot was another means of gaining points--by extension, safeguarding your loot from falling into a rival's hands was another point of tension in the game. Getting back to phase I, the Brown Croats eventually prevailed over the Brown German Dragoons, meaning they wiped them out, which signals the end of this phase...
PHASE II
...in Phase II, the Polish Dragoons decided that getting stuck in with the Blue Croats was not in their best interest, so they agreed to cease the fighting and back off (eventually, they would stumble on a nice cache in the stable in the center of the town). The Blue Croats continued their ride around the town and charged into their cousins, the Brown Croats, who had only just dispatched the Brown German Dragoons. Back in Dodge City, the Black and Gray German Dragoons got engaged with each other in earnest as they converged on the central Inn building (on the right) and its outbuilding.  The Black German Dragoons wound up with the most loot at the end and won (in order to win, a faction had to have at least five more crowns than the nearest other). 
OBSERVATIONS AND SOME SELECT IN-GAME SHOTS
The game in the town wound up being a two-player game (Gray and Black German Dragoons) because the Brown Croats and Brown German Dragoons got stopped outside of the town, and the circle-ride of the Blue Croats  took another faction out of the contest in the town.  Consequently, the Black German Dragoons' small positional edge over the Gray became more decisive given the absence of corresponding forces moving into the town from the other side (although the Brown Croats did initially have a figure enter the town ahead of others, it was recalled to the fight on the edge).  This is a simplified boiled down narrative, but captures the broad trajectory of events. Here are a few images of the details:  . 
Above: The Brown German Dragoons ride into the Brown Croats on the edge of town.

The Blue Croat leader fires and discards an empty pistol (Left Above). Then is joined by another Croat as they bowl over a Polish Dragoon.  The Polish Dragoons make way and...


...The Blue Croats ride on to hit the depleted Brown Croats.


The Gray and the Black German Dragoons stuck-in at the edge of the town. In the above, the grenadoe has just gone off upon being lit (a 1 in 6 chance), blowing up in the face of the Gray German Dragoon leader--one of those cinematic moments that seem to happen in skirmish games...

...The Gray German Dragoons, having fired the outbuilding, are systematically driving back the black German Dragoons. Just out of the shot to the left, the Black German Dragoons would eventually crawl out of the back window of the Inn as the Grays closed in, making good their escape, loot in hand.

The tracking system in-use during play.  I'm happy with how these turned out. 

The shot of the ceiling that I invariably wind up taking when (mis)handling the camera.


Two shots of the action, courtesy of AJ (of AJ's Wargaming Blog). The winner of the game, the commander of the Black German Dragoons, is seated to the left in the black t-shirt in the lower picture. 
Post-Convention: The game sorted and re-packed for movement. I'll be running it again during our club's June Game Night. Watch For Another Battle Report!
Until Then...
Excelsior!

  


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