Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Detail view of General Skobelev (Outpost Wargame Service Figure)
In this post, dear reader, we return to the Russian Army of the Russo Turkish War Era project. Specficially, I am happy to post on the completion of the last (planned) stage of this major project: the command figures.  As usual, only two of these figures are actually of the era and represent what they were sculpted to be (the above-pictured General Skobelev is actually a "General Skobolev" figure from the Outpost Wargame Service Russo Turkish line--although it is new and hasn't yet hit their web-store).  More on that anon.  In the meantime, here is my accumulation of command figs for the Russians. As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX. 
Detail from Surrender of Fortress of Nikopol (1883, Canvas) by Nikolay Dmietriev-Orenburgsky
For the general gestalt of my high command figures, I used the indispensible Mollo (above)  and other images, such as the detail of the command group pictured in the Dmietriev Canvas (above). 
Russian Army Command Stand: figures are from the Great War Miniatures Crimean War Range (Baron Osten Sacken and Staff). This was a stand that I had originally done up to represent Prussian High Command, but which became "spare" after replacing it with an "upgrade" to a mounted Prussian High Command stand. I was originally thinking that I would try and have my Russian High Command stand also be of two  mounted figures, but in the end I decided that I liked this vignette and these figures too much not to use them--so I repainted them as Russians...
...I like to have the option to add a flag to my army command stands.  It can serve as a status marker in some games or just as a nice bit of eye candy--equally, the stand can be played without flag as well (depending on the game, it can sometimes get in the way).  To keep these  options open, I put a 1/2" x 1/2" metal square on the base (I fabricate these out of  1" x 1/2" metal wargame bases snipped in two) and I create a flag pole with a small rare earth magnet on its base (secured with J B Qwik Weld).
The Russian Army changed its flag patterns after the Crimean War (to the pattern 1857 flag). The above flag (a pattern 1857) I chose from among those I downloaded (and printed out) from the 1859 plates of the Russian Army found in the New York Public Library Vikhuisen Collection. 

Field Commanders: these are repurposed Prussian Napoleonic command figures:
Perry (left) and Calpe (right).
These figures were in my "spares" pile--partially painted as Prussians.  The signature Prussian Feldmutz cap, when painted white replicates the Russian Furashka--and the remaining uniform details are essentially the same as later century RTW Russian commanders.  One thing I did have to deal with was what to do about the sash on these figures...
...the answer was provided by this detail of a Russian Officer of the RTW wearing a white sash (from the
Nikolay Dmietriev-Orenburgsky painting of The Last Battle of Plevna.)
I did two different renditions of the General Skobolev Figure by Outpost Wargame Services. As I did with my Austrian command figures, I mounted these on a set of Front Rank horses that I had among my spares (this combination of the larger mounts works very nicely with the  skobelev figures, which are on the larger side themselves, and makes them consistent with the other mounted figures in the command set).
I patterned one on the image of Gen Skobelev in the regulation (if still embellished) green general's uniform as found on the Russian Commemorative Postage Stamp* (above left), which is based on the painting by
Nikolay Dmietriev-Orenburgsky.  The other version is drawn from the depiction of Gen Skobelev found in the Osprey RTW book (above right), which is based on accounts that describe him in an all white uniform riding a white horse into action (if you haven't already gleaned, Skobelev was a dashing national hero and internationally famous military figure of the era).
*Russian Post, Publishing and Trade Centre "Marka". Souvenir Sheet by A. Povarikhin. Scanned by Dmitry Ivanov. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. 
I figured that Gen Skobelev was a trend setter among Russian commanders, and so there would be other commanders in the regulation green uniform who would cut a very similar figure:  thus, my green uniformed Skobelev could serve side by side, if needed, with the distinctive white-coated Skobelev. I have to add that my personal preference is for the green coated version. 
At other stages of the project I produced these two command figures: when doing cavalry, I generally pull a musician or two to use as ersatz cavalry command figures (in the case of the Russians, this uhlan musician).  And I kicked off this entire project by doing the conversion to create the Cossack Command figure.   Appropriate that he should be featured as the last figure study in this last stage of the project.
The Russian Command Complete and on Parade. More than I would need for my Chocolate Box Wars concept, but enough so that I can use this collection for other rule sets and contexts...and having a few more of them is just nice to look at (after all, this hobby is not just about function: eye candy is part of it, too). 
In an upcoming post, I'll do a Pass in Review of the now complete Russian Army. Until then...


