Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Over this last weekend, I completed another of my Chocolate Box Wars units, once again from among the Hungarian Honved forces of the Hungarian Revolution.  Once again, the source (and inspiration) was derived from the excellent Gyozo Smogyi Honved Army, 1848-49 text...                               [as in all posts, you may clix pix for BIG PIX]
My aim: Hungarian Grenzers in Pink Facings

Once again, I converted other figures for the purpose. The 1848-49 grenzer uniform remained essentially Napoleonic. So, for figures, I turned to the Perry Miniatures Austrian Grenzers Marching Casually ...
Perry Napoleonic Austrian Grenzers
If you look at the Smogyi illustration above compared to the Perry figures, you'll note the shako pompon (1848-49) vs the oak sprig (Napoleonic) on the shakos...
Pompom Replaces Oak Sprig
...So, the physical conversion for this batch of figures involved the headgear. I snipped off the oak sprigs and made pompoms out of Green Stuff.  I thought--"How hard would it be to make a few balls and stick them on the shakos?" Harder than imagined is the answer (at least for my limited talents).  Sizing them and getting them uniform proved to be a challenge, and then handling the little blighters drove me to distraction. Eventually, all were positioned--and reshaped after the violence involved with that--into something resembling balls.  In short, this latest minor conversion proved another object lesson in the difference between me and someone who does this for a living--and the incredible talent that  professional figure sculptors possess! 
The amount of sculpture-realistic detail on Perry figures I always find quite demanding--as opposed to the kind of detail on something like the superb Front Rank figures, for instance, which seem more "painter friendly"--then again, it just might be me and my patience levels talking there.  I could not imagine sustaining this level of effort for big units of 18 or 24 figures, and have great respect for those who can.    
 The casual marching poses of the Perrys makes for a very good effect when the stands are stacked in column. 
The Grenzers join the Grenadiers in the line of my growing Honved/Hungarian Army (not to mention the volunteers and foreign legions that I've already got). I've commissioned some Honved infantry in kepis, Jagers, and command figures in the excellent Steve Barber Revolutions in Europe Hungarian army of 1848-49 line. Once those come in, I'll be able to field a complete Hungarian Chocolate Box Army in 28mm (with few if any other conversions)!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017


The Meanderer in his studio...in his imagination.
The Meanderer's "studio"...the reality.
Every now and then on the interwebs, on sites like The Miniatures Page or on someone's blog, there will be a thread or discussion of painting areas.  I have always been intrigued by these, so I thought I'd reveal mine here.  If there are bloggists out there reading this, I'd encourage you to post a similar item and drop a reply here to bring us to your virtual studio. 

As can be seen in the above, I do my painting in the basement.  It's not that I've been banished  there. Far from it. I used to actually paint in the "main" part of the house (sort of) in my "war room" (you've seen a few snippets of that in my game posts).  However, I found that I was unable to keep a dedicated place for painting there: I take up too much room when I paint. When looking at other hobbyists painting spaces, I'm often impressed at how compact they are.  That just doesn't work for me. I found myself always packing up a painting project in order to configure the room for gaming, and then putting it all back.  Extremely disruptive, to say the least.  There was also the potential mess--paint and whatnot escaping from the table and getting on other things (like the wall or carpet...). So I just decided to move my painting operation to the basement, where I could leave it all set up long term. And in the end, there is just something right about being in the basement doing the stuff for the crafty end of the hobby. In the end, it is a return to where I used to do all of my gaming activities, painting in particular (like many others). As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX in the below.
View from the chair
As I said, I tend to sprawl. Being over 6 feet tall and no longer a youth (let's just say that I ain't 60 yet, but I'm closer to that exit than the entrance ramp from 50), holding a cramped painting position winds up causing shoulder pain that lingers for days. So, I give myself plenty of room. I like to also have room for and access to my brushes, paints in-use, and figures in-progress. Thus, I've taken an old kitchen table, an IKEA special, and extended the wings permanently and put a couple of small shelves on it to expand immediate storage.

