|I've got the Cover Art Done: What Else is there?|
In response to several inquiries about the rules, I thought I'd post a sneak peek at what has been done thus far. I have to add that it is my intention to have a workable set of rules done sometime this year, hopefully in the next six months. However, like other projects this is no guarantee (I've already busted my timeline on when I thought I'd have something). I've got the unit and force structure. What remains is to proof the mechanics (which currently exist in note form: combat, movement, morale). Given how many figures I've painted and mounted for the system, I've certainly invested in it myself! So if I don't finish it, the joke will be on me. Once complete, this material will migrate to one of the content pages of the blog. In the meantime, here is what there is if you'd like to follow along. I can't guarantee when the complete rules will be available, but figures done in accordance with this system should be able to be used with other systems, though, as explained in the piece below.
A version of the following piece describing the system was published in the Foreign Correspondent, #112 (Oct 2016)--that excellent publication of the Continental Wars Society edited by Ralph Weaver.
First, A Diversion On My Many ConversionsIf, dear reader, you are among those who have undertaken to wargame the continental wars of the 19th Century, then I can hear your thoughts: “Eh? Danish Horse Guards in 28mm? Nonsense! Nobody makes ‘em,” and right you would be. Indeed, this is the challenge that many would recognize. There are excellent figures available in the genre, but few lines are complete, especially in 28mm, forcing one to cobble together units from an amalgam of manufacturers (enter the figure match issue to compound the challenge). Thus, many have lost heart and become ruined men, driven to other eras with pre-packaged units in shiny blister packs tied to hardbound rules and supplements (one shudders). However, I speak not to these fallen heroes, for they would hardly be among the brave fellows reading this publication [Foreign Correspondent].
|Danish Horse Guards: Converted Northstar Austrian 1866 Dragoons|
On the other hand, there are those who instead flaunt convention and seek to create something out of nothing. I am such a one, and I speak to others of like mind. They though I was mad at the academy when I presented my findings. Mad am I? I’ll show them. I have shown them!
Chocolate Box Wars: The Inspiration
You may be asking, “How did this all come about?” Well, in part, I blame Hollywood. The idealized Victorian military gestalt in films like The Prisoner of Zenda (pick your version), The Great Race (which, come to think of it, is the Prisoner of Zenda, too), and others of their ilk have always been compelling.
The images of elegant officers and steady soldiers in their post-Napoleonic finery are at one with those found on biscuit and confection tins and boxes. Let me add that my own military career causes me to understand that warfare, pretty uniforms or not, is a destructive, savage, and brutal business (so let’s get that put away). That’s not what we’re about...
...at heart, we're about toy soldiers. The post-Napoleonic continental armies represent the ultimate expression of the “toy soldier” motif. They are one in the same with the inspiration behind the foundations of our hobby.
It also doesn't hurt that I discovered that there are those among my associates who share the underlying mania for this era. Many have 19th Century armies that have been languishing for years. Given a new purpose, these toy soldiers would proudly march again. Thus, I finally decided to give in to the lifelong temptation and take the plunge. Being an inveterate tinkerer and rules writer, I of course decided to create a rules system of my own.
|Baron Von Stuppe and Minions in The Great Race|
|Von Stuppe Hussars?|
Chocolate Box Wars: The Premise and The PromiseThe working title for my rules system (still a work in progress) is Chocolate Box Wars, which should give you an idea of the approach. The armies, then, would be “Chocolate Box Armies.” Originally, I was going to toss history aside and build imaginations, but my grognard DNA just wouldn’t allow it (although this system will certainly accommodate this approach). Therefore, I stuck with researching and producing specific forces, which will still have plenty of appeal. The open ended nature of the system, not being too concerned with specific historical events (DBA-like in this regard), will still allow me to gravitate to where the color is. Others may certainly apply this system to their imaginations forces (and imaginations yet to come). In support of this approach, I hope to eventually have some AK-47 Republic-like nationally flavored lists that will allow one to model an imaginations force along certain lines in the spirit of the era, like Mittel Europe, Teutonic, Gallic and Anglo Saxon (to name a few).
Here is the concept in thumbnail:
The era is loosely defined as extending from post-napoleonic to pre-khaki with the following guiding principles (if interested, I recommend downloading the pdf of the rules at the link below the opening image in this post):
1. Stand-based (two stands per unit; one for artillery) to allow for basic formation effects.
2. 28mm, with stand size 2.5” x 2” for infantry; 2.5” x 2.5” for cavalry; 2.5” x 3” for artillery.
3. Low figure count (3 infantry per stand; 2 for cavalry)--this also winds up being how many of today’s largish figures can easily fit on a stand of the above sizes.
4. Army-list approach, with a relatively low total stand count (sort of like DBA/M) and a "plug and play" approach: a set number of units per army (so you can build a force quickly).
5. Unit differentiation that allows period and other flavors (volunteers, frei corps jaegers, etc).
6. Simplified mechanics that will still reward handling units as a coherent force. Right now, it's a cross between DBA and Volley and Bayonet light.
7. Unspecified unit level (although I'm thinking that each unit might represent either a battalion/squadron or perhaps a brigade/regiment, with each stand then being a wing or division of that larger element).
You may, dear reader, have noticed a key flaw in my process, that I have purchased and painted armies for a system that does not yet exist. Such is my mania, you might think (and perhaps be correct). However, this will keep this endeavor from taking up ranks in the legion of half-finished projects that tend to litter many a game-room in our hobby (or should).
Having said this, there is some pragmatism at work. The number of stands per force may be modest, but if all else fails, it will still allow me to use my collections to play other systems, like some of the DBX 19th Century variants, in particular the Vae Victis versions, or the half scale version of Bruce Weigel's 1859 or 1866, or a small to mid-sized Volley and Bayonet game. So I do have some grounding in utility to temper my mania, at least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
UPDATE: If you are familiar with Volley and Bayonet, I have created a variant of that system that has worked very well with the Chocolate Box Wars forces (check out the Danish Delight and Battle of Dybbol reports on this blog). I'll probably be using the same figures for both systems, certainly the with the VnB variant until I get the new rules done. You can download the Volley and Bayonet variant QRS here (this is a first pass--it will be adjusted with more use). WARNING: For those familiar with Volley and Bayonet, you will notice many departures upon closer reading of the QRS (at some point, I'll add a content page to this blog with a more full explanation).
Nurse tells me it's time for my laudanum. So for now, dear reader, adieu.