Wednesday, October 6, 2021


Perhaps not a "wargame" book, but it represents the type of antiquarian book that I retained as a "keeper" in my "great sort"--and it makes for an eye-catching opener for a post concerning books.
Awhile ago, there was a trend among certain bloggists to post about their wargame libraries. Given my bibliophile proclivities, I hadn't intended to go through the rather substantial production that such a post about my book collection would entail.  However, having just gone through a major cull as part of a broader reorganization, I thought I would take this opportunity to do a post on the subject.  
The state of the man cave/war room during the "great sort"--a two week effort of going through the detritus that had gathered here after a year+ of working from home during COVID, things that I dragged from the office and dumped here after retiring, and the rather haphazard hobby acquisitions of the last two years.  I'll do another post on the "new look" game room once it is all done.  For now, let us focus on the library, dear reader (as usual, in this post you may clix pix for BIG PIX)...
The “before” picture: the entire length of one side of the room was books.  Actually, more than the entire length: the books actually wrapped around the corner all the way to the door (the door is just out of the picture to the right in the bottom image).  These pictures were taken after disposing of my magazine collection (which filled the partially empty bookshelf spaces seen in the distant corner of the top left picture).  Not only had I run out of space to put anything, but I had reason to be concerned about the load on the floor--this room is above the garage and I'm not entirely certain that the previous owners had reinforced the floor joists when they finished it (I suspect that they just put the floor over ceiling joists).  There was always a bit too much creaking and an uneasy feeling of movement when you would walk out to the far corner of the room with the weight of all these books.  I also did not have the time to go through my books or to organize this space much when I moved in.  Instead,  I wound up just bringing all my decades worth of hobby stuff in here and making do, figuring that I'd get around to sorting it later: that time had come.  
All told, I culled 9 boxes of books.  I prioritized my collection by retaining my primary sources, antiquarian texts, and a core set of references.  I pulled secondary sources, oversized books, and also most of my painting references.  At this stage of my life, I have no need to paint any more Napoleonics, for instance.  I also set aside many books to shelve in the “main” library, opening up additional space in the man cave.  Rather than going through the hassle of trying to get a buck for these books, I invited a select group of my friends over and let them take what they wanted; the rest will be heading for donation. Five  boxes worth of books went with my friends, saving me much hauling to dontation. For a deeper dive on the takings and that evening, you might want to check out Mark N's post on his My Brave Fusiliers Blog. 
Post-cull state of the war-room library...mission accomplished. The opened up space will make room for a display case and a cube refrigerator (something I've always wanted in my man cave but did not have the room for).

I retained a very serviceable set of secondary sources/references for my hobby activities in the man cave...
A shelf of 17th century materials...
A shelf of 19th century (Post Napoleonic) materials...
A shelf of Napoleonic materials...
A combined shelf with medieval and 18th century materials...
A shelf of wargame rules (mostly for reference)--and "active" sets of wargame rules (with supporting materials) kept in archive boxes other spots in the room.
A collection of 19th century primary materials remains in the corner shelf. These are "good reads" and browsing material (war correspondents reporting from various conflicts, a smattering of biographies, collections of cigarette cards, collections of Punch war humor...).  Partially seen in the above left picture is my sword collection, which formerly had just stood in the corners; this has been organized as part of this effort as well (more on that in another post, dear readers).  
I moved the selected antiquarian and primary references from my man cave into the "main library" (pictured above).  Before doing so, I culled four boxes of books from this collection--which will also be heading for donation.
...the books brought down from the man cave to the main library consist of three shelves on the Great War and one shelf of other antiquarian texts, mostly Napoleonic with a smattering of older texts. 
In other spots, I have retained various oversized antiquarian books; the above is a collection of reportage from Colliers war correspondents on the Russo Japanese War...
...a bound volume of The Graphic from 1898/99: much room, text and image, is devoted in these to topics of interest to those of our ilk...
...plus various and sundry other interesting oversized volumes of a similar nature from the period...

...pride of place among my oversized volumes, however, goes to a copy of Mouillard that I was fortunate enough to acquire...
...an example of one of the colorful and informative uniform plates in the Mouillard.
This exercise was not without sentiment. I retained a core set of old wargame magazines and vintage rules that were of special nostalgic value to me in their own special box.
As you can see, although this post may be about books that are no longer in my possession  (literally, ex library), it is not about getting rid of my wargame library.  In later posts, I'll report on the other components of this reorganization and my renewed gaming space. 