Speaking of paints, I still use enamels (left above), my go-to choices being Humbrol, and Testors (both their Model Master and old school small bottles for selected colors).   Enamels are messy and can be troublesome (the stirring and whatnot), and I am no fan of the Humbrol tinlets, but they're what I'm used to and know how to use.  For bases and flocking, however, I have joined mainstream of the miniatures hobby and use acrylics (above right).
On the right side of the painting area I keep my brushes, tools, and the ready pile of paints in-use (a gaggle of tins and bottles that keeps growing as the project continues). I keep a small screwdriver handy just to pry open the Humbrol tins and also a small vice grips to twist off the caps of the Model Masters bottles, which can become quite stubborn once the bottle is in use. Off on the edge of the picture, you can see the all important Dremel sitting in its charging cradle.  Speaking of all-important, I also use an optivisor (right, above).  To think, I once painted without one (and 6mm figures, no less!).  
To the left of my chair I have several small sets of drawers containing my paints, washes, glues, less frequently used tools, and other craft stuff and gizmos.  To the right, I have some old shelves where my lead mountain lives (I shudder to think of how many figures there are).  Sort of a cockpit configuration (only it doesn't go anywhere and there's nothing to operate...okay, not at all like a cockpit).  In a box on the floor I keep my flocking operation (when it's time to do bases, out it comes). 
My IPAD: The Constant Companion
In the "old days" I used to listen to the radio while painting (mostly classical if I could find a good station). I still have a Grundig Yacht Boy on the painting table for that. However, I only rarely listen to it. Instead, I find myself streaming music and other content on my IPAD. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, and I'm sure that the idea of streaming audio (of whatever kind) over the internet is hardly novel any longer. However, at the risk of exasperating my readers...

BBC 4 Podcasts I'm in the US, and I forget how exactly I became aware of these, but I am forever grateful that I have. The options are many and varied. Just click through the pages and browse until you find what interests you. If you need a place to get started, I would recommend Voices of the First World War, In Our Time (pick your topic), Desert Island Discs (I find myself returning to the interview with George MacDonald Frasier, author of Flashman, in the 2000-2005 archive).
Old Radio Shows: You can stream these directly (there is a player in the upper right hand corner). Although I have listened to many, here are a few of my favorites:

Information Please An acquired taste, perhaps. This is a quiz program from the 30's and 40's where a panel of erudite celebrities and experts (publishers, artists, news and sport reporters, and a few guest panelists) field questions on literally just about anything from the nationwide audience. Not to be missed are the programs where Oscar Levant is among the panelists.

The Lives of Harry Lime Orson Wells portrays the immortal scoundrel in his various and sundry international adventures and intrigures.

Duffy's Tavern
A now-forgotten mainstay of popular culture. The musical interludes (in lieu of commercials) on the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) broadcasts are a particularly nice bonus.

X Minus One From the Internet Archive Description: "The stories for the show came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy...The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few." These aside, a good mix of episodes are comic and particularly entertaining. 

For more, see the Master List of Old Time Radio Programs in the Internet Archive

And Finally...
 WRJQ I include this one just for fun (and since I hail originally from Wisconsin, it has resonance with me as a guilty pleasure). Go ahead...try it.    

At this point, it occurs to me that I'm no longer talking about painting (or am I?), and the hour is getting late. Therefore, dear readers, I thank you for indulging me in this meander. 


Thursday, January 12, 2017


In the comments on my last post about the Battle of Longchamps, Jonathan mentioned that the French should ask for a rematch (an excellent idea in principle--any reason to play is a good one!).  Digging around, I found some illustrations of one of the convention games of this battle that I hosted (I believe it was at the US Historicon Convention in 2008--sheesh, where does the time go?). For our UK visitors, this was a participation game (all US convention games are participation format). As usual, clix pix for BIG PIX.
One of the players in the 2017 game was also in the 2008 game: AJ (pictured above in the black and white club shirt). In 2008, he played the opposite role that he did in 2017. Then, he was  Gravenmoer, commander of the Grand Alliance left (in 2017, he was on the French right as Gourney).  That game was a nail biter that went to the French.  Seems to me that in both games, AJ wound up on the wrong side of some bum dice. In the case of the game in 2008, his play managed to stabilize the situation on the GA left and prevent a complete collapse (no small feat given the circumstances). 

For a description of the situation, please refer to the previous post. For quick reference, here are the schematics of the starting positions:
                                         Grand Alliance                                       French
The 2008 game wound up being the classic "pinwheel of death" with each right wing pushing forward against the opposing side's left.
Above, the battle on the French Right. Here, AJ was in command of the Grand Alliance (to the right in the picture). The image captures the moment when the French Horse contacted  the Grand Alliance Horse.  The Grand Alliance infantry are still advancing towards Leuze, but have prepared a precautionary line facing to the flank, hinging on Hanrot. This would prove to be a smart move.  The French Horse would overturn the Grand Alliance Horse, forcing the Grand Alliance to commit its reserve, including its reserve Horse Brigade to cover the exposed Grand Alliance baseline on the left.  This reverse would also cause the Grand Alliance assault in the center and center right to stall. As a result, Leuze would remain in French hands, and the French second line infantry on the main position in the center would be able to shift to support the French left in the Longchamps sector, which was under tremendous pressure....
                           The view of the cavalry collision from behind the Grand Alliance Horse

...Meanwhile, on the other side of the field...
           ...the Brandenburg infantry and horse of the Grand Alliance Right Wing on the march to assault the French Left.  

The overview of the entire action. The Dutch Horse division followed the Brandenburg Horse around the right. These would collide with the two French Horse divisions. In the ensuing fighting, the Grand Alliance Horse would push forward, exhausting the two French Horse Divisions, and the Dutch Horse Division would go exhausted as well. The Brandenburg Horse Division continued the assault and was on the verge of breaking through behind the French position (see the line at the tip of the axis in the center/right of the above). At that point, the French sent in their only remaining horse, the Brigade of Carabiniers from the Army Reserve. The ensuing combat inflicted enough hits on the Brandenburg Horse division to put it over the exhaustion limit, preventing it from pressing forward further--the allied assault ran out of steam there: a near run thing! The French dared not risk further assaults with their one remaining horse brigade, so each side faced the other at that pointMeanwhile, the infantry of the French 2nd line on the main position had moved down to support Longchamps. The Grand Alliance assault on the hill on the French left made progress, forcing the French left back at a right angle to the front, but stalling there. The hill would remain contested, neither side being able to claim possession (final positions are sketched out in the above image). The infantry of the French reserve would be committed to extend the line back from the hill.  If the Grand Alliance had not been obliged to commit its reserve to stabilize the left, it might have come up to decide the situation.  However, at this point, both sides were completely committed with everything in the line, neither having any reserve left. Under the circumstances, launching an assault on some other point of the French position and risking a reverse  that would leave a hole in the line would have been a risky proposition for the Grand Alliance.  Although this battle went to the French, it was a nail biter. Both sides managed their reserves well and so were able to stave off potential disasters and stabilize their positions.  The intervention of the Carabiniers on the French left was a moment of high drama--had the Brandenburg Horse not run out of steam at that point, the French left would have been severely compromised and the Grand Alliance probably would have been able to take the hill and Longchamps. 

This battle report illustrates the importance of managing the reserve in this system. And it was also not a bad outing for the Rodney Dangerfield of eras!