Friday, September 17, 2021


Trotters (foreground) and Gallopers of Mark D's Company on the Move.

Life has has been intruding on art for the last few weeks, depriving me of the uninterrupted time needed for posting.  However, there has been unrecorded gaming activity going on, dear reader, some of which I will reveal in this post...
Amiable company and sporting opponents AJ (left) and Mark D preparing for combat.
Several weeks ago, on Labor Day (a bank holiday here in the US), I ran an impromptu familiarization game of Pikeman's Lament for fellow club members and bloggists Mark D (of Mark D's Gaming Site) and AJ (of AJ's Wargaming Blog).  This was also a familiarization game for me and also a first: 1) Although I had played PL, I had not yet run a game, and so this was a familiarization game for me from the perspective of facilitating PL 2) This game marked the return to face to face gaming to my man cave, a long anticipated moment (even if it turned out to be impromptu and low key). As usual, in this post you may clix pix for BIG PIX.
The initial deployments
I used the Ga Pa scenario for the game (essentially a "tournament" game where each side tries to knock the other side out: no concern about objectives or other special victory conditions).  For the setting, I put together a "War Desert"--a term of reference during the Thirty Years War for regions that were devastated and depopulated by the war.  Rather than buildings, there are foundations (aka, ruins), to include a ruined tollhouse next to a bridge (all of these were treated as "rough" terrain in PL terms and not as cover/buildings).  Two roads converge leading to the only intact bridge in the region--with the opposing companies bumping into each other as they were making for this crossing.  In order to provide a good overview of the game system, I put together mirror companies, each providing a good cross section of unit types and special abilities (as illustarted in the above for those interested in the mix for PL).  We were very involved with the game, so this report will be rather narrative and visual rather than detailed.

AJ's Pikes and Trotters size up Mark D's Company in the Distance. 
The view from the right end of AJ's line; the Croats (foreground) were operating as Dragoons in this game.
View from the extreme left of Mark D's array, where his Dragoons (actual dragoon figures in this case) are mirroring the Croats/Dragoons on the opposite side of the table.
The view down the line of Mark D's Company, his Trotters and Gallopers on the extreme right.
Mark D's Center: Pike and Shot, with his officer deployed with the Shot.
AJ's left moves forward: Commanded Shot (represented by Haiduks), Trotters, and Blue Bonnets (ie, Scottish Shot)-with AJ's officer.
Mark D's right wing begins to respond: his commanded shot (represented by Cossacks) begins the show by moving up through the vineyard.
Mark's Trotters, two figures down, taking fire from AJ's Haiduks posted in the orchard.  These would prove to be a thorn in Mark's side all afternoon. 
The view from behind Mark D's Gallopers: in the distance, his Trotters suffering under the fire of AJ's Haiduks in the orchard. The Gallopers would take a roundabout path towards the center to avoid a similar fate, arriving too late to influence events (but I must say they looked splendid doing so!).
Mark's Commanded Shot move up to challenge AJ's Haiduks in the orchard.
Back towards the center, AJ's Blue Bonnets (Shot) swing around the ruins and take up position on the hill while his Aggressive Gallopers push forward...
...and Mark's Pike counter, taking up Close Order and moving out, demonstration an amusing dirty trick in Pikeman's Lament vs "Wild Charge" units.  In the next phase, AJ's Gallopers failed (or passed, depending on your perspective) their "Wild Charge" roll and wound up involuntarily throwing themselves onto the Pikes--end of Gallopers, for practical purposes. 

 I got practice using my players aids to facilitate the game, and was happy with how they worked. 

The game was characterized by extreme dice on both sides.  AJ kept on failing activation rolls, terminating his turns prematurely or even entirely in some cases, while Mark could not manage to get a hit (I think we counted something like 72 dice tossed over the course of a few actions resulting in only two or three casualties).  In the end, AJ managed to get a normal run of activations and deliver average damage, which we agreed was enough to give him an edge, albeit a narrow one. In the end, we called the game on time, the point of it being about familiarization with the system more than anything else, which we certainly achieved--and of course, playing with toy soldiers on the lad's day off, which we also achieved (being recently retired, every day is a day off for me!). Thanks to the players, Mark D and AJ, for their sporting attitudes and good company; we're looking forward to more of the same.

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