Saturday, January 7, 2017


 This is a belated game report of a Nine Year's War Volley and Bayonet variant battle that I hosted on December 27th.  A friend of mine was interested to see a linear treatment of VnB, and my variant fit that bill--and it was an opportunity to play with toy soldiers during the holiday period. The game was originally scheduled earlier (before Christmas), but had to be postponed due to a snowstorm.  This is one of my convention scenarios, the Battle of Lonchamps, which is designed for 6 players.  There were only 4 players on this day, which made for some largish commands, but it worked out well.  I was busy running the game, so didn't get many in-game shots.  However, for an excellent in-game battle report to compliment this one, please see my friend AJ's Blog  You can also download this scenario and supporting documents on my Nine Year's War Scenarios and Resources Page on this blog (see the tabs across the top of the blog). Clix pix for BIG PIX.

The situation  is a set-piece, hypothetical engagement:
In June of 1692, William III marched south to break the Sun King's siege of Namur. Marshall Luxembourg marched north with his 60,000 man Army of Observation to block him. Heavy rainfall and swollen rivers kept the two armies from colliding in what would have been the largest open battle of the Nine Year's War. This game clears the skies and allows that pitched battle to happen. 
Battle Schematic from the Allied Perspective
Battle Schematic from the French Perspective
The situation basically is that the Allies need to either break the French Army or (more likely) take key terrain that would make the French position untenable and oblige Luxembourg to withdraw.  Towards these ends, the following victory conditions obtain:
There were other points available for keeping units intact as well as a few other things, but the main points revolved around the terrain. Note the compound effect for holding terrain combinations, which would represent control of the battlefield. The French Army begins with all the terrain, so there is a double effect for losing it--the French drop points and the Allies pick them up, in addition to dropping the bonus points for combinations.  The idea of the scenario design is that it presents multiple options for the Allied player, so there is no "take this one hill and win the game" strategy.  There is also a baseline rule, sort of an elongated camp effect that runs behind the army.  This forces players to maintain the frontage of the army or risk being obliged to withdraw, so reserve play becomes very important in maintaining the integrity of the army's position--the side that uses the reserve to best advantage usually is the side that prevails. In games where one side just sends the reserve in on turn one,  they often lose because they have no force left to react to developments later.  But I digress...

Pete and Bob were the Allies, taking the role of Gravenmoer and Wurttemburg (respectively), and splitting Lanier and sharing decisions on the Army Reserve. AJ and George took up the French, taking the roles of Gourney and Vendome (respectively), splitting Montal and sharing the Army Reserve decisions.  

The short version of the battle report is that after some back and forth, the Allied left wing infantry and dismounted dragoons managed to storm and hold Leuze, the affair being greatly facilitated by an amazing roll of 6 by Pete at a decisive point in the advance. Meanwhile, on the extreme end of the line, AJ and Peter's horse collided and neutralized each other in a swirling ongoing series of melees.  On the Allied right, Bob pushed hard around the French left, eventually narrowly taking Longchamps (with support from Lanier in the center). The French counterattack on Longchamps failed after a spectacular run of lousy dice by the local French commander, George.   Given that it was getting late and that the writing was on the wall that the French were going to be pushed off of the key terrain (the hill) on their left, it was agreed that Luxembourg would be obliged to abandon the position to William. 
Dauphin and Grammont Dragoons Garrison Longchamps

The Netherlands Horse (Left) facing Longchamps.  The Brandenburg and Hessian foot (Right) would press the French left.

The original Wild Geese (Clare, Lee) hold the line on the French right (in the left picture above), supported by regiment Limoisin. The main French position (right) with regiments Navarre, Orleans, Greder Allemande, and Tourraine in the front line. The Swiss Guard anchors the right end of the second line.
The Danes and allied Dismounted Dragoons (Left) would storm Leuze. The English (right) in the form of the Royal and Scots Fusiliers backed by Cambon and Caillemont (French Huguenot Regiments in the Williamite Army) would support the assault.

Everyone played very well, and it was a fine time. I hadn't run this system for some time, and it was very enjoyable for me to get the figures out and use them again. So much so, that I'm thinking of taking them on the road again to conventions in the upcoming year; I've got half done scenarios for the Battle of Fleurus and Neerwinden (Landen) that I need to finish up and then I'll be ready.


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